Casey Neistat

Feeling stuck? Try considering why you do what you do.

YouTuber Casey Neistat

What is your definition of success? Why?

The first question is easy, it’s the second one that trips you up.

The reason why is important because thinking about the “why” can often lead you to far greater success than you imagined. Casey Neistat’s story shows just what that looks like.

The dangers of success according to Casey Neistat

The typical lifespan of most YouTubers is that they find a degree of success, and... stop innovating creatively because there's a fear that if you change what you're doing, the audience is going to stop watching.

The safest thing I can do right now is to do exactly what I'm doing right now… But what happens over time is that people start getting sick of seeing the same thing over and over.

What does it mean to be a successful filmmaker?

The ladder to being a successful filmmaker
The Goal: Being a filmmaker
The Why: Freedom and self expression

For Casey, being a filmmaker was the goal for more than a decade. When he turned 30 he was producing hollywood films, attending prestigious film festivals, and even winning some awards. So he was successful, right? Yes, but he still gave it all up to do something else.

Because his “why” was freedom, self expression, and storytelling. He may have succeeded at his goal, but he knew that his “why” was not fulfilled. So, he changed his goal to making great YouTube videos.

The Goal: Spend quality time with his son
The Why: Being a good father

When he was making $8 an hour washing dishes in Connecticut and seeing his son often, Casey moved to New York. He did this even though it meant he would see his son less often.

Because his goal was to spend quality time with his son, the “why” was to be a good father. He knew that the risks he was taking to build a better life and career in NYC would ultimately allow him to be a better father and example for his son.

What does it mean to be a good dad?

Finding time to be a good dad

How can you be a successful YouTuber?

Balancing quality and quantity
The Goal: Be a good YouTuber
The Why: Challenge himself and be creative

Casey was a successful YouTuber when he decided to vlog daily. The idea was that by setting this ambitious goal and really challenging himself, he would push himself creatively. 534 daily videos later, he ended the project.

The “why” was the challenge and creativity. Once he felt himself getting into a rhythm, the vlogs were too easy and not as interesting. So he shifted to making fewer but higher quality videos. The goal changed, but the “why” was always the same.

The Goal: Create a successful video sharing app
The Why: Make social media honest, transparent and creative

In 2014, Casey moved his focus from his YouTube channel to create Beme, a video sharing app. His goal was for people to spend less time curating, liking, and commenting and more time creating and sharing.

His “why” was to make a more honest, transparent, and creative social media landscape. Changing his goal failed to accomplish that. But he took the chance and learned from his mistake.

“Why” doesn’t guarantee success

A failed video sharing app

Find your definition of success

Find your definition of success
Write down your goal
Example: to go back to university to get a business degree.
Why is that goal?
Try writing 5 reasons why this is important to you.
Consider the expected outcomes and reflect
Is this what you really want? If not, what would be your goal based on those reasons?
Changing what you’re doing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed. It means you’re thinking about why you did that thing to begin with. It only takes a few minutes, so try it for yourself and see how it can change your direction and lead you to new, exciting and unexpected places.
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