How Casey Neistat’s Vlog Can Help Your Career
Over the past year and a half I’ve been completely obsessed with Casey Neistat’s daily vlog on YouTube. I’ve always admired something about Casey’s lifestyle and personality. He’s constantly travelling around the world, makes meeting new people look effortless, is a laudable husband and father, is committed to his personal health (most days), and tells stories about his life in a truly incredible way. Oh, and did I mention he has the coolest office of all time?
But all this has sadly come to an end. Casey ended his vlog series yesterday.
So what compelled Casey to pull the plug? Well, for frequent watchers of his vlog, it’s not entirely surprising. Throughout the series he has regularly mused about the purpose of the vlog and how he’s gotten to where he is today. And part of the core of his philosophy is that ones career is a constant work-in-progress. You can see this and related ideas in the many sequences where he talks directly to the audience.
Casey isn’t fixated on the experiences that he’s had so much as the ones he’s expecting to happen in the future. He wants to seize as many opportunities as possible and the vlog was just one of those opportunities. That’s why the vlog had to end.
So how can this help you with your career? I think there are a few ideas to unpack from Casey’s philosophy to help further your career.
Do More & Constantly Reflect
Throughout your career you will encounter moments where your decisions may take your career in completely different directions. When Casey started the vlog he had a newborn daughter, was working on a number of filmmaking contracts for companies like Mercedes Benz and Nike, was contributing to the MIT Media Lab in Boston, and launched a tech startup called Beme.
Casey was undoubtedly very busy — but he had formulated the central premise for the vlog: He wanted to challenge himself to be more creative on a daily basis. This meant that despite his overwhelming schedule, he wanted to push his abilities as a filmmaker into fresh waters with an experimental vlog style.
Casey regularly reflected on his career and saw an opportunity for growth. There were a number of excuses he could have fallen back on when deciding whether or not to pivot and try something new in his career, but he was very focused on where his current efforts were taking him. He was smart to ask himself why he was doing all this. I have no doubt that he had to sacrifice a lot of things in order to make this happen.
One important caveat to this idea is that not everything happens at once, and you won’t necessarily know where your efforts will take you. Casey acknowledges this on a handful of occasions while talking about the opportunities that have opened up to him out of nowhere. It’s important to take advantage of those opportunities when you get the chance — Don’t get hung up on excuses, no matter how reasonable they are. You’ll need to build yourself up to reach even greater heights. Your successes will breed more and more success!
Build Your Own Path
Early in the series Casey started doing Q&A segments once per week. In them many aspiring filmmakers and entrepreneurs ask for all kinds of advice. Watching these again I noticed a theme Casey continually emphasizes about careers: There are no rules for how you get your career where you want it to go, so build your own path.
Casey got his studio by quitting a solid job and spending nearly all his money on it, resulting in only one month to get work filmmaking. His path to producing commercials for some of the world’s biggest brands certainly didn’t follow the traditional career trajectories we’ve all heard: Get good grades, go to a good university/college, start with an entry-level position at an established company, and work your way to the top.
I know what you’re thinking: Well it’s all well and good that Casey built his own path, but that almost never works! Wrong.
Just ask President Trump!… Too soon?
Over the past 3.5 years I’ve seen over 600 people jump into totally new careers as web and mobile app developers in under six months. I can say with absolute certainty that 90% of getting where you want to be in your career is done with effort and laser focus. A good strategy for job hunting wouldn’t hurt either. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can make an enormous career change if you’re willing to truly commit to it!
Success Can Make You Complacent
Casey reminds us that “This [is] not the finish line.” Your career always needs to be about making progress. Wherever you’re at (either good or bad), remember that you won’t be there forever. All things eventually end.
Once you’ve achieved a certain amount of success in your career, it can be easy to become complacent. Your success leads to a certain amount of comfort because your previous risks are paying off. It also makes the risks you might like to take seem even riskier. You may feel like you’re jeopardizing what you‘ve already got, and that’s pretty terrifying.
You only have a short amount of time on this earth, so don’t spend your life living the same day over and over again. The worst approach to life is playing it safe because you don’t get where you want to go. There’s not nearly enough security in life to justify playing it safe anyways.
Again we come back to Casey’s idea that progress is essential. Life is a jungle and you have to swing from vine to vine to get anywhere. That means you will have to let go of some successes to open yourself up to new ones. You should constantly remind yourself to reach for what’s next whenever possible. If you’re not being challenged most days at work, something needs to change.
There’s so much more to Casey’s philosophy than can be summed up in a short blog post, so if you haven’t already watched it, I highly recommend checking out Casey’s vlog. You can watch it in its entirety here, but fair warning there are over 500 6 to 13 minute videos and it’ll take a long time to get through them all.
I cannot stress enough how much his work has influenced my own career and personal life for the better. As for what’s next for both my career and Casey’s new projects, his very first vlog sums it up nicely…