How to Be Successful: A Lesson From Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat may not be your favorite Internet personality; Gizmodo's Bryan Menegus clearly isn't a fan. He recently wrote an article ripping into Neistat for a Hollywood Reporter interview he gave earlier today. The article titled "35-Year-Old Teen Casey Neistat Says a Few Stupid Things" I assume was intended to point out that Neistat wasn't entirely clear about his new role at CNN or why his "useless app" was purchased for $25 million. The author states the interview "answers none of these questions, while spoon-feeding devotees of his particular brand of mundane transparency a mountain of bullshit corporate-speak and more than a few blatant contradictions."

Whatever your opinion maybe of Neistat, it is hard to ignore what the man has accomplished. I came across this video he made a year ago, called "Fat and Lazy." After watching Neistat explain the hours in his day it made me think about all the time I wasted on social media, shitting on photographers I thought I was better than, or making fun of another photo of a girl in the woods shot at f/1.2 or f/1.4 with a VSCO filter slapped on it. One of the biggest lessons I learned as a freelancer was how to manage my time efficiently and I think we can all agree Neistat knows how to mange time. He has put out more content then most of us will ever put out in our lifetime. He knows how to get publicity, good or bad, and that is "cutting through the noise" as he stated in his Hollywood Reporter interview.

Key lessons from Neistat that can benefit your photography:

  • Learn how to manage your time
  • Reality and your dreams aren't always aligned, make adjustment according to your opportunities 
  • It takes hard work and long hours. If you want to be a full-time artist or content creator it's your 24/7 job, it is not 40 hours a week.
  • The more successful you become the more people will discredit your success by calling you lucky without ever considering the time you dedicated to get there. 

I can't say I'm an avid watcher but personally I feel like we should listen to people who have been there and done what we all aspire to do, work for ourselves, rather than tear them down for an interview they probably spent five minutes responding to in their hectic day. No one is forcing you to like or watch Neistat's videos but if you are going to watch them use that time to benefit you and learn something rather than shitting on someone with $25 million in the bank or anyone for that matter. Focus on your own work and just create.

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23 Comments

LA M's picture

Uuummm....feel better?

Alain Mitchell's picture

Thanks man! You too!

Joakim Drake's picture

"No one is forcing you to like or watch Neistat's videos but if you are going to watch them use that time to benefit you and learn something rather than shitting on someone with $25 million in the bank or anyone for that matter."

Where on earth did that come from?

Alain Mitchell's picture

Im trying to say, your time valuable. If your gonna spend time reading about him or caring what he does on the internet at least get some value out of it. Don't just shit on someone because they don't make videos you like, just don't waste your valuable time concerning your self with what someone else does.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Niestat is a genius. Try racking up that many followers and that many views. You have to be brilliant to achieve this.

Jeremy Strange's picture

If internet culture has taught us anything, it is almost the opposite of this

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Try to get 10% of his followers. See if you will find this easy.

Brian Dowling's picture

Kim Kardashian has 20x more followers. I'll guess she'll be winning a Nobel Prize any day now...

David Mawson's picture

>> Try to get 10% of his followers. See if you will find this easy.

No one thinks that it is easy to get that many followers. But that doesn't mean that it's necessarily a matter of skill - there's such a thing as luck. "Non-linearity" is a big thing in pop culture marketing; you have a bunch of products that all fit the same niche and the one that will succeed is the best but the one that gets an early break to build momentum.

That doesn't mean this was the case here... But it does mean that you're missing the point.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

You know, I work in education and a lot of art teachers are artits who aren't able to make a decent living on their art. Most don't have any success at all by doing what they like. Casey is tremendously successful in doing what he likes.

David Mawson's picture

Yes. And you are still missing the point:

>> that doesn't mean that it's necessarily a matter of skill - there's such a thing as luck. "Non-linearity" is a big thing in pop culture marketing; you have a bunch of products that all fit the same niche and the one that will succeed is the best but the one that gets an early break to build momentum.<<

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Try to use your skills to get the same amount of followers.

David Mawson's picture

I'm sorry, but how is your reply in any way an intelligent response to the point you actually object to? Which is that LUCK, not skill, arguably plays the major roll in successes of this kind?

You might as well say "Just you try to draw a winning lottery ticket!!!" Well of course I almost certainly won't - because it is a matter of luck rather than skill.

That doesn't mean I'm necessarily correct; I might not be. But it does mean that your argument is completely nonsensical.

A certain minimum amount of skill is required, and a lot of hard work... But lots of people meet those requirements. Think of it like this: Bob Dylan and Helmut Newton, uniquely talented. This guy, Lady Gaga and the typical boy band... more talent and harder working than most people, but they still had to draw the 1000 to 1 lucky ticket. If Newton had been hit by a car, probably no one would ever have shot that way. If Gaga or whats his name had died, the market slot would still have been there and someone else would have filled it.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Try making just one episode like he makes them every week. And just see if YOU have the skills to make this work.
Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But you must be rather blind if you ignore the videographing and editing skills he possesses. Unless you think that is also being lucky.
Are you jealous?

David Mawson's picture

>> Try making just one episode like he makes them every week.

Again, you have poor reading skills. What part of "more talent and harder working than most people, but they still had to draw the 1000 to 1 lucky ticket" didn't you understand?

>> Are you jealous?

And this is frankly stupid and immature. You need to grow up and understand that people can have a different opinion to yours without a corrupting motive. For example, because most people are probably smarter than you, judging from your inability to respond logically...

Kyle Medina's picture

Haters Gonna Hate

chris gauthier's picture

i really can't watch or trust his video's after the whole "I endorce hillary clinton, i've never met her" thing

Dallas Dahms's picture

Bang on. After I saw that childish political video I also tuned out.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Fortunately, Trump has become president. With the help of Poetin and his cronies. The wold is grateful. ;-(

Except the Mexicans of course.

john campbell's picture

I can't look at his face. I know it's shallow of me, and I hate myself for it. Maybe his videos are great, but I'll never know. When I see his face I want to punch it. That's my reality.

Jim Cutler's picture

Good article. It's a totally valuable message that we are all given a certain amount of time, and to work your ass off to make it happen. You decide how to spend your time. I also laughed out loud and thank you for: "or making fun of another photo of a girl in the woods shot at f/1.2 or f/1.4 with a VSCO filter slapped on it."