How A 29-Year-Old Racked Up Millions And Became A Legend By Being True To Himself
Paul Rodriguez is laser focused on his future.
This has caused the young skateboard legend to rise above, literally, many obstacles in life. Over the years, Rodriguez has shaken a naturally shy demeanor and let his skills speak for themselves.
Today, he's one of the top skaters in the world, but -- as many people before him can attest to -- that type of achievement and adoration doesn't come without shaking off the opinions of others and continuing to work hard to perfect his craft.
P-Rod, as he's known to fans and inside skate circles, has learned over the years that you have to be true to yourself before you can be true to anybody else.
The professional skateboarder has been in the game for over 10 years; during that time, he's learned a lot -- and not just about himself, but about how to effectively run a business, how to handle professional relationships and, above all, the importance of perfecting his craft.
Despite running a successful business and balancing many endorsements, P-Rod is still all about skateboarding.
"My focus is still riding my skateboard and improving myself. I still feel like I’m in my prime and I have a lot to prove," he recently told Elite Daily in an interview.
Mixed in with P-Rod's relaxed tone is a humility that isn't normally associated with people who have reached his level of success at such a young age.
It could be because he's admittedly "shy by nature," but there's something else there: a genuine passion for skateboarding that's clearly evident.
There's also a resilience that stems from practicing the same trick hundreds of times until it's perfect that has made P-Rod stand out and stay at the top of his game.
Recognition hasn't made him cocky, instead it's instilled in him a quiet confidence.
The 29-year-old completely embodies what it means to live the "skateboard lifestyle." Rodriguez has been shredding for most of his life.
In his professional career, P-Rod has racked up X-Games gold medals and numerous other wins.
The awards have resulted in sponsorship deals with giants like Nike SB, Mountain Dew, Target, Nixon, Diamond Supply Co. and Cricket Wireless, just to name a few.
These types of endorsements aren't just handed out, either; they're achievements that many pro skaters only dream of.
Often with this sort of recognition, particularly in the skating circles, claims of "selling out" quickly follow.
Thankfully, P-Rod has dodged these types of accusations by staying true to himself and keeping focused on his goals.
One of those goals was achieved about a year ago when P-Rod left his long time partner company Plan-B and started his own skateboard company Primitive.
I decided to leave [Plan B] because I saw a window of opportunity. I've been fortunate enough in skateboarding to have built myself up to a certain level, and with that comes opportunities. I chose to capture the moment. I was finally at a place where it made sense for me to start my own brand.
Through the process, P-Rod has learned a lot, not only about how to run an effective business but also how to handle himself in professional situations.
Looking back, he regrets the way he left things with his former bosses at Plan-B and offered up a piece of advice to people who may find themselves in similar situations:
"When you leave another company, especially if you had a good relationship before and you're not unhappy, do the people who've supported you a favor and go about it the right way. Talk to them ahead of time and let them know what you're doing and why you're doing it. You owe them that respect," he explains.
On the road again..... @brainfarm pic.twitter.com/EkArWmiNmi — Paul Rodriguez (@prod84) September 24, 2014
Respect is important to P-Rod. When he was younger, he discovered hip-hop legend 2Pac, which was a life changing experience. 2Pac's music, confidence and personality have stuck with Rodriguez as he's gotten older.
He even cites the rapper as one of his personal heroes. Recently, he inked a deal with the Tupac Shakur foundation and was granted permission to use the rapper's image on skateboards for Primitive.
What originally attracted P-Rod to 2Pac was the way the rapper carried himself.
His outspoken nature and confidence were qualities that P-Rod respected and wanted to emulate. The injection of confidence has surely helped P-Rod care less about things he can't change and work to improve on the things he can.
"The way 2Pac carried himself, he was very outspoken and confident, from what I can tell or know he wasn't a very tall guy, but he walked around like he was seven-feet tall.By being able to make 2Pac skateboards, it's sort of the closest I can get to meeting him. I want to show people the reasons I like 2Pac and why I'm inspired by him. 2Pac helped me to find that courage inside myself to help make me comfortable in my own skin. Those were the things that drew me to him, he would talk about subjects that most people in the hip hop world at the time were 'too tough' to talk about. Also the fact that he also wrote poetry, did some ballet at the Baltimore School of The Arts; he wasn't afraid to be who he was and owned it and didn't hide it. That's hugely inspiring to me."
The adoration and inspiration is why P-Rod wants to share 2Pac skateboards with the world.
I just look up to people who are mavericks. People paving the way. You can tell that these type of people aren't being anyone but themselves.
Bruce Lee is another one of P-Rod's heroes.
"The reasons I admire Bruce Lee are a lot of the same reasons I look up to 2Pac. I admire that Lee lived during a time when there was a bunch of racism going on and there weren't Asian stars in America. He stuck to his guns and broke barriers through dedication and his sheer athleticism. He was somebody who never liked to be told he couldn't do something," P-Rod explains.
While gaining inspiration from legends, P-Rod has become a legend himself. He finds the honor very humbling.
"It's a huge honor; I'm very thankful to still be in my 20s and have already had a long career. I prayed for this a long time when I was coming up as a kid, and God went and made it even better than I could have ever envisioned," he says.
Despite all the achievements, endorsements and recognition, P-Rod isn't done. He hopes to become a better businessman and continue to help build skate culture into something much bigger than it currently is.
"Within the next 10 years I want to say skateboarding will be just as big as baseball or basketball," Rodriguez says.
"I see the culture expanding in so many different ways. I always compare skateboarding to music because there's so many genres. There's a certain athleticism that takes place because it takes a lot of physical ability to do it. But today theres so many different styles, verts, street, competition -- even within street you have tech skates. There's a lot of individuality so I see the sport spreading in so many different ways."