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The Meaningful Impact of Passion and Innovation: Interview with Ryan Carey

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Discovering the intersection of one's talent and passion can be life changing. For some, that breakthrough evolves, becomes real innovation and serves to inspire the lives of others in meaningful ways.

Ryan Carey, the architect of RyCareyously, is one such creator, continuously innovating to help connect others through the power of online video - a space where his talent and passion intersect. As an early employee of YouTube, Ryan developed an appreciation for the global reach of online video, joining the company in 2006 as one of ten executives overseeing advertising accounts for North America. After YouTube's acquisition by Google, Ryan served in leadership roles in both the U.S. and Australia, working with top brands across entertainment, technology, and consumer sectors on how to leverage their YouTube audiences.

Intrigued by the power of video to change how audiences consume, entertain and emotionally connect, he left Google in 2012 to pursue deeper involvement with the creative side of the business. He launched a well-received video fundraising project empowering audiences to define his web series in exchange for donations. The project was title Rycareyously and paved a new way toward the future of video.

Ryan and I had a chance to talk more about RyCareyously, his early inspirations as a leader in the global online video space and his vision for what's next in the continuously evolving world of audience-defined content.

Laura Cococcia: When you think back, what inspired you to create RyCareyously?

Ryan Carey: RyCareyously was started as a crowd sourced philanthropic web series after leaving YouTube in 2012. It was my personal passion project to reconnect people through video.

While working at YouTube, it became clear that while people consumed more digital content, it was pushing us further apart on the whole, that a million views of a video were a million individual events, and that the connection between people was happening in isolation. There was a lot of discussion around how to engage an audience, but no one seemed to do the obvious - ask them what they want to watch. I saw video as a vehicle that could connect us, move us, transport us to places we'd never been. I had educated brands on how to use YouTube to create video strategy, and pushed them to take risks. When those risks weren't being taken, I took it upon myself to move the needle as a creator.

LC: You have an evident passion and skill for storytelling. What do you like most about the creative process?

RC: Well, I'm Irish for starters, story telling is part of my heritage, and I've learned that the purpose of a story is to be heard--and in my case, seen--not to be told. The reaction is the point of the story, and in making these video experiences, I get to absorb those reactions in ways which never existed before YouTube.. The sharing of emotion--joy, gratitude, grief, love, longing--that's what a storyteller seeks to exchange with the audience.

LC: Is there a request that stands out where the reaction was special to you?

RC: One user asked I make a video for his wife for Christmas. She had worked at a shelter for families in San Francisco many years prior and missed everything about what the culture had given her. I reached out to the shelter, explained what I was doing and they were more than willing to help make it special. The user emailed me on Christmas Day, a bit shell-shocked, telling me it hadn't gone over as he planned and that it made his wife very upset. I felt terrible. 2 weeks later, she reached out and explained that she had never received anything close to what the video made her feel and that the emotion of it all had taken her by surprise. In the end, she was incredibly touched.

LC: Why video? What got you interested in the medium?

RC: Growing up, I always wanted to be on screen in some way and then later became passionate about storytelling through video editing. When Google acquired YouTube in 2006, I was an ambassador for this site that, at the time, was still relatively unknown. I became a storyteller for YouTube, and got to share my genuine excitement about the ways in which it could connect people.

I was in tune with what users responded to, and witnessed new micro genres forming and growing - this made me think about where my passions could fit in. Things I truly love like meeting new people, being outdoors, and going on adventures. Creating my own audience-defined show felt like the biggest leap I could take in the direction of something I knew was just beginning.

LC: Is there an artist or influence that inspires you?

RC: One inspiration is the earliest community of YouTubers like Matt Harding, creator of Where The Hell is Matt, who danced a jig around the world. Here was an everyday guy with a huge vision who used himself as the example. It felt original, simple, and like an invitation for anyone to do what he did.

Another source of inspiration comes from these people who trust me with a part of their imagination that may otherwise never see the light of day. These are the motives behind each video. That's a powerful bond I don't take for granted.

LC: What's next for you?

RC: The goal is to continually push boundaries around what can be created through meaningful video and audience defined content. I'm always searching for partners to join me since the future of video is a team sport.

In terms of projects, I recently used my birthday as an excuse to make a video encouraging my community to donate to a stranger. That was pretty cool and has lead to talks with a few distribution outlets around creating content.. I've also taken the RyCareyously concept to make 'video deliveries' for audience members asking me to film a friend or loved one receiving a gift. Much more to come and it's all really exciting to see this evolve and unfold.