Could Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson be any busier right now? Beyond him already being one of the top-billed Hollywood actors today and a beloved icon in the professional wrestling world, he has also built his very own business empire over the years. From his Teremana Tequila brand and his Seven Bucks Productions company, to being an owner of the XFL American football league (just to name a few), Johnson continues to reach new heights within his hard-fought career.
In 2021, Johnson launched ZOA Energy alongside his fellow co-founders, which include his close friends, Chief Innovation Officer Dave Rienzi and Chief Visionary Officer Dany Garcia. Today, these three ZOA leaders have allowed me the exclusive opportunity to help them announce their latest creation, ZOA+ Powder.
Johnson told me, “Being three people who have used powdered pre-workouts for years from various companies – some great, some not so great – we had an opportunity here to really lean into the formulation and control the formulation, and make sure that only superior ingredients were inside of them. Also, it was a great opportunity for us to look at everything that’s on the market and see if there is a way that we could tweak and change the paradigm a little bit and create something that isn’t out there on the market.”
Rienzi added, “All our consumers are very health-minded individuals. They’re into fitness, so it made sense for us to go into this pre-workout category to give our consumers a product that’s going to help them get more out of their workouts.”
The new ZOA+ Powder not only features a one-of-a-kind Nitric Oxide support formula, but is also NSF Certified for Sport, which ensures that the products under this very rare certification meet a strict set of standards for public health protection. Johnson told me it is the trust that exists between ZOA and its consumers that makes this NSF certification that much more important, in providing additional peace of mind to ZOA’s loyal and growing customer base.
According to the team at ZOA, 53% of its dollar growth over the last 52 weeks was from first-time customers, new to the energy category. Garcia said of ZOA’s evolution over the past two years, “We’ve seen a wonderful, consistent growth, year over year. We have 42,000 distribution points at this time. We’re up 28% year-to-date on gross sales. We’ve seen our consumer shift – we were a little heavier male and now we’ve seen a number of female consumers coming into the market, which has been really exciting to us.”
Beyond his founder title, Johnson is also the Chief Energy Officer for ZOA, customized titles he says he enjoyed creating with Garcia and Rienzi. So, where would Johnson say his focus remains most today within his leadership role and responsibilities at ZOA?
Johnson said, “The lead foot for me is to continue to amplify the voice and the brand of ZOA. Continue to amplify through my own platforms – I have some pretty good reach and some pretty good trust too with the people who I speak to through my megaphone on a daily basis. The other lead foot is making sure that we continue to let innovation and ingredients and formulation lead the way. That was one of the reasons why we originally started this whole thing.”
For many of us, we have come to know Johnson from his early career as the show-stopping wrestler “The Rock” on the WWE, followed by years of building his superstar status in Hollywood as a leading man in such films as Moana, Black Adam, Jumanji and the ever-expanding Fast franchise. Being two of his most consistent collaborators, I asked Rienzi and Garcia if they could pull back the curtain for fans of Johnson (whom they refer to as DJ), to better understand the businessperson he is, beyond the wrestling ring and the big screen.
Garcia said, “I am very fortunate that DJ has been my longtime business partner for multiple decades. It’s always a space where Dwayne is asking and pushing all of us to say, ‘What can we do better? How do we deliver more and how do we deliver joy?’ That’s a great environment to work with. The great thing about DJ is that what you see with him, digitally or in the film, and what you think that translates to, when it comes to business leadership, is actually the truth.”
Rienzi added, “For all of us, we’re so deeply passionate about fitness. It’s just great when you have a group of like-minded people working together on innovation.”
Being a self-described entrepreneur himself, I wondered what Johnson would say it means to be an effective entrepreneur in 2023 and what are the qualities that he strives to embody, when leading multiple companies and projects at once, as he so often does.
Johnson said, “One of the key elements and the key anchors has been for us, as entrepreneurs and founders, is taking risk and having the guts to take risk. Now of course, you want to take measured risk and smart risk. You want to surround yourself with the right people – the right ambitions, the shared ambitions. Before I got into the world of entertainment and Hollywood, and before I even got to the big bright lights of WWE, I was wrestling in flea markets and wrestling in carnivals and I was wrestling in used car dealerships for $40 bucks a match throughout Tennessee. When you start your career like that – struggling, hustling, scratching, clawing for $40 bucks a match – you come into any venture with a greater appreciation, but also I think a greater willingness to rip yourself open, rip the face off of something and really go for it.”
I concluded our conversation by asking Johnson what is he enjoying most about his professional career and his life lately, that he had not experienced before launching ZOA and his many other business commitments today.
Johnson said, “I think the thing that I’m most proud and what I’m enjoying most about being in this time and this position right now in my life is you get really lucky at something, I think, if you’re really good at it and you work your ass off.”
He continued, “I also like to think that what I enjoy most about being in this position now is we sit in a place – and I recognize this, Jeff – that it’s rarefied air and I’m grateful every single day. The thing that gives me even more motivation than I’ve ever had is just the notion that we get to go out and build more mountain and look for great partners to build more, new mountain. In the spirit of building new mountain, I get the luxury and the privilege of bringing everybody with me, so we all go and we all build new mountain.”