Marketing from the Heart: A Twenty-Year-Old's Journey from Cardiac Kid to Marketing Maven

I got the chance to interview Daniel Wallock. He is a Sarah Lawrence Student, heart condition survivor and business owner who has done marketing projects with over 25 brands.

You have seven life-threatening heart conditions. It certainly seems like your conditions have not slowed you down. How do you think your conditions have affected your work ethic and your approach to marketing?

At the time of my last open-heart surgery I was fourteen. I remember staring at the single streetlight in the parking lot beside the hotel I slept in the night before that surgery. I remember before that surgery telling myself over and over again that it was my end. I know you're asking about my work ethic, but I can't help but talk about my surgeries. You know we all have time, everyone thinks they have time, and then they don't. It's cliché, but I truly don't feel I have time, so I immerse myself in everything I do.

How did you get interested in marketing? You have been doing it for eight years, which is a long time for someone who is now only a college junior. What prompted your interest in marketing at such a young age?

Around 5th or 6th grade I was pretty ill and I left school for a year. Since I was born with seven heart conditions and had constant medical interventions and operations, my parents and doctors thought it was best I take a break from school and let my body recover. During my recovery I discovered a drag and drop website builder. At first I'd build simple pages, but eventually I taught myself HTML, CSS, and PHP. I loved free online gaming websites so I built a few websites that hosted games for kids like myself. I began using Google AdSense and that's when I realized I could actually make money off of marketing.

When I was about thirteen years old my most popular site was attracting 30,000 unique visits a month. So, I guess I owe my foray into marketing to the fact that I was sick for all of sixth grade! Now at twenty years old, my marketing business has expanded into customer acquisition, conversion rate optimization, and brand development.

In two years you have worked with over thirty clients including BMW, The American Heart Association, and Sarah Lawrence College. It sounds as though you consistently have new client projects. Could you tell us about how you get clients and manage projects while being a full-time student?

Your time is limited. My time is limited. I just feel that in my writing (I am studying poetry and nonfiction writing) or in my marketing work it is important to talk about temporality. Life is so fleeting. Everyone has heard this a million times of course, but I can't help but to feel so lucky for my life. It's great that I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients, but more importantly, I have gotten the chance to build some meaningful relationships while doing my work.

The reason I always have new clients is because I pitch new clients all the time. This last summer I pitched over 500 clients via email, phone calls, and in-person meetings combined. If you want something you don't just try a few times and hope for it to work out. I have found that if you really want something you have to will it into being.

I do get a lot of referrals, but I only take on clients I really feel I can help and provide them with a good ROI.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'm so young. We're all so young. It's exciting! I really don't have a specific image of life in five years, but I know that I'd like to do more public speaking on both living an authentic life and on my personal journey.

You're Unstoppable

Life isn't complete without challenges and uncertainties but if you know what you want and you have an action plan on how to get there, you'll be unstoppable just like Daniel Wallock. Don't let anything keep you from reaching you entrepreneurial dreams.