closes casy
image/Gair Maxwell

When J.P. first introduced us, I didn’t understand Casey at all.

Could not grasp or understand his deal – what this New Yorker was all about and why he was posting so many daily, “day-in-the-life” YouTube videos.

Could not figure out who would watch or why anyone would care.

Could not comprehend the business reasons for doing what he was doing.

It’s not the first time in recorded history that a human has failed to instantly recognize genius in another.

Thankfully, I have J.P. in my corner.

Taking a page from Green Eggs and Ham, 17-year-old J.P. would not, could not  give up on this 50+, too quick to judge boomer.

With conviction and persistence, J.P. played the role of a latter-day Sam-I-Am, forced me to pay attention to the future and watch more Casey videos the next day.

The ones he produced and uploaded for NIKE, Samsung and Mercedes-Benz.

For a most handsome fee.

Finally, I was able to clue in and fully recognize the genius and future implications of Casey Neistat and his work.

The producer of over 700 video blogs and other films, Neistat is a 35-year old high school dropout who combines Seussian-story-telling skills with an Einstein-like appreciation of what the universe holds for YouTube, the web, modern-day marketing and personal branding. Since he launched it 18 months ago, Neistat’s channel has amassed more than 1 billion views, making him one of the most wildly popular personalities on the platform.

And just ten short days ago, Casey decided to close the door.


Just when he is at the top of his game, and still growing with more than 5.6 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

Casey is calling it a wrap to his daily video blog (aka “The Vlog”), the centrepiece of an online strategy that has made him world-famous and rich in so many ways beyond money, fame and notoriety.

This time, however, I am paying extremely close attention to what Casey’s doing and why he is doing it.

You might want to watch his final episode as well, if for no other reason to see how this major decision relates to your own station in life and what the future might hold on your quest for personal and professional reinvention.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”




Casey comes clean at the 2:29 mark.

He had found his rhythm to the point where he could do these daily vlogs in his sleep.

“The creative challenge faded away and something easier took its place”

Have you ever noticed that any level of professional or creative success has a way of breeding complacency?

The kind that ultimately destroys a creative pursuit and that feeling of being fully, freaking ALIVE!!!!!

You get successful, so you get comfortable. You run on autopilot. You stop taking creative risks. You start trading time for a rent check and stop feeling fulfilled by your life’s work. Creative veterans like Neistat know that, when this feeling comes around, it’s time to reinvent yourself and seek out something new, something a little bit dangerous. Otherwise, you will sign up for a slump that could last years… and before you knowit you wind up in a rut; the equivalent of a grave with the ends kicked out.

Complacency is the “silent killer” that has destroyed many a promising career – including mine back in the radio and television broadcasting years of the 1990’s.

What areas of your personal or professional life  are in danger of succumbing to the insidious, invisible disease called Complacency?


Casey spells it out at the 3:41 mark.

“I have to KILL this before I can give birth to what’s next”

To his credit, Neistad makes a bold decision to leave the comfort zone of the familiar and trade it in for a much less traveled path called uncertainty and risk. Knowing that there is never a 19-year old who would ever volunteer to sign up for a painfully slow, soul-killing professional death, Casey rediscovers the passion his younger self would bring to the table by making this leap into the unknown.

Which might be the safest and best move he could make.

To his credit, the man who went snowboarding in February with the NYPD has recognized that reaching the summit of any craft or profession is not enough. There are always more mountains to climb – even for someone who conquered a Digital Everest, but that will never happen unless there is a degree of risk involved.

The alternative is to enjoy the view from the plateau.

Is there something in Casey’s story that’s whispering to the 19-year-old still inside of you about new mountains you might want to climb before this game is over?


p.s… I am taking solace today in the knowledge that I am not the only guy on the planet who didn’t instantly recognize genius -even what it was pointed out and staring me in the face. TIME magazine called him the “Man of the 20th Century, yet even with a teaching diploma in physics, Albert Einstein could not find work in academia and was thwarted by his initial efforts to attain a doctoral degree. Instead, the father of modern physics worked as a clerk at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property patent office in Bern, Germany in 1903 – two years before he introduced his Special Theory of Relativity. But, forget about splitting the atom for a moment and consider the story of Theodor S. Geisel, who was rejected by 27 publishers before his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published in 1937. Geisel would end up selling more than 600 million books under the pen name of Dr. Seuss.

Same thing happened to J.K. Rowling as many publishers rejected Harry Potter because it was too long for a children’s book. Executives at NBC initially passed on Seinfeld for having incomplete plot lines and unlikeable characters. They felt  it didn’t fit the mold of how a comedy or a sitcom is supposed to run. As it turns out “the show about nothing” wound up producing 180 episodes over 9 seasons and went out on top with the final episode on May 14, 1998 which attracted an audience of over 76 million viewers.


p.p.s…The aforementioned J.P. is a soon-to-be 19-year old first year student at the University of Ottawa where he juggles a heavy study schedule with his passion for creating on-line videos. I am grateful that he still considers me as a subject worth experimenting with as he continues to perfect his video story-telling craft.

p.p.p.s… If you want to go off the Internet deep end explore what Neistat has been up to, you can connect with Casey Neistat on his website, watch his YouTube videos, and follow him on Twitter

Originally published in the The Reinvention Chronicles.

Gair’s critically-acclaimed book, “NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS” waits patiently for you at and His newest E-Book, “THE REINVENTION CODE” – 7 Timeless Secrets to Unlock New Beginnings in Business & Life is available as a free download

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