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To succeed you need a clear goal and to remain focused on it. But at what cost? To quote Chris, “I worked like an animal.”
In part two of our three-part passion versus profit conversation, Chris, Rodrigo, Mo and Nidhi pick up where they left off: to succeed you need a clear goal and to remain focused on it.
The benefits of living this way are clear. It’s how Chris built his design agency and ultimately The Futur.
But at what cost? To quote Chris, “I worked like an animal.”
That lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but to Chris’s point, you have the freedom to design your own life. Whether you achieve that goal depends on how committed you are to it.
It’s tough to stay the course and resist new and shiny distraction, but it pays to play the long game.
My cousin asked me, Chris, everything in moderation, right? Yeah, if you want a moderate life. I want an exceptional life. I go one shot at this. I'm going to go for it. I mean, do you want a moderate life? Do you want to be average?
I saw that Nidhi had her hand up. So I'm going to pass the mic over to her.
Well, I actually had a question for you, Chris, because you... I appreciated the story and sharing the value of the hard work, especially in those initial years in your twenties. But what I was curious about was, what was the cost? Because we talked a lot about benefit, right? Of course. There were lots of gains, lots of opportunities momentum that endorphin rush, right? But I wonder, was there any cost that came with that period of your life as well? Did relationships suffer? How did you manage in terms of your sleep, your mental health? I just was curious.
I love you for bringing up this question of Nidhi. Because most, I mean, dudes are yeah bro. This is what we do. Pump it up. And you're like, wait a minute. What was the personal cost? What was the cost to your relationships? What was the cost to your body and to your stamina and everything else?
I will say this to you Nidhi. It didn't cost me anything but my hair. Other than that, I'm just kidding. All right. It did cost a lot in personal relationship. I'll tell you for those five years, I literally did not go on any vacation, take any holidays. I worked through everything. My cousins and my uncles and aunts would invite me to come up north, I wouldn't do it. I grew up in San Jose, the majority of my extended families is in San Jose. I'm living in LA. I'm just going to stay here for the most part.
Because I was singularly focused. I had that terminator vision, Sarah Connor. I just went for it. I was not going to stop. It came to a head with my wife at that point. She's like, we need to go on a trip. I'm like, cool. Let's go to central coast. Where do you want go honey? Let's go to Santa Barbara. I said, very good. You plan it, let's rock and role.
So we drove up the coast of Santa Barbara, beautiful, idyllic, city by the sea kind of thing. And you know what I did, I brought four copies of Macworld, a couple of business books with me and I put them on the nightstand and she's what are you doing? I'm going to read. She goes, let's go for a walk. I'm like, honey, you go for a walk. I'm not feeling it. And she just gave me the biggest think eyes you can imagine. And she was frustrated. She's like, what are we doing here? We're not here to sit in the hotel room so you can read those magazines and books. Where's my husband in all this.
It did get pretty nasty. At one point, it might have cost us our marriage. Ultimately, we've sorted it all out. During those five years, I never exercised at all. I tell people I wasn't fat, but I was skinny fat. There wasn't an ounce of muscle in my body. I worked like an animal. When I say I worked like an animal, there were many nights where I literally sat in the office with a team of designers, sometimes my interns and we would literally see the sun rise together. Those were the nights. That's the price that you pay.
So I don't say this is for everyone, but I almost feel like those that achieve at the pinnacle, I'm not even putting myself in that category, they had that singular focus and they're able to achieve greatness. It does come at a cost. Otherwise, everyone would do it and everyone would be successful and everyone would be at the top. But they're not.
So we all get to make that decision. How bad do we want it? Like I said, I have... I think, it feels like a 100 cousins. They're all almost to this, every one of them, doing this nine to five thing, with the exception of one cousin and I see their lives. Some of them are attorneys, some of them are dentists. They all have respectable jobs, but they're just still grinding away. Some of my employees make more money than they do, to put it in context there.
So Nidhi, absolutely, I would like to throw it back to you to see what else you might have to add to that.
Yeah. Because, so I really appreciate you sharing that because I wanted to really get the clearest picture, right? The fullest picture of what this really looks like and to achieve that level of success requires of course, great drive, but also great sacrifice. So then I guess the question would be for Drigo is that... Well, I guess the question to you then Chris is, is that what it takes for anybody to achieve that level of success? Does it require that level of sacrifice at the cost of health and relationships and things like that to get to that level, would be my question.
Yeah, I'll answer then I throw it back over to Drigo. I don't think so. This is what I did. This is what's worked for me. You all will have to figure out what's going to work for you. But I got to tell you now, a couple different things. We talked about this earlier in our live stream together Nidhi.
First year out of school, I paid off all my credit card debt and I had a lot. I maxed out two credit cards. I think in the first two years, I paid off my entire student loan. I still know friends who I went to school with, that are still paying down their student loan today. 25 years later, they're still paying down their student loan, which shocks me, right?
Then I think three and a half years out of school, thanks to the generous contribution of my wife, my wife's mom, she put out the deposit for a home that we bought. It was a half a million dollar home. I'm 26 years old, a year and a half after we bought the home, I returned the $100,000 gift that she gave us and we started to pay down that home.
I think it was four and a half years into our business, my wife retired. I retired her. We don't need to be both working. Since then, she's never worked another day. Today she gets to do anything and everything that she wants. My only job for her is to be happy. So there is a price to pay, but there is a reward.
She's asking me this question right now in the middle of the pandemic, she's like, I want to go home to Taiwan. Is it okay? I'm like, you go for as long as you want honey. She's like, what about kids? You know what? We have support. I can figure this thing out. Do not worry about this. Whatever you want to do, you can do.
So I had said to Drigo earlier, if you make money, what is money for? Money is for freedom. Use it. Do what you want. So there is a price to pay. There is a reward and each and every single person will have their own path. I'm just sharing with you my path. There are obviously other paths to success. Now, if you have a God-given talent, maybe you don't have to work as hard. But there's that old quote, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. That was my mantra. So Drigo, what do you think?
I think, maybe I had a good point for me, which it's like hearing your story about the books and when you went on the trip with your wife, it reminds me of when me and Mo came to LA and we're working at your office and you're like, what are you guys doing here? You guys are... You fly out to LA to do client work? Me and Mo were like, yeah. We're dedicated to our business. We here working hard and you're like, you're not seizing your opportunities. So it's like... I guess it's understanding when you take a step back and when do you keep going.
Yeah. You know what? Mark Savan tweeted did this at me. There's three words for success, dis ci pline, discipline. There is something as delaying short term gratification for long term gain. I'm a believer in that. I'm playing the long game. Perhaps the longest game anyone's ever played. Everything I've done in the last 25 years is for another 25 years into the future that I yet cannot see. Mo jump back in here.
My participation in the conversation when it comes to Drigo right now is, he's finding the nook and crannies to break the advice because he feels like he's hearing two different things.
One thing right now you're saying, my wife told me that I was I holding MacBooks on a vacation. Then when we were at your office, we're working and you're like, why aren't you guys out there looking at the city, taking videos. So my understanding for Drigo is, he needs to find the pocket that is both fulfilling, but also making him money. But I think the key thing for Drigo because I know him, is balance. Because if I was FaceTiming him right now, hearing you say, work, work, work, he believes in that. But I know he's at a point in his life where he is drained.
I don't know if that advice for him is healthy versus he wants to find balance to be able to scale what he has. There's a big part of him that wants to settle down too. Drigo, maybe take this conversation to a place where, how can someone like you with the mentorship of Chris and also Nidhi and Neil on stage right now, find the pocket of balance. Because you do work your ass off. I see you working your ass off daily. It's not the hustling and it's not the discipline because when you have client work, your are disciplined is all get out.
But what I see in you is, the balance of the two. Because you go so hard, you burn out and then you go so hard on vacation. Then you go... You're really difficult on yourself and hard on yourself. Then you have to come back into work and then your hard again. So it's this up and down. So I think you need to find a pocket of balance. I haven't heard that in our dialogue just yet.
Well Mo, sounds like we're dating each other.
We are. I love you.
I love you too bro. Dude, that sounds right. That sounds... I mean, our last month, Novembers have to be our biggest month out of the year and I felt so burned out and that's the reason I came on vacation. Because I was like, I can't do client work anymore. But I guess it's finding that balance that I can feel fulfilled with what I'm doing. Because I do love shooting videos. I love doing the commercial stuff, but it comes down to what Chris said.
I'd probably be a lot happier doing $35,000 projects and like Neil said, finding that pocket where we're selling more than just video production and there's another level of speaking and doing workshops and all these different things but-
Here's my hypothesis. Tell me if I'm off base you here Drigo. You're burnt out because you're doing work for too little money, working too hard for clients you don't really care about doing things that are not that creative.
Yep. That'd be a great bio.
Okay. So the solution to that is not to go on vacation. The solution is go find better clients. The majority of your time should be spent thinking, how do I elevate this? How do I trade up my clients for better clients and do this brick by brick until you get there. There's a concept here and I use this concept myself.
Early on in my career, about five years into the business, it was exploding, in that there were so many people calling us for work. I just didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't get all burnt out. I didn't try to run away from my business. I wasn't going to go on vacation. Because you know that expression, strike when the iron's hot. I was striking baby.
So I told my producer, make these clients go away. She's like, what are you crazy? I'm like, hear me out. Make them go away, double the project rate and keep doubling it until they say no. And she goes, okay, like, whatever. So she doubles the bid. So a project we submitted to do a three second animated logo, it was $20,000.
She put in for $40,000. And they said, yes. So then she doubled again for the next client and it became 80,000. They kept saying, yes. So part of your design is, you don't ever have to say no to any client. You just change your price. You change the terms until they work for you. That's a great way to buy back your time or at least to be paid what you're worth so you can get excited about doing the work again.
Now, in the 25 years of making commercials, we've made hundreds of commercials. I didn't love all of them. The ones that I love less, you better believe they paid us a lot of money to make me love the project again. The artists who couldn't afford us, I love those projects because they were really creative. But either way, I design love back into the project. Either it was going to...
When I was working, there's an editor. He was very hot. He was so in demand that clients would say, can we change something? Can we do a different edit? And because he had so much success and so much demand for his work, he's like, I don't think that's a good idea but if you want to pay for a new pool, sure. I appreciate it. Kids would love the pool.
So I think the problem here is, we're not looking at this creatively as entrepreneurs. We're just saying, this is what life gives us. Let's do more of this. Then at a certain point, you get totally burnt out. So you need a vacation from your passion. Why not re-engineer your passions so that you don't need a vacation from your passion.
That's very well said.
So Drigo, if you were my brother, I'd take you under my arm and I'm like, you know what? Dude, here's what we're going to do. Well, let's do X, Y, and Z. I'm going to bring you to this thing. I'm going to teach you and you're going to make a six figure commercial for this client. Let's rock and roll. That's where your mind should be going. Not looking for an escape to get off this train. It's the same problem that Mo had.
Now, I'm pretty sure you both read Darren Hardy's book or at least listened to an audio book, The Compound Effect. It's a simple equation, right? Smart decisions apply consistently over time can have radical results. It's all about priming the pump. So the last five years of work got you to this year. This year gets you to next year. If you divert your attention, you fall all the way back. If this is not your life purpose, to make videos, to tell stories, so be it. Don't do this anymore.
But don't not do it because you're not achieving what you want yet. You yourself had said, I'm willing to put another 2, 3, 5 years into this to have my dream life. We'll, put that into action. Use some of your money, hire the right people, take the right courses, study, do what you need to do to be successful. But why change gears? I just do not understand this about the way you guys think.
Let's talk about this whole balance thing. I don't believe in that. My cousin asked me, Chris, everything in moderation, right? Yeah, if you want a moderate life. I want an exceptional life. I got one shot at this. I'm going to go for it. I mean, do you want a moderate life? Do you want to be average?
No, of course not. But I feel like we're going to end up circling back until the beginning of this. Of course I don't want to live an average life right? I think that's the reason why I think when we see these different things with like being the course creator, being a YouTuber, that doesn't sound like an average life. Because there is a lot of hard work that goes into that and we only get one life to live.
So I think that's when we see these different things, we see these different opportunities... Because me and Mo, we see people that like, we're like launching different courses, they're like, dude, why are we not doing this? I think that's where we're like, maybe we should try that.
Why not start an NFT?
I've thought about it.
Why not buy cryptocurrency?
I have a lot of that.
I mean, just do whatever, chase whatever. Why not start to a multi-level marketing company? Why not flip homes? Why not trade commodities? I mean, there's a lot of different ways to make money.
For sure. I mean, I think the big thing, me sitting here thinking about this, I think it's also... Well, For me it's like being an immigrant and just having like... I mean, sitting back and thinking about all of this now, it's like being an immigrant coming to America, I have so many opportunities where if I was still in Brazil, they wouldn't be here.
So I've done a lot of different jobs as you know. I've been a Butler, been a cook, chef, all different things. So I think that's where I think maybe that comes from, it's just like, am I missing out on another opportunity of something I haven't gotten a taste for yet.
Okay. So you might be at the beginning part of your career where you need to say yes to a lot of different things. You just try this business, try that investment thing, you can try lots of things. Or do you think you're in that part of your career in life right now?
I don't know if I'm in that part of my career yet, but I'm also the kind of person that if you could present me a smart idea or something better than what I'm doing... Like you said, I'm not big and having an ego, I'll start over again. I'm not scared about that. So I guess for me, it's just... It comes down to, am I missing an opportunity or a chance to have an extraordinary life? Or am I, you just going to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again?
I don't know. But when I was mapping out Mo's life and career, since graduating from school, every year he's changed directions. Almost every year. He's switched gears. He keeps switching gears. This is the first time in his life, in his career where he's stuck with one thing, one market, one niche for more than one year. That tells you a lot about a person's decision making, right? I'm interested in that. I'm interested in this. Let me try that. That looks interesting. They're always having more fun over there. What's that Mo?
Yeah. So Blair shared this concept with me. Blair Hands. You know when he said, the beginning part of your career in your life, you say yes to everything. Because you're looking for market validation and you're trying to figure out what turns you on, what you become passionate about, what you're good at.
Then the second part of your career is hampered by the fact that you keep saying yes to everything and that your yeses have really no power and meaning because you never use no. So saying yes to everything got you to this first successful part. It would be the thing that stalls out your career and your life. Because you're starting to spread yourself so thin. So what he said... What Warren buffet says is almost all successful people he knows says no to almost everything. So the second part of your career, you have to say no to everything that you need to focus in. So you have to determine where you are in the spectrum. Are you at the beginning, middle, the second part? Where are you in this thing? Because maybe you're not ready to say no.
Now I'm looking at my own life. I get a school. I study graphic design. Pretty general broad thing. I try lots of things, web design, animation logo, design, identity systems, packaging. I do it all, motion graphics. Then in that first year, I'm like, this is not going anywhere. I'm okay at everything, but not really great at anything.
So the way I operate, if you can look at this double diamond, this funnel, right? Where first I say yes to everything, that lasted for about a year. I decide I'm going to go all in on motion design. I stopped taking on every other kind of project. I want to be a good animator director. I say no to everything. Then that stays consistent for 20 years.
So you look at your own diamond. I've been out of school for so long. I've been doing a lot of different things. Maybe it's five years, but it could be 10 years. Some people never clamp back down. I can almost bet that those people who keep saying yes to every single kind of thing, don't ever hit that level of success. Not everyone, but most people.
Now, I'm looking at Neil's profile here. It says he went from $300,000 to $4 million a year. I'm going to ask you this question. Neil, did you focus in?
Yes. So I did what these guys are doing for 10 years. I was stuck making two, $300,000 a year. I said, I'm going to do something different. I want to scale my business. I'm tired. I'm burnt out. So I ended up increasing the amount of work I was doing, but doing it in a better way. So I think, a lot of times we're talking about... That's why I talked earlier about what is the pathway to making more money?
Because, I mean, Drigo's burnt out on projects that are uninspiring. People are grinding wanting something done for a certain price. They're bidding three different vendors to get the best deal. I mean, it's a grind, but when you flip it to inbound, which is what Chris was talking about earlier, why aren't you guys building your brand? Why aren't you creating content?
It's a totally different experience where people are reaching out to you and they already respect you. Now you can scale the business up, hire people, delegate some of the work that does burn you out. You can delegate that work. It's pretty crazy how quickly you can increase your income. It seems farfetched when I tell people, I'm sure I can't go from that same level of increase from this level. But getting from six figures to seven figures, seems difficult. But it's actually not. I'm sure Chris can attest to that as well.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the kind of clients that you want to have, are the clients that I ultimately walked away from. Because I wanted to pursue something different. But at that point, I achieved enough experience, accolades and built up enough cash that I didn't need to do that anymore. I could do whatever I want. I used that freedom, that opportunity to build a different kind of company where I made no money. I'm not telling you to do some things that I haven't done myself.
At the time in which I mentally checked out of the service business, Blind was doing between four to 5 million dollars a year. No one in my inner circle could understand why I would walk away. So I let the company do its own thing. I knew without me being actively involved, it was going to go into a pretty quick decline, but it could just run itself.
I would go back to the team, the management team, I would say to my creative directors and the executive producers at that time, do the best that you can to run the ship for as long as possible while I tried to build out another company. When that company's successful, I would invite all of you who are willing to come on over and we don't have to do this servicing anymore.
So in 2014, I was building out this new company and I was just working on the Futur. We made almost no money. The first year we made $14,000. But I wasn't worried because there was another successful company funding my second company. I was my own venture capitalist in this way. I used the resources, the building, the talent and the network that I already knew to build a second company. Again, when I tell you this, I go all in. I'm like, I'm mentally checked out. I have no involvement with the Futur, I mean with Blind.
Eventually, this company becomes a real thing. So in December of 2018, when we had gross $1.8 million for the Futur, I told the guys, this is the time. Let's go. Everybody jump off the ship. We're not going to do client work anymore. It was super scary. There were some really big gigantic jobs with dream clients we just said no to. That was the last time we took on any new client work. That was it. So you can achieve one or the other. But unless you have the resources to run multiple companies, I just don't know how you are going to get there.
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.
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Welcome back to our conversation.
I want to chime in because I'm hearing similarities from Neil's story and your story Chris. I was listening a little bit to you Nidhi's conversation this morning. The theme is, staying in the pocket for much longer than we think we should stay in the pocket as far as the expertise building. What Neil was hinting at was innovating his real estate business and that took him longer than it needed to. But he was still in the real estate business.
I think while I'm hearing Drigo and then I'm still reflecting on my conversation with you yesterday. Particularly when you just said the act two. It's like for me particularly, it's no longer testing and experimenting. This is now the phase and I think that's why I'm personally struggling. This is now the phase where I have to become a different version of myself and stay in the pocket, which is something that I... Because I'm coming out of that phase of testing and jumping.
I think, Drigo just to speak on your behalf and correct me if I'm wrong, I think sometimes we see a lot of things around us that give us misinformation and it looks like, well jumping is a right answer. When in reality, and me and Chris were talking about this, you know that meme where someone's chipping at dirt and then someone stops but then the one that doesn't finally hits that gold. I'm starting to realize that you just hold it out just a little bit longer. That's a big piece for me and doing that while also saying no to the things around me that may seem enticing in the moment.
So I relate to both Chris and Neil and I'm like, how can you innovate the current business to where you get, the more money you get, the scale you get, the clients. But simultaneously staying and building your expertise in that business and not jumping to something else. That was a rant. But that was on my mind.
Go ahead Drigo.
I mean, that's... I honestly got clarity. I think my biggest takeaways from tonight is, I need to focus, apply discipline and learn to say no. Like what Mo just said, stay in the pocket a bit longer to reach the level success that I'm looking for.
I'm on the internet. I'm trying to look for a quote. I found one for you. I know who you know it's from as soon as I say it, okay. If you live for weekends and vacations, your stuff is broken. You know who said that Drigo?
Who said it?
You got it. If you live for weekends, vacations, your stuff, and he didn't say stuff, is broken. So I look at it like this, you're not burnt out. You just haven't designed your business and your career to be what it wants to be. So you just become distracted. You look for another thing and you'll keep looking for that other thing because you haven't designed it. All these distractions that look like opportunities are truly just that, they're just distractions.
So design the life that you want. Make a commitment to it and do not accept defeat. Do not accept that as a possibility and keep working at it until it works for you. Because what happens is this, and we talked about this yesterday, on the other side of this funk that you're going through, the dip is everything you want in life. Nidhi talked about this.
If you look at the graph, if you look at the graph where there's time and energy and results, right? Time and energy on the X axis and results on the Y axis. If you can map this out. In the beginning of everything that you do, you get a lot of results for not a lot of effort. When you play a video game, when you play a new sport, when you learn to dancer or sing, it feels great at the beginning. Then it starts to get into slump where it feels like a lot of work and not a lot of results. You might be in that dip right now. This is where people just stop.
So in my life, that dip sounded like I wasn't taking good care of my body. My personal relationships with friends, with family was deteriorating. It's working like an animal, not long term sustainable at all. But I persevered and I got through that dip. Then the rest of it was gravy. I've been riding that gravy train for a long time.
So in the 25 years, in which I've run a business, I've had two years that were, one year was in the red and one year was not profitable. It was breakeven. All the other years were profitable. You get to get it into that gravy state. But you guys keep changing your mind. I don't like this.
So instead of designing it to work for you, you just chase something else. You become distracted. You take a vacation. You take more vacations on top of your vacations. I don't get it. You and I were not digging ditches. We're not doing physically demanding labor that's backbreaking. We're not working out in the hot sun. Whatever it is that we pursued in our lives, we decided, you know what? We want to do something creative. We want to have a creative expression. You picked up a camera. You want to learn how to shoot and edit and tell stories in a visual format. That was supposed to be your vacation.
So that's why I'm like, why do we need a vacation from our vacation? I do not understand this. Every day, people ask me this question. You work all the time. I said, yeah, technically it's called work because what I do, I get paid for. This is my profession. But I haven't been working in a really long time. I don't know what else I would be doing with my life. And You know what, the way the world works, the more passionate I'm about what it is that I'm doing, the more effort I give, the more I'm rewarded for it over and over again.
This confounds me. It confounds me that yesterday, when I thought I laid out the case so clear and asked Mo, what do you want to do? He goes 50, 50. I'm like, I just want to hit my head against the wall. I'm talking to you Drigo. I said, which would you rather have? A life of ultimate freedom creating YouTube videos and making six figures. Do whatever the hell you want. You still say, if I could get paid more working with better clients, I would prefer doing service work. Then I asked you, what do you want to do? Like, it's not clear to me Chris.
I do not understand you guys. Help me understand you, or Nidhi help me understand them please. Please help me. Dear God, help me.
Well, my initial thought Chris was, do Mo and Rodrigo believe in the possibilities that are there. That it could be enjoyable and exciting to lean into the thought leadership, right? Because I think sometimes, when we hear really high numbers getting paid for that knowledge based service essentially, is what you're talking about with content creation. I mean, I know that this has been a challenge for me. It's like, is that even possible? We know that you've achieved it.
But I think a part of each of us, and please, I don't want to speak for anybody else. I know at least a part within me has wondered, well, is that even feasible? Could you really make that much money? Is this really where that... Where the success would be?
So I definitely hear what you're saying in the conversation about committing to going all in on something and being able to drive that to the point of it being exceptional and being a money maker and being able to then buy yourself back, essentially the passion and the time that you get to invest in something else, the passion project.
But I think sometimes we get hung up on perhaps what we think could be possible. I know for me, boredom plays a role. Previously, before becoming an entrepreneur, I was a little bit of a job hopper myself. It was like, do a role for two or three years, bump to another one, do a role for two or three years, bump to another one.
I found that for me, and I don't know if this relates to you and Mo and Rodrigo go as well, I know that I get bored. I start to want something fresh and different and something that's going to challenge me in a different way. So those were just some musings and some thoughts that came up for me as we were having this conversation. It's a tough position to be in.
Yeah. I want to mention something that Mark Savan tweeted at us. He's like, it's like there's always another exciting and innovating opportunity. It's tough to stay the course and turn off the innovation, I love how he used that word innovation, and creativity of trying new things. So Nidhi, when you were hopping from thing to thing to thing, were you growing your earning potential or were you starting over each time?
No. It was growing the earning potential, right? So these were all salary jobs before I became an entrepreneur. So first job out of school was around the 50K range. Then I get bumped up to the 60, then it got bumped up to 70, right? So there was that monetary progression. The thing was though that each of those roles were just not super fulfilling. I burned out in every single one of them.
So I really felt what Mo and Rodriguez were saying about that burnout factor and it just being exhausting. You start to wonder at what cost am I making this money? And that's why I asked you about the cost Chris. Because there was a period in my life where I was so burned out from doing the clinical work and it was my highest paying job for sure before I became an entrepreneur.
But I was having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. I was depressed all the time. I literally came home from work and cried. That wasn't worth it to me. You know what I mean? Developing the mastery of the craft at the sacrifice of my health and well being until literally I had a mental breakdown and physically got nearly hospitalized from pneumonia. That was the pivotal moment for me of like, nah. This isn't worth it.
So I can relate to what they're saying about the burnout piece. But I also... I agree with what you're saying Chris about, as an entrepreneur you have different choices than you do when you're working with an organization, right? So you can mold your business to be anything that you desire and that can include charging more money for those clients so you see fewer of them generate the revenue to then invest in the passion projects. So all of that makes complete sense to me.
All right. So you traded up each time you quit your job and got a new job. You got paid more and that was probably one of the reasons why you left. That's an excellent way from a career point of view. If you're working in a job and some of this entrepreneurship is not for you, is you just trade one job for a new job. Hopefully it's a job that you love more than the previous job, and that you have more responsibilities and autonomy in terms of shaping where you go in your life and your career.
I thought when you were saying, you're hopping from job to job, that you were switching gears altogether, I'm an architect and then I'm an illustrator and then I'm an accountant. Because typically when people jump from a different career to a different career, they start all over again. Because in many cases, those skills are not transferable to their new job, especially when you're jumping from one thing that's very different to another thing. So I'm glad that you were trading up but ultimately you found... I think you found what it is that you want, right?
Yeah. Well, I mean, this conversation's interesting to me too, right Chris? Because I'm in a pivot in my own business right now, right? I reached that same point of burned out again with the client work. So now it's like, well, let's focus on speaking. But it is... There is a thread that connects it, right?
So it's taking the expertise developed over a decade and now applying it in a different way. So that's the way I'm viewing it. It's another step up, I would believe. But it's not changing careers altogether because I would still be speaking on topics that relate back to the decade that I just spent building, right?
I want to present to you guys another data point here. I was talking to a YouTube creator. His name is Unmesh Dinda. He has a YouTube channel which I highly recommend if you want to learn anything about Photoshop, called PiXimperfect. We're at Adobe MAX and we're talking, he's telling this story. At first, when I... If I remembered it, I thought he was telling his story. But when I went back and I listened to it again, he was telling story of another YouTube creator. First, I'll tell this story and then I'll tell you who the YouTube creator was.
He said that when I got started, I made a hundred videos for a total of a thousand subscribers. That boggled my mind, because that is an average of 10 subs per video. I have to say, if that was me, I'm not sure I could have that motivation to keep going because 10 subscribers per video is dreadful. Then he told me, I think if I remember the story correctly, that creator was Mr. Beast.
I think of another creator. His name is Mike. Mike creates a piece of art. He decided every single day, he's going to make something. So every single day with that failure, there's a piece of art. Something goes up. Something gets posted. And by his own admission, a lot of it's crap.
He keeps doing this, for a day, for a week, for a month and then for years, which he made $0 from. 13 years into it, he decides to put all of his pieces of art together and he calls it the first 5,000 days. He auctions this off for $69.3 million. You know who I'm talking about? His name is People, AKA Mike.
So you think to yourself, man, what if Jimmy quit at video 50 because it sucked? Because he wasn't making progress. Because he wasn't getting the results, he's like, this sucks. I'm burnt out on making this. What if People, year seven he's like, seven years, that's a good number. That is enough.
I'm sure both of them would find success in something else. But their stories are here to tell you of this bigger idea. Yeah, it sucks. Yes, it's work, and it's hard. You have to make sacrifices. It requires discipline. But like I said before, on the other side of that dip, is everything you want in your life. The amazing thing is, most people quit. I say amazing because I don't want to have so much competition. I like being here alone or relatively alone because by being one of a few, it creates scarcity. Things that are scarce are valuable in this world. So I like to go where no people, no one wants to go.
I'm looking at a number here. I have a graphic and it's in my photo album. Because I stumbled upon on my hard drive, I said, I need to save this. And you know what? There's this graphic, it has this 10,000 subscribers and the date is 12, 25, 15. It's got all this little bit of glitter on it. Because I was celebrating that we finally hit 10,000 subscribers.
Now those of you that are OG fans of the YouTube channel, Jose and I dropped our very first video in January of 2014. It took us almost two full years to get to 10,000 subscribers. That sucks. That totally sucks. But we didn't quit. To put into a contrast, there are some days when we get 10,000 subs a day. But we are not getting here if we don't go through those first two years. Some people wonder what happened to my co-founder? What happened to my co-creator?
Well, we have a very different mindset about how to become successful. His philosophy is work a little here, work a little there, eventually you get there. My philosophy is do everything in your power, clear your table until you get there and do not do anything else. So eventually he and I, we went separate ways. I'm still making YouTube content, he isn't. Because we have fundamentally different beliefs and a different strategy on how to get where we're getting.
So back over to you Drigo and Mo. I think you guys are in this place where you're not seeing the kind of success in an unrealistic way. Rather than designing success into your life, figuring out what it is you need to do, who you need to become, to track the kind of clients you want and the project you desire, you take a break. And The break can be, I want to do something different with my life. I still don't understand it. You guys help me understand it please?
I'm not taking breaks. I don't go on vacation. I was just messing it with Drigo.
Me honestly at this point, I feel very confident where I want to move forward with this Chris. I'm going to stick to what I'm doing right now. I feel that, that is right in my heart. So I don't want to try to tell you how come we don't understand it. But I think before I was just not having clarity.
I think you have a very special skill that, you see that bullseye and nothing will get in your way from it and maybe just the way that I grew up a little bit different that, I like a little bit of focus and discipline growing up here. But after this call today, I found clarity and what is it that I'm going to be doing for the next three to five years.
Are you committed to doing this Drigo?
Can you see this future for yourself?
Do you believe you have the skillset, the desire, the motivation to get there?
I truly do.
So all of the rest is just taking the steps. That's all it is.
That's it. You got to do the work.
That's it. Do the work but do it smart. Change the business until it becomes the business you want it to be. Now you and I will talk later because I think I know how to get you to your goal, right? So I put this in perspective for you to consider.
When I told you in December, 2018, we decided to stop taking on client work. Well, one of those clients that we love called us up and said, you know what? We need you to do this project for us. We love working with you guys. And we're like, oh my God, we had just made this decision. And I don't want to tell you the brand, but it's from a major video game manufacturer and you know, I love video games. And we were tested. They were like, the budget is $400,000. And I was like, oh my God, maybe we can take on one more project maybe.
I thought about it. This money takes me away from the mission and the plan and our singular focus. I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a softball, I told the team, turn it down. I was surprised because I thought the team would fight me. Because we worked our entire lives to get to a point in which we could look at a $400,000 budget from a major video you manufacture and now we're going to say no. So when I told them, turn it down, I was prepared to do a little bit of a battle with them. To my surprise, they said, okay.
So when I talk to you guys about resolve and your willingness to go after what it is that you want, sometimes it's just putting in the hard work. But sometimes it's also walking away from a very alluring opportunity in your words, distraction in my word. And you know what? They said, okay, fine. They came back with another project. Another project from them for $300,000. This time it was a little easier to say no because we already said no one time. And plus it was a smaller budget. Didn't matter to us.
So in a span of a few months, we walked away from $700,000 of business that they were just going to give to us. So I asked each and every one of you, it's gut check time. How bad do you want this thing? What are you willing to give up? What kind of gratification are you willing to delay so that you could have this long term goal of yours? And I know the stories that excite you and Mo. I have to rethink if I want to tell you these stories because you're like, well, Chris is doing this thing and it's incredible.
But you forgot, it's built on 23 years of service, seven years of building up a product and education company to get to this point. Each success, each opportunity comes from doing what needs to be done so that these other doors can open. But I imagine... I hate to say it like this, that you, either one of you, you're the next Michael Winkleman.
But you know what? Year 12, day 355, you quit. You don't get to the first 5,000 days. You got to day 4,999 and nobody wants that. And you just quit. He played a long game. I think he just cleared a $100,000,000 in the last year, which is mind blowing to me. That's what focus looks like. That's what dedication sounds like. That's what delayed gratification sounds like.
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