On Content People, host Meredith Farley interviews creative professionals and leaders to get a behind-the-scenes look at their career experiences and turn that into actionable advice for listeners. Tune in to hear from experts in various media, and get inspired to find contentment in your own creative career.
Episode #13 Summary
Caroline Winkler is a YouTube content creator who covers a bit of everything, from interior design to poetry. With Content People’s creator and host, Meredith Farley, Caroline chats about the compulsive honesty on her channel, how her passion influenced her career choices and more.
On this episode of Content People, I chat with Caroline Winkler, creator of a YouTube channel that’s been described as “just vibes.”
We both agree that this is the perfect way to capture what Caroline calls “compulsive honesty.” She’s authentically herself on her channel, and though she covers everything from interior design and exercise to poetry and creativity, each topic reflects a core part of her personality.
Here are a few more things we discuss:
- Juggling a full-time career and creative work on the side.
- How work ethic, talent, inspiration and luck all play an important role in successful creative endeavors.
- How vulnerability can help you succeed.
- The ups and downs of content creation and editing.
- The worst trends in office decor (including motivational posters).
Thanks for listening!
– Meredith Farley, Creator and Host of Content People
More Content for Content People
Caroline’s channel: Whether you’re after interior design, healthy eating or anything else, Caroline has YouTube videos for you.
Brafton: No motivational posters here — just a digital marketing newsletter full of real inspiration.
Meredith’s newsletter: Check out Meredith’s newsletter (also called Content People).
Meredith Farley: Hey, everyone, and welcome to Content People.Tune in to hear from creatives, leaders, and experts in various media. I’m your host, Meredith Farley.
Ian Servin: And I’m the show’s producer, Ian Servin.
Meredith: Hey, Ian.
Okay, so today’s episode is with Caroline Winkler. I love Caroline’s work, and I was so glad when she was down to talk to us. Caroline’s first and foremost a YouTuber. Over the past few years, her channel has grown a lot, and she now has more than 400,000 subscribers. Caroline also just started her own podcast called Not For Everyone, which we talked about a little bit on the show. When she started on YouTube, her focus was interior design videos, and that’s how I found her.
But over the past few months, she started to branch out into more personal content, and her following, me, definitely included, is really here for it. I’ve learned a lot about interior design from Caroline through her videos, but I have also really admired her approach to content and how she’s built out her own very authentic and unique brand.
Ian: Absolutely. And I feel like that authenticity is so key on YouTube, and we spent a lot of time talking with Caroline about how important that community building aspect is on the platform and how her content has changed over time, and how it’s focused on building that relationship with her viewers who have given her permission to be more experimental and really create a lot of different types of content to follow her own interests and passions, while ultimately still keeping that original audience and growing that connection over time.
Meredith: Yeah, she shared so much. We had a really great conversation. We hope that you enjoy.
Meredith: Hi, Caroline. Thank you so much for doing this episode with me.
Caroline Winkler: Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored and delighted.
Meredith: I’m a Caroline super-fan, so it is a pleasure for me. So our plan is we’re going to talk about you, get in a little deeper behind the scenes around your channel, and talk about your new podcast, Not For Everyone, which I listened to and really love. And then if we get to play Smash or Pass on Office Decor, which was inspired by your Smash or Pass holiday decor video.
Caroline: Sounds good. That sounds great.
Meredith: So for folks who aren’t familiar with you or your YouTube channel, could you tell them a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Caroline: Sure. Yeah. I keep having to change my elevator pitch because the channel has changed a lot since I started, but I started a YouTube channel just about two years ago, and it started with all kind of DIY interior design content. I had really just an amateur interest. That was the content I was watching on YouTube all the time, and I was like, after watching it for a while, I was like, I think I could do this. I think it would be fun. And that’s how my channel started, definitely with interior design.
And then I realized there are so many other things I cared about sharing on YouTube, and so it’s really transformed. It’s a little bit of lifestyle stuff now. I do some video essays these days, and those changes, they happened organically, but ultimately, I think it might seem like a wide spectrum of content on the channel now, but it captures me pretty well, mostly because interior design was like the fourth career I had. It’s what I started YouTube with, but it was like maybe the thing I know least about in the world.
So it’s funny that I’ve had to backtrack out of that a little bit, retaining some design, but mixing in all these other things I care about. Yeah, it’s hard to describe it though, people. I once ran into a viewer, and she was like, oh, I love your YouTube channel. I ran into her on the street somewhere, and then I was with another friend who didn’t even know how to YouTube channel, and she was like, oh, what is your YouTube channel about? And I turned to the viewer who I just met, and I was like, I don’t know how to describe it. What would you say? And she was like, it’s just vibes. It’s just vibes.
Meredith: I have to feel like I have a lot of questions off the back of that, because I do think that’s a really interesting part of the channel. And I feel like people, me included, are really as much fans or more of just fans of you as they are your content. So what does that feel like, and how does knowing that impact what you decided to create and share?
Caroline: Yeah, that’s interesting. I do feel like there are two main ways, two very broad buckets, that creators go in general, probably on most platforms. One is viewers are there for the idea behind your content, the information, that’s a lot of tutorial stuff, or whatever that is, and then the other, is more relationship based, and I think I started as one, and I’ve become the other. But it took time. I was definitely afraid starting out.
I wanted to bring more of my personality to videos for a long time. Before I actually did, I was scared to. I thought people, they’re just here for the interior design. I get it. They don’t know me, and when you start out making any kind of content, people don’t know you. Why would they? They’re friends, so I think it is important to start with more of an idea, like more objective value. But I wanted to start making vlogs. There are so many other things I wanted to share, and I was really afraid to make that transition, and then I accidentally got permission from viewers. At one point, I made a video about apartment hunting, and it was related to design, but it was definitely the most personal of my videos up until that point, and then people started commenting do more vlogs, do more of that, and it was such a funny moment because I’d wanted to do vlogs for so long, but felt like I couldn’t, or people would reject it, or no one would watch, and then there’s this funny moment of getting permission.
So that was like the big turning point where I think I started bringing more of myself into videos, and there are a bunch of, there have continued to be different milestones with videos where I’m like, I have no idea if people will watch this. I have no idea, and we will see, because it’s so different from everything else, but ultimately, people talk about niches a lot with content, and I do think that the niche is probably more like who your audience is, and not just like interior design. Because if I think about me and my friends who like interior design, a lot of them also like a bunch of other stuff. They also are into therapy. They also are into fashion. I don’t do fashion, but they also are into exercise. So those subjects seem very different, but the people who watch them, usually, we don’t just have one interest, so I go by if I’m really interested in it, and I think I actually have something valuable to say about it, then I think someone out there will watch it. I think enough people in my audience will watch it, and that’s how I define the niche now, if there is one.
Meredith: That is really interesting. One thing I was curious about was, I really appreciate about you and the work and ideas you put out there, is that it doesn’t seem to me like you’re putting yourself in a box.
You let yourself be an actress, a UX designer, a YouTube content creator, a podcaster, talk about working out, writing poems, and you make great content about interior design, and you seem to let yourself be all of those things instead of, at least from the outside, seeming to feel a pressure to define yourself as one thing so that you can then market that one thing, and I was wondering, how do you think you define a Caroline brand? Your audience is probably a demographic, and so you’re free to talk about whatever seems of mutual interest about you and that, right?
Caroline: For the most part, I guess there is, there probably is some kind of brand. This sounds so cheesy, but I do think, I hate using the word authentic. But it’s like compulsive honesty. It’s like compulsive confessions, and I feel like is often the through line. Even if the topic changes, just me compulsively sharing what I actually think, whether those thoughts are flawed or embarrassing or exploratory or I don’t know what the answer is, I do think that’s the through line that brings people back based on what I read in the comments.
I would never have guessed that, but that’s what I’ve come to learn, and that’s also who I am. So it’s not a brand in that like I’ve created an alter ego, but I do use that kind of as the guiding principle, which maybe that sounds really vague, but I will say of all those different parts of me you named, there’s one or two in there that don’t have a big part on YouTube, for example. I had a more legitimate career as a web developer and UX designer than I ever did as an interior designer. I worked for interior designers and I had clients on my own, but I really have more experience in software development, and yet I don’t think I have anything interesting to say about it. I don’t think my audience really cares. I don’t think I have a particular talent to bring there.
So that is one thing where like I could bring it to the YouTube channel more, but that’s something that I draw the line at because I’m like, I don’t really think I have anything special to say, even though people do sometimes ask for those videos. So that’s how I sort through things, do I have something genuine and maybe new to say, whether it’s well-informed or not.
Meredith: That makes sense. I’m glad you brought up the UX career because until fairly recently, you were balancing both the channel and your career intact. How did you manage that balance? And do you have advice for creators who are still straddling a full-time day job and rewarding but time-consuming creative work on the side?
Caroline: I definitely have opinions, yes. I will say that I feel like I’ve done all versions of this. I’ve pursued a creative career when I was an actor and all the pressure was on that, all of my income had to come from that or I had to figure out of nowhere how to pay my rent and that I don’t recommend because it just puts a different kind of pressure on the passion and this precious thing you want to protect and you want to give a very pure kind of energy to as soon as you have the pressure of relying on it for income. It can really warp things and get in the way of you, I think, making the best thing that you can make. So then later, yeah, I was working my tech job and it was very time-intensive to balance that with YouTube.
I did both for about maybe a year. I did both for a year. I will say, full disclosure, I was working like 90 to 100 hour a week. It was very difficult and also I think it was the best thing for me to do for a short period of time because it took that pressure off of YouTube needing to provide an income immediately. I just had the chance to explore and do what I loved and if you’re creating content, I do think if you don’t love doing it, you’re going to be really tired because it’s tiring. I think it was helpful to protect it as something I loved and something I was having fun exploring. And at the same time that year, I barely saw my family. I barely saw my friends and it was really, that really weighed on me.
I felt honestly pretty guilty about that and that was the biggest motivator to wrap that period up. But I knew there was an end to it. I knew it wasn’t going to go on forever and although you’re really tired working those kinds of hours, it’s also energizing. To me, I was so much more tired putting in 30 minutes in my software development work than working till 5 a.m. on a YouTube video. One is energizing and I would still be up. I couldn’t go to sleep. I couldn’t stop editing because you care about this thing. So that is a great feeling. I think that’s really good feedback if you feel that. I think the key would just be, for me, as a perfectionist, it was really important to learn where I was happy to cut corners and I cut a lot of corners in my day job. I relinquished this need to be the absolute best employee. I was a good employee. I don’t want to let people down but I don’t need to get an A-plus anymore, especially because I intended it to end at some point.
Where you can do the minimum, I’d pick that. I figured that out and I think, yeah, just having an end to the sprint in sight or knowing what those benchmarks are for you, like that you would be willing to quit, that you would be willing to cut down. I also talked to my employers at my tech job and eventually got on a schedule where I was only working 30 hours a week. So that was like, they were really supportive. It was a culture where they supported people pursuing their outside projects or they supported parents who wanted to spend more time with their kids and things like that. So that was really fortunate. I know not every job will give you that. But it can’t hurt to ask if there are things that, I don’t know, to change your schedule or change your hours a little bit to make that sprint a little more survivable. And I just try to find those things. But it was a lot of work and I disappeared from society for a year, I would say.
Meredith: It’s interesting and it makes sense to think of that as like an intentional sprint as opposed to just the reality you were living with at that time. But congratulations on making the full-time transition.
You have had such a period of like growth and popularity. I think you have almost like 400K subscribers as of now though every time I look it’s more. I think a lot of creators really dream about getting the kind of numbers and subscribers you have. Why do you think that the channel has been so successful for you?
Caroline: It’s a tricky question. After I will say, I think there are a lot of things I’ve done right. But also because I had previous careers where I was the same person, I had the same work ethic, I had the same quote-unquote talent or offerings and those careers like didn’t go anywhere. Those performance careers didn’t take off. I know because of that, I know that there is luck that comes into play. I know that working hard and thinking you have something to offer, it doesn’t guarantee anything unfortunately. So I am aware of that.
I think there’s luck at play for sure. And also YouTube does seem to have a little more meritocracy to it. You can look at the numbers and see when someone left your video, when someone stopped being engaged and if you’re willing to make those changes. I feel like I really did pay attention to those kind of metrics and analytics up top, figuring out how to pack as much value as possible into a video and make them tighter and just really hard to click out of because you’re feeling compelled. I think the first thing I learned was just how to put what I thought of as value in every single second.
And I think in my earlier videos, the value could be like interior design information, it could be a funny joke, it could be something that’s visually aesthetically pleasing to look at a montage or a DIY project or whatever, but every moment had to be packed end to end with one of these values. And then I think the other big thing is actually, again, so lame, but I do say things or I’ve become comfortable slowly saying things on YouTube that I think a lot of people won’t say or that is at least less common to say. And that to me is like low hanging fruit because A, it’s my genuine personality. I’ve always gotten in trouble for saying things that upset people or that shock people. That’s who I am.
And B, YouTube can be so censored and like YouTubers can be, everything can be so PG and so safe because it’s the internet and sometimes it feels scary to say something risky, which means that if you are willing to say something risky or not for the shock value, but because it’s honest and you’re willing to put it out there and people resonate with it, I think it stands out a lot more. I think in that way, it’s easier. That’s to me like an easy way to stand out, but it does involve taking risk.
And I feel like I’ve taken a couple risks, some that have given me sleepless nights and sometimes they have good returns. Sometimes they don’t.
Meredith: Interesting. Yeah. Your videos are never, ever bland. And I don’t think as a viewer, I just appreciated that. I never really thought about the risks behind it. Are you comfortable sharing? What are some of the videos that afterwards you were or maybe before you felt like, I don’t know about this one. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it.
Caroline: Yeah. It can even be little things. So it doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking. A really small one would, yeah, this isn’t mind blowing, but I really debated over including my mistakes and my imperfections, even with interior design. When I started, there is definitely this pressure to like present as an expert and present with authority, but like I’m not an expert, I don’t have any authority, why am I doing that? And ironically, the thing people connect with more, if they’re tuning into my channel for interior design, help, they want to see a human figuring it out and stumbling through and they want to see something they can relate to because that’s how everybody feels in their home…. I hung up this thing. I don’t know if it’s right. My grandma gave it to me. It’s ugly. That’s reality or, I got these curtains and they’re like a foot too short and that looks pretty dumb, but I’m living on a budget and I’m going to deal with it.
And letting even the interior design be a little less polished felt, it’s so funny to say looking back, but it felt like I really had to, I was really worried that would discredit me, but I think it actually became like a point of comfort for people and a point of like resonance. And then they’re probably, for me, one of the like bigger risks to me was probably in a more recent video, which was much more personal and I was talking about eating habits and like what healthy eating means to me, completely unrelated to interior design, first of all, is anyone going to watch this video? I don’t know. I did. You didn’t bless you. People watched it. I think it’s actually, I think it’s like one of the, my best performing videos recently, but again, I was like, is anyone going to, why would they, this has nothing to do with anything, but it was something I cared about.
And it’s actually, everyone thinks about eating and their relationship to food. It’s like a fraught conversation and I personally have a very fraught relationship with it. And that conversation with my own difficult history, that was so stressful for me to talk about. That was like the most, I filmed this video on a whim. I was just overcome with inspiration to film it. And then when I sat down to edit, I think I like truly went insane. I was so stressed about it. I regretted the whole thing and I ended up being really proud of the video I put out, but it was a really difficult conversation for me. I had no idea if anyone would hear what I was trying to say, if anyone would watch, if they would attack me for it. And I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about that, like it, that video did well. It was, people were supportive. I got really positive feedback and it like cost me so much emotionally that I’m not sure I would do it again. So I don’t know.
Meredith: I watched that video. It really resonated with me. I absolutely loved it. We can link it in the show notes and just sure, if someone, if anyone listening is curious and hasn’t watched it, it was I’d say the headline was like calling BS on a lot of those “what you eat”, like bloggers or celebrities giving their what they eat in the day. Essentially, which I think you mean, it’s always they only eat green juice and or they eat 5,000 calories and you’re like, I don’t think that’s what you eat every day. I don’t think either one is true.
Meredith: I just have so many things to say off the back of what you said, but just I’m trying to collect my thought on it. I am so interested in that final bit, which is that yes, it was successful and yes, it resonated with people, but you’re also mindful of how much it cost you and you don’t know if it was worth it. And that is fascinating and something that I love your perspective on that because I think there are a fair number of folks or creators who might say, but it turned out the numbers were good.
So it was a black and white success as opposed to this was this cause, if someone, if you were like, racked with anxiety for those days, what was that cost to you? And yeah, also when you’re talking about the fact that you allow yourself to be imperfect in the videos as opposed to presenting yourself as just the an expert who never makes a misstep. I feel like for me, that is what made them so accessible. And I feel like you are the only resource for interior design that I have ever engaged with that I actually came away, feeling like I get it a little bit more, I understand it.
And I think it’s because you would talk through, the practical, like you talk through your thought process. And then when you did make a mistake, you’d show it, like you’d be like the wallpaper of a head of the molding or whatever at home. And I appreciate that because I feel like when, if I’m in the midst of those projects and I inevitably screw it up, I start to feel like no one else screws this up and like my inner critic gets really strong. And then it’s really demotivating and I’ll be like that’s it, like this room will never look good. I’m bad at this.
Caroline: Oh yeah.
Meredith: And like you are so good at, you have beautiful results. But the fact that you’re so honest about sometimes not being sure about it or needing to sit with it for a while or wishing you did things in a different order makes them more accessible. But I also understand what you’re saying because I think when I’m talking about management or leadership, sometimes I also have, I’m compulsively honest in a way that later on I shouldn’t say that, so it is really hard. It’s, I don’t know, I’m just, I appreciate you sharing that. I’m really grateful. And one audience member of yours that I can do, but it’s interesting to think of a cause that has for you and I understand what you’re saying there too.
Caroline: Yeah. Oh, I appreciate hearing all that so much. It’s funny. I think I spent so much time like when I was in my tech job, I spent so much energy repressing or trying to hide my insecurities and my self-doubt and it, like that took more energy than anything. It was, it took all of my energy and eventually I stopped, eventually I would just, I stopped filtering it. I would just tell my boss how bad I was. I was just like, because it takes more energy for me to suppress it, like I don’t care anymore. And that didn’t work well in that job, but the vulnerability, it does work on YouTube. I don’t know, I’m familiar with that debate of okay, the honest truth doesn’t have a place everywhere at all times. Like sometimes you have to gloss over it a little bit to survive, but it’s been, I think it’s been pretty important for me to find a place where that works because it’s I can’t keep my mouth shut, basically. Yeah.
Meredith: Similarly, I have, and I’m curious about you, have you ever had experiences where you felt like in hindsight, you were glad that you were honest and vulnerable about something and actually maybe proud of, that it took a little strength to be that way. But you also then felt like someone maybe, no, I’m just talking my own shit out, but I’m like, vulnerability, people mistake for weakness and then take a different attitude or approach. And then I have to really, then I have to take some corrective actions and be like, just because I was open about fearing X, Y, Z way does not mean that you are now in a position to treat me in that way. Does that make sense?
Caroline: A hundred percent. It makes sense. I’m so familiar with that. I feel like I’m battling that, trying to strike that balance. Not just in my work, but in like personal life and relationships all the time. I’m so much more comfortable leading with my insecurities or my fears or my vulnerabilities, but not every situation does deserve that from you. I’m actually way more comfortable leading with that, but not every situation deserves that. That’s even something that I learned, I think from YouTube, even though I would say that kind of vulnerability is like, if I have a product, that’s the product.
I watched an interview recently with a YouTuber, Elle Mills, who I guess she was really big a couple of years ago. I hadn’t watched her, but she was a super smart girl and she talked about, she also had built a YouTube channel, based on her own vulnerability. I think she came out as gay in a video before she even came out to her family. That was how she came out, like very vulnerable, raw stuff. The videos performed so well and the success, blah, blah, blah, but she shared this reflection of being like, that was the biggest lesson I had to learn is that the internet does not deserve all of your vulnerability all of the time and having to learn to draw those lines.
When she said that, I was like, I know that is the lesson I’m heading for. I know that is the lesson I’m going to have to learn. I just really resonated, so it’s important to me, but like with the video I shared about eating and eating habits that I’m was it worth it? Would I do it again? Got great views. It’s a big video, but I will no longer pursue any pursuit, if it’s going to deteriorate me. I already did it, actually, and that’s the only reason I know. I don’t want to do it again. I did that when I was an actor, just pursued something till it completely, like there was very little left of me.
I had nothing left to give to family, to friends, as a person, and I work really hard at YouTube. I would say I work a lot and I work very seriously at it, but there is still a balance of I’m doing YouTube because I want it to fit into the bigger picture of me having a good life. I’m deteriorated, and I’m stressed, and I’m like upset all the time. That’s not actually success, so that’s a really important thing to me now.
Meredith: Yeah, like you come first, even ahead of the numbers, because the channel is in service of you. You are not in service of the channel.
Caroline: Theoretically, I’m like, I don’t get it right all the time. But that is the goal. I try to like, recenter on that because I definitely get swept up in, I’m totally obsessive. I’m obsessive with the numbers. It’s a high. You’re a drug. You’re addicted to it. Sometimes I put out my videos on Saturday mornings. By Friday evening, late, like after a whole week of editing, I’m in the deepest, darkest editing hole. I’m like the most depressed, like my low point in the week. And then Saturday morning, oh, the serotonin flows in. You’re getting comments and views and I am high every Saturday morning, basically. Without taking any drugs, and I realized it, I don’t know, I just noticed it a week or two ago, and I was like, I wonder if this is even good for me, like the amount of like chemicals that are pumping through my body once a week, every Saturday this intensely. Yeah, I still chase it, but I’m trying to keep it, I’m trying to keep it healthy.
Meredith: Oh, that’s interesting. And I also just want to just to go back to something you said at the start of this question as well, I love what you said about basically allowing yourself to make a judgment as to whether or not you are required to be your most honest, vulnerable self in any situation, because I feel like that’s such a helpful thought because it almost, it takes, it values like discernment as much as it values authenticity and allows me to wave it to you as opposed to just, your words again, being compulsively honest. And I love that, and that’s really great wisdom, and thank you, I’m going to use it.
Caroline: Yeah, it’s really tough. I find it really tough, especially in your more traditional work settings because so many people do show up with walls up, and so even if you’re ready to be vulnerable and you’re willing and ready to accept someone else’s vulnerability, like people can be in different places. I really do, I still struggle with figuring out where there’s lines are, but, totally, and
Meredith: I don’t know if this would be true for you, but I know for me, even at moments when I’m making a decision, I’m like, this prison has a wall up, I don’t actually necessarily trust them. I still then actually feel guilty for holding back.
Caroline: Yeah. I don’t get that idea. Yeah, I think that’s the compulsive, I don’t know what the word is, like honesty, integrity, those are, no, because I think you can hold back and still have a lot of integrity. But it’s in me, because I relate to that feeling, it really feels like I have a compulsive confessional part of me. It’s not healthy, it’s not good, and I could, that’s a whole other podcast where that came from, but yeah, I was also, I don’t know if I should talk about this a lot, but I was also in a really long-term romantic relationship where I was always, I was taught to compulsively confess, basically, and it was pretty painful, and I think I’ve carried that with me a lot, and in some ways, I think it’s really helped my YouTube channel and the work I do there, but it’s also like personally something I’m still like having to undo. Yeah. I don’t know.
Meredith: I’d love to, I know you’ve got your new podcast called Not For Everyone, person to your several episodes, and I loved it, I’m so stoked to have more of your content in my life. Could you describe it a little bit?
Caroline: I’d love to, I’m so delighted you listened to it. I think, yeah, the podcast I host with a co-host who is a dear friend of mine from, back from elementary school, we’ve known each other for a long time, and it’s an existential commentary podcast hosted by, we say, one hater and one lover, which kind of captures our different perspectives on the world. She’s quite enthusiastic, and I would say she’s the lover, and people describe me a lot as a hater. I don’t know, I don’t reject that, but I also feel like it’s more complicated than that. I just have a lot of fat opinions, a lot of opinions, and I have a fun time with that, but I really started the podcast because I obviously love to talk, look at me go, and there were so many more things that I wanted to say and share and explore that I really think do not have a place on YouTube.
I like pushing some boundaries with YouTube, but there is also a limit. I won’t just put anything up there, and I think people are still there for a certain kind of package. The podcast made sense. I also wanted a separate business, a separate investment. I’m just always prepared for anything I do to burn and die, including YouTube probably one day. This kind of like another investment I wanted to start, and I wanted it to be more relaxed than YouTube. I’m way less perfectionist about it. It’s a conversational podcast with my dear friend, and we talk about all the things that I at least am processing in life right now, and I know a lot of my friends are, which is dating and career and these existential questions and relationships and self-development and discovery and therapy topics, and we both also have a history. In addition to having an interest in those topics, we also have a history in comedy.
I think that’s the spin we try to bring to it is tackling some heavy topics at times, but also cackling half of the episode and being obscene and trying not to take it all too seriously. It’s been a lot of fun. I didn’t know how it would go. Podcasting is very new to me, but it has quickly become like the exact thing that I was craving in my life.
Meredith: Yeah. That’s interesting. Why do you think you feel, why do you think you’re putting a little less pressure on the podcasting perfect than you do the YouTube channel?
Caroline: Because I literally don’t have the time to do it any other way. I was like, I still work seven days a week, so I was like, I don’t have the hours to put more to it. I need it to be more relaxed or else it can’t happen, and I also was just craving a different energy. I was craving a more relaxed exploratory, casual pursuit. The thing that I do think is hard about content creation, at least for YouTube, and I know most people relate to this, is that it’s a hamster wheel. It’s just nonstop.
For me, by the time I put up a video, I am starting on the next video that day, or I’ve already started on it. Sometimes I’m working on three videos at a time or more. There is never, which is crazy, because if you’re doing something creative, part of creation is like an incubation period, or where you’re thinking about it, and the way my schedule works now. It is constant output. You are constantly executing, and I think that’s how it is for most people. Which is insane, and that’s why you get burnout, because there is no simmering period. There’s no incubation period for this creative output, which is insane. It doesn’t even work. It doesn’t really work, which is why I think there’s so much burnout.
One of my goals this year is to take four weeks off. I don’t know when they’ll be, maybe a quarter, one a quarter, but four weeks where I’m not putting out a video. Not even going to put out a backup video I made, just completely unplug. It’s so funny, because that seems impossible to do. I had to intentionally set that as a goal, but that’s like a normal number of weeks off to have from a job. It’s like a pretty standard number of weeks to take off. It doesn’t exist yet, really, with content creation. You have to fight for that, and you pay a price. You pay a price. You might come back to lower views or lower numbers. It’s so hard to take that, but with the podcast, I was hoping to not get into that position by just keeping it really low effort. All our conversations are just live conversations. We don’t do too much work planning, and so that was important to me for that reason.
Meredith: I hope you get those four weeks off. That sounds good.
Caroline: Thank you.
Meredith: All right. Should we move into Office Decor Smash or Pass?
Caroline: Let’s do it.
Meredith: So maybe we can link it in the show notes, but Caroline did a really funny Smash or Pass holiday decor video, which inspired this. I found eight things that I think are basic Office Decor from the last, I don’t know, five or so years to get Caroline’s Smash or Pass take on it. And let’s see. Number one, Caroline, what do you think about motivational wall art, mostly open meeting rooms? And the image we have says, don’t say it’s not possible.
Caroline: And it’s oh my God, you know how to get me riled up immediately. I really do I would say most of the things on the list, I like have medium feelings on. I hate this one. Okay. It’s so hard. I hate it so much.
Don’t try to motivate me. I’ll decide if I’m motivated or not, let alone I guess I’m thinking about the motivational word art in the context of a day job, especially if I’m doing it. If it’s at my passion work, like you don’t need to motivate me. I’m motivated. I’m there because I want to be there. But if it’s at my day job, I reject this idea that I need to feel motivated. I’m motivated by my paycheck or maybe I like the work or maybe I like my coworkers or maybe it’s a nice environment.
Don’t put more on top of it. Don’t. What is this overlord surveillance, trying to get everyone to work harder. I’m so upset by it. I think if you want to motivate people, figure out first what motivates them. Maybe the thing that motivates them is a nice community at work, like something communal or having a nice workspace or getting different benefits or time off or don’t motivate me with words about working harder. Who is motivated by that?
Meredith: It’s also feeling like this one, don’t say that it’s not possible. Is it terrifying, because you just, I picture a terrifying boss, be like, don’t say that it’s not possible. And then everyone’s like we can definitely do this by Friday. Thanks, Brian.
Caroline: Did you crack the whip that I’m motivated now? Amazing. Thanks, Brian.
Meredith: Okay. So hard pass on motivation.
Caroline: Hard pass. It’s going to be a pass from me.
Meredith: What do you think about giant, abstract artworks? The one I link to here is the Dropbox Panda, which is famous. And I think an important sub point is that these artworks have to cost more than most employees’ annual salary.
Caroline: It’s bold. It’s bold. Yeah. But he thought it’s a bold statement. I would say if they were free, I like them. I like that. It becomes, it’s like a little weirdo mascot in the office and talking point or I think like I always felt there were certain weird quirks about a shared office that would almost become like an inside joke for people in the office, whatever it is, whether it’s a statue or something weird about the water fountain or I don’t know, somebody in the office, you these inside jokes that unite you.
So I enjoy that, but if you are putting a panda sculpture of this size and this much money in your office, you better be offering, you better have a super nice staff kitchen. It better be stocked full of like the nicest foods. You better have the best break rooms and benefits like you’re setting yourself up for something there. Okay, I’m not going to pass on it. It’s a reluctant smash, I think. Reluctant smash.
Meredith: Okay. Big artwork. Reluctant smash. I like that. I don’t know why I’m taking notes.
Caroline: I love it. For the quiz later. I’m going to quiz you.
Meredith: All right. You would go to the very open offices, what do you think?
Caroline: I like a mix. I like a mix, which is a very diplomatic answer of me, I know, but it’s true. I think that I think some of my favorite offices I’ve seen are ones that have the option for the communal seating, but then the option for private meeting rooms or like private cubicles and maybe they have like glass doors so you can still feel connected. You don’t, you can look out. That’s my preference. I want to see that society still exists around me, but I don’t want to have to talk to people. I don’t want to hear what they’re saying or be interrupted with their jit chat. Yeah, I think it’s nice to have a mix.
Give people the options. And then it’s also, it can just like I think re-energize you throughout the work day, but even when I’m working at home, I like to get up and sometimes I’m working on the couch. Sometimes I’m working at the table. It can just give you a little fresh boost of energy to switch up where you’re working. So I think it’s nice to have a mix if you can pull it off.
Meredith: Yeah. I agree. So pass on I guess we’re, pass on the balance between cubicle verse, but yes. Yes. Yes. All right. What do you think about brightly colored accent walls in meeting rooms? I’ve been in a lot of these meeting rooms.
Caroline: Yes. I love that you, I like didn’t even think of this as a pillar of office culture, but I, it’s so is and I love that you called it. Yeah. I’m going to say pass. And it’s so funny because I don’t know why the, I guess the intention, I’m trying to empathize. I feel like the intention is to breathe some life into the office. But why are we doing it by decorating like it’s a kindergarten? There’s no other adult space that we decorate with these weird pops of bold, bright colors in this way. By painting what like the image you shared here is like just a totally suicidal looking meeting room with that happens to have one lime green wall.
That doesn’t, you haven’t tricked me into thinking this is a fun place to be just like painting the whole painting, the wall green. I think if you want to breathe some life into it, think about what actually feels like life to people, maybe just put some plants in there, put some artwork like artwork will liven up the wall so much more than just a bold color. And it also doesn’t feel, there’s almost something condescending about being like, yeah, it just feels like a kindergarten again. Like, why are we, we’re adult people who go to, we enjoy adult restaurants and stuff. Like those don’t have to be decorated this way. I’m just say pass. Yeah.
Meredith: Okay. Great. Yeah. The more you’re talking on it, the more like I understand how some of this really jumps out, but now it’s like something really has hardened and depressing is yeah, colors meant to be serving like, Hey, buck up. It’s not so bad, it’s really sad.
Caroline: Yes. It’s really sad. It’s upsetting. It’s insulting. It’s a little bit. It’s you haven’t tricked me. This still sucks.
Meredith: So great. I was tired, but this lime green paint really gave me a second on.
Caroline: That’s all I needed. Yeah. Who needs a salary? I’m here for the wall.
Meredith: All right, holiday decorations on your desk slash cubicle office. And the picture, it is just folks listening, someone went all out. They wrapped the walls, the counter, everything, but their computer is highly decorated.
Caroline: It is. I’m going to say smash. I don’t personally do it. I don’t personally do it, but I like when people, I am a total sucker for the like family feel, homey feel of an office, which if you could, it’s hard to pull off, but if you can get people to bring in parts of their personality and have that family feel, I think some people are really offended by that. They’re like, this isn’t my family. It’s my job. And that’s totally legitimate. But I like when people bring in a little piece of their personality and stuff. I’m not going to do it. You do it. I like when you do it. Smash.
Meredith: Yeah. I agree. I feel like it makes me think there’s like a level of self care that’s they had enough energy to do this for themselves for the month of November. And I’m like, I don’t have it, but I love it.
Caroline: What is that like? I don’t have that.
Meredith: All right. This is the opposite, displaying absolutely zero personal items. So like a very minimalist, austere desk, like I’m not sure if that’s really good boundaries or kind of psycho behavior. What is that?
Caroline: I think I have neutral feelings on this one. I respect it as a choice. I respect the boundaries, but it is less fun. It is less fun. I have to look at you for eight hours today. What are we going to talk about? Yeah. Not even. Okay. Give me some peaks into your life. It’s so funny. And the way you try and like piece together the mystery of this person sitting across a desk from you that you look at probably more hours than you see your own family. But you like, it’s like kind of a mystery.
Meredith: Yeah. If there was absolutely nothing, I feel like I’d be very suspicious, but captivated and like desperate for a clue. It’s so true. It’s hooked you. Yes. Yes.
Caroline: Give me a clue. It’s compelling at least. Yeah. So if your goal is to be super intriguing and mysterious, hard smash, you’ve done it. You’ve accomplished it for even better.
Meredith: All right. So what about the giant, standing style wall calendar?
Caroline: Is this one that people write on? Do people or like people supposed to contribute to it as an interactive thing?
Meredith: No, not really. It’s just, it’s usually just up on a wall and it’s like a big, it’s just, it’s three feet by two feet or maybe five feet by three. It’s like unusually big and just, the dates are looming over a year.
Caroline: The dates are looming. Look at how many days we have left till we all die in this office. Yeah. That is so loopy. That is so austere when you put it that way. I was going to say I, I was picturing people like communally writing notes on it and stuff, which I’m, I guess that is not what it is, but I like anything that can incur a little bit of like sass or interaction from the office. But if it’s just up there, I guess you could put worse things on your wall. I’m going to allow it. I’m going to allow it. I’m going to say smash. If you put worse things on your wall, like a motivational calendar or something.
Meredith: Yeah. That’s true. Okay. All right. Final one. I was always guilty of this back when I worked in it all, having like multiple pairs of shoes under your desk.
Caroline: So funny. I feel like this feels very similar to the gone heavy on the Christmas decor. It’s like you’re making it a little bit of your home here. I like it. I like to see it smash. Good. I’m glad.
Meredith: I didn’t like it, but I did it and I don’t know, it just made sense. I’m trying to like, how does it even like, where does the first pair come from? That’s what I was trying to remember. I think it’s because you carry your heels in one day for a meeting, but you wear different shoes in because they’re more comfortable and then usually leave the heels under there. Cause you’re like this next time I’ll just have them here. I only wear them at work. And then it just like snowballs and suddenly there’s 10 pairs of shoes under the desk.
Caroline: And you’ve got the rain boots. Yeah. Yeah. That’s how they get you. No. No way.
Meredith: Caroline, thank you so much. Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you feel like you’d want to just want to say?
Caroline: I don’t think so. I had so much fun chatting. This was lovely, I love talking about this stuff. I feel like YouTube, first of all, it just feels like the Wild West. Like people are just making up their own strategies and there are no rules. And I love talking about it and hearing other people’s approaches. And this was just like a delightful conversation to have with a very thoughtful person. I loved every second of it.
Meredith: Thank you, Caroline. I hope that folks listen and this too. I think you shared a lot of great advice. So thank you so much.
Meredith: Thank you so much for joining us this week. We had so much fun having Caroline on the show.
Ian: Next week, we’re going to be talking with Steve Ward. He is an executive search consultant and we’re going to talk to him about building a career in marketing and how to navigate the current world of uncertainty, but also opportunity.
Meredith: If you liked the show, please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcast app. That really helps other folks find the show. Also consider subscribing to the content people newsletter. The link is in the show notes.
Ian: And that’s our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you want to get in touch, our email is in the show notes.