John Paul DeJoria is “a very happy person.” And if he could be granted one wish, it would be for his six children, ten grandchildren and every person on the planet to have as much happiness as he’s had in his life. Now, if the only things you know about this self-made billionaire are that he cofounded and built two iconic companies, John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Spirits; is a founding partner in several other companies, including DeJoria Diamonds, John Paul Pets, and JP Select; and owns a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, you might assume that money and success are at the root of John Paul’s happiness. You would be wrong.
“To me, rich is when you’re happy and healthy, regardless of the amount of money you have,” John Paul says. That is why he doesn’t like to associate the word “rich” with money. Ironically, people often make that very association when describing John Paul’s “rags to riches” story of growing up poor in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood and of being homeless twice in his life — the last time was when he launched John Paul Mitchell Systems with his longtime friend, hair stylist Paul Mitchell.
Helping people and the planet are passions John Paul shares with his wife of almost 20 years, Eloise, an actress and model and the spokesmodel for John Paul Mitchell Systems. The couple has passed on their philanthropic values to their children. For example, their youngest son, John Anthony, accompanied his parents to South Africa to participate in the Food 4 Africa program, which feeds 9,000 orphans a day.
“There are no happier moments for us than when we’re doing something as a family to give back,” Eloise says.
The DeJoria’s big, blended family is spread all over the country, but everyone gets together at least once a year. “Grandma” and “Grandpa’s” favorite activities with the grandkids, a “mix of boys and girls” ranging in age from 2 to 23 years, are snow skiing and swimming.
“We try to attend their birthday parties and to just be a part of their lives,” John Paul says.
“I think grandchildren are a gift from God. They give you so much love and keep you young,” Eloise says. “I keep in touch with a lot of them via the Internet, texting, and sharing photos. I like social media, and my goal is to get stronger at it so I’ll be able to communicate with my grandchildren on something like Tango, where we can actually talk.”
“I’m not a computer guy. I make phone calls,” John Paul quips.
“He’s real hands-on,” Eloise agrees. “We work great together like that.”
Although they may sometimes use different means of communication, Eloise and John Paul are speaking the same language. One of the most important messages they’re sending is that happiness comes not only from taking care of others but also from taking care of one’s self, with positive results.
“We have some very ambitious children who realize there isn’t a free lunch,” John Paul says. “A lot of kids don’t feel that way. They finish school, live with their parents and do nothing. They’ve got to get out there and do something! And that starts with the parents saying, ‘You’ve got to do it.’ As an example, when my son turned 20 (he’s now in his mid-40s), I said, ‘John, I’m going to get you a good used car and pay your rent and utility bills for four months. But on month number five, you’re paying your own bills. So whatever place you get, make sure you can afford it.’ By gosh, he went out on his own on month five and started taking care of himself!”
People take care of what they love — be it themselves, their family, their community or the planet. Love, then, is a catalyst for doing good things for yourself and in the world. As John Paul puts it, “Love is the most powerful thing on Earth.”
The GRAND interview
Audio: Hear the complete interview of John Paul and Eloise DeJoria by Pat Burns
Video: Enjoy watching John Paul and Eloise DeJoria being interviewed on ABC TV’s 20/20 by Barbara Walters
Colleen Sell balances her writing/editing career with organic gardening, trekking with her husband, renovating their ancient farmhouse and enjoying their large family, including six delightful grandchildren.