Being busy may be a selling point when talking to successful business people, as they tend to always occupy their lives with activities that keep them going. Delano A. Johnson is one of those people. Being a best-selling author, creative director, brand architect, and a leading authority on personal and corporate creativity has set the tone for him to ably advise those who want to incorporate the type of business acumen he possesses.
Johnson gave up some of that busy time to talk to Black Enterprise to allow us to venture into who he is and what Guinness Book World Record he intends to set this year.
What inspired you to start writing and what have you written?
It was at the young age of 17 that I first got the original title of my book “Talented & Broke!” After going through some devastating life changes including losing my mother (a drunk driver killed her in 2005), father figure and mentor with eight other people in a tragic plane accident in 2014 and lost the sister who raised me in 2015 to lupus. Lost my home, custody of my children, marriage and a myriad of things that led me to finally finishing my book and releasing it, sharing some incredible highs and devastating lows.
How do you separate and/or combine the business aspect with the creative process and decide which part to tap into more to succeed?
I understand that problems in business that may arise will need outside of the box thinking to out-think or outwit my competition. I definitely lean heavily on creativity for everything. Thus, I’ve been dubbed the #ceoofcreativity—this has allowed me to take Toys R Us in 2008-2011 from $50 million (m-commerce) to $750 million as their online creative director. When I saw what I did visually using creativity online for Toys R Us, I resigned to work for myself.
What would you say is the driving factor in starting and maintaining your own business and what do you suggest to anyone who has a passion to pursue it?
Great question! This covers chapters one and three in my book, Refuse To Live Talented & Broke!: Ten Keys To Unlocking Your Creative Earning Potential. In chapter one, I talk about your launching pad and what to do when even considering starting a business. Also, chapter three covers knowing your core gifts—the theme that drives your life. Many times, we want to start a business because someone had a great idea and shared it with us. Here’s the problem with that, if it’s not truly a part of your core gifts and passion—you will waste time chasing something you honestly have no true passion for. It’s better to do a deep dive into the core of who you are to really decide what business is a good fit for your temperament, personality, and drive.
When you have your speaking engagements, how do you prepare what you are going to talk about and how does that approach help you when doing so?
I love to get background on the premise and theme of the invitations I receive to speak. I find out who I will be addressing (age, gender ratio, college or corporate setting) so I can really tap into where my audience may be—and the different levels of belief systems. Some participants just want information, some want inspiration, but those who want true transformation are the ones I connect with the most. I share principles that changed my life. I talk about the deep dive I took into reading over 300 books trying to understand how incredibly talented people end up so miserably broke. I also explain that 98% of the population will experience some form of talented and broke phase, but what life designed as a life lesson some people have turned into a permanent lifestyle. I do a lot of mental preparation. I’ve spoken in rooms filled with millionaires one day then a homeless shelter and prison the next day. My preparation always consists of studying where people are internally, and externally—this usually is a big part of my prep. My approach always varies with prior insight on my intended audience. I love using visuals and clips to aid the process.
What are you currently working on and what will your plans be for growing your business?
I was recently named the COO of the Power Networking Conference headed up by Dr. George C. Fraser for the past 32 years. I am attempting to break a Guinness Book World Record with my present book, working on the content of my next book, Talented & Successful, as well as prepping a full film script on my first book. I run and design for Jonsehn Creative Group, my luxury branding firm servicing Fortune 100, 200, and 500 companies.