How to Start

I recently made a very difficult decision to completely separate my poker business, ConsciousPoker, from my personal brand, Alec Torelli. This was a very difficult decision for me because I knew that, temporarily, both would suffer; in other words, I’d essentially be starting over from scratch.

Imagine having grinded for years to build something, only to start over with 0 followers on all of your socials: One day you have 30,000+ subscribers on YouTube, the next day you write a blog or release a video and have no followers.

Not to mention having two separate entities means I would need to manage them both simultaneously. Two brands means double the work, double the headache, and double the resources required to succeed.

So why do it?

The truth is that I didn’t have a sudden coming to Jesus moment of enlightenment, but rather I had been unhappy with the alternative. I knew this was right because I had done what was wrong for too long.

While separating my brand and business has clear consequences, leaving them together seemed worse.

I realized that much of the cause of my frustration with my content was that I didn’t have a space to express my thoughts, my ideas, and my life beyond poker.

While most of the world only knows me as a professional poker player, I see poker as one slice of the pie, and as humbly as I can say the following, I believe I have more to offer the world than my ability to balance check-raising ranges OR outplay opponents at the poker table. In fact I’d go so far as to say that reaching the top of the poker world won’t be my biggest accomplishment; it’s just the beginning. In my life, poker represents what I always wanted it to be, a stepping stone to something more.

And although I’m not exactly certain of what that “more” entails, at this moment, my gut tells me that this is the right place to start. And if what Woody Allen says is true, that “80% of success is showing up,” then showing up is the best place to start.

So this is me showing up to Day 1 of what I hope to be a lifetime journey. I’m here to help inspire other entrepreneurs, or people with a message to share it, regardless of how small their start-ups are or who is listening.

I’m here because I believe that when you have a message that you believe is truly important, you share it—not because of who is following, but because you have to. Because it hurts not to.

Because you feel like you don’t have a choice.

And if it’s true that starting is the hardest part, it feels like this is a win, despite having none of the accolades that come with success. We must find joy in the process, in pushing through the first 12-24 months where nobody cares about what we’re saying: To have the courage to not measure our success based on views and likes, but because we know that what we’re saying comes from the heart and we’re speaking your truth.

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In many ways I’m lucky. I love the grind more than the result. I don’t care about having 100,000 followers; I love the process of getting there. The followers, the views, the ROI is just a way of keeping score.

For me it’s about playing the game. And on AlecTorelli, the game is helping empower as many people as possible to live badass lives. While I do feel like “winning” means influencing the masses, I’m acutely aware that it’s just my way of keeping score.

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alec torelli website

As part of this journey, I’ve started a brand new YouTube channel and style of content. As you can see my channel has virtually no views and zero comments. Nobody gives a fuck about what I’m saying.

In a way, this challenge is compounded because I’m continually tempted by the opportunity cost of where my time and effort could be spent. Knowing that I can easily release a piece of content on ConsciousPoker and it will have immediate success or that I can also plug my products and it will make an immediate profit is, in a way, like having a piece of cake in the fridge while you’re attempting to lose weight.

But I’m here because I feel like this is my purpose, whereas CP is merely my business. By finally accepting that this is more important and meaningful to me than any other content I produce, it has allowed me to go All-In on both for the first time in my life.

And although I believe I need a high self-esteem—thanks Mom—which flirts with an arrogance that continues to produce content while nobody’s watching, and then have the courage to call my shot like Babe Ruth, I’m convinced that in the long term, my personal brand is going to crush my poker brand.

And while I’m fantasizing about 2022 where I can share this post after I’ve summited the mountain, I’m here today at on a Saturday morning loving the process of writing this post, because the truth is, this is the fun part.

I hope that if you take anything from this, you’ll take this perspective to heart from someone who has it both ways. The enjoyment is in the grind.

Sure, it’s easier when you’re at the top, when you get 250,000 views for just showing up and smiling. But that’s the equivalent of feeling good after the workout. You go to the gym to test yourself and find out what you’re capable of, feeling good is just the icing on the cake.

If you keep that relationship in perspective, you’re going to win.

On yea, and a reminder to my 2022 self: when you’re retweeting this blog post which then will have 100,000x the views, and people are thanking you for being an inspiration, don’t forget who you are. It’s easy to be yourself now, when nobody is listening, because the world isn’t pushing you to change. But when those numbers you posted multiply by 100,000, remember that being yourself was what got you there in the first place.

Just like in poker, you can’t let the wins go to your head, nor the losses. You can’t let the good comments fuel your ego no more than you can let the haters silence your voice. Above all, just keep doing you.

Finally, I’m writing this so people understand that everyone in the world who has any modicum of success starts in the same place. We’re all in it together, right here at the bottom: With no views; with zero comments; with no retweets; with no likes or replies.

When the people around you think you’re crazy…

When the haters want you to fail…

When society is pushing you to conform…

…but you don’t give a fuck because you have a message that’s more important than anyone else’s opinion. Because you know it’s the truth—that’s all that matters.

Now go share it.

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