Two Men on a Mission

Why Casey Neistat and Gary Vaynerchuk Listen Less & Hustle More

It’s not every day you get to spend time with one person who is changing the world, let alone two.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — If one thing was clear from meeting Gary Vaynerchuk and Casey Neistat at The Next Web, it was that these two men do not let other people’s opinions dictate their pursuits or dreams.

Here are two guys who are redefining what it means to be successful. Vaynerchuk, an awe-inspiring entrepreneur. Casey, a kick-ass movie maker with a purpose. Both are violently disrupting the status quo.

Across Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, these two combined have just under 11 million followers — 10,554,365 and counting. If Gary and Casey’s following were a country, it would be bigger than the populations of Sweden, Portugal or the Czech Republic — to name but a few.

These two are so greatly admired because they aggressively pursue the paths that matter most to them, not ones they were told by others to take. As an entrepreneur, these guys are hugely inspirational and their remarks focused extensively on two things: 1) the art of listening to yourself and 2) the hustle required to be successful.

Listen to Yourself, Not the Haters

Although he may look like another overnight sensation who was always destined for the top, Casey Neistat’s story says otherwise. After clinching an award at Sundance festival and fulfilling his lifelong dream, Casey broke down on the airplane home. It was the biggest moment of his career, but he was miserable.

“I had spent the previous two years not creating, but working the politics that was the media industry. I had gotten away from the thing that I loved the most, and it was at that moment that I said f**k it, I’m gonna make videos on the internet”

Neistat then decided to ditch Hollywood and start creating the content that he loved.

“…My big Hollywood agent at the time said, ‘That’s Crazy! You don’t do that’”

The world thought it a dumb move. After all, how many successful filmmakers turn around after winning a prestigious award and give the middle finger to the system? The answer is next to none, but that’s exactly what makes Neistat so special — he does not care what anyone else thinks, he does what he loves to do.

Neistat’s resilience is especially powerful in today’s state of mind. We live in a time where fear of what others might think dictates how we spend our time. As such, we often quit our pursuits prematurely when we do not see immediate success. This is something Vaynerchuk calls the sexualization of entrepreneurship — the idea that merely saying “hey, let’s wake up tomorrow and build the next Facebook” is enough to succeed.

This naive belief means that we rarely talk about the enormous role that that self-belief and hustle play in creating both successful people and companies. Don’t believe the hype? Just look at Jobs with Apple, Rowling with Harry Potter, or Ian Wright at Arsenal and Jamie Vardy at Leicester.

Overnight Success? There is No Such Thing

We have become addicted to this idea that success is recognized and celebrated from day one. While it might be easy to think that Neistat was an overnight sensation the minute he stepped away from Hollywood, the reality could not have been more different.

“After a couple of months, I had five or six videos up with a few thousand views. I had a show on HBO at the same time, yet my kids’ friends from high school had more views than I did.”

The award-winning HBO director turned away from Hollywood and had fewer views than children who made videos in high school. This is the beautiful part about Casey’s story. The lack of initial success did not deter him, nor did it get him to pay any more attention to what everyone else thought. If anything, it only gave him greater resolve to keep plugging away, and he eventually got his break.

Bike Lanes — by Casey Neistat

Bike Lanes alone has nearly 18 million views and Neistat has over 5 million subscribers on YouTube — the total views on all his videos is fast approaching the 1 billion mark. And to think that a Hollywood agent’s opinion might have prevented all this?

“The thing that affected me most was that I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to make that movie [Bike Lanes]. I wanted to create something, so I created it and then I shared it with the world. All that politicking, applying to film festivals, getting the right meeting with the right person and having an agent tell me this isn’t good enough for the internet never existed. It was just me and the audience.”

The Hustle From the Best is Often Invisible

However, for both Vaynerchuk and Neistat, resilience is only half of the equation. Without an obsessive work ethic, they both know how tough it is to get anywhere, regardless of talent. This is often a hard pill to swallow because we often only see the success of world changers, rather than the hours of grind behind it. The hustle has become invisible — just ask MJ.

Maybe I Destroyed the Game

Enter Gary Vaynerchuk, the man who is showing the world just how hard it is to develop and maintain the tremendous hustle required to be successful. Hustle is Gary’s domain of expertise and his YouTube show “Daily Vee” allows the world to see his ridiculous grind.

People often talk about the 5 AM’s, the late nights and all the sacrifices that come with the grind; Vaynerchuk is living it, and we can all watch.

10,000 Hours? Try 25,000 Cold Calls

For Vaynerchuk, hustle is undoubtedly the most important part of any successful person or company. And yet it is also the number one thing that people underestimate because few show what it really takes to be at the top of your game. Another great example is Joel Myers.

It took Myers a decade to acquire 100 paying customers. Although he eventually built a $100MM business, Myers heard potential clients say no 24,900 times. If we say that each “no” took just 5 minutes to deliver, Myers would have been rejected for a total of 2,075 hours — this is the equivalent of facing rejection 24 hours straight for over 86 days and does not even take into account the thousands of hours spent on actually selling each customer.

Gary’s Comment on The First Post of This Article

For Gary, building an $100MM business took replying to every single like, comment or share from any fan that ever interacted with him or his content. And I’m thrilled to say, the proof is most certainly in the pudding.

Vaynerchuk, Neistat, Myers, Rowling, Wright, Jobs, Vardy.

These are all individuals who are willing to hustle relentlessly to get to the top, and it is that same hunger which keeps them there. Together, Neistat and Vaynerchuk have begun to tell the story of a movement that appeals to the inner voice we all possess deep down.

It’s the one that says, “I do not give a sh*t what the world thinks, I’m gonna hustle harder than anyone to make my dreams become a reality.”

Let now be the time where we stop fantasising with the facade of overnight success and start hustling by making those 25,000 cold calls. After all, that could be the only thing standing between us and building the next Facebook.


Cornelius McGrath is an entrepreneur and writer who loves the hustle. He is currently grinding hard at @ProMazo to redefine how companies recruit the next generation of talent. Check out more of his articles here, and follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
This post was originally published at StartupGrind, the global community for entrepreneurs.
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