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Seeking Discomfort With The Yes Theory Boys

By: James McDonald

Seeking Discomfort With The Yes Theory Boys
James McDonald

Yes Theory was started in the Summer of 2015 by Ammar, Thomas and Matt, with the goal to seek discomfort in life, and make videos doing things that you wouldn't find a typical YouTuber, or anyone for that matter do. A rule that the guys live by is that they have to say yes to everything even if is extremely embarrassing, uncomfortable, or dangerous. Their challenges such as turning their house into a hotel, dialing random numbers until a stranger agrees to hang out, and asking strangers at the airport to fly somewhere random with them are just some of the insane videos that they have made together. Their dedicated fan base of 3.5 million subscribers and counting on YouTube are inspired and encouraged to do the same with their motto "Seek Discomfort." I had the great opportunity to talk to the boys to talk about their favorite video to make, the best way to seek discomfort, what it was like to helicopter bungee jump with actor Will Smith, and much more.

James: What exactly is Yes Theory? How did you get started? How did you meet each other?

Yes Theory: Yes Theory is a YouTube channel that's led by three members, Ammar, Thomas, and myself (Matt). We believe that the greatest things in life happen outside of your comfort zone. And we create content to inspire others to live by our motto and philosophy: "seek discomfort."

Yes Theory began in Montreal in the summer of 2015. At the time, we were each working on our own start-ups and through serendipitous encounters, we all connected over our ambition to do something different and exciting. We decided that we wanted to live a summer that we'd never forget. So we all quit our jobs, dropped our other projects, and committed to doing 30 things in 30 days we'd never done before, all while creating videos about the experience. That month was so profound and life-changing that by the end we all decided to make it our life's mission to build a global community around seeking discomfort.

James: How hard is it to get complete strangers to take part in your adventures? How much convincing does it usually take? What kind of reactions do you usually get?

Yes Theory: We get rejected A LOT. It can get tough. But we've learned that being rejected is really just like a filter. If someone judges you, doesn't take the time to listen to your request, or won't even give you a smile, then it wasn't meant to be and it's best for the both of us that it didn't work out.

Most of the time, people are just really confused by our requests because they are so random (i.e Want to go skydiving right now? Or want to go on a spontaneous road trip? Wanna go skinny dipping?). At first, they think we're joking and then when they realize we're being serious, they generally laugh and say they're too busy or that it's just not the right time. And that's what we've learned. Timing is everything. The person we approach has to be in the right headspace and has to really give off the kind of energy that will make for a fun adventure. We never want to force it; it has to feel totally natural and right.

James: What was your favorite video to make?

Yes Theory: I always say our newest video was my favorite because that's usually the one I'm the most excited about. But the two pieces we've made that I always go back to are our helicopter bungee jump with Will Smith over the Grand Canyon and our

recent adventure with the Iceman, Wim Hof, in Poland. Both videos unfolded in such unexpected and surreal ways that they truly challenged our beliefs about what is possible. We couldn't believe that we managed to pull off what we did in the video, but we did. When that happens, that's when we know we've just endured a life-changing adventure and set the stage for an awesome episode.

James: What was the hardest place to sneak into? Can you tell us more about it? What was the most fun place that you were able to get into? What's going on inside your head when doing this?

Yes Theory: We snuck into two movie premieres over a span of four days. They were big movies, too. La La Land and Arrival. We suited up and acted as if we belonged, but secretly I was convinced we'd get rejected, if not arrested. Thomas has been sneaking into places for years though so he knew what he was doing. I was just following along. We told the people out front that we were supposed to be on the list. They said we weren't. We insisted that there must have been some sort of mistake. And because of our overconfidence and persistence, they ended up giving in and we ended up landing seats near the front of the theater next to Christopher-freaking-Nolan and his son. It was surreal. So, as anyone would, we loaded up on free popcorn and soda and celebrated.

James: How long does it take to come up with video ideas? Where do you get the ideas for your videos?

Yes Theory: I think people underestimate how difficult it is to come up with a solid idea that will be fun for us and the audience. It can take weeks to come up with that kind of an idea. It requires a lot of filtering and, more than anything, the audacity to reject good ideas so great ones can surface. Every Monday we sit down as a team. Each member has to bring 3-6 ideas. We then brainstorm around those ideas from there to try to see where we can take them. After that, we make a list in an excel sheet and have the whole team rank each idea individually. Only the highest voted ideas get passed through to the next phase.

James: Was it hard to push yourself to do things that you didn't want to do? Has your whole philosophy of life changed because of the channel and in what ways?

Yes Theory: Yes, it was hard and still is. It never really gets easy if you're doing it right. Our philosophy on life has changed profoundly since we started. We now see something that seems initially impossible or too scary as the impetus for actually doing it. We've seen through experience just how far your mind, body and spirit are capable of being pushed. We are all capable of so much more than we think and than we tell ourselves.

James: Last September, actor Will Smith accepted your challenge to Helicopter Bungee Jump off of the Grand Canyon with you for his 50th birthday. How did you get him to do it with you? What was the experience like?

Yes Theory: Will had started a YouTube channel a few months before and we saw that he was really trying to become a part of the digital world. We were still pretty small at the time but we figured that if there ever was a time to challenge the biggest actor in the world, it would be then. We'd talked about what we would want to collaborate with him on but nothing really came out of it. And then that night Ammar went to bed and dreamt that we were doing a stunt out of a helicopter with Will. The next morning he woke up, called one of our friends who is a helicopter pilot and asked him what the craziest thing is that someone can do out of a helicopter. Without hesitating, our friend said... bungee jump. Ammar pitched it to us and we loved the idea. We made a video challenging him and asked our audience to comment on his channel to let him know the video was up. 25,000 comments and 1 week later, to our complete shock, Will responded by saying "yes."

James: Can you tell us a time when a video didn't go as expected or went wrong?

Yes Theory: There have been quite a few videos that we've had to call off because the request we had was too crazy or the challenge was just too daunting. We once tried to eat for free for an entire week solely by giving out our Uber Eats code and it was shockingly impossible. But, that's the great thing about what we do. You can just scratch the idea, start over, and come up with a better idea.

James: What's the best way to tackle your fears, Seek Discomfort and live the "Yes Theory" lifestyle?

Yes Theory:There's a concept called the Zorro Circle. The idea was popularized by the author Shawn Achor. In the movie "The Mask of Zorro" there is a scene where a young Antonio Banderas is taught how to sword fight by first training in a small circle. Only once he mastered that small circle would his master, Don Diego, allow him to go tackle bigger circles and feats.

The point is, to do it right you have to start small. As you go gradually into bigger goals and challenges, you gain greater confidence and familiarity and trust in yourself to be able to accomplish what you set out to do. In three years we went from getting an ear piercing for the first time to bungee jumping out of a helicopter with Will Smith. So, that circle can expand quite fast!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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