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Chris Franklin

Chris Franklin is a filmmaker, photographer, and budding YouTuber helping clients, and fellow creatives meet their goals. In this friendly conversation, Chris shares his career path and how he went from studying pre-med biology to now running a thriving video production business.

Making time for yourself
Making time for yourself

Making time for yourself

Ep
189
May
18
With
Chris Franklin
Or Listen On:

Sometimes you need a moment to process.

Chris Franklin is a filmmaker, photographer, and budding YouTuber helping clients, and fellow creatives meet their goals.

He's also a Futur Pro Group member, which is where he met and connected with Chris Do.

In this friendly conversation, Chris shares his career path and how he went from studying pre-med biology to now running a thriving video production business.

Spoiler alert: it wasn't a straight line from point A to point B. It took Chris time and inward reflection to understand who he is and what drives his motivations. And that kind of introspection is never easy.

If you're interested in video production or are unsure about your path forward, this conversation might help you.

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Episode Transcript

Chris Franklin:

You can't become emotionally attached to the work that you create because you are there to solve a problem for a theoretical client. That's how our designs are structured. So, I saw a lot of my classmates get critiqued, break down crying. And for me, I just felt nothing a lot of the time, because I was creating work that I was passionate about. I couldn't get attached to it.

Chris:

Okay. So Chris, for the full disclosure, everybody that's listening to this podcast, I know Chris Franklin in real life. I've met him and we've hung out in New York, and we've hung out in LA. He's a genuine dude. And here's the thing and the reason why I invited him on today's podcast is that he works in the video production space and he's been sharing the progress he's making and it's astounding. You've been growing by leaps and bounds. So, if you are in the video production space, if you are thinking about hiring someone on either side of the fence, I think this episode is going to be one that you're going to want to stick around for. So Chris, for people who don't know who you are, can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit of a story?

Chris Franklin:

Absolutely. So, my name is Chris Franklin and I run a video production agency here in south Mississippi. I'm kind of a born and raised south Mississippi boy. I got into cameras by wanting to do photos and making these quirky YouTube videos. They're terrible. But somehow it developed into me doing senior portraits and somehow it developed into me doing weddings. And ultimately, I was like, "Hey, I can actually nail down the video production side of things and focus up in that one area." And actually find a lot of passion in that one spot. So, I found myself doing the production side of video and hopefully doing it well enough to try to scale and grow. And honestly, it's still a bit surreal, still a bit adjustment that needs to be had, but yeah, kind of out here, living life in the heat of Mississippi.

Chris:

Okay. Couple different things, did you go to college, and what did you study, or did you go straight into trying to figure out how to be an artist?

Chris Franklin:

Yes. So, coming through high school, because this is important, going through high school, I did Photoshop a lot. I ended up being head branch staff, whatever it is, in the yearbook. I did that. And then I went to pursue what I thought was my goal in life. Because I went to college with a degree in biological sciences and a minor in chemistry. That was my starting college career, completely medical field. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I loved to figure out how things work and how to solve people's problems. And the underlying theme of that was keeping the "how to solve people's problems." It didn't matter what I did. That was what I actually enjoyed. So, I found not that I hated biology and I switched to graphic design. Graphic design was way better. It fit me so much more because in the heart I've always kind of been an artist as kind of, I was the kid who drew in class and I tried to fight that urge by going to school for the money, getting myself in a ton of debt and trying to climb out of it.
But I just quickly realized that if there's no passion, there is no Chris. And I studied graphic design, graduated, and did not use my major because I quickly shifted to video. But truthfully, graphic design still pops up here and there. It helps me understand the concepts in working with agencies. I actually am still a designer in heart. So, I know how to help them out when it comes to combining graphics with video.

Chris:

That is a pretty hard pivot. We've heard some pivots in our guests before, but that is a really hard pivot. A couple of things I want to point out. Are you familiar with the comic book artist Jim Lee?

Chris Franklin:

Yeah.

Chris:

Did you know he was a pre-med major before switching to becoming a world-famous powerful artist himself?

Chris Franklin:

No, I did not. I did not know that.

Chris:

That was his thing. So, here's the thing that you brought up earlier, which I want to talk about for a minute because you and I are not that dissimilar in that we knew that there's this creative person inside of us, but external forces and stories told us that's a path to poverty and a life of suffering. And so we're not stupid. We want to use some of our self-preservation instincts so that we don't wind up panhandling for money. And so we repress this creative desire in this urge. I'm curious in the world and the place and space that you grew up, were there role models for you to look at it and to know, "Yeah, I could be a designer."? Because what ultimately was the trigger for you to go into biological science versus design?

Chris Franklin:

That is a great question. The [inaudible 00:05:22] here he come. So, growing up, I watched my dad work three jobs. He is the hardest working person I know. He's finally retired as of this year, but every week, every day, even on Sundays, he was working to become a provider. And so I saw that and I was like, "I want to do something that can support my family. That way money is never the issue. What is the highest-paying job I can do?" And it was like, "You can be a neurosurgeon." I was like, "Oh yeah, I can grind out 15 years of my life to become a neurosurgeon. So, let's do that." But on the side from that, I was always drawing. I was always playing with photos or playing the video as my "hobby or passion".
There wasn't anybody in my family... My brother worked with cameras. As I was growing up, he was the catalyst to help me get my hands on a physical camera. My godmom actually funded, she gave me like 400 bucks to actually buy my first camera. There were other people who around me were pushing me to kind of achieve goals. But the big obstacle for me was my dad and my dad had fallen in love with the fact that his son was going to school to be a neurosurgeon. And he loved that. And I love seeking his approval because I considered him a good role model. Somebody who works hard, somebody who does what it takes to get things done. And for a while I fought it, I fought the passion to go towards art. And I stayed in medicine and things like that.
But when I graduated high school, I moved out. I went to college. I realized that this, technically, is the only life I have. This is it. And I have to make my own decisions. So, one day I called my dad and I said, "Hey, I'm switching majors." And he's like, "Oh, okay." He's thinking I'm still... Neurosurgeon is the moon. If I switch, maybe it's a heart surgeon. And I was like, "I'm going to go to graphic design." And he's like, "What is that?" And so as an 18, 19-year-old college student, trying to tell your father that you're going to be an art student, doesn't work out too well. So for years, for years, he questioned me and he said, "What are you going to do with this design degree?" And I was like, "Pops, I'm probably going to, hopefully, become a creative director for a company. that is one of the highest-paying jobs in their field."
He was like, "But are you actually going to you use it?" And we would get into these bickerments back and forth. My dad, he's military, he's cop, he's like, "Yes, sir. No, sir." One day, we got into, it wasn't even an argument, he was putting down on the stuff I was enjoying doing. And it struck a little nerve. And I told him, I was like, "I don't ever want to speak about this again. Just give me time to figure it out. And we can go from there." And Chris, I told this story because I don't think I've ever told this story publicly, but one day, a couple years down the line, the entire timeline, got to prove pops wrong."
It went from trying to be like my dad to, "I now have to prove my dad wrong. And I now have to figure it out and do it on my own." And I told him one day. I called him. I was in Target. I just left a meeting and I told him, I was like, "Hey, pops." And it was just updating him. Because I had got into the habit of updating. I was doing senior portraits for 150 bucks, $200.
And one day I called him. I said, "Hey pops, I just booked a wedding for $5,000." And I'm actually very excited to do it. And on the phone, this man says, "Chris, I didn't really have faith in you going into design or doing anything with the art degree or anything like that, but at the end of the day, man, I'm proud of you." When I tell you I broke down crying, driving from a Target... I couldn't tell him. I couldn't even express the way I felt. Because it was so new. Because I fought it for years, and too finally have that affirmation and that reassurance really solidified the fact that this is the area of life that I want to be in. Now, how can I niche down and figure out what do I want to do with this area of my life? So, that's kind of a long-winded way of saying that's how I got into video.

Chris:

No, I wouldn't characterize it as long-winded. I thought that was a beautiful story, Chris. Thanks for sharing that. There's a couple of questions I need to follow up with, because I think you were going to go there and then you skipped right over it. Your dad says, "I'm proud of you." And for someone who's never had a role model, a father figure, say that to them before in that way and completely accept you for what it is that you're going to do, was everything to you. Because in the story, I may be interpreting here, but it sounds like you got nothing but love for your dad. And to see the man bust his hump, three different jobs, providing for the family, your main drive in the world was to do something so that you could retire your father.
And then when you found that this is the thing you want to do, it probably hurt you twice as much in that you probably still have that dream to provide for your family, but your dad wasn't accepting of it. So, when he said that, I think you were indicating this, that it opened a floodgate of emotions for you. So, I want you to not skip that part. So, are you on the road and you're talking to him or are you in a parking lot and you're like, "I got to go." Tell me this. Don't skip any detail.

Chris Franklin:

Absolutely, absolutely. So, I get in my car from Target. And that's when I tell him. I start driving and I'll kind of explain to you in a moment. I'm on speakerphone with him. And he gives me this feeling, he finally says, "I'm proud of you." And for me, It definitely opened up a lot emotionally because it gave me something I didn't consciously know I wanted. And it gave me a little bit of fuel in my life. And so I got on the phone with my dad and I utter out the words, "Thanks pops." And I say, "It's getting late. I kind of need to hop off. I'll let you know when I make it home safe." Because I couldn't speak, because I hadn't cried in so long. As I've always been told to suppress those emotions and keep those things down.
But that moment changed a lot in my life in general. That moment was a reflective point because the things I do now like I talk with my dad more. I appreciate his existence in my life. Every single day, I try to call him and check up on him because I can be more vulnerable with him now. Now that the great wall is fallen. And I do stuff that gets me more emotionally vulnerable more often like I go to movies alone, sometimes, emotional movies. Just so I can sit and cry, sit and let out a little bit of stuff that I keep held in. Because for so long it was unhealthy that I kept it all in and to be an artist and to do creative things, we have to let that emotion and stuff out.
And I know going through art school, you can't become emotionally attached to the work that you create because you are there to solve a problem for a theoretical client. That's how our designs were structured. So I saw a lot of my classmates get critiqued, break down crying. And for me, I just felt nothing a lot of the time, because I was creating work that I was passionate about. I couldn't get attached to it. And I remember after that conversation, I felt a wave of passion for the things I was doing. One of the critiques, a couple months down the line, I worked so hard on a project and a logo on the design and my teacher to be devil's advocate, great design. He intentionally told me to scrap it and do something completely different. Even though up to that point, he had agreed with me on the design and we talked through it, but he wanted to challenge me.
And I told him, "No." He gave me the critique. And I said, "If this is your way of trying to make me do something that I don't want to, I'm not going to do it." And in his eyes, which is this weird roundabout thing I had defended, and I had created enough of a foundation to be like, "Hey, I am the one creating the solution for you. What you are suggesting is not going to be an effective solution for the problem we're trying to solve."
And he was borderline testing me on that. And I remember I was, "I've never felt like this about the stuff that I create. Why am I emotionally charged now? Why am I feeling stuff?" And it was because I was really putting my heart and soul into it now. And it was something I hadn't been able to fully do because I was self-conscious about, "What is my dad going to think at the end of this? Does this even have my family's approval?" But now that I had that approval, I was able to fight for my creative life a little bit more. Overall, it kind of made me more of a well-rounded creative individual because it's now just this, there is no other options. There is no fallback plans. I do this and I figure out how to do it the absolute best I can, because this is my choice. This is the only choice I have right now.

Chris:

So, I'm glad you told that story following the other one, because I had assumed that you booked the wedding gig after you got out of school, but you booked it before and you got your dad's blessings while still in school, right?

Chris Franklin:

Yep. That's exactly right.

Chris:

This is a powerful moment. I want to just spend a minute here. There's a kind of a monkey on your back. This, "I need my dad to say it's okay. I know I'm going to be okay. But I need this person that I care about, his opinion to give me that approval." And this gift that he gives you in the words "I'm proud of you." It changes you. Quite literally, it changes you. And then there's now this clarity and this confidence, and, "I don't have to second guess myself anymore." So, whatever the intentions of the teacher were, whether it was a test or whatever, it revealed that you're a different person in that moment. That's really powerful stuff, Chris.

Chris Franklin:

I appreciate it. It's kind of something I've been trying to find the lessons in life every chance I can and not taking anything for granted, because I consider myself to be in a very, very blessed position. Every day I wake up, I'm like, "I got to be in the top 1%." There's no way you're happier than me. I still have a way to go. And I love that there's still room for growth, but I'm like, "Man, it is so much to be grateful about because I'm doing the stuff I want to do."

Chris:

Yeah. So, I want to just see if I can connect a theme here in that you had said, "I'm going to go my own way." And as a young man, quite literally, a young man because you just exited out of your teenage years into full-blown adulthood, that you stood up to an idea and you stood up for yourself, but you didn't get any confirmation that that was okay. And then the minute that your dad said it was okay, that person was now confident to challenge anybody else to say, "I know what I'm doing. If I can get my old man to say, It's cool, go forward and pursue what your heart tells you to do then who is this stranger who is my "teacher"? Who is he to me? Nothing, relative to the man that raised me." Right?

Chris Franklin:

Right.

Chris:

Powerful stuff, Chris. And another thing that you said, which I think if you can't hear it in this, listen a little bit more carefully to this man's voice. There's a radiance, a happiness that emanates from in, when he says, "I have to be the happiest person. I have to be in that 1%, because that's how I feel."
And then what happens is the outside manifests to match the inside. And I really believe this because some people are rotten to the core and they wonder why so many bad things happen to them. Because they don't have that optimism. They don't have that outlook. They don't have that abundance mindset. They're limited by so many things. They never take responsibility. They're always blaming a society, their culture, their parents, their upbringing, the city in which they live in. They blame so much that they're always stuck in this negative spiral. But I almost feel from you that you're just waiting for all the external markers to line up with how you already feel inside. And a person like that, to me, is just unbeatable.

Chris Franklin:

A away with words you have, Chris, that is always summarizing emotions and things I've felt for six years into 25 seconds. It definitely reflects on what I try to do and who I try to be, is trying to spread that overwhelming positivity because I wanted to be there for other people as much as possible.

Chris:

Yeah. Now I noticed you talked about your dad, where's your mom in this picture?

Chris Franklin:

So my mom... See, my parents split and I was in fifth grade.

Chris:

Okay.

Chris Franklin:

At first, I lived with my mom. I bounced back and forth between my parents a lot. But from like eighth grade, I was living with my dad and he actually remarried and I have a stepmom. And there was always tension in the house. I was teenage angst. He was an authoritative figure. And my stepmom was also an authoritative figure. But my mom at the time, she was also bouncing from place to place. She moved to the coast, which is two hours relative from me. She would come back and something would happen. Her house would catch fire, which happens a lot, and she would have to be forced to move. And so she hasn't had a stable foundation, but we've always been on absolutely positive terms.
[Inaudible 00:21:26] she's always supported me. She's always been proud of me. She's always given me that abundant love. Because that's just who she is. She is a very emotional person. She lives her emotions on her sleeves. My dad is not. He is where I get the cold, calculated side of me from. So, I do my best to merge them both. So, yeah, she's definitely around. And I talk with her also every other day, if not every day. She spent a week here with me. We hung out. We did stuff. So, mom is still there, but she was not the challenge. She was definitely not the challenge.

Chris:

Wonderful. I want to move the story along a little bit here. So, you're getting work. And this is pretty remarkable because most people go to school because they want to acquire skills to be able to get work. And here you are already getting work while you're in school. What does this do for your confidence?

Chris Franklin:

Getting work while in school is a double-edged sword because sometimes it makes you sit there and think, "What am I doing here?" So, drop-out potential for me was escalating every single day. But I told myself I would finish. And when I realized I wouldn't be a designer, probably my third year out of four, but I told myself I would finish. And so I didn't want to "abandon" the progress that I had made, but I figured it had to help in the long run. So, it was a double-edged sword because it gave me the confidence to not care as much about class. Even though I've always been a good student. I was always in a straight-A student and I did what was necessary to get the work done. But a lot of times clients who were paying me, actively paying me, took priority over some of my schoolwork and sometimes schoolwork would suffer.
And a lot of times, I'd missed class or something because I was off in some specific part of the nation filming or doing something. I remember what helped me fuel in my senior year was somebody made the comment of, "I don't know why he's off missing class filming. He's not going to get a job in that area." And I came back and a friend of mine told me that. I was like, "Oh yeah, this now has to work." It was hard because I was like, "How are there so many people who are non-believers of the stuff that you put forward?" Because I do my best to support everybody in all the things they do, no matter how irrational sometimes they may be. It happens, but this was just adding fuel to the fire that I may use graphic design and I may use my degree, but it will be in support of the thing I'm ultimately most passionate about. And that was working with cameras. And it worked out that way.

Chris:

Did you feel like at times you were the big man on campus? I mean all things in perspective, relatively speaking, being able to make 5,000 bucks when you're a junior in school, that's a big deal. Did you walk a little differently? Did you stand up a little straighter, because you kind of know something other people don't?

Chris Franklin:

Truthfully, Chris, no. I have such a detachment from money that I... Perspective, I made that $5,000, but at the time I was building credit card debt. At that time I had about $14,000 in credit card debt. I actually ended college with about 22,000 in credit card debt. And so getting a $5,000 bandaid was nothing for me to really celebrate because I had dug myself in a hole so deep that I was just trying to fight for it to get out. And I was able to give classmates a little bit more experience with selling in real-world clients to a degree and a little bit more business processing. But personally, I'm glad that I got all of the stupidity and all of the lack of knowledge out of the way first, because when I graduated college, it was immediately diving into the big-boy world.
The advice I got from Tad Carpenter, who was a designer in Kansas City, Tad told me, he said, "Guys, don't start an agency or don't go to work that Monday after you graduate," he was like, "Take a week or two and enjoy the freedom that you have." And I did not listen. Graduation from Friday, that Monday I was working on a [inaudible 00:26:30] that we had started. We had investors and I was doing my best to put my best foot forward. And it was hard. It was definitely hard because what I had dealt with were young people, people who were getting married, people who were graduating, but now we were dealing with people who do millions of revenue, who are demanding the logo on a website and they paid you what you consider to be a large sum of money when an actuality is exceptionally small and they now have power over you.
And they have your phone number. So, they call you. And I'm like, "This is not what I expected." And I kind of wish I'd taken a breath before. And I kind of wish I had studied more. And that was kind of ultimately what led us and myself to you. You brought the experience and the knowledge that my college didn't prep me for. They teach you how to be a designer and they teach you how to be a worker. Nobody teaches you how to be the creative director because they imagine that you'll just gain that with experience. I didn't have the experience and I was the creative director. And so it was a weird case.

Chris:

Keeping it real. When you say you're like $20,000 in credit card debt is that for gear, is that for school? How'd you get so deep into debt?

Chris Franklin:

That's funny. I had $30,000 of student loans that I didn't have to have and $22,000 credit card debt and a lot of nothing to show for it. Because I was taking out loans to pay for camera gear, but what was I spending my credit cards on? So, I would buy a lot of food. I would do travel. I would pay for tickets to Los Angeles and stay, and it'd be 800 bucks and I'd put it on my credit card and I'd try to pay it down per month. But I was double dipping. Double dipping is when I would buy my friend a $1,500 skateboard with my credit card, he would hand me $1,500 in cash. And I would put $200 to my credit card. And I'm like, "I got an extra 1300 bucks." And that is so stupid. And I didn't have much to show for it.
I bought a little bit of camera gear. It helped me get the lens that I needed to stand out from the competition of Hattiesburg, because I was the guy who had the $1800 lens that nobody else could afford. And I had the $2500 camera. I actually worked at Best Buy to help fund my camera gear because Best Buy would give you this insane discount on these really, really expensive cameras. And so I was putting in side time at Best Buy, going to school to be a designer, all to just fund and do more camera stuff. So, I didn't have much to show for it, but a great learning experience and a great mindset for money management came out of it.

Chris:

So, if I'm understanding the situation correctly, you spent the money foolishly to do a couple of young-person things, right?

Chris Franklin:

Yep.

Chris:

Okay. So, had you used more of it to invest in your personal development or the equipment that you needed to build a business, you might have been a little bit better off just coming out of gate, right?

Chris Franklin:

Yeah. If I had a $22,000 head start on my business, oh man, I could have done so much more, but instead, I was young, inexperienced. I didn't know what to put it towards.

Chris:

It's okay. It's better to learn that lesson early on while the amount of damage you could do financially is finite as opposed to in your 30s and 40s, when you could do a lot more damage and spend money on foolish things. The toys just get bigger. The habits don't change, right?

Chris Franklin:

That's true. That's absolutely true.

Chris:

True time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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Chris:

Welcome back to our conversation. Okay, so the next part which I want to explore with you has a lot to do with our mutual friend, Mo Ismail, who you met and then started a business with. And then ultimately you guys decided to separate ways. I don't want to get into dirty laundry or anything like that, but I do want to talk a little bit about your emotional state when one of your best buds and you ultimately split up in a business because I went through a similar thing with the school and then forming The Future. Take me back there when you guys decide, "We're going to go different directions." Give me the raw, unfiltered emotional part, and then allow me just to kind of lead the conversation. But I just want to first understand emotionally, how did you feel?

Chris Franklin:

Absolutely. So, Mo and I were in business for about two years, two and a half years. We were experimenting. I was more on all things creative and he was more on business management. And he was very adamant about letting him handle the way the business is managed because that was where he wanted to be. That's where his passion lies. So, I'm here to support. And I love to be the creative. And so we did that for a while. And I remember, we started outsourcing more stuff, trying to scale a bit more because we needed more than just myself. And I remember slowly feeling like more of just a graphic designer again, like I slowly slipped down into that versus a partner. But I was in slumps. I was in a little bit of a slump. This was like two weeks. And I remember it was two weeks vividly because I came back into the office and I felt like I was ready to do so much more, ready to create so much more.
I was like, "Yeah, if I'm going to be a designer, I'm going to be the help borderline." I was like, "Let me just own this." And this is the story. And I told the story, I told it to a couple friends. I walked into the office and I was setting up my home computer in the office. Because I was going to fully commit to everything. I'm in there screwing in a monitor and Mo walks in. And he's tense. I can see he's tense immediately, but I am overwhelmingly happy today because I've been tense for the last two weeks. He sits down and he's like, "Hey, we've got to have a chat." And I was like, "Okay." So, I put the gear up and we sit. And we talk and he says very, very straightforward. He was like, "I'm not happy with the way things are going."
And I was like, "Oh, okay. Absolutely, we can figure out where's this source of unhappiness stem from. Is it something that you're feeling inside? Is this something that you're working through?" And he was like, "What I'm feeling is I don't think we should be in partnership anymore." And I was like, "Understandable, that is a deep, deep feeling to have. And I'm proud of you for articulating it because you could have sat on this for weeks." And I was like, "What can we do? And what can I do specifically that we can work on this?" And Mo hit you with... Man, I love Mo and we still communicate, we still hang out. I'm going to his son's birthday party in like two days.
But Mo hits me with, "Oh no, this is a decision that I've made. So, it's not anything that I can do." And I was like, "Oh, okay. All right. So, just give me a little bit of time to process." I took that in for a little bit. He kind of expressed how he had been feeling and how he wanted to go a different route. And we were in partnership with two other guys who were our angel investors. They were silent partners. So, it was four of us total. And I asked him, I said, "Hey, can I step out of the room for a bit?" And he was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." And soon as the door closed, all the emotion hit. And I remember I was just sad. Because it just felt so new and it was so jarring, and it was so different.
And I let all of that out. And I sat for myself for about an hour and a half. And Mo was like, "We have a meeting with our two other investors in like two hours." He was like, "I don't know what the solution is. I don't know if it's I step out of the company or you step out of the company. I don't know what the exact solution is, but we're going to meet with them about it." And so we get into this meeting, and the two guys are talking, and they turn and talk with us. And the way the conversation is, "Yeah, Chris, everything's going to work out. The best thing that happened to me was I was let go for my company." And I was like, "Oh, I am being parted ways with." They've already had the conversation.
And I'm just now getting the information. And so for a bit, man, I remember I let myself... Because through and through, I'm still a very calculated person, I was like, "I'm going to give myself a week, maybe two weeks. I'm not going to do anything. I'm just going to sit for a bit. And then on this specific date where I am going to go back into being back on that original path I was." So, my hit thing was I was going to go out and start doing wedding films. And I started accepting weddings again. And it felt kind of subpar from what I was doing and from what I wanted to do. But at the end of it, I was like, "Oh, wow." I think whether Mo, he knows it or not, he did me the absolute biggest favor because he set me free.
He was still with the company with the partnership, but I was able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And it really hit home when I started doing consistent income. So, my first year when I was with the company, I think we were paying each other like 3,500 bucks a month. It was $3,000 a month, but I had $2,800 in expenses because of my credit card debt and because of my other things. And so barely, barely surviving. But I was willing to grind out for the sake of the company's development. But the great thing is when we split, we were able to cover more ground individually. He sent me work. I sent him work. We had to cover more ground individually in the areas that we focused on. And my first year in business, I was able to do, I think, it was $91,000 solo.
And I was like, "Wow, I'm able to buy all the camera gear that I wanted, do all the things I should have done when I was in college. But I can do it with the clarity and the knowledge that I've gained over the past two years. I know how to handle clients. I know how to negotiate price. I've been studying, I've met Chris Do. I've been able to apply all of that to my solo life. And I was grateful in the end because all of the raw emotions, all of everything... I never disliked Mo. People were like, "How do you not dislike somebody who broke up with you?" I was like, "What do you mean?" Business relationships, we were always very clear because we were the best of friends. We were always clear, business relationships are different in friendships.
So, when we broke up businesswise, I still went to his house on Saturday. We still hung out. We still chatted. And nothing changed there because it's always been love and it always will be. And I was so grateful because I was like, "Man, it feels so good to do it on my own." Because I've always wanted to apply my efforts towards the business development side of things. But I felt so caged. I was like, "I finally get to use my expertise in the things I've learned in the work that I do for myself." And so, yeah, the raw emotions led to me being exceptionally grateful. I wouldn't do it over again. I wouldn't change a thing. That's what I'm saying because in the end, it's put me on a platform way bigger than I could have ever imagined.

Chris:

Okay. I have more questions for you, but I want to summarize a couple things that I heard. You had said that you were going through some kind of slump or a funk prior to even having this conversation. So, for whatever reason, whether you knew at that time or not, and maybe it kind of led to this like, "I don't know if Chris is really into the business the way I'd hope he would be." And that's a difficulty of having partnerships is why I caution almost any of my friends that are willing to listen, do not get into a partnership. Oftentimes we seek partnerships because there's something that we need to work on ourselves that we don't want to do. So, we find a surrogate who can do that thing. And then we check out. A number of different reasons. I think knowing both of you, obviously, I spent a lot of time talking to Mo, but I think you have both benefited by being more independent, because you started to learn what you needed to learn about yourself and about each other and all those kinds of things.
A funny thing is the person who told you, was it Tad Carpenter who told you when you get out of school, don't work for a week or two or take some time off? And you didn't heed that advice. But I don't know if you've noticed when you were let go or the breakup happened and you're on your own, you were like, "I'm not going to do anything. I just need to get my head clear. I process." And so maybe it was just a delayed two-week break from your post-graduate kind of mindset.

Chris Franklin:

What it was is at that moment, when we broke up, I realized I had never had a breath of fresh air. And so that's what Tad was trying to tell me to do. And I was finally in the mindset to be like, "Oh yeah, this is definitely, definitely needed in this moment."

Chris:

I also want to point out because it kind of brings a smile to my face, because the first thing that Chris talks about after having his first year as a solo, creative is he made $91,000. And the first thought he's like, "I could buy camera gear." It's not like, "I made it. I proved you all wrong." It's like, "I could buy camera gear." Because it's like you and I were kind of gearheads. It's like, "Let me tinker around with this a little bit." So, it's kind of hilarious as a side story. Okay, what year is this? How long ago was this that was your first official full 12 months on your own?

Chris Franklin:

First full 12 months started in January of 2020.

Chris:

Okay. This is pretty fresh.

Chris Franklin:

Yeah. Right now, I'm in year three.

Chris:

Right, you're like three months into year three.

Chris Franklin:

Yep.

Chris:

Let's do the numbers if you don't mind. Can we do the numbers?

Chris Franklin:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris:

First year on your own, you're not quite triple, but somewhere close to that in terms of your income.

Chris Franklin:

Yes.

Chris:

Just before you're paying yourselves very little and there's too many mouths to feed. There's four people that are feeding into this business. Two silent partners, a partner and yourself. That's a lot of mouths to feed. So, even if you made the same amount of money, at least now there's only one mouth to feed and it's a lot easier to manage. So 2020, what did you do, gross revenue?

Chris Franklin:

2020 was the 91,000.

Chris:

Okay, 2021. I'm sorry.

Chris Franklin:

Yeah, 2021 was $147,000.

Chris:

Going places. Just out of curiosity. I don't want to derail the conversation. But when you do 147K, you tell your dad, "Dad, I did 147k."

Chris Franklin:

Yeah. That is the only person's face I reminisce. Because, oh man, he deserves it. And he knows he deserves it. And he's like, "Oh man, you could finally get me that truck." If you go to my Facebook page right now, you'll see, he's tagged me in Denali GMC truck ads being like, "Oh, Christmas gifts." And I'm like, "Pops, I don't make enough to buy you a $100,000 truck."

Chris:

That's not responsible spending by the way.

Chris Franklin:

Exactly. Exactly.

Chris:

Yeah. Okay. Now, we're three months into 2022. And the reason why I was like, "I need to talk to you right now because a lot of people are going to find a joy in hearing your story and be able to relate to you." is that you sent me a little text and you're like, "Chris, you just won't believe it. But I'm already at Hmm for 2022.

Chris Franklin:

Yeah.

Chris:

What was that number?

Chris Franklin:

Currently, we are three months in, actually, two months, two weeks, about $165,000.

Chris:

Okay, everybody, perspective here. In two and a half months, let's just call it three months. In three months' time he's already surpassed his gross revenue from all of the previous year. You're on a rocket ship, my friend. Now I know you don't care about money. You already talked about it. What story does this money tell you right now? The kind of success you're having.

Chris Franklin:

At the moment?

Chris:

Yeah.

Chris Franklin:

It takes some getting used too, but right now, it's telling me that I did the right thing. I'm a big fan of delayed gratification. So, when I say I made $94,000 and I bought camera gear it's because I needed to lay the foundation. And when I did the next year, I'm still in the foundation mode. I'm still laying a foundation to where I can have the capability to do bigger work because I know my limit isn't $3,000 videos or $4,000 videos.
Because I know that isn't the cap, even though that may be what people will tell me. They're like, People can't afford stuff that high" and I'm like, "I beg to differ." And so I am just still laying the foundation. And this year, I consider the foundation laid. I consider myself being able to take profit, and I've been able to really, really appreciate the amount that I have while still being able to divide and delegate, literally everything that comes in. I use the profit-first technique. I run my business off less. I think about something you told me a while back when you were referencing like 120,000 on a Google commercial or something, and you were like, "We do everything for 30%." If it can't get done for 30% it needs to get done for 30%.

Chris:

There's no such thing.

Chris Franklin:

There is no over. And I'm like, "That makes so much sense." Because at the moment I take off for taxes, I split the number in half and I run my business on less and everything else has to go to securing my future, to saving for a house, to paying off my car, or getting rid of any debt. I am currently debt-free aside from one student loan. I do my best to not take the time I have and the money I have for granted because I don't know if I always make $150,000 a month. This could be the start and it could dwindle down in April, and I could coast the rest of the year out. But I'm trying not to let that fire burn out. I'm trying to stay on top of the relationships that I have with the newer clients.
And I'm trying to keep things going and not get comfortable. I haven't been comfortable. I kid you not, I almost cursed. I haven't been comfortable since the breakup. I told myself, "This is what it feels like to be uncomfortable. Let's stay in the pocket and let's just take the advice I'm given, do the things I'm told." Because the calls that you have and the talks that we have with [Mo Trigo 00:48:14] and when we came down, there's this thing in gaming where we say, "Turn your brain off and run." It means turn your brain off and just listen to me, listen to the words I'm saying. And I was like, "Well, what's the worst case they have. I feel like I've already hit my absolute low. So I just listen to Chris indefinitely. What is the worst thing that can happen?" I go back to the low, well that I've been there before, so it will not feel as bad. So, it's been great. And it's been, as I said, it takes some getting used to.

Chris:

I think when we face adversity, when we have financial challenges, when our future is uncertain and we're at an emotional low point in our lives, we find out the stuff that we're made of. And this is not the curse that many fear, but it's the gift when you look at it through the right lens. So, you're going through a slump. You think everything's cool. You're going to get reengaged and right as you make that commitment, which probably hurts even more, because you're like, "Dude, I'm ready to turn this to 11 right now." And then the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. And I don't want to get into all the gory details, but now you're on your own and it's make-it-or-break-it time, baby.

Chris Franklin:

Yeah.

Chris:

And you got to stare at that guy in the mirror, it's like, "What do you want to become?" And every day you brush your teeth, you look at the mirror and then two weeks you emerge from the cocoon saying, "I know exactly what I'm going to do. I know where I'm going to be." And what's really cool is you recognize that moment, that feeling, that fire. And you're saying to yourself, whether or not you're super-financially successful or not, never forget that feeling, never sit there and cruise into some weird mental state or shift into that cruise control and that mental state. Keep hungry no matter what and don't get ahead of yourself. I want to ask you some questions here. And before I ask this question, let me just say this. Because I've met you in real life several times.
And I feel like I'm watching an evolution of Chris Franklin because in social situations, you and I were not that different. We're really quiet. We don't really know what to say to who. So, we're always standing there by ourselves and I see you. I'm like, "You could not be the more opposite of Mo." How you guys keep your business and how you guys became best friends. That's a miracle in itself, but there you guys are.
And then I see you making videos on YouTube. And with that super deep voice of yours, I'm like, "Oh, my god. This is something." You got something here. And this person is emerging from the cocoon of that two-week moment of processing. And you don't know this, but I did poke around to see if you'd be interested in closing up your shop. Because I was like, "I wonder if he'd come and work for me." because there's something about you that I like, but of course, you're making too much money for me to be competing with. And you're on your own path. And who am I to clip a bird when they're flying. I don't want to clip your wings. But I was gently probing like, "Hey, how's it going with your business? Oh, that good? Shoot."
Because I wanted to get a person in the studio. You shoot and do gear review, just eat up the gear all your life. And I'm sure you'd be happy, but that would not be what your life was meant for. Now, you seem to be a different person. You seem more outgoing. You seem to be more comfortable in your own skin. There's a quiet power and confidence that I'm feeling from you. What are three things that that hard breakup created for you? How did you transform? Do you recognize those things?

Chris Franklin:

Yes. So, I'm going to do my best to list these out.

Chris:

Yeah, go ahead.

Chris Franklin:

The first thing and the one thing that immediately took away from the breakup, Mo and I were talking, we were like, "We don't know how to split the company. We don't know how to do financial, who gets what camera gear, and what gets what." I had one request. And I kid you not. This is the same day that I just got told, or actually it was the same week. And I was like, "Hey." He was like, "You have any specific requests?" I said, "I want the YouTube channel." We have 300 subscribers. But in me, I was like, "I've seen Mo do what he does. He's a very charismatic speaker." It used to take me 55 minutes to record a three-and-a-half minute take on our YouTube channel because it wasn't me.
I've always kind of done public speaking to a degree. Because I did choir, I did speeches. But the moment you put that camera lens in front of me and the potential to reach thousands, if not millions of people, I would always freeze. So, it gave me the headspace, the confidence to immediately be like, "I'm going to make this social appearance of me be a thing, because I know the confidence I draw from doing this, no client is going to be a challenge to talk to." And that's just what I saw from it. Because talking to clients wasn't my biggest fear. Pricing and negotiation wasn't the things I was scared of. For some reason, it was this camera. And I wanted the channel of our 300 subscribers. One, because I didn't want to do the work of getting the 100 again.
The first 100 is the hardest, but I was like, "I can turn this to 11. I can do the stuff that I've kind of had in my mind that I've kind of dreamed of. And not have it so broad. I can niche it down to fit me." And when I did that, the things I talked about, I was much more confident in. And it took me 16 minutes to record a five-minute video. And then it took me 10. And now it takes me like seven minutes to kind of sit down and do a one-take and keep things going. And it feels different because I am more confident because I kind of pivoted to the things that I enjoy. So, that was one big thing that I took away from it. It was the confidence.
The second had to be the financial management of it. As I said, I don't believe I have an emotional connection to money. So, when I tell a client a price and I use your strategies and I use the methods that you taught me, I just sit back and let them speak because my urge and my want was always like, "But if that's too expensive, we can work something out." And I'm like, "No." because when I got my first little bit of success with that, I was like, "I can say any number I want to, can't I? I mean, I can kind of keep pushing. And recently, five, six months back, I met with a client, pretty large client. And I was like, "Hey, I just want to let you know before we continue in our conversation before we dig too deep on our relationship piece, 30-second videos that I usually do that require a day or two of shooting usually range between 14 and $8,000.
Is that something that you're comfortable with? And they're like, "Yeah, that's fine." And in that moment, I was like, "Oh my God, I anchored too low again." Even though this number is four times higher than anything I've ever charged, it's still too low because I just need to keep adding more and more confidence and getting to those bigger and bigger numbers. Because what you told me, and this is post-breakup when we first came down, you were like, "You can do the 120,000 on commercials. But one, I don't have the confidence to say the numbers. Two, nobody can find you because you're not doing the work and I'm not putting myself out there." And so turn my brain off and I'm just like, "I'm just going to put myself out there, and I'm going to say a number that's big for me."
It doesn't have to be a crystal number, but it's going to be big for me. And it's going to be life-changing for me. And they were just like, "Yeah, that's fine. That's no problem." I'm like, "Oh, okay. There is so much untapped potential." And I live in a relatively small city, but there's so much untapped potential that the only thing holding me back is my fear. And so getting past that and getting the confidence to talk to clients was another thing. And the third was immediately not doing the work. The first thing I did was when I got enough money, I brought somebody in to do the work. I started outsourcing immediately because I could grind the work out, but I had seen what we did for Mocs and keeping everything internal, trying to keep the profit to ourselves really just keeps the profit away from you truthfully.
So, the first thing I did was bring somebody on who can help me. Who can help, not a partner, but somebody who can actually help me load and unload camera gear. And then I needed a blank slate that I could mold into cutting videos exactly the way that I do it. So, I can just kind of duplicate myself. And over the past two years, I've been teaching an editor and he can now fully do it on his own now. And he can do any and everything that I request. And at the moment I'm doing what you call closing the gap. I got him to 60% and I would take the 40, which means I'm doing 60% less of the work in the video edit. Then I got him to 80, 90, 95. Now the only thing I do is I transfer the footage and make files.
I hand him an edit. He hands me a colorful colored file. I check for small mistakes and then I send it to the client. And they say, "Oh my god, you guys are incredible. You do such great work. I love your editing, Chris." And I'm like, "I didn't edit it." But it's not up to you to know that. And I've been trying my best to outsource more and more because I've seen what outsourcing gives me the capability to do. And it's been exceptional. It's been the only way I've been able to hit the numbers and the current number that I have to keep up with the capacity that we're doing. I'm having to give a little bit of work away to get so much more in return.

Chris:

Taking notes here. The future does not issue certificates, or plaques, or degrees, or diplomas, or anything like that. But we probably should given what you just said. If I had an honorary degree to give to you, I would, Chris, because you did everything you're supposed to do. You built yourself up brick by brick. You faced your demons by staring at that one-eyed beast known as the lens. It's a heartless monster. And it will see right through you and it'll expose everything you hate about yourself. But you kept going and going until you could tame the beast. And in doing so, you found your voice and you found yourself. That's number one. Because that would be a test. Number two, you learned to talk about money in detached ways. And you discovered that you had this power, that you only needed to believe in yourself. And that generally speaking, if you have the skillset, which you obviously do, the next biggest hurdle is you getting comfortable talking about numbers and then just trusting the process, anchoring high, price bracketing.
You're using everything that we talk about in our channel. And the key is you're implementing it to perfection. Staying silent, letting the clients say what they need to say. And if they say yes too quickly, you know that the ceiling on this as high as it was for me is still not high enough because the clients need to feel a little bit of pain. We want them to struggle to say, "Gosh, darn it, Chris. That's a lot of money. We're going to have to steal from Peter to pay Paul. But I think you're worth it. And give us a day you like to find the numbers. Then you know you've reached your ceiling for now. Apparently, you still have a way to go.

Chris Franklin:

I actually hit it recently.

Chris:

Did you? Were they like, "Hey, it's too much."?

Chris Franklin:

Yep.
Yeah.

Chris:

And I was like, "How about this, I'll take 30% off. We'll split the invoices up?" And they were like, "Yeah, that would be so much more breathable." And that ceiling is about $20,000 a day.
Okay. For now.

Chris Franklin:

For now.

Chris:

For Now.

Chris Franklin:

That's exactly right. For the type of work that I've been doing for now.

Chris:

For now, because you do two or three of those, you're like, "No, it's worth more than this. It's worth more than this." And you just climb the mountain. And I want to circle back to that in a little bit. But the last thing is you also realize the super important thing that if you keep everything to yourself, you never really grow. And people don't understand when I say this, but obviously you do being an entrepreneur is synonymous with being a great teacher, not leader, teacher. So, in order for you to grow your business, you have to teach other people your systems, your process, the way you look at the world. And your client gave you the biggest compliment as a teacher saying, "Nice edit, Chris." And you're like ting. Yeah, I know. Because you trained another person. You gave them skills, which they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
You've enriched a person's life on a skillset level, but also financially because now they have a job, they have opportunity and they have more opportunity to learn from you. Your true test for the graduate degree is when you say to me, "The people who shoot for me, the people who edit for me, they're actually better than me, Chris." And that will be graduate-degree level.
Okay. Now I want to circle back a little bit because there are going to be people who hear this and they almost always say this to me online, which is, "You live in LA, you have this, this, and that. And you can say whatever price, because all the fat clients are in LA." But as we began this episode, we kind of are marching towards the end of the episode, you're a boy from south Mississippi in a small town, if anybody that knows who geography knows that this is not Beverly Hills. And here you are as a solo operator with the team of freelancers able to get $20,000 to do videos. Videos that you used to charge thousands of dollars for. And essentially, it's the same product. Is it not?

Chris Franklin:

Yeah.

Chris:

High-quality imagery, immaculate editing, stories are being told. That's like a weird high coo. But the thing is you found clients who have a bigger problem to solve. So, the thing that you provide is just worth more to them. So, I'm just thrilled, Chris. I'm thrilled for you. And I can hardly believe, but I say that with tongue in cheek, because I expect that from you, that you're just smashing through every perceived barrier. And I just can't wait to hear what the end of the year story is going to be like for you, because I'm prepared to be blown away.

Chris Franklin:

I hope to blow myself away as well because the start has already encapsulated some of my biggest goals that I had. And as I said, it takes some getting used to, but there's no taking the foot off the gas. There's no getting comfortable. I want to see how far I can push this. And I want to see how much I can grow in south Mississippi.

Chris:

Okay, I have one final request for you. And it's a difficult one because somewhere out there is another Chris Franklin, perhaps pre-breakup, perhaps pre-conversation with pops. I need you to talk to that person now in the way that you can look down the barrel of the lens, help this person out. What do they need to hear right now to get through this next very tough hurdle in their life? The mic is yours.

Chris Franklin:

This is basically like talking to the 19-year-old, confused me who had a passion for art, but wanted to solidify their future and be comfortable with making money who was willing to eat dirt for 15 years in college to become somebody else's dream. I wish I would've believed in myself more and I would've believed in myself to the point to where it affected the people outside of me. The overwhelming confidence that I try to exude now, I wish I'd tapped into that sooner. And I believe the person that would be listening to this, there is a spark inside that is waiting to be like a raging fire that we're just not fanning the flames enough because we don't believe in ourself enough to align the goals. So, I knew I could either make money or be an artist.
I believed I could do those things, but I didn't believe I could combine those things together and be happy. And the great thing about it is when I took the risk and when I became uncomfortable, that was the only time in my life that I actually grew. So, it is exceptionally important for you to be uncomfortable in what you're doing. Be able to try and experiment with new things, say numbers that just do not want to escape your lips, be able to shoot for the prices that you feel like you deserve. Because I've always felt like I deserve to make 20 grand in a day. Because I didn't believe my cap was 1500 because that's what the industry and all the people in the camera chats told me. They were like, "Our day rate is 1500 and that's pretty industry standard."
I never felt comfortable with that. I feel like I'd bring you so much more in a day of work, in a day of my time and my knowledge because I spent the last 10 years bringing all these skills into one day for you. And I feel like you should capitalize on that moment. Capitalize on that feeling, dig deep and not let anybody else tell you otherwise, whether it be your family, whether it be friends. Being able to invest in yourself has been one of the most impactful things that I've been ever able to do in my life. And I feel like I'm just now starting my life at 27, truthfully. I feel like I've finally got a foundation. So, it's never too late to figure it out. And it's never too early to start, truthfully.

Chris:

Wonderful. We'll end the episode here. And I want to tie a little ribbon on this in that you talked about you're that 1%, we're not talking about 1% wealthiest people in the world, but the 1% happiest person or people in the world. And I 100% believe that. Everything that you say you do and how you yourself, I'm not your father, but I'd be proud of you young man. And I'm just so excited for where you're going. And if I can take any small sliver of ownership of your story, I'm just thrilled that some surrogate stranger off the internet and just seeing you grow and how you've taken in what you've learned and just grown on your own.
Like I said, we're just waiting for the outside world to match the inside. And if you keep down this path of being optimistic, about being positive, about being happy, but also super objective and kind of almost unemotional when it comes to business and money and not letting this stuff get to your head, I think you'll continue to be super successful. Chris Franklin, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for being open for sharing as you have. Appreciate you, man.

Chris Franklin:

Thank you so much, Chris. It's been amazing, honestly. My name is Chris Franklin and you're listening to The Future.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Future podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborn for our intro music.


If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me, head over to thefuture.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 thefuture.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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