Full transcript of Jordan Watson’s TEDx Talk: How to DAD @ TEDxChristchurch conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How to DAD by Jordan Watson @ TEDxChristchurch
Jordan Watson – How to DAD
G’day. G’day, my name is How to DAD and I have a black belt degree in daddying. Yes, it’s definitely a real thing, and no one in this room needs to look that up. So please, no one, no one look that up.
Right. So my name is How to DAD, so, obvious first question: “How do you DAD?”
Well, I’ve got no idea. I just make it up. I mean, don’t you guys? No?
I started winging it from Day 1, you know, I’m a dad. I don’t have time to read these serious parenting books and stuff, you know. I’ve got my job, I’ve got the mown to do. I’ve got sport to watch. Even if I did have time to study this baby stuff, I’d probably get a paragraph in and then just be like, “No, I don’t know what he’s doing, this stupid book trying to tell me what to do. I wouldn’t be doing that, mate. No, no, yeah no, I don’t need that, no.”
Grab book and insert as wobbly table leveler thing. So no, reading fancy parenting books isn’t for me. And to be honest, I’d much rather just make it up. It’s more fun that way.
Two years ago, I made a video and I put it on the internet. A mate at work had a baby on the way. I was bored at home with my four months old, and thought I’d chuck together an instructional video of sorts. Not much thinking behind it, I just kind of made it up.
It was called “How to hold a baby.” I thought of as many holders I knew, I made up a few others, and then I made up some silly names to go along with them.
I thought the mate at work would enjoy it, posted it to his Facebook page and turns out over 2 million other people liked it too.
[Video clip – “How to hold a baby”]
[G’day and welcome to this instructional video on “How to hold a baby”. First, you’re going to need a baby. Baby. Standard shoulder hold, reverse standard shoulder hold, Need to pick something up chin standard shoulder hold, Chin, grab something. Baby Jesus, double baby Jesus, Stinky nappy for me, stinky nappy for you. Box of beers, the telephone, dance partner, bird on a wire, poor man’s front pack, hide your beer belly, the rugby ball hold, other rugby ball hold, show off to the other dads superman, show off to other kids fish. That’s how to told your baby, and no babies were harmed in the making of this video. – Video ends]
Pretty good, hey? I was viral without even trying to be. It went around the globe, Huffington Post, Time Online, The Guardian, E! Online, the Today Show, the Waikato Times, Ashton Kutcher, that actor fella, he shared it to his 22 million followers. Me and the little one, we even went on the TV thing.
Mum, this is the bit we’re on the Tele, you missed it when I… She wasn’t home when it originally played so, should I hit play? You watching? You want to hear it play? Cool.
Posted it because a couple of guys at my work just had newborns, so I thought, tagged them on Facebook, went to bed, woke up the next morning, BOOM.
Host: So, this is the whole thing, basically you post it, go to bed and overnight, I’m probably over selling it here but your life changes over night, you don’t realize until you wake up the next morning.
Did I have any idea how to do a live TV interview with a baby? No. As you can see here, where I break the very first rule of live baby TV, by forcing the kid onto the host.
Host: Aww, too gorgeous. (Baby cries)
Henry: This is the pass back, this is the pass back.
Yeah, I know we are all used to seeing Paul Henry up close in TV but that close in real life, turns out that’s a baby’s worst nightmare.
My worldwide fame went on and on and on for three whole days. Then, BAM it was over. The relentless YouTube questions and debates on if I was an Australian or New Zealander were done.
Gone were the comments about me looking like and I quote, “a chubbier Mexican Ryan Gosling”. I will take it, I will take it.
My viral dash was done, and already the world had other 10,000s or so viral videos to catch up on. I was just back to being dad, except with my mum reminding me of any new comments on the video on a daily basis. Thanks Mum.
A few weeks later and I was bored. I was like, it’d be pretty cool if I could just be famous again for 3 days just for the free stuffs and after parties and… OK, there was no free stuffs or after parties but it was fun and to be honest I was like, these viral video things aren’t even that hard.
But it had to be different, I couldn’t just try and re-do “How to hold a baby”. I need to think up something new, something groundbreaking. So I went with: “How to show off to other dads while holding a baby.”
Pretty clever. Different but the same, but different. And that amazing video there, did not go viral. Why? I’ve no idea, you know, you can’t plan a viral video. You just make something up, chuck it out there and see what happens.
And clearly with this one, it didn’t help that I had pants on. Stubbies equals success. Short shorts equals success. What’s the saying? ‘Every good idea needs legs’, and obviously for me, every good idea needs these legs and shorts that are too short. I gave up the viral video game, and to be honest, I spent the next 6 months regretting those god damned pants.
A lot of people argue that “Hey Jordan, I know your second video didn’t go viral, but I don’t think it was because you were wearing pants”. and to that I tell them “shush your lips, it was definitely the pants. It wasn’t the fact that the second made up video thing was extremely similar to the first made up video thing. No, it was those pants.”
So there I was. 6 months on and apart from my obvious disdain for pants, I had a tickle. I wanted more. This wasn’t for my job. This was something I made on my own. No one telling me what to do. My style of dad humor that I thought only my kids laughed at actually made other people laugh too. Millions of people.
Around that same time as I’m trying to diagnose this viral tickle, a few people would mention, “Hey Jordan, I know it was like 6 months ago but your first video did really well and obvious. There’s an audience for that kind of things, so maybe you can make like a YouTube or Facebook page or something? and I was like, “Yeah, G’day friend, never made anything like that. I suppose I’d give it a crack. I do know this though. There won’t be any pants in it.”
And that friend was like , “Cool, you weirdo.” So I decided to make more of these parenting how-to videos like, helpful instructional videos that would ultimately not be very helpful at all. I didn’t want to make serious videos, that’s no fun and the internet was already full of those blah blah blah.
So next up, my wife and I, we tried to come up with the name for this thing. Dad things. Dad things on the web thingy. This is dad, and my wife was like “How to be a dad”? I was like, “It’s too long, too long” “How be a dad?” You are close to brilliance. “How to dad?” She’d done it.
Well, I tried to claim that we’d done it, but it was all her. BAM, How to DAD. Made a new Facebook page, new YouTube page, grabbed the blurry screenshot from the “How to hold a baby” video, annoyed all my friends on Facebook to like the page. Now, we just needed videos.
I was like, “Let’s do a new video everyday!” My wife was like, “No, once a week will do”. I was like, “okay, okay. New how-to video every Monday. Let’s go!” But we needed ideas.
So I just started paying attention. Problems that us parents come across every day, turned into a not very helpful, slightly funny how-to video. If I was out visiting family or friends I’d notice something, start daydreaming, then weirdly laughing to myself and a few days later I’d filmed that idea and slapped it onto the internet.
How to DAD was born and producing weekly, ridiculously unhelpful parenting videos. Parents like them. Every Monday, I post our silly little videos. It was fun, exciting, not viral, but I made my own thing.
The Facebook likes were slightly growing. Soon, local news agencies were sharing our clips, Then some international agencies were again wanting to share our videos. None of these were viral videos because you can’t plan a viral video. We just stuck to our Monday video routine, making these things up every week, and to be honest, sometimes forgetting, quickly filming something on a Sunday afternoon to upload on the Monday, get on the interwebs and… Don’t ask.
Then BAM, the viral video thing happened again. Hi-fives all around, three days of fame, heedless celebrity How to DAD.
A few weeks later, another video went viral. “How to put a baby to sleep“. And I thought it was the worst video we’d ever made. No, seriously, the idea with this one is that I’d be trying all these different tricks and my daughter would be running up and down the cot, bouncing around because that’s what she did every time I tried to put her to sleep. And that’s a relatable video idea, right?
That’s saying that’s an issue parents face, kids jumping out, this is going to be great. But no, on this day, there was no bouncing, she just kept being stupid falling to the floor of the cot pretending to sleep. I just rolled with it, I edited the video, put it together and remember saying to my wife, “This one’s pretty crap, because she just keeps going to sleep”.
Well, 26 million views later, and it’s the why How to DAD said just 53 seconds ago, you can’t plan a viral video. And this one proves just that.
[Video clip – “How to put a baby to sleep”]
[G’day, and welcome to this instructional video on “How to put a baby to sleep”. Do you want to go to sleep? It’s never really that easy, so.. The shush train. (Making shushing sounds) The standard blanket that you rename ‘blanky’. Works every time. Method acting. Oh man, looks like it’s time we go to sleep, sleep time! Sleepy, sleepy. (yawning sound) You going to go to sleep? The tap out. I’ll go get your mom. The hypnotist, (Music) And sleep. The dad that doesn’t know a single lullaby Twinkle.. sleep now.. do you want a piece of me… And sleep. The big awkward dad giant baby sleep over. I’m coming in. Lying down. And sleep. The bribe dad. If you go to sleep, I’ll let you climb the curtains tomorrow. The Give up. All right, hi-five. See you in the morning, Baby: See ya. See ya. Bye. The tiptoe. (Steps on a singing toy) That was how to put a baby to sleep. Hi-five. – Video ends]
Now, two years on, over 100 how-to videos later 3 pairs of stubbies, over 200 million video views worldwide, 1.5 million followers, two published books, a web series, international adventures and about four-fifth of first TEDx talk later, here we are.
Still making these silly little videos. People ask me “Hey, is it hard to come up with videos each week? What it really boils down to is persistence. Us making these things up every week, like it or not, viral or not. They’ve got their fancy life saying fake it till you make it. I say make it till you make it.
Fakers don’t make it. You need to show up everyday and be the best you possibly can. So the new opportunities find you. I got a lucky break. An international viral video that opened the doors for me to make my own thing.
An opportunity, I grabbed with both hands, my feet, I tried to get my elbows in there, and I’m doing as much with this opportunity as I possibly can. I’m making it my own.
Those things in life that give you little tickle, those things that nag you, float around in your dreams, don’t let them go. Jump on opportunities. If you think you are onto a winner, well, grab it. Make it yours, go hard, build it up, be the best at whatever that is.
That thing that is just giving you a tickle, you know just in this bit or sometimes it’s over there, be the best at it and please, just for me, this goofy dad, have fun with it.
And above all, don’t wear pants. Life’s loud, kids are loud, laugh louder. Hi-five.
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