people, business, specialization, authority, specialize, person, clients, talk, bit, feel, writing, important, share, influencers, audience, competitors, video, big, coach, started
Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Chris Do
Chris Do 00:00
A key person of influence is someone who is able to separate themselves from the market to command the lion’s share of what’s happening to be able to charge a price premium. To be the one of the few names that are mentioned whenever it’s connected to a particular subject.
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.
Alastair McDermott 00:30
Before we get into today’s episode, I just want to let you know about a mastermind group that we’re running called Authority Labs. It’s for independent consultants and experts who were looking for coaching, accountability and peer support on your journey to authority. So if you’re a consultant or expert, and you’re working to position yourself, build your authority, grow your income, and you’d like to have an accountability and support group around you, then this might be the right group for you. So the cohort is starting in the next month, there’s going to be a group call every two weeks, and the numbers will be limited to a maximum of six for this cohort. So you get a lot of my time and attention. If you’d like to know more about this, visit the link in the show notes, or go to TheRecognizedAuthority.com/group. Thanks for listening and on with the show. So today, my guest is Chris Do. I’m really thrilled to have Chris on, I’m gonna read his bio as he’s given it to me, and then just tell you my experience with Chris. He’s a loud extrovert, and Emmy award winning designer, Director, CEO and founder of the future. And that’s an online education platform that teaches people how to make a living doing what they love. And I know Chris, because about four or five years ago, I needed to make some changes in my business. And one of the things I needed to get better at doing was doing the sales process. And so Chris was one of the people whose whose work I found online, along with Blair Enns, David C. Baker, and some other people like that. So, and you didn’t mention on here, but like, I think you’re being a bit modest, your YouTube channel is is just about to hit 2 million subscribers, which is kind of astonishing numbers. And, you know, you have this huge following. So I think you’re a perfect person to talk to about building authority. So welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris Do 02:15
Thanks very much for having me.
Alastair McDermott 02:17
So can you tell me how to be a key person of influence? Can that was what what we were talking about? What does that mean to you and how do we get there?
Chris Do 02:26
Yeah, key person of influence is a term coined by Daniel Priestley, I believe, and it’s a it’s a play on KPI, a key performance indicator. So it’s similar words, or similar letters, different meaning. But a key person of influence is someone who’s able to separate themselves from the market to command the lion’s share of what’s happening, to be able to charge a price premium to be the one of the few names that are mentioned whenever it’s connected to a particular subject. And a key person of influence has been able to clearly communicate their value, and package it in a way that their audience or the target finds desirable. And that’s straight up from his book. And I’m, I’m really enjoying the book because it brings together a lot of different ideas that I’ve had summed up very succinctly. And it’s wonderful. And the story I like to tell people, or the way to think about this is because the word influence and the word influencers are linked together. Obviously, if you’re a person who can be influential in persuading a decision makers to do one thing or the other. Those are those are good things. We want to be influential, but the word influencers is often associated with people who are social media stars, who don’t have a lot to offer, who can be amateurs, but for whatever reason, have a really magnetic personality, and they draw people to them. So now it has a negative association. But if you think about old school influencers, they’re the public speakers, their teachers, their authors, and that’s really what I’m advocating for.
Alastair McDermott 03:51
Right. So that that positive view, I mean, yeah, influencer has this really negative term, and influencer really is is just like a euphemism for authority or recognized authority as I’d refer to it here on the show. It’s kind of the same thing. I think that in the sense that we would talk about influencers and think about them in relation to the business topics that we’re talking about. We think about the levels of expertise. But when you think about influencers, as it’s used in the kind of the mass media and how people think of you know, people with these large Instagram followings, maybe with some bought followers and things like that, and who don’t really have like a deep expertise in something, I think that’s where a lot of that negative kind of connotations come into it. So what like, what’s the what’s the key difference there for you? Like, how do you how do you see like, what’s, what’s important there?
Chris Do 04:38
The importance is a couple different things. It’s how you create value for other people. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. People credit me for doing all different kinds of things. And I boil it down to I think I get credit for doing certain things because I’ve figured out a way that aligns with my values and my what gets me up in the morning. In that I’m I self add on If I as a teacher, I want to be able to help other people to create the kind of change that they want in their life. It could be around sales or on marketing, personal development or something else, or even just being inspired to stay in the field of design and not to quit. And so to me, that’s the important part, like how are you helping lift other people up, helping them to achieve their goals? And when you could do so you can actually live a very meaningful life, that you might not be a rich person, but you will live like a wealthy person.
Alastair McDermott 05:27
Yeah, that’s really interesting. And that just reminds me of something I wanted to ask you about. Because I think I’ve heard you before talking about a key moment for you being when you decided not to have any more secrets, kind of hiding the secret sauce, that you decided to reveal everything? And did you talk about that as being like this inflection point for you where things started to grow?
Chris Do 05:48
I think there are many inflection points. But I used to hold I’m a very private person. And I don’t want to talk about the things that I’m doing so much, because it feels I’m I’m trying to step into the spotlight too much. So one is just out of being overly self conscious. But also trying to be mindful that people will have negative reactions to you sharing, what we tend to do is we tend to hold back in EO they call it the 5%, the 5% that you don’t share with others. So you’ll share the middle 90, The Good, the Bad, the highs and lows, but you never share the extreme happiness, and you will never share the extreme sadness and the valleys in which we go through. And I find that that’s how a lot of people work in what happens, then when we just remove the boundaries, these artificial barriers, and we share very openly. So if I were to sell my company for $100 million, and there was a very specific way in which I got there, people tend to gloss over those things because they just think nobody’s interested, or it’s going to feel maybe too braggadocious, too self important. But it’s in those moments that 5% that real learning can happen and breakthroughs can can can live.
Alastair McDermott 06:56
So how, how do we match the like you’re an introvert, you don’t want to share? And how do we match that up against, you know, putting ourselves out there and becoming influencers and becoming authorities and teaching people and, and, you know, being in this social media world where you know, everybody’s putting everything online?
Chris Do 07:13
Everybody’s gonna have a different reason as to why they don’t want to share, it could be that you’re an introvert, or maybe you’re fairly new in your journey, or you’re too deep into the journey. So you feel like you’re too old, the information is outdated, you can’t keep up with the kids, so to speak. So everybody will have a reason. So let’s move the reason out of the equation, because it’s going to be very personal and individual. But let’s look at the action. My business coach would always say we can’t control how people think, but we can modify the behavior, right? So the behaviors, is there a benefit to sharing your work in teaching other people to show them how you make the sauce and your recipes? Well, if we don’t share, and if we don’t write and we don’t produce content, how else will people discover you? Eventually, what’s going to happen is you’re going to run out of contacts and connections, within your immediate circle, you’re going to work with everybody that can hire you that wants to hire you within your immediate circle in what will happen over time. And we’ve seen this in repeating itself. For many different people in many different industries, where their business goes into decline, they had some moment of success, and they banked on, that was the reason they never develop specialization, they don’t work on their sales game, and they don’t work on marketing. So eventually, fewer and fewer opportunities happen. And then the prices go down. And they don’t know what to do with themselves. So I think it’s within all of us to learn the marketing game, to learn how to do sales, and then put ourselves out there, so that we can reach across geographical boundaries of time and space, and be able to reach the exact right person who could benefit from a product or service that we make.
Alastair McDermott 08:47
So you set a trigger word for me there, or trigger phrase you said, put ourselves out there. What what does that actually mean in, in, in reality, like, what does that actually look like?
Chris Do 08:58
It means you have to enroll people in the projects that you’re doing the process in which you use to create that work, you need to be able to talk about the success of your clients, and how you measure success. And you have to also be able to willing, you have to also be willing to talk about your failures. And where you you guessed incorrectly, or you let your ego or short sightedness or your emotions get the best of you. And it didn’t lead to a great outcome, you have to be able to talk about that you have to be able to share.
Alastair McDermott 09:26
Yeah, and, you know, I already told you, you know, one of the things I love to talk on the show with people about is failures and every successful business person that you know I’ve ever spoken to has a lot of failures. And, you know, that’s how that’s how they learned and that’s how they they succeeded is going through those. So yeah, I’m a big believer in that. And I think that it’s I think that that’s important and really helpful for people to see that, you know, this this really successful person has actually failed over and over again.
Chris Do 09:56
I believe it’s really important and the problem is a lot of successful people don’t want to share that. They want to maintain this image. And it’s really odd because trying to be perfect appearing as if you got all your stuff together, it creates a barrier between you and the audience that you’re actually trying to reach. We don’t like perfect people, we like relatable people, we like real people, people who have their dark days and their bright days, because it gives us a shot at achieving the same thing. Because we all live flawed lives. We’re never perfect. Like, we’re not perfect on our diet or exercise. We’re not perfect in our relationships. I saw this quote, the other day, it says parenting is easy until you have kids. Yeah, it’s because life is a struggle. Right? It’s not that easy. And so when we show people that we have flaws, we become much more relatable. If you look at characters and stories, and in fictional work, you’ll notice the most beloved characters are the underdogs, the ones that have something that makes them a little bit different. And they’re rejected by society and the work to overcome those things. In Disney movies, of course, it’s always the foster child that is missing a mom or dad or something’s going on, and is the wrong person in the wrong place and the wrong time. There is always that element of conflict. And so if we want to build a strong personal brand, and we want to build our authority, we have to be able to tell our story in ways that people connect with in character flaws, trials and tribulations are the things that make us relatable.
Alastair McDermott 11:25
Yeah, that’s very true. And I think, you know, we see that it’s something I wonder about, you know, and I was talking to Mark Schaefer about this, about this, what he calls strategic authenticity, where he shares deliberately, he shares some things but not others. And I think that you know, that maybe that’s a good way to approach it if you don’t want to share everything. But you say, Okay, I’m going to be strategic about this. I’m going to be and it sounds a little bit mercenary, but I think that if you’re, if you’re if you’re careful about what you’re sharing, you say, Okay, I’m going to share this set of flows and and give this insight into into what makes me that will allow people it. That’s the that’s the issue I have with this. It sounds a bit mercenary, though. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Chris Do 12:10
Yeah, I do. I don’t love that term, because it feels like you’re being a little too controlling. And that you’re only going to share something if it’s advantageous for you to share I think that moves us dangerously close to inauthenticity the exact opposite.
Alastair McDermott 12:23
Chris Do 12:24
There’s a general rule, though, because I am fortunate to hang out with psychologists and therapists, they say there’s a difference between a scab and a scar. A scab is as a wound that has been inflicted on you and you haven’t fully healed, it’s still vulnerable to being re exposed and reinjury. But a scar is something that has you’ve recovered from and you can share, and you can share with that emotionally falling apart. And you’re not doing what people consider trauma dumping. That’s when sharing all of your life struggles is overwhelming for you and for the audience, and you’re using them as a form of public therapy. I’m not a fan of that either. But if it’s something that’s happened in your past, maybe a moment you’re not proud of, you’ve made a dumb decision, you’ve lost money, you act in a way that wasn’t in alignment with your values and integrity. I think you need to talk about that. And then you need to tell us the lesson that you learned so that we don’t just walk away feeling like oh, my gosh, you I feel a little dirty. I don’t know what to do with that.
Alastair McDermott 13:23
Yeah, yeah. I love that. I think I heard this before. And this is where I think it feels inauthentic to me, I heard people in the kind of the internet marketing heyday of like the Warrior Forum on these kind of dodgy online forums where people talk about online marketing, and they talked about, you know, putting deliberately a damaging admission into your sales sales copy. And that that would get people to trust you more. And I think that really, they were doing that in order to disarm people in in a very, in a very, you know, in a nasty way. So I think, I think what what you talked about there, you know, talking about these real things that your past, you know, your your when you talk about the scab versus the scar, which is an amazing analogy, you know, that, that we can, we can talk about those things and, and be honest and open about them because they’re firing off in the past recipe be true, but I liked that.
Chris Do 14:19
I was gonna say you’re right in these marketing funnels, where there’s gurus, they do seem to follow a very specific formula. If a story is true, it should come out from you. It should. It shouldn’t have to be so manufactured or curated or edited. I do have a problem with that because sometimes I do listen to these gurus and almost all the Guru’s top authorities, best selling authors, they do seem to have this trauma story which they’ve overcome that takes them down a couple of pegs. But they say it in a way that feels almost scripted and it brings an air of inauthenticity, which we talked about before. We have to be careful about that.
Alastair McDermott 14:58
There’s a guy called Michael In this, which is not actually his real name, but it’s this kind of fake persona he’s made for himself like the, like the American comedian whose name I can’t remember Stephen Colbert or the Colbert Report, that kind of character. And he talks, he has this Sam contrapuntal series on YouTube, which is really good. But it basically does analysis of all of these kind of online scammers and breaks down what they’re doing. And this, this particular one, he calls the bullshit backstory. And that’s one of the things so you know, I’m going through, I’m kind of checking myself off against his checklist and trying to make sure that what I’m doing doesn’t come across like what these guys are doing. Because you know, that that bullshit out there is the bullshit backstory again, you know, you just see that and you go, Oh, okay, this is so cringe, because you see everybody doing it, you know, I grew up in this tough, tough neighborhood. And, you know, I got sent to prison. And, you know, I’ve made it good now. And here’s me in front of my Ferrari, you know, so, yeah, it feels, it feels very fake.
Chris Do 16:01
It does. And I know what Mike is talking about, I know exactly what you’re talking about there. And I think he has some pretty funny in sometimes insightful bits that he does. But I think his his form of analysis starts to border, wild, hyperbolic exaggeration, satire and cynicism, we kind of have to be careful about not going down that path ourselves. Because people do have genuine, authentic struggles that they work through. But you can usually tell, probably the best person about who does this is Brene Brown. And she talks about how like appearing on TED and that video blowing up, brought her a lot of unwanted attention to criticism, but the way she looks the way she dresses her weight, and we can feel that that’s real, that’s not a manufactured thing. But when we hear these alpha type people who are multimillionaires, who seemed to have everything lined up, and they tell these very finely tuned, well crafted stories, their backstory, the BS backstory that you reference, it might be real, some of it, but it feels manufactured. That’s the problem.
Alastair McDermott 17:03
Okay, I want to move on from that, because I don’t wanna spend too much time focusing on that much of negative. But I do want to ask you about something, I think I’m wondering how important this is to your success. Because I’ve watched a lot of videos of you in particular, doing live streams and things like that, where you’re very personable, you’re very relatable, you’re very likeable kind of guy, and you react very quickly. And I’m just wondering how much of that, how much of your success is based on just you being you? Like, what, like, maybe some other people can’t replicate? How much of your success is is replicated, is something that other people can copy? And how much is just Christo being Christo?
Chris Do 17:40
Very good question. I’m sure one person can copy anything if they set their mind to it. But maybe one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is to learn to lean into who I am, and create this unique voice that is a synthesis of my upbringing, my ethnicity, my aspirations, what I find funny, and, and being okay with that somebody had comment online. Chris, we’ve seen you evolve over the years, and you’re really changing, you’re becoming this other person. They meant that in a compliment, right? Like you’ve evolved, and you’ve grown from this super shy, awkward, introverted person to being this more charismatic, dynamic personality who makes fun of himself and others? And they said, No, you’re wrong. I do appreciate you saying that. But what you don’t realize is I’m becoming more of myself. And let me explain. So when we appear online, when we appear on stage or in front of a classroom, I think we have an image of ourselves that we’re supposed to fit within a specific mold of a person who does what we do. And so we stand up straighter, where we dress properly, and we try to mind our P’s and Q’s when we’re speaking. So it’s a very a contrived, artificial version of, of ourselves. But if you and I were hanging out at Sid pub in Ireland, somewhere, you would see that I’m not that different. And I might even be wild and crazier, because we’re laughing. I’m not worried about anybody looking at us and saying, Oh, you said that I’m gonna cancel you. And so what happened is I’ve learned over time, the more that I lean into who I am, and risk a little bit of alienating a small percentage of the audience, the more comfortable I am, the more I’m okay in my own skin. And the more likeable I become, because I don’t have to be the stiff, boring person. I have a weird sense of humor. I like to I like to rip on people sometimes when they’re in front of me. And I know it hurts one person’s feelings sometimes. But it can be very entertaining for everyone else. And I try to bring levity and humor and to be dynamic so that we can have fun. And the other criticism I get a lot, especially when we do role plays, and they say this all the time that comments, scripted actors, so fake, and I take that as a compliment. Because it’s not scripted. It’s not pre planned. It’s not acted. So if it feels that good to you, man, that’s a big compliment to me.
Alastair McDermott 19:52
Oh, yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. And I think that they would be amazing actors if they were able to act in the moment like that.
Chris Do 19:59
Alastair McDermott 20:00
Yeah, so there’s, there’s a few things there I’m really interested in. So the the, the idea, I think part of it comes from just getting older and getting more life experience. And you get to the point where you just don’t really give a damn, I think there’s a part of that, that comes to see that older people are more comfortable than younger people in their own skin. I’ve seen this as well in websites. And and I saw it very much in my own website and the about pages of websites that you see from solopreneurs and independents, where they have we this and we that everywhere, you know, and they kind of try and present us this bigger business, you know, and, you know, it’s like, it’s just you dude, like, I know, it’s just you this, this, don’t, you don’t need to do that. I’m talking to me, by the way. I’m talking about the me from 10 years ago, from 15 years ago. It’s like, I don’t need to, like pretend I’m this big company. Just be, be me. And actually, it’s kind of ironic, because I got more comfortable with putting I’m this and and this is me, and this is just me. And then I and then I started to build a team. And now it’s actually we but I still use the I because I think that people are coming mostly for what I do. And the support team is there. But it’s mostly for me that they’re coming for it. And I think that it represents it better, even though actually it’s now it’s we so that’s just a kind of, I think that’s kind of like the same level of comfort in your own skin and what you’re doing.
Chris Do 21:24
Absolutely. I think when we decide something, then it’s a week. But when I write my opinion, it should be I because we didn’t have a discussion about this. This is not everyone’s collective opinion, right. And I find that when I left, running blind to my team, and I started The Futur was just both mostly just myself, and when one assistant and I was just writing. And so I felt for the first time I was free to speak my own mind, because I wasn’t representing three other creative directors. I wasn’t worried about alienating clients. So I just wrote I, I like this is my experience. And then people would say, Hey, should you use we isn’t as a company. What about this whole? There’s no I in team? Like when when there’s a we writing this, then we’ll use we. But since I’m writing it since it’s my opinion, and it’s sometimes it’s very clear that it’s a person’s opinion. I’m not trying to pretend to be a company, I can speak more authentically. And I can feel as if I have a direct line of communication between my heart, my brain and the audience that shows up.
Alastair McDermott 22:21
Yeah. And I think that really comes through in all of your videos and your content online as well. There was something else you mentioned earlier, I want to dig into a little bit you mentioned specialization. And anybody else do this show was kind of gone: Oh, my God. He’s talking about specialization. Again, I think it’s such a core piece of the puzzle. And it is, you know, in the journey to authority as I see it, I think that that’s it’s like the major stumbling block that people have is they don’t want to specialize niche down. They want to stay as that generalist. And you told me that you actually specialized really early on, can you can you talk a little bit about your, your thoughts and specialization on your experience with it?
Chris Do 22:57
Yes, and I will say this with a caveat. Somebody might disagree that that specialization, but we’ll, we’ll we’ll take some risk here. So when I went to graduate school, I studied graphic design and packaging. My intention was to do entertainment packaging, back then, when we had things like albums and CDs, designers would design the booklets and the packaging that would go with it. But it didn’t feel right for me. But when I started my company in 1995, I offered all kinds of services. If you needed a logo, I could do that for you. I could build your identity, his identity system, I could build your website, oh, you need a video made, we can do that, too. And that was okay at a lot of things, but not great at anything. And about a year into I felt like every single time I got a new assignment, it was super exciting. But I always felt like I didn’t know what it is I was doing. When we designed the website, I obviously didn’t have the experience that young people have today around understanding user interface design, user experience design and best practices for multi screen experience. I didn’t know any of that. And then it came to it crystallized for me. When I was working on a main title design sequence, a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger. And my clients sent over one of their animators to help me to teach me. I mean, it’s like, okay, and they paid for that. So the guy sat down with me looked at my files and said, you know, if you use motion curves, it’ll look much better. I like motion curves. What is that? And so that’s when I had to make a decision. I was thinking, well, if I’m gonna play in the big leagues, working on a high profile projects, a better know what I’m doing. And so I made a decision with my girlfriend and then later on my wife, I said, why don’t we just go all in a motion design? Let’s clear the slate. I don’t want to do web design. I don’t want to do logo design. We can do that as part of what we offer, but I’m not gonna lead with that. We’re gonna start to edit that out of our portfolio. We want to be known as a motion design company. There’s still so much for us to learn here between animation directing, compositing, and editing. So it’s one of these weird fields where there’s multiple disciplines built in it. So it’s cross disciplinary in That’s what I wound up doing for the next 20 plus years. So my first big decision was, what is it that we do, where I didn’t go as narrow as I should have is who we do it for. We basically made commercials for anyone that paid us, it would be much better if we worked on sports, branding, or fast food marketing, or lifestyle branding or something like that within the space of making commercials. But we didn’t
Alastair McDermott 25:22
So you chose a horizontal specialization, you focused on one problem area, but you didn’t choose a vertical like an industry to work within. And do you, do you regret that? Do you think that it would have helped if you had done that back then?
Chris Do 25:34
I don’t regret it. And I’ll tell you why. Because we are one of 10 companies in the world that could do what we do, even though we weren’t specialized, because it was a brand new industry to a point in which you and I were talking about before, when you’re early in on a market like right now, NFT’s are all the rage. So you don’t really need to know that much. And you can get away with it. And you can have tons of success. Because it’s so new, it’s so different. But eventually the market matures really fast. And you’ll find you’ll be searching for another thing to get into. In the very beginning, we had the most success by designing, it’s a term called end tags, which are the animated logos that happen at the end of each commercial to tag the brand. So you’ll see this interesting drama that plays out something cool, something fun, something entertaining, and then some animated thing will come on to let you know Oh, yeah, that’s XYZ commercial. So we built those, and we made a lot of money doing those. And so we became known as the people you called to do the animated end tags. That’s what got us the success.
Alastair McDermott 26:29
So because you were early, and it was it was it was a new thing. Yeah. So you gotta you got in earlier. And I think, you know, the people I’ve had the most resistance from in terms of talking to them about specialization and then saying to me, Hey, you know, specialization? I don’t think it’s that important. It’s usually the older guys who’ve been around and who were there first, who feel that that it’s the least important. I think the people who come up afterwards and have to kind of duke it out and Google, I think that they think that specialization is a bit more important.
Chris Do 26:58
Yes. So I’m sure this won’t be the last time I quote Blair Enns. But he says that all strategy is autobiographical. So if you talk to some of the older old timers, I include myself in that group, I’m 50 years old. If they forget how they got here, they’re like, oh, yeah, I do all kinds of things. My clients love me. They forgot that at the beginning, there were some pivotal, pivotal moments, hard decisions that had to make that got them that success. And then they give this advice. And I think it’s generally just bad advice. I’m not saying that you can’t be successful as a generalist. But the, the evidence would is overwhelming for people who specialize.
Alastair McDermott 27:34
Yeah, there’s, so I’m so jealous that you came to the realization about specialization that quickly, it took me about seven years to realize that was important, and I’m very jealous of that. But one thing that you said was, we’re not going to lead with that. So you’re not saying you know, that we’re not going to do these other things. It’s just that we’re not going to lead with everything. We’re just going to lead with this one thing. I think, you know, Philip Morgan talks about specialization being a beachhead, Jonathan Stark talks about specialization, you know, being this, his approach to specialization being something that you can test, let’s just take this as a test campaign. And so when I’m talking to people who are resisting the concept, specialization, I think that’s really important. It’s like, you just lead with this one thing, but you can still do all of those other things as well, you know, there’s no specialization police gonna come along, lock you up, because you deliver these other services.
Chris Do 28:26
That’s right. So if you think about a newspaper, there’s the headline, the thing that the editors think is the most important issue of the day, but also thing that’s going to sell newspapers, but they can bury other stories deep into the paper, some people will read it, some people won’t, it can be there. So here’s, here’s a happy compromise for all of you that are listening, that are struggling with this concept. Because obviously, if you’re here, you’ve heard this concept many times before, and you’re still resistant. I’ll say this, you should specialize externally, you should generalize internally. So when you present your face to the company to the I’m sorry, when you present yourself to the clients and to the world, make it easy for them to remember what the heck you do. say one thing, this is the one thing I want to be known for, and have lots of examples to back that up on your own time, study all different kinds of disciplines, a be fastened about everything in the world, because that makes you a rich, complete and a happy human. Those broad diverse experiences that you’re going to immerse yourself into will come to help you in application of your specialization. So when you create a logo for for an industry that has some new emerging thing, but you’ve been researching it, it’ll dovetail really beautifully. Like something that I’m personally very interested in, is I love fishing. I love to be out in the water. There aren’t a lot of business applications for me. However, when I’m speaking to a client about a marketing campaign, I can make analogies about fishing that they can understand. And that’s how I bring my broad, diverse generalist education and curiosity to a very high Focus specialized application of it.
Alastair McDermott 30:02
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s, that’s really important. I want to get a bit a bit tactical here for a minute, because you have this, you’ve built up this authority, I just want to ask you to get into the weeds a little bit on, on the mechanics of what you actually did to build that authority. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Chris Do 30:19
Yes. Before I answer that, cuz I don’t want it to be presumptuous here. Which authority are you referring to?
Alastair McDermott 30:27
So, in the sense that you know, you, well, so I would have seen you as an authority in the field of sales of design and consulting type services, these kinds of invisible professional services. So that’s what I would have seen you as an authority in in, I think 2017-2018. So that’s, that’s one thing for sure. I’m sure there’s other things that people would see you as an authority in.
Chris Do 30:53
Okay, perfect. Thanks. I don’t want to give you a long answer, like, Dude, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this other thing. Okay. So something that people don’t know about me is that I hired a business coach, who taught me basically, business fundamentals and how to run a company to be an effective manager and leader. And I worked with this person for over 15 years, it was maybe even longer than that, but it’s a long time. And I would his name is Kerr McLaren. He’s still around, still coaching, helping other people. And I would meet with him once a week, without fail for 15 years, I spent over a quarter million dollars, getting business training from him. And this is in the background while I’m running, my motion design firm blind. And I’m also teaching at Art Center for 10 plus years. And so all these things are I’ve experienced teaching. I’ve been coached by a business professional learning about and applying these concepts to real clients. And so it was almost by accident that one of my former students, graduates starts a company says, Chris, I’ve always admired how you talk about business, can you help me out, he agreed to have this whole session filmed. It’s one of the first episodes that we did about pricing and understanding how to manage a company and grow your business and how to scale it up. And that video got quite a bit of traction. It didn’t go crazy or anything, but it got traction. And I was thinking to myself, I didn’t realize other creatives would be excited to learn about business. And so I just kept talking about it more and more. And then of course, when people start to recognize you, I start to get a little insecure, like, do I know enough. So I start reading books on business on marketing, sales and pricing. And so I can make sure that if I don’t know the term, or if there’s a better, stronger thought that I can adapt and grow and apply that. So the irony of this is a lot of young people watch my videos, and I’ll tell him how to behave, how to talk to a client, the funniest comment is like, this guy has never done any business in his life, because he doesn’t want to talk to people. And that’s their general reaction, or maybe they haven’t done any real business and don’t understand how real business is done.
Alastair McDermott 33:00
Very, very interesting. I’m, you know, this may sound a bit self serving, but you know, because I now do business coaching. But I really think that getting support with your business is so important, particularly if you’re an independent, I think, and even if it’s not a business coach, I think, you know, having some sort of like mastermind group or peer group, or you know, somebody who’s basically not family, it’s just lungs, lungs. And I finally think that’s really important, because I think your family can either be way too supportive and positive or way too negative. And unless, you know, you have this really great business coach in your family, but I think it’s really important to have some kind of external support. I think it’s great that you, that you’ve done that.
Chris Do 33:39
Yeah, I mean, entrepreneurship is a pretty lonely endeavor. If you think about how often can you call up your clients and ask them like, Hey, I’m an idiot did to do this, right? And what are they gonna say to you? How often is it that you can call one of your competitors, somebody actively trying to beat in the marketplace and say, Hey, I love how you did that. And how did you beat us in this client? What did you do? They’re not going to tell you. So you make a lot of guesses, and you make some correct educated guesses, and then you mess up a bunch of times, and you’re never quite sure, are you doing it the right way. So having someone that you can confide in who who’s been there before, who understands how business works, they can say, and give you the smallest tip that can have a fundamental seismic shift in your business, and how you feel about what it is that you’re doing. My business coach help me with these things.
Alastair McDermott 34:27
And one other point on this is, I think it’s really interesting that you mentioned that about your competitors. When you’re truly specialized. You don’t have as many competitors. And unusually, you’re doing something slightly different because you may even have no competitors. And so in fact, sometimes you can get business advice from people who other people might see as your competitors. So for example, I talk a lot to Philip Morgan, about helping people specialize because he helped me to specialize. And he actually kind of trained me up in helping other people to specialize. And now some people would see us as direct competitors in what we do. But in fact, you know, we collaborate and things. And so it’s it, I think that when you specialize it, you know, it opens you up to being able to collaborate with, with your competitors, and get that, you know, and literally call them up and ask them those things.
Chris Do 35:18
That’s right. And if you want to take a broader view of competition, I don’t believe there’s anything such as there’s no such thing as competition. It’s like, if you’re if you’re married, if you’re in a relationship, are you constantly competing for your partner’s attention? Is this how this works? No, I think what happened is you both found each other at the right moment at the right time. And solid each other to things that you thought would complete you as people in your, your journey here on Earth, and you’re right for each other. And that’s kind of how it works. So if a client is going to go with a competitor, it’s not that they were going to go with you, they already knew that they’re gonna go with your competitor. It’s because of how you presented yourself, it could be about the way you price, your experience or lack of experience. So what we should all do is say, you know, what my competitor does? Well, I do well, because the market is growing and expanding. What I need to do is to learn to close the gap between where I am and where I want to be. And that has nothing to do no bearing on my competitors at all.
Alastair McDermott 36:11
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, we’ve seen this with other types of businesses, like, you know, restaurants, if another restaurant opens up next door, is that a bad thing for you? Or does that make the area a place for where people go for dinner? You know, if somebody else starts a podcast and gets people who did not used to listen to podcasts, listening to podcasts, hey, maybe they’re gonna check out my podcast now as well. So it’s not necessarily a direct competition thing. So I’m 100% with you on that. But I want to just go a little bit tactical again, and just ask you, because I’ve seen you have a super masterclass on how to grow a following on Instagram. I’m just wondering if you could give us a little bit of your tips on YouTube in particular, because I know, people are probably wondering, like, how is this guy at nearly a 2 million followers on YouTube? Can you talk a little bit about what what that actually takes? How you get there?
Chris Do 36:59
Absolutely. First, let’s have the right mindset. When we go into doing this, I think you need to learn to say to yourself, I’m in this for the long haul. This is not me trying to create a lot of buzz, smoke and fire, and then abandon this thing. It has to be part of your long term, long term strategic content marketing plan. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. Most people get into content creation, because they want an instant viral hit. And I’m telling you right now, you want to pray that that doesn’t happen. And I’ll give you the reasons why. When you have a viral hit, and you’ve barely started to make content, you’re still finding your voice. And now all of a sudden, a lot of people are showing up to see you and you’re still kind of in that learning phase. So the next video that you make might not be good, it could still be exploring, and they’re gonna let you have it. They’re going like, well, what are you doing? This is stupid, this is not what I came here for. And so to me, it’s better that you practice in relative anonymity, so that an audience isn’t looking at your every move, it’ll give you more confidence, you’ll find your voice and you’ll find the thing that you want to do his other thing by having a viral hit, is people expect more of the same. And if that was just an experiment for you, you’re gonna get, you’re gonna get pigeonholed by your own doing that you now have to continue to make videos on that one subject that it was just an experiment. Okay, so let’s have the right mindset, we’re in it for the long haul, we’re going to practice is a form of just learning about ourselves and how we can articulate our thoughts more clearly to more people. The things that work on YouTube are having a great title that captures people’s attention, that promises a clear outcome takeaway or benefit to them in a really engaging thumbnail, that doesn’t feel like it’s doctored too much in Photoshop. And if you think about this window of opportunity, it’s probably two seconds, in which you have to capture someone’s attention, because you have to make a decision, am I going to watch your video or I’m going to watch someone else’s video. And the way that you get organic explosive growth on YouTube and other platforms is you have to show your work to new people. So it’s going to be in the discover shelf, or it’s going to be in the browse section. And that’s really critical. And we can learn a lot about how authors title books and how they design their books. Now, I’ve heard someone say this, and I forget who said, I think it’s Brendan Kane, who said they run experiments all the time when they’re writing books for themselves. And as a service that provide for authors. And they say the right title, the right book cover will outsell a poorly designed cover and title by a thousand. And that’s critical. So you have to start thinking about that. I know many content creators won’t even record a piece of content until they sort out what the title is going to be called and what the thumbnail is going to look like. So the engineer for that the whole point of creating a video is to get people to watch it. In order for people to watch it. You must catch them when they’re not even expecting it. Now, I don’t know how you find our videos. But a lot of people say I was just on YouTube. I don’t know how it is I wasn’t really looking for you. I found your video I’m not even in your space. And I enjoyed the video so I started watching more and then ultimately they subscribe. So we have to embed to this part, so we have to think like authors and publishers, we have to think about people who are putting their package on the shelf with a very crowded space with people with very short attention spans, we have to learn to master that skill. When you do like somebody like Mr. B’s, you’re gonna capture all the eyeballs.
Alastair McDermott 40:16
Love it. Um, you know, that’s a that’s a two minute, a two minute lesson in how to do that. And that’s like, that’s not on a per video scale. Can you talk about then, like designing the content for the channel? Like the strategy, the content strategy for the whole channel? How do you how do you figure that out? Do you just start putting stuff out and see what sticks? Or how does that work?
Chris Do 40:37
Yeah, so I have a plan. Most YouTube channels fall in one of two categories. They’re either topic focus or personality focus, and you have to decide which one you want to be. If you’re gonna be a topic focus channel, that means you can’t veer too far away from it. So if it’s a cooking channel, for teenagers, if you start showing other kinds of things, your audience’s gonna find this very, very confusing for them. Or if you create some weird piece of content that is different than what you normally do, and outlier, people like that, they’ll follow you back to the channel, and they’ll see like, it’s got nothing to do with this, they’re not going to follow you or subscribe to your channel. I tend to think our channels more personality focused. So I have a broad diverse set of skills I can talk about. But really, I think people tune in because of the way I say things, and the energy and the humor, depending on whether or not you think it’s funny or not the kind of energy I bring to something. And so you have to make that decision. Once you decide, you can, you can start to move. I have a plan though, I have 100 Day content plan. Now, it doesn’t literally have to be a video per day. But for 100 pieces of content, the first 30 pieces of content, explore, have no expectations, just do what feels right for you what you have fun doing whatever kind of crazy brain fart of an idea that you have, just make that do not look at the results. Don’t worry if anybody subscribes, don’t worry about the views, it’s just going through the motions of figuring out what you’re about. Now, the next 30 pieces of content, I want you to form a hypothesis, the hypothesis is: I enjoy of all the things I’ve made these three types of videos, this subject matter this style of delivery, and then do that stay out of the results again. So now you’re going to focus on three kinds of pieces of content. And you’re going to probably find that one of the three types is easier for you to do that you feel more passionate about that you could envision doing this for some period of time. The last 40 days of content creation, pick one of those things and say, Look, I’m gonna try something now. And this is the first time you’re actually going to look at the results, you’ll make a video, you actually read the comments, and you’ll look at the analytics. And what you’re gonna do is I’m committed to this, I’m not going to be running around all over the place, but I’m open to like the suggestions and the feedback that I get. So the next video is a little bit better. Maybe it’s only 5% better. But by the time you’re done making your 40th piece of content, you’ll find your voice, you’ll find the subject that you want to talk about. And you’ll find your audience and you’ll be a much better content creator by then.
Alastair McDermott 43:04
Yeah, I love it. I love it. I’d love to dig into that more, but we just don’t have time. And so I I will link to your channel and to I also teased the, the video with you giving last class and Instagram. I’ll link to that as well in the show notes. But and I think that anybody who’s interested in Instagram should go check that out. One of the questions that I asked you earlier is what’s the number one tip that you’d give to people who want to build authority and personal brand? Can you talk about that a bit?
Chris Do 43:32
Yeah, we have to be able to get good at translating these loose thoughts that are in a head into some tangible form, the easiest way to do that is to start writing, you have to write, you have to learn how to articulate your ideas. Once you’re able to write, you can translate that into verbal or, or you can record it with video. So you can produce a podcast, you can create a YouTube channel, or you can just make graphics around the words that you formed. So the beginning of our process of learning how to articulate our thinking is by writing. And almost everybody that’s good at this game has written a lot. And so there’s there’s probably some correlation between the prolific writers and the ones who have a big audience. And if you can do that, I think you’re going to start to grow.
Alastair McDermott 44:14
Yeah, I heard this from one of my former guests, Guillaume Wiatr. And I don’t know if he’s the first person to say this. But he said, I don’t write because I have ideas. He’s I have ideas because I write I think it’s it’s so true. It’s so important. And you’re not the first person to say, you know, writing is so important. But the process of writing helps us to link all those ideas together. I think it’s it’s crucial. And you know, you’re really articulate guy and I’m sure that some of that comes from the writing that you’ve done as well around all of these topics.
Chris Do 44:47
It’s helped out a lot for sure.
Alastair McDermott 44:49
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Okay, I have a couple more questions like to ask people about one of those is about business mistakes and failures. Is there a business mistake or failure that you’ve had in the past that you can tell us about what you learned from?
Chris Do 45:02
There are so many, but I’ll pick one, I don’t think you you’ve really tried, you’ve not expanded beyond your zone of comfort if you haven’t made mistakes. A sign of good entrepreneurship is a person who’s made lots and lots of mistakes, in my opinion, it’s how you recover from them. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on, which is about I think, a year and a half, two years into our business was, we had business, I don’t know how we got it, but we got business. And we were doing that. And we did not mark it, we weren’t aggressively going out and looking for new business. And it just so happened that two of our biggest clients, literally the two biggest clients that we have, independently from one another, decided one, they’re gonna go a different direction, and then bring the work in house. Right. So one client felt like they were spending too much money with us. And we’re better off building in house talent that they can groom and be invested in the company itself. The other ones just decide we want a creative direction change, and so they just want to pick on someone else. And so our main, our two primary sources of income vanished almost within two weeks of each other. And if you’ve ever been in business, to try and generate leads that are going to materialize in a very short period of time to replace to your biggest clients, it’s kind of an impossible task. So for about two to three months, I knew our roadmap was fast closing, and I had to lay off my entire creative team. And these were my friends and people who had quit other jobs to come and work with me who wanted this thing to succeed. And so it took a big emotional toll on me to have to say this didn’t work. I’m a failure. I failed you. And I have no more work for you so go find another job.
Alastair McDermott 46:38
Yeah, that’s that’s really tough. And I’ve been in a similar situation with with the financial, the financial crisis in 2008. Now, luckily, I didn’t have to, I didn’t have a team at the time, because that wasn’t big enough at the time to have a team to lay off but it was it was very tough times. And I was very close to closing down as well because of that. Yeah, I really feel feel feel your pain and having to let people go it’s that’s really tough. Okay, so onto later topics. Do you have a favorite business book or resource that you’d recommend people to check out?
Chris Do 47:10
Yes. And if you ever find me on social media, there’s a link in my bio for the top 10 business books that I’ll recommend books that all creative people should read. But my my go to recommendations tend to have around a few books, so I’ll just rattle them off real quick. Okay. “The Wind Without Pitching Manifesto” by Blair Enns, “The Business of Expertise” by David C. Baker. I also really liked “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier, “Socratic Selling” by Kevin Daley. And “The One Thing” by something Keller I forget his name, “The One Thing”.
Alastair McDermott 47:41
Very cool. And I’ve had Blair’s colleague, Shannon Lee on the podcast, I’ve had David C. Baker on the podcast. And I’m gonna I love having authors on the podcast because I love I love to I love reading. I love talking about books as well. But those are really cool. We will link to all of those in the show notes as well. And then finally, what about fiction? Are you fiction reader?
Chris Do 48:02
And also the “Foundation Series”, which has now turned into an apple series, which I just can’t wait. I usually read nonfiction these days. But back when I was much younger, I love science fiction. Isaac Asimov is one of my favorites, wrote I, Robot.
Alastair McDermott 48:02
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I’ve been watching that. And I’ve read everything from Isaac Asimov as well. And some of it is like quite dated now you know that the quality of life and all this kind of old school computer stuff, but yeah, his his stuff was amazing. Yeah, so that’s really interesting. Yeah. Old school sci fi. Chris Do. Where can people find you if they’re interested in learning more?
Chris Do 48:36
The easiest places to find me on the website, which is thefutur.com. The future spelt f-u-t-u-r there’s no E at the end there thefutur.com. You can also find me on every social channel practically at Chris Do. Do is about D-O.
Alastair McDermott 48:50
Absolutely. Super. Chris Do. It has been a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for coming on.
Chris Do 48:55
Thanks so much. I had a blast.
Alastair McDermott 48:59
Thanks for listening, and a reminder about the mastermind group that we’re running called Authority Labs. It’s for independent consultants and experts who are looking for coaching, accountability and peer support on your journey to authority. So if you’re a consultant or expert, and you’re looking to position yourself, build your authority, grow your income, and you’d like to have accountability and a support group around you for that, then this might be the right group for you. So there’s a cohort starting in the next month, there’s going to be a group call every two weeks, and the numbers are going to be limited to a maximum of six for this cohort. So you’ll get a lot of my time and attention. So if you’d like to know more about that, please visit the link in the show notes or go to TheRecognizedAuthority.com/group. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at TheRecognizedAuthority.com