One of the greatest fears we have as human beings is to embrace our own truths. More often than not, we paint over them — covering them with false smiles, bold words, or textured skins — too afraid the world won’t accept us for who we are. All it takes is one person strong enough to shed their layers for us to find courage to do the same.
Fortunately for Connor Franta, embracing his own truth has proven to be a lucrative venture. For millions of his die-hard fans, the 25-year old superstar is more than just a “YouTuber.” He is a social influencer who is merging business and culture, almost effortlessly.
The best-selling author of 2015’s A Work in Progress: A Memoir, Franta is also cofounder of the lifestyle brand Common Culture, which has nearly 300,000 followers on social media and continues to grow from curating coffee and music mixtapes to offering clothing. His record label, Heard Well, has produced a number of best-selling compilation CDs, including from YouTuber Tyler Oakley and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. He’s been featured on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine and, in 2016, won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite YouTube Star.
Now the self-made millionaire has a new book, Note to Self, and is looking to the future in the only way he knows how: by focusing inward. After all, being introspective was the initial catalyst for Franta’s success. But becoming his own brand has required him to be the center of attention — and that’s a role he had to get used to.
“Growing up, I was never the front-and-center kid,” he explains. “I was kind of three rows back. I definitely didn’t sit in the front row in class. I didn’t want to be onstage, nothing like that. So it was almost an acquired taste to be an entertainer or whatever it is I classify myself as nowadays. It’s something I’ve had to learn how to deal with. But I’ve come to really enjoy it.”
Still, Franta makes a conscious effort to maintain a “three rows back” kind of attitude with his brands by not placing his face on packaging, and instead relying on quality to sell products — a strategy he hopes will give his brand staying power. It seems to be paying off.