Excerpt for Create A Start by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

CREATE A START



Three Real Life Examples of How

Starting Something Always

Leads to Something More





Published by Vitaly Demin at Smashwords

Copyright 2017

Table of Contents



Why This Book

Example One – Fiverr

Example Two – Learning to Build Websites

Example Three – Writing My First eBook

Key Takeaways

About the Author

Contribute

Why This Book



There is so much motivational content out there – speakers, coaches, books, videos, podcasts, etc. All that is designed for us to consume and get inspired and eventually (as well as hopefully) produce something. In reality, only a handful of those motivators are able to get their message through while most of the others simply recite somebody else’s work. There is one unique person that I can quickly use as an example here – Gary Vaynerchuk. He, in my opinion, has had more success than any other motivational speaker or a life/business coach in terms of pushing people to actually do things instead of just sitting and consuming all this content to only continue dreaming. I myself is one of those people who allowed his message to get through which made me produce real tangible things both in my career and personal life.

But as effective as people like Gary and a few others can be, it may still be helpful for some folks to be able to visualize how exactly a chain of events can unfold when you make the first step towards something. My life doesn’t fall short of being one of the most non-standard stories and as I look back and analyze how certain things happened to me, I can trace most of them back to very specific actions that in most cases I had to force myself to take the first step.

In this book, I will walk you through three examples of some of my journeys that I believe would have not happened if I didn’t create certain starting points and if I wasn’t persistent enough to reach fruition.

I am by no means representing myself as a successful entrepreneur or a corporate manager. I am a regular person who has a regular job (for now) and who lives a very regular life. But to get to this life I still had to invest a lot of time and effort. I still remember making $200 a month in Siberia back in Russia about 12 years ago. I had to work extremely hard and try all sorts of things to get myself out of there.



Example One – Fiverr



There was a period in my life not so long ago when one of my jobs has become less exciting as it progressed. I was a part of an internal consulting group at a Fortune 500 company. At the job interview, the work was described to me as something that I really liked doing at the time, and that was the case for the first year or so. Shortly after that, the direction of the group has changed and we had most of our creative work taken away because our executives wanted us to fully focus on cutting costs which was not fun for me at all.

Long story short – I started spending a good amount of time at work browsing the Internet, researching what was happening in the world in terms of technology and startups so I could take my mind off of the unfulfilling work. One of those days I was reading Business Insider and I ran into an article about Fiverr – a website for freelancers and people who need all kinds of services like business plans, marketing services, voice overs, graphic design, etc. Basically, any service or product that can be delivered digitally can be purchased there. I looked at the website and decided to give it a shot. I had time. I worked to simply pay the bills and I didn’t have much happening outside of work. I figured that investing some time into online gigs might be interesting. Also, I have never done it before so I was open to this new experience.



Putting Myself on the Online Freelancing Map

I created an account on Fiverr and set up my first gig – building financial models. That’s the only thing I could come up with right away without spending too much time strategizing and planning. I became good at it at that current job so I thought I might as well use the skill to add value to myself on the side. I even made a promotional video for this gig as Fiverr claimed that gigs with videos got a lot more orders. It took a little more time and effort but I got it done.

A month went by without anybody contacting me and I actually almost forgot about it. Then one day some guy from California sent me a note. He needed a very simple financial model. I built it for him in one hour and he paid me $50. To me, it wasn’t about money at that point – I loved the fact that I had my first customer and that he was extremely happy with my work. He gave me a five-star review and that got the ball rolling.

Two days later that same customer ordered one more model and was again very satisfied with my deliverable. Another order, another pay, another five-star review. A day later a brand-new customer wrote. He needed a more complex model and was willing to pay more. I wasn’t familiar with some of the financial concepts that had to be applied in his case so I had to do quite an extensive research online. It took me sometime but I figured it out.

Long story short – since then every single week I had at least one new client. I got orders for models that I had no idea how to build but I learned and delivered. A few months later I had a perfect five-star rating from over 20 orders and my Fiverr status got upgraded to Seller 1. Today I’m at the Seller 2 level although I don’t do much there anymore at this point.



Getting Confident in Financial Modeling as Experience Built Up

Let’s now fast forward a few months to see how my Fiverr work triggered another series of events. Because I became really good at building all types of financial models, working with large sets of data and dealing with all types of startups, it made me feel confident that I can take it outside of Fiverr and may be even get real consulting clients in Minneapolis (where I live). I picked up a phone and called an old connection of mine who was a CEO of a small healthcare company in town. We arranged a meeting where I had an opportunity to tell him what type of things I’m good at. The fact that I built so many financial models on Fiverr played a huge role in our discussion. I was able to use very specific examples of my work which helped him understand potential value that I could provide to his organization.

The conversation went very well. He didn’t have any work available for me right away but about two months later he called and said that they actually had a data analytics and process modeling project that he could use my help with. I was thrilled. We kicked it off and I spent several months working with his team digging into their data and operational issues and fixing them. The money was also real this time. Not a couple hundred bucks for a financial model here and there on Fiverr but some good and consistent consulting rates. But again, the money was not the most exciting part for me at that point – I was so happy that I got a real consulting gig where I had an opportunity to work with a group of very talented people, learn more about healthcare industry and move my consulting career forward. Also, I was starting to realize at that point how my Fiverr time and effort investment was paying off and that was the best part about it.



Using Consulting Experience to Get a Better Job

After a few months of working with this client, my main job became so boring and unfulfilling to me that I finally decided to make a change. I was a full-time employee back then but I was entertaining the idea of trying a contract format. I started looking for IT/data consultant type of positions. Minneapolis is a great place if you want to do contracts, especially if you have a few projects under your belt. I looked around for about a month or so and went through a couple of interviews but nothing was appealing for me. I was targeting three major healthcare companies at that time because I was very interested in the space. Those companies were really hard to get into. After a few weeks, I was finally able to get a phone interview with a hiring manager from one of these companies. We started talking and two minutes into the conversation I realized that she was looking for somebody with experience in exactly type of projects that I have been doing with my consulting client. I was truly amazed. I told her everything that I was doing on the project. I described it in such a detail and talked with so much passion that it was clear right away that this is exactly what the hiring manager wanted to hear. Long story short – I got this contract. I’m still there as of the time of publishing this book. My contract has been extended several times at this point which I guess is a good sign. Whether I’ll stay there much longer or not I don’t know, but I’m surely glad I had an opportunity to join this organization and prove my value.



Example One Recap

Let’s recap up the first example and review the sequence of events. If I didn’t invest time and effort into building my presence on Fiverr, I would not gain so much knowledge about financial modeling. If I didn’t get all this knowledge and experience, I could not confidently speak to my future consulting client about very specific examples from dozens of models and companies and therefore convince them that I can add value to their business. If I didn’t get that consulting opportunity, I wouldn’t get healthcare industry experience and also wouldn’t go really deep into data analytics and data governance. Without that, I would most likely not be able to appeal to my current boss and wouldn’t get hired.

Where this will take me from here, time will tell, but I’m definitely happy that I ran into that article about Fiverr on Business Insider back in 2015 and actually did something about it. If I didn’t register on Fiverr that day, I can almost guarantee my life would have been different now and possibly not in a better way.



Example Two – Learning to Build Websites



When I was in college back in Russia, Internet was becoming extremely popular and websites were the real big thing. I was completely fascinated by that. I had no idea how websites were created but I was curious. Luckily, I had a friend who knew a thing or two about it and all he did once was open a webpage for me in a notepad where I could see all the code. First, it was complete gibberish to me but when my friend helped me map lines of code and tags to the objects on the page, things got much clearer. I got sucked in right away and spent countless hours understanding HTML as I built all kinds of pages like Bon Jovi lyrics, my biography, my favorite cars and so on. I even built a quick page for a friend who was selling used cars from Japan and actually made a few bucks by getting him a couple of customers through the website.

Here’s what came next. I graduated from college and was looking for a job. I had a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics that nobody really cared about (I understood that very quickly when I was still in college). I did have those website building skills though and some real examples of my work. I aggressively pushed that aspect as I tried to open as many doors as I could and get job interviews. Eventually, I was hired by a Korean company specifically to build a website for their new product. It was my first real job out of college and I was extremely excited. I also loved building websites so between OK money and being passionate about the work, I surely couldn’t complain. On that job, I also had an opportunity to work with the company’s partners that were involved in marketing that new product. That was a great learning and experience that quickly made it on my resume.



Big Moves

After a few months on the job I started thinking about moving to a bigger city. The city was Novosibirsk (aka the capital of Siberia). I found out that there was a regional office of Sun Microsystems over there. I was lucky that at that very moment they had an entry level position open – marketing assistant – a person who would do… guess what… yup, work with Sun’s partners on various marketing programs. Why did I fit the bill? Because I had a similar partner work experience at that Korean company.

I spent about half a year at Sun and I realized that any regional city in Russia was too small for me at that point. I laid my eyes on Moscow – the only place you want to be in Russia if you’re serious about your career. I resigned from Sun, sold all my stuff and bought a one-way plane ticket to Moscow. I had a college friend there so I had a place to stay. I moved in and started looking for a job. After exactly 51 days of looking for a job and exactly 30 job interviews (yup, I counted), I landed at The Boston Consulting Group as a Vice President Assistant. One of the reasons I qualified for the job was the fact that back at Sun Microsystems, I also assisted the head of the regional office as I was half marketing assistant and half admin assistant.

After a few months at BCG, I took an opportunity to work for the largest electronics retailer in Russia where I was an assistant/translator to a US Best Buy expat. He was a full-time advisor to the CEO. My BCG experience and the company’s brand definitely looked convincing on my resume. I was later told that they went through at least 20 candidates before they ran into my application and eventually hired me.

After that, things took off. I connected with my boss right away and we had a great run together at this company. Nine months later he decided he had enough of that job and moved back to the US. He did have another major consulting gig lined up in Kuwait and India so he offered me to work for him outside of Russia. I did not hesitate for one second and accepted the offer on the spot. This time, it was more money and I got to travel the world while gaining super valuable international business consulting experience. We worked together for over five years on various projects before he decided to take a full-time job at a large US retailer where he also invited me to work. I accepted that one as well and we had another good run there.



Example Two Recap

I’ll end this example right here as it almost overlaps with the beginning of the first one. But again, let’s recap. Can I claim that learning to build websites back in college helped me all the way to my consulting career? I do believe so. Can we assume that if that didn’t happen I might have had similar job opportunities and outcomes? Possibly but we will never know for sure. What I do know is that I can clearly see a very specific starting point and a connected sequence of events that contributed to getting me where I am today. If the starting point was different, I have no idea how those years of my life would have unfolded.









Example Three – Writing My First eBook



My third example starts in the middle of my international consulting job. When we hit 2008-2009, the crisis cost us a few projects so we had some time on our hands. I was reading a lot of news to see what was happening in the world back then. That’s when I ran into an article (again on Business Insider) about a former Apple employee Steve Chazin who wrote a free eight-page ebook called “Marketing Apple” where he outlined five Apple’s marketing secrets. He wrote it after he left Apple and struggled to get a different job. The Business Insider article stated that thanks to this ebook, Steve was able to get a lot of publicity and landed quite a few consulting gigs.

It absolutely attracted my attention. Back then I was not even familiar with such a thing as a free ebook. I read it several times, understood the flow and how exactly the author created value for the reader. By the time I was done analyzing Steve’s ebook, I knew I had to produce one of my own. Whether it was going to be a complete waste of my time or not, I was absolutely positive I had to do it.

I started thinking of the subject. I personally didn’t have enough knowledge in any particular area at that time that would qualify as a truly valuable book content (even for a free and short ebook). I turned to my boss who had worked for Best Buy for many years. He opened half of their stores and retired as a Senior VP. I remembered that almost every time we met new people as we traveled on business, many of them asked him about what happened to Circuit City (they went bankrupt about a few months before that). My boss always had really good answers for them – short and deep.

It was a no brainer. I suggested we write a book about a few major Circuit City’s mistakes that eventually got them bankrupt. He got onboard.



My First eBook Is Born

We thought through the approach, format and content structure. My boss provided most of the content while I helped with writing style, proofreading, formatting, cover design and publishing it as a PDF version on our website. We called it “Circuity City Six” (Six Fatal Mistakes of a Once “Good to Great” Company). The book was approximately a 30-minute read. I borrowed a few design and format ideas from the Marketing Apple ebook as it didn’t make much sense to reinvent the wheel in some cases. We made the book free as well. In the very first month without any advertising we had about a thousand downloads from our website. We also received a lot of great comments from people all over the world who were fascinated by such a short but deep story.

Later, I learned about Kindle and iBooks and I decided to publish our ebook there as well. That resulted in more learning and experience for me. The major ebook store listings gave us even more exposure and downloads. The whole project felt absolutely great because we created something very tangible and thousands of people loved it.

Although the original goal of the Circuit City ebook was to get us consulting clients, we didn’t really get any but it was fine. Many other benefits came out of this. I personally grew my professional network by several dozen people because of this book. A couple of them became mentors to me, some became good friends. Some of them introduced me to more interesting people, and so on. Another thing that came out of this is that I got deeper into writing. Shortly after “Circuit City Six”, I published another quick book on Sony’s culture and how it eventually brought the company down (“Arrogance The Sony Style”). A few years later, I wrote one more book on decision making (“Subconscious Decisions”) which was featured on the official Apple iBooks Twitter channel as the book of the day. That happened only a couple of days after I published it. I couldn’t believe it when I received the Twitter notification and read their tweet with my username mentioned. I got so many downloads that day I had hard time falling asleep. I was that excited. What mattered most to me about that book is the fact that I had an opportunity to reach so many people and share my thoughts with them. In one of the comments that I received the very first day after publishing the reader stated the following:

“This book really refreshed my brain on the importance of decision making. Very good book and straight to the point. I recommend.”

I was thrilled to get such feedback. It meant the world to me.

Now I’m writing this book and I’m very happy about it. I simply love writing (once in a while). I’m again sharing my thoughts with readers and hopefully it’ll prove to be useful to them one way or another. I also hope that it’s not the last book that I publish.



Example Three Recap

Once again, this third example has shown how one action and a little bit of effort and time triggered a chain reaction across many years going forward. If I decided not to write an ebook of my own back in 2009, there’s a high chance that I would not have done it at all. If that didn’t happen, I would not have all those amazing professional connections and mentors that I acquired specifically because of that first Circuit City book. Also, I would have never been featured on the Apple’s official iBooks Twitter channel as an author of the day. And finally, I would not be writing this book.

Key Takeaways



As a quick summary, I’d like to write down a few bullet points that describe specific outcomes and benefits of starting something. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize how exactly your efforts can start paying off with time so I’m providing several examples of how it worked for me.

  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



No matter how you look at it, you can’t have something without starting to create something. This is pure physics. If you have an idea for a project or a business that you’re passionate about, take a little bit of time to think through a quick plan but don’t overthink it. This used to be my problem and I’m still working on it. I often overanalyze things to a point where I begin to doubt any potential benefit of starting something and I end up not doing it. I’m not saying not to plan at all. Of course, there needs to be some vision of what type of scenarios are expected in the short term but it shouldn’t stop you from getting it going as soon as you can, especially when the risks are minimal. For example, if you want to set up a blog or a YouTube channel, it’s basically free. All it requires is your time and dedication.

Once again, it’s a long-term game. Don’t lose your excitement when you think about the next few months and you can’t visualize any real results from a project you’d like to start. Things will come eventually and it’s really impossible to predict when exactly it’ll happen. You just have to keep creating, explore more ideas along the way, consider potential pivots to your business model, etc. Basically, keep it alive, move forward and adjust every single day. It’s the only way to get there.

I’ll stop right here. I truly hope you enjoyed the book. I’d love to get feedback from you if you’re up to sharing it with me. You can either leave a review in the ebook store or you can email me directly at ebook@vitalydemin.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you so much for downloading my work. I don’t take it for granted and appreciate every single reader.



Sincerely,
Vitaly

About the Author

Vitaly Demin is a strategy, business model and IT consultant. He lives in Minneapolis, MN and works for a Fortune 500 company. Vitaly has over 10 years of global consulting experience helping companies develop and implement correct business models, build technology solutions and improve customer experience.

Vitaly holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and a Master of Arts Degree in Linguistics and Communications from an internationally accredited school in Russia.









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