Think about the most accomplished people that you admire. What drives them? What is that endless source of fuel that keeps their fire burning? Especially through the darkest and coldest of nights.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” This poignant quote from Mark Twain taps into the theme of this episode: grit. As in fortitude, guts, backbone
Think about the most accomplished people that you admire. What drives them? What is that endless source of fuel that keeps their fire burning? Especially through the darkest and coldest of nights.
Our guest today, Mario Quezada, is a brand strategist and owner of a small design and branding agency in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is also an alumni of Art Center College of Art and Design. The same prestigious design school that Chris Do attended.
In this episode, Mario and Chris talk about their experience growing up, feeling lost, and dealing with the ugly racism that the world showed them.
They also swap stories about their unique experience at Art Center. The culture, the smell of the building, and the teachers that challenged their thinking and opened their mind to the possibilities of graphic design.
Like Mr. Twain said: courage is resistance to fear. It builds character. And in this candid conversation, you’ll get to hear how two people navigate that fear. And how showing courage through it all got them to where they are today.
Mario: Doing things over and over and over again, to get better at, to improve on, and just to see how much better you can get defines more of the people that are very successful in life rather than people that things came easy to them.
Greg: Welcome to The Future Podcast, the show that explores the interesting overlap between design, marketing, and business. I'm Greg Gunn.
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." That's a quote from one of my favorite writers and humerus of all time, Mark Twain, and it taps into the theme of this episode, which is grit; as in fortitude, guts, backbone.
Now, think about the most accomplished people that you admire. What drives them? What is that endless source of fuel that keeps their fire burning, especially through the darkest and coldest of nights? Our guest today is a brand strategist and owner of a small design and branding agency in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also attended Art Center, the same prestigious design school that Chris went to.
Now, the two talk about their experience, growing up, feeling lost, and dealing with the ugly racism the world showed them. They also swap stories about their unique experience at Art Center; the culture, the smell of the building, and the teachers that challenged their thinking and opened their minds to the possibilities of graphic design. Like Mr. Twain said, "Courage is resistance to fear." It builds character. And in this candid conversation, you'll get to hear how two people navigate through that fear, and how showing courage through it all got them to where they are today. Please enjoy our conversation with Mario Casada.
Mario: Hey everyone. My name is Mario Casada. I run a small advertising design branding agency out in Honolulu, Hawaii. I'm originally from California, and I'm a brand strategist and agency owner.
I've been listening to some of your lives recently, and I was kind of struck by just thinking about your story and of the story that you've told as far as your family migrating here and your journey from really just being this regular kid to this business owner that you are now. And I was really struck by how that must've taken a lot of courage. And I don't know if you really define courage like that, or if you even think that that was courageous looking back in your life, but I was wondering, A, how do you define courage? And B, where have you found the courage to do what you've done in your life over time and definitely over the recent years, going from starting blind out of Art Center, stepping back, even going to Art Center... I guess I'm looking for the full Christo life story.
Chris: Okay. Well, thanks for asking that question. I think it makes a lot of sense for us to talk a little bit about what courage means, and maybe we can go back and forth a little bit on this so that we have the same understanding.
To me, courage is something that you have to display when you enter into something that you know the probability of success is going to be very low. So if you're a big, strong athletic person, and you've been trained in mixed martial arts, and somebody is picking on somebody. And you step in, and you've got 50 pounds on this person, and you can tell that you can take them. I don't think that's an act of courage. Maybe it feels courageous to the person that you're helping, but I don't think you enter into it thinking, "I'm going to get my butt whooped." But like in movies of our childhood, like Stand By Me or something, when there's the bullies that are two times as big and three years older, and they're picking on their out-of-shape friend, and one friend who knows he's going to get his butt whooped steps in to say, "If you're going to beat him, you're going to have to beat me, too." Knowing very well that he's going to get beat down. To me, that's courageous.
People who go to war. That's courageous because you're putting your life on the line. And even as controversial as it may be, police officers, firefighters, first responders, that's an act of courage because the outcome of their interaction is not known.
Are we talking about the same kind of thing?
Mario: I believe so. I mean, I think people can define courage as maybe even a very variable of things, right? But some of what you're describing to me has kind of an overlap of bravery as well. Which, I think bravery and courage can go hand in hand, but you one can exist definitely without the other.
Chris: Okay. So now let's rewind, then, because I think... Of course, I'm inside the jar here, so I don't really know, but I don't feel like I've done anything that required bravery or courage. And I'll tell you why.
So let's take it back to... Maybe we'll do this in chronological fashion. Me going to Art Center was just the weirdest happenstance, a fluke, and coincidence. I was working at a silk screening place, which I wouldn't have gotten that job if my brother wasn't on the wrestling team whose coach then said to him, "I think your brother does artistic things, right? "And this is my younger brother. And he goes, "Yeah, maybe he'll want to work for my friend who owns a silk screening shop."
And at that point, I didn't even know what silk screening was. So I go there not knowing if I'm qualified for it and what it even entails, and then I'm offered a job that, at that point, I think I was making like $3.75 an hour as minimum wage in California. And he offered me something like 18 bucks an hour, and my mind was blown because every job... I'd had multiple jobs up to that point. They all paid me minimum wage because I was doing a non-skilled labor-intensive job.
So I get that job, and at some point in it, he asked me, "What are you going to do after high school?" And I was still sorting it out in my mind because I thought I was going to go down a very traditional path, the path that my parents wanted me to go down; something in tech, computer science, computer engineering, something like that. But then we start talking about art and design and he says, "You should go to a school called the Art Center."
Now in my mind, prior to him saying that, I've done zero research into what art schools are like. I didn't do what many parents do with their children, which is to tour different campuses as a junior, kind of figure out where they're going to go, help give them some guidance in their life, and help them prepare for college. My parents, A, did not grow up here, so they don't have that experience. So it's very different. And B, they were so busy with work, just trying to make ends meet for us, that this was not part of the conversation.
So I say to a lot of people, "I didn't know then that it was the school that it is today." I didn't know. I just started telling people, "I'm going to go to Art Center," and their eyes would bug out on me. It would get really wide, and they're like, "Yeah?" And some of them, I could tell, they looked at me like with a little incredulity and thinking to themselves like, "You?" People who know.
And I remember my high school commercial art teacher, as it was called back then. He said something like, "Oh, if you can get into that school, you'll have it made." Again. See, so this is like ignorance playing in my favor. And I don't know if any of his former students had ever gone to Art Center before, but he knew of the reputation and of its stature in the echelon of private art schools.
And so that's just me bumbling along. I don't know the tuition. I know it's in Los Angeles somewhere. I've never looked at a catalog, and I just started telling people I'm going to just go to this school. And every person that I told that knew something about it gave me almost exactly the same reaction, which was, "Wow."
So now I just know like, "Is this like the Stanford of art schools? Is this the Yale or the Princeton of art schools? It must be because this is how people responding." So this is where I'm like, "Okay. So, I'm going to go to community college. I'm going to get my portfolio ready." And again, first class, first day of school, teacher Candice Lopez says, "I want everybody to write in your notebook, where do you want to go after city college? Where do you want to go?" And I wrote in my book, "I'm going to go to Art Center." Again, I still know nothing, Mario. I don't know tuition. I just don't know any... I'm just too dumb. And then she writes back this incredibly long detailed, effusive like, "Oh my God, I'm so happy you're going to do this. I'm going to do everything they can to support you. It just so exciting that you chose this path!"
Okay. So as I tell you my story, you're going to hear this pattern over and over again. And I think people are going to step back from this podcast and scratch their head like, "This idiot got here and he doesn't even know what he's doing?" And the answer is yes. I think so, because in my mind, I'm not entertaining other options. I think to be fearful, you kind of have to think, "Well, what if I don't get in? What if they don't accept me?" I always thought everything was inevitable. If I apply and I followed their parameters, I just didn't understand that I could not get in.
I knew why the other schools rejected me because I didn't follow what they had asked for, and I didn't put in any effort. So when they sent me a rejection letters from UCLA, from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and UC San Diego, when they said no, I accepted it before they even sent the letter. There was no way. But then, going to Art Center, I was like, "Yeah, this should happen. I applied for a scholarship before I got in. I should get a scholarship, shouldn't I? Doesn't everybody get one? I'm needy, and I can't afford it now." And now I know what the tuition costs are. And I'm like, "Oh shoot. My parents can't afford to pay for all of this." So between the scholarship, a Cal-something loan, I can't remember which one now, and credit card, I was able to go to school.
Mario: I love that as an... Obviously, I know what it takes to get into Art Center because I did. I was fortunate enough to get in, as well. I had a... Strangely, there's a similarity of I had no idea what I was doing and getting into when I did that. But I know what it takes to get in there, and I love that you were already signed off in your head that any other school was going to reject you, but Art Center you are going to make happen. And I love that idea because Art Center is so difficult to get into, but you had made your mind up.
And I think that's where I was trying to go with the whole courageous question was, there's a sense of your mindset that I think is not necessarily unique to you, but unique to high performing entrepreneurs. And for me, I see that as absolute courageousness or courage, right? Because in the view that I have, I look at you, I look at other high-performing entrepreneurs, asking myself, "Wow, how did they go from meager means or means that I have..." I've grown up in the same way. "And yet, they've transcended to where they are." Not easily, and I know your story. I know you had hardships along the way, and you had mental checks which I'd love to hear more about, but it just seemed like you were just... You would made your mind up. And me, being fascinated the mindset, that fascinates me. How was it that you just made your mind up?
My question earlier was, where were you in a mindset state during your high school years? Because you had no real... You sound like, or it seems like, or it sounds like you said, you really had no direction at that point. You were just kind of, you were going with a flow. Not even the flow. It was just your own flow. It was the dough flow, right? It was the dough flow. And that was it. You were just kind of floating along, and at one point you're like... Someone suggests Art Center, which is the Yale of private design schools, especially at that point in the early nineties, right? Or mid nineties. And you're like, "Cool, I'll do that." Maybe ignorance is blessed, but that sounds like an intense road to climb from zero motivation and mindset state to Art Center. That's a big leap.
Chris: Yeah, it is. So you mentioned it, and I've talked about this before, and I think that's a pretty appropriate description: directionless. In high school, and probably not dissimilar to a lot of boys growing up in America, I thought about girls. I thought about my girlfriend. I thought about like, "I need to go make some money," but the path forward seemed pretty unclear to me.
I wasn't super motivated because I'm still kind of in the instant gratification mindset. Like, What can I do today? Have fun today, party today, and do homework later. And homework, I guess I figured out little hacks and cheats to be able to get A's and B's pretty easily without putting a lot of effort in. So once you've figured that out... And I did some pretty horrible things like figuring out how to cheat and get my way through everything so that I can maintain that A- GPA that my dad needed me to have. So I'm just being around. I don't know what's going on. I don't know who I am. I don't know what I want in my life. I've not put a lot of thought into it.
So there are things that have happened and that made me grow up. And that was just through some very emotionally tough, personal things that I went through with my girlfriend that ultimately made me a little callous and just say like, "Well, the thing that I was kind of just all..." I was really focused on this relationship with a very toxic person, and I couldn't see anything else. So when that ended, all of a sudden I got a lot of clarity. And I admit I was driven by anger, self-pity, feeling that the world is so unfair, and how could this happen to me? I was living in that victim mindset for all those years, and then all of a sudden, it just came to a pretty screeching halt.
Like people talk about their dark night of the soul. I don't want to equate it with some people's real dark night of soul, like the guy who got his foot caught in a rock and had to cut it off. That's some real stuff there for me. It was just an emotional dark night where I just felt like the world was collapsing around me. And my number of options, those doors were closing really fast, and the only door I could see at that point was get to art school.
And I think that's kind of interesting. Like if you visualize it and if you are in daylight, all pads are open. You can travel in any direction but up, I suppose. And then all of a sudden, somebody's starting to cover up the sun on you. And then it's like, "Well, that looks really dark over there." And it's just starting to narrow down, giving you that tunnel vision, and I think that's what happened to me. I saw the tunnel, and I knew then...
And this is going to interesting. My dad and mom, being traditional Asian parents, they always thought of art as the plan B. And even to this day, my uncles and my relatives, they're like, "Yeah, yeah, that's a good second plan. It's a plan B." An Asian parents know this. Immigrant parents and children, they know this kind of talk, right? That you got to do the real thing, which is to be an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, something respectable first. And then you could deal with your frivolous pursuit of the arts, if you will. And then I thought, in a tunnel vision mindset, there is no plan A. There's just this plan B, and that's all I've got.
And I've talked to entrepreneurs, too. Mario, you know this. They burned the bridge that they came in on. There is no retreat. It's like they go to war to win or to die. Sorry, I'm making it so melodramatic here, but I couldn't see a path forward or any other path, except for this one path, which was get your butt to art school. To this specific art school, not just any. Because I didn't accept... At this point, now I know that there's second and third tier art schools. This is the one. I'm going to go there. And it just seemed like it was just my destiny to do it. And then at that point, once that became clear to me, didn't require a lot of courage anymore. Maybe the courage was to say, "I'm okay with losing these other options" and just resigning to that fact and then saying, "Okay, that's it. I've only got one option in my life."
And I recently put out some posts on social media saying, "Complexity is the enemy of everything, and if you make things simpler, you get the clarity, the focus, the drive, you'll know what you want and you know what you're about." Just the decisions become a lot easier.
Mario: So taking you back a little bit to pre-high school, to pre moving to California, what was life like at that point? How much of Vietnam do you remember?
Chris: Mm, I don't remember anything of Vietnam. I think I have... Back when I was younger, I had these what I felt like were dreams, glimpses, just like the way they do it in the movies where it's really kind of a shallow depth of field, a swing and tilt lens, and things were blurry. And I remember asking my mom or my aunt, "Hey, did this ever happen?" And maybe the way I described it, they're like, "No, that never happened." And that's all I had because we fled Vietnam in 1975. I was only three years old then, and I've talked to my therapist about this because this is a question she asked all her clients, which is, "What's your earliest memory and how old were you?" And I say right around three and it was Kansas City, Missouri. And he goes, "It's fascinating because I think almost all of my clients say the same thing because right around three is when most people start to develop language."
So I asked her then, "Does that mean I don't know what happened?" She goes, "No, you get a sense of it. You have feelings, and they stay with you because if you were scared and there was trauma, you might not be able to articulate it, but it lives inside of you." And so my earliest memories are really of Kansas City, Missouri and not knowing that we weren't born here, but I could tell things were different because people looked different. I knew our customs, our culture, our language, the way we dressed, everything was different. But I just thought, "Maybe this is our home."
Mario: So your kind of entrance to America, whatever it was, Kansas City, Missouri. How long were you there?
Chris: I think I was only there for a year and a half. The reason why is because the way the sponsor families work is we have a really large family, right? So no one sponsor could take on this giant pack of Vietnamese people. It was just too much, so it was broken up. And so once each one of my uncles or aunts started to find a career path for them, they had said, for whatever reason, "Let's migrate and all meet up in San Jose." More of them were there. So as soon as my dad could, he and my mom, they moved to San Jose.
Mario: So you're growing up... You grew up in San Jose until, when? High school?
Chris: Yeah. All the way through high school. And then after high school, I went to San Diego to live with my older brother and to go to community college.
Mario: That's right. I remember that. So from there, Art Center?
Chris: Yeah. So I do a year in San Diego. Not a full year, two semesters. And then we... My brother's done preparing for grad school. We pack up, we go home, and then I get my acceptance call.
Which was pretty awesome. I'd love to just tell that story real quick. Because during the summer, I was playing a lot of volleyball at my cousin's house because there was a park nearby and a big open grass field. We'd set up our net and we would play. And I remember his sister came running out to the park and she's like, "Chris, you have a phone call!" And I'm like, "I'm playing. Just tell him, go away." And she's like, "Okay." And she runs away back to the house. She goes back, "It's somebody from the Art Center!" I'm like, "Oh shoot. Guys, I got to split."
So I run in there. I just can only imagine what this call must've been like, because this person's on hold now for minutes, right? And I go in there, and I pick up the phone. She goes, "Chris, I just want to tell you and to welcome you, you've been accepted to Art Center." And she told me a couple other things, and I was just like, "Wow, that's super cool." I just thought I'd just get a letter saying you're in, and that was neat. That was like a little personal touch.
Mario: Yeah. That's nice when they did that. What was the reaction from the tough Asian family to, A, "I'm going to be an artist, and I'm going to go and study plan B stuff." What was the reaction from everybody?
Chris: I think it was mixed emotions from my mom. My dad's emotion was pretty clear. He just didn't tell me. So it's mixed emotions because that was the plan and the hope, that I would be able to get into reputable school, even though they didn't understand what it is that I was going to do. At least they knew this school has a reputation from their friends who they kind of poked around a little bit. They all heard very good things, a similar kind of vibe, the mythology of Art Center as it was already been created.
So on one hand, my mom's like, "Wow. The kid did it. I thought he wasn't going to do it, but the kid did it. How are we going to pay for this?" I think back then when I started, tuition was $3,400 a semester. And my mom's like, "Ah, this is tough" because I know my dad. My dad's only response to all of this was, That's the same tuition as Stanford."
Mario: Like, "You know, you could have gone to Stanford, right?" Yeah, the backhanded complaint.
Chris: Yeah. Woody Allen has a great story about this, about his mom. Because he's this award winning filmmaker, considered an American treasure, and something had happened and he was like, "Well, you could have been a doctor, you see? You could have been a doctor." And it's like, it's kind of like that. "Yeah, you got into Art Center, but we're paying the same amount. We'd prefer you go to Stanford." I'm like, "Dad, there's no way I can get into Stanford."
So, a lot of this stuff, if we're going to talk about mindset, is really when you allow yourself the possibility of doing something, the possibility of you doing something, it dramatically increases. So I ran in my mind, these UC schools and Stanford, they're not going to accept me. I don't have that 4+ GPA. I don't have some crazy high SAT scores. I don't have interesting extracurricular activities. I didn't volunteer for a whole bunch of things. It doesn't look good. And so, of course, when I applied, I got rejected. But with Art Center, it's like, "There's no way I could not get in. This is just foolish." And of course, then I get in, and then I do get a scholarship, as well. It's kind of weird how the mind works.
Mario: Yeah. It's that old adage, "Once you put it into the universe, it's bound to come back, right?"
So I remember... This is the first time I actually stepped into Art Center. It has this kind of, I don't know, it's the Machine Shop and it's the Resident. It's that...
Chris: Yes. I know exactly what you're talking about. There's a sort of smell.
Mario: There's a smell. You walk into the doors, and I think for those of us inclined to want and need to be there... I don't want to make this whole thing about Art Center, honestly, but it's intoxicating, right? And in the best way.
How long did it take you, since we're... You're adrift. You've kind of zeroed in on some kind of focus and direction now with Art Center. How long did it take you from starting Art Center to know that, this is it? Like, obviously, you're going to Art Center and or art school, and it's a new experience, but how long did it take you to settle in and say, "This is my life's work" almost?
Chris: There's some times you have an emotional, visceral reaction to things. And I think it's kind of quite fascinating, Mario, that you talk about it. I think it must be a similar reaction, because everybody I talked to describes it the same way.
Now for those people who aren't familiar with Art Center, it's a cold steel and glass building. It's a rectangular, modern structure designed by architect Craig Ellwood, I believe. And when you walk in there, it's kind of ominous in a way. It's like Darth Vader, the death star. You're like, "What is going on?" Concrete steel and glass, it's quite cold, but then you see this artwork and the designs that are being produced in the student gallery. Which, obviously now we understand this is curated in a way to elicit that response from you. They are very carefully cherry-picking the best of the best of the best and putting it in display in ways that make it feel like museum quality already. And that resin, that toxic smell that wafts throughout the building on that half of the building, and you smell that, and that kind of codes the experience for you. And I was just hooked.
In anime, they have these films where the human or the half humans-
Chris: ...films where the human or the half-human cyborg connects with the interface, and the wires come out and go into the eyeball and the back of your head and the network and you are the same, I felt home. I felt like this is the place. It was intimidating as heck, but I felt like this is it.
Now I needed to figure out where I stand in the pecking order of things, right? Because I found some confidence in applying, and getting a scholarship, and getting accepted on my first try. But then when you step into that class, you're like, "Okay, let's see what you got," because that mythos of these incredibly talented, way more talented than you, students are supposed to be there, and I think it didn't take me that long to start to realize, hey, I'm as good, if not better than most people here. How's that even possible? Because some of them went to specialty art high schools, some of them have taken years off to work on their portfolio. I took a year, and went to community college, spent like 60 bucks on my education so far.
It was very empowering to me. I remember, I think I was enrolled in Young's class the second week of school, that I started to already see some differences. Of course, this is really raw stuff I can tell. I don't have the drawing, and rendering skills that some of my classmates have, but the raw ideas, my effort, already was starting to show.
I think one of those things again, talking about fear and courage is that, I could tell, at calm design one class with probably the most intimidating instructor in art center in the design department.
Students were afraid to put up their work. They were afraid to try things. I think a lot of students use second week, the week after you get the assignment, to just test the waters, if you will. How hard is the teacher going to be? How hard are they going to rip this work apart? What can I get away with? And they just ... but I didn't have any greater sense then, I'm going to try it as much as I can.
If he asked for a few ideas, I did as many as I could, and him just looking at the work. Now I can see it. Of course, I can't see it in the moment, but I could see it. He looks at it and he goes, did you mean this? And he'd just make some marks on my drawings and sketches, and I was like, my God, that's like 10 times better than what I thought it could be.
He just twisted it with one line, one gesture. This is no exaggeration you guys, I wish I could draw this for you so you could see it. I was like, my God, this old man, Asian man, he could see things. I want to see what he sees.
Week after week, my confidence would climb, it will be torn down again, and it gets built back up, and it's just this constant process. Now I'm just like, you're rattled a little bit, do I know what good is? I don't know. Each week I find out sometimes it is good, and sometimes it's not good. I can't tell the difference. That's pretty common. Right?
Mario: I love that. I started giggling when you... He did this.
Mario: And I was like, that's the role and stance.
Chris: Yes. For people who obviously can't see this, what we're talking about is, you're thinking pose where you put your finger kind of you are smelling your finger, and your lips pursed together a little bit. Not a lot of words, but that gestures is, I'm thinking about this, and I've got X-ray vision, and I'm going to just see through all of this, and I'm going to tell you the truth.
Mario: Yeah. If you guys want to get an insight into who Roland Young is, just look up, Roland is God, on YouTube, and you'll get a little bit of an insight. But do you feel that there was ... Because of your lack of, let me say Knowledge, but really the lack of understanding of where you were in that place that it made you fearless, not that other people, not that you felt your fearless yourself, but you just kind of like you put everything out there where you said people were kind of holding back and kind of testing the waters. You had no waters to test. You were just all in when you said... Do you feel that that was kind of due to a slight, I don't know, ignorance or naivete of where you were and what you were doing?
Chris: Probably I think ignorance is a fair term to use, to describe this. I think it's app. I just didn't know what the standard was and I wasn't going to wait for my classmates to tell me this is the standard of excellence. I'm coming into this thing, a blank slate. Like, I don't know, my last instructor prep me to get to this school, but then we're talking about a whole new levels now, different tiers and echelons. Right.
And now I needed to recalibrate and I need to know what the bulls eye look like. And all I could do was try a lot of stuff, stuff that I thought was good, stuff that I thought was bad because I don't know yet. And we're human beings. We're contextual learners. We don't know how to decide between something, unless we have something to compare it with.
The best way I know how to do that is just do a bunch of things and then let him or her tell me not these for this reasons, not this for this reason, but this we're getting close. oh, I'm starting to see the standard here. And of course, every teacher and every class, there's a slightly different kind of subculture and what to expect. Some teachers are really hard and tough and some teachers are really kind and gentle. Some are more effective, some are less effective. You're learning this five times a week because there's five different instructors teaching different things. Right.
Mario: Yeah. Again, I don't really want to make this all about arts and, but as you get in there and you get to art center and I think this is kind of part of just what you... Which you kind of talked about being contextual learner, and as you were finding your way in art center, how long did it take you to kind of almost stand on your own two feet in a sense, I guess, with your style, with almost being comfortable in your own skin, being in that place, how long did it kind of take, was it very quick as you kind of learned the ropes or how long did it take you to learn the ropes there?
Chris: I don't know. Again, I think it's one of these things where I'm not smart enough to know. I assume, hey, we're all term one, all first termers here. And most of us are in the same boat, some, a little older, some, a little younger, and we're all starting on. This is basic training. Not that I would know. Right. But we're all on the same level.
I couldn't see much in terms of skill or anybody having an advantage. Right. And we're all studying the same thing, which is also something that really helps out a lot. And I could tell that some people are more financially well off came from kind of upper-class society. You could see those people, this kind of East coast, college prep look with their J crew outfits and me just in a t-shirt whatever I could put on, and call them pants.
And that's what I did. I knew that relative to some of the people that are going to school, I was probably on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. Even though at this point in time, my parents, I would consider us upper middle class with them, both working in tech. Right.
But there's just different levels. And so here I was like, okay, I could see that. I could see that there's some disparity of wealth and cultural references, but in terms of what we're going to ultimately be judged on, because this wasn't a beauty pageant I'm on equal footing. But that doesn't mean I want to be equal. I want to be in the top few percentile of the class.
In terms of just me saying, I don't feel like an outsider or a stranger or a weirdo. Like I did everywhere else in my life. I now needed to find my creative voice. I think that's the second part to your question. And I think I found that very clearly third semester, Simon Johnson, typography one.
And I just want to say this, I don't think I've ever had this kind of conversation with a fellow art center person. I think this is providing unique and very nuanced conversation about us. I think it's totally cool that we stay here are y'all.
I remember this very clearly because now at this point, because I like playing volleyball, I meet and make some friends with upper termers we'll play volleyball together. And a friend of mine, Richard Kobiashi he's like, Chris, you seem you're really interested in school. I'm like, I am. And he's like, well, let me tell you the instructions that you need to take and what you need to do.
That was really nice that I had a few upper termers. I think there were three terms ahead of me. I kind of knew from their experiences, because it's so fresh what to do and what not to do, what instructors to take and which ones to avoid based on what I wanted.
I remember one time walking through the gallery, because I'd seen his work in the gallery, had a lot of respect for him. I was just sitting there looking at the work and I was thinking this work is so good. I hope one day I could do work this good. And we're just talking about the design gallery, for graphic designers, obviously the other stuff is, that's so good. I can never do that. I was like, oh, I hope one day I can do work this good.
Simon Johnson runs us through this rigorous it's just repetitive week after week. It was brutal. 10 layouts, five revisions, 10 layouts, five revisions. And just keep doing this. But I could tell right away, two to three weeks into that class now, because of the way he teaches in the way that the assignment is constructed.
You can start to very clearly see who's going to do well with Roland is conceptual thinking. Not a lot of explanation, not a lot of instruction. It's either it's crap. You could do better. Or this is really genius and about you. It's like, oh, okay, well with Simon, it's like systematically, almost a scientific approach. Try these four things. Two things didn't work, try these 10 things. And you just keep doing that over and over.
And that sense of growth and discovery. And it's like, oh, and I remember thinking of this and I'm not even halfway through the class yet. I thought to myself, I could do work better than what's in the gallery now. It was one of these feelings that I had where somebody gave me the key, this golden key, and it unlocked the world to design.
It's like that moment when Neil and the matrix part one realizes that this is not the world and it's just codings he's agent Smith and the other agents for what they really are. It's just binary, operations and programs and algorithms. And it's codes streaming down. I was like this key that he gave us, allowed me to unlock a decipher in a formal sense, almost all design. I was looking at him like, oh, grid lines. I see it. Balance portion, scale, contrast, repetition, dissonance, continence. I could see it all. It's like, somebody needs to pipe in that matrix sound right now. I can see it.
Mario: I love that. I think I started a little bit, a few years after you did. I think I started in 95 is when it started going around centers. You had already graduated, I think.
Chris: Right? Yes.
Mario: But everything. And for those of you who have gone to art center and Know these names like Roland Young and Simon Johnson know everything that Chris is saying right now is, it's never changed and it's been the same. And it's almost like, he said, Roland was this old Chinese guy or this old Asian guy. He's always been this old ancient Asian guy.
Chris: He's older now, but yes.
Mario: He's older now but he's still the same. He's still the same voice says the same things. And the difference of Simon and Roland was spot on, Simon's a technician, Roland's kind of a theorist. Right. And they're both brilliant in their own ways. And one thing that I was just kind of just rolling over in my brain was when you took that red pill that Simon Johnston kind of unlocked your brain for design and how long before your work was in the gallery.
Chris: Oh, good question. My work was in the gallery since first term. I think I had this goal that I wanted my work to be in the gallery, every single term, every single time. I only missed it one term and I had this crazy, super hyper competitive nature. I don't know if you figured that out about me Mario but I wanted to not just be a little bit better than everybody else. I wanted to crush everybody else and they didn't need to know that I never treated anybody poorly, but I just had that kind of blood in my mouth.
Even when we had marker rendering class, I don't know if they still had that program, but I just wanted to be better. I'm like, I'm going to just do this right. Figure drawing class with Steve Huston. I just wanted to be better than everybody else. Now there, I had a lot of ground to make up because some people can draw really, really well.
Mario: Where did that kind of insatiable thirst for being the best come from? Because that's not really part of, or at least I haven't heard it be part of your story pre art center. Where did that come from? Or were you always, hyper-competitive as a volleyball player, as a kid with your bike, you said you had two brothers older, younger. And you're the middle Asian boy of three Asian boys. And we always often hear about, middle child syndrome and getting lost in the shuffle. Where did the... Is that where it kind of began?
Chris: I think so. Here's the thing about birth order? And I learned about this from my therapist, which is my older brother, four years older than me. And if you ever meet him, you might sound you guys are related and people would ask that about us because his whole body's even built differently. He's got broader shoulders, he's bigger beefier. And he went ultimately to Stanford to get his graduate degree.
You can say clearly he's also smarter. He's very analytical. And then there's my younger brother. Who's only a year younger than me. And he was the baby of the family. And I remember this pretty clearly because we would go through and luckily my mom had lots of pictures of us when we were kids, tons albums full of this stuff. And I would thumb through it. And we would see the two of us playing because he's only a year different. I'm like, that's me. And my mom's like, that's not you that's me, mom. He goes, that's not you. And you know what I was doing, I was picking it based on who was cuter.
I'm like, Mom, that can't be me. Because my eyes are always squinty and his at his crooked smile and weird dimples, like asymmetrical patterns on my face. And he goes, no, and my younger brother has long curly hair and I'm like, that's got to be me mom. She's like, no.
And so the middle child syndrome is very real and I'm just trying to not get lost in the shuffle. My older brother gets the attention also some negative pressure to do well first born, oldest male. And my dad's the oldest male as well. it's like, there's a lot riding on that and he's just gets credited for showing up me. I got to do something.
And that competitive nature is there just to survive. I think and I did stuff around the house and I didn't realize this until my therapist pointed out because she said, you're a caretaker. I'm like, no, I'm not, everybody takes care of me. She goes, let me ask you a question who mowed the lawn, like me, who helped your mom with laundry? Me and who would help her clean the shower in the bathroom? Me.oh my God. You're right. And it all comes like flashing back, like ball.
I was just trying to do stuff. I thought it was just to help out my mom and dad, but really it was just because how else am I going to stand out now? Here's the thing. Obviously I didn't get the brains of the family. I didn't get the Braun in the family. I didn't get the cuteness in the family. I just didn't know where to put this energy.
I played video games. I was competitive that way. I and I read comic books and I would lose myself in whatever it is I was doing, but there was no real skill or pathway that I can be good at it. I love to go fishing. I would just go every opportunity. But there wasn't this wise old fishermen, who's like, hey, this is how we do it. Right. I would read a magazine, I'd watch a TV show and I'd go out and try.
It wasn't until I mean I'm fiercely competitive though. I'm not that good when I play volleyball or when we're skateboarding, not that good either. I'm like, God, I just want to Ollie a little higher than you like who can jump off this thing.
So at art center, once I find design, Oh, there is a system here, there is an instructor. There's an assignment. The structure. If I apply myself here, I could do better. I had all these internal benchmarks I needed to hit being in the gallery, get the most amount of money I can for scholarships and be at the top of the class. And every class that I cared about. And that was just stuck in my mind like, oh, you want to do two posters? I'll do four. oh, you're going to stop at 10:00 PM. Or I'm just getting started. Right.
And it was like that. And I'll share this story. I remember I was like, this is what I want to do. This is it. This is my dream. I got to make this work. And I'm going to work every time we get an assignment because I stayed at this. We rented a room from this family and I couldn't work there because I'm going to fall asleep. There's a bed and there's a little desk for me. And that was it.
I stayed at school. And the only students who stayed at school all night, every night were the industrial designers, the people who drew cars. And they were confused because they thought I was in the trans department, but I never drew cars. And they're, what are you doing here? What are you doing? Your graphics kid? I'm like, well, you guys work. I just need people to work next to and let's jam. And I found that I started to connect with them on a just a peer work ethic. Because they were so hyper competitive too.
Greg: Time for a quick break. But we'll be right back with more from Mario.
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Greg: Welcome back to our conversation with Mario Casada.
Mario: I'm going to just kind of pull this out because I think this is just... It's happened a few times as we've talked and I wanted to just kind of push into a little bit, but as I think comfortable in your own skin, you are now today, there's still a vein of self-deprecation when you talk, I'm referring to you, you've mentioned this a little bit with, hearing that negative voice in your head, and there's still a little bane of that self-deprecation in your talk, you weren't the one with the Braun, you weren't the one with the brains. You're not the smartest kid in the family whose voice have you really kind of pinpointed that to be, because it's not our own voice that tells us these things as we're growing up. It's an external voice.
Chris: I think in most cases you would be spot on a hundred percent. Right. And I try to help people pinpoint those voices too, but I don't think of this as self-deprecating and maybe this I'm just making a better case for it for you, Mario, which is, I think there are subjective things that we tell ourselves stories that we make up to explain things. And then I think objectively, you can look at things and say, no, kind of what it is, and I don't want to sugarcoat it.
And most people, I think, kind of dance around it. I am just trying to say it as neutral and as objective as I can clearly. I mean, let's just talk about the Braun and the brains.because those are more measurable. Like my older brother, if you see him, you'll see, you'll notice like I'm, even though I work out too, he's he's just built different.His hands are bigger. His feats bigger, his chest is wider. All those kinds of things.
And he started martial arts when we were growing up and he did a lot of things, physical things. And he was also a four-plus point, OGPA student taking AP classes scored relatively high in his SATs got into UC San Diego got into Stanford. I applied to that exact same school and objective party measured it and said, we'll take your brother. We won't take you.
If there's a voice, then the voice would be the school system. It wasn't my dad, it wasn't my mom because they never told me, oh, you're just not as smart as your older brother. They never did that to us. And it wasn't my mom who told me, oh, you're not as cute as your younger brother.
These are internal things. I just aesthetically picked, which of these two boys look better. And I wanted that to be me and I assisted many times. So she goes, no, honey, every time you look at it, you see this kid who squints with one eye and smiles crooked with the other and that's you honey. I'm like, wow. and that's totally okay.
And I even remembered, now if we talk about voices, there's something called a lunar new year in Asian cultures. Some of us celebrate it and you get these little red envelopes of cash and have remembered like, because this is like, Asians are not very good at hiding bias and preference. I remember it. Because we would always compare afterwards and some of our relatives are like, hey, come over here. And then they would give us all red envelopes, like awesome.
And then my younger brother would get two envelopes. I'm like, God, you serious. They're not even that discreet about it. And then if we got a couple of bucks, he'd get 10 bucks or 20 bucks. I get it. I totally get it. It's there everybody has preferences and bias and I'm not blind to it.
And growing up, I remember too, a lot of our relatives or friends... We called everybody uncle and auntie. At times I'll make everybody's related to us. That can't be, and they would say, my mom would introduce us and we'd go on trips and the next, you have two boys and a girl, no, we have three boys. And they thought I was the girl. That's just letting you know about a lot of things.
I have the cute girl look, what can I say? I own that market. because my cheeks were a little redder. My lips were a little redder and I was very slight and I had longer hair. because it was just not cut. Right. And they're like, oh yeah, but I don't say that Marion. I'm not saying it like self-deprecating I know what people do when they do that. Self-deprecating thing.
When they falsely say something very negatively and they don't even believe at themselves to get a laugh and to kind of wink at the person saying I'm at your level, I'm no better than you. I'm not trying to pretend there's some false humility. There's things that I know I'm good at. And there's things I know I'm not good at neither one is on boastful and the other's not self-deprecating, I'm just trying to be super objective about it as best as I can.
Mario: And I think I've always appreciated that of you that you're always trying to be as upfront and honest and truthful as possible with every question asked of you. And I was just trying to figure out if there was still kind of... And I think you've been a little open about struggling with self image and mental capacity and all that stuff growing up. I was just trying to figure out if there were still kind of remnants and pieces of that floating around and I'm sure everybody struggles with the pieces of things in their past that may not be fully resolved or whatever. But that was where the question came from-
Chris: I liked the question a lot and I think there are fragments floating around there and that gray matter somewhere, I don't know, somewhere back there, I'm sure that it exists, but I did for a period of time, have a lot of self hate and there's no joke here. There's no, self-deprecating just for real. And I was kind of ashamed of it once I figured out what was going on and that voice obviously wasn't from my parents, that voice was from all the kids who would try to pick a fight with me to throw racial slurs at me and to just be unkind.
And there are so many, I can almost recall every single snapshot, because those are very strong, emotional memories that I have and that I have to stand up for myself. And that if you never met me before and I walked into a room and we're now going to be classmates together, you already going to push my boundaries and make me feel unsafe from the jump. And I started to wish I were of a different diversity, different race. And I didn't like to feel this way because...
Greg: Race, and I didn't like to feel this way, because unlike my older brother who'd probably punches way through stuff, both brothers are like physically... They just more athletic than I am, and that was something that I had to just sort through. And so there was this whole arc right up around the high school, because my uncle called me on it one day. I'm very close to one of my uncles. We spent a lot of time together. He took me fishing, we went everywhere, camping, everything, and he was angry and almost ashamed of the way I was behaving, because I was doing what I think some people do who aren't of the culture, I started to wish I was White. I started to act like I was White. I started to dress like a was, and I started to pretend like I was better than...
So I was starting to make fun of people that exhibit a very traditional Asian values and customs. And I would do that for a laugh with my cousins. And then all of a sudden, maybe it wasn't a joke anymore, but I can't even tell you probably the last time I got into an altercation, I wouldn't say a fight yet, but it was getting close, was even my own classmate, my lab classmate in chemistry, this White guy, I don't know why he wasn't Joe popular, but he wasn't also a dirt bag either, and I think he was trying to impress other girls in the class and he's just like, "Dude, I'm doing all the work here, and you're like literally trying to push me around as your lab mate." So at the point I just got pissed off I'm like, "If you want to do something, let's do it, but I'm not helping you out anymore."
And I think a lot of times bullies, the minute you present a little bit more of a problem for them, most of them just stop. Obviously not all. It's like, they just want a really easy target because they want to keep pushing and pushing and poking, take your books and throw it on the floor that stuff as you see in the movies, and boys can be like that. I think some mean girls can be like that too. So there was this whole period in which I was like I'd ask them all these questions like, "Can Vietnamese people grow full beards? "Why are our noses shaped this way? And why don't we have thicker eyebrows or whatever else, our jaw line do we ever have that cleft inside in the middle of the butt chin thing?" He's like, "No, no." And he can clearly see where I was getting at with this, which was like, "Why are we not White?" I didn't say it like that, and he got upset at me. And I was like, "Whatever, whatever."
So I go to college, I do my thing. I do a lot of growing up. I figure things out, now I know what the heck that was all about. And then when I return, and years later after having finished school, he thought I was still that same person that now maybe I had my ears pierced, and I had bleached hair, and just crazy colors and whatever else I was doing, he was like, "What are you trying to do?" That this was no longer me trying to be Caucasian or to be White. It was me just trying to find my own identity as a creative human being. And then finally, we talked and he could see like, "Oh, I don't have to be angry at you anymore." But he held onto that impression of me and it was true it was accurate, but I'd shed it four years later.
Chris: How prevalent was racism as you're growing up? I mean I come from very... In California, I come from Southern California, very close to ArtCenter, a little town called Monterey Park. It's a very Asian neighborhood. In fact, growing up I remember because it was very Hispanic originally, it's part of East Los Angeles, growing up I remember seeing the main street called Garfield change from American English signs and maybe some Mexican restaurants to literally seem like overnight it was Chinatown. And I'm not trying to be slurring or anything like that it was literally every sign in the city was big Chinese letters and characters and it changed overnight. So some of my best friends growing up have been Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodia because this Monterey Park was a safe haven for immigrants to go to. And they went and grew up in droves.
And so I know that even in that point, growing up, I'm only a few years younger than you, that it was fine to racially slur Asians. So was that... I don't even know if there's a question here, but how prevalent was that where you were as being a immigrant Vietnamese kid growing up in Northern California, how prevalent was... And how easy was it for people to be just racially slurring?
Chris: Yeah, I think it's hard to compare this, to say like what African-Americans and Blacks have to deal with even to this day, and it's just shocking, right? So I just want to say that first before somebody is like, "Don't fall on your sword here." Okay? But it was very prevalent, I remember certain instances all the way through grade school, all the way on up through high school, okay? So this was happening all the time that I would go to an ethnic supermarket, and some stranger yelling a racial slur at me saying, "Too bad, you're a Chinc." I'm like, "I don't even know you lady." And just really feeling horrible.
And I remember in junior high, I was walking home with my friend his name is Brian Rainwater, we were probably just talking about comics or video games or something like that. And these girls that it did not know three of them walking across the street were just yelling racial slurs on me. I remember in junior high and at John Steinbeck Middle School going to shop class, this guy he would come over and he's like, "Hey, rice eater." And I don't even know what insult that was, but I knew he meant malice by it.
And I remember there was another guy his name was Randy and he was a White kid, red hair and freckles, and he was a super sprite guy, and he's like, " I don't know, is that guy trying to insult you? I love rice. Whenever my mom serves rice, I'm really happy that we're having it for dinner." I think he was just trying to console me there. But these things were happening and I've been in several fist fights with kids who were just like, "Okay, here comes a new Asian kids, let's go mess him up." So that was happening all through up and about, I think sophomore junior year in high school. So it's uncomfortable. It is really uncomfortable.
Chris: And wears on you.
Greg: It does. And then that's when I started to... I just built up to this thing where I don't want to be like this. I don't want to be treated like this. And today, when I take my... When my kids were younger to Legoland or to Disneyland and you see multiracial, multicultural families just... Every mix you can put together, Spanish, Asian, White, Black, just everything. I'm like, "Has the world changed that much?" And I think it has changed. But then I see these video clips from people from long beach yelling at people wearing masks. I'm like, "Oh, it's not changed that much at all." It's like, I just haven't seen it. I don't live in those neighborhoods where people.... So it's acceptable to act that way anymore.
Mario: Yeah it's a completely... It's almost sad, and again I'm a person of color too. I'm Hispanic, I'm Mexican-American and you gravitate towards places whereas for me, and I'll just speak on behalf of myself, you gravitate towards places there is more variety, color, language, because I think for myself, I felt more at ease, more comfortable, not even more accepted, but more normal almost in places like that. And now I'm in Hawaii, which is even further melting pot, is pretty nuts, yeah.
Greg: When you went to ArtCenter, I mean, five years is not a lot of time in terms of how much it could change, I know it changed a bit, but did you feel like people looked at you like, "Hey, Mario, you're welcome here." Or did you see those cliques forming? The European students and the White upper crusty people and then the super wealthy Asian, mostly Chinese people or Japanese or whatever, because it shifts that ArtCenter, right? In terms of who the wealthy Asians are. Did you feel like you were a part of that or separated?
Mario: I felt very... So I split my time in ArtCenter. I went for a year and a half, three and a half terms, four terms, and then I went back later and finished up my term there, but the first time I went through, I was 19 and almost... I went to UCLA. I know I got in because I was Hispanic first of all, I got into their minority engineering program, I was supposed to be a mechanical engineer. I went to a technical high school. So I did all the right things as far as in UCLA eyes to be an engineer and a minority. I was born on the right side of the Brown Line, and I did get into a lot of schools that I probably shouldn't have gotten into, my SAT scores were that great, and I was a solid B+ student, not an A+ student, and so I was at UCLA for a year and studying engineering, and I was alone. I felt alone. I lived there.
It wasn't too far away from home, but I was living away from home for the first time in my life. And my friend, I remember my friend calling me up and say, "Hey, I'm going to leave to San Francisco to go to art school." I was like, "Wait, what? There's a school for just art. What is that? What do you mean?" Because I had already been dabbling in design and not that design, I'll say making marks and logos [inaudible] to find out later that that's what they were called.
And I remember one of my earliest memories of my mom saying, "What do you want it to be when you grew up?" And I was like, "If I could color for the rest of my life, I want to do that." But then ended up going to UCLA for mechanical engineering, which is not something I wanted to do. And so I was there. I was like halfway through my second quarter there, my friend calls me up say, "Hey, I'm going to go to San Francisco, come visit me some time. I'm going to go to art school." I'm like, "What do you mean you're going to go to art school?" [inaudible] There's a school up there called Academy of Art, he's like, "I don't want to go. I don't want to try to get into ArtCenter." That's the first time I heard that word or that name, "I don't want to try to get an ArtCenter because it's too hard."
And I was like "ArtCenter, what's that?" And he says, "Oh, it's this design school in Pasadena." And I knew where Pasadena was, it was like 10, 15 minutes away from my house. And I was like, "Art school in Pasadena." And this is pre-internet guys, I couldn't go online and check out ArtCenters, cool online calendar, or curriculum or anything. I had to pick up the phone, ask somebody for the number, call them on the phone and say, "Hey, can you send me a brochure?" And for those of you that know when that brochure comes in the mail, it smells just like ArtCenter because it's printed there.
Greg: It does not but okay. That's fine. It does not. It's just fresh ink. What we're talking about is the toxic smells that come from the lab, from the resin, and the paints that these students use here, but I know exactly what you're talking about that fresh off the litho press smell with a varnish and that paper, and that stock in your hand, so sweet-
Mario: Smells so good. And so once I got that in my hands, I was hooked. I was still going to UCLA and I was hooked. And all I wanted to do is get out of UCLA and go to ArtCenter. So I figured out that I needed a portfolio. I didn't know what that was. I didn't know what I needed to do. I went to ArtCenter at night for the summer. My parents were shocked that I wanted to go to school in summer. I was like, "I have to go to this school." And so I took my portfolio, and I got in, and I felt very alone because I was literally 19, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew that I wanted to be a designer and all around me, everybody was at that point, the median age at ArtCenter is usually pretty much older, at that point the median age I think was like 27. So these people are eight years older than me, pretty much everywhere. And Chris knows this too because he was there around the same time-
Greg: Yeah, I'm 19, yeah.
Mario: And so all I knew was that I needed to be good, and I needed to get better, and I wanted stuff in the gallery, and I don't know how to make friends because everybody's in a completely different life stage as me. And so it was very clique-ish. There was the European guys that seemed to be already freelancing and making money, and there were the trans guys that were just this whole other animal of person. And they were just sculpting clay cars and making crazy, crazy models. And then there were the hardcore graphic design people that were... There was the Asian cohort of graphic designers that were just non-stop awesome amazing designers, then there was everybody else. So it was very cliquey when I started going, that was a very long answer to your question, but it was very, very cliquey. And I felt very much out of place when I went there as far as relationally, as far as internally, my compass was set and I was like, "This is what I want to do." And I didn't want to do anything else.
Greg: So what you're describing, parallels and mirrors in my experience, now speaking from the point of view of an instructor, the largest group, no longer the minority are Asian students at ArtCenter. If I were to teach a class and there were 10 students there, six of them would be Asian. The remainder would be Caucasian every once in a while you would see Hispanic person, and even rare is an African-American person. Very rare. I think in my entire time teaching, I probably had three Black students and I taught there for 15 years. And so that idea... What you were talking about, I remember as clear as it is today, the Europeans are a little bit more sophisticated. They dress better and they seem to want to hang out with each other, and not really co-mingle with the American trash, which you say it like that, okay?
There was a little holier than thou vibe going on there, right? And I'm just mostly talking about the graphic design program because every major has its own makeup. Then there were groups of Asian people, and I think in the beginning it was Chinese, or Taiwanese, and then it became Korean and a little Japanese, but you can tell, because depending on the socioeconomic power of the country, you would see an influx of the students. Then Japan was doing really well for a long time, but Japanese students and then now it's like mostly Korean and Chinese back now because China is a global power. So it's interesting if you can just map that, you can probably tie it to the GDP of the country, this influx of what Asian is going to make it up. But here I am, as the only Vietnamese person, I only met one other Vietnamese person at school who was upper term when I was going there.
And I remember it was such a significant thing. Once I discovered her, I called my parents that night and I said, "Mom, dad, you won't believe it. There's another Vietnamese person." They're like, "Really?" I'm like, "Yeah." So there are clicks and levels, but here's what I thought in this world, in this tiny little bubble on this bridge called the ArtCenter, it's all meritocracy here baby, right? You might be able to spit on me before, but I'm crushing you right now. I don't care all that you bring to it. Yeah, I'm not as sophisticated, I didn't go to that museum. My parents don't vacation in XYZ or [inaudible], we don't do that. We've been to Vegas to Hawaii, that's where we've been, right? And I knew that I could just tell because they're just so much more sophisticated in everything. And I was just, "You know what? This is a little engine that could, and I'm going to prove every single day in every class that I cared about, that none of that, none of my past was going to determine my future."
And I got some ArtCenter's street cred because I remember there was this one guy that everybody hated, European guy from Sweden who used to run his own agency. So this is the wacky part about ArtCenter that you can have a kid who's literally 18 fresh out of high school, and in the same classroom, at the same level, as a person who used to be a practicing attorney, which that's not a made up story, now studying design. It's that wildly different. So there's different levels of maturity and life experience. And I remember this one guy who everybody hated because he thought he was so... He was full of himself because the way he talked, pinky in the air and just like, "This is how we do things. Or back when I was running my agency." I'm like, "What agency do you have? What are we talking about here? I'm still looking for my first gig." Right?
And he befriended me and we would talk philosophically about different things. And this whole pompous European thing just disappeared. And I think the only reason why we're having that conversation, even though we only had one class together was because I had to show up every day and prove who I was and what I was going to do and a person worth remembering. So then I started to make friends from people in different majors and I felt great. If I could wish something for each human being who's listening to this, is I wish you had this moment of realization of who you are, your true potential, your gift, and to find your story and your self-confidence and change the narrative. Because I found it. Now, luckily I found out when I was 19 years old, because I had to work through all the emotional scarring and the tissue that happens. I got on that right train real fast. And so I think that's what it's allowed me to be so focused when it came to running blind and everything else.
Chris: As far as your life inside ArtCenter, I'm clear, you're clear, you're focused. This is you found your tribe, you found your people as crazy and diverse as a people group that ArtCenter brings together, they were your people and I felt the same way. What was happening outside of ArtCenter, as far as family, relationship with mom and dad, were they excited that you found your passion, were they still trying to figure out when you were going to go to that that plan A college and do that plan A career, or were they out of their mind excited that you found your thing?
Greg: I mostly interfaced with my mom, and dads aren't known for being verbose. It's like, "Are you eating well? Are you getting enough rest? Don't work too hard." That was my conversation with my dad. But with my mom I think it's hard to let go of an image of somebody. I think it really is because the last impression my mom had was, he has a toxic relationship with this girl, he's going to throw his life away, not focused on school, but somehow miraculously gets into ArtCenter and then he's gone. So that's not exactly a great impression to leave your parents with. So they don't know how I'm growing up and how I'm finding my voice, and how I've been able to be super, super focused. They're still concerned I'm going to reconnect with this girl, but there was no danger of that. I closed that relationship and I made promises to myself that I'm just going to focus on school.
So, I mean I lived like a monk in every sense for three years, I just went to school. I was in the library, and the computer lab. I was even not interested in girls, that was just it until I started to feel like I think I've learned enough that I'm going to be okay, that there's no danger of me falling down some path and throwing this opportunity away. But in the back of my mind, I think my mom's still thinking, "This is still a lot of money." And tuition at this point is like now $5,400 a semester and not $37 or whatever it was. It just keeps going up every semester, right? And they tell you, "It's going to be like that." Now, luckily I keep getting scholarships, so it offsets all this stuff, and so by the time I'm almost done with the school, I'm only paying 10% of tuition, but my mom's feels like I don't know.
What I don't know, and what I find out many years later is that my dad was just really not happy with this decision at all. And my mom, bless her just kept my dad at bay. She's like, "You're not allowed to talk about this with your son." And I tell people this, that I think I'm a pretty independent head strong, stubborn strong-willed person. And not necessarily, even at this point looking for approval from my parents, but I just don't know how much it would have weighed on me, if my dad's like, "This is a mistake." That little grain of sand in your shoe, isn't a lot, but it can create enough friction and annoyance that it can naturally throw you off your game.
So my mom did a wonderful thing. She just shielded me from whatever it is that my dad was thinking at that time. These things come around but it was like, "What are we doing here?" Even in 2020, trying to explain to some parent who doesn't understand anything about the visual arts, even to this day for them, they're like, "And you do what? You play with computers? What do you do again?" You know what I mean? So we still have young people and not so young people messaging me, calling into the show, saying like my dad, doesn't my mom doesn't believe in this. And I would say to them, and nobody's ever taken me up on the offer, "Have them call me. I don't have a lot of free time, but I have enough free time to talk to your parents about the career that you may or may not be getting yourself into. I'm happy to do that."
Chris: So how long did it take for your dad to... You said your dad's since come around-
Chris: How long did it take and what did it take for him to come around?
Greg: It's going to be a very cliche, typical answer. Nothing proves people, right or wrong, like success. Two years into starting my company and graduating school, my girlfriend at that time, and now my wife, we bought a house. We bought a half a million dollar house together. And I paid off my student loans the first year. And I'm telling my dad like how big a certain job was and Asian parents, they are like, "Okay, you know what? We don't really understand what you're doing, but money talks and it speaks very loudly and all our fears about you starving and doing whatever, is not coming to fruition. Thank God." I mean, even before I got out of school I started working in advertising and I'm being flown from LA to Seattle every other weekend, and I'm sure that they could not understand why somebody would want to pay for that, and that's what I was doing. And I would tell my mom, "They're putting up in a corporate hotel and I got an expense account and I could do all crazy stuff right now."
And so some of those fears I think were quelled, but still, it's like not until you're totally sad that people can just take a sigh of relief. And today, my dad knows that financially, I'm fine, and I'm doing really well. So he still has that lingering bit of fear, be smart. You know what be smart means to him? Work hard, don't spend any money, put that money away in the bank. Don't even invest it because he's a cash guy, super ultra conservative. The idea of entrepreneurship would give him ulcers.
Chris: So where do you get that from?
Greg: I get it from being an immigrant. When you're poor, when you grow up not having things and you see your friends... I remember this, my friends from junior high would say like, "Oh My God, my dad bought me a new BMX bike. I got a C in, in math." I'm like, "I would get disowned for a C. Getting an A is just like an obligation of being a child, you don't get rewarded for that." And so I was just like, "Gosh, I wanted things." And I think this is the heart of most entrepreneurs, when your desire to want more than what you can have, and you're willing to work for it, that's starting to tell you something. So they had money and they had more money than they let on. But we never live like that.
I remember one time, a friend of mine from junior high, Robert Spiker, he would come by my house and he's like, "Oh my God, are your parents rich?" I'm like, "No. Why?" "Look at the house you guys live in, do they drive Mercedes-Benz?" I'm like, "No, my dad drives a Dodge Pickup Truck." He goes, "No, I know that he can..." And I didn't know that, but he was right. They could have bought all those things while my parents don't live like that. So that's me. We went shopping for clothing once a year, literally once a year. When back to school, those sales would come on. We would go to Macy's, Mervin's get my pair of Levi's 501 jeans and one pair of shoes. You see where this is going, right? So here I am... My mom, you look, here's the thing. Whenever I asked her for she would give me within reason. I just never felt like I could ask because I'm like, "Well, who am I to ask for these things?" I remember asking her for a subscription...
Chris: ...whom I did ask for these things. I remember asking her for a subscription to Sunset Magazine, maybe to Better Homes and Garden and to GQ magazine. This is me, I'm 15 years old. And I'm looking at this lifestyle, these homes, these photo shoots and the clothing and how everything is so perfect. I'm like how come? And I would literally sit there and look at our walls. I'm like, how come our walls don't look like this. And for point of reference here, the homes I looked at had vertical cladding or a wainscoting and panel molding. And I thought it was a whole different structure altogether not just something that you put on top, right? And the gardens were beautiful and everything was immaculate and everything had its place and I was looking at... And I was like, why don't... Nobody lives like that.
The small percentage of world lives like that, right? And it was perfect for that photo shoot, I'm sure of it. And I was like, need to do something in my life so that I can actually go out there and earn enough money to live the way I want to live, because I want to live differently.
So all these ads, all these videos and commercials and images that were just flooding my little brain back then, I was like, "I want to live like that". I remember seeing this and this one of the... It's crazy. I think I'm in junior high. And I remember a Dr. Pepper ad. There was a guy, he was in a New York loft apartment wood floors aged. And he was super ultra minimal. He's wearing a black turtlenecks, sun glasses and he's playing the cello. And I was like, "That's what I want to do". Whatever lifestyle... I don't care what job you have to do. That was it. So, that's where that fire comes from.
Mario: I laughed because, well, two things, I love the juxtaposition of Better Homes and Gardens and GQ. Those are the magazines you asked your mom for. And two my kind of like the reason I went to UCLA and the reason that I went into mechanical engineering for that first year, totally against anything that I wanted to do was because I wanted a Porsche. And I knew that lawyers had Porsche. So I wanted to be a corporate lawyer.
Chris: They're young.
Mario: And L.A. Law was on TV still at that point and that guy drove a silver 911. And I wanted that car, bad.
Chris: Was it Corbin Berson who drove it?
Mario: Yep. Corbin Berson.
Chris: The divorce lawyer, right?
Chris: He was the flossiest attorney [crosstalk].
Mario: That light silver blue suit that he always wore. And I totally identify with what you're saying, you grew up with not having and seeing what is out there, you get driven sometimes negatively to want things, to live a lifestyle that is a lifestyle that really nobody lives. It's a photo shoot. It's a video shoot. It's whatever. But I remember that commercial very well too.
Chris: Yeah. And that every time I hear that song and I listened to Yo-Yo Ma playing, it takes me right back to 15, 16 years old. And I was thumbing through and the Alfa Romeo was it for me and my mom used that to bribe me. It's like, "You can have that Alfa Romeo Spider. If you get into UCLA or one of these schools, that's all you need to do." But I wasn't mature enough. I wasn't motivated enough to actually do the work. And that's the big difference. And we were talking a lot about mindset where if you asked a bunch of young people, what do you want? They want all of that, who doesn't want all that. But the difference is, the people will actually suit up and put in the hours to actually work towards those goals.
Mario: Yeah. I've been reading a lot about just the idea and the science behind grit and that doing things over and over and over again, to get better at, to improve on and just to see how much better you can get, defines more of the people that are very successful in life rather than people that things came easy to them. So Angela Duckworth talks about how talent is part of the equation, but it's not what we think it is. Talent is actually a much more minor part of grit and sticktoitiveness as we would expect.
And so like the people with grit. And she studied West Point students and just high-performing individuals, Jeff Bezos, all these people and how they exhibited grit through their life. And they were not afraid to fail because they... In fact, almost wanted to fail so they can get better. And they wanted to go back and keep getting better and better and better. And those with a high grit scale, she calls it were the ones that did pretty much everything that was incredible in the world. Where do you feel your grit is? Your grit lies?
Chris: I remember him listening to this piece on the radio, probably something on NPR. And they talked about some researcher who's sharing new ideas because the death of the middle child, in America. Because it used to be a three child household, two and a half kids, right? And so now people were having fewer kids. So they would have one or two, so there's no more middle child.
And she said, "So something is happening here". So, this researcher had said that middle children were believed for a very long time to be people-pleasers, which is literally what my therapist had said, "Yeah, you're a caretaker". That's a nicer way of saying, a people pleaser. And I struggled with this for a long time. But I'm listening to this piece and they said that there's the other side to the equation. Oftentimes researcher only see one side, but the unintended consequence or benefit is that, you become super independent because you're not going to be given any attention.
So you wind up figuring out things on your own. And, if you just take a look at the brief snapshot of my timeline here, which is refugee from another country consistently picked on, pushed around, nobody gives me any credit for anything and you got to just earn it all and being relatively going from being lower class to ultimately being upper middle class, but not even understanding that. I couldn't see it. So, for all I knew, we're kind of in middle of the pack. And this very toxic relationship that leads to a really emotional breakup for me. Like I said, it just calcified certain parts and made me callous to certain things and I think that was the beginning of me just hardening. I needed that to happen in my life. The overused cliche, like heat and pressure turns iron into steel.
I didn't have that heat and that pressure. So a lot of potential, and this is the case for many people and you find out one day what you're made of. And I think sometimes we're tested externally. Sometimes, we're tested internally and sometimes we're never tested. So we just don't know what our limits are.
I'll give you an example. And I think people, even my own children right now, who obviously have everything that they could ever ask for. Each one of them has got a TV in the room, super fast broadband internet connection, every Apple device that they could ever want. So, they're going to lose some of that fire. Some of that pressure. I already know that I try to counterbalance that because I don't want to steal from them some part of growing up that made me who I am.
And my wife on the other hand grew up in Taiwan where it's ethnocentric, right? There's just mostly just Taiwanese there. And her dad was a commercial airline pilot, and they live in the city in a nice apartment. So, she never knew of anything other than this is the way that the world's supposed to be. When she went to art center, she never thought like, "How I'm going to have to pay for this?" Her mom already set aside money for that. It's all taken care of. And I remember, because I gave her a hard time. I must say this, at the risk of getting some blow back from my wife. Is I'm sitting there in college having liverwurst sandwiches and tomatoes on top ramen, the classic, whatever you got to do to survive. Buying bags of chicken wings from Costco and just eating with some rice.
That was my meal. And she's sitting there thinking, "I'm going to buy some couture from Barneys New York". And that's the disparity between some of the students at art center. And later on she's like, "I didn't know you were suffering". I'm like, "Well, it's not your problem. You're not my anything". She's like, "And now I feel so horrible for being so irresponsible". I said again, "That's not your problem".
So I think all of that stuff, all those, living on credit cards, working side jobs, just living in the library, all that stuff starts to develop character. So I think, this is my opinion. I have a lot of grit and sometimes my wife and I, we talk about this and she says, every time you've had to reinvent the company, it's so scary. Like for her change with unexpected or uncertain outcomes is very scary.
That's throwing off her center line. And she's like, "How do you do this? You're so courageous". She wouldn't use those exact words, but she was like, "You're so brave". I was like, "No, I'm not, I don't care". I don't care because I don't see the consequences of failure. And like I've grown up poor. I've grown up, not having things. I'm okay going back there. So that's the thing. It's like, they say this in poker, right? Don't gamble if you can't afford to lose the money, you become a really poor gambler. You're super tight on your betting and people who are a lot more fearless who are okay to risk and lose it all, they'll push you around and you will eventually lose all your money. You'll fold every time. And so whenever we've had to change our company and go a different direction, I never looked at it like, "Oh, I'm leaving this thing behind and there's going to be loss aversion bias here. I'd put so much time and energy into this thing".
I was just thinking, this seems like the natural, next thing to do. And if I have some skill and insight, I could see that this is not going to be an industry or market we can stay in much longer. The writing's on the wall and people would just refuse to see it. Like I said, I don't think people are looking at commercials much anymore. We better figure out something else because those people... There's some blood in the streets and we don't want to be one of them. So we started to shift towards brand strategy and we did that for a while. And I was thinking, you know what? I like this content game. Let's go there. And so then there was a shakeup at the company again, and it's like, "What is he doing?
Why is he doing this?" And there were a lot of people at the office who were like, "Oh, it's like one of these self-indulgent things". And it's not. And then I would have meetings with the team and I would tell them this, okay. I would say like, "I'm an Explorer and we're on this boat together. And I know land is this way. And you could just easily tell me, land is that way in a totally different direction. And I've been at this game for too long. You're going to have to trust me. We will have days where we'll go backwards. Where we'll be blown off course. Right? But we'll course correct and if you want to stay in this boat with me, I will take you to the promised land. I will.
And if you don't want to be on this ride, if this is too scary for you be an adult, raise your hand, say, I need to get off this boat and then we'll help you out. No harm, no foul. Go about your way and for the rest of you, I'm going to need every bit of what you can give me because we're going to have to ration the food. We're going to have to just row in shifts. And we're going to have to just be ever vigilant for things that can tear us apart. There will be marauders. There'll be gale force winds, all those... We're going to have to push through it. We'll get there".
So to me, it's like, I don't feel like I'm risking anything, because if you told me tomorrow, Chris, we're going to pull you out of your company. You have no context. We're going to drop you off in a foreign country. I'd say, sure, no problem. Give me two and a half years. I'll be right back where I'm at.
Mario: I believe it. Don't you ever get tired of people not believing in you at this point?
Chris: Oh, I don't care.
Mario: No. I mean, well, people in your company, right? People that join your ship at this point, it's like the track record speaks for itself. We've burned the boats multiple times. Every time we get to next generation, right? Or next destination. We burn the boats and we move on. We climb the Hill and we go on the other side and make new boats. Is it that... I'm going to just kind of refer to something you said just a little bit ago, just is it that you don't see the consequence of failure or you don't see failure as everybody else sees it?
Chris: I think yes to both of those questions, I don't permit my mind to know that there's possible to fail because I just reprogram. Right? So something that Seth Godin said that I think really encapsulates my thinking around this, which is whoever fails, the most wins. That seems so contradictory in like a paradox itself whoever fails the most wins. The thing is you don't want to have one fatal failure. And the way that you create that fatal failure is you put all your eggs in one basket and no matter what happens, you don't adjust at all. So what you want to have is kind of mini gambles not one big bet. So for me, it's like, I think we need to get there and let's try this and that didn't work. Okay. Let's move on. I don't look at that thing as a failure.
Like you're a failure, Chris. I just look at it like, that was a really valuable learning experience. We have now discovered one way that it's not going to work to get there for us. We'll try another one and another one and another one and eventually we'll find it. Right? And here's another way to look at, just to keep with a sailing boat metaphor. Is imagine if there were really thick fog and you can't really see that far away and you could be sailing smoothly for a while, or you can hit rocks and just, that's it. That's the demise of you and your team. So for me, it's like, okay guys, you guys go real slow. I'm going to go on a little boat, put me on a dinghy. And we're going to tire of the longest rope we have. I'm going to go out there on the edge and I could see me for a while.
And if the line goes slack, don't worry. I know what I'm doing. Follow the line and I'm going to take you to the promised land. I will. And then I returned to the boat. I'm like, okay, it's good over here. Full speed ahead. Even though you can't see, trust me, it's going to be okay. And when I tell people stories like this, it makes it a lot more, at least in my mind comforting for them.
So they're like, okay, these weird things that the boss man is doing, it is actually to preserve us as a company. So I have had many phases of people who I employed, who worked for me, question me to fight me, to push back passive aggressively. And when I realized that this is in my nature to be very risk averse I then hired differently, I wanted to hire people who not only embrace, but drive change. On the team that I have with me today is radically different than the team I had from day one. This team, I'm like, you know what? I'm going to try to do virtual workshops this way. They were like, "Let's figure out how to do it".
There's no more like, "Well, why would we do that?" and isn't this more important and shouldn't we be doing something else. Now, remember, I'm the guy in the little boat. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't need to make sense. I need to do it this way. And that's how we took this little hobby thing from doing, I think like 16 or $18,000 a year to building a seven figure business.
Mario: I love that picture of just you out on the edge of the fog, right? You can't see the boat, they can't see you. They know where you are, more or less but you're just there finding your way and they're following. And I think it's amazing that you've gotten to this point where you have built the team that will continue to sail behind you almost. Right? Because there's also that fear for other entrepreneurs.
Say, "Hey, I'm going to go on the Dinghy boat" and they're just "Cut the cord". It's like, all right, you go, we're going to stick to this boat and stay here. But there really wasn't a question there. I was just like, I love the... I've met most of your team and they are amazing. It's just seems like they're 100% onboard with your vision, mission and are ready to see it through.
Chris: Let me tell you one little story and then I think we'll probably have to jet, right? So I want to acknowledge that I'm not asking my team to be fearless, but to just have some trust and some faith that they don't need to understand what it is they're doing for it to work. Like, I don't know how my lungs work. How my heart works and how I have oxygen and blood in my body. But even when my lack of understanding doesn't mean that it stops working, right?
Three years ago, I told the team, I want to have a relationship with Adobe. And the best way we can do that is through Adobe max. I had just gone to my first ever Adobe max because we won a design competition of all things. Sent me a free pass, flew out to Las Vegas and I experienced it.
I said, this is where we need to be because there is no larger gathering of similar like people. It's like art center times a thousand. Okay. So the following year I said, we have to work with them in some capacity. They don't know who we are. They don't really care. And it's totally okay, but we'll do it. And so we put some energy behind us and they agreed to allow us to film and make content while we're there. They had some requests that we produce videos that they can share on their social channels. Fine. Not the goal that I wanted. But it was a start.
The next year. Like I need to elevate this. I need to move up somehow. I want to have a booth on the floor and I want them to give it to us for free and for half a year, I chased on every email, every lead that I could, I was passed from one person to the next and it didn't go anywhere.
And it turned out that Adam Morgan, who was a guest on our show, is a creative director at Adobe. "So Chris, are you still trying to get that thing done?" I'm like, "Yeah", "Let me try and connect you to somebody". Fantastic. And that was the path. They were like, "Okay, we'll give you the booth, you set it up. We still need you to do some stuff for us and we'll do it that way". Fantastic. And while we're at the show, I'm feeling really good. And now we at least we have a home base instead of wandering around like nomads. Somebody had said, "Do you want to speak? You should speak here". I'm like, well, if Adobe wants it ll do it. This is year three. We're supposed to have that booth again. But obviously because of COVID, we're going to do everything virtual and I'm not thinking of anything.
And then they invite me to speak. And now I'm going to be one of the featured speakers. Now I remember last year when the team was giving some guff during one of our many production meetings, they're like, "Chris, how much are we going to invest in us? Because you're consuming a lot of the resources internally, shouldn't we be focused on making courses and all that kind of stuff". I said, "Yes, we have all year to do that. We need to do this. You're just going to have to trust me". And they're like, "Okay, this is one of these other Jonsi goes on. Right? And I'm going to just make a mess of things". And we did spend a lot of money and resources because most of my team was on the floor. Either helping out with producing live streams or just manning the booth, if you will. The ROI on that is not clear.
Okay. So now we're here and we're working with Adobe in a lot of different ways. And from what I can tell already from the people who are talking to the Adobe people, they want to do more with us next year. We're not even done doing what we need to do yet. And so this is what I'm talking about. That if you have an idea, if you want to build an app, if you want to launch a site, if you want to start a side business, if you want to just do something that nobody else understands, I think you just have to have the courage and conviction to say, you know what? I'm going to ask you all to kind of just stop with your judgment for a little bit.
I'm going to do this thing and there's a high probability I'm going to fail, but that's totally okay. Just don't dance on my grave when it does. Because that'll discourage me so I don't try again. And I just play the longest game ever. I'm way more patient. I'm going to play that game. And am I going to let a little setback or it didn't actually work out the way I'd hoped, but that's okay because I'm just that strong in my resolving. If I keep moving in this direction, it's going to get me exactly where I need to go. That's all I wanted to say.
Mario: That's a perfect wrap up. Just the resilience of mind and focus and someone said courage and I think there is courage there, even though maybe you may not see it, but there's a courage that you know there's land that way and you know that you're going to go and you're going to keep going and you're going to find it.
And so random story I'm going to tell really quickly. First time I met you was 1990 something and I had just started at Disney. I was dabbling in motion graphics. Your name came up because at that point, I think your reel or something was on after effects, right? As one of its tutorials or something. Linda Wyman was a regular in our halls at Disney. And I got ahold of this. I was like, wait, this guy went to art center, I know his name.
I've seen his name. I got to contact this guy. You most likely don't remember, but I did call you, asked you if you would just look at my portfolio, you sat me down and you, you looked at my stuff and just encouraged me to keep going. That was my first introduction to you and I will say this, that nothing has changed your willingness to help and be of service to everyone and the idea of serving as much as you can and giving as much as can, it's not just lip service. It's something that you actually do and have done as long as I've known about you, which is going on 20 something years now.
Chris: That's so cool. Thanks for sharing that story. And I'm just delighted because there's little things that we all can do as human beings that don't really cost us a lot in terms of time and effort, but could mean something to somebody. And back in those early days, I probably took on way more meetings with people like yourself than I should have, because I was like, i should be focused on my work, but I didn't. And every once in a while, one of those boomerangs, you throw it into the universe, it comes back and this was one of them and it's beautiful to see you as part of this group and also seeing your journey as well, especially as I'm following you on social media, seeing how you're putting your voice and your personality and your beliefs out there. And so it's been really neat to see you.
Mario: Chris, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate you.
Chris: Thank you, Mario
Mario: I am Mario Cosato and you are listening to the future.
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 future podcast is hosted by Christo and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Borrow for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborn for our intro music.
If you enjoyed this episode and 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 the future.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 the future.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.