Choosing a Healthy Cadence in a World of Infinite Content
My Busted Knee
Back in 2019 I was on top of the world. I had just wrapped up a 2-year journey with 19 other men called Rhythm in Twenty (Ri20), and I was now standing on a rocky outcropping in the Colorado Rockies overlooking Estes Park reminiscing about the journey. As I turned to catch up with my friends, the unthinkable happened – a pain like I’ve never experienced surged through my knee causing me to temporarily black out and fall. Somehow, I managed to have the wherewithal to hold onto my camera and not drop it, but it didn’t matter. The real damage was in my knee, and now I was stuck in the mountains with no way to walk.
Fortunately, thanks to the friends that were with me and some Good Samaritans passing by, we made it down the mountain and to the car. I even made it to an ER to get checked out AND made it to my plane on time!
When I got back home, I discovered that I had dislocated my kneecap, pulled some tendons, and chipped some bone in the process… so I needed surgery. One surgery turned into two, and the second one was one of the last ones before the big lockdown in 2020. It was not an experience I’d recommend to anyone; although, it did make lockdown a lot less boring.
Due to the surgeries and recovery times, my leg atrophied; essentially rendering me unable to safely run. This presents a big problem when you’re the father of two young children. Running is essential to ensuring their survival. Thankfully, they hadn’t out-walked me yet, but I knew my days were limited. So, at the beginning of this year, I went back to PT. I spent the past 6 months building up my leg and getting an atrophied muscle to come alive again. It’s not been easy, but it’s been worth it. At the end of June, I was finally discharged and cleared to run.
With the “hard part” over, I now had a looming, harder problem ahead of me. Now I’m responsible for keeping my leg in shape and continuing to recover. It’s not been an easy road, but I keep going.
I’ve also been embarrassed. I’m competitive, and I like to be “on top” when I can. Seeing my friend’s numbers on my Apple Fitness App has been simultaneously motivating and depressing. My running times are AWEFUL right now. Granted, I’ve always hated running (and never been that great), but now I need it for my own physical well-being. So, I’m doing my best to find joy in this journey.
This week while running I had an epiphany: My running data doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that I’m finding my cadence. If I keep working on finding that, the running will continue to improve. It doesn’t matter what my numbers are because I’m on my own path and doing the best I can to keep moving. That thought was liberating, and it made the rest of my run so much easier.
Later that morning, I sat down at my desk and was immediately distracted by a YouTube video from Linus Tech Tips (LTT). Simply titled, “What do we do now?” it was an apology video for some recent blunders the company made regarding a product review. This was quite the snafu, to say the least, and the 21-minute video features their entire leadership team apologizing and explaining what they’ll do to make things better for the company they wronged, their viewers, and plans for future content production as a result of the snafu.
Now, I’m not here to harp on LTT for all the blunders in the video (of which there are many things that would make any PR professional cringe), their litany of errors, or their specific situation which prompted the video to be created in the first place. What I am here to highlight is a bigger problem facing all content creators: We live in a world of infinite content that will be infinitely unsatisfied. Metrics, sponsors, and monetization drive creators to be constantly making new content on increasingly insane schedules.
If you’re lucky enough to make it to the top, you can be like Mr. Beast and work all the time! In a recent interview with Colin & Samir, he advocates for a good work-life balance before describing how hard he pushes to create the content he does. Check out the clip for context.
(That interview is definitely worth a watch in full, by the way)
Being at the top means churning out good content all the time, and that’s not easy. As Mr. Beast himself says, it leads to mental breakdowns. From the interview, it sounds like he has learned how to cope, but he works so dang hard. By way of example, if you’ve got the time, I recommend watching Colin & Samir’s behind the scenes video where they follow Mr. Beast at the launch of the first Beast Burgers store. It shows you just how much work and pressure the man is under on a daily basis.
Over and over again in the LTT apology video, they blame the core issue on the production cadence. It turns out that they create as many as 25 YouTube videos a week, and knowing how much time goes into creating a good video from what we do here at HumblePod, that’s an insane amount of content produced in such a short timeframe. I would argue that Linus is probably in a similar fugue state to Mr. Beast most weeks and is just buried in production work.
However, that is no excuse for their recent issues. Unlike Mr. Beast, who does mostly entertainment-focused videos, LTT’s channel is all about reviewing tech gear, and so their content has to maintain a high level of accuracy. That is difficult to do when you’re pumping out 25 videos a week though. And, as their provided production workflow states (see screenshot), it appears they only have one place in the entire process for content review by their technical team, and no steps after said review on how to resolve any issues. Per their own chart, it looks like the review is more of a formality than a stopgap to prevent mistakes… So of course they’re going to have errors in their videos.
The real irony of the whole thing is that they make multiple mistakes in the video which was to apologize for their mistakes. And it’s all stuff that could have been resolved by properly reviewing the content to ensure edits had been made. It’s all just evidence of a company culture that’s more focused on getting the content out quickly than it is on accuracy or taking the time to fix mistakes. It’s like they took “fix it in post” to “fix it post-post, and apologize if needed.” It’s not a good look, but it happens all the time, and they kept doing it because they hadn’t made any serious mistakes… until they made such a huge blunder that it warranted a (blundered) apology video.
Unfortunately, this is more common than just LTT. It turns out that the demand for infinite content becomes infinitely more important than accuracy because you’ve gotta keep up with the machine.
Not everyone is going to hit the numbers Mr. Beast or LTT does though, and that’s okay. Remember: if the demand is infinite, that means the work will always be there, too. Taking a day, week, month, or year to find the right cadence for you is a good thing, and nobody should be shamed for not feeding the infinite content machine.
We all run at different cadences. Not everyone is a marathon runner like Mr. Beast or LTT. Some of us are just working on our first 5k, or, like me back in June, just trying to run again for at least five minutes! Some may never want to even run a marathon. They make get plenty of joy from just getting out and running for a few miles.
Regardless of what your pace is when it comes to content production, what matters is that you find a cadence that you can support. I can speak firsthand to the fact that constant production takes a toll on you and the people around you. After all, it’s the norm in this industry to just push yourself until you’re completely bled dry. The creators that are most idolized and worshipped tend to be the ones who “hustle” the most and have their finger on the pulse of content creation. Taking time off, then, almost becomes almost like a mortal sin… and that leads to creating a company culture of guilt and shame that just spirals into burnout, mistakes, and errors.
Choosing A Healthy Cadence
In running, if you’re starting to feel a strain where you shouldn’t, it’s okay to slow your pace or take some extra time to recover and stretch. Believe me, your body is not infinitely getting stronger to meet the demands of your self-imposed workout schedule. As I enter the latter part of my 30’s, I’m feeling this more and more. Things do NOT get better, kids.
The same should be true for production. Take time for your mental health. Breathe. Make sure you’re not moving so fast that you’re making serious mistakes. For instance, take the time to review that content before it goes out the door and make sure you don’t, hypothetically, include information you were requested to not disclose IN THE APOLOGY VIDEO. Take the time to think, “Do we really need to make inappropriate sex jokes in an apology video?” or, “Do we think it’s wise to joke about (and name-drop) a sponsor who offered to buy an ad on this apology video?” An insane production pace leads to mistakes like that, and a culture not built around rest and being willing to breathe will eventually break you… or the company.
Nobody is impervious to injury, and even a marathoner’s knees can wear down. Just like the stressors of keeping up with a big production schedule eventually wore down the team at LTT. Over time, all it takes is one wrong twist and SNAP your knee is busted and you’re out of the race for good. Don’t be that runner. Your body and team will thank you for it in the end.
As a final example, I have another bit of sad news I heard this week. The production team of Bluey has officially announced they are taking a break after three seasons.
Why!? (some of you may scream into the void)
Because production is intense (they made 154 episodes in about 4 years!), and the pressure to perform when you’re creating an award-winning show that is beloved by kids and their parents is high. They want to make the best show they possibly can, and they know they can’t do that if they’re constantly working on the show.
Don’t worry though. They will be back with a Season 4 at some point in the not-too-distant future. For now though, they are resting up, and if it keeps them excited, engaged, and creating excellent content for my children (and me), I’m willing to wait. It’s better than having a busted knee.