“Work hard and be brave.”
Simple yet profound words from this week’s guest, a man in full embrace of the ethos of living an impactful, creative, authentic life in overdrive.
Uncompromising. Unapologetic. Filmmaker, photographer, builder, father, humanitarian, athlete. But most of all, an artist leveraging his boundless creative energy to tell personal stories that inspire all of us to find the adventure in life. To invest in experience. To be bold. And to do more — both for yourself and for others.
I first became aware of Casey around 2010 when his show “The Neistat Brothers” aired on HBO and was immediately captivated by Casey’s DIY sensibility. His fearlessness. His acute ability to find the wonder in the seemingly banal. And his refusal to await permission from the gatekeepers to create. I’ve been a fan ever since, eagerly anticipating each new upload to his wildly popular YouTube channel – 82 movies he refuses to monetize; a network that enjoys a quarter of a million rabid subscribers; and dozens of viral sensations with 50+ million views.
At this point, many of you have likely seen his remarkable “Make It Count”. If you somehow missed it, please watch it now for context before listening to the episode (I’ve watched it at least 20 times and never get tired of it). Hired by Nike to create an advertisement to promote the Fuel Band, Casey audaciously ignored the agreed upon commercial treatment and instead brashly spent the entire budget traveling the world, all the while documenting his incredible adventure until the money just flat ran out. 34,000 miles, three continents, 13 countries, 16 cities and 10 million views later, the rest is history.
This past December, Casey raised the bar. Contacted by 20th Century Fox to create a movie to help promote “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, Casey agreed, with one caveat: permission to donate the entire commercial budget to typhoon victims in the Philippines. Tying creative expression to service, “What Would You Do with $25,000?” became an instant viral hit, trending on Twitter to over 3 million views.
Then just one day after we sat down for this conversation, Casey headed out in a blizzard to “Snowboard NYC”– a sponsor-less lark he posted within 24 hours of shooting that clocked 5 million views in it’s first five days.
In the words of Wired Magazine, “Casey Neistat’s bite-size Internet movies have so much viral potential they make influenza jealous.” But what is it that makes Casey and his work so irresistible? Sure, the movies are fun. Irreverant. Visually captivating with great music and personal storylines that always star Casey himself as the ever-appealing protagonist.
But in my opinion, what makes Casey stand out, what gives his work permanent residence in my consciousness, is his devotion to authenticity — an axiom of conviction that infuses every single frame of every single work he produces — and the predominant over-arching theme of this podcast.
It was a treat to drop in on Casey’s Lower Manhattan studio — “one of the most compulsively organized, ridiculously customized, and mind-bogglingly gear-saturated spaces on Planet Awesome” — and I am super pumped to bring you this powerful conversation with a life premised upon creative passion, a tireless work ethic, a conviction to constantly invest in experience above everything, and an oftentimes logic-defying faith in the journey.
Something I like to call the warrior path.
Listen with ears open. Objectively ponder the limitless possibilities presented in your own life. Then — to echo the words permanently inked on Casey’s forearm — DO MORE.
Peace + Plants,
- Casey Neistat on YouTube
- Casey Neistat on Instagram: @caseyneistat
- Casey Neistat on Facebook
- Casey Neistat on Twitter: @caseyneistat
- Casey Neistat Website: caseyneistat.com
- Snowboarding New York City
- GIZMODO: The Wildly Functional Studio of Video Wizard Casey Neistat
- HBO: The Neistat Brothers
- Manfredi Gioacchini Photography
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