Although he’s most known for his record-breaking skateboarding career and hit TV shows like Fantasy Factory, Rob & Big and Ridiculousness, Rob Dyrdek is a self-made American success. With a professional and influential background spanning multiple industries as a professional skateboarder, pop-culture personality, entrepreneur and more, Dyrdek has used his talents to influence the lives of adolescents through his charity work, companies and brands.
College News talked with Dyrdek about his passion for skateboarding, charity work, Kraft Lunchables Uploaded Campaign and more.
College News: You began skateboarding at 11, what sparked your interest for the sport and who were some of your influences at that time?
Rob Dyrdek: Well, I think at the time I really looked up to my sister’s boyfriend. He used to rock four bandanas on each arm, four bandanas on each leg, belt across the chest and waist and I thought he the coolest dude in the world and he skateboard. I was able to buy my very first board from him, fortunately for me it was a little bit more function over fashion and I had gotten so good so quick and really got the taste of what it feels like to learn a new trick which is this amazing adrenaline and I got addicted to that and that’s really what sort of drove my passion for the sport. Ultimately back then I was looking up to guys like Neil Blender, Mark Gonzalez that were these innovative and creative pros in the era that I kind of modeled off of who I wanted to be.
CN: In 2005 you began a foundation dedicated to designing, developing and constructing legal skate plazas. What inspired you to create this foundation?
RD: I think out of a necessity, it was the reality that as the sport evolved, that creating proper legal places to ride a skateboard is something that was really, really needed. Initially, building the first skate plaza in my hometown in Ohio sort of ignited a global revolution of building them all over the world. Doing a program with Lunchables and the Boys and Girls Club of America to do this club renovation so that we could build a proper skate park at their facilities is a really big deal and continues to carry on that message.
CN: You’ve recently joined Kraft Lunchables for their Uploaded Campaign, can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with that?
RD: Over the last couple of years we’ve been doing a ton of stuff together. Most recently, the Fully Uploaded Web Series where we basically profile really inspiring stories of young athletes, entertainers and artists about what they had to do and what was that moment that they took their careers to the next level. So it’s really a cool, inspiring web series.
CN: At what point did you decide to explore other ventures such as a TV career, with your shows Rob & Big and Fantasy Factor and other entrepreneurial endeavors.
RD: I started my first company when I was 18 years old after I had turned pro-skateboarding and started to generate a little bit of income. I think over the years I’ve explored a lot of different means and medias of entrepreneurialism and entertainment and ultimately landed on MTV with Rob & Big which really opened the door to mainstream which lead to Fantasy Factor and Ridiculousness and a cartoon on Nickelodeon. That passion for skateboarding eventually creating a professional skateboarding league that I do on FOX Sports and a bunch of companies along the way that kind of fit into that overall lifestyle mold that I created.
CN: What advice would you give to adolescents to encourage them to pursue their dreams?
RD: I think it’s pretty simple, there’s two mentalities: you can sit around all day and dream about winning or you can refuse to lose. I think it’s the people that take action, get up and just fight for their dreams nonstop are the people that really fulfil them. There’s no easy route to success or fulfilling that dream and the hardest part is staying committed, motivated and taking action. Not hoping your dream comes true but going out and making that happen.
CN: You clearly have many achievements, but which would you consider to be your biggest?
RD: I like to say that opposed to having a singular thing that I’m known for, it’s ultimately the overall influence of what I ultimately do. I’d like to create long term, a company, that takes young, driven, talented people and puts business around them so that they can scale their opportunities into real business like I’ve been able to do over the years. Ultimately that’s going to be what I think I’ll be known for is the hundreds and hundreds of young people that I’ve helped take the next level.
CN: How can readers enter to win a weekend in L.A. with you to visit the set of your show?
RD: We’re doing a contest, if you go to lunchablesupld.com you can sign up and win a chance to come out to the Fantasy Factory and enjoy a day of go-karts and foam pits and maybe a tennis ball gun.