Ken Block — The Art of Marketing with a DC Shoes and Gymkhana Legend (500M+ views) (#358)

13 Comments

Credits: Hoonigan Racing Division

“In life — from the simplest thing to the biggest thing — I want to be proud of what it is and stake my claim: ‘That’s mine and that’s how I do it.'” — Ken Block

Ken Block (@kblock43 on IG and TW) is a co-founder of DC Shoes and a professional rally driver with the Hoonigan Racing Division.

His rally career began in 2005, and he won Rookie of the Year that season in the Rally America Championship. Ken has accumulated five X Games medals and achieved global fame through his wildly successful viral series of Gymkhana videos. Gymkhana videos (including all associated edits) have racked up more than 500 million views, landing the franchise in Ad Age’s top-10 viral video charts.

In January 2010, Block formed the Monster World Rally Team (later renamed to Hoonigan Racing Division) and signed with Ford to pursue his dreams of racing in the World Rally Championship and in doing so, became one of only four Americans to ever score points in the WRC.

His latest project is The Gymkhana Files, which takes viewers behind the scenes of GYMKHANA TEN: The Ultimate Tire Slaying Tour, a video that, as of this writing, just went up and already has nearly 20M views. It’s all complete insanity.

Please enjoy this interview with Ken Block!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#358: Ken Block — The Story of DC Shoes, Rally Car Racing, and 500+ Million Views
Download


Want to hear an interview with another entrepreneur who loves to race? — Listen to this interview with David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson in which DHH shares his thoughts on the power of being outspoken, running a profitable business without venture capital, Stoic philosophy, and much more! (Stream below or right-click here to download.):

#195: David Heinemeier Hansson: The Power of Being Outspoken
Download


This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the go-to tool for B2B marketers and advertisers who want to drive brand awareness, generate leads, or build long-term relationships that result in real business impact.

With a community of more than 575 million professionals, LinkedIn is gigantic, but it can be hyper-specific. You have access to a diverse group of people all searching for things they need to grow professionally, and four out of five users are decision-makers at their companies — so you can build relationships that really matter and drive your business objectives forward. LinkedIn has the marketing tools to help you target your customers with precision, right down to job title, company name, industry, etc. Why spray and pray with your marketing dollars when you can be surgical? To redeem your free $100 LinkedIn ad credit and launch your first campaign, go to LinkedIn.com/TFS!


This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get a free 20-count travel pack (valued at $79) with your first order at athleticgreens.com/tim.


QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Ken Block:

Hoonigan Racing | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

SHOW NOTES

  • What’s the practical side to being headquartered in a workspace made of shipping containers? [06:04]
  • What the heck is a hoonigan? [08:06]
  • Though he’s known as an adept marketer, 600 million views for the Gymkhana video series is beyond even Ken’s expectations. [09:51]
  • Ken shares his journey from skateboarder to dirt bike racer to rally car racer. [10:50]
  • What was Ken’s first exposure to Team O’Neil Rally School, and how did he tackle driving as a latecomer in competition with people who had been driving their whole lives? [12:49]
  • What behaviors, beliefs, and practices did Ken observe that differentiated rally driving’s top performers from the rest of the herd, and what tricks and tips did Ken employ to catch up and win 2005 Rally America Rookie Of The Year? [17:35]
  • What exercises help Ken physically and mentally prepare himself before driving? [21:52]
  • Though initially a reluctant businessman, how did Ken’s entrepreneurial life begin? [24:31]
  • Ken’s transition from a behind-the-scenes guy to a brand ambassador — and the lessons he learned from the missteps of others. [31:50]
  • Business mistakes and failures that informed later success, and what Ken understands about the value of targeted marketing that many miss. [37:01]
  • What does the “DC” in DC Shoes stand for, and why does its logo look different on shoes and snowboards? [42:11]
  • For Ken, trademark enforcement does not spark joy. [43:26]
  • What book does Ken credit with helping him understand basic management and people skills when he started his first business? [44:21]
  • In the highly competitive and cutthroat apparel business, a miss is far more likely than a hit. How did Ken and his partner differentiate DC Shoes in order to stand out from the competition? [47:42]
  • How did Ken and his partner hire the right people for the job in the early days? [54:22]
  • Before DC was bought by Quiksilver, was the business self-funded or financed externally? [57:01]
  • What’s the story behind Gymkhana, the “viral video series that changed automotive filmmaking forever” — and which one is Ken’s favorite so far? [57:55]
  • How does someone go about getting permission to use the heavily trafficked San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge — or other landmark location — for their video? [1:06:30]
  • What does the budget look like for creating one of these videos? [1:11:42]
  • Ken’s advice to people hoping to create attention-getting videos on a smaller budget. [1:14:20]
  • How Ken and his crew brought storytelling back to extreme sports marketing in the ’90s. [1:17:27]
  • How is sponsorship value fairly determined and negotiated when dealing with athletes and celebrities? Here’s where we begin to understand why agents are so well-compensated. [1:20:37]
  • As a 51-year-old who hates the gym, how does Ken stay fit? What does his weekly training regimen look like? [1:30:59]
  • With a fairly extensive history of injuries from leading such an active life, what kind of exercise does Ken now avoid? [1:33:37]
  • Ken talks us through a tough time at DC, dealing with its accompanying self-doubt, and the adjustments he made to cope. [1:37:07]
  • What’s Ken’s favorite drink? [1:41:15]
  • What’s Ken’s default breakfast? [1:42:18]
  • Daily wind-down and pre-bed rituals. [1:43:25]
  • What would Ken’s billboard say? [1:45:23]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:47:30]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: January 31, 2019.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

13 comments on “Ken Block — The Art of Marketing with a DC Shoes and Gymkhana Legend (500M+ views) (#358)

  1. thank u for these shows, i listened to stan grof interview and registered for his certified holotropic breathwork within one day:) [Moderator: contact request removed.]

    Like

  2. Massive respect. A hard charging kind of a Dude. Watched the videos, but never knew any of the story behind it. Learned a whole lot in this podcast.

    Like

  3. 안녕하세요, I am recently reading your book which called tools of titans. of course i have read all of your books already, but especially I am re-read this book every morning 4AM and it brought me to come here. Respect your books and writtings. Learned many things from it. Thanks a lot.

    Like

  4. Question for Tim – when you asked him for examples of times of self-doubt his answer kind of reminded me of Jocko’s answer to that same question. He references a hard time his business went through but doesn’t get into whether he doubted himself, thought he was on the wrong track, wasn’t good enough to do the job, or had any of the kind self-flagellation or even loathing that some go through. Do you think those feeling just don’t exist or are so minimal in people like Ken and Jocko that they can’t really relate to them or do you think in those moments they are just unwilling to break the mask of masculinity. All your guests are successful but not all relate a struggle with finding themselves and their path – Debbie Millman is one who comes to mind who does.

    Like

  5. hey Tim, not sure you still read comments, but you should try to get David Nihill for the podcast! He does reverse engineering on public speaking (and storytelling in general) using comedy hacks.. He gave a talk at google a couple of months ago–

    Like

  6. Hi Tim! Thanks for the awesome content you’re sharing! I’ve been a fan of the book “Tribe of Mentors” and the “4 hour workweek”. You’re opening a really great insights for people who what to develop their most productive self. It’s of course very interesting to see what successful people are doing to me more productive and how they deal with their failures and it’s a side of the coin everyone is the most driven about. But I’m curious have you every tried to speak with people that failed? Not like failed one time and then got crazy successful, but failed and stoped, took a step back. Success, that is the one thing that everyone is driven to and we read a lot of books listen to podcasts and want to get as much as we can from their habits in order to get set on the right track, but what about the dark side? I think my point is, have you ever got and interview or talked or are you planning to do something on the sole theme of “Failure”?

    Like

  7. Hi Tim,

    I know an excellent business coach and thought leader who would be an interesting guest on your podcast. What would be the best way to tell you about her?

    Best,

    Haley

    Like

  8. Just listening to this all made me really think about being more creative, and more fun, in work and the way I engage…Gymkhana San Francisco! Wow.

    Like