Catalytic Wavemaker. Entrepreneur. Game Changer. Jordon Rooney is all of those things. He’s also the founder and CEO of NFBD, VlogU, and Built Different.
Jordon Rooney is an engaging speaker with influencer status. When Jordon speaks thousands listen – in person at events or online as they watch and share his videos.
His success didn’t happen overnight. Motivated by focusing on conquering whatever challenge was in front of him, Jordon started by speaking in schools, then making videos, then he formed his nonprofit NFBD, then VlogU, and then a for-profit that focuses on brand transformations in the digital age called Built Different.
Ever get told “You’re too young” or “This is the way things always have been done”? Jordon has. But he turned that frustration into motivation. Never Fear Being Different (NFBD), a nonprofit focused on working with youth to amplify social impact in the digital age, was formed to combat those statements. Or better said: To cause disruption.
“There were far too many young, talented, creative, and resourceful young people not living up to their potential. Why? They didn’t fit the mold at the right time or they were a little too stubborn or hard headed. I wanted to change the way those types of people were viewed and provide them with the resources to live to their full potential,” Jordon said.
From NFBD stemmed VlogU, a social media agency run by high school students, because he took a look at who would benefit most with the right training and opportunities. He said, “It’s young people in the city of Pittsburgh. They had no idea that they could obtain a career just by being themselves.”
VlogU is engaging the social media generation’s natural and nurtured technological inclinations and it’s taking the traditional marketing sector to task.
“Being creative wins out over your degree and experience every time. You have to talk with people, not at them. Youth set communication trends. If your brand lacks self-awareness, there are millions of teenagers on Twitter that will call you out. You cannot just have marketing campaigns anymore, you have to live your brand,” Jordon said.
Funded by grants, VlogU participants are educated on the ins-and-outs of social media, branding, and digital/creative strategy. The program received over $150K in funding in its first full year, and it took a lot of effort to get there.
“I was told ‘No’ so many times,” He said. “But I never strayed away from who I was or what my big ideas were. Thankfully, the right people believed in me and that vision. The biggest advantage I believe I had was being in Pittsburgh. The support here from the foundation and nonprofit community is amazing.”
“Youth need real world training for jobs they can go out and get right now. VlogU prepares youth for the modern economy by providing a marketing solution for nonprofits. We train the youth and partner with nonprofits where our students will assist in marketing campaigns.”
For 2020, VlogU is shifting from a summer program to a full-time youth creative agency and employing students to work with nonprofits and brands. Their first clients? Mattress Factory and the Warhol Museum.
If Jordon Rooney’s path to success teaches you anything let it be to never take ‘No’ for an answer and to never fear being different. It’s the different that gets you where you want to be.
PS. As if that all weren’t enough, there’s also an NFBD All-Star Football Game -one of the largest high school all-star football games on the East Coast. High-profile high school athletes are taught how to build their personal brands and to amplify their impact as role models. So cool!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.