Derek is a young entrepreneur who has built a presence in the self-improvement and fitness niches via his blog and social media platforms (most notable being his YouTube channel). He started writing blog articles in 2016 on MorePlatesMoreDates.com and filming YouTube videos shortly thereafter. Since then, he has garnered an audience of more than 300 thousand subscribers on YouTube and launched a couple of successful businesses.
Hello Derek, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? what’s your story?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do in high school, so I got the best grades I could so I could get accepted into one of the best business programs in the country. I had no idea what else I could do with my life, so I just tried to put myself in the best position possible academically. After getting to university, I was still completely oblivious as to what I wanted to do with my life. I had decided I was going to complete my degree and go get an accounting job, or an equivalent paying business-related position. My mindset started to shift when I noticed that one of my mentors had developed a successful business via his presence online. He was posting blog articles and YouTube videos during the early days of YouTube. This inspired me to start writing blog articles and recording videos shortly afterwards. That is how he started, and I figured I had nothing to lose so I bought a domain and started writing. Anything I’ve been interested in I’ve always become obsessed with learning as much as I can about it, so I already had a decent amount of knowledge about pharmacology, endocrinology, fitness, nutrition, exercise, etc. before I started writing. My knowledge in 2016 pales in comparison to where it’s at now though and will likely pale in comparison to what it will be a few years from now. I’m constantly learning, and that’s what keeps me going and is also why I am so passionate about what I talk about.
Have you always wanted to become an entrepreneur in the fitness industry?
No, and even though I am often lumped into the same category as “fitness YouTubers” I don’t really consider myself a fitness industry specific platform. I originally thought I was going to work a reasonably well-paying desk job for some big company with my business degree, and that was going to be my life. The thought of it didn’t excite me at all, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around entrepreneurship at the time, or how to even get started with it. I always had a strong feeling that the path I had laid out for myself was selling myself short. Fortunately, that feeling was right and I acted on it.
You’re now an established fitness expert on YouTube, how did it begin?
I started working out when I was in grade 11 in high school because my friends would drag me there. I didn’t even want to go because all I cared about was basketball and getting more muscular didn’t seem like an endeavor worth spending time on. My friends were all committed to getting as big and strong as possible at the time, and eventually convinced me to start working out. I was a 138-pound rail at the time and definitely needed to add some size. I couldn’t even bench press the bar when I started. After a month of training, I started to enjoy it more as I could see progress on the scale and on the weights I could lift. I was hooked to the gym after that.
What gave you confidence to be doing your own business instead of choosing a conventional corporate career?
I have always been extremely hungry for success. Every time I worked for someone else in an industry that I was passionate about, I felt like I was selling myself short. It was almost like I knew deep down that I should do this myself, but I just didn’t know where to start. Shortly thereafter I aligned myself with some great mentors who helped me wrap my head around some of the basics of entrepreneurship. Fortunately, I already had the confidence in myself to invest in my own future, and once I had a clear path of what I needed to do in front of me, I started investing in myself heavily. I knew that investing in myself and my own ventures would be the most profitable decision long-term, rather than working for someone else, even if working for someone else would yield more up-front cash. I still work with other companies in an affiliate context as it would be physically impossible to start a business for every single product and service I want to promote, but anything I am directly focused on and am extremely passionate about I try to find ways to monetize directly via my own ventures.
How do you feel about the influence of social media today in entrepreneurship?
I feel that it has a massive influence and it is the number one way to scale your business. If it weren’t for social media, many of us would not have the opportunity to get our information out at scale. Social media has afforded many entrepreneurs a platform to capitalize on their aspirations, where it would’ve been nearly impossible to do so otherwise.
Can you tell us something about your training methods?
As of now, I do what I consider to be roughly the minimum effective weekly volume in the gym. This allows me to train 3-4 days per week at most and get in and out of the gym in an hour. My priority is business right now rather than developing my physique, so I do just enough to stay in shape and maintain what I have built up over the years. I also go for a couple short 10-minute walks per day after my meals. My workout routine isn’t overly complicated, and it is very easy to adhere to.
As an entrepreneur, what was your biggest failure? What did you learn from this mistake/failure?
My biggest failure was not investing in myself sooner. Even though I eventually came to my senses and realized that the best investment I will make is investing in myself, I spent a lot of time working for others and growing their businesses, even though my monthly overhead and general expenses were low enough that I could’ve gone full board on building up my personal brand sooner. I easily lost 1-2 years of progress by not aggressively investing in myself sooner. And by investing in myself I mean spending money on courses to educate myself, hiring employees to take tasks off my back, getting better camera equipment, getting a faster internet connection, etc. These are all things that will cost you money up front, but will earn you exponentially more down the line.
Can you tell us more about the projects you are working with right now?
More Plates More Dates is my social media platform and what most who follow my content know me for.
Gorilla Mind is a dietary supplement company I launched in December, 2017. Our main product offerings right now are our cognitive enhancing Nootropic formulas and our pre-workout formulas that I’ve designed.
Marek Health is a telemedicine-based HRT clinic that I launched last year. The goal is concierge level care from high quality doctors who reflect the most up to date literature in their practice.
Being an expert in the fitness industry, what advice would you give to aspiring youngsters who wish to get started?
If you want to succeed in the fitness industry nowadays you need to be different. You need to stand out in some way. That sounds like an obvious suggestion, but most newbies are still doing the same cookie cutter vlogs, full day of eating, etc. that everyone else is. If you don’t have an extraordinary personality or physique, the likelihood of getting traction doing those videos is low. I advise thinking carefully about what it is that you are truly passionate about. If it is actually fitness and you aren’t just posting fitness videos because you think becoming a fitness influencer would be cool, then by all means start posting about it, but be unique. Go look at what other up and coming big channels are doing not only in the fitness industry, but also in other more mainstream industries and see how you can integrate those ideas into your own content. It is rare that a fitness influencer really looks outside of the scope of the fitness industry for content ideas, but that is where I would go first to look for unique ideas and inspiration and try and figure out how to tie it back into my niche. At the end of the day, the best advice I have is to go full board into whatever it is that you’re truly passionate about. Do not start a fitness channel if you don’t truly love something related to health, exercise, bodybuilding, nutrition, etc. Even if you build a big following and are successful, if it isn’t in an industry you are truly passionate about, you will very likely burn out and it will be far less likely to make you happy.
More details about Derek can be found at: https://www.instagram.com/moreplates_moredates/