Yes. It’s a simple three letter word but it’s one that has the power to be the difference between you skydiving from 18,000 feet or deciding to have another piece of chocolate cake. That’s the thing with ‘yes’; it isn’t the word itself that has the power, it’s the situations in which you say it. You may think you say ‘yes’ often but remember that its opposite ‘no’ comes in many forms. A common form of ‘no’ is ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I can’t spare the money’, ‘I’m too scared’ or ‘I’ll do it later’.
One group that can say they have a truly deep understanding of the word ‘yes’ are Thomas Brag, Matt Dajer, Ammar Kandil and Derin Emre – founders of the Youtube Channel and now global movement that is Yes Theory.
How to start a movement Yes Theory style
When the group first met in Montreal Canada sparking a global movement was not on their minds. Rather it started with a simple challenge dreamt up by Thomas and Matt coined ‘Project 30’. They had only known each other for a few months after meeting at McGill University in Canada. While in Montreal they met Ammar and Derin and convinced them to drop what they were doing and take on Project 30 with them. Project 30 was about seeking discomfort and the challenge they set themselves with was to do 30 things in thirty days that pushed them outside of their comfort zone. This, the group felt, was the secret to getting the most out of life and it was the time they all felt most alive.
Phase one: Project 30
Project 30 is where it all began. 30 days to do 30 challenges that put the four guys out of their comfort zones. Day 1? Make a painting and sell it, despite admitting to having very little in the way of artistic talent. Day 12 consisted of eating some disgusting bugs. Day 21 consisted of giving flowers to strangers. The four guys were spending every minute they could either filming or editing their videos. Looking back Ammar admits it was the “best month of our lives” and their crazy challenges got them featured on various national tv networks.
From the attention they got through Project 30 they were offered numerous lucrative TV deals however they did not want to give up their creative control over the process. They realised that what they were doing had the potential to be a lot bigger but they also knew they had keep it all authentic.
However, they struggled to maintain a steady income despite regularly uploading to Youtube and by 17th October 2015 they officially ran out of money.
Phase two: Brother
With no money in the bank account the guys were pretty desperate and close to giving up but then they got an email that changed everything. A new channel starting on Snapchat called Brother were looking for a group of friends to make videos together. They gave them one shot to prove they were the guys to do it. So what did Yes Theory do? It was Christmas season so of course they decided they would ambush the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and take a picture for their christmas card. And that’s exactly what they did. The video ended up being a viral hit and impressed Brother enough to offer them a budget to make 30 more videos.
They importantly did not decide to ‘sell out’ and compromise on their content just to appease Brother and secure a deal. They instead stuck to their beliefs in what they were building and kept their content true to them.
As well as uploading content to Brother they were also putting out the content on their Youtube Channel which started to gain traction. This was the turning point for Yes Theory. Not only did they have a steady stream of income but they also were starting to build a community on Youtube.
Phase three: Seek Discomfort and Yes Theory Fam
Many creators have fallen into the trap of taking their foot off the gas when things are going well and they feel like ‘they’ve made it’. But not Yes Theory. Yes they were having a great time filming Snapchat videos for Brother which were getting millions of views, they were also starting to build subscribers on Youtube, but it wasn’t enough.
They realised that to spark a movement you need to do more than simply make videos. They wanted to connect more with their audience and importantly help their audience connect with each other. They started to try and get their subscribers involved as much as possible in their videos, often organising meet ups or road trips with them. More and more they integrated subscribers into their content and with it a real sense of community.
So in 2018, after building up a strong and loyal base on Youtube, they took things to the next level. In May of that same year they launched their clothing brand ‘Seek Discomfort’. Seek discomfort was Yes Theory’s motto and had been mentioned several times in their Youtube videos. They felt it summed up their mission pretty well and got to the heart of what they were about. They of course launched it in true Yes Theory style by unveiling the pieces at a fashion show they hosted in their backyard on just 7 days prep.
At the same time as launching Seek Discomfort they also created a Facebook Group called the ‘Yes Theory Fam’. Now you may have just cringed a little but setting up their clothing brand and also creating the Facebook group were pivotal in taking Yes Theory to the next level – i.e. going from simply a Youtube channel to a movement.
Phase four: A movement begins...
The Yes Theory Fam Facebook group was important as it gave their followers a space to interact and connect with each other. People felt inspired by Yes Theory’s story and ethos and were desperate to go out into their communities and seek discomfort and the thrills that go with it. The Yes Theory Fam group started to take a life of it’s own and before long it could boast of members from all around the globe. It currently stands at 130,000 members and that number is constantly expanding.
The Yes Theory Fam is fantastic space with members often collaborating on projects and organising meet ups. Challenges are also big part of the group with members encouraging others to test themselves in the name of personal growth and development such as through the 100 Days of Sweat challenge first coined by Ammar of Yes Theory.
In fact, this whole website owes it’s existence, at least in part, to the Yes Fam Facebook group which brought myself and the talented web designer Eric Reifer of Digitalsuite together.
So what’s next for Yes Theory?
Yes Theory don’t look like stopping anytime soon and neither does their movement. They now have over 5 million subscribers with over 750,000 coming in just the last 4 months. Back in October 2019 they announced their plans for a Yes Theory World Tour although as of yet we are still waiting for details of when and where that Tour will be taking place.
We might not know yet when their world tour will be happening but one thing is for sure; what they’ve achieved in just five years on Youtube is very impressive. People have spent decades trying to garner a global following like Yes Theory’s. Add on top of all that that the Yes Theory movement all started from a 30 day challenge taken on by 4 guys who barely knew each other and it really does make for a great story. Who knows, maybe a movie about their journey is next.
So there you have it. How to spark a movement Yes Theory style. Just remember – seek discomfort!