While waiting for a booth at Hillstone, Hyphen founder Dennise Johnson and I are wasting no time getting acquainted. We briefly talk about our hometowns, Plano (hers) and DeSoto (mine), which are like two different worlds. I learn that Spanish is her native language, that she’s a toddler-boy mom, and that every time she visits the popular Park Cities eatery, she orders the same thing: blackened salmon, creamed corn, and broccoli. Inspired by her loyalty to the meal, I order it too.
Johnson has made a name for herself in the real estate industry with its luxury concierge service that specializes in the relocation of athletes, celebrities and executives. The road to it, however, was not a clear path.
“I was open to the journey,” she says, “I’ve done everything from fast food to retail to business and banking. I was a teacher for five years. I was open to suggestions; people would say, ‘You’re funny; you should do this. You are assertive; you should do that.” Eventually I came across real estate… I did one or two moves and thought, ‘This is pretty fun; I should take a chance and do it just to see if it will work.’
Today, Hyphen is a multi-million dollar company that has worked with over 200 players on 30 teams in the NFL and NBA. Her stories of proving herself in the industry range from a client who once called her “Jesus” after she did the near-impossible: moving him and his family within days of being uprooted in an NBA trade. And then there was that time when she physically pushed a jammed Porsche Panamera into a shipping container.
Her guts and determination, she says, come mostly from watching her father move from an 8th-grade plumber to running a $30 million construction company in Dallas. When times were tough and she wasn’t earning enough to even cover her own salary, she leaned on his advice that success is all about perseverance.
“A lot of entrepreneurs sometimes get discouraged in that first year, second year, third year,” she says. “Most companies go out of business within three years, so it’s about waking up every day and finding your ‘why’.”
When it came to scaling her business, Johnson took advice from The 10X Rule and its author, Grant Cardone. His words about being fearless — even if it can paralyze you — resonated with Johnson, and she knew he was someone who could help. With her persuasiveness, she managed to get the billionaire on the phone. During their brief conversation, she says that he has changed her outlook on life, her family and friends, and her business.
“He literally dismantled and restructured my company in 20 minutes,” she says.
What is one of the greatest takeaways, I ask. Up her game, she says. Johnson explains that Cardone told her to write down her financial goal. She laid down to earn $5 million a year. He told her it was a joke, and 100 million dollars to write down. Why? Because she knew how to get $5 million, Johnson says.
“But with $100 million, I had a why, a drive and a purpose.”