WIRED 2015: Next Generation is our annual event dedicated to inspiring young minds, where innovators aged 12 to 18 years old gather at London’s Tobacco Dock for talks, hands-on workshops and Q&As. For more from the event head to our WIRED NexGen Hub.
You suck, but that’s absolutely fine.
That’s the inspirational advice that Tom Ridgewell, better known as YouTube star TomSka, gave the audience at WIRED NexGen today.
The comedy video-maker has 3.8 million followers on his YouTube channel, and one of his early videos has more than 52 million views after ten years online — despite it not being his best work, according to Ridgewell himself.
And that’s okay. Ridgewell gave five pieces of advice on finding success in whatever you want to do, or as he called it: Five Inspiring Things To Inspire You And Hopefully Make You Want To Do Stuff, or the unwieldy but catchy #5ittiyahmywtds.
One tip was that it’s okay to start imperfectly. “Start off terrible, make a lot of terrible stuff, that’s how you get there. Embrace that and don’t let it get you down,” he said. “You can’t make something okay until you’ve made something that’s bad.”
However, he warned: “Do challenge that, don’t live there. You do suck, but you need to try to get better.”
And just as you might suck, don’t forget that others might too: you’re surrounded by idiots, Ridgewell said. Keep that in mind to help you overcome doubt. “If they can do it, you can too,” he said. “That’s a little empowering thought: there’s always an idiot waiting for you. If there’s anything you want to do, always remember there’s an idiot that’s already done it.”
However, he added: “If there aren’t any idiots in your life, it might be you.”
The next tip was don’t play by the rules. “If you just follow the rules, you’ll be fine,” he said, but you’ll be boring. “But you don’t have to play by the rules.” Being creative requires doing things differently. “Do the cool thing and steer your life in that direction.”
Ridgewall also advised would-be creative types to see the world as your kitchen. “I am a chef, the world is a kitchen, and everything inside it is an ingredient,” he said. By that, he means to look around you for the tools to achieve your goal, such as help from friends, your own skills and ideas, and rides in the car from parents.
With that in mind, his fifth tip is “don’t ever be afraid to use people”, especially if they’re better at something than you.
Alongside his more general advice for life, Ridgewell gave one piece of practical advice for would-be video stars: use any camera, but get a good microphone. “I started with a camera that’s probably about ten times worse than the one in my phone,” he said. “Bad sound will make anyone close a video in three seconds flat. Get a good microphone before you get a good camera.”