If everybody has your attention, nobody does. That's a problem — but it also paves the way for 2020s new currency: meaning.
Join Paul Campillo, Typeform's Director of Brand, as he explores why becoming a meaningful brand is more critical than ever — not just for your business, but for society.
Paul met with Chris Do: designer, director and founder of the Futur. With a passion for teaching, Chris shows us how a drive to out-hustle others, the realisation that creativity can be a career and the Karate Kid led to his exceptional ambition: to teach 1 billion people how to make a living with what they love. Here's a taste:
Want to watch the full interview? Head here.
If you're looking for the transcript, keep reading…
Paul Campillo (PC): My name is Paul Campillo and this is Meaningful. Today, we're in the beach side city of Santa Monica, and I'm talking to Chris Do, an Emmy award-winning designer, director, and founder of The Futur. An online education platform, whose mission is to teach 1 billion people how to make a living doing what they love.
Chris Do (CD): When you sleep, that's just me catching my second wind. I might not start off with more talents or more resources, but eventually, I will catch you.
PC: In a revealing conversation, Chris goes deep into his personal story, what motivates him and how he plans to reach those 1 billion people. Enjoy the conversation.
Beginnings & big missions
PC: You're that kid that would never stop running during hide and seek. Is that true?
CD: It is true. But I would try to be a little bit more cunning too. You know, like I'm going to get into that weird spot that nobody's looking at.
PC: Yeah, and you would sit there for an hour.
CD: Yeah. Legs cramped up like, "Oh my God, this is got to end." Yeah.
PC: Okay. I want to know who is Chris Do. Let's start there.
CD: Okay. The way I describe myself now is I'm a loud introvert.
PC: A loud introvert.
CD: Yeah, loud introvert. In a previous life, I was a graphic designer, and now what I try to do is teach the world. And I have a really big mission, which is to teach a billion people how to make a living doing what they love.
PC: What's driving that? Where does that come from?
CD: I think it started when my parents fled Vietnam in 1975, April 30th, the Fall of Saigon. We come to America as refugees and immigrants. and America welcomed us in. It was not perfect, but that's our story. It's the story of many immigrants.
CD: And my dad told me this story, I didn't know this because we're having dinner one time and he's like making drinks for my wife. I don't drink. And he goes, "You know, I was a bartender." I did not know that. And then he tells me, he used to work at a bar. And I said, "Were you the waiter?" And he goes, "I'm not the waiter, I'm the bus boy. They're not going to give somebody who doesn't know how to speak English a waiter job."
CD: But my dad is an enterprising person. And you know, so he befriended the bartender who taught him how to make drinks. And so then he started to fill that position. And then ultimately, he worked from one job to the next. And by the time he retired, we were living in Silicon Valley. And he's one of the chief engineers at a semiconductor company.
CD: And that's to me, the American dream. I know President Obama, former President Obama, wasn't the originator of this, but he says, "You know, when you're successful and you're at the top, you're supposed to send the elevator down." And this life that I live, I thought I was just going to be scraping by. So I have achieved more and made more than ever dreamt possible. And you know, enough's enough, I don't need more of whatever it is. And so what I want to do is try to empower other people through the gift that I have, which is education, to help them in their arc, in their story and their journey.
PC: But you mean just simply focusing on service?
CD: Yes. Service to others. That connection to the underdog story and the people who are bullied, who are left behind, the disenfranchised, just trying to even the playing field.
PC: Yeah, did you go to school or after?
CD: After high school?
PC: Yeah, after high school.
CD: Yeah, so my intention was to go to a legitimate school, to make my parents proud and to do something like in science and engineering, but my heart was never into it. I went to public high school.
PC: That was their preference for you.
CD: Yes, that was their preference. Do something, you know, the classic immigrant, like you could pick any career as long as these three. You know, engineer, accountant, lawyer, doctor, something like that.
PC: And very similar across all immigrant families.
CD: Yeah, I think it's pretty standard. Like, they must have handed out that manual as you came off whatever boat or plane, right?
CD: My older brother is super smart, high IQ, four point plus GPA, gets into UCSD, ultimately goes to Stanford to get his graduate degree. And I'm like, "Well, we know who got the brains, 'cause I'm not that guy." I like to draw. I like to daydream, but I suppress all of these things because I can't see in my world, anyone who does that that's not starving. I don't want that life for myself.
CD: And it wasn't until my senior year in high school, my brother's wrestling coach, Rudy, said, "You know, I think your brother draws, right? 'Cause my friend Brad runs a silk screening company shop. He might want to work there." And this is totally random, 'cause I've never even spoken to my brother's wrestling coach. But apparently, he found out that I draw. So I meet this silk screening guy. He gives me a job, I'm his inker.
PC: How old were you at this time?
CD: I'm 17.
CD: And he's like, "Well, I'll pay you as a freelancer. I'm like, "Great. How much are you going to pay me?" He's like, "I'll pay $18.50." I'm like, "What? $18.50?"
PC: Per job or per hour?
CD: Per hour.
CD: So I'm like, "Oh my God, what is going on?" I was shocked, and we didn't negotiate. I'm like, "$18.50, you got it." I sat at that night and started inking, hands shaking, like, you know, like, let me just try to not embarrass myself, right? 'Cause he gives you the demo, the master grabs the rapidograph pen, a Koh-I-Noor. And it's like, just like that. I'm like, "Okay, no problem." So I'm working, I'm thinking this is great.
CD: This is the first design artistic-related job I've seen that actually isn't starving. And I asked him like, "How much money?" His name is Brad, big burly guy. Like the big old mustache, plays rugby, and just really deep voice. I'm like, "Brad, how much money do you make doing this? Do you mind me asking you?" He's like, "I'd like to think I clear $100,000." I'm like, "$100,000?" I can't even figure this thing out. Okay, I'm starting to get a clue as to what I need to do with my life.
CD: So I'm working for Brad and then I quickly realized in my entrepreneurial mind, "Brad, can I hire the shop to print shirts for me?" And he said, "Yes." So I go back to school and I started hustling, trying to sell T-shirt designs to people. And there's certain clubs on campus where they're like, "Yes, we'll do it." I do design, Brad prints it. I think I make money, I'm in business now. I just quickly realized it is better for me to hire them to do it, and to be the broker of creative services, apply a little bit of my talent and I make a lot more money than I would just sitting there, inking over his drawings.
CD: But it wasn't until I meet Dean Walker that my life changes. So Brad tells me, "You know, Chris, I need you to go on an errand. I want you to go to Dean's house. I want you to pick up typesetting for me." I'd never even heard that word before, typesetting. I go see him and knock on the door. He comes out and he's wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, flip flops, just like, "Hey, I'm here to pick up something for Brad." He goes, "You must be Chris, you're early." I'm like, "I'm not early." He's like, "Come on in."
CD: So invites me into his home. We walked down the hallway and he makes a right into his studio, which was a den. And he converted it into his design studio. And I swear to you, it feels like this. I turn the corner, I look into his room, and it's like that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta and Samuel Jackson are talking about the case and they open the case, and it glows?
CD: I felt like that room was glowing to me. And I was literally crossing the threshold of that door from the ordinary world that I knew into the new world.
PC: Wait, what was in the room?
CD: There was this room. He had two drafting tables, one to the right, one to the left. The one on the left had his tiny little beige, monochrome Mac, all in one. And this monstrous contraption, which was a laser printer, it turns out and the drafting table on his right had all these art supplies. They were neatly organized with packaging mock ups of like a remote control car parts, tires, and gears. And he had these Tombow markers, all organized, colored.
CD: And I was like, "What is this? What do you do, and who are you?" And I asked him while he's finishing up the typeset, I'm like, "Is this what you do for a living?" He goes, "Yes." "And do you have another job?" "No." "And you support your family this way?" He said, "Yes." I'm like, "Oh my God." That moment, I said, "I'm going to be a graphic designer."
Working (too) hard
PC: So you have that exposure to Dean, and now what do you do with that?
CD: No surprise, I didn't get accepted into any school I applied to. And I remember the narrative, "I'm going to show you one day. I'm going to make you regret turning me down, even though I do not deserve to be here." So my brother invites me go to San Diego, so I can go to community college which is for Asian parents, purgatory. And I'm starting to now pursue courses that are graphic design. The next step was to get into ArtCenter, which I did.
CD: And to ease the financial concerns of my parents to go into a private art school, I managed to get a scholarship. For the first time in my life, I felt like I'm with my people.
PC: What was that like? What did you experience? When did you have that?
CD: I can describe every little dirty detail. So ArtCenter is a steel bridge. It's a box, it's a black box, a long box, right? It's glass and steel. And it's this austere, modernist, minimalist space. And from the minute in which you walk in, there's a smell. There's a specific smell, and it's from all the resin casting. So there are chemicals in a building.
PC: It's like an industrial type of smell.
CD: It feels like that. And you walk in, there's like that new car smell and you walk in there and you see people, who aren't the typical people you would see in high school. They're not wearing leggings. And the jocks aren't walking around, "Hey, bro." There's nobody walking with flat tops and whatever.
CD: It's just weird people, eclectic, in all shapes, sizes and colors. I'm like, "This is dope. I feel like I'm at home." But truth be told, I was still an outsider. I felt like I was at the bottom cusp of the people who could afford to be there. You know, even my wife who I met at school, I mean, she comes from Taiwan. Her dad's a commercial pilot. You know, I'm sitting here thinking about how I am going to eat. And I probably shouldn't share this, but I'm going to do it anyway, sorry, honey. She's like, "I'm going to shop at Barneys." It's a different world.
CD: But you know what, here's the part inside of me, that little fighter underdog person. I'm like, "You guys party, you guys have your fancy computers and your toys and your world trips, I'll spend my time in the library and you will see." I'm just going to outwork, out hustle all of you. And I did.
PC: So we're having this Michael Jordan thing.
CD: Yeah, exactly, it's like “good game”. Like, no, no, I didn't say that, right? And I so related to that. Now, I want to say this and I want to say this with some kind of caution to people who're going to hear this. Back then, for me, outworking everyone, not sleeping was like a badge of honor. I don't believe that today.
CD: And so I would ask my friends at school, like, "How many all-nighters have you pulled so far?" And to my shock, someone would say, "Zero." I'm like, "Zero? I had four these last two weeks, what are you doing?" They're like, "Well, when I get the assignment, I do the work and at 8-9 pm, I have dinner and I go to sleep." I'm like, "Oh my God, like, I'm up to three, four in the morning."
PC: You never broke down?
CD: I broke down during break. So I'll do this for 14 weeks straight. And sometimes, all-nighters, not even any sleep at all. Because I was just grinding on this stuff. And then when I would go home visit mom and dad, I would just sleep all the time. And I don't think it was healthy.
CD: I've had some pretty close calls with like, accidents. Like one time I slipped into some weird stuff, I was driving on the opposite side of the road. So, you know, that was not healthy. So just a cautionary tale there too. Please don't do this.
PC: Yeah, don't do this everybody. This is like. Look at the camera for that one, and never do that.
CD: That was just stupidity or arrogance of youth. Don't do it. You want to work hard, but you want to work smart.
PC: After that, then what? What happens next?
CD: Well, I think what happens is I start to hit my stride. I start to find something that I'm good at, and I start to construct an identity around design.
CD: Second semester, I'm feeling burnt out. I'm starting to feel like the teachers here aren't teaching at the same level, or maybe I've changed and grown that I start to feel like I know more than some of my instructors, which scares me. So I decided, you know what? I need to take a semester off, 'cause I'm starting to resent what's happening at school.
CD: Not to my classmates, but to like the institution of education. It just so happened that a person that I met, got a job at an ad agency, her name is Colleen. And Colleen, the way that advertising works is, they pair a copywriter with the art director. So Colleen says is, "Chris, I got hired at this agency. I'd like for you to be my partner." I'm like, "Really?"
CD: I go through my portfolio. I have four pieces that I think sort of loosely are related to advertising. I put it in a FedEx box, I sent it and to my surprise, they hired me. They put me in a corporate apartment that is better than the studio that I'm renting. And you know, a maid comes by once a week to clean. I'm like, "This is the life." I have an expense account. And relative to how much I'm working, I'm making a ton of money. I'm like, "This is crazy." I'm like, "This is fantastic."
CD: My boss, he's the best boss anybody could ever ask for. He offers me some crazy job offer. He said that, "I'll pay $85,000 a year." I'm like, "I don't want to work here." He goes, "What if you work three days a week?" "I still don't want to work here." "What if we allowed you to use studio space to run a design firm in the other two days that you don't work?" I said, "Okay, I'll take that deal." Right? And so he was just like, "This is it, my life is done."
CD: So when I go back to school, I'm not really focused on school at this point. I'm just thinking I need to hurry up and finish this. 'Cause it's just getting in the way. So I miss out on on-campus interviews and recruitment. I don't do any of the things that you're supposed to do.
PC: How close are you to finishing at that point?
CD: I only have one semester left. Yeah. It was going to be done in 14 weeks.
CD: But my guiding principle in life has always been, do what allows you to grow, the money will come later.
CD: I'll share a real short story with you. I was in Las Vegas, and I met up with one of my former students. He's a business owner, and he's just like, "I want to buy you dinner." I'm like, "Cool." I'm there for a trade show. We sit down and he said, "Chris, something's different about you." I'm like, "Yeah?" He's like, "You seem really happy right now." and it's like, "I think I know why." So I get a napkin. I know it sounds totally cliche, we got a napkin. Let me borrow your pen. I draw these three circles. I'm just making it up on the fly.
PC: You want to draw?
CD: Well, yeah. We'll use the whiteboard here, right? So I take up the napkin. I draw three circles for him. And I said to him, "You know what, when I make commercials for our living, I made this and this was good for me. I made a lot of money and I was happy. And then when I was teaching, I was doing something that I loved, right?"
CD: "But it didn't pay me well. So there was a conflict there." So you got to do something that pays well and that you love, that you're good at.
CD: Some skill, something that you have. And somewhere in there, I found my super power. And I said, "Each and every one of us, I may be more spiritual than I am religious. I think we all have something that’s unique within us, a combination of skills and passion and interests that make us super powerful. We might spend our whole life looking for it and never find it, but we can find it, the sooner we can find it, the more powerful we become."
CD: And then I did a talk on this called "Finding Your Superpower." 'Cause I'm a comic book nerd, right? And I was sharing this story with the gentlemen in the Philippines, and he says, "Chris, this is Ikigai." I'm like, "What is Ikigai?" He's like, "It's a Japanese concept, is your reason for being."
CD: And then I go home from the Philippines. I have to look it up like, "Oh my God."
PC: This isn't like five things?
CD: It's four things. Yeah, the last one is like what the world needs. So like, if I were to draw this, you know what the world needs.
PC: And that's true. That's transformative.
CD: Straight up right there.
CD: So this is about how I can get ahead, but this is how I can help others. And that's why I think I had the competitive advantage because I care about these things.
CD: So I think about, if I went into advertising like who I'd become and something happened, I don't want to get into it, but I decided I don't want to work in advertising. So I just quit. So I started freelancing around town at motion design companies, and this is how I get clients. But all that is for nothing, because I want to start my own company.
Turning passion into a product
PC: So now, you're in a design firm?
CD: I have a design firm. I'm running it, trying to get clients, and making every mistake that you could make.
PC: Yeah, and which one was this?
CD: This is Blind.
PC: Oh, so Blind is still going strong.
CD: Theoretically, it's still going. We don't do service work anymore.
PC: Okay, when did you start The Futur?
CD: The Futur started in 2016, but...
PC: Relatively recently.
CD: Relatively recently, but it was the second incarnation of the same company. So in 2013, I'm starting to feel like life with motion design and commercials isn't where I want to be anymore. I'm teaching, I've been teaching for almost 15 years at this point.
CD: And towards the end there, I asked my wife, "Like, you should come to school with me." She's the designer. I'm like, "I think you'll have fun and you'll learn things." And so we would go to school and I would teach and she would just sit there like a student. And then she would raise her hand and throw ideas out and give me feedback. So for me, the most exciting part of teaching was the drive home where she would give me the critique.
CD: And the question that she asked me is, "do you ever get tired teaching the same thing every semester? Don't you think you want to teach more than eight or nine students at a time?" And I was really angry. And like, this is not critical feedback. This is just telling me to do something different with my life, 'cause I got so much joy from teaching.
PC: Oh she was challenging you to do more?
CD: Right, so that drive home was pretty strange. Just turn up the music and I'm just driving, thinking. I describe it like, I think there were five stages to grieving. Denial, anger, and I was just going through all these things and then somewhere bargaining and then it's somewhere it's acceptance. I was in the denial/anger part. I wasn't ready to move here.
CD: I run into my old ArtCenter friend, his name is Jose Caballer. And I'm asking him about web design and how he does what he does, and I want to learn about it. He and I get together. We form a partnership, it's called The Skool, and it's an education company.
PC: Why education?
CD: I'm really passionate about teaching. I feel most like myself when I'm teaching.
CD: I don't feel great that schools pay me less than I pay freelancers because I think in a way, they take advantage of people who love teaching and want to give back.
PC: Okay, so just to be clear, you were developing products.
CD: Yes. Courses.
CD: We have products. We had one product, which was a course and a framework with a digital book that we sold for, at that time, I think $369. So we needed to build more products, but we knew this product was really good. And if more people bought it and used it, they would have the same kind of transformation that I had when I learned the framework.
PC: Yeah. And you were using YouTube at this point to, for your as your marketing channel, to drive people to the product.
CD: Yeah. So we had a Facebook page, Facebook groups, we ran ads, but we thought at that time, let’s make content on YouTube to educate people what's going on. So they become interested in the product, us as the people who deliver the product to you.
CD: There was a video that we made that broke through and that video showed me the potential of a platform like YouTube. I must admit, I had thought only amateurs near to do wells or just people who are very charismatic make videos on YouTube. No self-respecting professional who's got any real experience would take time out of their busy practice to make content.
CD: And so we got into it and I'm reading the comments and what's coming back was wow, you are helping me to get through something in my life right now. So then I start to realize the potential of creating content. And it's nice to get followers. It's nice to get subscribers, but when you actually make an impact on people's lives, it hits you here.
PC: So you're in a sense, you're setting the context for where the product sits. Right?
PC: And getting people excited about it.
CD: That was the theory.
CD: Well, if you make video content, that's thinly disguised when it's really a commercial, nobody watches it. Nobody buys it. The breakthrough in that first video was no selling, no pitching. Try to educate people.
CD: And that's when I was, I felt most vested in this thing. It wasn't until then that I'm like, here's the potential. The teacher in me sees this and this is pier. And two and a half years into that, our business partnership didn't work so we separated, I reformed into The Futur and that's, that's how The Futur was born.
Breaking the system
CD: The purpose. The mission, the thing that I'm trying to do right now is to drag these large corporations called schools into the 21st century to do things in a way that's more equitable for the students, by making it more affordable and accessible. And for the teachers who get to develop and earn from their intellectual property and for the school to make some profit too. And I think it can work.
PC: But you're talking about a completely different business model for the school. You're talking about fundamental transformation.
CD: Seismic change. I'm trying to break it. I'm not even trying to influence that anymore.
CD: I'm a Game of Thrones fan. The wheel goes round and ran around the Game of Thrones. Khaleesi wants to break the wheel. In this way, maybe I'm an anarchist or rebel or something like that where I want the system to break. I talked to, I can't tell you who it was, but he's the chairman of the board of a private art school. But he says the thing that keeps me up at night is how untenable student debt is. He believes it will be the next cause of a financial collapse because students are given loans that they cannot pay for jobs that don't exist.
CD: And they will be in debt for the rest of their life. I have friends who went to ArtCenter, it has been 25 years. They're still paying off their student loans.
PC: Which also leads to, I guess, a pillar of The Futur, which is teaching people business skills, in addition to, you know, their actual design skills or artistic skills or you know, whatever creative skills. Are you actually doing the things that you feel are, I don't know, very innovative in the education space? Do you feel like you're there? Or are you just another version of Skillshare and Udemy and you know, but it's, but it's all on your site.
CD: That's a very good question. I think there's a lot of different ways to answer this. We are not there. We're not anywhere near there because when we're there, you'll start to see a prominent school, state college, university say we're adopting what you do and we're going to transform the way we teach and nobody's not even close.
CD: We're so far away from that. The first benchmark we gotta get through is to create a curriculum where somebody will have a real decision to make. I can learn from The Futur, or I can pay this amount of money to go to a private art school.
CD: Now, what we think we were trying to do is I don't know how your university experience maps out, but there are probably a handful of teachers who actually impacted the way you think. You might get really lucky you might hit like four or five, for me it's about five instructors out of like 25.
CD: That's pretty sad. So the way I see it is that it's very difficult for schools to attract really great teachers who are passionate, who are experienced, who have the time and capacity and interest and the skill to do this. That's a very rare combination. So the kinds of teachers able to get that are the best, probably three or four, and then, sorry to all teachers, they fill in the rest so they meet whatever standard they have to meet to be able to give you a degree.
CD: So you're paying for a very watered down educational experience. Here's the sad part. The most popular teachers, their classes are impacted. You can't even get in. So now you don't even get that teacher. You have to fight to be in that class and they can't scale. They cannot scale. It's a very simple idea. It's not an original idea.
CD: Have the very best teachers from all over the world, just find the preeminent, most gifted teacher that teaches economics, philosophy, whatever it is. They're great storytellers. They know how to teach. They know how to draw the knowledge from you. Record that, produce the heck out of it. Spend four or five, six months figuring out how to make this the best educational experience. Do that. Archive it. Preserve that person's knowledge. Give them a royalty on every class that sold that.
PC: Oh, that's the difference because that's not Khan Academy.
CD: It's not.
PC: And it's not in perpetuity, right? Like you're not compensating someone for the life of that course.
CD: 'Cause I said it had to be equitable for students and teachers.
CD: Because if you don't incentivize teachers to teach, they do other jobs. They do other things. They make money doing something else, research papers or writing a book or something else.
CD: Incentivize them here, be their publishing arm, partner up with your instructors. So they're invested in doing this. Then you have this one thing and you can distribute it to many places. And this is then a thing that allows teachers to make money while they sleep. And it's something that they can hand off to their children.
CD: We talked about this when I was teaching at ArtCenter: the rate of forgetting is faster than the rate of remembering.
CD: Because the teachers are getting older. Some of them die of natural, old age, some of them are going through dementia. And so you're losing 50 years of institutional knowledge and experience. How are you going to regain that?
CD: So one of the instructors, my former instructor from ArtCenter, we did a course together. He authored it and we sold it. And he says, "Chris I'm delighted. Every single month I get a check. Sometimes it's a big check. Sometimes it's a small check, but I get a check." And what happens to him is when he's too old, when he passes away, he'll just assign the right to someone else.
Learning from Mr. Miyagi
PC: If we dig into the teaching dynamic. What is the one skill there that really makes a difference between, you know, someone who's average at it, maybe just talking about their book rather than teaching the concepts that really stick.
CD: The old way that you teach is a download of information to the student and through friction and self-discovery, they're able to find the answer and it's a lot of critique based things. You do something, it's a piece of crap, I'll tell you, it's a piece of crap. And then you'll start to figure it out.
CD: The new way of teaching, the way that I prefer is a more Socratic approach where I'm going to ask you questions, give you a prompt and design the assignment and exercise such that by completing it, you will tell me what you've learned. It's a very different process. It's very difficult to teach like this. It requires a lot of experimentation and trial and error, but it's not about downloading and memorization, it's about experiencing it.
CD: I think the best way that you can teach and learn is to learn something while not even knowing that you're learning it. And there's many ways to understand this. So let me take it back to like my child and talk to you about the Karate Kid.
CD: So Daniel Larusso, he's just getting his ass kicked, and so Mr. Miyagi helps him out. So he's like, "will you teach me?" And Mr. Miyagi is like, "no, no." So he's testing Daniel, like how bad do you want this thing? And then Mr. Miyagi says to him, "under one condition, I will teach you." He's like, "what's that?", "You do everything I asked you to do without question." And of course, Daniel is like, "what's the alternative? Get my kicked by Johnny? Fine. I'll agree."
CD: So he shows up with enthusiasm. He does what he's supposed to do. Paint the fence, wax on wax off, to a point in which he's getting so frustrated. He's like, "I thought you were going to teach me karate." He says, "what are you talking about? I've been teaching you the whole time." He's like, "no, you haven't. You just got me doing your slave labor." He goes, "Daniel, wax on", and he hits somebody. And then he's like, "Oh my God." Daniel has the moment.
CD: I think that is a fictional version of what I think can happen in real life, which is you're learning without even knowing it. That's a masterful teacher.
PC: You are in a sense, the influencer of the influencers, the people who are, you know, going out into the market, doing their thing, you're training them so to speak, right? Like a lot of people are learning from you. What are the main problems or obstacles that continue to come up over and over and over again. You know, the patterns that you're seeing?
CD: Where do we start and how long has this conversation?
PC: Is it really that long?
CD: It is long. I say that half jokingly, but yeah. Do you have an area you want me to focus in? Because you're talking about the creative mind.
CD: So the creative mind has a lot of pitfalls.
PC: Okay, give me one.
CD: Okay. First of all, it's easy for me to do, I enjoy this, so therefore it's not worth anything. That's the number one problem.
PC: That's the number one.
CD: Yeah. I enjoy doing this. It's like saying I like watching TV. You're going to pay me to watch TV? No, I will pay you to watch TV because we find it to be easy. Something that we feel fulfillment in. There's a sense of guilt that I shouldn't be paid to do this and this isn't worth anything.
PC: Okay, what's the belief underpinning that?
CD: I think maybe a couple of hundred years of socialization, these are respectable things that you do that help people. But this is just play. We have not been taught that you can actually make money while playing. So it's a different idea. All the creators are considered outcasts. They're people who survive this institutional model of education, where they stamp out individualism.
CD: If you watch or read any of this stuff about how our educational system is built, it's designed for the norm. If you don't fit within that spectrum, if you're too smart or you're too slow, you don't belong and they bump you out of the system. It's just about pushing you through all the square pegs in the round holes and making you a round hole.
CD: So each one of us that exist as adults, as creators, we survived that system at least here in America.
CD: Go back to Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, Mr. Miyagi asked Daniel to do something, which I think is not a popular idea in Western culture. He asked the student to surrender their beliefs.
PC: To completely trust in the teacher and let everything fall by the way.
CD: Yep. And this is a recurring theme in these kinds of martial arts films. And so it's the submission of the student where the student and teacher bond and grow in ways that you wouldn't have. And I don't think that's a popular idea in Western culture.
CD: So my thing isn't about blindly following anybody and everybody, choose your master really well. Do your due diligence. Poke, look under the covers, read the reviews and ask around until you're thoroughly satisfied. But once you make that decision, give up yourself and just enter and just surrender.
CD: I think for all of its negatives, the military does a great job of stripping away all the baggage and turning people who are maybe outcast or misfits and turning them into potentially, this is controversial, I think to somebody who can actually achieve something with clear goals and identity and purpose, they strip it from you. Literally they cut your hair off. You're just a number, and you have no individualism.
CD: You wear a uniform, but it's that process that allows them to take pretty loosely formed clay and sculpt into something. So I think Daniel submits himself because Mr. Miyagi asked him to. It's willingly submitting and surrendering. And I think that opens things up.
PC: Right. And it seems to me and this sounds like a key that you're saying, it's hard to teach something to somebody when they're not fully committed and submitted and surrendered to the process.
PC: I feel like I stumbled upon this intuitively when I was doing counseling and coaching, I would only want to talk to people who were at rock bottom. Is that similar?
CD: It is similar. I believe that people who’ve gone to the very bottom of the valley that they now know they have a hard choice to make. If I do not change, the only option to me is something much worse than this, which is: I probably cease to exist. And now I want to climb back up. I'm ready to do that.
CD: In my life and when I think about the moments that I've had the most growth, I looked at those moments as if this is the bottom of my bed. So people who have hit rock bottom, I think they come to some realization and they're ready to and learn because everything else they've tried has not worked.
PC: And that makes them also susceptible to anyone that can come along.
PC: And that becomes a problem too.
Defining your brand
PC: Final question. 'Cause we could talk for a long time, but the final question, Jeff Bezos says that, "your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." What do you want people to say about you when you're not in the room?
CD: I'm going to answer this way that may not be the right answer for you, which is.
PC: There is no right answer.
CD: I don't really want to think about what people say about me in the room, because that would be my ego speaking. And it would show that I really care about people's opinions. I'm just trying to live my life, to find who I am, to live true to myself and stay out of the business of other people's opinions. So I don't really want to know and I don't really care.
PC: I appreciate it. Thank you.
PC: My takeaways from talking to Chris. First thing that stands out is Chris's sheer drive. He makes things personal in a way to him that benefits him without taking it personally. You can do the same. Second, the sheer confidence that comes from Chris is built on one thing, practice. And practice means progress, not perfection. You have to be willing to allow yourself to make lots of mistakes.
PC: Finally, teaching is the new marketing, helping people learn and improve without ulterior motives. And you will surprisingly sell more. So find a better way to teach your market. Thanks for watching this episode of Meaningful and don't forget, let's make every interaction count.