The first quarter of 2024 had just come to a close, and Davis Clarke was celebrating. “We beat all expectations,” he said in a Q1 update call posted for his 613,000 followers on Instagram. Clarke is the Capital Management Manager at Citizens Bank in Boston, but he wasn’t talking about bank revenues—he was referring to his following, which has exploded over the past three months thanks to his motivational short-form videos, which answer a question no one has ever asked: What if LinkedIn assumed human form, and was really charming and funny?

“Locked in for greatness today,” Clarke begins a video that has accrued over 10 million views since he posted it on February 21. “Because it is time to absolutely hammer some Excel spreadsheets.”

“Bad day to be an excel spreadsheet,” a comment reads. It has over 70,000 likes.

It all started with a train. “First train ride of 2024, getting fired up,” Clarke says in a front-facing clip taken from his seat on the MBTA Commuter Rail. “Gonna be firing off some interest rate calculations, getting the people going.” The January 2 video kicked off over 500x growth, according to Clarke’s Q1 report, and landed him the reputation of the most “locked in” guy on the internet.

Clarke has always been about the grind, but before this year, he mostly focused on running in his posts. But when he noticed that his views ticked up when he posted about work, he decided he could bring his “help others, do the right thing, and enjoy life every day” ethos to office culture.

Clarke leads a quieter existence than the Liver King or even Andrew Huberman. He doesn’t have an “exciting” job. He shops at Jos. A. Bank. He watches sports to relax. But the enthusiasm he brings to the mundanity of life has charmed the internet; even the haters who lurk in his comments keep coming back. In this conversation he shares what it’s been like to become a social media icon, how he stays motivated, and, most importantly, what’s ahead for Q2.

GQ: When did you start using social media?

Davis Clarke: I was never really a big social media person growing up. I maybe had a Facebook that I barely used. But once I went to college, UMass Amherst, which is University of Massachusetts Amherst, I had a marketing class. It was called the You Brand project. And the goal was to start a social media account to show the world the values that you care about. The class was run by my mentor, Professor Weinberg. He and his family have helped me a ton, and even now he still helps me out a lot. I had to make an Instagram account and start showing the world, “Hey, what matters to me? What type of person am I?” So I had the Instagram account for that project, but after a couple months I didn’t really use it, and I picked it up after the pandemic ended. My brother wanted to start making a YouTube channel, social media videos. But he was younger, he wasn’t fully ready to do it. So I was like, “Hey, you know what? I’m gonna get this account going again. We can throw any videos up. I really don’t care what we put out there.” And so then we started making videos, just capturing us getting started after the pandemic saying we were gonna go out and inspire America, do workouts with our friends.

How would you describe your brand?

I stick to the same core values: help others, do the right thing, and enjoy life every day. Those three I just try to keep consistent across any of the videos. So whether I’m doing a workout—or now, the work-related content, which is much more popular ’cause people can relate to it—I always just try to say, “Hey, I’m going out there with a lot of energy. Whatever I’m doing, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and just make things happen.”

I associate you with the work content, but that’s a recent development?

Yeah, that’s brand new. Pretty much from the end of the pandemic until six months ago I was mostly just doing workouts, crazy challenges, really long runs. Back in September, I started working at Citizens Bank in downtown Boston and said, “Hey, I wanna switch it up. I wanna be more focused on business.” So that’s why I made the switch. And about January, February is when I really started going, “Hey, let’s do train videos, let’s just capture going into some of these meetings.” That’s when it really picked up.

Why do you think that video suddenly did so well?

So that one in January, it wasn’t the first train-related video. We tested one on my second day of work back in September with my friend Dan O’Connell, where we were hyping each other up at North Station. So not on the train. But that video got about 50 or 60,000 views. I got maybe 1,000 or 2,000 views before. So my first train ride of 2024, Dan O’Connell is sitting next to me on the train, and I’m like, “Hey yo, you wanna send this train video”? He is like, “Yeah, I’m chilling today, but go ahead and fire it off.” So I did. I’m like, “Hey, first train ride 2024. Absolutely locked in” while everyone else is silent. And then we started getting the traction, getting more friends involved, and just trying to make it fun for everyone.

I can tell that everything you post is super genuine. But you’re constantly getting comments asking, “Is this satire? Is this real?” Why do you think people don’t believe that this is how you really feel?

I’m not 100 percent sure. I only set out really to have the videos seen by family, friends, people in my local community. But then it just took off. If people know me, I think they are like, “Oh, it’s just Davis.” If they’ve never met me, maybe they think that it’s some type of act. But I’m literally just out there capturing my life. There’s no script. I don’t think of it ahead of time. I just do it.

For the people who do get it, what is it you hope they are taking from watching your content?

I just hope that people have energy to go after whatever goals they have. Everyone’s different, they’re gonna wanna do different things, but they have to have the confidence. And it has been really cool, ’cause now more and more people will be coming up to me on the streets and they’ll be like, “Hey, I’m locked in. I’m ready to get after it. I’m ready for work. We’re gonna hammer these spreadsheets.”

How would you describe the community of people that follow you?

I would say it’s a whole range of people. I mean, we’ll get kids as young as middle school who are really excited about it. People who are senior citizens, I guess you’d say. And anywhere in between. I would say the people who probably relate to it the most are kids who are in school, in high school, college, really studying hard, working on time management skills. And then I would say young to midterm professionals.

I imagine it can be overwhelming getting all these comments and feedback that you do, especially when people are coming across your videos randomly, thanks to the algorithm. Has that been hard to deal with?

So I like the negative comments a lot. I thought it was hilarious from the beginning, ’cause my friends and I would go in and be like, we’re gonna make a couple short videos, call the people out, and just really have fun with it. I have a great, I guess you would call it support system—friends, family, just people in the community. They’ll be like, “Hey, go get ’em Davis, don’t let ’em get you down.” If I [spend] just a couple minutes putting up a video, maybe reading a few comments, a day it’s a really small portion [of my time]. The rest of the day I’m surrounded by people who love and care about me.

Instagram is your main platform, but I’ve also seen your videos on TikTok. Do you post there as well?

I used it in the past a little bit. I always want to use Instagram ’cause that’s where my friends and family are and I wanted to make sure they had the videos. Tons of ’em were telling me, “Hey, you’ve gotta try TikTok.” So last summer I tried a few videos but eventually I gave it up. I’m like, I just wanna go to Instagram. That’s the place to be. It’s also an American company. So I always wanna support America. But [I’m also trying] a little bit more on LinkedIn, Snapchat, and some other companies.

Do you find that some platforms are better than others for certain types of posts?

I’m still trying to figure it out because I don’t exactly have a strategy. I’m just sending ten second selfie videos wherever they’ll let me. I took a couple marketing classes in college, but other than that, it’s mostly just me going out there and saying, “Hey, I’ll do this best I can.”

Why do you think work culture is such a big part of our lives now?

I think it has been in American culture for a long time. I mean, now people are working less than ever before, it seems like. But I think it takes up so much of people’s time and it’s something that a lot of people can relate to. Some people like art, some people like sports, some people like, I don’t even know, looking at the stars and eclipses. Most people are gonna have to work and work hard.

I’m guessing you’re an office guy, not a work from home guy?

I worked from home for about three years for FIS, a technology company. We started in the office once I graduated from college. Then we went remote for about three years and I decided, I want to be in the office. Just seeing people, having fun, talking with them, being a personable person. I definitely like going into the office more now. Probably three to four times a week, I’m in the office. I love it.

I really miss that now that I’m freelance and working from home. I just have my cats to talk to.

You can go out and do other things. When I was working from home, I was like, okay, I’m gonna volunteer as a high school football coach, give back to my community, help the kids. It depends what people want, but yeah. There’s nothing like hopping on the train, you see everyone from your hometown, just get fired up before work.

Do you have any go-to clothing brands that you would recommend to build a good office wardrobe?

[Stands up for a fit check.] I mean, you can see what I’m wearing. I guess it’s kind of purple today. I try to mix it up, get some crazy colors and black pants and black shoes. But primarily I go to Jos. A. Bank, because the store’s close by. They’ve got great people. But it’s also—I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the commercials before, it’s buy three get two off—so it’s a tremendous value on top of that. A lot of my family members will go there, too. When I was a little kid, my dad would be getting clothes there, so I’d just be there, sitting around. And now I go get the clothes myself.

How do you recharge? Once you’ve done your run, worked all day, you come home—what do you do?

I’ll usually just hang out, watch sports, talk to friends or family, whoever’s around. I would have to study. I was on a tough schedule. I was taking a finance exam, so a lot of times I’d have to study for a couple hours and then just go to bed. I don’t have any problem falling asleep. I guess by the time the end of the day comes around, I’m just out, and then it’s right back at it, ready to go.

And finally: What’s ahead for Q2?

I don’t really have too many goals or plans. I’m mostly taking it day to day, but I just wanna stay true to those values. So number one, as long as I’m helping people, getting the positive messages out there, that’s first and foremost. Probably just keep making the videos and we’ll just see what life throws at me.

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