Quitting When You’re On Top

Casey Neistat racked up over 490 videos, 5.8 million subscribers, and hundreds of millions of views while daily vlogging.

And ten days ago he quit.

I started watching Casey when he was about two weeks into his daily vlog. I had never seen someone upload a video of their life every single day. It seemed like an exhausting enterprise, yet he made it look effortless. I discovered his channel through one of his office tour videos.

The first video in Casey’s vlog:

After catching up to real-time and watching a few more days I was hooked. I convinced my wife to start watching with me and together we would take breaks after lunch to watch the daily video, catch up on the go on our phone, or save a few up days worth of episodes and bing them over the weekend.

Part of the draw to his videos was that Casey lives in New York City a place I’d dearly love to be. The way he shared his perspective of living and working near Chinatown showed my favorite parts of urban life. Each video begins with a timelapse of NYC or whatever city Casey’s traveling to that day.

Another reason the videos were so addicting was Casey’s work ethic. He’s a married father of one, but kept hours like a single twenty-something startup coder. (He was in fact working on a startup that he sold this week to CNN for an estimated $25MM). And seeing someone so focused and excited about what they wake up every day to do is contagious. I had to stop watching the vlogs before bed because I would often be so amped up about my own projects I would toss and turn for an hour before finally being able to fall asleep.

I’d start each video with the thought of “What’s going to happen next?” One day he’s at the Oscars, another he’s having lunch with a fashion model, and another he’s jetting off to Australia in an amazing first class cabin with access to a shower.

I’ve tried watching other daily vloggers, but none were able to match Casey’s mixture of adventure, energy, storytelling, and editing ability.

The end of the vlog

Looking back after the news of Beme’s sale this week it makes sense that he was working toward this transition, but couldn’t share about it in video or social channels.

The final video:

In his final vlog Casey re-hared his reasons for starting a vlog: to challenge himself creatively and force himself to keep growing and evolving.

He then revealed his reasons for ending the vlog: the process had become too easy and not challenging enough. It was no longer a “creative fist fight” to produce the vlog.

All of these reasons made sense. I agree with the idea of making a change when the thing you’re doing no longer aligns with your focus or what you want out of life. And I applaud Casey for realizing this and quitting while he was on top.

Cheers Casey, and I’m excited to see what you come up with next to challenge yourself!