If you don’t know who Casey Neistat is, then you, among many of us, have been living under a rock in the world of social media. Neistat is a film maker, producer, director, entrepreneur and a co founder of Beme, a New York-based social media company. If that wasn’t enough, he also juggles his busy life as a husband and father, a daily running fanatic all while making daily vlogs on his famous YouTube channel. He caught his first break when he and his brother made a three minute film about Apple’s lack of battery replacement program for the iPod, which went viral with a million views in less than six days.
I am not going to talk about his entire life story thus far so I will post a Wikipedia link below if you want to read more about it later.
What I will say is that Neistat is one of those few people who achieves their many aspirations as we learn from watching his daily vlogs. Unlike other YouTube vloggers, his edited video content, often mixed with alternative hip hop, electronic and other remixes, is relatively short yet concise, which is a reflection of his driven personality. He has a tendency to record himself from different angles; setting the camera(s) down to capture him running or coming and going out of a building, for example, as if there is a camera man following him 24/7. It sounds so tedious but that’s what makes his videos so interesting.
Having dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and never returning to school or graduate, Neistat is not only a talented film maker but also a prolific speaker. He is known for his many ‘Neistat’ aphorisms such as, “Free time is the enemy of progress” or “If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong” or “The most dangerous thing you can do in life is play it safe.” In the past, he was obsessed with crafting his film making to the level of perfection but he realized that was hindering his learning process, wasting valuable time and producing less. He claims he has since become a better film maker.
Neistat has a weekly Q & A session in which he answers a few questions from his fans on Twitter. Some of his fans regularly ask him what is the best advice he can give to people who are struggling to find their calling in life. He believes the answer to this is by doing something you hate, such as taking on a ‘cushy’ or comfortable job, which inevitably leads to complacency and eventually stagnation. You eventually get married, get pregnant, buy a car, have mortgage payments, and so forth, and then you end up with these ‘golden handcuffs’. You have a day job that you never loved, and there is no way out of it. If you are young and not married and don’t know what you want to do in life, then this approach might work. It will get you to think hard about what you want to spend the rest of your life doing instead. This is the same reason why he didn’t encourage his teenage son Owen, who will be going off to college next year, to get a cool job like at a production company or something. Instead, he works as a cashier at a Krispy Kreme at 6 in the morning. Not only will he focus on what he wants not to do in life, but he will learn the value of money and end up treating people that work behind a counter with the level of respect that they deserve.
Neistat has two office spaces in the same building in lower Manhattan, one for Beme and a smaller studio for his film projects. The latter resembles a highly organized bike mechanic’s workshop with everything from hammers, wrenches and screws to endless shelves of box-like containers, DVDs, old VHS tapes, digital cameras, and various video monitors placed throughout his domain to record people coming and going from his studio. “The studio is a microcosm of my world in New York City. It’s the epicenter of my professional world,” says Neistat. And it is only this neat when he isn’t carelessly dropping his camera equipment on one of his many workspaces or tearing open his mail packages without a care in the world, a personality trait he has been known for by all of his YouTube fans.
Neistat regularly gets up before the crack of dawn to go on a 7-8 mile run across the Brooklyn Bridge or occasionally head over to his local gym. A seasoned triathlete, the 34-year old has completed 4 Ironman triathlons, with a best time of 11 hours and 10 minutes, and 22 marathons in just over 3 hours! If he isn’t running or riding his bicycle, you will find him zooming around lower Manhattan on his Boosted Board with his DSLR and iPhone and selfie stick, or he will be using time lapse photography to capture one of many perfect sunsets over the Manhattan skyline.
Here are a few of my favorite videos from Casey’s YouTube channel.