Interview - Rhys O'Connell

Interview: Rhys O'Connell, Director: ROC Presents and Social Entrepreneur - November 2006

Sir Richard Branson and Rhys O'Connell

Media Man Australia continues to interview the best of the best in their field. South Australia's events promoter and social entrepreneur is developing a name as an up and coming force in the entertainment world.

What is your background?

I spent seven years from the age of 13 in the hospitality industry as a pizza maker. During my school years (at Mercedes College) I worked during the weekends and school holidays but after completing year 12 I began working a whole lot more.

What are you best known for?

In year 12 when I bought my first motor vehicle bought a customised number plate with my initials, ROC, on it and ever since then that's what I've answered to!

How does one go from car accident survivor who almost lost his life to event promoter?

By being inspired by those who have done it before. I have attended more than 30 concerts and VIP parties since the age of 14, and I've seen artists such as Elton John, Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams and even The Rolling Stones! Over the past six years of going to all these events it has been a dream of mine to host my own event, with world-class entertainment and high calibre people in attendance! And on December 10th of this year, my dream will become a reality!

What's it like to be ROC?

Since I have answered my calling to front an empire, I have found myself working hard involving businesses and making them aware of the direction ROC is going! Life's a journey and I'm determined to have the best journey possible!

What's the best advice you can give to people who are struggling to overcome the odds?

Life is short and you only live once, if something is getting you down, you must look at the bigger picture and overcome it because as you can overcome something you can do almost anything. Dealing successfully with rejection virtually guarantees success!

Why is self-development and self-motivation so important?

I can't imagine a life without self-development because a life without growth is to drown in stagnation. Either by design or good luck, I am surrounded by people who have a positive outlook and I know this contributes to my self-motivation and my self-development comes out of that.

Tell us about some of the highlights of your career?

To date, the highlight of my life has been surviving being bowled over by a car! The other highlight has been meeting famous people such as Richard Branson, not because I happened to accidentally bump into them but because I go out of my way to make it happen. In order to meet Sir Richard I caught an aeroplane from Adelaide to Brisbane and walked up to him at a party and introduced myself then e-mailed him a business proposal and, as a result, we are in discussions with his people! If I had just sat in Adelaide and waited for him to come to me, I would still be waiting!!

What's the best thing about being you?

Maybe because of my near-death experience, but I am unafraid to do. Even if I have to do something potentially humiliating I just laugh it off and rationalise it by thinking that even if people are talking behind my back, at least they're talking about me!

Who are some of the business people you admire, and why?

Naturally, Richard Branson tops the list, because he has created a successful empire and as and is trying to create a better world with the wealth his empire has created. In September he donated half his wealth ($3 Billion ) to fight global warming. He started with nothing and now he is one of the richest and most successful people in the world and he is still a down to earth person.

Who are some of your favorite people you have worked with over the years?

My first job was at Pedro's Pizza, and the owner of the business, Steph Taylor, helped turn me into the person I am. Being a great business advisor, loyal friend and a truly extraordinary human being. She is certainly going to be a great part of my success.

I know you are very passionate about good music. Who are some of your favorite performing artists and why?

Rod Stewart was a great rock n roll singer of his time, so I thought I'd revisit all the hits by buying a greatest hits album, boy did I miss a good decade of music!

John Farnham, a great Australian singer, king of pop in the late '70s, and has had a career span just over 35 years tops the list as a performer and I have seen him in concert seven times!

What are your current projects and who have been your biggest supporters and sponsors thus far?

ROC PRESENTS is a project I am currently working on and will officially launch in December. The company ROC PRESENTS, was established to meet an array of diversified entertainment and business opportunities. VIP parties, celebrity gatherings and gala events are just some of the prestigious functions that ROC PRESENTS will promote. ROC PRESENTS has a great team of people on board and some fantastic supporters with great management and this has been underlined by the number of sponsors including Wallis Theatres, PureEnvy, Small Indulgences, The Modern Home and many more!

What process do you follow when you decide what people you will do business with?

What can I offer them that is of benefit to them and then create a project so the people or businesses involved will benefit from the benefits ROC receives.

What's the biggest misconception about yourself?

People think I am older than I really am! I'm young, I make mistakes…but I'm eager to learn.

Explain why teamwork is so important in business and personal relationships?

Teamwork is crucial to any business and personal relationship because Together Everyone Achieves More! Life is too short to allow failure to dictate the terms of your life and no matter what happens so long as you maintain a healthy relationship with everyone you're involved with professionally and personally everything will turn out fine on the night!

What do you consider the highlights of your career and life to date?

My highlight would be meeting with my newest aspiration, Sir Richard Branson. I have never, in my 20 years met somebody who is one of the most powerful, publicly recognized and successful person until last month.

How do you maintain some sort of balance in your busy life?

I try to make business fun! I get excited as the business grows and the people who have contributed to the growth of the business benefit from their hard work!

I hear that your website is working out well for you. Explain the power of the internet and what it all means to your business endeavors?

The internet is a very powerful tool and can be accessed worldwide and I think it's such a fantastic medium to be involved in! Many people already have been to my website and I've received some great comments via email which I appreciate and at ROC PRESENTS we are trying to fulfill every single person's interest! The internet is in its infancy. It's a bit like being a property developer in a major capital city 50 years ago. If we all knew what was going to happen wouldn't we have bought up big? Well the internet is only going to get bigger and any business that doesn't have as sophisticated internet presence as possible is denying itself the best opportunity for growth. It's your shop window to the world!

What inspires and motivates you?

I am motivated by the brilliant and positive people who are apart of the ROC team! Everyone at ROC makes sure we touch base on a daily basis to maintain that healthy relationship!

Who are your mentors?

Steph Taylor, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton.

Who is the better businessman, Richard Branson or Donald Trump, and why?

As soon as The Apprentice series one aired, I didn't miss an episode and watched with amazement how the property tycoon dealt with his own 'cattle' and it was a great thing to see how he became what he is today. However Richard Branson is more daring, risk-taking and enjoys everything he does, including business! He shares the same motto as me, screw it just do it! And I respect that the most.

What's the best advice you have ever been given?

Look at the problem, find various solutions, and then apply one of those solutions to the problem.

What's some of the main challenges you have overcome in your life?

When I was three years old I was involved in a car accident which nearly took my life, and I would have to be the luckiest person on the planet I think to have overcome all doubts which were cast over me!

What are some of the good causes you support?

The Women's and Children's Hospital. When I was struck by the car I flew 40 metres on impact. So if it wasn't for the hospital there wouldn't be a Rhys O'Connell and to show my appreciation for their work, for my 21st birthday I am donating some serious money towards their foundation!

Where are some of your favorite travel destinations?

Every year I travel to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final and that is a great highlight for me! Destinations I visit in between that are usually Sydney and Brisbane which are both beautiful cities, but Melbourne would have to take the cake!

Would you ever consider traveling to the moon on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic?

I would more than consider traveling to the moon with Richard, so we can further our discussion on my business proposal we discussed on out first meeting, and seeing we are up there for a few days, he would have to listen!

What media attention have you attracted to date?

I have attracted a lot of positives from an array of media through putting this event together and it's still growing with emails and the bat phone ringing constantly every day!

What's your star sign and are you true to it?

I am on the cusp of Libra and Scorpio, so I tend to have a few traits of both signs. Most qualities, which each star sign have, I do tend to have but there are also a majority, which I do not.

What's your favorite movie, and why?

Jaws was an absolute classic! It took me while to realise it was just a movie!

What do you do to relax?

To relax, I head down to The Henley Beach Kiosk to enjoy the best coffee in Adelaide and enjoy one of the best views that Adelaide has to offer!

What's next for you?

The ROC brand plans to become bigger and offer a wide range of diverse opportunities and services. I even thought about writing a book about losing my virginity, but that has already been done!


Editors note: We look forward to being there when Rhys and his ROC Presents rocks Adelaide.


ROC Presents


Rhys O'Connell



South Australia


Social and Community Entrepreneurs



Virgin Unite

Friends and Associates of Rhys O'Connell - ROC Presents

Sir Richard Branson

Brett Godfrey

Steph Taylor

The Henley Beach Kiosk

Adelaide Glass Redbacks

Wallis Theatres


The Modern Home

Mirvac Hotels & Resorts - Sebel Playford Adelaide


Small Indulgences

The Women's and Children's Hospital


AdPro Management

Jac Bowie PR

Media Man

Sir Richard Branson and Rhys O'Connell

Media Man is delighted to assist Rhys O'Connell in a media and publicity capacity