If you had told me a few years ago that I would be learning meaningful life and business lessons from a 24-year-old Youtuber named MrBeast, I would have thought you were crazy.
It’s interesting that when we are young, we assume that older people are the ones who have all the answers. So we seek knowledge from teachers, parents, and anyone older than us who seems to have walked the path we want to.
But what about when someone younger than you has achieved a significant amount of success in an arena where you want to as well?
As I have gotten a little older, I have started to see that I can learn a great deal from those who are younger than me. Especially from those whose amazing success or methods I don’t really understand. There is something there that I can gain and implement into my own life and career if I am open to learning from them.
That is what led me to discover and study the mindsets and tactics of Youtube star MrBeast (pronounced ‘Mister Beast’).
MrBeast (real name Jimmy Donaldson) was never someone I thought I would be learning from. His style of videos is almost the polar opposite of mine, and his audience and mine have almost nothing in common.
But as I attempt to grow my own impact online, I have been researching the ways that people consume content today. And in my research, I kept coming across MrBeast’s videos and mentions of his huge success. The more I looked into his story; I realized he is by far one of the most interesting case studies out there.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that despite having a net worth of $35 Million, MrBeast looks and acts much like a regular everyday person who seems driven to do extraordinary things. He is not especially interested in status symbols or driven by living a lavish lifestyle. In fact, he often spends all of the millions of dollars he earns monthly from Youtube trying to create bigger and more exciting videos.
There are several significant life lessons I’ve garnered from listening to interviews with Jimmy Donaldson during the past few weeks. So much so that they have changed my views not just on him as a Youtube creator but also on my approach to creating videos.
In this article, I want to share the life lessons that I’ve learned from Mr. Beast, one of the most amazing young success stories on Youtube in the world today.
A Rocky Start
Jimmy Donaldson began uploading videos to Youtube at the age of eleven and more regularly from the age of thirteen.
His Youtube channel was originally MrBeast6000, and he explains in the documentary Curiosity Stream that the origin of his pseudonym was actually quite random. “When you create an account on Xbox, they have this thing where it just gives you a random gamer tag. And I was just like ‘MrBeast’, this sounds cool!” he explained.
It’s been well documented that the first Youtube video he published at eleven years old (about the video game Battle Pirates) gained 20,000 views immediately. This is an amazing feat for a new creator, but it wasn’t the start of an immediate string of success.
Unfortunately, after a school friend found his channel, he became incredibly self-conscious about his uploads and deleted all his earliest videos before the age of thirteen.
MrBeast stated in his 2022 interview on the Joe Rogan Experience that he earned about one dollar per day for the first two years he had his youtube channel.
“Basically, the first few years, I wasn’t even making money off Youtube. I was as awkward as they came, no money, no nothing. You know, I just basically obsessed over Youtube every day for a decade.”
If you take a look at his earliest videos, the majority of them are gaming related or are based on what famous Youtubers at the time earned. In particular, MrBeast would focus on how much money Pewdiepie made, as well as other popular early Youtubers such as CaptainSparkles, Tobuscus, and Smosh.
There are many early videos where Jimmy struggles with consistency and motivation to continue to create videos. In a 2014 video titled ‘Youtube Grind,’ he says, “As anyone who uploads videos to Youtube knows, it gets to a point where it’s not as fun, and you’re just doing it to do it.”
His first videos were primarily MrBeast talking over gameplay footage about random topics that he thought might gain him views. Yet most videos hovered around the thousand-view mark. It wasn’t until he made a video in 2016 where he counted to 10,000 in one sitting that he got some large-scale traction. The video ran over 3 hours in length, but it was enough to finally gain him some online attention and virality.
The lesson here is that most things we start will not be an immediate success, and often they will not even be fun. We start with the best intentions, yet reality soon gets in the way. The defining difference for MrBeast is simply that he kept going. He kept attempting new approaches, and he kept uploading new videos.
Whatever we choose to do, there will eventually be a time when things feel like a grind, and we don’t want to do it anymore. And it’s perfectly reasonable to quit. But it’s often on the other side of this pain that we find a breakthrough as long as we keep going.
Going For Broke
MrBeast has been open about the fact that he had no other life or career plan than making it on Youtube. While a lot of people today have the same ambition, back in 2012, the desire to make money from making videos was not a realistic career.
As he shared with Joe Rogan, “When I was a young teenager, I was getting no views, I had no money, no equipment. I was using my brother’s old laptop. My first couple of hundred videos, I didn’t have a microphone.”
“Essentially, up until eighteen [years old], I had been doing Youtube pretty religiously, but I was making no money. The turning point was when I graduated from high school. I was still just making a couple of hundred bucks a month. My Mom was like, ‘move out’ or ‘go to a community college.’ I didn’t have enough money to move out, but I hated school with a passion. That was the worst thing ever. That made me hate life.”
Jimmy enrolled in college, but he didn’t go to class. “I would act like I was going to college, but I would just work on videos in my car. Now the clock had started. Because once my Mom found out, I was straight screwed. I was doing fifteen hours a day, all in. I’m fucked if this doesn’t work. I finally had a month where I made twenty thousand dollars and had some videos do really, really well. I moved out the next day.”
While this story sounds inspiring with the hindsight of MrBeast’s current success, at the time, it would have looked like irresponsible behavior.
As he explained on the Impaulsive podcast, “From age 13 to 16, I worked over 1000 days in a row, and I didn’t make a single dollar.”
After Logan Paul questioned why he chose to say his name over 100,000 times in a single video, MrBeast explained, “At the peak of my hustle, I would do anything at that time. I wanted it so bad. I was a college dropout and didn’t really have much money. Just wanted to succeed, no matter what.”
This attitude of going for broke seems to be part of most highly successful people’s stories. At some point, they burn the bridges and decide that they are going to succeed or essentially die trying.
Having no ‘Plan B’ seems to create a level of drive and innovation in people that enables them to break through. They start to stand out because they simply don’t quit, but also because they keep pushing themselves to get better and find ways to succeed.
The Value Is In The Idea
In a video from July 2015, MrBeast shares his initial realization that the key to getting noticed is originality and unique ideas.
He mentions that so many people waste their time focusing on hacks and tricks to get noticed on the Youtube platform, but very few spend time thinking of ways to do something different or original. As he states in the video: “If you can search it, and no one’s done it before, do it.”
In his Joe Rogan podcast interview, he explained the value of coming up with original ideas and how it impacts the success of a video on Youtube.
“The difference between a video with a million views or thirty million views. The video, with thirty million views, didn’t put in thirty times the effort. They might have just put in two or three times the effort and had a way better idea. I kinda started to understand that when I was nineteen. The idea is so freaking important. Theoretically, you could pull triple the views with half the work if you just have better ideas. No joke, it’s that extreme.”
He goes on to explain his drive to find original ideas. “Once you realize how important an [original] idea is, you just obsess over ‘How do I get more ideas? How do I get better ideas?'”
MrBeast says that for four years, he would spend an hour a day trying to brainstorm new and original video ideas. He would use random word generators and even attempted to use lucid dreaming to try to figure out new, original ideas that would be interesting.
“I’ve studied it very intensely. When I intake inspiration, and an idea pops into my head, that’s the best way for me to come up with ideas. So I just try different ways of taking in inspiration. For me, that’s always been the way to come up with consistently good ideas.”
This lesson echoes something Earl Nightingale spoke about many years ago about the value of brainstorming new ideas to improve the value of the service you provide. He also suggested spending an hour a day brainstorming and trying to think of ideas that could improve the quality and value of the work you do.
When you force yourself to think more creatively, you start to invent new and unique methods of success that others haven’t tried. The value of most ideas you think of is very low, but the value of a few of the ideas will be incredibly high.
The key here is to keep thinking of new ideas and new ways to improve your skills and what you are doing. Once you have a new idea, you must begin to execute and test it out. Most new ideas you try will fizzle out, but a few might just launch you to the higher level of success you seek.
Reinvesting in Making Better Videos
One of the most surprising things that separate MrBeast from a lot of other creators is the fact that he doesn’t spend a lot of his Youtube income on himself.
Despite making over $3 Million per month from Youtube ad revenue, he still lives in Greenville, North Carolina, in the same studio where he works, and he dresses in everyday attire. His only expensive lifestyle item is driving a Tesla due to the fact it is environmentally responsible.
Rather than spending money on himself, he revinvests huge sums of money into creating higher quality videos for his audience.
As he explained in a video interview on the Colin and Samir Show, from the very beginning, he started investing the money he earned from his Youtube income back into his video production.
“When I used to make one dollar a day, I saved up for months, and I bought a microphone. And then I saved up for half a year and I bought a computer. The whole time I was recording and editing on my iPhone. Then I got a computer to edit on. After two years and one hundred thousand plus subscribers, I still didn’t have a camera. So I bought a camera. I just kept going and reinvesting. So, for the last eight or nine years, it’s like every dollar I’ve made, I’ve spent it the next month in content. I just did that every single month, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger, and here we are.”
This mindset and practice are reminiscent of Elon Musk, who kept doubling down on his investments in newer companies every time he sold one. First, it was Zip2, then X.com (which became part of PayPal), and then finally, he spent all his money setting up Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity. He even once shared that after setting up his companies, he went from having $180 Million to ‘having to borrow money for rent.’
Most people, when they have a little success, will start to increase their lifestyle and spend more on themselves. However, this tendency can also limit the potential long-term upside.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of MrBeast’s success that stands out is how normal he seems.
If you saw him on the street, there is nothing incredibly unique about the way Jimmy Donaldson looks or behaves. In contrast to a lot of video content creators, he is a decidedly average-looking guy.
More than this, his demeanor and personality are almost shy and awkward. Although his most popular videos often have him yelling loudly in the intro, it’s clear within a few minutes of watching that his real personality is much more demure and almost bashful.
This fact resonates with me, as I have never been one to be outlandish or over-the-top in my behavior. In both my speaking and videos, I do my best to be as genuine and authentic as I can.
While we all have a ‘persona’ version of ourselves that we use in professional settings, it’s important to keep the human element intact.
MrBeast seems to not be affected by the need to appear ‘cool’ or to have a ‘professional’ image. While this practice does work for a lot of people, in modern times, it seems that people resonate more with authenticity than trying to act like an idealized version of yourself.
Beating The Odds Through Persistence
How many people do you know who tried to achieve something for more than ten years before breaking through?
In today’s world, we all seem to look for quick fixes and hacks that can give us success sooner. We are amazed at those who create success in a short period of time.
The story of MrBeast is one of persistence. His obsessions and desire to make his Youtube channel a big success led him to find ways to break through. His willingness to do whatever it took for as long as it took was a significant factor in his eventual rise to fame and fortune.
If you haven’t watched any interviews with Jimmy Donaldson, I’d highly recommend spending an hour or two learning from his example and taking his insights on board.
He is an example of following your passion and continuing to push yourself to create better results for those you serve.
Whatever type of success you are seeking, there is huge value in learning from the larger-than-life example of MrBeast.