Meet Theo, the creator of the Youtube channel Practical Psychology and the blog PracticalPie. Practical Psychology offers informative book reviews, inspirational and motivational advice, and tutorials. Established in 2016, the channel covers a wide variety of topics including finances, romance, happiness, psychology, personal development, and productivity. Similarly, Theo’s blog PracticalPie also shares insightful book reviews, tips, and advice. We at Psych2Go believe that there’s some awesome information that Practical Psychology and PracticalPie creates, that many of you, readers, may enjoy and want to check out! Therefore, while we had the chance, we are very excited to share with you our interview with Theo to learn the background on his work, how he got started, the process of creation, and future plans!
Hello Theo, it’s an honor to have you. Do you want to start by introducing yourself first? A bit about your educational background and how you first got started on Youtube?
Yes, so my name is Theodore, but most people call me Theo, and I am currently 20 years old. I run and operate the Youtube channel Practical Psychology and the blog PracticalPie. After I graduated high school, I enrolled and went to a prestigious engineering college to pursue Nuclear Engineering because I loved math and science and thought it would be an awesome career. Halfway through the semester, I took a tour of the onsite nuclear reactor and realized that this wasn’t the career I truly wanted. I think some of it was pressure from my old high school and parents – I had this false sense of what people wanted me to be mixed with my own romantic view of what a Nuclear Engineer did. I also didn’t have very many friends there and the quality of my life at that point wasn’t the best, so I decided to transfer to a community college to save $9,000 (my cost of each semester) in student debt while I found out what I really wanted to do. I was watching a lot of self-development Youtube videos and reading every personal development book I could find. Entrepreneurship really got me excited, but I didn’t really have an idea or product or service to offer the world, so I just kept educating myself.
What inspired you to start Practical Psychology? What were its goals? Do you feel you’ve accomplished them?
I started Practical Psychology after I moved back into my parent’s basement and spent $30 on a software that helped me create animated book reviews. Some other channel, FightMediocrity, had been doing the same thing for a year and showed his $3000 check, so I thought, “Hey, I’ve read all of these books, and he hasn’t uploaded in months, maybe that’s where I can add value”. Time went on, and I spent a lot of my free time working on this channel, spending 3-4 hours each day after my summer job (50 hours a week) narrating and animating more videos. My goal at the time was simply to earn enough money so I didn’t have to have a part-time job when I started the next semester of college in August 2016. I’ve definitely accomplished that and now I have the freedom and resources to help way more people.
What were some early challenges you had as you tried to gain viewership?
The largest early challenge was definitely time constraints. Working a full time job during that summer of 2016, I didn’t have much else time to work on the channel. Another was budget: I had to buy all the books, create my own thumbnails, and advertise all on my own. Doing this over time taught me many valuable skills though (accounting to marketing), so it was my way of turning adversity into opportunity.
Can you walk us through the process behind how you put your videos together?
I start with an idea, either a book review, or something that I think would be helpful to my subscribers or future subscribers. Then I turn that idea into an easily-digestible script, making sure that anybody could understand all the topics. After that I narrate, which takes a lot longer than most people think. For example, if I’m recording a 5 minute narration, I might actually record 15 minutes, and have to edit out 10 minutes of stuttering, saying a sentence with the wrong tone, or just silence while I’m editing a sentence to sound better in my head. The tone of my voice and how I explain things is one of the most important aspect of my videos, which is why it would be hard to outsource that aspect. Some people say they watch my videos because they “could listen to me teach all day” or that “it feels like you’re talking with us, not to us, which is a big part of how I learn”. After the narration is finished, I animate using the software that my channel is known for, but recently I’ve outsource this process to give me more time since animating is very time-consuming. Coming up with titles and thumbnails are the next step, and it takes a lot of creativity to come up with “relevant clickbait”.
What are three videos you’re most proud of? And why?
How to get a girl to like you – I’m proud because I watched a ton of Youtube videos that were giving relationship advice to 13-24 year old males that was actually pretty scummy and wasn’t a good foundation for a great relationship. I wanted a video that would actually help this demographic, and I feel like this video has done a good job of that with over 10,000,000 views.
Should I go to college? I feel like many of my videos reach a lot of people in small ways, but I feel like this video has helped a small amount of people in unmeasurable ways.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – This is a great book on it’s own, but I tried to turn the book into a video with everything someone new to the self-development community could benefit from. There’s so much in this video that can be applied to anyone’s life.
What are your plans for the channel in the next few years?
I’ve had mixed feelings on this, and I’ll probably just take a month at a time. Recently I’ve done a lot of collaborations to boost smaller channels, which was a big part of where I got started – giving free content to larger channels in turn for a shoutout. I like to mix semi-viral, clickbaity videos with book reviews, since the first gains more subscribers, views, and overall growth to the channel, while the second adds insane value to people who don’t even know they are looking for it.
Do you have any intentions to go back to school?
I am unsure about school. One thing I am sure about is learning; I will always continue to learn and seek knowledge. Whether that is at a university, conference, our out of a book may vary. I think a degree can be a great backup plan, but as an solopreneur/entrepreneur, I’d rather work 80 hours a week doing my own thing than 40 hours for someone else. Happiness and personal aspirations are worth more than any raise and I learned that when I work all summer at a factory.
Being a success yourself at such a young age, what are three tips you would pass to anyone who’s reading this?
The first would be to become more self-aware and stop lying to yourself. Take a gap year. Understand truly what your strengths and weaknesses are and don’t lie about them. I currently suck at face-to-face conversations, am mediocre at confrontation, and have great explanation skills.
The second would be to invest in yourself. Use your self-awareness to learn how you learn best. Videos, books, listening, watching, practicing. Whatever it takes, in your earliest years of your life learn a valuable skill you enjoy, and it will pay off over the rest of your life.
The third would be to give back. As soon as you learn how to better yourself, and invest in your education, give back by letting your cup overflow. Adding value to the world, and the people in it, for me is one of the most fulfilling things on this planet. Just as I have read a ton of books, taken a few online courses and am quenching my curiosity each day, I also love to give back by teaching what I learn.
Thank you, Theo, for taking the time to answer our questions! It’s great to see someone so young motivated. You bring up a lot of great tips for people trying to self-improve. Even if education is not for everyone, with the Internet at our disposal, there are many different ways for people to learn and strive towards a better self. We can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us going forward and we wish you the very best!