What is the driving force in your life, that one ultimate goal that propels you? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it may be time to find out. To that end, there’s no better teacher than Emmy Award-winning designer and entrepreneur Chris Do. In his recently published book, Pocket Full of Do, he reflects on the philosophy and lessons that propelled his success.
Do has managed to do what most artists only dream about: make a profitable, long-lasting career out of doing what he loves. After serving as chief strategist and CEO of Blind—a successful brand strategy design consultancy—he founded The Futur, an online educational platform with one big, hairy, audacious goal.
“I want to teach a billion people how to make a living doing what they love,” Chris Do tells Brilliant Thoughts’ host and editor Tristan Ahumada in a recent interview. You read that correctly—a billion people. However, even if Do never achieves it, the goal will have served its purpose. That’s because to him, setting a larger-than-life goal isn’t about accomplishment—it’s about gaining momentum.
Understand when it’s time to break from tradition.
At a young age, Do discovered the tremendous joy of drawing. Despite his obvious affinity for art, he didn’t associate his creativity with a potential career path. As a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, Do’s identity came with certain expectations, especially when it pertained to his career.
“This is kind of what you’re supposed to do: be a doctor, lawyer, scientist, engineer, that kind of thing,” explains Do. “It’s not until much later on in life that I realized there are many other things you can do that are more aligned with what you want to do in the world; the thing that you’re uniquely qualified to do versus a more traditional path.”
It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that his perspective began to change. He got the opportunity to work at a silkscreen shop, which he gladly accepted, and fell in love with the work. That was no shocker, though; the real surprise was when he learned that professional designers could make upwards of $100,000 per year. That knowledge shifted his life’s trajectory.
Don’t be afraid of stepping into the limelight.
With a successful artistry experience under his belt, Do decided to attend ArtCenter College of Design, where he received a design degree. His next move was to start his own design consulting agency, Blind, which produced commercials and music videos. In light of the company’s success, his friend suggested they start making YouTube content, to which Do reluctantly agreed.
“So, I’m a behind-the-camera talent, not an in-front-of-camera talent,” explains Do. “I direct, I produce, I tell people what to do, but I’m not the person in front of the camera.”
However, his friend didn’t give him a choice, and explained that the only way they were moving forward with YouTube content was with Do in front of the camera. Do went all-in, and couldn’t be happier with the result: After overcoming his camera-shy nature, he began running the Futur YouTube channel like a pro, sharing his secrets with nearly two million subscribers.
Say ‘yes’ to a big, hairy, audacious goal.
When you reflect on Do’s success, there are some obvious throughlines—the most significant of which may be his pattern of saying yes to new, daunting projects. From embracing the uncertainty of a self-curated career to refusing to let his introversion inhibit his online presence, Do’s courage may be the lifeblood of his accomplishments.
“I believe in setting really massive, big, hairy, audacious goals that you probably won’t be able to achieve in your lifetime,” he says. “Just make sure that the decisions you’re making, the actions that you’re taking, move toward that direction.”
To Do, part of pursuing a bigger-than-life goal is knowing when you’re thinking too small. To that end, he is constantly course-correcting. He evaluates every action by asking if it moves him closer or farther away from his goal of teaching a billion people how to do what they love. He says that more often than not, thinking too small only takes him further away.
Get good or get out.
A self-described competitive person, Do isn’t interested in doing anything half-heartedly. Recently, he’s taken his appetite for excellence to social media, diving headfirst into platforms that he admittedly doesn’t fully understand.
“I’m super analytical—I post things, I measure,” he tells Ahumada. “I try not to get too emotionally attached to anything. Like maybe this works, maybe it doesn’t… I’m just looking for data points, and I’ll just keep iterating on an idea.”