Derek Skol: How “The Viking” Transformed His Mindset To Create The Ideal Life

Mindful Media PR Publicist Derek Skol is using his art to direct him towards the life he always envisioned. And he has Mindful Media PR to thank for it. 

For Mindful Media PR’s Senior Publicist Derek Skol, his journey to producing the best press coverage for world class clients took numerous alternate routes – including stints in bar work, business school, and on the comedy circuit. 

It was while he was performing in Ontario’s Humber College Comedy program that Skol’s biggest self-claim to fame took place. “So the legendary Robin Williams and I had a beer together and the next thing you knew we were joking around doing a little improv sketch just off the top of our heads. It was getting a lot of laughs and a friend filmed it on his camcorder. 

I still have a copy somewhere!” says Skol, reminiscing about the time he performed an improv scene with the late, great actor and comedian Robin Williams. 

“We were on a Toronto street that hosts the Gay Pride Parade, and is known for being flamboyant, inclusive, creative and a lot of fun,” says Skol. “Williams told the crowd he’s Canadian and that we’d just gotten married to one another. He leaned in and gave me a big kiss on the lips. Robin freakin’ Williams kissed me right on the lips. We got it on camera. What a cool fuckin’ moment.”

That was in 2008, Williams’ last North American tour before his untimely passing in 2014. 

For Skol, his journey was just beginning. 

In 2011, he embarked on a trip to the Australian island state of Tasmania to shoot a documentary. Skol wanted to share the stories of pro-environmentalists who were in a protracted battle with land developers. Particularly the story of Miranda Gibson who was protesting the logging of old growth trees at the time, and had been living up in a giant old growth eucalyptus tree 60m above the ground for over a year and a half. 

Her organization was called The Observer Tree, and she produced a daily blog from the treehouse that was built for her. She spent 449 days up there until she was forced down by a forest fire. “I was the last person to interview her up in The Observer Tree before she got smoked out. That 60m abseil to her platform at the top was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. I acted cool as a cucumber, but I was praying the whole way up” he says. 

“Tasmania is the most amazing place on earth,” says Skol. “It is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. It’s like Jurassic Park, he beams.” 

Along the way, Skol became fascinated with the Thylacine – or Tasmanian Tiger as it’s commonly known. The Thylacine is an extinct Minion Marsupial that was native to the Australian mainland and was last seen alive in 1930 in Tasmania. Though sightings of the creature still are reported to this day. 

“It’s like a tiger mixed with a kangaroo mixed with a wolf.” Skol explains. “But if this animal ever gets rediscovered, then we can protect the whole ecosystem in Tasmania, as it prevents logging and mining in the region.” 

His documentary film titled “Walk Like A Giant” is still incomplete over a decade later. However it has become Skol’s mission complete the project one day. He still has faith a miracle could happen and they locate the elusive beast that Ted Turner once offered a $100,000 reward for proof of its existence

As for Skol’s transition into the world of public relations – to which Skol has been immersed in for just over a year – he says: “I don’t look at it as a job. I get to use the diverse skills I’ve honed over the years, to build up incredible individuals who stand for positive change and personal growth. And I become a part of their role in changing the world for the better.” 

Being with Mindful Media PR has already taught Skol so much when it comes to accountability, responsibility, as well as his own growth.

Citing a plethora of mentors as figureheads in his journey from art creator to bar manager, to his prominent role at MM, Skol explains how each one helped shape his mindset during times of strife and struggle. 

“Steve Bell was my General Manager at the JOEY franchise back in Toronto,” he says. “Ultimately we came full circle, when – once again, he was my GM at Local, in Kitsilano Vancouver.” Skol continues: “He showed me some tough love when I needed it the most. He taught me a lot about integrity.” 

Likewise, Kerryn Amyes, Senior Publicist and one of the three founding members of MM, was pivotal in Skol’s development. “The main things I’ve been inspired by Kerryn have to do with her graciousness, professionalism and class. Those are aspects everyone should be inspired by.” 

Mark Groves is a human connections expert, the founder of @createthelove and host of the hugely popular personal development podcast The Mark Groves Podcast. “He inspired me to intentionally turn towards challenges with grace, speak my truth and love myself unconditionally. He’s now a client and he’s become a good friend of mine. We share the same opinions about freedom and the importance of healthy discourse.”

As for artistic mentors: “Neil Young is someone who helped get me through the darkest days of my life,” he says. “He’s my idol, stands up for what he believes in, and if you don’t like it – too bad.”  

His love for girlfriend Hannah Sims is also a major factor in his drive to succeed. Sims’ support for his endeavours has given him the freedom to be himself and rise to unparalleled heights. “I know it’s super cliche, but that girl completes me. I can be exactly who I am and she will support me. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s absolutely gorgeous. I am the luckiest guy in the world.” 

Skol doesn’t believe in coincidences and knows he’s exactly where he is for a reason. The energy he brings into a room that was previously used in comedy clubs and bar functions, has now been transformed into the media landscape and beyond. 

So what are the secrets to Skol’s amazing transformation? 

“As hard as it is, waking up at 5:00 am and meditating is a major factor. Also journaling helps me express my gratitude. It all adds up.”

Skol continues; “I try to do my best to inspire those around me to achieve greatness. I’m positive, passionate, and loving. By leading with love, and being an example, I’m also honouring myself, and my time on this planet.” 

Skol’s cultural experiences provide a platform with which to level up, and not only understand other civilizations, but also himself and his purpose. “Seeing the Roman Walls in London, and the temples in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand were all beautiful experiences,” he says. “I love ancient history, and a lot of my tattoos represent that.” 

Likening it to riding an endless wave that keeps growing, Skol is surfing a high he hopes never ends. Sitting on a balcony in Santa Marta, Colombia he points to one of his numerous tattoos, explaining how it’s synonymous with his wave metaphor. ‘Waves don’t die,’ it says. 

“And there’s an image of Ragnar Lodbrok, a Viking hero – or perhaps it’s me in a past life. He’s riding on this great big ship, and that’s how I feel representing Mindful Media right now.

“If you told me a year ago where I’d be now, I’d have laughed. This just goes to show how shattering our limiting beliefs, and taking action, really does lead to huge success. Rudi Riekstins (a consultant at Mindful Media and a phenomenal mindset coach) taught me that.” 

Skol’s long term vision is to continue being the best version of himself in order to make the best decisions for his clients. “As they grow, I’ll grow with them,” he beams.  

Derek Skol is very much a work-in-progress and while, in the past, his unfinished projects would have haunted him, he now sees them as opportunities to develop and reach his highest potential. 

‘The Viking” is not quite finished yet.

Follow Derek Skol on his adventures around South America, and the tireless work he puts in for Mindful Media PR by checking out his Instagram