An Interview With Casey Neistat: Focus On Real Happiness

In our Conway’s Connections interview, YouTube content creator Casey Neistat explains what defines his success in life: Being happy.


Casey Neistat: I think that when you’re talking about the realities of … the ideals that are much more societal than they are human. I think that the need for money is very real, but also the need for money, a lot of it is artificial. A lot of it is desires that are completely unnecessary. You see things-

Speaker 2: You need the next biggest car-

Casey Neistat: You see things on TV. I am incredibly guilty of this. I have a perfectly good cellphone and a new one comes out and it’s like, “I need that,” and I don’t, but Tiki tells me I do and the internet says it’s awesome, so I-

Speaker 2: People try to say that advertising does the work.

Casey Neistat: It does, but I think that it’s my friend telling me something’s cool and it’s desire. That’s human nature, but I think what happens and the risk that happens when you’re talking about lifetimes and you’re talking about abundance, you’re talking about things like investment portfolios and not cellphones is that you lose sight of the priority, and I think the priority … I define success in life as one very simple thing: being happy.

I know for me, financially, when I was on welfare, when I had nothing, when I couldn’t afford to eat myself, I fantasized about private jets and Lamborghinis and mansion houses and all these things, and then the minute I made enough money to where I didn’t have to worry about food or rent, I stopped thinking about money, and I put all the fantasies that revolve around material things just sort of faded and instead, it went back to, well then, how can this tool that is capital just make me happier?

It’s little things. It’s little things like we struggled at our own apartment because the baby didn’t have a window in her bedroom and we thought … Having the opportunity to move into a better apartment that has a window. That made us happier. It made us happier.

Speaker 2: Yep, it’s the little things. We do have clients and folks that caught up in the big thing and it’s interesting to hear.

Speaker 3: Half’ll show up sometimes just talking about it.

Casey Neistat: I think checking everything against happiness, it’s like my car was a 2010 Jeep with one flat tire on the back. No big deal, and it got me from A to B. Now, if I had spent $300,000 and got a Bentley instead of this $15,000 Jeep, how much happier would it make my life? The truth is the return would be very, very little, very little.

Speaker 2: These objects, I saw one of your videos. I think it was a Bentley or a very expensive car during Sandy underwater, and it’s just a thing. It’s here.

Casey Neistat: I think you always have to check the return on those things. My biggest waste of money, the thing that I’m most indulgent about, is anytime I find an opportunity to trade money for time. A silly thing, my favorite thing in the whole wide world is to take helicopters to the airport. It’s indulgent. It’s stupid. It always look good on camera, and it’s expensive. It’s a couple hundred bucks. It costs a multiple of what a taxi cab costs, but it means an extra hour and a half.

Speaker 2: That’s time.

Casey Neistat: Last time I did it was when I was trying to meet Candace at our daughter’s school, and it was over at six. The flight landed at five. It was like, okay, hundreds of dollars, but it meant I got to see my daughter for an hour and I’m a 35 year old guy who’s found some success in life. This is a worthy investment. I probably won’t, I hope I won’t regret spending this money, but I know I won’t regret spending a little bit extra time, just one hour, with my family today for not having seen them for several days. For me, that’s an easy transaction. If I could try every penny I have to my name right now for X amount of time, I would do it in a heartbeat.