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Dylan Huey talks about being an entrepreneur in the digital age

Dylan Huey is the CEO of REACH, a national collegiate influencer organization.

Dylan Huey, the CEO of Reach
Dylan Huey, the CEO of Reach. Photo Credit: Theo & Juliet Photography
Dylan Huey, the CEO of Reach. Photo Credit: Theo & Juliet Photography

Dylan Huey is the CEO of REACH, a national collegiate influencer organization.

He spoke about being an entrepreneur in the digital age, his daily inspirations, and he shared his thoughts on AI (artificial intelligence) on the future of the industry.

Huey discussed how he uses technology in his daily routine, his future plans, and philanthropic work.

How does it feel to be an entrepreneur in the digital age? (Now with streaming, technology and social media being so prevalent)

Being an entrepreneur in the digital age is both exhilarating and rewarding, yet challenging. We’re at a unique juncture where technology is evolving at a breathtaking pace, impacting every aspect of our lives, including how we do business.

The prevalence of streaming, social media, and advanced digital tools has revolutionized the entrepreneurial landscape, creating unparalleled opportunities for innovation and growth.

As someone deeply immersed in social media + digital marketing, I find the rapid advancement of technology incredibly exciting. It opens up new avenues for creativity, allows for real-time engagement with audiences, and provides powerful tools to streamline operations.

For instance, platforms like TikTok and Instagram enable entrepreneurs to reach global audiences with unprecedented ease, while tools like AI and analytics provide insights that were unimaginable a few years ago.

However, this digital age also demands a high level of adaptability. The constant influx of new technologies and platforms means that staying current is not optional but necessary.

Entrepreneurs need to be lifelong learners, always ready to pivot and adopt new strategies to stay ahead of the curve. This dynamic environment fosters a culture of continuous innovation, pushing me to think creatively and strategically at all times.

For me, this digital era has granted me the ability to build global and diverse audiences, has taught me to be open minded with new ideas, and to be adaptable – because things are always changing. 

What inspires you each day as an entrepreneur?

Two main forces drive my inspiration every day as an entrepreneur: the power to effect meaningful change and the relentless desire to push myself towards my goals.

Firstly, the potential to create positive change is incredibly motivating.

As an entrepreneur, I have the opportunity to influence people’s lives, shape industries, and contribute to societal progress. This sense of purpose is a constant source of inspiration.

Through my organization REACH, I strive to empower the next generation of content creators and entrepreneurs. We have over 2,500 collegiate creators in over 75 universities and support them via brand campaigns, educational workshops, social events, resources, and more.

By providing them with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need, I aim to help them realize their potential and succeed in the digital age. Seeing the tangible impact of our work—whether it’s a student’s first brand partnership, a successful content campaign, or a breakthrough idea—reaffirms my commitment and drives me to keep innovating. This past year alone, we had two of our alums make the Forbes 30 Under 30 List.

I am inspired by the possibility of setting a positive example and leaving a lasting legacy. I want to show that with dedication, creativity, and hard work, it’s possible to turn ideas into reality and make a difference. This broader mission of inspiring others to pursue their dreams and make an impact in their fields keeps me motivated and focused.

In the following TED Talk, he opened up about how social media saved his life.

How do you use technology in your daily routine?

As a member of Gen Z, technology is seamlessly integrated into every aspect of my daily routine. Being a digitally native generation, we’ve grown up with technology at our fingertips, and it profoundly influences how we communicate, create, and operate in our day-to-day lives.

To start with, communication is heavily reliant on technology. I use various digital platforms to stay connected with my team, collaborators, and audience.

Tools like Slack and Zoom are essential for coordinating with my team at REACH, ensuring smooth collaboration regardless of physical distance. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn help me engage with my audience, share updates, and build professional relationships. These platforms are not just for staying in touch; they are integral to building and maintaining the networks that support my work.

Why is technology so important in regard to content creation?

For content creation, technology is indispensable. I leverage advanced tools for filming, editing, and distributing content across multiple platforms. Applications like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are integral for producing high-quality videos, while platforms like TikTok and YouTube enable me to reach a vast audience quickly and effectively.

Additionally, AI-driven tools like ChatGPT assist in drafting scripts and generating ideas, streamlining the creative process. This integration of technology allows me to create engaging content that resonates with my audience and maintains a high standard of quality.

Technology is the cornerstone of my daily routine, enhancing communication, content creation, productivity, and decision-making. Its integration into every facet of my work enables me to operate efficiently and effectively in the fast-paced digital landscape.

Whether it’s through advanced editing software, AI-driven tools, or project management platforms, technology empowers me to achieve my goals and stay ahead in the dynamic world of content creation and entrepreneurship.

What are your thoughts on AI (artificial intelligence) on the future of the industry?

This is a great question! AI is a topic that comes up frequently at every conference I speak at, from Vidcon to CES to the NAB Show, and my sentiment towards it is always positive.

AI has immense potential to transform the future of various industries, particularly in enhancing productivity and creativity. As a member of Gen Z, I see firsthand how AI is integrated into our daily routines to improve efficiency and innovation. For instance, as a student at USC, I use AI tools like ChatGPT to streamline research and maximize creative output for assignments.

This directly translates into my professional work processes at REACH, where AI tools are essential for drafting documents, such as scopes of work and contracts, showcasing AI’s role in both administrative efficiency and creative endeavors.

On a daily basis, I incorporate several AI tools that are popular among Gen Z professionals. These include ChatGPT for content creation and communication, Fireflies.AI for meeting transcription and data management, and Reclaim for scheduling and time management.

Additionally, as a content creator, I use AI-driven platforms like Suno.ai and Midjourney to enhance my creative projects. This broad and versatile application of AI technologies in our work routines demonstrates its utility across various aspects of our professional lives.

The sentiment towards AI among Gen Z is generally positive. We see AI as a tool that democratizes workloads, allowing for a more equitable distribution of resources and capabilities.

In my experience, and as echoed on panels at major conferences like CES and Vidcon, AI is often perceived as an underutilized tool with the potential to significantly enhance work efficiency and creativity.

This positive outlook is driven by our familiarity and comfort with technology, making us more likely to explore and adopt AI solutions.

Were there any moments in your life or career that have helped define you?

One of the most defining moments in my career was my collaboration with NASCAR for their 2023 NASCAR Clash race in Los Angeles. This opportunity allowed me to take over their NASCAR Nation Twitter account and provide behind-the-scenes content on my Snapchat, posting a total of 26 times.

This experience was pivotal in shaping my approach to social media and content creation, teaching me several invaluable lessons. It reinforced the idea that in a crowded digital space, offering something unique and valuable is key to standing out and building a loyal audience.

Secondly, the campaign underscored the principle that quality trumps quantity. In the rush to stay visible on social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing the volume of content. However, this experience taught me that each piece of content should add value and enrich the viewer’s experience.

By focusing on quality, I ensured that the audience remained engaged and eager for more, fostering a deeper connection with the content. This lesson has been instrumental in shaping my content strategy, emphasizing the importance of delivering meaningful and high-quality content.

Lastly, a lighter but memorable lesson was about being mindful of the context and culture of the event you’re participating in.

I made a humorous faux pas by wearing an F1 jacket to a NASCAR race, which underscored the importance of aligning with the audience’s expectations and the culture of the event.

This taught me the significance of authenticity and cultural sensitivity in building genuine connections with the audience. It reinforced the need to respect the unique identity of each event and tailor my approach accordingly.

These lessons have been crucial in shaping my approach to future social media campaigns. They have emphasized the value of offering unique experiences, the importance of quality content, and the need for cultural alignment.

By integrating these principles into my work, I strive to create impactful and engaging content that resonates with my audience and stands out in the digital landscape.

What do your plans for the future include?

There’s a lot in store, and I’m incredibly excited about the future. My company REACH is on a significant growth trajectory. We have a presence in over 75 universities, and we’re on track to expand to 250 universities by the end of the year. This expansion will allow us to support even more aspiring content creators and entrepreneurs across the country.

In addition to our collegiate chapters, we are also launching non-collegiate chapters in major cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, extending our reach and impact beyond the academic sphere.

We are also continuing to build and strengthen partnerships with various brands, including Prime Video, NASCAR, and Insomnia Cookies.

These collaborations not only provide valuable opportunities for our members but also enhance our ability to offer real-world experiences and insights into the creator economy. Working with such diverse and influential brands allows us to bring unique and exciting opportunities to our community.

I alaos launched a book titled “Leave The Feed,” co-authored with James Petrossi and Manasi Patel. The book explores the importance of conscious consumption, particularly in today’s media-saturated environment.

It is a topic I’m passionate about, and I believe it’s crucial for individuals to understand how to navigate the digital world mindfully. The book aims to inspire readers to take control of their media consumption and make more intentional choices about how they engage with content.

Beyond these projects, I’m committed to supporting brands with various events and initiatives. I’m also looking forward to speaking at several prominent conferences this year, including Vidcon.

These speaking engagements provide a platform to share my insights and experiences with a broader audience, fostering dialogue and learning around key issues in the digital and entrepreneurial space.

For me, things are never stagnant. I’m always looking for new ways to innovate and push the boundaries as both an entrepreneur and a creator. The dynamic nature of the digital landscape keeps me motivated and inspired to continuously evolve and adapt.

What is your advice for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for success. The traditional route of internships and job hunting can be valuable, but it’s not the only path.

As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to carve out your own unique path, driven by your passions and interests. Embrace this freedom and don’t be afraid to take unconventional routes.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned is the importance of being proactive. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; seek them out and create them yourself. This might mean starting your own project, networking with industry professionals, or learning new skills outside of the classroom.

The ability to identify and capitalize on opportunities is a crucial skill for any entrepreneur.

Always stay curious and keep learning. The entrepreneurial landscape is constantly evolving, and staying informed about industry trends, new technologies, and emerging markets can give you a competitive edge. Lifelong learning is crucial in adapting to changes and seizing new opportunities as they arise.

Be passionate and purpose driven. Your passion will fuel your perseverance and keep you motivated through tough times.

Having a clear purpose will not only guide your decisions but also inspire those around you. When your work is aligned with your values and passions, it becomes more fulfilling and impactful.

Ultimately, my advice to young and aspiring entrepreneurs is to embrace the uniqueness of your journey, be proactive in seeking and creating opportunities, learn from failures, build a strong network, stay curious, and be driven by passion and purpose.

By doing so, you can create your own path to success and make a meaningful impact in your field.

Can you tell us more about the importance of philanthropy in your work?

A key aspect of success for me is the impact we make through our philanthropic efforts. REACH has collaborated with organizations like the Best Friends Animal Society, GIFFORDS, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

These partnerships demonstrate our commitment to philanthropy and show that success can be achieved while making a difference in the lives of others.

Working with these organizations has been immensely rewarding, and it underscores the idea that true success involves giving back and contributing to causes that matter.

What does the word success mean to you?

Success, to me, is fundamentally about being mission-driven and making a positive impact on the world. It goes beyond personal achievements or financial gains; it encompasses the fulfillment of a greater purpose and the ability to bring people together to create meaningful change.

At REACH, our mission is to build a platform where creators and creatives can come together, learn from each other, and collaborate. Success, in this context, means fostering a vibrant community that supports and inspires one another. It’s about creating an environment where individuals can grow, innovate, and realize their full potential.

Success is about creating lasting, positive change in the community. It’s about building a legacy that reflects the values and goals of REACH. By empowering the next generation of content creators and entrepreneurs, we aim to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make an impact in their respective fields.

Seeing the growth and success of our members is a testament to our mission and a key indicator of our success.

For me, success is also about personal fulfillment and alignment with my values. It involves waking up every day excited about the work I do and knowing that it has a purpose.

It means continuously striving for excellence, learning, and growing, both personally and professionally. Success is not a destination but a journey of ongoing development and contribution.

To learn more about Dylan Huey, follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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