What you can learn from DDP: Stay real, stay on-brand
High on the list of wrestling heroes from my teen years, Diamond Dallas Page had me throwing up his “Diamond Cutter” hand sign, executing his signature move on friends and freaking out when he finally got to the top of World Championship Wrestling.
As a hard-working performer who finally found massive success in his 40s, Diamond Dallas Page became the people’s champ. Now as the founder of the yoga-centric DDPY workout system, the man born Page Joseph Falkenburg has benefited from that magnetism as an entrepreneur. It “ain’t your mama's yoga!” is the tagline and Page is still the hyped-up everyman of his wrestling days. Undeterred after failing to leave with a deal on “Shark Tank” -- he claimed over $6 million in DDPY sales in six days after the show aired -- Page now boasts a business offering a DDPY mobile app and DVD workouts from a Georgia-based corporate headquarters/production studio. Plus, he just shared his journey with a helping of health and fitness advice in a new book, “Positively Unstoppable: The Art of Owning It” (2019, Rodale).
After observing his rise, reading “Positively Unstoppable” and interviewing him for my podcast, here are my five things you can learn from DDP:
Tell a story
Page is in the business of selling DVDs and app subscriptions, but he also puts an emphasis on storytelling. Perhaps, the best representation of this is “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake,” a 2015 documentary produced by Page that tells the story of ex-wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Page’s welcoming of an addict into his home and coaching of Roberts through DDPY played a major role in the man’s recovery. It was an inspiring redemption story AND effective endorsement of the DDPY method.
In sharing the story of Arthur Boorman, a veteran who shed 100 pounds and no longer needed forearm crutches to walk, the company kept the focus on his transformation instead of DDPY’s role in it. According to the book, Page conceded to his video director’s vision of keeping promotional content at a minimum. “You won’t get anyone to share the story if it’s a commercial,” said Steve Yu, who also directed the Roberts documentary.
Know your brand
The man who built a rabid following during his in-ring wrestling days understood the importance of a persona that connects with fans. Page maintains that his career didn’t take off until he started being his true self. As he told me:
“The whole time that Page Joseph Falkenburg was trying so hard to become this bigger-than-life character, it never really worked,” he said during the “Happy Valley Hustle” podcast. “It worked with Diamond Dallas Page taking on the characteristics of Page Joseph Falkenburg, which is work ethic, which is tenacity, which is relentlessness, which is loyalty and integrity. When I tell you I’ll do something, you can take it to the bank.”
Page the entrepreneur still puts a premium on authenticity and with it, enthusiasm, tough love and colorful language. In the DDPY origin story of his ex-wife introducing him to yoga and extending his wrestling career, he’s always the “guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga.” In describing the injury after a vicious slam that almost sent him to retirement, he writes: “Imagine that the shock-absorbing discs between the back’s vertebra are jelly donuts. … Well, in this scenario, someone had just stomped on all my jelly donuts.”
Playing the long game
DDP is fond of reflecting on his improbable success in wrestling after debuting as a 35-year-old rookie and saying that his DDPY program is “a 10-year overnight success.” A book in 2005 titled “Yoga for Regular Guys: The Best Damn Workout on the Planet!” that didn’t have the intended impact, an initial tepid response to DDPY DVDs and a failure to secure funding on “Shark Tank,” could have derailed his vision, but Page persisted. Plus, many of his contemporaries in the world of wrestling greeted his idea with a smirk. As he told me: “If it comes too easy to you, you will take it for granted, you won’t realize how important it is to you without you having to put the work in.”
Page would eventually use the “Shark Tank” publicity to his advantage and win over wrestlers such as Chris Jericho who eagerly promoted the product when it delivered results, extending their own careers.
Take advantage of user-generated content
Page is careful not to overwhelm the DDPY social media audience with posts selling app sign-ups, books and merch. That content is there but so are motivational posts, retweets of success stories and user-generated content. The DDPY team packages videos and photos of practitioners’ transformations to create testaments to the effectiveness and messages of inspiration. With 17 million+ YouTube views, “Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur's Inspirational Transformation!” is a shining example of this.
In the early days of DDPY, Page would routinely call and email customers to give feedback and offer motivation. DDPY social media is full of content going behind the scenes at the DDPY Performance Center giving a look at the familial vibe between Page and his employees. On Facebook and through the DDPY Now App, it’s not uncommon to follow a live workout led by the creator. It’s also not uncommon to find DDP making appearances at various conventions, minor league baseball games and other events tapping into strong nostalgia for ex-wrestlers. From a media standpoint, DDP appears to be equally accessible whether appearing on the hugely popular “Joe Rogan Experience” or my humble podcast.
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