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Failures The Chris Do Chronicles

#
33
TheFutur
Published
February 14, 2017

Chris Do talks with the Pro Group about experiences with failures and what he's learned.

Read Transcript
All right, guys. Welcome to episode 30 three, if you're counting, this episode is all about failure. I think Jacob Campbell or somebody else in the group said, you know, can you share it with us? A few more stories about stumbling blocks challenges trouble clients, scope creep partnerships that have failed, and that was clarified. It wasn't personal partnerships, it was actual business partnerships that failed. And I like that much better. I don't want to get into trouble with my life. OK anyways, here's the recap, and I wanted to make sure that you guys have all found a peak performance partner that you're doing regular calls that's essential to your growth. Please do not skip out on this if anybody does not yet have a peak performance partner and you're watching this later. Just shout it out to the group. Find somebody that doesn't have one. I'm sure this is like one of those big meetup groups where I say, turn to the person to your left, but this is done virtually. You're going to do it and you're going to grow and learn from this, ok? And I also want to remind you guys to continue on your 21 day journal challenge. This is about documenting and recording the one thing that you want to improve. So if you are not good at time management, which some people are not good at, I want you to just record what you do with your time every single day for 21 days, OK, about seven days in, you'll realize something, but I want you to stick to it and do it for 21 days. If you guys want to lose some weight, record all the calories you're consuming and the calories that you're burning. OK and last but not least, make sure you guys read this book so we can talk about it in the very near future. It's called show your work. It's by Austin Cleon. Check it out. OK, here's our agenda for today. You guys were going to gather around the campfire. OK, and we're going to tell some stories, and I think you guys want to hear some of my moments when I wasn't so perfect, right? Misunderstandings that clients scope creep partnerships, maybe even some relationships, but we're going to leave that one for last. I don't have time for that. OK, the first one I'm going to tell you is probably the worst professional failure that I've ever had. And it was so bad that I wish that in my mind at that moment in time, I remember this very vividly that I could just give the client their money back and make it all disappear. But there was no such thing. It was horrific. OK, so here's what happened. I'll give you a little bit of setup. This was actually for a series of Nissan commercials and was the first time I think we were working with a big agency called shyest day. You might have heard of them. They do all the advertising for Apple. So a big deal kind of thing. OK, I hear somebody typing. So whoever is typing, please unmute yourself. Ok? and it would just so happen that for this particular day, we were moving from downtown Los Angeles, where the company was founded to Venice and the movers were going to come the morning of the project delivery date. That date was set months in advance. And the assignment came in like a week out. And the thing that compounded the problem was I did not get approval from the client to proceed with rendering the animation or actually even to build animation until the night before. So we're talking about 8:00 or 9:00 PM the day before it's due and then them signing off on the typeset. I had probably two dozen animation to do with just typography, so it was for a bunch of dealer spots for Nissan. You know, the things that say 390 nine, down 2.4% APR that kind of stuff. So they improve it till the night before. And this is the dark ages of the Mac computer. I think this is prior to Steve Jobs returning to the company, and we're working on Macs and we're working on clones. If you guys remember that you had two different kind of clones and rendering times were atrocious. Ok? and I had four or five computers set up to do network rendering, and they didn't all have the correct font. Now, anybody that's ever worked with After Effects and done network rendering, you're going to start to feel the pain in just about a second. So we're talking about 10:30 11 o'clock at night. I'm just beginning to set up the files to render. OK excuse me. And it's networked across five computers locally and go out and hit Render. And I'm sitting there just watching them all crunch through the renderings and it's going to take all night. And so I decided, you know what? I'm going to just turn the render for a couple of hours. But I was getting really tired because it's been several late nights. And what happened was I decided, you know what? They're all going. It's all fine. I'm going to take a nap, get up at 3:00 in the morning and check on the renders again. It's like watching paint dry and I get up and I start looking at the renderings and I notice a problem right away. In some of the renders, the ones that were missing the font. Every 6/5 frame was wrong. And I was doing the math in my mind, like if it took this long to render these many frames. By the time in which is due, which is like eight or nine in the morning, how can I get this thing done? I cannot render the whole thing and turn off the computers that didn't have the correct fonts. What am I supposed to do? So this is where the madness begins. I was going through a sequence of images and spotting the ones with the wrong font and rendering that by hand and replacing the files, keeping the sequence intact. And it was a complete cluster graph, if you can imagine. So that was a horrific, painful moment. And I was realizing as the sun was coming up, the deadline was coming upon us. And we had to messenger over to the post house, which was located all the way in Santa Monica from downtown l.a., which was about, I don't know, about 40 minutes with no traffic and it could be hours with traffic. And I was thinking, what am I going to do? So about six AM two hours out, I emailed and text the client. I'm having some render issue. I want to give you a heads up and there's going to be some problems. I'm going to do my best to give you a staggered delivery. And she was really cool. She's like, you know what? Send me what you can. Don't worry about it because our session, we have work to do and we can take it in pieces. Well, long story short, 8 o'clock came by, 12 o'clock came by, two PM came by, and the thing that made it worse was movers were in this space, dismantling all of our furniture and packing it up as I was still working. So I literally, while trying to render, had to take the computers off the desktop, put them on the floor and use a milk crate and temporary moving boxes to prop up the workstation. So I was working on the floor, completely stress out of my mind, you know, stress, sweat coming out of my pores, cramped over pain, my arm, my back. I'd have been up all night working on this thing and I still missed all the deadlines. OK, so this to make the story even worse, the client called me from the Edit Bay. Now they're in these finishing bays that charge literally $1,000 an hour. And I was cognizant of that. And so every hour, every minute that they couldn't get the files and finish the job they were paying for. And it was going to be a problem. And then they called me and said, you know what? Some of the files you're sending over, it doesn't work. It's not working. There's glitches still. And I thought I had checked everything, but apparently in the haste to get everything out, even in the staggered delivery, I missed stuff. So this is horrific, and I was thinking, my god, my body hurts, I'm about to break. I wanted to cry for sure, but boys don't cry and I just sat there and powered through it as much as I could. And then when I finally finished, I packed up all the machines, put them in my computer, I mean my car and drove out to the West Side. So my car, which was at that time a Nissan 200 hatchback, was filled with computers and monitors. My body was achy. I hadn't showered and had driven out to the West Side. I go to the post house. And I felt just that shame that comes over you. Like, I didn't even want to see the client or look them in the eye, but I had to. I had to face the music and I was already eight PM and it's been a long day. And prior to me driving out, I had called the producer and said, I know you guys went into overtime and all this kind of stuff. It's my fault. I take responsibility. Just bill me for the time. Take it out of the money that I'm going to charge you for this job. And she was great. I walked in the room, everybody looked at me and they knew I did the best that I could, but I just felt a shame. This was the most unprofessional thing I could have done, and I didn't make any excuses. I walked in, I owned it. I said, guys, I'm so sorry. It's just one compounding problem after another. And let me try to make this up to you in another way. Somehow, if you give me the chance, OK, we did wind up working. We shot it day again after that, but it wasn't for a long time. I needed to let the wounds or heal a little bit. And I guess to their credit, they didn't even ask me to pay for the room, and I know they went way over, ok? That was one of the most horrible work experiences failures I've ever had. And if you guys want to ask me a question about this, go ahead. I'll open it up for now. Otherwise, I will continue on a string of horrible failure stories. Probably not as bad as this, but they're there. They're bad in different degrees. OK, so if you guys feel bad for me, go get your tissue boxes or huddle around a warm cup of coffee or tea, and we'll continue. Anybody have any questions? All right. Except this is a time that I learned about the legal system for the firsthand. This was also no fun. Ok? we had moved already and I was in Venice in our home office, and this is when somebody rings at the door and I open up and it's like, are you christo? And I said, Yes. And they hand me an envelope. You've been served. And I was afraid to even open the envelope, and I opened it up and I was being sued by my former client. And there are big beauty cosmetic company, a big one, like with a b, a billion brand. OK and what happened there was the work that we had done for this client had appeared in a book called upload taking print to the web. If you can imagine that this is like web 1.0, and we had done some design work for them and we built out their website for big, multi-billion global brand. And I have to admit, we barely knew what we were doing, and this was in the early dark ages of the internet. So you could barely do anything that was interesting using GIF animations and using bits of flash and even coding programs. Anyways, it appeared in this book, and the way it appeared in the book was the author I had a relationship with. I had done work that he had featured in another book, so he said, do you have anything going on? I shared with him the web project we were doing. He thought it was interesting. He had this concept called taking print to the web. So I wanted to feature it. So he sent me over a release form and I foolishly signed that release form. We're talking about two years into the business here, so I'm just as wet behind the ears as you can imagine. And I said to him during a conversation, I said, you know what? I don't know what rights I have to this work, but you can have whatever rights I have and then you need to confirm with the client, he says. Great So I introduced him to the marketing director of this beauty brand, and they connected and he received the artwork from them. I did not send him any artwork myself. Well, a year after we finished the web project, the owners, the CEO and the chief creative officer of this beauty brand retired from the company, and a whole bunch of new people came in with the new people who had discovered this book in circulation and look through it and thought the profile that was created for them was unflattering because in one instance, I describe the process as the client. Dumped a bunch of images in a box for us and gave it to us and said, figure it out. And that's literally what happened, and they didn't like the way that sounded, the way that characterized their company. Plus, since we are no longer working with them, I think the marketing team decided, you know what? Let's go get some more money back. Somebody was really angry. It got to the top. And now everybody had amnesia. Nobody remembered sending images over to the author. So I got into a lawsuit and this is when I met my attorney, who I've known now for almost 20 years. His name is Stuart Carroll. And I called him up and it said, Stewart. I need help. I'm getting sued. They're suing me for $100,000. I don't have $100,000 to give them. You know, I could barely scrape two nickels together at that time. What can you do? We need to keep this super cheap. And I don't feel like I did anything wrong, and it's either the author's fault or it's the company's fault. And so I was brought into depositions. And I had to meet with the judge and do the whole bit. And long story short, I was really angry, not at the author, but mostly at the client because they were just not owning up to the fact that they sent the images over. And their challenge to us was prove it, prove that we sent the images. And since I wasn't personally involved in that, the author had looked through all his FedEx way bills and could not find the one that mattered the most. So he and the book publisher were sued. And I was sued. And the way that this worked out, even though I felt I had done nothing wrong, I had to wind up. I wound up settling with them and paid them something off. I don't know what the legal term is, but an undisclosed amount, whatever I paid them and made it go away. And I had that moment where I was debating and I was a young guy and I was an angry person and full of self-righteousness. I said, this is so wrong. This is how the big guy screws the little guy just because somebody is angry and wants their money back. We did everything we were supposed to do and we got screwed. My one issue there, the regret was I should have never signed that freaking document because those were rights that I did not have to assign. OK, so that's a lesson learned there, and it costs me thousands of to settle this thing, but I was burning just as much and defending it. So at a certain point, you have diminishing returns. Am I my attorney says, you know, we have a good chance of winning this and then I can counter sue them. But there's a whole legal process that you're going to open up yourself to. So, for example, we could probably settle with them for about $10,000 or we can send $30,000 to fight it and win and then try to get some of that money back, if not all of it back. But that's a big risk. You have to also think this is going to take months, if not a year, to resolve how much of this is going to affect your business and creativity. And he had counseled me, counseled me and said, you know, I creative people, and if your mind is not right, you can't do work. So not only are you going to be stuck dealing with this, it's going to hurt your future work. Is this something you want to do? And he's like, I'd be happy to take your money and to go fight this case for you. But I don't know if that's in your best interest. And from that moment forward, I knew I had an attorney and somebody that it could work with who had basically a fiduciary responsibility to represent me and my best interest and not his own interest. And that's a theme that you guys hear me talking about a lot. Ok? that was called upload, and that's how it was entered into the legal system. Not my last time, but my first time. Excuse me. OK, let's talk about the bad client stuff. And I have several bad clients to talk to you guys about. Again, I'm going to take a moment here to pause and ask anybody if they have any questions if they want to go on one. Yes, I'm trying to unmute myself, but it wasn't letting me, so I figured out how to do it, nessen. That's a really big client where you used to getting that size of clients at the time. Or was that like a really rare thing that you had a client that big and then ended up turning that? That's a great question, Sean. I'm going to answer the question this way. We were used to seeing really big clients, but they weren't coming in like every single day. So the fact that it was Nissan didn't scare me. Not at all, because we're pitching on mutual fund companies like Janus funds. We were pitching on sun Microsystems, we were pitching on the biggest accounts and we're talking about a year and a half into the business. We were already pitching on these really big accounts. So that didn't faze me, the fact that it was shy a day didn't faze me either. It was just if it was for Joe's auto shop, I would have had the same amount of stress and the same amount of shame because it's a professional commitment that I made to do a job and my reputation and my integrity is really important to me. OK got it. Any other questions, Sean, did I answer? OK yeah, that was good. All right. Moving on. I could feel my throat acting up here, you guys. Let's see how I can hold up here. I appreciate you doing this Because I feel a lot better about myself now. Yeah use me on your way down to ground with somebody there. Catch a break in your fall. All right. So here's my next story. And this is again, this is in the era of CD-ROM and it's not pre web, but it's right on the emergence of the web and the world wide web. OK and one of my friends, quote unquote. And I mean friends. And that we had a professional relationship. He was an author. His name was Mark and he had lots of ideas. He was very imaginative and he was deeply immersed into cyberpunk comics, manga, cinema, that kind of thing. He actually taught a class at Art Center. And a mutual friend introduced us. Well, mark was a decent guy, but he was a dreamer. He had all these wonderful ideas. And mark had me designing all kinds of things for him, and this is how I got work in the early days. It wasn't for a lot of money, but on one project in particular, I don't have an image of that. It was for a project called Planet live. And he had this grand idea at that time to install kiosks around the world. That was a 24/7 window into another place. OK, so you would come up to the kiosk, like if you're in Africa, if you're in Asia, parts of the United States and just beautiful urban parts and rural parts, just amazing places where you can step up to it. And there was a camera there so the world can see where you're at and see you, and you can see the world by selecting the interface. Now that idea doesn't sound that grand to you because that's just the web today. But back then it was a huge. Undertaking an enormous idea, and I was really into it because he wanted to show pictures of people in Africa and he was a world traveler. He wanted to bring the world a little closer. And if you are alive around that time, we're talking about 1995 96. You might have seen commercials from AT&T where they tell you to imagine the future about being able to tuck your baby into bed from 1,000 miles away or to sing Happy Birthday to your son or daughter while on a flight. Well, these were big ideas back then. I worked on this project and these guys were managing one way, and Mark had partnered up with a lawyer from New York, and this guy was your typical New York Attorney. That's like a double whammy right there. New York are super aggressive, attorney, ultra aggressive, and this guy was just a bull in a China shop with me, ok? It got to a point when these guys were getting a little delinquent in their payments. And I said, guys, I'd be happy to keep working on this. If you guys can pay your invoices and you haven't done that. So Mark's partner, an attorney, called me up with this New York accent talking the way he does and said, listen to me, OK, we're going to do big things with this, and we're trying to go out and raise money in which we are. In order to get that money, we need your help to keep moving forward. Ok? and I said, that's fine. I believe in it. I've been working on it. I'm giving you guys a great rate, but you owe me thousands of dollars. And I need to get paid. Otherwise, why would I continue working on this? I have no stake in your company. And then he started just to chew my ear out. And afterwards I hung up the phone and he basically gave me an ultimatum. He says, if you don't do this work, not only are we not going to pay you, we're not going to give you anything else, and that's it. So who's leveraging the debt that they owed me a dangling that as a carrot to say keep working. Otherwise you won't even get paid the money we're owed you. And so I was thinking, you know what? I'm done with this. I wanted to work on this project. But the fact that he talked to me like that, I knew it was done and I call them mark and I said, mark, this is what your guy said to me. You either fix it or I'm out, and the rest of the story is, I'm out. So this is one of those things where I really emphasize with you guys get paid up front. You pay 50% And so I lost thousands of dollars there and not a ton. But this is talking about year one in my business here. So this was really rough. You know, it wasn't like jobs were falling out of the trees. OK, moving on. Next bad client. Are you guys tearing up for me? Is there something in your eye? There you go. Well, hey, Chris, Jared, I have a quick question. You're in far away, man. Hey, so are these all the things that shaped your future contracts? Like, I find all this like certain stuff comes up from before it, and I haven't had nightmare scenarios, but then I'm like, oh, shoot, I should put this in my next. I should put this in my contract, which is always kind of like, you know, shaping things based off of what, you know, all these things that happen over time. That's a great question, Jared. And the answer is yes, all of the things that we do wrong teach me about how to do things right, and you can't learn things unless you make mistakes. So first off, I'm hoping that sharing these stories about my failures and mistakes is a cautionary tale for you, and a wise person would learn from this and then make an adjustment to the way that they operate without having to deal with the pain in the first place. I read a book on film theory and story structure, and they said that the reason why we love story so much is because humans seek pain and seek to avoid pleasure so we seek pain and avoid. I'm sorry. Seek pleasure and avoid pain. I said that the opposite, right? We seek pleasure, avoid pain, and we go to the movies. And we see these characters behave in certain ways. And we think that the guys you just tell his dad that he's being too hard on his daughter, but he never does. And then the consequences are unveiled to us through the movie, and we're sitting there thinking, man, if I was ever in that situation, I'm going to tell my father, you know what? Leave my daughter alone. I love you, dad, but I can't. And so that's what we try to do. OK, that's why we're so compelled to watch these films. We see these relationships and we know how we should behave in those relationships, but we don't carry them over into real life. That's the problem. So I hope that you learn from these things and start to amend your contracts in the way that you work today. You don't have to lose tens of thousands of dollars. I've lost a lot of money, probably lots more money than some of you guys have made in a year. And I promise you, that's not an exaggeration, OK, in money's not in paying people off that were, I think, unethical, but I had to just move on with my life. And they know that, OK, when someone's life is worth less than yours, they'll make it a pain in your butt to get rid of them. And that's what they do. So in the early days, I didn't have an attorney, I didn't have insurance. I don't have errors in insurance. I don't all these things because I'm just running it like a rookie. I'm using all the money to just keep the business going, so I don't do things properly. I don't have an accountant, an attorney. I didn't have a financial adviser, no business coach to talk of. And you pay the price. All right, so let's move on. Barbara? oh, Barbara. OK this is about year 3 into the business, and it's starting to take off. I have steady work coming in and it's enough work to keep me and my wife busy and to bring on, I think, one or two interns at that time, maybe just one. And I'm starting to feel like I've got a career here. Not yet a business, but I've got a career in this. Excuse me. And Barbara came recommended to me from a mutual friend. And Barbara was coming out of retirement and she worked in the broadcast space where they do the big brands for ABC, CBS, NBC, that kind of stuff. And she didn't have a design team. She looked our portfolio and says, you know, I love your work. Let's do work together, and I'm going to go in to do a big network rebrand. And she tells me the story is a great story. She's sitting on the plane flying business class, and the person sitting next to her is an executive from one of these networks, and they were getting ready to launch three new music television networks. One will saw country music, one was soul and something for VH1. OK, they're launching a multitude of channels to deliver music content, video content on the airwaves. And so she enlisted myself, my wife and our very small, nascent team at that time to help her do all the design for three networks. I think the amount of money we agreed to at that time was 30 thousand, which back then was nothing compared to how much people get paid for these kind of things. And we were responsible for doing all the design work. Ok? I didn't have a lot of experience, or I should say I had no experience doing broadcast design packages, so I thought, you know, this would be fun to do. And we crank through lots of designs. And she loved lots of it. OK but one thing that Barbara had was a control issue, and she wanted to put that collar around my neck pretty tight. Now, back in the day, we didn't have clients on a regular basis, so I often would just leave the home office and just hang out. That was the beauty of living this kind of Ronan lifestyle, the master Marsalis samurai. Right? and she wanted me to buy a pager. Cell phones weren't that big back then to be able to be on her back and call in case you wanted anything, and I refuse to do that, I said, Barbara, I work for you from this time this time. And that means I don't work for you in the weekends and I don't work for you at night. OK, I'm happy to do anything and everything, and I will meet all my professional commitments and that rubbed her the wrong way. OK so I remember when we finished all the materials and we had been working like all night, got her all the materials. She was flying to New York to go and present. There was no invitation, there was nothing else I had delivered at that point, in my opinion, because it was to help her get the job, and that was it. So during her presentation. They discuss an idea that wasn't presented. And at this point, I'm tired I was taking a break and she had. Called me or done something I don't know what she was doing, but she's like, I needed to talk to you right then and there. She was furious that I wasn't ready to Johnny on the spot because I was thinking at that time, I've already delivered man, ok? I don't know what's going on. I don't know what you expected me to make the change on the fly and send it to you to New York, I know what's going on. But she was not happy. Whatever she got back, she says, I'm going to buy you a pager and I need you to carry this with you. Like, I'm not going to do that. I refuse to do that. So tension was already building up. Now, luckily, I was already paid 50% up front and the job was coming to a close. She basically got the work and I was at the shoot. I was doing artwork for her, just nonstop. It was a lot of work. At some point in time, she says, you know what, I want you to go at. Welcome to the post house and meet me here at 9 o'clock in Hollywood. And I was thinking, Oh my god, I don't want to do this. This is just ridiculous, so I can't remember exactly what happened, but she was pissed again. So ultimately, she decided not to pay me when I sent her the final invoice. She called me up, says Chris. I'm not going to pay you the rest of this money. I said, why not? I've done all the work. She goes, well, you didn't do this. This isn't that. I said, OK, fine. And I was thinking about I was really upset because after having gone through hell. Now she's not going to pay me the $15,000 that she rightfully owes me. And again, it's one of those things where I looked at my wife and she goes, you know, this is causing too much grief for me, and you and my wife was feeling that she wanted a fight with her, too. But she said, we just got to move on. And I said, OK, fine, I'm moving on. I hope I never see her again. And that's it. That's my story about Barbara. OK I have a question. Go ahead. That sucks, and I've had that kind of happen to me. How is there any way you could have avoided that or is that just something that you don't really know until you're in it? Yeah is that I'm asking that question? Yeah hey, Sean. There was no scope. There was no finish line, and that's where the disagreement comes in. We do not have mutually agreed upon definition of done what is done look like. And her done was until I'm happy done. My done was until you are ready to move into an animation and post what she was. And I pulled out because I was thinking, this is so much grief and I was living in Santa Monica and getting to Hollywood was an hour and a half trek. You know, that was not ideal for me. And she was having me just sit there and do nothing just because she wanted to see me spend time. Right now, here's a little funny side fact, ok? I went into this really big post-production house and it was called ring of fire and I was there, and I met these guys and the guys are really great. Fast forward 22 years. Ring of fire now is one of my tenants, and it's kind of funny how it all comes around, ok? Those guys are great, by the way. OK back to the show. Oh, just another bad client here. OK another bad client. this is for. For bisquick, and I'm not going to elaborate on the details of this one because it's just too much stuff to get into here, guys. This quick was one of these jobs that are super challenging for us at that time. And you guys have seen these kind of effects before, like when a person turns to a cloud of dust or sand and become something else. Well, that's what this one client wanted from us, which was to take a box of bisquick, turn it into dust like in a tornado of dust and make it reform into all the wonderful things that you can cook, like biscuits and things like that. Ok? and they had this idea. And so my creative director was struggling through this because it was a big visual effects assignment and he couldn't figure it out. And he brought in all these experts from all over the place that had these amazing reels, and none of them could solve this problem. And what we learned in this experience was these guys are used to plugging into very well established pipelines where they had a technical director. They had lighting directors and all those kinds of people to allow them to do what it is that they do. When you pull them out of that world of, say, industrial light and magic and you plug them into a little blind. This is about seven, eight, nine years into the business, ok? And you plug them into our pipeline, which is you've got to be able to do it all and figure it out. So these guys, like Houdini artists, were running these particle simulations that were taking a whole day to calculate. And then you could barely see what it's doing. And the machines were not powerful enough the way we had it built to be able to handle the processing. And so we're freaking out, the clients are freaking out and we're missing deadlines now. Ok? in terms of not the final air date, but in terms of internal deadlines, we're missing. And the lesson to learn here is you've got to be really resourceful. And this wasn't even my project to lead, but I got pulled in because at every point in the game, my producers are coming to me, like Chris were budget on this. We're missing deadlines. The creative director is freaking out. We don't know what to do. He's like going to go home and cry or something. You've got to figure this out for us. So I walked into the Edit Bay. And we had a very talented flame artist compositing artist working on this thing with us. And I said, you know, his name is Alan. I said, Alan, when your experience, this is not that tough in that world, do you know somebody that can help us out here because we're running out of answers and we're missing deadlines and the relationship is getting frayed right now? And so islands like Chris, I don't know, but let me think about it, let me ask around the day later, he calls me up and says, hey, I got some money for you. I've never worked with them, but I heard good things. And so I decided to call this guy. His name is riff dagger, an amazing name. Riff dagger. OK and I'm talking to riff and riff is like saying, let me guess this is what's happening to you. You got a Houdini artist. He's doing this, and he was basically describing the entire process without even knowing what it was. So this is where it's going to break. They're doing $3 trillion polygons per second. And this and that, and it's going to break your machine, right? And I said, Yeah. He goes, OK, here's my real look at it. So this guy was working on Roland Emmerich's film the day after tomorrow, and you're seeing buildings crumble and parking lots exploding. So this guy had like amazing visual effects chops. I'm going to do a little test for you. And you look at it. If you think it's good, let's work. Let's work together, ok? So riff in a matter of a day was able to do more than what we were able to do in weeks with a whole team that didn't know what they were doing. And riff was an amazing CG guy, like he's like, I think some kind of child prodigy genius when it comes to creating simulations and math. And he was running these simulations while we're talking on the phone and sending it over to me. And what scared me even about him was this is just a prop riff up is that he was remote, controlling his computer from his hacked iPhone, from the auto mechanic and sending files to me across the internet. That way, it was ridiculous. We had some kind of remote desktop program going on where you can fire off renders and change particles and things like that because he was having his. He loves racing cars, so he was having his car work done and that just blew my mind. And this guy said to me, and I'll remember this for the rest of my life, which was, I will work on this project and night all night long. You will get this thing delivered no matter what. And that blew me away, and his rate was very expensive, I think he was something like $1,800 a day. That was a lot compared to anybody else, so it's almost triple or double at least what people are charging us. And he's like, oh, I get the work done. said, fine, if you can do the work, I don't care. I'll pay you whatever. And so he's cranking on this thing and he saved our bacon. Now, the relationship never fully recovered, and we spent so much money on this job because there were games being played politically between the art director and the clients themselves. So it got really messy. That's my story about this quick. You guys, all right. Did you make any money on that project and is that something that was launched, we could see somewhere? Yeah, you can see it right on our site, dude, if you guys go to the blind side, you can look up all the things I'm talking about. Not the Nissan spot, because that was so old that I don't have it anywhere, it's probably on a 3/4 inch tape somewhere. OK, so you guys want to go look up this quick. I think it's on our side. That was done by basically one man. It's incredible. Where we had teams and we had basically fire every single person on the team. So we're working in parallel, if you can believe it. So on the one hand, I had rift burning about $800 a day and had a team of guys that were 5 to $707,800 a day. A whole team of them with our computers that we're renting. And he was outperforming all of them by himself. And this is when I, you know, maybe this is a moment for us to talk about your value, right? So if recharged for his time and not what the value created, he would be grossly underselling himself. He looked at it like, I'm solving a problem. I'm just going to charge you this. Even though it was sold in chunks of time, this time was a lot more valuable than these other guys. To be honest, if he had started with this, he could have charged a $6,000 a day and it would still be better than what the other guys were producing for us. Basically, he worked offsite using his own computers, his own software, and he was just a force of nature. OK excuse me. OK, Major League Baseball. I'm not going to get into this one too deep. You guys can look at this. We've talked with some really big clients for Fox Sports. And we did a bunch of promos for Fox Sports and Major League Baseball was a regular thing that was happening and it was for the All Stars. So what you're seeing here is just a little snippet of the work that we had done. What you see on the top image, there is a matte painting and this is basically a photograph stitched together, and we had commissioned a photographer to go out and shoot this image with a wide angle lens, multiple images stitching together. And then a Matt Painter came in and altered the image to create the image that we needed because from one of the shots, it was going to be this gigantic fictional tower, a tribute to the all-Star Game and. From the top of the tower where these players are going to do their thing, they were like playing on this construction site, basically you're going to oversee, I forget where this is, guys, somebody who knows where this is, what we'll be able to know. But it was an incredible amount of work. I had concept artists all over the place working on it. And the bottom three sketches, if you can believe this, this guy is an amazing draftsman. His name is Feng Zu. And if you guys knew things Xu is, he's a big time, big deal. You know, in the industrial production theatrical space, like he designs a lot of things for movies and he has a school himself. This was a beast of a job, and it never really quite measured up to what I wanted it to be. And the client was a tough guy. I have a lot of respect for him, but he was just grinding us down until a point in which we looked at numbers like, I think I'm going to pay you to do this job pretty soon, and we're hitting that point. OK, you guys can check out that job if you want. all right. Claire you know, sometimes you could take people at their word. But I tend to prefer today having learned some hard lessons that a person whose word is not as much as you think it is because you have ethics and you have integrity, that doesn't mean that everybody in the world does. Ok? Claire is a former sales rep virus and our relationship had moments of frustration and whatever and moments of happiness. But at the end of the day, it came to a point in which we thought, you know what? We're not getting a lot of value anymore. And having a sales rep because one of the terms of the agreement for a sales rep is if you get a job that fits a certain kind of description within the territory in which they represent you for they collect a percentage of that job. So I think Claire, we paid her, I don't know, 7% of every job that we got on the West Coast. So that's from San Francisco, Portland, Oregon. I think parts of Texas and of course, all of La and whatever. And no matter if she had a hand in it or not, if we got a commercial job, we had to pay her and we felt like at some point, you know what? I think we're just paying you. Even though the work is coming in without you and it got to be really rough. OK, so at the end of the day, my executive producer. So I need to look for a replacement rep. And he was just putting his feelers out, because one thing that you want to do is you want to have a relationship while shopping for another relationship. So that you're not within this area where there's a gap between the time in which you have a rep and when you don't have a rep. So he got in touch with somebody that got really aggressive and he said, you know, you guys, you know what? I want to put you up for this job. I think you guys are a perfect fit for it, and Claire doesn't know about it, so I think we should go after it. And long story short, Claire found out that. This person was looking on our behalf with the full intention that had we booked a job, we still have to pay Claire because it's under contract. Well, she got really angry at us. And so she called us on the phone and said, really, guys, come on, you're going behind my back, said Claire. We would pay you. Nobody's going behind your back, whether you would get it or not. You will get paid, ok? I mean, if we get it, whether it came from you or not. And she got really upset and she goes, you know what, if that's the way it's going to be, then we should just end this relationship. I said, OK, so are you saying you're quitting? She goes, I can't see how we're going to continue on this. So I said, OK. Without the phone, like, all right, well, she quit. OK, fine. So what happened was I did not follow up with legal paperwork and saying, you quit because our contract. It was a bad contract, one that I signed with that Stuart. My attorney, said that when the contract expires, it automatically renews for another year. Unless both parties agree to in writing that we're not renewing the contract and I assume because of her anger, her vitriol in that conversation that it was done. And I think. I don't know if it's intentional at that time, but it became intentional later on that she remained quiet, didn't put us up for any other jobs. We had multiple conversations after the fact, she goes, you know, should I even go to this party, you guys, because I'm not representing you, basically. And then we said, no, Thanks for giving us a heads up on that. So basically, when the contract expired, she knew she had us because it automatically renewed without any effort from both parties. And so now we're like three months of basically getting no work from her. The contract expires and she goes, she goes and brings something up. And we're like, why are you bringing this up because we're looking for a new rep? And she said, well, you're still legally bound to honor this contract. And this is another painful lesson, and we're not talking about like year, one year or three, this is like year 17 for this company. You're 18. It's not like we're newbies anymore. And that's when we're like, Oh my God. And so we're digging through all our emails trying to find some admission from her, and this is another battle again and again. I was really angry about this like, you know, because my word means a lot to me. I assume it means the same thing to other people, and apparently it doesn't. Sometimes money speaks much louder than words or integrity. And so ultimately, I had to pay her off so that we can find another rep. And the way I to pay her off was, she then demanded. Commissions on all these other jobs that she had now nothing to do with because she had quit and stopped working for us three months out. And so that lesson cost me probably about $30000, maybe a little bit more. So I was just writing this check and it was a bitter pill to swallow. But again, talking to my business coach here was saying to me, you know what? This is distressful. This is stressful to you, and I can already see this is totally toxic. Whatever the amount of money is, we'll make it back on the next job, but you've got to get rid of this toxic energy. Otherwise, it's going to drag you into the gutter again. We could afford it. Stuart, like, this is one battle I'm ready to do for you, but you have to think about your own health, what you want to do here. So ultimately, I decided just to pay people off. All right. Just what you guys really want to hear from me like. A a comedy of errors over and over. Maybe the thing like we make a lot of learning, we learn a lot of lessons from this, so it's like it's really like, I mean, for you, it might be like only some stories, but for us, it gives us some like it gives us a way ahead of experience like a lot of years of experience. Just a few minutes. It's sobering. I'm also wondering, you mentioned that you don't tend to think about these things once they happen. You sort of learn from them and let them go. Is that more a case of when they come up? You just say, I'm not going to think about this or is that? That's a good question. Yeah I'm not sure how I process it, but how do you put it behind you and not in your mind? Wait, say that again. How do you put it behind you and keep it out of the forefront of the brain or let it affect you? Did that just the robot sense of you? Or how do you avoid resentment? I think is the simplest way to put it? That's it. All right, you guys ready? Yes I'm going to tell a story, and I think maybe those will make a lot of sense. You guys know that Nelson Mandela was wrongfully in prison for four decades, I think. I don't know his story that well, but I do know one part of his story is that when they finally agreed to let him go and all they wanted him to do was admit that he was wrong and they would let him go out of prison. But he was a man of principle and would not do that. He thought that the government would break before he, his spirit would break. And sure enough, things had changed the political climate in South Africa. And so they let Nelson Mandela go. And when they let him go, they said, are you? Are you angry, bitter about this? He says, why would I be? Because I've already been in prison for this many years, and to hold on to that resentment means that I would have not left the prison ever. And that was going to hold him back. OK in these moments here, you know, what I'm doing is why would I agree to pay some of the $30,000 to do to get for work that they didn't get me for breaking their word to me and just being unethical? And the reason that I'm paying them off is not for them, it's for me, it's for my sanity and for my peace of mind. So to pay somebody off and then hold on to the resentment, I might as well get into a lawsuit with this person, right? Because I was debating $30,000 buys me a lot of legal fees, and I know I have more money than her. And I was thinking, man, this is one time, you know, because there's that adage where it's whoever has more money wins the lawsuit, ok? Because they can out whether you. They can just drag it out until your spirits and your finances are broken. But this is one instance where I knew I had more money than her. And I could fight her. I can drag it out as long as she wanted to. But then this was really about me proving that I was right. And that came at a very high price. It came at a price of money, mental health, my relationships and future work. Now Keir has this expression that he shares with me, and I want to say this to you guys, and it's going to sound really funny unless you truly understand the concept. OK this is Chris. You have a choice. And there are two paths to take. Number one, if you go, this direction is you could be right. You could be popular. You can be liked, but you can't get the job done. OK you could be liked, you could be right and you can be popular. Or you can choose to get the job done. And I almost always choose to get the job done. I've had to believe it or not fire people without telling them really why I was so upset because that would create more problems for me and the person. So I had to just eat whatever it is, my anger, my resentment. I had to fire an executive producer who mailed off to me and started going bananas on me, just saying that, hey, we're just shutting the company down. I'm sorry, even though I was pissed, because that meant that would create more damage for the company and for what we were trying to do in the long run. And so I look at it like that, guys. It's a very clear decision to me. I can choose to hold on to all these things. And Jacob, you know, you and I talk about this quite a bit, which is, you know, your anger, your resentment fuels you. It doesn't feel me at all. OK, I'm long gone from the days of being a 19 year old, just angry teenager, and I've been in that space. And I've held on to those anger. And I know that it doesn't produce anything. If anything, it produces, like toxic energy within your body and your mind and your spirit. How can you be in a creative space? You guys know this when you're given a challenging assignment to work on. You have to be in the right frame of mind. Like, everything has to be in alignment, like you have to like, be comfortable, warm, know the lights have to be on the computer has to be a certain way and for the magic to happen. And magic happens for me because I'm always I'm going to prefer the positive root and I don't care about money per say, I'm just going to keep moving on. Ok? and I don't care to be right either. I don't really care. Does that help you guys with that question? Yeah and maybe I'm more robot now than I am human, I don't know. But I've gone through a process of looking at my life and reflecting on decisions and making the ultimate choice, and it is a choice. You could choose to be angry. You can choose to be happy. These are choices that you make every single day. Nobody governs that. But you ok? And we all have had unfortunate things happen to us. It's the choices that we make afterwards that determine the outcome. OK since three of you guys had asked this question. I just want to make sure we spend a little bit of time talking about this, so that you guys have some clarity on it. OK, I only have a few more stories. So it's OK. Do we need to talk about this a little bit more? I appreciate you expanding on it. Yeah, definitely. It sounds like you spend time figuring out your values and really solidifying them in your mind. So when scenarios come up. It's more of an automatic thing. Yeah, you know, and I have to say that because I was a very awkward, introverted, extremely shy person. I spent a lot more time in my mind than probably a lot of people do. And I always think about like, why do I feel this thing? And will wishing something happen make it any more likely to happen? And that's no. The only thing that's going to make things happen is taking action. Ok? I've had a rough, rough personal relationship with my first, the first person I ever fell in love with. And I was wrecked guys. I was really wrecked and I had all kinds of crazy feelings about that. I was an emotional mess and I wasn't really taking responsibility for who I was, and I was sitting there angry and blaming every single person. And ultimately, the blame lies with me. I chose to be with this girl. I chose not to see the obvious signs that I was being manipulated and controlled, and not then it wasn't reciprocated. The love that I have for her wasn't reciprocated in the way that I wanted. OK and so I made all those choices and everybody around me could see as plain as night and day they could, they told me, don't she's bad girl for she's a bad person for you. And I just said, Josh, be quiet. I know what I want, and I'm going to keep staying in this relationship that was completely toxic. And it wasn't until I hit my own emotional rock bottom that I was able to crawl out of that pit, as you guys have maybe heard that story before. OK and you guys have been wrong before. You've had clients that don't trust you, that don't appreciate you, that don't pay you your fair value. But instead of getting bitter and angry about it, ask yourself who chose to be there. You didn't need to take their money. You don't need this, you could have chosen something different. And this is another thing that Keir tells me all the time, because sometimes when he comes to see me, all I want to do is tell him, Oh my god, these people are terrible. My clients are this, or my employees don't know what I want and just they're incompetent, blah blah blah, whatever. And then after he listens to it for a little while, he goes, you know what? I'm going to say? He kind of laughs with this, like deep like from his belly, you know? You know? There are no victims here, just volunteers. Because who hired these people who allowed that person to talk to you, who agreed to take on that job? You find me that person. And let's have a conversation with that person. Well, of course, that person is me. I chose to hire these people, I chose not to say something when somebody is not delivering. I chose not to reprimand them when they consistently come in late. I chose to allow them to work in the place and spill their toxic energy out into the room, hurting everybody else. And I'm the victim. No way. All right. If I could just say one more thing, I also think that setting the expectation, you kind of said that I think for a sentence there, but I think that's really important is that if you have too much of an expectation of a relationship, then you're going to always be unsatisfied because things never work out how you expect. Yeah you know, my wife is listening to this Indian guru. His name is sadhguru, and he seems pretty wise. He's got the big white beard, and he talks about our attachment to expectations. That is the root of all our unhappiness. And he talks about, like, say, something like sex, ok? He's like, you know, when you're a child, you don't have any sexual desires and when you get really old, all that sexual desire has gone to. So he's like, there's a biological need for you to procreate. It's hormonal and it's chemical, and it's all these things are happening to you. So the act, like all of these animals in the wild, they get their freak on and they don't put emotional attachment. They don't have relationships, expectations, all that kind of stuff. So if we just look at sex as a biological need to fulfill that, we don't attach emotional energy in it and we don't have to feel guilty about it. We're going to have to feel shame and all these kinds of things. It's just a physical thing. It's all our attachment to like, well, does this person love me? Do they care about me, all these kinds of things that then make us unhappy? And he's like, you know, we're always looking at things through the wrong lens, we cannot see things for what they are. And that's the root of our unhappiness and our inability to exist and to be present. I don't want to get too deep into that, you guys, because that's really not my thing. Not today isn't OK. All right. Resigning people say that, you know, sometimes you get fired and sometimes you need to fire the client. I don't think you can fire the client. But you can resign from a job and there are two jobs. I've resigned from, and here we go. All right, and they're very similar in their story and their structure. And so I'll set it up. One one of them was for a company called method, not the soap company that you guys know, but methods studios, which is a pretty high end post-production facility. And I met the CEO. His name is Jerry, not the greatest human being. And I got that feeling from him. And I don't want to speak ill of the dead because Jerry passed away from cancer. But Jerry commissioned us to design a logo for his new company. And he described to me, and he's a business guy, ok? He's a sales guy. He described to me some grand vision that you wanted it to feel like when you walked into the theater and a logo comes on the screen and there's a whole story to it. we talked about it and there was all this positive energy around this idea. Basically, he wanted dreamworks, you know, where there's a little boy sitting on the moon and little plop of water and Bob the floats and the camera dollies up or booms up? And you see. This little boy sitting on the Crescent moon fishing with his leg hanging over its dreams do work. Dream dream work to make sense. He wanted the same thing from method and back then we're like creating really some pretty incredible sequential designs. And so I said, you know, Jerry, I will show you some ideas and I'll show it to you in storyboard form, something that we do not do because you want to tell the cinematic story. It's a great let's do it. So I went back, we came up with all these really wonderful. I was looking for it, but I can't find it anymore. The storyboards that we had done for it, and they were just these little vignettes, these little six second stories. Local review and he looked at it, he's like, wow, OK, these are great, ok? It goes, OK, I need some time to think about this. So a couple of days later, he calls me and we go in and I'm thinking, OK, he's going to select one of the 4 5 6 options I presented to him and we'll go and figure out how to make it because it's complicated to build these things. That wasn't my concern, because this was a high end post production company that had a full CG team compositing all this kind of stuff, so they were the digital Wizards. All I need to do is come up with the idea and the look, and I'm sure they'll help me figure out how to make it. And he says, you know, and this is the definite red flag that flies up right in my face, right away, he goes, you know? I ran this by my wife and my daughter. And then, you know, like my face is like, oh, no. You ran this by your wife and your daughter, so you are yourself, not a creative person, and you ran it by your wife who's not in the industry and your daughter who's like, what do I care what your daughter thinks? He said, you know, I don't know, Chris, I'm just not feeling this now, I'm like, God. All right. And he said something to me. Here's the second insult he threw at me. And the second one sounded like this. He goes, you know, I'm designing the new space and the Edit bays and all that kind of stuff. And my interior designer you, she brings me like furniture samples and swatches of fabrics and colors. And can't you just bring me a bunch of sample logos? And I said to him, this is the one I'm like, I think I'm done with this relationship, you know? And I said back to him, I said, you know, Jerry, you're interior designer, doesn't make the furniture. She didn't create the swatch of color. What she does is looks through magazines and books and pairs them out and puts them in front of your face. That's not what I do. I sat down here and wrote a story for you and created these things, and this took a lot of time and energy to make. You know what? I don't feel like this is a good fit for us. So I don't do it this often, but I'm going to give you your money back because I don't think we're a good fit. And he was like, taken aback. He's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa. What? wait, wait a minute here. Let's just calm down here. I'm like, I'm totally calm. I just don't think this is a good fit, and I'll give you your money back as long as you don't use any of the designs of the concepts we presented. OK it goes well, let me think about this. I said, OK, you can think about it. So the next day? True to his character, is a business guy. I think he was thinking, Oh my god, I'm going to get whatever $15,000 back from this job. And I'll have to deal with Chris, ok? So he called me up and he's like, fine. I thought it over. You're right. I'll figure this thing out. Thank you. I said, OK, you're welcome. And total scumbag, you know? And you know, the logo that he created basically look like somebody who went to I forget what the font foundry is, but you download a font called like crackhouse. You know, when these distressed typefaces were kind of cool and trendy and somebody typed it up on the computer and gave it to him and it was a piece of crap identity, and that's what he got. All right. That's when I resigned the first client. Here's the second client that I resigned, and the story is almost identical. Thomas winter cook big big weights heavyweights within the film and television and commercial production world all came together to create this company called TWC. And they came and asked us to do some logos. We designed them. They applauded. Went home, talked to their daughters and their wives, came back the next day and said, you know what? Thought it over and I'm underwhelmed with the work I was thinking, you know, the day before you clapped, applauded, which I don't have happen that often. So I know when people applaud when we present. And now you're saying you're underwhelmed, and so you see, here's the thing I want to share with you guys is that as creative people, we seek external validation. We want other people to praise us. We all want other people to say, you're an amazing creative genius. And when they do, we're at the highest of highs, we're at the top of the peaks looking down on creation, it's a wonderful thing. But the opposite is also true that they can put their finger on a very sore spot inside your body and say this magic word. I'm not impressed. I'm underwhelmed. And then your ego gets in the way. It's like, why would he say that? I'm much better than that? I will prove him wrong. I will prove her wrong, and you'll start to agree to do all sorts of free work. You'll start to let the scope just fly out the door because you don't care, because your professional integrity and your sense of self-worth is at stake, it's being challenged right now. Well, I don't have that problem. So I said, OK, thank you very much. We're going to resign. Take your money back. I don't want to work with you again. Don't use the logos. And again, what they produce was a piece of crap, in my opinion. It wasn't as bad as method, but it was like, OK. You mean to tell me you weren't impressed with our concepts and that's what you came up with? Well, God bless you. I'm glad you're happy that company shut down a couple of years later. OK all these things have a horrible story. At the end, they went out of business. OK questions, you guys. I think for the science is very important, like the one you mentioned about consulting the family, I mean, unless the wife or something is like a partner in the business, I think it's a very clear sign, but there's a lot of other signs of envy. It's always very obvious in the beginning, but sometimes the money the monetary value is always gravitate aggravated me towards accepting the job, but then later I regret it. So this is a very clear example that happens a lot to me. Let me just say this to you guys. This is going to sound totally weird to you. The reason why I charge so much money is because I want clients to respect us. It's the opposite of what you think. I charge them so much money, and I would charge them nothing but clients that pay us nothing respect us. Not much. OK so when I charge a client $100,000 $200,000 or a million dollars, I they're taking the relationship seriously. I know when they pay us 50% upfront, they are serious about us. And that's why I charge so much money now. Look at this, you guys, you guys are all in this group. You guys are paying essentially $75 a month to be a part of this group. And the reason why it costs that money is because I want you to be committed. Here shared this story with me, he said, I forget what the name of the company is, but let's just say it's like Andersen windows. You know, the windows that are installed in a lot of homes. Well, they have a factory in their warehouse. I'm sorry, the headquarters is out in the middle of the country somewhere. No, never mind, that's a bad story, guys, different story. The story I meant to say was there's a consultant who lives out in the middle of the country. And he has all these multimillionaire high net worth individuals, ultra high net worth individual billionaires who want to come and get coaching from him. And he has a policy. I don't care who you are, how much money you have. You have to come to me. You have to come to my ranch in Montana, wherever he's at. And it's just how it work. And the reason why he does that is he wants you to be committed to putting in the work because if you're not committed, it's nothing's going to happen. He knows that now he knows that people who have more money than God aren't accountable to anybody. So the only thing he has on use your time. So when you fly out there, there's no more cell phones, there's no more work, there's no laptops. And he's just going to work with you and people are willing to do that. Now I know he'd be willing to go out to them, but this is how he found out that this works. So for me, when this group was free, there was no commitment. People are tuning in and tuning out whenever they wanted. And even at $25 a month, it still wasn't in the commitment. It's like you need to be committed to making this thing work, like I pay $8 to Skillshare a month for programs I never use. I never even open because I'm only $8. Whatever I'll tune into next month or whenever I need it, I'll just turn it on. But a certain price point, you will take it very seriously because you're now making the commitment when it has a value to you. And that's why I charge my clients. So much money. All right. Talk about a disaster of a job. Not my first web job, but my first web job in the Web 2.0 world. And oddly enough, the company is called. P two, zero four Phoenix 2.0. Like the Phoenix has come back, right? This is at a time I think there's about four or five years ago when I started to realize commercial production motion design isn't going to be around for much longer. I wanted to move into digital. Digital was only getting bigger and more things were becoming software. I wanted to get into it, so I asked my brother, who works in Silicon Valley at this time. My brother is already retired and a venture capitalist, and I said, you know. I need a tech client or I need somebody to work with. Can you find me somebody? And sure enough, a week later, he's like, he found me a client and the first thing I realized there was, man, why didn't I ask him this years ago? Why did it wait now to ask him? Because it only took him a week to find me a job? The parameters were I didn't care who was for what it was about or even how much money was, I said I will pay to do the job. I just want to do digital and I need some experience doing this. So he was an advisor. Maybe an investor in this company, too, I don't remember. And they do a lot of it stuff. Ok? and these guys had exactly $5,000 for me to design a website for them. Now I'm taking responsibility because we don't know what we're doing with web. So we designed this page and you guys can see here. It's got problems. It's got lots of problems, these weird diagonals and like, how do you make a responsive design out of this with this weird type set? It was going to be tricky, but we did it because we're like, you know what? This is what we want to do. I got something to write to the development for me. I spent about $1,500 on the development and this is a $5,000 job. We spent more than $5,000 on the design team working on this, ok? And it was a complete cluster. The clients didn't ultimately respect us, didn't like the process, didn't like everything. So this is the design. And then if you guys go to the website, it looks nothing like this. They changed everything right back to the way it was because the financial commitment that they were making didn't mean that they had to stick with it. You guys have heard the term fast fashion companies like Zara and H&M basically take fashion that is designed by big brands like Dolce and gabbana, prada, Gucci. And they make knockoff versions of it for really cheap. So that you can try a trendy thing. And feel like it didn't work, you could just put it right in the bin and move on with your life. It's like disposable fashion is not made well, it's not made to last. And so these guys made a $5,000 commitment, and I looked at it like this is their version of fast fashion. They don't like it. They just hit nuclear button on it and just start over. All right, another company. It's the one that doesn't cost them that much. The commitment is very low, and that's when I thought, man. We better just stick to motion because we don't know what we're doing. This is when Jose re-enters my life and I say, you know, the first project that I'm doing in web 2.0 was completely joyless. I don't know what I'm doing. And essentially what I was doing, what I think some of you guys are doing. And what most of the people out there in the web world are doing, which is giving the site a facelift, is give me a new graphics, new typography, new color palette and taking the same information and rearranging it. That's what we were doing. We weren't doing user experience design. We never know what that was. We weren't talking to the client about their business goals. We had no idea who their customers were. And what they wanted. We did not look at how somebody moves through the site and the funnel and all that kind of stuff. Those are totally foreign concepts to us at that time. So that was a big failure there. So not only did I lose money on the job, the whole experience burned me on it. And this is why when some people ask me, I don't have experience in this space, should I go and do like pro Bono work for clients and all these kind of things? I think, you know what? You're probably just better off doing it for yourself. Save yourself the grief. Go read a book, take a course and just do the work for yourself. Do a spec project for you and not for somebody else. OK, we're at the tail end of this, I only have three more stories for you. Unfortunately, some of them are quite painful and the most painful one is the last one I'm going to share with you. OK let's take a quick break, guys. Let's do that. OK, I'm going to take a 2 minute break. I'm going to hit pause in the recording here. And how do I do that? Perhaps the sharing. No, I don't know how to positive recording, it's fine. Why don't we take a 2 minute break, you guys, and I'll be right back. All right. Hit mute here. Got to say this. This call's been one word where nobody else is doing a whole lot of speaking, and we just been sitting here listening to Chris the whole time. Yeah, but I think it's so much helpful because they have a lot of experience, especially bad ones. I mean, we can benefit a lot from it. Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I think it's kind of one of those ones where our contribution is more just that, that listening than it is the actual back end forth that we've had in other roleplaying opportunities. Yeah, I think it's I think most of us have probably already done all this stuff, so to hear how he's rebounded and builds off of those experiences, that's where it's at, you know, we don't need to. Oh yeah, I understand and I feel your pain, Chris. It's like not doing it to learn from you right now. Yeah, Yeah. I don't think anybody has dropped bombs to drop as big as those. Right, exactly. If he ain't covering the bases, I don't think most of us are going to. Yeah, but the same, even though the scale is not there, the sentiment is the same. I've had clients. The jobs have gone back on a $2000 engagement for the website years ago. But that feeling that it had in my body and the strain was no different than what he felt with Nissan or with this quick for 10, 20, three times the amount of money, right? So absolutely. Yeah, I think that's a really big part of all this. He kind of touched on the perspective, your perspective, your perception of what is happening to you. And we kind of talked about this, I think maybe not the last call they call before. I think I might have missed one about it's not all about happy thinking or it's not all about positive thoughts, it's about recognizing the negative, but then framing that in a way that it becomes a mode of progression. And that's a massive thing. It doesn't matter if it's 2000 or 200,000 as a human being. The emotion doesn't have a monetary value. Emotion is emotion. The feeling that I'm getting it doesn't matter. It's going to be relevant and hurt just as much or be just as joyful or whatever. So, yeah, we can start to learn on a smaller scale and not have to have those sorts of massive projects go down the wrong way. All right, guys. It was nice hearing you guys chat and I want to keep this rolling and we can open it up for a final chat at the end of this thing. I'm going to share my desktop again. And tell you about. Here we go now, are you guys seeing the word culture? Yeah, and you could talk right. I got a little cough drop in here, hopefully it's going to help because I can feel it getting really dry my throat right now. All right, culture. so I've had exactly three partners in my life. And the outcome is going to be the same and the lessons are different for each one. So here we go. Bob was a hotelier and he was a wealthy man. And Bob was friends and a business associate with my uncle. And although I had just graduated school only worked for a few months. The timing was perfect. Bob was building a hotel in Asia, and he had many hotels, not just one, he's building another hotel in Asia. Kind of a boutique hotel, and he realized he spends a lot of money and design, so he wanted to have his own design company. And my uncle knew about my ambitions as a young person wanting to be an entrepreneur. And he's known me for most of my life, for all of my life, I suppose. And when he knew that I graduated from design school. And he knew that I went to a good school, he called me up one day and said, you know, I know you've always wanted to start your own business. I have an opportunity if you like, we'd like to partner with you and finance your operation. And that was just like music to my ears. I am literally only a few months out of school, and this plan of starting my own company was, I thought, years, if not at least another six to eight months out from where I was. And so when the operating opportunity presented itself, I jumped. OK and he said, we want you to meet us at the Westin Bonaventura in downtown and we want you to bring a business plan and we're going to be there in a week or something like that. I said, sure, I'll do that. See you guys in a week. And so I called up my friend, who was my roommate. I called his father. He was an investment banker. And I said, you know, I need to put together a business plan. What do I need to put in a business plan? You guys, I know what you're thinking. Why don't you just go like business plan and look at that? Well, I told you guys, this is in 1995. And this is the dawn of the internet. So a lot of this stuff was not online a lot. And so I called them up. I did the old fashioned way. I called human beings and ask them for their information. They spent an hour talking to him and he talked so fast. I was just like writing as fast as possible. All the notes he's like for financial projections for five years. You need this, you need all these kinds of things. And with that? I started to write my business plan, which was a joke, I wish, I wish I had it so I could share it with you guys, because that'll be the biggest failure ever. You can look at them like, Oh my god, what is the kid thinking? But I knew a couple of things I knew I needed to ask for a certain amount of money and I need to show potential profit, but year two or three? Not the first year. And so we had expenses and we had projected income based on nothing because I didn't really do business like that. I was working on this all week long and stayed up all night the night before working on the business plan. So nighttime comes around. I'm driving to downtown l.a., which you guys been in downtown La before. For a person who doesn't frequent these areas often, it is very confusing. I'm all stressed out. I do my best to look professional. I go into the restaurant where my uncle and Bob is sitting at the table and I sit down next to them. It's very nice. We talk. I give them two copies, one each. The business bun in, which Bob thumb's through it like this is a great and puts it out on the chair. So we start talking. And I asked them and believe it or not, 1995 graduated school when my department chair, James miho had said, those of you guys are lucky to get a job. And those are the guys that have a job that are lucky enough will earn about $22,000 a year. I want you to keep that in mind, ok? The ones are very lucky will get a job. The ones that are lucky and good will make $22,000 a year. That's what he told us. So here I am, I'm going to ask for $100,000. I am 22 years old, I think at this time I can't remember exactly. No experience, really. Ask them for $100,000. To start the business. He barely even looks at it and says, OK, I'll give you the money. Let's do. Let's do the deal. He reaches over into his briefcase, whatever, he writes me a check on the spot. Four or five thousand? He says this is and you tears it and gives it to me a good faith gesture. We're going to do business together and you say in order to do this, we need to own 51% of the company. And then we have a deal, do we have a deal reaches out over the table? I'm glad to take the money. I shake his hand. I'm like, done. OK, now a little backstory is my uncle and I argued over this whole 51% thing. And he told me why they needed 51% He's like nobody would invest in your company and give up control. All right. But don't worry, I'm your uncle, I'll take care of you. And he's an attorney, so even though he's my uncle, I was like, HMM, I don't know a little worried about this, whatever. So with that, I go back to wherever I was freelancing at that time, which is I know VCOM gave my notice that you guys, I'm going to finish my booking, but I'm not going to get renewed. I'm going to start a company. And I remember the executive producer who's talking to me at the time who had offered me a job already. He had said, well, good luck, guys. Good luck, guy. I hope it all works out for you. But I know he was looking at me with a little incredulous humility and thinking, what a young, arrogant, pompous kid. This is never going to work. Then we're going to work. OK, so I go back, we start working, and I don't know how it is, but we get work, we got work from friends and I'm going to do an episode later on how I got work and year one. And I've mapped it out already, but I'm not going to get into on this particular conversation. OK we got work and we're making money. And with every job that came in, I would buy another computer. And then I would buy a printer, and then I learned how to connect the computers together using Apple talk, and I did all myself. We need to do a hard job. I would buy the hard drive. So we're making money now. And I was sitting here thinking. When is the rest of this money going to come in? Because right now he just bought 51% of my company for 5,000. We're cash flow positive already. So I started thinking, man, this is strange. I call it my uncle and I said, you know, this is about two months in. I said, where's the rest of the money? Bob promised the rest will be done and we would complete this transaction because I'm already making money and I feel like maybe I sold myself short. He goes, OK, here's the problem. Our hotel in Asia is having some problems. We're hitting a lot of red tape. Bob doesn't want to deal with this right now. I said, so what am I supposed to do? I was going to come to regret this decision. He goes, you know what? You do what everybody does, I'm going to advise you as an attorney and as your uncle, you demand payment. Or we forfeit our partnership with you. I said, OK. I said, well, if you guys forfeit the partnership, then I'll refund the check. I don't need the money. He goes, no, you don't do that. We are in breach of contract if we don't fulfill our financial obligation. I said, OK. He says you keep the money if we can't come up with it. So wrote him a letter. Give them 30 days, come all the money. And I was counting down every single day in hopes that they wouldn't fulfill their end. So I was happy to give them their money back because I didn't want to be on for 51% because they also told me what we could call the company and told me how we're supposed to operate and all that kind of stuff. So day 30 camp comes up, no response from them. I'm done. I closed that company, I started another company. I call it what I want. I called it blind. And that's how this company came into existence, so I dodged a massive bullet there. And the lesson to learn there is what did I really need for my uncle and bob? Was it the money because obviously it wasn't. I never used it. It was just the belief and to kind of put the impetus into me that I could do it. The belief that you can do it, I told you guys about the man and the bridge story, right? On our confidence talk, I can't remember if I told you that story or not. But all I needed to do was to believe that I could do something and then I did it. Chris, just to be clear, you're saying that you got the five grand, but you already had all the equipment you needed beforehand and you never even spent it and you used money you earn to buy more equipment. That's a great question, Jacob. I had a computer on a hard drive. That's all I really needed. Mm-hmm And I was already doing work. So when we would take on another assignment, the client would pay us. And back then, even in the early days, I charge a lot of freaking money. So as soon as the first thing came in, I'm like, let's buy this, let's buy that, and I use the printer from my ex-girlfriend who loaned it to me. She had more computer equipment than I did. And as soon as I was able to, I bought a new printer. I replace hers. And, you know, and I said, thank you very much. Appreciate it. And then I bought a scanner. I bought whatever I could buy. As soon as the money came in and money was coming in that I had money to live, money to eat and money to spare. And this is the magic about charging more. OK so you guys can imagine that one Nissan job that I did. I can't remember how much money we charge, but it was tens of thousands of dollars. Or when we did the website for this large international beauty company, I think it was a six figure job. This is like year one rookie out of the gate, OK, guys. I was operating back then. So a lot of you guys sit there and say, well, Chris, you could charge this, you can ask for these things because you have the confidence, you have the experience and you have the portfolio and the team. Well, I didn't always, but I always felt the same way. I mean, when we started off, how did you manage to jump up to these numbers, like to ask this big money? I mean, or all your colleagues or your peers doing the same thing or only you like, how did you reach this level of confidence? That's a complicated question. You've asked basically three questions involved there. How did I go out and ask for the money at the beginning? And I think it was just moxie? It was a game I was playing with myself. It sounds a little dirty, but the game was, I wonder how much money you can ask for. So they have to talk me down and still get the job. That was the mental game I was playing with myself. Not how much can I ask for without them laughing in my face? It was I need to be higher than their pain threshold, but not so high that they are astounded by the number. And I kept trying to figure out that theoretical limit, it was hard to find. So when I looked at the web job, I would sit down with my brother, we do an Excel spreadsheet and we would map it out like, oh, there's so much tech in this and you know, it's like this. And then I would ask him, well, how much would it charge? How much would it cost me to pay you to do the work? Because if you pay me $25,000 let's say I could build a whole site for I could do all these things. I said, great. I better charge like 90. Whatever the amount of money was, it didn't matter, I just knew I needed to charge a lot more than when I was paying out. And that has worked really well. And if you guys haven't seen. So in the episode three, where we talk about the million proposal, if you're paying attention, you will have heard that it was going to cost us about $400,000 to do the job. But we're going to charge a million for it. And so a lot of you guys are sitting there thinking, what did you do to earn the $600,000 and maybe another episode? We'll talk about that. Because if we weren't making it, what right do we have to make most of the profit or maybe all the profit? Well, that's not eliminating a limiting belief of mine. And that doesn't really matter, I just look at the clock and say, how valuable is this for you? What's the fair market price for this work? And I'm going to charge that, if not a little bit more, even though I have no experience that I'm the total rookie there. The next question you ask is, excuse me, is hassan? Yes OK. And the next question you asked was, were my contemporaries, people who had just graduated school doing the same thing. I don't know what they were doing, but I don't think so. I think most of them are just looking for work. So why did you choose this way? I mean, was it like a lack? What do you mean, look? I mean, to choose to play this game or to go after the value instead of going after the hours or something similar, like asking for papers? Ok? I had a belief myself and I've had this belief since I found design when I found design and creativity. I found a whole part of me and myself that I didn't know existed because before I was like everybody else and all I wanted to do was fit in to be like everybody else. Once they found design, I feel I felt like I am actually not like everybody else. And in this one aspect, I'm better than a lot of people. I'm not saying a better human being, but just better in design. And so every class that I took. Every assignment that I did. Kept building my belief up. So when I was in community college working on design assignments, whatever effort I put in the beginning did not put in a lot of effort. It was already better than what most people have done, although they had worked on it all week long. And then when they got into art center, it's like these little kind of affirmations or little points of validation, just affirm my belief that I actually can do this thing. And I'm good at it and I love it. And those are two great combinations to have. The money wasn't clear to me, but I was good at it, and in the first semester at school and the first class and the first week I tried to. Prove to myself more than anything else that I belong there and that I was good enough. And it was confirmed every single assignment, every single week. At a point in which I started to notice a gap already, you know, you guys will see this long distance running that everybody starts out in the same pack, right? The gallop, they go out of the gate. And soon there's a pack that is very far ahead of the rest of the people. And then in that pack, that's ahead of people. There's one or two racers or runners that are way ahead of that pack. And I felt very early on that I was one of those guys that can put a lot of distance between me and the next person. Work ethic, determination, fortitude, moxie, whatever you call it. I had that belief. And I was, and every time I would succeed at something, it would gave me more fuel to keep going down that and it's addictive. It's like a drug. Success is addictive, so I just kept pushing down that path. So the idea of money, because it didn't matter to me, it was just like a no. It didn't matter. It didn't matter. If it's 50 dollars, 5,000 and 1/2 million, it doesn't matter. I don't do this for the money. I don't really care about the money. OK and to this day, I have no idea what's in our bank account. All I ask my wife from time to time is, are we ok? Are we not ok? Thumbs up, thumbs sideways. Can I buy this, can I buy it? That's all as much as I talk about money and how to get it. I don't really care about it, and I think that's the power that I have and that I'm completely detached from what it means to me. OK, let's keep going on, I have two more stories, I have no idea what time it is now. I lost my timer, but whatever. All right, partnership number two and I skipped another partnership, but I'm not going to talk about it, ok? It's not relevant to the failure conversation partnership number two. Was when I decided to divest or. Diversify my interests and create a second company, and it was a visual effects company. And it was called 20 20, we're blind. We're a design and production company, and 2020 was going to be our sister company as a visual effects company. So I teamed up with a woman who knew her way around visual effects assignments. But the problem was in visual effects and post-production. It's a costly endeavor. You have machines that cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars and equipment that's just the most expensive equipment for monitors to sound boards to everything you can imagine. And at this point in time, we had two buildings. One was a 3,000 square foot building, which we occupied, and that was the design company, and we're doing probably a couple of million a year in terms of revenue. And then I started another company in a new building. In a 5,000 square foot building that intended to move into. But our lease wasn't over in the 3,000 square foot building, and so I was thinking, let me try another business, I launch a new company. And it was a 5,000 square foot building that had three people in it when our building had 15 or 12. Anyways, is a visual effects company. But what happened was I didn't have any kind of expertise in the visual effects space. It was very expensive and I had to deal with another personality that was not my own and the person running it for me, her name is Tanya. We're friends and she's a great human being. She's also an attorney and a visual effects person, which is a strange and interesting combination. And she ran this company, but she hadn't run a design company before. And the numbers were horrible in terms of how much money we're putting into the company and how much money was coming back, because already, even at that time, this is in 2000. I don't know what year 2003 2004. It was already shown me signs that the visual effects world was going to be a very high labor, low, low earning kind of operation. The days of getting $1,000 an hour and an edit Bay were coming to a close. I can already see that. So this is when I was intending to partner up with her. And I decided, you know what, this is not going to work anymore. And that was it tore me up emotionally because like I said to you guys before, I'm a man of my word. I make commitments. And I stick, stick to them. I honor them. And this one hurt me emotionally a little bit because I told her, I will partner with you. I have the space. I gave you the name and all equipment. And when I purchased everything and then ultimately. I decided I don't want to do it anymore. And I felt like by saying, I don't want to do it anymore, I'm a failure. I'm a quitter. I let my partner mostly because the numbers didn't make any sense, and it was stressing me out that the money we were making from blind was going to go into this other company, for what purpose? I don't know. So ultimately, I had to tell him, look, I don't want to do this partnership anymore, I want out. You can keep the name and the assets since I paid for them. I need to keep them. I would love for you to buy them off me because I don't know what to do with this gear. And we work something out. It was an amicable parting. And she continues to do business this day, but it's a business that did not work out for me and mostly because of management style and also philosophies on bidding and running a company. We're very, very different. That's why I titled this thing culture because we didn't haven't shared the same idea about culture. She worked all hours of the night and it was horrific, but she thrived in that environment, and the people who worked for her at that time also thrived in that environment. So that's one that didn't work out. Professional relationship. I got one last one and we're to end it on this one. This one will be the toughest one because it's very personal and it's very real. And this is a professional partnership that did not also work out, and it was also a culture problem. OK so Jose and I decided to partner up on the school, a school, the school was a brand that he had for a couple of years already, and he helped me out so much with core, and he saw the opportunities for us to build something together, and we think our energies were really good at the beginning. And he was this carefree. Creative person who was high energy and the extrovert that I was not. He had a deep design and user experience experience, and he was in a digital space. He worked for corporate I and the other hand, was the logical robotic. An entrepreneur, business person who ran my own company for the entire time, I did not work for anybody as a professional for a very long. And I ran a design company, but I didn't have any motion, any web experience, but I had a lot of motion experience and we were going to come together to do this thing and it worked out really well. In the beginning, we knew our roles, we knew how to play our roles, and something weird happened along the way. And I think that we did not share vision. On what the future of the school is supposed to look like, we didn't share culture in terms of our work ethic, our determination, our commitment to excellence and customer service. We had very different ideas about how to do all of this stuff, and I can share some of those things with you, but I only want to share what you guys want to know. But ultimately, our friendship was being strained, OK, because finances were coming in and we had different ideas about how to spend the money, where to reinvest it. And I think we're both parties. I'm trying to be as fair as possible when talking about this is that I think we both feeling the short end of the stick for some reason. And when that happens, I think the relationship is more important than the business. And I remember saying to Jose, it's like, you know what, my long term relationship with you is more important than this business, and I'd prefer just to separate it right now because we can maintain that. But if we keep doing this, we're going to tear each other apart. And we will not have a business together and we will not be friends now. The lesson I did learn in this particular partnership. What's the setup, what a dissolution agreement might look like ahead of time? What that means is prior to even going into business together, you talk about when this doesn't work out, if this doesn't work out. What assets do we walk away with? And can we live with that? If we can, then I know what it's going to look like. And that will put my mind at ease. And so Jose said, all right, here's what we'll do. You can have the YouTube channel since you want the YouTube channel. I'll keep my intellectual property and you will keep yours and anything that we do together, we will share. I said, OK, that sounds pretty fair to me. Shake hands. Email confirmation, it's in writing. I trust my friend. And we do our business. And when the business doesn't work out, I said to him, you know what? I'm going to cite that one email. And we're going to talk about it. I want the channel. I want the things I built and basically the Facebook community. I would like to keep. And even though we kind of worked on cord together, I want to be a good guy about this and say that you can have 100% of that, but you also grant me a license to use or create derivative products. And he's like in perpetuity. And he said, OK, that's fine. And so luckily, we have that in place. And even though emotionally it was tough to get to this point. Because we had that we weren't fighting over like who keeps the kids and what restaurants can you go to and all that kind of stuff. And so we got through the hump. And we have some very good friends in this community. I don't want to call them out like that, but who really helped mediate the dissolution of our partnership and got us through it. So I'm thankful for those people. And I'm glad that I'm here and I still have a relationship with Jose, and it's much healthier than it has been when we're working together. So I'm grateful for that.

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