In recent memory, very few things have impacted me creatively with more depth than Casey Neistat’s vlogs.
So I watch them.
Almost every day.
Mostly with my son.
And I got a bit inspired and decided to waste time (not advised) and made a bunch of quote images featuring Casey’s thoughts from the vlogs.
It was then that I decided that I’d re-watch every single one of his vlogs, from the beginning and document the best advice I could find for entrepreneur dads, like myself (and like Casey & Gary).
I’ve segmented it into Business, Family, Productivity, Motivation, Exercise, Film, and Life advice from Casey.
I have never written a blog post that is as long as this one or took as much time to write and research as this one. Including watching all of the films twice, writing, and proof-reading (poorly), this article topped out around 15 hours of work.
Despite all that effort what you read below will be wrought with spelling and grammar errors, but was something I needed to get out and something that will, quite possibly, change your life.
If one strikes you especially deep, hope over to the Hustle&Heart Facebook group and share it with our community of entrepreneur dads.
Whether in business or in life, if something is important, do it every day. This is Casey’s reason for starting a vlog in the first place. He wanted to make something new every day. I remember hearing Dan John echo this with strength training. When I wanted to get better at pullups, I started doing them every single day. If you want to get better at blogging, writer every day. If you want to get better at anything, spend more time doing it than reading about it.
Do More. Make More. Expect technology will break down. Expect that and just keep making.
Never pander to an audience. It’ll never get you anywhere. Listen to your audience. Survey them. Make things that are helpful for them. But trying to make everybody happy with your art makes nobody happy.
Email is my Boulder and I’m Sissyphus. Sisyphus was a deceitful king who was punished by the gods by being forced to roll a boulder up the side of a mountain. Every day it would roll back down causing him to start over the next day. Email is my boulder as well, Casey. I feel your pain.
Don’t quit your day job. We’re all so freaking romantic about wanting to burn the boats and quit our jobs. We think that quitting and going full-time as an entrepreneur will give us more time with our families. This is not true. Casey got offered $10k and quit. Don’t do that.
Sunday is the best day to work because all of the time wasters and blood sucking vampires aren’t in their offices sending you emails and Facebook messages to waste your time.
I like to work exercise and stay home. Socializing doesn’t fit into my schedule. If you want more time to work on your business, consider that.
Do things that don’t make money. This comes with a bit of a caveat, however. The best way to get your spouse on board with your business is to make money. Build your business so you have the time and space to do the big things that don’t make money. I sold used Jiu Jitsu gis and raised a few thousand dollars for charity. I raised money and send used gis to kids in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. I wouldn’t have had the headspace or resources to do those passion projects if I wasn’t making money.
Define your own path. If you’re doing what everyone else is, you’re doing it wrong. It’s really important to model things others are doing and to realize that just because somebody else is doing it, it doesn’t mean you can’t. (Re-read that last sentence. It’s important.) It does mean that if everybody else is buying the same online course, listening to the same podcasts, and writing the same blog posts, you shouldn’t be doing it. Find your voice and what you have to say and then say it in everything you do.
A fool sleeps when he has to. A master sleeps when he can. Don’t be afraid to take a day off or take a nap. Sometimes sleep seems like it takes away from the effect of getting work done, but studies have been done that show that there is no different in output between 55 and 70 hours per week. There’s no reason to martyr yourself in the name of “the hustle.” Work a smarter 5 hours than the 10 you normally work and spend the other 5 exercising, sleeping, or with your family and see your business explode.
As with any love a bit of distance will make that love stronger. In this vlog, Casey talks about his love for New York City and driving to Connecticut but this is also true for business. Taking time away from your business, or even your family, makes you love it that much more. Taking a hard-line vacation from your business for a week will spur on even greater thoughts and output down the road.
Designer Stefan Sagmeister shuts down his studio every seven years and takes a year off. He says, “Everything that we designed in the seven years following the first sabbatical had its roots in thinking done during that sabbatical.”
When will I finally reach my goal? When will my business “make it?” The answer is you never make it. There’s never any making it. You never arrive. The journey is the destination. The obstacle is the way.
Customer service is KING. Casey’s watch strap broke on his Rolex in this vlog and somehow, the guy who runs the company saw it and then flew to New York to fix it personally. That’s customer service you just can’t buy. Not only does Casey have a customer for life, but it just shows that old-school, in person customer service isn’t dead and is still the strongest way to build a reputation.
Jack Coyne is fucking awesome. He’s been working with and making films with Casey for years. Everybody needs a Jack Coyne.
People prefer your kids to you. Candice’s sister and brother-in-law only want to see Francine. This is both true and totally okay. I don’t think my mom has greeted me when we see eachother since my son was born (kidding, but not really).
Find work to do on your vacation. Okay, Essentialism, recharge, blah blah blah. I get that. But, as an example. I decided to write this post and use it as an excuse to rewatch the first 100 of Casey Neistat’s vlogs with my son Evan while on summer vacation. He’s 2 and enjoys them as much as I do. It’s 6 minutes a day that he cuddles on my laugh and we get to share something that he and I enjoy exclusively. The work doesn’t have to be separate from your family.
Weekends are for shopping? Like Casey I also don’t like shopping and don’t agree with the statement “Weekends are for shopping”. Weekends are for family. If the lady wants to shop, so be it.
Don’t get distracted watching vlogs for this article and let your kid write on himself. Fun fact, this was the first time he ever wrote on himself. Now, it’s almost impossible to get him to write on anything other than himself.
I don’t take cigarette breaks but I do take family breaks. I’m a big fan of the pomodoro technique for getting things done and during those break times, I love to see my family. Instead of eating lunch with my co-workers or whatever else, I use that as family time. Don’t get me wrong, I have more concerted family time at set blocks in the day, but if you smoke, stop, and start spending that time with your family.
Andy Spade said that “Working Family” is a great name for a business because if you can figure out work and family you will be happy in life. For me, and likely for you, work and family is basically all there is and the majority of what we care about.
Surround yourself with fighters, not quitters. If you can, marry them. I married the hardest working woman I’ve ever met. One that I knew was willing to put in the work it took to build a successful marriage, family, and if she wants to, a business. There was a point when Candace was going to quit her business and Casey remembers thinking to himself, “I can’t marry a quitter.” How you do anything is how you do everything and if you’re willing to quit in business (this is different from pivoting), then you’re also willing to quit in other areas of your life.
Always support your man – Candice. To read this as an entrepreneur dad, know you need your wife to support you always, and to know that when she doesn’t, she might be onto something. The only times my wife has ever not supported me, were the two times that I made the biggest mistakes in my business.
Never wait until the last minute to plan for Mother’s Day. If you have kids, plan ahead. Here’s the formula:
Smile and Swoon + Surprise and Delight + Shock and Awe = Happy Wife*
*In fact, this really applies to all gift giving
Why does Owen have a lame job when you can get him a cool one? The best way to find what you love in life is by doing something that you hate. You have the job and it’s fine but the cushiness brings stagnation. When something happens: you buy a house, she gets pregnant, you buy a car, and then all of a sudden you can’t leave your day job even though it’s not your passion you have these “golden handcuffs.” I found my passion for my side business while writing reports, pushing papers, doing work that I absolutely hated as a teacher and principal. Casey found his working a shitty seafood restaurant scraping and washing dishes. Teaching your kids the value of hard work sometimes means not helping them skip over all the struggle you’ve endured.
It’s not that we have a short time to live. It’s that we waste a lot of it. – Seneca via Ryan Holiday (yes, that’s the second time I’ve brought him up. You should check out his book.)
Nothing makes me less happy than relaxation and sitting around with nothing to do.
We all have the same finish line. How we get there is different. “Memento Mori” is something that I’ll soon have tattooed on my body. It’s sort of the abject cousin of “Carpe Diem.” We all finish in the exact same place but we have the choice in how we travel there. Every morning I get up at 3am instead of sleeping in. Every word I write on this page instead of clicking back over to Facebook is my making a decision knowing that one day, I too, will die. But I have the choice, today, of how I live. So do you.
Free time is the enemy of progress.
What keeps me motivated? Here are my goals and here is where I am now. In between that is just a bunch of work. If I don’t reach my goals, I never get to spend my life how I choose. That’s all the motivation I need.
“Life is like going the wrong way on a moving walkway. Stand still and you go backwards. Walk and you stay put. Gotta hustle to get ahead.” – a musing from The Farrelly Brothers
We know this feeling deep down inside of ourselves and, for most of us, its what drives us forward. With so many responsibilities, you can’t coast in any area for too long. To get ahead in business, in family, and in life, you have to hustle.
Freedom is waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night and in between doing exactly what you want to do. It’s doing the work you choose. Spending your time as you see fit. It’s what we’re all fighting for: Doing work that matters, that we care about, that also provides for our family.
The secret to happiness is finding something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life. This isn’t to be confused with “find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This is mainly because I think that advice is total crap. Primarily because it makes it seem like you’ll never have to do anything difficult or anything you don’t want to do. Know that what you love to do will be hard and will require a fortitude that you may not expect. But, being able to do that for the rest of your life will make you happy.
Comfort is pure decline. You fight your way up and only at the top of the mountain are you able to see the taller mountain ranges in the distance. Possible, you’re wired like Casey and need to climb those bigger rangers. But also possibly, like me, you are totally happy making $75-100k per year doing what you love and don’t need to climb every mountain you see.
In life there’s two options: do what you want to do and stand out or so what everybody else does and fit in. I spent my entire high school and college career fitting in. And to be honest, I also spent the first 6 years of my adult life fitting in as well. Starting a podcast, a blog, or even my own company got more weird looks than I’d gotten in the prior 20+ years of my life. Every time you feel the resistance fighting against you, or you feel uncomfortable with something new in your business, remember that you have the choice. You always have the choice. Fit in with everybody else working a job they hate to buy things they don’t need, or decide to forge your own way, on the side, until it becomes your path.
There’s nothing wrong with fitting in but know the norms you’re fitting into were made by average people just like you and me. I trust myself more than the people who made these norms.
How to not give a shit? Casey got made fun of a lot for the way he looked in school and all the bullies who picked on me are now losers. I could say the same and I bet you can too.
It’s always the toughest times in your life that define you much more so than the easy time. When I look back at all the pivotal points of my life, it was always the struggle the failure that motivated me. When I lost $2,500 on my first Jiu Jitsu gi order. When I wasted over $6,000 on a coach. When I decided to quit drinking. “The weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has not been tested in the fire” – Mark Twain
Keep yourself extremely busy. That’s how you find your path. By creating a tremendous volume of work, constantly thinking about what you do want to do and what you don’t, you will find your path.
“It’s easier to steer something that’s already moving.” – Louis Cole
Never be afraid to share. “I’ve wanted to share this for a long time but I’m afraid of coming across preachy or didactic. But the truth is when I think about the people who I’ve learned the most from in life, it’s been the people who haven’t been afraid to share their ideas. So I shouldn’t worry about being preachy and I should just speak. I should share.”
In life you should only be doing two things: figuring out your dreams or passions or realizing them. The first is much harder than the second. The formula is incredibly simple. The process is not.
Without a goal you can’t score.
Whenever I discovered a passion it’s taken years of pain and struggle to realize or even get on the path to realizing that goal. When Casey realized he wanted to be a filmmaker to come over a decade to realize that goal. When I realized I wanted to start a business, it’s taken over 5 years of incredibly hard work, and let’s be honest, I think ten (yes, 10!) years is a much more fair and realistic number if you’re trying to make something that matters. Just take it day by day, bird by bird, and you’ll be fine.
You can substitute exercise for sleep. I tried this and almost died. But, to an extent, it works fairly well. Casey has this theory that if you exchange an hour or two of sleep for an hour or two of exercise, you’ll have more energy throughout the day. I will say, completely un-backed by science, that I’ve found this to be true. But, if you’re already getting a minimal amount of sleep (<5 hours per night), then sacrificing one more is like redlining your car’s engine. Any little hiccup throws the entire system out of whack and you end up crashing and burning.
The body fuels the brain. Keep it sharp, too. My brain operates at its best when I’m eating right and in shake. I can’t throw pond water and wood chips into my car’s engine and think it’ll run right. The same is true with my body (and yours). I’m in full-on fat “dad bod” mode right now and you might be too. Stop putting junk food in your engine and start treating the body right. Believe me, your family and business will benefit from it.
Seriously, though. All of my best ideas lately have come when out for a long bike ride or a run. I’ve found lifting and sprinting to be too intense and requiring too much of my focus to have good ideas.
FILM / ART / WRITING
Chain link fences make great tripods.
Be irresponsible in your art. Casey showed a video he did for jack spade handbags where he lit a bunch of fireworks off inside one. He said it was a much younger Cary than you see before you today. I hope that both Casey and I look back at what we do and make today and still feel like we were a bit reckless young and irresponsible. May my writing and creating always be irresponsible in retrospect.
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert
iPhones shoot the best time lapses.
Our job as creators is to establish the new clichés. Not adhere to the ones of the past. Sure, there are best practices, and things to learn, but don’t adhere to formulas. This goes for headlines, parenting, being a husband, etc.
Copycats and rip off artists. These are people that say they’re inspired by you but really just wholesale rip you off. They claim inspiration but their business is the same model, with their website the same colors, and a wholesale theft of your intellectual property.
And it’s going to stress you out like crazy but remember:
You can copy the aesthetics and the style, but not the heart.
If you’re constantly being told your work is a copy of somebody else’s, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re constantly being told others are ripping you off, you’re doing it right.
Ignore praise, embrace criticism. Casey doesn’t seek compliments because it’s generally a dead end.
Always buy extra screws when putting together IKEA furniture. Fun fact, I have more scars from putting together IKEA furniture than from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Never leave a bike unattended in New York City (or Chicago for that matter).
Dollar pizza never ends well for anyone. If it’s cheap, there’s a reason for it. In one way or anything, going the cheap route in pizza (or in life), will always bite you in the butt in the end (see what I did there?)
There’s a point when you been doing too many things at once and processing too much information that your brain sort of seizes up and you can’t process anything new at that point. When that happens, just call it a day.
Don’t hit kids. Let’s clarify this as “Don’t hit other people’s kids.” Even if they try to steal your thousands of dollars in camera and video equipment.
Judgmental people are of a lower moral authority than those who don’t judge.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?
Which piece of advice from Casey is your favorite? What struck you and made you think “I can do that!”