Dillon began his film making career after dropping out of college to document his best friend’s last year battling cancer. Together, the duo started an internationally recognized documentary series that has amassed over 100m views across social media. In a surprising turn of events, the outpouring of awareness helped Dillon’s best friend find a lifesaving, but rare, organ donor.
Since that experience Dillon continues the momentum by producing ‘Live For Another’, a documentary series about helping others.
Where did the idea for “Live For Another” come from?
Our organization spawned from desperation. I was frustrated and a bit in denial after hearing that my best friend had a year to live, so I decided to create something. That something led to what our organization would be today. At first it was just my friend and I renting equipment to tell the story of our friendship as a way to share our last year with the world, but it very quickly became something much bigger.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Productivity is a constant struggle for me. A lot of what I do is creative work, so it’s easy to run out of fuel. My biggest problem is how distracted I can get. I’ll find myself walking into the office to work on Project X, but once the day is over I realize I spent 3 hours responding to emails. Running my own business means that I’m the only one ultimately accountable for my productivity. That also means there isn’t stopping me from getting distracted away from the more urgent tasks.
I have tried to use a TON of tools to help manage my productivity and ensure I stay on track…most don’t work. My work style is very fluid. I will have a spark of inspiration and work like a mad man for 5 hours, completing nearly everything on my to-do list. The next day I’ll struggle to even open up our project management software.
Ultimately, the best productivity resource I had is mindfulness. I work fast, but those pesky distractions can ruin it. By being mindful I’ve learned to recognize ‘wait a second why am I reading an article on Facebook Marketing, I have a deadline today’. Once I catch myself I can reel myself back in and focus again.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have a really unique way of executing my ideas. Well, maybe sporadic is a better way to describe it. There’s a lot of creativity involved, so it often flows on my mood. Most of the time I will come up with an idea when I’m in a situation where I can’t act on it (driving, shower, running, etc). That leads me to dwell on it and imagine all the possibilities. That brainstorming gets bottled up only to explode once I have the opportunity to begin the idea. I’ll sit down in my chair and hammer through all the steps necessary. Once I’m finished for the day, that motivation fizzles out. I made HUGE progress on my goals but the next day I’ll have no interest in finishing it. That ultimately leads to me getting frustrated that I lost focus on an idea I once thought important. That will lead me into a deep trench of writers block where my brain can’t even begin to fathom working on the idea. Then, suddenly, I work like a machine and finish it.
Like I said, sporadic. My execution of ideas is like a poorly constructed roller coaster.
What’s one trend that excites you?
With all the things that are happening so far in 2020, things are crazy. Almost everyone’s mental health is being affected in someway. I sympathize with that. What excites me though is how SO MANY people are using the tough times to help each other in creative ways. My organization is all about doing cool stuff for other people and that seems to be happening everywhere these days.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m always trying to one-up myself. I will achieve something, then develop some arbitrary competition that suddenly means so much to me. A lot of the time it’s conceptual things, too. If I complete a really awesome documentary I’ll think to myself ‘Well, if I did that…just you WAIT until you see the next one’. I have a habit of reflecting on the past as a way to develop the future.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’m young as it is so I know I still have lots to learn but one of the things I’m struggling with right now is my dependence to my phone. Going back to the topic of productivity, those darn notifications and social medias are so dangerous. It’s so easy to open up Facebook because I NEED to for my job, only to get sucked into the algorithm. I would encourage my past self to work harder to stay away from those things. Sometimes it’s a gift to be unavailable.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m not very proud of myself, which seems to drive my family and friends crazy. Objectively I know I’ve accomplished a lot but I find myself to eager for the NEXT thing, making it hard to appreciate the things I’ve already accomplished. For a long time I felt that was a curse, but I’m realizing it’s a blessing. Not a lot of people have that internal drive, so I’m very lucky to be able to keep pushing myself to the next accomplishment.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take a second and reflect. Just look around you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the due dates, hard work, or late hours. I find it easy to think about the next 3 years and all the things I’ll accomplish, but how often do we stop and look backwards? I think everyone who’s building a movement or business has already achieved so much for themselves and the world. That’s awesome.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being genuine on social media.
There are so many blogs, articles, and strategies on how to optimize social media for business goals but the all seem to miss what makes social media so awesome: two random people from across the world can learn so much about each other. We’ve gone viral dozens of times and it almost always comes down to being genuine. Just being upfront with people about who you are, what you did, and why you did it. It’s helped us reach a LOT of people. More importantly, it’s helped us have a really deep impact on many.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started I did a VERY bad job of work/life balance. More specifically, no one cares about this as much as you do. This is your project and you can’t expect anyone to have that same level of commitment. If you forget that, it’s easy to look at other people and think ‘why don’t you see how important this is?! I need to work late to achieve Goal X!’. Other people have different priorities and we can’t dismiss them because they are different than ours.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d like to give prisoners a camera and ask them to ‘vlog’. Not for some hidden news story or ‘worst inmates’ documentary, but just to experience their day-to-day. A lot of creatives would agree that having limitations (budget, time, etc) can sometimes lead to the most creative outcomes. Prisoners have more limitations than anybody – what the heck would happen if you gave them a production company?
Probably a terrible idea but hey, it’s fun to dream.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a standing desk attachment. I don’t think it increases my productivity but it sure does make the work day more fun – I can dance around while I type!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I used an app called HabitHub to track daily reminders. It’s designed build streaks of doing something daily. I have tried project management software like Monday or Trello, but those don’t feel very rewarding to cross something off. With HabitHub I get to know that I’ve checked my emails over 183 days without missing one!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute
It’s a “Self-help” book based on science. The author takes a huge range of scientific data to create a no-nonsense solution to problems people face everyday. It’s all based on data and research.
What is your favorite quote?
“Today you…. tomorrow me.”
- Life is more about money, accomplishments, and work
- The past year is just as important as the next
- Don’t make me too seriously, I’m a college dropout who makes Youtube videos for a living 😉
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.