Feet on the Street: What Rowan Zorilla Can Teach You About Skills Development

Rowan on Thrasher Cover_edit2


There are no shortcuts, no easy ways of getting around how to improve and sharpen your skills. Whether you are a doctor (continuing medical education classes), a fireman (drills are a regular occurrence), a salesperson (training followed by Managerial Coaching) or an up and coming world class skateboarder (ride, ride, ride), you have to put the work in to keep on top of your game. In his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, Malcolm Gladwell cites the need to put in 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. That’s a full time job (2,000 hours per year) for 5 years; think about that when measuring your professional status!

Well, it just so happens that my nephew, Rowan Zorilla, aka RoZo, is in his breakout year as one of the hottest new riders on the Vans Skateboarding team (http://www.vans.com/team/skate/rowan-zorilla.html). In fact, on April 21st, Rowan and a small group of his elite team will be featured in a worldwide release of the Vans skateboarding movie called Propeller, which will be shown in 11 cities over a 3 week period. Check out www.vanspropeller.com for more information.

And how did Rowan get to this point in his young life? It’s the same way that an aspiring singer gets to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice! Since he was 8 years old, Rowan has lived and breathed skateboarding. He participated at a competitive level in soccer and baseball, but at the age of 11 decided that skateboarding was his passion. Rowan has surrounded himself with a group of young men, kids at the time, who know skateboarding, and he had the good fortune of meeting Tony Hawk, and Tony’s son Riley several years ago. Rowan has learned from the best, as Tony is the global leader and ambassador of the sport.

There were, and still are, no shortcuts for Rowan. He skates to most of the places he goes to, and aside from a period with a banged up knee, he practices his trade on a daily basis. In high school, he maintained a high grade point average, as his parents (my sister Anne and her husband Dan), made sure that their son kept his options open for other educational and career opportunities.  He has also been provided great tools to work with, whether that be the boards he is sponsored on, or the shoes he is wearing, Rowan is ready to hit the street flying on a regular basis.

So what can we can we all learn from this? Dedication, focus, practice, tools and mentorship/leadership; it’s no different than what my customers ask of the sales professionals from their teams on a regular basis. Vans provides it to Rowan, and he runs with it. What are you doing with the skills and tools provided to you?

And there’s no way I can wrap up this article without saying how proud I am of Rowan. When he made this leap 2 years ago, it seemed like a tough goal to get to from my perspective. I am happy to report that I was wrong, and pleased to say what a great young man this nephew of mine is today. Finally, I am REALLY thrilled to say that I will join him at the premier in London on April 30th. Look out RoZo, here comes your loud and proud Uncle walking into the Prince Charles Theatre!!