Six years ago Marques Brownlee was just a kid talking about technology to his webcam and sharing his thoughts on YouTube. Now, with 2.6 million subscribers, his well-produced MKBHD videos are among the most popular sources of gadget commentary online.
If you're not familiar with his channel you should be; his videos are insightful and slick. It's intriguing and inspiring to see people like Marques cultivating their skills and growing an audience from a hobby, and arriving at a place where his work rivals that of any media network, and often reaches more viewers. (I feel like a lackadaisical old man by comparison.)
Beyond YouTube you can follow him pretty much everywhere on the internet: on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Instagram. We caught up with Marques to learn a little about how he does what he does, and what might be next.
Location: NJ, USA Current gig: Web video producer. One word that best describes how you work: Meticulous. Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge today. Nexus 6 yesterday. Honestly it's a different answer every day. Current computer: Eight-core Mac Pro running OS X Yosemite. I'd try the El Capitan developer preview, but that tends to mess with Premiere CC.
What apps, software, or tools can't you live without?
My life is in Google services. Google Calendar. Google Tasks. Google Maps.
What's your workspace setup like?
What's your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Man, I wish I had one. Here's a tip for video shooters: Storyboarding. In college, I didn't have time to storyboard videos. I'd write down a set of bullet points over the course of a few days, then when it felt complete, I'd fire up the camera and attempt to capture everything. Now that I don't have classes all day, I can be much more deliberate with how I make video, and storyboarding/planning almost every shot beforehand helps me focus less on the mechanics and more on the content.
What's your favourite to-do list manager?
What gadget can't you live without and why?
Gadget I can't live without? My smartphone, easy. It's my calendar, my sense of direction, a camera and my connection to the world.
You're always trying different phones, but what's you're favourite in recent memory? What would you use if you weren't reviewing them?
I get this question all the time — if you could only choose one phone, which would you pick? Truth is I have no idea. I'm using a Galaxy S6 Edge right now, but I do have my favourites that I love using from year to year: Samsung's new Galaxy Note, the new Nexus, and more recently, lower budget phones running near stock Android like the OnePlus One.
Given that the design of smart phones has become almost standardised, with each new entry following the same basic template, what sort of innovations would you like to see?
I'd love to see a new focus on battery life. Phones have gotten thinner year after year, to the point where we need an extra bulge just to fit all the camera optics. In my opinion, that's unnecessary. Thin phones look cool when taking them out of the box, there's not much practical after that. I want to see more phones like the RAZR Maxx that are slightly thicker but with massive batteries for 40+ hours of use.
What are your favourite headphones? I ask because the Lifehacker editors are obsessed with headphones.
For walking around, I almost never leave my apartment without my Jaybird Bluebuds X, a pair of bluetooth earbuds with an eight-hour battery life and awesome sound quality and comfort. Finally, I've gotten more into open-back headphones recently, thanks to the Sennheiser HD800s. Yes, that's a big step up and I love it.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
Everyday thing I'm better at? Plugging in USB cables right on the first try. I must not reveal my secrets.
What do you listen to while you work?
What are you currently reading?
Motion graphics tutorials...
What's your sleep routine like?
Late to bed, early to rise. I can't stand getting up late — makes the day feel way too short. But the hardest thing at the end of the day is putting down the camera/mouse and going to sleep.
You've achieved some notable success at quite a young age! If you weren't covering electronics, what do you think you'd be doing? What would you like to come next?
If I wasn't making videos about tech, I would have just graduated from college with a BS in Business & Technology. So I'd probably be sitting at a desk somewhere. But I'm excited to be in the position I'm in now, and hopefully next is bigger and better videos!
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions.
I'd love to see some other YouTubers answer these same questions!
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Best advice I've ever received: Be your own biggest critic.
We've asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we'll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.