Today I’m talking with Dionte’ Johnson, former fullback for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and The Ohio State University Buckeyes, entrepreneur, founder of the Columbus, OH sneaker boutique Sole Classics and the brand development agency Canvaas.
What I had to do was go back to the drawing board.” – Dionte’ Johnson
In this episode, we talk about Dionte’s childhood years, his college and professional football career, his love of Columbus, and his remarkably creative entrepreneurial career.
Dionte’ is what you’d call a real man, in the fullest, best sense of that word. He’s faced many challenges and changes with courage, grace, and an unrelenting, old-school work ethic.
In this episode we talked about:
- What betting on yourself means to him
- His biggest inspiration growing up
- What he learned from his incredible mother
- Growing up the son of an NFL legend
- The road to professional football
- The setback that changed his life
- How he forged a brand new mindset
- His journey toward entrepreneurship
- His secret recipe for business success
- The importance of entrepreneurial vision
- Going back to the drawing board
- The joy of being a sneakerhead
- Staying tapped into the culture
- The advice he’d give his sixteen-year-old self
If you’re experiencing massive and uncomfortable change in your life, wondering what you’ll do next and how you’ll get it done … this is your episode.
If you’re a fan of the show don’t forget to follow to hear new episodes and Rate or Review us wherever you tune in!
Dionte Johnson: What led me down that road was like, "Oh yeah, I get to be a boss. I got to be an entrepreneur." It's either that or work for somebody. I believe firmly now having 10 plus years of experience, if you can't work for somebody else you definitely can't do this for yourself. You have to have those disciplines to be able to get things done. And it's something that's taken lightly when you talk about entrepreneurship.
Michael Redd: Hey everybody, this is Michael Redd and welcome to the Betting On Yourself Podcast, where I interview successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and other top performers who rose to the top, took success into their own hands and bet on themselves. Today I'm talking with Dionte Johnson former full back from the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. Entrepreneur, founder of the Columbus, Ohio sneaker boutique Sole Classics and the brand development agency Canvas. In this episode, we talk about Dionte's childhood years, his college and professional football career, his love of Columbus and his remarkable creative entrepreneurial career. Dionte is what you'll call a real man in the fullest that's just the word. He's faced many challenges and changes with courage, grace and unrelenting old school work ethic. If you're experiencing massive and uncomfortable change in your life, wondering what you'll do next and how you'll get it done this is your episode. Here's my conversation with Dionte Johnson.
Michael Redd: Hey, everybody, I'm really, really delighted about this podcast. This is a guy that I've recently met. We've known each other for years but on a more intimate level recently. And so he's a fellow Buckeye, which I'm really proud about and he's doing some incredible, incredible work here in our community in Columbus, Ohio. He's an owner, founder, entrepreneur genius of a business mind as well. And Dionte I'm glad to have you on the show buddy.
Dionte Johnson: Man I appreciate that. I appreciate the kind words and definitely thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. Always looked up to you so let's get it going.
Michael Redd: I appreciate you, man. I'm a huge fan of obviously what you're doing in your life and your journey. And obviously I got to get this out there I was a huge fan of your dad's, your dad is the great legendary Pepper Johnson who went to Ohio State and played for the Giants as well. And you followed in his footsteps to a degree and we'll get into all that, and charting out your own course in life. But as you know the theme of the show is about betting on yourself and talk to me about what that has meant to you in your life.
Dionte Johnson: Man, I would say it definitely resonates with the path that I've taken off of the football field. It's interesting when you bring up the topic of betting on yourself. because I think everybody internally you have to take a gamble on yourself in some way shape or form, no matter what career path you go down. For me it was I have a direct correlation with business just because my journey landed me into entrepreneurship at a very young age. I bust on classes at 23 years old, at the time I was interviewing places like Nationwide and things like that thinking I was going to get a CMO job right off the bat, just because I had Jim Tressel on the letter of recommendation so I thought I would get anything.
Dionte Johnson: However, the interviewing opened my eyes to me wanting to do a little bit more than just join a company and take their grooming so to say. So I found the opportunity and took the leap of faith and next thing you know I was an owner of a shoe boutique here in Columbus, Ohio, and the rest is history.
Michael Redd: You speak of betting on yourself and it's a remarkable journey that we're going to dig into a little bit, but were you always even as a kid willing to take risks on yourself or just a go getter as a kid?
Dionte Johnson: Yes. To a certain degree. I grew up the slow kid in the neighborhood as far as catching people, not being the fastest and all that good stuff. So it took a lot of work to get everything that I earned. So I took pride into being able to work on my own to be able to curate stuff on my own, to be able to think on my own without really caring about whatever everybody else thought. So I would say it's always been a piece of me being a single child, ton of friends, but really just being to yourself you always have to have a chip on your shoulder in my opinion.
Michael Redd: Who were your biggest inspirations growing up? I got a guess but I want to hear some of the inspirations you were having as a kid.
Dionte Johnson: Well, naturally love and respect for my father, but I got to say my biggest inspiration is my mother. Just knowing her journey, knowing her path, witnessing it all firsthand. My mom and dad met in college my father ended up... They were never together. So I had to watch her go from working a job as a social worker. I got to see a lot of things at a very young age because of it, she worked for Franklin County Children's Services I spent a lot of time at the Huck House and just seeing her cater towards to the community. It always kind of given me this rooting in that field so say.
Dionte Johnson: So watching her do that then when I got a little bit older, she always wanted to be an attorney. And when I got old to fend for myself, she went back to law school, she went to Capital. And went to Capital, I remember seeing all those law books on the kitchen table every night. And graduated, passed the bar the first time became an attorney became a sports agent just because of my path. And then next thing you know now she's a judge. So to watch her journey to watch her come from the South side of Columbus, Ohio graduate from Independence to where she is right now it lets me know that anything is possible as long as you continue to pursue your dreams.
Michael Redd: Your pedigree is incredible bro.
Dionte Johnson: Thank you.
Michael Redd: Knowing you and spending time with you obviously kudos to your mom and dad for raising you the way they have, man. I must say you are a city league product like myself. For those listening the city league is where it was with all the great athletes and so I'm a product of it. I went to West High School and Dionte went to Eastmoor?
Dionte Johnson: Yes. Yes. Well, I just transitioned to Eastmoor Academy when I got there so [crosstalk 00:07:06].
Michael Redd: We were rivals in high school as far as the schools and then you make the leap man to the Ohio State University. And at that point in your life football was your life, right?
Dionte Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. So I just like any other athlete you grow up, you put on the blinders, your aspiration to make it to the league. So everything you do is to groom that passion, I ran track, I played baseball and I wrestled. But I did all those things with the intent on making me a better football player. So fortunately for me I was able to achieve my dreams.
Michael Redd: Yeah. And going to Ohio State was a culture shock to a lot of us on how massive the university is, but you thrived man and you play full fullback at the school, and then you had a great career there. And then you go on to make the leap to the NFL, talk about that bet at that time.
Dionte Johnson: Yeah. So naturally the Ohio State thing was huge just because my mother and father were there. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to play in the NFL. I come from that pedigree got a chance to grow up watching my father, watching him his journey and meeting a lot of people along the way. So I would say it was a process to say the least, you didn't really think that one it wasn't supposed to happen.
Dionte Johnson: Getting a scholarship to Ohio State was probably the largest moment of my life at that point because it was so out of reach at one point, but it still was full circle moment as far as making my parents proud and all that good stuff. I would say that the gamble is always if the work that you're putting in is going to pay off. And for me, I know kudos to my wrestling coach because we lifted weights all year long. He made sure that I stayed in the weight room and he got things done. So I would say that that bet was really just the investment in yourself and your time. And fortunately for me it was able to pay off.
Michael Redd: Yeah, no, it did. And you were with the Cardinals, the Arizona Cardinals and you had an ankle injury. And so a lot of times and you know this and we've talked setups or setbacks lead to setups in life.
Dionte Johnson: Yes.
Michael Redd: And that was a setback that was really camouflaged as a set up for the rest of your life and where you are now. Talk about though that moment when that happened and you saw your dreams of playing in the NFL shift a little bit.
Dionte Johnson: Well, I have to credit that moment for so much because to me I kind of grew up it was NFL or bust. I knew I wasn't going to go and try to do Canadian football or XFL and all that different type of stuff. I believed in if I'm going to be out here swinging my body around it's going to be for the NFL. So I had to have a real come to grips moment. When I did get hurt, it's not like I didn't continue to pursue it that following year. But what I learned quickly was... I felt like I wasted an entire year, not doing anything. And it was because I did rehab. I was training again, I got my body in probably the best shape it had ever been in.
Dionte Johnson: And it was for the form that I could reach. So I had to ask myself am I going to continually do this over and over again? Because I had peers that spending four or five years trying to get into the league, and they're not progressing in their careers or whatever else it is that they could be doing. So it was in that moment that I had to have some self reflection. I had to humble myself very quickly to understand that, "Hey, I don't think that anything happens for no reason." So I started asking myself, "What do I like to do? What am I good at? What's going to be next?"
Dionte Johnson: You always thought that you going to have this 13, 14 year career then you'll own a business what does that process look like? So I had to really start reaching out, finding out what it is that I was interested in, who I could talk to in order to make those things happen. And fast forward to today and I think it happened the way that it was supposed to happen, I just didn't understand it at that point.
Michael Redd: And I've got to applaud you, man, for the mindset that you had in that moment. Being able to pivot is not easy in life. And I think the pivot for you was so profound because you didn't allow football to be your identity. It's what you did, but there were more facets to what you brought to the table, as far as life. Talk about identity, man, and how important that is because that gives you versatility to do other things in life.
Dionte Johnson: Man, I'm glad you brought it up. And I kind of just had this revelation as you were talking. I think my story the identity plays hand in hand with the betting on yourself because I will say that I question the decision a lot. My father is a former professional NFL player, he was an NFL coach at the time. So if you could imagine everybody, everybody that I grew up knowing, everybody in my family, associates, friends, they were all thinking you should be pursuing the NFL. "You got to take your dad's footsteps. You got to do X, you got to do Y, you got to do Z."
Dionte Johnson: And my gamble was me shifting the direction of the course of my life. No, I'm not Pepper Johnson by no stretch of the imagination, no disrespect to my father. I've always had a different calling or a different purpose. However, I definitely think that plays hand in hand with it. You have to be able to remove yourself from your situation from time to time to see the bigger picture instead of looking just in that moment. So the gamble was really finding the identity or I shouldn't say that's the gamble, but that was what led to the gamble of me becoming the entrepreneur and taking that risk of charting a new path for my family.
Michael Redd: No, it's so powerful, man. It's interesting because when your transition happened, I think you kind of had a revival of remembrance of your time at Big Daddy's. Because I'm thinking to myself, "Okay. Retail. Transition from NFL to retail that only had to come from your revival of your time at Big Daddy's." And now Big Daddy's was a local... And you can describe it better than I can, but we all shopped there growing up in Columbus, Ohio. And it's where you get your suits and your shoes and socks. And talk about your experiences there at Big Daddy's and how that helped you transition into what you're doing now.
Dionte Johnson: So I started at Big Daddy's at 13, 14 years old, and it turns out that the owner went to high school with my father. So he's a Detroit guy moved to Columbus years ago and then through my uncle shopping there, they we're having a conversation one day and it just came up. And the next thing you know he's like, "Oh, I know Pep dah, dah, dah, bring your son in and I'll show him the ropes." So I started off there wiping windows, the real humble dusting, taking the trash out, just being around it. And what it taught me was more important than the retail side of things was the relationships.
Dionte Johnson: Guys were coming in there because that was almost like a barbershop. You could have the conversation, you knew once you walked in that door Rick was going to have a whole outfit ready for you. He knew your style, he knew your colors and all that stuff. So for me I grew up wanting to be an architect, but I was like, "Okay, well, once I already fulfill that dream, I'm going to get my own clothing boutique so I can talk to guys and impact people in a different way." So all I did was take that grooming, never really thought that the tables would flip to a certain degree, but I just kind of took that grooming and was like, "Yo, if this is the path that I'm going to take, if I'm going to go down the road of entrepreneurship. I want something that touches me, that touches my past and that I could relate to on a high level." That's what landed me in pursuing retail over anything else.
Michael Redd: So you're transitioning out of football and you think entrepreneurship. Yeah. What led you down that road?
Dionte Johnson: Man, that's a good question because I think what led me down that road, probably wouldn't let me lead down that road again. Because I think that we all have this misconception that entrepreneurship means freedom. It does to a certain degree, but our initial perspective of it is that, "Okay. You get to control your schedule. I could vacation all the time. I could do what I want to do. I can make what I want to make." And even though those things are true, it requires a whole lot more to get there. I think about my job or my businesses 24 hours a day. You know what I'm saying?
Dionte Johnson: There's not really on vacation. I have a hard time not checking an email here or there and those are the things that you don't really know about until you're in the thick of it. So what led me down that road was like, "Oh yeah, I get to be a boss. I got to be an entrepreneur. So it's either that or work for somebody." I believe firmly now having 10 plus years of experience, if you can't work for somebody else, you definitely can't do this for yourself. You have to have those disciplines to be able to get things done. And it's something that's taken lightly when you talk about entrepreneurship.
Michael Redd: Talk about that journey, man, as far as where to begin. For the longest time I couldn't even spell entrepreneur let alone know what is was. Your antennas are up, man, you're transitioning from football, "Entrepreneurship is the land I'm going to go down. How do I do this? How do I get capital and all of this?" So talk about that journey, man.
Dionte Johnson: My secret recipe has always been in relationships. There's a blueprint for pulling yourself up by your boot bootstraps. However, it always funnels back down to a relationship. So Sole Classics had already existed before I found out about it, before I became the owner. So I actually was a customer there and then I found out that they were selling it through a friend who just happened to bring it up in casual conversation. So I go in there one day and I asked them about it and they're like, "Oh yeah, yeah, we're going to sell it. We have somebody already on the hook, but he's been dragging his feet." So immediately light bulb went off like here's my moment to own a sneaker boutique, let alone a boutique.
Dionte Johnson: I've been in sneakers my entire life. So what happened was I started going to the banks. I went to Chase, I went to Huntington, at the time we had built a CS Bank here [inaudible 00:18:59], everybody rejected me for a loan. The only thing up until that point that I ever had in my name was my mom's... no it was my Sidekick, it was my Sidekick at the time. I got my mom a car and it was in her name. Everybody's like, "You don't have any credit. You don't have any history. You don't have anything. You don't have enough money."
Dionte Johnson: So what I had to do was I had to go back to the drawing board and what I did was I asked a few teammates that I went to college with who had just recently got drafted. And it was hard because like I said I come from a pedigree of like, all right, I know a ton of people who have asked my father for money and things like that for different business endeavors. And you watch the 30 for 30 Broke and I never wanted to be that guy who wasted someone's money. So what I did was I made a business plan first.
Dionte Johnson: "This is how I'm going to use your money." It probably wasn't the best business plan at the time, but it was a plan. And I gave it to three guys and I was like, "Listen, I'm going to use your money the right way just give me this opportunity. And this is what I'm going to pay you back. This is how much, this is how much you're going to make off of this so it's not just you doing me a favor."
Dionte Johnson: Well, two people said yes before I even submitted the business plan because of my character during our time at Ohio State together. They were like, "Listen, we know who you are..." They wasn't the same conversation but in both instances they were like, "We know who you are. I wouldn't do it with anybody else but you." And it was, again, you learned that it's the things that you're doing when you don't think that they matter that end up mattering the most. So for me, the relationships, man, I would say that contributed to the most. I don't come from a place of... People who will laugh when they hear, "I don't come from a place where it feels like privilege."
Dionte Johnson: I don't have generations of business savvy people in my family. I barely have I think my mother and father... My mother is the first to graduate. My father still hasn't just yet, but he's planning on it. It was hard to turn that corner into a business mind and think investment and think worth beyond what you're used to seeing. It's been dope because everything that I've had has come from relationship. So I would say that's always the first step is building and establishing strong relationships and trying to figure out how to leverage those things.
Michael Redd: I totally agree with you. I think relationships are the currency of life. And a lot of times I've always said this that I don't have problems in life I have friends. And that's important that you said that as being so critical in what you're doing now. As I talked to you and hear you and we met a few weeks ago even, the grit and tenacity and the resiliency that you have is incredible, man. Because you strike me as the guy that said, "I'm going to get it done regardless of any obstacles or any situations I have to face I'm going to get it done." How much has vision played a part in that?
Dionte Johnson: I think vision is the biggest part, but I think people often feel like you have to have the completed vision in order to start. 23 year old me, I didn't see this. I didn't see what Sole Classics became, what it has become. I didn't see [inaudible 00:22:24] and having Canvas doing business brand development and things like that for clients. However, I knew that there was something greater than that moment. We got here by continually setting smaller goals. So yes, I had a ten-year plan at that time the 10 year plan was to open 25 doors and branch out further than we can imagine.
Dionte Johnson: But also if you take yourself back to 2009, 2010, we didn't even really scratch the surface of online retail at that time. So you thought that you had to open 10 doors to sell a certain amount of shoes, when really you have to improve your e-comm in order to sell those same amount of shoes without the overhead. So I would say that the ability to continually grow and continually shift and continually re-imagine yourself and your aspirations, that's the biggest blessing. I think that contributes to a overall vision, as opposed to one goal that you set when you're getting ready to get started.
Michael Redd: It's brilliant what you've done with Sole Classics, and I want you to talk about the business for a moment because I'm a huge sneakerhead to this day. And I was fortunate to be with Nike pretty much my whole career. And I have always enjoyed going to the store because of all of the incredible sneakers that you have in your store. Talk about combining that experience of retail into your passionate love for sneakers, man, and talk about the business.
Dionte Johnson: Yeah, man. So that that's the biggest blessing is to be able to... You know the cliche term, if you love what you do you don't work a day in your life. My mom if anything else she was going to put me in some Jordans. I was going to get some Nike's, we were going to figure it out in that regard. So if you look at pictures from three years old on there's always been a moment when there is some type of cool sneaker in the present.
Dionte Johnson: So I ended up going from being able to just purchase them, to go into being able to own a store that sold them, it was unlike anything else at that time. Sole Classics became a very important piece to the pulse of young, short North in young Columbus. We've done events. We used to hold concerts in the store, we've done collaborations and I've seen the world just simply off of sneakers. So to be able to, to sell something that you personally... Now, it does have a downside because you ended up having 500 sneakers in your closet that you're consolidating all the time because you can't turn away.
Dionte Johnson: But no, it's afforded me everything that I've had thus far in life, it's been through this community of sneakerheads and sneaker collectors and enthusiasts and people who just like to get fly. So, no, I owe a ton to the culture of every part of it that has touched different people it's been great to watch.
Michael Redd: Yeah. It's beautiful. I go in there all the time and there's something fresh and different that I hadn't seen. And I love supporting you and supporting the business. One thing about the business and the store and what you provided for Columbus is you really put Columbus on the map in your own way, in a different way. You have a passion for Columbus. I think one of the hallmarks of the business is to display Columbus, does that make sense?
Dionte Johnson: No, it makes perfect sense. And it's one of those things that you don't really understand in the moment, again, I know I say that a ton. But looking back at the history of it, there are some very big waves that have come from some very small ripples. And when you look at the store, I've had conversations with Nike, with these different brands and they will flat out tell you, "Hey, Columbus is not on our radar." We're not looking to expand in that market. We're not looking to do XYZ because it's not a destination for a lot of people.
Dionte Johnson: Unless you're a Buckeye fan you didn't really have a reason to come here in a lot of people's minds. So after hearing that and hearing it two, maybe three times, I decided that I needed to do something about it because I believe that everywhere has a story. And growing up here and understanding it I'm like why does our story matter any less than anywhere else? So I made it a purpose to find ways to tell our story on a grand level. Just to know the different projects that we've touched, the different people who have reached out, the different people who've come to town because of this one store is amazing. It's amazing to look back and appreciate and then it's also fuel to keep it going forward.
Michael Redd: The city has really embraced you. Do you feel that?
Dionte Johnson: Yeah, man. Now I will say it if you would have asked me that question a year ago, I wouldn't have really known how to answer it. But I will say that everything that happened over the summertime... Our store is one of the many that were broken into and all that stuff that was going on, it wasn't until that moment that I realized how big our influence or how important we were to the community. I feel like everyone that I could imagine locally, so many different people reached out, so many different people wanted to help from picking up glass, to supporting product and stuff like that. It was overwhelming and I always be grateful and indebted to the city just because of the way the city has embraced my dreams and my vision.
Michael Redd: I think you're doing an incredible job of giving back as well. And I think you provide a model for young black men and black women that your reach can go beyond just entertainment and sports, you can actually be engaged into the business world. Talk about that, how important that is for you in our city?
Dionte Johnson: Man, that's a touchy subject just because I am in a place now where I feel like I have so much more to do and so much more to give. For my 10 year, 11 years now of owning the shop I was raised to always believe that behind the scenes is best. There's no gloating, it's kind of roll your sleeves up and get things done. So my perception of charity or community involvement was always don't put yourself out there. What I'm learning now is people need, especially black people, especially people in our community, they need to see these examples. They need to understand that the opportunities that there are out there and more importantly that some of these people that are accomplishing these opportunities look just like them.
Dionte Johnson: So I will say that, man, we've done a ton. But it almost feels fleeting at this point because I want to make sure that going forward we let people know, especially, I will always have a passion, a burning desire to help young black kids that, "No, you can do it. Yes, your father didn't play in the NFL, but you can do it." My path, I didn't ask my dad for a dime. So how can we take this blueprint and what we've learned thus far, and how can we use that to make your situation better? Because at the end of the day, so many people fail to do just because they're unaware. So I do feel like, yes, we've done a ton and man there's a lot to be proud of, but there's just now I'm entering a phase in my life where there's so much more, but we got to make sure that we're gathering the right people so we can show them rather than tell them.
Michael Redd: That's powerful, man. And I'm proud of you, man, for those efforts bro. We talked about social unrest last year was a year to never forget. How have you been able to handle the business and maintain the business through COVID and also obviously with the social unrest last year, how would you able to maintain a navigate through last year?
Dionte Johnson: Well, one day at a time I could say man. So we ended up closing our Dublin store, which I ultimately think is a blessing. Last year shook us so far out of our comfort zone that for those of us that want to progress and have higher aspirations, I should say. It almost caused me to sit back and figure out what was I doing that was very complacent. So I took a lot of the lessons and the lumps that we learned early in last year, and just tried to identify what could be better. And ultimately it led to us having a very good second half of the year. So I will credit it all because again as a believer that things happen the way they're supposed to.
Dionte Johnson: I think that all the unrest is for some very tough conversations. I'm having tough conversations with brands even though it seemed strange for people to not know what the inner city goes through, or what the black community goes through. And you're having a conversation you're like, "Man, you should know this by now. I know you've seen the movie. I know you've heard a tape or something." But a lot of people were have put up a shield to blind themselves from things that are really going on. And because of what happened over that summer and because we were forced to sit in our houses and just take it all in because we didn't have sports for a moment, we didn't have X, Y, and Z to distract us. I think there's a lot of good things that are on the horizon because of it.
Dionte Johnson: Maybe I'm blindly optimistic, but for me I think it's reflecting business-wise. Now I'm one of only 12 black shoe retailers in the world, not in the country, not in Ohio in the entire world.
Michael Redd: Wow.
Dionte Johnson: There's only less than two handfuls of us. And now for the first time I'm having brands reach out and say, "Hey man, what are we doing wrong in the black community? What are we doing wrong for minority retailers?" And these are conversations that we should have had 10 years ago, 20 years ago. We're talented enough for all of these brands to be the face of them. If you look back at all of the collaborations I would be surprised if we're not in 95% of them, the face of 95% of them.
Dionte Johnson: However, when it turns into ownership we're not present, we're not in those same spaces. So yes, this summer has taught me a lot about my business. It's shaking off some of the dead weight, it's made me refocus and reenergize, relight that flame. But more importantly, I think there's so many more people who are becoming aware of what's been going on for so long, and I think good is going to come from it.
Michael Redd: Outside of continuing to grow as a father and a husband and the family man that you are what's next for you?
Dionte Johnson: We're doing a lot of brand development now, so figuring that out and becoming better at it. But for me, it's starting to learn business on a greater level than my mom and pop business. I'm very wet behind the ears when it comes to what goes on in the tech world or in Silicon Valley, or in venture capitalists and all that good stuff. So it's just teaching myself because I like to be knowledgeable in different areas, so that way I can be as equipped for my journey as possible.
Dionte Johnson: But between that educating myself and then giving back. Right now we're demanding more from our brands. I'm hoping that we start to see some of these programs roll out soon, in that way we can start to marry the two things together. I don't want charity to be a one act thing. I don't want to just come and clean up your neighborhood, I want to give you the tools to make sure that you keep it that way. So that's me, the next few years of my life is going to be dedicated towards equipping everyone, equipping those around me and just trying to spread this good light.
Michael Redd: Okay. That's the future. If you go back to your 16 year old self, what would you tell yourself?
Dionte Johnson: I would first tell myself to don't try to have it all figured out, especially so early. I wore myself out worrying. I wore myself out overthinking and even though I credit a lot of what I do and what I have now to it, I still think that we put a lot of pressure on our young people to, "When you're 18, you're an adult. When you're 21 you got to be doing this. If you're not making a million dollars by 25 then you're not going to make like..." No man, everybody's path is different.
Dionte Johnson: Everybody's wants, needs, and desires are different. So I would talk to my 16 year old self just about not allowing so many outside distractions to weigh so heavily on who I am and what I'm about. Other than that, man, I would tell myself workout and keep being good to people because obviously it pays off in some way, shape or form.
Michael Redd: If I said it once, I said it twice, I'm going to say it again. I'm proud of your brother.
Dionte Johnson: Thank you.
Michael Redd: And it's an amazing example of reinvention, transition and so I just thank you for being on the podcast and what you're doing in our city. And the best is yet to come my brother.
Dionte Johnson: Man, and I got to thank you not for only being on the podcast, but I know you know it, but it's always important to say man and pass these flowers because without you, without guys like you, without the examples then we don't even aspire for more. You know what I'm saying? You set the tone in so many different ways beyond just on a basketball court, but I know that I've heard so much about the business ventures from our conversation, I know there's so much more to learn about it. So thank you, kudos to you. And again, we're going to get these stories out and we're going to make sure that our kids continue to grow and be positive lights and impact this world in a positive way.
Michael Redd: No, I appreciate you, man. I really do. And me and you got a lot to talk about and we're going to get together soon. We had a great time a few weeks ago, so we need to continue that momentum. Here for your brother and you've been an example of betting on yourself.
Dionte Johnson: Yep. Yep. Going to keep it going but thank you.
Michael Redd: Dionte said, "What I had to do was go back to the drawing board." That simple statement perfectly illustrates the humility, grit, and tenacity of this man. In the face of constant change he's always faced it head on. Thank you so much for coming on the show Dionte, you can follow him on Instagram @diontejohnson. Thanks for listening until next time I'm Michael Redd and remember betting on yourself is the secret to your success.
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