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Rob Dyrdek Talks Celebrity, Wellness and His Future Ventures

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Rob Dyrdek / ONE37pm

In 1991, Alien Workshop released Memory Screen, their debut full-length video that introduced a cut-and-paste, multimedia aesthetic to skateboarding that somehow felt as familiar as a fever dream; it made you want to ride a skateboard. At 16-years-old, Rob Dyrdek was part of Alien’s new sect of street skaters who were then still largely unknown and unestablished in the industry. Memory Screen’s artful irreverence, along with the brand’s mystique and visual direction, became a cult hit still referenced and lauded today. 

In 2021, it's hard to think of Rob Dyrdek as niche or underground. For some, they hardly equate him with skateboarding and that’s partially by design. In the beginning of his Memory Screen part, Dyrdek is shown in grainy Super-8 film, juxtaposing wires into a console. It's a subtle if not accidental metaphor for an approach that made him a successful entrepreneur—connections, patterns, and a splash of hyper enthusiasm, albeit aided by sped up film. 

That energy led to Dyrdek starting several businesses, having successful television franchises on MTV and eventually owning Alien Workshop before returning it to Mike Hill, one of its original founders. Rob Dyrdek is a skateboarder and if you question that, go back and review the tape. He also has the awareness to not only put himself out there but make moves other skaters would deem as “corny” without worrying about perception. Why? 

As I learned in my interview with Rob Dyrdek, a skate career is part ambition and part illusion. Whether he realized that through intuition or experience, skateboarding’s taken him from a pro making less than four-figures a month to a franchise, expanding into the wellness market and determined to “grow rich not get rich.” You can also explore what he's up to with the Dyrdek Machine here.

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Noel Vasquez / Getty Images

Before the term “branding” was so prevalent in pop culture, skaters were steeped in it because all of skating—your photos, your graphics, video, your clothes—was curated and a reflection of your personality. What did skating teach you about branding? 

The thing about skateboarding was that it was never just about how good you were at skateboarding. It remains that way today. The idea that you could build an entire career off just having a good style is one the great things about skateboarding. This combined with the idea that it’s a sport that combines skill and creative expression. I was also raised by entrepreneurs and always looked at myself as the “business” when I was very young, so I became hyper aware of how what I was doing was impacting my career. 

The idea that you could build an entire career off just having a good style is one the great things about skateboarding.

- Rob Dyrdek

There was a point in skating post-Jackass where every skater thought they were a comedian or a potential celebrity and everyone wanted a piece of it. While you never shunned from the spotlight or taking huge risks, how were you able to optimize opportunities and make decisions you felt good about while balancing the corporate machine that goes along with those choices?

The balance was always something I have considered throughout my entire transition from pro skateboarding core industry to pro skateboarding mainstream media. Skateboarding just wants to be represented in a real way. I was hyper aware to stay away from corporate projects that would use skateboarding and its culture in a way that was disrespectful or inauthentic. I used a lot of those corporate relationships to fund skate plazas and invest in Street League so pros could make more money. It was always a balance for me. 

Skaters aren’t known for financial prowess. Was there anyone you met in or out of skating that changed your outlook and got you thinking about how to invest and make sure you had stability after skating?

I am cut from the same cloth that most skaters are. I am a creative and athletic person that didn’t connect with team sports or school. I left high school, like most pro skaters, at 16-years-old with no real education and no understanding of money. I was blessed with the drive and desire to learn and evolve, and I learned all aspects of finances and business through the fire of experience. I created my first company, Orion Trucks, at 17-years-old and began to figure out ways to make multiple revenue streams, but it took many many years to understand how to invest and grow money. I never really thought about life after skateboarding because my ambitions have always been about how I can continue to grow and evolve into bigger and more exciting opportunities.

The nature of skating is trying something thousands of times before you do it once. Failure is part of the DNA, do you think that made you bolder or more liquid in business?

There are a few key aspects of skateboarding that I think built the foundation for how I approach business. Once you have a clear outcome and understand what you need to do to achieve that outcome, failure becomes part of the process. Failure is not so black and white. Trying over and over again and it not working is not failure because you are slowly progressing towards your goal through failure. You have to keep adjusting and adapting your strategy until you learn the trick. It doesn’t matter if that trick takes five tries or a thousand tries, you are failing towards your goal. You only truly fail if you quit trying, and even in that case, you have simply learned the range of your limits which in itself has great value. I build each business with this same framework and mindset. 

You only truly fail if you quit trying, and even in that case, you have simply learned the range of your limits which in itself has great value.

- Rob Dyrdek

Is there anything you regret about “Peak Rob Dyrdek the Celebrity?” or anything you’d change?

Peak Rob Dyrdek Celebrity, I will always look back on fondly with no regret. It’s a remarkable transition from pro skater to mainstream recognition. I am thankful that it happened for me so much later in life so I was much more prepared for it. I was able to really enjoy it without it ever disrupting my passion and drive to continually elevate and evolve. I am not really someone that lives with regret about anything because there are clear lessons in all things you experience.

We’re in an era where everyone considers themselves an entrepreneur. How do you define entrepreneurship and what keeps trying new things exciting?

I feel like if you create any service or product and sell just one, you qualify as an entrepreneur. This is the American way. There are many different ways to be an entrepreneur. My approach is different because I want to master the process of curating amazing entrepreneurial talent, validating their ideas and then creating and shaping the idea into a successful thriving business. I absolutely love all aspects of the process and just want to keep doing it over and over again. Each time I get better and better. 

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Mindright

Wellness is a huge lane that’s been even more highlighted during the pandemic, can you tell me about starting Mindright and why you feel it’s not only an important product but why you wanted to expand into the category?

Mindright is a collision of two worlds. We started first with a great tasting super clean bar that is low in sugar, high in fiber, and protein, gluten-free and plant based. Next, we added all the adaptogens and nootropics to enhance mood and reduce stress. This existed in supplements before, but creating a great tasting clean snack with these ingredients is the first of its kind. It’s the right time to introduce a product platform to reduce stress and support you on your path to happiness—that’s what Mindright offers to consumers.

What other ventures does Dyrdek Machine have in the works? Anything you’re particularly excited about or passionate about?

We created 15 companies since launching in 2016, 5 of which have been acquired. We have an amazing comfort footwear brand called Lusso Cloud, a plant based snack food company with a pigless pork rind called Outstanding Foods, and a premium supplement brand Momentous to name a few. Each one of these companies are equally special to me. My passion for ideating, creating, launching and growing a company will never waver. I want to master all aspects of business creation from idea to exit. 

Do you have a wellness/mental health routine?

I wake up naturally at 4:30 AM and then start my morning with meditation. I brain train and work out every day before a morning shake. I created the “Rhythm of Existence,” which is a system that guides all aspects of my personal and professional life and allows me to live a life that is filled with energy--which is imperative to balanced mental health. The Rhythm of Existence is designed to optimize productivity and maximize energy with the overall goal to create a holistic view of a predictable life of health, happiness, and fulfillment that accounts for all aspects of living and guides my wellness and mental health routine. It’s an operating system for my life. 

Last one, investment apps and cryptocurrency have democratized and demystified things to an extent. If you were coming up in this era as a young skater starting to get paid, would you take some risks and invest in something like Bitcoin? I’m picturing a bunch of dudes on an Alien or DC tour in a van making trades and shit. [laughs] 

I don’t think anyone should chase investment waves unless you are willing to lose all the money you invest. It can be a lot of fun as long as you don’t risk all of your money. You really want to play the game of compound growth. I really think everyone should study what they want to invest in and make an informed choice about that investment. The goal is to grow your money over time. It is easy to be lured in by the rich quick wave of new investment opportunities. The goal is to grow rich not get rich.

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