As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan to Rebuild in The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Adrian Rashad Driscoll.
From the small city of Barstow CA, (yeah, the pitstop on the way to Vegas) Adrian Rashad Driscoll followed his dream of becoming a professional actor and moved to Los Angeles. Shortly after that, he was woken up. After 9 years of great weather and bad traffic, he now makes his living as a filmmaker and Immersive Media consultant. With a dedication to storytelling and quality, his company (Driscoll Entertainment) has created many phenomenal visual experiences. Recently partnering with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles to create a 360 experience, guiding people through the process of receiving supportive housing. This effort was an effort to aid in the fight against Homelessness and since then, over 12,000 people have received homes. In addition to creating content, Adrian has had the privilege of working with the EAST school program, NBC, Facebook, Oculus and more! His goal is to focus on the deeper side of Immersive Media and to destroy the stigma of this all “Being just for gamers.” French Fries are the key to his heart.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you so much for having me! This article is important in my opinion, so I am excited to be apart of it.
Well, I came from a small city called Barstow (on the way to Vegas if you’re coming from LA) 22,000 people and nothing at all to do. So, growing up, I just focused on acting. I started in the church doing theatre and did the same throughout primary school. I wanted (desperately) to play sports but I had a rare blood condition (Idiopathic thrombocytopenia) that made me too high of a risk to do so, basically if I got hit, I could bleed to death. So, I just kept studying the art of acting and eventually became really good at it. My mom pushed me to chase what I loved so instead of being practical early on and getting a traditional job I went all in. I took my tax check ($1400) and moved to LA county. The transition of being a big fish in a small pond to the opposite was ridiculous. I went from being told I was a great actor, to being told “Nobody cares you were in a play! What are your film credits?” So, my Mom helped me get a DSLR and I started writing scenes and filming them myself. To make money I did background work and instead of having my 5th trip to craft services, I was taking notes on what the directors and lighting people were doing and saying, I wanted my scenes to look like theirs. Before I knew it, I was averaging 16-hour workdays, 8 on set, and 8 studying film, writing, and editing. I had become a filmmaker by accident. When other actors saw what I was doing, they asked me to create reels for them as well, from there Driscoll Entertainment was born.
Fast forward to 2016, I lost all of my worldly possessions and became homeless (living on skid-row homeless) so I had to build it all again. This time I built it with the knowledge of every idiotic thing I had done thus far and the best way to avoid those same mistakes. On top of that, by now I had spent 3 years building a skill set in a very new and growing medium, immersive media. I saw there was a unique opportunity to create in an amazing new way, so I shifted my focus. I spent 15–20 hours a day learning AR & VR from the cameras, to the headsets, to the experimental technologies. I became obsessed with the potential of this new medium! People started taking notice and I found myself consulting companies that I couldn’t have dreamed of even getting into the room with before. The opportunity was there, so I ran with it.
Now in just a few years, the opportunities are bigger, and the money is better than it ever could have been even if I wouldn’t have gone broke. I am literally smiling right now, it’s weird to think about. Anyways, to top it all off, last year I married my best friend.
I know my answer is long-winded, but I would rather paint a vivid picture (I am a storyteller after all, ha-ha).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take a ways’ you learned from that?
Yes! So, the first picture that I directed was one I wrote called “I Told You So.” I remember being so excited to use all this director jargon and after each cut, I’m yelling “Check the gates.” Now, I’m sure this doesn’t seem like much (if anything) but “Check the Gates” is a film term referring to checking the camera (traditional film camera) for debris. This term is never used for shooting digital (we were shooting digital). Just the week before, I had been a background artist on set where we were shooting with 35mm film. I can still remember the experienced camera team laughing at me and destroying my moment of glory as I try to show off. The takeaway being, if you’re going to try to show off, make sure you know what you’re showing.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I read a lot! Like a lot! So, I have a handful of books that I recommend to everyone:
The Like Switch — Jack Schaffer & Marvin Collins, The 4-Hour Work Week -Tim Ferris, How to Win Friends and Influence People -Dale Carnegie, The Secret, The Magic of Thinking Big, and finally, Ask Gary Vee, Gary Vaynerchuk. These books are all about maximizing time/ effectiveness all the while treating people better. I swear these books have changed my life in so many ways. Yes, I know that people hate self-help books, but when you have created 100x the revenue from applying the principles in these books, you must give credit where it’s due.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I could not agree more! There must be a driving force behind what you do. Businesses that are only focused on making money fail in hard times. Businesses that are focused on creating value will usually sustain. My drive has, for the longest time, been to provide for my family and be an amazing dad. I knew in order to do that I would have to make enough money to create the freedom to be heavily involved in my children’s lives. I also knew that if I didn’t create a great product that I wouldn’t have the client base that I needed to make enough money and… well you get the picture.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Well I would say my guiding principal is “Godfidence, a term that I adopted some years ago. It basically is a reminder that in all situations God will make a way. This can be used for anyone whether they are a believer or not, it’s about remembering what you have already gotten through to get here. Once you give yourself that subtle reminder, things tend to work out as your stress loads lightens and you can find a bit of clarity.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I am a very private person; I don’t hang out with a lot of different people and I’m not really a fan of the nightlife anymore. Plus, most of the time I can work from home if I want to. But this stopped me from seeing the people I am close to and that has been incredibly difficult. I miss my family so much; I miss my friends and the close circle that I’ve known for years. Even when you think you are a homebody; you don’t realize how much you depend on going out. On top of that, it’s worrying about the physical and mental health of your family and trying to hold it together for them. This is the hardest part.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Where to begin… I am in a business that focuses on having people put headsets on their heads every day. Once Covid-19 happened (after a major company expansion by the way) we were now in a wave of people that not only didn’t want to put on a headset, they didn’t want to talk to you about it for later either. But the food still needs to be bought and the bills paid so we had to look at our other strengths, how could we make the best of all of this?
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I feel the anxiety mostly comes from getting information from too many directions. There are a lot of opinions going around and we are mistaking them for facts. As there is nothing to do but stress for a lot of people, they spend their time searching for an answer to an unknown question. This is the time to spend with your family, enjoy time being goofy, share positivity with those you care about. With the amount of free technology that is out there to speak to interact with one another there is some help for the loneliness. Yes, it sucks, but its temporary, pain is always temporary.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I love this question so much! So many people are posting on the different outlets that they are bored or going stir crazy. I’m not sure why people aren’t using this time to BUILD! Think about it, everyone is home! All the gatekeepers that stopped you from making that big deal aren’t currently in the way and the people you are trying to get to are HOME. Guess what, they are bored too, so create something interesting for them to investigate and boom not only have you opened a door for yourself, you have created VALUE to them. How are you bored if you have things you need to do? The pure adrenaline of some of the last few weeks has been indescribable. My wife comes home to find me literally dancing sometimes because of the deals I have just landed or the people I’m speaking to. Remember my industry is to show people the benefits of immersive media, nobody wants to learn about this right now. But everyone desperately wants to feel closer to their family. “Hey, if you and a family member both put this headset on at the same time you can do an amazing activity together.” You see where I’m going with this?
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I believe that people are going to wear mask for a bit and then get tired of it. Entertainment is going to take a small hit and then things will go back to normal. Humans are resilient. The Money is in making a device that purifies air for large spaces. People just need to feel safe again as NOBODY wants this to happen ever again. As for my industry, companies like Cleanbox that make wearables more hygienic are going to blow up. They saw the need before anyone else saw it and the world gave them a huge proof of concept.
I pray that post Covid-19 we remember the desire that we had to reach out and spend time with our loved ones. It’s sad that people don’t communicate anymore and if you text someone it’s fine but if you call them to hear their voice they freak out. I hope this social distancing brings us closer together in the long run (I know it sounded cheesy, but cheese is delicious).
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
I consider Covid-19 to be a Tornado that tore everything down. Yes, it hurts and yes, we lost a lot, but you must start building at some point. We have already started building and pouring the foundation. We are setting the stage for the biggest opportunities that we have ever seen. Here is what we have done so far:
- Partnerships — I am a CEO so I should be able speak to other CEOs, now that I have more access to direct communications with the decision makers, I’m establishing a considerable number of new partnerships.
- Bartering — There are a lot of companies that may not be very liquid right now but are offering a product or service that we need, and we can obtain in exchange for one of ours. It is a win-win.
- Content — This is something that even I have trouble with, producing enough content. I have started producing a lot more (though not as much as I should) and the engagement is through the roof. This is so important to building brand awareness.
- Housekeeping — Using 2 & 3 on the list to create and finish existing projects. There are so many projects in the pipeline that we push aside because we need to focus on money-making priorities. Now what’s the excuse?
- Building a better Adrian — I have spent so much time talking about things I want to do and creating excuses disguised as practicality. Now, I’m finishing my master’s Online, polishing my Spanish, Learning Piano and working on Screenplays that I never finished (Lord knows why).
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would look at this time as a blank canvas to really go for it. Think about what you need right now as a consumer, does your company offer something to make that need a little more endurable? Should your company offer something to make that need a little more endurable? There are a million things to be worried about right now, but I can guarantee that worrying has NEVER solved one problem of yours. Find a path and take action. Also, remember this, everyone is on the same level right now. When is the last time you have seen this kind of level playing field? Can you really afford to not build right now?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
So, when I was coming out of homelessness, I was working with Facebook at their Playa Vista Campus. Facebook’s offices are the opposite of traditional and there are motivational posters all over their walls. One poster in particular literally explained so much of my life, way more than I was ready to receive. It read “Don’t mistake movement for progress.” In the middle of the poster was a rocking horse. I live by the term “Avoid rocking horses” meaning we do so many things that we think are pushing our business forward but in honest its busy work to make us feel productive. I still do it on occasion but now when I catch myself, I get back to the main goals. Another equivalent would be from my unofficial mentor Jim Rohn, “Don’t spend major time on minor things.”
How can our readers further follow your work?
I would love to connect with all of you! Here is how you can find out more.
My website is: Driscollentertainment.com