Don’t Be Afraid To Start From Zero
Today, our lesson starts with a story. And this is a personal story from my life because I share a lot of experiences from my life. For a long time I was really afraid to start from zero. And what I mean by that is, any time I would attempt something in public like on social media, like let’s say I was building a fan page, or a Twitter account, or whatever, I always hated that first little piece of starting with zero followers, or zero likes, or zero subscribers, or whatever. I always felt like, whoever sees this is going to think that I’m stupid, they’re going to hate it, they’re going to see that no one else likes me, and they’re going to go off without even looking at my stuff. I really struggled a long time to put stuff out there because I knew that that BIG FAT ZERO was staring me in the face.
And even though I knew I had to start at zero to get to one and one to get to two and all that, it really scared me for a long time, to the point where I actually considered cheating the numbers! I remember when I was marketing a game for the first time, I was debating whether or not to buy Twitter followers from Fiverr or some of these other websites where you can just buy like tasks from people just because I was afraid of starting from zero. This fear expanded into a lot of aspects in my life. For example, when I started making YouTube videos, I started at zero subscribers. Five years after I started game dev underground, I had zero subscribers.
After I had an email list, after I had a Twitter account, after I had a Facebook page, in all of these places, I had hundreds or thousands of people following me. This was why I was always afraid to start my YouTube channel, because it would start at zero. I really hated starting at ZERO. I was always worried about: What are people going to say? What are people going to think? But you know what? I’ve done a lot of stuff since then. When I started my YouTube channel, that was in the back of my mind. It’s been about three months now and I’ve gotten over that.
The thing that helped me get over it is pretty simple: I learned the value of starting from zero. Starting from zero teaches you so much in so many different ways. The fact that I was able to start from zero, even after doing this for so long, and being in the game development space for so long, really helps me to understand the struggle of what it takes to get that stuff going at the ground level.
For a long time I worked in a marketing company, and I was a consultant, I would work with people at higher levels that had 10,000-20,000 people. I was helping them build a following, or monetize their following, or one of the two, and it really helped for me to go through the struggle of that. To learn what it takes. It also it makes you persevere, really enjoy the things that come after a little bit more.
Right now, my channel is sitting at 600-some subscribers, and although the number is small, I’m very proud of it because I know that that is because of every little piece of effort I’ve put in over the past couple months. Just putting in non-stop effort, and that feels good. It’s a small number, but I feel that it’s an achievement. And when I read all your comments, I know that it’s helping people out and it’s really awesome to see that. In games it’s the same thing. When I released my first app on Android, I had to stare at that zero downloads thing. I was terrified at the zero downloads. On Apple, it’s a little bit easier because they don’t show you the download counter. So I always considered going Apple before Android although Android is just so much easier to use.
You’ve got to learn that no one really gives a damn and that no one really cares. Seriously, no one is out there watching you, like, “Aha! He only got 800 downloads or 80 downloads or whatever”. In fact, when you put the stuff out there, usually you get comments such as, “How does this have 50 downloads? How does this have 100 views?”
When I posted our first video on YouTube, it was the funniest thing. I posted this really high quality, whiteboard video that you may remember called, FINISH A DAMN GAME, and it was one that I worked on for a really long time. It was really high quality, and I made sure I polished it, I put story into it, I put effort into it, voice acting, and all this stuff. And one of the first comments was, “Zero subscribers?” He was confused at this high quality video coming from my channel with zero subscribers and I just thought that was funny.
It’s really such a stupid thing to focus on and be afraid of zero. Your fear of it is making it bigger than it actually is. I know people that post Facebook posts or Instagram pictures. If they don’t get 2 or 3 likes they take them down. They delete them. I know what that’s like, I’ve been there. And I’m terrified to stare at zero—zero scares me sometimes. But I push through it. I push past it. No one really cares. So if you’re scared of zero, or if you’re scared of what zero might entail, or what you make it mean to you, don’t be. It is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s a BADGE OF HONOR.
If you don’t get the pleasure of starting from zero, you won’t have full control of your way to the top. If you don’t start at that zero downloads, you wouldn’t be able to relish in your success when you get a hundred or a thousand. Starting from zero is important. It’s important from a psychology perspective of understanding who you are and what you can accomplish by watching that process through. It’s also important from I think a business perspective. It teaches you how to build something, how to carry through with things, how to start at the bottom and systematically climb up. Not many people learn that.
And so many so many people these days, they don’t want to start from zero. They’re so afraid to start from zero to the point where there is an entire industry right now of buying likes, buying followers, buying subscribers, buying downloads, buying installs, buying reviews. There is no shame in starting with zero on all of those things. Everybody starts there. Every single person you see on YouTube started at zero. Every single person you see on Twitter started at zero. Every app on the app store started at zero.
There are people that cheat. There are people that spend money on things like installs and, literally, that does nothing. No one is going to say, “Hey, this is a better game because it has an extra thousand downloads on it.” It doesn’t add to the quality, and in fact it actually dilutes your message, it dilutes your game—you’re not buying players when you buy downloads.
You’re buying an imaginary number that doesn’t mean anything. DO NOT DO THAT. It’s the same thing with YouTube. You’re not buying subscribers because they’re not real people, just a number. It’s an imaginary thing that doesn’t mean anything. So the next time you find yourself thinking about not wanting to start from zero, push through it. Start at zero. That is where everybody starts with everything. Literally everybody starts at zero and there’s no shame in it.
You should take pride in it and stick through it with the consistency of doing it over and over. By sticking through it through the tough times, you’re going to be proud you started at zero. Someday, it’s not going to be zero. It’s going to be more than zero and you’re going to look at that number then you say, “You know what? I did that, nobody else. I didn’t cheat, I didn’t do any bullshit. I started from zero and I built it to what it is.”
So that’s my message for today. If you found it useful, please leave me a comment. I love to hear from you guys.