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Chris Do

This is part two of a two part series where we reverse the roles and have our beloved founder and The Futur CEO, Chris Do, answer the questions.

Building The Futur
Building The Futur

Building The Futur

Ep
118
Jan
27
With
Chris Do
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Building The Futur

This is part two of a two part series where we reverse the roles and have our beloved founder and The Futur CEO, Chris Do, answer the questions.

If you haven’t listened to part one, stop what you’re doing and go listen to that episode first.

In part two, we pick up where we left off. With Chris’ vision of what The Futur, both the company and the concept, looks like. He and Anneli discuss the power of company culture, engaging with internet trolls and why mission over money is the best path forward.

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Episode Transcript

Greg:
Welcome to The Futur Podcast. The show that explores the interesting overlap between creativity, business and personal development. I'm Greg Gunn. This is part two of a two part series where we reversed the roles and have our beloved founder, Chris Do, answer all the questions. If you haven't already listened to part one, stop what you're doing, which is listening to this, and go listen to that episode first. It's worth your time, trust me. In part two, we pick up right where we left off with Chris's vision of what The Futur, both the company and the concept looks like. He and Anneli discuss the power of company culture, engaging with internet trolls and why mission over money is the best path forward. Enjoy. [00:01:12]

Anneli:
Can I just ask a question about... because when you're talking about your team, I do think you have a really great team around you at The Futur. And I do see some patterns in what kind of people you work with, but I don't want to assume anything. Can you tell me a little bit how did you actually find these wonderful persons and what you have in common?

Chris:
Yeah. So first of all, thank you for recognizing that. I think we do have a very special team and the kinds of people that currently work with me at The Futur are not... it didn't happen by accident, it didn't happen overnight. So in the beginning, when I'm having some success, I have to hire people and you have to hire people outside of your group of friends, which is very much the case, you hire on talent. So I just hired whoever I thought was best. And those talents of people came with a lot of emotional baggage and ways of working in thinking. And sooner than later, I have a company financially successful, but I'm hating the whole process. I hate showing up to work. And I'm very conflict first.
And so people who are passive aggressive generally will win with me until it comes to a point in which I break and then it's over. And so I do remember a couple of points in the company's history, where I was thinking to myself, this is terrible. How did I hire this person? And now I got to get rid of them because I did a poor job of vetting them out in the first place. I had designers who were very emotional, short tempered and only look at things from their point of view. And I had to get rid of them.

Anneli:
And why did you hire them from the first place? Because you thought they were really good, like a great portfolio, or-

Chris:
I wish I could tell you that that was the case. Sometimes it was just because they had worn me down. They kept pestering me for a job opportunity. They put their foot in the door, they did some good work. And I was like, "All right, it's familiar. I'll hire you." And some people it's because they're phenomenally talented, but my God, they brought so much, so much drama and chaos to the office and it was all fabricated. So it wouldn't be until I met [inaudible 00:03:45] and started working with him that we started working on the culture. He says, "Chris, I know who you are and we should hire people just like you." And so he sent me off on an assignment to write some rules about the culture of the company. And I struggled mightily with this for a couple of weeks. And then I read this book called Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. And he talked about his culture and he's this Harvard educated guy with a billion dollar company. I just copied his culture.

Anneli:
Oh really?

Chris:
The Zappos culture, yeah. Literally, he said we have 10 points, 10 pillars to our culture that embrace and drive change, to have fun and a little weirdness, and do more with less and all these things. I'm like, "This is great. This sounds exactly like what I want." And I just changed some of the words and adapted it for what we do because we don't sell shoes obviously. And so then I posted it up and then it took about a year and a half for us to weed every single person out from the company that didn't fit that culture.

Anneli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you rather hire somebody with the right attitude and train them for skills or do they need the right attitude and the right skills right away?

Chris:
Yeah. So there's a bare minimum skill level that you have to have, otherwise I'm wasting my time. And that minimum, when I say bare minimum was actually quite high relatively speaking to maybe standards other people are used to. And then once you meet that qualification, somebody is like an orders of magnitude better, or someone who I think I can work with. Who can change, adapt, and learn and reflects the culture, I'd rather hire that person. And I want to give you a very clear example of how this lives in the real world. So we have people in the office now that I love being around, that I was happy to see. And we formed a committee, we formed a hiring committee. So three people would interview any prospect that had already passed the qualifications round with my head of production. And they would interview and they played games with them.

It wasn't like any interview you've ever been to. And then afterwards, I asked them, "Based on you guys and our culture, who do you recommend?" Like this person. "And who's second and third. Okay, great. Now we know." A review with the team. So there was a point in time in which we're hiring a new producer. And my head of production said, and I had a production is a really tough stern. Grew up in the Midwest. She just wants people to put their nose down to the grindstone and get stuff done. But we live and work in a very creative space. She's like, "This is my pick. I don't know about the other person."

I'm like, "Okay." And so then the team said, and they don't talk to each other, "We pick this person." And that was not my head of production's pick. I was a little conflicted. I picked the person that they picked and it all worked out just fine. So that's how you hire based on culture. That's how you hire and fire based on culture and the people who didn't fit. They started feeling a little weird, a little out of place. So they quit and the ones that needed a little help, I helped them out the door. I said, "You can't be here anymore."

Anneli:
Yeah, but you have people on your team now that I think you worked with for a long time, right? Like Greg, Monica, maybe Matthew, how did you find them? They're just amazing. It's almost like a family. How many years did you work with them? Over 10 years, right?

Chris:
Yeah. Yeah. Right now Monica is our oldest longest lived employee, I believe. And we have very low turnover. It's either you make it past that first year or you get out and then you were with us for many years, if not a decade, right? I've watched people's kids grow up.

Anneli:
Wow.

Chris:
And so each one has a different story, right? With the creatives, most of them at some point in time were my former students.

Anneli:
Oh really?

Chris:
Yeah. Greg was my former student. Matthew was my former student.

Anneli:
At ArtCenter?

Chris:
Yeah at ArtCenter. [crosstalk 00:08:10]. Yeah, and [inaudible 00:08:10], former student. Otis, Greg went to Otis. So I taught at both schools and they got a good sense of who I was. And as an instructor, I'm really tough. I'm tougher than you're even thinking now. And some of them had fear of me, and fear of like how would conduct a class, but they knew if they're willing to work hard and to learn this very difficult game, that they would be better for it. And so Greg... and basically they're standout students, who then later on after school, we continue our relationship. And then I either invite them in as a freelancer, as an intern. And then they ultimately get part-time jobs with us, full-time freelance, and then we hire them on and then just move up the chain. So that's how I know the creatives. There's a connection there.

Anneli:
Yeah, but when you decided to go from Blind, from this agency to do this kind of a really big leap, started The Futur. What are win to keep people like that. That says a lot about you as a leader that they actually stayed, and they could have done something else.

Chris:
They could have. And it could have been a very hard transition for them. So there's two things that you're talking about. One is, the rug's been pulled out from underneath them that the skill set that they had developed for a number of years was not going to be utilized in the same way anymore. But at this point we already had finished the deliberate practice of hiring based on culture and only keeping people that are part of the culture. And I've purged everybody else at this point. And part of the culture is to embrace and drive change. So then if you understand that, then you can see how we can go from one industry to a totally different industry, and why they would move right on over. The other thing that was happening too, was that we were already at this point having some kind of fan base.

So we now only want to hire people who are familiar with the content and not just looking for a job. You have to believe in the mission for me to even consider hiring you right now. So things are evolving, right? The other thing is that all these creatives that I have are our top shelf creatives. They can go out and make more money than they're making now. They could, but we offer them something else. And that's why they stay. Other than money, there's reasons why you would want to stay at a company. And we put this to the test because not that long ago, Matthew was given an opportunity to head a small company within a company and get paid a lot more money than we're paying and to have every wish list that he had, fulfilled. He chose to stay.

Anneli:
Wow.

Chris:
That's the strength of the company culture. That's the strength of the mission. And I'll take some credit too. And I think that's a strength of leadership and how I treat people.

Anneli:
Yeah, I do think that is the biggest part of it actually. And I do think when we talked, because we started to talk about the mission. Both you and I, I know that you also like Simon Sinek. And when he talks about the why, and that people actually buy why you do it instead of what you do. It's a little bit like... I can understand that when you talk about your team, because they're really aligned with your mission. And when I saw your website, the first time after you did a redesign, I didn't see the mission. I don't think you had it in your first MVP on top.

And then it appeared again with a really great story around it, but you don't talk about it so much. And I don't know, I just feel like maybe when I read that mission... but I am a little bit... I easily tear up, I was actually really, really taken by it because I felt so strongly, that was part of my mission as well when I read it. So do you feel like you talk about your mission when you're out in conferences or doing different things?

Chris:
Yeah. There's an interesting question there. So I think there are people who spend a lot of time writing mission statements, we'll put those people in one group. And then there's people who talk about what they wrote about, we'll Put that in a separate group. The group that I want to belong is the people who live their mission. And I believe I'm living the mission every single day. And it governs almost every decision that we make. And the really cool part about this mission, especially after you've articulated it, is when other people bring up your mission, then you know you've done something. I was interviewed last night on a live stream. This person is based out of Columbia and they introduced me and they said, "Chris's got this incredible mission. Why one billion, what does this mean to you? And we can have this conversation."

And so there's usually a disconnect between big corporations, their mission, and actually how they behave. All you have to do is ask any employee, any person has ever experienced this, is this true? Guy Kawasaki does a talk about this. And he [inaudible 00:13:57] talk about Wendy's tagline is this. And he's like, "It should just be this." Because he's like, "I'm not thinking about the family community experience when I'm ordering a burger. That's what you say but it's not what I feel." But people who are part of our community who tune in to participate in what we do to buy our products, or just even curious about us. The mission is woven into every pixel, every phrase, everything that we do and you cannot separate those things. So I live the mission. I do mention it to people from time to time when it's appropriate during my talks. I say, "Well, who am I? And why the heck should you listen to me?" Right? I say, "Well, my mission is to teach a billion people how to make a living doing what they love. And that's why I'm here."

Anneli:
Yeah. I do love that you have it on the top of your website, because it could be so easy just to have the things you want to sell and you don't do that. And I really respect you for that because I do think that story is the most interesting thing to read first.

Chris:
It's in my bio, it's in my everywhere on social media. So I don't want to make it easy for anybody to miss that. And the reason why the site looks and behaves the way it does is because this landing page is me. All the other pages on the site is not me. It's the sales and marketing funnels. It's the product description pages. It's the biographies of people. And it's how you book us, and course or career paths and all kinds of things. And so as much as I hate to say this, it was a little bit of a battle between me and the team as to what the landing page should look like. And it's still not done. It's still not aligned with what I want. And it's because there's all these different ideas about what we need to do. Now, this was revealed to us during a retreat, the first corporate retreat I've ever done in my life with my team.
And it got a little heated and the conversation was mostly around myself, Matt, Ben, and Mark, the managers of the company. And when we were able to articulate what we cared about the most, they were all different answers. So we had a problem being very clear to me. So when push came to shove, Ben says, "I care that this company makes money. I feel like that's my duty, my responsibility. And I don't take it lightly." Great. He's the chief operating officer.

Anneli:
Exactly.

Chris:
You would think that this is what he has to say, right? And then Matthew says, "I care about the quality of the content that we create." And I guess that makes sense too because for a period of time, he is the chief content officer. Then Mark is like, "You know, I care that we have clarity on direction, so we don't burn out the team. Because we can do whatever you guys want. We just can't do it all. That's it. That's fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate what you have to say. My concern is totally different." And I said, "All I care about is that we teach people, period. So let me be very clear. And this is going to sound horrible. Let me be very clear here. If people have to work a little harder or a lot harder, and for us to be better teachers, we're doing it. If the videos don't look as good as you think they need to, or are not as polished as you think to Matt, but they're more effective learning tools, we're doing it. And Ben, even if this costs more money than it's worth, and we don't make any money on this at all, we're doing it."
And they were shocked. "I said, I don't care about making money. Money is not what I get up to do every single day." And I said, "I know this is going to sound terrible to you guys because you still are growing your careers and your lives. I could care less about money. There's a lot of easier ways for me to make money."

Anneli:
Yeah there is.

Chris:
"And money, if you stick with me, we'll be there. Maybe not in the timetable that you want, but money is the by-product of the mission."

Anneli:
Of doing the right things.

Chris:
Right? "And you guys, we could just create four products and just market the heck out of them and just keep refining those things. But that doesn't help me with the mission at all."

Anneli:
No.

Chris:
And then on a different conversation, Ben had asked me like, "Why does this matter so much to you?" And I said something that got him Shocked up. I said, "For me, I have two boys that I love more than anything. By the time we're done with our mission, it's too late for them. They already have their own lives and careers. I'm doing it for your daughter. She's three years old. And may be by the time that she hits college age, that we will actually have created a viable alternative to going to university." That's when he got shocked up and he's like, "I understand your words now." See? So, a lot of my team, they're very good at what they do, but what they don't have is that ability to step back out and say, "Look, what is it that we're really trying to do here?" There are other people who are very successful making two products. They have a great lifestyle business. They don't stress out. They make a couple million dollars a year and it's fantastic for them. I'm not trying to do that.

Anneli:
You do have a really strong purpose.

Chris:
And I live it. Like I said, it's part of everything that I do. It's my mind. It's not just words. The words just captured the intention, right? And that's all that is.

Anneli:
But I mean, I think conversations like this is really nice and important also because when you see people really fast at YouTube, just a few minutes, you need to be different. Everything is so fast and it needs to be a little bit different. You can't go deeper at all. And of course, people can have assumptions about who you are. And do you think you are different in different situations?

Chris:
Yeah, absolutely. And I know people come with all their assumptions and it's easy for them to see that because they haven't been part of the journey and I don't expect them to be, they weren't there when I was getting into fist fights with people because of my ethnicity and when I was 13 years old. And they weren't there for those parts of me sitting there not having lunch because my mom forgot to pack me a lunch. And it's like, this is... I don't have money in my pocket. They weren't there for that. All they can see is like, "Oh, you live in a nice place. It must be nice having a silver spoon in your mouth." I said, "What are you talking about?"
He said, "Oh, you can't relate to poor people." I'm like, "I was a poor person. What are you talking about?" And that's okay. And I'm happy to have those conversations out in the open and in very public forums. And you can assume whatever you want at the end of the day if I can give you the information for you to have a different point of view, at that point, I just don't care. I don't care if you have the information you choose not to believe it, that's you. And I'm going to keep moving on with my life.

Anneli:
Yeah, but can you see when you share stories like this, sometimes I just feel like you don't think you're so interesting. There are other people who see you and we want to listen to you. And we think you're really interesting and your stories are interesting to listen to. And I think you really inspire so many people. I mean, just look at your story and how many young people that actually are where you were when you were a kid, and they can listen to this and they can see that there are hopes, there are possibilities to do things. Even if you don't come from the rich family or you were born in a different country or whatever. I just think it's really important for them to hear stories like this.

Chris:
Well, I'm happy to share it. I've shared these stories before-

Anneli:
Yeah but you do...

Chris:
The volume of the volume of content that we create, it makes it hard for people to go back and find those parts, because it's just constant daily luge of new videos, new ideas, new carousels, new videos. And so I get it. And I've always [inaudible 00:22:46]. See? So I made the Cardinal sin. The Cardinal sin is I create things the way I want to consume things. And then not to realize that I'm actually not like a lot of people. So when guys like Gary V go up on stage and say, "So how many of you guys know who I am? Yeah. I was born in Belarus, a communist country. And we came here. We were poor as F and we live in this single..." It's like, that's 20 minutes gone. And he does it every single time. So I questioned that as a person who tunes in, like, "I'm here to learn, man. I know your story. I've heard it before."

Anneli:
Yeah, but can we talk a little bit about that? Because you always get through this, you want to be so productive. And I know you say this often, you want to get to the point, you want to help out, you don't want to... But what if people want... sometimes they want something else maybe. Like I shared with you, when I had a coaching call with you, maybe I just needed that confirmation. Maybe it's embarrassing to admit that. But if you never had it, if you just doubt yourself and you need somebody else to see what's possible for you to do, that actually changed my whole life. And maybe you don't think it's so productive, but for me it was life-changing that somebody actually saw some potential or at least didn't set any boundaries for me, what I could do. So that just opened a door for me to do something else on my life. And so in your book, it's like I'm not so productive when I do coaching calls like this, but for me it was totally life-changing.

Chris:
You know I talked to Wesley Little about this very thing. And she's a licensed therapist. And so we talk and I said, "You know, you have such great energy. You just want to listen to people and you identify, you understand. And you're just a great listener." I said, "How do I do that? Because I just feel out the end of the call, haven't really helped anybody." What she said to me was surprising, because she's so understanding. She said, "You're not supposed to do that Chris. The world needs different people. And you speak with authority and you help people solve problems really fast and you do these things and that's why they come to you." So we all do things differently. Like Tony Robbins, he'll sit there and grab somebody and shake them and then that'll be their moment.
So we all have our different styles. So I have my style, Anneli you have your style and the world needs different kinds of people to help them, right? But I sit there and think, you've paid me good money. I'm here to serve you. So whatever you need in this moment in time, I'll put away whatever it is I think I need, because I'm just there for you. So in our conversation together, you just needed somebody not to rain on your parade. And that's all. And a lot of the other calls that I have with different people is really about removing self-imposed barriers to them. And then they go away like, "Oh, I couldn't sleep for like two days." I'm like, "Good. I want you to live in what's your possible, your possibilities, not your impossibilities. I want you to grow, and to learn, and to just love this thing that you've denied yourself for so long."
And just by helping them to see that, that can be a transformative moment for them. But getting back to what I'm talking about here. I sit there and think is me telling my history, my background, my mission contributing to anybody? And I see the negative comments on talks like, "Gary, we know the story. Gary we got it. 300 times later, we got it." But I think he is doing the smart thing to be honest. I just can't get myself to do it. He's doing the smart thing because he never makes an assumption that people have the time nor the interest to look them up and understand his story, right? So he tells his story again, and again, and again, and there are other people who will do the same things.
And I sit there and maybe it's just me confirmation bias looking to read the comments where like, "We got it." It's not just him, it's a lot of people actually. And I was at Creative South, great community. Maybe not the best speakers in the world, but great community [inaudible 00:27:26] back in a heartbeat. But people are getting the onstage one after the other, just telling you their story. It's cathartic for them. It's not so much for us. I'm like, "Yeah." Especially because people are not really great storytellers. Like, "So when I was four I did this, and 17 I did that, at 22..." And it's not building up to any narrative, any takeaway. I'm doing everything I can to be polite not to just walk out. So you can see... And I see the reactions from people around me. They're looking at each other like, "What the..."

Anneli:
Yeah. I know it's super boring to hear things like [inaudible 00:28:02].

Chris:
Do you see what I'm saying? So how do you know, how do you navigate that? So that's why I've steered very far away from that. Unless the talk was your backstory and it was a whole conference about your backstory.

Anneli:
Yeah. But when you are in podcasts for example, that's why I was a little bit... I don't know how to present myself because I do think people brag a little bit when they're supposed to present themselves in a podcast than... I do know people ask you about that. And then you often talk about your experience, what you have been doing in the past, right?

Chris:
Yes.

Anneli:
Like [inaudible 00:28:43], things you've been working with?

Chris:
Yes.

Anneli:
And maybe it's just me, but I'm more interested in your mission for The Futur now, but maybe that just gives you credibility to talk about the things you do. But I do still think that mission is more interesting to hear now.

Chris:
Yeah.

Greg:
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back with more from Chris. Welcome back to our conversation with Chris Do.

Chris:
You know what's crazy? So in the beginning of me going out there and speaking, I think in around 2013, 2012, I started to speak. I do what everybody did. I showed my work. I talked about the work. I told you stories about the work and people seem to like it. Then I was thinking, how dull is this? Because all this work is already up on our website. And we write very extensive case studies in our website, telling you the literal story that I'm going to tell you right now. So I made promise to myself, no more showing the work because that's what everybody does. It's what they call it a show and tell formula, which is all what a lot of creative people do. They show you a cool project. They tell you like 10 seconds of something interesting, funny sometimes if they're good. And what was that. And so I stopped showing work altogether. I will even tell people I'm not going to show the work and they're like, "Okay." And it's not until a few months ago, I started to show some of the work. Right?
Because now I'm dealing with a different problem. I'm dealing with a different problem that people show up like, "You're that YouTube guy who tells people how to charge for logos." I'm like-

Greg:
Oh, okay.

Chris:
"That's one thing that I do actually." So what I tell people now is like, "Well, why should you listen to me?" And before I was this YouTube guy, I ran a business and we did these kinds of projects and we won these kinds of awards, now back to the top. That's how I do it now. So I have like five slides. I really briefly say, "Here's what we've done. Our bone a few days, if you will." So that people say, "Oh, we can trust you because otherwise we think you're just an internet Yahoo who doesn't know what they're doing either, and you have no credibility."
One of the reasons why you'll see me on the show and I get so forceful about this is because, check this out. When the trolls come up, like "You haven't done anything. And you're a snake oil salesman." Like, "Oh, well you just talk, talk, talk, talk." I'm like, "All right. You want to go down this path, I'm happy to do it." And this is me being a child and being very immature. I said, "Well, pull out your portfolio, pull up your credentials. Let's compare."

Anneli:
You're like [inaudible 00:31:32], you want to just [inaudible 00:31:34].

Chris:
I do. To be honest, I do. When people say things totally unfounded. And I will say this, I've been very fortunate that I was able to go to a school, develop certain skills and to have the opportunities I've had to be at the right place at the right time. I've been very fortunate. So then I have a body of work that would put up against most people. And especially people have time to comment on YouTube and try to flame me, and troll me, for sure. For sure. I have the backup for whatever it is that you think I don't have. And everybody that I think is better than us. They're not calling in to tell us how bad we are.

Anneli:
Those trolls, they can't be so many people and why even give them that?

Chris:
Well, because I enjoy it. I enjoy it. For example right now, you and I were talking about stories and history and mindset. If you don't ask, I don't say.

Anneli:
Yeah, I know.

Chris:
So when somebody doesn't ask me like, "What have you done in your life?" I just don't say.

Anneli:
Yeah, I thought you were really shy and didn't want to talk about yourself. And then I realized that it's more about that you always put attention on everybody else and you ask the best questions to people. And then every time I hear your interview with somebody, I'm like, "I want to hear your story instead." So when I hear people ask you questions, you are really open and you just tell people. So it's not that you don't do it. It's just that it seems like you're not thinking you're so important or you don't have anything to share, but I do think you have that.

Chris:
Yeah. I'm not going to say this. Let me think about how to say this. I don't think that I'm not important. I think I am important. I just don't want to tell you things in our artificial format that has nothing to do with you. It's against my entire ethos. When we talk about branding, we talk about marketing and messaging. You don't talk about yourself. You ask the person, what are you interested in? So it would be kind of really weird for me to just sit there, unprompted, just start talking about things, right? Because who's this helping right now. I don't know.

Anneli:
But you know what, even if you just listened to people having a conversation, people don't actually listen to each other, and they don't ask follow up questions. They're just listening and then they start talking about themselves. And that's how people have conversations, most people.

Chris:
I think so. And that's why there's so much misunderstanding and miscommunication. And that's why wars are started, and people get divorced, and people grow a strange from their family members because they're so much into their own narrative they can't hear anything. One of the reasons why I'm successful in business is because I've learned to really listen to the other person, to serve them, and to be 100% present to what's going on. And if I can do that and be successful, you could see how it would seep into every part of what I do. I only want to tell my story as it relates to something that's relevant to the other person only because they've asked me. But I've got a thousand stories. I'm just which one should I tell and when?

Anneli:
You have a lot of stories, but I do think that... I don't know how people react, but I see a lot of people react very positive when they see your whole personality. We see it all the time. I think so in the pro group, I think you're really open but maybe people don't see that side of you. And when you show that, I don't know. It seems like you show that human side of you that maybe people don't understand or see that you have. And that makes me a little bit sad sometimes because I do know how warm and generous heart you have, and how much you actually... It's like sometimes you give so much to people and you help so many people, So you almost forgot about yourself.

Chris:
I wouldn't worry about that.

Anneli:
Probably not.

Chris:
No, you spend enough time with me like, "Oh my God, that guy." Just ask my wife. She'll tell you.

Anneli:
Maybe that's it. Maybe that's-

Chris:
You know what I mean?

Anneli:
... more about me than about you. I don't know.

Chris:
So for me, if I'm there and I'm there to give value and to serve people, as I say to people, this is how you sell, serve people first, then I don't feel the need, the urgency to tell something about myself kind of unprompted unnecessarily. And sometimes I do it and I'm like, "Why did you do that? That was stupid." And so I try not to do that, but it's not because I've forgotten who I was and I don't feel like I'm important. I feel I'm a very important person. And the foundation of who I am comes from a deep understanding of who I am in life and myself for that exact person flawed and all. And I'm okay with that.

Anneli:
But I do think you do something that not so many people are doing and maybe that is why you have such a big tribe almost because you do answer people's questions and you comment on... When you post things, I always see you interact with people and that is not so common. So it is a lot of engagements going in with your community and you're really present for people and help people out. And I don't see that so much.

Chris:
Yeah. Well, it's strange. If you think about it, if you invite someone to your party, to your house to celebrate something, and they all show up and then you just leave. That's kind of what it's like. When you drop a piece of content, when you ask a question, when you share a thought, you're asking them to participate and engage with you, and then you just leave. Are you too good for them? It's like you're leaving them hanging there. So when I post something, I'm going to hang out because I want to talk to you. And I think it's part of the human experience to want to connect with other people. And so maybe I have other things to do. I know I do. But if I take some of your time, the least I can do is hang out. So greet them at the door. You don't have to stay for the whole party, but try to make the people who show up feel welcome, and then you can leave. And so that's my philosophy there.

Anneli:
Yeah. And I really, really appreciate it. And I think a lot of people also do that. And that's why you may have some few trolls and people that don't like you, but you have a lot of people who actually likes you. And you have a big tribe of fans.

Chris:
Well, that's nice that that's happened. And even the trolls, I love the trolls. I want to have a call, just trolls straight up come at me. Let's do it. But you have to be willing to have an honest conversation with me. You have to be willing to expose yourself too. Otherwise I'm not interested in the conversation.

Anneli:
Okay. So pretend like we're having this call in like 10 years and you look back, what happened with The Futur in those 10 years in order to feel really happy about yourself then?'

Chris:
I'm already happy with myself today. Somebody had asked me this question, [crosstalk 00:39:37] the other day. They're like, "You die today, any regrets? I'm like, "None." "You content? I'm like, "Yep. I said everything I need to say to every single person that I know. I've done as much as I can to prepare for the eventuality that I will not be here for my team, and for my wife, and for my kids, and for everybody I care about. I've done as much as I can. So I'm okay with that today." But I'm going to tell you this wild dream, this fantasy that I have. I'm not going to answer your question in a traditional way, okay?

Anneli:
Okay. You can answer it whatever you want.

Chris:
Yeah. So here's what happens in 10 years. We are so filthy rich. And when I say we, I mean me, the entire team, our community in every way that you can measure wealth, and knowledge, and quality of life, and happiness and self contentment, all those kinds of things. But I have so much money that it can actually build the things that you would think only would exist in a utopian society. This probably will drive my wife crazy if she hears this, but I want to own a massive property where all the students, and the people in our community can live there with us.

Anneli:
Wow.

Chris:
I want that where there's like an open court yard, where there's like fresh air and sunshine, and trees and fruits. And we just live, and learn, and share, and make content. Where the most expensive parts of doing what it is that we do is no longer a thought because you can just come and use it with us. I don't mean for them to live with me forever. I mean, for periods of time, like artist residencies, where you apply and you're in. It could be a week. It could be a month. It could be months. But where you come in and out, you share, you contribute, you make something. So it's like this weird hippie educational combine, co-Op, whatever it is.
But all the expensive stuff has been paid for. Because I really do love being around people, helping them to learn, helping them to find the best version of themselves. I'd love to be able to afford a permanent team of highly trained subject matter experts to help people, not only with their mindset, but put their body so that everything is in alignment, right? And then we can learn together. And I think that will be fantastic. And everything that we do in this space and place will be shared with the world for free.

Anneli:
Wow.

Chris:
So that's where I'll be in 10 years.

Anneli:
That is really cool. It sounds a little bit like my vision about the X-Men school. It is some similarity between the mutants and the creative society in a way.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think so. I think the creatives in society are a little bit outcast and they don't know what to do with themselves. They don't fit in the normal mold and they feel lost. And this would be the place for that. And I have these dreams because universities right now own a lot of property. They own a lot of land and they have buildings, but they're using the land and the buildings for all the wrong reasons. They're using it to warehouse a mini factories of producing the same thing over and over again. And what a waste, what a waste.

Anneli:
Well, where do you see the school in the US or...

Chris:
Wherever it makes the most sense. For first of all, I am rather spoil that we have beautiful weather here. We have lots of days, sunshine. We have mountains and ocean and mountain tops and snow and rain. We have all kinds of things. So ideally would be somewhere where there's a hub for culture. So that we're not like in a desert. I know you can do this tomorrow in the desert somewhere, but I also don't want to live in the desert.

Anneli:
No, I can understand that.

Chris:
Yeah. And I also don't want to live in places where it's 110 degrees every single day, except for four days. I also don't want to live in a place where it's four days of sunshine and we celebrate like it's a religious experience, so there's something there. And so certain part of the equator, there's a white swatch of land that I think you can figure this out, right? And we'd love to be in a place where the government is pro-education and is friendly to these kinds of wacky ideas.

Anneli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah. And I do think that there are... So I don't know if you agree with this, but sometimes I think people join communities like this for one reason like I did. I just joined for the business side of it. And then I realized after a few months that it's more about the mindset. And you are a combination of teaching people about business, but also about mindset is kind of unique, I think.

Chris:
Well, thanks for saying that.

Anneli:
What do you feel most passionate about? Or can you choose, or is it just that you can't choose one or the other, they're connected together if you want to be successful or how do you see it?

Chris:
I don't feel like I have to choose. And this may sound like a cop out answer for you, but I want to just be there for the person. So if today I hear that you need a very specific marketing thing that I have. That's what I gave you. And tomorrow, if you need something about like, "Chris, I want to have fun today." I'm like, "Okay, let's figure out what that looks like for you." And it's hard to do it with a large group of people, but I get a sentiment like what's going on with the group and I try my best to give them what I think they're telling me that they need. And maybe that's my curse. Maybe that's my gift. I don't know. But at this point in my life having run a business for more than half of my life, I've experienced things on all spectrums that I think there's something in there within that lifetime that I can give to somebody else that can help them. So I'd rather just be present to listen to what they need and then hopefully give them what they need.

Anneli:
And you have this kind of, almost like a super power, how fast you can learn things. And I'm impressed about that. You can like, "Oh, you want to know about this." And then you read like three books over a weekend, and then you can start teaching the other week. It's kind of impressive how you do that. How did you learn how to do that so fast and effective?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I think the real answer, we probably should save for another conversation, but I'm going to give you the shortcut answer, okay?

Anneli:
Yeah.

Chris:
This is really weird. The more books I read, the more I realize there's just a handful of universal truths, right? So they package it differently. There's different ways of phrasing it, but I'm just thinking like, "My God, everything's the same." It's our inability to see the sameness that makes it feel unique and foreign to us. I'll give you an example and then a little analogy here. As you know, I'm starting to play poker again-

Anneli:
I noticed.

Chris:
... and I'm starting to learn the game in ways that I haven't learned before, because I'm putting in my 10,000 hours now. I literally am, okay? And I realized something that when I play my cards, I tend to make the wrong decisions. When I stare at cards I have in the potential combinations that are on the board, I'm neglecting what everybody else has. And they say the pros can play without ever looking at the cards and still win.

Anneli:
Yeah, they read.

Chris:
Because they're reading. They're looking at betting patterns, and they know based on how you bet potentially what card you have and if you have a really good card, then they would fold. And if they think you're bluffing or they think you're weak, they'll go strong. So they're more reacting to what's going on versus acting. So, well, that's a lot like what we're trying to do.

Anneli:
Yeah, exactly [crosstalk 00:47:55].

Chris:
Like sales, like marketing, like branding, like strategy, like therapy, like everything else. So I'm just finding these common threads and they're only a few things that I think that are different and everything else is some permutation of that. And if we spend enough time, I could explain to you what all the similarities are. But I'll leave me with this one thought, okay, we are hardwired to love stories. To crave them, to make them, to consume them. We love stories and that's why the best storytellers in our time are the ones that we know the best. Filmmakers, poets, writers, musicians, artists of all types, they're the best storytellers and they win.
I was looking at that and so then what makes a really good story? And if you dig deep enough, no matter who describes it to you, it basically comes down to three words, there's a character, they want something, and there's an obstacle in their way. Without these three things, the story starts to fall apart. If it's not clear who this person is, we don't identify with them. We can't relate to them. Maybe to prove your point. If people don't know what this character, me, they don't know how to relate to me. So the character has a rich backstory, they're flawed, they have proclivities, they're tortured. They're all kinds of things, but they're not perfect. Because perfect people are like cardboard people, they're not real.

Anneli:
Yeah, we don't like perfect.

Chris:
We don't like perfect because perfect doesn't exist. We think the person is hiding something. So the characters have a want, something that they desire. And on today's call we talked about, there's usually the external desire, there's an internal desire, and then there's an emotional desire. And if we can understand that, we're doing pretty good. And stories without conflict are uninteresting to us, they go right back to that perfection thing. So we have to find what the obstacle is. So if you feel guilty, what's making you feel guilty?
If you need to say no to a client, what's preventing you from saying no to the client? Once we understand the character, their backstory, what they truly want on all three levels, and what's getting in their way, now, the solution becomes very clear. We can create a logo for them. We can build a website for them. We can make a product for them. We'll get design language for them, a culture. We can design systems around them. And this becomes the glue for everything. So if you want to do marketing, if you want to teach, if you want to tell a story, it's all the same.

Anneli:
Yeah. And I can see the connection with your poker as well, because when you are... I think people generally are more focused on themselves in sales call, or strategy, or whatever. And if you just listened to what people say, it probably... you will notice if you look at people, instead of focusing on yourself, when people have a reaction of emotions and you will see that in a person. And that is probably when you need to ask another question, dig a little bit deeper because people can say one thing, but the actually problem is something else.
And you will see that reaction. Even if you play poker, or if you in a strategy or a sales call, you will see when people react. And that is often where the problem is. But if you're so focused on yourself, you will never notice. So it's kind of a similar situation with a poker player as in a client situation. People are too focused on themselves so they don't see the real problem. They just hear what people say instead of seeing all the clues that people give on... they can have like physical reaction. I can see in people's eyes when something happens or they do something. And I know that's the problem.

Chris:
I think you're right. So it could come down to science, facilitation. It's almost always the same thing. And that's why I have a lot of confidence going into a lot of situations as you might describe as unprepared. Because I know I'm just looking for certain things. And then the answer will reveal itself if I stay true to that. And it's totally fine.

Anneli:
Yeah. I totally understand what you mean because I feel the same way. And I feel if I prepare too much, I know I'm not going to be present because I'm going to be too focused on the next question or the next thing to do instead of just being present and in the moment. So sometimes it's just easier not to prepare so much.

Chris:
Yeah. I think you want to do a little bit of homework so that you don't make assumptions about things, some basic things, and then you have a conversation with people. That's all it is. So yeah, I love to learn and we'll spend some more time on that, maybe in the next podcast, and we'll pick it up from there.

Anneli:
Yeah. I really enjoyed this chat with you. And we didn't talk about fear at all this time, but this is really... I told you that I'm from Sweden and like one year ago, I didn't even talk to people. I didn't even talk English in front of people at all. So just doing a call like this... We didn't prepare any questions. Everything is just being present, and listen, and talk. It's kind of scary to me. So yeah, I'm just happy that we did it and had this opportunity to speak to you.

Chris:
Yeah, me too. Thanks for doing this. And if you were scared, I didn't see or feel any of that. And I think, I hope you feel this way, but I would never invite you in to set you up for a trap, to make you fail.

Anneli:
I know that.

Chris:
Right?

Anneli:
I know that.

Chris:
And people are scared and I understand why they're scared because they've seen some videos of me when it does feel like I've trapped people and make fun of them, but I know that you want to help me tell a story and you know what my hang ups and my mental roadblocks are around this. And so you've just created space for me to be able to share with people. And I appreciate that. And I'm also really glad to hear that a year into your exposure to the group... Exposure like you've been to the virus or something, that you got the bug,  but you're more comfortable and a lot of the fear that we have, that you have is really just really unfounded. It really is.
That there are dark parts to our society, to the web because the web is just a reflection of some part of our society that people are genuinely trying to tear you down. But for the most part, I think there are genuinely good people. And that's the story I'm going to tell myself because I don't know how else to live, right? That there are good people out there who want to see you succeed, who want to be part of your story, and are cheering for you. And I'm definitely one of those people.

Anneli:
Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much.

Chris:
Okay. So with that, I want to thank my, not so much guests, but maybe just by co-host my copilot riding this journey with me and I appreciate you giving me your time. You Anneli first of all, and you, the listener to this episode, I hope you've enjoyed this and we will be picking up this kind of conversation on the next one. And let me know. Let me know what are the deep seated questions that you've wanted to ask because I'll do my best to answer them. Let us know in the comments or send them actually to Greg at the Hey Chris thing. And I will do our best to have a conversation around it. Thanks very much everybody, have a great day.

Speaker 5:
Have a question for Chris? Visit thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We might just answer it here on the show.

Greg:
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app, and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Baro for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborn for our intro music. If you enjoyed this episode then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better.


Have a question for Chris or me, head over to thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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