Interview - Rhys O'Connell

Interview: Rhys O'Connell, Director: ROC Presents and Social Entrepreneur - November 2010

Hi Rhys, thanks for sitting down with us, this is your first interview in five years!

Being one of the youngest entrepreneurs of Australia, what have you been up to?


Thanks for having me Greg, the last five years has been a long ride of career highs and disappointments but from every mistake I've learnt to push forward and at this very moment I couldn't be enjoying life anymore.


Sounds like you have had quite an amazing adventure, we'll start with your highlights and achievements from the last two years, and I know your even abit of a romantic so we can touch on that as well if you like.


Oh Stop It!

At the beginning of 2008 i began working with one of Australia's top concert promoter's Mario Maiolo, and i was hired as a entertainment booking agent and together with Maiolo we booked an Australian packaged tour with two artists from Sydney on an 11 date run. Plus I also was responsible for corporate shows.

Then at the end of that year the Global Financial Crisis, punters were not spending as much money on entertainment and I was hired at Australia's number one electronic retailer, JB HIFI. Here I was taught how to not only sell a product but up sell and add a minimum of 2 items to each sale.


It sounds like your the reason for the great share price at the moment, I recall when you started at JB HIFI and when you finished at the company, it was listed $12 higher, would you be the reason for this?


JB HIFI is a great company to invest in because of its company structure and it's just getting started, I don't think I had much involvement in its success.............okay maybe a little!


By then you travelled to the U.S for the first time in October of 2009 and I believe it was your calling, with the many brushes of fame and business relationships you made, you travelled back and fourth a total of five times year to date!


It was a fantastic trip, i had just turned 24 and got off the plane at LAX and my mind was blown away and from all my experiences I had and all the people I met were very special and I will never forget them.


Tell us about the exposure to entertainment you've had in the US, i believe you have a few stories?


Which one do you want to hear!? I was backstage with Bette Midler at Ceasars Palace and as soon as I told her I was from Adelaide, She told me she fell in love with her first love in Adelaide!


Really! What did you say?


Can I be your second?


That's a line and a half for the Divine Ms M! You sure are a gentleman of difference with your crooner like lines!

But tell us how you were lucky enough to sing with Barry Manilow Donny And Marie and even have the chance to Join Mary Hart on the Entertainement Tonight stage!


I was in the front row of both concerts, Marie Osmond was talking about Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, looked down at me and said I wouldn't know who they were since I'm so young. She went onto asking me how old I was.


Weren't you then filmed at this point infront of a 3,000 capacity venue at the Flamingo, Las Vegas?


Yeah! It was quite funny because at this point she didn't stop reeling off the questions, with her next being, do you like older women?


I can imagine with your charming looks and peircing blue eyes you replied in such a manner..


I replied with, "I do now"




But my third trip to the U.S I had the honour of singing with one of the most successful artsits of all time, Barry Manilow, where he pulled my up on stage and we sang 'Cant Smile Without You' together.


I must say, for 25 years old you have had a spectacular life of meeting these amazing high profile people who have touched so many peoples lives through different ways whether its through song or charity. Plus knowing how to manage them aswell on a daily basis as we've mentioned your work with Mario Maiolo, and also being involved in looking after such acts while their on tour including The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, Kasabian, Bullet For My Valentine and not to mention when you were only 20 you walked up and proposed a viable business plan to the the 7th richest man in the world who pioneered business, Sir Richard Branson, do you ever get star struck?


I did in one instance, at the Claire Valley in South Australia when I bumped into Tom Jones backstage, I was absolutely stuck for words as two months prior I had just seen him perform at the MGM in Las Vegas.


You really like your crooners and music which not many people of your age appreciate and thats something very unique, but it also reflects you as a person and I hear you like to swoon the odd lady or two with a romantic Rod Stewart album with a glass of red?


The secrets out! ha

Over the last couple of years I have enjoyed the company of a few different young beautiful women, but I have always been one to hold back unless I think the feeling is mutual, which has really only happened once, and that was this year infact, I met the most adoring, sweetest, compassionate young woman with the kindest heart you could ever meet. And She flew from the US to hang out and while in Australia we visited a total of five cities and had the time of our lives.


She sound like the luckiest lady on the planet to have someone like you


(Rhys laughs) Well I thought i was the luckiest guy on the planet and life's a funny thing, you never know whats around the corner and i gotta say to meet someone like her I certainly turned the right one.


And now to finish off, you've hung up the AAA passes and given entertainment a rest, while you've gone back to your hospitality roots, your now in hotel management in San Diego California!

Rhys O'Connell, I wish you the best of luck for the future and it's fantastic that 5 years on you've kicked so many goals with managing and promoting local and international artists and now hotel management in California, but not to mention it sounds like you've found the girl of your dreams, and thats most important thing that keeps your career a success and enables it to grow, sharing it with somebody you love.



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

Sir Richard Branson and Rhys O'Connell

Media Man 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