What it’s like to go from homeless to an income of over $1 million
Just two years ago, Alex Warren was sleeping in friends’ cars and working nonstop making videos for TikTok and YouTube. Now, the 21-year-old content creator has over 20 million cumulative followers and recently released his single "Remember Me Happy.” Nora chats with Alex about how he mastered the algorithm, his newfound wealth, and the hard lessons he learned about personal finance. His new podcast is called "Locked In With Alex Warren." For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out realvision.com/businesscasual.
Host: Nora Ali
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Fact Checker: Kate Brandt
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer
Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm
Alex Warren: Dropping out of high school is something that I did not want to do. I was homeless, so I didn't really have a choice. But that's something where it's like, I had to put all my eggs in a basket and be like, "Okay, I can't look for a part-time job," because I was working at a restaurant. I'm like, "There's no moving up, there's no promotion that I'm interested in for the long run. And I need to do something drastic to change the trajectory of my life." And I had been doing content creation for a while, but I was in love with putting something out and making someone feel a certain way. The idea that someone could then message me and say, "This changed my life, or I really, really look up to what you're doing," is something I always aspired to have. And to be able to influence people in a way where they could feel something was just a dream.
Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you convos with people you know and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now, let's get down to business.
Entrepreneurs are no stranger to risk. In fact, most of the people we talk to on Business Casual had to, at some point, make the big decision to just do the thing, to make the leap. But our guest today is someone who decided to go all in on his dreams when he had really nothing left to lose. Alex Warren is a 21-year-old content creator on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. And as he said in an interview with Netflix, he's gone from negative $600 and homeless to a millionaire, all in the ages of 17 to 20. Of course, his success did not come out of the blue; Alex has been working for it. He's been uploading videos for 11 years, which, if you do the math, is more than half of his young life. And as he told us, he is a freak with the algorithm when it comes to TikTok. He studies and analyzes it. He AB tests posts over multiple accounts, he has a whiteboard. It sounds a lot to me like a tech startup, and I was blown away by just how thoughtful and smart Alex really is about the stuff that he makes—and it's all paid off.
Alex now boasts 20 million plus cumulative followers across accounts. And he recently released a single, "Remember Me Happy." He launched a podcast. He also stars in the new Netflix series Hype House. My conversation with Alex was surprising in so many ways, and a testament to just how impressive full-time creators can be. We talked about how to build a successful brand that's "all over the place in a very controlled way," in his words. What it's like to go from having nothing to making and spending over $1 million in a year...and he kind of regrets that overspending. How he's finally figured out how to manage his money, and how his ultimate goal is to get to a point where he can just slow down. Me too, Alex, me too. That is all next, after a quick break.
Welcome to Business Casual. We usually like to start with an icebreaker that's workplace related, but I feel like you don't work in a traditional workplace, so I'm switching it up a little bit. I want to ask you if you have a pet peeve. Specifically, a TikTok-related pet peeve. For example, I'll give you mine. I hate when people spread a single story over multiple parts, over multiple TikToks. That annoys me and everyone else. Do you have any pet peeves that come to mind?
Alex Warren: I think the biggest one for me is when...because I'm in the music realm now too, my biggest pet peeve is when people make up stories to get pre-saves. So the whole, "Oh, my label won't let me put this song out until I get a hundred thousand pre-saves." And I just watch that and I'm just like, it's like selling a fake product and then being like, "Hey, this is why you have to do it." I feel like it's like losing the art in a way, where you work so hard on an album or you work so hard on a single, and you put so much time, energy and love into it, put the equal amount of energy and love into like promoting it, because it's become a huge thing now. And that's something where it's like, "I hate it because you were so creative with that song, be creative with the promotion." It's a huge, important part of it.
Nora Ali: Yeah. To that point, what's your approach to promoting your music? Where does the creativity come in for you?
Alex Warren: I mean, a lot of it is...thankfully, I come from social media. So that's the thing where it's more of, I have to prove myself in the music space as opposed to musicians right now have to prove themselves in the social space to generate pre-saves and streams, unless you're like Harry Styles. But it's the thing where, seeing exactly what your audience wants and for me, thankfully, I understand what they want. They subscribe to the couples videos and they subscribe to the idea that I'm very open about my past and everything that I've gone through, and it reflects in the music. So therefore, when I promote it, I make the music about those things that I've gone through and it really resonates with them because it's something that's relatable in my space. I have a spam account where I just post fun trends and stuff to my songs. So it's understanding what can do well without having to sell out.
Nora Ali: Can you explain what you mean by you have a spam account that posts trends? What is that?
Alex Warren: Yeah. So I have five different TikTok accounts just to kind of like...You know how TikTok is interest-based, so your For You page is interest-based. Most of my content on my main account is very much couples stuff and promoting music in a authentic way, where I'm just playing the song and hoping people will like it. And then on my spam account, that has I think almost 2 million followers, I just post trends that have gone viral or videos that have gone viral, and I think they'd be funny if I added my sound to it. So I repurpose content or fill my own content of stuff where they can see these trends with my song on it. But also I can feel things out and see if it'll do well on that account, that I can do something similar on my main account. So that way it's not so much of a hit.
Nora Ali: Oh, is that common for people to have multiple accounts, spam accounts, try out different trends?
Alex Warren: No, I'm just aggressive. I love the...not business, I'd say analytical side of the business, where I really love the numbers and analytically seeing why people walked away. It's like a fun game for me to be able to see how I can make a video better. And so I can't just do a survey and ask a thousand people what they think. So the only people who are going to partake in the survey are the people who are very loyal to me. So it's like something where I have to then test out the waters on a second account. So if I make videos and I don't know if it's going to resonate well in my main account, most times if you're trying out new things on your main account, a lot of people who have been subscribed to the normal stuff that you're posting, they're going to see that and be like, "Oh, he's changing what he's doing. I'm going to jump ship." And to prevent that from happening, I would post it on a different account that has a similar following of demographic and you can see specifics, and I'll post things that I think would do okay. And depending on how they do on that account, then that determines whether or not I'm going to post on my main.
Nora Ali: Hmm. You're like a little tech startup. You have a separate environment where you're testing out different things, so your main audience isn't like, "Whoa, what's happening?" I like that a lot.
Alex Warren: Well, yeah. Because that's the one thing where people...I see them post onto their stories and I see them post onto their social medias and it's like, "What do you think about this?" And it's like, you're asking a question you know you're going to get the answer to, because I could literally post a photo of my toe and let's just say, my toe is one of the ugliest toes in the world, and I post it to my following. They want to make me happy the same way I want to make them happy. So they're going to be like, "You know, that is a beautiful toe," and they're going to lie to me. And so, that's the thing where it's like, you have to put it in a natural setting where you're going to be open for judgment and for people who don't really know who you are.
Nora Ali: Hmm. That is interesting. And I didn't know that was a thing that anyone did. But it sounds like you have maybe more of an approach to figuring out what works than a lot of other creators that we've talked to. So I do want to back up a little bit first for the uninitiated. How would you describe your brand on TikTok? And if you could sort of summarize who your demo is as well, that would be great.
Alex Warren: Yeah. I mean, my demo is very...and this correlates with the brand; I think my brand on TikTok is very all over the place in a very controlled way. That's the biggest oxymoron I could have ever used. But most of my demographic on TikTok is 13- to 18-year-old girls, which is, I think I have 75% female, because they're couple videos. And like, most people who are engaging in content and hitting the follow button typically tend to be female. And it's a lot of times with my content, especially filming with my girlfriend and my girlfriend is a hoot. I love her so much, but she's funny.
Nora Ali: She's the best part of your account, for sure.
Alex Warren: And she's very relatable and she's very much like, our couple and our dynamic is something of, kind of like a characteristic of what people either aspire to have or find relatable in their own personalities. But it varies, because it's cut in the middle on the music. And then on the YouTube, it's almost cut in the middle as well so it's difficult to find a hardcore demographic to hit on if you're trying to essentially pitch, in a way, because it's so all over the place on each platform because I'm offering different things for each thing.
Nora Ali: And this is a question that I think founders and company leaders ask, is, "Okay, we know who our demographic is on certain platforms. Do we lean into that and create content that we know will resonate with them? Or do we try to expand who that demographic is?" Let's say, if you're trying to grow your following by 10X or 20X or by magnitudes, do you want to start making content that caters to 35-year-old men? That's just a weird example, down the line.
Alex Warren: That's also very packed, though, because like I explained earlier, what I feel like a lot of companies haven't gotten the grasp on is the fact is that TikTok is very interest-based. And so no matter what, you should be looking at engagement, and when you ask people for analytics, which...no company's done this yet. And I'm like, "Why aren't you doing this?" If I started a company and I was looking at TikTokers, I wouldn't ask them for their analytics of who follows them. I don't give a frick about that. You have to look at how often they're on the For You page and who on the For You page is looking at that, because it's interest-based. So whatever you're posting, it's going to go off of the interest of that and then go on to every person like that's account. And you want the people who are hitting the For You page all the time, not their following. If you're going for someone's following, go on Instagram and go on YouTube. And I mean, yes, sure. TikTok, they have a huge following, a massive following, but even then most of the people with the massive following...Like my videos are 70% For You page, 30% following. So if you want to play it safe, go for the big guys, but they're going to charge more because they have that leverage, opposed to people who are getting on the For You page all the time, but it's on a minor scale. And my engagement is very much there but it's very subjective, and that's why demographic and stuff like that is very tricky to play on TikTok because you don't really have a perfect analytic for that.
Nora Ali: Yeah. So I guess, if you're a brand or a company that wants to work with a creator on TikTok, what are some of the questions that you think they should be asking? What's the breakdown of the views that you get between For You page and from your following? What are some of the smart things that brands should be looking at for creators they want to work with?
Alex Warren: How often their videos are successful. The AVD, so how often are people watching through the video and how much they're engaging in it.
Nora Ali: What is AVD?
Alex Warren: Average view duration. So how long they're watching the video, because here's the thing, a video could get X amount of views, but at the end of the day, I want to know if they're going to watch fully for the product line. Because what if they decide to put my integration and the hard points that I want them to talk about at the way end, but people are cutting out 15 seconds before that? That's not applicable for what I'm trying to do then. So that's something that I hardcore set on. But also, if I do a brand deal with you and you have history of doing brand deals but those brand deals get significantly less, if I was a company I wouldn't want to give them a set thing to do, I'd want to say, "Hey, do you have any ideas for the brand? Do you have any ideas on what you would do if I gave you this? What could you make out of it? And how does that align with your content?"
Nora Ali: Okay. So the notion of getting on the For You page, obviously that's super important, but some people have created followings based on just trying to educate people on how to get on the For You page, and how to get viral and how to get more viewers. Is there a hypothesis in your eyes of how you can make it more likely to get on more For You pages?
Alex Warren: Yeah. It's just studying the algorithm. The algorithm is an AI-based interest algorithm, and so many people are trying to monetize off that by creating fucking Discords and stuff and being like, "Pay me X amount of dollars for a session and I'll explain it to you." And then you look at their profile and literally none of their videos are on the For You page and it's boosted. I would never subscribe to the fact of those things because it's always like, "If it's so easy and you're teaching me how to do it, why the heck are your videos not on the For You page?" And that's something like someone teaching you how to sing but they don't know how to sing. What the heck is that? And so it's the same thing with the algorithm—getting on the For You page is like a pattern. And with my videos, I have a really high engagement because I've cracked the pattern, but I can't tell you the pattern because it's different for every person. It's based on your profile. Essentially you have a certain fan base or audience who's already subscribing to what you're posting. And then it's like, if you're going to copy my content, it's not going to get on the For You page as it does for me because maybe your fan base is 60% male and that's not going to resonate. So it's finding why they signed up for you. Because if you post a hundred times, you're bound to get one somewhat viral video, a video that does better. And then from that, it's like, "Okay, that video did really good. How can I recreate that process?" You look at the analytics and be like, "Okay, people clicked off later. Why did they click off later opposed to this video?"
And so my best practice when I do it is, I have a whiteboard in here, and I'll put a whiteboard up and I'll get six videos, three videos that I thought performed well and three videos I thought performed really bad. And I'll see in the number side, it's like searching for something and you find it. You'll find why it did bad or why it didn't do as well, whether it's the shares or the engagement or the followers you gained from that post. And once you find the differences, you can then home in on it and figure out how you can change it in the content of it.
Nora Ali: Yeah. And that's such a good point. It's so different depending on the creator. So for anyone to say, "This is what works, this is how you game the algorithm," just doesn't make any sense, because it's going to be different.
Alex Warren: I love talking about this shit, it's my favorite. No one asks me questions about this. I love talking about it because this is how I got to where I was—I studied the algorithm.
Nora Ali: Yeah, exactly. All right. We're going to take a quick break. More with Alex when we come back. So let's talk a little bit about your journey. So you've been posting content for what, 11 years now, something like that, which is like half your life?
Alex Warren: Yeah.
Nora Ali: So you dropped out of high school senior year, to pursue content creation full time. And it's clear that you've been at this for so long that you have your methods, you have your analysis. It's not like you're just doing this willy-nilly. But you were certain from a young age that you wanted to do content creation full time and go all in. Why was that? And I feel like you realized this before a lot of other people realized this.
Alex Warren: Yeah. I mean, first to hit on, dropping out of high school is something that I did not want to do. I was homeless, so I didn't really have a choice. But that's something where it's like, I had to put all my eggs in a basket and be like, "Okay, I can't look for a part-time job," because I was working at a restaurant. I'm like, "There's no moving up, there's no promotion that I'm interested in for the long run. And I need to do something drastic to change the trajectory of my life." And I've been doing content creation for a while, but I was in love with putting something out and making someone feel a certain way. The idea that someone could then message me and say, "This changed my life, or I really, really look up to what you're doing," is something I always aspired to have and to be able to influence people in a way where they could feel something was just a dream.
And so music was the start of it. I would post singing clips all the time and I just really, realistically, had no confidence in my ability to do that. And I did have a confidence in my way of making film and like making videos to portray a feeling. I really took a lot of inspiration from a lot of movies and TV shows and YouTubers who were doing that at the time, and making them either laugh or sad or making them feel a certain way with that certain music and whatnot. And so I just went hard on that and I was posting that, and then utilizing the fact that musically, I had at the time, I was gaining a following pretty quickly on there, because no one was posting comedy videos, it was all lip syncing like F bois.
And so I knew I didn't have the body or face for that—I had the face for radio. So I had to figure out what I had to do to influence the decision. So I would make comedy skits and funny things and I would film my girlfriend and have fun. And they were doing really well. And then I just put my YouTube clips and shrunk them down into short form, 15-second clips that were really fast, and highlight reels of the highlight reel YouTube videos I was doing, and would promote the video and make it off a cliffhanger, so that way when you watched it, you were like, "Oh, shit. I want to see more." And then it was like full video on my YouTube and then it would get them to go where the money was. And I was building a following there well, getting them to go watch the full version and be more invested in it.
Nora Ali: So you're figuring out how to get more followers over time. At what point do you decide to lay out a plan, whether it's a career plan, financial plan, figuring out if you can sustain yourself by doing this for a living? Was there a moment where you just had to figure out what the future might look like?
Alex Warren: I had to choose. There was two options. I literally had to choose, pursue this and have the chance that it would absolutely suck. Or pursue the restaurant industry of what I was bussing tables. And one seemed a lot more lucrative, but also one I was actually passionate about. I just never felt like, with the way that my life had gone at the current moment, that I could actually do that. And so I was just like, "Frick it, I'm 18, living in someone else's car right now. My life could not get any worse at this current moment, and if there's a time to try this and there's a time to really go at this, it's now, opposed to when I'm 24." And so there was nothing I could lose. I was already homeless, I already had negative $600 in my bank account. I already didn't know where I was going to eat. So this was the moment where I was like, "Okay, this is now the time, or if not, never."
Nora Ali: So you had very little to lose; it felt like really only upside at that point. But you grew a following pretty quickly too. Or I guess, the scale at which your followers grew was pretty quick, from 1 million to 14 million followers in one year. Was there a point at which you started feeling different or living your life differently or starting to spend on things that you didn't think you'd be able to? Walk me through when that moment was for you.
Alex Warren: Oh, my God. This is once I've like...you know, going from homeless to millions of dollars is...as awesome as that is, and I am not going to sit here and tell you about the terrible things that it was, because it wasn't. And I'm not going to try and convince you otherwise. Poor me. But this is something where I didn't know what the hell to do. I went from nothing, nothing, nothing for like ever, and then all of a sudden, a thousand dollars, and then all of a sudden $2,500. And that's when I was like, "Okay, I can quit the restaurant job and go at this full time." And then it went from $2,500 to $5,000, then went it from $5,000 to $10,000, and then $10,000 to $25,000, and then all the way up until $400,000 a month. And this was something where it was very fast and it creeped up extremely fast, to the point where I didn't save for taxes. I spent almost all of it. And I think in one year I spent a million dollars and I had no money for taxes.
Nora Ali: Wow.
Alex Warren: Yeah. And then I was like, "You know what, I'm going to continue making this. I just signed a deal, I'm just going to spend it and I'll make it back the next month and just pay that on the taxes." Not realizing that more money coming in means that half that money's going to go out. So I'd have to have two months of no spending to make up for the one month that I had not paid. And so it was just this whole thing; I just kept buying cars and I kept buying just the dumbest things. And my family, I was like, "Here's a car, here's all this, here's all that," and it's like, you know, I'm going to have to pay taxes on that. Those are things I never thought about.
Nora Ali: Do you find that this is common where people like you, you create, you get a big following, you make a lot of money suddenly, and no one is around you to advise you on your finances? Have you seen this happen to your peers?
Alex Warren: No, this is so stupid.
Nora Ali: It's just you?
Alex Warren: I thought I would, too. So many of my friends, I was like, "Oh, hey. Taxes really bit me in the ass here." And they're like, "Yeah, you should get a guy." I'm like, what? They're like, "Yeah. I have a whole financial team." I was feeling so shit, I was like, "Oh, my God. I had to spend $350k on taxes." He's like, "What? I spent $3 million." I'm like, "What the fuck are you talking about?" I'm like, "Let's just do the general thumb of rule here, that's half of your money? What deals are you doing?" And so that was a whole thing where I was like, where are the...It's like and write-offs and business counts, and now thankfully, I have a whole financial team that handles every single thing, to the point where if I want to buy a car, they'll literally handle everything and it gets shipped to my house. And it's really, really simple and really awesome. But it took me two years to get to where I am today, and now I have separate business accounts and I have so many LLCs and S Corps. And because I'm always doing company things and I suck at saving money and so they take my cards and I go, "Can I buy this?" And they say yes or no, and then I do it.
Nora Ali: So you have all these things that you're doing: You're a musician, you're a creator, you are part of Hype House and there's the Netflix series about it. You also have a podcast, which we'll get into in a moment. But how do you determine the portfolio of things that you want to do, whether it's balancing what's revenue-driving versus what's just brand-building? How does that calculus happen for you and your team?
Alex Warren: I've realized over time, it's like when you chase the money for a while, it stops coming. And it's so strange, that happened. You mentioned Hype House—something for me is when I had left the Hype House and no longer a part of it but I helped create it, around six months ago I decided to leave, just because it was something for me where, if you hang onto something for too long, it's just not going to get what you're trying to get out of it. And so we built it up and whatever, and Thomas had taken over it and we were just, me and Kouvr wanted to go off and focus on different avenues of life and be an adult. And the biggest thing for me is, music is really the true passion. I've been obsessed with it ever since I was a kid and I never thought it was possible. And when I found out labels wanted to sign me, that was the coolest part of it. But when it comes down to it, whatever you focus more on, you're going to make the most money on.
I know social media, if I put every ounce of attention into that, I'm going to make tenfold what I'm making now. And so it's like the same thing with the music. It's like, you have so many avenues of music, you sign a label deal and so you're making royalties and you have that powerhouse behind you. You have the publishing rights of the songs, so then you can sell the catalog for millions of dollars. And so those are the things you have to see. If you focus so hard on music, you could get to that point, but also you have to enjoy it or else you burn out. And that's what I've watched a lot of people do, is they just chase the money and burn out, and all of a sudden it's gone. And they then go, "I want to be an actor now that all my engagement is down and I can't milk any more money out of this." And everyone's like, "Why do we want you to be an actor after we just saw you get completely irrelevant or your views have gone?" That's a poor phrasing of words. But if you chase the money for so long and it wasn't your true passion, you should've done it at the height of your career when the money was coming in.
Nora Ali: Okay. We're going to take another break. More with Alex when we come back. We are on a podcast, so I have to talk about your podcast...little podcast section. So it's called Locked In with Alex Warren. So you lock in influencers and your friends in a room, you ask them questions, you make them uncomfortable, they can't leave until the clock strikes zero. So we've heard from plenty of creators who like the idea of hosting podcasts. For some reason, that's the cool thing to do these days, which makes me feel good as a podcast host. So why the podcast route for you? What was the impetus for this particular podcast?
Alex Warren: I mean, for me, if you haven't noticed, I love talking. But also, a big thing is, I've experienced a lot of loss in my life and I've experienced a lot of bad shit that's happened. And so I didn't realize that people wanted to hear about it. I thought, it's the whole mindset of you hear me complaining about depression and trauma and the things I've gone through. And everyone's like, "Oh, boohoo, the millionaire's fucking sad." I always was under the impression that it would be that big thing where no one wanted to hear what I had to say because of that. And funny enough, Logan Paul is the person who made me think this way.
Nora Ali: Oh, really?
Alex Warren: Like, people want to hear what you want to say. And that's because I was thinking of it in a negative context, but I'm not thinking of who it's going to help. And when I was a kid and I wanted to do this and I had a terrible childhood, horrible childhood, I thought for sure it would never be possible. I never thought it'd be possible to get to where I am today, I never thought it'd be something of the capability of fruition. And instead it is, and I could talk about my experience. And so what's really cool is, I was with Tana Mojo, funny enough. And she was telling me about all of the things that's going on in her life and all the hard childhood that I never knew about, and everyone just has a certain notion they have with her of, she's a dramatic person. And so I was like, "Why don't you talk about this? People would be inspired by this." And she's like, "People only want to see my provocative videos, and that's about it." And I'm like, "That is a problem and you know it."
And so I created this thing of, I have a whole gimmick, it's Locked In. Be scared, be uncomfortable. And in the end of it, we end up talking about such uncomfortable things, or things that would be viewed as uncomfortable but about the childhood. And it's like a whole therapy session between two people. And I'm just really good at talking and also listening and that's the whole premise of it. And people listen to it and they're like, "I cannot believe this person's actually like this." And I call it the truth behind the clickbait, literally because of Tana Mojo. It's because people find out stuff about someone that they thought was just clickbait or thought of who they were, and then got to see the real meat behind it.
Nora Ali: Yeah. And you have a really great ability to get people to talk about things that they haven't talked about with other interviewers or on other platforms. I listened to your episode with Harry Jowsey from Too Hot To Handle. And you had this conversation that I thought was so interesting around OnlyFans, and how much money people make on OnlyFans. Are you surprised at the lucrative nature of the platform? And even for Harry, you guys talked about the fact that he put a sex tape on OnlyFans and it was behind a paywall for $200 per person and he's making millions of dollars on that. What are your thoughts on OnlyFans and how much money people can make?
Alex Warren: It's smart as hell. Are you kidding? You have to think about it like this. A), I didn't understand it in the beginning because I look like the human embodiment of the Michelin Man. It's something where it's like, you see these attractive people on TikTok or on Netflix or on anything. And as teenage hormones and locked-up Covidness, everyone was like, "Wow, this person's extremely attractive." And so the idea that you could monetize off the fact that people are already thinking that about you, or you see TikTok and whatever guy or celebrity is becoming famous or someone's talking...Like right now, it's the guy with the mustache, it's, uh, Miles Teller.
Nora Ali: Miles Teller, yep.
Alex Warren: How much money do you think Miles Teller would make right now if he made an OnlyFans?
Nora Ali: Literally a billion dollars. So much money.
Alex Warren: My point. It's like, these are things where it's like, this is crazy to think about if someone can actually monetize off the fact that someone is looking at them in a sexual notion that way. And it's like, they're like, "I need a bag. People are already saying shit about me on Twitter. People are already making fake videos of me on different adult videos and stuff. I'm going to fuckin' make my bag." And that was the whole idea, I think, behind it. And people just followed suit after Bhad Bhabie made millions of dollars already, and then Corinna Kopf. And then these people are becoming multimillionaires, and I'm wondering what the hell their taxes look like.
Nora Ali: Me too. Well, Harry said that part of his reasoning for putting out the sex tape was, he said, "It's my retirement plan," because he doesn't want to be on OnlyFans forever. So do you have a retirement plan, Alex, such that you're not constantly on this wheel of making content, or I guess you love it so much that you don't think about that?
Alex Warren: It's an unhealthy obsession. And that's something that...I've been told I need to go to therapy. I agree, I do. And in all seriousness, it is very unhealthy. My whole thing is, I go to bed at 4:00am and I wake up at 7:30 and it's like three hours of sleep. I work from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed. I don't leave the house, which is just crazy. I don't have a social life. I don't have friends, I live with just my friends I grew up with, and...No, but it's serious. And I'm okay with it, though—that's the weirdest part. The reason I'm okay with talking about this is I'm fully fine with it. I have dogs, I have chickens, I have cats, I have my three friends I grew up with. I have my girlfriend, who's practically my wife. And I have a mortgage and I have my life. I feel like I'm a 28, 29-year-old who's got his life figured out and he is raising kids, but in reality, I'm raising Australian Shepherds and I'm dating a girl.
And so I'm so focused on working and setting up my life to be able to retire. And maybe that's just selling enough records or doing whatever, but I'm having a lot of fun doing it. And to me, it's like sitting around and watching all these people in...there's awkward stages of social media. Everyone goes irrelevant for one moment, their views drop, their money goes down and they start freaking out, panicking. And I've been able to dictate when that comes for me, and right now would be that point, but somehow I've passed through it and I'm still averaging insane views. I'm still raking in a lot of money, and that's something that I had prepared for that. And therefore, I'm able to not freak out during this moment and be able to coast.
And so right now I'm just planning for music, making sure that I have enough what it takes to prove to the label and prove to the fan base and prove to whoever may doubt the fact that I could do music. I built a studio in here and so I could just amass my time. And I take vocal lessons five to six times a week, I take piano lessons, music theory lessons, everything. And I've watched all these TikTokers go to music and not know what they're doing and then get shelved, because all of a sudden they left for a month from social media to make an album, come back and no one cares about them anymore. And that's something where it's like, I have to cover all my bases and it's a lot of excruciating work and it's eventually going to pay off, but at what moment am I giving too much and taking too little?
Nora Ali: So it sounds like you've really figured out the right portfolio of things in your life: what is helping your career, the people you need in your life. You don't drink, right? I don't think you're out—
Alex Warren: I don't drink or smoke.
Nora Ali: You're not out partying. Well, you vape, but that's different.
Alex Warren: Well, no. Yeah, I'm saying smoke weed. I have to quit this, but yeah. I started vaping when...because when I was homeless, I got addicted to cigarettes and this was like the come-off to that. Now, I call it a douche stick.
Nora Ali: Well, I love that you have...it sounds like you have a lot figured out, and you love what you do and you're leaning into the things that bring you joy. But I do want to ask you a couple of bonus questions, Alex, if you're down, and this is for a segment called Shoot Your Shot. So I would love to hear what your biggest ambition is, your moonshot idea, your biggest goal in life. This is your chance to put it out in the world and shoot your shot.
Alex Warren: My biggest goal is nothing monetary, to say the least. It's just for me to be able to slow down, relax, and be able to just have the house that I want with the woman of my dreams and the children that I would love. And that is the main goal, by 30, to have all life figured out to the point where I'm just...Because as much as it seems like I have my life figured out right now, it is just a set plan that I think of what's going to happen. I'm working towards that plan, but at the same time, I just want to be able to wake up and worry about normal things. I haven't been to a doctor since I was 17, I haven't—
Nora Ali: What?
Alex Warren: I just, yeah. I don't have time to focus on my own health, which is just nuts to think about. And so today, I went to a chiropractor today, because I have TMJ, and they were doing some jaw adjustments. So the first time I sat down and he is like, "We're going to align you all up." And I was like, "I haven't done anything for my own body. I've been living off fuckin' DoorDash and Chipotle for like...I eat like a dog because it's just as fuel and I keep going." But to be able to wind down and worry about trash going out and walking my dog and just normal things, and be able to just be like, "Hey, honey. Do you want to go to the beach today?" And that's what I dream to be able to do that, because if I was to do that now, I'd have to give up so many things that may hinder me in the future. And so it's just to be able to be present for my kids and be present for my wife and be present for my life and be able to enjoy the things that I worked so hard to build.
Nora Ali: That's so wonderful. But Alex, it sounds like you're such an ambitious, driven, hands-on person. Do you think you'll be able to slow down ever, or is it there's always going to be a new milestone?
Alex Warren: I think I'll be able to slow down. I just don't think I'm going to be able to stop. That's the problem.
Nora Ali: Yeah. Okay.
Alex Warren: And it's like, it's so weird—
Nora Ali: We just need you to get your annual physical, Alex. Just annual physical, maybe therapy.
Alex Warren: Wait, no. That's when they do like this...Oh, God.
Nora Ali: What, are you afraid of the doctor?
Alex Warren: Yeah. I tried to go to the doctor when I had some downtime and I...it's so funny, I went and I was like, "I haven't been in a while, I have a bullet in my lungs, I've been shot before," and I was like, "I want to just make sure I'm not going to die or something." They're like, "Okay, cool, yeah. The only way we can tell is if we draw your blood and be able to do that stuff." And I'm terrified of drawing my blood, I do tattoos fine, but drawing blood is terrible and I go, "Okay, sounds good." He leaves the room to go get the stuff, I leave and I've never been back.
Nora Ali: You ran away from the doctor.
Alex Warren: I'm so scared.
Nora Ali: Alex.
Alex Warren: Yeah. So I have to face my fears.
Nora Ali: You've been shot at? Wait, real quick, if you can share.
Alex Warren: Yeah. I have a bullet in my lung. It was a minor thing back in the day. I was, I think, 18, 19. It was right when I was finding a place. Again, everything messed up that happened to me was when I was homeless, and so I'd go house-hopping. And one of my friends' houses, there was a parent who owned a air rifle that was chambered in .177. So if you know anything about bullets, it's the smallest grain of an actual firearm. They were messing around and didn't know it was loaded and shot at something, and it ricocheted and stuff like that, entered my body and stuck in my lung.
Nora Ali: Oh, my gosh.
Alex Warren: The bullet that was shot at me is sharp on the end and flat on the back, and so once it enters it's going to play pinball with my interior stuff, and it's lodged my lung and if I tried to take it out, it would be a higher chance of death. So I was just like, "Let's not do that."
Nora Ali: Oh, my gosh. That's, that's nuts. Thank you for sharing that. And even more reason to go to the doctor.
Alex Warren: Yeah. It's a fun story.
Nora Ali: Yeah, very fun story. Put that on your to-do list. I will be following up with you to make sure you make an appointment.
Alex Warren: Amazing.
Nora Ali: Okay. Alex, this is a game called Two Beats and a Miss. That's our business slang version of two truths and a lie, very easy.
Alex Warren: Okay, cool.
Nora Ali: So I'm going to name you three things. Two things are true, one thing is false. First thing, Nikita Dragun has five known dragon tattoos. I know you know Nikita well. Number two, Jack Wright graduated cum laude from his high school. And the last thing is, Thomas Petrou is half Greek. These are three things, and one of them is a lie.
Alex Warren: So I know Thomas is Greek. I know Nikita has a dragon tattoo, I don't know how many. Jack did not graduate top of his class.
Nora Ali: You are correct.
Alex Warren: Jack once asked me something and I immediately knew, I was like, "I didn't graduate from high school, but did you?" Jack is the sweetest motherfucker ever. I call him the human embodiment of a golden retriever and he also thinks like it too.
Nora Ali: Oh, my gosh. That's so sweet. So it turns out his twin, James, did graduate cum laude from his high school.
Alex Warren: James is a fucking genius.
Nora Ali: Oh, wow. We love James. Okay.
Alex Warren: Yes.
Nora Ali: That's it. Thank you for playing that game with us.
Alex Warren: Thank you for having me.
Nora Ali: This is Business Casual and I'm Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli and I would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for episodes, comments and thoughts on episodes you loved, fun segment ideas, shoot me a DM and I will do my best to respond. You can also reach the Business Casual team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 862-295-1135. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please leave a rating and a review; it really helps us. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Kate Brandt is our fact checker. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.