The Power of Broke: What Daymond John Can Teach You About Fitness and Life

Power of broke mentality

It’s 1997 and LL Cool J (one of my favorite artist) is rapping in a Gap commercial.

In this commercial, he was instructed to write his own lyrics (something a lot of today’s rappers don’t do but that’s a story I’ll save for another day).

This commercial was to promote their Easy Fit Jeans—sounds kinda lame now.

What made this commercial stand-out beside the rapping was when LL included the lyrics “For Us, By Us” into the commercial and the hat he was wearing.

This hat and statement of “For Us, By Us” was promoting FUBU.

The fact that a celebrity marketed some designers clothing items isn’t the biggest takeaway here—it’s the mentality of this designer from which we can all learn from.

Who is this designer behind FUBU?

It’s none other than Daymond John.

Many know him as one of the sharks on the hit tv show Shark Tank. But, before he was a shark and invited to give game-changing speeches across the world, he was just another guy from the inner city with a dream.

All he had was ambition and persistence—but those are key traits when you’re trying to change the narrative of your life.

While Daymond achieved this breakthrough in 1997, he was putting in the work many years before. During those years, many crossed him off or thought he was crazy for trying such a thing.

At the beginning of chasing after a goal, there isn’t much validation and justification to show for our efforts and choices.

Money is low. Weight isn’t moving as fast as we want. People are questioning our business decisions. We’re questioning our own capabilities. At those times, the mentality that’s needed for success is what Daymond calls “the power of broke” mentality.

He shares this mindset in his book “The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage”.

The power of broke mentality is “when you’re up against all odds, when you’ve exhausted every opportunity, when you’re down to your last dime…that’s when you’ve got no choice but to succeed.”

His hustle started back in 1989 selling hats in Queens.

Initially, he would wake up early in the morning, sew some hats by himself, tag them and answer the orders that came in overnight. After finishing the hats and packaging them, he would ship them out. Around 4pm until midnight, he went in for his shift at Red Lobster and worked on some more hats after his shift.

FUBU ultimately started to shape into a successful entity once three of his friends joined aboard the mission.

As you can imagine, his journey was full of obstacles and various struggles just as a health and fitness journey will be for anyone (no one is excluded).

But, through those various strings of obstacles is what ultimately separates the successful entrepreneur who creates and perseveres with his company from the wantrepreneur who just dreams.

Those challenges separate the person who wants to change the narrative of their fitness arc despite their environment and immediately network not being conducive for this.

As Billy Ocean famously reminds us, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going”—will you dig deep and keep going or bow out when times get tough.

Pretend you’re a company appearing before the sharks. You need to have a plan, but most importantly, you need to have a mentality engineered for success.

The power of broke mentality extends beyond the boardroom or trying to get a promotion. These principles are the perfect ingredients to helping you succeed in fitness.

Level up your health, business, and life with these seven mentality upgrades.

Mentality #1:  Be resourceful with what you have

Maybe your discipline is lackluster and getting to the gym consistently is spotty at best.

Don’t freak out.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to take an honest assessment of yourself and analyze where you thrive and where there’s room for improvement. As Daymond John was trying to make FUBU a global brand, he needed help to make this a reality.

Instead of letting his ego prevent him from doing what is necessary, he identified a need for help and found a partner in Samsung America (who’s a great global distributor).

While you may need some accountability with getting to the gym consistently, maybe your friend needs help with making healthier food choices—an area that is perhaps easier for you.

Everyone has something that they excel at. Use each other and let your respective journeys become a win-win for everyone involved.

Mentality #2: Don’t sugarcoat the situation

The ego is both beneficial and problematic depending on how you use it.

In the early days of building FUBU, Daymond could’ve been stubborn and not ask for help and tried to figure everything out himself. Or he could’ve searched for the one simple business life-hack to 10x his business (no such thing unfortunately). 

In reality, those actions would’ve been a terrible use of time and likely the reason for not achieving success.

Many people start a fitness journey and convince themselves that it’s just this one little thing that’s preventing them from achieving their goals.

One small life hack or tweak to your diet isn’t the solution to your goals. Before expecting to make any progress with your fitness goals, you must be honest with yourself.

Before investing in supplements, ask yourself “do I really need that pre-workout drink or fat loss pills, or any other supplements because I’m not burning fat off my belly?” Or are you just not giving the best effort that you can?

power of broke mentality—supplements
Supplements aren’t a magic elixir


Before complaining or blaming genetics for the lack of progress, ask yourself “did I do my best today toward my goals that I stated I wanted?”

If you can’t answer yes, then no need to seek outside solutions for problems that you can solve internally—this is merely a distraction from the root cause.

Mentality #3: Be as efficient as possible

Make the very best use of your time, energy, and actions. Everything you do has a cause and effect. Are those outcomes swinging the pendulum more in favor of your goals or swinging further away?

Whether it’s fitness, relationships, business, or any other facet of life—make sure this asset is under the most tightest of security.

At the gym, guarding your time means utilizing exercises that provide the most bang-for-the-buck. It means measuring the effectiveness of a session not by the amount of reps and movements, but by the quality of reps and movements selected.

Are you getting the most results for the least amount of effort put in? These types of analysis are what leads to success in business and fitness.

Mentality #4: You’re either all in or out

Succeeding in fitness, thriving in business, and having a rich relationship doesn’t happen by dipping one foot in and keeping the other out.

Don’t half-ass your fitness. No matter what you’re going after, put all your passion and purpose behind it—and let the cards be dealt however they may.

The first step to a transformation requires you to believe in yourself. When you’re starting a company, you won’t have an army of followers patting you on the back to pamper your ego.

The majority of people in this world are followers and like to jump on what’s popular. If you’re committing to a full-body routine, don’t randomly switch in two weeks, give it time to work and then assess from there.

Mentality #5: Stop and take time to reflect upon your journey

In the midst of pursuing a goal, it’s easy to dismiss our efforts and any achievements early on.

The average client may want to lose twenty pounds, but so far after six weeks, they have lost 5 pounds. While they’re a fourth of the way to their goal, all they can think about is the twenty pounds; thus won’t allow themselves to feel good for their efforts.

In their head, they’re not good enough yet. I know this script all too much. Despite my book sales and being featured on some of the biggest publications in the world, I still didn’t feel I was good enough.


Because I didn’t define small mile-markers of achievement along the way to the big goal. I didn’t create a picture of what success looks and feels like. I was always in a “go…go…go…more…more…more” mentality, but never took the time to pause in between and reflect upon the journey.

power of broke mentality — pause and reflect
Simple in concept, often times difficult in execution


Appreciate how far you’ve come, the initial challenges you’ve overcome, and where you currently stand compared to a few weeks ago.

You lost five pounds—great. That’s five less than you had a week or two earlier; thus you’re healthier than you were beforehand. Progress is progress. After all, all you need to strive for is 1% daily improvement.

Mentality #6: Don’t let who you presently are determine who you’ll be in the future

We are not our thoughts nor feelings. Maybe you’re not close to being where you want to be, but this present moment doesn’t dictate who and where you can be in the future.

Your future is still in your control. You just have to take the correct actions today to start transforming into the person you want to be tomorrow.

Think beyond this moment. Business isn’t booming yet. Love isn’t being kind to you. You still have weight to lose.

Acknowledge those realities for what they are (remember point #2—no sugarcoating the situation). Today those factors are a reality, but what small actions can you take today to make tomorrow one step closer to that goal of yours?

This is where your focus should be, not letting your present cement your future. Find a way to support your dreams and ideal version of yourself by being action oriented and doing things today to make you better off tomorrow.

Mentality #7: Engineer your mindset for success

One of the biggest traits that many of the most successful people in the world have is this sense of inevitability.

Somehow, someway—they’re going to accomplish their goal. Expect good things to naturally occur. Open your mind to receiving the positives of life.

This isn’t woo-woo talk but instead is helping you engineer a mindset of growth and abundance instead of one being fixed and scarce. Train yourself to catch compliments and trust the compliments being given.

Good things come to those who expect them.

Keep your goals in mind and visualize those goals coming to fruition. Let those goals become your driving force to your daily decision making.

At the end of the day, adopting the power of broke mentality with your fitness requires you to

  • Set an initial goal (ex: lose 10 pounds )
  • Do some research (how can I make this goal happen)
  • Who do I need to become (what actions, mentality, and habits do you need to do in order to make this goal a reality)
  • Remember, time + consistency + repetition = the only way to long-term success (don’t cheat your future for short-term pleasures)
  • Stay persistent (everyone will get knocked down, but will you stand back up and keep fighting)

How One Small Exercise Can Change the Quality of Your Business and Health


What if I told you one small exercise can change the quality of your business and health.

Would you believe me?

Or would you think I’m blowing smoke up your rear?

Think about this.

Are you operating as the best possible version of yourself?

I can honestly admit that I’m not. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically—there’s room to improve.

Before you read any further, take a few seconds and think about how this year is going, your career, your health, your relationships, and any other goals.

Are you the best leader you can be? Are you the best employee you can be? Are you the best manager you can be? Are you the best wife and/or husband you can be?

Are you pursuing your dreams and goals the best you can? Are you feeding your body the best possible nutrients that you can? Are you doing your best to exercise each day?

Most importantly, are you doing the best you can to achieve the goals that you claimed you wanted?

The majority of us (guilty as charged) don’t ask ourselves these types of questions often enough?

I’m currently reading Triggers’ by Marshall Goldsmith and this book describes how we fail to become the very people we want to be. It’s not lack of ambition, it’s the various triggers that we encounter each and every day.

He defines a trigger as “any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. In every waking hour, we’re being triggered by people, events, and circumstances that have the potential to change us.”

There are the typical reasons that people don’t become the person they want to be such as lack of commitment and excuses, but bigger than that is our environment and approach to our goals.

Great intentions are discreetly being sabotaged due to our environments.

We all know that sleep is beneficial, but this still doesn’t stop a high percentage of us from neglecting it. We forget that the environment has a direct correlation with our sleep behavior.

Dutch researchers call this “bedtime procrastination”—you put off going to bed because the current environment (watching Netflix, playing video games, cleaning the house, or surfing Facebook) is comfortable compared to moving to a quieter area like the bedroom and shutting off the electronics. Our environments are competing with each other (and we know which one usually wins).

playing-mario one small exercise can change the quality of your business and health
There’s a time & place to play Mario

Becoming aware and looking within ourselves is the first step, but we can’t just rely on sheer determination because we all have a blindside.

I can personally attest to this, nothing is harder than changing a behavior—especially as an adult.

After years and years of conditioning and a specific type of behavior settling in as the norm to your daily life, it takes consistent effort and patience to change this.

One of the biggest mistakes many well-intentioned people make when starting a new fitness regimen is to try to change everything at once. No more sweets, milk, or bread—instead it’s kale shakes and tofu. The pendulum of activity went from no activity to 5 strenuous workouts a week.

Unfortunately, many of us over-estimate ourselves and believe that we’re capable of handling these lifestyle changes in major doses and that just isn’t the case. When change doesn’t happen as quickly as you like, people don’t notice the “new you” that’s forming, work gets hectic, or your personal life becomes overwhelming—the chances of you giving up is highly likely.

Discouraged by not achieving these results after you went cold-turkey on all your old habits combine with the overwhelm of work and life equals you not changing into the person that you want to be despite the strong desire that might be lurking inside.

Meet the “Wheel of Change” 

Achieving lasting and meaningful behavioral change is difficult because it’s hard to admit to ourselves that we need to change. We don’t know how to execute this change and it’s much easier to keep going with what is familiar and status quo.

One of the chapters in Triggers’ discusses the “wheel of change”, which is a model that helps people process the plethora of options that are available when they want to become a better version of themselves. To be the person who we want to be and achieve the fitness goals that we claim we want requires us to change or keep the positive elements and change or keep the negative elements.

The wheel of change consists of four parts: creating, preserving, eliminating, and accepting.

one small exercise can change the quality of your business and health

1.Creating — Represent a positive element that we want to create in the future (ex: a weight loss goal, business goal, travel goal,etc).  Basically, what are we going to invent or add into our lives?

2.Preserving — Represents the positive elements that we want to keep in the future. What are the things in our lives that we wish to maintain or improve upon that already serve us?

3.Eliminating — Represents the negative elements that we want to eliminate in the future. What are some things that we need to reduce or erase from our daily life to make this future self a reality?

4.Accepting — Represents the negative elements that we need to accept in the future. What are the things we try to delay or need to make peace with to make this future self a reality?

How does this model look in fitness?

This model is beneficial in relationships, business, creative goals, and many other facets of our lives. We’re going to use Sarah Lance as an example for someone who wants to lose 10 pounds and live a generally healthier life. Here are some questions that she could ask and answer for greater clarity.

1.Preserving (maintain or improve) – What have I learned already that is having a positive impact on my weight loss goals? Which of my current behaviors in my life are complimenting my weight loss goals? How can I keep doing these behaviors in the current context?

What do I need to do to ensure I don’t lose focus on these positive behaviors? How can I use these existing behaviors to catapult me into what I’m trying to ultimately achieve? How can I take what is working and take it to the next level? Who in my life helps me become a better person when I’m around them?

2.Creating (add or invent) – What is one healthy behavior I could add to my life that I believe (or have been told) will have a huge effect on me and my goals. What is one habit that I could implement to improve my current environment?

3.Eliminating (reduce or erase) – What is a habit or behavior that I need to stop doing—even if it’s something that I enjoy? What actions within my daily life do I need to do less often because it’s having a negative impact on my goals—even if it’s unintentional?

4.Accepting (things we try to delay or need to make peace with) – This is the toughest piece of the model to reflect upon. What about myself do I need to accept (for some this is their body, letting go of shame, past failure, etc)?

What must I accept in this present moment—even if it isn’t what I want because everything doesn’t change instantaneously (ex: accepting you’re overweight or weaker at this moment but still remembering this isn’t your future necessarily)?

What things must I accept because I have no control over them (ex: losing exactly 10 pounds in 4 weeks)? What things in my life are worth fighting for and pursuing and what needs to be let go of because it’s not ultimately serving my mission for who I want to become (sacrifices are necessary)?

This simple and unsexy model isn’t glamorous,  but the results can be powerful—especially if you’re honest with yourself.

Implementing this exercise into your life is beneficial because you can figure out what you can realistically change and what you can’t while figuring out what to eliminate and what to keep—thus leading you to take real steps to becoming the person who thrives in life, business, relationships, and their health.