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Simpkins Speaker Series: Next Event

A Conversation with Daymond John, Founder/CEO of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Star of ABC's Shark Tank and CEO of The Shark Group

When: Thursday, November 19, 2020,  9:15 AM - 10:30 AM (Speaker starts at 9:30)

Presented as an online event by the Eastern Florida State College Simpkins Speaker Series and the Daytona State College L. Gale Lemerand Entrepreneurial Speaker Series, pre-registration was required by Tuesday, November 17 at 5 PM. Details about how to watch via Microsoft Teams will have been sent to the email address you used at registration. For questions call 321-433-7055.

Daymond JohnFrom his wildly successful role on ABC's smash hit, Shark Tank, to his distinguished status as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Daymond John has become globally recognized for his relentless commitment to promoting and supporting entrepreneurs. Read Mr. John's complete biography below.

The Simpkins Speaker Series is named after Bernard Simpkins, a highly successful entrepreneur and Brevard County business leader who established the sessions that have brought some of the nation’s top business innovators to Eastern Florida State College. All presentations are free and open to the public.


Read Daymond John's Biography

From his wildly successful role on ABC's smash hit, Shark Tank, to his distinguished status as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Daymond John has become globally recognized for his relentless commitment to promoting and supporting entrepreneurs. Daymond initially made his mark as the entrepreneur and branding expert behind the groundbreaking lifestyle brand, FUBU, which has eclipsed more than $6 billion in global retail sales. From the streets of Hollis, Queens, Daymond started a global movement from the basement of his mother's house by capitalizing on the then fledgling hip-hop culture. FUBU was a undoubtedly a key development for the streetwear market, which today is a $20 billion industry.

Since then, Daymond has continued to challenge himself and the business world in which he operates. In 2009, Daymond was tapped by lauded television producer, Mark Burnett, to join the cast of a new business-reality concept, Shark Tank. Now, after 9 seasons, 4 Emmy Awards, multiple Critic's Choice Awards and millions of dollars in investments, the show has become one of the most successful business reality series of all time. Over the course of the series, Daymond has been a mainstay of the cast of Sharks and is now affectionately referred to as, “The People's Shark.”

Resolved to share his hard learned lessons – from major successes and failures – Daymond has written four books, and become a 'New York Times Best-Selling Author'. While his previous books, Display of Power and The Brand Within were national best-sellers, The Power of Broke (2016) and Rise And Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life (2018) are the only New York Times best-selling books from any of the Sharks.

Beyond the brands, the television series and the books, Daymond's commitment to entrepreneurship has been celebrated on a global level. In 2015, he was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and was part of an exclusive group who joined President Obama at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Kenya. In March of 2016, Daymond accompanied The President on his historic trip to Cuba, which represented the first time a sitting US president visited the island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

One of Daymond's proudest accomplishments is his continued fight against dyslexia. He has worked with the Yale Center for Dyslexia and he currently sits on the advisory board of Daymond has embraced his affliction allowing it to be a catalyst for his career as a highly sought after public speaker and author.

As a dynamic speaker with more than twenty-five years of proven business experience, Daymond has become one of the most highly sought after speakers in the country. He regularly speaks at Fortune 100 companies, conferences, universities, and independent businesses alike. Whether he's speaking about entrepreneurship, marketing & branding, financial literacy or goal-setting strategies, Daymond's high energy presentations give audiences relatable advice and practical takeaways. Daymond has delivered keynote speeches for organizations such as General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, AT&T, Yale, Georgia State University, Purdue University and dozens more.

A recipient of more than thirty-five awards, including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year and Ernst & Young's Master Entrepreneur of the Year, Daymond serves as CEO of the brand consultancy, The Shark Group, which specializes in brand strategy and development, artist relations and talent development. Under Daymond's leadership, The Shark Group has re-written the script on how companies, brands and products can seamlessly work together to yield a sum greater than its parts. The Shark Group works with a wide range of businesses and brands, including Capital One, HSN, Forbes, Miller Lite, Gillette, Shopify and Infusionsoft and superstars such as Muhammad Ali, the Kardashians, Pitbull, Stan Lee, Carlos Santana, Jillian Michaels and others.

Learn More About the Simpkins Speaker Series

The Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Entrepreneur Bernard W. Simpkins to teach the fundamentals and success of entrepreneurship. The free one-hour seminars, held on the campuses of Eastern Florida State College or online, bring entrepreneurs to Brevard County to speak about their challenges and triumphs along their journey to economic success through innovative ideas. They also offer insight into today’s economic trends.

Since its inception, the lectures, which are held each spring and fall, have become a popular event for faculty, students and business owners in Brevard County and surrounding areas. The seminars allow entrepreneurs to share how they started, what prompted them to become an entrepreneur, the characteristics and traits of an entrepreneur and important decisions that enable entrepreneurs to have success.

Mr. Simpkins was an entrepreneur who worked in the petroleum business with convenience stores and owned a Toyota automobile dealership, a Goodyear tire distributorship and Thrifty franchise car rental. Until his death in October 2020, Mr. Simpkins owned S & S Enterprises, Inc., based in Cocoa, Florida.

Bernie Simpkins once said, “Entrepreneurship is an open road to success for those who chose to invest hard work and determination. Saving what you earn to establish a beginning is a key to success."

His life embodied that philosophy and Mr. Simpkins generosity to Eastern Florida State College throughout his life is greatly appreciated.

In March 2000, Mr. Simpkins donated $250,000 to the College to establish an endowment known as the “Business Seminar for Entrepreneurial Development.” In 2007, Mr. Simpkins became the college’s first $1 million donor for the development of an entrepreneurial curriculum program.

February 25, 2020 Speaker: Hyatt Brown

Hyatt Brown

View event photos on Flickr.

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, University of Florida graduate Hyatt Brown inspired the entrepreneurs of tomorrow during the Simpkins Speaker Series on Eastern Florida State College's Melbourne Campus. Read more about the event.

Watch YouTube Replay: Hyatt Brown

Hyatt Brown talking to crowd





Orlando native and Daytona Beach resident Hyatt Brown helped turn a family-owned business into the sixth largest insurance broker in the United States, becoming a billionaire in the process.

Driven by a passion for putting customers first, Hyatt Brown’s vision and guidance have helped shape a modest, family-owned business into a top-performing leader in the insurance brokerage industry.

As Chairman, Hyatt contributes through his industry-leading experience and unwavering commitment to building a culture of individual initiative and "can do" attitude. His guidance has helped Brown & Brown grow from a local insurance company to one of the largest insurance brokerages in the world. Before assuming the role of Chairman, Hyatt served as CEO and President for more than 45 years.

Hyatt is one of the leading minds in the insurance industry, having received some of its most prestigious honors and awards. In 2017, he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People in Insurance” by Business Insurance Magazine, adding to his already long list of accolades, which includes awards for industry leadership from Investor’s Business Daily, A.M. Best and the Insurance Federation of New York. Additionally, Hyatt was honored by the international community in 2015, receiving the celebrated Freedom of the City of London – a recognition believed to date back to 1237 – by the London-based Worshipful Company of Insurers in recognition of his contributions to the worldwide insurance industry and his relationship with the London market. During his extensive career, he also served as Vice Chairman of Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association and Chairman of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers in Washington.

A University of Florida graduate, Hyatt is an honorary member of Florida Blue Key and has been inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame. He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1980, where he earned the Most Effective Member of the House and Most Valuable Legislator awards from the St. Petersburg Times and the Allen Morris award from the Florida Times Union.

Currently, Hyatt is a Trustee of Stetson University and serves on the boards for International Speedway Corporation in Daytona Beach, Florida and Verisk Analytics, Inc. in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is a retired director of RockTenn Company, SunTrust, BellSouth Corporation and NextEra Energy Resources.

Speaker Series Founder

Bernie Simpkins, Entrepreneur

Bernie SimpkinsThe Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Bernie Simpkins to highlight the fundamentals and successes of entrepreneurship. Our condolences to the family and friends of series founder Bernie Simpkins, who passed away on October 16, 2020.

Daymond John event sponsored by:

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