This is an excerpt (summary chapter) from my free ebook “Create A Start” so without any further ado, let’s get right into it. I do believe these 13 points help clearly visualize what some people may not be able to see when deciding whether to do something or not.
- Doing Is Creating
When you start something, it actually makes you create things one way or another. This is extremely important for self-development. Your ratio of time spent creating vs time spent consuming goes up. Most people in this world are almost 100% consumers outside of their day jobs because consuming is very easy. Only so many people prefer creating over consuming and mostly only these people become successful. I used to read so many blogs and watch all kinds of videos (including cats of course), that I quickly realized that I was a heavy consumer of information. After I registered on Fiverr and got busy with financial models, I had almost no time to consume content anymore. I used every available minute to communicate with my customers and build quality models for them as fast as I could.
2. Opportunity to Explore and Learn More
As you create something and you think through content, design and the overall plan, it forces your brain to wander around searching for new ideas, perform analyses and therefore develop critical thinking. New information helps you get off that one lane track and explore other alternative routes. When I started building websites, it was very simple and static HTML (tables, text and images). As my interest grew and I wanted my websites to have all kinds of nice functionality — especially when I built them for clients — I had to research PHP and other dynamic code templates and learn how to integrate them into my web pages. Almost every new website I built ended up being more functional than the previous one and in most cases, it meant more money and more customer satisfaction as well. This in its turn translated into more referrals and more business, and so on.
3. Mediocre Something Is Better Than Perfect Nothing
One of the hardest mental changes I had to make inside my head is to give up the desire to always be perfect. At one point of time I realized that it was doing me more harm than good. I often used to catch myself staring at a blank Excel document for minutes until I started putting some words or numbers down. I always wanted my financial models to look great but over time I came to conclusion that if I simply throw everything I know about the model on the spreadsheet, it’s much easier to start thinking about and therefore building it out.
Your brain can only visualize and strategize so much around a blank slate. You need to engage your mind over something real because by processing real visual things along with the strategy, your brain is refueling with critical cognitive elements that it needs so much to keep building one thing on top of the other. Instead of picturing a perfect mobile app screen, just open up a PowerPoint and quickly sketch your initial vision by laying out text, buttons, input fields, etc. Once you have that in front of you, your brain will shift into second gear. It’s always much easier to resize and re-arrange shapes and elements to reach perfection than create perfection right in your brain. You can’t go from the first gear straight to top gear — you have to go through each one sequentially.
4. Opportunity to Break the Rose-Colored Glasses
When you start working on something, you will start running into challenges from day one. This is critical for understanding how real life treats newcomers. If a person never created anything meaningful in his life (besides some school or college projects), he never really struggled with the world that doesn’t care. What this means is — no matter how enthusiastic you are about something or how much you want to impress people, the market will only respond positively to your product or service if you are able to stand out and prove that you can create real value.
One thing you absolutely have to accept as early in your life as possible — nobody in the outside world (except your friends and relatives) cares about you or what you do unless you catch somebody’s attention with something truly valuable. This is not so easy to achieve. For example, let’s say you want to start a video channel on YouTube and talk about a specific subject. You make 5–10 videos that you believe are so good that the number of your followers should start growing geometrically. It probably won’t happen. Why? There might be a couple of reasons: 1) you have not created a big enough value in the videos to create virality, 2) you have not produced enough videos to establish yourself as a consistent video blogger and your current followers do not yet have a clear vision of how your channel can add value to their lives.
When I was just starting with various entrepreneurial endeavors early in my life, I ran into so many obstacles that I thought that the world was simply a very unfair place. For example, I used to blame websites that wouldn’t exchange links with my website for search engine optimization purposes. I truly believed that my website was so great that it was absolutely impossible not to want to exchange links with me and I thought of these websites’ owners as complete idiots. Now looking back, I laugh and realize how much of a fool I was to think like that. They simply looked at my website and decided that I was not big or good enough for them to waste their valuable exchange links related real estate. After some time though, I did grow one of my websites to a point where a high traffic portal agreed to post my link on their front page. It felt really great to realize that I finally reached another level and I knew that it happened because of my hard work and persistence. Sadly, that excitement didn’t last long. That night my website crashed because my basic hosting plan did not support hundreds of visits per hour. Next morning, I got an email from my hosting provider saying that I had to start paying more for the website. But that’s a different story.
Bottom line — most people do enter real life with rose-colored glasses and the earlier they start creating something and introducing it to the world, the earlier they will accept the fact that nobody cares about what they do until they do it really well.
5. Vehicle for Building and Deepening Relationships
When you create something and run it by your friends, parents, colleagues or mentors, you get very valuable feedback that educates you even more on the subject but more importantly — it deepens your relationship with these people. I had a lot of situations when I contacted some of my today’s mentors and other professional connections to seek their feedback on my projects. People love being needed and they will gladly give you some of their time.
6. Establishing Daily Rituals to Support Your Life Standards
Tony Robbins — arguably the best life and business coach on the planet — recently recorded a talk where he spoke about improving your life by raising your standards. Instead of saying I should do this or that, raising the standards means I must do this or that. However, in order to be able to follow through on that big change, people have to change their daily rituals (aka routines). For example, if you want to have an athletic body, you have to stop procrastinating and start going to the gym. Going to them gym will change your daily rituals that you got so much used to over the years. It’s truly on of the hardest things to do in life because we are creatures of habit.
That said — if you start working on something and your engagement into this project becomes consistent, you will automatically be changing your daily life. Instead of sitting and watching TV, you will be spending time working on that thing. It was absolutely true in my case. I used to come home from work, have a glass of wine, relax, watch football and basketball highlights, then have dinner and that was about it. When I got on Fiverr, I couldn’t wait to get home from work because I could reply to all my messages and start building financial models. Instead of procrastinating, having wine and consuming video content, my evening ritual slowly changed into working and producing real tangible products.
7. Understanding Yourself, Your Passion and Your Skills
One of the hardest things in life is to understand yourself. Questions like — what should I be doing with my life, what company should I work for, what am I good at, what am I passionate about, etc. — they don’t come easy for most people. But it’s critical to your life and your career and these questions have to be answered sooner or later.
When I started building websites as a hobby, I was very young and had pretty much zero real work experience so I knew close to nothing about myself. I had a friend who sold used Japanese cars in Siberia and when he found out that I could build a website, he suggested that I put one together for him and if a car gets sold through the website, I’d get a commission (example from earlier in the book). I was super excited. I started with one page but then as my interest grew, the website ended up with over 50 pages. I just kept adding more stuff. I added recent news, I wrote some car reviews, I posted funny car videos, etc. Then I learned about search engine optimization and started optimizing the website for that. And so on and so forth. As I was doing all these things, I understood that I was good at product development (website), marketing (promoting the website and selling on the website), writing (publishing car reviews), and a few other things. If I didn’t build this website, who knows how soon I would have an opportunity to learn all these things about myself.
No matter what you do and no matter how simple it may seem first, you have no idea how many parts of your brain it will eventually engage. You will be surprised how many various skills almost any project requires to become successful. Every time your project triggers certain skills and talents of yours, you’ll be comprehending whether you like doing something or not and how good you’re at it.
8. Creating Dots
When you inform people in your circle on what you’re up to, it can later help them connect dots. For example, if they hear of a job opportunity and connect it to that project that you told them about some time ago, they will let you know about it. This happened to me a couple of times. As a hobby, I sometimes create all kinds of videos and I often share them with my friends. Once, one of them referred me to a professional connection of his who needed a few marketing videos for his company. More work, more experience, more earnings.
9. Critical Research Training for Your Brain
When you start working on something and you struggle to find a certain solution, it forces you to research. When you end up researching on a regular basis, it basically gets hardcoded in your brain as a “business as usual” operation. Everybody has Google at their fingertips whether it’s a phone or a desktop computer but how many people think of googling right when they can actually use its help? In the past, I often found myself in situations where I said “Man, I should have simply googled it!” Knowing something and the ability to leverage this knowledge when you actually need it are two different things. Consistent training of your brain to google and research information is one of the ways that can put you in that state of mind for life. Also, researching makes you learn how to research better and quicker, i.e. which keywords to use, which type of websites to look for, how to parse through large sets of data and find what you actually need, etc. This skill doesn’t just come naturally — it has to be developed and maintained.
10. Time Is Your Equity
When you start something, you register the starting point of a future track record that will become more valuable as time goes by. It’s a long-term game and the earlier you put a stick in the ground, the more equity you will build for yourself down the road. For example, I started my Fiverr channel back in 2015 so at this point I have over two years of presence there, a lot of completed projects and many good customer reviews. This gives me more credibility than people who have been there for only a few months. If you start your YouTube channel today, for example, five years later this channel will be five years old. If you keep hesitating and start it in three years, five years later you will have a two-year-old channel. Also, in the first scenario, you will have a lot more videos, a lot more views and therefore a lot more subscribers.
11.Taking the “Definite Optimistic” Route
If you haven’t read Peter Thiel’s book “Zero to One”, I highly recommend it. It actually might be the most important book you ever read in your life. At least it was the case with me.
In this book, Peter is conveying a concept of definite/indefinite optimistic/pessimistic scenarios. See the figure below.
Optimistic and pessimistic are very straightforward concepts. As to definite/indefinite — definite means people are proactive about their future while indefinite means people are passive. We will not talk about the bottom two pessimistic scenarios as they relate to those who think the future will be bleak. In the US currently, most people believe in bright future but they don’t really do much to make it happen. Only a few individuals who believe in cause and effect are working hard towards very specific results and those are definite optimists. They are not leaving their future up to somebody else — they know what they want to accomplish and they follow a clear path towards these goals.
That said — by giving something a start, you’ll be moving from indefinite optimism to the definite one. In order for you to get there completely, you will need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish as well as have a specific plan of actions on how to get there. But you can take it one step at a time which is absolutely fine. Your first step would be to start creating something and later it’ll help you shape your vision as you fully transition to definite optimism. In my case, for example, I probably never would have known that I have passion for user experience if I hadn’t started building websites early as a hobby. Later when I found that out, I started taking very specific steps towards developing myself as a UX professional.
12. Exposure to Social Media Algorithms
When you’re working on something, you will be engaging in respective information online and social media (i.e. following people from your industry on Twitter). Social media will start learning about your interests and suggesting more relevant information for you as well as more interesting people in the space to follow. I’ve had this happen many times. For example, my biggest passion is Information Architecture and User Experience. When I started commenting on UX related posts on LinkedIn and tweets on Twitter, I was quickly offered a lot of important people to follow as well as great articles on the subject. Never underestimate the power of social media algorithms. Their value in this particular use case is extremely high.
13. No Actions > No Failures > No Success
And finally — if you don’t create anything, you will not have those failures that are critical to success. If you start with something small and fail, your failure will be small as well. It makes it much easier to learn how to handle failures when you start with small ones. Then you start something bigger and if you fail again, you’ll be able to manage this failure because you already have one or two under your belt. And so on until you finally get to success. Without those small starts and failures, it’s nearly impossible to succeed.