My Recap of WistiaFest 2017

I must have been the youngest guy here.

Yet here I was, trying to learn as much as I could. I went to WistiaFest 2017 with the goal of kickstarting the success of my newly created video marketing agency.

Now what is WistiaFest?

WistiaFest is an annual conference for anyone who wants to use video to improve their business: entrepreneurs, agencies, in-house videographers, salespeople, marketers, and more.

The company that runs it, Wistia, built a video hosting platform geared towards business video.

Their goal with WistiaFest is to gather all of the world’s top videographers, entrepreneurs, agencies, and freelancers and get them to geek out about video.

Why did I decide to go? 

I’ve always been intrigued with video ever since I made dumb video projects for high school chemistry (I may have copied the Annoying Orange). I left college after my 3rd year to put my all into something scary.

As Gary Vaynerchuk says, when you’re in your 20’s: 

"This is the moment when you don’t go practical—don’t take the “safe” route."

And I knew that if I wanted to succeed in the world of marketing agencies, I had to know what others were doing in this space. I needed to see what was working for them, and not work in a silo.

I knew I needed an edge.

That’s when I found WistiaFest.

Conference Details

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Date: June 11-13
  • Size: approximately 300-500

Luckily I found the conference by way of the amazing content they produce on their site to help people make better videos.

Their high-quality tutorials and resources are what first got me to the Wistia site (through a Google Search) and when I noticed they were having all of these amazing speakers there, I knew I had to go.

I threw down an investment of $650. Seems scary when you’re bootstrapping a new business but here we go.

Was it worth it?

Here’s my experience.

The Content:

 

Most of the keynotes were fantastic.

Some were a little slow for me, but that’s to be expected with any conference. People start at different points and it’s always good to go over the core principals.

The Breakout Sessions are where things got interesting.

Depending on what your goals were, there were four choices for each time slot: production, content & strategy, using Wistia, and agency.

And with so many cool breakout sessions to attend, I felt really bad that I couldn’t attend some.

But Wistia thought this through and actually recorded every session, and will be putting every session online exclusively for WistiaFest attendees to watch over again and again. That increased the value of this conference tenfold.

And I appreciated that.

My favorite speakers:

  1. Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers
  2. Ross Simonds of Hustle & Grind
  3. Adam Lisagor of Sandwich Video

The Social Events

A post shared by Evan (@theevanle) on

It’s easy to write off as “not as important" but every good conference really needs solid social events.

They allow you to be free of the "business-y” vibe and just enjoy each other as human beings. These events are where you can find CEOs breaking it down to Bruno Mars. 

Where your position means nothing on the dance floor.

These events are where the real fun is, and honestly, where I believe the most genuine relationships start at as well. The more informal the event the better.

WistiaFest started the first night with a mixer at their office with a huge tub of all-you-can-eat oysters and spiked lemonade to go round.

Then we had a 3-hour boat cruise party around the Boston Harbor. 

We ended the conference with a night at Harpoon’s Brewery — drinking local drafts and stuffing our faces with appetizers as attendees stormed the dance floor.

Verdict: The Best a Videographer Can Get

 

After WistiaFest, I feel a springier step as I grow my agency.

If you’re a videographer, or just someone trying to get more out of your content marketing, you need to attend WistiaFest. Probably one of the funnest and most valuable conferences I’ve attended so far.

I would definitely recommend it to others.

Looking forward to next year!

Different Ways to Invest In Yourself (that aren't college)

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Considering alternatives to college in the digital age.

Time, cost, and result are self-explanatory. Enjoyability Rating is the level of enjoyment that one gets in the actual practice. Confidence Rating is the level of how ready you feel you are to tackle the workplace after finishing.

1. Traditional College Degree

  • Time: 4 years
  • Cost: $40,000 - $200,000
  • Result: Piece of paper, network of people in the same unemployed boat as you
  • Enjoyability Rating: 1/5
  • Confidence Rating After Completion: 1/5

2. 3 Online courses (Udemy, CreativeLive, etc.) + 6 self-lead monthly projects + 6 month unpaid internship

  • Time: 1 year
  • Cost: Online courses (basic, intermediate, and advanced) = $300-2500
  • Result: experience w/ branding, coding, designing, filming, marketing, PR, and a strong professional community around each online course
  • Enjoyability Rating: 4/5
  • Confidence Rating After Completion 5/5

3. Attending 4 industry conferences + 50 books + 4 self-lead projects

  • Time: 1 year
  • Cost: $500 per conference and $10 per book = $2000 + $500 = $2500
  • Result: Strong network of industry professionals, portfolio of 4 projects, and applied knowledge = real confidence
  • Enjoyability Rating: 3/5
  • Confidence Rating After Completion: 4/5

It Does No Good To Complain Without Action

The world is unfair.

Someone’s out to get me.

Systemic oppression is stopping me from doing X.

Whether these theories are true or not, it does no good to just complain about how everything sucks. What do you do under those conditions to thrive? What have other successful people who started in your circumstances done?

Yes, I’m an Asian American. How can I use my that to my advantage?

Yes, I look perpetually young and some business people don’t take me seriously. How can I use that to my advantage?

Yes, I’m 5’4", pretty short by American standards. How can I use that to my advantage?

Successful people push on regardless of these perceived excuses. Maybe the world is unfair towards a certain type of person. What good does it do to complain about it while doing the same thing day in day out?

Accept what you can’t change and innovate based on your conditions.

June 2017 Update

1. Jumpcut Academy (YouTube)

As of May 1, I had 41 subscribers. As of June 1, I have 52 subscribers.

That’s in an increase of 11 subscribers. Not something to write home about, but an improvement is an improvement. Now it’s time to iterate on what went right, and get better. This month’s goal is to get 250 subscribers.

2. KIZEN Powerbuilding

Last month, I was traveling through 4 different states, so I got through Week 1 of the program, but I couldn’t keep up with trying to find a free gym while I was traveling. Day passes for gyms are just too expensive. So I ate my Chicago deep dish pizza and vowed that next month will be different!

That’s why this month in June, I will be committing to “no-days-off”. I’m aiming to complete up to Week 5 of the program by the end of this month. So far, it’s been amazing. The habit of going to the gym every single day is a great feeling.

I think what intimidates others from doing this is thinking they have to go in for like 2 hours every day, when that’s simply not the case.

You can come in for 20-60 minutes depending on what your workout is for the day. Maybe some days you do bodybuilding, while others you do HIIT or yoga.

3. How to Thrive Without College

No ifs, ands, or buts -- I'm releasing this next week.

4. Starting a Business

I’m in the early process of defining my niche, mapping out my product, doing deep customer research, and keeping sane throughout it all. 

Do you know anyone who has started a creative agency? I’d love to connect with other people who have done it before.

Either way, I’ll have an exciting announcement to give on July 1st. Stay tuned.

Why Lack of Work + Working Out Causes Depression

We have a mind and a body, and when we feel that neither is getting used, we get depressed.

That might be not going to the gym for a few days and starting to feel doughy. Staying inside a whole day and moving barely your fingers to press “Next" on your Netflix account. Or working from home all day without taking a walk here and there.

Or in terms of the mind, it might mean working a job where you don’t feel utilized to your highest potential. It might mean not having a job at all and feeling like a useless piece of human flesh staying at home all day and getting away with doing nothing.

Whatever it is, you need to find stimulation for the brain and body.

Move your body: join a community rec-league and play a sport, or get to the gym and work out. You can simply commit to a walk/run to the grocery store, local park, river, etc. at least 3 times a day to get out of your house.

Exercise your mind: get a job that makes you feel fulfilled to come in, whether it’s the people, the purpose, or the activity. If you don’t have a job, start a project that gives you a mission in life.

These two things need to be stimulated regularly and I’ve seen people who have abandoned both mind and body. They become extremely lethargic, and it’s disappointing. Both of these also work in tandem so when you neglect one, you neglect the other as well.

Exercise both mind and body.

6 Things I Learned From Working From Home

This post is for people who live in the suburbs, small towns, and/or work from home.

Ever since moving back to Salem, a small tourist town of 42,000 residents, I've faced the challenge of how much I can integrate work with my life. For the past year, I've been on 24/7, working closely with 4 different founders at different startups. Now it's relatively slower.

I imagine a lot of my graduated friends are facing the same challenge of not knowing what to do with their time.

I'm used to the fast-paced action of a city. It makes me come alive to take a walk and have opportunities all around me.

Here are 5 things I've learned from staying at home.

  1. Living at home is not free. What you don’t pay in rent, you pay for in familial obligations, food-sharing, rules, and mental stress.
  2. Working from a home office in a suburban area full of old people and children can get lonely. Buying new things will not always be the cure. You need to get out, and reach out online.
  3. Movement is a very important part of my life. If I'm not physically moving somewhere whether that be to a grocery store or to explore, then I feel lethargic.
  4. Trello is great for digitally keeping track of projects, but a physical white board is the best for a quick at-glance view of what the primary goals are each month.
  5. The layout of your room needs to refresh every so often to reflect the change in your life.
  6. I prefer to take public transit and walk about a city, over small town living and driving everywhere. If you love city life, then you probably have the same feelings.

I've felt pretty unproductive for the past few days, some of which were intentional, but most days were not. So it's time I find a solution.

I've talked with a couple of my advisors and accountability partners. What I'm going to do is take these steps:

  1. Join a co-working space in Boston to revitalize and keep movement in my life
  2. Work on non-Internet stuff on the train/bus. (calls, content, etc.)

I'll report how it affects my mood and productivity next week.

Nothing Is Original - And That's Okay

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Nothing is original.

Every piece of life advice you've ever heard has probably been repeated time and time again. 

What's different is context.

Context adds a layer of originality and digestibility.

For example, Gary Vaynerchuk didn't invent the idea of "hustle". But he did popularize it.

When Gary talks about "hustle", it resonates much more powerfully with his audience of entrepreneurs because of his brand as the son of 2 immigrants and creating a wine empire from very little.

That context is what will give you the edge in whatever you do.

Let's take for example, my advice that you should move out of your house and to a new city if you really want to grow rapidly. I believe that living on your own, unrestricted by your parent's rules allows you to discover who you are and what rules you set for yourself. Escaping to a new place where no one knows you accelerates this process even more.

Now, while that's good advice, it's not novel advice. American adults have been moving out of their parent's houses for hundreds of years.

The key distinction is the context in which I'm sharing it.

My brand is built around a couple of things:

  1. Opting out of college
  2. Trying new things and being adventurous
  3. Being Asian
  4. Being young
  5. Living in the digital age with access to smartphones, internet, etc.

Anyone who relates to my brand is able to internalize the idea of moving out much better than if someone else said the same thing. It's also possible that it's the first time they heard of or understood the idea of moving out.

If so, I just cemented myself as an expert in their minds.

You can do the same with those around you.

You don't have to be original.

You just have to give good advice, and add a little bit of a twist to it by using your unique brand. That unique context will resonate much more strongly if you talk about it instead of avoiding it and being a cookie-cutter advice giver.

Don't repeat tropes -- give advice -- but do so with your story in mind.

Success = Knowing What You Need

I think the reason so many kids go to college is because they don’t know what they want.

When you don’t even know what success means to you, how can you just recklessly spend tens of thousands of dollars and commit years of your life? Easy — because other people tell us to. When we don’t know what we want, we try to make the best decision in our mind.

"If other people want this degree and college experience so bad, then it must be good for me too."

So if everyone is following that same mindset, you just have a bunch of people who don’t know what they want going to college. 

This can be dangerous.

Richer students can afford for college to be a nice vacation while they wait for their parents to award them an internship or job here and there . But first generation students fighting for a better future for themselves and their family?

They’re chasing a vague goal of more money and prestige.

If you can’t put a number on how much money you need, then you need to seriously think about it. When you do an audit of your needs, then you have a much better sense of what you should be pursuing.

For example, if your desired lifestyle is living in a small town and being able to Netflix all day, that’s not a very expensive lifestyle out of work, so you may want to be a bartender or barista.

If you want to live in the city and experience nightlife once a week, you may need a bigger salary than that of a barista.

If you want to travel the world, living in countries where the US dollar is powerful (Thailand, Vietnam, etc.) you can live like a king/queen if you’re making at least $30,000/mo on a remote job.

Once you can define what it is you want, it makes it so much easier achieve it.

A successful person is not the guy in the suit making six figures by working 70 hours a week that he hates. If he loves it, then that is his true dream job. 

But a really successful person is simply a person who knows what they want, and is happily pursuing it. Whether that is six figures a year or simply living in a low maintenance cottage by the ocean.

Can you define success? Use these 3 metrics:

  1. Where do you want to live? (City, small town, beach-side + specific places)
  2. What do you want to be doing everyday? (Exercise, family time, photography, hobbies, etc.)
  3. How much do you need to make right now? (Understanding that you will grow in your career and make more in the future)

A Letter to All My Friends Who Are Graduating

I would be graduating with you if I had stayed in school.

If I had "just toughed it out", I would be walking across that same stage as you do. But I chose a different path. If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I didn't enjoy most of my time in school.

Although I met some amazing people and a few of my life-long friends, I felt like I was being held back. Like my potential was being limited by General Education courses, thousands of tuition dollars, 40 hours of classwork a week, and the flawed grading system punching me in my self-esteem.

And so I watch all of you walking across the stage ready to move on to the real world.

I don't watch in envy and regret, rather, I feel calm. I'm exactly where I need to be. I feel free of the idea that life moves in stages that we must go through them because someone else told us to. I'm okay with being a 22-year-old and "supposed" to graduate, but just choosing not to. Maybe the biggest thing about college I realized was that halfway through it, it wasn't the value of the degree that made me want to stay, rather it was FOMO (feeling of missing out).

But I definitely knew I wanted out, and so I left school to pursue work and mentorship.

I finally had a taste of the real world I wanted so much to join.

And it was a crazy experience. Here are some things I learned:

1. There is no timeline.

Graduation may signal a change in your life, but the greatest changes in life don't happen here. Big changes in your life are made through taking risks on who you think you are. These changes are quiet.

It takes screwing up at work, learning about the things you want to learn about at the right time, and constant interaction with people and the things around you.

If you have a job right after graduation that's great. If you don't, then that's okay too. But in both of these situations, you have to follow the advice above. In the same way that you felt learning more gave you more progress in school, the secret to keeping yourself motivated in the real world is constant learning -- but also a lot of creation along the way.

Learning without working results in stressful contemplation about the future. Working without learning results in stagnation and hopelessness.

Learning and working together results in mastery, which leads to enjoyment and passion development.

Doing these 2 things is how you create the real timeline of your life.

2. A large portion of your college friends will forget about you.

They will be too distracted with college or work stimuli. They may be somewhere 20+ miles away from you.

Either way, it's no one's fault in particular, but the natural course of events that happen is that one person will say "we'll catch up" or "keep me updated" and neither person updates the other. It takes two to tango and you have to bear responsibility for keeping your relationships in tact.

School may have allowed you to be lazy and just see everyone on a whim, but in the real world -- good friendships are scarce.

3. Life is uncertain.

A “perfect" experience is not guaranteed. It can’t be. Did I plan to be fired at my first startup job? Hell no. But I did, and it adds an interesting layer to my story.

Some people are so concerned with developing the perfect “college story” — the right clubs, fraternities, and grades to get — but their stories are so significantly less moving than the person who experienced massive amounts of uncertainty and pushed through it all.

I didn't plan my story and yet here I am. Still alive, finishing my current work contract this week, and $0 in debt from my whole year.

How could I have known that over the course of my year without school, I would end up:

  1. Working closely with the founders of 3 different startups
  2. Developing my sales, marketing, and bullshit-handling skills
  3. Re-discovering my inner creative and love for filming and photography

I’m going to translate all of these things into my next venture — starting a creative marketing agency. More bricks need to be laid but I’m comfortable with my ability to figure it out.

That’s the life you have to accept as a new graduate. Take uncertainty and run with it. Accept that you’ll eat shit here and there. Accept that it won’t hurt you permanently. And accept the fact that the path to a life that you want is not sunshine and rainbows all the time, but ultimately it’s worth it.

And remember to keep yourself sane by expressing your frustrations with a mentor or friend that you know can give you constructive feedback. You aren't that special ;) there is always someone who is going/has gone through the exact same thing as you.

So good luck to all my friends who are graduating!

You are going to kick ass. 

Evan Le

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May LifeUpdate: JumpCut Academy, Kizen Powerbuilding, and My Book

Last month I was in Houston. This month I'll have gone through New Orleans, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. In fact, I'm typing this as I wait for my flight in NOLA to LA.

What better time than now to think about the coming month and where I'm going.

I think there's something a little scary about announcing the goals that you know will be most challenging. It makes you accountable for the things you say. If you don't make any sense of progress, then people will know.

But that's exactly why I love doing it. I'll make the promise to you guys that I'll get it done. You may find it extremely beneficial if you start making your goals public too. Some of my readers have started off by emailing their goals to me. That was enough to get them to follow through. If you want to do the same, just send me an email at evanduyLe@gmail.com.

Here are my 3 biggest projects this month:

1. YouTubing and Jumpcut Academy 2.0

I'm taking the jump.

I'm taking myself seriously as a YouTuber. So serious in fact, that I spent $1000 on my Sony A6000 and an awesome lens. I even spent a little extra change on this course called Jumpcut Academy.

It's a course to help budding YouTubers excel at 5X the rate taught by these guys who have built multiple successful channels with millions of subscribers. This course and community will help me understand how to build awesome content on YouTube. 

But as with all courses, the most important factor of success will be the time I put into creating good content. You can catch my YouTube channel by clicking here. I post new videos every Tuesday and Friday.

I'll write a review of the course when I finish it.

2. Kizen Powerbuilding 16-Week Program

After powerlifting for 3 years since Freshman Year of college, I dabbled in Muay Thai kickboxing and CrossFit. I've been able to maintain my physique, but I've definitely lost strength and the motivation that I once had in the gym.

When you don't have a target, you hardly get much of anything.

So I'm committing the next 4 months to working out in a powerlifting/bodybuilding style. I'm actually pretty excited to be going in to the gym 6x a week. It'll be like a 2nd home.

I'll take a before/after pic as well.

3. How to Thrive Without College

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Hey guys. I really promise I'm going to release this book this month.

I'm putting it out on Amazon Kindle as an ebook and I'll be releasing it in mid-May. Get ready for a whole bunch of hype because I'm going to launch this book right.

* * *

What are you working on this May? Email me at evanduyLe@gmail.com. I'd love to hear.