We had the good fortune of connecting with Don Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Don, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
The single most important decision I made that contributed to my success was following my dreams. My dad was the type of person who shot down dreams like a sniper with a laser cannon. I had already been taking acting class for a month before I finally decided I was going to tell him. And it wasn’t going to matter how mad he got. This was my decision. I’m grown man and I’m following my dreams whether he likes it or not. So one Saturday I told my dad about my dream of pursuing a career in modeling and acting, fully expecting him to shoot me down with “get a real job.” Much to my surprise he said, “go for it. You can do and be successful at whatever you want as long as you put your mind to and work hard at it.” Wait, WHAT?! Who is this guy and what did he do with my dad? I was in such a state of shock at his uncharacteristic approval that I was speechless. I’ll never forget it. Later that night my dad was killed in a car accident. Within a couple hours my life went from following my dreams to a complete nightmare. My wold was lost in a funk of grief. Two months after my dad was killed I get a call for my very first modeling gig. It was a runway fashion show for Valentine’s Day. I felt like it was my dad calling me to tell me “follow your dreams.” When I showed up to the gig they hand me this skimpy red speedo, that didn’t fit. This thing was so tight I couldn’t feel my legs. I almost backed out of the gig. But I kept hearing, “go for it. Follow your dreams.” I grabbed a bouquet of roses and strutted down the runway putting on an impromptu show, hurling rose petals out into the audience to cover my skimpy red embarrassment. That success led to following my dreams with more modeling gigs and ultimately to Los Angeles. One day I was standing in the elevator after meeting with a potential agent. This guy gets in the elevator. After a moment of your typical elevator silence he turns to me and says, “hey you look like you’re in great shape. Have you ever done any swimsuit modeling?” Umm, yes. He says he has a modeling job for me then writes down an address and phone number on a business card with a date a d time, hands it to me and tells me don’t be late. I was suspicious as heck thinking this guy must be a weirdo because it seemed too good to be true. But I had to go with my gut and follow my dreams just in case. This turned out to be a legit long term modeling job, running up and down the beach looking fit in a swimsuit three days a week for a year. And unlike that skimpy red speedo, this swimsuit fit! More importantly this modeling job gave me the stability I needed and opened doors to other success. The foundation of my success is following my dreams. They’ve been my direction to lead me on a path of success.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Making people laugh is my art. Whether it be on stage as a stand-up comic, or online as a digital marketing specialist, I’m using humor in some form and fashion to help add value to peoples lives, to drive traffic to a website, as a marketing tool. In 2020 I focused on helping people laugh by posting whatever was comedy worthy as often as possible. People were sending me DMs saying thank you for making me laugh I really needed it. I mean it doesn’t get any better than that. Laughter is one of the best things you can give some one. You’re literally giving people a high from the dopamine rush. I think what separates me from others is that I see comedy as business, not just entertainment. Being a comedian is being an entrepreneur. Very few comedians understand that it’s not just about the mic and grinding for stage time. There’s a world of business opportunities out there for comedy. A silly comedy video I did a few years ago led to moonlighting as a digital marketing specialist for clients. But if I was only concerned with the mic and the stage I would have missed those opportunities and the money. In business your trying to provide a product or service that helps people and adds value in some way to their daily life. Comedy should do the exact same thing. It’s been a grind and a school of hard knocks for sure. Loosing money due to bad business partners or making bad decisions because you’re not in the right place mentality or emotionally can really set you back. What I’m most proud of is that I didn’t quit. And believe me there have been plenty of times when I wanted to quit, pack up and move back home. I had a group of friends when I first moved to Los Angeles. There was like nine of us. We lived in the same house two and three to a room so we could afford to stay here. As of today I’m the only one left from that group. We stay in contact on Facebook. They can’t believe I’m still here because they just couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe my stubbornness has been an asset after all. Some of the biggest lesson I’ve learned are: 1.) Be open to hitting the reset button and reinventing yourself 2.) Don’t get so caught up in the grind that you forget to enjoy life and the journey 3.) It’s shocking how few business owners understand that Sales and Marketing is about helping people not just getting them to buy your crap.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them on a drive up the coast on Pacific Coast Highway, stop at Paradise Cove in Malibu for a bite to eat, then head over to Santa Barbara to hang out and enjoy the sights. San Luis Obispo would be the final destination because it’s a great little fun town.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In Loving Memory of Dad for encouraging me to follow my dreams that success were made of.