#ASAE23 Opening Keynote: Secrets of a Shark

In his keynote at the 2023 ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo on Sunday, entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Daymond John shared his five principles for success that will help association execs propel both their careers and organizations.

Like everyone in 2020, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John was nervous about the future. But he’s found that crises often pull people together.

“Every time people think the world is ending, they find their purpose and gather together. Isn’t that how this country was formed?” John asked attendees during his Opening Keynote on Sunday at the 2023 ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo. “People talked about revolution, but it wasn’t until they organized in one room that things started to change. That’s what we’re here to talk about—finding and shaping your purpose.”

During his keynote, John wove stories about his life and entrepreneurial success into five guiding principles—“Shark Points”—that association professionals can use to advance their careers and their organization’s goals.

Set Goals

After attending the first U.S. rap tour in 1986, John knew he wanted to be a part of the hip-hop industry in some form.

“At the time, I thought I was the only person who had a passion for this new emerging community, but I was finding out there was a sea of people with the same love, aspirations, problems, and challenges, just like an association,” he said.

It was also at this time that his first shark point was brought to life—set goals for yourself. In other words, become what you think about the most and take action to reach it.

Do Your Homework

John’s second point is to do your homework by taking inventory of the actions you take and don’t take.

“Isn’t that what you do as associations? You do the homework for others,” he said.

John added that when presenting or launching a new idea or product, you aren’t creating something entirely new—you’re enhancing something that already exists.

“There’s nothing new you can create in this world, but that’s a good thing,” John said. “Uber is just a limo service, and even emojis are just hieroglyphics. It’s all about coming up with new ways to deliver to your audience.”

Love What You Do

Though John rose to fame, he realized that value was missing from his life. After speaking to his wife at the time, John chose to transition to entrepreneurship to spend more time with his daughters. His third Shark Point, “Amore,” highlights the importance of loving what you do.

“I love bringing value to members, partners, and customers, and that love started to change my priorities and my purpose,” he said. “I wanted to give back and share what I learned about entrepreneurship.”

Remember the Brand

John asked attendees what two to five words they would use to describe themselves and their associations in an elevator pitch.

“It’s important you know those words because it shows what you stand for,” he said. “It’s critical nowadays when we’re always looking at our phones.”

He recommended that associations ask their members what words they would pick to uncover what’s important to them.

Keep Swimming

John closed his keynote by sharing the importance of staying in good physical health. When discussing his surgery for Stage 2 thyroid cancer in 2017, John noted that early detection saved his life.

“It made me realize what my life has been defined by, so keep swimming, and take care of yourself physically,” he said.

After his keynote, John participated in a Q&A with ASAE Board Chair Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE, EVP and chief executive officer of the American Institute of Architects. He shared the importance of associations embracing an entrepreneurial spirit and the power of coming together as a community.

“Every person is here because they have a passion and want to solve a problem,” John said. “So many people want to be successful but don’t have the right keys. They have the drive, but they need information. That’s where organizations come in. They put people together, and that’s something we need more now than ever before.”

(Nick Hagen Photography)

Hannah Carvalho

By Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is Senior Editor at Associations Now. MORE

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