This week on Small Talk, we sat down with David Rock. A compassionate creative, and the executive creative director for Gary Vaynerchuk, to chat content creation, communication, and personal transformation.
Many of the passionate personalities that we’ve had on TrooMe, seem to have been born with an innate sense of creative expression, for David, not only did creativity come naturally, but blossomed from a very young age.
“When I was twelve my older sister got a video camera, and every time I went to visit her, I would use the camera to film my nephew playing Thomas The Tank Engine.”
Becoming fascinated with film, David began to expand his editing skills. By becoming familiar with Windows Movie Maker, David learning to edit and incorporate music into his creations.
“I was like, ‘wait a minute, you can move stuff around, add soundtracks, and tell stories, this is amazing!”
Discovering his new-found passion, David began creating and editing videos in his backyard with his siblings and friends.
“One of my favorite things that I used to do was create fake movie trailers. I would study movie trailers, run around the woods with my siblings filming them, and turn them into trailers of our own. Over time, I became better and better at editing and carried that with me when I moved to New York.”
Making it work;
David’s story begins in the public eye in 2014, when he first reached out to Gary Vee. Yet, up until that point, David had been freelancing and ‘trying to make it work’.
With no guarantee and little security, anyone would find it challenging to keep that ‘self-motivated spark’ ignited.
However, for David, it was his ‘only option.’
“Honestly, this may sound cliché, but there was no other option for me. I didn’t want to go to college again, I knew it wasn’t for me. So I ended up doing nothing but work.”
Having little money and high ambitions, David kept his spending to the bare minimum so he, and his passion, could make it through another day.
“I lived in a very cheap apartment on the far side of queens and was eating nothing but pasta. I would film videos for 20$ for small restaurants because they would give me free meals, it was pretty crazy stuff.”
Without the luxury of going out to bars and clubs, David's life became fully work focused.
In taking away distractions, David was able to focus all of his time and energy on his vision and his practice.
“There was also this one particular video that I came across when I was about sixteen, a motivation compilation of Will Smith’s secret to success. I fell in love with the video and I watched it every day. In the video, he talks about mindset, the grind, and working hard. After seeing it, I knew that I wanted to make videos like that one day.”
Moments in Time;
“You’ve got to put yourself in a position so you can grab onto these moments without letting them pass you by.”
After seeing Gary Vee speak live, David reached out offering his services for free, an action that many would never dare to take.
Whether it be fear of rejection or worry of never receiving a response, many of us decide to play it safe, never laying ourselves out on the line.
But, in David’s words, ‘life is made up of moments, and we have to decide whether or not to act on them.’
“It was just one moment in time, and I realized that these moments are so serendipitous. Life is made up of moments, moments that we decide whether or not to act upon. So, when you’re freelancing and have to make every dollar in your account by yourself, you act on these moments more than the average person would, even if it means you won’t get paid.”
As mentioned in our interview with Swish Goswami, ‘Your network is your net worth’, and the more you put yourself out there, the more you’re bound to grow, and the more people you’re bound to meet.
“Inherently, I did so many free videos; from Kickstarter videos to Promo videos, to helping my friends. I had done so many free videos, that it was literally just another free video.”
After creating his first video with Gary and seeing the connections and business relations that could be made through networking, David saw it as an opportunity to continue to grow and expand.
“I didn’t think about this as potentially getting a job, I thought of it as getting on a cool platform and now having the ability to reach out to more people and potentially get more business.”
After the creation of their first free video together, it didn’t take long for the tables to turn. One month after their first video, Gary reached out to David asking if he would be interested in working for him full time.
Oftentimes in our lives, taking that first step into the unknown is the most intimidating step that one can take; but more often than not, it’s the only step worth taking.
“What actually ended up happening was I had gotten a job in New York that day, a job that had paid me the most money I’d ever made. Mind you, I was saving every dollar I could. Usually, I would carry my camera equipment around with me on the Subway, to and from work. When I finished this job, it was pouring rain, and I decided to take a taxi. It was probably the 3rd taxi I had ever taken in my whole life. I went on my phone and saw that Gary tweeted about Kik, a messaging app. I downloaded it, created a username, contacted him, and that’s how we got in touch.”
What a perfect example of the fact that our lives are made up of small, seemingly insignificant moments, that if acted upon, may just lead us to places we never believed possible.
“So, that’s why I believe that moments like this are serendipitous. If I had taken the subway like always, I wouldn’t have had service, I wouldn’t have seen that tweet, I wouldn’t have messaged him, I wouldn’t have a job, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.”
David Rock inspires countless content creators, being a symbol and an icon that with hard work, persistence, and betting on ourselves, anything is possible.
We wanted to know who or what has been exactly that in his own journey…
“First and foremost, my parents. They taught me a lot about kindness, all of my good qualities come from them. Secondly, Gary.”
David has been filming and editing Gary’s videos for the past six and a half years. Living life virtually inseparable from each other has engrained Gary’s message into David’s experience.
“My job is filming and listening to Gary, editing and listening to Gary, and doing it all over again. With that constant feedback loop, you just become a product of it.”
Coming from a lifestyle of constantly being on the road, with 19h days of filming, traveling everywhere, and doing everything together, when the world came to a halt, an adjustment and reassessment of self was needed for David.
“I really had to lean back more onto who I am and what I am. I always wanted to inspire people, and from the start, anything I had to say, I put it out there. So, I’ve really had to lean back onto that because that’s why I started, and it’s what changed my life.”
When we find ourselves in circumstances that challenge us to take a step back and re-assess why we started, we often come to find that the spark that ignited our fire, is still burning brightly.
“It also comes right back to that Will Smith video that first inspired me. Because of the impact that video had on my life, I stay motivated to make one more video for someone out there who needs it. I can die tomorrow and be the happiest human on this planet because I’ve accomplished, time and time again, what I set out to do.”
Loving the process;
Now, more than ever, the questions of, ‘who am I’, ‘who do I want to be’, and ‘what do I want to do’, are being asked daily. But it’s these questions, says David, that limit us from ever truly seeing all that we can be.
‘It’s about looking at our talents’, stated David, ‘and saying, okay I can do this, this, and this; how can I apply that into any industry I want to be in?’
“If you asked me when I was 16 years old, if I would be making videos and following a man around every day for a living, I’d be like, ‘what, no way, that makes no sense.”
A lot of times when deciding what we want to do, we get too literal, saying, ‘I want to be this’, or, ‘I want to do that’; failing to realize that by labeling, a box is being placed over us, blinding us from the other infinite possibilities that are out there.
As mentioned in our interview with Kevin Love, putting ourselves in a box is one of the most dangerous things that can be done.
“Once you can wrap your head around how big the world is, and how much opportunity the world has to offer, you’re able to walk down any path and use each experience as a stepping stone.”
Life is a learning process, each lesson teaching us something new, bringing us one step closer to our final destination.
“Life is like chess, it’s all about strategy. It’s never about thinking, ‘hey, I made this one move and that’s it’, no, you’ve got to make a move so you can make another move nine moves later in the game. And that’s how life actually works, you’ve got to keep putting yourself in opportunities to let the doors open.”
It’s no one’s fault that we have grown into a close-minded and belief limiting society. It’s what we’ve been taught. Which is why sharing stories such as David’s hold such importance. It takes just one person to read a story, feel a connection, and know that anything is possible, that life is a playground, and each step can be a strategy.
Strength in Stumbling;
“I feel like I’m stumbling every day. It may not look like it because I have a career, I’m hardworking, I’m focused, and I’m dedicated, but it happens. But this year has been incredible because I’ve allowed myself to fall into the stumble more.”
This year has been many things, for all of us. Certainly, it has entailed heartbreak, tragedy, loss, and lack, but with pain comes purpose, and through the stumble, we find our strength.
“I think a lot of people try to run away from the stumble, but this year has taught me that I should fall into it.”
“This is going to pass, it will take however many years it takes to gain momentum and return to a new normal, but it will pass. I want to look back on this time and ask myself, ‘What did I actually learn?’ Did I just work more on the external, or did I put in time on the internal?”
Things like, ‘what did I learn’, ‘who did I influence’, and ‘what did I contribute’; are all great questions to ask ourselves in times of uncertainty, bringing purpose to the pain.
“My advice would be to fall into the stumble, don’t allow yourself to break, and become tuned in on what makes you happy. So that when the world is back and we are in motion, you’re more secure in yourself, and you can then be more secure and strong for all of the things that you want to do.”
As Edmund Burke said; ‘Our patience will achieve more than our force.”
“It’s so funny, I fight with myself every day on ‘when is this or that going to happen’, and then I remember patience, and I’m able to take a step back.”
No Longer Pursue;
“I wanted acceptance. I always wanted people to accept me, but I realized that the easiest way to get there was by not thinking about it at all and focusing on myself.”
It all comes down to the question of, who are you going to live your life for?
“It’s what Gary talks about, and it’s why I work so hard and why I believe in him so much. Ultimately, if you’re living your life for other people, it’s broken.”
We all long to prove that we’ve accomplished something, and desire to be accepted for who we are and what we’ve done. ‘You think you need things to impress people’, says David, ‘but you don’t. You just need to be a good human.’
“I’ve just been focusing on embracing myself more and more these past few years, and I feel really good about it.”
We asked David Rock what he knows 100% to be true, his answer;
“I will get everything I want in life because I’ve already gotten it. By putting out that one video that changed someone’s life for the better, there’s nothing else I could want in this life.”
At TrooMe, we believe that every moment counts and that our actions are in best use when they are in service of others.
May we follow in David Rock’s footsteps, appreciating each step as a stepping stone towards something more, using our voices, talents, and platforms to inspire and uplift, and embracing ourselves for exactly who we are in this moment as well as the next.