There’s something about four friends, that perfect alchemy of personality and skill set that creates a little bit of magic and a lot of yes. Inspired in part by The Buried Life, the guys of Yes Theory have taken adventure to a new level, bringing us along for the ride in real time through their YouTube and Snapchat channels.
I was fortunate enough to chat with Ammar, my new BFF and fellow overly-energetic life enthusiast, to get the backstory of the Yes Theory movement. Ammar, Thomas, Matt and Derin met in Montreal, Canada in the summer of 2015 through a series of serendipitous moments. Ammar, raised in Egypt, on University scholarship in Montreal, was on a quest for venture capital to support his tech start up.
Ready to take an internship in New York, he spontaneously decided to sneak into a party, not knowing a soul. A little charm and a winning personality led him to chatting with Thomas and a lifelong friendship was born.
Thomas, who’s background is in video, described an idea he was working on called Project 30: 30 challenges in 30 days to push himself to live a bigger, better, more fully realized life. No risk, no reward. Could he do it? Could he find the right team to join him on this adventure before settling in to the whole adulting thing? Ammar was in. Goodbye venture capital networking, hello blue sky. In Ammar’s words, “Leaving behind the idea of safety for joy against all logic.”
They discovered the aggregate of four skill sets was far more powerful than any individual.
Apartment lease up, internship declined, Ammar and Thomas had to improvise and quick. As serendipity would have it again, they managed to crash at a friend’s place, meeting Derin and Matt, and ultimately creating the ideal team. Life has a way of doing that, providing opportunity where you least expect it. Between Ammar’s boundless energy, Thomas’s storytelling skills, Derin’s slightly cynical logic and Matt’s practical nature, they discovered the aggregate of four skill sets was far more powerful than any individual.
Fast forward one year, Project 30 is a success. So the guys decided to refocuse their branding to be a little less wild and crazy, and more about 4 guys doing good positive work. Yes Theory was born.
They caught the attention of Snapchat’s Brother channel, who approached the guys to create content with their focus on being a better man in the 21st century. Their hope is to stand for something more than easy content, to create inspiration for real change, a life philosophy, not just goofy videos.
The irony was not lost on Ammar when he and I connected about a piece for Metiza. We discussed how they are creating a space of authenticity for guys, a positive place to support each other, just like what we’re building here for young women. It’s that serendipity thing again.
I asked what his favorite moments have been, and what has motivated the guys to continue doing the work they do. While there are many to choose from, he inevitably landed on meeting Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. On a mission to create the most epic Christmas card ever, they essentially accosted Trudeau, clad in ugly Christmas sweaters, naturally. Being the team player he is known to be, the Prime Minister obliged. A friendship was born.
From there, they eventually managed a sit-down breakfast to discuss how they can create a world where men are proud to be feminists, where being vulnerable is a positive and necessary force for change. “If you recognize that men and women should be equal, have equal opportunity… and you see that there is a lot of work to do in society to get to that point, well that makes you a feminist.” Well said Justin, well said.
When I asked about the long-term strategy for Yes Theory and what they ultimately hope to achieve, world domination was of course the immediate response. All kidding aside, Ammar and I spoke of this tricky word called influencer, and what that means in a social media driven society. There is a fine line of celebrity for the sake of simply being famous, of accumulating likes, followers, and subscribers. But does that create positive energy? Are we in it for the immediate gratification or for the long-term potential to influence real change? We agreed on the latter as a strategy both Yes Theory and Metiza could be proud of.
By saying yes to joy, you are statistically more likely to achieve it the more often you do it.
Ammar shared that while taking a chance on Yes Theory, and this band of brothers was a huge risk, the reward was exponential. Saying yes is a practice, something that must be worked on with intention, like strengthening a muscle. You don’t run a marathon if you can’t run around the block. Say yes to small things at first, but notice the ripple effect. Little yeses lead to bigger ones, and bring more like-minded people into your world.
He offered himself as the perfect example, starting as a kid from Egypt who spoke no English, to being a 15-year-old in a South African Boarding school, to his summer in Montreal meeting the guys. Many yeses led to this moment. Many roadblocks will happen, but you become better equipped to handle them as you practice.
He added, for those who prefer the numbers game (or the logical pursuit of yes), the more you accept the challenges and take the chances, the smaller the competition. Why? Most people take the safe life of desperation. By saying yes to joy, you are statistically more likely to achieve it the more often you do it.
The added bonus is you find your tribe. Those people who believe in the power of positive, of pursuing joy, of making a difference, of making kindness cool. Our conversation is the perfect example of this.
I’m deeply grateful for a great discussion, but even more so for gaining what I feel is a friendly addition to the Metiza tribe. Thanks Ammar for taking the time, and Yes Theory for inspiring all of us to go for joy. Check out more inspiration in our Kindness Series.
Images via Yes Theory.
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Also published on Medium.