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10 Most Valuable Lessons I have learned from Casey Neistat

Sep 4, 2023

After a successful five years in the commercial film industry and receiving multiple awards, it seemed like my career was set for tv commercials. However in 2016, it was a conversation with Casey Neistat on top of a mountain in Cape Town that changed the way I would perceive the future of media. Casey Neistat is regarded as the ‘Godfather of YouTube’ accumulating over 3 billion views on his YouTube channel which has an impressive 12 Million Subscribers. He was the recipient of the ‘British GQ New Media Star of the Year’ in 2016, as well as the co-creator of his HBO series ‘The Neistat Brothers’ which is a docu-series about the coming of age of him and his brother Van. He is also the recipient of 14 ‘Streamy Awards’, 2 ‘YouTube Creator Awards’ as well as nominee for the ‘Creator of the Decade’ Shorty Award.


While on this hike in Cape Town; Casey proposed an idea – a leap of faith if you will – for me to leave the traditional film industry and move to New York to help him build his new company, ‘368’ a hub for YouTubers and creators to collaborate, share ideas and grow their channels together, as well as assist him in creating his daily vlogs. In exchange he would mentor me in the world of YouTube.


Although a daunting request, the opportunity was one that was extremely difficult to turn down, so I left my fast growing trajectory in the traditional world and took the biggest gamble in my career (thank god I did take Casey up on his offer).

Casey has taught me so much, and drastically impacted my career as a filmmaker. Therefore, in today’s blog I am going to outline the 10 Most Valuable Lessons I have learned from Casey Neistat.


1. A fool sleeps when he’s tired, a wiseman sleeps every moment he can

If you need something and don’t know what it is it’s probably sleep. Casey believes that your best work is done first thing in the morning, while your mind is fresh – your ‘cup of creativity’ slowly drains out through the day. However balancing everything he has to do, requires him to wake up at around 5am and get to bed at 1 or 2am and some nights not sleep at all (When we were actively daily vlogging). Casey taught me the valuable lesson of sleeping every moment you can. In a cab, in an airport, sometimes even before a large speech began and the room filled up we would lie on the chairs and get a good 30 mins in. I am not saying this is healthy, but to optimize workflow, it definitely works. 

2. Free is the Most Expensive

It sounds counterintuitive but it’s true. Be wary of Brands / people who offer you free things, especially when they’d otherwise be costly. Nothing is ever free. It’s the law of equivalent exchange; accepting free things places you in a position where you now ‘owe’ something . Don’t allow yourself to get into ‘favor debt’, this can drastically hinder your credibility as a filmmaker. I rather skip the red tape and buy the product, it’s cheaper in the end.   

3. Family First

Family is Casey’s number one priority, no matter how busy, he has a strict rule whereby 18:00 he’d wrap up to go home to have private family time, then once they’ve gone to bed, jump on his boosted board, drive back to the studio and shout at me for everything I’ve done wrong with the edit, haha.  Family should always come first. As a new dad,  prioritizing my alone time with my wife and little Seth is extremely important not only for our relationship, but also to prevent burnout in my workflow. (This is something we will explore in-depth in a blog to follow). Improved emotional and social support plays a massive role in moderating between absolute exhaustion and personal well-being. This allows Casey to maintain peak performance in his workflow and achieve the best results possible in all aspects of his life.

4. Unless a meeting involves food, don’t attend

Efficiency is extremely important to Casey. He is extraordinarily organized. Time is money and in order to make the most out of his time he prioritizes killing two birds with one stone. If he has a meeting scheduled in the afternoon, he will make sure it is during his lunch break. This optimizes the output he can generate with his time. This is a simple notion that I now employ in my daily routine. Do the most efficient tasks that will generate the most rewarding outcome. Also, don’t forget to eat, and drink enough water.

5. You can never have enough Gaffer Tape

Casey’s studio is iconic, it has everything he needs to create a video on the fly. He ensures that everything he needs is ready and well organized to prevent him from having to travel to the store to get anything he may need. Of all the tools he uses, none is as important and valuable as Gaffer Tape. Inevitably while creating videos, things will go wrong. Having gaffer tape on hand is crucial to fix literally anything. I guess he learnt this the hard way by wrecking more cameras in a week than I have in my lifetime as a filmmaker. From balancing a tripod on a ladder dangling 20 floors up, to sticking a gopro to the roof, gaffer tape allows Casey to act instinctively and maintain a flow state whilst creating. At my Production Company, JOE, in Cape Town we have a monthly order of  gaffer tape on retainer. It is used daily for all sorts of tasks. It is the one tool every filmmaker NEEDS to have at all times.

6. Shut up and make something

Casey reacts immediately to any situation that will make a compelling video. He’d literally throw a camera at me and say ‘follow me’. Next minute we’d be off filming a Drone that can deliver pizza. He doesn’t over overthink anything, He just ACTS. The rise of content consumption is becoming more and more present within our daily lives. The average person spends 4 Hours and 49 Minutes on social media every day. That is 73 days in a year! Imagine if that time was converted from consumption into creation. It has become increasingly common for ‘armchair commentators’ to have opinions on art but do not create anything in their spare time. Shut up and make something. A fancy camera is not preventing you from telling a good story. Stop consuming and go create.

7. Views are not a metric for success 

Although super successful on YouTube, the views were and still are not the priority for Casey. They came as a result of his masterful storytelling, but were not the driving force behind his motivation to make films. For Casey the love of filmmaking and telling a story far outweighs the thrill of checking his YouTube analytics daily. Casey did not monetize his daily vlog until much later in his YouTube career, by doing this it allowed him to create freely. Not having to worry about if this video would perform better than the last and so forth. Metrics like AVD (average view duration) and CTR (click-through-rate) were not what influenced the content Casey would create. His underlying love and passion for filmmaking is what drove him to create a daily vlog every single day for 800 days. Try not to get bogged down in the perpetual cycle of sensationalism, this will force you to make choices on behalf of the audience and force you to do stuff that may be against your brand image and values.

8. Run!

80,300 Miles or 3.2 Laps around the earth. That is how far Casey has run since he was 20. He runs 10 miles EVERY SINGLE DAY. Running allows Casey to escape his busy world. We would often make the joke that people like to run away from their problems. With Casey, running allowed him to fix his problems. He could take time to regather his thoughts and find a way to solve the problem. Running is something that I have tried to implement more consistently in my daily life and is definitely something I regret not starting sooner.

9. Never advance at the expense of someone else

Relationships are crucial in the film industry. The way we conduct ourselves on set, collaborate with others and express our ideas are ultimately what makes us likely to succeed. Never EVER try to advance your career through someone else’s misfortune or failure. It can have a devastating long-term effect on your relationships in the industry as well as make you seem like a d*ck. The only failures you should capitalise from are your own. The only failure is not learning from your failures, finding a way to use your mishaps as a launchpad to take criticism, understanding what you can do better so you can propel yourself in the right direction. But never ever place someone in the firing line for your own benefit, the effects are more detrimental than you expect.

10. Share your fails

Everyone has failed more than once in their life. I mean while writing this I can think of 10 personal failures this year alone, and learning from these is what makes me better at what I do. A compelling story will never be a full success. We have to experience times of struggle. 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Casey Neistat’s influence on my career as a filmmaker has been invaluable. His lessons have taught me the importance of prioritizing sleep, being wary of free offerings, and putting family first. Additionally, he has emphasized the significance of efficiency, resourcefulness with tools like gaffer tape, taking action and creating instead of just consuming and overthinking, focusing on storytelling rather than views, the power of running for mental clarity, maintaining integrity in relationships, and embracing failure as a means of growth. These lessons have not only shaped my professional journey but have also enriched my personal life.

Casey, I know you are reading this and I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me! Love you my brother! 


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119 Comments

  1. I love that you’ve bucked the trend of assuming your reader/watcher has no attention span, and needs fast cuts, minimal content, and eye-catching candy. What a pleasure it’s going to be to just take a few minutes to quietly read something. I hope it’s as satisfying for you as it was for me reading this. Thank you!

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    • I can read this again and again, woow… Well written 💯

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      • Reubs my bru! I will always appreciate you! Thank you.

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    • This was actually super cool to read. This will be the first blog I actually follow cause I see the value upfront and not some weird sales tactics lol.

      Anyways I really enjoyed it and every single lesson is EXTREMELY important and I wish that I could have experienced them first hand. Hopefully one day I can meet you and have a chat about all this and more and share similar lessons and get more perspective. Looking forward to the next one.

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      • Tuhafeni bru! So chuffed you enjoyed it, be sure to subscribe to the mailer to ensure you don’t miss any upcoming blog posts, there is some crazy value coming up!

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        • Wow thank you so much Dan for this blog post. Can’t wait for the next one. Much love 🫶🏼Keep it up!

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          • Tessa-Ann! So excited you like the post, you definitely don’t want to miss the next one!

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          • You two are GOATed!!!🐐🔥 Much love!

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        • Hey Dan!

          Awesome to see your brand being brought to life through a blog and seeing some BTS of your lessons with Casey.

          Am sure some lessons from SA traditional industry to YouTube to ECD for MrBeast has been a ride and can’t wait for all the stories and inner workings we don’t see in the final edits on your channel,

          Best Wishes for Brutally Honest and amped for the next one.

          Justin Beswick
          Johannesburg 😎👍

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    • Steve! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog post!

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    • Dan, thank you for the extensive masterclass you have brought us here. Many people, including myself, collect notes on the lifestyle non-negotiables that great achievers have and inspect them to figure out where and how they can be implemented. As an 18 year old, just in the baby steps of my career as a creative professional; I thank you for this and can assure you it provides real value!! -Brody

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    • Thank you so much, Steve! Content and entertainment these days moves so quickly. You have to capture your audience quickly to stand out from the rest.

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    • Exactly, Steve! Capturing and getting your audience engaged is crucial. A lot of this does come from being honest and relatable.

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  2. Thanks for taking time and sharing. I really enjoyed this. I had my YouTube channels since 2008. Last year I started over. With 600 uploads I’ve since set private. I’ve decide I would try one more time. Now I have a better idea I believe of how to build success. I make car content and share my journeys of restoring Vintage Volkswagens. My channel was all over the place previously. I’m hoping by staying on one subject I will have a little more success. If you have any advice I would love to hear it. Take care and stay creative.

    Bill Childress
    YT Rusty Dubbs

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    • Bill! Stoked to hear you are going to be taking YouTube more seriously, stay tuned because I will be releasing a blog very soon exploring 10 things MrBeast taught me to go viral on YouTube!

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    • Wow! What amazing and refreshing comments from a young head. Most people double your age have not learnt these valuable insights if at all in their life …

      My advise is to keep teaching and passing on these lessons to the next generation.

      Remember it’s not your intention that determines your destination but the path that you are on….

      Good luck 🔥🏆🙏👍

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      • Norman! I’m so glad my content can appeal to an audience of all ages! You’re awesome bru! I appreciate the kind words!

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        • 🤣👍🏆

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    • I am so happy this has helped you, Bill! Don’t ever stop your storytelling. It will be tough but as storytellers we push through to create and grow. You need to be confident within yourself and your stories to share them. Take pride in your creative art and make those YouTube videos public and share your story!

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  3. Thanks Dan for sharing this invaluable insights.

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    • Pleasure my bru! 🙂

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  4. Awsome bro, ps this is me the d!ckhead dude (dm fb), lol appreciate you and keep rocking bro. All the best

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    • Haha thanks, Brian! All the best to you too.

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  5. I’ve watched you both for years and appreciate you sharing your experience learning from the best. Keep it up Bru!

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    • I appreciate the kind words Troy, you’re awesome bru!

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  6. Dan Mace, you too are insanely inspiring! I will be reading as well going forward. Sorry I didn’t meet you when you were in the city, but maybe there’s still time. Keep ’em coming Bru!!

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    • Appreciate you Reed!

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  7. Great tips, Dan. I’d love to pick his and your brain one day. Casey also inspired me to travel and record videos, and few years later became a YouTuber! Thanks for sharing this.

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    • I appreciate your support Sergio! So glad I could be an inspiration for you! Keep going.

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  8. Additional tip…
    Don’t eat chilli chocolate. (If you know, you know)

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    • Hahaha! How could I forget 😭

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  9. Amazing morning read with the cup of coffee but I think the read energized and motivated me more than the drink.

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    • Andris! set your reminder for every Monday because I will be releasing one of these every week! Or just make sure you are subscriber to the mailer 🙂

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    • Wow wow wow! Absolutely amazing! Even for someone like me who is not a filmmaker or in a creative space this information is invaluable. Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait for the next one!

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      • I am so glad you enjoyed it even as a “non-filmmaker”. These lessons can be used and applied in everyone’s lives!

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  10. Wow! What an extraordinary piece of wisdom! I can’t believe we get access to this quality content for free! Thank you so much for sharing this with us bru. So stoked to see what the future blog posts have in store for us 🙏🏻

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    • Raiffe Bru! Thank you so much for your kind words, I have some real value in store for you, stay tuned!

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  11. I absolutely LOVE the gaffer tape tip, super essential consumable for any filmmaker. It’s so special to get tips from these two master filmmakers, super valuable info that not everyone can get access to. Totally agree about mornings being a creativity cup, I feel that way about Mondays. Thanks for this Dan!! <3

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    • Raine! Thank you so much for your comment! Super stoked I could give you some valuable insight and so glad I could give you a Monday boost! Lets crush this week!

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  12. Amazing read needed to read something like this been in a transition in my creative endeavours and work and reading this has confirmed some of the decisions I wasn’t sure about Thank you

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    • Gabriel bru! This is awesome to hear! I’m happy to have helped your work flow in some positive way!

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  13. This is absolutely invaluable for not only filmmakers but anyone in any career looking for ways to improve themselves and their craft. Thank you so much for sharing Dan!
    It’s also amazing to see how Casey’s brilliance has influenced your own, and we can all learn so much from that.

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    • Jason! Thank you for your kind words! Stay tuned for next weeks blog!

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  14. Bru!!! This is so epic and I’m so glad that you are finally sharing your inner thoughts and findings with the world. Everyone wants to know what goes on in Dan Mace’s mind and this is exactly what us as Creatives are looking for 🙂 Please keep it up and keep sharing your experiences with us. We’re all stronger as a community when we share what we’ve learned, both the successes and failures. It’s us all stronger so Thank you! Can’t wait for next week’s blog!

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    • David bru! So stoked you enjoyed it, we have some super exciting stuff coming in the next few weeks so you definitely want to make sure you are subscribed to the mailer! You won’t want to miss it!

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  15. Deeply inspired by your resilience and willingness to adapt to the evolving landscape of media. Also no better duo than Casey and Dan Mace! Thanks for providing such detailed and thorough tips and advice that we can take with and follow. Subscribed to the mailer and itching for the next one!

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    • Kyle! So chuffed you enjoyed the blog! You won’t regret subscribing! We have some super rad stuff in the works!

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  16. Hey Dan, thank you so much for sharing! An amazing read with super valuable input. Still remember the 368 times and how much I enjoyed following your journey. It’s inspiring to see how these steps that were connected to risks and uncertainty led you to the position, of being able to now share knowledge, inspire and teach others.
    Excited to learn more, can’t wait for the next one, Bru 🙂 – just subscribed!

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    • Hilde! Thank you so much for commenting and super happy you were able to gain some value from this post! You won’t regret subscribing!

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  17. Such an open, easy to relate to read even for someone not in the creative industry. A very inspiring story between two people beautifully put into a ten point lesson – well done Dan!

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    • I appreciate you so much Pepita! Lots of love!

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  18. I love that you had such a great mentor like Casey and thank you for sharing what you learnt from him with us.

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    • Thanks for you support Chris!

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  19. LOVE THIS!!!! I am such a huuuuge fan <3

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    • Glad you enjoyed it Amanda!

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  20. THE TWO GOATS!!!!! So stoked there is a blog I can follow now BRU, I want to learn it all 😀 😀

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    • Be sure to subscribe Adam! Some super rad stuff coming up!

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  21. Such a good read BRU!!! Love love love love 🙂 BRB out to buy all of the Gaffer tape

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    • Can’t go wrong with Gaffer Tape!

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  22. SINGING UP IMMEDIATLEY FOR THIS!! So good BRU <3

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    • Amazing! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  23. My wife and I are big fans, we loved this!!

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    • You and you wife are awesome bru!

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  24. Never thought I would hear sleeping from the guys who look like they work soooo hard they don’t get any haha! Awesome man

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    • Haha! We have to find those little gaps and take every chance at getting sleep. Thanks, Karl!

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. It was very informative to read. Whilst reading it, I felt as if I was sitting in a cafe with you, being a close friend of yours, listening you for hours without getting bored for a second.

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    • Wow thank you so much, Katja. This is really special to read for me. Thank you for your words and support.

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  26. A hard worker, a strong minded individual and a creative. What an inspiration you set out in this world for others to see and gain knowledge. You are an absolute legend bru!

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    • Thank you so much bru! I try my best every day and never give up!

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  27. Dan you’re such an inspiration to me! I’ve learned so much about what being a filmmaker is like from YOU! My friend George and I have been watching you from the beginning and I can genuinely say you’ve not only shaped the way we create, but also our life as a whole!

    I look forward to reading more of these. Thank you for being awesome.

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    • This is so rad to hear, Grant! I appreciate you and George sticking by me since the beginning. Plenty more blogs to come!

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  28. Those were truly fantastic 10 tips, and many of them appear deceptively simple yet are challenging to uphold. Thank you so much for this. You’re the best, Dan. I also love the work you’re doing with Philanthropy now; it looks amazing.

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    • Thanks for the feedback, Art! And happy to hear that you are enjoying our philanthropy work as well! A lot of time and effort goes into trying to make a difference.

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  29. SO AWESOME bru

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    • Zak my bru! Thank you man.

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  30. I found you in my spam folder this morning. I will have to resolve that. I concur with the ethos you are espousing; success should be secondary to the passion to create. The rewards for hard work will eventually be a fulfilled life of personal growth and connections. Thanks for sharing, Dan, keep writing, it’s a pleasure to read.

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    • There we go, Chris! That’s what it’s all about. If you are truly passionate about what you are doing then all will fall into place. Thank you for the comment, and I hope I’m out that spam folder haha!

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  31. What a Legen Dan your cuts and skilz are next level man the best I’v ever seen and I think Casey is correct …”while your mind is fresh – your ‘cup of creativity’ slowly drains out through the day … I do like my sleep and i think i need 8-9 hours lol but i guess we only have so many hours in the day right ..

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    • Paul bru , thank you for the words! The mind is definitely the most fresh and steady in the morning. Some days are more difficult with sleep and hours than others but it is all worth it when you get to see your creation come to life.

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  32. Lekker Bru – Cool read.
    Couldn’t agree more with these points, especially about Gaffer tape!
    Keep them coming.

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    • You can never have enough gaffer tape… ever! Haha, thanks Jerome!

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  33. This is great bru!
    It’s all things that I think people who have been following the journey probably kinda know, and here you’ve gone and eloquently wrote it all down!
    Thanks bru

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    • I think a lot of people see the outside of the hard work but there is a whole inner process that we all go through to get there. Appreciate the comment, Johannes!

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  34. Great vision to write a blog in 2023. Do what you like.
    Grande Dan 🙌

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    • Awesome blog Dan! My partner and I were always huge fans of Casey’s daily vlogs, and the vlogs you guys produced together, and a number of the lessons you mentioned above ring true from watching them! Stoked to go along on the blogging journey with you, and will be sure to tune in for the mext one!

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    • Thank you for all of your support!

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  35. What a wonderful read. You communicate with such an inspired authenticity and having seen you implement the aspects you mention on a daily basis, shows the truly remarkable drive you consistently have for growth in all areas of your life. I love how you’ve honoured this beautiful relationship- connections like these are gold. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait for the next one- thanks for letting us in! You continue to be an absolute inspiration, not only as a creative, but as a genuinely kind soul and sharing these insights is a gift to us all. Thank you.

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    • Toni! Glad you enjoyed the post! I appreciate your insight and thank you for being with me along the journey to see it!

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  36. Awesome blog Dan! My partner and I were always huge fans of Casey’s daily vlogs, and the vlogs you guys produced together, and a number of the lessons you mentioned above ring true from watching them! Stoked to go along on the blogging journey with you, and will be sure to tune in for the next one!

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    • Thanks Ross! It is so nice to see people who have been following Casey and I’s journey for so long.

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  37. Been watching you for years now on YouTube and I am very excited to see where the future takes you Dan! This blog is a big mental help not only for me, but I am sure for others. All the best to you and your team. I will be subscribed and referring to this blog in times of need.

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    • Thanks for sharing this, Mark. The mental game is a big one especially as a creative but It is nice to hear you got some help from the blog bru!

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  38. Dan seems like the type of person who embodies inspiration, wisdom, and has a ton of information. With a passion for sharing knowledge and insights, Dan is a source of inspiration to those around them. Your wisdom shines through in every conversation, video or blog offering valuable guidance and thoughtful perspectives on various topics. Thanks for the guidance, Dan – All the way from Norway

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    • Bjorn my bru! Thank you! I do my best to put all my time, effort and energy into everything I do.

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  39. You are truly a motivated individual who embodies inspiration and boundless energy. I don’t know how you do all these long hours with never-ending work but somehow you can clearly see you have a deep root of love and passion for your craft.

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    • Shiva, my bru! I have to keep the energy up and stay in that positive work flow. The love and passion for my craft is what keeps it all going!

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  40. Whether you seek advice on life’s challenges or crave well-informed discussions, Dan Mace is the go-to guy! This blog has left me feeling enlightened and motivated. Thanks for sharing all of this Dan!

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the blog, Miguel!

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  41. Now this is a blog BRU! I love it. Keep up the amazing work and don’t ever give up! Things are going to just keep getting better and better.

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    • Tebogo Bohale! Thanks my bru! We are only getting started!

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  42. This is so raw, honest and authentic. Thank you for sharing all of this Dan. This is the best blog I have read in a long time and I really do value the things you have said. So excited to see what else comes from all of this.

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    • Hi Jenna! I try to be as authentic and true to myself as well as the to my audience consistently. There is lots of exciting stuff in the works to come!

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  43. I took note of this post and I am very intrigued to read the rest of your blog.
    Many of the things you did learn should be common sense, but actually I give you that, generally speaking, they are not.

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    • Thanks for taking note, Ermanno. I aim to give as much insight as I can to be honest with these blogs.

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  44. You and Casey make a great team and the relationship you build with others is so inspiring. I guess hard work does pay off as they say. I am looking forward to seeing more content from you guys.

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    • Juan! The comment goes a long way! Casey and I are always pleased to hear things like this. Thank you.

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  45. Haha I am so jealous of the travelling you get to do. This has definitely inspired me to grab life by the head and start doing the things I need to do. Thanks for this blog and motivation. Definitely subscribing for some more insider knowledge!

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    • Haha thanks, James! The travelling is very fun but demanding. As exciting as it is there is always a drive behind the reason for the travel for creative purposes!

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  46. This blog is laid out so nicely. Easy to read, clear, concise and I get tips to adapt into my personal life. Now that is amazing. Subscribed!

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    • Thanks my bru! Welcome to the family! I appreciate the support.

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  47. You have a knack for offering sound and actionable recommendations that can make a real difference. I trust in their expertise and let Dan be your trusted advisor on your journey to success and personal growth. I know I will definitely be following these tips and tricks.

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    • Shawny my bru! There will be loads more content that you will love on the blog! Thanks for the comment.

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  48. Dan you are truly a remarkable individual known for their exceptional ability to provide great tips, great advice, and great guidance. With a wealth of knowledge and a passion for helping others succeed and being able to share your experiences shows the type of character you are. Thank you.

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    • I always try my best and try to provide people with knowledge that they can gain and learn from. Thanks Kylie!

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  49. Thank you for sharing mate! All of these are very valuable lessons both for the creative work side, and life in general. Looking forward to future blog posts in my email inbox 🙂

    Need to do #8 and #6 more, been grinding away at my work and worrying too much. Exercise and just allowing myself to create will probably help my stress during downtime. Thanks bru!

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    • Dylan my bru, future blogs inbound!
      Exercise is so important for the body and the mind. Even a small activity is better than nothing.
      Tell your story my bru! Share it and be proud of your hard work.
      Thanks for the comment and I am glad I could help!

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  50. Hey Dan, This one is incredible…. AWESOME BRU

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    • Cian Bru!
      Thank you so much for the comment!

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