dani johnson become a millionaire fast

How One Woman Went from Homeless to Millionaire In Less Than Two Years

In an episode of Sex And The City, the lead character Carrie Bradshaw, once poignantly concluded, “Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe, you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.”

In extraordinarily different circumstances, in a far cry from the glamorous lives portrayed on SATC, a 21-year-old homeless woman named Dani Johnson, came to roughly the same conclusion, though perhaps, through a more excruciating journey.

She made a meager living as a cocktail waitress in Hawaii, and was living out of her car with just two dollars and three cents to her name and $35,000 in debt. Haunted by a childhood filled with brutal and systematic physical and sexual abuse, she attempted suicide following a cocaine binge – but in that moment, ironically, her life changed forever.

 Today Dani Johnson is a multi-millionaire many times over, runs five companies and spends her time jetting around the world, giving back through her various charities.

How she went on to make her first million despite a tortured past and despite being homeless, is the stuff of entrepreneurial legend.

Her story suggests, as Dr. Phil would put it, “It doesn’t matter what your mama did; it doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do. Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself.”

This is Dani Johnson’s story. This article originally appeared on Forbes by Maseena Ziegler.

It was Christmas Eve, 1990.

“I was stoned out of my mind for two months – sleeping with eight different guys. I got to eat only by dating all these people. I realized that I had become worse than the family I grew up in and that was devastating. My mom and dad were drug addicts and I had never seen my parents sober. My childhood was filled with threats and getting beaten daily; week in, week out. My whole life was filled with horror and terror and lies and I vowed that I would never be like my family. And there I was doing cocaine…”

She hated cocaine ‘with a passion’ and recalls that when coke was introduced into the home by her parents when she was a teenager, the violence had intensified and the emotional instability was ‘horrifying’. “They would say one thing and then another thing after 15 minutes.”

That Christmas Eve, she joined other waitresses at the beach on a drink and drug binge.

“I was sweating as I was constantly dancing. I see the coke and I leaned down and I did a line. I remember waking up at 10 the next morning on my beach mat and I am asking everyone for coke. I was walking around saying, ‘Where do I get more of that stuff?’

That day, I would have given my body – I would have become a prostitute for coke and that’s how low I became. I hated everything about myself. I knew my future would never be good. I was suicidal from the age of six. My life was not worth living. There was no chance to turn it into anything better. I was disgusting. I hated how my parents raised us. My life was filled with broken promises and lies and people stealing and people beating me and people hating me and me hating myself even more…”

Fueled by the after-effects of the drug, in an almost catatonic state that morning, Dani decided she was going to end it all. “I started walking towards the ocean and dived underneath the wave.”

A few more moments under, and her life would have ended there – not an unsurprising demise given her circumstances, the coroner and police chief would have quietly concluded.

But as it happened, in that instant, her life changed forever.

‘Almost a Miracle’

“I heard a voice say, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’’

It felt almost like a miracle to her.

“The feeling of coke left instantly – I wasn’t wanting it anymore. I rolled up my beach mat, turned around and hiked a mile that I needed to in order to get back to my car. I drove 45 minutes to the beach where I was living. And the whole time I was driving, it was as if the left side of my mind was saying, ‘This is not what is intended for your life, you shouldn’t be drinking. There is more to life,’ and the right side was saying, ‘You’re a failure, you’re a loser, you’re filthy; worse than your parents. Drive this car into the ocean.’ This was like a war inside my mind with these voices and I was literally in a trance.

And I have no idea why I chose to listen to that first voice.”

So Dani began to ask herself: What can I do? What do I need to do to get myself out this situation?

“As a cocktail waitress, I was not making enough, so I had to figure out my options.”

She needed $4,500 to be able to afford an apartment but with a small income derived mostly from tips coupled with the island’s high rents, it would take her four months to save enough money.

“I didn’t want to be homeless for another four months. Rent in Hawaii was outrageously expensive and I couldn’t afford plane tickets back to California. I knew no one. I was terrified I would be raped or beaten or kidnapped because there wasn’t any shelter. I was a kid who, between the ages of three to 16, was abused and molested. The emotions were still there. You try to push this back but when you’re homeless, it is at the forefront of your mind all the time and it was terrifying to me.”

That night she fell asleep in her car without any answers but the following day, the proverbial light bulb went off.

“I get this idea. Everything I ever owned was in the backseat of my car. And there was this weight loss program I had purchased long before I was homeless, lying in the back seat. I had used it for a week. I never paid attention to it before. And it just caught the corner of my eye in the sun. It was warped from the humidity. But it was as if this device was talking to me. I picked it up and it was as if this thing was saying, ‘I’m your answer.’ And my first thought was, ‘No, I’m not going to peddle a weight loss program! No way I’m going to do this!’

As if it was beneath me. As if it was sinking to a new depth. And you know, sometimes you have that feeling that you need to do something you don’t want to do?

I turned the box around, saw the manufacturer’s details and called them from the payphone.

I started asking them the question: What is it going to take to carry the product in Hawaii? As it turned out, it would require me to have licensing – and money, that I didn’t have.”

And this is when Dani – given her very scant means – decided to get resourceful.

“I handwrote a flyer [for the weight loss program] but I needed a phone number to advertise so people could contact me – and I didn’t have one. So I picked up the Yellow Pages in the phone booth. You know cocktail waitresses always have coins! So I looked through the Yellow Pages and called a small telecommunications company. And I chatted with this guy for some time, trying to build a relationship. I asked him what the cost of their voice mail service was.

He said to me, ‘Don’t drive all the way to pay for this. Send me a check for $15. Here’s your new number…!’

Dani, of course, was elated – down to her last quarter for that week, she got the break she needed.

“I put up the flyer at the Post Office where everyone in this town went to, and three hours later, not thinking I would get any messages – it was filled with 25 messages. I didn’t know what to do with them!

Long story short, I ended up with 40 checks, totaling $4,000 dollars from people I didn’t even know – that first month!

I called up the manufacturer with an order but they wanted a physical address to send the product and I didn’t have one. So I talked the local liquor store into letting me use their address.”

Dani made a quarter of a million dollars that first year just by selling the weight loss program, was a millionaire by the second year and went on to open up 18 weight loss centers around the country. She sold the business in 1996 – a multi-millionaire.

Source: Forbes

Visit her website, www.danijohnson.com for more!

Get more stuff like this

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Related posts

Make Your Creative Ideas Concrete and Relevant Enough to Earn Money

Nana Afoa Selorm

How Aliko Dangote Became the Richest African

Desmond Bonsu

4 Tips From a 26-Year-Old Who Built a $10 Million Consulting Business

Desmond Bonsu

The fabulous life of Dr. Dre, one year after Apple acquired his company, Beats, for $3 billion

Desmond Bonsu

Majority of Ghanaians Shop at General Stores, Road Side Kiosks and Table tops

Joseph Amponsah

From Washing Cars to Running a Multi-Million Dollar Empire

Desmond Bonsu

10 Entrepreneurs Share the Best Advice They’ve Ever Received

Desmond Bonsu

20 Big Businesses Started by Students

Desmond Bonsu

Passion is Fuel for Your Business

Kwabena Okyire Appianing

These Famous 10 Companies Were Founded By Students

Desmond Bonsu

How to Determine if You’ll Be A Successful Entrepreneur

Rebecca Essilfie

How to Start Your Own Business and Succeed

Rebecca Essilfie

The Uberpreneur: How An Uber Driver Makes $252,000 A Year

Desmond Bonsu

5 Steps to Finding Investors for Your Startup

Desmond Bonsu

5 Habits You Should Learn from Successful People

Joseph Amponsah

“I Was Hungry In My Stomach But My Brain Was Full Of Hope”

Kwabena Okyire Appianing

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Desmond Bonsu

Don’t Let the Fear of Your Idea Being Stolen Hold You Back

Desmond Bonsu

How To Pitch An Investor For A Startup

Desmond Bonsu

How to Pitch to Investors in 10 Minutes and Get Funded

Desmond Bonsu

How to Make Money This Christmas and Other Festive Seasons

Joseph Amponsah

From Broke to Millionaire: 4 Lessons a Serial Entrepreneur Can Teach Us

Desmond Bonsu

Reasons You Should Start a Business While in School

Desmond Bonsu

Africa’s youngest billionaire is 41

Joseph Amponsah

5 Entrepreneurs in Africa Who Started a Successful Business with $100 or Less

Desmond Bonsu

The Most Profitable Business in Ghana also Requires the Least Skill And Capital

Desmond Bonsu

Failing to Balance Studies and Entrepreneurship; a Real Life Experience from Kwame

Irvin Akueitteh Quartey

7 Tips For Pitching Your Entrepreneurial Idea, Whether To Angels Or Sharks

Desmond Bonsu

50 Richest in Africa

Joseph Amponsah

10 Bad Habits That Successful Entrepreneurs Avoid

Rebecca Essilfie

The 7 Simple Steps to Kick Start your Business

Joseph Amponsah

5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching Their Ideas to Investors

Desmond Bonsu

Want to Become An Entrepreneur with No Business Background? Try These

Rebecca Essilfie

Family and Friends Are the Best to Raise Capital from for Your Business Start-Up

Joseph Amponsah

13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down

Desmond Bonsu

Unguarded Passion Can Kill Business Start-ups

Kwabena Okyire Appianing

Will banana wine catch on in America?

Desmond Bonsu

What Being a Mom Has Taught Me About Running a Business

Kwabena Okyire Appianing


7 Ways to Make Extra Income Even With a Full-Time Job March 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

[…] Related: How one woman went from homeless to millionaire […]

5 Frugal Habits of the World's Richest People - Top Business Journal March 31, 2017 at 5:33 pm

[…] Related:How one woman went from homeless to millionaire […]


Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.