Meet the world’s most interesting man.
The 36 year old with over 7.2 million subscribers has captivated his YouTube audience with motorized skateboards, catchy songs, crazy adventures, and his spray-painted sunglasses for over seven years. Casey’s life has not been all rainbows and butterflies, however. His success story makes him even more inspiring.
Neistat left home at the age fifteen and dropped out of school after dealing with a tough divorce between his parents and trouble in school. By seventeen, he already had a kid with his girlfriend and had no stable living condition in which to raise the child. As one would expect, the relationship crumbled, and he moved to New York City in June 2001. Keep in mind, he is only twenty years old at this time–broke, homeless, but passionate.
As he describes luck as “opportunity plus preparation” when a hobby of making short films of his son Owen became a passion, and eventually, a job. After making a viral video exposing the technical problems with the first iPod, he had found his first big break. He was prepared to film as a career, then Neistat got the opportunity to make eight home videos with his brother, Van, that were then bought by HBO on a series called the Neistat Brothers. The eight part series became a success. Finally, things began to turn around for Neistat.
Now, Casey can be seen on YouTube pulling stunts such as his New York City Blizzard adventure where he gets pulled around through the city as if he was wakeboarding over the snow, or casually running twenty miles on a warm day in April. He doesn’t just capture these moments in his life, but he makes a story out of each experience. Many people can become famous for being talented, pretty, or athletic, but Neistat has become a sensation because he is relatable. In many of his videos, you may see him struggling to catch a flight, talking with his Uber driver, or grabbing a smoothie at his favorite juice bar just like any of us. But what goes beyond his relativity is his passion, drive, and wisdom.
As one of YouTube’s greatest storytellers, Neistat uses his experience as a way to inspire others, using the success of his platform to help others. In videos such as his collaboration with Nike, titled, “Make It Count”, he spent the entirety of his budget to travel around the world with a fellow film director Max Joseph over the course of ten days, filming the full scope of his experience. Traveling across 34,000 miles and 13 countries, he chose to go outside the box, and truly take to heart the meaning of Nike’s campaign. Using quotes from Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and Franklin Roosevelt, Neistat encourages the audience to make the most out of every dollar, experience, and minute on Earth. According to Mashable’s article about the advertisement, the video got 1.5 million views in less than three days.
Two and a half years ago, Neistat spoke as a keynote speaker at the TEDxParkerSchool event in Chicago, and what really stuck with me was his outlook on what he wished he had heard in high school. Throughout his advancements from dishwasher to fry cook, the way he kept himself motivated was by reminding himself that he was great at what he did, even if he wasn’t, because it gave him the opportunity to earn his way to the next, better job. He cherished all jobs he was given and managed to “work his way up the totem pole” to manage a studio. He risked it all by dropping that stable manager position to film an advertisement for Atkins, but he credits it for bringing him closer to his current job. Once he found his success, he said it was harder to find opportunities in “a place of comfort.” He left television and movies to join YouTube to continue to tell his stories without restrictions. This was probably his biggest risk, because the platform wasn’t as advanced as it was now. His talk reminds all of us that we have won the “lottery of life”, and we should cherish all of our winning moments.
Neistat’s character and morals haven’t changed from his prosperity. Now, Neistat is happily married to Candace Pool with their child, Francine, who is two. The avid runner just recently ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend, running the 13.1 miles in one hour, 23 minutes, and 58 seconds, which averages out to about a six minute, 24 second mile. Neistat was in 78th place for his age group, and 423rd out of the 27,461 finishers, putting the runner in the top 2% compared to all of the other competitors. Besides his running accomplishments, he has also won Streamys (an award for online videos) for Best Editing and Best First-Person Series. I don’t think Casey will ever stop moving, and he agrees. One of my favorite quotes from Neistat was when he was reflecting on his success, saying, “You know those days where you’re in a rush to get somewhere, and you catch every green light? That’s what it (the past decade) has felt like… I have no intention of slowing down.” Never stop doing what you love, Casey.
Here are some of my favorite videos of Casey to watch: