Grant Cardone on the runway in front of his private jet
Grant Cardone on the runway in front of his private jet

Grant Cardone Q&A

At age 23, he was unemployed and on drugs. Now he’s a billionaire who owns a Gulfstream G650—but he says he’s still making one big mistake.

When Louisiana-born Grant Cardone was just 10, his stockbroker father died of a sudden heart attack. “I watched [my mom] struggle with money after my dad died,” he recalls, “and I told her one day I would become super-rich, though I had no clue how to do it. I wanted a man in my life to mentor me, but nobody came.” 

So, Cardone struggled. He took drugs and was often kicked out of high school. He did attend college but only because his mother had promised his father he would. 

After graduating from Louisiana’s McNeese State University with $40,000 in student loan debt, he became a car salesman. But he soon lost that job and, at 23, still on drugs, he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. His mother gave him an ultimatum: quit drugs or don’t visit. Cardone attended rehab and got into sales, which he hated. But he decided to stick with it to stay off drugs. 

Grant Cardone smiling and leaning over a pool table'
Grant Cardone smiling and leaning over a pool table'

At 29, he started his first business, the Cardone Group, which continues to provide consulting services to auto dealerships nationwide. After finding that his principles for improving sales and marketing would be relevant to other industries, he founded the online Cardone University and began running events, selling related merchandise, and licensing his materials to other consultants and coaches. Meanwhile, he built a portfolio of real estate investment funds that now has over $5 billion in assets.

Named No. 1 on a list of Marketing Influencers to Watch by Forbes in 2017, the 64-year-old Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author of eight business books, including The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure. He operates 13 business programs, which led him to establish the 10X Global Movement and the 10X Growth Conference. According to Cardone, his online Sales Training University has delivered content to 15 million people in four languages since he founded it in 1990. He has raised over $816 million in equity via social media and appeared on Discovery Channel’s Undercover Billionaire.

Cardone lives in Golden Beach, Miami, with his wife of 18 years, Elena Cardone, an actress, model, and author, and their two children, Sabrina, 13, and Scarlett, 11. We caught up with him via video at his office in Aventura, Florida.

Grant Cardone on Private Jets, Helping Underprivileged Youth, and Why He Shows Off His Wealth 

What’s the best advice your father ever gave you?

My dad said, “Never ruin your name. They can take everything but not your name.” I’ve spent [my life] trying to establish it as something that will live longer than me and that people will make synonymous with helping other people.

Does your father’s death still affect you?

I lost my dad at 10 and my older brother 10 years later, so I literally expected to die. I turned 64 yesterday. I'm not used to people living as long as I have. The effect has been that [I feel] I'm running out of time, so I’m always rushing.

You said you wrote The 10X Rule because no one ever taught you anything about aiming for success. What is the 10X rule?

The 10X rule is basically a multiplier. Whatever you anticipate as problems, you’ll have 10 times that many. Whatever you think it will take to become successful, it will take 10 times that much work. And it will be 10 times better than you ever dreamed.

You’ve said that if you don't keep the 10X rule in mind even after you achieve success, you’ll lose the success.

Success is not a historical event. It's something I’m always working on and towards. 

What are your 10X Growth conferences about?

The 10X conference was born out of people wanting to celebrate their success. We've had as many as 36,000 people on a weekend. It's more like a rock concert. I believe a businessperson has to be an artist and an artist must become a businessperson. 

Your focus is revenue generation?

I'm not teaching people motivation or life skills. I'm not addressing their emotional issues or scars. I'm not Tony Robbins. What I'm doing is targeting one thing: their revenue line.

You have about 15 million followers on social media. How did you get so many?

I saw social media as a way to reach a lot of people very efficiently by constantly delivering educational content on money, startups, business expansion, and scaling, all for free. I deliver content on a daily basis, not weekly or monthly. 

Do you post it yourself or does someone do that for you?

Eighty percent of everything you see posted was posted by me.

What's the most important thing you've learned in business?

Never quit. If you don’t quit, you don’t fail.

Grant Cardone's Carbon Beach home in Malibu, California
Grant Cardone's recently purchased $40 million home on Malibu, California's Carbon Beach.

You just bought a $40 million beachfront home in Malibu, California. What's the appeal of a Southern California beach when you have a beach in Miami?

Well, two beaches are better than one! I buy real estate as an investment. Real estate is my favorite asset class. I don't invest in the stock market. I don't trust money. I would rather have a property. These are fantastic homes, but more important is the location. I bought the Golden Beach [Florida] property from Tommy Hilfiger. I tracked it for almost two years and then I “stole” it [at a bargain price]. I bought the Malibu house because of the location. 

Did you buy the $40 million home to flip it?

That's yet to be determined. I'm going to give you a prediction: I’ll sell that house for $100 million one day. 

You collect watches. How many do you have? 

Too many.

What are some of your other hobbies? 

I don't play golf enough, but I love it. I love reading. Right now, I'm reading Life after Google. And I like to spend time with my kids.

You were brought up a Catholic, but now you're a follower of Scientology. How did that happen?

I was raised a Catholic and still go to Catholic churches. When a person studies Scientology, it doesn't mean they can't practice their religion. Scientology is…not about dogma and faith, but about what you can do to improve your life, your communication, your relationships—how to pick better people in your life and how to weed out the bad people, which is a life skill by itself. Also, how to trust yourself to make good decisions and not be talked out of them.

You own a Gulfstream G650ER.

That’s my third plane. I had a Gulfstream 550 that I bought new, absolutely loved, kept for three years, and just replaced it with the 650ER in December. 

Do you remember the first time you flew privately?

It was on a Gulfstream 200 which I bought. I was 54 years old. I'd never been on a private plane in my life. 

How did you decide to buy a jet?

To make sense of buying a $65 million private plane, you just need to put in three million miles on American and Delta.

What's the purpose of your flights? 

Ninety-nine percent business. 

Do you ever fly with your family?

Almost all the time. My kids are homeschooled so they can travel with us. I didn't get enough time with my dad, and I want to be sure my children get enough time with me. My wife travels and works with me. 

Do you charter out the airplane? 

No. Nobody is on the plane except us. 

Have you tricked it out?

Yes. It's got 10X on the top and underneath, so when we fly over places, you look up and you see 10X. The interior was specced out so well there was very little for us to do to it.

How much do you fly privately in a typical year?

Probably 150 to 200 hours.

Has your private flying changed now that we're coming out of COVID?

It's certainly increased. Right before COVID, we did 19 countries in five months. Then COVID shut everything down. But we should do another 15 to 20 countries before the end of the year. Plus, we'll probably do another 200 hours in the United States.

You own an AugustaWestland AW139. Do you fly that yourself?

I wish I could learn to fly a helicopter. I always say anybody can fly this stuff, not everybody can buy it.

What do you use it for? 

We bought two helicopters two years ago from Pfizer. We sold one and made a little money on that transaction. We completely tricked them out with million-dollar interiors, bucket seats, super great sound systems, and lights. They're basically Leonardo helicopters, probably the safest helicopters in the world. We use the helicopter mostly for our investors. When VIP clients come to Miami, we show them our businesses from the air.

If you were buying a jet now, which would it be?

Falcon’s building a 10X that’s going to be released in 2023. They ripped [the name] off from my brand. [Smiles.] It would be super cool to own the first Falcon 10X, but I love Gulfstream; I think they build the best equipment in the world and their service is unmatched. So, if I wasn't going to buy the Falcon 10X I would probably buy the Gulfstream G700 next.

A few years ago, you couldn't do a pushup, and now you have a daily workout routine. What prompted this?

I was 61 years old and having trouble with my knees, shoulders, and lower back. Everything hurt. I had pain all the time. One day, I realized I needed to start working on my body. I hired a trainer and went to the gym and started taking responsibility for my physical condition. That has relieved me of 95 percent of all the pain in my body. 

Your Grant Cardone Foundation is dedicated to mentoring adolescents in financial literacy, especially those without father figures. What was the impetus for that? 

When you look at what happens to kids when there's no father in the household—the suicide rates, incarceration, drug addiction, dropouts—every major metric goes straight up. I didn’t have a dad or mentor. From age 16 to 25, I used drugs daily, overdosed three times, and shouldn't be here today. The foundation is for kids in marginalized communities who don't have a dad at home. We want to support them with financial education and inspiration and provide them with examples of what people can be.

What's the biggest mistake you've made in your life?

I’m still doing it today: going too small.

How much bigger do you want to go?

I just want to reach my potential. 

Do you know what that is? 

I don't. I’m encouraged every time I get a little further along. When I see other people doing great things, I say, “If they can do that, what can I do?”

This interview has been edited and condensed.