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Will Casey Neistat lose his rebellious authenticity as CNN snags his startup?

(BUSINESS NEWS) What will CNN’s recent acquisition of marginally successful app Beme mean for beloved co-founder Casey Neistat?

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Beme me up

For more than half a decade, Casey Neistat has been an innovator and trendsetter in the world of online video, racking up almost 6-million subscribers and 1.3-billion views on his popular YouTube channel.

Neistat is perhaps best known for his daily vlogs that redefined a genre and inspired thousands of other YouTubers, as well as a semi-successful Vine-meets-Snapchat app called Beme.

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On November 19, Nesitat threw YouTube a curveball when he announced his vlogging would end, immediately sparking rumors about what his next projects might be. That answer came sooner than we expected. On Monday CNN announced its acquisition of Neistat’s video-sharing start-up Beme in a deal valued at about $25 million.

CNN will now have reach over Neistat’s large, young digital audience and perhaps more importantly, access to the man himself.

Authenticity at stake?

For most entrepreneurs, having an app acquired is a dream, and it’s hard to argue with Neistat’s logic for accepting this monster pay-out. But for Neistat, a unique voice who’s most popular video shows him blowing through funds provided by Nike to go on a wild 10-day trip around the world, it comes as a surprise that he would go such a traditional route post-vlog.

From the beginning, Neistat was a voice that rebelled against traditional methods of distributing content.

He managed to stay authentic despite numerous corporate sponsorships. He certainly may remain authentic, but it is only natural to worry his original voice may be lost in this massive media buyout.

Mining for Millenials

CNN said their objective is to launch a standalone media company led by Neistat and Beme co-founder Matt Hackett, focusing on “timely and topical video and empowering content creators to use technology to find their voice,” according to a press release.

The app, with its short-form video sent out to followers, had the goal of pushing out “authentic” video content. CNN is likely trying to replicate that and appeal to younger, more skeptical audiences. It may work, but CNN has made similar deals in the past to mixed reviews, most notably launching online publication Great Big Story a year ago to mixed reviews.

Elsewhere, competitors are trying to grab a hold of millennials. NBCUniversal is perhaps leading the pack with its recent investment of $200 million in Buzzfeed (its second investment in the millennial-focused media company), and another $200 million in Vox Media.

Hopefully a good fit

Ultimately, the Neistat-CNN deal makes logical sense for both parties, but like with all partnerships, chemistry is the real wildcard.

Neistat somehow made big moves with an app that never really had much traction, and now he has access to a new audience outside of YouTube. If he continues to make the same great content he’s known for, this could be a big win.

In the past though, Neistat had his best successes making quirky, sometimes goofy videos that are only indirectly corporate (sponsored links to Canon gear in the description, for example). Only a handful of his videos are sponsored, and when they are, it’s things like Nike-sponsored shenanigans or a similar video with Mercedes where brand awareness is present, but a true endorsement is not.

Unclear future

For CNN, the need to reach younger viewers is evident, and Neistat may or may not help with that. They’ve made it obvious that the acquisition is not a talent deal, and Neistat will continue to control his own social media channels and accounts. However, there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan for exactly how they’ll reach their goals, made especially clear in a video released by Neistat this morning.

In his usual cluttered apartment, Neistat explains the background of selling his company and says he had been searching for what to do next for a while.

Neistat ensures the deal won’t change his content – he’ll still continue making YouTube videos, just not a daily vlog – but follows that up with a shocker by admitting that he “has no idea” exactly what he’ll be doing at CNN.

Our fingers are crossed that somewhere in his head, beneath those curly locks, Neistat has a master plan of how to leverage this partnership to make his own content better without losing it’s original flavor. Otherwise, he may be stuck running a somewhat-useless app at a company that doesn’t know how to utilize him.

#neistatnews

Brian is a staff writer at The American Genius who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, and majored in American Culture Studies and Writing. Originally from California, Brian has a podcast, "Revolves Around Me," and enjoys public transportation, bicycles, the beach.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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Opinion Editorials

How to build a company culture while working remotely

(OPINION EDITORIAL) It seems that even a post COVID-19 world will involve remote work, so how can you build and maintain a strong work culture that ensures growth and satisfaction?

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culture remotely

New startups and existing companies are starting to transition to a fully remote (or nearly fully remote) model, but what does this mean for work culture? If you’re not careful, your work culture could easily become diminished as you transition to a remote environment, and if you’re building a company from the ground up, you may not have a strong culture to begin with.

Culture isn’t something you can afford to give up, so how can you build and maintain your company culture while working remotely?

The importance of a strong work culture

Maintaining a strong, consistent company culture is vital, even if your company is operating remotely. With a strong work culture, you’ll enjoy benefits like:

  • Better recruiting potential. A company with strong work culture will seem more attractive to talented candidates. The best people in the industry will want to work at a place with a great team and a great set of values.
  • Like-minded teammates. Establishing a consistent work culture allows you to selectively hire, then maintain employees who are like-minded. Employees with similar goals and mentalities, even if they come from different backgrounds, will be able to collaborate more efficiently.
  • Smoother communication. A strong foundational work culture that establishes goals, values, and beliefs within an organization can enable smoother, more efficient communication. Staff members will be on the same page with regard to high-level priorities, and will be able to exchange information in similar patterns.
  • Lower stress and less turnover. Better work cultures generally mean lower stress for employees, and accordingly, less employee turnover. Of course, this assumes you’re hiring good fits for the organization in the first place.
  • A better public reputation. Your work culture can also boost your public reputation—especially if you emphasize core values that are important to your target audience.

How to build company culture remotely

Traditionally, you can use in-person team-building sessions, regular meetings, and workplace rules to establish and maintain your company culture, but while working remotely, you’ll need to employ a different set of tactics, like:

  • Hiring the right candidates. Building a great culture starts with hiring. You have to find candidates who fit with your organization, and already share your core values. If someone doesn’t agree with your high-level approach, or if they don’t like your rules or workflows, they aren’t going to do their best work. These same considerations should be applied to your third party hires as well; agencies and freelancers should also fit into your values.
  • Hosting virtual team-building events. You can’t host in-person team-building events, but that doesn’t mean that team-building is inaccessible to you. Consider hosting a video conference to introduce your team members to each other, or bond over a shared event. You could also host virtual game nights, or provide team lunches to celebrate wins. Any excuse to engage with each other in a non-work context can help employees feel more connected and part of the team, and there are plenty of options to make it work virtually.
  • Streamlining communication. Good communication is both a constituent factor and a byproduct of effective company culture. If you want your culture to thrive, you have to set good standards for communication, and encourage your employees to communicate with each other consistently and openly. People need to feel heard when they speak, and feel comfortable voicing their opinions—even if they don’t agree with their superiors. There should also be easily accessible channels for communication at all levels. Over time, this foundation will help your employee communication improve.
  • Improving transparency. Workplace transparency is important for any employer, but it’s especially important for remote businesses trying to build or maintain a strong culture—and it’s challenging if you’re operating remotely. If you’re open and honest about your goals and how you operate, employees will feel more trusted and more engaged with their work. Strive to answer questions honestly and disclose your motivations.
  • Publishing and reiterating company core values. One of the biggest factors responsible for making a company culture unique is its set of core values. Spend some time developing and refining your list of core values. Once finished, publish them for all employees to read, and make time to reiterate them regularly so employees remember them.
  • Making employees feel valued. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make your employees feel valued. Take the time to show your appreciation however you can, whether it’s through a simple thank-you message or an occasional cash bonus, and be sure to listen to employee feedback when you get it.

Building a work culture in a remote environment is more challenging, and requires consideration of more variables, but it’s certainly possible with the right mentality. Spend time setting your priorities, and make sure you’re consistent in your execution.

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