10 Lessons I Learned from Casey Neistat’s Guide to Life

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 11/24/15 •  8 min read

For the last couple years I’ve been a huge fan of Casey Neistat.

Every time I get ready to take a trip, I get really excited about vlogging, telling stories, and I turn to his videos for inspiration.

It seems like lately he’s been hitting the mainstream even more, as almost every day something he has done is popping up somewhere in my life.

If you haven’t heard of him, maybe you’ve seen this:

Recently, I came across a video one of his fans put together that I hadn’t seen. It was Called “A Guide to Life.”

It’s over half an hour long, and in the last 24 hours I’ve now watched it three times.

This is coming from the guy who has an attention span so short, that he’s never been able to sit through an entire TED talk.

That’s saying something.

All of Casey’s videos are inspiring and well done, and I’ve never seen anyone who can make a daily 8 minute vlog so entertaining.

But this one hit on a few key things that I’ve found myself struggling with a lot since I started working for myself. Or more specifically, since I’ve become successful working for myself.

Much of it is stuff we all know, but rarely take to heart. So to hear it from a guy who works harder than just about anyone I’ve ever seen, and has the success to prove it? I found this unbelievably motivating.

Do yourself a favor and watch the whole video, it really is that good – but in the meantime I wanted to share 10 of the things that had the greatest impact on me.

Here it is:

1) It’s easier to steer a moving vehicle

Every once in awhile I hit a period of time where I don’t feel like I’m moving things forward and I end up just chilling in maintenance mode for awhile

That’s a really scary place to be, because once you lose that forward momentum, it gets much tougher to get things going again.

Another way of putting it, is it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle. It’s kind of like trying to start pedaling a bike in a high gear. It’s really difficult to get the wheels turning.

But if you’re already moving to begin with, it becomes much easier.

Moral of the story? Don’t stagnate. Do something. Do anything, and adjust on the fly.

Time where you can find this: 10:30

2) Right now, is go time.

“I’m never going to get any younger, but right now I’m completely healthy, I’m full of energy, and who knows how long this will last. I doubt I’ll be feeling that when I’m 50 or 60 years old – so I want to do it, now.”

Ever since I first heard him say this, every time I’m being lazy I think to myself “it’s never going to get any easier.”

If you have big things you want to do in life, or even little things for that matter, the time to take action on them will always be right now.

Time: 11:35

3) Life shrinks and expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risk

When I left my job and moved to Thailand I felt like I was taking a big risk. When I launched Location Rebel, I felt like I was taking a risk.

When I bought a house, same thing.

If you’re not taking risks in life, you’re not living it. The less risk you take, the less fulfilling your life will be at the end of it.

Risks can be scary, but you know how many times the absolute worst case scenario has happened in my life? Zero.

Time: 4:00

4) If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong

He specifically talks about this as it relates to creative work.

I’ve seen so many people start blogs that are simply trying to model what has already been done in the past…like a bajillion times.

Sure there are marketing tactics or promotion strategies that could work for you – but in the end, if you don’t have something that separates yourself from what everyone else is doing? You’re going to fail.

Time: 2:10

5) You can supplement sleep with exercise

He said this in kind of a “working theory” kind of way, but I liked it, and I think there’s something to it.

The gist is, that you can supplement sleep with exercise.

So if you normally get 8 hours of sleep, you can instead sleep 6 hours and exercise the other two and feel more rested, have more energy, and generally feel better.

I might need to test this theory out.

Time: 0:50

6) The Tarzan Method

Nothing in life is going to be handed to you in a straight line, the straight line does not exist.

Rather, most of the time you’re implementing the “Tarzan Method.”

The Tarzan Method

You swing from one branch in one direction to a different branch in a different direction, but the whole time you’re making incremental progress towards your end goal.

As an example, many of the people I work with or who join Location Rebel immediately want a passive income business building niche sites.

There’s no straight line to having this, and it’s generally a difficult thing to create.

By starting first with a blog, and then swinging over to another branch to learn some skills, and then to another where you start freelancing, and on and on – you’re getting closer to your end goal, but doing it by taking different semi-related steps to get you there.

Time: 24:45

7) Want to know how to get yourself out of a rut? Work.

This goes back to the concept of the moving vehicle we talked about earlier.

Feeling depressed? Going through a bad breakup? Hate your job?

Whatever the problem is, you can get out of this rut simply by working.

I can relate to this personally.

The times when I’m in a rut are usually due to the fact I haven’t been able to motivate myself to work or be productive.

When I do? I feel better.

The more you work, the more you create, the more you progress – the better you feel. Pretty simple, actually.

Time: 26:32

8) Free time is the enemy of progress

Free time is the enemy of progress.

You might be sensing a theme with some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from this.

Many of them simply come back to doing the work.

By having more things to do than you have time to do them, you’ll never be bored, and always have something to drive you forward.

For some, in practice this could lead to stress, overwhelm, and ultimately not taking any action at all – but I think the concept makes sense.

Always have more stuff to do – then learn how to balance your free time appropriately. And specifically, make sure you’re spending your free time deliberately.

As an entrepreneur I will always have things I could or should be doing. Always. Learning to manage that, while still having a life outside of work is an important lesson.

Time: 3:13

9) The best way to find what you love in life, is by doing something that you hate

People have asked me in the past if I could go back and change my past, would I have skipped college and not gotten into my job in the first place?

Many expect me to say yes.

But I wouldn’t trade either of those experiences for anything.

The few years I spent at my day job, constantly dreaming of something I would enjoy more, is what motivated me early on to grow this business, and what keeps me motivated to continue building it.

If I hadn’t ever known what that unhappiness felt like, it’d be much easier to fall into the trap of comfort and routine that traditional employment so often affords.

Time: 18:55

10) Why it’s never ok to complain: there is always someone who has it worse than you do

My whole life I’ve generally been a pretty positive person.

Sure we all complain about small things from time to time, but to be honest, I live an extraordinarily blessed life.

I really have no right to complain about anything.

There will always be annoyances or frustrations, some minor, some major – but the reality is, I’ve got it better than the vast majority of people in the world.

And if you’re reading this? You probably do too.

Keep that in perspective next time you’re complaining about the traffic, the weather, or how tired you’re feeling.

Time: 21:20

Ever Wanted to Try and Get in Touch with an Influencer Like Casey?

What Are You Building Today?

I’m the kind of person that loves personal development stuff.

Even listening to the rehashed stuff I already know can motivate me a ton to get off my ass.  Casey’s stuff and this video hits the perfect balance of good general life lessons, new ideas, and entertainment that I enjoy the most.

Hopefully you got at least one pearl of wisdom from this post that you’ll be able to apply to your life and business.

What’s the one thing that hit you the most in this video? How are you going to apply it in your own life? 

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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16 comments on "10 Lessons I Learned from Casey Neistat’s Guide to Life"

  1. Garin says:

    I’m a big Casey Neistat fan. I was stoked to see this article this morning!

    I’ve learned this year that hard work is the solution to most problems.

    1. Garin says:

      BTW reddit just posted this video of Casey today. Also very inspirational- about when he pulled the trigger and moved to NYC on a whim to start his filmmaking career. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPH7eIVahIM

  2. Renee says:

    #9 is one I learned through experience and have shared with my adult kids and younger siblings. “There’s nothing better that lights a fire under your *ss to move towards your dreams like a sh*tty job/career.” A boss once told me that people will be motivated to do things for two reasons, avoidance of pain or pursuit of pleasure… a crappy job is a great motivator to figure out what you want and get up and work for it.

  3. Great stuff here Sean – thanks! You know I’m going to jump all over #5 (You can supplement sleep with exercise). I couldn’t agree more. The benefits of exercise are far beyond what we typically think they are, especially as entrepreneur’s. Exercise gives us the energy to continue to steer that moving vehicle forward AND get it going again at times when it comes to a stop. Taking on risk requires confidence and what better way to create and increase confidence than through exercise? And as we swing from branch to branch, making incremental progress towards our end goal, we need the strength to make sure we can hang on and keep swinging which again, exercise gives us. I could go on and one here. Exercise is that well known secret weapon that everyone knows about but so few take advantage of. Great to see Casey exposing this idea even more so. BTW – I do hope you test this theory out 🙂 Cheers!

  4. Brad says:

    Great video Sean, and I like the points that you picked out to highlight. I especially like numbers 1& 7. Some time in the past you had written a post and one of the points went along with them was “Feeling Stuck? Just Do Something.” Your point went on from there of course, but it’s great advice, and something I needed to hear today.

  5. J.D. Meier says:

    One thing that’s helped me is the simple reminder that when you’re dead, you get to sleep a long time.

    So make the most of what you’ve got while you’ve got it.

    Related, I’ve found the best way to make the most of what you’ve got is to try to do what you can uniquely do from where you are. For example, a unique thing to do in Sedona is to cross Devil’s Bridge.

  6. Martin says:

    Honestly, I never heard of him until today. Thanks for sharing this.

    “Free time is the enemy of progress.”

    This is very true. The more I have going on, the more I get done. Free time is usually spent scrolling through Instagram and Twitter waiting for something to respond to.

  7. Chris Autumn says:

    Good job – thanks for compiling it and making me aware of the video.

  8. Jeremy G says:

    Sleep supplementing exercise is personal, haha. It may work on some, but there are too many variables involved. Let me know how it goes 🙂

    Also, free time is not the enemy of progress. I guess that depends how you define “free time”, but as a creative, my best ideas come in the blank spaces in life. The 20 minute walks, the thirty minutes waiting for a meeting, the ride back from the gym.

    The older I get, the more I try to get comfortable with my own thoughts. Staying busy every second of everyday can take away from you truly getting to know yourself. If we use our free time to think about the right things, then it’s better than any external progress imaginable.

  9. Tom says:

    Great summary Sean!

    Love Casey and his videos and now his Life Philosophy 🙂

    Will add into my sharing schedule.


  10. Patrick says:

    I dunno, I think #5 would kill me… I need my sleep, man! I already work out so I think skipping out on 2 hours of sleep to exercise even more would be the end of me.

  11. Eric says:

    Cool points, but not sure about the exercise versus sleep thing. I do know that exercise will supercharge your efforts and make you feel good though!

  12. Andrew says:

    Hard to take someone seriously if they believe they won’t have energy at 50

    Age has nothing to do with it

  13. Eric T. says:

    Casey is fun to watch but I take what he says about life and success with a grain of salt. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, or aspire to be one, then a lot of what he claims is key to success will probably apply to you.

    Not everyone can own his/her own business. The vast majority of us, in fact, work for someone else. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I often feel like some of Casey’s comments are indirectly accusatory –that you’re a failure as a person generally if you’re not “hustling” through life or that you have a lot of free time.

    I like my free time. I relish it, in fact. And while I my life didn’t take the path I thought it would, that doesn’t make it a failure. It makes it different than I expected, that’s all. You can make a niche for yourself in life that doesn’t have to involve fame or fortune. That’s not failure. That’s a different path that works for you.

    And, frankly, to say that you can replace sleep with exercise is ridiculous. It’s scientifically proven that we all need about 6-8 hours of sleep to function. Any less, and we’re effectively as impaired as someone who’s had a few drinks. Sleep deprivation literally damages the brain…permanently. It’s not something you can “catch up” on later. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

  14. Casey Taylor says:

    The one thing that hit me the most in this video was:
    The Tarzan Method.
    It’s great advice because it 100% makes perfect sense.
    I never looked at it that way before and I feel fortunate for reading this.
    It has opened my eyes to the fact that this is an online journey.
    One step at a time.
    Appreciated the article – thank you.

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