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)