It’s Olan Roger’s birthday. Many people know him from his fantastically hilarious YouTube channel, but he’s not just a nebulous online personality; he’s a legit dude and good friend.
I just read some beautiful words by a mutual friend, Jake Sidwell, on his Tumblr which I’m posting below. Jake succinctly described the best attributes of this unbelievably hard-working genius. I wish everyone could get the chance to know him personally. I look forward to working with this guy for years to come.
Today is Olan’s birthday. I woke up super late to the reminder on my phone, because I’m both the worst with my sleeping schedule and the worst with remembering things about other people.
I don’t have anything to offer him today, sadly, but I thought I would instead just write about him.
Our Nashville adventures lasted a little over a year before I moved away, and in that time I felt like I was holding him back. I worked nearly the whole time I was there – just crappy, dead-end jobs to pay the bills. When I’d come home, there he was, still relentlessly editing some 15 second-long scene from Pop Rocket, 20+ hours straight. You see, what people don’t know about that goofy, fun-loving guy is how dead serious he is about what he’s doing. The moments of frustration over his uncompromising independence, the number of reshoots, the mass pile of unused footage because it “wasn’t good enough”, the demand for excellence in himself first and in those around him, and his honesty. Sweet Moses, his honesty.
He has a determination that you will likely never see in your lifetime. The products you see may seem seamless and effortless, but that’s only because of the immeasurable effort he put into making them feel that way.
HE HAS RE-SHOT HIS VLOGS. Did you read what I just said? He’ll re-shoot a vlog, because it isn’t funny enough or entertaining enough. He’ll reword everything from scratch to make sure it’s the best possible telling of his stories. I’ve heard him downstairs shooting the same video he shot several days before and all the days in between, just telling a story about his life.
I realized the difference between us pretty early on, and so I focused on helping Olan do the best work he could do. He let me write and constantly encouraged me, but it wasn’t the family/friend sort of encouragement. He never lied to me. If my work wasn’t good enough, or he saw that I could do better, he never minced words. So, when I heard him across the room, reading my next draft saying, “This is exactly what I wanted! YES! Perfect.” I knew he was speaking the truth. He demanded my best, and he knew when I had given it to him. He bought me my first piece of orchestral software, and made my first EP possible. I was moving away, leaving him behind, and his response was to invest in me – to believe that I could achieve no matter where I was headed. That’s how he lives, by investing in people and knowing their value.
This doesn’t just apply to his film work either. His apparel company is not a hobby or a youtube side-project. He takes it just as seriously as he does his films. He’d show me a design and ask for my opinion. I’d be blown away to see that several days later he completely scrapped that same, good design and started from scratch again. If I could show you a folder full of his fantastic, unused designs, your head would surely fall from its hinges.
Know this: when you see his work succeed, either in his business models, his view of people, his creative work, or his relationships, you are seeing a stone smoothed over years of unrelenting excellence, of unstoppable determination, and of uncommon passion.
There isn’t enough I can say, but he’s a tremendous man, and I’m so proud that he calls me friend.
Happy birthday, Olan.