What do Larry King, Tilman Fertitta, Rick Ross, Chris Voss all have in common? For starters, they’re all very successful. Secondly, they’ve all be interviewed by a 19-year-old from Virginia.
That talented teen entrepreneur? Casey Adams.
Casey Adam has amassed 219k Instagram followers, created a Top 50 podcast, and interviewed heavyweights in media, business and entrepreneurship. All before his 20th Birthday. https://www.caseyadams.com
His success didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen online.
“Looking back, social media has opened up every door of opportunity,” reflects Casey Adam on an episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast. “One of the early ‘oh shit moments’ on social media was when I reached out to Ty Lopez.
“He was someone who I looked up to and I was in his programs. After I spoke at this event, I sent him a DM to say, ‘thank you.’ From that DM two weeks later, he was flying me and my mom out to Los Angeles to meet him. To see that a digital gesture led me to getting flow out to LA? This is crazy, let’s keep doing this.”
A decade back, many considered social media and the internet a separate world from reality. In 2020, the young see no barriers.
Knowing how to best use social media is especially important for businesses.
“If you don’t have a presence on social media as a brand, are you even a brand?” Casey Adams questions.
“If I can’t go on social media and look up your brand it’s not that you’re not relevant, it’s like you don’t even exist. There’s a level of communication for businesses that can happen on social and it’s super important that people adopt it. For anyone that hasn’t bought into it fully they’re going to be left behind.”
Casey Adams knows that sometimes you’re just one DM away from your dreams.
Rise of the Young:
At 19-years-old, Casey Adams is busy building his own brand to new heights in Scottsdale, AZ with a team of young creatives. At 15, things were much different.
“When I was 15 years old, I was almost paralyzed playing football,” Casey recalls. “I was in a neck brace for a little over six months and that’s where I really started to dive into personal development, learning more about social media, and building a personal brand. I started to document my journal as an individual to build a personal brand. Long story short, that negative situation opened me up to a new opportunity and I fell in love with it. Four years later it’s led me to podcasting and I’ve found my voice.”
Recreating a new identity at any age is tough, let alone amidst the insecurities of being a high schooler and the trauma of a life-altering injury. Turning a negative into a positive, Casey dove into his new passion of media and even published his own book on the experience when he was still a student.
“When I first wrote the book, I was just building a brand,” says Casey Adams to Digital Hospitality podcast host Shawn Walchef. “I looked at it as just another piece of content and I wrote about turning your negative situation into a positive outcome.”
The book didn’t make any nationwide best-sellers lists, but it did make a huge impact locally.
“Now, every single semester at my high school they give out the book to the students!”
Rightfully so. The book was designed for the kids who needed it most.
“I wrote it for the young individual that’s lost hope and gone through anything that’s changed their focus. Within 24 hours I had to recreate this new identity and how I looked at the world.”
That book and new identity led to speaking gigs, getting verified on Instagram, and a digital footprint that’s cemented his place in the media world today.
A maven of social media at only 19, Casey Adams grew up on apps like the rest of his generation but has worked hard enough to master and understand them.
“Social media is something we grew up on,” Casey notes of his generation. “I got an Instagram when I was 13. The way that I look at social media, and I think a lot of business owners should listen to this, is we look at it not just from a commerce standpoint we look at it for what’s cool and what’s relevant. We adapt to new technology and social media and the internet is always something that we’ve utilized.”
Five Minutes With Gary Vee:
One person who’s bought into it big is Gary Vaynerchuk – better known as Gary Vee. A pair of seeded sneakers from K-SWISS designed by the entrepreneur and seeded to Casey created a relationship and work-ethic that defines both guru’s prowess in the space.
“I met Gary in March 2018,” Casey tells it. “I was following K-SWISS and they did the Gary Vee sneaker collaboration. The K-SWISS team reached out to me send me an exclusive pair of his sneakers before they dropped because I had a brand and had been doing content in the entrepreneur world. I wore them to high school, and I slid in Gary’s DMs.
“I said, ‘Hey Gary, I absolutely love the sneakers. I’m going to do a photoshoot in the next couple of weeks and I’ll keep you posted on the content. By the way, what would it take to get five minutes of your time in New York?’ He goes, ‘Done, let’s make it happen. DM Tyler.’”
A real-life meeting off an online DM? It gets even better.
“I message Tyler and I schedule a trip to New York to make a five-minute meeting with Gary,” Casey continues. “I was a junior in high school that had a math test on Friday. To go to New York to have a five-minute meeting with Gary meant I had to sacrifice two days of school and my parents getting mad at me.”
High stakes for five minutes, no?
“But that was my investment in my brand at the time!” exclaims Casey. “I had to book a flight, buy a hotel to get five minutes to talk with him, but that’s what I did! I was able to go to his office, connect with him and his team. From that experience I was able to have quality relationships with his team.
“It was literally just shooting a DM and having that brand and content for him to say ‘yes.’ I was just starting a podcast, so I had 40 interviews before that meeting. I had something to talk to him about and allow him to have that mentor moment. He was the catalyst for me reaching out on DMs and doing interviews, do podcasts and put out content.”
Gary Vee, Rick Ross and Larry King are among Casey Adams’ most famous contacts, but his inner circle is the heartbeat of both his life and his brand.
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” says Casey reciting one of his favorite quotes. “I take that to heart.”
Casey’s team is a collection of teens from all over the world, many of whom he’s met through social, that build together and build each other.
“I’ve been utilizing my good friend who’s 16 years old who does all the audio for my podcasting. I have people who edit and upload all my content and it’s all remote,” notes Casey. “I have an office here in Scottsdale but everything I do is mainly remote. Long term, I want to build an in-house team to scale my personal brand. I’ve built so many relationships with quality people online so it’s all remote for now.”
For Casey, his main focus for himself and his team has become his Rise of the Young Podcast. Conversing with anyone and everyone, Casey’s been on his podcast grind for over two years now and he’s on 19.
“The first sixty days I was rushing to have 40 podcasts before my meeting with Gary,” Casey says on the early days and inspiration of the podcast. “For me, my podcast is not about me. My personal brand is about building off the association of others. Every person that may know me they probably found me from someone I collaborated with because I’ve built my brand off association marketing – that’s what I like to call it.”
Association marketing: write that down if you’re at home.
Association Marketing Advice:
Talking with big names in the world of media and more, Casey has been able to make his name bigger just by having it next to those other names. This has led him to major brand growth and an unexpected career evolution.
“I wouldn’t consider myself an interviewer when I started this,” says Casey. “But I love having quality conversations and was curious in other people’s stories. After interviewing Larry King, I’m going to interview people the rest of my life! It opens up so many doors to opportunities.”
Interviews for Casey don’t just keep him curious; they keep him busy and focused.
“For me, when it comes to my posting schedule now, I’ve posted an interview every single day,” notes Casey. “I built a content rolodex of everything I’ve been doing so I’m building up the storyline of all the DMs I had to send to do it. There needs to be a process, a system and a software to do that and that’s what I’m building.”
For Casey that system and software is an app he’s developing to connect people in the podcast world and facilitate the booking process faster than the thousands of DMs he’s sent over the past two years.
It’s in the works, but it all touches back on his humble beginnings.
“I was a 17-year-old kid in my bedroom with a $100 microphone,” remembers Casey. “I had no connections, never been to California, don’t have a social media following, have no outside relationships in business and now I’m sitting down with Larry King in his office in LA. How does that happen?”
We’ll let Casey tell it.
“Because I didn’t focus on the big names first,” Casey explains. “I focused on the people in my network that I had relationships with that were still interesting and had a story. 114 interviews later I finally got that first big name that led me to get six other big names on. I’ve been doing an interview a day and I plan to do that every day until my 20th birthday. It will give me a lot of momentum when I’m launching this new software and I’m excited about that.”
That new software could have the power to connect him and other podcasters to the biggest names in media. So, who is on Casey’s wish list for interviews?
“The Rock, Oprah, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Kevin Hart, all these world class people that would seem impossible.”
While big names in media standout, Casey’s main focus is on the most successful people in business and entrepreneurship.
“I want to interview 12 billionaires this year,” Casey states. “There are only 2,200 billionaires in the world. If I do 12 a year that’s 200 in the next ten years? That means I have relationships with 200 billionaires that can bring me value to my life and vice-versa.”
He has three so far. 97 more and he has next book title in the works. “What I Learned from Interviewing 100 Billionaires.”
Look for that manifesto from Casey Adams to hit shelves in the next two to three years.
For now, he’s living his dream by helping other people his age do the same.
“Why can’t any other young individual not get connected with such high-level people?” Casey asks. “Social media gives all of us the opportunity to connect with anybody, but it’s not going to be easy. You can’t send one DM to The Rock and expect a response, right? But if you figure out who his assistant is and then reach out on email and then follow up in six months and finally get a maybe and then you interview The Rock’s best friend and he finally says yes? Boom! That’s what people don’t see.”
The Hustle and the Flow:
That grind isn’t just a path he’s projecting, it’s one he’s walked.
“I had to go to 12 events just to have the potential to have Larry King on my show.”
Still Casey’s focus is not on Casey, it’s on the youth.
“I want to bridge the gap,” Casey says. “When a young entrepreneur sees this interview it’s relatable. If I could bring the relatability to a younger audience, that’s my leverage and that’s what makes my show different.”
Connecting to a young audience may be what Casey does best. In the last year, Tik-Tok has reached out to Casey for corporate consulting.
“I’ve been working with Tik-Tok for the last eight or nine months with their corporate team and helping brands lay out a strategy on there.”
The main question huge clients have on the social media app the youth is obsessed with? “How can my restaurant utilize TikTok?”
That may seem funny to some, but Casey is wise enough to remember what seemed funny a decade ago.
“That’s the same thing people probably said when Instagram was just getting started or when Facebook originally launched,” Casey notes.
Casey practices what he preaches. He realizes how important it is for brands and businesses to be savvy to the changes and shifts in social media platforms and functions.
“Always be adaptable to social media,” Casey says. “Being ahead of the curve and being there first that brings value to the brand and gives you leverage to generate more sales and have more customers. Things always change on social but it’s better to be early and wrong than late and behind the curve.”
Being ahead of the curve doesn’t just mean adapting to the changes when they come, it means having the handles and domains before you even get off the ground.
“Three years ago, when I bought CaseyAdams.com it was like $900 to buy the domain. It’s real estate at the end of the day,” Casey points out. “That’s real estate for the brand. On Instagram my name is @caseyadams1 and for years I’ve been trying to buy @caseyadams! When starting a brand, every brand should snag up all the domains across social media because that’s my social identity.”
This real estate has real importance in the new age of digital business.
“Building up social credibility is super important,” says Casey. “On Instagram if you’re verified, you’re 10x more likely to get a DM back from someone that you message. That comes down to having the right PR, the right digital footprint, the Google Knowledge panel.”
Take notes here.
“If you Google your business what comes up?” Casey asks business owners. “It’s super important from an SEO perspective to be everywhere. My two main platforms are Instagram and my podcast, but I’m still everywhere. For now, I’m not spending my time on things that don’t bring in ROI for me, but at the same time I’m there.”
Casey Adams’ Tips for Success
- Follow Your Gut – Your passion will take you further than any guidance, books or advice. Do what you love, and you’ll love doing it. The more you love it, the more you’ll learn and grow your passion.
- Invest in Your Passion – Let’s not forget that Casey’s learning of social media all started when he was 15 years old in a neck brace. Casey was humble and hungry enough to turn pain into passion and learn all he could. Reading up, buying domains and starting from scratch laid the foundation for where Casey is today.
- Grow Your Network – Casey is self-made. When embarking on his podcast, he began with his close network of friends, expanded that into a brand and used the leverage of his team’s hard work to have the credibility to land the big interviews. Despite all the success, Casey is still growing his network and paving a way for others to do the same.
- Establish Your Digital Footprint – You are who Google says your are as a brand and a business. By buying domains, getting verified on several platforms and doing a slew of podcasts to tell his story, Casey Adams is thriving on the web because he’s put in the work all over it.
- Shoot Your Shot – Casey Adams is humble, but he’s not shy. By sending out DMs as kind as a ‘thank you’ or as brave as an ask, he’s been able to connect with everyone from Gary Vee to Larry King. Pursue who you want to work with, reach out to all available access points and continue to do the work. This recipe has worked for Casey and it can work for you.
How to Build Social Footprints:
For Casey, his brand is strong and he’s constantly widening his path.
“Always look for ways to build more social footprints because that compounded over time is how you truly build a brand,” Casey points out. “It’s something you can’t do overnight, you can’t shortcut the process by hiring the best team, you have to put in the work and do what it takes to build that social footprint.”
Planning, strategy and outreach are all important for Casey and his podcast. Much of it happens over Instagram.
“For me, every Saturday I try to take some time to reach out to 20-30 people to have on my show for the next two weeks,” Casey says. “As much as I’m reaching out to people to get on my show, I get 20, 50, 100 requests a month to be on other people’s shows. When I scroll through someone’s page and I can see they’re doing the work to build a brand? I tend to say ‘yes.’”
What makes Casey say ‘yes’ when asked to join a podcast that’s perhaps smaller or has less reach?
“I don’t care about the followers, I don’t care about statistics,” says Casey. “I care about the person that’s putting out the content and actually building the brand. I try to say ‘yes’ to maybe ten people a month. If I go to my DMs and I see someone that’s been consistent with me? I’ll say ‘yes.’ It all comes down to my goals in the moment. I think for anyone that’s looking to promote you need to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no.’ At the end of the day, if you do 30 podcasts and they all come up when they Google your name? That will build your brand and that’s important.”
Approaching 20 years of age, Casey has grown a lot as a person and as a brand in the last four years. He’s quick to realize that the love and support of his parents backed by his passion and work ethic made it all possible.
“My intentions were always right,” Casey reflects on his high school start. “For me to go to LA to a business event at 16 traveling alone? That’s so scary as a parent. But my parents knew my intention and my heart was right. They knew I was going for the right purpose and they let me do me. I was mature enough to make my own money and I wasn’t asking for things, so I was able to double-down on what was right.”
Live Your Dreams:
So, what advice would Casey give to parents who want to see their kid live their own dreams?
“Everyone has their idea of what they want for their kids,” Casey is quick to note. “I’m just so grateful that my parents gave me some runway to experiment. If I went to college and delayed moving out by four years? I would’ve missed out on 200 interviews. For me, coming from a small town that’s Richmond, VA, my parents had never been to California. I’d never been on an airplane until I could afford it myself, so I was so hungry. If you have a young son or daughter who is motivated let them spark that fire inside and see where that passion goes. They will create their life and you don’t want to box them into something that you think is right for them.”
Create his own life is what Casey has done. He realizes too talking to other successful entrepreneurs that’s it’s a common thread.
“The people that really win big are the people that really follow their gut and don’t let other people dictate their life for them.”
Casey Adams is following his gut and amassing a following of young people who are now inspired to do the exact same thing.
— This article was written by Cali BBQ Media Creator Ian Stonebrook. Follow Ian on Instagram @ianstonebrook and let him know you liked it!
Casey Adams Online:
Here’s the article mentioned in this episode about how much podcasters make: https://lime.link/blog/how-much-money-do-podcasters-make/
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