Hitting The Mark
Conversations with founders and investors about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist and author Fabian Geyrhalter.
Ep004 – Chris Do, Founder, The Futur
Fabian Geyrhalter talks with Chris Do, the Emmy award-winning designer, director, strategist, lecturer, consultant, and serial entrepreneur who is out to disrupt the world of education through his latest venture, the online content and education platform, The Futur.
I made a promise to myself to never feature a client – or former client – of mine on the show, but I am good with sprinkling in an entrepreneur now and then who I also call my friend. Today is such a moment and I am sure you will all appreciate that I did so. I personally am always delighted to talk with him, learn from him and be the critic he never asked to have.
If you are a founder, marketer, designer or just a curious human being, this episode is not to be missed as it clearly shows us why Chris Do, and his online platform, The Futur, have such a fanatic following and why the company is seeing 300% growth year over year.
Chris shares his insights on how his passion project turned into a small phenomenon (hint: teaching is the best form of marketing), why you should put your media buy budget towards content strategy instead, if it is dangerous to be the face of your brand, how important data really is in marketing (hint: it may not be quite what you thought), why culture is more important than branding (amen!), why copying is OK – sometimes even strategically sound – and of course: What branding means to him. And…so much more, hence we nicely doubled on time in this special episode.
To see what his company, The Futur, is up to, visit their YouTube channel for a start.
F Geyrhalter: Welcome to episode number four of Hitting the Mark. I made a promise to myself to never ever feature a client or a former client of mine on the show, but I’m good with sprinkling in an entrepreneur now and then who I also call my friend. Today is such a moment and I’m sure you will all appreciate that I did so. I personally am always delighted to talk with him, learn from him and, at times, be the critic he never asked to have. My guest today is Chris Do. Chris is an Emmy Award-winning designer, director, strategist, lecturer, consultant an entrepreneur. He had spent the last two decades running Santa Monica-based motion design and branding agency, Blind. His team has worked on TV commercials and music videos for iconic brands and bands such as Nike, Xbox, Fox Sports, Electronic Arts, Zion, Cold Play, The Gap, Sony, Honda, et cetera, et cetera. Having taught sequential and main title design for over 15 years at the Art Center College of Design, Chris decided to scale his teaching efforts and founded The Futur, an online content and education platform. He has produced over 600 YouTube videos on subject such as design, branding, business and UX and has gained an audience of 340,000 not followers but subscribers from all over the globe and here he is. Welcome, Chris.
C Do: Thank you so much for having me on your show. Thrilled to be number four
F Geyrhalter: You are number four but to many, you are really number one. But what are you going to do, right?
C Do: Yes. You’re too kind.
F Geyrhalter: Yeah, of course. So before we really dive into this, I have to say I love being on the interviewer side of things with you. Feels really refreshing and in a way rather calming. How do you feel today? How are you, Chris?
C Do: I’m doing great. The tables have turned, my friend, and I’m ready to dive in this and dodge some bullets from you, perhaps.
F Geyrhalter: I saw the interview you did Seth Godin, which was amazing. He’s just so unbelievably inspiring.
C Do: Yes, he is.
F Geyrhalter: And you Chris, for the very first time ever in the long time that I’ve known you and seen you, you were a bit nervous there in the beginning. Was this the very first time you were nervous like ever?
C Do: I got to tell you something. I wasn’t nervous to speak to Seth, but I was worried about the technology and all the different components. As you know, when you manage a show and there’s a team behind you, there’s a lot of ball you’re juggling and two episodes ago, our system crashed and so we are very hyper aware that we cannot afford the machine to crash. These things are inevitable. Computers freak out, they overheat, they just decide I’ve had enough and that happens to us. The team was very aware of this, so we’re doing everything we can to make it as smooth as possible because let’s face it, how many times you get a chance you speak to somebody like Seth Godin?
F Geyrhalter: Seriously.
C Do: I wanted to respect him, I wanted to honor him, and I wanted him to have a platform to share his ideas and get out of the way, to be honest.
F Geyrhalter: And you did amazingly. I thought it was the aura of the mighty Seth that cracked you but it was actually technical.
C Do: Yeah. I want to say something to that. I think a lot of people feel this way. I saw this quote, it says, “Don’t treat someone like a star because they’ll treat you like a fan.” I just think we all put our pants on one leg at a time. We’re all human beings, we all bleed and to try to put somebody up in a pedestal makes you act and behave in a way that’s not congruent with who you normally are. So I try my best to ground myself and think, “Yeah, I haven’t written 18 bestselling books, but Seth is just another human being.” We actually look very similar. We both have the same haircut. We both wear funky glasses and there’s a lot of similarities there.
F Geyrhalter: Absolutely, and you will write 18 bestselling books sooner or later. Talking about similarities, you and I go back quite a bit and we actually have a ton in common as well. We both studies at the Art Center, we both taught there. We’re both branding practitioners. We’re mentors. Some might even go as far as calling us thought leaders in our space. We run our own consultancies, yet we’re also very different and we like to meet every now and then for dinner to compare a few points on the state of design, branding, technology, business. But I think most importantly, for this conversation, on design education, which is very dear to your heart, and I want to take a podcast session to really focus on that latest venture of yours as a serial entrepreneur. So tell our listeners a bit about your fascination with design education and who and why you started The Futur, which is a disruptive content information platform. Dive in. Tell us.
C Do: Okay. I’m going to tell you a little bit of the story and then tell me when to cut it short. I’ve always been very passionate about teaching. I think it’s one of the noblest things that you can do. But the sad truth is teachers, who should be the most priced people in our society aren’t compensated in a way that makes sense to me. In our society, we seem to reward hedge fund managers, financial traders, people who move equities around and they’re not really creating anything but they’re all very powerful and wealthy in this world. So here I am teaching and I’ve been teaching at Art Center, as you mentioned in the intro, for quite some time and upon one of these moments when I’m driving home with my wife who, on occasion, would sit in my class because I’m so passionate about it, I invited her to sit in the class and see what’s going on, and we’re driving home when I asked her, “How was class today?” I’m just looking for a little positive affirmation, some feedback so I can improve, and she said, “You know, it was really good, but I don’t think you’re living up to your potential.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” She said, “There were seven or eight students and how many times have you given this lecture? How many more times do you want to give the same lecture? And what about all the students that are outside of this classroom?” She basically threw a big challenge and a problem in front of me without a solution. So I do what insecure men do. I recoiled, I reacted, I got angry in the car. I was like, “Shoot.” So that long drive home from Pasadena to the Pacific Palisades, I just cranked up the radio and just was [inaudible 00:07:03] for a little bit. I think it was a couple of days later that I started to really think about that and her words keep echoing my mind. Now, the answer didn’t appear immediately. It wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t until later that I’d met Jose Caballer who was also another Art Center alum that he said, “Chris, let’s get on YouTube. I want you to get on camera and let’s make content together.” Now, that’s an idea that was shocking to me because, mind you, I’m an introverted person. I’m used to being behind the camera making commercials and directing talent and not being in front of camera talent. So I resisted and I got on the show and I was super tense, but you know, some thing’s started to happen. I think that whole fear, that ice started to melt a little bit and the more we created, the more feedback we got. It’s like you go from a vicious cycle to a virtuous cycle. So you got to get over the fear, you make content and then all of a sudden, I can see that man, there’s something here that I know that I can share in his video format that’s actually helping people and that feeling that you get, you can’t measure in a bank account and I wanted more of it.
F Geyrhalter: Totally. Absolutely. I mean, on the last count, I think that you guys, now with The Futur, have over half a million followers. Only across the four social media channels that I looked at last night, so that’s amazing. You have a stunning 300% growth year over year, which by now might be more, but that’s what I heard from you in one of your episodes. So looking back, doing that journey, starting it with Jose and then moving in into The Futur, what was that one big breakthrough moment that propelled the startup, really the passion project, into a brand, in the small phenomenon in this niche space of design which you, at this point, really start to own? What was the moment?
C Do: Yes, I have that moment. Usually, that’s a difficult question to answer but I know that moment. In the beginning, when we made content, we were trying to make promotional videos to sell products and courses that we created and so there was always this ulterior motive and we created a content to tiptoe and segue into hey, by the way, you should consider buying this product. And so our audience and the value that we were creating was stunted because of that desire to market to people. The breakthrough moment came when I said to Jose at that point in time, “Look, I don’t want to sell anymore, man. I’m going to go away, I’m going to write a deck and I just want to help people learn.” That’s all it was. So that night, the night before, I probably spent about four hours writing a deck on branding and sharing my thoughts on this because so many people think a logo is a brand and they screw that up. It’s so much more than that. That’s just one small part of the puzzle. So when I wrote that, what happened was when we created that episode, people started to watch. We’re used to getting 30 to 50 views. Now, we’re getting hundreds of views a day and I knew then something had happened. When you do something right and you’re rewarded with this instant feedback, and that’s one of the great things about social media, you can try many experiments that are very ephemeral, sit back and watch, make hypothesis about what works and what doesn’t and double-down on the things that do, and if you can repeat your success multiple times, you’re on to something and we definitely were on to something at that point in time.
F Geyrhalter: It seems to me it was to move from marketing to empathy, right? It was that idea where suddenly, you switched to saying, “Why am I really doing this? What is at the core of this brand?” To me, the core of the brand is always you coming from a similar background. You having made it. It’s like the Gary Vaynerchuk idea where you can actually base your entire story on your success and then share how you got there with your audience and then you start “selling” because you actually proved to them who you are and that they actually should listen to you.
C Do: Yeah, and I think since you’re speaking to an audience of entrepreneurs and potential marketers, I do want to say something. When you stop selling and you start thinking of your customers as somebody that you can create value for, then the whole game changes. I know a lot of people on the marketing space think about, “How do we get more people to look at our stuff and buy our products?” So they think about paid media and the transition has to happen into getting earned media. An earned media is something that you don’t have to pay people to watch. What you’re asking for from your audience in your community is for their most valuable things – their time and attention – and then you exchange that with marketing. That doesn’t make sense. Don’t pitch me. Give me something valuable. Tell me something that I didn’t know. If you do that, you will not have to pay people to watch your content and you build a relationship, affinity from your customer to your brand and that’s the key. So companies in 2018, 2019, as this was being recorded, if you can jump that divide, if you can transition from that gap and build that bridge, your game will change. Put all the money that you’re going to spend in media buy and build content. Hire researchers, authors, writers, videographers, motion graphics people. Hire a consultant to help you craft a content strategy that creates value for your clients.
F Geyrhalter: I absolutely love that and the more content you put out there, the more deeper content people seek and for the deeper content, then there’s a certain price point, which they’re more than happy to pay because you’ve already been giving so much to them over time.
C Do: I think so and we’re still exploring with that line. I know that the reason why stand out from some of the people who are in a similar space to us is what they do is they hold back. They gave a little teaser. They make you watch a protected video about the benefits and customer testimonials. At the very end, they may drop one or two hints or ideas. We try not to do that. We try to give our audience, our community as much as possible for free and something wonderful happens. They feel out of obligation or reciprocity that they want to buy more, they want to support us. They look out for people who pirate our content and they’re rallying our name and cheering us all over the world. So it’s a fundamentally different dynamic and it can be profitable. I’m not saying this to be a philanthropist or to do charity. Like you mentioned again, our company has grown 300% year over year and I’m blown away by this.
F Geyrhalter: That is amazing. That is really amazing. Let’s move from your company to yourself as a brand. With you, this is a very, very interesting kind of separation between the personal brand from your company brand. I ask this because a lot of solopreneurs are facing that dilemma and are maybe unsure on how to go about it because you, you’re obviously the biggest driver behind the brand but you also empower others and you run a legit educational company that is getting ready to take over the world, one fellow at a time. But people love you. I mean, some hate you, but 99.9% really love you and you share the most intimate stories with them 24/7. You’re also embodying the brand story very much like Gary Vaynerchuk and like a lot of others too. But what I’m wondering is you share lessons in a very bold and direct but also empathetic way. How do you separate these two brands, the Chris Do brand and then The Futur brand? As Seth Godin reminded, he is a firm believer of never talking about his private life.
C Do: Yeah.
F Geyrhalter: But how do you see the Chris Do versus The Futur brand play out in the next five years or so? Is it dangerous to be too close to it or are you the brand?
C Do: It’s a very good question. Now, I’m going to take a half step back. When we were just promoting and talking about Blind as a company, I wasn’t sure, what’s my role in this? How do I talk about the things I believe in because the company is more than just me and there’s diverse points of view? I also was concerned that I would say or do something that would alienate people, clients from Blind as a service company. But The Futur to me was very liberating because it was in total alignment with my philosophy, with my core, with my entire being and my spirit. So there was no separation. So I could write on behalf of The Futur as in my own voice. I often would say I and not we or us just because I want them to know there’s a human being behind this and it really taught me how to communicate on scale in mass with people. I also make a point to celebrate, and to promote, and to give credit to the amazing team and to encourage them to create content on our channel and feel free to say what they think as well. The Futur is a place that doesn’t have to be defined by a singular voice. So we do that to actively promote other people and to put them up on a pedestal and share the spotlight and I think that’s fantastic. That’s how we’re going to grow and it’s important too because here’s the thing, everybody needs their avatar to jump into our story, into your brand. I am approaching 50 years old and I’ve been working for over two decades. So for somebody who’s in school or struggling to make ends meet, I’m not that relatable. That’s where Ben Burns or Matthew or Greg Gunn step into the feature because Ben Burns is self-taught person so when he speaks, he’s able to relate to them in ways that I can never do. So that way, we’re drawing in a very broad audience and they’re finding their “favorites” and they’re able to learn about us through these avatars. So five years from now maybe, I’m not sure where all of this goes, but I’m very cognizant I definitely don’t want it to be The Chris Do Show even though I make a lot of the content. This is going to grow and change over time.
F Geyrhalter: That’s a really good lesson for solopreneurs that are afraid of putting themselves too much in front of a brand. You can have an exit strategy, right? You can think how about do you over time then empower and bring in others and you can slowly take a step back, not that you would but you could.
C Do: Right.
F Geyrhalter: And I think that is super important for any entrepreneur to know that there is a way to do both and you can do both.
C Do: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
F Geyrhalter: So one of the things that I like about you, and there are about three … no, there’s a lot. You have that …
C Do: It’s a very short list.
F Geyrhalter: You have that rare gift of tapping into and balancing the right and left brain functions and I know you’re often rather analytical, especially when it comes to metrics with your company’s side, et cetera. I know you do this a lot, but when was a really memorable time when you went totally against data and an insight and you did a gutty move solely based on your instinct?
C Do: Okay, so I’m going to answer this question in a round and about way. I’m reading this book called Six Thinking Hats and it talks about how we make decisions. So when you’re wearing the red hat, you’re basing your decision or comment on emotion rather than the white hat, which is based on data. So when you ask this question about data, logic, and emotion, a lot of us assume we’re acting on good data and few of us actually have the time to properly look at our analytics and our metric and to form an informed decision. One such example was last year, we had run this Black Friday promotion. It was a very complicated video and email campaign. So this year, I told the team, “I don’t want to do that. That seems overly complicated. Let’s just tell people what the products are and how much they’ll save. I think we’ll be fine.” So there was a lot of pushback saying, “This is necessary,” and if you read a lot of books and watch video on how to do email marketing campaigns, they do tell you got to do the soap opera email sequence that I’m not just a big believer in. So we tried and sure enough, we still have 300% sales growth and we hit all our goals and we’re on track to smashing them. So that’s one thing is that I think most small companies, small to medium size businesses actually don’t have the data to support what it is that they think and it’s all just about confirmation bias and we pretend like the data is telling us something. Now, if you’re a large corporation, if you employ “machine learning” and you have rich data to work with, I can see how that might help shape decisions and thinking a little bit more, but it still needs that human spark, that imagination, that creativity. The ability that only, I think, a human can do, which is to connect two disparate ideas and form something wholly new.
F Geyrhalter: This was such an important thing to say. I think that is something that so many people can learn from. I’m on social media like all of us, we’re all slaves to our phones, and I think it was Black Friday or maybe it was Cyber Monday or one of those silly things where you get bombarded and bombarded by all of those deals. So the future obviously had to be part of that but you said, “No, let’s be again more empathetic and let’s just say look, we’ve got great content, if you like it cheaper you can get it at a better price now.” But what I really liked was there was one of your guys, and I don’t know who it was and he should forgive me for that because I should know all of your people out there, but he sent this really great email and I’m on your mailing list and I somehow caught it and I saw it. It basically was just him talking about how everyone’s so sick and tired of getting all of these deal emails and it’s overwhelming. You and me both, we’re both in this and it sucks and I was waiting for the upsell and it never came. It was just more of a story about how we’re all in this together and you just wanted to send this email as a reminder but look, thank god the time is over, basically. It was maybe different than that but it was like that’s what I as a user, as a consumer, that’s how it resonated with me and I think that’s exactly how you directed your team to do it. I thought it was very heartfelt and I think it’s very much in line with how you run the future and how people see you, you know.
C Do: Based on your description, I know who wrote it, it was Ben Burns. Whenever there’s a heartfelt email that seems very personal and resonates with you, chances are it’s Ben who wrote it.
F Geyrhalter: Way to go, Ben. Very good. Let’s talk about not so much about standing out but more about fitting in. I noted you talk a lot about sameness and you talk about copying what’s already out there. You are a creative and you, just like myself, intend to create unique solutions to business problems through strategic brand thinking. Now, it catches a lot of your listeners, who are mainly fairly young graphic designers, off guard when you talk about how it is okay, perhaps even strategically sound, to be highly inspired by your competition’s branding, perhaps to even paint by the numbers at times. So I’m coming to question here. Many startup entrepreneurs copy existing businesses and then they just make it D2C, direct to consumer, for example. But how do you see that philosophy play out when it comes to actually defining and separating the adventure from others through branding? Like when is the moment when you rebuild what others built and then you add your touch? Do you have any thoughts on that for our entrepreneur listeners of when that moment comes where they separated? Because you talk to graphic designers and you say, “Why do you spend so much time making your website be this website that no one’s ever seen before that is so unique and that has such a different process and everything is shown differently when in reality, clients actually would like a safe option? They would like to know that you have a process and you look a lot like the others but they make a choice based on personality or based on experience or based on one of many other reasons not necessarily the way that the upper end comes across?”
C Do: Let me attack this and the different layers and then we’ll lean in to whatever you think is more important for your audience to hear. Most of the designers that watch our channel, they hear what they want to hear because they were taught to be master crafts people, to really be great makers and the world celebrates that or at least in our little insular community. So when they hear something that is other than celebrating their artistry and their unique perspective in the world, it’s a hard thing for them to process and I get that and I identify with that. But what we need to understand is this, is that there’s very little that’s new under the sun. Let’s take a look at one of the most influential companies in the world, Facebook. Facebook, to me, it wasn’t very different than Friendster. For those of you guys that are old enough to remember Friendster, it was a way for people to connect with friends. It’s a social platform and Friendster blew up until Myspace came in and did a couple of things differently and then Friendster went away and it was all about Myspace. Again, this will date you. And then Facebook came in and essentially created the same thing and they reacted to Myspace being a total free for all cluster F when it came to design and it was just people vomiting graphics all over the place. So they purposely put in guideposts along the side so you can only do so much about expressing yourself and it created a lot of rules and constraint. So it turns out, we don’t want all this uniqueness. We actually don’t want to spend so much time trying to discover each and every single person because it requires a lot of mental energy to do this and I don’t want to do that. When it comes to websites, it’s like we understand how to build great landing pages now. How yeah have to drive people down to the bottom of the page and you got to start with the why, then the how, and then the what. That’s what we need to do. So we don’t need to reinvent the framework that templates exist. People have tried that already in the early 2000s to great disastrous effects when we’re chasing interfaces, when we’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t click on a button because the button is running away from my mouse. What is going on?” Super frustrating. That’s when people win web design awards and so they’re encouraged to do that, so we need to shift their thinking. Now, I think you’ve done this really well and talk about how brands really differentiate just by having an interesting personality or a cause or a purpose so that maybe they don’t have to have the latest G-Wiz gadget or feature and really, all we need to do is execute better than other people and enroll people through our story. That’s what makes things different. Now, in Cleon Peterson’s book … oh, I’m sorry, it’s not Cleon Peterson. In Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work, he talks about this. He said, “Your story can impact the value of things,” and he takes the example of artwork. He says, “When you walk into a gallery and you look at a painting, is that painting really worth what they’re asking for or is it because the story that’s embedded within that image is what you’re really buying?” Because that’s the difference between an authentic piece and a counterfeit piece because the counterfeit, although it looks exactly the same, is it attached to the creation story of the artist? I think that’s really important to be able to tell your story.
F Geyrhalter: Amen. Amen. Even though you might have a similar why at the beginning of why people might need you if you’re in the service industry, if you’re a consultant, but then your personal why gets interjected and it gets infused into that and that’s when the story starts happening. I’m curious and I try to ask as many people in the show as possible. What is a single word or maybe two words that can describe your brand? Now that we are deep at the heart of the brand’s conversation, how would you describe The Futur in a word? What could it be? Is it empathy?
C Do: No, no. I thought about this. I was like, “How do you distill our company down to one word?” I think it’s empowerment. What we do better than most people is we give people knowledge and tools to empower them to achieve their dreams. That’s it.
F Geyrhalter: Awesome. It’s perfect. What does branding mean to you, Chris? I know you talk a lot about it. It’s in your genes by now. You teach it. We’ve been talking about branding, The Futur, how you did that. How would you put it in simple words? Everyone has their own explanation and I think it’s nice that everyone does but, in the end, a lot of them sync up. What does it mean to you? How would you describe branding?
C Do: I think branding is the sum total of the user experience for a customer and this is Marty Neumeier’s thing. It’s not what you say, it’s what they say it is.
F Geyrhalter: Right.
C Do: So it’s gut feeling and the gut feeling can be influenced, it can’t be controlled, and it’s one of these things, especially in this day and age, where social media and authenticity is so important that the days are long gone now where a brand can say we’re about customer service, we’re about the best-built quality and the most interesting design when you can easily cross-reference that on a number of channels. In fact, I did this last night. I was intrigued by a product so I just jumped from the website. With all these Cyber Monday deals, I typed it in, review. Then I watched unbiased reviews and I thought, “Hmm, it is not what they promise it to be. I’m going to save myself $350. I’m not going to buy this thing. I’m going to wait for them to improve the product.” So we can cross reference that. So it doesn’t matter anymore what you say. Here’s good news and bad news for some of your entrepreneurs out there: make a good product, deliver on the promise. The branding will take care of itself after that point.
F Geyrhalter: And a good example is a book that you and I both like, which is by Tony Hsieh, and it’s The Zappos Founder. Zappos actually is capable to build an entire business and customer service, so they can actually own these words that you just declared are not ownable but they can own it because they actually have products and service that a hundred percent aligns with that core value of theirs, that that’s what they do. They’re about the customer service.
C Do: Yeah, 100% I’m a big fan of what Tony is doing and the entire company, top to bottom, is built around this core philosophy that they share together. So it’s not something that a marketing team, a brand consultant came in and said, “We are about X, Y, and Z,” and they were like, “Great. Let’s put that on the website, let’s put it on the wall when they walk into the lobby.” No, you have to live and breathe that. So from customer service, how they hire people, how they fire people, the company culture, and he’s famous in the book saying, “Don’t worry about the branding. Get the culture right, the branding will follow.”
F Geyrhalter: Yeah, and that is yet another point that I think is so important, the idea that culture is bigger than branding because if you have the right culture and brand is creating itself over time and there are so many companies that I start working with and I see that the culture is broke. Like it just does not work. There’s just evil top-down culture and it’s so hard to change that and say, “Yeah, let’s paint the pig. Let’s create a brand around it that people should sense but they will feel something different.” From within, it’s not honest and it’s not created in a way that is empathetic with the customer.
C Do: Yes. So here’s the thing, if we think about it, one of our highest goals as human beings, and then, hopefully, it transferences to corporations and brands, is that we aspire to be happy and happiness comes from the alignment of what you think, say, and do. So when you talk about a brand that says one thing, that does something really different and things really evil thoughts, well that’s a fractured company that’s very toxic. So it’s an illusion that people think by bringing in a brand strategist that they can say some magical words and design something really interesting that they can actually change that.
C Do: So I think the right way to do this, as you’ve talked about, is to get the culture right, bring in a brand strategist to help to highlight what’s great about your culture because a lot of times when we’re inside the bubble, when we’re inside the bottle, we can’t read the label. So this is that interesting thing. I want to dovetail this to teaching. Many years ago, I started getting burnt out over doing service design work and I started to lose myself. I was like, “Am I any good? Is this actually helping anybody?” I started to doubt myself. So I was going through this weird burnout. I took a sabbatical. It just so happened I got an offer to teach. I started teaching and then what I realized in myself is I have a lot more to offer people and the students gave me a window into that.
C Do: So that’s where I think a brand strategist can step in. You as a company have a lot to offer the world, you’re just unaware of your gifts. So the brand strategist comes in and looks at it and is like, “You were really good at X, Y, and Z. How come we don’t talk about this more? Oh, because we’re too busy trying to be like everybody else and say the same things. Well, let them be them and let’s doubledown on you and what makes you different and unique.” I think that’s really all it is, is that the brand strategist comes in to surface what’s already there and if it’s an empty core, it’s just all air then.
F Geyrhalter: Honing in on those couple of things that they have that are really good and by that, you magnify it and actually people start behaving more like it and better culture will grow out of it. I think it’s fantastic. What’s a final piece of brand advice? Most probably, you already dropped so many pieces of brand advice on everyone that you might be totally out of it, but if you have a single piece of brand advice for company founders as a takeaway where you say, “Look, don’t think this way, think this way,” or any thought that you have about, any big advice. One more nugget. Give us one more nugget. Time is running out.
C Do: Shoot. Yeah, time is running out. I’m looking at the clock here. Okay, I don’t know if I’m going to repeat myself here, but the big shift for us in terms of our own realization, and all I can do is share with you my story and hope that you guys, that your audience is listening and it’s like, “Oh, I think I can do that.” Now, many people are coming to me and asking, “Chris, you should give marketing advice,” I’m like, “I’m not a marketer.” They say, “Wait a minute, you transitioned from being a service company basically selling time to a person who’s making content and influencing people and actually growing a very profitable business in the process.” So it took me a moment to realize that that we’ve been able to make this jump to go from a service company to selling knowledge and creating value for other human beings. I think if you have a brand and you want to do marketing, it comes down to creating value for other people. So I try to live by this mantra: give as much away as possible for as little as possible without hurting yourself and if you do so, the law of reciprocity, karmic, equity will be built, and I think this is a term that Gary Vaynerchuk uses which is you can exist in the thank you economy. I think we’re entering this whole new place where people more so than ever don’t want to be sold to but are so ready to buy. Give them a reason to.
F Geyrhalter: And this is not only for consultants. This is not only for service companies. This is for B2B. It’s like we’re all humans and I think that that is so important. It’s not just the brand consultancy guy or the educator talking. No. This works across all companies and this is so 2018, 2019 spot on. Absolutely love it.
C Do: You know what’s really crazy? I just want to share this last little bit in case there are some creatives listening to this, especially in creative people, there’s this scarcity mindset where if we give away the secret sauce that they’ll not know what it is. My opinion is this, and it’s not based on data because we were talking about data before, is that if you are so concerned about a secret sauce or that client isn’t going to hire you, you’re the wrong person and they are the wrong client. I found in our own data is that when we share, when we pull back the curtain, if you will, that when they realize you’re such an expert at doing something, they actually don’t want to go through that effort. Smart people, smart entrepreneurs especially say, “My time is more valuable. If Fabian is a great branding strategist or brand strategist and Chris is great at doing content marketing, I can try to educate my team. I can tell them to watch all the videos, and learn, and extract or we can just hire them.” That’s really where that comes back around and for the first time ever, we have clients calling us with actually really big budgets who are fans first, that they’re giddy on the phone with us and we don’t have to sell them anything because they know the script. They know what I’m going to say. That’s just a revolutionary thing in sales for me that your customers arrive pretty sold. So just a question of then how much are they prepared to spend?
F Geyrhalter: It’s actually the exact same thing for me when people read one of my books and they call me as a fan and they want to talk about my book and then say, “Oh, and here I’ve got a problem and I think you’re the right person to solve it.” I mean, that is wonderful for anyone who has to sell because you’re still running a business but doesn’t want to sell and just it feels like you’re giving us the right way of going and this is a perfect example. For the designers amongst the listeners, which there are actually quite a few, tell them where they can find you, The Futur, and what you’d like them to be doing right this minute to gain some knowledge from your teachings.
C Do: Go to YouTube. Go to youtube.com and find us. You can search for The Futur is Here. If you type that in, there’s a chance that you’re going to find it as lower case typeset of a logo, set in Futura, bold, blue and yellow or blue and white and that’s us. We have over 600 videos. I think we’re over 700 now. Watch one of our videos. All you have to do is search our content and hopefully learn something and if you like it, watch some more. That’s all I can ask.
F Geyrhalter: Walking the walk. There’s no sales pitch here. Thank you, Chris. Thank you. This was tons of fun, greatly insightful, and we better get to dinner and to books again to continue on this conversation.
C Do: I love the conversation. Thanks for having me.
F Geyrhalter: And thank you, everyone, for listening. Hit that subscribe button as I have some amazing guests booked for the next episodes. A friendly reminder to also please give the show a quick rating wherever you listen to podcast. This is a brand new show and it really helps to place it on the radar. It sure is much appreciated. This podcast is brought to you by Finien, a brand consultancy creating strategic, verbal, and visual brand clarity. You can learn more about Finien and download free white papers to support your own brand launch or rebranding effort at finian.com. We still have a special podcast offer going from my latest book, Bigger Than This: How to Turn Any Venture into an Admired Brand. You can get your copy now for six ridiculous dollars at tinyurl.com/Fabiansbook. I hope that was not a sales pitch. Chris would take me for it. The Hitting the Mark theme music was written and produced by Happiness One. I will see you next time when we, once again, will be Hitting the Mark.