#163: Authenticity is the Key to Success with Danny Casale
#163: Authenticity is the Key to Success with Danny Casale
In 2017, Danny Casale noticed how negative and polarizing the internet was. He sat down at his computer for a couple of hours and created a humourous video animation about misinformation on the internet. This video was “Snakes Have Legs” and today has tens of millions of views.
Since this video took off, Danny has been able to turn his passion into a very lucrative career. He has over eight million social followers across platforms, he’s written a book UR Special, and in 2021, he minted the NFT project Coolman Universe which sold for $3.6 million in just 3 minutes.
While this may seem like an overnight success story, it’s not. Danny was creating on YouTube since he was a 5th grader in 2007, and he’s been doodling for as long as he can remember.
All Danny’s life experiences came together at a pivotal moment to launch his career. Danny’s journey is a great example of how preparation and authenticity are the keys to success. In this episode, Hala and Danny talk about Danny’s life journey, being a creator in the early days of YouTube, his recipe for going viral, how he stays inspired, how he monetizes his art, his NFT project Coolman’s Universe, and so much more.
– Danny’s background
– Early days of youtube and being a creator
– How there are no overnight successes
– “Snakes Have Legs” and the experience going viral on youtube
– Why Danny refers to himself as a “bad animator”
– The mission of his art
– Where Danny finds inspiration
– Danny’s recipe for going viral
– The importance of authenticity
– How he grows his social platforms
– Danny’s team
– How he monetizes his art
– Danny’s philosophy behind brand promotions
– Coolman’s Universe and Speshys
– How he first got interested in NFT space
– The true value of NFTs
– NFTs for artists and buyers
– On writing UR Special: Advice for Humans
– Danny’s actionable advice
– The secret to profiting to life
– And other topics…
Danny Casale (aka Coolman Coffeedan) is an artist in Los Angeles who has gained popularity through his surreal, humorous and crudely-drawn animations. Danny first went viral in June of 2017 when his cartoon titled “Snakes Have Legs” accumulated tens of millions of views.
Danny is also the author of Ur Special: Advice for Humans and is the creator of the NFT project “Coolman’s Universe”. In 2020, Danny made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
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Ur Special by Danny Casale: https://www.amazon.com/Ur-Special-Advice-Coolman-Coffeedan/dp/0593330102
“Snakes Have Legs”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HXMYm4k6w0
Danny’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClNHWmlNIgEXLotLtlY2mLw
Danny’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coolman_coffeedan/
Danny’s TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/discover/danny-casale
Danny’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/coolcoffeedan
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Hala’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yapwithhala/
#163 Danny Casale First Draft
Hala: Hey, Danny. Welcome to young and profiting podcast.
Danny: Thanks so much for having me. I'm stoked, stoked to be here.
Hala: Me too. I'm super excited. You are the definition of young and profiting. You are a very young successful artists. You make the world laugh, cry, and think with all of your super cool digital animations and your work brings so much positivity into the social media world.
You are known as cool man coffee, Dan, and there's so much to talk about. From your instant success with your NFT project, to how you accumulated over 8 million followers across your social channels. So we like to go deep here on yap. And I want to talk about your come up journey. So today you're a social media phenomenon.
You're a best selling author. You're an NFT trendsetter, but just five or six years ago, I read that you were a struggling video editor trying to get your big break. So talk to us about how you got here and what this journey was like.
Danny: Yeah, I was, I was living in Brooklyn. You know, it was my first apartment.I was living with five other dudes [00:01:00] at the time. This is like 2016, fresh out of college dropout. Like, you know, only really accomplished two years there. And I was trying to find myself, trying to find my spot in this creative world. I was doing video at the time I was shooting freelance video around New York city for like 300 bucks.
You know, 200 bucks a pop, you know, music, videos and stuff. And I was actually stoked to be doing that, but I always knew there was something more to what I could offer and I didn't know exactly what that could be. Um, and I was hoping I would just, I don't know, figure it out along the way. And, uh, did the video editing, you know, videography thing for a little bit, a few years actually, and.
The animations slowly started creeping into my life. And then one day one of them went viral and kind of just ripped me out, uh, you know, freelance, videography world, scouring, Craigslist every day to just, you know, pay rent [00:02:00] and dumped me into a artists animator world, which was much more exciting to me. And I'm glad it kinda happened that way.
Hala: Yeah, that's such a cool story. So were you into drawing and things like that when you were a child?
Danny: I was drawing my whole life. I just, I was never sure on how to make it profitable or turn it into a living. I, you know, I remember in eighth grade Spanish class, I'm like doodling on my Spanish notes and I'm like, this would be sick to do this as a career, but.
Entail like I, at the time I assumed it was something like, I dunno, like getting hired to illustrate a children's book. That was the only thing I could think of. And even then that was fulfilling someone else's vision. So I had no idea. And this is what, like in eighth grade, 20 2009, 2010, like social media still was kind of in its infancy.
So I'm very, I think it's right place, right time with my art, [00:03:00] my doodles, and just, you know, the internet being able to make all this stuff happen and be able to go viral. Be able to get your art in front of new people that maybe wouldn't have seen it otherwise. Um, I do consider myself lucky in that regard, but I also put in like a lot of hours into figuring it out, you know?
So, uh, luck meets preparedness, I guess you could say.
Hala: Yeah. And I think you're being a little bit humble because you were on YouTube since 2009, at least. And although you weren't doing the same stuff, you weren't doing your animations. You still. Figuring out the platform, testing it out, putting videos up and putting in those reps. So talk to us about what you were doing on YouTube before you first went viral in 2017.
Danny: Yeah, it was on YouTube before anybody knew what the hell. That thing even was. I was in fifth grade, it was 2006, 2007. Uh, my dad was flipping through a magazine at the kitchen table and you found, you know, it was like top video streaming websites and [00:04:00] YouTube was like, I don't even think it was number one, it was like number six, but we ran upstairs, like all excited to check out these websites.
And, uh, you know, we, we typed in YouTube into the URL bar and we're like, wow, this is really cool. Cause even prior to discovering YouTube, I was making home movies with my brothers and sisters. I'm the oldest of, of, uh, three others. Uh, and I would, you know, make all of them be the little actors running around and like, you know, using catch-up as fake blood type stuff.
Uh, I never had anywhere to post it. You know, I would like the closest I got is I would like have my friends crowd around this little two inch cam quarter screen, or I would burn it to a DVD and show my family at like Christmas or something. Prior to that, there was no way to show your creations to other people.
Definitely not strangers. So once YouTube came out and I started learning on how to upload my movies to YouTube, uh, you know, all of a sudden it was like, [00:05:00] Wow. Like this video has 15 views. I don't even know who these 15 people are. It was like a very, you know, I'm like 11 years old at the time. So there was a very, uh, that that concept was kind of instilled in my life very early on that you could create a thing.
Upload it on the internet and then people would find it and maybe they would like it. I remember even I got my first hate comment and I was stoked. It did not bother me at all. I was like, wow, I don't even know who this guy is, but he watched it and he hated it, but he still watched it. So. Yeah, that was kind of like 20 2007, you know, 2008, 2009.
It was just like, I kept uploading. I was doing domino toppling videos around that time, which there was a large community around that I got up to 500 subscribers train and then you just like, watch them pocket down. I would, I would spend hours doing that in my parents' basement as a sixth grader, you know?
[00:06:00] And. Gage quite a community. And, and I learnt so much back then, like 500 subscribers, like walking around, like the, you know, middle school hallways being like, none of these people know I got 500 subscribers. I like didn't even know what YouTube is. They didn't even know how to look up the videos. And, uh, but it was cool because I felt like I had this secret society of like audience members and people I would collaborate with.
And I felt like they were my friends and. That also instilled like a very, you know, very early on, like how to maintain that like sort of creative lifestyles, like, okay, I'm going to post a video week. I'm going to respond to these comments, respond to these DMS, I'm going to hold a contest and there's going to be a winner from the comment section.
That was like, nobody was doing that back then. And, uh, I think if I didn't do that back then, I wouldn't, I definitely want to be where I am now. Cause you see what happened with like YouTube over the past decade, decade and a [00:07:00] half. It just teed up everything. Happened afterwards with vine, Instagram, Tik TOK.
It's obviously, you know, online creator culture took over the world. And, uh, I feel very honored to have been on the, on the forefront of that way back when.
Hala: Yeah. And to me, your story is this classic story of skill stacking. We talk about it a lot on the podcast. It's like you were doodling as a child, then you got exposed to YouTube.
We figured out the platform, you got a little bit of success. You learn how to use it. Video editing. You learn how to animate. Then you, one day you stuck all those things together. Plus your mission, which we'll get into in a bit, in terms of bringing positivity to social media, you put that all together and you were an overnight success that really took 10 years to figure out all the skills that you needed. So I don't think it was luck at all, but I do think it was, you know, like you said, being prepared and stacking all those skills. And then attacking it at the right time. It was really good timing.
Danny: Yeah. People, people love to [00:08:00] use that overnight success word, but it's like, you know, you see, I created my first YouTube account in 2007 and it goes back like all those skills honed over time.
I think the difference was when you start taking on what I took on when I was on. 11 years old, you don't realize you're learning. I was having a lot of fun doing it. It was such like I was in that hobby phase. I was just totally enamored with making YouTube videos, but I was learning crucial lessons along the way, and that really paved a really powerful path for everything that ensued afterwards.
You know, knowing how to handle going viral, which can be quite daunting for a lot of people, uh, knowing how to sustain that, how to build from that. And then also knowing what to do with the high highs, the low lows, you know, there's beautiful things that come with social media. There's really terrible things that come with it, all those core values and lessons I learned with.
Realizing I was learning, I [00:09:00] think because I was doing it from such a young age. So I do really, uh, I'm very appreciative that my dad was looking through that magazine. That one random Saturday.
Hala: Yeah, it's an amazing story. So you first went viral in 2017. You had this really funny cartoon called snakes, have legs on YouTube and it criticized misinformation on the internet.
It was super clever, very well-made. And if I did my math, right, you were just 21 years old when all of that happened. So what was that like for you when you started to go massively viral on YouTube?
Danny: Yeah. I mean, there, I was in that apartment, packed with dudes and, uh, sleeping on a twin size floor, you know, mattress on the floor.
I didn't have a bed frame and I didn't have money. I didn't have a plan. I just kind of had that random three in the morning idea. Uh, while I was brushing my teeth and I didn't even have like the punchline of mind, I was like, you know, let me, I know how to do it all. I know how to video edit. Let me see if I could [00:10:00] marry these two skillsets together and try to make these drawings move and make an animation.
And so I did that and I was like improv, improving, you know, voice, audio, and, and just kind of like having fun with. And I was like, well, let me take it that little, extra bit further and like, make it relatable. Like maybe why would people want to share this and want to show their friends? And I was like, you know, it's 2017.
I, uh, I'm on Facebook as a, as a young guy. And so are all my friends and you're just seeing like everybody hating each other and getting into fights with each other on Twitter and very polarizing political summer. And, uh, I was like, I'm going to make a, a message about how the internet can be used for amazing things and you should stop being an idiot on it.
It's a powerful tool that could be, that could do a lot of good and. You know, that's the whole narrative. Like the guys reads an article on Facebook that snakes have legs, a snake, literally slithers into frame and tells him he shouldn't believe everything. He reads on the [00:11:00] internet. So I make that it took like an hour and a half to make maybe.
And. I just want it to bang it out before I went to bed. So I didn't forget the idea in the morning. And about a week later, that that turned into my emotion viral video to date. Like I've tried to do the math. It has to be hundreds of millions of views because it's been re posted so many times and every corner of the internet.
And that was like, that was that wow moment for me because. I've always been trying to go viral ever since. I first logged onto YouTube in 2006 and here we are in 2017 and it finally happened with a style I kind of just stumbled upon and did randomly in the middle of the night. So. I was like, wow, okay.
That works. Now I'm going to do more of that. Let's see how far I could get this thing posted another animation a few days later, you know, same energy, same style. That one did really well also. And then I was like, you know what? I think this is [00:12:00] what I'm going to do now. Like this obviously work. Tough to find something that works.
It's also tough to find something that doesn't feel like it's copying a million other things that was already done. Here's a over simplified cartoon, vibrant color style that you know is bad animation as I call it. But with powerful messages behind these simple characters, powerful punchlines, you know, relatable sort of thoughts and feelings that maybe people don't talk about as often as they should.
So very quickly, I realized that I had something unique there around the same time I made a video about it was just a potato talking about how he's proud to be a potato. And everybody loved that. You know, it's just, it's, uh, you know, it's like an analogy for just loving who you are. So it was very. It just came all at once and all at once all the followers started flooding in.
I was like, cool. Let's let's let's see what happens next. And it was just that mentality of rolling with the [00:13:00] punches. And so many years later here we are.
Hala: I love this story so much. It's so inspiring. And it just goes to show that, like you said, you had years of hard work that led up to this, and then you ended up making this video in just a couple of hours, but it, it, it was.
Years of experience before that, that allowed you to create that video in a couple hours that went massively viral. So I think that's the real lesson in all of this is that it was all of these experiences and thoughts and, and you even knowing that like, Hey, it's the right time for this to go viral.
This is happening in the world. Based on my experience, I'm going to put together this video. Shoot my shot. I'm going viral.
Danny: I will say, even with all those years of like, practicing for that moment to happen, going viral, like that is still a hell of a doozy. I, it was a wild day. I mean, I was at my parents' house on long island while, like I realized this was gaining like millions of views on [00:14:00] Facebook and stuff.
And my parents wifi was horrible. And I was like trying to keep up with everything. So much so that I ran to the train station, it was like raining out. It was a very cinematic. I ran to the train station to get on like public wifi. And there I am sitting. I like the train station in a rainstorm. Just really taking in everything that's happening and making sure I'm like maintaining all of it and asking all these accounts to tag me who weren't tagging me.
It was like a full-time job for a solid few weeks to, to really like seize the day and go and viral and make sure you're getting all the. Followers and views you deserve and, you know, making sure those accounts that aren't tagging you are tagging you. It was, it was a lot, it was a lot, but I think, uh, I was maybe more prepared than, than the next guy, because of the, of all those years behind me.
It's still a lot though. It's still a lot.
Hala: Yeah, I could imagine. Um, so let's talk about your name, bad animator. You [00:15:00] self-proclaimed as a bad animal. It doesn't make much sense considering you're one of the most successful animators in the world. So tell us about,
Danny: I love, I love that name even as like this thing grows and, um, you know, maybe the animations get a little more fluid.
I, I really am animate no pun intended and keeping the characters sort of overtly simple, borderline bad, like. You know, the, the mouth style, like when a character's talking, it's literally just open mouth, closed mouth layers, very, just, you know, simple and that all kind of derives from. Literally my lack of knowledge and knowing how to animate from that first three in the morning idea, but I still made it happen.
Like I had the idea, I didn't wait to go to four years of animation school in order to do it. I just said, let me figure it out. And I did it. And I think that sort of authenticity [00:16:00] and drive that I had that one random night, you know, and not overthinking myself. Shines through and inspires people. And they're like, wow, like this is so simple, but it carries so much weight and its messaging that it made me feel a very certain type of way.
It carries that sort of power. So I realized that. Early on with like this snake talking about how you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet and how you should use the internet as an amazing tool to do amazing things. This potato who's reminding you that it's okay to be a potato. In fact, it should be celebrated, you know, all these very borderline stupid looking characters, carrying profound messages.
I. Calling myself, a bad animator set the bar low so that when you come into it, you see this simple looking character. You're like, okay, this is either going to be a meme or some cheap joke or some shock value thing, [00:17:00] but then it, like this character hits you right in the fields, you know, reminding you that everything's going to be okay.
That you're special. You're loved. And I feel like people not expecting. Is the right experience. You know, I don't want to say an M an amazing animators. Like, no, I'm like, I'm a bad animator, but check out what these characters have to say. And then that sort of creates the experience that I've seen really is most effective to people, to the viewers.
Hala: Yeah. 100%. I think that makes a lot of success. So would you say that your mission for your animation. Came first, like the fact that you wanted to be more positive on social media timelines and things like that. Would you say that that mission came first or that mission really developed after you started going viral and realized, Hey, this is what's working.
I'm going to keep it simple. Make sure my characters are simple. So my message really shines through because that's really, my mission is to be positive on social media.
Danny: Yeah, it's a good question. I mean, I always [00:18:00] felt like really bombed that the internet was such a negative place. I get it. Things have to drive clicks, like articles have to, you know, really make people mad or sad in order to get views and clicks on their article.
Like. At the end of the day, it's a business. I understand. But, but it just, I don't know, especially during like a summer, like 2017, which at the time was the most political, you know, summer of my life, up until the past few years with, with COVID and everything. But that was like, when I saw it reaching this apex of negativity and I was like, Hey, this is feels horrible.
Like, you know, you see like friendships getting ended. You see like family members fighting with one another. And I'm like, can't we all just get along Jesus. So I, I think at that point in time, it just ramped up to such a degree of negativity where I always felt this [00:19:00] way, you know, the past, you know, the few years prior to going viral, me going viral gave me that that stage gave me that voice gave me that opportunity to actually maybe broadcast my, my thoughts.
And I kind of married the two. You know this opportunity where I had an audience out of nowhere and this mindset that I've been in the past few years. And I said, let me actually, you know, try to get a conversation going, like what the snakes have legs, video, and all these other characters, like. How can I maybe help a little bit?
How can I help push the narrative forward? So it's definitely grown to be more focused on that the past few years as these animations and characters have grown in popularity. Um, you know, I have my main character named spesh who, you know, it's, the name is short for special and era is emo is to remind people that they're special and.
You know, it, it's kinda, it's kinda been figuring that out along the way, like, okay, how am I feeling personally as an [00:20:00] artist? Like what's, what's on my mind, what would I want to hear to feel better? And then what do I see happening out there? What do I see happening in current events? Like, what's this ethos going on, that I'm seeing on Twitter and on Instagram, like how is that 13 year old middle-schooler feeling nowadays in 2022.
Really just like listening and watching and learning and, you know, really trying to make my characters be there for, for people in those, these times of need or, or address what people are thinking about and, and be the voice, you know, saying, Hey, you're not alone in thinking these things. So yeah, it's been, it's been a very, very much a rolling with the punches sort of deal, but I've always wanted to do something like this with my art, and I'm glad it's finally happening.
And people are getting a lot of, uh, positivity. Yeah.
Hala: Yeah, totally. And so a lot of creators out there, they really struggle with coming up with ideas and that's why they don't stay consistent. They feel like they don't know what [00:21:00] to post every day. I read that you, when you lived in New York, you felt very inspired by your surroundings and that really helped fuel you.
Can you talk about how you think of all these new cool ideas and how you stay inspired?
Danny: What I just touched upon in terms of thinking about how I feel as the artist, right? Yeah. If you're making art or you're making a video, or you're talking about a certain sort of thing, like you want to really believe in what you're talking about.
And if I can't think of a video idea or I have writer's block, I'm like, Let me just look within and see how I'm feeling or see what's on my mind. I had a video that I made once about getting a pimple and looking at yourself in the mirror and just having an absolute freak melt down, freak out. And, uh, the video kind of focused on maybe how the pimple feels.
The pimple just wants to be your friend. Maybe like maybe it's just popping up to say hello. [00:22:00] And that was directly from me having like a pimple that was ruining my week. You know, there's always something that I. Is maybe going on in your life personally, that so many other people can relate to. We're all human at the end of the day, we're all very similar.
You know, it goes back to me saying like, yo, I think we could all get along if we really try, because we are all very similar, I believe at the, at the end of the day. So certain values and certain things that maybe you're concerned about millions of other people would be concerned about or care about.
And. You know, when I'm living in a new in New York city, especially surrounded by people, all different sorts of people from all different sorts of walks of lives. I, you go for a 10 minute walk to the supermarket. You experienced so much endless inspiration, really, but also just endless creative fodder for like, I wonder what this person's story is.
Or you see an old woman carrying like seven bags of groceries, you know, [00:23:00] Dang. She's bad-ass that's really cool. I wonder what her story is. You see, you know, you just see Mo like little movie moments everywhere. And, and that was really, I was a, that was a lot of inspiration for me, especially when I started first being on the, on the creative come up here, there was no shortage of ideas.
And now that I'm. In LA and, uh, maybe there's less people in the sidewalk, uh, more so I do look within to see what's on my mind and what I'm thinking about to have my characters, you know, pontificate on and talk about. And I think that's been an interesting journey as of lately, too.
Hala: As you're talking, I keep thinking about what is your recipe for going viral?
You've mentioned a few things you mentioned, you tried to think about making things shareable or like, what would somebody want to share? You mentioned being relatable and then also like the timeliness in terms of the topics. So what are some of the elements that you think about when you're trying to go viral?
[00:24:00]Danny: Definitely. Relate-ability, you know, you want other people to get something out of it now that could be like a, oh my God. They set up perfectly, you know, that's exactly what I've been thinking about. That's exactly what I've been saying. Um, which, which is what I think happened with, with snakes have legs also, you know, you don't want it to, you either have to go super niche so that it speaks to this loud, but powerful niche group, or you want it to apply to everybody.
Can't really, you know, do both like, I, I, what I realized the success in snakes have legs. Every side of the political spectrum. Believed it was about the other guy. Like it kind of was left open for interpretation. So you have like everybody thinking the fake news is about the other party, but like it didn't side with one side or another.
So, um, which I did totally accidentally, but I realized after the fact, but it was also just, you know, I would say knowing your [00:25:00] audience, knowing how to relate to your fellow human. And then also just making sure that the creative is authentic and genuine and shines through, especially now, like people can sniff out a phony video, they could sniff out like an artificial overproduced video.
You often see on like tech talk. It's like the. IPhone VI quality videos that go viral. Like it's because it's so raw and real and authentic. So I think now, especially more than ever, especially even more than a few years ago, the more authentic it is, the more you're being yourself, the more likely people are going to really respond to that because.
I think right now, we're, we're sort of at that apex of, of people just are craving authenticity. And I think through apps, like tick-tock, people are finally getting that authenticity, like a random 15 year old will go viral for no reason in their bedroom. It's like, okay, [00:26:00] cool. You feel that it's fun to watch that and be a part of that.
So yeah, I would say to definitely just figure out like what that part of yourself is that you want to share, that you feel like, you know, other people would rock.
Hala: Yeah, I think those are really great points. So let's talk about how you leveraged YouTube to grow all of these other social channels. You're huge on Instagram, 2 million followers on Instagram or more you've surpassed, uh, your YouTube falling on Tik TOK.
I think you're at three point something million followers, which is incredible. Most people can't even figure out one platform. So what has been your success in terms of growing all these other platforms?
Danny: Yeah, it's interesting. Like I think a lot of creators or pages have each platform fuel. The other mind is not like that.
All these platforms have grown totally independently of one each other. So, uh, you know, the 3.1 million on Tik TOK is not the same [00:27:00] people as the 2.7 million on YouTube, which is not the same people as the. What are we at 2.5 million on Instagram, all different crowds. Like there might be some crossover, but it's majority different crowds that discovered me on that app totally independently from the other app.
So I think it's, it's, I post the same content across all of those platforms, and I think it's just the content doing its job and being super relatable and super fun to watch. And. Finding its audience. Sometimes there'll be a video that gets 5 million views on Instagram and only 250,000 views on tick-tock.
But then sometimes there's a video that gets 3 million views on, on Instagram, and then it gets 20 million views on tick-tock. So it's kind of just ebbing and flowing like each video, even though it's the same video and posting across the different platforms on Facebook and YouTube and Tik TOK and [00:28:00] Instagram.
They find their own audience, that people, you know, that, that, that resonates with it sometimes to the extent where it does significantly better than the other platform. Like I have a few videos on Tik TOK that have like over 10 million views, which is crazy. So it really is just putting the love and care in to that piece of content.
Um, so that can flourish on any platform. You know, you don't want to be catering to one platform or another because. That's a quick way to burn out my opinion. If you, if you really put all the love and care into one piece of video, you could divvy that up on all the different platforms. I think at that point, you're set and it'll, it'll, it'll find its people, you know, on the different platforms.
Hala: There's like two main strategies. I feel like to grow on social media. One is, do you like play into the algorithm and like really figure that out and have like, okay. Content and yours is the total opposite. It's just like amazing content that is super relatable. That's [00:29:00] totally different that nobody can.
Quite honestly, right? There's no, you don't, you don't have any competitors. Whereas people in the self-improvement space are like, whatever, they've got all these different competitors, they got to learn the algorithm and the trick and the, and the way to stand out and you just go viral because you have amazing content.
So it's just, it's really interesting to kind of think about the different ways that you can kind of grow on social media and your strategy seems like the most simple, effective way. I'm curious to know, like how big is your team? It doesn't seem like you need that many people to manage all.
Danny: Yeah, team's small. I mean, you know, it all starts from, from my myself, right. So I feel like if it were to be a team of 50 people, you'll lose that. So, you know, I have my manager, I just brought on, um, within the past year, another sort of producer sort of role to just help me manage all the creative that's going everywhere.
But it's still a very, you know, I have like a, my creative partner on the NFT project, but still core team. These are all [00:30:00] my friends at the end of the day, too. I've grown very close with, with even my manager who has been my manager for the past four or five years. I feel like if you grow too quick and you hire.
Seven editors, uh, 10 videographers to assistance. It just turns into a little bit of a artificial machine that loses exactly what made the thing special from the beginning, which is that authenticity. So it has been an interesting, uh, not a challenge, but it's a, it's a new, uh, thing in my life, the past year or two.
I have to navigate like, okay, how do I keep this all as authentic and powerful as it could possibly be coming from myself, making sure it's all real, but also how to, how to scale. And you need people to help scale. So, you know, I look to like, Other people that I respect and other creators and like, uh, how they did it.
And I think so far so good. You know, it's definitely, it's definitely interesting though, [00:31:00] is as something continues to grow, you just got to figure out how to manage that. But it's a good problem to have.
Hala: Yeah, totally. So let's talk about your monetization streams because you monetize in several ways.
You've got March, you had a super successful NFT, which we're going to dive super deep on an a bet. And you also obviously monetize your YouTube channel. Talk to us about your different income streams and how you monetize.
Danny: Yeah. First early on, I mean the only money I was making was virtually from brand deals maybe six months or so after I got.
You know that first video went out, you know, snakes have legs. I got a brand deal from a website domain company. And. It was really good money. I was like, holy, I can't believe this. This is awesome. It was, it was not a ton, but at the time I was like, oh my God, like, I'm going to, you're telling me I'm going to draw and get paid this awesome.
Like that was that, that was that. Oh, okay. I see where this could go sort of [00:32:00] moment, but even like the revenue from. YouTube ads. Like it was deadly squat compared to cause my videos are short, you know, YouTube kind of favors longer videos. So, so I definitely mainly focused on, on getting brand deals and brand partnerships.
I worked with Samsung for a bunch of years, you know, stuff like that. I did merge over the past few years as well. Making super hype limited edition drops that you would only be able to get if you bought it over the weekend or until it's sold out. So what the main two revenue income streams, I just relaunched, I kind of killed off the merge model recently and just launched my own clothing line called you're special.
And that was really that, that first drop was really powerful and awesome. So it's been this nice ebb and flow of the past, you know, four years or so. Working with brands that I really love and respect that we can genuinely do cool stuff [00:33:00] together. And then also paying a lot of attention to how can I make a dope hoodie that people are stoked about?
How could I make a dope t-shirt that people are stoked about? And then. You know, hyping that up and being like, here's why this piece of clothing is special. Here's why you should consider getting it, you know? And then the book, even that was a whole separate mindset. It's like, okay, I'm going to work on this thing for a year and a half.
You know, how do I make it the best possible end product I could make it. So that's the commonality between all these things, the book, a video with a brand deal in it, you know, a hoodie you want the best possible end product, because if you just. Take like a payday and you make like a math video, you know, shouting out some brands that you don't really believe in, or you make a crappy book just to get paid that there's no longevity there and it's not going to go.
It's not going to grow with you to be something truly great. So I always made sure this [00:34:00] was like, like, like I said, the authenticity always carries through. I truly believe. That's what will get the audience most stoked at the end of the day as well. So I went on a little bit of a side tangent there, but I think main stuff was definitely the brand deals and the club.
Hala: Yeah, I'm still interested in the brand deal. So I have a podcast network now, and I actually represent 20 shows and influencers across social media, YouTube podcasts. And I'm so curious too, cause I looked at your stuff and I was like, oh, he doesn't look like he does brand deals, but he's got so many followers.
You'd make so much money. And now you're telling me you do brand deals. Walk us through how you promote a brand on your, on your channels. Typically.
Danny: Like that a lot of people say that, which is good, you know, it's because I really make sure it's such a disguised ad that it's enjoyable to watch, you know, it's like, oh, wow.
I didn't even realize I watched like a sponsored video. You know, I worked with Samsung for. Two years. And I [00:35:00] did a ton of videos with them. One of which being about these characters, like jumping out of the tablet, I was drawn on and just like interacting with me. And it's like genuinely fun to watch with the internet domain company.
I, uh, you know, made a whole series about these aliens that crash landed to earth and, uh, they needed to, you know, raise money to fix their spaceships. So go back home. So they started a rock band and use their internet domain service to get the word out about their rock band, stuff like that. Like really like fun.
Like the alien series was like, Super hype. It has like millions of views because it was a genuinely good series that was sponsored by this company. But it was fun to watch, even if you didn't care about that company at all, like it wasn't like a, Hey, subscribe to this company. It wasn't in your face. It's almost like product placement and a movie, like that's kind of how you treated it.
It sounds like super cool. [00:36:00] It's yeah. It's like, you know, you watch like an Adam Sandler movie and he's like eating like peanut M and M's you're like, I could go for some peanut M and M's I guess, but it's like, you're also enjoying a really funny movie, a great time, you know, I feel like that's the way to do it.
And unfortunately, a lot of creators. Made it somewhat normal for, for you to just like blatantly shout out and, and add at the end of a video, or just be like, yo, like, you know, go, go buy this like product. I don't believe in at all. It, it kinda just set the bar sort of low. So what I always made sure I did was make sure it was a real fun time to watch.
Like it's an ad. Yes. But you want to have fun while you're watching it.
Hala: Yeah. And that just goes to show, you know, you're really serious about your community and the trust that you've built. And that's why you do really well with your engagement, because they feel like they can trust you. Like you're not just going to sell them anything or sell out.
So I think that's really important. Yeah.
Hala: Let's talk about your NFT project. So [00:37:00] you had this cool men's universe, NFT collection of 10,000 NFTs called specialty is, and it sold for 3.6 million and just three minutes, which is totally incredible. How did you first get interested in the NFT space?
Danny: I found out about NFTs. Um, like most of the public did in 2021. It was January. I started seeing the word floating around. Um, I, I didn't truly understand it, but once I, you know, got the concept, okay, it's digital artwork that, uh, you know, you own the, the metadata of, and, and you could sell it, you could keep it forever, but you own that piece of digital artwork, which, which is really cool to me.
And, you know, you see like people being like, oh, I can just screenshot it. And I was like, yeah, Funny. No, you can't like, ah, now I understand why you just can't do that. So I still didn't quite see the utility in my art with it. I had all my [00:38:00] friends hitting me up like, yo, you should do NFTs. And I was like, ah, I don't know.
Like I don't really get it. So it was kind of just like me watching and learning a little bit more. Um, it wasn't until March where I actually minted two NFTs, uh, Tried it like, I, there were, you know, MP4 video animations. I'm on loop on open sea and they sold for like two Ethereum, one Ethereum, each, uh, much to my surprise.
I didn't like shell it on my socials or anything. Like people found it and they were like, oh, like, I love this artist. Cool. I'm going to get it. I ended up losing all to Ethereum because I transferred it wrong, but it didn't matter. It was like, okay, cool. Like there's demand here, I guess. So still though, I didn't really do much else with that.
I was like, okay, that's cool. But all right. Uh, you know, it wasn't until over the summer where I saw these generative projects popping up, like board APR club and crypto punks, obviously, and cool cats. And once I saw [00:39:00] those, I was like, oh, okay, well, that's actually a really cool concept. You're telling me I could do a collection of 10,000.
And also have them all truly be unique and have them be exactly that generative. You have all these assets that kind of jumble all together, and you have different rarity rankings on each accessory, depending on which accessory you get and what combination of accessories you get. It determines the rarity of it.
And thus it determines like the price of it. So it was a really. Cool concept to me, I got excited about it because you know, my characters fare so well to that style. And by the end of the summer, you know, after chatting with, you know, my buddy on, on how this would even get done, cause he did a lot of research on his end as well.
I committed to it. I was like, I'm going to do this thing. We built the team and, uh, this was about end of August. And, uh, we minted [00:40:00] in, in December, uh, December 17th was public mint and it meant it out in about two minutes, which was really well to say.
Hala: That's so awesome. And so you drew these 10,000 characters by hand.
Can you help me understand what people receive when they buy an NFT? Like what are they really buying?
Danny: You're getting, you're getting a one-on-one piece of artwork, really? So you're getting a special with this hat, with this sunglasses set with this necklace, with. Pet daddy's holding all these one of one, there's only one Spanish holding an iguana, for example, uh, while he's wearing a fedora, while he has a samurai sword on the back of him, you have that spesh and with all the metadata attached to each accessory, it kind of spits out very mathematically.
How rare that specific special you have is. Based on what the floor price is and what a theory comes at. There's a very calculated way to [00:41:00] see exactly how much that special is worth. So right now the floor price as of today is something like, uh, uh, $4,005,000. So there's specialties that have sold for. 11 Ethereum 12, Ethereum, you know, $60,000 just based on exactly how rare the, in that collection, that particular spec is, but sort of in a more emotional level.
Maybe you get a special, because it's your favorite color or, you know, there was a special holding a cat and you're very close with your cat or, you know, there was, uh, a soon to be mother telling me how she, uh, got this special, that was like pink and chubby and holding a little baby because. Pregnant very pregnant.
And that's how she fell. She was telling me she was feeling pink and chubby and she couldn't wait to meet her newborn and that special was holding her it's baby. You know? So it was very, it there's that [00:42:00] sort of level to it, to where. It's just a dope piece of art that you really resonate with for whatever reason makes you smile.
It motivates you for your day. And that's the reason I think you should really get an NFT, a dead digital piece of art, because it's like, why would you buy a painting to hang it in your bedroom? You want, you want it to bring you joy? And so there's been a lot of people in the community that, uh, get their specific spec or, or, or multiple specialties because.
See some of themselves in it, which is really.
Hala: Yeah, and I think it's super cool for digital artists like yourself because regular artists who paint or whatever, they can sell their paintings, digital art, traditionally, people can just rip them, take screenshots, upload them, do whatever. Now you can actually own a piece of digital art and have that proof that you own it, which is super interesting.
What about like the. The services that you offer, because I think you're also offering some sort of community and like access to [00:43:00] you and your community as part of this project. Is that right?
Danny: Yeah. So you know that there was a very interesting cultural fork in the road where people were like, okay, are these things actually going to bring IRL utility to people?
And a prime example was what board API club did it and Ft NYC, where if you were a board, a poll. You were allowed into this party, this yacht party with like, you know, Chris rock, headlined, Aziz, Ansari, headlined. I think it was the strokes played live. Like that was a real experience that you could only get in if you held this NFT as a ticket or as a proof of like entry.
So that was a very interesting thing that when I heard about that, I was like, okay, that's, that's a start to the conversation. Like what else? You know? And. What I have envisioned for four specialties. If you have a Spanish is not only does that get you IRL utility. We have [00:44:00] our first event coming up in New York on March 19th, but it's gonna get you that digital utility as well.
Like for the first clothing draw the first year, your special apparel drop, there was very, uh, unique, exclusive items in the collection that you could only get. If you verify that you are a special older, you know, for the event that's happening in real life, in New York, you're only going to be able to get in if you show your special at the door and that's going to be an exclusive screening, you know, open bar, uh, red carpet movie event for an animation, animated, short film that I have, haven't released ever.
It's going to be first, you know, shown to the public then. So it's sort of the dynamism between the real life utility. And the digital utility and those sorts of two different dynamics working together, I think provide the maximum amount of value to the person that's holding that NFT. And you want to keep fulfilling that for life really?
As [00:45:00] long you want to encourage people to hold it. Yeah. Forever. You know, you're a part of this club. You're a part of this family, this beautiful community. How can I, as the creator continue to have you stoked about being here. And that's a really cool new element of my creative life as well. Like figuring out dope things to go down in real life.
Uh, figure out cool digital initiatives to make you feel special and valued. Like those. Exclusive, uh, items in the collection that if you're wearing it, that means you're a holder. If you see someone else wearing it, you're like, oh shit, like they're a holder too. So something like that I think really gets, you know, a community really stoked about being there.
Hala: And what else can you say in terms of the successful ways in which somebody can launch an NFT project or how someone can evaluate whether they should invest in an NFT project, basically? Like how can you tell us if an NFT project will be successful?
Danny: Yeah. I mean, if you're thinking about starting one, I would say.[00:46:00]
What is your character? Like if you're thinking about doing a generative collection, what's that character that you know, is, is unique to you. Did you create a character that isn't ripping off something else, you know, is, is very unique and special to you. And why is that unique? Why is that character unique and special to, um, what's the story of that character?
And can it be expanded to be a series of 1,005 thousand, 10,000? Can you draw a bunch of accessories that are gonna be. Randomized throughout the collection. Every single, you know, one out of 10,000 NFT, truly unique and truly special and truly cool to look at. And that just takes brainstorming and, and, you know, being really creative and seeing like, what could this thing be?
Which is exactly what I did. I just sketched on post-its and I saw like, okay, like, This hat would look cool, and this color would look cool. This animal would look cool. So just, you know, having fun on that creative end, but from [00:47:00] a buyer's perspective, how to look out for. A project that might be a good investment, a project that, you know, you might want to be a part of for the longterm is I think first and foremost, you have to really like the art.
You have to really resonate with it and, and enjoy how it looks or else you're. Why w why would you want to have it in your wallet? You want to like, be stoked that you see it there every day, but also you want. Read up on the team, you know, is it a trustworthy group of people who is the artist? Is it isn't an artist?
Is it a fully doxed or well-known artist docs means that it's just not a mystery person. Right. So all those factors to make sure that okay. This project is teed up for, for success in the long run. I know who all these team members are, and also just read up like, Hey, like what are you going to be getting out of it?
If you do hold for the longterm, is there incentive to do that? Will this character turn into the next SpongeBob [00:48:00] or hello, kitty or the next Mickey mouse? The next peak of. You have to really believe in what you're putting your money into. You know, this is like, the analogy I've been using is it's like you follow someone on Instagram, what's going to keep you following them.
Right. It was going to keep you following their content and intaking their videos day in, day out. What's going to keep you from unfollowing. They have to provide a lot of solid value for you. It's that same iMentor, same mentality. But now it's like, People are putting their real money into it. So it's an actual investment.
It's an actual financial investment. So it ups the ante a little bit, but it's still the same framework in my head. The creator has to provide. Value to the receiver so that they want to stick around at the party, you know?
Hala: Yeah. And if these are so cool and I think you bring up a good point, you need to appreciate the artists and like the artists, because I believe that the value of NFTs go up [00:49:00] as the artists gets bigger and bigger.
So like the friends, for example, as Gary V gets bigger and bigger, it's going to be worth more and more. So that's why the artist, I think, behind it all and like the meaning behind it, all, all of that. Because it could just be a fad. And in three months, if nobody cares about this person behind the project, then the project isn't going to be worth anything anymore.
So I feel like your point is really a good point.
Danny: I mean, with, with Gary, I'm not a holder in any of the V friends yet, but like I love Gary. I have been an intaker of his content and his messages for years, and I would be a holder for the long run because. Sure it gets you into cool events and it gets you, there's some of the V friends that get you go into a baseball game with Gary.
It's like, that's all fine and dandy and really hype, but it's also like personally I would hold it, even if it didn't get me that maybe, uh, uh, you know, one of the rank, one of the NFT rankings that don't get you IRS. You know, [00:50:00] access, I would still hold because I'm a believer in Gary and I lied. He brought me like a ton of value personally.
So I think that's, that's completely, you have to really resonate with the creator. And if you ha maybe there's a lot of NFT projects where the creator isn't even. Like a board ape yacht club. You don't really truly know who the creator is or who the artist is. There's a little bit of a disconnect there.
It's like multiple animators who are like, you have no idea. And how could you emotionally connect with that? You kind of just have to look at it and be like, ah, this looks dope, which is fine, but it's, I think all projects moving forward is it really has to be a you're in love with the artist you're in love with the art and you're in love with their vision.
And it has to be those three things that. Keep you stoked about being a part of it for the years to come.
Hala: Okay. So let's move out of the virtual world and talk about your physical book that you put out. What made you decide to write a book after all of your success [00:51:00] online?
Danny: I always wanted to write a book. You know, another thing that was always a dream of mine, and I was just never quite sure on how to go about doing it, but I started writing it in March of 2020, which was the scariest time in everyone's lives. And. I kind of thought like, Hey, if, if my characters can bring other people joy, hopefully these characters can bring me joy in this really strange time in my life.
So I just sat down. I started typing and before I knew it, there was a bunch of short stories and illustrations that I thought would make a nice little book called your special advice for humans. I started writing for my own self-help, but then I realized this would help a ton of other people out there.
So what it does is exactly that, you know, at the beginning of the book, um, my character spesh introduces himself. He thanks you for. Picking him up off the bookshelf. [00:52:00] And he takes you along a journey where chapter to chapter a new character introduces themselves and teaches you a new life lesson that maybe you haven't thought about exactly that way before.
And it's a really colorful book covered in my illustrations. And it's also for all ages because, you know, there's some deeper meanings behind things that, you know, maybe an older person would see rather than a younger person. You know, it goes back to like the potato video, a six year old can watch them and be like, ha ha talking potato.
But then a 30 year old will watch that and be sobbing because maybe they had a, some self-conscious past few days and they're like, you know what? I'm going to believe in myself. Like this potato believes in itself, that sort of mentality. It's, it's a really, I'm very proud of, of, of what this book came out.
Hala: Yeah, it really does have some deep meaning in it. So the book is really helpful for people who felt alone in the pandemic and the pandemic has really [00:53:00] destroyed friendship circles. People are feeling more alone than ever. So I'd love to hear your guidance in terms of anybody out there who's feeling lonely. Cause I know that you talk a lot about that.
Danny: A hundred percent. I mean, it's a very, very real thing. Especially amongst young people during the pandemic, my own brother who essentially missed most of his high school career because of COVID he missed the end of freshman year. He missed all of sophomore year.
And even junior year is kind of weirdly and wobbly because you know, you're half in half out and you have masks on. And I think it's just now getting back to normal, but he essentially missed all of high school because of COVID and what that does mentally. Um, I see firsthand through him, like, you know, his first kiss, his first girlfriend, his first hangout session with his friends, his first party, like.
All of these things that are supposed to [00:54:00] happen during those years just didn't happen. And that's the case for so many kids around the world. And I feel like there's going to be a little bit of a, that's going to be a lot of fixing to do there. But what I noticed was. Most kids that age and everybody really, but especially younger kids turn to social media to get their mind off things.
And that's when I went full force with my characters to remind everybody that everything was going to be okay to the, all the lonely people during COVID that are even still feeling it. Now I would remind them that it's important to look at everything. Big picture and remind yourself that you're not going to feel this way forever.
And then also just find those little joys in life. Like I have a character named blue dude who says, Hey, like there's a lot of bad things happening in the world right now. Maybe you're feeling a very certain type of way. But it's important to remember all the good there is out there. [00:55:00] And blue dude goes on to recite all the simple pleasures in life that we often overlook, like the smells from bakeries and smiling babies.
And that feeling you get when you're crushed says your name, the taste of watermelon in the summertime, stuff like that, that. I feel like, especially during COVID with everything seemingly going wrong and everything seemingly just, you know, being negative, it was important more so than ever to just really like check in with yourself and say like, all right, I'm going to make a cup of tea.
Just treat myself, or like watch my favorite show. People need to. Treat themselves. And remember that those small pleasures in life and be there for yourself and be your own best friend. And remember like exactly what my book and the videos preach is that you are special, you are loved and everything will be okay.
Although it is easy to forget. I think part of the reason it is easy to forget that is because we're not told [00:56:00] those things often enough and they're not talked about often enough. So I hope that's what my characters can do for people.
Hala: That was so powerful. I'm so happy you came on the show, Danny. You're super inspiring, super motivating.
I think everybody learned a lot from your story. As we wrap up, we ask some of the same questions to our guests at the end of the interview. So let's start with this one. What is one actionable thing? Our listeners can do today to become more profiting tomorrow.
Danny: Ooh. I like writing down to do lists physically on paper, something about writing it down on a post-it or a note pad with a pen or a pencil.
And that's satisfying. You get feeling you get when you cross it out. I don't know that just that beats like a digital note patter or something. I, that to-do list change my life.
Hala: I couldn't agree, getting your priorities, right. What is your secret to profiting in life,
Danny: Having really [00:57:00] good advisers and people you trust in your life?
You know, people that you could ask real raw on bias questions to someone you could ask the dumb questions to the things that you think are obvious, just that, that real transparent conversation and who you could have those with.
Hala: Hmm. I love that. And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do?
Danny: Yeah, I'm on Instagram and tick talk at cool man coffee, Dan. Uh, or you could type in Danny. Casell on YouTube anywhere on the internet. Um, I'm on Twitter at cool coffee, Dan. I'm sure you'll find me one way or another.
Hala: Uh, you will find Danny castle very easily. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much.
Danny: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
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