Meet Jordon Rooney – CEO and Founder of Never Fear Being Different, a digital media organization that embraces the shift in modern media. If you’ve spent any time at Alloy 26 this summer, you’ve probably noticed some of the new faces of their college interns. For NFBD, Jordon and his team truly embrace the idea of Never Fear Being Different. Jordon’s success wasn’t built overnight but through a path of hard work and finding what drove him the most. Here is a Q&A session we had with Jordon on that path, and an insight into a typical day at NFBD.
Q: How did you get to where you are today?
A: It all began with a frustration with society and the ineffective branding behind positive messaging. The first thing I did was put together a camp in my hometown the would teach young people how to build their emotional intelligence. From there I launched a speaking career where I spoke in 180 schools in 14 states. Then, I began creating engaging content around socially relevant issues and my social media platforms grew to 140K followers and over 20 million video views. This led to the start of my Non-profit, NFBD. I realized the opportunity to make an impact through social media and being able to embrace the attention that surrounds it. I started working with businesses and organizations who wanted their message to be heard and helped them amplify their voice. Things have scaled quickly and I’ve been able to work on some of the biggest projects in Pittsburgh including One America Works, branding the Innovation District of Pittsburgh, demystifying The Warhol museum, and now we are working on a project for Giant Eagle.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: The summer is the most hectic time of the year for us, but also the most rewarding. I’ll have a meeting with my team in the morning to prep for the day. From there, we will meet with our interns (we have 8!) to set the right mindset. I’ve told them from the beginning that if they don’t get value out of every day, it’s on me. I hate when time is wasted and when employees have countdowns to the weekend. We will set clear, tangible goals so they have something to look forward to each day. Halfway through the day, we have 20 students and 5 more employees show up for Vlog University, our summer program. It’s at Colab18 which is not far from Alloy 26. Until about 5 I’ll spend my time walking back and forth to both places or having meetings. Then from 5 until about 11 PM my team and I will meet to brainstorm or concept our next projects. This is when we get to be creative. It’s an awesome feeling to have a team that is so invested in their work that they choose to stay after. We are all former athletes, so we are all extremely competitive when it comes to creating something that differentiates itself and makes an impact.
Q: What has been your biggest customer success story?
A: Vlog University. This is the first-ever social media marketing agency ran by high school students and was awarded over $55,000 in funding from Buhl Foundation, Hillman Foundation and Grable Foundation. We bring in students and teach them how to amplify their voices digitally and then provide them with opportunities to develop a career upon completion of the program working with nonprofits and their social media efforts.
Q: What do you do when you’re not in the office?
A: I truly love what I do so I’m always working/game-planning. When I’m not in the office, I’m thinking of ways to be at the top of my industry and change the way Pittsburgh thinks of marketing.
Q: What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
A: 1. Youth set communication trends
2. A degree doesn’t matter
3. Embrace the shift in modern media or become nonexistent
Q: Where do you see the future of your industry?
A: Freelancers, collectives, content creators, youth, working from home, nontraditional work hours.
Q: What do you want people in the coworking community to know about Alloy 26?
A: It’s an awesome place with great people. Everyone I’ve communicated with at Faros has been awesome. They are engaged in my work, ask questions, and have supported in any way that they can. When you mix the location with the incredible workspace, Alloy is one of the top coworking spaces in the city.