National Experts to Explore Best Practices in Education Funding Models

Schools across the state are often challenged to meet diverse student needs while faced with increased state and federal mandates and stagnant or decreasing revenue.

Drawing on best practices from programs across the country, on Thursday, June 2 the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference will feature national education experts to discuss how financially distressed school districts can adequately meet the needs of students without sacrificing quality of curriculum. Moderated by Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, the panel will provide insight on how Michigan schools can provide adequate resources so that every child, no matter their background, is positioned for success in the 21st century.

Kati Haycock, CEO, The Education Trust
Michael Sentance, Consultant, Education Reform

Michigan Leaders Discuss National Political Landscape on Friday

Wrapping up the Conference on Friday, June 3, two of the nation’s sharpest political minds will focus on the national political landscape and key issues – from immigration to aging infrastructure to urban policy. MSNBC analyst and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. and CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien will share insights heading into the presidential election. Joining the roundtable, Michigan business, political and elected representatives will provide opinions and perspectives.

National Commentary:
Harold Ford Jr.
, Former U.S. Representative; Political Analyst, MSNBC and CNBC
Soledad O’Brien, CEO, Starfish Media Group

Business Leaders:
Dennis Archer Sr., Chairman and CEO, Dennis W. Archer PLLC
John Rakolta Jr., Chairman and CEO, Walbridge

Congressional Leaders:
Bill Huizenga, Representative, U.S. House of Representatives
Dan Kildee, Representative, U.S. House of Representatives

Political Insiders:
Katie Packer, Partner, WWP Strategies and Burning Glass Consulting
Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO and Principal, Truscott Rossman

Moderator: Devin Scillian, Anchor, WDIV-TV 4, NBC

Dickinson Wright Attorney Aaron V. Burrell Elected to Oakland County Bar Association’s Board of Directors

Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Attorney Aaron V. Burrell has been elected to the Oakland County Bar Association’s (OCBA) Board of Directors. His two-year term will begin on July 1, 2016 and end on June 30, 2018.

Mr. Burrell is an associate attorney in Dickinson Wright’s Detroit office. He focuses his practice in the areas of appellate, commercial & business litigation, labor & employment, and minority business enterprises. Mr. Burrell is an active member of the Oakland County Bar Association, previously participating in the organization’s Inns of Court program and Diversity Committee. In 2014, he was elected as a “fellow” in the Oakland County Bar Foundation.

In addition to his service with the OCBA, Mr. Burrell serves as president of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association. Mr. Burrell also serves as co-chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Equal Access Initiative and as a representative for the State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly, where he currently serves as chair of the Special Issues Committee. He is a member of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, the Wolverine Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Burrell earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The Oakland County Bar Association was formally established in 1934 by a small group of young attorneys with the express purpose of connecting Oakland County legal professionals with their colleagues, advancing and enriching the profession, serving the public, and promoting comradery. As the largest voluntary bar association in Michigan, the OCBA is committed to public service projects, committee work, and lending a strong and influential voice on current legislative activities and court rules. To learn more, please visit

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 400 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has fifteen offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and eight other domestic offices in Columbus, Ohio; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn. (2); Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Reno, Nev.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canada office is located in Toronto.

The firm offers clients a distinctive combination of superb client service and exceptional quality. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

John Rakolta Jr. Headlines JVS’s 19th Annual Strictly Business Luncheon

Business leaders who reflect the strength and innovation of Detroit will highlight JVS’s 19th Annual Strictly Business Networking and Awards Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 23 at the MGM Grand in Detroit.

Headlining the event is Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta Jr., who will serve as honorary chair and keynote speaker. Rakolta will welcome an anticipated crowd of nearly 800 business and community leaders and talk about rebuilding Detroit. Strictly Business is a fundraiser to support JVS in its efforts to put metro Detroiters back to work.

“This event exemplifies who we are and what we do,” said Joshua Eichenhorn, Strictly Business co-chair. “We will showcase the success stories of three people who JVS helped to overcome obstacles to employment. These individuals will each receive an Employee of the Year Award at the event.”

In addition, event goers will hear from two successful young business owners receiving awards from JVS. Paul Glomski, co-founder and CEO of Detroit Labs, will accept the 2016 JVS Business Leadership Award on behalf of his company, Detroit Labs, and Zack Sklar, majority owner and chef of Peas & Carrots Hospitality, will receive the 2016 JVS Rising Entrepreneur Award.

“While Sklar and Glomski’s relatively young companies reflect a burgeoning Detroit, Rakolta’s firm symbolizes its strong foundation,” said Eichenhorn. “They are helping to build momentum in Detroit’s comeback.”

Founded in Detroit in 1916, this year marks the centennial for Walbridge, one of America’s largest privately owned construction companies. The Detroit-based firm has built iconic projects such as Olympia Stadium, Orchestra Hall and the Ford Rouge development, and withstood economic highs and lows that have been devastating for the construction industry.

During Rakolta’s tenure, Walbridge has grown from a regional firm with annual sales of $40 million in the mid-1970s to a global entity registering sales of more than $1.5 billion in 2014. The company is ranked among the largest contractors in America and it tops domestic automotive manufacturing construction.

Rakolta has been a leader in both business and the community and is noted for taking on the region’s toughest challenges, including job creation, education, diversity and health care. Especially passionate about transforming the Detroit Public Schools, he currently co-chairs the Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children. The group issued recommendations in 2015 and continues to advocate for stabilizing the troubled school district to ensure a quality education for all Detroit schoolchildren.

“Through his work with the Detroit Schools coalition and other groups such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and New Detroit, John has shown remarkable commitment to rebuilding Michigan and Detroit,” said Leah Rosenbaum, JVS president and CEO. “We’re thrilled he’ll share his insight with us at Strictly Business.”

Strictly Business is co-chaired by Joshua Eichenhorn and Jeffrey Tischler. Find details about sponsorships and registration at or contact Judy Strongman at or (248) 233-4213.

About JVS
JVS is an award-winning human services organization with four main locations in Metropolitan Detroit that helps people realize life’s potential through a variety of programs to maximize their self-sufficiency. The agency helps job seekers jumpstart their job search, provides meaningful services to people with disabilities and helps seniors remain active and engaged.

Butzel Long attorneys featured during Detroit Startup Week panel program

Butzel Long attorneys Geaneen M. Arends and Paul M. Mersino will participate in a panel program on May 25, 2016 during Detroit StartUp Week, a five-day entrepreneurship conference.

Arends and Mersino will participate in a panel discussion titled “How to Scale Smart.” Panelists will discuss the basics to build a company designed to grow from the start. Other featured speakers include Durand F. Davis, Jr., Founder and CEO, LavLabs; Amy Swift, Founder, Building Hugger; and, Justin Anderson of Solidea Capital.

Geaneen Arends

Based in the firm’s Detroit office, Arends concentrates her practice on general business law and commercial real estate.

She assists business clients with general business planning, entity formation and maintenance, mergers, acquisitions, private placements, woman-owned/minority-owned/disadvantaged business certification, insurance and risk management issues and general business contracts.

She has advised business clients on a variety of real estate transactions, including acquisition, development and leasing of multi-family residential, retail, office and industrial properties throughout the United States. She has represented both borrowers and lenders in multi-million dollar real estate financing transactions.

Arends was recently recognized by the Association of Corporate Growth – Detroit for 2015 M&A Deal of the Year over $50M and by the M&A Advisor for Cross-Border M&A Deal of the Year (over $50MM – $100MM).

She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Educational Television Foundation/ Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and on the Board of Board of Trustees for the Detroit Historical Society. At the same time, she serves on the Steering Committee for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots Celebration.

She also serves on the Board of Directors, and is the immediate past Chair of the Board, for Michigan Community Resources (formerly known as Community Legal Resources), a non-profit organization that provides technical assistance and free legal services to non- profit organizations revitalizing and bringing economic development to underserved communities in Detroit and throughout Michigan.

Arends was named as one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Women in the Law, 2014. She is an alumna of Leadership Detroit, Class XXVII.

Paul M. Mersino

Based in Butzel Long’s Detroit office, Mersino is a member of Butzel Long’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, contract disputes, non-competition and trade secret disputes, and other business litigation matters. He also represents and advises several startup companies, assisting them with their legal needs and matching them with potential venture capital funding. He has served as a mentor to startup business incubators and accelerators, sat on the board of directors of a startup company, and served on a board of advisors for a venture capital group.

He has been recognized as a Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Star in Business Litigation every year since 2012. He also has handled matters and advised companies in nearly every state in the country. Mersino has had articles published in Crain’s Detroit Business, Corp! Magazine, and in Law Reviews and nation-wide publications, both on topics concerning Startups as well as companies’ needs to protect their Trade Secrets.

Mersino is very active in the community. He currently is the President of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Barrister’s Section and serves as an advisor to the Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Litigation Advisory Board. He was recently a member of Leadership Oakland and was recognized last year by L. Brooks Patterson as one of Oakland County’s Elite 40 under 40.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms.

Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

American Society of Employers (ASE) releases 2016 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, today released the organization’s 2016 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates survey. The annual survey provides a comprehensive look at current workforce conditions and reveals what co-op students and recent college graduates can expect in terms of job availability and compensation. Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE, says the 2016 survey reveals strong interest by employers to invest in students, as well as a high demand for graduates with technical and business-related degrees.

“In addition to providing updated salary information, this year’s survey reflects that the investment by Detroit area employers in co-op and internship programs remains strong,” Corrado said. “It also affirms the financial rewards available to new graduates with degrees in key engineering and business fields.”

170 companies responded to the 2016 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates survey, which was distributed to 2200 employers in an online format in February. 75% of respondents are located in the metro Detroit region with an average of 590 employees (median employee count of 164); 48% are classified as automotive suppliers.

2016 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey Highlights:
• The “Labor Market” (62%) and “Performance of the Company” (50%) continue to be the two largest reasons for a change in hiring and recruiting practices for recent college graduates.
• There was a 5% overall increase from 2015 in organizations providing benefits to co-op students. Auto suppliers providing benefits to co-ops increased 9%.
• For college co-ops, the following benefits were provided at least 10% more often than in 2015: medical coverage, prescription drug coverage and dental coverage.
• There was a 10% increase in service industry companies who have hired recent college graduates in the past year, or plan to in 2016.
• Hiring of MBA students has increased since 2015. Hiring of MBA students with a technical undergraduate degree increased 12%; for MBA students with a non-technical B.A., the hiring increased 14%.

Hiring Trends:
• Nearly four out of five (79%) respondents say their company has hired, or plans to hire, a recent college graduate in 2016.
o Three out of five (60%) of those companies say hiring practices have remained the same in 2016 as 2015.
o Nearly two out of five (38%) of the companies who have hired or plan to hire a recent graduate in 2016 have increased their hiring efforts this year.
• Statistically, the top five in-state institutions the responding companies actively recruit from are: 1) University of Michigan; 2) Michigan State University; 3) Oakland University; 4) Wayne State University; 5) Kettering University.
• The top three most popular technical Bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) Mechanical Engineering; 2) Electrical Engineering; 3) Computer Science.
• The top three most popular non-technical Bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) Business Administration; 2) Accounting; 3) Human Resources/Labor Relations.
• Automotive suppliers have decreased their hiring of Bachelor-level mechanical engineers, resulting in a 16% decrease in hiring among automotive suppliers compared to a year ago.

Candidate and Salary Trends:
• The top three knowledge/skill factors organizations consider when making hiring decisions, in order, are: 1) computer skills; 2) related coursework (i.e., to the work required in the job); 3) work experience/internships.
• As in 2015, the top three perceived shortcomings of recent college graduates are: 1) adaptability to the work environment (58%); 2) career expectations (55%); 3) compensation expectations (46%).
• Fewer companies are paying a premium for graduates from specific schools. Overall the percentage dropped from 6% in 2015 to 3% this year. But in Non-Auto Supplier organizations, the percentage dropped from 14% to 0%.
• However, more organizations are instead paying premiums for graduates with certain qualifications. 15% more service organizations, 18% more organizations with under 100 employees and 9% more Non-Auto Suppliers reported paying these premiums than what was reported in 2015. The overall increase was 5%.
• Of the six disciplines previously named (Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration, Accounting and Human Resources/Labor Relations), the highest starting salaries went to the engineering disciplines. The average starting salary for Mechanical Engineering was $60,574 and $59,096 for Electrical Engineering. Computer Science came in on average at $57,115; Accounting at $49,918; Business Administration at $48,483; and Human Resources/Labor Relations at $49,485.
• Pay rates for college co-ops and interns were separated by technical and non-technical roles; the average hourly rate for a college senior in a technical field is $17.36 an hour and $15.40 for a non-technical field; the average hourly rate for a college junior in a technical field is $16.09 an hour and $14.59 for a non-technical field.

To obtain a copy of the 2016 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates survey, contact Kevin Marrs, Vice President at ASE, 248-223-8025 or

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at

Butzel Long attorney Reginald Pacis featured during Kiwanis Club of Cosmopolitan Detroit Prayer Breakfast

Butzel Long immigration law attorney Reginald A. Pacis was a featured speaker during the Kiwanis Club of Cosmopolitan Detroit Prayer Breakfast on May 21, 2016 at the Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan in Southfield.

He discussed growing up the son of immigrants, pursuing an education and career in law. He also shared observations about the occupational market for lawyers.

Pacis focuses his practice in immigration law and has handled a variety of immigration matters including H-1B specialty occupation cases, L-1 Intracompany transfers, Labor Certification matters, Immigrant Visa Petitions/Adjustment of Status applications and interviews, TN Free trade cases, H-1B Department of Labor Investigations, I-9 employer verification compliance, and U.S. Port of Entry airport and land port interviews.

He was named Immigration Lawyer of the Year 2013 in the field of Immigration Law by The Best Lawyers in America and has been listed in Best Lawyers for several years. Pacis is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Samahang Pilipino Ng Oakland Filipino organization. He served two consecutive one-year terms from 2003 to 2005 as Chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA and was a member of the AILA National Board of Governors for those terms. Pacis previously served as Secretary (2001 to 2003) and Membership Chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA (1998 to 2003).

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms.

Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

One-on-One Conversation with Dan Gilbert and Dennis Archer Jr. to Focus on the Future of Detroit

Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, will take Michigan’s Center Stage on Wednesday, June 1 during the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Gilbert will appear on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Detroit’s progress and what the future holds for the city during a one-on-one conversation with Dennis Archer Jr., president of Archer Corporate Services and 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference Chair.

Candor Wanted

Conference Chair Dennis Archer Jr. looking for honest, engaging discussions 

By Tom Walsh

Page 10

Dennis Archer Jr., president of Detroit-based Archer Corporate Services, is this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference chair. Archer, an attorney, is also CEO of Ignition Media Group. He’s also a partner at Central Kitchen & Bar, one of downtown Detroit’s hot new restaurants.

And if you haven’t guessed it already, the 47-year-old is the son of former Detroit mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer, who chaired the 2006 Mackinac Policy Conference. Archer sat down recently to talk with the Detroiter about his plans and hopes for the 2016 event.

What are the key Conference pillars this year, and what do you hope Mackinac attendees will accomplish?

Our pillars are urban education, entrepreneurship and investing in the region’s future to grow high-profile business sectors, such as automotive and IT. First, we will strive for honest and engaging discussion. The product from that, I hope, will be action. Last year, John Hope Bryant spoke about financial literacy, and coming out of that was a very targeted program that the Chamber has helped spearhead along with corporate donors to set up these financial literacy centers around town.

Based on this year’s speakers and panelists — national media figures Soledad O’Brien and Ron Fournier to local participants such as Rev. Wendell Anthony, Sheila Cockrel and General Motors President Dan Ammann — I think it’s going to be a colorful, candid, rich set of discussions that will yield some very targeted to-dos.

How are the pillars, speakers and panelists chosen?

In the case of urban education, obviously we have Detroit Public Schools very much in the news now, but one thing we’ve struggled with is that there are a few topics that stay with us for years. Education is one. So, how do we discuss these in a different way? How do you bring different people to the table? I think what you‘ll see is an approach and discussion about urban education with a slant toward how education in general is funded. Are there better models across the country or the world to more equitably fund public education?

On the entrepreneurship piece, you’ll see a younger, more entrepreneurial mix of folks at the Conference this year. Daymond John, a co-host on “Shark Tank,” is coming and will have a pitch competition to be judged by him and others. And we have a panel on the Internet of Things with Rick DeVos and Start Garden from Grand Rapids working with big mature companies in auto and furniture.

In the auto industry today, you’ve got GM investing $500 million in Lyft, a business that reduces the need to have a car. Think about that. (I’ve been) a GM supplier since 2005, and I’ve seen the evolution. What they want from us today is all rooted in innovation and technology and new ideas.

Michigan’s business climate seems to have improved lately from awful to middle of the pack. How can we become a top-tier state for business growth?

Going back to the Conference pillars — education, investing in infrastructure — if I’m a foreign company looking to set up shop in the United States or if I’m a U.S. company poised for growth, I’m looking at education, quality of life. Are my employees going to want to be there? If you look at Detroit as a microcosm, part of what has helped the Detroit story is that you’ve got a ton of people now who actually want to be here. You’ve got people graduating from school in Ann Arbor and Lansing who, 10 years ago, would have been wanting out of here, but now are saying “How can I work in Detroit?”

Clearly, Detroit has seen new investment and energy downtown and benefited from a successful Chapter 9 bankruptcy. But just as the Detroit and Michigan comeback stories gained traction, the Flint water crisis dealt the region a new image blow. Will that be an overhang at Mackinac?

I don’t think Flint is going to be a negative overhang over the Conference whatsoever. Instead, when you talk about investing in our infrastructure, it will inspire necessary conversation with concerned parties from across the state. Leaders from all over the state have constituents that they have to report back to, to tell why they should give hundreds of millions of dollars to the city of Flint. I think it’s a necessary discussion because the picture without appropriate explanation sure looks like a lot of the urban areas are being neglected.

I don’t know where the blame falls. I personally think the Governor should play a significant role in fixing the problem, so I’m not one of those saying he’s got to go. The most important thing is A, to fix it for Flint, but B, at the state level, what can they do and how can the federal government help in terms of testing infrastructure and making sure it doesn’t happen somewhere else?

What’s planned as far as conversation in regard to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riots?

We are absolutely embracing and including discussions around the upcoming 50th anniversary of the riots. I wasn’t born yet in 1967, but a lot of the people who will be in that audience at Mackinac lived through it. I think the most important part of the discussion is how do we learn from what has happened, and how can we work to not allow those same kind of conditions and dilapidation of relationships to happen again?

There are certain conditions that make an environment riper than not to have dissatisfaction among residents. That dissatisfaction can risk blowing up to some sort of outbreak. So, how do we work in the future to move very far away from any of those conditions? I think by having Soledad O’Brien moderate that panel — she’s done a tremendous job bringing a lot of these ideas to the forefront through her “Race in America” specials on CNN — I think we will have credible, candid and impactful discussions about race rooted in using that 1967 anniversary as the foundation.


Dennis Archer was Conference chair in 2006. Ten years later, his son Dennis Archer Jr. is leading the 2016 Conference. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’ve been going to the Conference since I was a child going with my parents. We used to rent bikes and ride around the Island,” said Dennis Archer Jr., this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference chair. “The involvement has gone from going as a kid to going as a business person to being a Chamber board member and then an executive committee member.”

“My dad and I come to this role from two different angles. He came to it as a former (Michigan Supreme Court) justice, former mayor, prominent attorney at a big firm. I come to this role as an entrepreneur.”

“He wears great suits to work, and I’m here in jeans and sneakers and a hoodie.”

“I think that speaks to what has happened here over the last 10 years, in terms of, ‘What is business? Who are the key influencers? Who are the new leaders and what do they look like, sound like, and what’s important to them?’”

“I think that juxtaposition from dad 10 years ago to myself being in this role is illustrative of an understanding on behalf of the Chamber that an evolution is happening.”

“My dad’s general philosophy is whatever you’re going to do, do it well, and to participate. One of the things he stressed — and I heard this from others, too — was speak up, be participatory, but make sure to put your mark on the Conference.”

Tom Walsh is a former columnist and editor with the Detroit Free Press.

Work Harder, Try Smarter

‘Shark Tank’ Co-host Daymond John knows ‘The Power of Broke’ in life, business

By James Mitchell

Page 22

“Humble beginnings” barely scratches the surface of Daymond John’s self-made story of invention, re-invention and perseverance. There was little doubt he’d get there — whether as CEO of a global fashion empire, co-star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” marketing guru or best-selling author — but the road map he followed included more than a few unexpected turns along the way.

The Queens-born businessman had his sights set on investment strategies even while attending Bayside High School, where he learned the value of time while working a job opposite spending alternate weeks in the classroom. Early ventures included a commuter van service before he took note of the overpriced, at least as he saw it, wool hats that were popular in New York during the early 1990s.

John and a friend made the first batch of product themselves and sold them on the street for half of what stores had been charging. The $800 profit made that day was the seed that launched For Us By Us (FUBU), an African-American owned and operated clothing line that now represents a $6 billion business.

On the surface, John’s rise seems a meteoric success story, but “overnight” took many years and seasons to reach via trial and error.

“The process of establishing myself as well as my company was slow and often frustrating,” John said. “I wasted a lot of time and money moving in the wrong direction due to a lack of knowledge.”

His razor-sharp instincts were honed and refined over the years, with expensive educations that included having lost an estimated $750,000 during the first season of Shark Tank. John was rarely careless, and “work hard” as a motto was complemented with “try smarter.” John’s third book, “The Power of Broke,” explores lessons learned the hard way, which can be equally applied to individual startups or global conglomerates.

No matter the enterprise, John maintains the principal value that people are always more important than any product or profit. Lessons learned from FUBU, “Shark Tank” and other endeavors helped frame his newest enterprises: a marketing consulting company called Shark Branding, and the Launch Academy, which helps steer future entrepreneurs down the right corridors.

The Detroiter caught up with John in advance of his keynote address at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference.

What have you personally learned from “Shark Tank,” and in what ways has it impacted your investment and business decisions?

People are more important than numbers. I invest in people. Many times, if the business doesn’t work, I’ll work with the person in another way. People pay the highest dividends.

Summarize the goal of Shark Branding and the Launch Academy, and share any anecdotes regarding the company’s benefit to entrepreneurs.

The goal of Shark Branding is to leverage the knowledge and connections I’ve made over the years to help brands grow. The goal of the Launch Academy is to share some of the most fundamental lessons I’ve learned with upcoming and aspiring entrepreneurs, so they can learn from some of the mistakes I made without having to make them themselves.

In regard to your book, “The Power of Broke,” we’re reminded of a Bob Dylan quote: “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” In what ways are there advantages to having been broke?

Being broke is an advantage because it forces you to be resourceful and creative; however, you don’t have to actually be broke to exercise the “power of broke.” It’s more of a mindset. In fact, some of the most successful people are those who continue to exercise the power of broke mentality despite their success. I earned this lesson the hard way. I made some of my biggest mistakes once I was rich. You see, when you’re rich, you think you can afford to take bigger chances than you really need to. When you’re exercising the power of broke, you take smaller steps. If you make a mistake or fail, it’s a small mistake, a small failure. You learn from it, but it’s usually not fatal.

How do you spot or identify entrepreneurial talent?

There are several ways, but one of the most important is learning how people respond to failure. Talented entrepreneurs manage failures well. They learn from them and keep going. Another important indicator is a person’s ability to create and maintain lasting relationships. A lot of folks jump into entrepreneurism because they don’t want to have to answer to or deal with people, but entrepreneurism is usually a team sport. Talented entrepreneurs can build and maintain meaningful relationships.

What would you say to the people of Detroit — and Michigan as a whole — to summarize the key lessons you’ve learned?

Keep investing in yourself. Michigan, and Detroit specifically, has one of the strongest entrepreneurial spirits in the country. The producers of “Shark Tank” have figured this out because Detroit has consistently had some of the highest viewership ratings in the country for “Shark Tank.” Folks in Michigan know all about dealing with adversity. They’re tough, proud and determined people. So, yes, keep trying, but continue investing in yourself, so you can learn to try smarter.