Rhys O'Connell, Director: ROC Presents and Social
Entrepreneur - November 2010
Rhys, thanks for sitting down with us, this is your
first interview in five years!
one of the youngest entrepreneurs of Australia, what
have you been up to?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
us about the exposure to entertainment you've had
in the US, i believe you have a few stories?
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!
What did you say?
I be your second?
a line and a half for the Divine Ms M! You sure are
a gentleman of difference with your crooner like lines!
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!
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.
you then filmed at this point infront of a 3,000 capacity
venue at the Flamingo, Las Vegas?
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?
can imagine with your charming looks and peircing
blue eyes you replied in such a manner..
replied with, "I do now"
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.
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
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.
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?
secrets out! ha
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.
sound like the luckiest lady on the planet to have
someone like you
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.
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!
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.
Rhys O'Connell, Director: ROC Presents and Social
Entrepreneur - November 2006
Richard Branson and Rhys
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?
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.
are you best known for?
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!
does one go from car accident survivor who almost
lost his life to event promoter?
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!
it like to be ROC?
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
the best advice you can give to people who are struggling
to overcome the odds?
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!
is self-development and self-motivation so important?
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.
us about some of the highlights of your career?
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!!
the best thing about being you?
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!
are some of the business people you admire, and why?
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
are some of your favorite people you have worked with
over the years?
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.
know you are very passionate about good music. Who
are some of your favorite performing artists and why?
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
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!
are your current projects and who have been your biggest
supporters and sponsors thus far?
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!
process do you follow when you decide what people
you will do business with?
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.
the biggest misconception about yourself?
think I am older than I really am! I'm young, I make
but I'm eager to learn.
why teamwork is so important in business and personal
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!
do you consider the highlights of your career and
life to date?
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.
do you maintain some sort of balance in your busy
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!
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?
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!
inspires and motivates you?
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
are your mentors?
Taylor, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton.
is the better businessman, Richard Branson or Donald
Trump, and why?
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.
the best advice you have ever been given?
at the problem, find various solutions, and then apply
one of those solutions to the problem.
some of the main challenges you have overcome in your
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!
are some of the good causes you support?
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
are some of your favorite travel destinations?
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!
you ever consider traveling to the moon on Sir Richard
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!
media attention have you attracted to date?
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!
your star sign and are you true to it?
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.
your favorite movie, and why?
was an absolute classic! It took me while to realise
it was just a movie!
do you do to relax?
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!
next for you?
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!
note: We look forward to being there when Rhys and
his ROC Presents rocks Adelaide.
and Community Entrepreneurs
and Associates of Rhys O'Connell - ROC Presents
Henley Beach Kiosk
Hotels & Resorts - Sebel Playford Adelaide
Women's and Children's Hospital
Richard Branson and Rhys
Man is delighted to assist Rhys O'Connell in a media
and publicity capacity