He has amassed millions of views after making videos about living and attending school in France as an American teenager. He continues to build an engaged global community through telling stories about travel, business, productivity, the American high school experience, and more
He also founded clothing brand and discord community Perspectopia, which aligns with his optimistic and open minded outlook on life.
What inspired you to create your youtube channel?
Moving to France definitely inspired me just because I knew it was a huge opportunity to document something and share it with the world. I also wanted something to look back on when I am older.
Have you ever felt any kind of hesitation before putting yourself out there? If so, how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for people who want to put themselves out there , whether it's through YouTube or social media?
I was an introverted and shy kid before moving to France.
I tried to build myself up with the channel because it was my chance to really get out there and become more extroverted/less shy.
Before I struggled a lot with social anxiety. Starting a YouTube channel and meeting people through that empowered me to become more confident.
Making a bold move really helped me. For me, that was starting a YouTube channel. It really throws you out there. Once you do that you realize that it's not so bad. Just do something wild like asking out your crush. That can really show you that it's really not as intimidating as you think it is.
What is your vision for Perspectopia? What does the name mean?
Perspectopia is a utopian society in our minds. It’s hard to explain because it is still evolving. The name is Perspective and Utopia put together. It’s a reflection of my whole channel and outlook on life. I wanted to create a community of people who shared an optimistic mindset about every facet of life.
How did you navigate the different aspects of starting a business (legal, financial, marketing)?
To be honest, I just winged it. I’m a stubborn person so I don’t really like doing a lot of research or reading a lot of instructions. I like to dive in head first. I figured things out along the way and I determined what aspects I needed to research further.
You have a really unique art direction for the branding of Perspectopia. Tell us more about your creative process. Where do you get inspiration?
Retro futurism has been pretty inspirational for me. Especially the time around the space age, swoopy cars, the Jetsons, and Googie architecture around the 60’s.
It was an exciting time to be alive. We had a common goal that brought the country together and we were all very optimistic about the future.
I want to recreate that in my own vision. That's where I get a lot of inspiration for Perspectopia’s artwork and mission.
Do you work with a team?
No, I have a friend who helps me out with some of the artwork. She can draw it and make it into a digital file. Besides that, it's just me. My mom will occasionally help me write an email. I made the website itself but my friends Ben Kern and Gordon Hardwell made the game on it. They spent countless hours and facetime calls designing it and perfecting it. Andrew Combes did the 3D visual models with the spinning t-shirts. They go to my school and I am very close friends with them. It's really cool to work with people who I know and trust.
Tell us about your interests and hobbies outside of Perspectopia and your Youtube channel. What time management strategies do you have for full time students trying to balance extracurriculars, creative projects, and school?
I run cross country and track every day. Waking up, running, and stretching. It is the foundation for my life--everything revolves around the discipline I need to have for running. I also play guitar and I like to design clothes. I enjoy experimenting a lot. I have patches that I play around with and a machine that etches out designs. I do anything I find aesthetically pleasing or satisfying to do. My room is like a jumbled mess of things I find aesthetic. I bounce around doing little creative projects and whatever interests me at the moment.
I struggle a lot with balancing everything. Even throughout the year, there will be nights where I stay up too late and feel really groggy the next day which causes me to get behind on homework. My whole year has been a struggle to find the perfect balance. There have been times where I did and times where I didn’t .
The main thing that helped me was getting off social media and deleting the Instagram app. I only download it when I need to. After a while you forget that this whole internet world exists which is really refreshing
I don’t mind being off social media. I don’t have a lot of FOMO with it which is great. I used to, but over time I got used to it.
How do you ensure that you won’t burn out long term?
I think that key is having an array of projects that you are interested in. That allows me to bounce around. since I have other passions like running, guitar, filming, and designing clothes. Whenever I get tired of something, I can move on to the next thing and put my time and energy there. I get “mini burnt out” for each one at certain times so focusing on the next thing helps tremendously. Trying to find a healthy relationship with everything you do is the most important thing.
What advice do you have for people trying to build a community or an audience?
Establishing a slogan or your beliefs gives people a clear vision for why people want to join you in the first place.
People will flock to you once you have that in place and if you stay true to it and live the lifestyle that aligns with it, your community will continue to attract people and grow.
Do you have any general networking tips that you have picked up working as a creative and business owner? How do you reach out to creatives and influencers to collaborate with, or promote perspectopia, or just simply chat with?
The more followers you have, the easier it gets. Instagram creator account DMs rank people in the inbox based on how many followers people have. The more followers you have,, the easier it is because they will see you first on that inbox list. Now I feel like I can reach out to people and have a decent chance of interacting with them because of my following.
If you don’t have a large following, it's really hard. Even back in the day, I would try and have no luck at all. It's not easy. It almost feels like an elite club which sounds unfair but it's true. Email is the best way to get in contact, but you have to be respectful because for a lot of influencers it’s business only. When people do email me I do see it!
Do you think that being a teen entrepreneur and youtuber gives you any unique advantages or unique perspectives compared to entrepreneurs/influencers from other generations?
It definitely does give me a unique perspective because I can apply insights from my friends' interests and my own interests to my work.
You know other companies are run by adults because their content or products are really cheesy when they try to market to younger people. This definitely helps me stay relevant because as a young person, I am fluent in pop culture.
What advice do you have for young people interested in starting their own creative projects?
I think the most important thing is not to worry about numbers at least for the first year. The biggest mistake I made earlier was judging my content based on the numbers it got and having that demotivate me. Just try to stay true to the creative process and the value you see in what you are creating for at least the first year (hopefully forever). Use your passion to motivate you. Just Go do it!
Do you find yourself comparing yourself to other creators?
Yes, I do it subconsciously. Especially with YouTube analytics. I will see the watch time for my videos sometimes and I’ll think that my video is terrible because it was only two or five minutes. I find myself comparing my views to another youtuber’s views. It feels toxic, but I really can’t help it. I haven't quite figured out how to get over it. Sometimes it feels worse than other times. I don't think I can get advice because I still haven’t figured it out yet. Comparisons just make everything worse There’s this quote by Jordan Peterson that says “Don't compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.” Sometimes I will see 30 year olds putting out great videos and I'll think to myself “I wish I was doing that now.”
I’m still 17. I have so much time to figure things out and become the best version of myself.
This quote has definitely helped me change my perspective on things.
How has your life changed since gaining popularity on YouTube? Do your peers treat you any differently?
I get teased more, but in a jokingly way. It’s like banter, No one really cares. There’s definitely a spectrum of reactions. Some people have no idea who I am and some do. I try not to think about it too much. Personally, I don't feel any different than I did a year ago. It doesn’t change as much as you’d think. I try not to introduce myself without my YouTube channel because I don’t want it to be my complete identity. I’d rather meet people as a person. It's not that i’m not proud of it, I just don’t want it to interfere with my personal life.
How has your perspective on success changed once you started getting millions of views on youtube? What will it look like to you in the future?
When I was much younger, I was obsessed with numbers and sometimes I still am today. I would freak out if I got a thousand views. But, once more numbers came, I created this numb relationship with numbers. It’s started to feel less and less real. I’ve started to care less about numbers since my social media success and I’m more focused on success within myself.
Sure I can get money and views, but if I don't feel good internally, it's not really success anymore.
Maintaining a healthy personal life is something I am trying to achieve. You can’t be financially successful or successful on YouTube if you don’t have a good relationship with your friends. I’ve started to understand that more clearly after experiencing YouTube fame.
I’m more motivated by how I feel now. In the past, I wanted to post all the time and get millions of views but now, I’m not putting pressure on myself to grind all the time. Wouldn’t say I'm lazier now, but I’m definitely more patient with myself because I’ve made it to a point where I don't need to work really hard all the time. I’ve been able to create a healthy relationship because now I have stability from a good audience now.
The rise of fame shakes you up a bit because It's everything you’ve dreamed of and now you have it. So“now what?”
There’s always that voice in my head that’s telling me to edit or stop hanging out with my friends. It's a constant battle that never really ends.
Are you going to college, If so what was your thought process in deciding this? What do you plan on studying in college?
Yes, that's the plan. I don’t like to be a hundred percent certain about everything because I like to explore my options. At first I was like “why would I go to school for four years when I can make videos, make enough money, and do whatever I want?.” My mom is a university professor so she was a little concerned about that. I’ve been able to understand and appreciate the value of education. High school education isn't really the best place to stop at. At first, I thought college would be like high school all over again but it really isn't. Maybe I'll take a gap year, continue youtube, and not go to college. The plan is 99 percent college. I don’t really know what I’m going to study because I’m kind of already pursuing my dream job. I’ll just use college as another opportunity to just expand my knowledge. Right now, psychology really fascinates me.
Do you plan on pursuing YouTube and entrepreneurial ventures full time or are you planning on exploring other career paths?
I’m open to whatever opportunity presents itself. But. I'll definitely be doing something entrepreneurial for the rest of my life because I love that so much. I’m not sure how long I’ll be on YouTube because over time platforms change or die out. I really do enjoy creating videos and telling stories through them so i'll probably find some kind of medium to do something creative.
What are some things you want to accomplish after quarantine?
I want to accomplish some hugs with my friends. I really want to travel and go back to France and Europe. Honestly, I enjoy the simple life I have right now -- running, filming, editing, and working on business. I don’t need much more than that. Seeing more friends would be nice. Besides that, I’m pretty content.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
New zealand because it’s beautiful and underrated. MaybeI’ll have a cabin in the wilderness or a house with big beautiful glass windows. I’d definitely love to visit Tokyo, Japan. The aesthetic in Japan is something else, it's super inspirational. I’d also love to go to iceland.
I don't have a place I am very set on going to because I’d be excited to go any place. Each place is unique and beautiful in its own way.
Subscribe to Max's YouTube channel, check out Perspectopia, and keep up with him on social media!