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Chris Do & Greg Gunn

In this episode we answer four unique questions about topics like how to apply value based pricing (and when not to), positioning your business, whether to spend your time learning or doing, and and how to find your purpose.

Hey Chris: How do I find my purpose?
Hey Chris: How do I find my purpose?

Hey Chris: How do I find my purpose?

Ep
147
Aug
25
With
Chris Do & Greg Gunn
Or Listen On:

Purpose before mission

Welcome to another special episode format we call Hey Chris. We take listener submitted questions and make Chris answer them on the spot. No reading them ahead of time. No preparation. No time to think. Just a candid conversation between Chris Do and Greg Gunn.

In this episode we answer four unique questions about topics like how to apply value based pricing (and when not to), positioning your business, whether to spend your time learning or doing, and and how to find your purpose.

Have a question for Chris? Visit thefutur.com/heychris and ask away.

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Episode Transcript

Chris:

If you only focus on output, eventually the well is going to run dry, and you're going to feel like you have no new ideas and you're using the same kinds of tricks that you've used in the last fill in the number of days, months and years. So, for me, it's very important that you replenish your resources. And the way that you do that is, you go and learn new things, you experiment.

Greg:
Welcome to The Futur Podcast, the show that explores the interesting overlap between design, marketing and business. I'm Greg Gunn, and with me via internet video, is Chris Do. Hey, Chris.

Chris:

Hey, Greg. Good to see you. I see your hair is getting longer by the minute. It's shoulder length now or beyond.

Greg:

It's getting there. I'm approaching Dave Grohl. That is the end goal...

Chris:

Wow.

Greg:

... somewhere around there. Yeah. I love what you've done with your hair, it looks great.

Chris:

Likewise, likewise, right? Yours is getting longer. Mine's getting shorter.

Greg:

You know what? The thinking is, I'm going to grow it while I can. I know it won't be there one day. So, go with it. Are you ready for round two of, Hey, Chris?

Chris:

I'm as ready as I was the first time, Greg. So, yes.

Greg:

That is the answer I wanted. That's great. A little anxious, a little... We'll see how this goes. That's the plan. So, for everyone that's listening, today, we are hosting a segment that I like to call, Hey, Chris. And it's where I take your burning questions for Chris, and I get to ask him them on the spot. So, there's no reading ahead of time, no prep. I don't send Chris any of this stuff. Just live Q&A, recorded for all of eternity. He might call it a conversation, in fact, but we'll see how it goes.
So, before we get started, Chris, is there anything you want to say anything? Anything we need to know?

Chris:

I do want to say something. I was listening to our podcast, which I don't often listen to after the recorded. I was driving my car and my kids in the car with my wife. And they all look at me like, "Greg's got a nice podcast voice." And I'm like, "Yes, he does. Yes, he does." So, I wanted to share that with you.

Greg:

Oh, I appreciate that. Thank you, Do clan. That's a nice thing to say. I probably... Oh, thanks to our editor, Anthony, who mixes and does all the audio magic. So, good work, Anthony. Keep it up.
Okay. Let's get right into the first question. So, this question comes from Kristen. And Kristen says, "I am trying to figure out how to apply the value pricing method to a situation where the client is an ad agency who's looking to partner with a designer on a freelance basis for various types of projects over an indefinite period of time." So, kind of like the usual freelancer ad agency role.
"They're used to working with designers who charge either an hourly rate or a fixed rate, and have asked me for my rate card, which I don't have because I don't charge that way. How do you land their business without reverting to the hourly or fixed rate system?"

Chris:

That's a wonderful question, Kristen. I'm going to say, it's going to be difficult next impossible to do value-based pricing with an agency involved. Value-based pricing works best when you're speaking to a decision maker who has skin in the game.
When you're dealing with a broker of creative services, an agent, therefore, agency, they need to be able to price it according to models that make sense to them. Since their main mission is to be able to make money, there's room in the budget for them to make money. When you value-based price them, they're going to respond with some pretty negative reactions, I think.
I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's really close to impossible, kind of like living forever, might be there. But probably, not betting on that. Value-based pricing works best when you're dealing with the entrepreneur, the decision maker that's running the business. They understand what it takes to be able to get the work done and what value it has to them.
And so, the agency's values, get it done for as cheap as possible. They're not necessarily looking at, "Oh, my God, we have to have Kristen work on this. Therefore, we're going to pay more because we need this," and that's why it works. It typically what you said thus far in terms of hourly, or a day, or project-based fees, is very appropriate to do this.
You have to understand something. They're taking the risk and they're closest to the client. So, whoever is closest to the client makes the money. I want you to put yourself into a future state. I want you to think like you're an agency now. Now, you have employees, you have salespeople, you have marketing, you have insurance, you have tax, you have a lot of things you got to deal with. And you spend a lot of time creating content to attract the client.
You finally find a client that's going to pay you something. And now, you're going to hire a bunch of subcontractors to help you with that. Imagine if each and every subcontractor worked on the project, search the value-based price you... You'd be shaking and like, "Kids, what are you doing?" And so, I know I put this information out there, but there's a time and place. And this is probably not the time in place.
I hope that's not entirely discouraging to you. It does not mean that you can't charge what you think you're worth. If there's a premium for working with you, then charge whatever it is you want. They're going to get to decide if it's worth it, or if it's not worth it. How does one command a premium in the marketplace? You have to be the only person does X, or one of the few people. And when there's more demand for your work and your vision than there is supply of you, your price should go up a lot.
So, if you're a world famous artist, and people are used to working with you at a certain level, anybody they can't afford, what it is that you want to charge will automatically be priced out even considering you. And so, the goal, if you're a freelancer or an independent contractor working with agencies or buyers is to get into that position, where people say, "My God, whatever costs, hire them." Famous artists get to do this.
For example, if you're a pop star, let's say, you're Coldplay, when somebody wants to use a piece of music from Coldplay on a commercial, they have to license it from them. They don't have to do value-based pricing, all they can say is, "We want X. We want half a million dollars for a track to be used in North America for this usage," in the agency. And then, therefore, their client get to decide, "We will pay because we want Coldplay or we'll pay for one play, which isn't as good as Coldplay, and we'll save a fortune." That's their decision to make them.

Greg:

Very well-explained, Chris. Yeah, that's what I was thinking to when I read it. But I wanted to know, if maybe you had a different angle on that. There's really not. It's like, the agency is the middle person. All they're trying to do is broker the deal and make as much money as they can, while maintaining some level of quality and being happy with the work that they produce and the people they partner with.

Chris:

That's right.

Greg:

You did bring up something interesting, though. And I know Kristen said she's a graphic designer. But I know with illustration, there's licensing fees, and other ways that you can place value on the work that you do, even when you work with an ad agency. And I know a lot of illustrators will do that.
And that's something I do too, if I'm ever approached where I'm like, there's a cost to produce the work. And then, there's an additional cost to use it, which is a licensed for whatever they need, like you said, North America for one year, on all digital and print media. And that's an additional fee.
So, I don't know if making more money is part of what's driving this question. But I think there are other kinds of ways to get more value, I guess, out of just doing the work, and charging by the hour, by the time you spend.

Chris:

Yes, and thanks for bringing that one up, Greg. Because for some reason, culturally and legally, people who make art and they put a large group of people into this category, photographers and illustrators and musicians, and vocalists that's considered art, there are certain rights that are protected. It's very hard for you to sell your art.
So, what you're doing is, you're selling the ability to use your art in some kind of represented media. So, what you're doing is you're selling, like Greg said, what it costs you to make theoretically, that's the theoretical because you can say whatever you want, and then the number of impressions it's going to have. It's going to appear on radio, TV, print, billboard, social media, et cetera.
So, you're just finding a way to justify a higher price based on the number of imprints it has in the world during a time period. For some reason, conspicuously, graphic design is not considered under the same protections as photographers and illustrators, what they have with their work. It's very uncommon for graphic designers to be able to get usage fees for a logo or a website design. That does not mean it's impossible.
Again, you can charge usage fees. I know people who have negotiated royalties for a logo or an identity they've created. But those are stories that are ushered in the legendary tones. A few people who have been able to accomplish this, not a whole lot.

Greg:

Right. And that's funny because it's really unique to logos. I'm like, "I can't think of someone who's designed a brochure, and like, okay, and here's the license, you can use this brochure for six months." Why do you think that is, Chris? Is it like, designed is intended to be utilitarian? Whereas, everything else is considered art in air quotes?

Chris:

I think a lot of it has to do with that utilitarian thing, and that what most designers do is use other people's material, assemble them on a screen or on a page, and the definition of creation might be questionable. So, we're assembling things, we might be collaging components together.
For example, when you do a brochure. What are you doing? You're taking words that someone else wrote, and you're using a typeface that someone else designed, and you're assembling on a page with perhaps illustrations and photos that you yourself did not create.
So, you're assembling them together to a cohesive whole to sell or to tell a story and hopefully, get somebody to do something to hopefully inspire change in people by reading this. But what is it that you've actually created? And that's where I think it makes a lot of sense. The photograph did not exist prior to the photographer capturing it on their camera. The illustration did not exist, the sculpture, the song. It was created out of thin air, and assembled together in a very unique combination of things.
So, the argument is there, what did the designer create in this process? And so, I think that's where it gets a little bit tricky. Now, if all of a sudden you make an illustration for that one illustration, you've now entered into the world of illustrators. And then, you can potentially negotiate that as a separate fee.
So, until you design your own typefaces, your own illustrations, images, whatever it is that you're using, you are the person who brings things together in a very beautiful and skillful way to achieve the desired result. But I don't know if people consider that art.

Greg:

Yeah, that's an interesting point.

Chris:

Yeah, there's no real intellectual property, if we want to go that deep and like the terms we're using.

Greg:

Kristen, thank you for that question. Based on how far off topic we got, and the tangent we went on. I think that was a really good one. So, I appreciate it. Okay, let's find another one. Oh, I thought this was really interesting. Okay. This question comes from Madison.
And Madison says, "Hey, Chris, I work in house for an insurance company. We want to start positioning ourselves as educators to provide value to the insured and producers. But our products range wildly from Hawaii, homeowners, to drones, to millionaires who want to race their luxury cars on racetracks. So, how do we cater content to all our different customers without alienating the customers to whom the content would not apply?"

Chris:

That is a very difficult problem to solve. You're selling something that is, in theory, the same thing, but it's different to each person. And to be able to connect to different groups of people, you have to learn to speak to them. It could be a series or a campaign of marketing materials, or in this day and age, you can do micro targeting. You can select a very specific audience and serve them up a tailored piece of content for their demographic for that group.
So, if you're dealing with people who race cars, make campaigns around racing cars, and if you're trying to make... If you have a program for homeowners living in a certain part of the world, then target them and speak to them and make sure that you represent your audience and speak in a tone that feels familiar and comfortable to them.
I think in this day and age, you can do that today, that you can do a lot of micro targeting that you could not do before in that broadcasting format. And I think that's an advantage, that's an opportunity. And so, if you're not already doing that, I would strongly encourage you to think about that.

Greg:

I'm trying to think of a parallel to something else. At first, I was thinking about food, but it's not really something that everyone wants, because there is somewhat of a niche. But within that, there's a huge variety of people. And it's almost like a guitar maker. It's like, okay, a lot of people want guitars, but it's not for everyone. But what makes our instruments in particular special to the select group of musicians who we want to connect with.
I've never really thought about that before, like micro targeting makes sense. I mean, even when you're thinking about a landing page, or you get on this website, where do you start with that?

Chris:

Okay. Lots of things to think about here. If you make food, like a food product, and you want to target... Like it's the same food, it just happens to be gluten-free and vegan. You could just market it to the general public to say, "This is delicious." That's one approach. Then, you can target people that have a gluten allergy and just target those people, and people who would buy it because of its vegan properties.
And there's a lot of different things that you can do to be able to target people. And it's an opportunity. Something like this already exists in a very small way. When you go and visit a website, and you look at specific items, those items suspiciously follow you around on the internet because of a cookie. And they're basically, serving you up things you've been looking at. And you think to yourself, "Wow, someone's paying attention, even though it's a robot following me around."
So, I'm not going to get advertised a bra or a dress, because I'm not interested in those two things. They're wasting their time, and they're actually going to aggravate me. But when they show me a shirt, or a pair of shorts, or something that I've been looking at and just got my eye bond, following me around the internet isn't a problem for me, because it's something I was interested in. And for whatever reason, I abandoned my shopping experience. And they're just trying to make sure that if I really wanted to buy it, now is a good time to buy it because inventories are running low, Greg, that's what's happening. Wink, wink, right?

Greg:

Always is.

Chris:

Yes. But wait, what was the second thing you were talking about? I wanted to address that.

Greg:

I think Madison's question was like, how do we target a group of people without... Okay, yeah, you remember now?

Chris:

I remember...

Greg:

Okay.

Chris:

... because you're saying, how do we even do that on a landing page?

Greg:

Yeah, I think that's a good place to start. Let's say they get you there, or you'll get them there.

Chris:

Yeah. So, let's do this. Let's go through a thought experiment. Let's take your landing page and duplicate it 10 times, because on the internet, you can do that. And you can create a unique URL for each one of these 10, that probably isn't easy to find, unless you know this exact URL. Each one of these things, each one of these landing pages, you can target a specific group, and write copy that's relevant to them, and in the tone, and you can even change the graphic language and the kinds of photographs that you use.
I'll give you an example. Right now, we have a sales page for The Future Pro group, which is a group I'm trying to actively grow. But it is broad. It's a bit generic. It talks about the group and the benefits, but it doesn't address it to any specific person. We are in the process of setting up a second sales page as an example to what we're talking about, to address people specifically on Clubhouse.
So, it's going to say something like, "Hey, you've seen Chris speak up on the stage. And if you've ever wanted to be a moderator with him, consider joining the pro group, et cetera, et cetera." So, it's welcoming people who are going to be coming through from Clubhouse and it's using language from Clubhouse. Moderation on stage if you've been roaming the hallways.
And so, when they land on this sales page, they're going to feel like, "Oh, my God, he's talking to me, I was just on Clubhouse." And he became very curious about this thing. So, your ability to attract and keep a person's attention, it's going to go up much higher. I'm not a gambling or betting person, but I would bet that we're going to see a market improvement on that sales page, as opposed to the other sales page as it relates to how I'm bringing traffic in from Clubhouse. And there's no limit as to how many of these types of individualize sales pages that you can make.
So, on the sales page, I would include the graphics and the visual language that people are used to seeing from Clubhouse. I changed the colors. I changed the palette and the photographs and the images to reflect that. And so, that's one example of how you can tailor your landing page to a specific group.

Greg:

That makes a lot of sense. So, when you started talking about that, I was thinking, "Okay, then how did they get there? And what if the wrong person gets there?" But in your Clubhouse example, you would either tell people to go to that specific page, or if Madison works for an insurance company, I imagine they have the marketing budget to do so.
They do use targeted ads, and seek out those people, and then have that link back to that specific landing page. So, it's a funnel. That's the term for all this. They're all going the same place, which is, sign up, use our insurance because we can help you. But all that really are doing in between is building a unique, faceplate that they come to you. And they're like, "Hey, that sounds like me," which will take them to the next step.

Chris:

That's right. You have to sift through your audience and direct them to where they want to go, and not make them think. You want to lower the resistance and attention that your end customer user experiences because each point of tension increases the likelihood of a bounce.
So, what we're talking about here is, we'd create unique URLs that would be promoted through different campaigns. And this happens already right now. Because what's happening is that, people need to track the success rate of their campaigns. So, they embed little cookies and codes and things like that. But they're not changing the page necessarily. They're just adding a little tracking data to see if they converted.
If you want to go to the next level, what you do is, you run specific campaigns with a call to action that link right to this page. Otherwise, nobody's going to find it. So, on Clubhouse, what I would do is, I would use my chat automation, and I would tell my Clubhouse audience, "If you're interested in joining the pro group, use this word," and there would be a specific word to club, just type in the word club, let's just say.
And my chatbot would then start talking to them, and then supplying them with a link to this very specific sales page. And it's triggered by a keyword. Now, if you were on Instagram, and you're doing something, and you want to run the same campaign for Instagram, you'd come up with a different word like, you would say, type in the word IG. And you would have a separate landing sales page that speaks to the Instagram crowd.
Imagine if you got this cross traffic happening where the Instagram crowd was sent to your Clubhouse page and vice versa, it'd be very confusing, and alienating experience. And I want to do the opposite of that. I want to tailored experience for a specific audience, and I want to speak their language.
Just a quick reminder. Simon Sinek has said this to death, and it's a cliché at this point, but I'm going to say it once again to just drive this point home. "People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it. We trust people who believe what we believe." So, the main goal of you in marketing yourself or your products and services for the companies in which you work for, is to make sure you understand who you are and the tribe you hope to attract.
Marty Neumeier talks about this, people don't buy services and products anymore. They join tribes. They buy as a form of creating their identity. They're looking for meaning. This is what they're doing. So, give them that and you'll probably increase the likelihood that people sign up.

Greg:

I don't know that anyone buys a leather jacket because they're a big time leather enthusiasts. Maybe, I don't know. Most of the time, you're buying a leather jacket to look like some kind of badass. It comes with a perceived connotation, right?

Chris:

Yes, some kind of like leather rebel outlaw, something like that.

Greg:

Yeah.

Chris:

Or rock musician, or something. You're buying into what that leather jacket does for you and how you feel about it.

Greg:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:

People buy luxury goods and luxury cars and items because it tells a story and it creates status. It tells people, at least in your mind, "I can afford it, and I'm successful." And just think about this, when you see someone drive up with a very expensive car, or an expensive watch or suit that's just totally tailored for them. It creates this air of success. Very few people can afford to fly in a private jet. So, as soon as you step off the tarmac or step onto the tarmac out of a private jet, people make assumptions, you're important, you can afford this, and you're a person to keep an eye on. It just goes like that.
So, we're sending signals out to the universe all the time whether they're decoded correctly or incorrectly, it's entirely up to the person in the context and where you're at. So, here in LA, we're going to see a lot of people drive very expensive cars. Sometimes, to level up in their mind, they take an expensive car, and they put some ostentatious decor or color or something on top of that, to say just in case you miss the expensive car, I'm going to make sure you can't miss it now.
So, they're just sending those signals out. And they're attracting a very specific type of person. Probably, motorheads and members of the opposite sex, who really are interested in those kinds of things. If you take that same car, that same ostentatious adornment, and you take it to parts of Europe, Scandinavia, those parts of the world, you would just be a leper. People would roll their eyes at you, and very few people would be interested in you at all. So, context actually matters a lot in things like this.

Greg:

And it's so fascinating. That makes me want to take a sociology course, or take one in junior college and like, we just talked about monkeys, but this is far more interesting.

Chris:

You should totally do it, Greg.

Greg:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We appreciate it and as we age. Okay. So, there's one other thing about Madison's question that I want to circle back on, just to make sure we have covered. So, Madison said, they want to position themselves as educators. And Madison's question was about creating content. So, I think we covered the marketing part of it. But how would you approach making content?

Chris:

I feel like Madison needs to send us a check after this episode, Greg. I'm just thinking out loud here because it feels like, they're like, what would you do if you had a job as the marketing director at an insurance company? And like, we're laying out the blueprint for... But let's just do it, anyways. Okay?
So, Madison, there are a lot of ways that you can make content. The thing about insurance is, we don't know we need it until we need it. And then, it's too late. For example, when I first started my company, I got into a little bit of trouble because I was not being very diligent at following up with paperwork. So, some of our work appeared in the book, and I mistakenly signed off and granted rights that I didn't fully own.
So, naturally, I got sued, and I guess I deserve to be sued because I wasn't as diligent as I mentioned. When I called an attorney, the first thing they asked me was, "Do you have insurance?" I'm like, "Insurance? Who needs that?" I need that. I needed insurance because the insurance company would have helped to shoulder the bulk of the cost. Therefore, giving me probably one less ulcer that I did not need.
So, when you get into a wreck, when your health fails, when your house is on the edge of a California wildfire, you're thinking, "Oh, my God, I need insurance." So, part of it, in terms of sales, in any kind of business or product or service, is educating the customer base. We need to know what the problem is before we want to buy the solution. So, you have to educate me on the problem.

Greg:

Right. I think that's a great place to start. I mean, if your insurance company was like, "We need to make some content, Chris. Would you share your story? What's that about?" And there's a YouTube video, where you're telling the story. And it could be just... When you're talking to camera, or you could make it something even more entertaining visually. That's great. Because I know that story, and I'd be like, "Oh, my God, I'm getting business insurance right now." It's a no brainer, right?

Chris:

Yeah.

Greg:

And it hits on why, like you mentioned and discusses what the problem is. And they're like, "Hey, we have a solution, should you ever need it?" It's like one plus one plus one buyer insurance.

Chris:

Yeah, I think if you do a good enough job, educating people on the problem, agitating the desire to find a solution, 90% of the heavy lifting of the selling will be done. You don't even have to do a hard pitch, and why you need to buy insurance at that point because you're the person who brought them this piece of information.
Your relationship is formed. If you're being upfront forthright, and you're not trying to manipulate anybody, trust will have been built. And trust is the key part to building a strong brand relationship with your consumer base. Now, what I would do simply is to say a couple of different things. Now, people aren't interested in talking about insurance. This is a boring stuff. So, you have to find a way to talk about in an interesting way.
So, don't get a person in a suit with a monotone voice standing in some kind of the whole classroom with dim lighting, fluorescent light or something. That's going to knock people out unconscious. Okay? What I would do is, I would probably, because I've seen ads for this. Johnny Knoxville at 50, whatever years old this ad is added again in a new Jackass movie.
And now, Johnny is not going to bounce back so much when he falls. And he's had reported concussions, and so many broken bones, and so many different things as he's a stunt person performing these things. You could have somebody like him sitting in a shopping cart and doing what he normally does, which is, I'm Johnny Knoxville, and this Jackass." And then, you see him rolling down and then crashing, right? And he gets up, and you're like, "Well."
Johnny's probably not that concerned about insurance. But for everyone else, this is what we got because we don't want to walk away with a missing tooth or a broken jaw. And you could do something that's funny, that's interesting. To help people understand, we all have different levels of risk. Our risk tolerance is very different.
And so, most people aren't ready to throw everything away because they, they weren't planning for the future. And so, people who have families or people who have benefactors are going to be thinking about insurance much more than people who are 18 or 19 years old, because they think they're going to live forever, and they don't really have a lot of responsibilities.
You can tailor and create tons of different types of content from a variety of people, and just help people understand. This is the price of having peace of mind. This is how you fall asleep comfortably knowing that you're an adult. This is how you do adulting, you buy insurance.
There's a famous line from... I forget the name of the movie. I want to say Rotten Tomatoes, but that's not the movie. Fried Green Tomatoes with Kathy Bates. She's a woman and she backs up her car, and they get into an argument or something in a parking lot. And she gets out and this young woman is all snappy at her, and she says back to her, "I don't care. I got more insurance than you." It was a total power play. And I love that.

Greg:

To wanda. Yeah, I love that movie. So good. When you said adulting, it made me think of something that I realized, and I forget when I realized this. But I think the moment I knew I was an adult is when I started cutting my hamburgers with a knife. I would cut them in half. It seems trivial but I'm like, "Yeah. That was it. That was the moment."
Madison, thank you for that question. That was a great one. I hope our free mini course in content creation and marketing helps you out. Time for a quick break. But we'll be right back.
Welcome back to our conversation. Okay. Chris, how you doing so far? I have a lot more questions. I'm going to try to be mindful of our time. But how are you doing?

Chris:

I'm doing pretty good. I just need to remember to breathe when I'm talking. Otherwise, I'm good.

Greg:

Yeah. Please, please. Okay, I really like this one. It's short and sweet. This question comes from Arando. And apologies to everyone because I probably butchering your names. So, Arando asks, "How much time and effort should we spend on input (learning) and output (creating)?"

Chris:

Interesting question. How much time should we spend on input versus output? I'm going to refer to Jim Rohn, of course. And Jim Rohn said, "That always work harder on personal development than your job." And so, you can consider your job even when you're working for yourself as an output. And if you only focus on output, eventually, the well is going to run dry, and you're going to feel like you have no new ideas. And you're using the same kinds of tricks that you've used in the last fill in the number of days, months and years.
So, for me, it's very important that you replenish your resources. And the way that you do that is you go and learn new things, you experiment. Companies would call this research and development, R&D, for you just be exploring with different media, medium, or different motivations. Just find something else to mix up and to bring that into your repertoire. And each time you do so, your palette of what it is that you do and know can expand.
We often would say that the artwork and the design that you create is a reflection of your life experience. So, this is where you need to experience more life. And that way, that you can reach into the different ideas and the things that you've seen, heard, touch, taste, felt, and be able to reflect that in the work that you do.
If you look at the artwork, from someone who's very young, who hasn't experienced much in life, it's going to reflect that. They're probably going to draw the things that they feel most familiar to. However, as you start to get older, you've now collected a lifetime of stories and experiences and memories that you can use to draw upon.
And a lot of creativity and art is about your ability to find a connective thread between two disparate things. Things that people don't find a relationship to, but you through your life experience, have more things connect the dots, and you're able to find the overlap. I think David Trott wrote about this in his book, One Plus One Equals Three. I think that's his book, One Plus One Equals Three. We'll have to do some fact checking later, Greg.
But in his book, he says, "The problem with creative people is, we're really good at connecting dots. And we have lots of dots to connect, except for they all tend to be in one very narrow column. The thing is, you need to expand beyond those narrow columns, so they can pull from more dots. And the farther away you can grab two dots that are not related, the more interesting the combination of ideas you can produce."
Jordan Peterson talks about this, he says that, "Creative people are divergent thinkers. It's really good for art, it's not so good for careers and business," because we're able to look at lots of different things, and hopefully, draw them together and make some elegant combination.
So, it would help you, as Greg mentioned earlier, to maybe follow your curiosity down whatever path that leads, whether it's into social sociology. Maybe, you want to study monkeys, maybe you want to... I don't know, learn coding, or architecture, or photography, or something that's outside of what you normally look at and do, and bring those worlds together. And in doing so, I think you have a greater chance of creating something that people would consider fresh and new. That's my answer to that.

Greg:

I love that answer, Chris. And I think that's great. I definitely align with that thinking too, and that it's worth more to invest in yourself in the learning part and development. What you said made me think a lot about, like my approach with what I did when I was younger versus now, I'm not as young. And back then, it was like, I just have to make stuff all the time because I have nothing else to do, and nothing else I really knew.
And the older I get, the less I make, but the better I feel about it too because it's... I guess, like a richer and more diverse experience that you have, and the work reflects that too, over time. Something... I don't think I'm going to... I might take a sociology class, but I'm not going to stop doing what I do to study monkeys.
But I am a fan of like, one thing I've been doing lately is, thinking about what did I enjoy when I was a kid? What made me really happy? It was playing video games, riding a bike. I don't know, just playing outside in nature. And I'm trying to tap back into those things, and you guys are promises not a midlife crisis. This is me trying to reconnect to those things, and bring some of that joy back into life, in hopes that I can use it, use it in what we do with the future, use it in the artwork that I make, use it wherever I need to.
And the more time I spent thinking about that, and trying to reconnect to those things, I realized, "I've done some really cool stuff." Just weird stuff I forgot about, like even picking up the guitar again, and starting to play. And then, I started going down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos, and I'm like, "These people make really great videos." And that got me thinking, "We can use some of this stuff in the videos we make."
And you start to form these really interesting connections. And it really helps when it's something that you're interested in and inspires you, versus Googling how to make better YouTube videos. That sounds insanely boring to me. There are different ways, maybe a longer windier path to get there. But it's a better experience. And then, you can, like Chris said, make those disparate connections and start bringing those things closer together.

Chris:

You could make a YouTube video, you write the music, and play the instruments, about animated monkeys studying sociology. And the more that you can bring those things together, the more the world looks like, "That is such a unique and bizarre point of view, that we can't help but to watch this thing." We have to watch this thing because it's so unique and weird and bizarre. And somehow, you're able to tell an amazing story in the process. And I think that's where the magic is.

Greg:

You just connected so many dots. I lost track, Chris. But you're right. That's exactly. And I think that's the invisible magic that we see. And other people were like, "Wow, they're so unique, where did they come up with that idea? How did they find that style? How did they do that?" And it's really all these little things coming together that are greater than the sum of their parts. And, yeah, I think it creates something really cool and magical and very unique to that person.

Chris:

I want to use this opportunity to talk about an idea that came up in a conversation earlier today on Clubhouse about how, as a creative individual, your goal should be to charge more money to make fewer things. And that obviously sparked a lot of people and they started messaging me.
And what I'm talking about is learning how to swim upstream towards the value, because at the bottom of the stream where it empties out into the ocean, because it's all streams do, they wind up in the ocean, that's where we consider a lot of the making, the craftsmanship, which at some point your easily your place.
At the very beginning of the stream, probably at the mountain top, where the ice is barely melting and forming into something and going down a waterfall, that's the source. And the closer you can get to the source, the pure the water is, the more valuable it is. And at that source is usually the things that happen inside boardrooms, to have a seat at the table with the C-suite executives, the CEO, the CRO, the CMO, the people with the letter C in front of their titles.
Okay, how do you get there? Usually, those people don't operate so much in the mechanics, the how. They operate at the fundamental, why? Why are we doing something? In order to be invited to those conversations, you have to have the vocabulary to speak their language to understand what matters most of them. But here's where you bring a ton of value, which is when a problem comes up, you tap into this deep reservoir, or this pool of life experiences, things that you studied along your journey as a creative individual, and be able to tap into those things and bring them to the conversation to help people get clarity on a problem or clarity on the solution.
So, early on in my career, I was in the what, like, what do we need to do? And so, I got a little bit smarter. I got into the how, like, how do we do what we do? And towards the end of my creative career in terms of the service industry, I got to talk to clients about the why, why are we doing this? Why does this matter? Why not do something else? And you get involved in those conversations. And that's usually where you get paid relatively a lot of money for not too much making.
So, as we move away from the making and into the thinking, we're actually able to build a stronger relationship with our clients and actually, charge more money.

Greg:

Okay. Chris, I have... We're way off topic, but it's okay. This is our show. So, that made me think about playing the devil's advocate, and saying, "Okay, but what if I don't want that?" How as... Maybe, a dedicated craftsperson? Maybe, this is a moot point because it's never about money. But how is it dedicated craftsperson do you sustain a viable career?
And I think that's a tough question for a lot of people because of the trajectory of life, like I want to buy a house, I want to start a family, I want to do this and that. You need money to do that. And also, that a lot of our creative industries are relatively young. And not a lot of... There's not a lot of like 70-year-old animators out there, at least in the digital arena. So, what do we tell crafts people who really want to pursue that path?

Chris:

Pursue the thing that you love. Whatever makes your heart happy, do with all your might. I don't have any issues with that. But generally speaking, the people who ask those kinds of questions, "How do I earn more money? How do I create more value for myself? How do I value myself in the marketplace?" Then, go back to the previous answer.
Now, if you're a craftsperson, the thing that you need to do is work on your craft. And you need to make sure there's a couple of things happening that are working in your favor. One is, demand going up or down for the people who do what you do. If it's going down, and we see multiyear trend line going down, you have to start thinking, "I either need to apply this craft a different market, or I need to bring in a different craft to make this thing viable once again."
The second question you have to ask yourself is, is this market super, super saturated? Which then it becomes almost impossible for you to stand out because there are so many viable alternatives to you. And when there's a viable alternative to you, price will most definitely go down. That's the thing.
So, if you can't move yourself into a position where you reduce the amount of competitors you have, by either position yourself in a different marketplace, or by attaining some master level skill. When I say master, I'm not just loosely throwing that word around. Someone who's practiced something for... I don't know, 10 years or something like that. You put in your 10,000 hours, and you've achieved a level of refinement and ability that people just show up for that.
I'll give you an example. Preparing sushi requires a level of skill. But to be considered the best in the world requires a level of dedication and focus that few people have. So, when I heard about this movie about the world's best sushi chef, I was like, "What? Did such thing exists? How do we know?" And it was in a documentary called, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi."
And when you follow the process, the maniacal attention to detail, painstakingly preparing your food for you, you can then satisfactorily say, "You are probably a master, you are probably the best in the world." And for which, I think there are a handful of people who can claim that. And if that's what makes you happy, by all means, pursue that.
Even antiquated practice like bladesmithing, if you're really that good, probably, Peter Jackson and friends will call you up to be the master bladesmith maker for the next future film for which you will be paid probably much better than everyone that's your contemporary, because you position yourself to be perceived as a master.

Greg:

That's a great point. And when I think about the two answers you just gave, the one thing they have in common is that, there is constant development. And so, on the one hand, it's like, you are, for lack of a better term, climbing the ladder. You're getting closer to the source. And maybe, it's not what you want to do, but you're going to make more and you will get the means that you're after.
The other is, you stay true to your path. And you keep your nose down and you just develop yourself and your craft and you strive to be the absolute best at that thing in which you do, and try to be strategic about it as well. Neither of those answers are there, I just want to keep doing what I'm doing. That's not a recipe for sustainability, right?

Chris:

Yeah, you're running in place while other people continue to run forward.

Greg:

Yeah.

Chris:

So, eventually, by running in place, you're going to be running backwards, relatively speaking.

Greg:

Yup. Arando, thank you so much for that question. Shorter ones are always the tougher ones to answer, but I really like where that took us.

Chris:

Same.

Greg:

Here's an even shorter question. Lauren asks, "How do I find my mission?"

Chris:

Yowser.

Greg:

You asked for it.

Chris:

That's a good one.

Greg:

Yes, it's a great question.

Chris:

There are probably some really great articles that you can find on the internet. So, Lauren, I'm going to give you an answer in a second. But I'd suggest, whenever you have a question in life at this point, just try typing in that question into Google and see what comes up. I'm pretty sure you're going to find a better answer than the one I'm going to be able to give you, off the top of my head.
But if I remember correctly, there's your purpose. The reason why you exist beyond money. There's your mission, how that purpose starts to take shape. And your vision, which is articulating what that is, and how you're going to get... There's a way that you can measure it. So, it's a little bit tricky. And these are all just different words.
So, if you say to someone like, "How do I find my mission?" Before you have a mission, you have to figure out what your purpose is, which is an even harder question to answer, okay? So, let's just take a step back. In the exercise that a lot of people do when trying to figure out what their purpose of life is, and why you exist on this planet, is to imagine if all your needs were taken care of, all your financial needs, everything is that you need is gone. Done. What do you do with your life? What is it that you want to do?
And you start thinking about, like, the impact you want to make on this planet. Hopefully, to help others. But that's usually a good starting point. So, for me, my purpose is to disrupt education. It's fundamental to my core and to my identity, because I see myself as an educator, and I see a big problem that needs to be solved, I really do. And so, then, my mission is to teach a billion people how to make a living doing what they love.
Now, that mission isn't articulated yet in a way that other people can jump on, like the how. So, let's just take the mission and bring it into the vision. So, my vision for the future at some point, it'd be fantastic if we had a hybrid school, a brick and mortar location that was able to leverage the best of two worlds. One, online virtual-based learning, learn anywhere at any point in time.
And also, physical like where we share space together with real human beings because something magical happens when you get human beings together, and that you discover the happy accidents, an idea can spark and a brainstorming session happens. And it's just in the serendipity, the chance encounter of things happening, that ideas get exchanged, and the sum is greater than the parts. I think that's wonderful and beautiful.
So, we're successful, we will create a private art school level education without the crippling debt. That's the vision. And if you can share that vision with people, hopefully, people can get on board. So, now, you've heard me shared the purpose, mission and the vision.

Greg:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. That was a good answer for such a tough question. You've clearly done this before. So, I think, Lauren, before you start thinking about your mission, it sounds like there's a higher purpose that needs to be identified. And then, you can start making connections about how to serve that purpose through your mission.

Chris:

So, Greg, I want to ask you a question.

Greg:

Yeah.

Chris:

Have you figured out your purpose?

Greg:

My purpose? I don't think I have. I'm going to answer your question after question. Chris, when did you figure out your purpose? Because I feel like, I think about it all the time. I don't think I've identified what exactly is. But I also feel just like, setting up a 401(k). I'm like, "Why am I so late to this party?" So, when did you find your purpose? Or really, when did it crystallized for you?

Chris:

As much as anybody might think about their mission, vision and purpose, it's not until you actually have to articulate it to other people that you're going to spend a new real time putting thought into it. Otherwise, it's like, "Oh, who would I want to be?" Yeah, or you can think about that for the rest of your life and not have an answer. Or who am I?
Now, for better or for worse, I have many opportunities, because people push and challenge me all the time. And some people are on this call. So, I don't know if you remember, we're having a management meeting a couple of years ago, and we're sitting in our conference room, when there was a lot of pushback, saying, "Chris, where are we? What is the future? Is it education company? Do we need to make money? Are we influencers? Are we a marketing company? What the heck are we trying to do?"
And everybody's pushing me and pushing me pretty hard. And that's when I'm like, "Guys, give me a second here. All right, here's the thing. What I want to do is I want to create a condition so that when Ben Burns, his little girl grows up, and she's 18 years old, and she's ready to go to college, that she can consider going to what we currently have right now, which is private art school, or she can consider, The Futur."
And I said, "It's too late for my children. They're too old. We're not going to be able to get to them in time." But there's enough time for us to build out the school, The Futur, so that she could decide." And I can see when I said that, especially because I was looking right at Ben, he got a little teary-eyed. He's an emotional guy. And he got teary-eyed because it finally dawned on him what the heck we're trying to do.
Perhaps, and this is just me reading body language here is, perhaps prior to this moment in time, he was thinking, we just need to sell products and make money. And maybe, there's a happy exit for all of us if the company were bought or sold. That's what he was thinking about. But when I brought it down to a human level, to something he could relate to, I think he bought into the vision.
So, that night, and the next morning, I kept thinking about this. Obviously, that story just takes too long. It's not economical to say in words. And so, the very next day, I wrote him something I and I wrote the first draft of our mission, which is, to teach a billion people how to make money doing what they love. And I started to think about that. And he said, "I just wanted to remove the word money, because different people are going to define success differently. And it's not always about money." It's not always about money for me, either.
So, that's when I changed it to teach a billion people how to make a living, doing what they love. And from that point forward, I put that message out into the universe. And the universe responded, because quite often, when I'm interviewed for a podcast now, or someone is introducing me on a stage somewhere, they're going to say, "Chris has a wild mission. He wants to teach a billion people how to make a living doing what they love."
So, naturally, they ask, "Why a billion? How did you come up with that? How are you going to measure that?" This is a great conversation starter, but then I have a wonderful excuse to talk about what it is we're trying to do. These things don't happen overnight. And so, a couple of weeks back, I was talking to Emily Hanson, who's a brand strategist. We're talking about your mission, vision and your purpose.
And as I was describing what I thought our purpose was, Emily said, "I don't think that's actually your purpose." That's when I had to go back and say, "Well, then, what the heck is my purpose? And then, what is my vision?" So, having been asked that question, I quickly sat down, and wrote the answers to that. And it seemed to fulfill the requirements of the mission, the vision of the purpose. And that's how I know what that is, Greg.
So, it's not until someone pushes you, who presses you where there's something on the line, and you can make poor business decisions together, if you're not clear with what it is that you want to do. Until then, I think it just stays loose in your brain.

Greg:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, I need someone to push me over. You're too busy. So, it can't be you?

Chris:

I'm going to Dr. Push right now.

Greg:

Yeah, I hear you and walks right about that one?

Chris:

You think about it. Yup, what is your purpose? Beyond money, why do you exist?

Greg:

I mean, the answer I know I can genuinely give right now is to help other people who are coming up, or anyone for that matter. I mean, I'm not... I don't aspire to be Mother Teresa. But I know, whatever I've done and lived here on this blue marble, I can take some of that, harness it, share it with someone else and say, "Here, maybe this will help you one day. Not, this is the way, but take what you like from this, check the rest, if it helps."
The format, shape and way that that works? I don't know, yet. But fundamentally, on a human level, I think that's what it's got to be. Either that or I'm like, "I just want to become independently wealthy and everyone else." But that sounds like a horrible and miserable existence.

Chris:

No, but actually, if you had to answer the question, it takes out money as part of the equation...

Greg:

Right.

Chris:

... beyond money, why do you exist? You can't answer to make more money, it wouldn't work. So, perhaps for you, your purpose in life... And I'm just throwing out random things here, is to normalize illustration, as math is today, in education.

Greg:

Okay, I'm open to that.

Chris:

I'm just throwing something out there, because I know you want to help people. You want to help them on their journey. You want to ease the suffering of other people. But that's a little bit too broad.

Greg:

Yes.

Chris:

So, as soon as you're able to articulate what it is that you want to do, the universe will align itself around you. Because if you say, "I want to help people," nobody knows how to help people, who want to help people. But if you say, "I want to normalize illustration as much as math is in school, all of a sudden, people who are in schools, people who like math, or people who like illustration, are going to have a response to you, you can't ignore it. And that's how you start to think about what it is that you're going to do next.
A good purpose and mission statement gives direction. It should serve as some decisional filter. Because if you say, "I want to help people," that means, everybody and everybody could use help. That means, everything you do will fit your mission. And if everything fits, then there's no point.

Greg:

Right.

Chris:

So, the way that you do that, operating on this thing that just right at you, which is, if it doesn't help people in grade level school, you're not interested. Because to normalize, it means you have to begin at a pretty early age. And if it's not centered around illustration, then you're also not interested. And then, therefore, you won't be participating in those things. So, it has to start to weed out things that are poor fits for you, in order for it to have any real meaning, and wait.

Greg:

Lauren, thanks for asking that question. Look, where you got me. I'm kidding. No, Lauren, that might be the best question because, honestly, look, where I caught us. This is great. This is some heavy thinking I'm doing now, Chris, and I shouldn't know that going into this conversation. But you're not wrong. I wish I had a more specific answer. But I appreciate the push, you're getting me closer to where I think I need to be in terms of making something specific, and being able to say it out loud to people.

Chris:

Yeah. And with that, I'm going to leave you with this little line. Maybe, I like to harass my wife and give her a hard time and lots of different things. And I'm really used to her returning the favor in kind, actually. So, there's one day I think, she says something to me. She goes, "You know, it's so stressful sleeping with you in the bedroom." Like, "How come?" "Because you're such a light sleeper. I had to get up to the bathroom, I have to tiptoe. And I got to make sure I'm quiet as a church mouse." I'm like, "Honey, it's true. I am a light sleeper. But I'm a heavy dreamer. And that's who you married."
So, I like to do these balancing statements, where somebody says, light, and then you go heavy, and shallow and deep and big and small. So, Greg, the size of the question is not proportionate to the size of the answer. So, thank you very much for asking that question, for allowing us to have this dialogue. And for you, Greg, for doing the hard work of putting this podcast together, organizing the questions so that we can have dialogue like this.

Greg:

My pleasure, Chris. And honestly, yeah, thank you to everyone that sent in questions. There's so many, so many good ones. And I wish we could answer them all.

Chris:

Maybe, we will, overtime, one day.

Greg:

Chris, I know you have to jump. Let me ask this one last one because I think it's a really good one. This is from Victoria. Victoria asks, "What was the best purchase you made for $100 or less, that really changed how you produce content? I'm looking to upgrade my set and can't afford the super expensive stuff."

Chris:

I'm the wrong person to answer that question. I will buy anything and everything. I'll try all kinds of things. I like nice gear. I don't want to overpay for it. But I'm going to deflect, I'm going to deflect a little bit. I'm going to say to you right now, if you want to find out like budget solutions, and not just get a list of products and links to buy stuff, and actually learn how to use it into the context in which it's used.
I'm going to do something that we've never done before. I'm going to tell you to follow me on Instagram, and DM me the word, zoom, Z-O-O-M. And my chatbot is going to give you a link to a person that I think you need to check out. It's not a course. It's totally free. I don't make any money. But I'm just trying this experiment.
So, you won't have to remember anything complicated, URLs or product names and serial numbers and anything like that. Just DM me the word, zoom, Z-O-O-M on Instagram, and you will get your answer, I promise. And don't add anything else. Just type in the word zoom. That's it. Don't add an emoji. Don't add a fire thing or triple exclamation points. It won't work. Just type in the word zoom, and my chatbot will tell you where to go. How's that, Greg?

Greg:

I'll take it. I think that's a great and quite cryptic response to that question. Victoria, I hope you find what you're looking for. Thank you for asking that. Okay. So, I think this is a good place to stop this, this Hey, Chris segments. So, all of you listening, if you have a question for Chris or me, then dance your fingers across that keyboard and visit thefutur.com/heychris. You can submit a question and we read every single one of them, and just might answer here the next time we do one of these.
Thanks again to everyone who asked a question and sent them in. Chris, thank you for being such a good sport and letting me ask all you these crazy questions on the fly. I appreciate it.

Chris:

It is my pleasure, Greg. It's good to see your long luscious hair. I imagine the next time we speak probably be down to your butt at that point, but we'll see. I have a suggestion that I thought. Perhaps, we can exit but expedite these conversations by having them on Clubhouse. And that way, the community can show up and listen in a conversation.
I always enjoy our conversations together, Greg, because I think you're such a thoughtful person and just generally a nice human being. So, if you're open to that, why don't we do that? Why don't we try to do these conversations live on Clubhouse while we're recording? So, there's the added benefit of a live studio audience as I see on TV.

Greg:

I love that idea, Chris. I'd be thrilled to jump on Clubhouse with you too, and a little intimidated, but I'm up for it.

Chris:

It will be just like this, except for there'll be a couple of 100 people listening in.

Greg:

No big deal. All right. Great. Let's do it. Everyone listening, I guess we'll see on Clubhouse. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time. Bye, everybody.
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Christ Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.
If you enjoyed this episode, 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 thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode.
If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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