103: Gabe Conte: Creative Chameleon: Youtuber Turned Influencer Unpacks The Journey And Shares The Truth About Fame
Gabe Conte is a YouTuber, an Influencer, an Entrepreneur, a Musician, and an Actor. In this episode, creative chameleon, Gabe, talks about the truth of becoming an Influencer/Youtuber and how he feels about the fame he has garnered throughout the years. Gabe shares his growth as a person from dropping out of school to moving to LA. He dives into the dark side of the business and shares his advice to aspiring influencers out there. Gabe gets into his faith and how he came to know and learn about the word of God and how he uses his platform to spread His word. As an influencer, Gabe shares the tough battles he has had to face for his faith and what advice he would give to his 30-year-old self.
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Gabe Conte: Creative Chameleon: Youtuber Turned Influencer Unpacks The Journey And Shares The Truth About Fame
This episode is an interview with a good friend of mine, Gabe Conte. He’s a YouTuber, influencer, entrepreneur, musician and actor. Gabriel Conte is an LA-based 24-year-old living counter-culturally for the name of Jesus. Born and raised in South Florida, he began his professional journey through the once popular short-form video app Vine in his first year of college. Two years later, he was able to transfer what he built into a professional digital entertainment career as an influencer and YouTuber that led him to LA in the summer of 2015. Since then, Gabriel has continued to grow his following with his now-wife, Jess, who he married in December 2016, and build his career both in digital and traditional entertainment as an actor, musician and entrepreneur. Through his entire journey, he never lost sight of the true reason for everything he was building and continued to stay on the course dedicated to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This was a gem of a conversation. I had a blast sitting down with Gabe at my place and we talked about a ton of things. We talked a lot about his background being homeschooled and having an older bro. We talked a lot about some of his family’s story. We talked a lot in the earlier part about his creative process and how he goes and develops creativity and creates the beautiful things that he does. We talked a lot about the life of an influencer and YouTuber, what a lot of people don’t see about that and how it is a lot different or harder or more challenging than most people would think.
We talked about taking risks. We talked about faith. We talked about college and dropping out. We talked about his wife and their creative collaborations. We talked about sitting on ideas. This was a sweet combo with a good buddy of mine and he’s a great guy. He’s striving to do a lot of good in the world and is doing a great job at it. I get to watch some of his videos on YouTube and leading up to the show and I was impressed. Without further ado, I’m going to let him do the rest of the talking. Please sit back and enjoy this interview with Gabe Conte.
Gabe Conte, welcome to The Up and Comers Show.
I want to start here. When are you most yourself?
Probably with my wife. My wife or my close friends like my brother. I’m weird with my wife but then my wife thinks I’m weird when I’m with my brother. We bounce off of each other. As far as personality-wise, not feeling restrained in any way and being completely 100% comfortable and not being in my head about, “Do I say the right thing?” I know nothing’s going to change everything about me, in those scenarios I feel I’m most opened up.
There’s that trust that creates that pure authenticity. The contrast between fear and love, they’re diametrically opposed and the reason why we have such an easy time at loving children, even if they’re annoying or a nuisance is that there’s no fear. We have zero fear of a child, which allows us to love them more fully and purely, but with other humans, there’s more fear involved and it influences our ability to love them.
I’ve heard this before. Did you say it in the podcast with Chad? I was like, “I’m having déjà vu.”
Maybe I should stop repeating myself. Go check out the episode with Chad. Something else that people might not know, which I’m curious to hear about is your underwear drawer.
I know where you got this because I was in the car when you were talking on the phone with Jess about my underwear drawer. This has become a topic of conversation. I like being organized and clean. I fold my underwear in a specific way where it all fits and stacks perfectly in the drawer. I make sure my socks are paired correctly. I don’t throw them all in the drawer.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to orderliness or cleanliness?
I’ll say certain things that my wife does, not that they’re huge pet peeves of mine, but certain things that she does because they’re what I can think of because I live with her. She’ll leave her shoes around the house. It’s not a huge pet peeve of mine. As I’m cleaning up things, I’ll grab them and put them in the room. I don’t like leaving clothes on the floor, which she’ll do sometimes. In her defense, it’s not her fault, she does well on what she does and is gifted a lot of things from different brands. She’ll get clothing gifts a lot and it doesn’t have enough room for them, they’ll accumulate in different sections and to me, I’m like, “We’ve got to clean that up.”
We all have things that we’re particular about or weird about. For some reason, I love hand washing dishes. I end up spending a lot of time hand washing dishes versus throwing them in the dishwasher, which we have a dishwasher.
I’m not a kitchen guy, but I’ve been trying to make it a point whenever I have a dirty dish or use a spoon or whatever it is, I’ll clean it myself and put it back. I’m thinking future and I want my kids to do that, and I was thinking that I’m like, “I need to be doing that.” Jess has been saying, “I appreciate that you’ll do the dishes sometimes.”
One other fun fact is according to a known source, your superpower of choice as a kid was fire. I want to hear about your superpower of fire.
I was homeschooled. Me and my older brother, we grew up like twins. He’s a year older than me. I met my friend Zach in first grade and we became close and then the three of us would hang out all the time. We were six and seven years old. We would always watch action movies like dragons and things that are fantasy. We would finish those and be like, “Let’s do that.” We’d run outside and pretend we had superpowers. Honestly, I don’t even remember that mine was fire, but I know that we would always go outside and be like, “I’ll be the fire guy. You’ll be the ice guy with the ice power. You’ll be the wind.” That’s the backstory there. When the Ninja Turtle phase was a thing, I didn’t have a choice. I was given Raphael because that’s my middle name. They’re like, “You’re Raphael.”
Did you have a favorite show as a kid?
Ninja Turtles was always cool because it’s a cartoon and safe. It was cool action stuff with battles. I’d watched Looney Tunes as a kid on the weekends at my grandparents’ house. I would always sleepover at my grandparents on Friday night and wake up and watch cartoons in the morning.
Tom and Jerry was awesome. I love Tom and Jerry. I also like Dragon Ball Z. I didn’t get to watch it much because my mom wasn’t a fan. I would sneak downstairs and turn it on and catch an episode.
I want to say I wanted to watch it because I don’t remember being obsessed with it. I was obsessed with Beyblades. That was my jam. Do you remember that?
No, I wasn’t in that world.
You’ve seen those things. It’s the spinning top. They pull the chord and they battle in a little ring. There was a full show based on that. It was serious and we would collect the things and try to find the best one and battle each other out.
I was similar to you in the sense that I would do the same thing but in the realm of sports. Anytime I saw anything that I was watching on TV, I had to go outside and play whatever it was.
I was like that too. We had friends growing up. Two close friends of ours, one of them married, Jess and I. We lived down the street when I was 8 to 15 years old. We would always be into one sport or one physical activity at a certain time. We were into hockey at one point. We’d play street hockey down the street, basketball, soccer, airsoft guns and pellet each other with these little plastics. In this day and age, I’m going to be forcing my kids to go outside and play.
It’s amazing how much that develops us as humans. Coming up with things to do fuels creativity.
Now, I’m like, “I don’t know what to do. Let me pull out my phone again and scroll through the same Instagram feed that I’ve scrolled through ten times already.”
I wrote a blog post about this on sharing. It’s recency bias. It’s interesting because social media is a cheap form of sharing. It is sharing, but we do get some benefit from that. There’s some joy from sharing your life with others and now we can share with people all across the world, especially family, friends and loved ones that wouldn’t be able to see that otherwise. That’s a pure unadulterated great joy that comes in sharing on social media, but it’s limited because it’s a one-way street. You’re giving but you’re not seeing them receive it. It’s like behind the name doesn’t mean anything. Part of the joy in sharing something is seeing the other person receive what you share with them and it’s mutual. It’s like eating a $0.99 McDonald’s cheeseburger versus eating a rib-eye steak. One is not sustaining and one is amazing and gratifying.
That’s funny you say that because I create content all the time. Whenever I have something that I’ve made and it’s something I’m proud of, whether it’s a cool picture or a video, before I post it or even if I have recently posted it, I’ll always want to show them in person. It’s much more gratifying than it is to get a comment from them. It’s like, “They thought it was cool.” It’s different from them like, “That’s cool,” and talking about it.
It’s a whole different experience. What do you tell people you do now they ask you, “What do you do?”
I love creating things, whether it’s a new YouTube video, photos for Instagram. I’m building my clothing company. I’m trying to properly grow that and completely build that out. That’s a much bigger scaled form of creating something but it’s still creating something. I have a long-term goal of building more businesses. Creating things is fun, fulfilling and invigorating for me. I realized that it changes. As I’m trying to hone the idea here, creating while simultaneously learning new things as I go. For example, I went through this phase of creating these highly produced travel videos on my YouTube channel.
I watched the one about I Like Me Better in New York. I was impressed by that video. I was like, “This is amazing.”
Most of the things in that video, I didn’t know how to do before doing that video. I would sit on YouTube and watch tutorial after tutorial and hone my skill, learn how to color to try and color correct the whole video and match all the clips together. I learn how to do these things called hyper lapses, which I have a few in the video. It’s like crazy fast-moving time-lapse, all the transitions and not knowing how to do a lot of that stuff. That video itself took me a month of editing. I would spend a few hours a day sitting down editing. Probably three weeks for a few hours everyday editing, learning and trying to do it. That is a great example of I love creating new things when I’m also learning the process. With entrepreneurship and building a business or businesses, I’m enjoying and also looking forward to the season of growing and creating something new but also learning the process along the way.
This is exactly what a lot of people that know you had shared as well about you. We’re going to touch a lot on these two dual aspects of creativity and learning because they’re important. One of the people I talked to mentioned that one of your superpowers and one of the things that’s amazing about you is being a chameleon. You’re able to adapt and learn in many different ways. I’m curious about that chameleon-like nature. Where do you see that stemming from or how does that develop?Whenever you have something that you’re proud of, always show people in person because it’s more gratifying than just get a comment. Click To Tweet
I have no clue. I do realize that about myself. I’ll gravitate towards something new that I’m all of a sudden suddenly interested in and learn to be the best at that thing. I don’t know why or how. I don’t have an answer. Over time I’ve realized that I’m trying to be self-aware and realize what are my strengths or weaknesses. I’ve realized that I’ve been good at adapting to new things and learning new things. I don’t have a specific answer for that. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be able to know that better.
In line with that, how would you describe your creative process? That’s something I know a lot of people would love to hear from. It will differ in different projects and stuff. If you had to think about the way you go about creating and you could even pick one of the individual components of your work because you’re multifaceted, you do a lot. You can hone down to one specific or talk in general, but I’d love to hear how you work through any creative process.
It all starts where all good ideas start, in the shower. I forget who said this or from a book or something, but it was, “Steal like an artist.” I realized I do that so much. I’m inspired by other people who do things. That’s where a lot of my new projects start from. I’ve been better about holding off on it and making sure my desire to do these new things is burning passion and lasts for longer than a few days of thinking about it before I fully jump into it and drop things in my life to get started on something new.
Many people like myself are inspired by what other people are doing and then find their own creative interpretive version of that. They put their own spin on whatever it is like these travel videos. I was inspired by seeing other people’s videos and wanted to learn how they did it and then I try to make it my own and create my own version of that. The clothing company, when I’m trying to come up with a new design or whatever it is. I’ll start researching different clothing companies and what they’re doing and new designs that people are enjoying or that are selling well or the best sellers of different brands. I’ll start trying to figure out what I can do to take that but put my own personal creative spin on it for my company.
One thing you mentioned too that I want to hear more about is sitting on an idea. It’s important to not act instinctively or right away with whatever we get the inspiration from but to vet it out over time to see if it’s something worth pursuing. How did you learn that discipline of not necessarily immediately chasing the tail to whatever you feel inspired to do, but vetting it by almost the nature of waiting on what’s best?
I would say two things. One was during the time when I was into filmmaking. I wanted to learn and do that. I essentially put everything else on pause like all the vlogs that Jess and I were doing together. I didn’t know what to do because I knew I had to fuel this creative passion that I had. I prematurely jumped into it in the sense that I’m taking a break from the stuff Jess and I had been doing for a while that we should have kept up with during that period. I’d put that on pause and I was like, “I need to do this. This is my calling.”
During that time, I learned a lot but then realized I needed to keep up with that. I figure out a way to do both. I feel going to this next season, I’m learning the art of bringing on people to the team that can alleviate stress off of me so I’m not trying to juggle everything, but I have people supporting me through it. With our vlogs, we make sure we have one once a week. We’ve found an amazing editor. I was always nervous to hand off our vlogs to a new editor. We had gone through a few editors and I was like, “I don’t want to hire an editor because of how mad I get.” I want it to be a certain way and going back to the underwear drawer, I’m organized and picky.
I found that person who alleviated a full day out of the week of editing for me. Now I have a full new day opened up and we’re still producing the same content and the quality hasn’t gone down if anything it’s improved. I even have more time now. I can spend time working on the clothing company and learning through that to add people on to the team and finding a photographer or a designer I can trust. Someone who is able to work on the back-end with all the technical stuff, building out the website and all that stuff and trying to properly build out the pieces that support me rather than stress me out.
Sitting on an idea is leading in from what I said. When I have a new idea, I’m not fully jumping into it right away. If it stays with me and I’m like, “This is something I want to do. This is something I’m passionate about,” I keep it quiet for a bit and see if it’s something on my heart that I want to pursue. Over that time, I assess that and if it’s something I’m going to pursue then I figure out ways like, “Will it fit in my schedule? Is it going to stress me out? Is this something that’s going to cause me to have to not spend time with my wife? If so, that’s not a thing. If I want to do this, how can I maneuver what I’m doing now to open up time in my schedule to add this in?” That’s how I approach it slowly realizing I have time because it used to be like, “I don’t have any time. I have to get on things right away.”
It was like I had this big competition with everyone else and I had to get there first and realizing that it wasn’t that. I need to have forward progress with myself and there’s enough space in the marketplace for everyone and it’s not a competition. I can take my time and make sure things are great. I’m not stressing myself out about stuff if something is wrong because that’s not healthy for me. It’s been a lot of learning over the past few years.
I was playing golf with some buddies, my brother-in-law and another guy. We had a nine-hole competition and because I got there late, we lost. I was so mad. It was eating me internally.
You’re the ex-professional golfer.
I know and that’s part of it. It’s ingrained in me, the competitive nature. That was my career. It’s hard to break that, but the freedom from that is what produces your best results anyways. It’s counterintuitive but we have to go through the process of seeing that doesn’t produce the fruit we want. We have to let go of it anyways then we can get to produce better work. It is a process of learning that. The other thing that you mentioned too is the different seasons or stages of any type of career or path or growth trajectory is going to change. You have to adapt to the different places you’re at. One of the books that are on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, but it would be good for both of us. What are you reading?
I’m going through The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick. It’s cool learning a lot. The guy has interviewed a bunch of different people from around the world who claimed to never get sick. It’s their story and the things that they do and practice. There’s research behind those habits and counter-research to them laying out the facts. It’s interesting and I’m enjoying it.
Is there one in particular of their tricks or habits that stand out that maybe they all share or is there anything that stands above?
Each one is a different thing. I read about eating garlic cloves. I knew it was beneficial for you, but I was like, “That’s gross.” I’m going to start trying to eat a clove every morning or every night because of how beneficial it is for you and your immune system and helping you not get sick. One that’s interesting is cold showers. Have you heard that before?
I’ve been taking cold showers for years.
I just started and it sucks. Do you take a cold shower the whole time?
Yes. The only caveat is probably when it’s in the wintertime. It’s cold and I have to wash my hair, then I’ll do cold, hot, cold. I’ll do a contrast shower. I’ll always start and end cold. I’ll do hot to wash my hair if it’s cold but it’s cold all the way through. I started doing it when I was playing professionally because I want to develop mental toughness. I knew that one way to develop mental toughness is to do something that you don’t want to do that has no negative effects and will only make you better. The best example of that is a cold shower. There are no negative side effects, it’s all positive benefits. We never want to do it. There are a few times when you’re hot.
It’s one of the first things you do in the morning, so it’s like starting your day out.
What’s interesting though is I’ve found that it is good before bed. Doing a cold shower before bed kicks your body. It isn’t a sympathetic nervous system like that fight or flight form when the cold hits it, but it shifts it into parasympathetic, which is the rest digest form. It’s almost a natural trigger for your body to get ready for bed and you sleep well. It also lowers your internal body temperature, which is good for sleep too. You have to try it before bed and you’ll probably sleep well.
I’ll try it because I didn’t get a good sleep in the past few nights. I have a friend who takes a warm shower and at the last minute, he’ll turn it cold and stand there and he’ll be done. I’ve tried that and I’m going to try and do fully cold. It sucks taking a warm shower and then being warm and then turning it cold and standing there. It’s painful. All of a sudden, it’s cold and I’m like, “I should turn it cold and try to slowly get into the shower.”
You’re going to like it. I’m a huge believer and I’m a huge fan. Everyone should do it.
How often are you sick?
I’m rarely sick. Probably once or twice a year and usually I know why. I’m abusing myself, whether it be not enough sleep, whether it be eating and drinking the wrong things or being exposed to harsh environments. Those are the reasons why. Outside of that, I don’t get sick. The two reasons why are adequate amount of sleep, which the majority of people don’t get. You need an average of 7 to 8 hours.
Jess and I had been making sure that we get that every night because we weren’t for a while and its damaging long term.
Cold shower is another big reason because it amplifies your body’s ability to adapt and withstand harsh environments and it trains you in that response. Eating well is also a good part of that. If you don’t eat junk, your body is going to be much more capable to fight off whatever is attacking it. I love that you’re taking cold. I had no idea. I’m stoked. We have to talk more about this.
When you first started, did it suck?
It still can suck.
I’m sure you’re used to it.
There are plenty of times where I’ve been in the bathroom butt naked for a couple of minutes getting myself pumped up. I’m like, “You love cold showers. This is good for you. You want to do this. They’re great. I love cold shower.” There’s a lot of times where it’s the last thing you want to do, but that’s when it’s most important to do it. You’re building that toughness and that muscle.
That tripped me out because I’m like, “Who do I even know that would consider taking cold showers?.” There’s one person I know who does it and he’s the one who gave me the book to read because I got sick three times already. I was like, “I’m over being sick.” I need to change my diet and change certain things that I’m doing. I need to figure something out to better my immune system. I was reading through this book and doing a little more research and stuff. I was like, “Cold showers, no one has heard of that. This is random,” and then I’m freaking talking to you.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Wim Hof. He’s called the Ice Man. The Yes Theory guy, it’s another YouTube channel, they did a whole expedition with Wim and he’s big on cold exposure. That’s his thing. He’s proven scientifically, through studies he’s done that he can influence and shift his autonomic nervous system, which is thought to be automatic, through cold exposure, meditation and breathwork. It’s insane. He went into a lab, got injected with elements of the E. coli bacteria and was able to fight off symptoms of it through his practice. It was incredible. He trained a group of half a dozen people over five days. They went in and did the same thing and proved it themselves. It’s not just him, it’s his methodology as well.
Did he develop this thing himself?So many people are inspired by what other people are doing and then finding their own creative interpretive version of that. Click To Tweet
Yes. He’s crazy but it’s amazing. After hearing his stuff was when I initially got into the cold showers and the training group I used to be with was also a fan of it. It’s a whole other world. The whole thing that kicked this off was a book on my shelf and it’s, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. I’m excited to read it. I haven’t read it yet but it’s applicable even though what you were talking about is that what gets us to a certain place isn’t the thing that gets us to the next place because it’s a different place. We have to adjust and adapt to our current environment and what we’re doing. I love hearing how you’re working on scaling or starting to add different pieces. I’ve even seen that too with the podcast having Oksanna come on. It has offloaded so much that I can do weekly and invest fully into these episodes and do a great job with them versus having all these other things to do. That’s crucial to anyone. I’m excited to hear more as you go on the journey as that shifts too. In “Stealing like an artist,” which is also a great quote.
I was inspired by yours and Chad’s quote off. I knew I had to come out with something.
Who do you get inspired by right now? Who are your forms of inspiration?
That’s a tough one because it’s always random. From a faith perspective, Tim Tebow has always been inspiring. My dad went to UF and Tim Tebow was the quarterback at UF. We were a middle school or high school age when he was there and we were all like, “Go Gators.” I went to FSU though for a year. I dropped out, so now, “Go Noles.” Someone like him and he’s involved in the entertainment industry and he has his TV show but he’s still outspoken about his faith. That’s a number one thing. Even someone like Chris Pratt, who’s an A-list celebrity doesn’t care about hindering or closing off talking about his faith in any way is cool. I’m trying to think outside of faith-wise. I have musicians that inspire me. I like their music.
Who are a couple that comes to mind?
Lauv. The video that I made is using his song. I love his music. It’s unique and he’s an amazing songwriter. His style is on point. Ed Sheeran is great. He’s always creative in his music’s always super solid. It’s not like a specific person where I’m like, “I want to do what they’re doing one day.” It’s specific things about specific people.
If you haven’t seen any of Kyle Hangami’s dance videos. He has some amazing ones. He uses a lot from Ed Sheeran, Lauv and those guys. It’s his style. It’s good. I love that. Back to a little bit of the creative process. Out of the things that you’ve done, it’s a wide range. I wrote a list. There was Vine initially and YouTube. It’s been filming, acting, singing, editing, producing, marketing and those kinds of things. What is your favorite part of the process out of those components? Do you have one that brings you the most life or do you like the whole?
Whatever is the newest thing I’m working on is the best answer because it changes. If I’m working on stuff for the clothing company, I’m plugging away, “This is dope. I love this. This is going to be huge. It’s going to blow up the clothing company. It’s going to be awesome.” If I’m working on anything else like a video or whatever it is, I’m like, “I’m in my zone. This is my thing.” If I’m taking pictures of something or whatever I’m doing, if I’m in the studio recording something, it’s like, “I’m in the zone. I love this.” It’s doing things that creatively fulfill me. If I’m working on it at that moment, I’m fulfilled by that.
How long have you been married to Jess?
A few years. Our anniversary is on December 18th.
It’s cool because you are both incredibly creative people. How was your creativity different? What elements do you complement each other with?
She’s visually creative. She went to a graphic design school for a bit. She had worked in magazines doing layouts or whatever they’re called. Around the house, she knows how to decorate amazingly. She has an aesthetic down perfectly. I learned that from her. For me, it’s creating and building things from nothing.
It’s the innovation invention side.
It’s more like that and learning something new and trying to build something new. I’m not as good as the perfectly visually aesthetic thing as Jess is.
How has the marriage with her added to your creativity, faith and life in general? What has that brought? It’s been a while but what have you seen that bring?
It’s helped me realize one thing and it’s how to decorate the house. I know exactly what Jess likes in the house.
Would she like that ping pong table over there?
Absolutely not. If Jess were to say, “You decorate this one room in the house,” I am confident I’d be able to put something together that she would like. It’s not as good as her but that’s something that I’ve developed. One thing that she helped me with was my confidence in singing. We’ve done five cover pieces together over the past years of being married. I grew up singing. I played instruments growing up and I was in musical theater, but I wasn’t the most confident in it. When I was doing stuff online with Vine and developing my following and started on YouTube, I wasn’t putting out too much singing stuff. I was like, “That’s something that I do but I’m not going to take it seriously and do professionally in any way.”
It wasn’t until I met Jess that she got me comfortable with singing. She was always, “I love your voice,” and built my confidence in that to get me comfortable to do that more online to my audience. That’s something that she helped me with, which is cool being able to do it with her by her side and putting out the music that we have together. It’s cool seeing that journey from where I was to where we’re at now and being like, “That’s because of you. You’ve helped me come this far.”
It’s cool because in some of the research, one of the things that she said was you definitely helped her grow in her confidence of who she is and it has taught her a lot in the confidence that you have in your faith and who you are as a man. I love that it goes both ways. You both help each other grow in the confidence of who God’s created you to be, which is a cool picture of what marriage should be. That’s an awesome testimony. When you first met, what was the first dating period like for you two?
She DM to me and we loosely talk for a bit. We met in LA because she had already had a trip planned out there. I took her to church for the first time and then we went to lunch afterward. I was like, “She was cool.” She’s a lot more reserved than I am. I was like, “I’d like to get to know her more, but I’m not sure. Let me hang out with her more and try and see if she gets more comfortable with me and opens up more.” I was filming something in New Orleans then, and I left for a week. She was still in LA at that point. During that week, we would FaceTime every day. We got to know each other which is funny because we were doing long-distance. I went back to LA and she had another week and a half there. We hang out a lot and got to know each other more. Eventually, we’re like, “I want to pursue something, but we’re going to have to do long-distance and that’s going to suck.”
At that point, we’re 100% in or this is not going to work. It was quick, “You’re leaving and I don’t know when we’re going to see each other again, but we want to make this work so we have to start this thing now.” Long-distance was long-distance. The dating process was a lot of FaceTime. When we saw each other, it was amazing. Granted, we were lucky to be able to do what we’re doing and have the freedom to travel with what we’re doing. The longest time we spent apart was Australia to America for six weeks. Normally, people are doing six months and stuff like that. She’d come to LA for 1, 2, 3 weeks. She would leave and it would be a few weeks, a month or six weeks and I would go there. It was back and forth for that year until we got married.
Going into it, were you both pretty involved heavily with YouTube at that point individually?
I was. I had moved out to LA. I left acting school. I was like, “I’m going for this.” I was already involved in my “career.” Jess was doing YouTube, but she was still in graphic design school when I met her. She had 30,000 followers on YouTube and 10,000 Instagram followers, which is great. At that point, not that she wasn’t taking it seriously, but it wasn’t her bread and butter. It wasn’t her full-time thing. She was only doing it for fun. Over the course of us being more public about our relationship and starting to make videos together.
I thought it would have a negative effect on my following because I was single and it would be a different vibe. That was the opposite of what happened. A lot of people loved us together, which was super cool to see. God blessed that and we were able to grow together. It helped her to be able to grow. She had to make the decision of whether she was going to stay in school or leave school. Ultimately, she ended up leaving school to pursue the opportunity and ultimately pursued our relationship because we were able to travel. Being in school, that wasn’t allowing her that much of a freedom. When she left, we were able to see each other a bit more.
I was curious about the backstory with you two and YouTube specifically. I didn’t know if you had both already started that coming in or not.
We both basically did for the most part.
I want to circle back on what you had briefly mentioned earlier. You had one year at FSU before dropping out. This is a fascinating story and it’s a cool adventure. I’d love to hear it. For you and Jess, what was your collective following or people that that are keeping up with you? If you had to put a number on it?
We hit three million subscribers on YouTube. I’ll name them separately. I almost have two million on Instagram. She has over two million on Instagram. I have 600,000 on Twitter. She has 400,000. Adding those up, it’s almost maybe eight million or nine million.
There’s a lot of people that are keeping up with what you’re doing. That doesn’t happen by chance. I want to hear a little bit of that path from dropping out at FSU to where we are now. What does that look like? There’s a lot of work and space in between there. That’s not an easy decision to drop out of college, especially when there’s such an emphasis placed on it and such an importance placed on society. In that stage in life, it’s a hard decision to make. I’d love to hear a little bit about that story.
I didn’t drop out before I had a following. I went to FAU, Florida Atlantic University locally for a year, in my freshman year. That’s when I was making Vines and trying to grow my following. I was in a theater appreciation class there and I was an undecided major. My mom was like, “All you like doing is making these Vines and the only class you like is your theater appreciation class. Go and try and audition at schools and do something.” I auditioned out a bunch of schools in the state for their acting programs. I couldn’t do it out of state because we couldn’t afford the tuition. FSU had the best program that I was accepted into and I was able to go there and I was there for a year. At that time, that summer before going to FSU, my parents were like, “You’ve got to help us with tuition. If you need to or able to go get a job you can save up a bit for college. You need and a little cushion for emergencies.” We didn’t want to go into debt. My parents were helping me out with college and try to get some scholarships and stuff like that. I told them that I wasn’t getting a job. I was like, “Trust me. I’m working on Vine.”
Looking back at it, it was such a risk. I already had this little momentum, trajectory, upswing that I could tell if I put in the work, I could continue that. If I let anything hinder it, the opportunity would go. At that point, that whole summer, I ended. I had already been, I want to say a year of doing Vine and it took me six months to get to 10,000 followers and it got me another six months to get to 100,000 followers. That summer I was able to go from 100,0000 to 750,000 before I got to FSU because I would grind. People were out of school and Vine was huge, so everyone was downloading it. I was able to hustle and grow. That grew my Instagram following a bit and everything.
Once I went to FSU, I had already started that summer. I finally started making some money doing it and proving that I can do this as a source of income and as a job during school. That was the goal. I can do that as a job during school and make some money and not have to do work and study or something like that. That happened. I went to FSU and I was there for a year. During that time, I continued to grow the following. I had an opportunity to fly out to LA for the first time during that year as well. After that year, I flew to LA for the summer. I bought a one-way ticket and I was like, “I’ll figure out whatever time I got to come back. I’ll be back before school.” I flew to LA, stayed in the guest bedroom of my manager’s apartment and I was there for the summer hustling. I was like, “I’m making a decent living trying to make this work. Let me consider moving.” As it kept going, things were pretty consistent.
After 1.5 to 2 months of that summer, I was like, “I can put school on pause for now and chase this. Hopefully, God blesses it and something comes from it.” That’s the story of that. It was six months when I met Jess at the end of that year. That was December of 2015 when I came to LA. At the end of that year was when Jess DM me. It was in January when we had met for the first time. Throughout that year, we started doing long distance, seeing each other and eventually got married.There’s enough space in the marketplace for everyone. It’s not a competition. You can take your time and make sure things are great. Click To Tweet
What was that conversation with your parents like when you said, “I’m going to stay out here?” Was it easy, hard or in between?
They flew out. They knew what was going on and we were open about what I was doing and the financial progress I was making. It was like the Wild West. It wasn’t a thing. It was a new thing. It’s like, “Can you make money on it? Do brands take you seriously to sponsor posts and things like that?” Now, it’s been normalized and we have influencer, it’s the term now. It’s still the Wild West a bit because it’s still new and developing but before it was like, “What is this?” From there, they saw what was happening. They didn’t know the longevity of it and what it could turn into. I didn’t either but I knew I should take the opportunity because it was something new and big things were happening. There were people who are much bigger than me doing cool things. I’m like, “I can sing like an artist.” I can go on that same trajectory as them. When I started having those conversations, they flew out and met my manager and hung out for those few days. It was a farewell and fully putting their stamp of approval on what I was doing.
I want to talk about the current reality and this whole space of influencer. The space of influence is the best way to say it. It’s an interesting thing but I’m curious about it. First off, to get in there, you’ve got a lot of awesome content. You’re authentic and vulnerable on your space and channel. That is something that a lot of people also affirm in your community on how real you are. What do you think that most people don’t know about you? What would you say are misperceptions about you or Jess? What do you think in your mind are common misperceptions?
There are certain things that people don’t know in the sense of there are certain things that I’m working on and new things that I’ve taken up that I’m not ready to share yet. People would know about it eventually business-wise and stuff in entertainment as well. That’s not me trying to shelter something. That’s not the time for me to share what I’ve been working on yet. I’m still developing those things.
If you generalize it more for the space of influence or being a YouTuber or anything. What do most people not know or understand about that reality?
I’m trying to come up with a new answer on something that I haven’t shared.
You’ve got a great video with Jess that I saw. You talk a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes. That’s a good resource.
That was on her channel that we talked about it. This is super cliché because everyone says it but the amount of work that you have to put in to do it. I don’t like saying that. I used to always say, “Grind, working hard, meetings.” It’s a thing that all influencers say. I realized that I needed to stop saying how hard I work or trying to convince people that I work hard, do the best that I can do and let the results speak for themselves without trying to convince people that, “I work hard. I wake up early and I’m diligent.” I eventually got turned off by myself. I just need to work at what I’m doing. First and foremost, I hope it honors the Lord and works towards that. Hopefully, God bless that and there are fruit that comes from it for everyone else to either enjoy, see or be part of whatever it is. There’s a lot of work that goes on. I’m trying to think of anything else.
I love that note because everyone can relate to that in whatever field or environment that we’re at. In the earlier stages of things, when we’re trying to gain credibility or gain a certain proficiency in whatever we’re doing, we always want to make other people understand that we’re working super hard. I’m the same way. I’m like, “I’m super busy. I’m doing all these things. I’m achieving all this.” That’s our own lack of confidence or esteem in ourselves that projects that. We realized after a while of doing that, “I don’t like this. Why am I doing this? I’m trying to get approval.” We all go through this. Everyone can relate to that. It’s good to hear that and recognize, “I’m trying to be more than I am because I’m not confident in who I am,” or “I’m not comfortable with what I’m doing.” It’s thinking that other people think it’s as valuable. I’m more concerned about what other people think than what I think, then I have to readjust.
You’re worried and not confident enough in the product itself and what you’re putting out. I think of it as to what I’m doing with Conteam Clothing. I’m working on things that won’t be seen for another few months. I need to be comfortable and I don’t have to share it with my audience. They’ll eventually see it and I don’t have to tell people, “I’m working hard on this stuff and every day I’m waking up.” I don’t have to try and convince people that I’m working on things. I’m confident enough in what it’s going to turn into. Once people see it and it’s a final product, it’ll speak for itself and be like, “Someone had to have worked on that because that’s dope.” As it is with anything. It takes a lot of work to do anything decent.
That’s so underrated. A couple of the people who know you said that a lot of people probably don’t know how much time and how hard of a worker you are, how dedicated to the craft and motivated you are, and how little time you do have because it’s not relaxed, have fun, live the life type lifestyle that a lot of people assume about that space. They don’t see the backend or what goes into it. It can’t be overstated that it does take a lot of work. It’s not just, “Let’s record a video and throw it up.” That’s not how it works. That is not the nature of this environment and this life. It’s important.
I love hearing what people say. My love language is words of affirmation. When I hear, “People said this about me.” I’m like, “Yes. I love my friends.”
Are you an Enneagram guy?
Kind of, but Jess is. I know what I am.
What are you?
I want to say what Jess has narrowed down for me and I don’t even know what they are. I know I’m a 3 wing 4. When I took it, I was a 1 wing 9. In talking with a bunch of other Enneagrammers and other people who like it, I’m apparently more of a 3 wing 4. I don’t know though, it’s 3 wing 4 or 1 wing 9.
I’m a three too. I’m similar in that sense.
What are three?
Three is the Achiever.
That’s for sure. Do you know what four is?
Four is the Individualists and two’s the Helper. I believe that’s right. People can go look at the Enneagram website. We aren’t experts.
Two is the Helper because Jess is a two and she’s a mega helper.
Let’s talk about the influence side again. Has there ever been a time where you wished you hadn’t gone this route?
Yes, when I got depressed. I didn’t know what I was doing, why I was doing any of this and I was like, “Why don’t I enjoy any of this? Why did I get to where I am and I’m not even happy?” I was questioning everything. I needed to take a step back and let myself breathe it was during Christmas. I took that month off for the most part. At the beginning of January, I started getting back into it. I gave myself time to breathe, chill and to put everything on pause. It was during that time that I was questioning a lot of stuff.
What does that dark side look like? What are the pressures that create that? What is the unique combination of factors that leads to that place? I don’t think that’s a rare occurrence. That’s common, especially in those types of positions. What led up to that? What contributed to that in your mind?
For me, I like to please people a lot, which is a good and a bad thing. I also have an amazing team, my managers and agents and stuff like that. In this business, the concept is strange. It is what it is. It’s normalized but it’s a strange concept of them completing their job and do well if they get me to do things. They’re all amazing at their job. I have always been clear about certain things I want to do. As I started doing a lot of these new things and piling a lot onto my plate. I’m like, “I want to try and write a book. I want to try and do this,” then everyone’s like, “Cool, we’re going to do that for you.” They’re giving me all these opportunities. I’m trying to say yes to everything and new things are coming up. I’m doing all these things and I don’t even know if I want to be doing them. That goes back to getting myself time to see if it’s something I’m truly passionate about instead of coming up with the idea and the next day making a call to make it happen.
At that point, I’m trying to please everyone and being bad at saying no. I broke down and I was unhappy with what I’m doing. I’m always drowning in the things I’m trying to get done. I feel that there’s a to-do list that I can’t finish. I feel that one day I can get done with this to-do list now and by the time I’m a quarter way through it, it’s doubled. It’s stuff like that. It was a time of I need to pause everything and I tell everyone, “No auditions, meetings, opportunities and deals.” I told my whole team, “Don’t send me anything. I’ll come to you if I have an idea or want something.” I told everyone that I’m on a big break for now. That was after that month I took off.
As I started pursuing God more during that time and allowing Him to bring my heart towards things. Let the desires of my heart come from Him. It’s not that they weren’t there before because, “I’d love to write a book one day.” It wasn’t the time and allow the desires of my heart to stem from being as close to God as possible. At that point, I started coming back to working hard on the clothing company, working hard on other projects and finding a way to be consistent with YouTube. It has been super consistent for us. It’s now the end result of how I dealt with it.
That piece you mentioned about drowning is something I’ve even experienced a small portion of that. All of us who are striving to make a difference in the world within whatever work we’re doing, we will experience that emotion in different periods of time along the way. That means you’re reaching beyond your current grasp in a lot of ways. You’re reaching outside of your comfort zone into that potential that lies beyond. That’s always more uncomfortable. It always produces more tension and it can be overwhelming at times. It’s like lifting weights that you don’t know if you can lift. There’s some tension there that’s good. If we overextend, it can become crushing and there’s a balance there. It’s a fine line. We all relate to that in many ways. The other thing that’s interesting is the whole concept of part of the business is people want to use what you’ve created for gain for better or worse. That’s part of the business.
It’s not a bad thing. They’re good at their job that they do and a lot of stuff.
It’s a lot of demand for you. I’m sure I would feel the same way. That’s real pressure.
In that scenario, it was a time of narrowing down what am I going to work on? Going back to it, if I want to add something new, how can I continue these other things, but have support under me, so I’m not carrying the entire burden myself? It’s been a developing process of figuring that out.
How have you seen the relationships in your life change at all over the past few years of this journey of growing that influence or that platform? Have the people that you knew, your friends or other people have their viewer perspective or relationship with you changed as a result of that or not?Stop convincing people that you work hard and just do the best that you can do and let the results speak for themselves. Click To Tweet
Distance is a thing. All my friends back home are still my friends. I don’t see them as much because I’m across the country. I grew up in an amazing circle of friends who were also homeschooled. We were all super tight growing up. I never experience the whole you make some friends, meet some new people, and some people leave. Out here in LA, you meet a lot of people and you’re trying to figure out who can be your friend or not, figure out who’s trying to use you or is even interested in being your friend. It’s a weird game out here.
It’s different than most of the country.
In most of the world. When I moved out here, as far as relationally, meeting new people was a weird thing. People were like, “This person could be my friend,” then realizing after the fact, if I’m not reaching out to them, they’re not reaching out to me, we would hang out to film videos. It was more of a business friendship more than anything, which is super weird to think because of what it is. Everyone has business friendships in whatever line of work they do. If they work in an office, they may not see the people outside of it. With the world of being an influencer, making videos and being a personality, you’re not pretending to be friends because you are. You’re not friends outside of it but to the world, your friends because of the content you’re making. They have become close friends from that. I’m not saying that all the people are fake.
It’s the nature of business. In any business, maybe you’ll do business with someone else. If you are similar or you have a lot of shared interests or passions, you may become friends. If you don’t, you may not and that’s business. That’s life.
We’ve made some great friends through it and met a lot of people.
To round this little part out, for people who may want to try to go down a similar path like people that want to build a following or gain influence or on that process already, what perspective would you think is important to share in light of that journey or to approach that journey with?
If you haven’t started yet, start now. It’s way harder than it was a few years ago, which was way harder than the years before that. Now it’s a lot easier than it will be in a year’s time. As the generations keep getting older, every kid now wants to be a YouTuber. That’s the thing. Everyone wants to be that. If you’re thinking of starting, start now because it’s going to be much harder as the years go on. Everyone is experiencing that who’s already established. It’s much harder to grow your following now than it ever was before. That also has to do with all the algorithms and everything. It’s harder now and things change. As time goes on, more people are coming into the industry and it’s getting more and more saturated. You should start now if you’ve been thinking about it.
Also have a reason why you’re doing it because a lot of people are, “I want to start YouTube,” but don’t realize that you can’t just do YouTube. There has to be some brand to what you’re doing, which is for me, I had always made videos and I’d always try to make funny videos. Vine was a perfect outlet for me because I was already making little skits. That turned into YouTube and turned into showing my wife and I, our relationship on it. That’s what it has grown to be like. The thing for us is filming our life and our relationship, which is essentially the brand. Things need to be specific now, which is interesting. People need to have specific brands of whether you’re a personality who focuses on health, fitness and stuff like that.
Even YouTube channels of someone who is a personality but make a certain type of video like experimental. There are channels and niche pockets that you can try and fit into. Back in the day, you could do a “Ten facts about me” video and that was a good enough YouTube video. Now, people aren’t going to click that because that’s not interesting compared to, “What is it like staying in this haunted mansion for 24 hours?” It’s a different space now. You have to have specific branding and specific content that you’re making that people would want to continue to follow.
I totally see that. What is your motivation? What is your why as you see it?
The long-term goal is we want to grow things big to be able to give generously. That’s something Jess and I are passionate about. For my family, business, investing, real estate and growing passive income through whichever means. I want to become financially independent and have passive income that can pay for life and a comfortable enough life for my family and kids. Being able to have that so I’m not drowning and trying to continue to scrape by to pay the bills. I want to be there for my kids, coach a kid’s soccer team, spend time with my wife, continue to give generously and working on things that I am more passionate about.
One example I use is, I want to write a script for a movie at some point. I can’t do that now because I would have to drop a lot. I can’t drop off the face of the earth for a few months and write a movie script. In the scenario that we built the infrastructure for me to be able to work on something solely on that for an extended period of time without worrying about not putting food on the table. It’s something I’d love to do. It’s a broad why but to be able to grow what we’re doing and use that for the betterment of my family and others who are around us.
I want to rewind the clock a little bit because one thing you’ve brought out a lot in another part of your story is homeschooling and wrestling. Those are two things that people know some about. I’d love to hear more about the whole experience you had with homeschooling and what wrestling gave you as a kid. It’s two different topics but let’s start with homeschooling. What were the benefits for you and what was the journey of being homeschooled like?
I went to school for first and second grade. After that, I was homeschooled all the way through graduation. Homeschooling was great. I was good at math so I could get it done quickly. I didn’t have to spend the whole 1 to 1.5 in the classroom when I already understood it and I could get through that faster. I was always 1 or 2 years ahead in Math, but English, Reading and all that stuff, I was always farther behind. I always had to spent time on that. Homeschooling allowed me the flexibility to focus more on what I needed to focus more on and not be stuck to a schedule. It always freed up the afternoon, so I was always involved with a sport and playing instruments. I took drum lessons. That was my first thing in the arts.
Do you still play though?
No. I wish but I took lessons when I was 10 to 15. At fifteen, we moved to a condo so I couldn’t keep the set. I had the urge to buy an electric set because it was quiet and I could throw a headset on. It would be fun to get back into it. I was able to teach myself guitar a bit because my dad and brother play. They had guitars so I would pick it up and do stuff myself. I was able to hang with my friends more. Monday nights we would go bowling. You couldn’t do that if you’re in regular school. As far as academically, I can focus more on certain things. I was around my parents a lot which was beneficial as far as development. Parents have such an influence on their kids and they’re their biggest influence if they are indeed the ones influencing their kids compared to school. Not that it’s a bad thing. I have amazing friends. Most people go to school and there are amazing people in the world.
You did go to school as well.
There are a lot of negative influences, especially there are schools that are better than others. Some schools have a more of a worst crowd of influence for you to be around. Homeschooling gave us a solid ground and we were social homeschooled. We had a lot of friends who were also homeschooled and we were part of this community. We were always hanging out with people.
Talk to me a little bit about your relationship with your parents. Let’s start with your dad. What is your relationship with your dad like? How did he influence you?
He’s stern and has a strong male figure. Going back to wrestling, I never liked wrestling and he made me wrestle for ten years. He did that because he knew the benefits that it would do for me. It’s like the cold shower thing, it helps you overcome stuff. It helped grow me and overcome my fears. My first match ever, I was six years old. I cried walking out onto the match and I don’t remember it that well, but he said that I won. I stopped after 10th grade. I didn’t finish it through high school because I was getting way more involved in arts and stuff like that. That year, I did win the district championship at 135 pounds.
You have a great video on your channel that breaks out your story in pictures, which I was blown away by. The artist that you are is impressive.
Thank you. I used to draw a lot. Growing up, I always want to be doing something with my hands. I would always draw on like the side of my papers. I ended up drawing and it became a thing that I don’t do now at all. I hadn’t drawn in many years before making that video, but I was like, “Maybe I can do it again.” I decided to learn it again.
How long did that video take? Because there’s a lot of images?
I sat down and clicked record and I had this big rig over the table of the camera pointing down. I had two batteries in the camera and once the battery was going out, I had a charger in the wall behind me. I would take the battery out and switch the battery in the charger with a battery in the camera. I sat down at 7:00 PM, hit record at maybe 1:00 AM, but it may have been 11:00 PM.
Either 4 or 6 hours that you did it all the drawings?
Yeah, I just sat there and did that all.
That’s incredible. A fun fact, me and my roommate back in the day went to Barnes & Noble and got one of those cool little sketchbooks of 500 drawing prompts. We started doing sketch offs each week. We didn’t laugh for 3 or 4 weeks but it was hilarious. Drawing these things are hard. It’s not easy and you make it look easy with your skill. If you want to learn more about his drawing, that’s a great resource. One of the stories in there is with your mom. It’s an amazing story about how your parents even met. Maybe you shed a little bit of light in the context on that. I’m curious about when you first learned about that background and context as a kid and how that impacted you.
For everyone reading, my mom has HIV. She contracted that before she had met my dad. When they first told me, I didn’t understand. She didn’t know that the person that she was with before had HIV and she got it from him. She thought her life was over and she was given ten years to live. Miraculously, she lived further beyond that and is on medicine that will keep her stable for the rest of her life. When I first heard about it, I was around 10 or 12. I remember they had told my older brother first and waited a few more years to tell me because they knew that I was a little more sensitive than he was. They weren’t sure how I would handle it.
I remember not knowing what it was and how serious it was because it wasn’t like she had just contracted it and was given ten years to live and that I would lose my mom in ten years. It’s was she’s fine, but this is a thing that she has. At that time, it wasn’t this big weight down like, “Everything that I knew is a lie.” It wasn’t too bad because everything was fine and life was still what it was. Nothing was changing. It was over time realizing how instrumental this whole story was to my faith. When I left for FSU and then left for LA, I have to solidify my relationship with God for myself, how much their story and me, not having HIV, none of my siblings having HIV, how much of a miracle that is and I should have a deadly virus.
All that stuff was such a miracle that all stems from dreams that my dad had of God guiding him on what steps to take. I’m like, “I can’t just walk away from this. This is real and prevalent in my life, my story and my family. You can’t convince me otherwise.” It’s an unfortunate thing that happened, but it’s such a cool story to have because of how much of a positive it’s turned into and how many people are able to hear the story, which I’ve never thought about how interesting that is. My dad had made a little testimony booklet telling the story and we handed it out, but now realizing through what Jess and I do, how many people have heard their story. That’s cool.
What has been the faith journey? What has that been like for you? In that video, you’ve shared that you accepted Christ at seven.
It was five and I got baptized at seven, which is young.
How would you describe the seasons or the process of growth in your own faith over the years?
Growing up was like college. I grew up in a Christian household and we go to church every week for as long as I can remember. I’m learning a lot and when I was five, I conceptually knew, even at that young age, what it was. The reality of it becomes a lot more real as you grow older and start to develop that relationship with God. My whole childhood growing up and everything, it was schooling of learning the things in Sunday school and the stories in the Bible. Once I left the nest and went to college at FSU, which is one of the top schools in the nation and then going to LA, which is nuts. Now, you’re in your internship or in your job and you have to apply everything that you’ve learned and solidify like, “This stuff is applicable and practical.” It’s like reading through Proverbs and everything that it talks about and I’m like, “That’s where that fits in. That’s where that Proverbs fits in.” In a nutshell, it was a journey and I learned a lot and have the relationship with God, but leaving the house, being like I need to make sure that I’m diligent in my relationship with God and I’m pursuing that relationship. I’m not brushing it off and doing my own thing because you have to be intentional with it. I’m trying to be intentional with it and the two complemented each other.
What produces that nearness or closeness with God?You can be a strong man and a strong leader, but the leader and the best men are servants first. Click To Tweet
It’s different in different seasons. I feel fulfilled with a lot of what I’m working on now and when I’m creating new things, how much joy that brings me and realizing that I’m doing what God has placed on my heart to do. I know that’s making Him happy. That’s a form of worship that I know God was pleased with me with. I can feel it in the fulfillment that I received from it. Another thing is when Jess and I went to the Grand Canyon to Arizona, we saw His nature and we’re like, “This is crazy. How is this a thing? God is big.” To be able to do this puts into perspective how big God is. When you’re standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon looking out and it’s like, “This is ginormous. If I take one more step, I’m dead because of how small I am compared to this.” God was able to create that.
What about on the flip side? When has faith been hardest for you? What have the doubts or the fears been like for you in the journey?
When I’m comfortable with what I’m doing. When you’re comfortable, it’s easy to shrug it off. You always need God but thinking that you don’t.
That’s relevant to what Jesus talks about all the time too. If you think about Jesus’ messages, it’s “Take up your cross and follow me. Die to yourself and live to Christ.” These are drastic things He talks about, but part of the underlining concept of it is discomfort. Embracing an uncomfortable life because that’s a life of faith. If we’re comfortable, are we living by faith? Probably not. In talking to several other people in your community and hear their testimonies of how the life that you’ve lived, not necessarily the words you’ve said, has brought them to Jesus. There can’t be anything cooler than that. We put so much emphasis on the words and the words don’t matter. It’s the heart and the life. That’s what matters. God blesses that. To see the fruit of that has got to be encouraging. What do you see Him using your platform and your work for, even within kingdom work?
A lot of times, we run into people who watch our videos. We were at Disney one time and one girl specifically stopped us. She was like, “I started going to church again because I was watching your videos.” I’m like, “You did? Did you get that from Jess and I switching accents for the day?”
Your Australian is good, but Jess’s American accent is better.
A lot of people were saying that my Australian accent was better, but I only think it’s because a lot of Americans are watching that don’t have the fine-tuned ear for an Australian accent. I remember one thing specifically when we were on tour. At the end of 2017, Jess and I did a seventeen-stop tour around the country. It was cool being able to meet many people and hear different stories of people watching us and what that has done in their lives. We realized that influencer is not a term to be taken lightly. There’s a lot of influence on what we do. During one of the meets and greets, a girl came up with her mom and they were crying. The mom said, “Thank you because of your videos. My daughter came back to the Lord.” We both started crying and we were like, “What the heck?” It’s bizarre that we’re just making YouTube videos about our life and we’re open about our faith. During Q and As, we’ll talk about it because people like to ask and if something comes up, we’re open about it.
We’re not shoving it in people’s faces. Most of our videos are just us living our life. It’s crazy to think that even that is enough for people to want to take a step in the direction towards the Lord. It’s insane. Even talking about it, it’s weird because I never want it to come across like we’re doing something dope. YouTube is great and I’m not taking it for granted. We’re just making short videos. The fact that God’s able to use that to change people’s lives, we’re undeserving. We haven’t done that much.
What are the things that keep you grounded? That’s a picture of humility. How do you help yourself stay grounded? Because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the numbers and the movement and all that goes with influence.
On a faith level, it’s keeping a relationship with God. As long as I’m pursuing Jesus and trying to be as Christ-like as possible that you’re going to develop the traits as best as you can and towards what Jesus is and represents. Humility is one of those things. From a practical standpoint, I get turned off by people who got big egos. I don’t ever want to be like that. I’m trying to continue to pull myself back if I ever feel like that’s a thing. I have an amazing wife who tells me if I’m ever being an idiot. Having a family who will tell me how it is and friends. Knowing that I still have from where I came from and to where we are now living far away, but still being close to all those people. I would know if something was wrong based on my relationships with my family and friends. If they saw I was changing, there would be something weird there and there’s not at all. That makes me grateful that Jess and I have been able to go through this industry and maintain our sanity and ourselves.
That community, family and friendships cannot be emphasized enough how important that is. It’s a non-negotiable. If you had to imagine your 30-year-old self, what advice do you think you would give your 24-year-old self?
Spend quality time with your wife because that is her number one in her love languages. I can see the difference when I spend quality time with her and when I neglect it. I can easily neglect it because quality time is not at the top for me at all with what we do and how motivated I am to do things. I work on stuff and keeping busy. It’s an easy thing to neglect, for me personally. I know it can have negative long-term effects if that’s not something that I focus on. Being able to leave for the weekend and spend three days with my wife in Arizona is great. It’s good for our relationship.
At 30, if God blessed you with kids in the family, you’re going to look back and be like, “This is the easiest time and most readily available to spend quality time with my wife than it ever will be.” Responsibilities only add up over time. They don’t subtract, that’s for sure. It’s a good word. What are your cornerstone habits or the things in daily life that are important for you?
Spending time in the Word every morning is number one. I always try and make sure I’m reading at least one book at that time, whether it’s a business book, self-development, faith. I’m reading something in addition to the Bible. Exercising has been good for me and as cliché as it sounds, it releases happy endorphins. I always look forward to my time going to the gym and exercise. I’m trying to get more into taking up a boxing class, jujitsu or something like that, that’s not just me lifting weights and listening to a podcast. It’s like getting something that’s more physical and sport. Those are the daily things that I do and I’m focusing a lot on health now too. I make sure that my body is feeling good, I’m not getting sick and I can operate properly.
That’s the first step always, raising our awareness about how our body’s feeling. If we aren’t paying attention, we just ignore it or turn it off.
They just ignore it and take warm shower.
If anybody takes anything from this podcast, it’s that they take cold showers.
I want to see if anyone starts trying the cold shower thing. If people are going to think it’s stupid, research it. There’s a lot of weird scientific benefits.
There is zero negative side effect and there’s a lot of positive benefits. What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?
When I was going through depression, I’ve read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. That one was solid for me. I wouldn’t have recommended it to myself because it’s such a heavy book, heavy-hitting. As you’re reading it, you’re like, “I’m doing everything wrong. Is my relationship with God even real?” It was a check for me. That book at that time was great because it made me put into perspective what’s important and how I was putting too much pressure on myself on things that I was trying to achieve myself and how that was making me unhappy because of what a burden I become. Everything is meaningless. I adopted that in the sense of like, “All of this is meaningless if God isn’t there.” What’s is important is my relationship with the Lord and pursuing that first and then from that is what will bring meaning to everything else. That was something in a nutshell from that book that was like, “I need to focus on my relationship with God first and let the desires of my heart spring from that, rather than trying to do whatever I want to do.”
The book I’ve read that my dad gave me is called Living Life Backward by David Gibson. It’s awesome. He takes Ecclesiastes and modernized it in our language. The whole point is life is a gift, not gain if we have that right center. It’s powerful. If you could give a TED Talk, what would it be on?
TED Talk for guys and men. In our culture right now, there’s this huge trigger on toxic masculinity. Not that there’s no truth to that. That’s definitely a thing, whether it’s being abusive or using that masculinity in a negative way, but masculinity in and of itself is a good thing. Our culture is dumbing that down and I don’t think it’s the best thing. Men need to realize, “You can be a strong man and a strong leader, but the best leader and the best men are servants first.” It’s like leaning down to tie my wife’s shoe, opening the door for her and putting her needs before mine without compromising my masculinity. That’s something that I would probably talk about. I could probably give a TED Talk about work ethic and chasing your passions. Mental health is something because of what I’ve gone through and making sure you have a balance in life and stress, how negatively that can affect you. That all ties in together and how our culture is work-first oriented and leaning too much on that has a horrible long-term effect on your health.
The book, To Have or To Be, you got to read that. What question do you ask yourself the most?
The overall life question that I ask myself every now and then is, “Why me?” In the scenario with my wife is, “Why us?” It’s a question towards God in where we’re at like, “Why did you choose us to have a platform like this?” Many people try and do what we’re doing and don’t succeed. Why did we succeed? For what purpose? When people tell me like, “I start going to church,” and all those things. I know, but it’s still like, “You should have chosen someone else. He could have chosen someone else.” I’m not cut out for this, but then realizing like, “I need to be responsible with what God has given me,” and that’s not a cop-out like, “I’m humbled that I shouldn’t be in this position, so I’m not going to do anything.” I know God entrusted Jess and I with where we’re at, what we have and the responsibilities that we have. If we neglect those, we’re disobeying the Lord. On a marriage level, I need to be responsible for our relationship. On a work level, with YouTube and whatever work, it is that we’re working on at the moment. On a financial level, any income that comes in, how does God want us to use this money and allocate this money? It’s being responsible with that.
If you could send a morning text reminder to every Up & Comer out there, what would you say and why? They get this message from you every morning on their phones.
I was about to say something generic like, “Jesus loves you,” but I remind myself of this almost every day, “What I do today, I need to make sure I’m pleasing the Lord through it in everything.” Please the Lord in everything that you’re doing, whatever it is. Whether you’re in school, the essay that you’re writing. Work hard and do it well. If you’re at work sending emails, be in it and love the person on the other side of that email. That pleases the Lord.
That’s an awesome intention. Gabe, thank you for coming on. This has been a blast. Where do you direct people? Where do they find you?
Until next time. Thank you for coming on and we hope you all have an up and coming week.
- Gabriel Conte
- Chad – episode 99
- I Like Me Better New York
- The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick
- Wim Hof
- YouTube – Becoming Superhuman with Ice Man
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
- Tim Tebow
- Conteam Clothing
- Crazy Love
- Living Life Backward
- To Have or To Be
- Instagram – Gabe Conte
- Twitter – Gabe Conte
- Jess and Gabriel – YouTube channel
About Gabe Conte
Gabriel Conte is a filmmaker, actor, recording artist and overall content creator.
Through his high-quality social content, multiple roles on both the small and big screens and chart-topping album, he has amassed more than 6.5 million followers across his social channels.
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