Shmee exclusive New Zealand Interview
Tim Burton is an electronics salesman, a ski instructor, an analyst, an entrepreneur..no wait, Tim Burton is an absolute Social Media Motoring Giant. Over the past decade he has managed to amass a multi, multi, million amount of followers, has gained the respect of virtually ALL the Luxury and Performance car manufacturers globally and has a personal car collection that most of us would only dream about. He now travels the globe ‘Living the Supercar dream’. Best we discovered more about the man behind Shmee150.
Welcome back to New Zealand.
Let’s jump straight on in shall we. There seems to be no logical link to your career so far, so the obvious big question is, how have you done this?
Back at school, I loved selling stuff so I set up an eBay account and was turning over quite a lot of items and that developed into opening a shop on the high street in London. I then came to New Zealand to be a ski instructor and then moved back to London, going into the financial world and a serious office environment. Now I find myself driving cars and making videos.
Every schoolboy’s dream.
It is definitely a dream and I pinch myself an awful lot about the opportunities that present themselves, but there is an awful lot of work behind it. What people don’t see is the business side. I’m running with a team of people. We have to be talking to brands, to companies, analysing statistics and on a personal level, try to understand the engineering in the cars, the technicalities, the detail numbers and performance figures. So there is quite a serious side the creative front that is the videos.
I understand that some of the car companies are very interested in your input?
Yeah, that’s one of the I think things I actually enjoy the most, that through the knowledge I have acquired and the experience I have, the manufacturers that I look up to are interested to hear my feedback. It’s knowing that I actually make a difference. Also, it’s the people I meet, the senior engineers and technicians, the designers, the CEO’s, and the founders of companies I’ve met along the way. Those are some of my favourite things that have come out of this Shmee150 path.
You’ve chased your dream and it’s obviously working out very well. I’m sure every now and again you wake up and ask when will the end will it ever end?
Technically, like with any other company, I can be made redundant at any stage. I’m very much in the balance of control that comes from social media that I use. The likes of YouTube Instagram and Facebook. I have to take a mature and serious look at that and say what happens if Google shuts down tomorrow? What happens if there’s a major scandal that literally shuts the platform down overnight? And then my career just disappears. So there is a serious element behind the scenes to think about.
So what motivates you?
The same things motivate me now that did when I started. I’ve always loved cars, as a kid, I used to try to name every car brand coming towards me. I’ve always loved videos, making them and shooting them, and then I also (even in the early days) developed an interest in social media – stuff to do with the computer world has always been interesting to me. Shmee150 merged all these 3 interests into one. I mean, I’ve been in New Zealand for 2 nights and both nights I’ve been up till 3 in the morning editing videos, emailing and planning the next day. But that pays itself off because right now we’re sitting in a Ferrari. It’s the dream.
Do you still edit your own stuff?
It depends on the content how complex it is and where I am. I spend 75% of my year sleeping in hotels so I’m dependent as to whether I can upload 20000 gigabytes to video. I frequently travel with a long time friend who is a cameraman and video editor so if I can edit it myself then I will, if not, I sync the files back home overnight and they’ll be done the next day. It’s also a time zone thing I have to think about WHEN the videos go live etc.
So there are a lot of mechanics involved?
There are far more mechanics involved than people realise. Even the arrangements to go and film things, there’s constantly evolutionary plans to produce the best video, just like a magazine in the traditional sense, the cover story can change depending on what’s current.
You obviously have no fear of Change.
No, the number of times I’ve booked flights I don’t know if I’m taking or not, had to cancel hotel rooms or with a day’s notice had to create a crazy diversion to my original itinerary. For example, I was in the middle driving from Germany to the French Alps in a press vehicle, I got a message asking if I would like to go to Johannesburg. So the logistics I had to work out were, how do I get myself from LEON to South Africa via London? (because I had to drop off my ski gear), and how do I get the car I had borrowed back to the south of Germany? – and in the meantime, I’m shooting a video today!
Pah, Social Media problems could happen to anyone!
My weekly routine is ‘expect the unexpected’.
So you handle chaos brilliantly?
I had to teach myself to be calm relaxed and not get stressed by things not going to plan – because they don’t.
Why do you feel you’re so successful?
There is no secret. There’s a couple of factors of course that go into how my whole side of things has involved. I think the first thing is, that I’ve always just done and shared what I enjoy, it’s very organic, just me doing my thing. It’s also that I was quite an early adopter in the social space, quick to understand how YouTube works (in terms of using my analysis background) and I spent and still spend, a lot of time staring at the details that YouTube provides.
You are a numbers guy though.
Yeah, I worked as an analyst in an investment consultancy, so I was literally staring at spreadsheets all day. I look for trends and patterns out of all the content I create. What do people like to see the most, what things do they not like? It’s such a global audience and I get lots of views (we’re talking at 10 million + a month), I get so much data. For example, from my lifetime data, I found out I’ve had 2 million views from New Zealand alone!
How do you handle rejection of the cyber trolls?
I actually put this down to one thing – I went to a boarding school in England, and at boarding school life you very much did what the older kids told you to. When they teased you, you just put up with it and I think through that I learnt to just ignore it. When people complain or people tell me they don’t like my face, I just ignore it. It’s easy to get distracted. You get 100 nice comments but you’ll only see the one negative one. You just have to remember that it’s probably someone that’s had a really bad day. It’s totally irrelevant to your life. I focus on the positives and try to bring that through in the content. I try to focus on sharing the passion, sharing the excitement about these fabulous machines and try not to take anything too close to heart. Keep a thick skin.
That’s awesome. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There’s one quote that I focus on quite a lot which is ‘Do what you can today, so you can do what you want to tomorrow’. So if there’s something you need to do, don’t procrastinate, don’t waste time. Even if I’ve got some boring work to do, I just get it done – then I’ve got an hour free for the next day, in case something great comes along.
Would you pass that information on?
My advice would be focus on what you enjoy, because if you can achieve success in what you enjoy then the world is your oyster.
Where does Shmee150 go? What is the exit plan?
One of the biggest things is the complete great unknown. Where does Social Media go? Radio became TV, TV became the internet, so what’s the next big social platform? I can’t, through what I do, look too far ahead. In terms of the public face and video side of things, I’m going to keep doing what I enjoy. As long as I continue to be successful and people keep watching. In terms of Shmee150 the business, I get to meet lots of car companies, so I’m starting to get involved from a marketing/consultancy side which is starting to take up more and more of my time. If I see an avenue, I think my mindset is to jump on it.
What’s the future of the car industry?
That is a fascinating subject because there’s autonomous, electric, are we going to have a world of super UBER, where you have a subscription to Google or Apples subscription service, where you won’t own a car you’ll just order one that is around, that never parks, just comes and picks you up. Electric Vehicles have a lot more to give. Obviously, I get access to a lot of information that I am unable to share, I often have to edit things out of my videos.
How do you handle your success?
A decade ago I was quiet and introverted, I’ve had to develop myself, my character, … I obviously highly appreciate people.watching my videos, because if they weren’t watching and following I wouldn’t be able to have these opportunities. If you add up the audience the cumulative number is around 8 million per month, it’s nice to hear that the things I do, get people interested in cars.
Lastly, what car poster did you have on your wall as a kid?
An F50 and it’s still my favourite car.
Thanks again for your time.
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