Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Shay Carl, cofounder of Maker Studios and prominent YouTube vlogger. Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and landlubbers. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers to tease out the routines, habits, favorite books, quotes they live by, etc. from these folks so that you can test them and implement them in your own life. In this episode, we have Shay Carl. @shaycarl on the Twitter. That’s S-H-A-Y-C-A-R-L, who got his first computer at age 27. He was a manual laborer for ages and uploaded his first YouTube video while on break from a granite countertop job.
Now let’s flash forward to today. His SHAYTARDS YouTube channel now has roughly 2.3 billion views, with a “B.” Celebs like Steven Spielberg have appeared alongside Shay and his family. He has five kids and has been married for, I believe, 13 years. He co-founded Maker Studios, which sold to Disney for nearly $1 billion. He’s also lost more than 100 pounds since his peak of being overweight. We dig into all of this.
Shay came to San Francisco to spend two days with me. We did a bunch of weird stuff together. A lot of firsts for Shay: a Russian bathhouse, Acroyoga, etc., and we covered a ton. We actually broke this up into a couple of segments. We covered, not limited to the following, but including the following: the most important decisions and inflection points in his life; tools of the trade and tips for creating on YouTube; gear, as well; favorite books, quotes, etc. that he lives by; stories he’s never shared anywhere else before; and much more. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with yours truly and Shay Carl.
Just one last caveat – we do get into some religion in this one. I am not a particularly religious person, but I have had staunch atheists on this podcast. I find their reasons and reasoning very interesting. And we have had a number of religious people on the podcast, including Shay. I find the discussion equally interesting, so develop your empathy if you’re allergic to that type of thing.
And try to listen to this tutorial and take as much as you can possible from it. With that said, please enjoy. Shay, welcome to the show.
Shay Carl: Wow, I am here. Thank you, Tim.
Tim Ferriss: It’s so great to have you here. I don’t know the best way to introduce you, so I’m just going to read off a couple of bullets because I think your story is so fascinating. All right, so here we go. Bought your first computer in 2007 – Dell laptop when you were 27 years old. Found YouTube while on Blake – on Blake – that’s going back to my Japanese roots. Actually, it does happen when I’m tired. I used to live there, so chill out people. While on break at my manual labor – that’s your manual labor – granite countertop job and you’ve noticed a lot of things about my kitchen and house since you’ve gotten here, so your attention to detail is something we’ll touch on.
Shay Carl: I bet I’m the only one who got underneath your kitchen countertops and was looking at how they mounted the sink.
Tim Ferriss: You are the only, the one and only.
Shay Carl: Yes.
Tim Ferriss: You also noticed the heavy handrails. Then you posted your very first video on YouTube August 16th, 2007. That was a big year for me too. Got your first check from YouTube four months later for $300.00. Now I’m just going to flash forward here. As of this moment, the SHAYTARDS YouTube channel has 4.2 million subscribers that have watched a combined 2.3 billion times. You’re also one of the dozen co-founders of Maker Studios which sold to Walt Disney Corp. for $1 billion?
Shay Carl: Yeah, I think they settled on $650 million towards the end, but we can call it $1 billion.
Tim Ferriss: Lots of commas regardless. And what a story, man. I am thrilled to have you here. We met, I guess first connected on the internets on Twitter and then met in person unexpectedly for the first time at the White House.
Shay Carl: That was weird. Well we met at a Starbucks was the first place we met.
Tim Ferriss: That’s right, en route.
Shay Carl: Well, the first way I found out about your podcast was through Joe Rogan. I’ve been a fan of his; I watched Fear Factor; love Joe Rogan. But because my brother is – he has a hunting channel on YouTube called HUSH – Hunt and Fish.
So Joe Rogan is big into hunting and because of that, I started to listen to the Joe Rogan podcast or I think I followed him. Then he tweeted the Jocko podcast. He’s like, “You’ve got to check out this Jocko Willink” podcast on the Tim Ferriss thing or whatever. I’m like, “Who’s Tim Ferriss?” I had heard about The 4-Hour Workweek because I had a guy that was in church growing up, or just when I came home from my mission, that talked about your book. But I’m like, let me check out this podcast. So I listened to the Jocko podcast and was like amazed; not only by him, but by you and the people that you’ve had on your podcast.
So we were talking, DMing through Twitter about being on the podcast and I was like, “No way.” Because you asked me to be on your podcast and then you had Jamie Foxx, Kevin Costner. I’m like, “How am I going to be on this podcast?” And so finally we linked up and you’re like, “Okay, let’s set a date.” And then like the next day I got invited to go to the White House to meet with Joe Biden.
Then we were meeting with everybody who was going to meet and I walk in and it was such a weird thing because I had just been thinking about you. I’m like, “I think that’s Tim Ferris right there. That’s, that’s Tim … he’s walking over here.” “Hey, Tim Ferriss.” Does he know me? And it was weird. It was weird to see you after having just communicated about being on the podcast. So I think all things happen for a reason. But that’s a cool first place to meet is the White House.
Tim Ferriss: No, it is. Our first date was at the White House.
Shay Carl: In fact, one of my coolest Instagram videos ever is you in it when we’re about to walk out on the stage with Joe Biden and I had just luckily pulled out my camera as the guy’s like, “And the Vice President of the United States of America,” and Joe Biden had asked us walk out on stage with him, against the wishes of the Secret Service. Do you remember that moment?
Tim Ferriss: I do remember.
Shay Carl: When Joe Biden’s like, “I want these people to come with me; is that cool?” And they’re like, “Well, actually, sir, you have to meet,” he’s like, “That’s not what I asked.” And they’re like, “Yes, sir, you can do whatever you want. You’re the Vice President.” So he invited us to walk out on stage with him and I lucked out and hit record on the Instagram video right as they’re announcing the Vice President of the United States of America and we go walking out with him and you’re in that Instagram video. That has like 200,000 views on it. So that’s a very monumental Instagram video for me, to have been announced by the President and then we walked out together.
Tim Ferriss: So you seem to have lived many lives in one. I’d like to start at the very, very beginning, if you can talk about it. Shay Carl – what’s the story behind your name?
Shay Carl: So my name is my name. I am Shay Carl Butler. That’s my full name. My Dad’s name is Carl Scott Butler. And when I very first found the internet, the very first interaction I had on the internet was to get a Hotmail email account. For some reason, I think it’s because of college. When I went to ISU, Idaho State University in Southeastern Idaho – go Bengals – you had to have a student login, right? And it was like the first letter of your first name and then the last four letters of your last name.
So I always kind of figured that’s how you had to name yourself on the internet is just your name. So I’m like, I’ll just call myself Shay Carl. That’s my first and middle name and I just kind of pushed them together: shaycarl@hotmail. Do not email me. I do not check that email anymore. And that was my very first account: firstname.lastname@example.org. So when I started my YouTube channel, I thought, I don’t know what a good user name is. Maybe I’ll just use my email name, you know, Shay Carl, that’s my name. Why not? So that was my very first moniker on the internet was youtube.com/shaycarl.
That’s my very first YouTube channel that I started in 2007 on a little $500 Dell laptop that I bought at 27 because I figured, “I’m an adult now. I should get a computer and do adult things.” So yeah, and I say this too about SHAYTARDS the main channel that we have. It wasn’t my best marketing decision.
It was all kind of discovery as it happened, right? I didn’t think like “I’m going to have 4.3 million subscribers one day; what’s a good name to have?” I just thought, “I want to make a video. I have some things to say.” So Shay Carl is my first and middle name.
Tim Ferriss: It’s funny with these first forays into digital worlds or really any type of business world, even though you might not recognize it as such as the time is the implications of those first handles. So I remember hearing – and I don’t know if this is the handle any longer – but Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, when he got on Twitter – like a lot of people were like oh, this Twitter thing, I’ll just make up a user name. So it was T-bone Ancuna, I think was his user name. And for years and years and years, he had to stuck with it or he choose to stick with it. I think it’s changed since. But if we go back to your childhood, you were raised Mormon, is that correct?
Shay Carl: Correct, yeah. My grandfather, Colonel Eugene Haynes Butler, he was in the United States Air Force, told us many stories about Vietnam and napalm and the power of that gas. He was born just Christian and was kind of searching for something and was stationed in Germany – I can’t remember what year – but ended up finding some Mormon missionaries there.
The name of the church is officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the nickname “Mormons” comes from the Book of Mormon, which thanks to Trey and Matt, have popularized that book quite a bit. If you heard of the play on Broadway, The Book of Mormon. So that’s kind of like a nickname, the Mormons.
But yeah, I was raised, because my Grandpa was baptized in Germany and started practicing and then he raised his family – my dad, specifically, in the church. And then I was, as well. I was born in Logan, Utah in 1980, March 5th, 1980. Pisces. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, I was born in the hospital that was 50 feet across from the Mormon Temple; the Logan, Utah temple. Kind of was raised in that. Going to Scouts, going to church.
We weren’t super – like Mom and Dad, if there was a playoff game, if the Jazz were playing, we might miss, you know? But we definitely went. I don’t – it’s so hard in hindsight to think about your childhood because you have such a skewed perspective of it and it’s weird to look back on it later. But I felt like my parents were super-passionate about it. They knew what was right and I feel like they felt an obligation as parents to do what was right for your kids and that was to go to church.
In many ways, I’m very grateful because there was so much that I learned. Ron Campbell, for instance, was my young men’s President. Like from the age of 12 to 16, in the Mormon church, you’re in this thing called “Young Men’s.” And he was a pillar of who I wanted to become in life. There are men like that I have met through the Mormon church that I have been like, “I want to be like that guy.”
Tim Ferriss: 12 to 16 is a really important period.
Shay Carl: Very much so.
Tim Ferriss: So could you explain the organization, first of all?
Shay Carl: In the church, we believe that you can receive the power of God, which is called the priesthood. It might, for many church that you go, you reach certain levels. So at 12 years old, you receive the Aaronic priesthood. When you receive that, then you can do things like service. The priesthood of God, we believe, is only for the service of men.
Tim Ferriss: The Aaronic priesthood?
Shay Carl: Yeah, it’s like the priesthood of Aaron, from the Old Testament.
Tim Ferriss: Ah, got it. I was misspelling it incorrectly in my heard.
Shay Carl: It’s not ironic. Yeah, the priesthood of Aaron, the Aaronic priesthood. But at that early age, you serve the sacrament, like the bread and water, to remember Christ and his body and his sacrifice. Then there’s specific things that it says that you can do, which is to bless the sick.
Basically, it’s an organization, you know – I can’t go through all the setup of it – but every Sunday we have church. There’s three hours; Mormon church is three hours. The first hour is what is called the sacrament meeting, where all the congregation meets together. The main purpose of that meeting is to remember Christ. To have the bread, have the water.
There is no paid ministry in the church. Everybody is volunteer. So the Bishop of the ward or what you might know as the priest or whatever, the guy who is up at the pulpit in charge, he’s a volunteer. He might be a dentist or an accountant or whatever. He has a calling to serve in the Bishopric anywhere from three to five years. Then he’s released and then he becomes a regular member of the church. So there’s different teachers. And for the 12 to 16-year-olds, there’s what’s called “Young Men’s President.” We had a guy named Ron Campbell, who was an older man who had a business and for one hour, the young men would meet with him and we’d have lessons.
Tim Ferriss: One hour per week?
Shay Carl: Yeah, every Sunday. And then there was also a thing called “mutual,” which is on Tuesday nights we would meet at 7:00 and do different activities. A lot of times, we’d just play basketball at the church, which was our favorite activity. But it was all very interrelated to Scouts, the Scouting program. Boy Scouts of America, specifically. And that’s not affiliated with the Mormon church. But the Mormon church sees a lot of value in the Boy Scouts program, so it’s very ingrained in the culture to get your Eagle Scout.
I remember hearing, “When you go for an interview one day and it’s between you and another guy and you have your Eagle Scout, you’re the one that’s going to get the job.” So that became a big priority growing up, like you’ve got to get your Eagle. That was advancing through tenderfoot, first class, second class, all the way up until you received your Eagle Scout.
You had to do this big project at the end of it that was the final test to becoming an Eagle Scout is you had to organize this giant service project. So just through those years, like you said, those influential years from 12 to 16, I had some very real, motivating people in my life that were saying, “Hey, pay attention. These decisions that you make matter. You need to begin with the end in mind, in a sense, where you need to think about what your decisions do right now.” In fact, early on, I remember talking in these weekly meetings about making good choices in life and about not making the choice when it happens, but making the choice right now.
Tim Ferriss: Right, so you’re prepared for it.
Shay Carl: I remember being in those lessons, it’s like, “Make the decision right now so that when you’re faced with it, you’ve already made that decision.” I think that’s just general good advice as far as thinking about an eternal perspective, right?
Try to suck out of your life where you’re in your mind so much – what I mean by suck out is pull out. Elevate where you’re looking down. Become a third party or observer of your own thoughts, of your own actions. That sometimes I think helps me live in the now. Where you’re concerned about yesterday and you’re worried about tomorrow; if I’m able to step out of my body, in a sense, and look at myself as my own devil’s advocate and be honest, because a lot of us I think are not honest with ourselves. We lie to ourselves. Maybe sometimes we’re honest.
We know that there’s something that we’re struggling with and we don’t want to stop that thing or we don’t want to admit that we have that weakness. So even within our own psyche, even with our own minds, we’re unable to be like, “Hey, Shay, I’m talking to you, bro, Shay, you should maybe consider this.”
And so I think, to me, that’s what religion does. People might be like, “How is that, Shay?” I guess to really explain it, I have to tell the entire belief system that I have, but it’s basically that we live before we are born and that we were conscious spirits that knew that we were going to come to this Earth; that knew that this was going to be a testing ground; that knew that we were going to be paired up with a physical body.
I believe our spirits are a real thing. I believe that our spirits are just a finer matter that can mesh with denser matter like our bodies, our bones, and our tissue. And that when we die, those spirits separate from our bodies and then the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we will be resurrected and that spirit will then again mesh with an eternal, incorruptible physical being of bone and flesh.
So thinking about that, it’s helped me make life decisions where, well, I’m not just thinking about “What does that girl think about me?” Or “Do I look cool in these shoes?” I’m thinking, “I’m going somewhere. I came from someplace. I’m going to go somewhere someday, so I need to think about every single decision that I make, every thought that I have with that kind of plan in mind.”
Tim Ferriss: I think it has a sort of built-in, long-term perspective, right? And one of the things that I’d like to underscore that you just mentioned is deciding how you’re going to react before you have to react. In other words, this is very much along the lines I remember hearing from Tony Robbins, who was talking about marriage and fidelity and so on.
And he said, “You can’t just have faith in your relationship and assume you’re always going to respond in the best interest of your relationship. You have to decide what types of temptations are going to exist, what the exact situations are that might present themselves and decide in advance how you’re going to respond in those exact circumstances.” As opposed to just crossing your fingers and hoping that it’s all smooth sailing.
Shay Carl: Right.
Tim Ferriss: So I want to talk about a transitionary period; maybe it’s a transitionary period. So 19 to 21 – actually, before I get there, I forgot to follow up on Mr. Campbell. So were there any specific things that he taught you or specific characteristics that he had that made you want to model him?
Shay Carl: Yes. The best way to describe it is imagine Santa Claus. Imagine sitting down and hanging out with Santa Claus, right? Santa Claus is a wise soul who’s seen a thing or two, and he’s generous, right? He’s super – nothing gets under Santa Claus’s skin. To me, that’s what Ron Campbell was. The guy could tell a story, first of all. He was raised on a farm and he would tell us story after story of moving pipe.
If you’ve ever been on a farm, you know that you’ve got to move the pipe to water the crops. There’s these 20-foot-long steel pipes that the water runs through that you have to pick up and move 10 to 20 feet over to the next furrow, where the water didn’t reach, right? So he would just tell us these random stories of moving pipe and guys that he worked with on the farm racing across – like who could move pipe the fastest. He just had this ability to captivate us boys, right? There’s always lessons in the Mormon church.
If you go to any Mormon church in the world tomorrow or on Sunday, you’ll have the exact same lesson if you’re in Ethiopia or if you’re in Salt Lake or if you’re in Atlanta or Guatemala, all the curriculum for the 16 million members of the church is exactly the same.
Tim Ferriss: Really? I had no idea.
Shay Carl: Yeah. So when I first moved to LA, all of my Los Angeles friends were like, “Did you find a church you like?” And it’s like, “We just went to the one that’s in our geographical boundary.” Because the church is all broken up into geographical areas. So if you live in between Main Street and Center Street, then you’re in this ward. So anywhere in the world you can go, the curriculum is exactly the same anywhere.
Tim Ferriss: Main Street and Center Street. This is another thing that made me think of some of my trips to Idaho and Utah. Just the way that the city is laid out itself.
Shay Carl: Right. Salt Lake, specifically. Brigham Young set it up so it’s easy. It’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd. So I can just tell you an address and you can immediately find it if you know how to count, basically. Where were we going with this?
Tim Ferriss: We were talking about Campbell and his ability to captivate.
Shay Carl: Right, tell stories. He was just such a generous guy. He would do things like we would go on these high adventures. He was a successful businessman, so he would be like, “Let’s buy a parasail,” because he had a water ski boat, right? So for one of our outings, he bought this parasail that you hook up to the back of a boat and then you get a harness in and then you go above the boat. But he had no idea how to work it.
So he had us and all of the Scouts trying to figure out how to work this parasail and for the first four times, we had it upside down. We were dragging people into the ground because the parasail was flipped around. Finally, we were like, “What if we flipped it over?” And sure enough, we popped up just like that. But he was the kind of buy that’s like – here’s the jet skis, here’s the parasail, go have fun. Don’t break anything, which we always done. And when we lost his water ski rope, he was cool with it. He was just a guy that was, like I said, like Santa Claus.
He had wisdom that was forgiving, that was kind, but also knew that you had to work hard; that you had to apply yourself; that you had to make good decisions; that you had to have a purposeful definition of what you want your life to be. Just like you were talking about Tony Robbins. I know what I want my marriage to be like. I also know that I’m a dude who thinks chicks are hot, right? So it’s like, “How am I going to be married to this one girl forever if I like to look at other girls’ boobs?”
And not like I’m that kind of guy, but I’m just saying, “Dudes, if you’re honest and you see a nice pair of boobs out there, you’re going to glance at them.” So how do I consciously think about that right now and make a decision to turn away? Or maybe to appreciate that nice set of cleavage that you’ve got, but I don’t have to stare at it. I don’t have to ogle over it or something. So I’m a huge believer in you can literally do anything you want if you create it in your mind first.
I love James Allen. As a Man Thinketh is one of my favorite books. I think that we so undervalue the power of thought. Every single thing in human existence was a thought first. These microphones, this couch. Anything we enjoy in the natural – you know, things that are amazing – the Hyperloop. Elon Musk is landing rockets in the ocean. He had an idea to do that first. So if you’re going to be naïve to the fact that you can think about bad things and not do bad things, you’re in for a lot of pain in your life. You have to control your mind. You have to control –
Tim Ferriss: Meaning, if you’re running on the fuel of negative thinking that will manifest itself externally.
Shay Carl: Totally. And people think that’s mumbo jumbo. The power of thought, the secret? All that kind of stuff. Where it’s like, oh, come on, give me some real – what are some real tips and tricks? To me, it’s the clichés.
A side note real quick: when I was exercising and losing weight, I was 280 pounds. I decided to run the Los Angeles Marathon. I lost 100 pounds and I ran the Los Angeles and I’ve since run four other marathons. So when I was doing that, because I’m a YouTuber, because I have a big audience that watches my videos, as I was losing this weight, as a YouTuber, you’re constantly thinking of how can I tell my audience about this?
I think at the point I had lost like 40 pounds. I was riding my bike up and down the Santa Monica pier every day or the boardwalk there from Venice to Santa Monica. I had lost like 40 or 50 pounds just riding my bike every day, drinking a lot of water, eating fruits and vegetables. All that stuff that’s like if you’re going to lose weight, what do you? You exercise, you eat right, you get good sleep, and you drink water. I was doing all that. I had lost 50 pounds. So one bike ride one day, I’m like, what am I going to tell my audience? I’m excited to make a video to tell people like, “Guys, I just hit 50 pounds!” And I’m like, what can I say?
Well, what have I have been doing? I’ve been exercising, I’ve been reading health books, and I’ve been eating fruits and vegetables. I can’t say that. If I make a video and tell people to do that, they’ll be like, oh, those are just clichés. But I was like, well, that’s what’s working. That’s what I’m doing. So on this bike ride, I remember exactly where I was. I thought to myself “The secrets to life are hidden behind the word ‘cliché’”. So anytime that you hear a thing that you think is a cliché, my tip to you is to perk your ears up and listen more carefully.
Because the second that a cliché is being spoken, a truth is being spoken. Now there can be clichés in other things, too, but it’s so simple that we make it too difficult. Like “Think happy thoughts, then you’ll be happy.” And most people are like, “Bullshit! That can’t happen.” I’m like, “Yeah, it’s not going to work for you, because you’ve got a shitty attitude.” But if you can just mentally strengthen yourself. If you can mentally say, “This is the life I want. This is the kind of person I want to be.” Really be this kind of person.
There’s a doctrine in my church that teaches that when we die, we’re not going to communicate with these words anymore. I’m going to be able to know exactly what’s in your mind. You’re not going to be able to hide anything from me, for instance.
Tim Ferriss: You’ve got to clean it up before you make the switch.
Shay Carl: Yeah, you’ve got to get ready now, because you’re going to meet some people for the very first time that you’ve known your entire life. Think about meeting somebody in a realm where you know all of their intentions. You know exactly how they feel. That’s going to be a different person to you, right? So the goal in this Earth life is to become that person who you say you are right now. Because I believe whether you believe in God or not, that’s going to happen.
Isn’t a text message just me sending you a thought? I’m just adding some letters and shooting it through the air? Eventually, I believe – and we can get into this too with technology – telepathy will be a real thing. For instance, NDEs – near death experiences. You get on the internet you just type in NDE or you look up near death experiences, a majority of those people say that when they died or they were on the other side, they felt that this Christ-like person or this God person or whoever it was, knew them. They could not hide a single, solitary thing. They just knew every single thing about them. So hearing that and reading about that, I’m like, “Well, I better get my stuff together now and really be that person.”
Because eventually you’re going to have to be and you’re not going to be able to hide anything. I think that’s what the internet’s doing. I think, especially with the Presidential election, it’s like we see who these people are. You can’t hide. Remember back when Clinton was running and he’s like, “I didn’t inhale.” You know, he talked about marijuana. So that’s okay, you just put pot smoke in your mouth? But think about where we’re at today. Obama at his recent correspondence dinner made a joke about being high in college.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, “I haven’t been this high since college,” right.
Shay Carl: Yeah, “since I was deciding my major.”
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, that’s right. “Deciding my major.”
Shay Carl: Yeah. So how have we gone from, “Ooh, Bill Clinton smoked marijuana.” To we’re just more transparent now, I feel like. I feel like it’s a good thing. The internet, I’ve said this before, is making the world a glass ball where we can see each other. These leaders in countries in the corner of the Earth have been able to do horrible things to their people for decades but now that we have the internet, we’re like, hey wait a minute, you can’t do that.
Because of that, we have to be more honest as a society, as individuals. That comes into question too, with what I do with my daily vlogging. Is it safe? Is it sociologically responsible to put so much of your life on the internet? But, I guess, on that tangent is really becoming the person who you say you are. Think about what if everybody knew all of your thoughts?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I saw this billboard in New York City that said, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”
Shay Carl: There’s a saying that I’ve heard about, “You can tell the character of a man by how his dog and his kids react to him.” Because dogs and kids are honest, right? So if you know somebody whose dog is afraid of him and his kids are afraid of him, you know his character. That’s a little aspect of becoming really who you say you are. Because dogs and kids know who you really are.
Tim Ferriss: I want to ask a question about behavior modification and thought control, in a sense. Let’s say that you wake up on any given morning and you’re not feeling like you’re usual, optimistic self. For whatever reason, you’re just in a pissy mood and things are looking a little darker around the edges, what do you do to correct that? What’s the internal dialog? What are the rituals?
Shay Carl: Right, because that happens. I’m known on the internet for saying “Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy.” That’s actually something that I’ve learned through vlogging. Where because I’ve said, “I’m going to make a video every single day for a year.” When I turn 29 years old – this is kind of how I really got my internet following – I came out and I said, “I’m going to do a daily vlog, 365 videos.”
Tim Ferriss: How far after your first video was that? That’s was two years?
Shay Carl: It was about a year and a half.
Tim Ferriss: A year and a half in.
Shay Carl: When I very first started YouTube in 2007, it was just like, “Well, I have a video, let me upload that and see how it does.”
Tim Ferriss: What was the first video?
Shay Carl: The very first video I uploaded, you can go on my shaycarl channel. It’s actually, now that I think about it, it’s me and my brother and my brother-in-law singing happy birthday to my Mom after sucking helium balloons. We all downed three helium balloons and then sang Happy 50th Birthday to my Mom. I think that was the very first one.
But the real first video, I think, is me dancing around in a unitard. My wife had this old unitard that I had found and I come out in the living room like, “Look what I found!” And we had this little digital camera and she just thought it would be funny to pick it up and turn it onto the video mode and record me doing this, as almost like blackmail material. And then when I found about YouTube, I was like, “What videos do I have? Oh, yeah, Colette had that blackmail video of me in the unitard. I’m going to put that on the internet!”
Tim Ferriss: Now what was your job at the time?
Shay Carl: At the time, I was a granite counter fabricator.
Tim Ferriss: All right, I know we’re bouncing around, but what possessed you to record and put that video up? In other words, have you always been a performer since a young age?
Shay Carl: Yeah, I was definitely a class clown type. It’s so funny your story comes back to you as you live more of your life. But my Grandpa had this old VHS camcorder, and I used to always love to film people with that thing. I’d throw a VHS tape into the side, just like a VCR.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, I remember, yeah.
Shay Carl: Put that thing on my shoulder like I was working at the news channel and I would just film around the house. I still haven’t done this, but I know there are hours of times where I have the camera in my Mom’s face and she’s putting her hand on the lens saying, “Turn the camera off, Shay,” like so annoyed that I’m filming here when she’s pissed off. So I want to make a montage where I take all of that, where it’s like, “Turn the camera off, turn the camera off.”
So yeah, my Dad always used to say that I should be a lawyer because I was good at arguing. I’ve always liked to talk, I guess, and I guess I have been that class clown type. So when YouTube came along, I was like, “I can do that. I can talk like that.” The first guy I found was Philip DeFranco.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, sure, Phil DeFranco.
Shay Carl: Maybe you know Phil, he’s been on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He kind of really got me into the world of YouTube. I watched Phil’s – like when I first found –
Tim Ferriss: How old was he at the time?
Shay Carl: He was young. Like 18.
Tim Ferriss: He’s like the baby-faced assassin.
Shay Carl: I know, he’s so young. And this kid – that’s what I remember thinking. He’s a kid who has a TV show-type thing. I’m doing air quotes here. That has 60,000 people that subscribe to it. And for all that I can tell, he’s doing this all by himself. And he had that iMovie intro music, dun na, da dun na. You know? Like he had made this little intro where he acted like he was picking up a phone.
Tim Ferriss: How did you meet him?
Shay Carl: So I found Philip DeFranco the first night I ever got on YouTube. I got this computer, I got it set up. It was bedtime. My wife’s going to bed and I’m like, “I’m just going to get on the internet here.”
I found Philip DeFranco that night and I was like, “Oh, there’s people that are hanging out here, talking.” So I just subscribed to him that first night. I’m like, “I can talk like him.” Right after that, maybe two or three days later, he came out with a video called, “How to Get a Popular Online Show or Series.” And he had a contest where he wanted his audience to submit videos and then he was going to pick his favorite three, and then those three were going to get voted on in the website and then he would promote that person to help them get more subscribers.
So at the time, I was doing granite countertops, but I was also a radio DJ in the sense that I was calling into the radio studio every morning when they did trivia, just trying to get on the radio. I would call in and just annoy the DJs. I would just hit redial, redial, redial. And I would get through at least once every morning.
Tim Ferriss: I have to stop you for a second. So my sport when I’ve never – I don’t think I’ve told anybody this. My sport when I had my pretty shitty, just in terms of draining, first job out of college when I was commuting in my Mom’s hand-me-down minivan that the seats got stolen from; it was so depressing. I would listen to Sirius radio and I would call in the entire commute when I was stuck in traffic on the 101, trying to do the exact same thing.
Shay Carl: Nice, yeah. Just trying to get on the radio. It was cool to me, just the conversation. You’re in your car, you’re listening to these guys talk and I think everybody in their car does that where they’re like, “Well, I have something to say about this.” But nobody thinks to call in and become part of the conversation.
The reason I did that is we were on the job. We were the granite guys in the shop polishing granite and we had the radio on. So every morning at 10:00 a.m. when they did the trivia, we’d be like, “Call in to the radio station.” I got through so many times that they gave me a nickname. The program director of the radio, he said, “Listen, if you stop calling in in the mornings, I’ll give you your own segment on Saturdays.” So I got to my –
Tim Ferriss: What was your nickname?
Shay Carl: The trivia was called “The Answer’s Never Dirty.” So the trivia question would be like, “20 percent of women like this in bed.” And you’d be like, “Ooh, what is it?” But the answer would be like, “Silk sheets,” or something that wasn’t dirty. But the question always sounded dirty, so you never knew what the right answer was. When they asked the question, it’s like you guess and they give you hints and then slowly people get the right answer. So the first guess was always a total guess. So one day we called in and we just said “croquet.”
And I thought like croquet would be funny as the answer, like the sport of croquet. Because who knows what the answer is. And so then every morning, we just thought it would be funny if we altered it about croquet something. So the question might be like, “30 percent of dudes said they like before going on dates.” And I would call in and be like, “Is it read Croquet Weekly?” You know, just some stupid thing about the game of croquet.
Tim Ferriss: Wickets?
Shay Carl: Yeah, you know. And so they started calling me Croquet Shay. It was like, “Croquet Shay is on the line again.” It was just this random enough thing that I did enough where I got this name called Croquet Shay. And then two of the DJs were annoyed by me. So the program director is like, “Listen, we’ll give you your own gig as a judge.”
Tim Ferriss: We have to keep the animals separate.
Shay Carl: Yeah, just like “You’ve got to quit calling in.” But they had another segment called Dog House Wednesday, where couples would call in and say why they were in trouble with their significant others. And he said, “I’ll give you a job as one of the judges who gets to talk for like 90 seconds on the radio and explain why they thought which person was in the deepest dog house, right?”
So that was my very first gig in the entertainment world. And at the time, I still had a job at the granite counter business, so every Fridays or whenever they did the dog house thing, I’d have to go out and hide from my boss while I was on the radio. I’d be like, “I’m going to go on the radio.” All of my co-workers knew. It became this weird thing.
Anyway, that’s why I got into radio. I was a judge on Dog House Wednesday; did well on that. Then when a weekend spot from the Friday/Saturday/Sunday position for the DJ was open, the program director, Brad, is like, “Hey, do you want this job?” It only pays $8.50 an hour, but you can be on the radio four hours a night. I was like, “Yes.” And I would have to drive an hour roundtrip – 30 minutes to the studio, 30 minutes back, to get paid $32.00 and gas was like $20.00 or whatever, just to be on the radio. So that was my first session into entertainment. This goes back to the question you asked –
Tim Ferriss: So you were like 28?
Shay Carl: I was about 28, 28 ½ when I was DJ at Z103, Idaho’s No. 1 hit music channel. Coming up next, we’ve got Purpose by Justin Bieber. So I did that for a while. And I loved doing that. My favorite thing was being the guy on Friday nights at 5:00 p.m., when it’s like, “Guess what, bitches? It’s the weekend! Come on, what are you going to do this weekend?”
And I was the party guy. I was the rally behind it’s the weekend and it’s time to have a good time. Because I had just come from that. I was working from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 at night at the granite shop. I was working 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Knowing what it felt like to celebrate Friday afternoons and then to detest Monday mornings.
Tim Ferriss: All right, so on the detesting point, I took us off the reservation which was great, because that was a fantastic story. On thought control or improving happiness by way of choice. You said you learned that through daily vlogging.
Shay Carl: Yes. So like being a radio DJ, when you get on the mike, you’ve got to have some level of enthusiasm, right? You can’t be like, “Hey, Idaho’s hit No. 1 music channel. Check out this new song.” That’s going to be boring. Nobody’s going to listen to that.
So right. Waking up as a human being, sometimes in a bad mood. Sometimes I’m frustrated. Sometimes I feel like crap. For whatever reason, we all go through it. We all wake up feeling like total crap and like you hate everybody. Like screw it, I don’t care, you want to burn everything down. I feel that too. Like I want to tear everything up and punch people. I have that anger inside of me as well. I think some people are like, “Oh, well, it’s easy for you.” It’s not. I think people don’t realize that everybody suffers, whether some people put on a better show than others, it depends. But what I found is knowing that I had to do a daily vlog, knowing that I had to vlog myself even in those bad moods, I found myself turning the camera on –
Tim Ferriss: It sounds like “flog.” You had to flog yourself.
Shay Carl: I was flogging myself. It’s very painful. No, I would sit up straight. I would take a deep breath. I would smile. And I would turn the camera on and be like, “Hey, guys. What’s going on? Shay blah, blah, blah.” Whatever I did, I would turn the camera off and then all of a sudden, I would feel better.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a really cool point.
Shay Carl: And not just like I feel better, but physiologically, I could feel my body was different. There’s studies that if you sit up straight, if you breathe deep, if you smile. I have a thing where I’ll just look in the mirror – and this might sound really crazy – I’ll just look in the mirror and laugh at myself. And almost break down this wall of being so pretentious about not being able to be silly. I think there’s a great power in being silly. I think there’s a great power in not taking things so seriously. So by just sitting up straight, putting a smile on my face and faking it until you make it, you actually do feel better. There’s real power in this.
Tim Ferriss: There’s research to support that, too. There’s studies to support it. There’s a great TED talk I’m blanking on the woman’s name – blonde hair, short, kind of bob haircut – who talks about posture and looking at self-reported sort of average of wellbeing and so on, which would correlate to this.
Quick side note on being silly – because I think you’re very good, not only at improving your own mood, but improving other people’s moods around you. Everybody should go to Twitter.com/shaycarl and look at the profile pic. Now, with that in mind, I’m going to segue to what happens at the TSA when you show them your ID? Because I’ve seen it.
Shay Carl: I showed you my license, huh? So funny story. Me and my buddy, Kassem G, who’s a comedian on the internet and not a chipper guy. He’s one of my friends who just hates going in public with me because I like to talk to everybody and try to make people laugh. I found that comedians are darker people, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s very typical, I think. Comedians, cartoonists, writers less so, but still a fair percentage.
Shay Carl: It’s like they use their comedy to kind of – it’s like a therapy for some other deep things that they’re dealing with. I don’t know. I’m not trying to psychoanalyze comedians. But that’s his type, right? He doesn’t like people; he doesn’t like anything. But he likes motorcycles and cars and stuff. So we got some deal with Harley Davidson, who’s like, “Hey, we want to pay for you guys to go through motorcycle school. We’re going to give you motorcycles. We’re going to give you motorcycle jackets.”
And because we’re social influencers, there was no money exchanged. It was just like, “You’re cool, we’re cool, you ride our bikes and Tweet a picture every once in a while.” And Kassem and I were like, “Sweet.” So we went through this two-week motorcycle training course. We got our motorcycle licenses. We went to the California DMV, which is never a pleasant experience.
Tim Ferriss: Because you were living in LA?
Shay Carl: Yeah, I was living in Venice Beach at the time. So finally we take the test and all that stuff. It’s me and Kassem. It’s our final thing until we get our motorcycle licenses and we can actually go out and ride. It’s time for the picture, right? So Kassem’s standing there and right as I go up to take the picture, he goes, “Don’t do anything stupid,” knowing that I’m going to, right? And I can actually – maybe we can scan my license. Because my license is [inaudible].
Tim Ferriss: Sure. Yeah, we’ll blur out anything that needs blurring and we’ll put it in the show notes.
Shay Carl: So I did this crazy face. He’s like “Smile,” and I’m like deer-in-the-headlights smile, giant eyeballs, knowing they’re going to make me retake it. It’s the DMV, right? You can’t smile, you can’t do anything in the DMV. You have to have this “I am a serial killer” look on your face for them to identify you, apparently. What? People don’t smile in real life?
So I do this and the guy laughs. The guy thought it was funny and he prints out my ID and he hands it to me. I’m like, “Wait, you’re going to let me keep this?” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s funny.” I’m like, “Are you serious?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like “Oh, my heck.”
Tim Ferriss: Oh, my heck.
Shay Carl: So my license picture is me like … so I was telling Tim this story when we were at the White House. Without fail, you could give me the grumpiest, meanest TSA agent in the world at 5:00 in the morning who’s taking IDs, that’s doing it all day long. I, 99 percent of the time, can get them to laugh. Because they’ll look at the picture and they’re like, “Holy shit.”
You can see them in their mind too when they look at it. And it’s so different from all of the other pictures that they are just staring at all day long. They’ll either (1) smile right away when they look at the picture, or (2) if they don’s smile when they look at the picture, when they look up at you to identify you, if I’m doing the exact same fact as I am in the picture, 99 out of 100 times, I can get every single grumpy TSA agent in the world to laugh. Or at least crack a smile. Because especially at 5:00 in the morning. And there’s days where I don’t feel like being that guy. And they’re like, “Is this you?” And I’ll have to be like … and do the face. And they’re like, “It’s you.”
Tim Ferriss: The photo looks like, if people are not going to make it to the show notes or the Twitter profile, it looks kind of like a ventriloquist’s puppet, I would say. It is a pretty close approximation. But so the daily vlogging in addition to serving as therapy or just a proof of concept showing you that you can change how you feel, it seems like, I mean you alluded to it earlier. Was that the breakthrough? When did you realize that this could be more than a hobby?
Shay Carl: So I guess early on when I was trying to make ends meet, my sole purpose was to make money. To me, that’s what college was. To me, it was like you went to college so you could take enough classes so you could get a piece of paper that said that you were responsible enough to get some stuff done and then that you could work, you know what I’m saying? So to me it was all about how do I make money? How do I provide for my wife and kids? How do I make this a thing?
So you know, the first thing I figured that YouTube was going to be an actual career was the first paycheck I got. When I started YouTube, I didn’t know you could make money. At first, it was just about the conversation; just about connecting with people. So after two or three months of making videos, I got my first check for $300 and I was shocked. I could not believe that I actually got paid for being silly, for just thinking of ideas or weird skits that I was doing. I remember the first time I got that money, I went down the bank, because I thought it was a scam, honestly. I thought, I don’t know YouTube. I don’t know who Google is.
And they did that whole thing where they deposit $.11 in your account and then you go to the website and you verify, yes, you put $.11 in my account. And then your bank account’s linked. So I was so scared to even link my bank account with my Google AdSense, which is how you get paid because Google owns YouTube. So I was like, “They’re going to steal all the money out of our account.” But then I was like, “Well, we only have $150.00 in there anyways, so it won’t matter if they steal it.”
So the very first time I got paid from YouTube, I remember seeing the money in the Wells Fargo. Maybe I shouldn’t say which bank I have. I remember seeing the money in my bank account and I remember going down that day to the bank to withdraw the cash. Because I was like, “If they give me the money, then it’s real.” So I remember the transaction going to the bank saying, “I would like to withdraw that $300.00,” almost sheepishly, like there’s going to be snipers on the roof. They gave me the $300.00 cash. I walked out of the bank like, “What? This is real money. I could buy groceries with this.” So from that moment on, it became “How can I turn this grocery money into mortgage money?” And that was my next goal. I want to make $1,000.00.
Tim Ferriss: Grocery money to mortgage money.
Shay Carl: Yeah. I want to be able to pay my house payment with this money from YouTube. And if I could pay my mortgage, which at the time was $980.00 a month, if I could make $1,000.00 a month on YouTube that would free up so much time where I could be with my family or do other things.
So that’s where it started. It was the pursuit of making this hobby – just like anybody who starts something from their garage – into a full-time thing.
Tim Ferriss: What were the decisions you made or the changes you made that helped you go from grocery money to mortgage money?
Shay Carl: So it was more videos, to be frank.
Tim Ferriss: Volume.
Shay Carl: The simple answer was more videos means more views means more money. So just education on YouTube. You don’t get paid on your subscribers. So it doesn’t matter – you could have 10 billion subscribers. If nobody watches your videos, you don’t make a dime. It’s all based on how many views you get. They call it CPM – cost per mil. I think that it Latin for thousand. So every thousand views, you average anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00. So imagine that. Like if I said, “Here go show this cup and show it to a thousand people and I’ll give you $3.00. You’d be like, “Screw you. I’m not doing that. That’s not worth my opportunity cost.”
But if you have 8 billion potential customers, everybody on the Earth, which everybody doesn’t have the internet yet, you could easily rack up some money if you get a lot of people to start watching these videos. So when I turned 29 years old, March 5th, 2009, it was the last year of my 20s and I went through this pre-mid-life, mid-life crisis.
Tim Ferriss: Quarter-life crisis?
Shay Carl: Yeah, quarter-life crisis. Where I’m not going to be 20 anymore, I’m going to be 30. What have I done with my life? I’m going to be a 30-year-old man. Holy crap! What could I do for the last year of my 20s? And at the time I was married with three kids, so I can’t like sell everything and get on a motorcycle and drive to Peru or something, like most people do, or would or think. So I was like, what if I made a video documenting the last year of my 20s? 365 videos. So the way that YouTube worked at the time is you got paid two months later. It was like a 60-day pay cycle. So all of the videos, when I started March 5th, those 25, 26 videos for that month, I got paid on those in May.
So we started the daily vlogs: March, April, May. Three months went along. And then I saw our paycheck for the March 25 videos that we did. And that check was for $6,000.00. And I remember seeing that on the computer screen and just yelling at my wife. Like, “Colette! Come in here! Come here! Look at that, look!” She’s like, “What’s that?” I’m like, “That’s how much we’re going to get paid next month on YouTube. She’s like, “What? Are you serious?” And real quick, I’m like $6,000.00. If I can make $6,000.00 a month, that’s $72,000.00 a year.
I’m living in Southeastern Idaho making $28,000.00 a year and I’m considered middle class. If I’m making $70,000.00 grand a year, I’m going to be rich. And so that first month of daily vlogs, where I saw we’re going to get paid $6,000.00 this month to make these videos, it was like everything else went away. I remember the day my wife came in and said, “You need to go finish that granite job. We’re going to get paid $10,000.00 on the giant granite job.”
I remodeled the entire house – kitchens, bathrooms, wet bar, shower, everything and we’re going to get this big payday on this big granite job. But I didn’t want to finish it because I wanted to make YouTube videos. So the second that happened, it all became like, this is our full-time job now. Like this is what we’re doing. Now a funny statistic is as a 36-year-old man today, being a full-time YouTube is the longest job I’ve ever had. So when people are like, “Oh, you can make money on YouTube?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a decade, baby.” I guess the precursor to that is my biggest passion in life was to not hate my job.
Because I went to college and I was just looking at people in the world, and it seemed like everybody hated their job, right? It was a huge complaining point for everybody. You love your life on Fridays and you hate your life Monday morning. That’s 80 percent of your life.
If you hate your job, you hate 80 percent of your life. I do not want to hate a majority of my life. How do I get out of this rat race of you’ve got to go to college so you can get this piece of paper so you can go this organization and show them your piece of paper. And by the way, I’m an Eagle Scout! Please give me a job. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be stuck. That was the rat race to me.
That was the controlling environment of corporations where you feel like you’re a cog in a wheel, that you have to do something, that you have to watch your Ps and Qs or you’re going to get in trouble, you can’t think outside of the box, you have to fit in with your co-workers, and you can’t think of anything unique because it’ll be ridiculed. All that kind of stuff that comes from being at a job, a J-O-B, I didn’t want. And I fought tooth and nail against that.
Tim Ferriss: So let’s – before – well, I was going to say before graduation, but that sort of gets us to the next question, which is “Can you tell me a story about or describe the day you decided to drop out?
Shay Carl: Yeah. So I was in college simply because I didn’t know what else I was going to do, right? I did serve a two-year mission from when I graduated high school, from when I was 19 to 21, I went to the West Indies. So I have a two-year space in between graduating high school and going to college, where it was strictly service. I was only there in the West Indies to teach the gospel.
Tim Ferriss: That was Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana?
Shay Carl: Yep. I was in those three countries. The West Indies mission, which was my mission, is made up of 16 different countries. It’s the entire Caribbean. So St. Kitts, Grenada, Antigua, Barbados, all of that. So the way our mission worked is we would move around every six to nine months. So I lived in Barbados for seven months, which is a claustrophobic feeling when you can see the ocean from anywhere on the island. Barbados is seven miles wide. So if you’re at the top, you can look at almost see the ocean anywhere you’re at on the island. It’s kind of a claustrophobic feeling.
Tim Ferriss: If you’re coming from a mountainous –
Shay Carl: Yeah, Idaho.
Tim Ferriss: – landlocked area, also.
Shay Carl: I had this giant ocean that’s surrounding me. Then I moved to Trinidad and Guyana for those two years. So that was a good time to kind of get out of the world and to not think about me so much. That was a total service thing, those two years. So when I came back from my mission, my main priority, which is part of the culture of our church, is to get married. I remember the last two weeks of my mission, thinking, “Okay, I’m headed home. Who am I going to marry? Hmm, I liked Amber in high school. I’m going to marry Amber. Okay. I’m marrying Amber.” But I didn’t marry Amber.
But that was the thought process as a missionary. It’s very like, “Okay, what’s the next step in my life? Get married.” And it was like one night in the West Indies I decided I was going to marry this girl who seemed like the most logical reason. And then I came back and went to a play with my friend and found a girl on stage that was singing that I fell in love with that night.
I told my friend, Derek, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Which is my wife. So came home, went to college, signed up for college because everybody else was. All my return missionary friends were all getting into college. So it’s like, okay, now it’s time to get my degree and figure out what I’m going to do.
Because I was good with people, I thought, “I’ll be in sales or marketing.” You take those bubble sheets in school. They’re like, fill out those 90 questions and we’re going to tell you what best job suits you. I was like, “How do they know?” Because every question was like, “Do you like this?” I’m like, “Well, I kind of like that.” So how do I answer this? So a lot of those bubble sheets I would answer in the way that I knew I wanted to be perceived. It’s like, “I’m going to answer this because if I answer this, it means I’m like this and I want to be like that.” Because, in a sense, is like maybe that is your real answer. So I hated those things too.
So I went to college, started taking all my generals. I’m going to be in business, I didn’t know yet. I basically got to the point where I had taken all of my generals. I was about to –
Tim Ferriss: Your pre-reqs.
Shay Carl: Yeah, like you’ve got to take philosophy and psychology and English 101 and all of these general pre-requisite classes. I had met and married – that’s a huge, long story – but I had met and married my wife. We were pregnant with our second child, Avia, our daughter.
I’ll just tell you – this might be true for universities around the nation, but there is no parking, little to zero parking. It’s just ridiculous because they said that they were going to build a parking garage with my $2,800.00 tuition, and they didn’t. And I was just missed. Every morning, me and my buddy, Luke, we would come into psychology class and we’d be like, “You play the game this morning?” And the game was trying to find an effing parking spot, because we couldn’t. And there’d be days where I’d just miss class because I can’t find a parking spot and I racked up like $100.00 in parking tickets because I can’t find a spot, I’m parking here. I don’t care. And every time, they’d give you a ticket.
So one day, I was at that spot where I was looking for a parking spot. We were about to have our second kid. I felt guilty for leaving my wife at home with our two-year-old son and she’s eight and a half months pregnant and I’m going off to school every day. I hated the fact that my psychology teacher, for instance, you could just tell that she was an unhappy person, right? She knew all the psychological things from the book, but I could just tell she was a bitch. She just was angry. If you made a peep in her class, she would freak out. This is a psychology person who’s supposed to understand the human workings of emotions and stuff and she can’t get her own stuff together.
Why am I spending $350.00 on her book that she wrote and she doesn’t even seem happy? This is worthless to me. Sure, I’m learning about Freud and all this, but I guess I learn more from people than from stories. So I was just sick of it. I was sick of what I saw as a rat race.
This convoluted thing to – it’s a business you know? It’s a business to make money. So I was like, “I can’t find a parking spot. I’m done.” And literally that day, I dropped out of college. I was like, “Screw this. I’m not coming back.” I went home and my wife’s like, “I thought you had class?” I’m like, “Nope, I’m done. I’m not going back.” She’s like, “Well, what are you going to do?” I said, “I’m going to get a job. I think I’m going to start my own business. I want to start my own business.” And I guess the one thing that I did learn from college I had a Business 101 class from a teacher who really changed everything for me.
She defined the secret to success as loving what you do. I would say that I’d define it in different ways now. But back then, that was a prophecy to me. I was like, “Yes, why do you have to hate your job? Just so you can get money to buy groceries and get a house? You have to hate most of your life? There’s got to be a better way.” So when she said that, that was like an epiphany to me.
Like that’s the secret to life is to not hate your job. Is to find something that you love to do. So that became from the day I dropped out of college was my pursuit. I did a lot of things. I sold pest control door to door. I was a real estate agent. I was a car salesman. I owned my own granite countertop business. I was a school bus driver. I used to drive school busses. I would let the kids throw snowballs at the school bus and they almost broke a window one day so I had to tell them they couldn’t do it anymore. But that was my ultimate goal was to not hate what I did for a living. When that first $300.00 check from YouTube showed up, it was like, “This is it. This is what I’m going to do.”
Tim Ferriss: So you said you might define it differently now. How would you define success or how do you think about that now?
Shay Carl: Well, now that I have money, I define it differently. Because back in the day, success to me was money. It was – and not just to be rich and not to have cool things – but to be able to provide. To be able to give things to my wife and kids. That’s why I loved Ron Campbell so much early in the day because he had water ski boats and parasails.
I remember a family growing up that their dad was a dentist. I just remember they always had money to go to Hawaii and ski boats and stuff. I remember kids being like, “Oh, the so-and-sos. They’re so rich, blah, blah, blah.” But I was like, “Why are you guys dissing on them? They get to go to Hawaii. They get to do cool things.”
So early on to me that’s what success was, to be able to provide. To be able to give to my kids and my wife. And now you find out that once you get money, that it is not the answer. It is not what gives you happiness. So I define success in many different ways. Maybe we’ll get this towards the end, but you usually ask on your podcast, who’s a successful person?”
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, or when you heard the word, “successful,” who do you think of? Let’s hit it now, yeah.
Shay Carl: Okay. I was thinking about that question before I was coming and without naming specific people, I think to truly define somebody successful, to me relationships with people are important. So if you have a person that – and to me it’s older people, somebody who had kids – to me, the definition of success is being cool with your parents, your grandparents and your kids. Being able to navigate the difficult task of dealing with each other, human beings. If you’re in good relationship with your mom and your dad and your kids, to me that’s the definition of success. Sometimes you have to let those people go.
It’s weird being an adult now and dealing with your parents, in a sense. Where it’s like my mom and dad say things now that I don’t agree with at all. But I don’t necessarily need to fight with them about that. It’s being able to be open enough to accept other ideas and accepting people for different spots in the road. We’re all at different parts in our life. Because of the internet, because of YouTube, because of the litany of comments that I have received just ripping my life apart, for instance, by reading thousands – I mean, the comments section of YouTube could be considered the cesspool of the human species, sometimes.
The worst things in the world are said in the comments section of YouTube. So I’ve been ridiculed everything under the sun, whether it’s how I installed my kid’s car seat or me believing that there’s an afterlife. People will just shred any idea that I have apart. To me, success is not judging somebody or not trying to say a person is a certain type of person who knowing their whole story.
To define that, whenever I see celebrities in the news like, “So and so did this.” It’s like, well, I don’t really know the suffering that they’re going through. You think about somebody like Prince, who we all look up to or thought was amazing. You just think, “Man, he must have been in a lot of pain.” He must have been really suffering. But somebody like Prince can’t come out and say that, right? He can’t come out and be like, “I’m really struggling.”
Tim Ferriss: Or they feel like they can’t.
Shay Carl: Yeah, exactly. That’s the point. Or a psychiatrist might have that same effect where they’re the person that everybody comes to talk to and they feel like they have to be the strong one and they can’t talk about their own weaknesses, so then they end up committing suicide. Or if you’ve ever known a friend, and it’s like “Why didn’t you talk to somebody?” It’s this fear of being vulnerable, I guess.
Tim Ferriss: There’s so many different pressures. It makes me think of something I was told probably within the last two or three years, that being: everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Just assuming that to be the case. Another sort of corollary to that I was told at one point was: don’t assume malice when incompetence could explain it. I would just also say like busyness. Don’t assume malice.
Shay Carl: That’s a very good point. And to me, realizing that, what that means is people aren’t really trying to hurt you. I think a lot of times, you think, “Well, that person is a vindictive, evil, mean person.” When really they’re just not paying attention. They’re not purposely trying to hurt you or say mean things. It seems like everybody only does things for personal reasons, right? They’re not trying to hurt you, they’re just trying to better their lives, in a sense.
So knowing that helps when you feel like you’re being attacked by somebody, which is not necessarily the case. It’s just them not communicating well or one of those things.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, or just having a shitty day and not humanizing something on the internet.
Shay Carl: Or just being in a bad state. People get in bad moods. And that gets back to using your body to change your mood. I recently went to a Tony Robbins event and he talks about that a lot, where you have to change your physiology. Your body, these bones – for instance, when I ran my first marathon and I lost 100 pounds, it was weird to see my stomach so thin, like so close my rib cage, if you will. I remember sitting in the shower after I ran the marathon and this is just such a weird thing to say, but like my bones are right there. Like looking at my knee and thinking about what it looked like inside of my body. If we realize that these bodies are tools that will help our mental state, we can use our bodies to help us feel better.
So your question earlier was, “What tips and tricks and things do you use?” Tony Robbins teaches this thing called priming in the morning, where it’s similar to meditation, where you’re thinking about things. But it’s a very purposeful, you sit up straight, you’re breathing in a specific way, you’re thinking specific things. You can do things with your body that will change your entire mental perspective on things.
Tim Ferriss: Just to sort of underpin the broader strategy behind that also – and if people want the details on some of his morning priming, he goes through it in the two-part interview that I did with him at his house, so you can look that up. But the sort of framework that he lays out that I think is very helpful is – let me get this right. I think it’s: state, story, strategy, I believe.
Most people want to sit down to determine a strategy to address their issue, but they’re in a negative state which leads them to have an internal narrative that is self-defeating. They only see problems, as opposed to solutions or alternatives. The point that he makes is that you have to address it in the opposite direction. You have to create the optimal state so that you can craft an enabling story, i.e., narrative, and that allows you to produce or plan the best strategy.
Shay Carl: You can’t make good decisions if you’re in a bad mood, right? The decisions you make when you’re in a shitty mood are going to be shitty decisions. If you can make yourself become happy through these things or just a better state, you’re going to make better decisions.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I use cold exposure for that quite a bit. We might get a taste of that later when we go to the Russian baths.
Shay Carl: I’m excited.
Tim Ferriss: With the cold plunge.
Shay Carl: There’s shrinkage, Tim. It’s shrinkage!
Tim Ferriss: I know, I know. We could pull a George Costanza? It’s cold water! It’s cold water! The next question I wanted to ask is I guess related to some of this. But what are some of the darkest periods that you’ve faced? Or some of the biggest challenges that you’ve had to overcome personally?
Shay Carl: Well, we’re going to talk about that one? I think this would be shocking to my audience for those that are listening that have come over here from my section of the internet. But I battled with alcohol for four or five years. That was tough. That was something that I haven’t talked about, honestly. Maybe I’ll want to cut this out of the podcast later.
Tim Ferriss: But it’s very common. It’s not an uncommon challenge to face or addiction, for that matter.
Shay Carl: Yeah, so I guess I should talk about it. My audience is probably freaking out right now. My Mom’s probably freaking out right now. But I think listening to Morgan Spurlock’s podcast that you recently had on where he talks about being able to own your scars or talk about your scars or the hard times. I think, in general, that is a societal thing that we all need to work on because there’s a lot of people suffering. People don’t want to tell you they’re suffering, so they’ll suffer in silence and maybe even commit suicide if it gets to the horrible end of the spectrum.
But more than that, it’s just the daily suffering that people are going through because they’re afraid to tell their close friends and family their problems and what they’re suffering through. So with me, it was when I started drinking – I drank in high school a little bit. Like boys will boys. Kind of like we’re seniors, senior night.
I didn’t drink a ton because of the culture I came from where the Mormon Church has a code of health called the Word of Wisdom that says no alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, tea. And it also says that you should eat fruits and vegetables. It also goes as far as saying that you should eat meat sparingly, and, in fact, only in times of winter or famine. This is a code of health that Joseph Smith revealed in the early 1800s. That is what the Mormon culture lives on. It’s a big part of the Mormon Church. It’s not talked about. It’s this weird – I mean, we could go into hours of this.
But basically, after I got married, we were living in Utah. I was working at a granite job getting paid $9.50 an hour. My wife, bless her heart, was doing a call center job every day. We had one kid at the time. We, in fact, just had our first son. We’re just trying to make ends meet.
The guys that I worked with at the granite shop, afterwards they’d get a few beers. I’d be like, “That seems fun. What the heck. Let me try a few beers.” I didn’t tell my wife. So at first, I was like, and that’s the part of the Mormon culture where it’s like, I couldn’t even go tell my wife, “Hey, I had a few beers today after work,” because I was afraid that she would, almost even to the extent that she would leave me. Like, “What? You did what? I’m out of here.” And, of course, that’s just my over-reactive brain thinking the worst, which we all do. But it became a thing where I started drinking every once in a while.
This was way before YouTube even started. I was lying to her for like eight months almost, where I wasn’t telling her that I was drinking. Where I would have sunflower seeds or something like that to cover my breath. Because it was something I was like, if she knew about this – or whatever. This was years and years ago. So then I found YouTube, right?
Then I got onto YouTube. I started making videos. Through the process, I met a bunch of people on YouTube; made friends and moved to Los Angeles, California, to start this company called Maker Studios that we talked about at the beginning that sold to Disney, with a bunch of people that I met. There were like seven or eight of us. And living in Venice Beach was the biggest culture shock I’d ever received.
Tim Ferriss: Coming from San Francisco even, you have culture shock when you go to Venice. I can only imagine.
Shay Carl: It was so weird because I felt like I had lived – I had lived in Dallas, Texas. I had moved around selling pest control. I was in the West Indies for two years as a missionary. But moving to Venice was weird because it wasn’t – the friends that I talked to, it wasn’t like if they believed in – it wasn’t like what religion? That was all my life before was like, “Well, are you Hindu? Catholic? Muslim? What are you?” But them in Venice, it was, “Oh, you believe in God? That’s cute, Shay.” Pat on the head. “Do you believe in Santa, too?” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. You guys don’t even believe in God? Like at all?”
And my Venice Beach friends were like, “No. How can you prove there’s a God?” I’m like, “Well, I guess I can’t.” But that was just a weird concept for me. So having a few beers wasn’t a big deal to them, you know? So that became easy for me. Not only are these my friends and people I looked up to creatively, but these were my business partners. It became hard to connect if you didn’t drink. I hated the fact that people wouldn’t open up until they’d had a few drinks.
As a sober person, now, I haven’t had a single, solitary, hand to the square drink in four years, it annoys me to the point of infuriation when I got to after parties or something where nobody will get on the dance floor until they’ve been drinking for like 30 minutes. Why do you need this substance to loosen up a little bit? And that’s what I liked about alcohol is I liked being able to finally talk to people in an open manner.
It wasn’t like we have to worry about all the proper PC things. Let’s just really talk here, right? Quit being so presumptuous or saying these big words. Let’s just talk as dudes, you know? So I liked that about alcohol. It gave people that ability. I have this saying that is just specific to my personality that is this: If one is good, then all is the best. Meaning I cannot just have a couple beers, right? I am an extremist.
Tim Ferriss: I don’t think either of us are very good at moderation.
Shay Carl: Right. I am bad at moderation. So I have to make decisions. Because some people will be like, “Why can’t you just have a few beers and be fine with it?” I’m like, “Well one beer – it’s an acquired taste.” I remember the very first time I drank beer as a 19-year-old, I was like “This is disgusting. Why do people drink this? And if they say they like it, they’re lying. It’s disgusting.” Anyways, we could talk all about that.
But towards the end, when I let the natural progression of addiction happen, which it will if you’re not very conscious, I was drinking every day. I was drinking, if not every day, six days a week. If I went 48 hours without drinking, I was like, “Man, when’s the last time I had a drink? Wednesday? That’s forever ago.” It got to the point where it was definitely – it wasn’t taking over my life because I was able to – I guess I was a functioning alcoholic, you could call it. I think a lot of people do that. And I think a lot of people do that more than they’re willing to admit.
Tim Ferriss: I think half of Silicon Valley is comprised of functioning alcoholics.
Shay Carl: How do you define alcoholism? I don’t like calling myself an alcoholic, but if you drink more than three days a week, maybe you drink four days a week and you have more than one or two glasses of wine, to me you’re an alcoholic.
There’s obviously different levels, but it’s like, why do you drink? Do you drink to get drunk? Do you drink so you can open up to people? You have to be, like I said earlier, your own devil’s advocate. You have to ask yourself those hard questions.
Tim Ferriss: I think also the litmus test for addict could be your ability to stop or inability to stop, right? I remember, for instance – I’ve only scared myself once with alcohol in this capacity. But first of all, I want to applaud you for talking about this because I think one of the biggest risks when people are facing problems that make them fear for their sanity or their grip on the family, whatever it might be, is the feeling of being alone. Like this is a unique problem. Which is why it took me almost nine months – and I’m kind of ashamed it took me that long – after deciding to write this post on suicide because I almost offed myself in college and I was ashamed of it.
I didn’t want to scare my parents and fill in the blank, right? There are all of these concerns. Ultimately, I realized that I was doing a disserve for someone with a platform, which is a great blessing and so on, but it’s also a great responsibility – that I felt compelled to share. Alcoholism runs in my family. I remember at one point – this is a long time ago, I was living in San Jose. I was cooking breakfast one morning and I guess I’d had a glass of wine or two with a friend the night before, so there was a bottle of wine that was half full.
I was cooking something and it called for some type of vinegar or whatever and I was like, “Oh, I could just use some wine.” So I splashed some wine in it and I’m cooking, and then I took one little swig of wine and put it down. I was like, “oh, that was kind of a fun thing to do in the morning, just like get started off.” Over the course of a few weeks, it was like, okay, now I’m taking two swigs in the morning and then three swigs in the morning.
It wasn’t a lot. But I remember one morning, it was like 9:30 and I had a slight buzz on and I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not good. This is not good at all. But similarly, I do drink alcohol, but whenever I feel like alcohol is using me and not the other way around, then I just cut it out and I’ll go four weeks without. Here in Silicon Valley, it’s so easy to – or in any city, LA, really, and I’m sure in many non-cities – you look back at the week and you’re like, okay, I had three glasses of wine at various dinners and social outings five or six nights this week. That is a lot of alcohol. So how did you finally break that habit?
Shay Carl: The reason I’m willing to talk about this now and I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a long time, is because I know that there are so many people suffering through this still right now. Because I remember being in that spot. I remember thinking about quitting. I remember thinking, “But how will I have a good time? How will I have fun? What will I do?” The very first day that I quit, right around 4:00 p.m. rolled around and I was freaking out. Like what do I do? I was anxious. I remember I had to leave the house and go rock climbing. I have to do something or I’m going to drink again. That’s just advice if you are taking something out of your life like alcohol. You have to replace it.
Tim Ferriss: Replace it.
Shay Carl: Anything you take out, there’s a void, there’s a hole. If you don’t put something back in the hole that’s healthy, that same negative thing will go back. Just like you were saying with the wine in the morning, we as humans are prone to the path of least resistance, right?
It’s not easy to get better. It’s tough. Our natural inclination is towards addiction and towards the things that are easy. It’s easy to drink alcohol and take away the pain. It’s easy to not wake up in the morning and exercise. It’s easy to go through the drive-through and buy a Big Mac, right? What are you willing to do that is hard? I think understanding that and being able to embrace that works specifically. I remember my Grandpa was “Work will work when nothing else will work.” Coming from the military, he just taught us, you work your ass off.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a good one. Work will work when nothing else will work.
Shay Carl: Yeah. And I grew up with that. Where it’s like, if it’s not working, then just work harder, you know? So I definitely see the value in hard work. Kassem G – my buddy I was talking about earlier. He has a house in Venice Beach with a swimming pool. It was an early morning scenario like you were talking about. It was like 11:00 a.m., and I remember me and my brother going over to Kassem’s house and he had a bottle of whiskey there and we were going to sit in the pool and stuff.
It’s like, hey, let’s have a few shots of this whiskey. So I remember my California friend, my atheist friend, Kassem, being like, “Dude, it’s not even noon.” And I’m like, “Wow.” All of a sudden, I’m like, how far have I come where when I first moved out here I couldn’t believe that these people didn’t believe in God and now all of a sudden they’re lecturing me on drinking too early in the day. So I was like, “Shut up,” blah, blah, blah, like alcoholics do. “It’s not a problem.” A lot of you right now are like, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” because you feel self-conscious about your drinking too much.
You need to be able to say yes, I probably do drink too much. Anyways, I got in his swimming pool. I was swimming, kind of drunk and I was kind of having a conversation with God, honestly. I was swimming and I was like, “I need to quit, I need to quit.” One, my buddy is telling me I’m drinking too early.
Two, I’m a fatso. I was drinking my calories. I have a very large capacity. I could drink a 24-pack and still have this conversation with you. It’s just the way that my body is. Anyway, so I was having this conversation as somebody who believes in an eternal creator. I was kind of talking to God in a sense in my mind. A lot of times, my conversations with God are, I think, really honest conversations that I’m having with myself. I see God as this eternal creator that loves me. I was having this conversation in the swimming pool, like, “I’m going to quit in two weeks because I have this.”
You know how you always have life moments? Like, “I have to do this and I’ll quit after this.” It’s always the next morning, right? The diet starts tomorrow. I just was swimming and I had this revelation or something. It’s like, if you really are serious about quitting and you really want to quit, the only way that you’re going to quit – because I was terrified of not being able to quit.
Like I was really in that moment where it was taking control of me. Where when 4:00 p.m. rolled around, if I didn’t start drinking, I was really physiologically feeling it. I had that addiction. So I’m like, “How am I going to quit?” The realization came to me in that swimming pool that “If you don’t quit right now, right this second, when you get out of this pool you’re a non-drinker, then you’ll never quit.” That terrified me. I had that realization like somebody spoke it to me. Like “If you don’t stop right, like right this second, like if you don’t say ‘I’m done, I’m quitting,’ you’ll never quit.”
I knew that was true. The second that I thought that, I was like, “I won’t because I’ll always think of another reason. I’ll always say tomorrow. I’ll always say next week and it’ll never end.” How many of you listening right now have ever done or said something that you totally regret while you were drunk? Everybody almost, right?
Tim Ferriss: And just to also highlight that, I think a lot of people drink. They don’t need the drinking to open up, but they want the plausible deniability. They want to be able to say, “I had too much to drink.”
Shay Carl: “I’m drunk – who cares what I said?” Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: But not to interrupt. Yeah, everybody’s had that experience, of course.
Shay Carl: And so I had that realization in the swimming pool and it terrified me. I just thought, “Where does this lead, right? Where does this alcoholism go? What is the natural progression?” I was able to see where it had taken me to that point, which was feeling like crap in the mornings, being overweight, saying things every once in a while that were a little like, “Whoa, I can’t believe he said that.” I didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t want to be that person. I guess the ultimate goal is deciding the person you want to be on purpose.
That is not who I wanted to be, so I quit. That stroke, that breast stroke. It scared me so much to the point that I’m like, “Okay, that’s the answer. I have got to quit right now.” And I got out of the pool and I told everybody that was there; there were a couple people. I said, “I quit drinking.” And they all laughed at me. Because I drank a lot. In my personal community, my friends that were – my wife, my wife knew. I talked earlier about how I didn’t tell my wife, but my wife definitely knew after the eight months. I told her. So everybody knew that was in my close – and they knew what a big part of my life it was.
Because I was the one at parties who didn’t want anybody to leave. It was like, “What? You’re leaving now. Come on.” I never wanted the party to end, in a sense. So I quit. The thing that really saved me is right at that time, I think it was the next day, I went on this hunting trip with my Dad and my brother and my son. We were up in the middle of the mountains where there wasn’t a convenience store or a liquor store close.
Tim Ferriss: This was the day after the swimming pool?
Shay Carl: Yeah. I can’t remember if it was the day after or two days after.
Tim Ferriss: Shortly thereafter.
Shay Carl: But in the pool that was my justification. Well, I’ll quit on the hunting trip because I’m going to be with my Dad and my brother and my son and I’m not going to drink. Normally I would’ve. I would’ve found a way to hit it, you know? But I’m like, “I don’t want to drink on that hunting trip. It’s like a father/son, not only my Dad, but my brother and my son; it’s three generations. This is a meaningful man’s trip.” So in the pool, I was like, “Well, I’ll quit when I go on that hunting trip,” but I knew I had to quit before because of what I said. So it was like three days before.
So we went to the mountains and hunted elk for two weeks. Waking up at 5:00 in the morning and not being able to say a thing because my brother will yell at me if I’m too loud out on the mountain. My brother is a professional hunter. That’s what he does for a living.
He has a YouTube channel. So you can’t snicker or make little jokes like I like to do when you’re trying to hunt big game with a bow and arrow. So I had to be quiet at the same time of being in the most grandiose mountains I’d ever seen. So I had a lot of time to think right after I had made that swimming pool decision. So that two weeks or I think it was more like eight days, hunting for elk in the mountains of Idaho, was a real good therapy for me.
I was at the point of alcoholism where me and my wife were calling rehab centers. I was like, “I’m just going to disappear for two weeks. Whatever it takes. I’m going to go to Malibu.” How stereotypical. We move to LA, I became an alcoholic and I had to go to rehab. I don’t want to do that; I don’t want to be that person.
Tim Ferriss: Well, instead, you did the oldest rehab known to man. Going on an extended hunting trip.
Shay Carl: I ended up killing my first elk on that trip too. That was a crazy story. And then my brother cooked us up steaks that night and I hated it. Because I like animals a lot. So when I was eating that steak, I could just see that elk’s eyes looking at me as I shot him from 40 yards away in the neck. So I didn’t do great on that. So I have been vegan in the past, but not as much now.
Tim Ferriss: So what would you say to – any other words for someone out there who might be facing addiction?
Shay Carl: Oh, Timothy Ferriss, I can’t believe I just said that I drank alcohol for so long! Please forgive me, Mom! I love you! I would say this –
Tim Ferriss: You’re not alone though. You’re not alone. Andrew Zimmer has talked about his – he was shooting up – I think it was heroin at the time. Margaret Cho has talked about her battles. This is a common battle.
Shay Carl: Right. And that’s why I’ve been motivated to talk about it because I feel like my story can help a lot of people. I think that, in general, that idea of listen, society. Let’s not be so hard on each other. Let’s forgive each other and let’s be okay with each other’s weaknesses so that we can talk about them so that then we can start to heal. We can become stronger.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Like with this suicide post that I mentioned, I’d been carrying that baggage for so long. Even many of my closest friends had no idea. I kept it mostly to myself out of shame, but also out of fear of my parents’ reaction; if they would blame themselves, etc. Then I put it out there, the burden was gone, the weight was lifted. And my parents responded in many different ways, but all positive and effectively said, “You’re doing really important work.” I was like, “Holy shit. If I had known this was going to be the response –
Shay Carl: You wouldn’t have had to suffer so long.
Tim Ferriss: I would’ve put this out so much sooner and maybe it would’ve helped people that I didn’t have a chance to help.
Shay Carl: That’s important to realize about humans. For people who are wanting to do something like this; who are wanting to get something painful off their chest or admit to an addiction or just anything – you know what it is. Right now as you’re listening, you’re like, oh, it’s this thing for me. Because we all have our different things. To realize that people are more forgiving than you think they’re going to be. Because like what we talked about earlier, people are all suffering in their own way. There’s some sort of like it helps to know that you’re suffering too. Not like misery loves company, but like oh, he’s suffering.
You’ll find that people are way more forgiving than you thought if you’re vulnerable. If you get caught and then you have to make an apology video, then everybody’s going to be like, “Screw this guy.” But if you’re willing to be like, “Listen, here’s a major problem I have. Here’s a real weakness that I’m suffering with. I wake up and suffer. I have pain, physical pain from mental thoughts.” That kind of stuff. If you’re able to open up and be vulnerable, you’ll find, I think, almost every time people will bend over backwards to try to understand you and to say it’s okay and try to help you.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s switch gears just a little bit, or a lot of a bit, I suppose. But we haven’t spoken much about Maker Studios. What were the most important decisions or happenings that allowed it to be as successful as it was?
Shay Carl: It’s about doing something new. It’s about having the courage to say, “We’re going to try this thing that’s never been done before and just see where it goes.” Just the concept of moving to Los Angeles; picking up and moving my wife and three kids to Venice Beach to start an internet company with some people that I had only met six months to a year previous, was like everybody that I knew was telling me not to do it; my Mom, my audience.
I had viewers at the time. This is part of the documentary that I made, called “Vlogumentary” with Morgan Spurlock and my buddy, Corey Vidal. I talk about when we moved to Los Angeles, I had to convince our viewers that it was going to be cool. Because they’re all worried like, “Oh, you’re going to become LA.” They really liked that we were this regular family from Idaho. So just moving out to Los Angeles to start a business was this first step that was so unconventional, so risky, that it’s like, you don’t know these people.
What if they’re going to scam you? We all do this, right? To protect ourselves, we all question these what ifs. We all make reasons why we can’t do something that we dream about. Because it’s dangerous, it’s risky, it’s not smart, it’s not proven, whatever. So that was the first step. Just saying, “Wow, there’s people watching these YouTube videos and some people are starting to get paid doing it. What if we started a business that helped each other create these videos?” So having said that, the audience –
Tim Ferriss: Just a quick pause. When did you have the conversation that decided it? Was there a night when you had a conversation, like, all right, fuck it, I’m in. And then you had to sit your wife down and be like, honey, I have great news.
Shay Carl: That was a two-week process. The convincing of my wife to move to California. The first of those conversations was on the telephone at the radio studio at Z103. A guy named Danny Zappin – better known on the internet as Danny Diamond. He helped his girlfriend, whose name was Lisa Nova, still is, Lisa Donovan, produce the Lisa Nova channel, which was a big channel early on.
She was not only the biggest female YouTuber, but she was like the biggest YouTuber at the time when I came onto the site in 2006, 2007. It was the Lisa Nova channel. It was huge. Everybody knew who Lisa Nova was. So because I was just getting into the community I, of course, knew who Lisa Nova was and wanted to get to know more YouTubers so I could be in this YouTube community. I came to found out that she had a boyfriend named Danny and her brother, Ben, who kind of helped produce her content. Because at the time, she had more produced content than anybody. They were doing skits.
She was dressing up as Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean. They had friends that did really great Hillary impressions. So anyway, I had met these people, right? I started talking to them about making YouTube videos and so forth. I had a phone conversation with Danny one night, where he had set up a deal with a movie studio to promote this new Jason Statham movie called Crank, I think it was?
Tim Ferriss: Oh yeah, Crank.
Shay Carl: He had to keep his heart rate above a certain RPM or he would die.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Shay Carl: So it was just a deal to promote that second movie. So the studio said, “We want other YouTubers as well. We want Lisa Nova to produce a video promoting the movie and do you guys know any other of these YouTubers?” And Dave Days was one, I was one. So he called me in Idaho at the radio station, at Z103, and said, “Hey, we got this deal through so and so productions that I can fly you out to LA and I can give you $2,000.00 to come out here and make a video. We’ll help you make it. We’ll help you shoot it and edit it. And then you have to upload your channel to promote this movie coming out so people will go see it.”
I was like, “Dude? A free trip to LA and you’re going to give me $2,000.00?” I remember calling my wife that night, “Babe, I’ve got to book tickets to LA because” blah, blah, blah. And she’s like, “Wait. What? Who? Why? How much?” You know.
So that was the first night that it was like, “Whoa, this is $2,000.00. We’re really cranking here.” So I went out and this is so great because I have this all in vlog footage. You can go to my old vlogs and see when I made this very first trip to Los Angeles to make these videos that would promote this Jason Statham movie. So the first night that I was there, we’re all sitting. We had shot that day. They had this nice camcorder. They had a boom pole. They had a microphone on a stick. And I remember thinking, “Wow, these guys are high production.”
Tim Ferriss: These guys are real professionals.
Shay Carl: Yeah. I’m like, “This is Hollywood, baby! I’m in Hollywood! They got a boom pole!” And they had final cut pro and they knew how to edit and I knew none of that, really. I just knew how to talk like I know how to do.
So that first night in Venice Beach with Danny and Lisa and Ben all kind of sitting there. Danny’s like, “What if we started a business doing this? What if we helped each other think of ideas, write scripts, edit, shoot? We have some props. We have a wardrobe department. She can do makeup. What if we made a studio where we helped each other create content?” And I was like, “Sign me up. This is more fun than anything I’ve ever done. This really lends to all the things I like to do, which is act silly and be in front of people and that kind of thing.”
So I remember moving back, telling my wife, “Hey, I want to move our family to Venice Beach to start this business.” And my selling point to her was this: “Babe, all we need to do is keep $200.00 cash on hand. Because that $200.00 is gas money. If for some reason everything hits the fan, we go totally broke, for whatever reason, if we just have $200.00 cash, we can drive back to Idaho and live with my parents.” So that was my like, “Babe, it’s cool because we could drive home and live with my parents if everything goes to hell.” Which is not a great sales technique.
Tim Ferriss: It’s not the worst I’ve heard.
Shay Carl: No, right? That was my fail safe is we just had to have this $200.00 cash. So bless my wife’s heart, she has supported me through my crazy ideas that I’ve had. She has put the kibosh on a few, like when I wanted to move to Alaska for a year and live off the land. She said no to that. Which pissed me off but whatever. So we did. She finally agreed to it.
We told our parents and I had to leave the radio job, which was kind of sad. But they were like, “Oh, you’re moving to LA. You finally made it.” I’m like, “No, I haven’t. We’re going to be broke.” So we moved out to Los Angeles. And the very first deal that we got – other than this movie when I first went out – was A1 steak sauce. When I moved out there in June, we had this deal where we had to promote A1 steak sauce. And they had this whole campaign that was called “Sing for your beef.” We had to get people make up songs. How ridiculous, right? Of them singing about their meat.
Tim Ferriss: I would’ve loved to have just been a fly on the wall for the creative meeting.
Shay Carl: I was like, “How are we going to get people to make up songs?” Yeah, it was difficult. But that first brand deal through A1 steak sauce not only helped us pay for our rent for the first three months, but it kind of started Maker Studios. And then we got some other deals.
Tim Ferriss: How did the A1 deal happen?
Shay Carl: It was all through – I can’t even remember. Danny at the time had some contacts because he was in that world and they’re just barely – and bless A1’s heart for being so forward thinking. This is eight years ago. To have marketers have an advertising budget that was on the internet was unheard of. Now that’s what almost all companies are switching to. It was very early on. I can’t remember how we got the A1 contact.
Tim Ferriss: And then what followed after that? I interrupted.
Shay Carl: Yeah, then we had this Sanyo Xacti campaign. Those early brand deals were really the money that helped us get the business off the ground. There was this camera called the Sanyo Xacti. We all made a bunch of content on these cameras. They were waterproof and we did all these silly things with them. It was all about sharing a product to our audience that trusted us as influencers and then that product would pay us. That’s one of the revenue streams for YouTubers. But the main one is just getting views. So those early deals helped get the business off the group.
But as we started the business, we decided to start a channel together. So we took the five or six biggest YouTubers at the time and we created a collaboration channel called The Station. The idea of that was a rising tide lifts all ships. So if we all pour into this, then the sum will be greater than our parts, right? Where 2+2 doesn’t equal 4, but it equals 5. For some reason, there’s this magic of networking and working together where you actually create or receive more than you think you would. Where I’m one person that can do this much output in 12 hours. And you would think, naturally, that adding one more person would just double that output, right?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Shay Carl: But a lot of times you see that it does more than double it because of whatever. We’re, I think, we’re meant to be with each other as humans. We’re not meant to be individuals. So it’s just the same concept like if you’re listening to music while you’re working; your output is going to be higher. So whenever you network something – and we see this in computers now – there’s a greater output. Whether it’s exponential growth – Einstein said that compounding interest is the eighth wonder of the world. There’s just magic there, right? Like when you connect people and teams. So that’s what happened is The Station, this channel, it grew bigger than almost all of our audiences.
It all of a sudden had a million subscribers within the first month. It was insane. It just grew like wildfire. It was the first time that you had social influencers coming together. It was like a Care Bear stare, if you will. You know how all the Care Bears get together and once they link and they Care Bear stare that it’s way stronger than just the individual Care Bear power? You get what I’m saying.
Tim Ferriss: Yes.
Shay Carl: You’re from the ‘80s. And that effect happened and we all of a sudden started having to hire people. We had to make up job titles because the job titles that a social media optimizer is – we just need somebody to help us with Twitter and Facebook. Things like that didn’t exist in the marketplace. So we had to invent jobs, basically.
Tim Ferriss: How did you find your employees?
Shay Carl: People off the internet. The very best employees for Maker were people who were YouTubers themselves; people who struggled through trying to gain an audience, trying to create something that was unique that people would watch, and then trying to make a living at that.
A YouTuber is a multi-faceted person. They produce, edit, write, shoot – all of the things that need to happen to create content, YouTubers do all of those things. That’s why old media, Hollywood, they’re having such a hard time keeping up. Because we can create content so much faster and so much cheaper than they can. I remember hearing on a panel once that content is a commodity. Just like wood or gold or oil. My YouTube videos are a commodity that I can trade. That’s usually through advertising. You place advertising on that content. But people now, in 2016, are buying that content. Marketing people are realizing that the influence that I have as a social influencer is way more powerful than an ad on a TV screen or a movie screen.
It’s like in the past, marketers and advertisers have put a priority on the size of the screen, where it’s like I talked about CPMs earlier. I get $2.00 to $3.00 per thousand views. TV gets $25.00 to $30.00. So if I could get my CPMs up to what TV CPMs are, I would be making bank, right? But because of this perception that advertisers have that well, it’s way more valuable to spend our money on a TV commercial than to pay some YouTube guy to talk about our product, that paradigm is shifting where they’re realizing now that my audience of 4.2 million subscribers are people that have been with me for eight years. These are people that have watched my kids be born.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s your extended family.
Shay Carl: These are my best friends, right? And what’s the best form of marketing? Word of mouth. So instead of paying $100,000.00 per second to be on a Super Bowl ad, I think advertisers and marketers are realizing that they have much more value with somebody like me. That I can be like, “Look at this link right here. Click on it.”
On a TV, you can’t click on a link. I can give advertisers analytics that are so specific, it would blow their minds. Like look, 13 to 17-year-old aged females watch this for 2.3 minutes. And when I said this, they stopped watching. The analytics in Google are that specific where there’s hot spots where they can tell you when people click off of the video. So you can then go into the video and say, “Well, what did I say that made people leave right there?”
So with advertisers, now that we can show them that, the ad dollars are switching. Where it’s like they don’t put a premium on the size of the screen anymore because they’re realizing that the size of the eyeball is exactly the same, right? All of our eyeballs are the same. So that’s ultimately what I think caused Disney to write this big billion-dollar check to buy Maker Studios is this influence. It was the networking and it was, more than anything I think, Disney’s like, “Whoa, what’s going on here? There’s some real traction and we just want to get into that.” And somebody like Disney can just write a big check to get into it. Guys like us who just started a company four years ago can take that big check and say, “Thank you.”
Tim Ferriss: So you’ve started more companies since, like Trixin Clothing with, I guess, help me out here – your sister? Who else?
Shay Carl: Yeah, it’s a family business.
Tim Ferriss: And I guess, I want you to describe it, but the question I have for you is, why start another business? And there’s no right answer. We were talking a little bit about prices in San Francisco versus prices where you live. You have, I would imagine, more than enough to do whatever you need to do or want to do.
Shay Carl: That’s the other misconception too, is I think people see that the company sold for that much and they think well, surely he’s – I wonder how much money people think that I have.
But there were a lot of founders and plus Time Warner invested like $20 million, so they got a big chunk of it. Anyways, it’s about growth. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Tony Robbins said this. You don’t live to achieve. While you’re achieving, you’re living. My accountant calls me a serial entrepreneur, where I want to grow things. I want to try things I’ve never tried. Growing up, I skied a ton. I rollerbladed. I was in all the extreme sports. So like Volcom, North Face, Hurley – all these companies were huge influences when I was young.
Growing up, me and my brother always wanted to start a clothing company. Now where it’s like, well I have the money and the time, let’s try this thing that we had always talked about as kids. So we started Trixin Clothing. It’s very family-oriented.
Dave Ramsey, who’s a financial guy I listen to says, “The only ship that sinks is a partnership.” So I’ve kind of gone against that advice. But we co-founded the company with my two brothers, my sister, my best friend from high school, my brother-in-law, and a camera guy that I have. They all have equity in the company. I believe that people should be invested to the point where if they work harder, they get paid more. I don’t like the hourly situation where it’s like you trade your time for money. So it doesn’t matter how hard you work, you get paid the same amount.
So anybody that I go into business with, I almost always want to offer some sort of equity, whether it’s small or large, depending on what they can help because I want them to have an invested interest in it. So Trixin Clothing is more of a content company than a clothing company. We just make clothes that we like to wear and then we go do fun stuff and we shoot all of that.
Really what we’re selling is this lifestyle of creating great moments with your friends and family and we just wear these shirts and hats while we’re doing it. So it’s really an excuse to do fun things with my siblings and my friends. The last video we shot, we went to this I Fly skydiving tunnel in Ogden, Utah.
Tim Ferriss: I saw that, yeah.
Shay Carl: And that’s work for us. We’re going because we have to make this video about this new hat that we’re launching. But in order to launch it, we’re going to make this cool skydiving video.
Tim Ferriss: Right, indoor skydiving.
Shay Carl: Yeah, indoor skydiving. So mostly the reason I started Trixin was to have an excuse to hang out with my friends and family and then people won’t say that I’m lazy because I’m obviously working on my business.
Tim Ferriss: Okay, so we’re back from the Russian bath break. Rejuvenated, refreshed.
Shay Carl: Seen each other naked.
Tim Ferriss: Seeing each other naked.
Shay Carl: That was exhilarating.
Tim Ferriss: The cold plunge is comparative.
Shay Carl: I’ll tell you what, if your listeners don’t know this, Tim Ferriss can sit in a cold plunge longer than anybody I’ve ever seen. We’re talking sub-zero – 40 degrees?
Tim Ferriss: 40 degrees or so.
Shay Carl: It’s cold water.
Tim Ferriss: It’s cold.
Shay Carl: It’s definitely shrinkage factor, to the point where Tim was under the water holding his breath, I watched a guy come get in the bath, in the cold plunge, get out, shiver and jump out of the thing saying, “How is he doing that?” While you were under the water the entire time. So very refreshed, very awake now.
Tim Ferriss: Very awake. We talked about some cool stuff. I was like, “We need to record this.” So we didn’t get too far into it. But one of the conversations we were having related to one of the aspects of what you do that I find impressive, which is you are atypical is some respects with the way you’ve brought your audience along with you for eight years on YouTube.
I was lamenting also focusing on a lot of family-related content. I was lamenting that when I was initially given suggestions for being more active on YouTube, I tended to be pushed towards doing super-fast cut, you must appeal to 12 to 15-year-olds and that didn’t jibe with me. But I am interested potentially, based on what you’ve told me and what Casey Neistat has told me – experimenting with daily vlogging. Even just as a form of therapy experimentation for myself.
We were discussing the potential of possibly doing 30-day experiments, where people can do this along with me. Which I’ve done before on the blog with like NOBNOM, which was no booze, no masturbation for 30 days. That might be a weird video. So maybe not the no masturbation transition part. But what would your suggestions be for doing that the right way?
Or the smarter way instead of the dumber way? Because, quite frankly, I’m so used to doing long-form content and these long books, long blog posts that I struggle to think of how to do short-form vlogs.
Shay Carl: You don’t need to, necessarily. I know traditionally early on the internet has been – it’s a low-attention span place. I remember early on when I started uploading vlogs, it’s like if you had something over five minutes, good luck getting somebody to watch it. We’re talking internet videos here. They need to be 30 to 90 seconds. That’s how the internet kids are. They’re bouncing around the timelines, the Snapchats, the Facebook all over. But that’s not true anymore with YouTube. Our vlogs average 12 to 20 minutes. YouTube rewards, the algorithm rewards longer videos because they want people on the site.
So I found that our 12 to 15-minute videos have actually done better because people are on the site longer and the Algorithm rewards watch time. So the longer somebody’s on your video, the more likely that they’ll see more of your videos or that your other related videos will pop up in the suggested videos box. So I guess my first tip – everybody listening should Tweet Tim relentlessly until he starts a YouTube channel, because I know you guys want to see more of him. But it’s just a better way to communicate with your audience.
If you’re a human guinea pig, like you say sometimes, “You’re trying these things, you’re trying to deconstruct world-class people,” what better way than to do what they do? The best way to achieve anything if find somebody who you want to be like and just do what they do. Follow their pattern. So what a 30-day vlog or what a daily vlog will do for you and what it’s done for me is it really helps you look at yourself, in a sense.
I live every day twice. Where I live my day and then that night as I import the footage from that day, I watch all that stuff. If I have a 20-minute vlog or a 15-minute vlog, I only had 40 minutes of footage that day. So there’s not cameras out 24/7. I shoot to edit. So I’ll pull out the camera – and I should do it while I’m here. My camera is in my backpack. But I will edit as I’m shooting. So as I’m talking, I will make cuts in my mind that I know I’m going to make later. Where I take a breath, talk here, apple tea, cut, and then start talking again. So because I’ve edited myself so much, when I’m shooting myself, I know how long I want the clip to be. So I’ll never shoot for longer than two minutes, for instance.
Tim Ferriss: A single take?
Shay Carl: Yeah. I’m good at that and I’ve gotten better when I can just flip the camera on and talk. Some people find it really hard because you become self-conscious. You’re like, “I don’t like the way I said that.” And we talked about this at the Russian baths. To me, one of the biggest keys to success is not caring what other people think. Just being able to speak freely and not worry about how it’s going to be perceived. I was telling Tim this. I haven’t been nervous for a long time to do something, but I was super nervous to come on this podcast because I know the caliber of people that listen to it. So a lot of times I like the fact that it’s like, “Yeah, I sold my company for a billion dollars.” Because then that gets respect, right?
Tim Ferriss: Right.
Shay Carl: But sometimes when I’m just jabbering like I do in my daily vlogs, I think people could stumble upon this and be like, “What’s this? This is a waste of time.” But there’s not a right or a wrong way to do it. The way to do it is to just start doing it. Just get a channel, make a video and upload it. Then you start to learn what you like, what you don’t like. I’ve always said you shouldn’t start a channel to try to be like Philip DeFranco.
When I first found Phil, it was like, “Do I have to do that? Do I have to do these quick cuts and do popular culture? Do I have to talk about Britney Spears going to jail? What can my thing be?” And my thing was, I just want to turn the camera on and talk. One of my very first vlogs when we were trying to get a Christmas tree from the basement upstairs. We got the Christmas tree stuck in the stairway and my son was stuck underneath this artificial Christmas tree. My wife was trying to pull the tree down the stairs, and my son was stuck inside the tree. It was so funny.
Instead of helping, I’m going to go get the camera and record this. I also say vlogging is about knowing when to take out the camera. It’s very hard to be like, okay, I’m going to turn the camera on and be funny and entertaining, ready go. But it’s more about, oh, everybody’s laughing right now. This is a great time to pull out that camera. Those moments that are just happy naturally. But with you and what we were talking about at the bath house is that, yeah, you can do a 30-day vlog where it’s like, I’m going to do this for 30 days and you at home can follow along with me.
Then it becomes like your YouTube channel is a science lab where you can see the results. People can follow along with you. You can have a Day One, here’s my protocol. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to eat only fruit for a month and let’s try this. Let’s see how it goes. What a better way to communicate than through video? By saying, “Hey, guys. It’s Day One. Here we go. I’m super nervous to try this. Let’s do it. Okay. Here’s my first banana.” And then all of a sudden, you’re on Day Ten.
Tim Ferriss: Here’s my 176th banana. I’m pretty fucking sick of bananas.
Shay Carl: And then people write in. All of a sudden, you’ll start getting banana recipes from all of your viewers. Like, “Hey, Tim. I’m doing the same thing. But here’s how I eat my bananas.” And then all of a sudden, you’re having the benefit of hundreds and thousands of minds kind of networking all on the same project that you’re doing. All being excited about the same thing you’re excited about.
Tim Ferriss: This is a fun idea for me. And I do want to come back to sort of a tactical, practical question for you. But so unbeknownst to pretty much everyone in the universe, I do have a YouTube page, but no one knows about it because it’s been so neglected. Neglected is too loaded. I haven’t been consistent because I haven’t figured out a way to do it that is congruent with my wants and values and desires. But this would be congruent because it’s like a log of an experiment, which is what I do all the time anyway. I just haven’t used video. You guys are not here with us in my living room, but I literally have bookshelf after bookshelf after bookshelf of notebooks. It would just be a flip in recording mechanism, right?
Shay Carl: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll give a shout out – and I had no idea before we met that you have invested in diet bet, among other companies. So DietBet, I have done a couple of campaigns with DietBet, even though I have no equity in the company or anything like that.
I said, okay, this is a very simple way for people to do what I have suggested for a long time, which is create incentives for yourself. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” Bad goal. Make it specific. How many pounds? Make it –
Shay Carl: Measureable.
Tim Ferriss: Measureable. Make it rewardable or punishable. That’s where something as simple as a betting pool comes into play. So people can check out DietBet.com. But I could see, for instance, combining the video log with a particular experiment that people could follow along; join me on. I could see that – hello. That’s okay, you’re all right. We have company coming in. Simultaneously having say, DietBet and on top of that, having something like Coach.Me, which is a company I’m involved with. It used to be Lift. For not only accountability, but coaching for people who want it for whatever might be going on.
If I did that, so let’s just say Day One, Day Ten, whatever it might be. Would you suggest filming to edit in the sense that I’m taking multiple snapshots of each day? Or is it just one portion? Because in my mind, I could do, let’s say a flexibility experiment. But if it’s the same five-minute routine over 70 days, are people going to want to punch themselves in the face?
Shay Carl: It has to be – I think the best vlog, just like any story, has a beginning, a middle and an end. So to me, the best way to do a daily vlog is to start in the morning. And be like, “Good morning! It’s another great day! It’s March blabbity blah and I’m going to do this and I’m looking forward to this today.” And then it’s like they’re living this sped-up day through your life. Because you’re going to have different things that come to you throughout the day in the process.
Whatever it is that you’re doing – whether it’s journaling. Say you’re trying to write in your journal every day for 30 days and you’re talking about that. And there’s also this weird concept. For instance, like listening to your podcast, being a fan of your podcast, I’ve wondered for the longest time what it looks like in here. Just having Mike Rowe on and he’s talking about all the books that you have, and you have Jocko’s book over here. As a viewer, I wish I could watch some of this podcast, right?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Shay Carl: And if you were doing a daily vlog, then people get a little bit more into the aesthetic of your life. So it’s like, “Oh, he likes Japanese art.” And you like plants a lot. There’s plants all over in this place.
Tim Ferriss: And photographs and artwork of naked ladies.
Shay Carl: There are some naked ladies; one or two. This one keeps staring at me. What’s your deal, lady? I’m a married man. But it’s just more of you, right? Like people look up to Tim Ferriss. They want to know more about Tim Ferriss. That’s what you do, right? You deconstruct world-class whatevers.
And so you want to know – what did you have for breakfast? What should I have for breakfast? And that goes back to the point where I said, find somebody who you want to be like and do what they do. That’s what vlogging is in the sense that you are really able to tell the story of your life in a much fuller way. There’s so many times during the day where you’ll think, “Oh, I want to say this.” And that’s a great time to pull out the camera. And that’s why I said it’s important to know when to pull out the camera. Because it’s a very hard proposition to be like, okay, I’m going to turn the camera on and talk about –
Tim Ferriss: And perform.
Shay Carl: Yeah, exactly. It’s like “Be funny and interesting – go.” And then you see a red like, like “action.” That’s tough to do. But in those moments where you’re introspective or you’re meditating or early in the mornings when you first wake up and you have an idea, what better time to pop up –
Tim Ferriss: Or later in the mornings when I wake up.
Shay Carl: Yeah, whenever you wake up. No shame in that.
Tim Ferriss: No judgment.
Shay Carl: In fact, listening to your podcast, I know a lot of successful people get up early and that’s a problem I have had as well. And until I had kids, 10:00 a.m. was early for me. To wake up at 10:00.
Tim Ferriss: Now you’re waking up and having soccer matches at 6:00 in the morning.
Shay Carl: Yeah, I’m up at 6:00 a.m. every morning because there’s kids jumping on my head. But it’s a great way to tell a story, honestly. That’s what I see that what I do is just storytelling. What we were talking about earlier is you’re able to analyze yourself. I have been able to take out speech crutches like “um” and just saying words that are useless because I edit myself and I hate myself when I’m saying these “ums” or “whatever” that you use as a speech crutch. I think you really are able to see yourself in a way that you’re not used to seeing yourself.
Tim Ferriss: Completely.
Shay Carl: Yeah. Vlogging – people ask, is it healthy? Is it good? It’s put a mirror in front of me that’s made me ask myself some hard questions that I might not have done before if I wasn’t editing my life every day after I lived it. So it’s almost like every day you live your life and you’re like, “I’m going to look at all of my day again.”
Tim Ferriss: Well, it’s in a way completely analogous to what I already do in text. Quite frankly, maybe better in the respect that I use – say the 5-minute journal. Which forces you, encourages you to focus for a few minutes in the beginning of the day and then review it and do a retrospective and takes another three to four minutes. And there’s a gratitude component. There is a focus component. People can listen to my other podcast on the five habits that help me win the morning, if you want to hear more on that. But the point being, I don’t have any social accountability. I don’t have any external pressure, which is a good thing in my mind, to keep it up.
So there are days when I miss it. But if I’m doing a daily vlog and I announce to the world that I’m going to do that, for fuck’s sake, now I have to do this goddamn video. I am forced to do the retrospective and look back at the day in a way, which I think can be very helpful. The stick in that respect, I think, is very underrated. I want to just comment on a few things because I think they’re important.
So the first is not caring about what people think. I was thinking to myself yesterday and sort of meditating. Meditating is too lofty a word. I was just trying to digest two things that I hear a lot that I’ve always had trouble practicing and that I’ve begun to suspect are almost impossible.
So one is live every day like it’s your last. The fact of the matter is, you can’t do that. It would be like whiskey and whores and coke. You can’t just start doing that. Maybe that’s just me; I apologize to everybody listening. The point being you have to temper that as someone with say kids or responsibilities or big, long-term goals with a degree of planning. Which, by definition, takes you out of the present state.
How do you balance those two things? It’s maybe not as simple as it would appear at face value. As we were talking about this today – not caring about what people. Is it that? But then you said something just a few minutes ago, which is “not worrying.” I think that’s the key right there. You can care about what people think, but not let it stop you from experimenting. You can care on some level and have it be a consideration because as social animals who have sort of evolved in tribal groups or very small contingents, I think we’re hard-wired in a sense to care about hierarchy and so on.
Shay Carl: True. Because they used to kill you if they didn’t like you.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, right.
Shay Carl: Or you’d get kicked out of the clan.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, exactly. And then you’re done.
Shay Carl: They would sacrifice you.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, then you’re done. So I’m going to make a public commitment here.
Shay Carl: Here we go.
Tim Ferriss: So I’m not going to set a – once I start and it’ll be clear, I will do a daily vlog for 30 days. The YouTube channel, which actually has some pretty wacky, cool shit out there, including video of some of my surgeries and crazy stuff like that, is just Youtube.com/timferriss, with two Rs and two Ss. So check that out guys and –
Shay Carl: Subscribe.
Tim Ferriss: – subscribe. Hold me accountable. Let’s just say –
Shay Carl: I’m going to hold you accountable right now. When are you going to start? When does your 30 days start?
Tim Ferriss: I want to think of a good experiment.
Shay Carl: Yeah, what can you –
Tim Ferriss: So I’m mid-experiment right now with gymnastics. So I could record some of that and put it up, certainly. Because I still suck balls. They’re really funny to watch because they’re terrible; I’m really bad, but I’m making progress and it’s very clearly visible if you see the timeline.
Shay Carl: And you would love to have that video. That’s the good thing about vlogging.
Tim Ferriss: Now the good news is, I have all the video.
Shay Carl: Oh, you do?
Tim Ferriss: I’ve been filming but I haven’t posted it. I could also potentially put up the commentary from Coach Sommer, who’s been helping me. Former national team coach who was just on the podcast. In terms of date, no later – I’m going to make it this way. Because I want to make it’s something I enjoy putting out. No later than August 1st, 2016, I will start.
Shay Carl: 30 days of vlogging.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Shay Carl: What I was going to suggest is it would be cool to be like, “What’s a gymnastic move that you would love to be able to do? Something that Coach has told you – like an iron cross, for instance, up on the rings where you do that. What I think would be cool is if you set a goal to be able to do something like that and say “I’m going to start August 1st. My goal is in 30 days, I’m going to be able to do this move.”
Tim Ferriss: So I actually have three specific moves that I’m targeting right now, but people are just catching me mid-stream. The good news is I have all the videos. So we will be able to view a retrospective and the moves are – for people who haven’t heard the Coach Sommer interview, which is worth listening to – and people can just Google this, I won’t go into it right now – but is a strict press handstand, probably straddle. People can just look that up. And then front lever and then planch, also probably a straddle planch, because that’s easier than a pike planch or a straight-legged planch, in any case.
Yeah, I think I could have some fun with this. The appeal to me of the vlogging, honestly, out of all the things we’ve talked about is using it as an additional tool in the toolkit for become more conscious and self-aware and present-state aware.
I’ve done that somewhat in audio. Being able to deal with these audio tics, some of the verbal tics that I have. But it would be a fun way, like you said, have a forcing function so that you look back at your day and have some sense of evaluation. Not judgment, necessarily, but evaluation where you’re actually forcing yourself to hopefully incrementally improve bit by bit and trend in the right direction. Which is what I’ve noticed with the gymnastics. If I weren’t recording it and sending these videos to Coach Sommer, it would be infinitely harder for me to track and tweak the process and the progress.
Shay Carl: Right. The accountability issue is huge. Because we always make excuses to not do something. But if you have a couple hundred thousand people who are like, “You said you would do this, Tim.”
On the days that you don’t feel like doing it, and it’s not to say that you don’t feel like doing this, but there’s as well know, days where you just don’t feel like doing it. That will push you to do it anyways. And then you will grow exponentially faster because you’re forcing yourself to do these things.
Tim Ferriss: What type of camera do you use and what software or other tools do you use to make this manageable?
Shay Carl: So my technical knowledge is fairly slim.
Tim Ferriss: Perfect.
Shay Carl: I’ve always relied on my personality. But you can get a Canon G7X, which is what most YouTubers are using now, which shoots in 1080, high quality, and high definition. It has audio. Camera companies are really coming a long ways. They’re really seeing the vlogging – I’m going to call it a culture – take off. It’s so weird for me to be driving down the street and see somebody talking to a camera. Which I do, often now. Or I’ll see people in stores talking to a camera.
Whether they’re Facetiming or Snapchatting. When I started doing it eight years ago, nobody was doing it. I would feel crazy walking around a grocery store talking to a camera. Now it doesn’t bother me at all. Now I could be walking through the middle of Los Angeles International Airport and vlog as I’m walking through and not even care. But if I go to my hometown Walmart, I’ll feel embarrassed because I’m afraid to see somebody I know that sees me doing the vlogging thing. But yeah, I use Final Cut Pro X, which is an easy editing software, where you can import your footage and it’s Apple B. Use the blade tool and you just cut.
So I don’t have a bunch of effects. I have a little intro and an outro. Those are just best tips and practices. You should always link your content. So if you’re doing 30 days of videos, at the end of Day One video or at the end of Day Two video, it’s great to say, “Hey, go check out yesterday’s vlog. You can click right here to watch it.”
So those are little things that I can teach you. The tools of the trade of creating content are so much better and easier to get now. That’s why people are able to compete with Hollywood out of their bedrooms. Because these cameras as small, they’re cheap, and they’re shooting stuff as good as you see in movies sometimes. Or used to see.
Tim Ferriss: Sitting here right now, the gear that we’re using right now consists of, in its entirety, a Zoom H6, two XLR cables, which have existed forever, and then two SM – I think these are SM58, Shure mics, which have been around forever. You could throw these against a wall and they’d be totally fine. And this produces audio that is certainly for podcasting purposes, more than sufficient, as long as I don’t screw it up too badly on the levels.
Shay Carl: And you think how many people are listening to this based off of this tiny little piece of technology.
Like if you were in the room with us, it’s a very small recording device. As technology speeds up through this exponential growth that we’re experiencing right now, the ease of capturing that content is so much easier. Where, to the extent where I’ve seen apps now – you know, Casey Neistat, for instance, films a lot of his vlogs on his iPhone. The quality on this front-facing camera is so good now that you can do a lot of it on your phone and edit within your phone.
Tim Ferriss: And there are mics – and I have one somewhere nearby – I think it’s called the RODE Broadcaster.
Shay Carl: Yeah, you just plug in there.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It just plugs right into the lightning on the iPhone. Do you, on your Canon G7X, attach any type of mic?
Shay Carl: No. I should. You can and then there is – I hate where the microphone is. The microphone is on the top of the camera and it kinds of sucks for wind. So a lot of YouTubers will get like a little fuzzy thing like you would see on the end of a boom pole or something to break up the wind.
But see, Canon is even now switching the mic to the front of the camera to compensate for that, to get the audio. Because they realize that people are speaking to the camera, and so they’re putting the microphones in different positions now. So little things like that. I used to have a deal with Flip. You remember Flip cameras?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, back in the day, sure.
Shay Carl: It would pop out. It was owned by the Cisco Corporation. I was so mad because when YouTube first started, Flip was genius in the sense that there was an event called YouTube Live that was here in San Francisco in 2007. Katy Perry sang. Akon was there. It was like the very first big YouTube event where they invited all these YouTubers. There were like 50 seats that they had for the big YouTubers that they invited to this event.
And on every one of those chairs was a brand-new Flip camera in a box. All of us were like, “No way! They gave us a free camera.” I used that camera so much and promoted it so often through my vlogs, that the Flip company contacted me. They sent me like ten of these cameras to give out. They said, “We want to do a Shay Carl Flip camera. We want you to help us design what would be the best for this camera. And I was like “Okay, we need to have a macro button” and I had all these ideas. Cisco, for some reason, just shut down Flip. I think it was a tax reason or something.
Tim Ferriss: Could’ve been a tax reason. Could’ve been an iPhone reason.
Shay Carl: Maybe.
Tim Ferriss: Right after they were acquired. Six months later, the iPhone –
Shay Carl: Yeah, maybe that’s the reason. But I was so disappointed because I was going to have my own Flip camera. But the evolution of these personal point-and-shoot cameras has really come a lot way. Where for $800.00, this Canon G7X can do a ton of stuff.
Tim Ferriss: Canon – that’s on me. First one’s on me. Send me ten cameras; help me design a new camera.
Shay Carl: Canon, come on. I want some cameras too.
Tim Ferriss: Call me.
Tim Ferriss: This is the epic multi-parter continued. We just finished Acroyoga. Got Shay to do flying pashi. Being flown, no less.
Shay Carl: I’ve had a lot of firsts on this trip. I had an MRI body scan. We went to the Russian baths. I just got done doing Acroyoga. It’s all in between the sessions of recording the podcast.
Tim Ferriss: There’s a lot happening behind the scenes here. We were talking about, at the Russian baths, among other things, quotes that have motivated you or quotes that you find are useful. And I remember one you said was – and correct me if I’m wrong here. Something along the lines of “Smart people learn from their mistakes. Wise people learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Shay Carl: Right.
Tim Ferriss: Are there any other quotes that you keep handy for yourself or others?
Shay Carl: I love quotes. I love motivational quotes. I know that I have a bunch that I’m always – like I love Henry Ford’s, what is it? “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” I love that quote.
I love one of mine that I’ve thought of is “The secrets to life are hidden behind the word ‘cliché.’” I really always, every time I think I’m hearing a cliché, I count that as a truth. I perk my ears up. I try to listen to what’s being spoken. Yeah, there’s a lot of different tips and tricks that you can try to keep yourself motivated. But I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that right off the top of my head.
Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s maybe come at it from a different angle just thinking of tips. Quite a few people asked, if you had any fatherhood tips for first-time dads.
Shay Carl: I was telling this to Tim yesterday. You have to know when to walk away from a crying baby sometimes. Because early on, it can get stressful when the babies are crying and you’ve fed them, and you’ve changed them, and it’s like what do you want, kid? I think a lot of parents stress themselves out majorly by trying to ease their kid. Sometimes you just need to let a baby cry in their crib because it can get stressful. Tips? Don’t let them die?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, keep them alive.
Shay Carl: I always joked like, “I’ve kept all five of my kids alive, that’s a good percentage.” It’s just it’s hard to give “here’s what I would do as a father” because every situation is different. I have learned that – and this kind of came to me – here’s another quote that I think is true to live that I kind of realized when I had my fifth kid – when Daxton came along – which is to me the happiest state of human existence is found in loving something more than you love yourself. In no other way can you do that than through parenthood, through flesh of your flesh.
I remember being an early parent and hearing parents, like “I love my kid so much.” I almost felt this guilt early on, because yeah, I love my kids, but I don’t get how people are so connected with their kids. I guess I don’t like my kids until they’re like two years old, until they can start talking and then their personality starts coming out.
My wife love the little baby. Babies are cute and stuff, but they’re worthless. Look at it, he’s just lying there. He doesn’t do anything. One and a half years old, when they start to talk and walk and you see them understanding the things that you’re saying – little Daxton, we have full conversations. He can only speak six words, but I can just tell from his body language and from things that he points at and stuff, we have full conversations. They’ll say the funniest things.
We’ll be driving any my daughter, Emmi, just has this dry, quiet sense of humor. She’ll drop these one-liners. I’ll turn the radio down, “What did you say?” Brock ran in the kitchen the other day and he’s like “Oh, it smells so good in here. It smells better than Jesus.”
Tim Ferriss: Or the video you showed me with the bow and arrow. Can you explain that one?
Shay Carl: Yeah. That’s a viral video. We were driving home from Los Angeles to Idaho and we stopped at this gas station and there’s this little toy store in the gas station. All the kids are like, “I want a toy.” Okay, so you guys can have one toy. So my little – at the time, he was three and a half – Brock got a bow and arrow. And we’re getting in the van and I’m vlogging like, “Okay, we’re headed home.” And all of a sudden, he’s like, “Look at my boner.” “What did you say?” He’s like, “Look, I got a boner.” “No, Brock, it’s a bow and arrow.” That got 7 million views on YouTube. Kids do say the darndest things, it is true.
Tim Ferriss: From the outside looking in, you seem to be a very good Dad. But just to revisit that question, what do you think makes you different? Because there are a lot of shitty parents out there and a lot of shitty dads. What makes you different?
Shay Carl: First of all, you just got to be there for your kids, right? I have seen the level of bad parenting that exists in the world just simply because of how many kids watch our channel solely as we’re they’re parents. Because their mom and dad – and some parents have to work a lot, right? If you have to send your kids to daycare or if you have to leave your kids, I understand that. I remember coming home and my Mom had to work until 4:30. So we were by ourselves when we came home. That’s why I love my job, because I can be with my kids. That really is – because you can’t “Here’s all the steps to being a good dad.”
Mostly you just have to be there for them. There’s a fine line too about being their friend and being their parent. Because I’m my kids’ friend in a sense that we love to hang out, but when it’s time to clean your room, I can be a dad and be like, “No, get in there and clean your room.” I grew up in this traditional household where you need to learn how to work. You need to get your homework done.
You need to keep your room clean. You need to help out around the house. You live here too. Go pick up that trash. Go do the dishes. Help out. We’re a team. I tell my kids. “This family is a team. We all need to pitch in together and everybody needs to help.” So when the house is a mess, I can turn it into dad mode and be like, “Come on. Turn the TV off. Turn the computer off. Put that iPad away. Everybody get in here. We’re going to do ten minutes of cleaning.” And I can get in that dad-type tone, where it’s time to do what you need to do because we need to be responsible.
But then I’ll wrestle with them on the couch and we’ll play soccer in the basement. Here’s the best tip about being a parent. Remember when you were a kid. Think about the things that you liked your parents did. Think about the things you didn’t like that your parents did. Change those things. I think that’s a generational thing. Each generation does better or tries to do better than before. I hear stories from my Grandma about how poor they were and how they had to really make sacrifices to make ends meet.
Each generation tries to do better. I would say those are some good tips. Try to remember what it was like when you were a kid and try to implement those things.
Tim Ferriss: So when you are gathering tips, ingesting information, audiobooks. Do you listen to audiobooks?
Shay Carl: I love audiobooks.
Tim Ferriss: Are you listening to anything right now or most recently?
Shay Carl: I have loved listening to anything Dale Carnegie. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a staple that I have listened to three or four times. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is amazing.
Tim Ferriss: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Also a huge winner.
Shay Carl: I just downloaded that. I haven’t listened to that yet. I need to listen to that.
Tim Ferriss: I haven’t listened to it, but I’ve read it several times. It is on my bookshelf about 12 feet to my right. It sits there as a constant reminder. It’s kind of a “break glass in case of emergency” book.
Shay Carl: Yeah. Because a lot of times you need to be reminded of that stuff. You’ll go and you’ll listen to those books. “Oh, yeah, why am I not doing that? I know that. When I do those things, I feel happier.” There’s just little things like we talked about earlier, where humans are prone to follow the path of least resistance. If we’re not conscious about our decisions and we’re not every day making specific choices to become better, we’ll slowly start to slide down. We will get worse. So you have to be conscious every day of what am I going to do with my life? How do I want my life to be? What kind of person do I want to be?
And just having those conversations with you. But I love audiobooks. Anytime I can multitask. Mowing the lawn, I listen to your podcast all the time. I have an Audible subscription. I listen to Audible. Any audiobooks I can find.
Tim Ferriss: Any other podcasts that you really enjoy listening to?
Shay Carl: I like the Joe Rogan podcast. I listen to Hank and John Green; they have a podcast. They give dubious advice. They’re YouTubers. I really look up to those guys.
Tim Ferriss: Impressive guys. Writers also.
Shay Carl: Yeah, smart dudes.
Tim Ferriss: And creators of VidCon, right?
Shay Carl: Yeah, they created VidCon. They have a science channel. All kinds of intellectual content; smart stuff. They’re brothers. I call John Green an intellectual dreamboat.
Tim Ferriss: Now, John –
Shay Carl: He’s the author.
Tim Ferriss: He’s the author of The Fault in Our Stars.
Shay Carl: Correct.
Tim Ferriss: Just turned into a movie.
Shay Carl: Looking for Alaska. He’s done a couple others. Hank is in a band. He kind of runs VidCon. They both have a collaborative channel called “The Vlog Brothers.” Smart dudes who you can trust. They do a project for awesome every year, where the last couple years they raised over $1 million for charities around the world.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, very earnest guys. Very forthcoming with the lessons they’ve learned also, from what I’ve seen.
Shay Carl: That’s why I love their podcast, because they really – I was actually going to open my podcast thing here. I love “This American Life.” I listen to Marc Maron. I like “When the Kids Go to Sleep.” That’s my podcast. WTKGTS, check it out. But yours mostly. I’ve been listening to yours a lot. I found you through Joe Rogan.
Tim Ferriss: Jocko. Oh, Joe Rogan.
Shay Carl: Joe Rogan Tweeted the Jocko podcast and that’s when I really started to listen to you. But I think aggregating your timeline too is a great thing. What I mean by that is I try to follow people on purpose so I will be forced to see things on Twitter that will motivate me. Or things that’s like what can I learn new? I’ll follow NASA and all these – there’s a Facebook – oh, I really wanted to tell this to your audience. There’s a Facebook page that has some of the coolest technological videos you’ll see on the internet and it’s called Hashem Al-Ghaili. Maybe we can put it in the show notes?
Tim Ferriss: We’ll put it in the show notes. How do you spell it?
Shay Carl: It’s H-A-S-H-E-M A-L dash G-H-A-I-L-I. If you want to be on the cutting edge of what’s happening –
Tim Ferriss: You were telling me about one with the water coming out of a spigot that then has sound waves of a particular frequency pushed through it. I haven’t seen this video yet. And then the water basically mimics.
Shay Carl: It takes on the properties of the sound waves.
Tim Ferriss: That sounds incredible.
Shay Carl: There’s just things that seem science fiction, but you go to this guy’s Facebook page and we’re talking printing skin, printing body parts. There’s some really cool stuff that’s happening and if you want to be on the cusp of knowing that’s happening technologically, I’d get on that Facebook page and check it out.
Tim Ferriss: Cool. We’ll put that in the show notes also. What is the book you’ve given most as a gift?
Shay Carl: I’ve listened to your podcast so many times and I wanted – what my answer previously was and what I recommend all the time is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which is a practical book.
Tim Ferriss: Financial Peace University. P-E-A-C-E.
Shay Carl: Yeah. Peace. It’s just about getting out of debt. Cutting up your credit cards. That concept freed me up early on in my marriage and in my career to do things like move to Los Angeles and start this crazy company called Maker Studios. Because I didn’t have debt, because I didn’t have all these bills. I didn’t have a car payment – well, I did have car payments and student loans and all of that stuff. Because one of the first books I ever read was Robert Kiyosaki’s, Rich Dad Poor Dad. And that was all about OPM – use other people’s money. Leverage other people’s time. You talk a lot about that in The 4-Hour Workweek.
But to me it was so stressful to have debt. It was, not if you could afford that, but could we fit that monthly payment into our budget? We bought furniture, 90 days same as cash – all that rat race stuff.
By getting out of all of that, it freed me up to have the courage to try something new. So I always recommend Dave Ramsey and his books. But if I think about it, the book that I’ve given out the most is the Book of Mormon because I was a missionary for two years and that’s all I did is pass that book out. I think it has value. Whether you believe it’s scripture, like the Latter-day Saints believe, or if it’s just a made-up book that was written by Joseph Smith, there’s stories in there that really will help you learn how to have faith in yourself; have faith in something greater than you; have hope in the future of an eternal life.
Tim Ferriss: So here’s a question for you. I was thinking – when you mentioned the truth behind the cliché, I was thinking about parables also and books like The Alchemist. Books like Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and the lasting impact they can have on people.
If someone who is a non-believer would like to read a part of the Book of Mormon that you think could have an impact on them, despite their lack of theology, is there anything in particular that you would point them to?
Shay Carl: There is a chapter, I believe it’s Alma – I’m a bad Mormon, I should know this. Alma 2. I’m looking it up on my phone right now. There’s a prophet by the name of Alma which is – the reason I’m going to suggest this is because it’s actually a science experiment that you can do on spirituality, where in this – it’s like a parable. It’s a story in Alma 2 where he talks about if you don’t believe in God, the first place to start is have a hope that there’s a God. I just think well, what if you could make up whatever you wanted and it was true? Which obviously is not what I’m suggesting.
But to me, when I have a crisis of faith where “What if God doesn’t exist? What if this is all made up? What if we die and we’re just worm food?” That stresses me out to think about that. Because I feel I’ve worked so hard on my relationships with my wife, with my kids, building this family. For it to end in dust isn’t okay with me. Even to the point where – this is where I’ve said to people, “If you don’t believe in God, you should believe in the technology that’s going to make us immortal,” because that Facebook page that I was just explaining, it lends to immortality for humans.
In the next 10 to 20 years, where we can print off organs. We can 3D print livers. We can embed chips into our body now. We’re getting into all that kind of stuff. So to me, that doesn’t contradict God. To me, all knowledge is God’s knowledge.
We need to learn everything there is. If he created our bodies, then we’re going to slowly learn how to create artificial intelligence.
Tim Ferriss: Well, there’s all – and living in Silicon Valley too, I know people who are doing some pretty out there stuff in the name of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth or immortality, they’re all –
Shay Carl: Transcendent Man?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, Transcendent Man. Ray Kurzweil.
Shay Carl: That’s a favorite documentary of mine.
Tim Ferriss: I was an advising faculty member for a time for Singularity University based at NASA Ames. So you have the pills, you’ve got the potions. You have stuff like Metformin for extending life. You also have people who are looking at blood transfusions with younger people, which is very interesting. So replacing their own blood vampire style.
Shay Carl: That’s like vampire stuff, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And it just goes on and on. Stem cell stuff, regeneration of destroyed connective tissue, which is something I’m experimenting with right now with some very off-label, medical compounds we’ll call them.
Shay Carl: Is that what you call them?
Tim Ferriss: That’s what I’ll call them for now. That’s a separate conversation. So you mentioned Transcendent Man as one of your favorite documentaries. So let’s go there. What are some of your favorite documentaries or movies?
Shay Carl: Yeah, Transcendent Man was very interesting to me. I’m a huge Morgan Spurlock fan. He just helped me make a documentary that we’re working on. Well, it just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s called Vlogumentary. It’s a documentary of this YouTube world and how creators like me have made a living making videos on the internet. So I’m a big Morgan Spurlock fan. Forks Over Knives, if you want to get into health, is a great documentary. I’m sure everybody’s been on Netflix. What’s the other one that’s like that? Forks Over Knives?
Tim Ferriss: Well, there are a bunch. This gets into some heated territory pretty quickly. Are you talking about the sort of vegetarian-oriented documentaries?
Shay Carl: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: There’s another one that I haven’t seen because I think –
Shay Carl: The Garrison Therapy?
Tim Ferriss: There’s one called Cowspiracy.
Shay Carl: Oh, yes.
Tim Ferriss: But my ask of creators would be if you want to persuade people with an argument who are not part of the choir – in other words, you’re not preaching to the converted – do not name your documentary Cowspiracy. I’m just not going to be able to take that seriously, unfortunately. There might be good stuff in it, but that’s not how you use a honey pot to convert the hard-to-convert.
Shay Carl: Right, silly name.
Tim Ferriss: But any other docs or movies that come to mind?
Shay Carl: Dude, I’ll tell you a movie that’s coming out that I saw at the Sundance Film Festival. I don’t know when it’s coming out, but it’s called Captain Fantastic with Viggo Mortensen. It’s a story about a father who is kind of sick of society.
The mom and the wife of the family has passed away. I won’t tell you how. So he takes his kids into the forest and they live off the land and he teaches his kids everything he knows. He has all these books. Part of the movie is he doesn’t want to go back into society. Anyway, I saw it Sundance. I bawled my eyes out. Look for it in theaters. I don’t know when it’s even coming out.
Tim Ferriss: Captain Fantastic.
Shay Carl: It’s called Captain Fantastic. Viggo Mortensen is the father.
Tim Ferriss: It sounds like my ultimate fantasy. Aside from the family member passing away part.
Shay Carl: It’s like Swiss Family Robinson today. The opening scene is them chasing a deer down and killing it for food.
Tim Ferriss: Wow, amazing. Yeah, I need to see that. What $100.00 or less purchase, it doesn’t – we can fudge that a little bit – has most positively impacted your life in recent memory?
Shay Carl: That’s a good question. I didn’t think about an answer to that one. $100.00 or less.
Tim Ferriss: It could be more. It’s flexible. What purchase that is not outside of everyone else’s reach?
Shay Carl: This is a little more pricy than that, but the Boosted Board, the electric skateboard? Which is more like $900.00.
Tim Ferriss: They have a few different models.
Shay Carl: Yeah, you can get cheaper ones.
Tim Ferriss: So I also have a Boosted Board in my garage and what I decided was the most fun for me on the Boosted Board – I’d like to hear your opinion – but the Boosted Board I also put in this crazy Quarterly box. You can send out Quarterly, this company that sends out quarterly boxes that people can subscribe to. The boxes usually cost $100.00 to subscribe. I was like, you know what? I want to do a holiday mega-box that’s like $5,000.00. I don’t remember. It was like $1,500.00 or $5,000.00 and just filled it – it’s two huge, like Raiders of the Lost Ark crates. They included a Boosted Board.
Shay Carl: No way.
Tim Ferriss: But what I realized for myself is that I like the sensation because it’s so odd, of carving uphill.
Shay Carl: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Because the board can go 22 miles an hour?
Shay Carl: They’re strong, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: They’re a long board, effectively. You have a hand controller that allows you to accelerate or decelerate. That’s the other cool thing. Going downhill, you can brake. And charge it like a Prius.
Shay Carl: There’s a battery, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: The Boosted Board is awesome. You have to be careful. When you start, do not start on the highest speed setting because it will shoot out from underneath you. When you do start, you need to get into a power stance.
Shay Carl: They scare me, yeah. That’s a fair warning. If you get a Boosted Board, do not kill yourself. I think they make it hard to turn it on the fastest. It comes auto default to the slow setting.
Tim Ferriss: Right.
Shay Carl: Because I was trying to turn it up to the fast setting. I had to get into the instructions to figure it out.
Tim Ferriss: Which is good.
Shay Carl: They’re powerful.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, get a helmet. If you’re someone like me, 38. And I got on it and suddenly I reverted to my 12-year-old self. I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I totally used to do this.” Don’t get too carried away with that emotion.
Shay Carl: Here’s what I would say: unless you can run 23 miles an hour, be very careful. Because if you’re going to hit a rock or something and you’re going 22 miles an hour, you’re going to eat your face. The reason I bring up the Boosted Board is I’m so excited about the power of batteries. Batteries are getting so much stronger. You see with all those hover boards that all the YouTubers are riding. Now these electric skateboards that can take you up a hill. That’s magic to me. My brother and I growing up, if we could’ve had something like that, we would’ve gotten in so much trouble.
Tim Ferriss: You probably wouldn’t even be sitting here.
Shay Carl: I would not. I would definitely have injured myself.
Tim Ferriss: Since you’re the guy who does backflips on skis.
Shay Carl: On skis, yeah. We were talking yesterday where I think the evolution of that, with how many quad copters we’re seeing, I really think we’re on the cusp of a personal battery-powered quad copter where you can get in this little self-encapsulated helicopter dome and fly around.
Tim Ferriss: Just have a harness.
Shay Carl: In fact, if you go on YouTube right now, you can see a guy who has built a platform out of these quad copters and he can stand on it with a hand control and fly standing on top of six quad copters that he built out of this platform. It’s going to get real Jetson-like here pretty soon, I think, in the next five years.
Tim Ferriss: It’s coming. Now I usually ask about morning rituals, but it might involve – well it sounds like Zeke, your Great Dane, staring straight down into your face until anxiety and sixth sense wakes you up or kids jumping on you. I don’t know. But do you have any particular rituals that are important to you and your family in the first say 60 to 90 minutes of waking up?
Shay Carl: Definitely. And it’s only evolved since my three oldest are all in school now. But I used to sleep in until 10:00 or 11:00. But it’s rare if I’m in bed after 8:00 a.m. now. Because either Zeke is with his giant Great Dane snout right in my face with his stinky breath, or the kids are running in. Two out of seven days of the week we have a kid that ends up sleeping with us because they had a nightmare or something and I’ll just wake up and there’s a kid in our bed because they came in during the middle of the night.
But we pray. Every morning before the kids go off to school, we kneel down as a family and we say a prayer. Whether you think that’s crazy or not – think about just the aspect of having kids – because in the prayer we say what we’re grateful for. We’re thankful for our house. We’re grateful for our house. We’re grateful for each other. Help us to be kind. Help us to be loving. We say these words and we take turns.
I’ll say, “Gavin, will you say the pray this morning?” “Avia, will you say the prayer this morning?” And that’s one thing that my wife and I have tried to focus on before we send our kids out the door every morning is we want to have a family prayer. We’ll kneel down. Sometimes it’s 7:00 in the morning and I’m still asleep. They’ll come in to say the morning prayer and I’m still lying in bed, and they’ll all just kneel at the foot of the bed. I’ll get up and roll over like, “Okay, I’m ready to pray. I’m ready,” and we’ll say our morning prayer.
I think it just gives us a good tone. It helps my kids have an eternal perspective, which I think all people should have. We should always be conscious of we came from somewhere. Now we’re here on this Earth and then we’re going to go somewhere.
Which is, I guess, your next rapid-fire question. If I could put anything on a billboard, what would it be?
Tim Ferriss: Look at you. Yes, sir.
Shay Carl: “You’re going to die someday,” or maybe I just have it say “You’re going to die.” And that seems gruesome, but having a healthy understanding – and my Grandpa taught me this. My Grandpa would always talk about when he died. In fact, he bought his coffin five years before he actually died. So when people would come over, he would take them down into the garage and show them his coffin.
I remember getting in it. So I’ve been in my Grandpa’s coffin. Teaching them that death isn’t something to be feared, but life should be lived to the fullest because you’re going to die. I love conversations like that. To me, that’s what has real meaning. To me, the things that matter the most last the longest. To me, families are forever. I believe that my wife and I will be joined in holy matrimony for all time and eternity. In traditional wedding ceremonies you hear, “Until death do you part.” I’m like, “Bullshit. No. Why would you part at death?” So that’s where I come at it. That’s what I teach my kids. I teach them that I married this beautiful daughter of God who I cherish and who is their mother.
I even so far – my relationship to my wife is so important to me that – and I don’t want my kids to know that she’s a priority over them, but my wife and I’s relationship isn’t more important than my kids and I relationship, but they need to know how strong that is. They need to see that Mom and Dad are solid. So a lot of times I and Colette consciously make decisions to not let our kids come between us. So we never do the, “Go ask your Mom. Go ask your Dad.” It’s like she and I need to come up with a decision and we are a united front that then goes and informs the kids on if they can do such and such.
Tim Ferriss: So some of the strongest families that I’ve encountered in the last five to ten years are really explicit about what you just said. They would, perhaps in some cases, say my relationship with my wife or my husband comes first, and then my relationship with my kids. Because it prevents that mutiny from breaking out. That dissension in the ranks.
Shay Carl: But Mom said, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: All of that, which then creates a really, I think, caustic isn’t the right word. It plants an insidious seed that can cause all sorts of problems later. But that’s something that I’ve seen over and over again with the marriages or families that seem to work. Which, at least where I live, is in the minority, sadly.
Shay Carl: Family is on the decline. I think the foundation to our society is the family. We all, whether you like it or not, we all come from a family. We are all from a mother and a father, whether you know who that person is or not. But I do. I’m softening saying this now because I don’t want to offend my kids or make people think I don’t love my kids. But yeah, my relationship with my wife is way more important. Because guess what? The kids are going to leave. They’re going to turn 18 and leave the house. And then it’s just going to be me and my wife.
So if we’ve let them come between us and all of a sudden the kids are out of the house it’s like, oh, we don’t have a very good relationship because the kids have driven this wedge between us all these years, it’s going to be a crappy situation. My wife and I’s relationship is most important. I think our kids know that.
Tim Ferriss: You got married at age – remind me?
Shay Carl: 22.
Tim Ferriss: 22. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Shay Carl: I was listening to the last podcast with Mike Rowe and hindsight, I say, is not 20/20, it’s 4K. Hindsight is 4K for the internet kids out there. At 25 – where was I when I was 25? We had just had our first kid. I think Colette was pregnant. That’s right when I dropped out of college. Maybe I would’ve said drop out of college sooner? But I don’t think I would change anything. I think I agree with Mike Rowe in the sense that I would tell myself, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.”
Things are going to work out. I love that question because it’s easy to think, well what would I tell my 25-year-old self? So then I think, well, if I’m 45 and I’m asked that question, what would I tell my 36-year-old self?
Tim Ferriss: This is something I think about a lot, actually. I actually journal – sorry, I’m hijacking this for a second just because I’ve had a lot of pu’erh tea. So one of the only pieces of writing that I’ve lost that made me really sad for an extended period of time was I sat down and I wrote a short story and realized only afterwards it was very similar to this piece written by Borges, but where I sat down – ended up seated across the table from a stranger and it turned out to be my future self.
So I asked him for advice and he gave me advice. It was a fun story, but I also – this sounds so kind of weird, but I got a lot of good advice just by going through the exercise. That was like, that’s odd. I don’t know what I just did there. It seems like a really funky magic trick. So what would your –
Shay Carl: What you just explained is exactly what I was going to suggest. Think about how old you are right now and think about being a 10-year older version of yourself and then think, what would I probably tell myself as an older version of myself? That is the wisdom that I think you found in that exercise. Stephen Covey says “Begin with the end in mind.” So I think having this eternal perspective, where you’re thinking about the timeline of your life, where you came from, where you’re going, who you want to become. You can delve into certain moments in that timeline and specifically, the past, because you can see where you’ve come from.
Just thinking futuristically in a sense where okay, what are probably my suggestions to myself in five years from now and then start living those things? I think you’re going to exponentially grow faster than you would have. It’s all about measuring, right? It’s all about a measured life, about being conscious of your decisions, about looking at your attitudes about what you think. Talking about books, I mentioned earlier, “As a Man Thinketh” is, to me, one of the most powerful books that you can read and it’s short. It’s like 100 pages.
There’s so much truth in the fact that everything that you do physically starts as a thought in your mind. So if you don’t want to become whatever, don’t think about those things. If you find that you’re thinking about a certain thing, that’s going to manifest itself physically eventually. So your thoughts are a very – and sometimes people get crazy thoughts, right?
Sometimes you might think you’re crazy because of all the stuff that comes into your mind, but you have to be conscious. It takes self-discipline.
Tim Ferriss: I think part of the development of that discipline, for me, it’s been morning meditation practice. But also been the developing – or I should say rather, practicing the role of observer, as opposed to being trapped in yourself and run by your emotions and not being aware of them or observing them and exercise like taking ten minutes to write down what your 45-year-old self, in my case, or 50-year-old self would say to me now, gives me a degree of separation where I can look somewhat objectively, like step off the rollercoaster ride that is my life and be like, “That’s a fucking weirdly designed rollercoaster.” Like, “Hold on here, why’d the architect do it that way? We should really change this turn. People are definitely going to get sick on Turn 4. Let’s fix that.”
Another way that I do that – I’m not particularly religious, so I don’t have a “What would Jesus do” bracelet or anything. But I have a handful of friends who are very highly developed in ways that I am not, right? So I have friends who are very Zenned out and effective in high-stress circumstances. I’m very good at doing that in crises. I’m not so good with the small things. I get really riled up by the little things. So I might ask myself, “What would Matt Mullenweig,” – this is a friend of mine who is really impressive on a lot of levels – “What would Mullenweig do in this situation?”
How would – fill in the blank, right? “How would Eric Weinstein think about this?” And if I’m overreacting and feeling myself slip into a negative state, let me his pause here. How would these other people I know really well respond to this right now? What would their advice be to me? I find that is an extremely helpful exercise, which takes practice so you get into the habit of doing it.
Shay Carl: So speaking of that, vlogging is great practice. Because when you’re editing yourself, you are watching yourself, and that is exactly what you need to do when you talk about becoming an observer of yourself. Because when you’re in your mind, you make excuses for yourself. Or maybe you’re not even conscious of some of the things that you’re doing or saying or if you’re rude to somebody. Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re doing that. But if you’re able to step out of your body, in a sense, and look at yourself from a third-person point of view, which I’ve been able to do much more because I’ve edited myself for so long.
I’m able to see the things that I’m saying and then tell myself, “You shouldn’t say that because of this and this and this.” It’s hard to explain, but almost try to picture as you sit there, close your eyes and imagine that you are standing behind yourself and that you’re looking at the back of your head.
That is a practice that you can do to help pull yourself out and become an observer of your life. That’s when I think there’s power to be like, well, I shouldn’t have done that. This is good, I should do that. Then you can be the architect of your rollercoaster and you can change Turn 3.
Tim Ferriss: Well, that’s also the detachment that Jocko talks about. A very similar approach. Well, this has been really fun, Shay. I’m glad you came here to Acroyoga and Russian bath and do it all. Is there any ask or request for my audience? Anything you’d like them to consider, think on, before we get to where they can find you and all that good stuff.
Shay Carl: It’s the same conversation that we’ve been having, is take a look at your life. Know and have hope that you can make it whatever you want it to be, and then just go about the task of doing it. It’s through hard work, through reading, through experience. The real success is in the doing of the thing.
So you can say and listen to a bunch of stuff, but to make action, to do stuff, to get up early, to make your bed, doing the hard things is what will bring you success. Get used to work and fall in love with it. Find those things that you hate and find those things that you dread and embrace them. Once you do that, there’s no fear left because you’ve allowed yourself to go into the dark.
It reminds me of one quick story. I remember when I was working at the granite shop. Dude, 4:30 was the worst time of day, because those last 30 minutes would just drag on and I would stare at the clock like 30 more minutes, 29 more minutes, 28 minutes more minutes. You’ve done it in school where you’ve watched the little hand move slowly.
And one day I was like, why am I just dreading this last 30 minutes every day? It sucks to hate – we talked about hate – this 30 minutes of my life. And so I remember one day where I was like, “I’m just going to clean the shop. I’m going to turn on some music in this last 30 minutes. I’m just going to clean this shop.” And I hated cleaning the shop because it was a mess and all of the other guys would just throw silicone tubes on the ground; it would piss me off. So I just started going to work. I just started working. All of a sudden, I look up at the clock and it’s 5:45. I just stayed 45 minutes past. So quit procrastinating. Dive into the hard stuff and allow yourself to make a mistake. You’re going to mess up. Just never quit. Keep going. That’s it.
Tim Ferriss: Get started. All right, my friend. So where can people find you? What are you up to? What would you like them to check out?
Shay Carl: I’m shaycarl on all the social media. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: shaycarl. I just wanted to talk about a website called Social Bluebook that I’m really excited about right now. That’s the thing I’m really excited about blowing up right now.
It’s a place that influencers can go to find their value. If you find yourself with 5,000 Twitter followers and there’s a brand that wants to pay you to promote their product and you have no idea what to charge them, you can go to Socialbluebook.com and you can login through your Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They’ll give you real values of what your Tweets are worth. If you made a video for somebody promoting a product, it’ll give you your value based on statistics like watch time, thumbs up, comments, interaction. It also has a great tool where you can submit – or brands.
If you’re a creator, can submit brand deals to you and there’s a whole form where you can just type in the ask. Check it out. If you’re an influencer, it’s a great tool to negotiate with brands. Socialbluebook.com is really cool.
Tim Ferriss: Everybody listening – as always, links to books mentioned, channels mentioned, pages, etc. will be found and can be found in the show notes.
So visit that for all of the delightful things we discussed at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast all spelled out. As always, and until next time, thank you for listening.
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