Andrew Rossow sits and chats with ABC News out of Dallas, Texas. Only 28 years old and three years into practicing law, he doesn’t seem overwhelmed by his flooded inbox. But, while practicing criminal defense and fighting against the opioid capital of the world from Montgomery County, Ohio, Rossow still finds time to teach a law school class, run and co-manage a PR/entertainment agency, write, and advocate against cyberbullying across the world. Through his private practice, Rossow Law, he has started one of the first social media online movements to bring Hollywood and Silicon Valley together, in efforts to combat and minimize cyberbullying.
Rossow has done something that many said he wouldn’t be able to survive on. Yes, he’s a full-time practicing attorney, but he is also an author, journalist, and entrepreneur. After graduating from The University of Dayton School of Law and passing the Ohio Bar Exam, Rossow created #CYBERBYTE, one of the world’s first social media movements, and went on to break down the barrier between Hollywood/Silicon Valley and the general public.
“Growing up in a time where social media was first hatching and cell phone were first becoming ‘smart’, I recognized the importance of understanding the consequences of when technology is pushed beyond its intended bounds. Unfortunately, I never had the computer science degree to really go beneath its surface. That’s when I decided to write.”
“I remember shortly after passing the bar exam, having this nostalgia when the smartphone game, Pokémon Go, came out. As a millennial, I grew up with Pokémon, so it was awesome to see it return. But it came in a different form—digitally and within our control. While this was a huge marketing success, it was troubling, because users would almost certainly find themselves in potentially harmful situations, whether from a privacy standpoint, or even a criminal standpoint. So, that’s why I submitted my thesis to the Dayton Bar Association.”
“That piece went viral, and before I knew it, I was being interviewed by Fox and ABC News. It was the first time I realized that this type of writing, could truly make a difference. By writing on highly-trending security / legal topics, I could really speak to people, but as a millennial.” Rossow has since gone on to write for publications like Forbes, HuffPost, Thrive Global, and GritDaily.
From the Court Room to the Keyboard
But, what’s most interesting about his story is that while practicing law full-time, he also helps run and operate a full-time PR marketing & social media agency with his business partner, while advocating against cyberbullying with his online campaign, #CYBERBYTE.
“As a millennial, I’m in this fight to combat cyberbullying. I grew up being smaller than the rest of my classmates and friends. I had a great personality but didn’t understand how to joke around or stand up for myself. I took things too personally, and it caused a great strain on my relationships, particularly my family and friends. During college, I recognized that I needed to discipline myself, which took me on a pathway to the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio. My generation has become so accustomed to living through their social media pages and their devices while forgetting how to interact with one another, face-to-face. I believed that with #CYBERBYTE, I could help change this.”
Through CYBERBYTE, Rossow created the #CYBERBYTE Challenge, a growing social media initiative where both Silicon Valley and Hollywood actors, actresses, and musicians come together, record a video of themselves expressing personal stories involving bullying and their tips for standing up against it today.
“As a millennial, I’m in this fight to combat cyberbullying. I grew up being smaller than the rest of my classmates and friends. I had a great personality but didn’t understand how to joke around or stand up for myself. I took things too personally,” – Andrew Rossow
“Ghandi once said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ but, the problem is nobody really acts on that. Through #CYBERBYTE, I am providing a mechanism for the community, particularly, millennials, whom are able to connect with their favorite artists, musicians, and/or role-models on a more intimate level.
But, Rossow said this wasn’t an easy thing to implement. “It’s definitely been a long road for me,” he pointed out. “It took almost 26 years to figure out who I was and where I wanted to be. After experiencing a childhood trauma at a summer camp, I vowed I would never let anyone put me into a position of feeling helpless and powerless.”
“With the strong and loving support from my family, particularly, mom, dad, sister, and grandma, I was able to attend law school and spend three tough years figuring out how to be the best version of myself,” said Rossow. “However, I think my biggest challenge has always been my inability to control emotions. Life tests you in many ways, whether it’s your family, personal relationships, or your career. But, understanding how to react to high-stress situations in each of these areas, is the difference between an emotionally intelligent being and an immature, reactive individual.”
Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
Rossow said what helped him grow the most was his exposure to the world during his junior year of college. “During my junior year at Hofstra University, my parents sent me on a study abroad program, called Semester at Sea. I sailed around the world on a ship for three months, traveling to over 12 different countries.”
To most, it was a dream come true, but he had a different feeling. “The idea of leaving my college friends, fraternity, and at-the-time girlfriend behind, wasn’t okay. I thought I had it all and I didn’t need to travel. Obviously, that dogmatic thinking was holding me back. Having traveled to places like Africa, India, Vietnam, and China, I came back an entirely different person, with an entirely new perspective on how I wanted to live my life.”
But, he emphasized having the strong support of his family throughout this entire process.
“No doubt about it, my family has been the reason I am where I am today. I grew up with two extremely loving parents, Mark and Lynne, and a wonderfully talented younger sister, Alexa. I have seen those closest to me experience what it’s like to watch their family tear apart in divorces and separations,” he said. “I am extremely fortunate and lucky to say that my parents are still very much in love today. What my mother and father, in addition to my grandma, have done for my sister and I, can never be repaid back. All I can do is be the best version of myself and give back to the world as much as my parents gave to me, utilizing all the life-skills they have taught me over the years (and still do this day, ha).”
Passing Along What You’ve Learned
In our digital age, technology has made life significantly more convenient, but all the while complicated.
“Understanding that there are ways to combat online bullying, without resorting to violence and hatred, is extremely important in our society and country today. We need to bring our divided country, closer together, and that all starts with respecting one another.”
Rossow recently spoke with Michael Reagan, the son to former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. “What he told me, really hit me, and I’m not sure why, because it’s such a simple concept, yet people have a difficult time implementing it. He told me that the biggest piece of advice his father told him was to ‘look for the good in a person.’”
Rossow told us his biggest piece advice to those entrepreneurs looking to make a difference:
“Find what your passionate about, especially, if it involves technology and the cybersecurity space. Identify a problem that has yet to be solved, and find a way to solve it in your own way, but that gives back to the community. There is always a niche or opening, looking to be explored. You just have to find it.”