“I’m a Youtuber”. That’s how Casey Neistat describes himself on Twitter and Instagram. He’s short-selling himself. He’s a sharp businessman and a viral marketing genius, to such extent that when he said in one of his Youtube videos “I’m going to try to make a viral video today”, that video went viral the next day. Anyone who’s into viral marketing knows that even huge international brands have a tough time accomplishing such a feat.
Casey Neistat has been in the video and Youtube business for a few years now, making commercials for Nike and Mercedes and the occasional super viral youtube video (watch: what would you do with $ 25,000?, Snowboarding in New York City, and the 14,000,000 hit Bike Lanes). But on March 25th, 2015, he takes on the challenge to create a new video every day. You can view the first episode of this vlog at the top of this article. It will eventually create a big enough buzz for its actual raison d’etre: the launch of Casey Neistat’s new iPhone application. A successful strategy, it seems, as the app made the App Store’s top ten within the first few days after its launch.
So it’s all a marketing trick to put the spotlight on his new business? In a sense, yes. But as a professional you don’t return home empty handed from watching his vlog. If you watch them from a business point of view, you can learn a lot about viral and social media marketing. At times, Casey Neistat reveals himself quite the business coach when he lets us in on how he runs his business. I’ve collected 5 quotes and bits of knowledge from his vlogs that I found spot on and that I will most certainly apply in my professional decisions and choices when the time comes.
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If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong.
There’s no point in offering exactly the same as your competitor. It’s as true for the small local business man as it is for the large global corporation. Even Google painfully experienced the truthfulness of this quote when it recently admitted defeat in its attempt to overthrow facebook with the soon-to-be defunct Google+.
It takes work and brainpower to be original. And if your idea or your project isn’t original, then make sure you give it a twist or a fresh approach. It’s ok to be inspired by other people’s work, as long as you put in the effort to add something of yourself into it. Casey adds: “Always check yourself: are you copying someone or are you thinking for yourself. And if it’s not the latter then you should maybe rethink your process. A good rule of thumb is: If you’re told that your work is the copy of someone else’s, you’re doing it wrong. And if you’re constantly told that your work is being ripped-off by someone else, you’re probably doing it right.”
The biggest risk you can take is to not take any risks at all.
“As a guiding principle, life shrinks and life expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risk. Every time I took these bigger risks, the opportunity for a bigger payout was always there. The most dangerous thing you can do in your career, the most dangerous thing you can do in life is play it safe.”
Every successful business and every successful person have taken some kind of leap of faith at the onset of their story. Whether this means giving up a steady income to pursue your dreams and ideas, putting your own money into a project, assessing viability and possibility of certain decisions, trusting certain people, or even the valuable time you put in. Any success that you see in the world today has started with someone putting in their heart rather than making a calculated decision and with that person saying “Yes”!
It’s the execution that matters, never the idea.
To keep with the example of Google, the initial idea behind their company is simple and hardly original. Organizing knowledge and information has been done before for many years by the world’s phone books and encyclopediae. It’s the execution that made Google into the giant it is today.
I’m sure you experienced this firsthand. How many times haven’t you said “I could have thought of that” about a simple, almost childish idea and then produce a half-baked, ill-conceived version of it. Casey states that “if you strip my work of its execution, you’ll be left with an idea that’s mediocre at best.”
If it were the idea that counted, the world would be littered with overnight successes. Rather, success is the possible outcome of a simple idea followed by a lot of hard work and thought invested into its execution.
Without a goal, you can’t score.
There’s a reason why all big corporations invest so much effort in formulating and communicating their mission statement. Like a ship, they need wind and direction to steer them towards their destination, instead of floating aimlessly on the open sea.
I believe that even the smaller businesses, or people for that matter, should also have direction. It’s ok to try out a left or a right to see what the fastest, nicest or best road is but, ultimately, it should lead you home.
“The right time is always right now.”
This is to all the happy procrastinators out there (guilty as charged): The right time is always right now. Casey adds in a somewhat naïve but contagious way that “Life is like this super temporary, mega fragile thing … you only get a nugget of time to really pursue the things you care about.”
You’ll always have a moment of hesitation when you might weigh in whether now is a good time to take a certain action or start a new project. You might find that you have a lot on your plate in your personal life, that you can’t afford risk or change right now, … Truth is, there are always going to be other things, good or bad, going on in your life. If you jump in with both feet without deferring, you’ll find that right now is the right time and whatever the universe throws at you, you’ll be able to deal with it.
What adage or words of wisdom do you find particularly helpful or true in conducting a successful business?