Dani Johnson says she was groomed by her drug addict parents to fail -- financially, emotionally and socially. She seemed well on her way to living down to that expectation -- by 17 she was pregnant, at 21, homeless. Two years later though, she was a millionaire, thanks to the thriving company she built manufacturing and selling her own nutritional and skin care products. She sold that company in 1996. Then, she lost her fortune, spending almost all of it and trusting the wrong people with the rest.
Today, as a multimillionaire with six businesses that employ more than 30 people, she knows a thing or two about wealth. She says there are three things you need to know about money: how to make it and more of it; how to keep it; and how to turn it into your slave.
"Ninety-eight percent of the population will end up dead or broke by age 65. Only two percent of the population will succeed," says Johnson in her new book, First Steps to Wealth. "Where do you want to be?" she asks. You need a financial vision.
When she started raking in the cash, she didn't have the vision thing down yet. "I believed I had to wear Christian Dior suits and $500 shoes to be successful. I believed wealth was about a new Mercedes Benz convertible, and the 6,000 square-foot house with a swimming pool, view of the mountains and tennis courts. But when I got those things, I never felt successful. I had a $250,000 wardrobe and $250,000 in jewelry, and I still felt this gaping hole in my belly that made me feel I was a failure," she writes.
Challenge Yourself to Apply the Laws to Your Life
Everything starts with a decision. "There's a theory that if you find your passion that's where you'll be successful, but I believe you have to go with what's in front of you. I saw a box of weight-loss products in the backseat of my car and though I had no interest in selling, I made a decision that I needed to find out how to sell those products because if I relied on being a cocktail waitress it would take months to be able to afford an apartment," says Johnson, who was homeless and suicidal then. She started a business from the trunk of her car and a phone booth.
"If I didn't make that decision, I would still be broke. I didn't want to sell, but it was the door in front of me," says Johnson. When her first sales call ended with a hang up, she called another weight-loss product company, observed how they handled her, and developed a script from that. She used their advertisements to shape her own. To make a long story short, in 45 days she had $18,000 in sales.
Johnson credits her fortune to what she calls the 12 Laws of Success -- fundamental principles that moved her from an impoverished past to a prosperous present. She has spent the last two decades telling others how those principles can help them too.
Law No. 1 - The Law of Vision
In her book she asks, "What are the things you dreamed of doing in your life? Do you remember what those dreams looked like? What happened to those dreams? "If you want to be successful financially, expand your income to fit your dreams. This is the Law of Vision. "For without vision, we perish. It is important to list where we want to go, what we want to do, and with whom we want to do it. If you do not know what you want, no one can help you get it," she writes. But what do you want?
Law No. 2 - The Law of the Mind
There is something very different about the wealthy: The way they think, how they make decisions, act upon them, and how they see circumstances and react to them. It's their mindset, says Johnson. What's the right mindset? "It's saying every time you meet a roadblock, 'How can I make it happen?'" You decide to go around a problem, or dig a hole underneath a problem to make things happen, instead of quitting. Watch the company you keep. "You're a product of your environment. I listen to uplifting music and life-giving audios," says Johnson.
Law No. 3 - The Law of Value
The marketplace pays for value. What determines your value? Your skill set. Quite simply, "If you increase your skill, you will increase your pay." Your value is not personality, looks, or where you were born, but has everything to do with your skills, she writes. Everybody is in control of his or her skills.
"Go beyond the basics. If I had focused just on weight-loss products, I would have been like everybody else, but we decided to go a step further, to focus on people -- what makes them tick, to deal with bigger issues," says Johnson. Not only did delving deeper into the customer distinguish her from competitors, it birthed another business, a training program for personal and professional development.
Law No. 4 - The Law of Reaping and Sowing
This is the greatest of all the laws, she says. "You have been taught a lie that success is about being lucky or being in the right place at the right time. But the bottom line, says Johnson, we reap what we sow. "If you waste money, you are going to reap what you sow. If you feed your financial problems and are focused on stressing out and not being able to pay your bills, you will have more problems. Focus on finding answers. Feed the solution, not the problem," she writes.
Giving is also key. "With our businesses, we give 10% of our gross sales right off the top -- to the poor, orphans, widows, or for freeing children out of the sex trade. That is about 30% of our net profit. When we do that, we have found that even more comes back to us," she writes. She co-founded the nonprofit King's Ransom Foundation, which serves the needy globally. She spread her generosity on ABC's Secret Millionaire earlier this year. Johnson says giving motivates her. "The only reason I work is to be able give to the kids, the orphans. I don't have to work another day in my life. My kids are set."
Law No. 5 - The Law of Desire
Johnson says desire always reveals design and destiny. Everyone was born with a design to succeed. You were born with everything in you. "You have enthusiasm, persistence, faith, adventurous spirit, and the gift to get over it," says Johnson. The only thing you're lacking is the skill to succeed. "That's the part you have to learn and invest in," she writes. You were designed with wealth in mind. Replace the poverty mentality with a whole new way of thinking. No amount of debt is too small to pay off. "If you invest your money is something that makes more money, you create wealth. If you spend that money, the money is gone. Your monthly income is supposed to grow something, just like seed. But most people live from paycheck to paycheck, which means they are eating all of their seed. They have nothing to plant and grow."
Law No. 6 - The Law of Teachability
There are people around you who have success in some areas of their lives. When you are teachable, you find them. When you are unteachable, you think you are them. Being teachable means you are hungry, pursuing success, and willing to learn from masters. When you follow this law you will achieve whatever your pursue.
Law No. 7 - The Law of Forgiveness
When you do not forgive, you make decisions out of bitterness. "This kills your time for being productive and creating wealth," says Johnson.
Law No. 8 - The Law of Promotion
If you can be faithful with the little things, if you grow and improve what you have, then you will be made a ruler over much more. Johnson insists, "Prosper where you are planted." Your answer might be right in front of you, and maybe you don't like it. "The road to success is often paved with things we do not want to do," says Johnson.
Then too, "People are always trying to hit a home run. Life doesn't work like that. They try to make one big jump and flop. Work with what you have. If you have a job that you might think is 'little', be the best at it, effect people there, make a difference wherever you are." Instead of always seeking something else, focus on where you are, whether it's your job, your business, your relationships. "You will never prosper if you don't," says Johnson.
Law No. 9 - The Law of Focus
It's simple: Whatever you focus on is what you get good at. She asks, "Where is your focus?"
Johnson used to work 100 hour weeks. "My marriage was miserable and I didn't deserve the title mother," says Johnson, whose five children are now 12 to 24. After a nervous breakdown in the 1990s, her priorities changed. "I decided that family came first and that I would only work 20 hours a week -- that required focus. I discovered I was wasting 80 hours a week." When she started working less, she was so focused that her income tripled. She began delegating. "Don't think you're the only one who can do something," says Johnson, whose businesses include danijohnson.com, publishing company Call to Freedom, investment, software, real estate and oil firms.
Law No. 10 - The Law of Honor
Honoring people is the key to successful relationships, personal and professional. Says Johnson, "It's about honoring people, giving them what they want. When you honor people, they honor you back, but it is not always the one you honor who honors you back."
Law No. 11 - The Law of Decision
Everything in life boils down to choices. When you finally make a decision, everything begins to click. Make a decision.
Law No. 12 - The Law of Action
When we sit with indecision, we invite our enemies -- procrastination, fear, unbelief, and excuses -- into our lives, writes Johnson. When you immediately follow your decisions with action, a funnel of favor begins. Doors begin to open. People begin to help. Your life's purpose becomes clear, and self-motivation mobilizes you from the inside out.
If the thought of trying to put all 12 laws into play seems overwhelming, there's one good place to start. Says Johnson, "Change your attitude."