Darius Williams, better known as ‘Darius Cooks‘ has taken the internet by storm by being his authentic self. I don’t think he expected the level of response he has received just from having a little fun. I’ve been watching Darius for a few months and I sat over here in awe and with a bucket of popcorn to see what else he had up his sleeve. And it has been quite entertaining. If you don’t know who he is, let me give you a little background on the man that is inspiring, creative and funny.
Darius was born and bread in Chicago and has been living in the NYC area for the past 3 years. He is known for his delicious and innovative recipes that would make you “shut yo mouth” AND “slap yo momma”. He says that food is his life, and that life is his food; and from seeing his creations and his excitement over ensuring that your tastebuds are satisfied, it is evident that he lives to cook.
As I mentioned, I learned of Darius a few months ago when someone shared one of his Facebook posts with me. It was a post where he shared how he was at an all-time low 3 years ago and spent some time in NYC walking the city to clear his head and to think of his next move. That post prompted me to follow him because I, myself, have been experiencing moments of confusion and simply trying to find my way. After that ad seeing that he was also an employed entrepreneur, I was hooked. I was more intrigued by his story and who he was as a person, than his food. His food was a bonus, lol.
What influenced me to write this blog was that Darius has shown extreme resilience over the years by not giving up on his cooking. Yes, there were down periods and doubt, like we all experience, but he never gave up. Today, Darius is hosting sold out dinner parties and cooking classes all over the country, and has recently launched a comedy CD that is #2 on iTunes, at the time of this writing. Comedy? Yes, that’s right, I said comedy. A chef who had no aspirations of being a comedian has a successful comedy CD!
If you follow Darius on his social media channels, you can easily see that he is a funny dude. I mean, down right HILARIOUS! He not only shares his edible masterpieces, but he always shares bits and pieces of him that allows us a chance to get to know him as “Darius the Man” and not just “Darius the Cook”. One thing he loves sharing is his struggle with losing weight. According to the before/after photos he’s shared, he’s been quite successful at slimming down, but he has yet to reach his desired physique. He has comically shared his experience with unruly train passengers on the train that look at him as if it’s his fault that his stomach isn’t detachable, and his love of that Tuesday special at Popeyes Chicken. While sharing his personal commentary that was not recipe-related, Darius was unknowingly building a name for himself as the funny, lovable guy who can throw down in the kitchen.
After appearing on many blogs and television shows, Darius already had a large following that supported his work and would flood the social media gates of those who try to steal his pics and post them as their own (he lovingly calls his crew “The D-hive”, a play off of Beyonce’s followers, “The Beehive”). But from what I can see, it was his hilarious ‘Skinny” videos that took his brand to another level. Using a voice-altering app, Darius recorded himself praying to God to make him and all of his fat followers, skinny. These videos can only be found on his Facebook page, and note that his videos get 60,000 – 100,000+ views, easily.
Once he put up these series of prayer videos, the web starting buzzing. I’m sure his email was flooded with inquiries. To his disbelief, he even garnered the attention of churches and comedy clubs that were interested in booking him. Then low and behold, about a month or 2 later, he announced the release of his Comedy CD!!!
With the success of his dinner parties, cooking classes and the CD, Darius was recently able to quit his high-paying 9-5 job to pursue his passion full-time. Wondering how he did it? Here are 3 things that has helped Darius achieve this level of entrepreneurial of success:
He Engages His Audience
Darius always engages his audience. His posts are written as if he’s talking directly to you and no one else. I love how he gets his audience involved in his recipes by asking them to share 2 ingredients and he’ll make a recipe out of them that same day. For example, someone suggested Skittles & Chicken, and Darius went to work. He also post pictures and commentary online throughout the entire cooking process. His posts are as if you were right in the kitchen with him.
When I consult my clients on social media tactics, I always advise them to not be afraid to post what they’re doing, their process, and their experience at that very moment. With social media being what it is today, people want to SEE you in your element. They want to feel that they’re a part of your creative process. Darius does an excellent job of engaging his audience by inviting them into his kitchen, online.
He Entertains His Audience With Personal Stories
Being someone who is overweight, I can totally relate to his struggles of flying with a seat belt extender or people giving you the side-eye because they think you take up too much space. Instead of feeling bad about his fluff, he embraces it and encourages others to embrace it as well by sharing personal stories in an entertaining way. Honestly, he makes being plump a not so bad thing, while being in the process of slimming down. Not to mention, it can be quite tempting to fall off with such delicious food around. But Darius has found a way to share that and to share is personal stories of pursuing entrepreneurship that includes him wearing many hats, which many of us can relate to. His life isn’t a secret or some mystery that we have to figure out. He allows us the ability to get to know him.
He Listened To His Audience
Darius’ brand involves cooking and creating delicious and creative recipes. But, he realized that his audience also loved his comical demeanor. When he randomly released his “Skinny prayer” video, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about doing comedy or releasing a CD. He was still selling out dinner parties! But instead, he listened to his audience and provided a new offering that not only expanded his brand and grew his audience, but also an offering that he new his audience would value.
I see too many creative people try to force their offerings onto their audience because it’s something that they believe they’re good at or want to make a quick buck from. I’m always preaching about how marketing and branding is never about you, it’s about your audience. And I was happy to see someone like Darius not only understand that, but was able to quickly execute and satisfy the demand he created.
Darius embodies the characteristics and the mindset of those who are building successful brands by being their authentic self, something I promote and encourage at The Bassline Group. So when you get a chance, show Darius some love by following him across social media and sign up for his newsletter to see when he’ll be in your city next and when you can pre-order his self-published cookbook, Stories From My Grandmother’s Kitchen!