Chris Do is an Emmy award-winning designer, director, CEO & Chief Strategist of Blind, a brand strategy design consultancy, and founder of The Futur—an online education platform. There is no shortage of words to describe Chris. What word does Chris feel best describes him at this point in his life? Teacher. Do takes us through his past, uncovering key insights that shaped who he is today.
What impact did being born to immigrant parents have?
Do’s parent’s decision to flee Saigon in 1975 led him to develop the necessary skill set and ability to adapt to change. Being born to immigrant parents, habits, ideas, and beliefs were passed down from traumatic events. Such awareness has enabled Chris to be “rooted in his past, but not restricted by it”. With an immense amount of gratitude for the United States and opportunity to start over, Chris has taken on the mindset that you get to pick and choose the best parts of yourself and don’t have to hold on to the parts that you don’t love.
His parents have been among the most influential in his life. Courage and determination are a couple of words Chris uses to describe them. Without obtaining a college education in the United States, Do’s dad worked his way up from being a busboy at a restaurant, not being able to speak English, to ultimately retiring as the chief engineer at a semiconductor company in Silicon Valley.
The role birth order played
Being the middle child to two working parents, Chris became self-reliant. He was able to explore who he was, using mindfulness tactics to observe his thoughts. Do attributes part of his drive and desire to not getting what he wanted as a child.
“The child dies and a man was born”
When Do was around 18 years old he found himself in a toxic relationship. To top it off, he was arguing with his brother, and met with discouragement when his mom suggested giving up on his dream to go to private school. After spiraling down a dark path, Do was able to snap out of it and became determined to prove each and every doubter wrong. He was going to do whatever it took to put himself through college. A switch was flipped, and as Chris describes, “the child dies and a man was born”. This point of inflection shaped his future endeavors.
“If you want to be a better teacher be a better student. If you want to be a better student, be a better teacher.”
Do was highly influenced by his Philosophy 101 instructor. His professor wrote a book with a series of short stories that built upon complex ideas. Chris thought highly of the fact he never told the class what to think, and asked really good questions.
How can being a loud introvert be an advantage?
When afraid or too drained to talk to people, Chris turned to himself. His inner dialogue game became strong. Chris claims, “when your mouth is moving, you can’t be learning.” By listening, he was able to learn more. Do suggests that while we all need practice speaking, articulating, and leading, we should spend the rest of our time paying attention to how we, and others, are thinking, feeling, and responding. The lense is never perfectly clear, we all bring biased opinions. Aiming to be an objective observer, Chris highlights the importance of being more intentional in what we listen to. “Is this the person I want to attract?” Our mind is a sacred place and we have to be a bouncer, controlling what goes in and out. With this practice, Chris has learned to tune out raw energy and emotion, and decipher feedback.
How has the ability to adapt to change served in business pursuits?
Chris attributes Blind’s longevity to the team’s ability to adapt. Accustomed to change from moving nearly every year and a half as a child, Do was able to pivot Blind’s direction when new opportunities arose. Chris has built a high pain tolerance, enabling him to change course rather than being stuck in old ways. Paying attention to culture, trends, and movement has lended well throughout his career. Although Do has had many successes, he emphasizes there isn’t always a straight path, and he is no stranger to failed attempts.
Make a living doing what you love
After crossing most things off his list, Chris didn’t find himself enjoying the services industry anymore. He was missing his purpose and wanted to teach, leading to the formation of The Futur in 2016. Do is not in it for the money. “There are a lot easier ways for [him] to make money”. He is trying to do something to change education as we know it. The Futur’s mission is to teach 1 billion people how to make a living doing what they love. “Living” does not define “money”, allowing each individual to determine the meaning for themselves.
What does Chris want to be known for?
“Dad created opportunity for us” and “he never told us what to do”. A lot of parents raise children to correct sins of the past, living vicariously through them. Chris believes he is exactly who he is supposed to be because he was able to explore who he was. He has made mistakes along the way, but, they have pointed him back into the direction of doing the right thing.