5 Lessons from Nas Daily

Photo credit: Snir Kazir

World-renowned Arab Israeli video blogger shares best practices at ROI Community Summit

By Maayan Hoffman
eJewish Philanthropy

Nuseir Yassin, 27, best known as “Nas Daily,” has made more than 1,000 videos in 55 countries. He has helped quell watchers’ anxiety, stopped viewers’ from committing suicide and directly inspired at least 14 million people through his daily – now weekly – travel blog videos.

Nas, as he likes to be called, spoke at the ROI Community Summit in June. He shared how he went from being a poor Arab from Arrabe in the Lower Galilee, to a Harvard graduate, then a software engineer at PayPal making $120,000 a year, and finally to a world-renowned video blogger making $1 million a year.

The story can be boiled down into five lessons, applicable for any young leader on his or her path to success:

Lesson 1: Do something meaningful

Nas got his start after “wanting to escape” from his Arab village to the United States. He applied to Harvard at the age of 19, seeking a degree in aerospace engineering and receiving a scholarship. He said that he thinks he got accepted based on his application essay, which detailed his struggle to achieve his dreams, being an Arab born in Israel.

He graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering in 2014 and took a $120,000-a-year job at PayPal as a software engineer.

“I was overpaid and under-worked, single in New York City and having the time of my life,” he recalled. “Then one day I asked myself: Nas, you are having the time of your life, but when are you going to die?”

He calculated that at 24 years old, he was 32% or “one-third dead.”

“When I realized that, I was like, ‘Crap! I need to do something!’” he said. “So, I decided to spend the remaining 68% of my life doing things I am proud of and meeting as many people as possible.”

He quit his job on April 8. On April 9, he decided the “something” that he was going to do was make a video every day. He then started Nas Dailynas means people in Arabic – with a camera and determination. 

Lesson 2: Don’t give up

“You rarely see the failures or hardships behind successful companies,” Nas said at ROI, noting that to get where he is today, he “had to go through a lot of pain,” such as loneliness, and face many fears, such as losing energy or being dependent on Facebook, which could close down any time.

“One day, I got one million views on a Facebook video, and then I looked around my South Korean hotel room and I was by myself, feeling cold, sick and lonely – and I had no one to share it with,” he said. “This is true for anyone who invests a lot of time doing hard work: You will have no friends left and no one to share the success with when you make it big.”

If you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, to take another meeting, your project will fail, he continued.

Another day, he slept all day in a Myanmar hospital room he was renting for $10 a night. The air-conditioning was loud and annoying, and he couldn’t bring himself to get out of bed. He lay there with two hours of daylight left, thinking maybe he should just skip a day. 

“What do I do, give up or suck it up?” Nas asked himself. He got out of bed and made his 350th video.

“This is the reason Nas Daily succeeded – I always got up no matter what happened,” he said. “You are not born with success.”

Lesson 3: Don’t be a clown

Nas said never to be afraid of resistance. Opposition often means you are doing something right.

He said that he has 14 million “lovers” today, but that means he has around 3 million “haters” – and he is OK with that.

“No one hates a clown,” he said. “But if you are a clown, you are nothing. ‘Nothing’ gets zero opposition. The more opposition I got, especially in this region, it meant the more I needed to keep going.”

By this region, he meant the Middle East. Nas has decided seven percent – 70 videos – to issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Lesson 4: Tell the story

In today’s world, telling the story and what happened is just as important as doing it, according to Nas. 

“Dedicate at least 50% of your life to telling the story,” he said.

Lesson 5: Be hard on yourself

Nas said that arrogance not only detracts from one’s accomplishments but can destroy them.

“You should be hard on yourself,” he said. “I grew up in Arrabe where no one cares what you have to say. [Then], overnight, millions of people were listening to what I had to say.”

Nonetheless, he told eJP that he tries to always think, “No one cares about you, Nas.

“My girlfriend puts me down a lot and I love that,” he continued, noting that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Bonus lesson: Do it fast and do it often

Nas made 1,000 videos. His first 300 failed. He was losing money and felt very alone. Soon, there was a turning point.

Additionally, he said to work fast – “if it took me six months to make my first video, I never would have done it.” 

Nas’s father is a psychologist. He told his son about how a professor he knew did an experiment with his students, whereby he split them into two groups. He asked the first group to write as many books as possible in 45 days. He asked the second group to write one good book in 45 days.

After the end of the month and a half, the first group had written 30 books and the second group had written one big book.

“The group with the better book was the first group, because they had tried so many times,” Nas said.

And remember, he added, “if you make a mistake, don’t stop. You can fix it tomorrow.”