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Lex Fridman (00:00):
The following is a conversation with Mr. Beast, the mastermind behind some of the most epic and popular videos ever made. And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It’s the best way to support this podcast. We got House of Macadamias for a satiating and delicious snack, 8sleep for, you guessed it, naps, and BetterHelp for mental health. Choose wisely, my friends, snacks, naps, or mental health.
And now onto the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make this interesting, but if you skip them, please still check out our sponsors. I enjoy their stuff, maybe you will too. This show is brought to you by House of Macadamias. It seems like it was just yesterday that they became a sponsor, and I became aware of their existence because before they became a sponsor, they sent a giant box of delicious snacks. And it seems just like it was yesterday that I ate all of those snacks over a period of a few days and was a happier man for it. This month, I’m much stricter on my diet and trying to be much more responsible with my consumption of snacks. I think moderation is key for that. But in general, I think, first of all, macadamia, to me, I think, is one of the more delicious nuts, but it is definitely the healthiest or at least one of the most healthy. I think it’s pretty much the healthy. I remember when I first started keto, many, many years ago, I did a bunch of research on which nuts I can and can’t have, I guess, if I wanna be ultra low-carb, and everybody recommended macadamias as the one that has all these nutrients and all that kind of stuff. I’m sure there’s a lot of science. You can look it up. I think there’s omega-7s or whatever, those different kinds of fats.
It doesn’t matter. The points are delicious, and the raw ingredient of the macadamia nut that House of Macadamias provides is just delicious, and of course, they do all kinds of snacks around that. And my task, whenever I do an ad read or talk to anybody, like my neighbors or friends, about House of Macadamias, is not to do any sexual innuendo. That’s job number one. My brain is that of a silly person. At heart, I’m still a child, and I will forever remain a child, like that Tom Waits song, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.
Maybe that’s not even the name of the song or the lyrics, but I’m just gonna go with it. And this is a good chance to mention that Tom Waits is somebody that I’ve dreamed of talking to on this podcast for a long time. He’s a very difficult interview to get. He’s dropped a few crumbs to me of hope, saying like, yes, maybe one day. So I hold onto that hope, like a hold onto the delicious House of Macadamia nuts, with childlike joy in my eyes. Go to houseofmacadamias.com slash Lex to get 20% off your first order. This episode is also brought to you by Eight Sleep and its new Pod 3 mattress.
There’s been a few days over the past, let’s say three weeks, where I’ve been extremely stressed because of several things going on in my life. You know how life is, it’s an up and down process. Both the ups and downs contribute to the beauty of the whole experience. Anyway, when things were kind of difficult, I sought escape in friends, in books, in moments of simple joy, in moments of peace. And I think the best escape is a good nap.
A full night’s sleep, of course, but also a good nap. It’s kind of magical how much your mind can just become completely refreshed. The beauty of the world can be richly rediscovered through the process of a nap. It’s incredible, just 20, 30 minutes, it’s kind of amazing. At least my brain is like that. So sometimes when I’m feeling crappy, I’ll just give it a nap. I’ll give it a good night’s sleep and see how I feel again in the morning. And almost always, if not right away, just maybe a couple of times, I’ll feel better.
Anyway, that’s why you wanna really make sure that the surface, the mattress, all kinds of technology that you surround yourself with in terms of sleep, you use the best stuff. And that’s why I look forward to sleeping on that cool surface that an 8sleep cover provides. It’s just incredible. I look forward to naps and sleeps just because of that 8sleep cover. Check it out and get special savings when you go to 8sleep.com slash Lex.
This episode is also brought to you by BetterHelp, spelled H-E-L-P, help. Speaking of the ups and downs of life, I think it’s interesting, you know, the kind of rollercoaster your mind can go on. At least my mind can go on. One moment I feel blissful and happy and everything is beautiful, and one moment I feel cranky and just a little bit down. And one of the things I’ve learned is to just kind of allow the passage of time to cure all things.
But I think that’s not necessarily the full picture because you should probably treat your mental health very seriously and talk through it with a therapist. You know, there’s some deep ocean of feeling there that may lay unexplored. And it’s, I think, beneficial to explore it with a good therapist. I think one of the most accessible, easiest ways to get access to a good therapist, a licensed professional therapist, is BetterHelp. That’s why I’m a big supporter of what they do. I mean, that’s really the first barrier is make it super easy. And, of course, make it affordable. And that’s what BetterHelp does. Check them out at betterhelp.com slash Lex and save on your first month.
This is the Lex Friedman Podcast. To support it, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here’s Mr. Beast. ♪♪♪ I’m here with Mr. Beast, the brilliant mastermind behind some of the most popular videos ever created. Do you think you’ll ever make a video that gets one billion views?
I think maybe one of the videos we’ve already made might get a billion views. Which one do you think? Probably, like, the squid game video with enough time. I mean, it’s only a year old and it’s already on 300 million. Or some of the newer ones we’ve done have gotten, like, 100 million views in a month. So, those four are projected over 10 years because YouTube’s not going anywhere. Probably one of those.
Lex Fridman (07:24):
So, over time, they don’t necessarily plateau.
It’s interesting. We’re literally jumping right into it. I love it. It’s good. So, I’m a firm believer that it’s much easier to hypothetically get 10 million views on one video than 100,000 on 100. And part of why it’s much easier, in my opinion, is, like, if you make a really good video, it’s just so evergreen and it never dies. Because YouTube, when you open up YouTube and look at the videos, they’re just serving you whatever they think you’ll like the best, you know? And so, if you just make a great video, and it’s constantly just above every other video, you know, even two years down the road, then they’ll just keep serving it and never stop, you know, which is why it’s much easier to make one great video than a bunch of mediocre ones.
Lex Fridman (08:03):
What about one billion subscribers? You’ve passed PewDiePie as the most subscribed to a YouTube channel. When do you think you get a billion?
Let me do some math real quick. So, around 120. So, you think about this? No, I don’t, honestly. Because one thing you’ll find if you want to gain subscribers, if you want to get views, if you want to make money, almost any metric in this video creation space, if you want something, it all comes back to, okay, well then just make great videos. So, instead of like focusing on all these arbitrary vanity metrics, I just kind of focus on the one thing that gets me all that, which is make good videos. But, and I do think we will, when they hit a billion subscribers, I don’t have a plan on going anywhere. Even though we’re only on 120 million right now on the main channel, I think like we’re doing around 10 million a month now and YouTube just, yeah, I just don’t see it going anywhere. And I don’t see any reason why I’d ever get burnt out or quit. So, I think with enough time, yes.
Lex Fridman (08:56):
I wanted to ask you those family-friendly questions before I go to the dark questions. So, now.
Oh, we have dark questions. But if you wanted to hook them, you would start off with the dark question.
Lex Fridman (09:05):
That’s how you get them. Okay, well, let me ask you about a Twitter poll you posted. A $10,000 death poll. You tweeted, if someone offered you $10,000, but if you take it, a random person on earth dies, would you take the $10,000? And 45% of people said yes. That’s, at least at the time I checked, 850,000 people committing murder for just $8.5 billion in total. So, what do you learn about human nature from that?
Yeah, that’s a good question. Honestly, this was late at night when I threw that up too. I was just like, huh, this will be a funny thing. I assumed it’d be 90% no and 10% yes, but there are a lot of serious people. For you guys listening, I just did this random Twitter poll where I was like, would you take 10 grand if it meant someone random in the world died? And a lot of the replies on the tweet were like, hell yeah, why not? And I was just not expecting that. And so, I don’t really know. I feel like your take would be better than mine. I feel like your take would be better than mine.
Lex Fridman (10:05):
Was it disturbing to you, surprising to you?
A little bit, yeah. But obviously, a lot of people were trolling, but when you read through those replies, I do think 10% of them were dead serious.
Lex Fridman (10:15):
Well, I think sometimes the trolling and the lulls reveal a thing we’re too embarrassed to admit about the darker aspects of our nature. So, I don’t know if you listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, he has a episode on painfotainment, which he describes throughout history how humans have been really attracted to watching the suffering of others. So, public executions, all that kind of stuff. And he believes that’s in all of us. That, for example, if something like a YouTube or a different platform streamed a public execution or streamed the torture of another human being, a lot of people would say that’s deeply unethical, but they would still tune in and watch. And that we’re attracted to that drama, and especially the most extreme versions of that drama. And so, I think part of the lulls reveals something that’s actually true in that poll. Your answer’s so much better than mine. Do you think about that, maybe even with the squid game? Like, so I think, how many views does the squid game currently have? 300 million? Something like this?
So, just imagine, thought experiment, how many views that video would get if it was, like, real.
Yeah, assuming YouTube was like, ah, we’ll turn a blind eye, we won’t take it down. Yeah, I mean, obviously, it’d probably have billions of views.
Lex Fridman (11:42):
How do you think you will die? And do you think it’ll be during a video?
Probably doing something dumb, like going to space when I’m older, or trying to go to Mars, or something like that. I know for a fact it won’t be on a video. Every video we do, we have safety experts and stuff like that, so it’s not really risk. But, yeah, I could see myself, like, after a million people go to Mars or something like that, I’d probably be like, you know what, let’s go. And something like that, maybe.
Lex Fridman (12:05):
So, not in the name of a video, just for the holiday?
No, heck no.
Lex Fridman (12:08):
Are you open to taking risks when you shoot videos? You just went to Antarctica. I mean, you’re putting yourself in the line a little bit, right?
Of course, but, you know, we’ve had that video in the works for three years, and then we consult with tons of experts, radar the entire path we’re gonna walk beforehand to see if there’s crevasses. So, we know there’s no crevasses, we do training, we consult with experts, and we have survival guides there with us, and monitor the weather and everything. So, it’s like, any variable where we could get harmed, we just pre-plan for it. Same thing with buried alive. Like, I had David Blaine spent a week underground, and so I consulted with him, and consulted with basically anyone who ever buried themself alive. You know, the coffin we used to bury me, we did so many tests. Like, that coffin was buried 10 times before I was, you know, for way longer than 50 hours. It tested the airflow and everything, to the point where I was safer in that coffin underground than I was above ground. Like, so we just tend to just not leave anything up to chance, you know?
Lex Fridman (13:01):
Yeah. Another strange question then. So, you recorded these videos to yourself, you know, five years, 10 years from now. Have you recorded a video that’s to be released once you die?
Well, first off, I am just glad that not every one of your questions have to do with, like, views or things like that. It’s nice getting different questions. So, this is good. No, seriously. It’s a little dark, it’s a little dark. No, no, but it’s fine, because a lot of people just be like, how much money do you make? You know, it’s just something I just, everything’s always about money now, when people talk to me. So, it’s nice. But for the videos I’ve made, for you guys who probably don’t follow me too closely, when I had 8,000 subscribers and I was a teenager, I filmed a bunch of videos and scheduled them years in the future. And I said, I filmed one where I was like, high me in a year, and the video went up a year later. And it was just like, hey, I think you’ll have 100,000 subscribers. And then I did one where I was like, high me in five years. I was like, hey, in five years, I think you’ll have a million. And then one that hasn’t come out yet, but comes out in two years, is was high me in 10 years. And I tried to predict 10 years later, how many subs I’d have. That’s what he’s referring to. And yes, there are some that are scheduled like 20 years in the future. And so, if I don’t die, I’ll just move them up. And I remember, because I filmed these though, like seven years ago. But it was, I remember saying a line like, you know, if I’m dead, then I’m currently just in a coffin and like, whatever, blah, blah, blah. And because the only way the video would go up is if I’m not alive. And if I’m not alive, then I won’t be able to push back the schedule upload date. So it will go public automatically. And so, yeah, I have a couple of those. Like, if I knew I was gonna die of like, cancer or something, and I had like three months to live, I would vlog every day. I’d filmed so many videos. And then I would just schedule upload a video a week for like the next five years. So it’s like, I’m still alive. And I would completely act like I’m still alive and everything. And I think something like that would be cool.
I don’t know why, but I’ve fantasized, not fantasized, but I’ve dreamt about that a lot. Like, I don’t know, if I only had 30 days to live, what would I do? And for me, I would try to make like a decade’s worth of content and schedule upload it so they automatically go public in the future. And so it’s just like, I never died. I’m just there.
Lex Fridman (15:05):
Yeah, it’s a kind of immortality, but it’s also a kind of troll on the concept of time. Yeah. That you can die in the physical space but persist in the digital space. I actually, I recorded a video like that because I had some concerns and I just thought it’s also a good exercise to do. A video would like to be released if I die. And it was actually a really interesting exercise. It’s cool. Like it shows like what you really care about. I guess it’s like writing a will, but when you’re younger, you don’t think about that kind of stuff.
But- Exactly, mine was just dumb. Yeah. Like I’m bones in a coffin.
Lex Fridman (15:38):
Yours is probably so serious.
Lex Fridman (15:41):
No, it’s fun actually. What you realize is like, there’s no point to be serious at this point. It’s a weird thing. I guess you’ve done this, but it’s a weird thing to address the world when you, the physical you, is no longer there. So like, you know this would only be released if you’re no longer there. Exactly. That’s a weird exercise.
You know what’s funny? Of all the people listening to this, you know, we’re probably the only two people that have made videos for when we die. It’s like such a niche thing, and the fact that we’re bonding over, it’s kind of funny.
Lex Fridman (16:07):
I think people should think about doing that. It’s not just about YouTube, it’s also social media. Just think about it. Like, there’s gonna be a last tweet, and a last, I don’t know, Facebook post, and a last Instagram post. And yeah, I feel like there’s some aspects that’s meditative to just even considering making a post like that. And also, it’s a way for the people that love you to kind of celebrate.
Do you think that would help them cope or not? Like, if someone randomly watching this did film a video, you know, for if they accidentally died in some freak accident to be given to their family, do you think that would, and it was like a genuine.
Lex Fridman (16:44):
I think it would really help. I mean, it depends.
Like, how would you even intro that? Like, hey mom, if you’re seeing this, you know, it means I’m probably dead.
Lex Fridman (16:51):
Yeah, exactly. That’s how you intro it. That’s the opener.
I just wanted you to know. Yeah, I guess.
Lex Fridman (16:57):
Yeah, and I guess you could say it in a kind of funny way, but, and just talk about the things that mean a lot to you. Because otherwise, you’re at the risk of the last post you have is like, like, I don’t know, talking shit about,
like McDonald’s. McDonald’s, exactly. And then you’re dead. That’s it, 100 years.
Lex Fridman (17:14):
I don’t know. I do recommend it. It’s like the Stoics meditate on death every day in the same way you kind of meditate on your death when you make a video like that. Because it’s actually not just even talking to yourself, it’s talking to the world. And it, like, for some reason, at least for me, they made it very concrete that there’s going to be an end. And I’m like, it’s almost, it’s over for me. If I’m making the video, it’s over for me. It’s an interesting thought experiment. I recommend people try it. Okay, from, are you afraid of death, by the way?
Yes, I, it’s hard because, like, what if you just die and then you just see nothing forever, you know? Yeah, the nothingness. It just fades to blackness and you’re just like that for trillions upon trillions to billions squared years. And it’s just, it’s scary. But also, before you’re born, you don’t remember those X amount of years either.
So that gives me a little comfort, but no, it’s definitely very scary. Something I’d rather not think about until I’m, like, 80. I’ll deal with that problem then. I don’t know if I told you this, but I’m kind of hopeful that someone like Elon or one of these, like, freak smart people would just, like, be like, you know what, screw it. I’m going to figure out a way where we can slow down aging, get it where, you know, we can live to be 200, 300 years old and just, like, set their sights on that and then just kind of save us. So it’d be really nice.
Like, it’s almost absurd to think that in our lifetime they won’t figure out a way to just even slightly slow down aging, where we could live to be, like, 120, 130. And then that extra time, they won’t figure out some way where we could live to be 200. Like, obviously not immortal, but I don’t see how, in my lifetime, the life expectancy doesn’t just expand.
Lex Fridman (18:52):
Well, it also could be that the immortality is achieved in the digital realm. Like, it could be long after you’re gone there’s a Mr. Beast run by a Chad GPT-type system.
Exactly. Yeah, that consumes everything I ever said, everything I ever wrote. I don’t want that. I don’t want to live. One of you smart people out there, figure it out. I’ll keep you entertained, but I need you to figure out how to keep me alive. Give me till 200. That will make me happy.
Lex Fridman (19:16):
Well, that’s funny. Who owns the identity of Mr. Beast once the physical body is gone? Like, is it illegal to create another Mr. Beast that’s Chad GPT-based? I don’t know what the laws are on that.
Yeah. I mean, once I’m dead, I don’t care. Wow.
Lex Fridman (19:31):
Well, you just said you did care. I mean, there could be a AI, like many Mr. Beasts that are created after you’re gone.
Yeah, I mean, that’d be cool to be able to train up a model and let them loose so my content lives on, I guess, yeah.
Lex Fridman (19:43):
Yeah, but it somehow feels like it diminishes the value you contribute. Yeah, it’s inauthentic, but it’s also, there’s some aspect to the finiteness of the art being necessary for its greatness.
Yeah, the second that thing starts spamming out videos, the videos lose all meaning and it’s pointless and it’s a money grab.
Lex Fridman (20:04):
If you ran YouTube for, how long should you run it? For a year, how would you change it? How would you improve it?
It’s hard because, you know, obviously I’m biased because we’re doing really well, but I feel like when I open up YouTube on my television, I get the videos I want to watch. I don’t know. I don’t ever open it and wonder, like, what are these? What are these 10 videos on my homepage? When I click on a video, I don’t ever wonder what these are, and maybe it’s because I’m very adamant about the kind of videos I watch, and I try not to watch videos that I don’t want to get recommended more because that’s how I think, but I’m very happy with how it is at the moment.
I think one thing, though, that I just hate with the passion is the comment section on YouTube. It’s just so bad, but I know that’s not something that’s gonna 10x the growth of the platform, but if you think about it, you go to Reddit to read comments and somehow, usually the top 20 posts on a popular Reddit post are not spam, you know what I mean?
Have you ever clicked on something on the front page of Reddit and the most upvoted reply to it is like, go check out my site right here, and it’s trying to scam you out of $1,000? Yeah, I can’t even think of one instance I’ve ever had that happen. So Reddit, it’s so nice to click on posts and just see what people have to say, and I almost wish you had that same feeling when you read the comments on a YouTube video. Instead, it’s so many people just copy and pasting, so many bots that just grab the top comment from your previous video and paste it over so the top comments on every video are the same, and the things that break through that are just scammers trying to get you to give them $1,000 for a fake ad.
Lex Fridman (21:35):
That comment section is one of the most lively on the internet, so it would be amazing if YouTube invested in creating an actual community where people could do high-effort comments and be rewarded for it, like on Reddit.
Yeah. Like actually write out a long thing. That would make me so happy, because when I upload a video, I usually go to Twitter to see feedback. I read my comments, and I’ll flip through newest, but I feel like Reddit and Twitter just give me so much better filtered feedback, especially now that with Twitter Blue, because people pay $8 a month, I’ve noticed any tweets I get from verified users now, they’re usually not just garbage troll takes. These are people paying $8 a month. They’re usually relatively sensible, and so it’s been pretty nice. Like after I upload a video, I just go on the verified tab on Twitter and just see what people have to say, and anyways, I live for the day that YouTube’s like that.
Lex Fridman (22:27):
What do you think about Twitter? What do you think about all the fun activity happening recently since Elon bought Twitter?
I think he should make me CEO, like I tweeted. Well, I should say we just a couple hours ago
Lex Fridman (22:42):
had a conversation with Elon, and you guys sent an exchange of some excellent ideas, so yeah, I legitimately think, obviously, you’re exceptionally busy, but I legitimately think it would be awesome if you somehow participated in the future of Twitter.
Yeah, it would be fun.
Lex Fridman (23:00):
Because there’s so much possibility of different ideas, first in the sort of the content, like dissemination, hosting, and all the different recommendations, like the search and discovery, all the things that YouTube does well.
I think the most exciting thing is he’s willing to move fast, and so I think there’s gonna be a lot of interesting things that come out of it because he’s just moving quick, and a lot of these more mature platforms just take years to do the simplest stuff, and they’re very bureaucratic. So it’s gonna, I mean, it’ll be interesting to see which way it goes when you just kind of take a move quick, break things, whatever type approach to social media. I’m actually pretty curious to see what features he rolls out.
Lex Fridman (23:38):
So what would be your first act as Twitter CEO?
I can’t spoil it. Okay. I gotta get hired.
Lex Fridman (23:47):
What do you think about video on the platform? On Twitter? Yeah, do you think that’s an interesting, or is it like messing with the medium, the nature of the platform?
I think Twitter will always be closer to TikTok than it is to YouTube, at least in its current form. I don’t see 20-minute, one-hour-long videos or whatever, even 15-minute videos being watched over there. I see it more as the short and snappy stuff closer to TikTok.
Lex Fridman (24:12):
But at the same time, Twitter is a really good comment section for the internet.
I mean, it’s almost weird why, like why doesn’t Twitter allow you to embed YouTube videos? Like why does, you should just ask Elon that. I don’t know if that’s a YouTube thing, but when a YouTuber posts a video, why do they have to link to YouTube? Why can’t they just embed it on Twitter and you just play it there? I mean, wouldn’t that just solve a lot of problems?
Lex Fridman (24:33):
Yeah, but then the two companies would have to agree to integrate each other’s content.
I don’t know, but it seems like a win-win. I mean, well, it’s more of a win for Twitter because then people don’t have to leave the platform. I mean, that’d be the easiest.
Lex Fridman (24:44):
But who gets, like when you watch the ads on a YouTube video that’s embedded in Twitter, who gets the money?
It would still be YouTube, but at least then, right now, people just post a link and it takes you off Twitter and it just kills your session time on Twitter.
Lex Fridman (24:56):
That’s really interesting. But yeah, because the Twitter, whatever the dynamics of the comments, especially once the spam bots are taken care of, Twitter just works, it’s really nice. So Reddit is a nice comment section for the internet. It’s like slower paced, more deliberate, like higher effort. Twitter’s like this high paced, like ephemeral kind of stream, but there’s the vote, the upvoting, the downvoting works much better because you can do retweeting, right? Because the social network is much stronger than it is on YouTube. Like the interconnect.
Yeah, on Reddit, you’re gonna get, the top replies are gonna be the most refined ones, whereas Twitter, stuff flows to the top. That’s not super refined. But like you’re saying, it’s more off-the-cuff stream of consciousness, which a lot of people prefer because it’s a little more personal.
Lex Fridman (25:40):
How do you think Twitter compares to YouTube in terms of how you see its future on Roland 2023?
I mean, I think YouTube’s gonna be YouTube and not much is really gonna change, but it’s gonna keep growing just because that’s just what it does because it’s owned by Google. But Twitter, I don’t know. I mean, it’s one of those things like you can’t predict if a year from now an economy’s gonna be in a recession or booming. And I think Twitter’s kind of the same thing. One thing’s for certain, a lot of things are gonna be rolled out, but who knows, honestly.
Lex Fridman (26:11):
You responded to Elon saying Twitter’s unlikely to be able to pay creators more money than YouTube. Why do you think that is?
Well, yeah, because I think the tweet I responded to is one where he was saying that users will jump over if Twitter can potentially pay more than other platforms. And I was just saying, obviously, because Google has Google AdWords, and I mean, that’s Google’s whole thing. It’s putting ads on stuff. They’ve been doing it better than anyone else in the world for a very long time. It’s very unlikely in the next few years that Twitter’s gonna just magically, or any platform, give a creator the ability to make higher CPMs than on YouTube. It’s kind of crazy.
Like some creators in December, Q4, because ad rates are higher because of Christmas and everything, some creators literally make like $30, $40 per 1,000 views. That’s after YouTube’s cut. It’s almost hard to think about how high the RPMs get. And even then, once you pull out of finance and cars, the high CPM niches, and you move into just normal stuff, it’s still just crazy. The sheer volume of creators, and the fact that all of them get these multi-dollar CPMs at scale, it’s pretty beautiful.
Lex Fridman (27:15):
So you do, I don’t know what you would call them, but like integrated ads in your videos, and you do it, I would say, masterfully. It’s like part of the video. Are you talking about brand deals? Brand deals, is that what you would call that? Yep. So it’s a brand deal, it’s part of the video. It’s still really exciting to watch, and yet there’s a plug for the brand.
In general, just brand deals, since you brought it up, integrating them well. I think that’s something a lot of creators don’t do. Like, they’ll just do a brand deal out of the blue. They’ll just do it. Just do a brand deal out of the blue. They’ll just be filming a video, and then around the three-minute mark, just start talking about a random company. And I feel like if you don’t want viewers to click away, and you want people to not get pissed off, and call you a sellout, you gotta find a way to integrate into the content. And ideally, use the money in the video to make it better. The easiest thing you do when you do a brand deal is just tell people how you’re using money from the brand deal to make your content better. And if you do that, no one cares. Now they’re supporting you for it. And you go from being a sellout to like, oh, I’m doing this to make better videos for you guys. You know?
Lex Fridman (28:10):
I don’t know if you can share, but with those brands, when you have discussions with them, are they strict about how long you need to be talking about it? Or is it more about they’re leaving control to you about the artistic element of it?
The problem is the ones who don’t give us the artistic element, we just don’t really work with anymore. Because it’s just, you know, we get 100 million views a video now, and I can confidently say I know how to entertain them and convert them better than these random brands. So yeah, if they don’t give us that freedom, I just won’t work with them.
Lex Fridman (28:41):
So you have that leverage, but for smaller creators,
it’s a lot harder. Yeah, and they’re gonna just say 45 seconds, here’s what you say, take it or leave it. And it’s like pretty brutal. Because I think just in general, if brands were more accommodating to let creators tell their story of the brand and talk about the brand in a way that felt a little more natural, I think A, it’d be less cringe, people would be less likely to go, you know, tap, tap, tap, skip, and obviously it would convert better. But they’re just so afraid and they want this standardized thing. Say these words in 45 seconds, right here at this three minute mark.
Lex Fridman (29:13):
Yeah, I often think about how to resist that.
You just don’t do them though, right?
Lex Fridman (29:18):
Not on YouTube, right? On the audio, I do ads in the very beginning, and I say you can skip them if you want.
But. The brand loves that.
Lex Fridman (29:26):
I don’t, like the point is they. So the funny thing about podcasts is different than YouTube videos. Podcast people actually do listen to ads a lot because it’s slower paced and they like the creator voice, like talking about the thing. But in general, I just don’t believe you should be talking about a thing for a minute exactly and that’s going to be effective. I wanna see the data for that. I think what’s much more effective is the way you do ads, which is like integrating to the content, like put a lot of effort into making a part of that, like doing the brand deals. And I just, it’s difficult to have that conversation. It’s like a very strenuous conversation you have to have with brands. You have to each one at a time. And I just wish there was more of a culture to say like, the quality of the ad read matters a lot more than the like, the silly parameters, like the timing of it, like how long it is, the placement of it, all that kind of stuff.
What percentage of your viewers do you think have seen one of my videos before?
Lex Fridman (30:30):
What percentage of the viewers on YouTube, right? Yeah, of your viewers. Of the viewers on YouTube, though.
Yeah, yeah. Okay, sure, or all of them. It’s just interesting because you’re speaking very specifically like about my brand deal process. And so in my head, I’m like, oh, I wonder, what percentage of these people even have any idea what he’s talking about?
Lex Fridman (30:46):
That’s interesting. I love the thinking about numbers.
The whole time we were having this conversation, it’s all I could think about. It’s like, God damn it. He’s, there’s probably like 50% of these people have no fucking clue what he’s saying. Probably. And we’re about to torture him for five minutes.
Lex Fridman (30:57):
Yeah, yeah, probably.
But that’s something I can’t turn off in my brain.
Lex Fridman (31:00):
Less than 50%. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is that exciting to you? That there’s like 50% of people don’t, have not watched a Mr. Beast video. Isn’t that an opportunity?
Yeah, I guess it’s an opportunity to grow. I don’t know. Honestly, I was just kind of excited to hang out with you.
Lex Fridman (31:14):
Yeah, yeah, me too. I mean, today was a lot of fun. Who cares if there’s mics?
Yeah, so it was kind of like having a buddy to go along the journey as I’m just kind of eating shit and doing my normal grind. It was like kind of fun. And also you just say really wise stuff constantly. So honestly, no, I never even put any thought into like the demographics or what I could gain. It’s just interesting. Cause like my retention brain, when you talk about something, I’m instantly like, what value are they going to get? How many of them are going to be interested? What percentage of people do I think will lose? And I’m like running all those calculations in the background and that whole conversation, like the long, anyway, it’s just something I can’t turn off. My like bells are like, error, error. This is bad.
Lex Fridman (31:50):
Yeah. What are the different strategies for high retention for your videos and in general?
It’s like, how do you cook good food? You know what I mean? That’s like the same kind of question.
Lex Fridman (31:59):
I see. So there’s so many different ways that you, so it boils down to, I mean, do you think at the level of a story or do you think like literally watching five seconds at a time, am I going to tune out here? Am I going to tune out here?
Am I going to tune out here? It’s all of it. You need the overarching narrative and then you also need the micro where every second, you know, needs to be entertaining. And you basically, what’s interesting is the longer people watch something, the more likely they are to keep watching. So you don’t have to try as hard in the hypothetically back half of a video as you do in the front. Like even right now, we’re so deep into this where a lot of people listening are probably just going to keep listening relatively close to the end, unless we just have a really boring part of this conversation, because they’re just in it, they’re immersed. And so a big, like to really boil it down to a simple level, you just want to get people where they’re immersed in the content and then just kind of hold them there.
Lex Fridman (32:52):
We had this discussion offline. And by the way, I should mention that this is like late at night.
It is. What time is it? It’s nine o’clock.
Lex Fridman (33:00):
And I only slept one hour last night because I’m an idiot. And I flew to the wrong location.
Well, here, we’re like, hey, let’s just book you a hotel and a flight. He’s like, no, I got it. We’re like, you sure? We can just do it. We always do this. He’s like, no, I got it.
Lex Fridman (33:14):
I got it. He’s going to have to rub it in.
I know. And then today, come to find out, he flew to the wrong airport. Airport with the, or a city with a similar name to ours.
Lex Fridman (33:22):
It’s the same name. Same name in a different state.
And I was like, that’s why you should have let us book it. And so he’s on one hour of sleep and he’s literally been dying all day. Before this podcast, he downed like two things of coffee. We’ve been going all day hard.
Lex Fridman (33:35):
Yeah, I’ve been, I got to interact with him. I should say that this gave me an opportunity to, I got a ride from a stranger and it was an incredible person. I got to interact with him. So it’s like, there’s so many kind people around here. Just like this kind of Southern energy. And then I got to go to a diner, because I could, you know, there’s only one hour between me arriving and having to fly out. So I went to a diner. There’s a really kind waitress that called me honey. So that was a beautiful moment, you know.
I was so confused. You tweeted about that. And like, Steele’s like, my assistant was like, Lex isn’t here yet. And I saw your tweet and I was like, he’s here. Steele’s like, no, he’s still flying. I was like, an hour ago, he just tweeted about a nice diner.
Lex Fridman (34:18):
Yeah, it was a diner in a different state.
And then you had to fly over here. And then I called you, you didn’t answer. I was like, hmm. I was like, something’s not adding up.
Lex Fridman (34:29):
Yeah, I feel like such an idiot, because apparently the world has cities like Springfield, right? Like, every single state has a Springfield. Oh, really? I think so. I think that’s like a Simpsons joke, right? That like, it’s the city in the Simpsons is Springfield. And I think every single state, or most of them have a Springfield. And the same is true for like, Georgetown. I think the most popular, I forget what the most popular one was. But there’s like a list of the things people get when they run out of ideas.
They just keep using the same thing over and over. They’re your Achilles heel.
Lex Fridman (35:03):
Anyway, I got to meet a bunch of people from your team. They’re just incredible human beings. So let me just ask on that topic, how do you hire a great team? Like, what have you learned about hiring for everything, for the main channel that you do, for the React, the gaming channel, to MrBeastBurger, to Feastables, all that?
The big thing is, especially in this content creation, because it’s not like anything that’s done on Netflix or different content medians. I really need people who are coachable and like really see the value in what I care about, because it’s a very specific way of going about things. And it’s like a thing, there’s no one like plug and play. Like if Netflix wanted to hire someone to do a documentary, there’s probably tens of thousands of people you could hire that have worked on documentaries before. But if you want to hire someone to make super viral YouTube videos, you know, like we do, there’s just no one you can really pull from. Like sometimes I’ll hire people from game shows, right?
They have all these preconceived notions about pacing and how a video should be. And you have to spend like the first year like breaking all these habits and they think they’re better than you. Like a lot of people in traditional think they’re better and they think their way is better than what we do. And so for me, it’s almost easier to hire people that are just hard workers that are obsessed and really coachable and just train them how to like be good at content creation and production than to hire someone from like traditional, which is the only way to really do it, because there’s not that many YouTube channels that have scaled up. So it’s not like there’s a huge talent pool of people who’ve worked on YouTube channels. So it’s easier just to train someone than just pull them from traditional, because traditional people just, I don’t know, they have all these opinions and things and they just think our way of going about things is dumb.
Lex Fridman (36:48):
Yeah, so you want people who have the humility to have a beginner’s mind, even if they have experience.
And see the value. Like actually, you’ll still get it. It’s so crazy. Like especially some of my other friends that are scaling up their YouTube channels, there’s people that will come on and you’ll ask them like, what do you want to be doing in five years? And instead of saying, oh, I want to be working on this channel, they’ll be like, oh, I hope to be working on movies or this or that. And they see like working on a YouTube channel as a launchpad to go into traditional. And it’s like, no, like you just don’t get it. This is the end goal. This is your career. And so I’m just so tired of having those kinds of conversations. Like I feel like people really should be coming around.
Lex Fridman (37:22):
Are there like recurring interview questions that you ask? Is there ways to get?
Yeah, but the biggest thing is like, what do you want to be doing in 10 years? And if their answer isn’t making content on YouTube or if their answer is anything like movies or traditional stuff like that, it’s like just a hell no. Like it just won’t even remotely work.
Lex Fridman (37:40):
Oh, so you really want people to believe in the vision of YouTube?
Yeah, I mean, ideally it’s like, oh, working here. You know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (37:46):
So it’s less about the medium and more about just being on a great team that’s doing epic stuff.
Yeah, well, and yeah, the media as well. Cause those, it’s just, it’s hard to put into words, but it’s just two completely different ways of going about things. Like our videos aren’t scripted and it’s a lot more run and gun. And if we hypothetically blow up a giant car or whatever, like you only have one take, you know what I mean? And it’s not scripted. And so you have to over film, overshoot things, overcompensate for like the dumb way of going about it. And a lot of traditional people would be like, well, just plan what you’re going to say and just plan the angles. You can cut the cameras in half. You can save 50 grand here. You can save, you know, $75,000 editing, this and that. And it’s like, yeah, but that’s not authentic. Like that’s, you know, blah, blah, you get it. It’s almost so obvious that it hurts to have to like constantly have these conversations, but it’s what we live in.
Lex Fridman (38:36):
But there’s also a detail, like there’s a taste. Like I’ve watched a bunch of videos with you and it’s clear to you that you’ve gotten really good. I don’t know what the right word is, style or taste, to be able to know what’s good and not in terms of retention, in terms of just stylistically, visually.
I don’t have to think. I can just watch a video and it just screams in my head, like this is what should change based on the, you know, million videos I’ve watched and all these viral videos I’ve consumed. Like this is blah, blah, blah, what’s optimal and things like that.
It’s almost like your brain’s like a, you know, like a neural net. And like if you consume enough viral videos and enough good content that you just kind of start to like train your brain to like see it and see these patterns that happen in all these viral videos. And so that anytime I watch a video or a movie or anything, I just can’t stop thinking about what is optimal. And so it’s like, it gives me a headache sometimes when I watch something too slow or I don’t think it’s optimal. Obviously my taste isn’t the end all be all, but that’s something that kind of torments me, if that makes any sense.
Lex Fridman (39:35):
Oh, you can’t enjoy a slow moving.
No, I can’t. And that’s not to say there’s.
Lex Fridman (39:39):
Godfather is horrible.
No, exactly. I’ve tried to watch that movie like three times, but that’s not to say slow movies are bad. Like there’s an audience for it. It’s just obviously not what I’ve trained my brain to like. And in social media and YouTube right now, like there’s just not the meta.
Lex Fridman (39:54):
And in general, like you said, in neural network, you’re training your brain in part on actual data, right? So you’re actually, it’s data driven. So you’re looking at like, in terms of thumbnails and titles and different aspects of the first five, 10 seconds, and then throughout the video, the retention, all of that, you’re looking at all of that for your own videos to understand how to do it better. So that’s where the neural network is training.
Yeah. Basically there are ways you can kind of see like the most viewed videos on YouTube every day and stuff like that. And I just kind of consume those every single day. And I’ve been doing that for way too many years. And you just start to notice patterns. Like the thumbnails on the most viewed videos or videos that go super viral tend to be clear, tend to not have much clutter, tend to be pretty simple. Titles tend to be less than 50 characters. Intros tend to be this. Stories tend to be this. And you just kind of like, after you see those thousands and then tens of thousands of time, it just starts to click in your head. Like, this is what it looks like.
Lex Fridman (40:47):
Yeah. So how are you able to transfer that taste that you’ve developed to the team? So for like, because you’ve said like broad things, but I’m sure there’s a million detailed things. Like what zoom to use on the face to use in the thumbnail, right?
The answer is whatever makes the best video. Because the problem is the more, which I have so many friends who are like this. They’ll make like checklists for their editors. They’ll make, you know, this beat and this beat. And you need to have like a three part arc and then this. But the problem is that’s how you, the more constraints you put on the team, the more repetitive and less innovation you get. And the more like, you know, after 10 videos, people are going to be like, all right, I’ve already seen this.
So to me, and I’m 24 and you know, I’m probably my mindset will change over the next 10 years. I just haven’t been in this industry too long. But the only way to like really make innovative content and keep things fresh is to not put constraints on or put as little as possible. And so that’s why I’m very hesitant on all that stuff. Because the more I say, the more they’re gonna be like, oh, then that’s what we do. And then, you know, I’ll say one time like, oh, you know, ideally there’s a cut every three seconds. And the next thing you know, every video, there’s a cut every three seconds or whatever. So it’s hard because I try to give as little, not training, but as little facts as possible and more just make suggestions if that makes any sense. Do you mean publicly or to your team?
Lex Fridman (42:08):
To my team. Yeah. So you talked about sort of teaching your voice or your style, whatever we want to call it to other people on the team so they can be kind of a Mr. Beast replacement. So what’s the process of teaching that? So you don’t want to…
No, I got you. You’re more talking about like, what I would call almost like cloning, right? Like Tyler and other people like that. Yeah. So when we were hanging out today, I was showing him how we have multiple people in the company. It’s almost like talking to the camera. It’s a habit. Yeah, you turn slowly to the camera. I was like, anyways, habit.
Lex Fridman (42:41):
Is it weird to you to not be looking at the camera?
This whole interview, I constantly have been turning towards the camera. I’m talking to him. It’s a habit. Because my whole life I’ve just been talking to a camera.
Lex Fridman (42:52):
Who are you thinking about when you’re looking at the camera? Do you like imagine somebody?
I’m fully thinking about the person just sitting watching it. I almost, it’s weird. When I’m looking at the camera, I don’t see a camera. I’m like in a haze picturing what the viewer is seeing when they watch it, if that makes sense. And that’s where I’ll be saying things or doing something. And then like when I’m watching, I’m like, that’s not what I want. And then I’ll freeze up. It’s very weird when I’m filming. And for people who haven’t worked with me too much, they’ll think like, I don’t know. It’s very weird how I go about it. Because I’ll just be doing whatever, like lighting a firework. This is a $1,000 firework. And I’ll go to light it and I’ll freeze. Because in my head I’m like this, I don’t know, I don’t like how that flowed or how that shot looked. Because it’s weird. I can perfectly picture what I’m filming by just looking at the camera and then putting myself through the lens of the camera while making content. I can do it at the same time.
Lex Fridman (43:42):
So you’re like real-time editing the video.
That’s something that didn’t at the start come natural to me but in the last probably like five years it’s happened. And so I would say it’s one of my greatest strengths but I don’t know how I developed it. But anytime I’m filming anything, like it’s almost like the right side of my brain. I can just look at it and I see exactly what I’m filming and I can just picture it.
Lex Fridman (44:03):
Well, that’s probably recording the video, being the talent for the video and then watching the editing and like analyzing it carefully and do that over and over.
Yeah, you do that 10,000 times, yeah.
Lex Fridman (44:12):
You do the editing more than being in front of the camera. So like you start to see yourself from that third person perspective. Exactly. And then maybe that actually helps with the nerves of it too. Like you see it as creating a video versus performing.
Yeah, yeah, I think so. You know, it’s weird, I’ve never been nervous talking to a camera. It’s harder for me to talk to a person than it is to talk to a camera. Which I feel like a lot of people say that though, that are, whatever, make content, right? Interesting. I’ve heard that so many times. Or maybe not, maybe I’m just awkward.
Lex Fridman (44:45):
Maybe they’re practiced. To me it’s, I mean, both are terrifying but being in front of the camera by yourself.
It’s so much easier. Really? It’s so much easier. I’ve heard it a million times over. But that’s my whole life, you know? So it’s just, that’s why it’s interesting. Like you’ve spent more of your time talking to people. It just comes natural. And I talk to a piece of plastic.
Lex Fridman (45:06):
Oh yeah, I guess you’re talking to a person too. They’re just on the other side of the camera. Yeah, they’re just a pixel on a screen. So cloning, how do you achieve that?
Oh yeah, that’s right. This whole rabbit trail. So I was showing him that I have a lot of people in the company who are able to think like me and basically make decisions I would make if I was like, if you were asked, hey, in this video, should we climb a mountain or should we dig a hole, right? And like, you know, they would pick the same answer I’d pick 90 plus percent of the times. And so like one example is Tyler, who I was showing you when he was pitching some content and you could see like this, he was on point. And basically for just four or five years we just spent an absurd amount of time together and worked on every single video together. And we worked side-by-side and same thing with my CEO, James. He literally lived with me for a couple of years. I’m a big fan of just like finding people who are super obsessed and all in and A players that, you know, they really just want to be great. And then just dumping everything I have in them.
Lex Fridman (46:05):
And like you were saying, cause I’d love to find that and develop that. You’re saying you’re basically for a long time just said everything you were thinking to them.
Yeah, exactly. Like James, the guy who’s basically my right hand man right now, two years he lived with me.
And we probably talked on average of those two years, seven hours a day. I mean, anytime I had a phone call, I’d throw it on speaker and I’d let him listen. Anything I was reading, any content I was consuming like really just training his brain to think like me. So that way he could just do things without my input without me having to constantly watch over him or give him advice. And that’s where we’ve gotten like, so for the first six months, he didn’t do anything. He just studied me and studied everything I cared about and how I spoke and blah, blah. And then the next six months he started taking on some responsibilities and now he can just run the company. And I don’t ever really have to check in on him. Like most of the decisions he makes are exactly what I would do. And so I call that cloning.
I don’t know what other people would but it’s just like finding people that are really obsessed and they just kind of really want it and just feeling like giving them an avenue to like get it. If that makes any sense.
Lex Fridman (47:09):
Another way to see it is you’re converging towards a common vision and that makes like brainstorming much more productive.
Yeah, it just makes it where I don’t have to be so involved in everything because I just have these people I know will think like I will, at least relatively close to it. So I can kind of almost be in multiple places at once per se. And so these things that, you know, I still approve every idea we film and everything before we film it, all the creative, I approve it. But I don’t have to like be in the weeds and nuances and do all this minor stuff. I can just let them handle it. I can just do the more macro things.
Lex Fridman (47:43):
I got a chance to sit in to a lengthy brainstorming session with Tyler and others. That was really cool. Can you talk about the process of that, of people pitching ideas and you pitching alternatives or shutting down ideas and just going, like plowing through ideas very quickly?
I mean, you kind of just described exactly what we did. Yeah.
Lex Fridman (48:07):
I mean, but the ideas are really, really good. It’s just tossing out like different categories of ideas and then also fine-tuning them to see like, how do I change, like thinking about the titles.
I work so well off of inspiration. It’s like, that’s something, like give me any word. I don’t know. Like a relative. Space. Yeah, like I went to space. What happens if you blow up a nuke in space? Or I went to the moon, I went to Mars, right? Because you said that one word, it was able to inspire me to come up with four ideas. And so that’s just, it’s for me, the way to get a hundred million views on videos, you need something original, creative, something people really need to see, ideally never been done before, all these like things. And so you need like, if you want to consistently go super well, you need just a constant stream of ideas. And the only way I’ve really found that I can consistently come up with a hundred million view videos is to intake inspiration and then see what my brain outputs. And so that’s kind of at its core foundation, what I’m doing there. It’s just like intaking a lot of random inspiration to see what spawns in my mind so I can.
Lex Fridman (49:11):
But the neural network of your brain is generating the video, the title, the thumbnail, all like jointly.
Exactly, and that only comes because I spent 10 years of my life just obsessively studying all that stuff.
Lex Fridman (49:24):
Because you, I mean, it seems like you would literally potentially shut down a video just because you can’t come up with a good title.
Yeah, 100%, or a thumbnail. Yeah, I mean, that’s what happened to 70% of those in that pitch session. I was just like, oh, what was one of them? Genius versus 100 people, or?
Lex Fridman (49:38):
Yeah, like maybe Average Intelligence versus Genius.
Yeah, I was like, what the heck is the thumbnail? Even if the title is good, yeah. I mean, there’s so many, but yeah, if people don’t click, they don’t watch.
Lex Fridman (49:49):
That’s so interesting, but you developed over time the ability to kind of give it what? What makes for a good title, short?
Not just short, it’s also, I mean, if someone reads it, are they, like, do they have to watch it? Is it just so intrinsically interesting that it’s just gonna fuck with them if they don’t click on it, you know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (50:08):
So it doesn’t have to be short, but it has to be, like, you almost want to have a retention to word-by-word reading.
Ideally, it’s a title also that, you know, because the titles don’t live in a vacuum, right? So it has to lead into the content. So ideally, the title represents content that you would want to watch for 20 minutes. So if it’s a 20-minute video, and the title is I Stepped on a Bug, it’s not gonna, because it’s all of it combined. The click-through rate’s gonna be much lower than if it was, like, a five-second video. People might click it. So you gotta, like, even nuances of the length of the video based against the title will affect whether people want to click it, because sometimes they just all add up. I mean, it’s that, yes. Ideally, you want it below 50 characters, because above 50 characters on certain devices, you run the chance of it going dot, dot, dot. So, like, I took a light pole, and I saw how many dollar bills I could stack on top, and they would just go dot, dot, dot, because it’s too long, and it can’t finish it. And that’s the worst thing, because then people don’t even know what they’re clicking on, and so it’s gonna do even worse. Short, simple, ideally, and just so freaking interesting, they have to click. And it is a good segue into the content, and it represents the length of the content.
Lex Fridman (51:13):
And there’s probably stuff, it’s hard to convert into words for you, like, I stepped on a bug versus stepping on a bug versus Mr. B stepped on a bug versus bug stepping video.
So it’s like, yes, the more extreme the opinion, typically the higher the click-through rate. If you can, like, pay it off in the content, then it just supercharges it.
Lex Fridman (51:34):
Oh, so you have a kind of estimate of the extreme.
Yeah, like, this is water, right? If you’re like, Fiji water sucks, that would do fine. But if you said Fiji water is the worst water bottle, or the worst water I’ve ever drank in my life, way more extreme opinion would do way better. But you have to deliver. Yeah, but then you have to deliver, because the more extreme you are, the more extreme you have to be in the video.
Lex Fridman (51:55):
Yeah. That’s almost inspiration for you to step up.
Yeah, but you can be more extreme in a positive way. A lot of people, it’s easier though. Negative click-bait’s much easier than positive click-bait. It just is. It’s so much easier to get negative clicks. And so a lot of people are just, in my opinion, you know, a little bit lazier, and they just take the route like, oh, well, this one gets the same amount of clicks, and it’s easier, less effort.
Lex Fridman (52:21):
The positive one is doing a large number of numbers of something. Like, I spent this number of hours doing this.
Or whatever, if you just wanted to help people, or, right, it’s just harder to get 10 million views on a video helping people than it is to get 10 million views on a video tearing down a celebrity. You know what I mean? Or whatever negative video you want to insert there.
Lex Fridman (52:39):
Well, that said, most of your videos are pretty positive.
So, what’s- But not a lot of people do those kinds of videos, because they’re hard. Yeah, they’re hard.
Lex Fridman (52:46):
Some of that is giving away money, right? What’s the secret to that? What’s, how do you do that right?
Yeah, give away money, or?
Lex Fridman (52:56):
In a video to make it compelling. So, there’s a number that is better than another number,
right, the higher number is always better than the lower number. Yeah, for the most part. And you know, it’s interesting, like some videos will give away a million dollars, some videos will give away half a million. There’s not really, I guess, so I’m retracting what I just said. I was more joking with that, but there’s no difference whether I put 500K or a million. There’s probably not even really a difference between 100K or a million, I haven’t really looked into it. Like, some of our, most of our videos are not us giving away a million dollars, and sometimes the million dollar videos just don’t do as well as the other ones. So, there is a certain point where a dollar amount is just a large dollar amount to an average human. And so, I think that point is 100K. Like, anything above 100K, the average human is just like, that’s a lot of money. You know, it doesn’t, 100K and a million, like, it doesn’t really move the needle, if that makes sense.
Which, that’s a very nuanced piece of information that applies to very few people, but.
Lex Fridman (53:49):
Yeah. Well, no, I think it applies, it’s fascinating. It’s fascinating, human, our relationship with money is fascinating. Like, why is it so exciting to get, I mean, I, you know, the times I’ve found like 20 bucks on the ground are like, incredible. Really? I don’t know why, right, why? Why are you so happy? Like, what exactly is so joyful about that? I mean, it depends where you are in life, what the situation is. Yeah, I don’t know. There’s also a gamified aspect to it. It’s exciting.
Yeah, no, I get it, like, why people want to see people win money. It’s just interesting that past 100K, it doesn’t really seem to make a difference. Like, it’s the same, basically.
Lex Fridman (54:26):
So you found that to be true with all the money you’ve given away, then?
I just think click-through rate. Like, obviously, in terms of someone receiving it, yeah, a million dollars changes their life drastically more. Like, that’s the difference, like, oh, if you wanted to, you could really quit your job. As opposed to 100K, it’s like, not really.
Lex Fridman (54:40):
You probably do like a scientific study, like a formula, giving away money to click-through rate.
Yeah. There could be some kind of diminishing return. It definitely, the returns level off dramatically after 100K.
Lex Fridman (54:52):
That’s basically the premise of it. 100K, what about 10,000?
No, there’s 10, 100,000, it’s funny, because this is such a small niche thing, but yeah, 100,000 does, from what I see in our videos, get more clicks than 10,000, but the difference between 100,000 and a million is just so little. I just, I think big number, big number, to a lot of people past that point.
Lex Fridman (55:13):
Yeah, so for 100,000, you can, like, given average salary, you can probably live for a year, given what the average salary is in America, so that’s like a big, that feels something.
Yeah, I think it’s also just more when they read the title. It’s just like, it’s a lot of zeros. It’s a bunch, fuck loads of zeros. Okay, click.
Lex Fridman (55:27):
You know? Yeah. Oh, man, that’s fascinating. So, on the thumbnail side, again, that’s gonna be much harder to say, probably, but offline, you know, I got a chance to look at a bunch of thumbnails, and it’s fascinating which ones do well and which ones don’t. Is there something you could say about what are the elements of a thumbnail that work well? Or is this also deeply?
Well, that’s where, yeah, it’s the same thing, like, how do you cook good food? But it’s easier if you pull up a thumbnail, and I can be like, that’s why that’s good, that’s why that’s bad, that’s, like, an example would be, like, one of my friends, he just uploaded a video recently, and I called him, and I was like, what is this? Because he’s a very, very smart guy. And in the thumbnail, he’s getting chased by cops, but the cops were wearing yellow vests, so they didn’t look at cops. So, I was like, well, why are the cops in your thumbnail wearing yellow vests? It’s like, that makes it so much more boring. And he was, like, carrying a flag, but the pole and the color of the flag were the same color, so I was like, it’s a lot harder to see the flag. I was like, also, you’re wearing, like, a shirt with, like, five different colors, so it’s, like, it’s hard to tell what even, what your outline is. And then, in the background, there were cars, and I was like, well, if you have cops chasing you, why not make the cars cop cars? And, you know, and it’s, like, because in my head, I’m, like, dang, if he just did those, like, four or five things, the video probably would’ve got, like, 7X the views.
Lex Fridman (56:44):
How much iteration, because I also got a chance to see the number of iterations you do on a, on a,
just a brand of thumbnails. It’s a problem now.
Lex Fridman (56:52):
It’s an addiction. Is it? So, you kind of, there’s a lot of the versions are really good. Yeah.
How do you know what to, like, stop? I love how you, when we pulled up that, the burger one, and we were flipping through them, you’re like, that’s really good. I was like, oh, that’s version, like, one of, like, 1,000.
Lex Fridman (57:07):
But even the sketch, the idea was good. Like, already, even the original idea is strong.
Yeah, so we, one of our coming up videos, we made the world’s largest plant-based burger, and the thumbnail we were thinking is, like, me standing beside the burger, because it’s six feet tall. That’s, that’s what he’s talking about. So, like, just picture a giant six foot tall burger, super wide, thousands of pounds, and then I’m beside it, and then it’s, like, eating the world’s largest burger. Like, you, that’s just something you have to click. Like, so you were saying, like, how would you describe a good thumbnail? Like, that, you know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (57:34):
But I think you said the one I noticed first that was good, where you were very small in it, relative to the, and you didn’t like that one.
I needed to come forward a little bit, and also, the photo we took was just my upper body. So, they photo manipulated and created my legs in Photoshop, and that’s why I said I didn’t like it, because my right leg was a little, like, off. It was, like, bent the wrong way, because.
Lex Fridman (57:55):
And then I had to build those legs in Photoshop. Well, I mean, does the physics in the thumbnail have to even make sense? I mean, you can just, like, exaggerate the head size
and all that kind of stuff, right? Yeah, 100%. Yeah, things don’t have to be relative. You can have a car in the background and be three times the size. Because, yeah, every one of my thumbnails, my face is in the, you know, left side, very big. So, brand recognition, so just people know. Oh, especially because now that a lot of people copy our videos, it’s just nice to, like, you know. Everyone else might make thumbnails like this, but this is mine. And obviously, we usually over-deliver and do bigger stuff.
Lex Fridman (58:27):
Would you recommend to other creators that wanna make it big and they see Mr. Beast and they look up to you to copy some elements of you, or to really try to be unique? Unique, 100% unique.
You’re not, the next Mr. Beast, quote-unquote, it’s weird saying that in third person, but whatever, is not gonna do what I’m doing better. They’re gonna just invent their own way. Like, you’re just not gonna do what I do better than me. You know, I have so many, I literally have the best people in the world working here. And I reinvested my time in this. I have the best people in the world working here. And I reinvest everything I make, even to this day. You know what I mean? Like, it’s absurd, the amount of money I spend on content. And I don’t care. I’ll just stop sleeping. And I’ll just film every other day. Like, you’re just not gonna beat me at my own game. And that’s fine, you shouldn’t. Like, I didn’t get where I am by just beating someone else at their own game. I just found my own lane and innovated and adapted. And so, yeah, there’s a lot of people that do copy me. And it’s fine, whatever, do it. But just know, you’re not gonna get to where I am doing that. Otherwise, you don’t.
Lex Fridman (59:21):
You give away a lot of the secrets, basically everything about how you operate. Is there a…
I don’t hold anything back, go for it, you know.
Lex Fridman (59:29):
How do you think about that? Because that’s pretty rare.
I think, and this is definitely not… Most people in my stance, I don’t think would take this, or my position would take this stance. But I see every other YouTuber or person on social media, because we’re also focused super heavily on YouTube. But last year, we were also the most followed TikTok creator in the world as well. Actually, we were most subscribed to YouTube channel in the world, and the most followed TikTok account in the world. But in general, I just see everyone else as collaborators, not competitors. I don’t think giving advice and helping other creators do well in any way harms me. And I think it only brings more value to my life.
Lex Fridman (01:00:04):
So how was it jumping on TikTok and trying to understand that platform from scratch? So from being a successful YouTuber to understand a totally different algorithm, fundamentally different algorithm?
What was that like? It’s interesting. Well, not even just the algorithm, just the content. Like I’m going from basically 15 minute short films to sub one minute vertical content. It’s a whole different just ballpark. And so the first little while I was doing TikTok, it was just kind of figuring out what does MrBeast look like in this short form content? But recently we’ve really started to catch our stride and come up with some original concepts and figure out how to innovate over there, just like we did on YouTube. Because I didn’t want it to just be shitty YouTube videos. And so like an example is we played The Rock for 100K and Rock, Paper, Scissors, and the loser had to donate 100K to charity. We went to random people on a campus and we offered them. So I said, I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you fly to Paris and give me a baguette. And then they said, no, and I was like, I’ll give you $300 if you fly to Paris and give me a baguette. And I was expecting this person to say no and it’d go up to like 10 grand. And he’s like, yes. And so he flew to Paris, got a baguette and brought it back and gave it to me. And that across everything got like 450 million views. Cause it’s just really cool just to see this random guy get on a plane, spend a day in Paris and we cut it up real nicely and bring it back. And so we’re starting to find just tons of original content over there.
Lex Fridman (01:01:26):
But it seems like an epic video to make for one minute.
Exactly. No one on short form is doing it. That’s the thing. It’s like, it’s just so funny. Cause like TikTok’s been big for a while now, years. And then, you know, as we started to really figure out things on the YouTube channel and get it cranking where I have some free time, we set our sights on TikTok and like, okay, what are people not doing? How do we make it better? Put in more effort, make it good. And we did the same thing we did at YouTube, just different over on TikTok and it worked. And now we’re the fastest growing or most followed TikTok account in 2022. And it’s just funny that no one else did that.
Lex Fridman (01:02:02):
And you’re not afraid to do epic stuff, which also during the brainstorming, some of the ideas you were like, that’s better as a short. That’s crazy.
Yeah. Can you remember one? Cause I remember I said that a bunch, but I can’t think of one.
Lex Fridman (01:02:13):
All I remember is that there were like epic videos. Like, really? You’re going to do that for a one minute video? Yeah. That’s crazy. So like, are you posting similar content to a YouTube short as a TikTok?
Yeah, those were just double up. It’s just hard. You know, what’s actually pretty fascinating and people who do social media listening to this will probably find this pretty interesting is, picture like the content creation meta three years ago versus now, where you can make sub one minute vertical content and it go viral on TikTok, it go viral on YouTube shorts, go viral on Instagram reels, it goes viral on Facebook, it goes Reddit, you know, you swipe through vertical content now, and Twitter when you click on a video and you flip through it. So this is actually very weird. This is the first time in the history of, I guess, Western social media that one form of content could actually go super viral on every single platform. It’s never been like that before.
Lex Fridman (01:03:02):
So they’re going viral individually.
They’re not like interbreeding or whatever. I can post something on TikTok that will get 100 million views and then post it on shorts and it’ll get 200 million views and then post it on Instagram and it’ll get 50 million views. And then, you know, I haven’t yet, but you know, you can then turn around and tweet it and it get tens of millions of views and you can post it on Reddit and it get tens of millions of views and Facebook can get tens of millions of views. And that just wasn’t a thing. Three years ago, Twitter didn’t have, because a lot of you probably don’t even know this, but when you tap on a video now and you swipe through it, when you tap on a video now and you swipe down, it just turns into TikTok. That wasn’t a thing even a year ago. Reddit, that wasn’t a thing a year ago. Probably two years ago, that wasn’t a thing on Instagram. Three years ago, that wasn’t a thing on YouTube, right, with YouTube Shorts. So this is all new. And I don’t, it’s weird, I haven’t heard a single person talk about it. But this is the first time where content can actually go viral on every single platform. And you don’t have to write or film a video for Facebook, film a 12-minute video for YouTube, film a sub-60-second video for TikTok, write a tweet for Twitter, and post this on Reddit. You can just do the same thing on every platform.
Lex Fridman (01:04:03):
And the fact that your content has gone viral on multiple platforms regularly means that virality is not accidental. Sometimes it can be, of course, but it’s just not. It can be engineered.
It’s, yeah, so many people say it’s luck, and they’re like, you’re just lucky, or this or that, but what are we up to? Probably like 1,000 videos over 10 million views. Like, we don’t ever have a dud. You can call it luck, but I think it can be trained. I counsel YouTubers all the time and show them how to go from getting a couple million views a month to 10 million views a month very easily. And from even certain ones, just one of my friends, he was just really struggling. And so I just started showing him basically everything I know, and just doing once every week, sometimes once every two weeks calls. And it went from $10,000 a month on YouTube to over $400,000, just doing these little counseling calls. And so, I mean, people can make excuses all they want and say it’s just luck, or say, you know, well, anyways, I don’t even wanna quote all the other stuff, but it’s just, it is. It is a teachable skill. It’s a learnable skill. You can study your way to consistently make viral videos, no matter how small your channel is. Even if you have zero subscribers, you could if you actually studied hard enough, and like, basically, if you knew what I knew, and some of these, so I don’t sound so arrogant, also like some of these other friends that have that, I’d say are the smartest people in the world when it comes to content creation online. If you had the knowledge that was in our heads, you could do it very easily. I see people do it all the time. And what’s even more interesting is I go on podcasts, and I say everything I know, and these people are also very open. Some of them I know. It’s all out there. And a lot of people, instead of just studying that and trying to absorb and apply it in their own way, they’re just like, no, it’s just luck, you know?
Lex Fridman (01:05:42):
So you do lay it all out there, but I gotta push back to one interesting thing. I think a crucial component of your success is the idea stage, the idea generation, the brainstorming I heard today, but getting really good at generating ideas. So it’s not, it’s not just the selection of the thumbnail and the title, that creative process. It’s also just the engine of generating really good ideas. And getting that, I mean, I would say that is probably the thing that needs to be trained the most for most creators, right? That they just don’t put enough ideas on paper.
Yes, but also a lot of creators also just don’t, you know, which I didn’t either for the longest time, just didn’t, don’t make good enough content, you know, content that’s worthy of getting 10 million views.
Lex Fridman (01:06:27):
In the idea or the execution?
The idea. Both. I mean, like, think about how many people just make videos, they film them in under 20 minutes, and they don’t really put any effort into it, and like, you know, it’s like, my first 500 videos didn’t deserve to get a million views. Like, there’s a reason they did. They’re terrible, you know what I mean? But at the time, I thought they did, right? And I’m in the mindset of a lot of small YouTubers where I thought those videos deserved a million views, and I thought the algorithm hated me. But I watch them back now, and I can tell you exactly why. The videos are just fucking horrible, you know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (01:06:53):
Well, so what was the breakthrough for you to start realizing, to start having a self-awareness, you know, about these videos aren’t good enough? You’re probably still going through that. You’re probably still growing to see.
Yeah, every six months, you should look back and hate your videos, or at least see things you could improve, and be like, oh, I could have done this better, that better. If not, then you’re not learning quick enough, in my opinion, at least.
Lex Fridman (01:07:15):
Where’s the source of that learning, even for you now?
Just looking at metrics? I mean, I just got back from a, you know, I mean, I just got back from a mastermind where I just got like, you know, 10 of the smartest people I knew, and we just locked ourselves in a cabin and taught each other stuff. Constantly, every day, not every day now, probably every other day, I go on a walk, and I just call random people. I’ll just say, yeah, teach me something. And I mean, it’s just, you just have to have a never-ending thirst for learning. Like, that’s very imperative, especially if you want, like, if you want to get on top and then stay on top. The only way to do it is just to constantly be learning, or someone who is learning is just gonna, you know, have a leg up on you in the knowledge game.
Lex Fridman (01:07:51):
And what kind of stuff are you, because you’ve talked about offline that you just love learning of all kinds. It doesn’t matter. But in terms of videos, are you studying videos? Are you studying?
Recently, not as much. I’m more, because to get to the videos I want, I have to build this business and scale up and higher. So more of my recent time has been, like, my teenage years were spent studying virality and studying content creation. Now I’m studying how to build a content company so I can actually produce the crazy ideas I want to produce, if that makes any sense.
Lex Fridman (01:08:18):
So yeah, and that’s the business side. We talked about hiring. Do you have trouble firing people?
No, I’m pretty sure almost every person, yeah, actually every person I’ve ever fired, we just give them severance. And I like to see it more as, it’s no ill will. Like, if there’s, like, if I fired you, if there’s some other job you want me to help you get, I’ll DM them on Twitter. Like, you know, if you want to go work for, I don’t know, insert whatever, MTV, give me someone to DM. I’ll DM them. Like, you know, I try to make it more like a transition and do whatever we can to make it as easy.
Lex Fridman (01:08:48):
And if something was just not working for you, because you want people, like you said, super passionate.
Because at the end of the day, if you hold someone that you, onto someone that you don’t see being here in 10 years, you’re just doing them a disservice. You’re just giving them more ingrained, more enrooted in where they are. And the sooner you do it and help them move on to their, like, new life, the better.
Lex Fridman (01:09:07):
Given all the wisdom you have now, if you were to give advice to somebody, or if you were to start over again, you had no money, what would be the first 10 videos you tried to make on a new channel? I guess that’s advice for a new person.
And nobody knows you. Yeah, nobody knows me. Yeah, hypothetically, I have a mask on.
Lex Fridman (01:09:25):
And you also, I guess, don’t have the wisdom.
But if I don’t have what I have in my head, then I would say just fail. Like just, a lot of people get analysis paralysis and they’ll just sit there and they’ll plan their first video for three months. And any of you listening, if you, especially if you have zero views on your channel, your first video is not going to give views, period.
It’s not. Your first 10 are not going to give views. I can very confidently say that. So stop sitting there and thinking for months and months on end, and just get to work and start uploading. Like all you need to do, this applies to people who have not uploaded videos, but have dreams of being a YouTuber, is make 100 videos and improve something every time. Do that. And then on your 101st video, we’ll start talking. Like maybe you can get some views, but your first 100 are going to suck. There are very freak cases like Liza Koshy or Emma Chamberlain who have really good personalities and it doesn’t take them as many videos. And it’s just like people who are seven foot five and making the NBA. Like, yes, there are freak cases you can find, but for the average person like us, who don’t have these exceptional personalities and backgrounds in filmmaking, just make 100 videos, improve something each time, and then talk to me on your 101st video.
Lex Fridman (01:10:31):
Well, the improve something each time is the tricky one. How do you improve something each time?
The second one, just, I don’t know, put more effort into the script. The third one, try to learn a new editing trick. The fourth one, try to figure out a way that you can have better inflections in your voice. The fifth one, try to study a new thumbnail tip and implement it. The sixth one, try to figure out a new title. There’s infinite ways. That’s the beauty of content creation online. There’s literally infinite ways, from the coloring, to the frame rate, to the editing, to the filming, to the production, to the jokes, to the pacing, to every little thing can be improved and they can never not be improved. There’s literally no such thing as a perfect video.
Lex Fridman (01:11:04):
So if you knew everything you know now,
but no money. Step one would, I’d just brainstorm like, okay, I don’t have money. What are some viral things? Like, I mean, the first thing that comes to my mind is something as simple as when I count to 100,000, which is what I did do when I was poor. And like, that worked. But like, what’s something like that I could do that would be even more attention?
Lex Fridman (01:11:25):
Yeah, you were, as part of the brainstorm, you would throw out a lot of ideas and people would throw out a bunch of ideas and one of the questions is, is this even doable?
Right? First off, come up with ideas you think would do well and then ask yourself later if they’re doable. Because there’s different ways you can accomplish something.
Lex Fridman (01:11:42):
Don’t be cynical about the doability of stuff.
Yeah, because there really are so many different ways you can accomplish a goal. Like, when we give away an island, like we gave our 100 million subscriber an island, you know, you can’t find private islands that don’t look like shit for less than $10 million. So this isn’t doable, right? All right, the idea doesn’t exist. Not doable, X it off. But then, you know, you dig into it and you find different alternatives and you find, okay, what if we just buy a $2 million island that sucks and then spend a million dollars, you know, importing some sand, let’s build a beach, let’s import 300 trees, let’s build a little bit of canal, let’s cut some paths, boom. Now it’s a really nice island, but it’s actually affordable because we don’t have $10 million to spend on a video, but we can afford to spend three and a half and lose whatever, a million dollars on that video. So like, that’s an example of like, yeah, if you just went off the gut test, you’d be like, this isn’t doable. You know, every island’s $10 million. We’re screwed. Like, if we go cheaper, it’s just a terrible island. No. And so if you, like, there are so many different ways you can achieve what you want. You’ve really got to push through notes, which not a lot of people do. You have to have like a, more of a dominant personality and just a willingness to, when people tell you it’s not possible, just actually go through all the variables and eliminate them all yourself.
Lex Fridman (01:12:55):
And have a stubbornness and a resilience to failure, maybe.
For what we do and creators online, it’s very imperative that you have, that a no isn’t a no to you. Like, you really have to like, think. And just like, we take a personality test and like, just having a dominant personality is a better indicator that when someone tells you, oh, there’s no way you’re going to build a brick wall for under a hundred grand, you know, you’ll be like, okay. And then still go check the next 10 vendors and, you know, figure it out.
Lex Fridman (01:13:23):
Yeah. What advice would you give to an already established channel like with one, two, three, four million subscribers, how to like 10X it, like increase it without losing me?
Yeah, that’s where it’s very specific, like channel by channel. You can’t give general advice. Okay. Yeah, because if I do, millions of creators are going to see this and then they’re going to do it and I’m going to fuck them over.
Lex Fridman (01:13:45):
Oh, I see, I see. So let’s say I’d like 2 million subscribers on this podcast. Yeah. Like how would you 10X that without sacrificing what it is? 10X your stuff. Does it matter? So you’ve talked about with success.
Yeah, it’s different for everyone. Like, is 10Xing your definition of success? No. Well then, right off the bat, it’s hard because if you don’t give a shit about 10Xing, it’s even harder to 10X. He does this because he likes helping people. That’s one thing I’ve found throughout this day. Every time I talk data, it’s so funny with him because it’s like, you know, you could do this to get more views and he’ll just be like blank. I’ll be like, that doesn’t register anything. He’s just like, doesn’t care.
Lex Fridman (01:14:20):
Which is, it’s really cool. I’m really nervous about that. I’m really nervous about the numbers affecting because it’s so fun. Yeah. It’s so fun to focus on the numbers and I’m really worried about that. But at the same time, you should be cognizant of that because you’ve created not just some of the most watched videos, but some of the most amazing videos ever. So it’s, there’s a strong correlation there. It’s not like you’re selling your soul to make a highly viewed video. It’s actually, if you look at the metrics, it helps you understand what is compelling and not. And so I feel like I am, I feel like there’s some value to investigate what work, when people tune on and when not, to be more data-driven, even on podcasts. But I’m really afraid of-
But on the flip side, I think part of the appeal is that you don’t care about that kind of stuff.
Lex Fridman (01:15:08):
But there could be stuff that doesn’t have to do anything with that and it has to do with stylistic choices of lighting and cameras, or maybe with, for example, topics. Yeah.
You know, like- Like- Even what you’ve asked me here is like, different than what most people ask me.
Lex Fridman (01:15:25):
Yeah, so it could be, I mean, and it’d be nice to understand that, but yeah, again, I’m worried about polluting the-
At the end of the day, this is a true case of it’s your own intuition. Like, you know your viewers better than anyone else.
Lex Fridman (01:15:36):
It’s whatever- See, I’d like to push back on that. I really don’t.
You do. I don’t. Who else? Name one person who knows your viewers better than you.
Lex Fridman (01:15:43):
Somebody that looks at numbers of podcasts?
No, you know your viewers, you know, you’re the only- How many episodes have you done?
Lex Fridman (01:15:49):
Exactly. But I’m not paying attention- You’re the only one who’s watched every second of all 350 of them.
Lex Fridman (01:15:55):
Probably. That’s just not, no.
Well, I haven’t, but the- Well, because you did it, so you do know what’s in all of them. Sure, but- It’s your content, it’s you. I’m telling you, you do, and this is just one of those moments where, you’re an intelligent guy, and you just have to trust your, like, instincts. Like, just think, what is the typical ex-viewer, and what do they want?
Lex Fridman (01:16:14):
I don’t think like that.
But that’s all you would have to do, and whatever your gut tells you, that would be the best guess.
Lex Fridman (01:16:19):
You don’t know what the typical viewer is, though. I don’t, I don’t, because to investigate that would be very, very difficult, and then you have to start looking at the numbers, you have to start to like, consider the demographics, you have to like, consider the demographics. The only way I know that anybody even watches it is because I’ll sometimes run into people, like when I run along the river, and they’d be like, I love you, Lex. It’s like, okay, well, that’s a data point, and they’re like cool people, but I don’t know, like, I don’t have any other, it’s difficult, man. It’s difficult to know, it’s difficult to know who listens to Pox, it’s difficult to, do you have a sense of who’s, I mean, like, you’re so huge that everybody watches.
But no, I still do. I’d say, if you were to just put a gun to my head, and you’re like, all right, we’re gonna pick a random person that watched your last video, and you have to like, roughly guess what they are, and if you’re not close, we’ll kill you. I would say probably like, a teenager that plays video games. Like, that would be probably the typical one, and then there are people that are maybe a little bit younger, a lot of people that are older as well, but at a random sample size, yeah, it’s probably like, a male boy that plays video games. Like, that’s the best way I would describe it. But I don’t try to pertain to them. I just make whatever I think is interesting and good content, and this is what we were talking about before. Even though, hypothetically, 35 to 40% of my audience is women, which is, you know, less than a majority, if we get 100 million views a video, that’s still 30 to 40 million females that watch every video, which is probably the largest, you know, views per video for women on the whole platform, which you wouldn’t think that, you know? Like, I can’t think of a single other creator that gets more women to watch their videos than that.
And so, it’s just anything, even like people above the age of 30, even if it’s only like three or 4%, that’s still three to 4% of 100 million views is a lot of people that age. So, we hit a large group of kind of every demographic, if that makes any sense.
Lex Fridman (01:18:10):
Yeah. So, what if we look at other, maybe more challenging kinds of channels, or not, but if we look at educational, for example, like lectures, or if we look, yeah, educational, it could be short videos. Like, how would you 10x that? Like, something on robotics, on biology, on science, on engineering, on all of that.
That’s more educational focused. We would honestly just have to pull the, because it’s the same way, if you went to Gordon Ramsay and you said, how would a new cook cook better? You know, it’s like.
Lex Fridman (01:18:39):
And you gotta- Oh, so even then, that’s not even a specific, you have to go channel by channel.
You really do, or I’m giving horrible advice, because if there was these just golden rules, everyone would do it, you know what I mean? Like, if there’s these magical little principles.
Lex Fridman (01:18:50):
How quickly, when you look at a channel, can you kind of give advice?
Yeah, it’s like, surface level at the start, and then the more, if we watch 10 videos, I feel like I’d have a good profile, and I could tell you, in my opinion, especially once I look at the analytics, and I get more ingrained in like, okay, the typical viewer’s this, they’re from here, here’s how they’re feeling, you know? Because there are people who make videos for rednecks, and like, the redneck’s taste of content is just so much different than, obviously, women watching makeup videos, which are so much different than, you know, teenage boys watching a Minecraft video. They’re just all different. So, the biggest thing you have to do is put your head in the headspace of the viewer, and see the content how they would. Because if you just try to only give your taste, which is what a lot of people do, and things from your perspective, it’s very biased, and it’s just not gonna work for everyone. And that’s actually how you do more harm than good, which is something I’m very careful of.
Lex Fridman (01:19:39):
Yeah, but at the same time, it’s just generating a lot of ideas. I think the first time I’ve talked to you was on Clubhouse, actually. Yeah. And I mentioned something about robots, and like, almost immediately, you went to generating a bunch of ideas around robots. Oh, yeah, easily.
It’s just- A hundred robots versus a hundred humans. Yeah. How far can a robot throw a potato?
Lex Fridman (01:19:54):
I think your idea, like, I think the first idea was, because you just said so many ideas I never even thought of. But it shows the value of basically brainstorming with people that think differently.
But at the end of the day, my ideas are probably, you know, might lean towards some people a little bit younger than your audience. Like, some of the stuff I’m-
Lex Fridman (01:20:11):
Could be. Yeah. But there’s still ideas. Like, I think the first one you said, because we’re talking about a quadruped, like robot dogs, you said to replace a biological dog with a robot dog and see if the owner notices something. You were just quickly brainstorming different ideas of like how- This was years ago. I remember it, though. Yeah. It’s just, I mean, it’s like, oh, yeah. I never really thought about that kind of, sort of, it’s the basic, the tension between what does it take for a robot and an AI system to replace the biological systems that we, the biological creatures that we love in our lives, yeah. And, but like, that was like the pace of idea generation was the thing that struck me, today and in general. It’s like, that’s how you get at good videos, is you keep-
It’s much easier to make a video around a good idea, obviously, than a bad one. You just send yourself off for success.
Lex Fridman (01:21:03):
Yeah. Okay, so that’s for 10Xing already popular channel. What’s the hardest number? You said the numbers that matters, click-through rate, average view duration, and surveys. What’s the hardest number to optimize for?
Probably surveys, you know.
Lex Fridman (01:21:19):
Do you have any, do you have an insight into the surveys at all?
No, not really. But if you just click on a bunch of random videos online, you’ll eventually get a survey. What’s this video transformative, heartwarming, inspiring? What people rate does make a difference? And it’s like, you can get people to click a video, you can get them to watch it, but you can’t really fake whether or not they’re satisfied. Like, they don’t lie, the surveys, you know. Maybe one person here and there might troll, but once you aggregate enough, it’s a pretty clear telltale of the video. So either you’re making a great video or you’re not.
Lex Fridman (01:21:49):
What is it? Minimizing the non-regrettability.
Yeah, I think Elon tweeted that that’s what he’s tried to do on Twitter.
Lex Fridman (01:21:57):
And that’s interesting, that’s basically the survey metric, how happy you are that you’ve been using the platform.
Yeah, Elon tweeted, we want to limit the amount of regrettable minutes people spend on Twitter. And the first thing I thought, it’s like, that’s something YouTube already has a lot, like, their whole survey system and feedback loop.
Lex Fridman (01:22:13):
How tough is it to take on YouTube, you think? For Twitter? Yeah, for Twitter, for anybody else.
I mean, it’s gonna be basically impossible. I mean, YouTube’s not going anywhere. And I don’t know, I don’t think anyone’s gonna do what YouTube does better than them, at least not in the next 10 years.
Lex Fridman (01:22:33):
You asked on Twitter, would you rather have $10 million or 10 million subscribers on YouTube? What would your own answer be at various stages in your career?
If I had nothing, I would say $10 million. So because with $10 million, you can hire some people and pump out content with like a million or two, get 10 million subscribers and then keep the other eight million.
Lex Fridman (01:22:56):
So that’s if you believe in your ability to grow a channel, if you.
Well, if you, yeah, if you don’t believe in your ability to grow a channel, then you shouldn’t take the 10 million subscribers because you’re just gonna kill the channel. So the 10 million is definitely, a better question would be, would you rather have a million dollars or 10 million subscribers? That’s where it gets a little tricky. Because now it’s like, hmm, you know, a million dollars, life-changing amount of money. But you know, if you semi-knew what you’re doing, you’d probably make a million dollars off a 10 million subscriber channel, but there’s a little bit of risk.
Lex Fridman (01:23:25):
So a million dollars might not be enough to build a strong team, because you don’t know how to do it, so you might waste all of that money.
Yeah, or they just keep it and retire.
Lex Fridman (01:23:33):
Okay, that’s true. Yeah, because 10 million is just so high, it’s like, just never work again, who cares? For the average human, that’s so much money.
Lex Fridman (01:23:40):
It’s interesting to me also to the value of the subscriber versus the value of the dollar. I suppose, how valuable is the subscriber for, like what percentage of the videos, like how active are the subscribers in watching the video?
That’s hard, I don’t know. I was actually thinking more about the subscriber to dollar. Like if someone has 10 million subscribers, have they made 10 million dollars? I don’t know why that kind of popped in my head. It’s an interesting thought.
Lex Fridman (01:24:08):
Do you ever, when you analyze videos, do you ever analyze videos, like we’ve talked about offline, of other videos across the YouTube in general just to understand trends, to understand social?
Well, all your, not all, but a lot of the questions are analytics-based.
Lex Fridman (01:24:23):
Yeah. Yeah, it’s so funny. Because I love it. I mean, it’s just a giant social experiment, right? Like what people like to watch, what people share.
It’s like a fascinating look. So, like I said before, what percentage of your audience do you think care about this kind of stuff? Like this deeply about YouTube analytics?
Lex Fridman (01:24:38):
I think a large amount care about curiosity and exploration of interesting ideas. So in that sense, yeah, this would fit it.
I love it. This is funny. I mean, this isn’t me like trying to make, I love you. And actually, I loved your Magnus one. And even your Hikaru one was really good, and a bunch of other ones. But I think we’re getting to the point now where only analytics junkies would want to keep hearing more analytics talk. And the normie is probably like, they’ve had their dose of YouTube talk for the next three years. Maybe I’m wrong. Hey, comment if I’m wrong. I could be. I don’t know your audience. See, this is where you would tell me, shut up, I know my audience, you dumb ass.
Lex Fridman (01:25:19):
And I don’t, at all. I actually, I just follow the thread of curiosity. And I think there’s just a lot of curious humans in the world. And to me, it’s like, so the question about analytics is the question of basically stepping away, stepping outside of yourself, and thinking, why the hell do I like TikTok so much? Why do I like Twitter so much? Why do I like YouTube so much? And getting, even if you’re not a creator, getting an insight into that, getting an insight into that is really interesting.
It’s like, what, because all these platforms are fundamentally changing the nature of content. People are reading books less. They’re probably going to be watching movies less and less. They’re probably going to be watching Netflix less and less.
Do you ever think about the sort of the darker side of YouTube and with shadow banning and censorship and all the kind of topics, especially if you see it in other platforms like Twitter, that Elon recently highlighted the shadow banning that was happening, and in general, the censorship that was happening on those platforms. Do you think about the role of centralized control of which information isn’t or isn’t made available through search and discovery?
I’ll be honest, I never really think about it, so.
Lex Fridman (01:26:34):
You just try to make fun videos
that you don’t think about. Yeah, I’m kind of more in my own lane, but it’s not that I don’t just specifically think about it. I just like a lot of stuff in general. Like, I’m just kind of in my own lane thinking about my own stuff. But now that you asked, I’m curious, what are your thoughts on YouTube and that kind of stuff?
Lex Fridman (01:26:51):
Well, I’m generally against centralized censorship or shadow banning. Shadow banning is the worst one because not that the goal of creating a healthy platform where you’re having great conversations and videos that are not spreading misinformation, that sounds like an admirable goal, but that’s too difficult of a job for a centralized entity. That’s too big of a responsibility.
Yeah, and there’s the misinformation stuff, and then there’s also just the videos where they do something that causes, what happened back in the day, where Adpocalypse and a lot of creators’ revenue plummets because people are doing videos that advertisers don’t deem acceptable, and then now all these big advertisers are pulling, and the little guys are getting hit because ad rates dropped by 30%, and the person who just quit his job to go full-time content creation now can’t sustain it. So it’s like a lot of different variables as well that makes it so complicated.
Lex Fridman (01:27:45):
Well, I think the big thing is transparency, especially around shadowbanning for people.
I agree. On shadowbanning, you should be transparent. You should let people know. Obviously, there has to be some type of controls. People can’t just post whatever, and so if you’re pulling those levers, they should at least know.
Lex Fridman (01:28:01):
Yeah, so they know how to improve their content, they can understand it. Exactly. If it’s a wrong shadowbanning, like as a society that we should not shadowban this kind of content, that means you should be publicly discussing it.
Because if not, and if it’s not known, then it’s just kind of like, well, then who’s pulling the strings, and how do we know they’re not just manipulating things to get whatever message they want out there and silence other ones?
Lex Fridman (01:28:25):
Yeah, and there could be sort of in the background government influence, which is where actual freedom of speech comes into play, that the government should not have any control or be able to put pressure on censorship of speech. And it gets weird if none of that is being, there’s no transparency around it. But to be fair, that’s a huge responsibility. The amount of content that YouTube, is uploaded on YouTube, is shared by YouTube, viewed by YouTube.
But even more of a reason why it would probably make sense to be transparent. Yeah. Because then people can help fact check it.
Lex Fridman (01:28:59):
That’s right. But that requires building a platform that makes that easy, right? Like to make fact checking easy, to make the, like Twitter now has, like being able to share context and all that kind of stuff, that crowdsource it. Crowdsource it the way Wikipedia crowdsource it. I mean, there’s, it’s, right.
And then you open a random Wikipedia article.
Lex Fridman (01:29:21):
But like, you know, people criticize Wikipedia because there is a political lean to the editors of Wikipedia. And then they get, there’s some articles that definitely have a bias to them and all that kind of stuff. It’s a difficult problem. It’s a difficult problem to solve. That ultimately, as much as possible, it would be nice for the viewer to have control of that versus the entity that’s hosting it.
So for the viewer to decide. I’ll let you figure that stuff out. I’m just gonna make fun.
Lex Fridman (01:29:46):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you know, let’s go to Antarctica again.
Lex Fridman (01:29:50):
How was that? How was going to, you just came back from Antarctica. That was, I watched the video. That was, that was fun. That was a really fun video. Thank you. There’s, I mean, there’s a lot of things I can comment about that, but what was that, what was the hardest part of making that video?
The hardest part was just getting out there. It’s just so remote. And you know, you land the plane on just this ice runway and it’s so sketchy. And then once the plane takes off, you’re just there. You’re the most remote place on the planet. And it’s just, it’s very breathtaking. I don’t, if you have the chance to ever go to Antarctica, I would recommend it. It was probably like the, in the video, we climbed a mountain that wasn’t named, so we can name it. And like standing on top of that mountain and just seeing kind of like nothing. Because once you get outside the outskirts and you get deep in Antarctica, there’s no penguins. Nothing lives there at all. And so there’s just nothing in every direction. It’s just snow and these crazy beautiful mountains and some of them stick into the clouds. And if you go during summertime, the sun never goes down. So the sun’s up 24-7 and it’s just like spinning in circles at the top of the planet or whatever. It looks like the top.
Lex Fridman (01:30:59):
Yeah, you guys commented several times how beautiful it was.
Yeah, and so it’s just, yeah, it was just very beautiful.
Lex Fridman (01:31:04):
What about shooting itself, like the technical aspects of shooting it?
Oh, I mean, well, so somehow we lucked out. One of the days was like the warmest day in like forever that’s been in Antarctica. It was like, it was positive degrees. But at certain parts, it was also like negative 20, negative 30, and that’s where the cameras, you constantly have to be switching out the batteries and heating them up and like putting them basically in like your pants or they’ll just get way too cold. And we were prepared for much worse, but it ended up being much better than we thought.
Lex Fridman (01:31:32):
So for that video, but in general, maybe some other challenging videos, how do you go from the idea stage to the actual execution, to the final video? Can you take me through like a full process of, like we’re talking about some crazy wild ideas today. How do you go from that to a final video where you click publish?
Well, I mean, obviously first things first, you got to figure out the idea and then it just depends. I mean, pick any video you can think of on my channel, I can take you through it.
Lex Fridman (01:31:57):
Well, what about the, in a circle, you have to stay in a circle for 100 days.
Yeah, so for that one, step one.
Lex Fridman (01:32:07):
One of the most popular.
Yeah, that video did really well.
So we, problem is we have to, this is where you get really into the nuances of the company because we have a lot of videos going out. You can’t just in a vacuum be like, all right, we’re not doing anything for 100 days, we’re only filming this. So step one is we had to build an independent crew that could actually do that for 100 days. That way everyone else could keep working on the normal videos and not just screw everything up. So step one, you build that team. Okay, we got the team. Now what do we need? Well, to do this, we need probably like 10 cameras, at least rolling at all times. So we’re probably gonna need to get a trailer and hook up a bunch of storage and stuff to just carry the sheer volume of footage we’re gonna have. And so get a trailer, set up the cameras, go out in the field, paint a circle. Now we need a house, go buy a house, bring it out there. And then it’s like, oh wait, I think it’d be funny if I brought the house in on the intro. Find a crane that can lift up a house so I can drive it in and drop it in the intro.
Lex Fridman (01:33:03):
And that’s like an iterative process where you’re like, okay, this would be funnier. So it’s not all up front that it’s written.
Yeah, ideally it would be, but as you kind of see things, you get inspired and then you think of more and more.
Lex Fridman (01:33:13):
This would be better with a crane.
Yeah, it’d be better if I dropped out of the house. Drop it, yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:33:18):
That was crazy that you decided to do that. So fearless in the kind of crazy stuff you’re willing to do.
Exactly, I’m a broken record, but whatever makes the best video possible. That’s all you focus on.
Lex Fridman (01:33:30):
Okay, so what about the delegation of who gets to, what are the cameramen, the people operating the cameras, who’s responsible for different things? Is it like a distributed process?
Well, that’s where whoever the lead cam would be on that video would just decide it. That one, because we shot over a hundred days, we didn’t, a lot of it was just Sean, the guy who was in the circle, just vlogging. We just gave him a camera and he figured it out. And then we’d have like for him just set hours each day that a cameraman would come. So if he had any content, he needed extra hands. Instead of just having someone on standby 24 seven, it made more sense to do set hours. It was hard, but explaining it in hindsight, it sounds so simple. You know?
Lex Fridman (01:34:11):
And I guess like the more, cause that one is relatively simple, I guess, because it’s a low number of people.
Yeah, the hard part about that is just the time. Like, you know, I checked in on them so many different days and it’s like an hour here, two hours there, three hours there, over a hundred days adds up to be a ton of time. And even then, like, you know, if you have a 10 person crew, you know, paying them daily rates for a hundred days, it just, all of it adds up.
Lex Fridman (01:34:35):
Yeah. What about like the a hundred versus a hundred, a hundred adults versus a hundred kids? What was bringing that to life? That seems like exceptionally challenging.
Yeah. Basically the thought process was we did a hundred kids, or sorry, a hundred boys versus a hundred girls. People loved it. Honestly, I didn’t think they’d like it as much as they did. Video did really, really well. So the second I saw that video was crushing, I was like, all right, we’re doing it again. But last time we did it, we did in our studio. So we built a giant room, put a hundred girls in it. Sounds bad when I explain it like this. And then a giant room, put a hundred boys. And we’re like, after a hundred hours, whichever room has the most people, we’ll give them half a million dollars. So did well. So we’re like, all right, we’re going to do it again. So we threw out all these different ideas. It was like a hundred football players versus a hundred cheerleaders, a hundred this, a hundred that, a hundred prisoners versus a hundred cops. Just craziest ideas. And we settled on a hundred kids versus a hundred adults. And then the next step was like, how do we make it better? The kids versus adults, sorry, the boys versus girls, the first one we did was inside. And the problem was every time it was night, when we did these long time lapses, you couldn’t see the sun go up and down. So we’re like, okay, this time I want to do it outside. That’s why the cubes are outside. And instead of doing circles, we want to make them cubes. And then, you know, figure out, do we want the, yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:35:48):
Those videos came up, at least today, as ones that are like really complicated in terms of the audio, in terms of how to film it.
Yeah, that’s the problem. We had a lot of audio issues because in the first one, we didn’t have a roof on it. The second one, there was a roof. So there’s a lot of reverb, which then in editing made it brutal. Like half the shots weren’t usable and it really screwed us over. So we had to do a lot of Frankensteining in the editing to make up for basically my ignorance.
Lex Fridman (01:36:11):
So you mentioned that you were surprised how well that one did. A lot of creators talk about getting depressed when the videos don’t do as well as they kind of expected. There’s a kind of feeling, you can get really worn out by that. Do you yourself feel that? And also, do you have advice for others that feel this?
Yeah, it’s weird because I am a numbers guy, but also it used to. It used to very much, especially when I was like betting everything I had on a video. When it did bad, I was devastated, man. I’d cry and I’d be depressed for days. And it really would have a severe impact on my mood, but I don’t know, now it doesn’t really matter.
If a video does bad, I just look at it and I’m like, oh, why did this video do bad? Probably, oh, there’s a little retention dip there. I don’t think people like the thumbnail. Maybe we should switch it. And I just look at it objectively, unemotional, and then just move on. And I feel like that’s a much healthier way of going about it. So if a creator is listening, like that is the ideal way to respond to a video that’s doing bad. You just remove emotion from the equation and just look at it and figure out how you can.
Lex Fridman (01:37:19):
Is there tricks to being able to detach yourself from that because like in your case, I mean, that’s true for creators, but in your case, there’s like a lot of money on the line.
Yeah, well, months of my life and so much time, but no, I mean, you just, I mean, I don’t know. The only real answer is it’s just a conscious effort. You just have to unemotionally look at the video, determine the problems, and then move on. Like there is no secret. You know what I mean? It’s just, it’s that. And if you really can’t bring yourself to do it, then you’re just screwed. Honestly, maybe you’re not meant for this game.
Lex Fridman (01:37:52):
Okay, so that’s part of the development as a creator is like being able to be-
For longevity? Yes, yeah. You have to unemotionally be able to look at videos that flop and figure it out. Because if not, just getting, you can’t, and not every video can be a one out of 10. And so when a video does bad, you know, that just stress and depression, it’s just gonna eventually get to you in the long run.
Lex Fridman (01:38:11):
So you said you’ve failed in a bunch of videos, sort of taking them to completion. So what are some of the biggest fails?
Yeah, weirdly enough, as we’ve matured and we’ve done this more, we don’t have that problem as much, especially now that we’re getting into the multimillion dollar budgets per video. It’s like, failure is not really an option anymore. So I’m a little more particular about what I do. But back in the day, yeah, like we would do a video where we spent 24 hours on a deserted island and we filmed it, did it all. And I just, I didn’t like it after the edit. So I just grabbed the voice and we went back to the deserted island and spent another 24 hours there and refilmed it. Or-
Lex Fridman (01:38:49):
Could that have been caught and prevented at the idea stage? Like where-
No, it’s a good idea. It was just poor execution. To be honest, when we were out there, it was hot. We were, we were just like, we all at one point just kind of wanted to die. It was just miserable.
Lex Fridman (01:39:00):
So how do you avoid that these days?
Well, I just went with what is a little cooler, to be honest. And then we had, literally, the amount of fun we had in the video was like 10 times higher.
Lex Fridman (01:39:10):
So you, like, there’s some practical details that you just learned.
Yeah, I don’t- Videos that, where it’s very hot or it’s on water, because I get super seasick. It was like a, kind of like 10 things that if they have these variables, I’m down to do it. But my fun meter is not as high as normal. Like we tried to, anytime we do anything on a boat, like when we spent 24 hours in the Bermuda Triangle, or when I tried to spend like, which it didn’t get uploaded, but I tried to spend like 100 hours at sea or whatever, just like on a raft. It just like, it makes me want to throw up and I get so seasick, I can’t even see straight. But there are just some videos that require me to be on a boat. So I just suck it up.
Lex Fridman (01:39:50):
So when you spend months in creating a video, I know this is probably stressful to some creators, like how much stress, how do you feel when you have to click publish?
Lex Fridman (01:40:01):
Now, not much. Are you able to detach yourself?
Yeah. Again, in old me, tons. I mean, I’d be like scratching and nervous and like my hands would be sweating, like to the point where I’m almost about to puke. I’m like, I really hope people like this. But, you know, I don’t know. I think that’s just part of maturing it. There’s different, as a content creator, there’s different phases. And you just like, once you get over the fear that you’re just gonna wake up one day and be irrelevant, you know, and you just, you know, accept that like you believe in yourself and you believe in your content and that you can continue to be relevant, then you don’t, I don’t know. You kinda, it’s a little bit easier to detach yourself, I guess.
And that’s, it’s a much healthier place to be. You can’t do this for 10 years if every little thing just causes these huge emotional reactions. It’s like, that’s why a lot of creators go a little, you know, mentally insane. You know, you have to get out of that game because it really messes with you.
Lex Fridman (01:40:55):
We’ve talked about this a little bit, but how do you define and how do you suggest others define success on YouTube?
It’s so subjective. Some people, success is retiring their mom. Literally, you know, for you, success is inspiring people and educating them and, you know, whatever, the peak of their curiosity. For other people, it’s just quitting their job.
Lex Fridman (01:41:16):
So you have to self-reflect on what your definition of success is. Because I think a lot of creators kinda don’t really think, don’t introspect. Like, they kinda wanna keep getting more and more subscribers kind of thing.
Yeah, but subscribers is just a vanity metric, you know. It doesn’t, subscribers don’t correlate to views.
Lex Fridman (01:41:36):
Sure, or views, what?
Yeah, I know, but that’s more, that was a direct to you, that was more direct to people listening. Because a lot of people do really care about subscribers or even followers, like on TikTok. But if you look, like, on YouTube, very, very few percent, if even a percent of your views come from the sub feed, right, they’re almost all home feed or suggested. When’s the last time you clicked on your sub feed to watch a video?
Lex Fridman (01:41:58):
Oh, almost never.
Yeah, maybe five years ago. It used to be a thing, it’s not anymore. No one does. And it’s getting harder and harder to find the sub feed.
Lex Fridman (01:42:04):
Subscribe to way too many channels, I think.
Yeah, that’s what everyone does. And you subscribe to 10 channels, they’re great, but two years later, your taste evolves and it’s like, it’s a mess. And so, subscribers don’t really matter. Followers on TikTok don’t really matter. So anyways, they really are the definition of a vanity metric.
Lex Fridman (01:42:24):
And, but what about views?
They do, obviously, because if people are showing up time and time again, that’s what matters.
Lex Fridman (01:42:29):
Okay, so that’s a good thing to define a success. I just feel like that, too, can be a problem. Because I would say, if I wanted to be successful like as a young creator, I might start copying Mr. Beast or something like that, right? Like there’s, you start trying to take shortcuts as opposed to find your own unique voice, right? So like chasing views is a problem, too, it feels like. Or no, as long as you detach yourself
from the, I mean, if you’re, it sounds bad, but if you’re lazy, yeah, and you just want to copy someone else and not experiment and find your own way. But, I mean, you can’t make that excuse for them. If someone just isn’t coming up with the original stuff and putting in the effort, you can’t just say, oh, it’s because they’re chasing views. We need some different metric for them to chase. No, they just need to find their own way.
Lex Fridman (01:43:21):
It just feels like unique type of content will often lead to sacrificing the number of views in the short term.
Mm-hmm, by the long term, you win. Okay, so. Or if you do win, you win more, I guess would be a better way of putting it.
Lex Fridman (01:43:36):
Do you think you will IPO Mr. Beast Burger or Feastables in the next five, 10 years?
Beast Burger or Feastables, no. I kind of think there. Something. Actually, you know what, I just realized. This is our first time talking about those. We’re like an hour and a half in, that’s so funny.
Lex Fridman (01:43:52):
We started talking about what?
My retention brain kicked in. I wonder if you have retention brain for life itself. Oh, I do. Every time I’m talking to someone, I can, I’m like, okay.
Lex Fridman (01:44:05):
What about loved ones? Spending time with loved ones, thinking like we could be doing something much better right now.
Yes, no, that is a serious problem with, well, so we’ll pause the Beast Burger question, yes. But that’s why my current girlfriend, which I was telling you before when we were talking about this, is she has a genuine love for learning. And that’s something I have. Like, I always feel like I need to be learning something to justify the time I’m spending. And so that’s why it’s such a nice trait because I feel like that time is being used optimally because whether we’re watching a documentary or we’re going and taking an IQ test or reading about whatever, just why modern art is a thing, I don’t know, whatever weird thing we decide to do, I’m always learning and improving, so it justifies the time.
Lex Fridman (01:44:50):
So to maximize retention in your relationship, you wanna spend that time learning as much as possible.
Yeah, which conveniently, I don’t have to force, right? Or I wanna be recharging, so when I do work, I can hit the ground harder. And luckily, we’re into a lot of the same things, which happen to be learning, and sometimes it’s not learning, like maybe watching an anime or something like that. But I’m a big believer in you’re either, if you, well, if your goal is to be like a super successful entrepreneur, you need to either be working or you need to be doing something that decompresses and recharges you so you can work again, if your goal is to be like a really kick-ass entrepreneur. Obviously, we’re boiling this down to a very basic thing. And so the things you’re doing, you’re down time, when you’re not working, if it doesn’t recharge you, you’re screwed. You’re just a ticking time bomb waiting to implode.
And so you gotta like heavily recharge. And so like watching, for me, anime or whatever it is, playing a board game, like that is actually kind of crucial to my success, which takes a lot of maturing to come to that conclusion, because I used to be the kind of guy that wanted to work every hour of the day. And I would try to train myself to not need that stuff. And I almost resented like that.
I have to do these kinds of things and it would piss me off because it’s not optimal. And I just really wanna make content and entertain people. But as someone who’s gone down that road and you just work every day for two, three months straight and every hour of the day, and then you’re just a bomb waiting to explode and lose your mind. And the only real sustainable thing is to just like give yourself time to recharge in between working.
Lex Fridman (01:46:28):
So there’s a kind of balance you have to find.
You have to. Even, and I hate it more than anyone else,
Lex Fridman (01:46:33):
because, you know. You hate not working.
Yeah, because it’s just not optimal for time. Like it’s, as a human, I do need to occasionally watch a mindless show and play a board game. And it took me a very long time to like come to peace with that and not, I would have like borderline panic attacks when I do it. Cause I’d be like, I just, what am I doing right now? Why am I doing this? I should be, you know, like, what if one day I have to lay off an employee because we’re not doing so well? Like, how could I justify watching this show or whatever I’m doing right now? You know, it’s like, there’s a lot of things like that that go on in your head, but it’s necessary.
Lex Fridman (01:47:09):
Before we return to Mr. Beast Burger, well, what is like, since we’re on the topic, what is a perfect day in the life, perfectly productive day in the life of Mr. Beast look like?
Oh boy. Well, I mean. Or like a standard. I mean, the perfectly productive day is we film a main channel video. Cause those get a hundred million a pop. I mean, it doesn’t really get any better than that.
Lex Fridman (01:47:32):
What about like the average day when you’re not on the set? Yeah. And you’re like, cause you’re running a lot of things, right?
Yeah, so right now we have our snack brand, Feastables. We have a restaurant chain, Beast Burger. And then we basically, which we haven’t even really launched any products yet, but we have the data company that I was showing you where we’re going to roll out some tools for creators. And then we have the React channel, the gaming channel, the main channel. And then we have my charity, which also has a channel. And so kind of how I’ve structured my life right now is whenever I have free time, we just kind of go, hey guys, Jimmy’s got an hour from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. And everyone’s just like, I need this, I need this. And this channel’s like, I need this thing filmed. Or, you know, whatever. The guy who runs my TikTok’s like, I need this TikTok filmed. Or, you know, Beast Burger’s like, I need this menu item approved. And we need to talk about this marketing thing. And then we kind of just look at what everyone needs. And we’re like, that one looks like the most important. We’ll do that.
And then, so it’s just kind of like, you know, if I just did that for every company in a day, then that’s optimal. If I just kind of, like an optimal day for me would be going down to eight companies and just whatever they’re like two to three biggest pain points or things they need from me, and just doing those.
Lex Fridman (01:48:39):
Based on priority, and then trying to keep it as short as possible to just the things that you’re needed on.
It doesn’t get more optimal than that. If I clear the bottlenecks, or some bottlenecks for all my companies, then it’s, yeah, that’s a perfect day.
Lex Fridman (01:48:53):
Yeah, I mean, even just me, because you’re like, you’re showing me around and you’re being a great and gracious host. But on top of that, you’re just doing all these meetings. You basically.
I felt bad at some points. I was like, oh, I just tricked him into going to meetings with me. He’s like my little meeting buddy.
Lex Fridman (01:49:07):
Yeah, I mean, it was fun. It’s fun to see. It was fun to see how effectively you’ve delegated. You basically trust the team to do a really good job on the various things, and there’s just a strong team that’s able to carry the five on all the different tasks. From the brainstorming in the main channel to the reacts and so on. Yeah, it’s really interesting. I mean, it’s really interesting what it takes to build a team like that, because you very quickly build a very large team that’s able to scale.
Which is very scary, because it’s my first, I’m 24, and I think I was telling you this earlier. It’s funny, because six years ago, I had to raise my hand to use the bathroom, and now I’m in charge of hundreds of people and entertain hundreds of millions of people. And so, it is crazy just how quick it comes up. I wish I was a little bit older, so I could have ran a couple companies and failed a few companies in the past and learned from those and applied those here.
Because I know for a fact, when I’m 34, I’m 24 now, when I’m 34, I’ll know so much more about running a business and scaling and hiring and how to lead people and better effectively communicate and all these different skill sets that will make me a better leader, that that’s the only thing that sucks, is I just don’t have those, because I just haven’t been through the lessons. And I just have such a lucrative thing on my plate right now, and it just sucks that I have to learn the lessons with the lucrative thing, you know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (01:50:27):
Yeah, because you already have so much influence, so much impact, but you have effectively scaled. What lessons do you draw from that, how to effectively scale as a 24-year-old?
Yeah, that’s something I feel like I actually could give a lot of value to to young people who are doing it, like older people who’ve built five companies or whatever they do. I probably couldn’t, they’re gonna be like, oh, this is so obvious, but. For younger, first-time business owners, you gotta just experiment, to be honest, and for us, it’s just a new space. No one had really ever scaled up a 100-person team to make content on YouTube, so there wasn’t no, I spent all this time, I hired one person from Disney at one point to come in and help, and obviously, that was a dumb idea looking back on it, but I thought, oh, they make great stuff people wanna watch, and they come over here and help me build a team, and they build it more the traditional way and not how it should be online, and so then it’s like, okay, now, I’m not trying to trash people, like they all tried their best, but then I hired this one person who does this different type of media and runs a 100-person team, and then you come in here, and they try to build it that way, and they don’t really listen to you or value or see the difference, and I tried basically building this company with four or five different people who worked in different veins of media, and every single time, they just don’t get it, and they don’t understand my world, and the eventual solution was just to roll up my sleeves and do it myself with James or a hitman, and no one’s ever done this, and no one’s gonna just give us a golden carrot and tell us how to build this company. We gotta figure it the fuck out ourselves.
Lex Fridman (01:52:06):
And you have to build up people from scratch then.
Yeah, exactly, all the stuff I was talking about earlier and all the lessons I learned along the way, and so for me, that was a big part of stop trying to have someone build this company for me and just do it myself, because it’s scary. I spent my whole life studying YouTube videos and virality, not business building, but fuck it, I was like, I guess we just gotta do it ourselves, and that’s where things really start to click, and we got the exponential growth, and we started getting the right people and training them the right way, and just throwing conventional stuff out the door and focusing on what’s actually practical for YouTube, which is just completely different than traditional media.
Lex Fridman (01:52:43):
So you train people, and then those people train people, and so on.
Yeah, I mean, it’s just even like how you do the lighting on sets or how you do the audio or not writing scripts, so we’re just not as efficient with our filming. Sometimes I have to have 30 cameras running. Why? Because it’s not scripted. I don’t know what Chris is gonna do when we start filming. He might run over there, but guess what? We gotta have it planned, because there’s only one shot. I can’t tell him not to do that.
Lex Fridman (01:53:11):
Yeah, that’s the shooting, but then there’s also the editing.
Yeah, and then the editing as well, and not having guardrails, and kind of, you know, at the end of the day, it’s whatever I want. The video, their job is to make a video that they think I’ll like, because it’s my channel, but you can achieve that kind of however, and so it’s just, everything’s just different. You know, it’s much more, I guess, like a startup, as opposed to.
Lex Fridman (01:53:33):
Are you often surprised, like, with the result? Like, you think a certain, like we watched a video today that was really nice that was different than you would have potentially edited? Yeah. Are you sometimes surprised by, like, a decision an editor makes? It’s like, okay, that’s not the way I would have done it, but it’s actually, this is a cool idea.
Yeah, of course, yeah. The thing, my biggest fear is I don’t ever want to get trapped in, like, a bubble of, you know, because we are getting 100 million views a video on the main channel, like, but I don’t want to get in this feedback loop of just, my ideas are great, or, like, not feedback loop, but stop learning and improving, because it is easy sometimes to be like, what we’re doing is working, we need to just keep doing it. I want to keep learning and trying new things, and I guess one way I’d put it is, like, you don’t, when you’re on a come up or you’re growing, you don’t want to test new things once you start to plateau or have a downtrend, because if you’re, like, you know, you’re skyrocketing, right, you’re up, up, up, and then you level off, you start to go down, and you’re like, oh, this isn’t working anymore, let’s start experimenting. Well, if you have a bad experiment, now you’re in, like, a tailspin, you’re nosediving, and you have one more bad experiment, you’re, like, screwed, kind of, I’m oversimplifying. You want to test things while you’re still growing to keep the growing from happening, because once you, like, have, you know, again, very oversimplifying, that, like, you know, kind of level off, you do a couple tests that go wrong, and you’re, like, screwed, you know what I mean? You’re already out the door, and now you’re just confirming that you’re out the door in online entertainment, so that’s kind of how I see it, so I think it’s very imperative that you’re constantly always experimenting and trying things, even if you’re getting crazy, unheard of growth.
Lex Fridman (01:55:10):
And so that, outside of the thing that brought you to the dance, you just dived right into Mr. Beast Burger and Feastables. This is a whole nother industry. Like, what was that like?
Well, so, Beast Burger, we kind of, it was supposed to be, like, just a pop-up. Like, we just partnered with someone who had 300 restaurants, and we were just like, you know, let’s just sell Beast Burgers for a day or two, let’s see what happens. We didn’t really think it would be as big as it was, but those first, like, that first day, you know, we do six figures in sales, and they all sell out, and they’re running to local Walmarts, they can’t keep up with the demand, and it’s like, okay, well, maybe let’s just leave it open a week, whatever, and we’re just doing crazy revenue, and it’s like, okay, well, let’s add some more restaurants, and let’s just leave them open for a month, and we’re just still doing six figures a day, and it kind of just went from this thing that was, I don’t know, it wasn’t really, I didn’t really plan on running a restaurant chain, but here I am.
Lex Fridman (01:56:08):
But didn’t that, in some sense, also open your mind to something like Feastables?
Feastables is something I’ve always wanted to do, because I think, just in general, American snacks are just full of so much horrible ingredients, to be honest, and they’re not, I don’t know, I feel like there also just hasn’t been any innovation in American snacks in quite a while, and so that’s just something I’ve always been pretty passionate about. The thing, we built that from scratch, so we hired the CEO and built a team around him, and we spent probably over two and a half years before we even launched, just building the right team, figuring things out, and making sure it actually ran the way I wanted, which Feastables has just been crushing.
It’s very interesting. This is something I’ve never talked about publicly, but having products in retail, it’s like, before Feastables, everything I had done was online, so if you wanted anything from the quote-unquote Peace brand, you’d have to buy it online and ship it to you, but Feastables, now that, because our first product, Chocobars, we started putting that in retail locations, so for example, Walmart, it’s crazy.
It doesn’t make sense how, if you’re, which I guess it does for, because we get 100 million views a video, so a lot of people know us. If I go stand on Walmart, those people recognize me, and ask for photos. If I stood there long enough, I could take 150 photos today in Walmart, or 200, whatever it is. So, obviously, it makes sense those people go fight Feastables, but then you just multiply that by every Walmart in America, and it just gets so crazy, and I didn’t think we’d be doing the kind of revenue we are, and we’re about to launch in some other, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say it, so whatever, but other big retail locations and convenience stores, and by the end of next year, we could be in 40, 50,000 locations, and the numbers just don’t make sense.
Lex Fridman (01:57:52):
So, you know what I mean? What are some interesting challenges about scaling there that surprised you?
The biggest problem, which I didn’t think would be, was just keeping the shelves in Walmart stock, to be honest. So, that supply chain. It was brutal. Well, even then, sometimes, you get the stuff, and it takes them a day or two to put it out in that specific location, and I had to stop promoting it, because every time I’d mention it, like 40% of people would just be like, it’s not there. It’s not in Walmart, or I can’t buy it. And so, there was like a three-ish month period where I just didn’t promote Feastables, because I was scared that someone would go buy it, and it’s just not there. And so, it took us a very long time to catch up to the demand, and also, it’s not like we have unlimited money. But now, we’re relatively caught up in keeping up, but it’s gonna be interesting, because now, this year, in 2023, we’re gonna basically, you know, 10X the amount of locations we’re in, and we’re gonna try to launch new products. So, we’re in for an interesting ride, but yeah, I just hate, I hate when I tell people, you know, like, hey, go try this product, and then they go in their local Walmart, and eventually other places, and it’s not there. It’s just so brutal, you know? They made that whole journey out there, and they couldn’t get it. And so, that was really it. But besides that, it’s been doing way better than I ever thought.
Lex Fridman (01:59:15):
You’ve talked to a couple of places about maybe doing mobile games or computer games in the future. Yeah. Is that something you’re still considering?
Yes, because, you know, do you normally talk with people as much as we talked beforehand?
Lex Fridman (01:59:30):
No, no, that was the problem. We spent all day today talking about stuff.
I just looked in my head. Everything you asked me is stuff we already talked about. Not really. Well, no, no, not everything. I take it back. But, sorry, the last two questions, yes. And so, it’s just funny, because…
Lex Fridman (01:59:44):
What? No, I tried, so, okay, there’s a different style of asking those questions, because I, on purpose, didn’t dig further with you.
I could tell, yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:59:55):
I could tell you. Okay, this, by the way, okay, all right, well, this is the first time I’ve ever talked to somebody as much as I did with you beforehand.
Yeah. On the same day. I know.
Lex Fridman (02:00:10):
Not even the same day. All day together. And I only slept one hour. Yeah.
Literally, it’s funny.
Lex Fridman (02:00:16):
This is a hilarious and awesome social experiment.
I picked him up from his hotel, and I just harassed him all day to hang out with me.
Lex Fridman (02:00:23):
And then, here we are, now. I love it. I was secretly recording the whole time, just so you know, I’m just kidding. Anyway, so, what was the question? The…
Mobile games. So, the interesting thing is, with Beast Burger and Feastables, that there’s physical goods, as opposed to making mobile games, or a PC game, whichever one we end up doing, which is software. And I actually have a giant international audience. Most of my audience is, obviously, outside of America. And so, the problem we’re running into is it just takes time to build up the supply chain and get Feastables in Southeast Asia, get Feastables in India, get Feastables in Brazil, in Mexico, and all these other places where we have giant pockets of our audience. And same thing with Beast Burger. It’s just, it’s gonna take probably years, unless we partner with someone who already has the distribution, which we’re figuring out. But, the beauty of software is, I can make a hypothetical game, or whatever we end up doing, and all my fans can, you know, use it tomorrow, the day I mention it. And so, if I promote something in a video to 100 million people, and it’s like a, you know, basically like a game, they can all download it. So, you know, but if I promote a Feastables bar, right now, it’s only in America, because we’re struggling just to keep up with the American demand. We haven’t even gotten the chance to go outside of America. So, I alienate a majority of my audience, and it feels sort of shitty to just, you know, mention something that most of them can’t buy. But, on the flip side, you can’t just spawn this crazy infrastructure and just have tens of millions of bars and all your products in every single store across the world before you promote it. So, you can’t put the egg before the chicken. And so, it’s like, that’s what I’m excited about. I want to get into less physical stuff and more stuff that everyone in my audience can actually use.
Lex Fridman (02:02:04):
It’s the thought process. Well, especially if there’s a social element to the gaming too, because it’s not unlike Feastables, like that’s a product you consume.
You missed it. When you were setting up for this, we were doing some, basically just laying out everything that we’re planning for. So, we’re at the phase where we want to start hiring the team to build it. And we’re kind of just laying out the game. And I was actually really curious to get your thoughts, but I can’t say it. Because whatever I say, someone’s just going to take it and run with it.
Lex Fridman (02:02:28):
But, I have a pretty good idea. About the kind of games you’re thinking about? Yeah. I mean, I can imagine. We also talked a little bit about it.
It’s super awesome. So much good ones. I did. So much good talks. You have the juicy talks, haven’t you? She’s like, I got to go set up.
Lex Fridman (02:02:40):
Well, you know, I already heard a lot of awesome stuff. I mean, but that is a different kind of team you would need to hire. Yeah. Is that a little nerve wracking? Like, going into a new field and trying to?
A little bit. But then I remind myself, like Steve Jobs didn’t know how to code, right? And you know, he just knew what a good product was. And I feel like, as someone who wasted so much of his life playing video games, I have a good sense of it. And that might be it.
Lex Fridman (02:03:04):
Well, that’s really important, right? It’s not about coding. It’s about what makes for a good game.
Exactly. And again, that might genuinely be ignorance. And maybe I end up, you know, getting bit in the butt because of what I’m saying now. But I think just like with YouTube, I just want to obsess over making a great product and things that I think my audience will love. And I think as long as I keep that as my north star, it will do well.
Lex Fridman (02:03:24):
What does the path to being worth a hundred billion look like?
What does the path to being worth a hundred billion look like?
Lex Fridman (02:03:31):
I don’t know. Okay, let me just like pause here. 24 and there’s so much awesome scaling, so many great ideas. Do you think about different trajectories? Yeah. What those possible trajectories might look like?
Yeah, I mean, if the goal was to just be worth a hundred billion dollars, yes. My goal, I’m a broken record, is to make the best video possible because I know whatever else I want will come, obviously.
Lex Fridman (02:03:55):
So the video is the foundation.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So the path to a hundred billion dollars is keep getting a hundred million views a video, you know what I mean? But- Or more. Yeah, or more, exactly. If we can keep growing.
But, you know, if we can keep Feasible’s growing, right? And we eventually expand international and one day we’re in a hundred thousand retail locations and we’re selling the same amount of SKUs per, or units per SKUs like we’re currently doing, I mean, that would crush. And then obviously, ideally one day we open up hundreds of Beast Burgers, we get it where we turn out, you know, like Supercell, a couple hit games. I don’t want to make dozens or hundreds of games. I just want to make games that are just great. And, you know, we rarely drop them but we do, they’re bangers. And just, you know, whatever other stuff we end up doing, all that combined. I mean, it’s just interesting because like what’s a show that’s pulled a hundred million views per episode, basically? It’s like we’re doing. Like, you know what I mean? Like the Superbowl gets praised cause they get a hundred million viewers but I can’t think of a show, maybe in reruns or something.
Lex Fridman (02:04:55):
So it’s also a show that has a singular kind of figure. Yeah. That you can now use as a.
Like, I don’t have a network telling me what to do. I don’t have anyone. Like I can do whatever I want. So it’s a very interesting position cause I put out content and a hundred million people show up and then I also have a gaming channel. I put out content and 15 million people show up and I have a reaction channel. I put out content and 10 million people show up. I have a TikTok and I put out content and on average 20 million people show up. And like, so as long as I can keep that going and then we build these businesses, it’s like, it’s honestly pretty scary to see what will happen, you know, over the years because Feastivals launched, you know, last year, 2022. So it’s a relatively new thing. And Beast Burger, we just started scaling up the physical side and we haven’t obviously even launched any mobile games yet. So I think I’m at the antithesis of it. I don’t see a world where my YouTube channel’s irrelevant in the next couple of years. I just, this is what I live for. And so if I can keep that going and then really start to expand these businesses that leverage off of it, then yeah, I mean.
Hopefully there’s a day when, where I can give away a billion dollars in a video, honestly.
Lex Fridman (02:05:55):
Yeah, that would be one hell of a video. Let me ask you the ridiculous question. Since you went from being broke to being rich, although you keep spending all your money, does money buy happiness? How has money changed sort of your contentment, your happiness in life?
Money buy happiness? No, not, I mean, to a point, yes. Once you can take care of your health, you can take care of like any immediate dangers and you can take care of your family relatively. No, it doesn’t. But those things do. When I first came into money, one of the first things I did was retire my mom. And that brought me tons of happiness, you know what I mean? And if my brother had a medical emergency and we couldn’t afford it and I made money to afford it, that’d bring tons of happiness. So once you take care of those basic necessities, so we’ll say make over hypothetically a million dollars, no, it really doesn’t. Adding an extra zero, going from 10 million to 100 million or whatever it is, makes no difference.
Lex Fridman (02:06:56):
So you’re given that or just fearless in spending the money?
Yeah, well, let me reframe. I guess it could for some people, if you really, I don’t know, you spent your whole life obsessing over cars, it probably would bring you a little bit of joy to buy a nice Lamborghini. I’m coming more from the frame of mind of an entrepreneur, someone who’s really obsessed with business building. For me and a lot of my friends and people I hang around, what brings us happiness is winning and building companies and changing the world. That is fun. It’s a complex problem you can wake up every day and it gives you something to obsess over and devote your life to. Whereas just having money doesn’t, you know?
Lex Fridman (02:07:32):
Well, one interesting question I have for you psychologically is because you have become wealthy and because you give, like part of your work is giving away a lot of money, do you find it hard to find people you can trust? It’s a good question. Do people see you basically as a source of money?
As opposed to another human being? It’s weird, because you would think yes, but I feel like I also know the right places to look. But yeah, if I just walked into Target and tried to make friends with 10 random people, of course. You gotta,
Lex Fridman (02:08:05):
so you can kind of sense
who has the right thing in their heart. So quickly, yeah, it’s so obvious. I don’t even wanna go into descriptions, but honestly, a lot of my friends, like Chandler, I played Little League with him. And Tyler, the guy, I mean, I went to school with him. Chris, he was my first subscriber. Carl was here after we got big, but whatever. He’s just friends with the boys. A lot of my closer friends, even like my YouTube friends, I knew before I was big. So maybe there is some merit to that. Maybe it is, I don’t know. I’ve never really put too much thought into it, but maybe there’s a reason I hang around a lot of these people I knew before I got big, because it’s much easier.
Lex Fridman (02:08:48):
And they help you keep your radar sharp of who can and can’t be trusted, because you know you can trust them. And it’s difficult when you become richer and richer and more powerful.
Well, one thing you’ll also find when you get rich, not even richer, but more famous. One thing I thought is, as I climbed this ladder of YouTube and got bigger, I thought there would be tons of people like me. People that take the kamikaze approach to building a business. You just throw all your money in it. You throw all your time. You throw all your energy. You throw everything. You’re just like, fuck it. It’s this or I’m dead. I thought there would be hundreds of me. And there isn’t. There isn’t. I mean, there’s maybe one or two. And I talk to those motherfuckers every single day. I’m sick and tired of talking to them, but I love them.
But it’s just so interesting, because every level I got up, I’d get a million subscribers. I’d be like, all right, where’s all these guys in the million subscribers that are fucking psychopaths? And then you don’t, you know.
Lex Fridman (02:09:39):
People become conservative as they get,
they get more, especially as they get bigger, yeah. And you know, 20 million subscribers, 30. It’s like every step of the way, it’s like, I just got more and more lonely, to be honest. So do you, you know, it sounds cliche, and you hear that kind of shit in movies, and you’re like, oh, that’s not how it works. But it is. Like, there’s just not many people that just want to give up everything, go all in, then obsess over making the greatest goddamn videos every single day of their life. Like, they’re really hard to find.
Lex Fridman (02:10:08):
And be able to sacrifice everything for that video. Yeah. Like, basically, put all the money right back in.
Yeah, or the people doing it, they’re on just a small scale. And if I talk to them, it’s just 99.9% of the time I’m teaching them things, and it’s like.
Lex Fridman (02:10:21):
So it’s lonely because there’s not too many people, especially in the creative space, that are as crazy as you.
Yeah, it is, 100%. It’s so, it’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting there’d be a lot of people like me, but.
Lex Fridman (02:10:34):
Well, I guess the guy we talked to, Elon Musk, is a bit like you in that sense.
Yeah, just in a different domain, yeah. Exactly.
Lex Fridman (02:10:41):
Just willingness to put it all back in.
And that’s why I’ve found right now, a lot of the people I relate to don’t even make YouTube videos. Like, I’m veering more and more away from fellow content creators, and more to just, you know, I’m just looking for those other people who just share a little bit of it so I don’t feel so fucking crazy all the time. Like, you know what I mean? And it’s like people I feel normal around, and they tend to just be doing the randomest things, but, you know, loving it.
Lex Fridman (02:11:06):
Well, I think that’s really inspiring. It’s like the Bukowski line, to find what you love and let it kill you, is really put everything, put everything into the thing you love. That’s like the way to really create special stuff,
but it’s also the way to live out your life more fully. The thing is, you have to be careful giving this advice, because they’re like bodybuilders, who’ll be like, just go to the gym. Be disciplined. I’m disciplined, go to the gym.
But I would argue, for those people, it’s not even discipline. They just enjoy weightlifting, right? Because there are people who are jacked, but they don’t make much money or run a business, right? If they were that disciplined, they would be hitting every area of their life. They just really like business. And then there’s people like me, who just, to an extreme level, love building companies, right? It’s not even discipline for me. It’s just in my blood. It’s what I wake up. I don’t think about it. I don’t push myself. I don’t need to watch a fucking motivational video to go work. I just do it. It’s programmed in me at this point. And I couldn’t imagine a world where I don’t wake up and do it every day.
But I think that a little bit of it is genetics, and just how you’re hardwired. Not that it can’t be trained or taught, and obviously the friend group you’re in influences these things, and over time, I think can change it. But someone’s just not gonna be able to flip a switch and then just start doing a kamikaze approach to building a business. Just like a lot of people try to flip a switch and start bodybuilding and then quit majority of the time. That’s just not innate to them.
Lex Fridman (02:12:33):
But I think a lot of us have the capacity to do that in some domain.
Yeah, I think if you went about it strategically, if you surrounded yourself with fellow like-minded people and slowly over time switched it, but if you just try to hardcore do it, you’re just gonna lose your mind. Do you ever worry about your mental health?
Lex Fridman (02:12:50):
Did you take a step to protect it, to, yeah, for the long run, to make sure you have the mental strength to go on? Yes.
Yes, weirdly enough, the best thing for my mental health was giving in to my innate nature to work. And the most depressed I get is when I try to restrict it and I don’t work weekends or I don’t work this day. What’s best for me is just to work when I feel like working and then just not work when I don’t and just have no constraints. Because there are just some nights where I don’t want to sleep and for whatever reason, I feel compelled to go all night. Whatever, just do it, do whatever you want is what I tell my working brain.
And I just give into it. That’s where I feel the happiest. And then, you know, it’s typically like, but when I’m really in the grind mode, it’ll be like seven or eight days and just nonstop going, going. And then it’s like, I’ll realize like, oh, I need some recharge time and then go fucking binge a season of anime. Yeah, but that’s the thing, like people will tell you don’t work weekends or don’t do this or don’t work past this or blah, blah, give you all these constraints. But for me, and it’s unconventional, I just give into it.
Lex Fridman (02:13:55):
I think there’s something really to be said for that. I try to surround myself with people that, like when I pull an all-nighter, they don’t go like, you should get more sleep. There’s a reason I pulled that all-nighter. Like if I’m really passionate about something, they say, they basically encourage it. Because I have no problem getting sleep and getting rest. What I need in my life is people that encourage you to kind of keep going, keep going with the stuff you’re passionate about.
Normal people, they don’t want that life and they probably shouldn’t. It’s not good for you. But yeah, if you hang around people like, just whatever, different people, you’re gonna feel crazy and it’s gonna wear on you. Whereas if you’re around similar people, it just, it’s so much easier. Like if you, you know, I’ve started weightlifting more and like one thing that’s helped is just having jacked people around me.
Lex Fridman (02:14:45):
They naturally just eat healthier. They do.
They naturally just have freaking grilled chicken and all this shit and high-protein meals. And it’s just like easier for me to just piggyback and be like, oh, can you just order me whatever you’re getting? And they’re like, oh, I gotta go to the gym. And I’ll be like, oh shit, I’ll just join you, you know? And it’s like, it’s just, it’s cheat codes. You know what I mean? Just surround yourself with people that you wanna be. And it makes it like 70% easier, in my opinion. It’s like, that is the cheat code to life. And I wish, obviously your audience is definitely a lot older, but you know, to the older people listening, like if you are in a place of mentorship for someone younger or have influence over younger people, you should really try to drill that in their heads. Like the people they are around 100% dictates the outcome. I would not be on 120 million subscribers if I didn’t find, when I was around a million, I had a couple of friends that were just also psychopaths. You know, I outgrew them, but at the time it was great. And I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.
And just all along the way, the friends that I hung out with had such a dramatic impact on where I am. Like I’d probably have 80 million less subscribers, you know, if it was, if I wasn’t so strategic about hanging out with people that I add value to and they also add value to me.
Lex Fridman (02:15:54):
So the advice for young people would be to be very selective about the people you surround yourself with.
So selective. It’s crazy, like Chris, you know, he’s really funny and that’s why he’s great for the videos. And part of why he’s so funny is he consumes copious amounts of cartoons and just funny content. And so I’ll find, like when I spend more time with Chris, I’ll start just quoting these weird cartoons and shows. Like my speech will literally change just after like a week of spending more time with him. It has like, it’s like that quick of an effect, you know. Now picture that over the course of years. I mean, yeah, it has such a huge influence. Like pluck one of their friends out and hypothetically put me in there. And you know, there’s no doubt if they’re trying to become a content creator, their odds of success is 10X, right? Obviously you can’t do that, but you got to find your closest version of it.
Lex Fridman (02:16:43):
And just be selective, yeah. But this also applies not just to younger, to older people too.
Agree, but it’s even more, I like, when I was a teenager, I just, you know, I couldn’t relate to many people and I just thought it was like a freaking nature because no one was obsessed with building businesses or any of this kind of stuff. And so like back then, you know, that advice would have been helpful. Maybe not that particularly, but just knowing that there are, it’s not that you’re a freaking nature. You just haven’t found people that have the same interest.
Lex Fridman (02:17:09):
So the task is not to feel sorry for yourself or somehow change yourself.
It’s more to find people you fit in with. Yeah, I mean, assuming which, you know, you’re not getting compliments, like, assume it’s not something bad, right? If your hobby is shooting things, or shooting things you shouldn’t be shooting, you know, don’t find people that encourage that.
Lex Fridman (02:17:31):
But outside of that, for sure. Actually, as an answer to what is the best advice someone ever gave you, you said, you’re crazy until you’re successful, then you’re a genius.
100%, all along the way. People gave me so much, you know, advice on why I shouldn’t be doing it, why I’m crazy. Every step of the way, people wanted to tell me why I shouldn’t be doing this and should get a life, should stop being too obsessed. Everything, everything under the book. And then once I’m successful, those same people are like, dang, you’re a genius. Wow, you really, you pulled that off.
Lex Fridman (02:18:04):
Those are probably the same people that will give you advice now. You’re the most successful video creator of all time. Stick to that. Anytime you want to do something new, right? They’ll pressure you not to do, you know, Feastables or mobile gaming or whatever lays beyond. It’s funny how people don’t.
Well, honestly, they’re the type of people I just don’t talk to anymore. So I wouldn’t even know what they have to say now.
Lex Fridman (02:18:31):
So most people on the team are like, yes, and. They’re like, whatever the idea you got, they’re with it.
No, I mean, it’s weird. We actually have a, my team pushes back on me pretty hardcore, which I want. I don’t want yes men. And they’re like, they’re, James, you know, the CEO who helped me build all this, he’s very adamant. Like, we’re not yes men. And he trains people to really think for themselves. And even when I give them orders, like really think like, is this optimal? Is there context or information Jimmy could be missing that I can provide that can help him make a more updated decision? Like, I’m not God, you know what I mean? Like, I’m human and I make errors. And so don’t take what I say as the Bible.
Lex Fridman (02:19:09):
So even like in the brainstorming and so on, they can push back.
Yeah, you can see it. Like Tyler, anytime I said something, he would give me feedback and push back, which is what I want. I don’t want him just to be like, yes, you’re a fucking genius. Good job, Jimmy. You know, I don’t need that. You know, I need negatives.
Lex Fridman (02:19:23):
You talked about being in a relationship. What role, Jimmy, does love play in the human condition?
I think, well, the big thing is love can be scary because this is, you know, the human you’re gonna spend the most amount of time with in your life, you know? And so for a project that over 50 years, they can be a liability or an asset.
Lex Fridman (02:19:44):
Love the metrics. You know, I love the metrics.
No, but seriously, it’s gotta be someone that makes you better. For me, I can’t truly love someone that doesn’t make me better because- In the long run, across the years. Because if not, then it’s like, it’s a negative, you know, to everything I’ve spent my life building. But luckily, I’m very happy with the partner I have, and like we were talking about before, I do think she makes me better. There’s a lot of actually positives I’ve noticed, even things as simple as like, you know, I struggle to turn off my brain at night because I’m just thinking about all the businesses and how we could do better or whatever weird thing I have on my mind. But, you know, just chatting with her and hanging out with her helps me, like, basically just shut my brain off and like mellow out. And even like, there’s just a ton of little things like that that I’ve noticed are positives, especially when you really look for them, that are easy to gloss over if you’re not.
Lex Fridman (02:19:52):
In the long run. Yeah. Across the years.
And so for me, yeah, I have someone who I think is very beautiful, very intelligent, makes me better, is constantly pushing me, okay with me working hard, makes me smarter, and just all these different things that I think, for me, love just makes me a better person. You know what I mean? Which makes me love her even more. Does that make sense?
Lex Fridman (02:20:48):
Absolutely. What advice would you give on finding somebody like that?
Just really don’t give up until you find someone that, you know, there’s so many people on the planet. I mean, there really is. There’s billions of.
Lex Fridman (02:21:03):
The odds are in your favor.
Of, yeah, like just don’t settle and find someone that, you know, makes you happy.
Lex Fridman (02:21:13):
Yeah, just like you said, surround yourself with people that make you a better person. In the same case, surround yourself with that one special person that really makes you a better person.
And maybe that’s just an entrepreneurial brain looking at it. Not everyone wants to hyper-optimize their life like me. But for me, to like truly love someone, they have to make me a better person.
Lex Fridman (02:21:29):
In every way, yeah. Yeah. Well, what do you hope, you’re 24, we started talking about death. Let’s finish talking about death. What do you hope your legacy is? When you, when we look 100 years from now, and the alien, the AI has completely taken over, and the aliens visit and discuss with the AI what this last of special humans that existed on Earth was like. What do you hope they say about you?
It’s a deep one. Probably just that, because it’s hard, right? Like I said before, Elon is over double my age. I could live every second I’ve lived up to this point in my life and still not even be Elon’s age. So I have so much time. I just hope whatever it is, that it’s a net positive on the world, and it impacts billions of people, in a positive way, that makes lasting change.
Lex Fridman (02:22:31):
So you admire people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk for having sort of reached for that goal as well. Yeah, of course. To help millions.
I mean, the iPhone’s the most successful product ever invented. It’s hard not to admire what he created, you know what I mean?
Lex Fridman (02:22:46):
The same with sort of, as Johnny Ive talks about, like the passion, the effort they put into the designing the iPhone. That like little bit of love is transferred to the whole world. Like they get to experience the joy of that from the designer.
It’s what a beautiful thing to do. You know, I couldn’t think of anything better. You know, to create something that, even after you’re dead for decades, just has such a profound impact on basically half the human population. Yeah.
Lex Fridman (02:23:14):
It’s wild. Brings joy to people. Yeah. Well, I hope you do just that, man. You’ve already done it for millions and millions and millions and millions of people and I hope you keep doing it. I can’t, like, it’s so exciting to see what happens this year and next year.
I know. Like, the sky’s the limit. Yeah.
Lex Fridman (02:23:29):
I can’t, I mean, the videos, but all the other businesses you’re in, and you as a human being as you grow, I can tell, I know, as everyone knows, you have a kind heart and the fact that you’re really damn good at actually using that kind of heart to help a lot of people. It’s awesome to see, man. I appreciate it.
It’s awesome to see, man. I appreciate it. More importantly, before we go, are we gonna play Dune tonight?
Lex Fridman (02:23:51):
Board games? We’re not gonna play Dune. I have to, I have one hour.
You don’t wanna play board games with me?
Lex Fridman (02:23:56):
I wanna, I’ll.
I’ll play, I’ll play. You don’t wanna play board games?
Lex Fridman (02:23:59):
You don’t wanna play board games? If only I wasn’t an idiot and actually flew to the right airport.
If you don’t play board games with me, they’re gonna dislike the video.
Lex Fridman (02:24:11):
Thanks for listening to this conversation with Mr. Beast. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, let me leave you with some words from the poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore. Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Thank you for listening, and hope to see you next time.
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Here’s the timestamps for the episode. On some podcast players you should be able to click the timestamp to jump to that time.
(00:00) – Introduction
(06:55) – 1 billion views and 1 billion subscribers
(12:41) – Mortality
(20:04) – Improving YouTube
(22:26) – Twitter
(27:14) – Brand deals
(30:24) – Audience retention
(35:03) – Hiring
(42:41) – Talking to the camera
(47:42) – Brainstorming
(1:00:03) – TikTok
(1:09:07) – Advice for beginners
(1:13:23) – How to grow on YouTube
(1:21:07) – Elon Musk and Twitter
(1:22:32) – 10 million dollars vs 10 million subscribers
(1:29:50) – Going to Antarctica
(1:31:35) – Process of making a video
(1:36:11) – Overcoming depression
(1:47:15) – Building a business
(1:55:10) – MrBeast Burger and Feastables
(1:59:15) – Creating video games
(2:03:24) – Making billions of dollars
(2:05:58) – Money vs Happiness
(2:12:46) – Mental health
(2:19:24) – Love
(2:21:32) – Legacy
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