One of my biggest struggles as an an entrepreneur is knowing when to let go of something and move on. I even wrote a blog post about it three years ago – and even though I fully believe and support every word I wrote in that article, letting go and moving on is still not an easy thing for me. Earlier this week, we saw Casey Neistat pull the plug on his daily YouTube vlogs and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve when it comes to being proactive and taking action to grow and advance a career.
For those of you who don’t know who Casey Neistat is, don’t worry. I had no idea who he was either until March of this year, and even when I first discovered him and saw the content he was producing I wasn’t all that impressed. I hang out on the internet quite a lot (too much actually) and prior to March I was hearing a lot of chatter about this “Casey Neistat” guy on YouTube. I never heard anything interesting enough to go and check him out myself, but I was starting to hear the name more and more. Finally, late one night bored to tears and looking for something to watch on Youtube, I stumbled across one of his videos. I wasn’t impressed.
Several weeks went by, and for reasons I’ll never know, I clicked on another one of his latest videos. I found it to be more interesting than the first one I watched, and it inspired me to watch another. And another. Long story short, I became addicted to his daily vlogs and I became amazed by the sheer amount of work and dedication he put into each and every one. Casey Neistat is an incredibly talented storyteller and filmmaker, and it didn’t take long before I started looking up to him and being flat-out inspired by the content this guy was producing.
In the course of 20 months of vlogging (March 2015 to November 2016), his subscriber count went from 500,000 to over 5,000,000. His content was getting so much attention that he was a certified celebrity – attending posh events, giving talks all over the world, and being sponsored by big companies such as Samsung and GoPro. He found success, and found it big. It was such an inspiration to see him (and his business) grow and every day I looked forward to watching his content and soaking up the inspiration he oozed like a sponge.
And then, he was gone
On Sunday November 20th, he quit. There were signs that showed that it might have been coming, so I’ll admit that I wasn’t totally shocked to see the announcement. He had started skipping daily uploads during the weeks leading up to it, so it was pretty obvious that he was struggling to produce content every day.
The explanation he gave was that his vlogs weren’t challenging him anymore. He started daily vlogging back in March of 2015 for the challenge of producing a movie every single day. And he did it. For 20 months, he spent 4-7 hours every day editing a video and uploading it to YouTube. And that doesn’t even account for the time it took to film the content every day! But he was so good at it – Casey is such a good storyteller that he made shopping for furniture look fun.
Casey Neistat has drive and ambition like nobody I’ve ever known, enough that he is willing to walk away from a massively successful project in search of the “next big thing”. He didn’t get into specifics about what that next big this was on his final vlog, but he said that he can’t grow as long as he’s producing daily content. Never mind that he is making a very comfortable living on YouTube/AdSense income (enough to own two homes, put his son into Stanford, and travel the world – in business class – on a frequent basis). None of that matters. He simply said that it’s holding him back, and he needs to let go.
Just. Wow. It’s a huge risk (even he admitted that), but I have a ton of respect for the man now. Of course I respected him before, but this just takes that to a whole new level. Growing as an entrepreneur involves taking risks exactly like this, risks that very few others would be willing to take. I firmly believe I learned something from watching all of this go down – and it makes me look at my own silly business-related indecisions from a slightly different perspective.
Thanks for the entertainment and entrepreneurial inspiration Casey. You are my hero!