Do I need school to be...

a design entrepreneur? with Chris Locke

February 25, 2022 Alex Villacís Season 1 Episode 25
Do I need school to be...
a design entrepreneur? with Chris Locke
Show Notes Transcript

This is a very special episode, because is the first of two parts. This conversation was so long and so rich that we needed to break it into two because when Chris and I sit down to chat, t goes deep and broad. Chris Locke is the founder of Miro Innovations, he is an industrial designer, he is a mentor, he is a speaker and he is the co-founder of Innovation Talks. 

On this interview we spoke about:

  • Chris’ humble beginnings in medical school
  • How someone throwing a book at him put him on a new path
  • Keeping that balance between work and school
  • How he became a company founder

Want to learn more about Chris? Here are some links:
Website of Miro Innovation
Linkedin
Instagram
The Psychology of Creative Business - Innovation Talk #19
Chris on ADP List

Chris’s recommendation will be on next week’s episode! 

In an effort to make this podcast accessible, we make transcripts of every episode. You’ll find the transcripts on our website here

Want to support the pod?
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and support the show on Buy me a Coffee. We are currently looking for sponsors, if you know someone or are a local businesses in the Rotterdam area that would like to know about our sponsoring plans, reach out to us here.

Support the show
Chris Locke:

I was I was I finished school and I had you know, like any one year like, I like this. I like that I liked architecture. I liked industrial engineering, I liked biology, medicine, all that kind of biomed stuff. I was like, I don't know what to do. I'm only what 18 or 19 I have no idea what I'm gonna do my life.

Alex Villacis:

Hello, friends. And welcome back to another episode of "joining school to be" the podcast in which me Alex is going to sit down with creatives and ask them about their journey into the creative field focusing on their education, the teachers who shaped them, the books that shaped, the movies in general what their journey was like. If you're somebody who is thinking about entering the creative field, I hope this show will be a resource to you and show you that we all have different paths, and they are all valid. So let's go. This week, I have a wonderful guest for you. He's truly an inspiration to me, somebody that I have had amazing conversations with Chris Locke, his industrial designer and business owner from Miro innovations, not the Miro board people. This is another company. He's a really cool guy. He's a mentor. He's a speaker. He's a designer. He's a business owner. He runs this initiative called Innovation talks with every month or so he will sit down with Claudia Meyer, who is a coach for creatives, who I really hope to have in a podcast at some point. And they talk to a third person about a topic within design. So they have done specialist versus generalist. They have done, how design shapes the future, how design impacts people, great topics of conversation. So I am very happy to have him here on the pod to talk to you about his experience. This episode is the first one there's going to be a two parter, actually, the first part we're going to talk about Chris's experience becoming a designer and the second part will go deep into education from his unique point of view. So stick for both parts. Let's get started with the first one. Here's my conversation with Chris Locke. And we're recording. Hi, Chris, how are you today?

Chris Locke:

Hey, Alex, I'm good. How about you?

Alex Villacis:

I am very good. I've had a very long day. But I feel energised. Because we're gonna be talking about creativity and teaching and education. It's gonna be it's gonna be a fun talk. It's gonna be a fun talk. And your fun guy, the man the legend.

Chris Locke:

Thanks. No, I was actually looking forward to this call. It's been a very crazy busy day today. So I was like, this is the highlight of today. We're gonna have a nice chat with Alex finish the day. So I'm excited to be here and and I'm ready to go through this journey of podcasting with you.

Alex Villacis:

I am so excited. We also like talk a little bit before and apparently this is your first podcast interview. And I am like what is happening?

Chris Locke:

Yeah, I've been like, on live webinars I've done like in person presentations. But a podcast. This is a new experience for me. I like new experiences.

Alex Villacis:

Yes, we all like new experiences. And it's fun. It's like a radio show. But also like I live on IG, but then it's edited. So we're allowed to be free and make mistakes. So in one interview, I 100% forgot to hit record. And we were like 15 minutes into the interview. And I told the person Hey, so I kind of didn't hit record.

Chris Locke:

Now that you practice your introduction, how about we do it again.

Alex Villacis:

It was so dramatic. It was fun. It was a fun day. So for the audience who don't know who you are, please tell us who you are and what you do.

Unknown:

Okay, so I am Chris Locke, I am co founder of Miro innovation we're a strategic design and innovation company based out of Argentina, with operations in Europe. And in the US. Personally, I'm an industrial designer. So I studied industrial design. I'm an entrepreneur, I also do a side gig where I do business coaching for creative entrepreneurs. That's sort of this new thing that I've been doing with the pandemic. And I'm actually doing a lot. So yeah, that's me.

Alex Villacis:

So super diverse and super interesting. I think, like, a fun thing is that just today I was in a group of people and somebody was showing me like a really beautiful mood board. And I thought How do you do that? It's like Bureau. And I was like damn, that it's real. And a lot of people use the the use the product. It's a great product. I personally enjoy it a lot.

Chris Locke:

Well, there's a fun fact, I'm not the co founder of the of the product. I Miro is not well that here's a fun fact. We started Miro innovation six years ago, and at that time, or a couple years after that, Miro the Collaborate collaboration board was called Real Time board. And I think it was like two years ago, they suddenly changed all their branding and their and suddenly we were seeing our brand name all over the place. It was like what's happening. But yeah, we that's something that's that happens a lot. We sometimes get confused for the Miro. So that's a very good icebreaker with clients who are like, we're actually not the board. So, but we're the company that shows you how to use the board and you know, actually innovate and not just, you know, put sticky notes on the wall.

Alex Villacis:

Exactly. Yeah. Because that's the end. That's the part that I love about it. That one is just like, Okay, it's just the mechanics of how to do it. But then how you how you can actually innovate and how you can think through it like that's, that's the golden part, in my opinion, when it comes to the creative side.

Chris Locke:

Oh, yeah and, and I think that's also a personal this is like my personal point of view. But I think designer, designers today, they're really good at executing and workshops. And I think today, designers are having a bigger role in companies and in businesses, where it's not only about, you know, everybody, you mentioned this in our pre pre Chat, where, you know, UX designers, UI designers are so many branches of design today. So everyone is good at different specialties. But what's becoming harder and harder to find is a designer that or is something that is growing now is a designer that understands the holistic of that problem, we're solving that understand that it's not only about, you know, making a nice story map, on your Miro boarding Miro board or not just you know, having a nice design, but actually creating value for your clients or creating business impact for your clients. And I think that's where I see designers. If I were talking to my younger self today, I'd say like, focus on that, because that's going to help you to stand out in your career.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, and I totally agree. And I think that's the part that AI cannot replace us in.

Chris Locke:

Exactly. Yeah. Well, that's that's a very interesting point. Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt you. I think, a conversation I think you've actually joined us in one of the conversations we've had on Instagram at some time. But I think AI you explained what is hardest to, to replace, is the empathetic approach to the insights. And I think you mentioned Miro Board, or the example of having a workshop. In a workshop. I love facilitating, but I think my value in a workshop is not so much the ideas that I bring to the workshop, but actually being able to go through a conversation and weed out ideas and actually ask the right questions. So the client or whoever's on the other side understands, because I might have this holistic view of like, okay, they definitely have a problem A, B, or C. But get them ask the questions to get them. So they understand, for example, if you're designing a brand, what their brand identity, what their brand values are. I think that's the true challenge for designer being able to not think as a designer, but think strategically, or think as, as someone that asks questions.

Alex Villacis:

That's that that's beautiful. Think like someone who asks questions. Damn, that's deep. So early in the interview. How do you get here? So how, what was the process to getting here? Did you go through formal education? Did you go through informal education? Like, how did you get to this realisation, this magical realisation

Chris Locke:

I was like, but I like this. Your that guy. I was like, Yeah, you were that guy who sets the bar incredibly high, and everybody else hates you. Just kidding. That's great.

Alex Villacis:

I was like, but I like this. Your that guy. I was like, Yeah, you were that guy who sets the bar incredibly high, and everybody else hates you. Just kidding. That's great.

Chris Locke:

No, no, that was exactly what happened. But the good thing is that one of my good friends from uni, he was in the same position. He came from engineering. So we were kind of these accomplices in and getting through uni in those four years we went through. So I did study industrial design. That was a four year, I guess in the US or in Europe. I'd be like an undergrad, but it's full UD course. And after that, well, the thing. This isn't Latin America, right? So in Latin America, usually, in contrast to what happens maybe in Europe or in the US, you start working as soon as you can, like either if it's an internship and apprenticeship. So there was this moment, I think it was in third year, there was one teacher that I really enjoyed his classes, we connected very well, it was the most boring class ever. It was history, like art history, but he was an industrial designer. And he explained in a way that I was like, wow, this is awesome. I enjoyed his whole I did two courses with him. And at the end of the second course, he's like, you know, I see a lot of potential you. I like what you're doing. Would you like to come work for my company as a part as a intern? I was like, yeah. And he worked in this company that created plastic products. There were these, like fun office doodle projects. They produced them in in China. They were industrial, industrial design products. So they were totally designed by designers. So I worked with him for a couple years while I finished uni. No, actually no for a year, a year and a half while I was finishing uni then in fourth year, I actually got another job still part time. So uni and work sort of go hand in hand went by the time I finished uni, I had two jobs on my back, even though they were part time. And that second job, I was working at a production agency, a marketing and production agency that did like trade for exhibit stands. And then that's where I really started my career after I finished uni. So I don't know if I'm going rambling off too much. You stopped me I can continue to tell you the life story of Chris Locke.

Alex Villacis:

No, no, it's it's great. It sounds like you had a very healthy mix of First of all, serendipity that somebody just basically threw a book at you. Like I see it in my head. I the movie that I'm playing in my head is your friend is like I am basically just take the book and run

Chris Locke:

that. And then when I went to actually went into into design, yeah, you're working on it. stuff that you have three days to deliver, you're not sleeping for those nights. Like, yeah, you can't sit down and say, oh, yeah, Chris, let me explain the career I studied is broad. Now he didn't want that. He's like, Here, take the book, I don't care go away.

Alex Villacis:

And then you had this very healthy mix of like a formal education, but with experience in it.

Chris Locke:

Yeah, that was actually one of the big questions I got from my friends or even from families, like, you're going from medicine, ooh, medicine, you know, he's gonna be the doctor in the family, to suddenly to design like, what's that like, Is that even a career like at that time design was not as consolidated as it is right now? The industry. So it was a fun experience, but in the sense that also in Latin America, industrial design was way behind the rest of the world. And I think today, Latin American design, maturity is still 10 years, maybe behind Europe, maybe more. I think it's shortening over time, but it's still eight or 10 years. So I was studying Industrial Design. While I was also seeing that I don't know what I'm gonna do when I finish school, because, you know, industrial designers were either working at a, at a shop, you know, creating furniture that was okay, could be fun. It was either working at a production agency, a production studio, like building stuff, like a stand or trade fair. But there was no one actually doing industrial design, like thinking of product going through a whole process, designing it thing about the users, prototyping it doing what sounds super basic for us today. But at that point, nobody was doing that. But I didn't care. This is what I wanted. Let's go. And some people would ask me like, you last for three and a half years of your life. What is this and in fact, I would say, till today, what I learned in those years of med school has still been useful for me, or either in applying biomimicry to design either and understanding how a wearable device will interact with your human physiology. So it created a fun mix. And I think everything sort of adds on somehow, even though you don't understand it at that point.

Alex Villacis:

That's super interesting in the sense that sometimes we think that education is it has to, it has to have a clear outcome. You start learning something, you need to be something in the end. But no, you can take different little parts of things. I interviewed recently, a coach who studied physics, chemistry, was an actor for seven years, has a PhD, and now he's a coach for teachers. Wow. And I asked them, and I asked him, so the fuck like, yeah, splitting yourself. How does your family think about this? They're like, Yes, I like different things. And they all relate together. Like I see little pieces of everything come together somehow. Yeah. And yeah, it works out great. And I love that you had that one teacher that was explaining, here's something as history is cool, but people can make it so dry. And people can make it so weird.

Chris Locke:

Yeah, I think more than than without teacher more than what he was teaching was how he taught it. And he was clearly a designer, he was clearly also an industrial designer. I didn't know this at the time, but he also had a small design studio. So he was in a bit like, where I wanted to arrive, projected myself and several years. So we connected and the way he explained things with practical cases of how he applied it, how you use it, that sort of helped me. And I never went back into studied history. It wasn't something that I enjoyed, but that that those lessons went by, and I was actually looking forward to them. So when he obviously he approached me like, do you want to come intern for me? I was like, Yeah, that sounds awesome. And that gave me the tiny bitty experience and trade fairs because basically, what I helped in that company was customers, so customers would call I want to buy products, I would help you know the customer relationship part, which is not design, obviously. And then I'd work on everything that was communication. So the website, their videos, trade for exhibits, even though it was a very basic trade for exhibit, I would design them produce it everything on my own. So I was like that intern that did all kinds of things. But it exposed me to different different experiences, treating customers, you know, solving problems for them coordinating logistics, talking with China to produce more, more pieces. So it was a lot of areas and that was very, very good experience. And then also I finished school and after that I did start working at a production agency or a marketing agency. And that's where I started encountering bigger brands. We worked with discovery with dismay with trying to think what they're called in and well, big telecom communication companies. Miss lay and Basically, I started this was a production. So why am I calling it a production studio? They were they organised events, that was what they were focused was. But they didn't have a design team. They had a small they had like freelance designers that did here stuff here for them. If they had to design something, one of these designers would create the 3D of the stand, and then somebody else would produce it. So I was one of those designers, when I started working for them. I was an intern, one of two interns. But I am obviously someone that likes to dig in deeper and deeper and deeper, and I was already in this customer experience part where I tried to, you know, see what their problems were and get insights. And basically, what I started doing was, you know, connecting, I talked with the person in charge of productions and like what materials they need when I started understanding his needs. Then I talked to the commercial team, like, what did the client say? How do they want this and I just started asking questions. And over time, what I actually started creating is like, we started working, just understand, then we started working on graphic communication. So that's where I started also opening my branch from industrial to graphic. So we're going on graphics, even though that was not my, my main focus. And I, I could do that halfway decently. I got experienced to that I started working on presentations with with the commercial teams, I started helping editing, editing videos. And over time, basically, I started getting my hands into different areas that needed design that didn't have it. So suddenly, the need for the design team start to grow. And over the next five years, I think it was I went from intern to there, the designer to their creative director. And I helped structure their creative team. So I think it wasn't a huge team. I think at the biggest time it was like six designers. But I hired them. So I was in charge of choosing who they were training them. And since I had sort of had my hands in different areas of their business, I understood how the different parts fit together. So that gave me an advantage in helping articulate what my design team was designing versus what the production team needed, plus what the commercials told me the brief was. So there was this interesting articulation of needs and stuff that was that, I think was an experience that helped me grow a lot. And I learned a lot, I had good experiences, I had bad experiences, I had communication issues with my team, because this was the first time I was actually managing a team. But, you know, fail forward, I learned a lot, I grew a lot. And it came to a point where I said, like, I started talking with with people outside of that business. And I was like, we're designing we're having these great ideas. We're understanding what the business what what the clients want, we understand how to produce it, we're getting these really good ideas, but then we're not producing them because the company I was working for want like, hey, let's make this fast. We only have one week to produce it has to be fast, reusable, just use put something up, dispose, the client doesn't notice that but I was like clients are paying a lot of money just for this, you know, cosmetic stand or cosmetic event or initiative that I was thinking as industrial designer, this is my industrial part where we talk about systems and everything works. We're not adding much value to this business. And of course, I probably don't understand everything that's happening behind that. But there's we can add so much more value to this and what we're doing and that sparked this flame that eventually a year later turned into Miro innovation. Where basically with my business partner, we started talking he studied Business and Economics so he was in totally different branch were a friend from school and, and we started you know, exchanging ideas, I told him what I was doing and what I was feeling, he felt the same, but kind of from the other side. And we worked on the project like, like this idea that we could build something for a year. And after a year, that was my second most scariest moment ever, where I decided to quit my day job and let's go all in to work on our company. And that was scary. Very, very scary. I remember going into that conversation with my boss at that time. totally freaking out. Like I built his creative team. I was the go to guy for so many things and like if I leave now, no one is no one is irreplaceable, obviously. But I was like, I'm gonna put him in this place where he's like, oh, man, I have to go, you know, hire someone else and go through his trouble and at least I was sort of this this image that I was creating my head. So I went that was trembling. I watched these motivational videos in the morning. I was like, Oh, it was this whole like thing in my head. Had I was like, I don't know how to go through this. I've never gone through this kind of experience. And I'm also jumping into like, avoid that I don't know what's going to happen. There's no plan B. So it's just go all in. And that conversation actually led. I told him what I was doing, what I was building, why I was leaving, he liked the idea. He liked the project, and they actually turned into our first client.

Alex Villacis:

Hey, friend, is Alex just interrupting this conversation to remind you that in order to have the optimal experience, and enjoy all the links in the show notes, you can subscribe to the show on any platform you're using to listen to this podcast. And yeah, it supports the show, he will improve the algorithm for you. So he will show you more shows like this one you will potentially like. And if you wish to support the show, you can follow us on social media, all the links are in the show notes as well as a link to buy me a coffee, which Yeah, will help pay for the hosting. And I also love coffee. But enough my babble, let's get back to the show.

Chris Locke:

So yeah, that was a very interesting, good twist of conversation.

Alex Villacis:

That's the dream.

Chris Locke:

Yeah, that doesn't happen. I was like, I love that conversation. I like that this really just happened. Basically, what he said is like, this is awesome. I like your project, it's gonna, it's gonna be hard for me to find someone that has your experience with us. And that built this with us. So I don't want to replace you, I'm not going to look for someone, I want to start, you know, moving business part of the design needs, the design team was still there. So helped me articulate what they're doing from your new business. And I'll start sending projects your way. And over time, we actually became at some point, we were giving them more hours of design services from Miro, then they had in house. And I think at one point, they had just one one intern graphic designer. So they basically went back to having just one one or two, design interns and everything else was through us. Because since we were young, fresh, we were also at that point, super connected with technology and building stuff that was like, techy. That's what their customers were asking for. So that was that was an interesting twist of events.

Alex Villacis:

That's that's the dream. And such a I don't want to say Cinderella story.

Chris Locke:

It's not so Cinderella. There was also hard moments in there.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, and I would love love. Like, if you have time like to talk about like, oh, and when did you fuck up? Like, where are the word this little miss? Where's this little moments? Did you ever have a moment that you said, Oh my God. What did I do?

Chris Locke:

Yeah, several I'm trying to think in point. Yeah, several, I'd say there was a long those experiences even while I was working or, or beyond the other spin. Those are all the learnings that bring you to where you are now.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, those are those are all the experiences I ask if you're a creative, you're at some point, you're going to make that mistake. And then that creativity Sparks is like how do I get out of this now.

Chris Locke:

And I think that's what entrapreneurship is also all about, like, if I look back at my personal experience, it's not so much a Cinderella story, but more of a trial and error story, where at that moment, we're like, oh, they're gonna give us you know, work, this is gonna be awesome. This sounds great. And if I tell it just like this on a podcast, but the reality was, at that point, the company was basically the three of us. So the three of us wanted to have a halfway decent salary, which was basics when we started. And we only had one client, which was paying us a little tiny project for so the first two years, the challenge the logistics of running a business. First, we didn't have an office. So we wanted to have an office. So we got a shared space. And while there was a lot of logistics and a lot of learning, and I think where things actually got spicy if you want was when we started having employees where we had our first or second or third employees, because we had suddenly work where he had no network of people. But now it's not that you get paid and you pay yourself now it's you pay you pay someone else, you pay them and then you pay yourself if there's any money left. So that was like a horrible experience. And we learned a lot about running a business setting up systems that would prevent, you know, those kind of situations from happening because they did there were months where we probably couldn't. And we didn't have any investment. This was our own investment into the business. So months that we didn't get paid. We just didn't get paid and we had to start a you know, shuffle around that.

Alex Villacis:

So you bootstrapped it.

Chris Locke:

We bootstrapped it from the bottom up all the way.

Alex Villacis:

That's awesome. I think I think so many people I get like so many entrepreneurs get hooked up like get hooked on the fact Like, Oh, I need an investor, I don't know how to get investors, you can bootstrap a lot of things.

Chris Locke:

You can you can, you just need to be, I think people get excited really easily about, oh, I know, we landed this big project, I'm just gonna throw any number, this 5000 $10,000 project, which at that time was like, wow, this is a huge project. And that's, you know, in as a company, not as a person, but as a company, that's a tiny project that's gonna get you through a month. And we started, you know, learning to plan for a year or six months or three months and say, like, Okay, we have enough runway for a month, okay, next two months, then three months, and that's how we started you know, stabilising the business. So we learned a lot we, in our first years, we also had, this was our luck part networking part, knowing how to, you know, reach customers. But in I think, our second year, we started, we landed Nike, as one of our clients. It started off with a small project, they wanted to do something interactive, and they didn't find anyone that knew how to do it, how to design it, produce it, create the app and articulate everything together into an experience. And here we are a small studio, which knew how to do the industrial design knew how to programme it knew how to put it together. And that's how we started working with them. And we worked with them, I think, until a couple years ago, where they changed who their owners were, and we actually continue to work with them after that. But though, that was like Argentina then had this whole economic crisis, which we're not going to go into. But that also

Alex Villacis:

that's a can of worms, can different podcast, different podcasts,

Chris Locke:

which also affected everything there. But um, but once we started landing bigger clients, we started, you know, it's this balance, I think that's the key word and entrapreneurship, finding the balance between the projects that you get, and the team that you have, and everything, finances, marketing, everything's about balance. And even till today, that's probably our biggest challenge finding, like, yeah, we can reach these big giant projects now. But if we get one of those giant projects, we don't have the team to execute on that. So you're constantly sort of juggling, and you have these high, it's a roller coaster.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah. And during this entire process of like graduate, like from figuring out you wanted to do industrial design, to having this great teacher to now being a business owner finding that balance. Did you have any teachers, mentors, or people that were super interesting, influential to you that you would say, yes, I felt this advice. Or maybe they were not so great. And it's hard to say no

Chris Locke:

I would say like, yeah, I'm trying to think of like specific ones, there was another teacher, which it was like, everyone gives you this, their grain of salt, their piece of the puzzle. So there was another teacher, I remember, which was very into at that time, creating medical instruments, designing medical instruments. And I always thought that was interesting. I was like, I have my medical background effects. This could be interesting. So I was saw what he was doing. And he, he had this very human centred approach to design, which at that time was not common. I really enjoyed his approach to like solving a problem, thinking about you know, who you're solving. And he would actually use those words, before this was training, UX didn't exist at that art didn't have a name at that point. So I think he also helped me understand that we're not designing for just cosmetics or for after that I learned for business, but to actually help make someone's lives better, or, you know, to create some kind of valuable impact. So he was one of the teachers that I think I'd stayed in my head, and actually, I stayed in contact with him even today, we're actually partners, we've done some projects together. So that's exciting. Then at the same time, while this other teacher, this first job, fun fact, was a good experience, but it didn't end up so well at the end, because I basically was his, his octupus I did everything. So I learned how to do everything. But there came a point where I started burning out and I was like, I can't do everything. I mean, um, I was clearly you know, and young and wanted to, you know, learn a bit better than like, Yeah, I'll do this, I'll do that. But instead of expanding his the team, they would just give me more tasks and I would get them done. Trying to be responsible. So there that that job came to a point where I started burning out, and that's why I actually changed into the other partnership. But that also taught me a lot about you know, managing people managing teams, what not to do, how, how to notice or myself learn when I'm burning out when I'm not. So yeah, I think those those have been like, teacherWise. why's then there's different experiences, maybe not particular teachers that have also sort of shaped our experience to this point. For example, in our I think it was two and a half year mark, sort of around there, there was this agency big agency that wanted to absorb us wanted to sort of buy us out. Well, not it wasn't a bio, it was more like, why don't you guys become a part of our group, you guys will work for us, you'll have a juicy salary. But you have to, you know, suddenly, your baby Miro now is a part of this, and you have to follow our guidelines. And we went through his back and forth, see if we can make that happen for a year with them, which had the positive side was what we worked with McDonald's, we worked with huge clients that we might have not accessed any other way. And that gave us a lot of experience. We learned about their processes and what we didn't have, or they didn't have it. But we also learned that there was a we were small, we were babies. But we also noticed that what we were offering was something that was clearly interesting to them, it was trending, they felt like okay, there's something here, which was what we do today, which is basically today, we thrive in the intersection of business and design. That's what we offered. And we offered it with also techno how at that point, that was one of our core areas. And they were really interested in that. And it came to a point where you know, we don't want to lose our baby and just go into corporate, we want to continue to see where this goes. So that was an experience that taught us a lot, we learned a lot about how bigger agencies manage their clients, and a lot of what we learned, we also put it into our operations and our growth. And we also saw, for example, that this group that had some are several smaller groups, had companies, some of those smaller groups were you know, not as financially fluid, as you would imagine, with that side, size. I mean, so that also taught us, you know, we're maybe not growing as exponentially, but we're building good foundations. And I think that, that has been the foundation of, you know, surviving going past the two year mark, going past the five year mark. Now, we've been around for a bit over six years. And it's because we've constantly built and we have good foundations, we have good processes were structured, and that helps us continue to always grow even if it's not a crazy exponential growth. But every year we've been growing over the previous year. So yeah, that's a bit of how we got to where we are today. And I'm trying to think what other teachers or mentors I think, I think it's just experiences cuz I think,

Alex Villacis:

hey, experience is also a teacher like in this podcast, I used teacher in a very broad sense of the word like anything can be a teacher and the experience can be if you think about it, the ocean is a teacher as well, because learn how to navigate it if you want to get through philosophical. But I think that's super important that that No, I listened to a podcast with Tom Ross, a couple weeks ago. And he was saying that when he saw before he like made it big. He saw all these networking events and thought, oh my God, these people have it together. All these CEOs, they have it together. And now he's part of them. And he talks to them. And he says, There is not a single one of them. That's not having a mental breakdown all the time. Yeah. Are they tech? Yep, we have two months runway, we are a huge tech company. But we have a two month runway and then we're dead.

Chris Locke:

Well, but that's that's, that's also what entrepreneurship is about. And I think I have this with friends and with people I know that, you know, they talked to me and that all you have your own company, oh, you're opening operations in Europe, all your work with Nike and Google and these companies. And they imagine you're like, Whoa, you're killing it. You're like a millionaire on a yacht flying jets and stuff. Like, yeah, that's not the reality. I mean, it is still a roller coaster, no matter what point the problem is just get bigger, and you get better at mitigating risks and problems and managing situations. But they're still there. They're just bigger. So like you were saying, yeah, maybe a company got 20 million in funding. But that 20 million is just two months of operation. If you don't get another 10, then everything goes good. And I think that's, that is a bit of, I mean, that's what we've learned. You were talking about the ocean navigating the intrapreneurial landscape of South America, I think that has been something that has helped us grow a lot because it's super crazy challenging the economics, you can't charge clients, what should you should be charging or what globally would be proper, because they don't have the money. So you do everything with and you have to improvise and you know, be resourceful and this sort of tenacity. So you know, just see what you can do. And if you can't solve it, you'll be hands on and solve it. But that gave us hands on experience in all kinds of different projects. And now expanding into Europe, all that experience or that our team has in it being resourceful and problem solving and thinking outside the box, because, okay, you have $100 To solve this problem that costs $600. What can we do? And you find a way to fix it, and you get it done. And, and the client is like, wow, this was amazing. This is the best $600 I spent and you're like, yeah, it cost me 80.

Alex Villacis:

Look at me. But to give context, if you're

Chris Locke:

Yeah, and it gives you a different type of skill listening to this, a friend of mine, actually, he moved set. And it gives you a different sort of acumen or recently to Munich, I think. And he's doing his drivers. And so instinct, I guess, to note, something is, you know, not from Mexico to Munich, and he's doing his driver's licence. He's European driver's licence. And in Germany, you have to go working here, this client had this kind of thing. And you try through the entire course of doing the driving, like during to, again, entrepreneurship, in my point of view, is being able the driving hours and everything. And like the driving to mitigate risks and anticipate problems and solve them before instructor said, like, yeah, so where do you think you are in your driving skills? And he just looked at it right at the they happen. And that's the same rule anywhere. The thing is, instructor straight in the eye and said, Sir, I've been driving in Mexico City for six years. Where do you think I am? There when you're in this chaotic context, it's like using your is not a road, you can put him in that he cannot navigate his example of driving, if you're driving in Latin America, you're way out. But yes, the skills you learn, like, you learn a lot of probably driving and you're looking at the car that's behind things living in Latin America and having to manage I cannot imagine manage been managing a business, there must be insane. you, or look in the car that's here, in the corner of the car Yeah, but I'm guessing it gives you a different framework that is gonna, you know, jump the red light. And your your reflexes exercises problem solving, really, like you were saying. are much more alert, rather than if you're driving I don't know, in the US in this big road, and everything just sort of flows. And so I think that is the good analogy. And I see that now living here in Europe, where everything flows in that, that sort of, it's predictable, you know, what's gonna happen, you know, if a client asks you for this, you're gonna go through this process, and you don't have those surprises. So suddenly, you have this instinct, or you have this time that you used to, you know, turn fires off, where you don't have a fire to turn off. So now, you can use that time to add an extra value to a project or, you know, think about like, stop and think about what else you can give this client and I think it's two sides to the same same coin, but you can offer a different type of value from that experience. But the downside, I do see what designers that I've talked to where I work with is the designer in Latin America. And actually, I'm interested in your view on this. But I think a designer in Latin America tends to be more of a generalist they can wear, like I showed, I told you, in my experience, I wore many hats. I at some point was sitting with a client at some point, I was, you know, hammering trade for exhibit and putting it together at some point I was designing in SolidWorks. I feel or I see designers today here in Europe are much more specialists. So you talk to a UX designer UI designer, and they've been doing it for 15 years, like 15 years of just doing that sir, they're killing it in that but they don't have this generalist view. And I think that's that's very It's curious. So they're really good and they can probably excel in that one thing. And someone from Latin America has a your tool set but probably less refined specialties. I don't know what's better, because it's they help you in different situations. I don't know if one is actually better or not. It's just different. I think we did.

Alex Villacis:

I think that the reason after about a lot since we talked about that and I think the reason is that in Latin America people like the audience that clients don't really know what they need and they hire you without an a clear view of what you're going to do or how you're going to process things. But in Europe, there is more of a perspective of I want lighting design, or I want you to design to stay in your example I want to I want to sign up a trade show Stan you can be like okay, that's that's a lot of things are in there but I want to keep you as a client I'm going to do all these things I'm going to learn on the go so you learn how to learn on the go. Meanwhile in Europe, there will be that one a trade show Stan and as another will say that okay, I can make the tables or I can make them visuals are I can make this part I can make the lighting, and I can find you somebody else to do all those other things. I think it has also to do with survival that things are not as well paid in Latin America. So you want to get all the jobs, you know, you don't want to give anything else, you're like, I need to get all the jobs all the other mine.

Chris Locke:

Yeah, and the client doesn't want to pay for a team of five, for example, to design a website, you don't want a UX designer, do the research and interviews and then a UI designer to design it, then someone else to you know, create the animations and then someone else would develop it. They want, you know, someone to solve it, turn that fire off for me, and, and I think, and designers, you know, you're really good. And you speak to a designer from Latin America, and they'll probably have a bit of like, you'll talk to a graphic designer, which knows a bit of animation, which knows a bit of copywriting, which knows a bit. And those are good skills to have together. But I think it's also you mentioned that it's also about budgets and a project, that same project, I don't know, a 2000 euro project in Latin America might be a 15,000 euro project in Europe. And that that's the contrast I'm seeing. And I'm like, okay, yeah, definitely, if you have that different kind of budget, obviously, salaries and everything are different. But you can have a much more robust, specialised team, then if you need to hire one or two guys just do everything.

Alex Villacis:

There's there there. I think we could have a whole other episode of the podcast on a different topic. It's not, but it's super interesting. And it has a lot of impact on how we're educated in design in Europe and how we're educating design. In Latin America. It's one it's more like, Okay, you have to learn everything. It's gonna be like survival of the fittest right now, in Latin America. And in Europe, it's more like, let's work on your craft. Let's go deep. And I think it's a huge contrast there. And like I said, we would we ended on a cliffhanger. I know, please don't hate me. There's a reason behind it. So in this episode, you heard all about how Chris went from medicine to industrial design, then to actually learning and working and gaining experience and how he had this really amazing journey of trying things and just being curious and experiencing and having good connections and having good people around him. So in the second part, we're going to talk a lot about how it compares education, detail design, education, and creative education changes depending on where you are, and the use of mentors and how important mentors are and Chris is gonna talk about his experience being a mentor. But until then, you'll find all links to Chris's work to Chris's mentorship to everything will be linked below in the bio, so go check it out and go check him out. And as we come to the end of the show, I want to thank you for joining me on another episode and give me your time. I hope you're enjoying this conversations and please subscribe to the show and give us a review or give us any feedback you can reach out to us on social media as well all the links are in the show notes. To let us know if you have questions you would like to ask creatives, where would you like to learn? If you have somebody to recommend please let us know. I am here to make something great for you. That said, again, thank you and hope to be again in your ears next week. Keep learning and stay curious. Bye