Casey Neistat, Three Things I've Learned From The Man Behind the Camera / by Benjamin Steele

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Blog #37

You've likely heard of Casey Neistat (the videographer legend from NYC), at least I know I've written about him briefly on this blog before. What you may not know, however, is Casey's story of becoming and also the positive impact that he makes in the world every day.

Most of the specific details in this blog I've gathered from different speeches where Casey describes his life, however, I do not claim to know Casey well or personally. I tried to be as accurate as I could and deeply apologize if anything is incorrect. Casey's videos have had a deep impact on my life and I simply wanted to share part of his story with you.

Casey dropped out of high-school at the age of 16 to support his newly born son Owen. At the time, future didn't look particularly bright for him. While in school, he struggled to pay attention and when he dropped out, he took a entry level job as a dish washer. Many people would have viewed young Casey as a screwup.

Eventually Casey moved to New York City to pursue his dream of being a film maker. Even before Youtube, Casey begun making videos as often as possible. He didn't find success or recognition right away, but still he put in 1000's of hours to master the industry. He bought a video camera on a credit card and on an early Apple Computer, begun editing his first videos on iMovie.

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Casey wasn't trained professionally or given the best equipment, but over time he began to gain attention for his work. In my opinion, one of Casey's best talents is his ability to tell an effective and engaging story. Some of his best videos, such as "Bike Lanes by Casey Neistat", are filmed on simple point and shoot cameras, but still have millions of views.

After about 8 years of creating videos (around the year 2008 I believe), Casey and his brother Van received the opportunity to film a creative video series called "The Neistat Brothers".

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"The Neistat Brothers" became an 8 episode series that basically tells short stories about the two brother's lives. It is autobiographical and told in first person.

Although I haven't seen the entire series myself (yet), what I have seen reminds me greatly of the Casey that I now can watch daily on Youtube.

After filming and editing the series, HBO became greatly impressed with Casey and Vans' work and ended up purchasing the video series from them for somewhere around 2,000,000. The show was aired on TV and won the brothers a few awards for their videography. Other than some of Casey's early videos which had gone viral, this television series was one of the first times that he received true recognition for his work.

In the 2000's, as technology began to change, sharing video became easier and easier. Youtube (founded in 2005), provided a platform for creators such as Casey to share content directly with their consumers rather then through a third party (such as HBO). This concept of interacting directly with people greatly excited Casey and started him down the path of becoming a Youtuber.

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Now today (after more than 500 videos), Casey has nearly 4.5 million subscribers, over 1 billion video views and a dedicated community of fans who watch his vlogs almost daily (including myself). Not only is his presence significant on Youtube, but also on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr where he has a combined total of over 7 million followers. Just this past year he's won The Shorty Awards "Youtuber of the Year" award and was recently dubbed GQ's Man of The year. It is undeniable that Casey is one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of the past decade. His accomplishments are truly admirable.

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Now let me explain why I believe that Casey is making such a difference in this world.

There are many celebrities and other people out there with great influence. In fact many of them have even a much greater reach than Casey. The difference between Casey and many of them, however, is how Casey chooses to use his influence in such a positive way. If you've ever watched Casey's content, then I'm sure you noticed how he is frequently interacting with and uplifting those around him. From what I can tell, Casey is kind to the postmen, a caring father, a driven boss, kind to strangers he meets in NY ( unless they're riding a motorcycle on the sidewalk ;) ), as well as a great influence to anyone that watches his videos. Contrary to many others, Casey uses his influence not just to help his own life, but more importantly to help others.

Here are three things that I've learned from Casey's example:

  1. Social media is a powerful tool. Through it's mediums (Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter) great things can be accomplished. If you or your business don't yet take social media seriously, then you need to start.
  2. Anything is possible. Just as Casey went from a high school dropout to his life that he lives today, I believe that we all can accomplish great things. Especially if you're lucky enough to live in western civilization, anything is possible.
  3. Doing good to others brings good in return. I am always so impressed with Casey's positive attitude towards others and I'm sure that this has greatly helped his life. As we look for opportunities to help others, doors and opportunities will come our way.
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Although your own sphere of influence may be much smaller than Casey's, I believe that we can still each make an impact on those around us in a positive way.

And remember to not be good out of the hope that you will get something in return. If you are good for the right reasons, that's when it makes a difference.

Thanks,

Ben

P.S. - I hope Casey sees this blog. I would love to connect with him down the road!

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