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Nidhi Tewari & Mo Ismail

This two-part podcast episode features Chris Do, Nidhi Tewari, and Mo Ismail discussing the merits of whether to make decisions with your mind, your heart, or a little of both.

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Feelings are unreliable (Part 1)

This two-part podcast episode features Chris Do, Nidhi Tewari, and Mo Ismail discussing the merits of whether to make decisions with your mind, your heart, or a little of both.

In part one, Chris shares how he processes his feelings, how they affect his decisions, and why leading with rational thought is the best path forward.

Chris also explains his own scale of karmic equity and shares stories about how he diverted from the path of logic when making business decisions and how those stories played out.

Jan 11

Feelings are unreliable (Part 1)

The art of passionate detachment

This two-part podcast episode features Chris Do, Nidhi Tewari, and Mo Ismail discussing the merits of whether to make decisions with your mind, your heart, or a little of both.

In part one, Chris shares how he processes his feelings, how they affect his decisions, and why leading with rational thought is the best path forward.

Chris also explains his own scale of karmic equity and shares stories about how he diverted from the path of logic when making business decisions and how those stories played out.

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Greg Gunn is an illustrator, animator and creative director in Los Angeles, CA. He loves helping passionate people communicate their big ideas in fun and exciting ways.

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The art of passionate detachment

Episode Transcript

Nidhi:

My heart is really telling me to go forth and to do this because I want to make an impact. But my brain is kind of telling me, well, I don't know if that's going to be the best decision. Do you have the evidence and have you done the market research? And how consistently could you get these gigs? So I do feel like there's this push-pull between the heart versus the brain.

Mo:

All right, so today's conversation actually reminds me of an ad that I think many people in the room know, but I'm going to describe it anyways. So there's this ad, and I believe it's about tortillas. Bear with me and everyone in the family and Hispanic family in this ad is the debating against should we do soft, soft shell, or hard shell, and everyone's upset. And then this little girl in the middle, she's like, "Why can't we do both?" And everyone's like, "Hooray, yay." So we had two conversations around decision-making when it comes to business and not making things complicated and keeping it simple. And in our backchannel after our second call, we started talking about when is it appropriate to use each because we're getting all of this feedback and comments and discussion around, well there's things in the business that are logic driven as Chris has shown me as well as Drigo and Heather Crank in previous conversations.

What is the data in front of us, and how can we make smart decisions based on that data and not based on aspirations? Then Nidhi comes in the back channel and says, "Well, but branding, sales, and other aspects are more emotionally driven." And where's the balance between the two to do it in a heart-centered way without making things muddy? And I've told Chris on some of our backend calls and in our back channel as well, yo, as much as I'm riding with this decision. So that part is done. But there is that tugging of the emotion side as well. So I think today we're talking about can the two coexist. Can they coexist in a way that doesn't make things muddy? Because there's people on the interwebs now asking, well, passion and I'm a creative and fulfillment and all of these different things. So I think we're here to unmuddy the waters around can the two coexist when it comes to business, particularly around decision-making.

Chris:

Of course, they can coexist. They need to coexist because all logic and no emotion makes for very cold and non-feeling company in person and you just can't do that. But all emotion and no logic, it's just every whim you want to follow every feeling, that impulse that you have in your body. Sometimes they're right, but it'd be nice to be able to arrive at the conclusion with rational thought and thinking. Let's give this a problem to look at Mo versus speaking about this in the abstract.

Mo:

For me, personally, I don't know if I... Maybe we'll get to one. I don't necessarily know if I have a problem right now anymore because I've processed a lot of what we talked about. Maybe you'll uncover some.

Chris:

How do we talk about this in a way that's not us talking theoretically, then either ask me a question or present me a problem? Let me rephrase it that way.

Nidhi:

Well, Mo, can you fill us in on that processing? Because I think in there you came to some conclusions and I'm curious to hear what you kind of gleaned from the previous conversations and how that influenced whatever the conclusion is. I would love to hear that, if it's okay with you, Chris as well.

Chris:

Nidhi, do you have thoughts on this as a general kind of weighing in on just even the idea of logic and emotion what roles they should or should not play?

Nidhi:

Yeah, I mean I think you hit it exactly right, that it has to be a combination of the both and when we look at what we call the wise mind, right? This is a concept where just logically driven decisions aren't super helpful, solely emotionally driven decisions are often detrimental. But the wise mind is this dialectical meaning holding two things together and that's what forms the wise mind. It's the balance between the emotion and the logic. But I think that sometimes people either get too much into the analysis and so then they're missing connection to what their body and what their intuition is telling them. And then I think other people get so caught up in what their intuition's telling them that they make poor decisions because they're basing it off of a gut instinct without any logical backing. So I think it's a real problem that exists and that a lot of entrepreneurs experience.

Chris:

Okay. So I've been thinking about this actually in just this brief moment. I think of myself as I try to be a very ethical person and I'm loyal to a fault, and I'm going to explain something in my business and my life for all of you to examine so that we can see where is one suiting us better in terms of leading with our heart versus leading with our mind and vice versa. So when someone helps me out in big and small ways, one of the things I'm really good at is remembering and I remember that someone's helped me out. So reciprocity is a big part of how I govern my life and how I make decisions. And if you know this about me, then you may be able to take advantage of me and be it as it may. So in 2013, late 2013, I'm at a board retreat for the AIGA.

We're at the beach in Santa Monica at the Annenberg House and I think there are 20 some odd people there. And there are quite a few of us and I see Jose. Jose Cabeller and he's there and I know him from school and we're kind of friendly towards each other. When we were in school, we knew each other we'd joke around a little bit here and there, but his personality type was so different than mine. He is the exact opposite on every level. I'm an INTJ, he's an ENFP, literally, we're opposite on the Myers Brigg. We're opposite in terms of I'm the introvert, he's an extrovert. I'm really shy, he's really loud. So even in school, I'm like, oh, this guy, he's got a big personality and I'd rather just be alone doing my work. So when we see each other and we reconnect at the AIGA and now I didn't know at this time, but he had served on the board prior to me and had nominated me to be someone that they draft onto the board.

So there was already an intention set by him. But during this critical period in time, I was looking to figure out how to do digital projects. I wanted to evolve beyond doing motion design because I was concerned about the health of my own business. And Jose being Jose is like, "You know what? I will help you." And I'm like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "Go get a client. Go get a digital project and I'll come and I'll run it. I'll show you how to do it and I'll do it for free. Just find a client." And I was like, wow, there's not that many people in the world who have such a big heart who would make a gesture like that. Now as long as I've been doing motion design, Jose's been doing digital, he's been in these really large digital agencies. So I knew he knew what he was doing and I knew if he was willing to help, I would benefit greatly from it.

So sure enough, I secured a client and I told the client, "Hey, I have a friend, he's going to help run the digital part of this for the web and it doesn't come at any extra cost to you." So Jose did his thing and he did it masterfully and that began a whole relationship. So Jose started teaching me about digital projects, about how the corporate world works because almost my entire adult life, I've been self-employed. So I run my own company, I just don't know how companies are run. So he's teaching me about all these things about facilitation. He's introducing a whole lexicon of words that I'm not used to. The C-suite, alignment, surfacing everything that I say now that was foreign to me back then. And all the kinds of the books and references that people make in Silicon Valley, he was using all the terms, I was learning so much from him and I felt terribly loyal to him. At this point in time, he's my teacher.

I think he's a little bit younger than me and he's a friend, but I see him as a teacher and as a mentor and we do projects together. So when we decided to start the company, I'm like, great, let's partner up with each other. Now my logical brain would've told me something very different. It would've told me, Chris, you do not make a good partner. You like to do things your own way and we've been down this road before three times. I've had three failed partnerships, business partnerships, not personal. And why would you do this? That would be the logical part. But the emotional part's like, you know what man, this person knows what he's doing. He's charismatic. I think we could do great things together. I have a lot to learn and I owe this person something. So we start this company, it's 50/50, we run this company, and almost immediately I can tell this is not going to work.

Why? For the exact same reasons why I set up in this story in that he's so different than I am. We probably will not eat lunch together if it weren't for other reasons like starting a company because we're just so different. His energy consumes my energy. I can't get a word in edgewise with him so all those kinds of things. Not because he's a bad person, but because he likes to talk and I like to listen. So it's just really difficult and I start to realize a couple of years into the business, this is not working for me, but I feel terribly loyal. Now let me set up a couple things here. One is I bankrolled the entire operation. It was the office that we used from Blind, which we mentioned yesterday. And it was the equipment, the team, and any kind of resources, it was entirely bankrolled by the company.

In addition, I put money into the company to try to get things going because this was Jose's singular focus. It was not mine. I had a company I had a revenue stream, so it didn't seem to matter that much to me. So for the first two years of running the business, I put all the money in and whatever money we made, he took all the money out. So you're like, okay, this is really not a good relationship. But I was okay with this because I also felt that the things I learned from him, I was going to get paid back in orders of magnitude more. So for me, it was a very short-term exchange where I'm at a loss, but the long-term gain is really far greater than this. Now I have this problem, I don't think this is good for me, but I'm still in this relationship.

I'm still in this business partnership. I don't feel we're putting 50/50 in. It doesn't feel like an equal effort, but I'm still super loyal. The thing is too my wife who normally would help me steer clear of relationships like this, she knows how I operate. She knows that the best parts of me, that the person that she married is the kind of person who doesn't take relationships for granted and who's super grateful for others who help me. So she's like, "It's okay honey, don't focus on that part. If you can make the relationship work, go for it. It's okay." Which is very surprising coming from her because she's so protective of my time and my energy because she knows. She knows my heart. So there's the logic and emotion at play here.

Nidhi:

Yeah, I mean I think it's such a great example of really struggling and grappling with what the data is telling you, but also the loyalty piece. I think that sometimes we're so focused on the numbers and the business end that we forget that we're also in the business of relationships. And Chris, I feel that struggle of caring about somebody as a friend and feeling loyal to them, but also, on the other hand, seeing that this is no longer a viable venture and having to make some hard decisions based off of that information. And I think that that is where the emotion piece as you were telling your story, I almost wonder would you be that loyal again?

Because I think you may have come away with a lesson, it perhaps was to your detriment in some ways to continue being loyal. And that might be a time where the emotion perhaps caused a setback because I'm sure, as you all are friends now at that moment it was quite strained and difficult and that's a tough place to have to end a business partnership. But it went on for so much longer because of that feeling of loyalty. I think that's where the emotions get tricky but I'd love to hear Mo's thoughts as well.

Mo:

Yeah, so what that story ignited in me is kind of connecting some of my reflection and not necessarily surfacing a problem but surfacing something that I do want to explore. So when it comes to the relationship with you and Jose, right? It's an interpersonal relationship. It's you and someone separate. But with the dilemma that I presented two calls ago, it's an intrapersonal relationship. So it's the relationship between me and myself. So the emotional side says, bank on yourself, do the things that make you happy, do the things that make you fulfilled. Then what we uncovered over the past few calls is, hey, you may be jumping a little too soon. You've yet to be given the right to jump just yet. Stay in it a little bit longer and then once you ride the gravy train and get the tremendous upside, then you can make an even bigger bet on yourself with this hybrid course program.

But my question becomes, when is it unhealthy to not lean in on the relationship that you have with yourself from the emotional side in that regard? So for you and Jose, it was logic was telling you to do this, you disregarded logic because of your relationship. In this particular scenario, it's the flip side, the emotion is telling you like, yo, you may be happy you're doing this, you may be fulfilled doing this. But we're leaning into the data, we're leaning into the logic. Where's the line, and how do we distinguish it? I think that's the core of what our back-channel conversation was about this and now becoming even more evident with that story between you and Jose.

Chris:

So with Jose, in this very particular situation, there are a couple of external factors that I need to bring up, at least things that I was considering to try and paint a little clearer picture here. So financially, I'm okay. I have money, I have a home, I have money saved up, I've got runway for the company. It's probably somewhere like five or six months of runway. I'm not worried about that all and there's money coming in. So money is not my problem, it's about trying to build this other company. Whereas for him, he had a very different, he didn't have an additional source of income and he needed this to work because this was the only thing that was bringing money into him. What I was valuing was the relationship and not so even the relationship because I put a strong emphasis on the transformation that was created within me, whether it was through just by watching and learning or someone actually saying, here's how you do something, it didn't matter.

I captured the benefit of this. I consider this an issue of loyalty. So if you say, are you any less loyal today than you were yesterday, I don't think so. I think that's just part of my core values and beliefs. And I want to submit this into the conversation for you to consider is that, and many of you know this story, when I hired my business coach in early 2000s, he helped me to transform my company and we went from $2.1 million to $3.9 million in the course of one year. Now, was he single-handedly responsible for all this? No, but he made enough small tweaks with me that allowed me to transform for me to capture the benefit of that knowledge. I had the opportunity, I needed the guidance. Would I have gotten there without him maybe, but I'm not sure. But all I know is I did get there with his help.

So I credit him for having the greatest impact on my business, my previous business Blind. And so I thought to myself, I think you just paid for yourself for the next 10 years. Moving forward, I really don't care what we do, but I do owe you something. The reason why is because now I'm going to shift over to the logic side of it. Look at this from 2.1 to $3.9 million, that's additional $1.8 million in revenue, almost $2 million in revenue. So we didn't quite double, but we did a lot more 1.8 million at that time we were running a really profitable company. Let's say 50% of that was gross profit. So my take home on that, my net net was probably at least 30%. So if you do the math, I'm roughing it out, it's like $600,000. I basically captured a net gain of $600,000 of personal income.

So at the rate in which he was charging me to coach me, I could afford to pay him for the next 10 years and not even feel that I'm even on the scale of value received versus money paid. And there's a business lesson here for some of you who really, really listening, understanding the sub or meta layers to this, that when you create transformation for your client on a scale in which they can measure and feel in their pocketbook, whatever you want to charge, they will pay. So put that lesson to the side for a second. So from this point forward, I'm working with him, and some days I don't really get a lot of value, but I bring it back to the original value that was created. I'm that kind of person. I would rather be in a position where I'm the one who's getting taken advantage of versus me taking advantage of people.

It's just how my dad balanced my scale of karmic equity and justice. I don't want to be the perpetrator of taking more than I give. So whether that's good or bad, that's part of who I am. I don't believe that's going away and this has happened time and time again. It's not just this and so if you jump forward in time from the 2000s to 2013, when I reconnect with Jose, he's done something for me, transformed the way I think, transformed the way I talk, and opened the door to an entirely different business model. Even though he was not the architect of all of it, he was the one who set me on this direction. Again, would have gotten there without him? Maybe, but not in the way that I did. So there for me at least was a lot of latitude since I didn't need the money, he needed the money.

I'm a naturally hardworking person. So it wasn't his fault that I worked this way and it's not his fault he works a different way. So I just look at it, I stayed in this for a lot longer probably than one should, and even to the very bitter end, before we split our business apart, there was one last opportunity for us to make it work. And I'll tell you how ridiculous this is so that you can process. Is this emotion speaking or is this logic? Is this the brain or is the heart? I did tell them this. I said, "You know what? I think I can run this company really well. If you can focus just on making content or working on new products, I'll run the whole company. You don't have to do anything. You'll still own 50% of the company. Let's grow this thing."

And through action and through words that did not sit well with him. So that was the beginning of us splitting the company apart. So you could see there I'm volunteering to do nearly all the work. Maybe because of my misguided sense of loyalty. Logically this should not have not even gone that far. It didn't make sense. So ultimately he made his decision, I gave him the best offer I could. Do this one thing, please, I will do everything else and you own this company and we'll ride this into the sunset together. We couldn't make that happen. So at that point, we drafted terms for dissolution of the company and separated assets and that was that and then the day after that, the future was born.

Nidhi:

I think that both of you were operating from a place of emotion. You were operating from a place of loyalty and I feel, you, I wonder... So maybe if I rephrased it, not necessarily that you would be less loyal of a person, but perhaps more discerning with who you are loyal to based off of what you see in them. So that was kind of more what I was getting at. I think that both of you were operating from a place of emotion because logically speaking, it doesn't make sense to run a business for somebody to be able to have all of the benefits, none of the work. And he operated from a place of emotion because he turned it down.

The ego was strong, I would imagine, right? It's like, no, what do you mean? No, I'm not going to take you up on that. Even though logically if somebody gives you a deal where they're like, hey, you don't have to do anything and you'll get to make money and you'll get to do what you're good at in this business and I'll handle all the rest of that. Well logically, I mean you would think that somebody would take you up on that. So that's my initial thought is all parties were coming from a place of being driven by the emotional piece of things.

Chris:

So, Mo, what was it about this particular topic that you felt you needed clarity or insight or wanted to expand on for everyone listening?

Mo:

The expansion that I wanted came from our trio conversation in our back channel around this. Literally finding the balance and continuing to grow in my ability, if I'm speaking personally, in my ability to make those concrete decisions when the heart and brain are at play. So if I were to say, if there's a problem that I'm having personally, I feel like I would be making one up right now. But the one thing that I want to expand on is what I mentioned earlier in the story. When you have that voice in your head, rise up again and try to rationalize to yourself, yo, but you're doing this for the betterment of yourself. These are the reasons why you're doing this, and why aren't these just as valid as the data that's in front of you?

Why aren't you allowed to say like, yo, I'm going to bet on this, as you mentioned, as delusional as it may sound, but come hell or high water, I'll do that because I've had conversations and I'm just speaking now between people that listened and friends of mine that have listened to this as well? It's like there's still that piece and we can call it the emotional piece that's trying to get them to not believe or stay grounded in the logical decision. But if we're making it about me, the main focus is how do you stay alert when something like that pops up again to make the right decision between the heart and the brain. If I were to really point it back at myself. But truly the reason why I wanted to expand was through our conversation together in the chat.

Nidhi:

I think that there are certain tasks and entrepreneurship that require a lot of emotion and going back to what you had said earlier, Mo, this was kind of a piece of the discussion. If you're going to be effective at sales, if you're going to be effective at marketing, you have to be effective at connecting with human emotions, especially the emotions of the people that you are targeting, the people that you're trying to work with as clients. And if you create marketing or branding that doesn't include that emotion behind it. I think that's where a lot of businesses really struggled. They think that it's all about just looking good and there's just no emotion that's behind what they're putting out there. So there's certain elements of your business where emotion has to drive it to a certain degree because that's really how you develop what's going to be really strong in terms of brand identity.

But then there's other parts of the business that I think are very logically driven and that's where perhaps emotion should not come as much in play. I would love to hear y'all's thoughts on this, but I think in terms of budget and finances, I think that that is cut and dry. It's very black and white. Numbers are numbers, data is data. There's not an emotional lens through which you view that. As one example of a part of your business that just really probably shouldn't have emotion in it. So I think that that's where it's tough is you're kind of changing hats, right? You're putting on one hat at one moment in your business when you're speaking to clients and when you're really empathizing and showing compassion and active listening. But then if you're going back to now having to balance your books and prepare your taxes or do your financials, then you're having to put on this other hat.

And I think that that's where people kind of struggle is they don't know how to embody both and how to apply both to decision-making. So for example, I can make this more concrete. I'm in a place in my business right now where my heart really wants to go into becoming a professional speaker. I've done professional speaking for many years at this point, but my heart is really telling me to go forth and to do this because I want to make an impact. I think that there's an opportunity to really positively influence the workforce and wellness in the workforce, but my brain is telling me, well, I don't know if that's going to be the best decision. Do you have the evidence and have you done the market research? And how consistently could you get these gigs?

So I struggle with this because one part of me really wants to lean into this knowing that I have done quite a bit of research on this. But then the other part of me, which I feel maybe is the more logical part, is you have a successful private practice. There's a cap on how much you can make there, but is it worth the risk to jump into doing the speaking and to bridge that? So I hope that that helps in terms of making it more concrete. I mean that's a legitimate problem that I'm experiencing right now and I do feel like there's this push-pull between the heart versus the brain.

Chris:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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Mo:

Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris:

Nidhi, you surprised me. You said that when you're looking at the numbers, you got to look at that with logic, and me kind of a self-professed logic monster. I'm like, I'm not sure and I'll tell you why. This has happened to me in the past and I also read about people who are running much bigger companies than me who do things similar to me. And when I read about them, the general response from folks is, what a wonderful way to run a business. Here's what I'm talking about. The entrepreneur, the CEO of a large company is having economic troubles with his business or her business, but in this case, it was a man, and the CEO makes a ton of money relative to everybody else. The CEO has money to fall back on and when they hit hard times, instead of cutting salaries, which is what you do, or you cut staff because the numbers do not dictate this, something is fundamentally broken about the business model.

The CEO does something surprising and unexpected. What they do is they cut their own salary because they don't need it and they make sure everyone can get through the winter of their company and this doesn't happen enough in corporate America. And exactly the opposite happens. The bean counters say we're going to not hit projections. The street wants us to act quickly. So they bring in the hatchet people and they cut a thousand jobs in a day and I think Michael Moore and other people speak out about this. It's like when did it become about image and projection and what Wall Street cares about? And if you are the leader of a company and you get the credit when things go well, your salary definitely matches that responsibility. When it doesn't go well, why is it that you don't suffer? Why is it the people who did everything they could in their power?

I'm not saying everybody does, but the people who did, why are they the ones that suffer? So for me personally speaking now, and maybe I'm talking myself out of being a logic person, is I've had seasons and two years where the business did not do well. I knew it wasn't doing well much earlier than I acted upon this. But the business consensus is you let people go as soon as you feel like the winds are changing because that's how you're going to survive. And my thinking, at least my feeling, and I do it in a very small scale, so I'm not telling you the story. I'm this big brave person and I'm doing good for the public, doing public good here. In my small way, I'm like okay everybody, let's tighten our belts. We're going to do this together we can get through this.

And I have to scramble an animal to figure out how we can get ourselves out of this hole versus I'm cutting half the staff now because I have to. Because the numbers tell me because my financial advisor's telling me. My business manager tells me I have to be strong enough to stand up to them. I'm like, I pay you to help me and advise me, and most times I will take your counsel but not on this until it becomes absolutely necessary. Now in hindsight, you're like, okay, I let those people go. We start to recover and we rebuild the company. Did I want to do it earlier? Maybe, but I'm glad I didn't. So that's why you surprised me, Nidhi. I want to get some clarity on this from you. Maybe I think you were talking about something else possibly.

Nidhi:

Yeah, yeah. And I think that our experiences are a little bit different because I'm a solo entrepreneur, so I don't have the responsibility of having other people working for me, at least not in this stage of my business. But I also just as you're saying that reflect on it that that's a strategic decision. So when you have that moment where you're seeing that something is you're needing to pivot because just the seasonality of the way that the business works, the ebbs and flows. I find that of course, the strategic decisions like that are going to make a huge impact on your business, the people working underneath you, they have to be wise-mind decisions. They have to have that balance of emotion and logic. I think for me, when I was saying that, I was more thinking about the times that you're in your business and you're looking at your financials and you're like, okay, I want to be able to invest in X thing.

I want to be able to bring on X person and then so it's cut and dry in that sense. If your numbers don't line up to where you can afford something or can continue investing in something. Yes, emotions come into play but I guess what I'm positing is that the decision should be more logically grounded based off of what that is. So I guess I was speaking about it on a much smaller scale in terms of day-to-day decision-making that would happen in a business versus of course I can understand your perspective and I appreciate the fact that you have your employees' backs. Nobody wants to work for an organization where when the tides turn all of a sudden your job is on the line. So I definitely appreciate leaning in and caring about the people that you work for. I'm definitely not advocating to not do that. Does that make sense? Does that provide any clarity?

Chris:

It does. It provides a lot of clarity. I think when you're talking, you're looking at from a solo practitioner looking at your own expenses and finances and being smart with cutting certain things that you don't need and just being really good fiduciary for your own business. And those are not attached to any human beings, they're mostly your own sacrifice. I don't really need to. I could do without the Lexus and the Rolexs, and all that kind of stuff. Right?

Nidhi:

Exactly.

Chris:

Okay, wonderful. I guess all of us are making the decisions that we can in the positions that we're in. You as a solo practitioner, me running a very small business under 20 people, and then someone running a business where there's three or four, 500 people working for them. Each one of these decisions is very difficult and different and there's a lot of context and nuance. And one of the things I like to do is I have opinions about things, but I try my best not to judge people because I don't walk in their shoes. I don't know what it's like to make their decisions. So one of the things I try to make a mindful practice of doing is trying to practice some level of detachment because this is typically where my feelings about loyalty or guilt, shame that I'm not attaching those things to a previous outcome or an expectation.

So I can see things for the way they are and to try not to process new data coming in with judgment because it clouds the data set. I'm speaking like a robot but if I'm looking at something in a case where I'm working with somebody like Mo or someone else and they're telling me a story in terms of a tough business decision ahead, what I think is happening to the person that luckily I'm free of which is I'm not married to any outcome. I don't have to live with any of the baggage, I don't have to do the dirty work If people need to be fired or clients you need to resign from clients so I can just see them for what they are. And oftentimes Mo will remark to me, "Wow man, just hearing you reframe the question made it so clear.

Why wasn't it clear to me in that moment in being in the bubble, if you will." It's because I think you're attached. Some part of this is your ego defending or protecting yourself and all of the expectations and judgment, it clouds all the issues. So that's where I think your feelings and your heart cloud the data set and there is a time and a place for us to feel and process. I might sound like I'm contradicting myself, but when you're looking at the initial data set, I think it's very important for you to look at them for what they are. A client didn't hire you, it doesn't mean you're a bad person. So the feeling the heart side tells you, what will this mean to my heart? Well, it means I'm a terrible person or I said something stupid during the meeting and if you didn't then you're just making up a story.

So I just look at it like clients have options. I can't win every new business bid. They just decided to go with someone else and that was it. No more, no less. Then I can say, I can review, I can go and rewind the tape in my mind and say, "How did this transaction go? Was there a moment for me to do or say something that might have changed the outcome?" If there was, I'm going to put that in my mental journal of things to do next time just out of the desire to improve my process.

Mo:

I've heard this multiple times from Chris, have a level of detachment so you don't see what you want to see and you can actually see what's in front of you. But then I hear you, can this just be a debate? Is that cool? Because I don't want to make up a problem. Is that cool?

Chris:

It's as cool as Ice Cube go.

Mo:

I hear you say things like, I trust my gut feeling or I'm willing to make this decision that is much bigger than what my ops person says the data is telling us. And they're like, no, we're going to go for this amount versus this amount. And I'm like, well why do you get to do that? Why do you get to be like, you know what? We're going to go for seven million this year, or we're going to screw it. We're going to reflip the company to a branding company and then there's tremendous upside for you now. So when I hear these things, sometimes there's a part of me that's like, well, I can do that too. Why not? But then when I present that to you, you're like, dude, you're being a little squirrely here. You're jumping, you're thinking a little too emotional. Let's look at the data. I'm like, well, you take big risks, you make decisions that logically don't appear sound and there's tremendous upside.

So I want to play in that area because when I hear the nitty dilemma, it's the same dilemma across everybody, there's just like, ooh, let's take this jump, let's take this risk, let's do this thing. Tremendous upside for me and the people that I'm going to serve. Why not? Then we get in a room and it's like, well there's facts and then there's delusion or there's confidence and then there's delusion. So help me differentiate. So when someone, me especially not in this moment, because I'm good right now, but I do want to back and forth with you on this, find themselves in a position where, yo, let's do this and they're hungry and they're excited. They know whether to detach and look objectively or take that emotional decision that is tremendously risky but could have amazing upside as well.

Chris:

What you're saying is, look Do, from my perspective, you're doing all these crazy things, and then when I do it, you turn around saying, "Hey, why are you doing that?" So you're saying when I was doing motion design and I told the company you know what let's do brand strategy and branding. That seems like a crazy decision. And it could look like, hey, grass is greener, a shiny object syndrome. I'm going to just pursue this thing because it's the next attractive thing on my plate. Then when that's working and everybody's exhausted from switching over, I'm like, "Hey guys, I'm going to disappear for a little bit. I'm going to go make YouTube videos." And that seems like, wait, what? What are you doing? And then I'm making another hard pivot because I'm bored, I'm tired, whatever it is. So it looks like that on the surface. Are we in agreement there? Is that what we're talking about, Mo?

Mo:

Yeah.

Chris:

Okay, wonderful. All right. So allow me to explain and expand. As you may or may not know, I studied graphic design when I got out of school. I went to a great school, worked really hard, and then I went to create a company and I dabbled in lots of things related to design. Pretty much I took on any project that anybody would offer me, I would say yes to it. Then I quickly realized, this is not for me. I need to focus in on motion design, which is still built up on the principles of design that I learned from school. So in a way, it is a pivot, but it's a pivot built up on a foundation and I'm not starting over. I'm not going into welding or something because I know nothing about that. So I do motion design, I do this for 20-some-odd years and I would've stayed on that course if the data didn't tell me to change.

And the data told me to change because like I said, the numbers were telling me a very clear story, and me being very sensitive to what those numbers say, it was saying, "Your company is going to go out of business in a matter of years and you're going to need to do something different." And it's only at that point that I realized, given what I'm seeing on a cultural level and the numbers in the business and I have to find another business for us to pivot towards. So what's the first business that we pivoted towards that worked? Branding, brand strategy, and design. So now 20 years into my career, I'm coming full circle. The irony is when we were talking to clients, they had asked us, Chris, do you guys know how to do logo design? Of course, I know. This is what I studied in school.

I just took a 20-year detour to come back to it. So that pivot was a pivot that was necessary for us to survive and build a longer roadmap towards the future and we could have stayed there and we might have just stayed there. Except for deep in my heart for the last 15 years I've been teaching and I was thinking about there's got to be more to my life than getting a paycheck from the man. I would often describe this within the circles of people who had listened to me at that time of motion designers, designers, and animators. I would say we're all here busy fighting over the scraps that our masters and our lords throw on the floor and we stab and kill each other in a competitive and vicious cycle to get the scraps and we're happy to be here. Wouldn't you rather be them?

Wouldn't you rather be the agency instead of fighting it out here in post-production? And they all look at me like, are you speaking of some kind of crazy language here? And us moving into brand strategy was us moving up the food chain because not only were we doing the strategic part, we're also doing all the design and production and now we're one giant step closer towards the client. And then you know what you're like if this is the way it goes, you rather be the client and not the agency because now I'm still fighting for the scraps from the clients and that's where we were. I had enough financial padding, runway for me to try some bold ideas and innovation is about this that you have to be able to run an inefficient, messy company if you want to try and innovate.

So most companies don't have this. Most companies of our size, they don't do any R&D or the kind of R&D they do is more of the same but slightly different. It's the same looking commercial, but now we're using red or we're going to use a different character or something that's not real innovation, that's not R&D. So me, I'm the head of R&D, I'm going to try this other thing. And if this thing works really well, we can hedge, and then if it works really, really well, we can jump. And in my whole life, what I was trying to do was to get closer and closer to the client until we became the client.

So once we created this content education media company, we were the client because we make a product, we're the agency because we market our own products and then we buy media from our own content. So now we're the media company as well. So in one bold move, we're able to become the client, the network, the showrunner, the media buying company, and agency all in one. To me, that smelled like freedom and there was a business behind it. It wasn't just a hope, a wish, and a prayer. The numbers told me it was working. I don't think your situation is that close to this and I'd love for you to debate it if you wish.

Mo:

No, that was pretty clear to me.

Chris:

Nidhi, do you want to jump in?

Nidhi:

I mean, that was pretty solid. I don't know that there's much to add to that because I understood that from yesterday that these were all threads of the foundation that you'd laid 20 years ago just being carried through and ultimately that the numbers backed up everything that you were saying and that you were desiring, but it was driven by the fact that something wasn't working any longer. So that was really the end result is we only pivot when the data tells us to and if we tried other iterations of the same thing, then we have to get creative about what the solutions are. And I remember you saying that yesterday, Chris, that it's really important that we try out different avenues to resolve the challenge, but at some point, if we've invested too much, then we're losing out and that's the time that we want to be able to pivot. So that was pretty clear to me as well.

Chris:

Okay.

Nidhi:

I mentioned earlier, this is a slightly unrelated cayenne, but kind of related to what we're talking about on this topic of heart versus brain. Something that you had said is that through adversity, you've just kind of developed a coping mechanism where you don't really feel it any longer, right? It's like this distancing that's happened where you're able to put aside this thing happened. Yeah, it sucked momentarily, but I'm going to keep it moving and it's a pretty quick turnaround on that. Would you agree with that? That you're able to move through the emotion pretty quickly and keep it moving?

Chris:

Oh, yes, yes. Most definitely. Yes. Move quickly. Yes.

Nidhi:

Yes, yes. Okay, good. So something that I think we may disagree on is in the line of heart versus brain is when we're having that moment of discomfort or that moment of distress, that part of it is leaning into that feeling because there's lessons to be gleaned from the experience of the pain or of the shame or of the fear or whatever that emotion is.

So I wanted to kind of touch on that because I think that we kind of have a culture where we spiritually bypass challenges and it's like we're so quick to jump to, well it's going to be okay and I can get over this and I can keep it moving and it no big deal. But we never really connect to the underlying feeling and I personally think it's really important to be able to experience the full spectrum of emotions. I do think it comes into play when it comes to business and entrepreneurship because if we lean away from discomfort, I kind of feel like sometimes people are more apt to make the mistake because they were so quick to try to figure out, they never looked at what the problem was. They were so quick to try to jump to what the solution was to be able to overcome it. Does that make sense?

Chris:

Yes. And I feel like we're about to get spicy.

Nidhi:

Yes. That's what I said, man. Cayenne pepper. Bringing the Thai spice to your jasmine.

Chris:

Okay. Part of my life philosophy and this is one that's been honed for decades now, and one of the things I attribute to my levelheadedness, my even-keeled nature, and my ability to see past things is I just process emotions differently than I used to as a teenager and as I guess as an adult, even in that, when I feel something, I ask myself some questions like, is this adding clarity to the situation? Is this helping me or is this holding me back from seeing what I need to see? I make a decision about it and it used to take me a little bit longer to reach the conclusion and then I feel what I need to feel and then I move past it. Because I've learned over the years that feelings in many situations are really unreliable indicators as to what's really happening.

And that's my emotional child screaming for help saying something. But at this point in time, it's fairly unreliable as a witness to what's going on. So when bad things happen, I try to tell myself, what else could this mean? How else might I interpret this besides the one I'm feeling right now? So the natural thing is you're driving on the freeway, someone cuts you off. And I get angry too, just like everybody else. I'm like, "God dang it, you dummy." You go through the emotions and you go through that sometimes pure rage and I try to tell myself, what else could this mean? Well, maybe they were busy and just had a really horrible day at work. Maybe they're rushing home because they're going to miss an appointment of something that's of great importance to them. There's probably a thousand different things that this could mean other than they're just being a jerk and being careless with their driving.

So I will feel that anger and I will express myself and I just like, you know what? I'll try to let it wash over me and move past me. And that's just a very simple example. I have a much bigger example and a funny story to share with all of you. Of course, as my life philosophy when people come and ask me for help, I try and teach them the same idea because they're like, oh, there's this calmness. There's this, are you spiritual? Do you practice meditation? Are you like a zen something, right? I'm like, no, I don't do any of that. All I try to do is to practice this clarity in looking at my emotions and not allowing it to cloud what I'm seeing. There are times when I'll of course lean into the motion, but they're reserved for different things.

So there was this period in time, I'm looking to make some merch for the company, like snapback caps. And this person had just coincidentally, the timing was so uncanny, sent an email, unsolicited email, my name is Fische Yu, F-I-S-C-H-E Y-U. And he's working with a company called WellBrand. And he's like, we make all kinds of merchandise and imprintable marketing materials. Is there anything I can help you with? I was like, how's this possible? The timing of this is great, I need some help. And so I said, yes, I need to make some snapback caps, and here's what I'm thinking. And he's like, okay, great. We can send you some samples and in order for us to get the samples going, here's the quote, you need to pay 50% upfront. And at first, I'm like, oh, okay, it's not that much money.

I could do this. Let's go. And I send him or I wire him the money. I don't remember how I sent him the money, but it was digital. Then I went in to take a shower thinking I got one thing off my plate, but in the shower, I started to have a panic attack. I said, wait a minute. His email address is different from the company in which he works at. I rush over to my computer and I look at the company, he's not listed anywhere. I've searched. And I'm like, oh my God. I was just part of a phishing scheme. I just sent some random person probably because there was a site with a cookie and he was able to do this and I was really upset with myself. I was like, you dummy. And the part that was making this really painful for me in that moment was my wife warns me about this kind of stuff all the time.

She's hyper-paranoid about financial schemes and privacy emails and who you're giving your data to, and you have to cover your passwords. So to date, she doesn't use any software to help her remember passwords. She uses analog systems for everything. So I was embarrassed and I was feeling this heat and this pain, but mostly because I didn't want my wife to tell me, "I told you, you're so careless." I'll deal with the ramifications. It was only a few thousand bucks. It's not going to change my life. I just didn't want my wife to hear it. And as I'm thinking about it, I say, "Chris, you tell everyone to move past the emotional reaction. What do you do with this?" So I told myself another story. So I'm sending this guy some frantic emails. I'm like, "Fische, hey there." I just had this thought like, "Hey, can you respond to something?"

This is kind of strange. And he didn't respond. He typically responds really quickly with everything. I'm like, oh, I see you got that money and now you're nowhere to be found. And so I thought to myself, it cost me $2,000. There's a couple of options here. One is I'm going to get the samples and everything's going to be fine. So this will be just a funny story or two, I'll have been ripped off, but I'll have a funny story to tell people and if I tell enough people I will have made back the $2,000. So when I talk about accelerating the emotional parts and understanding and processing it's like there's nothing I can do. Already the money is sent, it's been wired over, it's done. I can't get it back. So the funny thing is, I'm having lunch with a team, I tell them the story and they're on the edge of their seats.

They're laughing, they're like, Fische Yu, oh my God, this was the most insane mastermind criminal because he told you he was going to Fische Yu. And I was so upset about it and I was telling them a story like, Chris, I hope you, you're totally screwed because this is a better story than if you actually get the hats. Who cares about the hats? And they're all laughing. I'm like, yeah, that's a pretty funny story. Turns out it was all legitimate. I had the caps, I made money, everything was fine. But that's an illustration of me practicing what it is that I tell people to do, which is you can sit there, you can beat yourself up, and you could just kind of stew in your own mess if you will. And the story that you tell yourself is, you're a dummy, you're careless, and all the kind of negative thoughts that would come up. But I pause, I reflected on it. I just moved past it. I turned it into a story.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already subscribed to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and Produced by me, Greg Gunn, thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/heyChris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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