Fusing Art, Science, and Magic with Rob Dyrdek

Audio Description

About life, Rob Dyrdek says, "You've got to design it, build it, and go live it with purpose." Makes sense coming from a man who has built a career out of turning his hobbies into his life's work. From pro skateboarder at 16 to creating his first company at 18 to his enormous success as an entertainer, Rob is now the founder and CEO of the Dyrdek Machine, a one-of-a-kind venture studio. Today, Rob discusses his passion for entrepreneurship and his belief in fusing art, science, and magic to live an integrated life. Learn how these principles work equally well to create meaningful businesses.


00:08 - 01:13

Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Big Stage where we talk to athletes, artists and entertainers about their lives. And in fact, I'm your host, Adam Sansiveri, Bernstein managing director and co-lead of sports and entertainment. Back again with me is the man himself, Grammy Award nominee, former music manager, Bernstein adviser and brand new father, Mr. Dan Weisman. Now, some people practice daily affirmations in the mirror to build confidence, others are just born with it. My guest today credits his unwavering self belief as a fundamental secret to his success. Rob Dyrdek is a passionate entrepreneur, actor, producer and former professional skateboarder. You may know him from his MTV hit shows, Rob & and Big, Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory, as the host of Ridiculousness. Today, Rob is the CEO and founder of Dyrdek Machine, a one of a kind venture creation studio. We'll get to that very soon. But first, Rob, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me.

01:13 - 01:33

Rob, I want to start by diving into your early years. At 11, you discovered skateboarding or so I'm told. And at 16, you dropped out of high school to move to California to become a professional skateboarder. Talk about tunnel vision. Like that feels like a huge leap of faith as a 16-year-old kid. What drove that decision and did you ever second guess it?

01:34 - 02:40

Look, I think one of the gifts that I was blessed with was really being able to determine what I want an outcome to be and then stop at nothing to achieve it, even at a very early age. And I think when I finally around 12 decided I was going to be a professional skateboarder, the entire path towards that was, year over year, from getting a factory sponsor to then doing well in the big contest, then being asked to turn pro when you're 16 years old. So to me, it was, this is my destiny. This is what I'm meant to do. And how on earth does education have anything to do with the fact that I am now a professional athlete? Now, of course, back then, skateboarders didn't make much money. In December of 1991, I sold one signature Rob Dyrdek skateboard and got a check for two dollars. So I always had to put that little carrot out there that I would go back to school eventually if skateboarding didn't work out. It just never, never came to fruition.

02:40 - 02:41

Oh, that's great.

02:41 - 03:04

Well, I've read that you were raised by entrepreneurs and have said that growing up, everyone around you is starting companies which had to have had a big influence on you. How old were you when you started your first company? I think it was called Orion Trucks. And was that born out of necessity or did you see a void in the market? How did you balance starting that business while being a pro skateboarder?

03:04 - 03:45

I was raised by entrepreneur wolves, right. Because it was, I called the skate shop and asked if I brought 10 people there to skate their ramp in the back, would they let me skate for free? They're like, man, this kid. Like what? Yeah, I guess no one's ever attempted this. Now I'm in and friends with Jimmy George, who is a serial entrepreneur at 19 years old that started that shop and started multiple companies. And and then I just started watching the group around him starting multiple companies. So just like I had the tunnel vision to be a professional skateboarder, it was I thought it was just the natural next step for me was to build my own company just like everybody else.

03:45 - 04:41

And even when I built Orion Trucks, the first full built that I did, I looked at it as there was these other truck companies, the metal parts of the skateboard. But I had the relationships with all the very best pros and it started first with convincing them of like, hey, let's all get together and start this company and we could all have a piece of it. Then I went to a manufacturer who had the entire manufacturing distribution ability to bring it to market in the capital. But what I had was the best skateboarders in the world and the concept for the actual company. And that's how I was able to execute it so swiftly. But I wasn't thinking deeply about it. I was thinking I wanted to start a company. Here's this group of what I'd call built in unfair advantages to the market that I would be able to launch this with and then took that to the manufacturer to create the company.

04:42 - 04:48

And let's let's be clear for our listeners here. When we say trucks, we're not talking about vehicles here. This is a part of the skateboard.

04:48 - 05:14

Right. So the wheels attach to the metal part of the skateboard. It's called the truck that basically what you stand on that attaches to the wood skateboard. And I did that at that was just when I turned 18 years old and I hand drew the logo, came up with the name, did the entire thing, and first illustrator making it in it. It was truly a complete build from idea stage all the way to market.

05:15 - 05:19

So I'm doing the math in my head. And what year this was, 1993.

05:19 - 05:20

It was like. Right.

05:21 - 05:38

So I remember correctly, I'm fascinated, unlike people that were able to figure stuff out pre internet, especially at such a young age, like how did you go about figuring this without pre internet, finding the manufacturer, starting this hardware company. Lessons did you learn in sort of self-sufficiency?

05:38 - 06:59

Well, look, you know, it's something that I would learn 20 years later, but it's pure founder market fit, right? It's like I'm someone that has deep relationships in the skateboarding industry, because I was a professional skateboarder. I had the aspirations to build my own company. And so I went to the manufacturer that I had a relationship with. I knew Kareem Campbell, Guy Marijuana, Eric Koston, all these elite names they would be salivating at, that they did not have access to that level of talent. And so, again, it's more blind ambition than it is sort of calculated opportunity. In that era, it was very much relationship over everything. Like I couldn't have just been some random person that had no relationship with the industry and be like, I'm going to try to talk to these elite pros and put this whole thing together.. And I think as I went on to be a serial entrepreneur, I looked at myself, as like, you put it together. You're an entrepreneur. You got it going on, like you did the logo, you built the brand, the name. But I didn't realize that it was that founder market fit and that that built-In unfair advantage that allowed me to build and launch a company so quickly and successfully at such a young age.

06:59 - 07:16

You know, a little bit of a turn here. We read that you've been hypnotized by a professional hypnotist at some point in your life, which I've never done. I didn't actually believe that it worked, but we read that it was like a really life changing experience for you. And I'm really curious about that experience. If you might share that a little bit with us.

07:16 - 07:56

You know, I look at it's the magic side of life. To me,, it's art, science, and magic. And to me, I'm a system's mind. So I say systematically fusing art, science, and magic. Right. You've got to create whatever you want. There's proven principles in the science of if you want something to work, it's got to happen. But then there's the magic side. It's the timing. It's the luck. It's the all of these different things. And for me, when I look back on being hypnotized, it was done more out of this being sort of lost, this kind of losing belief in myself a little bit and like, wanted some sort of reinforcement to help me, like, re-engage with competitive skateboarding.

07:56 - 08:45

And when I went to this clinical hypnosis now, again, to give you a timeline, I couldn't look this up on the Internet. I found him in the Yellow Pages at Scripps La Jolla in San Diego. And I thought to myself, wow, I found a hypnotist in the Yellow Pages who is a doctor, a clinical psychologist at La Hoya Scripps. This must work.. And so he had written a book called Hyper Success. And I went in there and he said, let me just first test your subconscious to see if you even believe that you are meant to have great success. And it was a complete left turn. He did all this, it's sort of muscle testing in this sort of way of asking you questions. And if you go weak, your subconscious doesn't believe that type of thing. And he was like, you do not believe on the subconscious level that you are meant to have great success.

08:46 - 09:55

OK, program me, right. And so now I go through this series of of chants and tapping myself and doing all this sort of a beyond what you would expect from someone just hypnotizing you for success. Now, from that point forward, my life has never wavered ever again. I have been on an explosive trajectory that just keeps evolving and evolving over time. Now, do I give credit to the great Dr. George Pratt? No doubt. Just had him officiate my five-year anniversary when I did a full wedding last year. Right. I look at it as this instrumental part, but at the end of the day, it just made me more aware of how to begin to manage my subconscious and begin to thinking about how I think about myself and how I think about my ability to achieve my visions on a deeper level. That I think really is the programming outside of, Dan, you just heading down to San Diego and getting hypnotized for whatever dream you want to come true.

09:56 - 10:01

Yeah, that's a lot deeper than I think people who sort of read that headline maybe thought it was.

10:01 - 10:29

And I love that you use the words art, science, and magic. And I've seen you use that in other areas. So since launching in 2016, your venture Creation Studio, Dear Machine, has created 14 brands, five of which have exited for a combined four hundred and fifty million dollars. The company says it fuses art, science and magic to create amazing companies. So what is the machine method or the magic that you're talking about in that business?

10:29 - 11:10

Well, to kind of put it all together, the machine method is the process for systematically fusing art, science, and magic. And for me, what I call it, especially in business, because business is extraordinarily difficult and it's not some binary, you create a business plan and then you launch a business and then it works or it doesn't work. Right.. It's this extraordinary creative process that requires non-stop shaping and micro failing and all of these different sort of decision making processes that are all creative led, even when you dump down into financial models, like really being tactical and creative with how you approach even the financial side of your business is something that a lot of people don't consider.

11:10 - 12:04

But then the science of business, it's proven fundamentals, it's unit economics, it's cost structure, it's market trends, it's all of these things that are proven whether or not your business is going to be successful. If you have a business that has 30 percent margins and you think you're going to be direct to consumer and you don't account for the customer acquisition costs, you're going to have a ton of revenue and have a business worth nothing, making no money.. And that's a burden. Fundamentals of business are sound, but the magic is the intangible. It is like the right timing. It's outstanding foods, making a pivot from a pigless baconship to a pigless port run in an exploding, right, as the plant based market is exploding at the same time. Right. It's these incredible sort of things that happen along the way that are completely unexplainable, that drive your business to success.

12:04 - 12:56

And it can go the other way too - I've launched businesses that it was the intersection of live content and 360 video, like this is going to be, this is going to be incredible. Like people are going to be like having these virtual experiences everywhere. It's just about to explode. And then it ends up being like, nope, it was like 3D TVs. So it's like ends up being this sort of intangible that you want to position yourself to get lucky. I don't care who you are in any business, when you go back and look at the success of that business, there is a handful of moments in time where they're unexplainable and you're like, wow, thank God that happened. And I think, like for us, how do we do that with purpose rather than just work really hard and keep fighting until something lucky happens?

12:56 - 13:05

You talked about branding a little bit. What do you see as your biggest branding mistake that you made in your long, illustrious career?

13:05 - 14:34

I don't know that you make branding mistakes as much as you you ultimately will design a brand that's too thin, right. Like the way that I've evolved into brands, like and you look at them two ways. Sometimes I love, for example, the way MindRight, our nootropic super food, Good Mood Superfood brand that we just launched is built. Because at the end of the day, the value proposition of these adaptogens and nootropics is mood enhancement. So then when you can call your name of your company MindRight...and now it becomes a verb. When you use the value prop for these products, nootropics, adaptogens, it makes your mind right. And then when mind right means you're in a good mood. Now you are mind right Good mood superfood. And then now you can take that into the content you create is all happy. The feeling of your packaging is happy, your social media is happy. All your content. It's about being happy and alive, and the vibrancy of tying the brand name to the value proposition of the product, tied to the way it feels, its social and owned and earned media, like that is when you build something really connective that has like a much more sound core brand, than I think people actually realize. Versus just choosing a name, and then we'll let the brand develop around its core value and the name is an afterthought.

14:34 - 14:45

So all along those lines, you refer to yourself as relentlessly evolved and evolution and relentless pursuit are sort of core tenets to your ethos. Expand more on that ethos.

14:46 - 15:46

You know, to me, I refer to it as like perpetually optimizing. My entire existence I am trying to create, is I'm fueled by the joy of creation. I love creating, love building, but I'm trying to drive to automation because the moment you get to automation, now, you can get the optimization. And so for me, my whole life is about driving all aspects of it into automation. So I can get to optimization because the beauty of... the great Ray Dalio will tell you that take these big risks, fail, learn and loop.. Right. But I think you also loop the other way. When you have successes, and you can see if, like, there's so many other things that I could have done to make that pathway to success easier, to maximize that further, right. So I really look at all aspects of my life and I don't look at my life and business separately. It's all intertwined as one single system. And I try to automate and then continually optimize all aspects of it.

15:46 - 16:10

And that, I would say from an outside perspective, is one of the most inspiring things about you. You've systematically built a career out of turning your hobbies into your life work, possessing an innate trust in the things you're drawn to paving your way forward. So has wholly living your life style always been an end goal? And would you give your younger self any advice based on what you know today, given what you've created?

16:10 - 16:49

Yeah, I mean, look, there's no doubt that this is a discovery in the last five, six years from me, right? Because before I had the ability to do anything and I did everything and I kind of stood for nothing. Right. And so for me, because I had not integrated today I have who I am, what I do and how I live fully integrated. Right. And then I decided first, what type of life do I want to live? And then I built the world that I have today around that and the journey that live the life that I want to live. And that takes a ton of self discovery.

16:49 - 17:44

And ultimately, it's about what type of relationships, what type of lifestyle do you want? Where do you want to point your mastery? And will your mastery and your... lead towards the amount of capital you need to pay for the lifestyle that you envision for yourself? And there's sort of these fundamentals of physical health and mental health that you have to have goals on in order to integrate all of this, to lead you to living an ideal existence. The ideal version of yourself is ultimately what everybody's life goal should be. And I would argue that you would want an ideal version of your lifestyle to live in this more effortless, happy, elevated state all the time. And you've got to design that if you actually want to live it. You can't just keep living life and hoping that it turns out the way you wish it would. You've got to design it, build it and go live it with purpose, you know. That's awesome, Rob.

17:44 - 17:49

If our listeners take away anything from any of the podcasts that we've recorded over the past two years, I hope it's that message.

17:49 - 17:58

So I'm curious to know a little bit more about Rob as a person and your lifestyle in general. So I guess first question is, what's something that you splurge on?

17:58 - 18:54

I don't know that I splurge on anything specifically. I'm pretty militant as it's related to like how I spend money and, look, I buy fancy cars and own a bunch of houses and building a super house, and own some watches.. But for the most part, part of my personal system is I do pure venture, right, where I'm looking for ROIs and IARs, deep into the hundreds. We cofound everything, funded it at the early stage. Give me one hundred X at a minimum on everything on that front.. Then on the other side, give me all cash producing, non correlated assets, that then I live my personal lifestyle within the range of my cash-producing assets post-tax, right. It's freedom. And then I keep five years of cash at all times and a lot of people would say, oh, that's crazy. But for me that's called deep peace.

18:54 - 19:30

So it doesn't matter how much money that I make. My system of how I manage my own personal capital as it relates to the lifestyle that I want to lead lives inside that, so when I'm splurging on random stuff, it's like, oh, I just bought this $5,000 crystal, abundance citrine crystal that's going to drive up my overall life abundance. I might invest in something like that. I bought a twenty five thousand dollar meditation pod so I could start meditating on a daily basis. So, you know, I'll kind of go all over the map on where I'd spend money, you know?

19:30 - 19:41

Well, Rob, I have to admit that after reading, doing a little research, I saw that pod and I looked it up. And I'm thinking about that, thinking about getting one, because that seems like a lifestyle change right there for me.

19:41 - 20:28

we know how important meditation is. How much do we got to hear it? Having like a machine to get in and go on and experience every morning is a much easier way for me to do it. And then ultimately, I was able to commit, so far this year, I've probably not meditated, you know, maybe two or three times in the entire year, you know. Favorite movie. I always hearken back to the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you know what I'm saying? It's the ultimate wish fulfillment sort of universe. I think kind of inspired, and it's the reason why I called Fantasy Factory the fantasy factory, because it was this idea of like, I'm like a modern day Willy Wonka. And inside this building, I'm bringing all of these fantasies alive, is what led to the name Fantasy Factory.

20:28 - 20:33

Well, somebody's got to go to the Fantasy Factory a few times. Your mission accomplished on that one. Yeah. Favorite book.

20:33 - 21:12

I mean, Principles. I love all aspects of Ray Dalio's thinking.. I think it's evolved thinking. And it's an incredible systemized thinking and process-driven mind that I think there's so many aspects of that book that can be simply applied. And then I think fundamentally, Think and Grow Rich. I don't know, Think and Grow Rich to me is the step-by-step way to think about life and success and in order. And I think people just don't think about the title and haven't read it in years and don't realize how it is the fundamental blueprint to create success in your life.

21:13 - 21:16

Favorite car that I've owned. You mentioned your car guy man.

21:16 - 21:48

yeah, I've owned a lot of cars, but there's the gtc4lusso, which is like the hatchback Ferrari. And I don't know what there's, just something about the station wagon Ferrari that like nobody owns, because it's too expensive.... Right. And it loses value more than any other Ferrari. But to me it's like, you're throwing your kids in there. But you can still... I just... of all cars I've ever owned, like the old man Ferrari I love the most, no doubt.

21:48 - 22:02

All right, Rob, we're coming to the end of our show. So I want to ask you two more questions that we try to ask most of our guests. The first one is, given your success and the platform that you've built, how are you using it for impact?

22:03 - 23:26

Yeah, I mean, look, in my early days, I, I was really about how do I build skate parks all over the world. And through my initial foundation, I built a ton of skate parks.. Right. And so as I've evolved, like, really my mission now is, how do I build a foundation that can support entrepreneurs and underestimated and underserved communities? Right.. And so for those five exits, we put a million dollars into Do-or-Dier, our foundation that we launched this year, that we're getting ready to really go and do a ton of programs. And for me, we're starting it with doing a business plan competition, using our machine method framework. And this will give anybody with an idea access to put in the energy and the time to build just a plan that we can then award capital to in the beginning and long term.. I'd like to scale that into providing nondilutive capital and loans and all these different aspects of really being able to support entrepreneurs that just have no access to capital, no relationships. You know, it's just something for me that I know that we can both educate and support over time as we scale in launching it. This year is sort of the beginning of really, really being like a big initiative for myself over the next ten to fifteen years.

23:26 - 23:46

Philanthropy that creates more wealth. That's fantastic, Rob. Fits right in with the ethos that you've been talking about. So final question. You talked a little bit about how you view money, how you view financial investments, the way you do it. But if you were to give our listeners one piece of financial advice, what would that be?

23:47 - 24:55

To me, I'm big on understanding. Understand it, spend the time. If you're going to go out and invest in something, learn about what you're investing, feel comfortable, believe in what you're investing, then understand the risks yourself. And then take that leap, it's so much more comfortable when you understand the purpose of the money you've invested and what the risk and rewards are so that you're not taken back by this out of balance portfolio into equities when the market turns, right. Or that you were over leveraged in a real estate deal when the market turns and now it's in bankruptcy.. Right. So I think it's that sort of you want to master money throughout your life. You don't want to just give your money to somebody and hope that everything works out over time. Your goal should be to learn everything you can about your money and everything that you invest so that you create and make decisions with confidence and clarity and use your financial advisers for advising rather than decision making.

24:56 - 25:29

Well said, Rob, and I like that phrase, master money. I think that's great. And if you're working with the right folks, hopefully they're helping people master their money. You certainly have, Rob, you are so inspiring. You are awesome. Thank you so much for doing our show today. It's great meeting you. And hopefully we'll get to connect again in the future.Til we meet again. Thanks, Rob. Thank you all for listening. This has been The Big Stage. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to subscribe, please go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Please e-mail us with your thoughts, questions, and any feedback to insights@Bernstein.com.

25:29 - 25:32

And be sure to find us on Twitter and Instagram at Bernstine.

25:35 - 25:43

: Making money meaningful for individuals, families, and foundations for over 50 years. Visit us at Bernstein.com.

Adam Sansiveri
Senior Managing Director

The information presented and opinions expressed are solely the views of the podcast host commentator and their guest speaker(s). AllianceBernstein L.P. or its affiliates makes no representations or warranties concerning the accuracy of any data. There is no guarantee that any projection, forecast or opinion in this material will be realized. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The views expressed here may change at any time after the date of this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. AllianceBernstein L.P. does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. It does not take an investor’s personal investment objectives or financial situation into account; investors should discuss their individual circumstances with appropriate professionals before making any decisions. This information should not be construed as sales or marketing material or an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument, product or service sponsored by AllianceBernstein or its affiliates.

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