This story is from Issue 21. Click here to purchase a copy of that issue.

There are some of you, who read this magazine, and it connects with you on a deeper level than just rad cars.  At least that’s what I hope.  Because I remember the feeling I used to have 5+ years ago… before this magazine came around.  I used to really relate to some people out there who were just a little bit older than me… but were doing their own thing, chasing and living out their dream, and making it work.  The entrepreneurs, the creators, and the people who had just happened to land really cool, uncompromising jobs.  And I used to really connect to that.  And at the same time, it made me feel anxious as hell… because… was I ever gonna get my turn.  I mean – how many open slots could there be?  Was I gonna get one?  And if so, when was it gonna come… and how could I be sure I wouldn’t miss it?  I’m not gonna lie man, it was like a constant worry/stress in my subconscious.  And at the same time, I was getting pressure from my family, and from my college friends who graduated on time, to go out and get a real job – and ‘grow up’.

I remember this show on MTV.  I only saw it one or twice.  And I can’t even remember the name of the show, but it was about this group of dudes who had moved out to LA, and were all trying to make it work.  They had made a pact to have each other’s backs as/if/when they came up.  All for one, one for all.  And I thought that attitude was so cool.  Because it actually gave ‘em a real fighting chance to make their own way, so long as they all kept pushing.  It was kind of like an Entourage mindset.  And I remember getting amped about that sort of an idea, that sort of camaraderie… but getting depressed at the same time, because I felt like none of the friends I had around me, had the balls to dream like that.  It’s like – I was the only dreamer of the group, and they were going to graduate on time and play that sh*t safe.  Start making a paycheck… rather than start putting in hard-work on a far-fetched dream.

Sometimes I feel like college is not the best place for creative people, dreamers, or entrepreneurs.  The education at college is important – it is.  And it lays a great foundation… and the degree is always a nice fail safe.  But you have to make sure you keep a strong sense of self.  Because the air at college is always training the students to ‘think about your future’.  How many damn times have people pressured you, ‘think about your future’.  AKA: ‘be scared’ of your future.  Don’t wander too far out there.  The college atmosphere indirectly trains you to look for the safe route – get a degree, go on interviews, get a good job, and if you’re not careful… lose the rest of your life to routine.
And the thing is – when you graduate high school, you’re 18.  And everybody knows how to dream big at 18.  Then – you spend 4 or 5 years in college.  (May not sound like much, but that’s 25% of your life at the time.)  And during that time – age sets in, maturity sets in, reality sets in, expectations set in, and fear sets in.  And that whole time – you’ve been partying and studying books, rather than putting in real work on that dream of yours.  So what’s it gonna be for you.

This article is indirectly about Yohan (Yo), one of the owners of Rogue Status.  So we went and spent a day in Venice Beach, CA with Rogue Status.  Not like we all flew out to LA just for the day, we don’t have that kind of cheddar sorry haha—-ha.  Ooh. But – we were coming out that way anyway for the Eibach meet, and Yohann (Yo) invited us to come kick it… so we flew out a day early.  On Air-Tran.  Kind of just to see what ‘a day in the life of Yo and Rogue Status’ was all about.

Well – within 20 minutes, I was hooked, and it felt like I was home.  The vibe is creative, the vibe is ambitious, and it’s young.  It feels like anything is possible… and it feels like you could make it happen that damn day right on the spot.  Venice Beach is not a place where you’re going to find nine-to-fivers.  And there is definitely a culture of no-ambition, THC infested freaky, chaos goin’ on.  But within the chaos, it’s like there’s this nuro-network of guys puttin’ in work, on the same wavelength… and ideas becoming reality.  And it’s really awesome to be around, because you get infected with that spirit.  At the RS studio, dudes are sitting around on computers tweaking new designs.  The door stays open, people are riding by on skateboards.  The air is fresh.  You go grab some lunch, and it’s as simple as walking down the strip.  And while you move, you see the inspiration on the street around you.  Even the sandwich guy is self-made.  I hear him and Yo talking… and they’re asking about each other’s business – what’s new, how things are shaking, etc.  They genuinely take an interest.

And dude – I’m not gonna sit here and write about how cool Rogue Status is… suffice it to say they’re cool.  But that’s not all I want you to get out of this.  Because what I think you DO need to understand – is that this is a group of self-made guys, hustlin’ it up, in a pure way.  They’ve built a company based on their own visions.  They sacked up, stuck together, and saw it through.  And now, Rogue Status is giving ‘em the chance to make a living, get tied in with motorsports, travel the world, and make life an adventure.  And that’s great.  But the second thing I think you DO need to know – is how they’re doing it.

First things first – take this fact to heart, and learn to make this distinction:  You do not have to ‘grow up’… but at some point, you do have to ‘own up’ to responsibility.

Next – networking is EVERYTHING in these alternative-styles of industry.  This is not a corporate environment.  There is no corporate structure to protect you.  This career is built around friendships, brotherhood, and trust.  So build your network… build your skills, and build your reputation.  Whatever your skill is, meaning whatever you think you can bring to the table – hone in on it, and fine-tune it.  Put in work.  When the fair-weather kids don’t wanna play anymore, you keep working, plotting, and trying to find meaning in it all.  And you keep it up, make it a life-habit.  Get wise.  With everything so easy on the web these days, it’s easy to jump the gun.  Meaning – it’s easy to self-promote before you’ve developed the portfolio to back it up.  Don’t do this… it’s foolish.  Work, watch, learn.  Take your time.  And one day – you’ll realize that you’ve earned your stripes.  And you can bring your expertise to the big-boy table – humbly but yet confidently.

And as you make your way, there will be people, specifically close peers in your network, who you find out you can rely on over and over again.  People who’ve got your same vision.  People who ‘get it’.  When you can’t even find the words to explain what you’re thinking… they’re still somehow right there on the same page.  They’re gonna come through, it’s what they do.  Down for the cause.  And this core of your network, becomes a small army in a way.  Like an agency.   You each have your strengths, and you each use them for the greater benefit of each other and your goals.

And it’s key to always hold each other accountable.  And realize the importance of your reputation in your network.  What roll do you play.  How would your peers describer you.  Who do you want to be… what kind of guy do you want to be known as.  Accountability is a great thing, because in these types of entrepreneurial situations, there is no other ‘employee evaluation’.

With regards to Yo and the Rogue Status guys – they had hustled and hustled locally.  And through friends of friends… they had gotten some original ‘gunshow’ shirts to Rob Dyrdek… right around the time Rob & Big was coming out.  Well, every time Rob wore the shirt, people would comment on it.  So that’s when Rob went back to ‘em and basically said, “Yo – you’ve got something going with this design, what would it take for you to really do something with it?”  In short – Rob became an investor.  And it was the same basic story with Travis Barker.  Travis was like, “Yo – You need to lock this down… now… before somebody else does”.  Thus he became Investor #2. (or was it, 182… woo!)  And somewhere a little after that point, Yo realized that he had made a mess… haha.  He had actually gotten people believing in him.  He felt like he had to keep working, not to let anybody down.  Now, he had accountability.  And it’s a beautiful thing.  It keeps you up at night, drafting and jotting.  And it keeps the
fire hot.

And recognize the other side of it.  These networks are never a 1-way street, and your boys are gonna need your help, just like you need their help.  I know it can happen easily when you’re in the daily struggle, but don’t ever let yourself get selfish.  You have to watch selfishness… because often times, we assume it comes with greed, or indifference to another’s situation.  But that’s not always the way it goes.  Sometimes we just become a little selfish, because of the fact that we’re busy, or preoccupied.  But you have to keep your eyes open to that.  Fight it off.  Be the one that they can rely on.  Be the one who ‘gets it’.  And be the one who comes through.  This is what makes the network stronger.  This is what makes it real.  So learn to love that feeling of success you get – when you selflessly help a friend.  Don’t hold the score over their head, and don’t keep score in your own head either.  Don’t look for anything in return.

Stay active, stay ambitious, and try not to miss out on opportunities.  The tricky thing with that is – you don’t know when most ‘opportunities’ are gonna happen.  Sometimes you do.  Sometimes a ‘great opportunity’ comes along.  Sometime things are disguised as a great opportunity… turns out they’re phony.  But most great opportunities – you never see coming until after they hit.  So don’t miss chances to be active in the culture/industry that you love.

For Rogue Status, self-promotion was huge.  When I asked Yo how they got to where they are these days… he said, without a doubt, networking and self-promotion.  Especially in the beginning it was key… but honestly it seems like they really haven’t let up a bit.  You walk down the street in Venice Beach, and you’re gonna see DTA stickers every-damn-where – dogs, the tops of light poles, freeway signs, museums.  Wherever.  The guys are very active on their website and their blog.  But they are cautious not to be over-annoying on social media – like facebook and twitter.  You don’t want to overkill it.