Curiosity is not always a death sentence for the cat, sometimes curiosity can lead to very fun and unexpected positive life event. In my social media and local personalities peripheral vision I had been noticing for a while this guy named Rick Dancer who was utilizing aspects of social media that no one else was daring to dabble in. Even now that there are some experimenting with tools such as Facebook Live, few of them approach it with the personal touch and the collaborative spirit that Mr. Dancer does. Curiosity drove me to I reach out to Rick and he graciously agreed to meet up with me for coffee one fateful day at the Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon, sparking a friendship. Anyone who has seen him in action with Live with Rick Dancer knows he is a rather transparent person, I was glad that he was willing to go even deeper for this interview.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Vents: Your past life was as a successful local journalist, when you look back on that leg of your journey, what are the key lessons you learned?
Rick Dancer: Television News taught me how to think on my feet. I naturally react quickly but you make a few errors publicly and you quickly learn how to avoid pitfalls and holes. I also learned to take my love of storytelling and put it to work for me. For a few years I tried to mimic news people and write textbook type stories. However, what really changed my style was covering stories of great pain and humanity. Soon, I chucked the journalistic style for my style which was telling a story from the heart perspective.
A significant portion of your story includes some road bumps which include phasing out of journalism not completely of your own accord, an “unsuccessful” run into politics and beating cancer, how has what many may look at as failure brought you to where/who you are now?
Failure is my greatest teacher but many discount the value of failure or the pain one must go through in order to discover their true story, their true self. In news I won a lot. I got awards, had honors and lots of attention from the public. Running for public office humbled and tried to destroy me. It took every ugly thing in my life and put it right in front of me. Ego lost much of its power over me. I no longer care as much what people think of me. Losing has given me freedom and I don't think you can be truly free without loss.
How is it that a nearly 60 year old man 1) looks so handsome and 2) is leading the charge in the state of Oregon to optimize the new media? How did you get into Facebook live and launch that into a growing local business?
At 58 years old my thought is we must redefine what it means to age. I surround myself with younger people, not on purpose, but because they are the ones who are the most help to me. When I ran for office my young staff had me on Facebook the day after it started. Social media is a natural for me and I use it well. Young folks kept me ahead of the curve.
We are using Facebook in a way many can't, won't or fear. Live has always been my weakness....I mean I thrive on it. A day after the live feature came out I was on there doing video's, figuring out how it worked and looking for ways to make money off it. Part of that desire is born out of desperation. Video production is easier and many don't need people like me to produce a video for them so I needed something to bring in the money. I found people who trusted me and launched "Get Real with Rick Dancer." Now we have "Live with Rick Dancer" and in November will begin "At The Car Wash, Live with Rick Dancer."
You must never get stale and that means being willing to jump on the next thing before others do.
You have a unique talent for drawing out stories, what is it about stories that are so compelling and how have you learned to bring those out of people?
I have always been a storyteller but the gift began as a listener. I was the kid who sat with the old folks at family gatherings and listened to the stories. Growing up I now believe I had some learning issues. Spelling was and still is very tough for me. Proper sentence structure and understanding the ins and outs of grammar have never been natural. For years that kept me from using my gift. I would not write because I didn't want people making fun of my technique. In the news business I discovered my heart and use of real language, real words, pauses, points and percussion in a sentence was much more important than punctuation, spelling and sounding acceptable to the masses.
This is what set me apart from others. Journalists used to poke fun at my techniques but none of them could match my ability to grab, squeeze and rip at the heart of a viewer. Learning to ignore them and winning numerous awards for writing, didn't silence the critics, but it made it so I didn't care, I understood what worked and used it.
For those who are looking to market their services and products, what are some key principles they need to understand about interacting with the current economy?
People today aren't just buying a product they are purchasing something from a person. They can buy a video from anyone but what makes my video better. It's not the equipment we use but the heart we bring to the story. People want to buy from people and yet many in marketing still look to the sell, sell, sell, in order to sell. What people want is you. They want to have a relationship with the person they are buying from. Purchasers are buying your brand. If a video producer wants to be the "Big Equipment Dude On The Block" that's their brand. Pretty pictures are nice but a story that helps you understand why the person serving you is serving you is far better than another drone video of your business.
People don't care what you sell or what you do they want to know why you do it. But to understand the customers why you have to first understand yours. Storytellers are curious people who are not looking for happy endings or even an ending but instead the passion of a life.
What projects are you working on lately that get you excited to continue with what you are doing?
My dream is to travel the country, the world and video the stories of everyday people. I want to visit the small towns, the nowhere towns, the overlooked "spots on a map" and unveil that place for the rest of us. I believe we are tried of the fast-paced get it done life. There is something soothing, sobering and peaceful about simplicity. But the problem is we are complex or at least we've create a complex way of life. In order to reveal simplicity in each of us, there is a process that only great storytelling can release. No one wants to be told how to live, but show me, show me how to do it through the words and actions of another person, and I may actually see it. So, while I love what I am doing I hope it blossoms into the next thing. I hope my world takes me on the road to the places less traveled. And of course, the trip won't be any fun without people like you to follow me.
As you look back on your life and the new chapters you are carving out what are some key things you believe are important for entrepreneurs?
Life is not about being comfortable. No, it's about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Life is not about you. Yes, you have value and purpose but those around must always be treated better. What you do doesn't matter at all. Why you do it is all that counts. Most people will never get to the why. Oh, they say to help people but the real story is deeper and too many of us stop just outside the door of discovery. Challenging our perceptions and our lives is like walking on a sore foot that is tormented with a sliver. Instead of stopping to dig at it, cause it to bleed, drain the infection and pull the sliver out, we continue to walk on it until we get used to the pain. After a while we don't even feel the sliver but it's still there.
I am not the best father, husband nor am I the best businessman in the world but that's not my goal. I longed for freedom and now I have it. I longed to do what came natural to me and by learning to do things that are un-natural (vulnerability) I have found me. Cancer, losing, failing and struggling are my best teachers. While I would never purposely sign up for their classes, these educators continue to serve me well. Instead of trying to chase difficulty out of our lives what would happen if we look for it?
One parting comment: I learned during my political run for office that I can't please everyone, not even myself. But I can please God so now I live for an audience of one....or should I say, "The One." Thanks for listening.
You can find out more about Rick Dancer through his website, see him in action via Live with Rick Dancer on Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (@RickDancer).
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