Hyphen founder, Dennise Johnson Courtesy of Hyphen

Business

How Hyphen Founder Dennice Johnson Is Creating the Travelocity of Moving

The North Texas entrepreneur takes the work out of relocations for sports stars and celebrities.

Waiting for a booth at Hillstone, Hyphen founder Dennice Johnson and I waste no time getting acquainted. We chat briefly about our hometowns, Plano (hers) and DeSoto (mine), being like two different worlds. I learn that Spanish is her first language, that she’s a toddler boy mom, and that she orders the same thing every time she visits the popular Park Cities eatery—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 her luxury concierge service specializing in the relocation of athletes, celebrities, and executives. Getting there, though, was not a clear path.

“I was open to the journey,” she says, “I’ve done everything from fast food to retail to corporate 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’re assertive; you should do that.’ I eventually stumbled into real estate … I did one or two relocations and thought, ‘This is kind of fun; I should venture off and do it by myself and see if it will work.” 

Today, Hyphen is a multimillion-dollar business that has worked with more than 200 players across 30 teams in the NFL and NBA. Her stories of proving herself in the industry range from a client once calling her “Jesus” after she did the near-impossible: move him and his family in a matter of days after being uprooted in an NBA trade. And then there was that time she physically pushed a stalled Porsche Panamera into a shipping container. 

Her grit and determination, she says, mostly come from watching her father hustle from being a plumber with an 8th-grade education to running a $30 million construction company in Dallas. When times were tough, and she did not make enough to even cover her own salary, she leaned on his advice that success is about staying power.

“A lot of entrepreneurs sometimes get discouraged in that first year, the second year, the third year,” she says. “Most businesses fail in three years, so it’s all about making sure you wake up and find your ‘why’ every single day.” 

When it came to scaling her business, Johnson got advice from The 10X Rule and its author, Grant Cardone. His words about being fearless—even when it can paralyze you—resonated with Johnson, and she knew he was someone who could help. Using her powers of persuasion, she managed to get the billionaire on the phone. During their short call, she says he changed how she saw life, her family and friends, and her business.

“He literally dismantled and restructured my business in 20 minutes,” she says. 

What’s one of the biggest takeaways, I ask. Upping her game, she says. Johnson explains that Cardone told her to write down her financial goal. She put down to make $5 million a year. He told her that was a joke, and to write down $100 million. Why? Because she knew how to get to $5 million, Johnson says.

“But with a $100 million, I had a why and drive and purpose.”  

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