By Emma Riley
After waiting eagerly in line for over two hours, hundreds of students flooded into The Stamp’s Grand Ballroom to witness Casey Neistat’s sold-out lecture. Fans were not disappointed as the 36-year-old YouTube star and entrepreneur soon came onstage amidst a deafening roar of cheers and a sea of phones Snapchatting the event. The room quickly fell silent as Neistat began to speak about his life and his experiences.
Neistat began the lecture with a discussion about why college is the most important time in a person’s life. As someone who never attended college himself, Neistat spoke specifically to the age of college students. He noted this is the time of life when people are learning about who they are, who they want to become and what they want to do with their lives. He emphasized the importance of experiences, stating that in order to learn what you want to do, you have to figure out what you don’t want to do. He illustrated this point with a story about working as a dishwasher, ending with a joke about how everyone should work in a restaurant at some point in his or her life to understand why no one wants to do it.
Neistat made a point to emphasize that his success was based on luck. He stated, “No one knows anything. If there’s something you want, chase it down. No one knows how anything will manifest.” He made sure to point out that anyone can achieve what they work for, and that taking chances is the best way to live life. He related this to his own career, saying that “the best anyone can do is try.”
Neistat went on to discuss how he landed in the YouTube community and how he gained success in the media world. Much of it, he said, had to do with simply making videos about things he had a strong opinion about and they happened to go viral. Neistat emphasized that he tries to discuss universal topics, ideas that many people can relate to. He expressed that though this is important, it must be done in harmony with individuality. If someone else is already doing something, then someone else can’t come along and do the exact same thing and expect to gain a following.
When asked about social change and influence in today’s society by an audience member, Neistat said the internet is a “colorful space, both dangerous and exciting.” To him, this is because he believes anyone can have a voice and anyone has the potential to make their voice heard far and wide. In an earlier interview, Neistat mentioned with the potential to gain a following and be heard by so many comes a wealth of responsibility. As someone with millions of YouTube subscribers and Twitter followers, Neistat has to constantly be aware of what he says and does. He understand having a loud voice means not being negligent with his words and actions.
Upon being asked about whether working from home and maintaining his media presence was healthy for his family and relationships, Neistat quickly said “the short answer is no”. He said activities such as vlogging, which he does very often, are “all-consuming and put a huge strain on relationships”. Having to think constantly think about how you can capture and share exactly what it is you’re experiencing at every moment is incredibly draining. He also said exposure has been a problem for his family as well: trying to keep his home private and his family secure is immensely difficult.
Finally, when asked about what inspired him most in all his travels, Neistat had a lengthy yet beautiful response. He said it’s easy to romanticize travel, but after working with people whose homes have been destroyed, who live in a desolate area, or who are dying of sickness, that things like “losing a job or paying rent or having a dead phone battery seem like nothing in comparison. He said he believes the most impactful part of travel is the people, seeing their lives and hearing their stories, and experiencing their lives. It has given him a perspective of the world that would otherwise be a mystery.
He ended this response by saying: “It’s the harder experiences that travel has afforded me – not staying in fancy hotels in Singapore – it’s the harder experiences that I value tremendously.”
After just over an hour of interesting questions, comical videos, emotional backstories and insightful wisdom, Neistat left the stage to many more huge cheers. Amanda, a sophomore business major, stated after the show that “[Casey] is so easy to relate to. He’s so true to himself and what he does and he’s so successful because of it that I feel inspired – I feel confident that being myself will get me really far in my own career.” Everyone in the room seemed to share her opinions. The deafening cheers and the dozens of hands raised to ask Neistat questions was, to say the least, impressive. For anyone curious about what Neistat has coming soon, I’ll leave you with this question from the earlier interview:
“Anything in the future?”
“Everything in the future.”
Featured Photo Credit: Neistat speaks to a crowd of students. (Emma Riley/Bloc Photographer)
Emma Riley is a sophomore English and romance languages double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.