David Rock aka Drock is the executive creative director working with Gary Vaynerchuck (@Garyvee). We spoke with Drock about his journey, creative processes, advice to young creators coming up and a whole lot more.
LS: How did you first get into creating content and what was your earliest introduction to it?
DR: Well my nephew was born and my sister had a camera, I got really interested in using it, I learnt to edit on a software called windows movie maker and I was like omg this is incredible you can tell stories and from there I kind of got hooked and started making videos with my friends in the backyard so I guess I was making stuff from a really early age.
LS: What did your journey look like prior to joining up with Gary Vee?
DR: I actually never wanted to work for anybody, I always wanted to go into film and direct movies and so you know in the beginning I just tried to get a few editing jobs, I had one in Long island and a few others,
My buddy and I started a podcast and we started interviewing a lot of business people and one day my friend said do you want to go to Columbia because Gary was speaking there and I said "you know what, why not? let's go", and from then I kind of became obsessed and I wanted to make a video for him for my portfolio and about a month later after I made it for him, he said ‘Ok I want you to come work for me’.
LS: When carving your own path your approach came to be quite unorthodox, what do you put that down to?
DR: Here’s the thing, and I know Theres a little push back on this but I believe in free work. Obviously, you can't do everything for free but honestly all the things Ive done for free in the past have netted out into something eventually. And I truly think that If Gary’s like hey I'm shutting down you don’t need to do this anymore id be like ok cool and id go offer Jeff Bezos a free video and id try to offer him the same and I’d just try and find the people I want to emulate and work there for free no matter what, even from where I'm at right now I just know that the lessons Ive learnt from Gary over the past 7 years are incredible and I know you can't get there without offering free work.
LS: So would that be your number one piece of advice for getting your foot in the door, offering free work with value?
DR: Yeah, Here's the thing If you're doing nothing and don’t currently have a job or you have a job you're not liking and you want to do a creative project I say just do it. If you want to go work for someone you have to offer your stuff for free, because there’s so many people, just look at the landscape right now there's so many creatives and everybody wants to be a creative for somebody so the only way to break through is offer your time because it’s the most valuable thing you have. I think sometimes there's a massive amount of lack of humility as a creative, You need to have humility.
LS: That’s quite interesting because it’s a common theme amongst creatives, the levels of humility, as its quite often the case as a creative – one month you may have 3-4 huge projects and the following month you may have to grind twice as hard to even get your foot in the door to speak to a potential client.
DR: Ofcourse, let's play it out. Humility is not just offering your work for free, humility is in the creative itself. That’s something me and Gary have really been touching upon lately you got to be empathetic to the audience and humble to understand that you can't always make the thing you want to make, for example Gary’s most viral video I didn’t make it, another guy on my team made it and listen I've been with Gary for a while and he made a more viral video than me for Gary and that blew me away, that’s amazing so you need to be humble and without humility you're never going to learn and grow.
LS: How much of your creative process has changed over time and have you felt yourself get better at certain aspects within the creative process?
DR: Theres a lot, if you were to come on our team for a day, I think you’d be surprised how much of what we do in terms of testing and re testing and a lot of our data is community driven, I think over time Ive become good at social listening which then allows me to make creative work for the consumer world.
LS: Let's talk originality & inspiration – In a world where there is so much out there content wise how do you stay inspired by content without falling into unoriginality.
DR: Well, there's not a lot of different creative variables right now, there's picture Theres audio and video right. What I tell my creatives is look for what I call ‘Thumb stoppers’ which is content that makes you stop you in your feed and I tell them to analyse that content and try to figure out what about that piece made you stop and then try to recreate it. So that’s an example of looking at creative peoples work and try to mimic it but being inspired by the reason you stop rather than the actual content. Also, on top of that I think every creator has their own balance, for me I tap into myself, Like I know on days that I'm creative I put everything else aside and black out I even ignore a lot of things I should be doing that day because I know that it’s a moment in time and on days that I'm not creating I try to do all the logistical stuff in my life that I have to do.
LS: Do you have anyone who specifically inspired a certain style you create with or even had an impact on your philosophy when creating?
DR: Casey Neistat is a big inspiration of mine, he’s very thoughtful and I've gotten to know him over the years and everything he’s done is very very intentional, I love intentional creatives and creatives who are curious because there’s so many people who can hit buttons and edit videos but if you’re not curious and you don’t have that mindset to add on a second layer and take things a step further (to be unique) you’ll be like everybody else.
LS: When working in the creative field you can end up in places or with people you never dreamed of being with, do you have any memories of moments that stand out to you?
DR: Yeah this might seem far out of left field but there's a show that used to be out called young Indiana Jones, Theres a whole series on VHS and what I loved about that show was he travelled around the world and met incredible people and then I didn’t realise until last year I drew the parallel and I was like oh my god that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 6 and a half years, so yeah, I'm grateful for everyday man.
LS: What advice would you give to creators trying to break out the city they're in or feel as if they're stuck creating content in one place?
DR: I would say they’re out of their mind. You and I are talking right now, I'm in new jersey right now and you're in London the internet is here you can literally have any conversation you want with anybody wherever you are in the world. To me if you’re a creative right now and you want to break out of your city... move. It’s an easy cop out to talk about it rather than do it. My big thing on that is just there's been so so many stories of people who have done that you just need to be open minded and go for it.
LS: What would be your advice to people wanting to turn their passions into a full-time career?
DR: For me when I moved to New York I did nothing but work, I worked at best buy, I had a job and then at night or on my weekends or my days off I would spend my time editing, filming creating content and reaching out to a ton of people. You’re making me want to pull out my emails haha and see how many emails I sent out from 2010 to 2014 Ive sent thousands upon thousands upon thousands of emails. And I'd say spend time working on your craft, I know its cliché but the 10,000 hours is real and you have to carve out time to continuously work on your craft, The first 3 years of me in New York I did nothing, I didn’t go for drinks, I didn’t go to the movies when you find the thing you want to do for a living you have to carve out the time.
"on that day I just thought f**k it I'm going to take a taxi ... up until that point that might have been my second taxi I've ever taken in New York … if I never took that taxi I wouldn’t have the job with Gary right now"
LS: A good point to talk about is the power of the DM, I mean we both got in touch over DM too – to the general person reading how important is using DMs as a tool to connect and create.
DR: How about this, I have gotten so many DM’s asking me to do interviews but it's all about a moment in time. I had just done an interview last week and I saw your DM and thought to myself I'm down for another one but I've gotten 7 or 8 request after yours and I've said no to every single on of them, its literally a moment in time, I'm telling you the craziest story of how I got my job with Gary is Nuts.
I had just been working on the most extensive job I had ever done freelance wise, its pouring rain and I'm ghetto so I'm carrying my mic kit, my tripod kit, my cameras into the subway and its annoying I've Gotta walk through the turn styles and everything and on that day I just thought f**k it I'm going to take a taxi and let me give you context I'm taking a lot of taxis nowadays but up until that point that might have been my second taxi I've ever taken in New York … if I never took that taxi I wouldn’t have the job with Gary right now. I saw a tweet from Gary saying 'Hey I’m trying out Kik message me' so I download kick … in the subway I wouldn’t have enough service … and I made a username, literally sent a message right away and Gary responded to that message that and that’s how I got to make the video for him that lead to the job. So that’s what I mean its literally a moment in time.
LS: Advice for how creators can use DMs to reach out to people they want to work with?
DR: Theres 2 ways you can go about it, 1. offer value to the person your messaging and 2. instead of following up with someone try and see if there’s something they really need and then try to deliver upon that with your skills for me for example, we’re hiring all the time we get tons of kids saying Hi I want to with you, if I was a creative there’s are endless hours of content about Gary if I was a creative trying to work for me I would take as much of that content as possible and package it up in a way that we would use.
To check out more of Drock's work click the link below: