On social media, Neels Visser comes across as just another upper-middle-class white male model who makes a living from taking pretty pictures and advertising pretty things. His 2.8 million Instagram followers assume Visser is a typical LA rich kid who spends his days hiking Runyon Canyon, lounging by the pool, and posing in front of the camera. The truth is, when my editor assigned me to interview Visser, I assumed the exact same thing. I did a quick google search and concluded the only thing this guy will be able to contribute to my experience is superficial knowledge on superficial subject matters. However, as I sit across from Visser on a velvet grey couch before he commences his shoot with TINGS Magazine, I realize there is much more to this budding entrepreneur than meets the eye. Visser began his modeling career when he was only 14 years old. He made the move from Phoenix, Arizona to Newport Beach, CA to sign with an agency and pursue a career in Hollywood. In high school, Visser wasn’t the biggest fan of authority figures and was much more interested in curating his own curriculum and developing his own education. He dropped out, moved to New York, launched a clothing brand and a multimedia company. He’s been playing by his own rules ever since. As Visser shares with me his unique lifestyle, I am left pleasantly surprised to hear him explain his interest in cryptocurrency, his positive outlook on life, and his advice for anyone who finds themselves working in the entertainment industry.
Where do you think your entrepreneurial mindset comes from?
It definitely comes from my dad. He started multiple companies from our dining room table when I was younger, and I watched that prosper into a lifestyle for him. It seemed really rewarding, and I’ve always had that same tenacity and drive to want to build something of my own.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being in this industry, what is the most draining?
Honestly, it’s very draining. There’s a lot of flights, a lot of phone calls, a plethora of emails, lots of delays, traffic. My whole life is filled with stress honestly. I have to maintain a healthy body, have a “good look” every day, and then I have to manage my time, there’s a whole science to being able to do what we do. There’s no secret recipe honestly, I think everyone deals with this life uniquely and differently, but for the most part, it’s brutal. We get thrown around, tossed around, we have to comply with commercial clients even if that means doing things we don’t want to do. It’s rewarding because I feel like I have such a real relationship with an audience online and I have the power to influence someone’s life for the better. I get to inspire people through my work and leave a positive footprint on this earth.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned from dealing with various stressful dynamics?
I often surround myself with people I aspire to be like and people who are mentors to me. I’d say the one constant thing I feel like I would tell someone if I had one thing to teach about this industry and this kind of lifestyle would be this: the most important thing you can do for yourself is a develop a deep, deep relationship with who you are and practice self-love. Really do everything that you can to instill a healthy relationship with yourself. Where people start to lose themselves in this industry, and where things start to become negative and not fun anymore, is when you don’t know who you are and you don’t know why you’re doing this or what it means to you. For me, the thing that’s helped me the most is staying positive, meditating and developing an honest relationship with myself.
Was there ever a time in your career where you felt like throwing in the towel?
There will always be times when shit hits the fan. There will be moments when you want to say, “now I can give up, now it would make sense if I changed this,” but at the end of the day, if you’re really excited about what you’re doing, you should never question or doubt the path you are on. I’ve always had a lot of passion for whatever work I have going on. I’ve never really wanted to do anything different. If I find myself thinking something negative about my life or current situation I try to brush it away and revisit that part of my brain that was even able to believe that negative thought in the first place.
Where do you get your strength to remain positive?
Honestly just through books and music. I also find a lot of happiness in hearing other people’s success stories.
If you could pick one song that defines the moment that you’re experiencing in your life right now, what song would that be?
It’s called “Strobe” by deadmoa5. It’s an instrumental, 8-minute song. It’s a lovely ballad with a kind of deep harmony base and really beautiful melancholic melody. It’s something I find to be peaceful, and I can kind of put it on whenever and just drift away.
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
My perfect day is in LA. I’m with all of my best friends, we are going to a festival of some sort related to music and art, I’m getting ready listening to deep house music, and I’m drinking Casamigos.
Name three people in your life right now that have been vital to your growth?
The first is my dad, solely because he’s been my most significant mentor and advisor for all my business endeavors. The next I would say is myself which might sound douchey, but as I said, I think it’s essential to develop that relationship with yourself and be able to remove yourself from a situation and be able to reflect on all the different roles you play in your life. Lastly, I wouldn’t say it’s one specific individual but more of an energy. There seems to be something in the air this year that makes me believe people that are in my world will start doing really really well.
If you could give one piece of advice to people who are trying to navigate dating in this industry, what piece of advice would you give them?
I have no fucking idea. I’m not going to lie. My best advice is just to make sure you’re happy, always. The moment you start relying on someone else to make you happy, you need to have a conversation with yourself and the other person and just be honest. Life’s short. Check in and make sure everyone is still having fun.