Where I find my digital inspiration

I had a coffee with a friend of mine a couple months back, and we discussed our careers and digital and marketing and social media, and we discussed the things and people who inspire.

We’re close to the same age. We both work in TV news. And I think we both are pretty danged sharp with ambitions to maintain our edge.

I thought about sending him a note with all of this, but then I thought, “Are you crazy? This is perfect fodder for a blog.” (I’ll send him the link though!)

And then we (both) had lots of big news to cover, such as severe weather, wildfires and this week’s Oklahoma teacher walkout. I’m also involved with the Redbud Classic as part of its board of directors, and I recently accepted a spot on the JayMac board of directors for the University of Oklahoma, my alma mater. Actually, I accepted that months ago and have yet to be able to attend a meeting with the flu getting me last go-round.

All of this has me super excited and sounds like a humblebrag, except that I have to admit: I work hard and go go go, and I’ll eventually get really tired tired tired and need to recharge. And when I need to recharge, I really need to recharge. I need sleep. I need healthy food. I need lots of water (or a couple beers). I need to run. I need to meditate. I need to create.

And I need inspiration.

I wrote about my passion for running recently, so now I’ll tell you about my inspirations. These are the people who pick me up on a regular basis.

My original digital sensei was Gary Vaynerchuk. I met him at Google’s New York City offices back in 2016 as part of this group I belonged to called The Conference Board. Although Gary is famous for selfies with fans, I didn’t ask for one because I’m a bit shy and embarrassed to ask, and I was genuinely satisfied getting to meet him and ask him questions. There were about 15 of us in the room, and we peppered him with questions.

Gary_Vaynerchuk_(2015)
Jeremy Smerd, Executive Editor of Crain’s New York Business hosts Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO at VaynerMedia for Too Good To Fail at Internet Week HQ on Day 2 of Internet Week 2015 in New York May 19, 2015. Insider Images/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES)

One digital communications professional worked for a firm that sells military equipment, and she asked how social media could be used to market a B-2 bomber, for example — and he proceeded to tell her. And he was absolutely right. What’s crazy is that he’d be the first to admit, as founder and owner of Vayner Media, that not even half of his big-name clients go all in on digital content as he’d wish they did. I say that to say: not even Gary Vee’s proclamations were likely enough to cause that pro’s boss to consider Instagram as a platform for telling stories about B-2 bombers.

But Gary goes all in, and his content is fantastic. His books are useful. And I’ve consumed them all to the point that nothing he’s saying in 2018 is new to me. I’m pretty sure I could write Gary Vee fan fiction at this point. Mostly, I listen to the “GaryVee Audio Experience” podcast or watch his YouTube videos. But if you don’t know this guy and you need the basics for how to do digital or entrepreneurship in 2018, spend time consuming all his content.

And then do.

This just happens to be his most recent video. I went to his channel to find one that epitomizes his personality, and I didn’t need to look far. This is quintessential Gary.

What makes Vaynerchuk especially inspiring to me is that his philosophies on life and the way he treats people are aligned with the values to which I aspire. It’s basically: work hard, be self-aware and be kind. And that’s it.

However, he’s not the digital personality I’m most into right this second.

That would be Casey Neistat.

Casey is much less tactical in terms of what he tells you and much more tactical in what he shows you. If you’re not familiar with Casey, he’s a videographer who had an HBO show and then became a YouTube star with 9.2M subscribers, many of which were earned when he started daily vlogging a few years ago.

It helps that he’s a fantastic videographer and storyteller.

He’s a stellar digital marketer because he understands the need for delivering content often. To the extreme. Quantity IS important.

Casey Neistat
Casey Neistat

The inspiration is in seeing him create this content day after day after day, knowing full well that he accomplishes other things in life and business, enjoying it and understanding that there is as much magic in consistent content creation as there is in the high-level art that is his videography.

What you want to learn then is: what are the efficiencies in shooting, writing, production and — heck — life that can allow you to achieve at such a high level? I get that from other folks as you’ll read here momentarily, but I digress.

Casey Neistat has a tremendous energy, and he has started a new daily vlog called 368, named for a collaborative space he’s opening for YouTubers and others in New York City. It’s short for 368 Broadway, which is in lower Manhattan. I don’t know exactly what it will entail exactly, but Neistat’s is a brand I trust to offer entertainment and video inspiration.

I’ve seen two episodes so far, and it feels a little more like a digital-TV hybrid, as in: what if Casey’s daily vlogs were made for episodic television. Here’s the first episode:

Another inspiration as a fellow named Tim Ferriss, best known as a podcaster and author, who gained fame writing the book ‘4-Hour Workweek,’ ‘4-Hour Body‘ and most recently ‘Tribe of Mentors.’ I own the latter and have read some of the two former. ‘Tribe of Mentors’ is a fantastic encyclopedia of life advice from hundreds of successful people in a wide variety of occupations.

And that’s what Ferriss’s podcast is about: breaking down big concepts into bite-sized chunks for self improvement, tactics that people can do each and every day. And in my case, I pick and choose what I can and want to apply in my own life. For example, he turned me on to mushroom coffee. Sure, it was an advertisement, but Ferriss talked a lot about Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee “lighting you up like a Christmas tree.”

Let’s be real. I love me some coffee, but the primary appeal is that it wakes your ass up.

I tried the coffee, and it was fantastic. It even tasted good, and I didn’t expect mushroom coffee to taste anything beyond gross.

Tim Ferriss

My favorite episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast ever was his interview with Terry Crews, former NFL player, actor and author of the book, ‘Manhood: How to Be a Better Man — or Just Live with One.’ I won’t delve into it much, but Crews became one of my favorite people after listening to him talk for 45 minutes. Fantastic human being.

So, as you’ve been able to glean, I mostly listen to podcasts and watch YouTube. I don’t do a lot of television, and while I read books more than I do watch TV, I don’t do either all that much. On the other hand, I do listen to audio books on Audible. My two most recent selections have been “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance and “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.

My belief is: consume content how you’d like, and don’t let anybody tell you that watching videos or listening to audio books is inferior. The grand arbitrage in 2018 is time and latching onto anything that can help us save it while at the same time doing more.

Speaking of podcasts, my first one was “WTF,” the vehicle that re-launched Marc Maron‘s career. To be perfectly honest, I rarely listen to his interviews. I mostly like his monologues before the main event.

I also listen to several other podcasts on the regular, including “Marketing School” with Neil Patel and Eric Siu, “ProBloggeer Podcast” with Darren Rowse, “The Life Coach School” with Brooke Castillo, the “YouTube Creators Hub Podcast” with Dusty Porter and “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter. Each one of these podcasts fits a pocket of my life and my interests. They get heard in the car during my commute to work each morning.

Likewise, there are a lot of other YouTube channels I follow pretty religiously, including one from an up-and-comer named Amy Landino. Her primary expertise is vlogging, as evidenced by the book that made her famous, ‘Vlog Like A Boss: How To Kill It Online with Video Blogging.’ However, her channel is mostly focused on tactics that help you become more productive. Work productive. Life productive.

Amy is a more tactical version of another digital marketer I like named Marie Forleo. Both refer to their channels as “X-TV,” as in “Amy TV” and “Marie TV.” Forleo used to be much more tactical in her content relative to business and marketing, but I’m sensing that she’s shifting to more of an Oprah-like personality that’s directed much more toward women.

So, I’m way more Team Amy at this moment.

There are several YouTube-centric vlogs I follow, including channels from “Video Creators,” “Video Influencers,” “TubeBuddy,” and a pair of channels from Nick Nimmin and Brian G. Johnson. All of it is super educational for anybody interested in creating video content meant to grow an audience.

I’m also a pretty regular viewer of Peter McKinnon’s fine work on YouTube. The best way I can think of to describe him is as the Canadian version of Casey Neistat. What both he and McKinnon have in common is that they’re tremendous videographers.

Anyway, I don’t spend all my time consuming this content. I listen to it during commutes or watch it while I’m unwinding from the day. Most of the books I buy from folks who inspire me are ones that I use as resource guides or for when I need a kick in the butt. For example, I think I need to spend a few minutes this weekend with Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crushing It’ just so I can get back on track after a long week in the newsroom.

Ten minutes of inspiration from folks who know what they’re doing in the digital space is all you need.

I’d love to know who or what inspires you!

I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter (@ryanwelton) or subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please – and thank you!

 

 

 

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