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#21 - Visual Problem Solving, Self-Discovery, Language of Brand w/ Karl Hebert

In this episode, I talk to Karl Hebert. He specializes in brand design and visual problem solving. We chat about the differences between the gut and brain, how to deal with emotions, self-discovery, immediacy, and much more.

Show notes:

  • (01:49): Visual Problem Solving

  • (08:21): Gut vs Brain

  • (17:06): Immediacy

  • (28:26): Self-Discovery

  • (31:44): Morning Practice

  • (37:29): Finding Your Specific Needs

  • (44:56): How to Deal With Emotions

  • (57:28): The Beauty of Short Stories

Connect with Karl:



Karl 00:00

I love being involved with people who are passionate about what they're doing. Yeah, I mean, and like I try when I can to help, you know. Yeah. And that I think makes me probably feel best. Yeah moreover any like, awards have one or whatever it's like doing something for some other person that is allowed them to succeed like That's fucking awesome

Athan 00:27

The doing the work podcast is brought to you by strive strength conditioning, backdrops premier gym that helps you crush it in the gym so that you can be happy, healthy and successful outside of the gym. Check them out at Karl I'm super pumped to have you on this show. There were so many things about you that are just as important to me. One, you are the very you and your wife Sam are the very first friends we had here in Austin. You worked with my wife Anne Marie and since then just getting to know you, witnessing your craft, your trade and like how you approach art and design and, and business is just, it's just been a pleasure for me to witness. And when I first started this podcast, you were like right at the top of that list of people that I wanted to eventually sit down and talk with so I'm so pumped to be here with you man is very tight.

Karl 01:42

Yeah. So thank you for thanking you for being on the show. Excited to be here, man. Just ramble. Yeah, yeah.

Visual Problem Solving

Athan 01:49

So in an eye on your Instagram and your description of you? Or of your business, I guess. You say, brand design and visual problem solving. Yeah. And I love that term. visual problem solving. Right? Where did you come up with that?

Karl 02:12

I mean, you know, I think in design, it's like, you kind of have to have a focus. Right? Like, there's all this. Are you an identity designer? Are you uh, do you work in advertising? Are you packaging designer, and at the end of the day, it's all just problems that people have that are visual problems, right? It's like, they've got all this business acumen. They've got a product, they've got a problem they're trying to solve, and they need to, like, solve that visually. So really, like visual problem solving was a was a way that I could describe what I do. That didn't really pigeonhole me into like, one thing I wanted to make sure that people knew, like, whatever the visual problem you have, it doesn't matter what it is, I can solve it. I've gotta figure it out. I got you. Yeah. You know, like, I love brand building. Which is why it's kind of a double statement, right? Like this brand component of it. Yep. I think that's what I'm probably strongest at, uh, huh. Like creating when you say, brand building, like creating the whole package. Yeah. Like, gosh, like, what's the music playing in the bar? Like, that is all as much of the brand as one of the wall colors? What are the what are the chopsticks sticks look like? What color are they? Like? There's so many components to a brand that a lot of times people think branding, they think logo. Yeah. And a logo is just a component of the brand. Right? Right. Like a brand is like, a language that a company speaks. You know, it's a feel it's yeah, it's an emotive thing. It's, it's, it's what is it? I mean, that's why like, I love hospitality, like hotel like, I would love to brand a hotel. Uh huh. Like, what does it smell like when you walk in? And what are the plants? What are the what does that say about the space and the brand? And like, what are the pots that the plants are in? Like, what are the what's the tile choice? What's the like? Everything matters? Yeah, you know, and it's all sort of running in the subconscious with people, right? Yeah. I just love those details, man. Yeah, I love that. Yeah. That's because I like thinking about that. And like, how do you get yourself into something like that? Because like, right now, what do most people hire you for? Like, like, branding? Brand packaging? Yeah, yeah. Like, you know, but if you were going to grow into that, like so let's take that hospitality thing. If you're going to do a hotel, do you have a vision? Have I put myself out there to like, I've never, I've never it's funny because I've never actually liked, I don't know. And I probably should, like, create a list of the top five industries and or clients that I want to work with and go after them. Yeah. And here's what I would do for them. Yeah. And like, is there a way that I could sort of like, put something together? How could I chase them down and get on their radar? I should probably do that. Yeah, I have a friend of photography friend Caleb curry who's actually

Athan 05:05

I know, Caleb,

Karl 05:06

You do?

Athan 05:06

Yes. He's worked out with me at the gym.

Karl 05:09

No. Yes. So he's a pro at hunting people down and likes getting them to get them to hire him. Yeah, amazing. Yeah. I mean, he's done such big projects. Yeah. And it's fun to watch him sort of like, put himself out there and find the right people and just hammer it until they're like, Alright, we gotta, we gotta hire this dude. Yeah, he's all over it. Yeah, I should do that. I should talk to Caleb.

Athan 05:35

So again, like the thing that I want to learn from, like you or somehow to, like, if I could, like, steal something from your brain is like, that's the stuff that I feel like. I'm lacking, but a lot of people are lacking. How do you conceptualize a total package down to the little details, and then like, execute on it at such a high level? Like it? When I, to me? I don't? I don't get it? You know what I mean? Like, I don't understand it, but when I see how talented you are at it, like, of course I want to see you. I want to see you get that hotel because I want to see what the fuck you do with it. I mean, like, I want to go to that hotel. Yeah. You know what I mean? So I would,

Karl 06:10

You know, it's funny, I've started using this term lately, where it's not a term, but it's a concept, right? It's like, you have method actors? Uh huh. Right, like, become the character. And I think there's a lot of times where I'm in this room. And it's like, I try to be methodical in design, right? Like, if I'm working on something that needs to feel otherworldly, or super forward thinking or, you know, on the fringe, I try to, like, fill the room with music that feels very fringy or they like, basically create that energy in that environment here. That puts me in that headspace that gets me to the place where it's like, you know, passing through all the ideas that don't fit with the energy that's in the room. Right? So if I'm working on I don't know, maybe that's a little more outdoorsy, or wants to be a little more Homespun. I truly, you know, the energy in here needs to be that away. Right. And so I need to like, feel what it is. I had a mentor, David Campa. He used to always tell us, it doesn't feel right. Yeah, it's got to feel good to feel it needs to feel right. And like that's very non technical. That is not very technical feedback. That is very, like, What do you mean? Yeah, you know what I mean? But yeah, but you know it when you feel it, it's like and, you know, I told my students this semester is like, design with your gut designed down here, don't design up here. Right. Like, all of the thinking should be done at another time in place. But when you jump into design, you got to be going from your gut and not your brain. Aha. Right. And so when the right colors click into place, or the right sort of combination of elements hits it, it hits you. Yeah, that's like, that's, something's there. You know?

Gut vs Brain

Athan 08:21

Yeah. They say your gut is a second brain. I believe it. Yeah. And like, so when you say, like, when you make the distinction between your gut and your brain? What do you feel like the different way like what's different between the

Karl 08:32

We call it like, being good at bullshitting or whatever, but like, there's often times where your gut knows it's the right answer before your brain does, right? So it's like, okay, that's the right answer. I can feel it, aha, again, whether it's typography, or just whatever the right treatment is, oftentimes, you feel it in the gut. And then you have to let your brain catch up and be like, Okay, well, why, you know, the next day or a couple days later, like, why does that feel good? Haha. Like, why do I love this so much? Yeah. And you have to, like, let your brain catch up and rationalize, like, Oh, I bet it's because you know, the positioning and the personnel, the strategy work that's been done, tells me these, this list of things. And now that I try to cross reference them, they're actually matching up really well. You know what I mean? Yeah, but if you're like going into design and you're trying to use your brain and you're like, thinking too much like, it really hinders, you start self editing, you start like, getting to, to thoughtful, you know, versus just like, what feels good, what feels good, what feels good.

Athan 09:41

You know, it's so interesting, because that's what we go through in our lives, like that, a lot of us and so like your, your medium is, like you mentioned, you know, brand and design and art, right? Yeah, but all of us go through our lives, like doing our thing and we oftentimes, like you said, get too much in our heads, we think too much. And we really know the answer. Like, a lot of times we go against what we do because we're probably thinking, what other people are gonna think, or are other people gonna like this? Or like, is this crazy? You know, you know, there's this whole other level of evaluation of a concept or idea.

Karl 10:22

There's so many, like, external forces. But when we start talking about life, yes. It's like, we're living in a contract. we've invented all of this, right? None of this is right, right. Yeah. And so like, you start trying to, like, abide by the contract to follow the rules, or do the thing or, you know, follow the path that you're supposed to follow and all this shit. And it's like, sometimes that just doesn't add up with what you want, or what you feel you need to be doing or Yes, right. And so man, there's nothing, there's nothing that hurts me more than to watch someone not living. The exact version of the life they want to be living. Yeah, it's hard. That's the hardest thing to walk. Yeah, we all know people like that. I, yeah, we've been, we've probably all been those 100%. Yeah. So feeling like I'm on the other side of that. It's like, man, there's a better way like, you can you really can, like, follow what you want to do and like, be happier than ever. You know?

Athan 11:29

Yeah. Do you think that's why you choose art? Like, because it's part of art. And I'm not an artist, but I'm thinking that part of art is breaking the rules, like part of what makes someone's art desirable to other people? Is that it? Yeah, it isn't like anything else. And it can be purposely betrayed. Uh huh. What a common Yeah, all those other things? And because it's such an important thing to do, is that, is that why you choose art? Or like, gosh, man, I think it's funny. I never really thought of it that way. But yeah, I mean, like, I fucking hate rules.

Karl 12:11

I hate them so much. Yeah, you know. And so I like it, I like it's funny. I'm like, recalling these moments and like, adolescence, in high school and stuff, where it's like, like, threading that needle of being a good kid. And like, making sure that the teachers knew I respected them, but also really not fucking listening to them. Right. Right. It's like, they lied to me. But they also, I really got on their nerves. You know, it is like that fine balance of like, okay, I can't take it too far, because then they're not going to like me anymore. Right, you know. But I mean, like, that's just a really specific example. But I mean, I think of it like, I grew up feeling very pent up, like I couldn't be the version of myself that I always wanted to be. Yeah, you know what I mean? Yeah. And so, feeling so boggled up through adolescence, and teenage years, and once I finally sort of left home, and like, really figured out what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be, like, I just went all in man. Yeah, it's, it's like, that's why I'm covered in tattoos. Now. It's like, I just like, I wanted to be this person, this specific person for so many years, but felt like I couldn't be. And I, you know, like, shit, man, I'm almost 40 I'm still becoming that part. You know what I mean? Like, I still feel like I'm blooming. Yeah, so to speak.

Athan 13:38

I think about that a lot. Because I remember when I first met you, and I think I probably that, that period that you just talked about, you were probably like, just coming out of that. And I think that I like, like now looking back, I didn't feel it probably then as much but knowing you now and then knowing you then I did feel like this, like, a bit of tension in you. Right? Like, there was this level of like, there was something inside of you like wanting to come out and you were like, trying to figure it out. I'm like, the way I experienced you now versus the way I experienced you 15 years ago. It is in the same vein, but different. And do you know, it is different to feel like a different person?

Karl 14:18

I completely feel like a completely different person than I did two years ago. Yeah. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Athan 14:23

I hope that I always feel like a different person. Yeah. A year from now, you know.

Karl 14:30

But yeah, I mean, like, it's just going back. It's like, there are all these constraints and elements happening around us at all times, like, the way you were born, your parents, your relationship with other people, your family, all this stuff. It's like, that all has this wild impact and it's like it takes a long time to and you really have to focus on like, you have to think about it a lot. Like who do I really want to be Yeah, I am not happy Yeah, so why Yeah, you know,

Athan 15:03

Well, cuz talk about rules, right? Like your family has rules. There's the right to the neighborhood you grew up in the city.

Karl 15:11

Yeah. Who are you? Who are you expected to be? Yeah. Who are the people around you? What is the culture? You're raised within? Like, all that stuff? Yeah. You know, and to divine defy that takes courage to defy it. Like, on every level, right? Like, whether it's religion, or you know, the way you dress, or, you know, I can remember wanting earrings. For like, forever. I can remember wanting earrings. Yeah, but it wasn't until I was 30 that I actually was like, You know what, fuck it. I'm getting earrings. Yeah. And fuck it. I might be too old to do it, but fuck it. Yeah. And it's like, I'm just going for it. You know what I mean? And like, that's really liberating. Yes, yes.

Athan 15:56

when I'm leading other people, or like, when I'm like, trying to mentor other people. One of the things I tell them is like, like, because a lot of us try to go along to get along. We try to be agreeable. We're people pleasing. Sure. And, and, and that's just fucking, like, boring. It's like, it's, it's not like to experience someone trying to be that way. Versus like, I love when someone tells me. No, I'm not doing that. Or horror. No, that's like, you know, when I do that, I think that's ugly, or whatever it is, like I love when people are disagreeable. Yeah. Even when it's at me or towards me, because that's when I appreciate the individuality that I like as a person. Yeah, it's funny. I, I've kind of always had, you bring up these big questions. It's like, I feel like I've always been that person that's gone round my middle fingers up.

Karl 16:52

Even though I wasn't really younger, but like, I've never had my middle fingers up more than the past like three years. Yeah. You don't even like it. I don't mean like in a dickish way. But just like life short, man. Get one chance. Yep. Like, why not? Why not just be the fullest version of yourself,


Karl 17:06

Be exactly what you want to be. When you want to do it immediately. Immediately. Death is Imminent. Yes. You know what I mean? I always text that to my buds. When I'm trying to make a decision. Death is imminent, man. Like, that's it. Like that's, that's the driving force. You know what I mean? And like, I think, you know, I had a big moment, about two and a half years ago, where the complete existential meltdown, you know, and it was like, it felt like a complete split in the road where it's like, I'm either gonna, like figure this out. Or I'm just destined to, like, kind of just trudge through this shit life, just kind of, and I just was, like, chose to say, Fuck it, and like, do exactly what I wanted. And yeah, it's been the best.

Athan 17:59

Yeah, well, cuz you, you you said.

Karl 18:03

You've never been happier. Yeah. Ever. Yeah. Ever. And it's like, it's like, not until you completely like, give in. And just do it. Just jump for it. It's not until you completely like, go to that, like things start falling into place. I mean, it's like, this is my fourth time being self-employed. Right? In my career. Yeah. This is the only time that it's really successful. And it's like, it's because I jumped off the cliff and it was like, I am not looking back. I am not going back to agencies. I'm fucking doing this. I'm getting my own space. I'm doing Yeah. And like, all in you know. And once that energy is there, that momentum of like, I mean, that's, that's what, that's what it takes.

Athan 18:49

Yeah. And like, what I'm, what I'm hearing you say is like, is like letting go. If you're like putting your middle fingers up, and you're saying, fuck you. It's like, it sounds to me what you're saying is like, fuck you to fear. Like, I am not going to be like, because what do we go back to agencies for? What do you know, your version of Asier? What do we jump to safety for? Right? To be safe? Right because we're afraid because? Because sometimes fear dominates us?

Karl 19:14

Fear, I think expectation, right, like

Athan 19:21

These are the expectations that society has for someone. Okay. Right. It Is so ridiculous to hold everyone to the same standard. Yeah. Because I have high expectations. Are you saying that like in your career field, the best and brightest, the people who are the most talented? Do they typically kind of like end up at an agency or so

Karl 19:42

I suppose. I mean, when I hear you say that, it's like not necessarily they're like, go off and run their own studio and, you know, have you know, designers working under them and know this stuff. But yeah, I mean, there's a lot of pressure to be like a part of the studio Do part of I don't know, like, it just never was my thing. Yeah, you know, and I had to make it my thing for so long and was never really happy, you know, made me act out and made me do wild shit because I was like, revolting. You know what I mean, against the enterprise, right? Which that's not healthy either. Right?

Athan 20:26

So is that what it is about being like, in a group in an agency in an organization? Is it the group thing?

Karl 20:34

Oh, man, it's funny. I've just kind of uncovered this in therapy is like, and then it's funny, I find myself even one of the caveat it but fuck it. Like, it's all about control. Mm hmm. Yeah, I'm like, I need control. Yeah. Like, I need control over everything. Okay, I need control over the way this fucking room smells. I need control over the music that's playing. I need control. Yeah. And I need control over how the assignment is run, what is said, what I need control period. Yep. And so to work with others in that capacity, like, you can't control everything. Mm hmm. And the amount of angst that that would create for me. It was super unhealthy, like it started coming out and other aspects of my life and like, just feeling out of control is not something that I do well, yeah. You know, it's like, even like, you know, my wife can attest to this. It's like, if the house is messy, I feel out of control. So the first thing I tried to do is gain control. I start cleaning. I start, right, like, I need control over the situation, because it's out of control. And I don't do well with that. Yeah. And so really the jump into like, what I do now is like, it's just me in this room, and, and I can Close those blinds, and it's, I control it. Yeah, you know, and I think that's where I, I just like I thrive there. Yeah, you know, and like, I've had people like, oh, you should hire, you could take on more business, if you had, I don't want that. Control starts slipping away. Right. And maybe that's something that like, again, I find myself wanting to caveat that like, it's a bad thing. But that's just what it's just, it's a matter of factly how I operate and no feelings I have.

Athan 22:17

Yeah, so I think you can look at it two ways, right? Like, you'll hear people say, you know, you, you'll hear somebody say something along the lines of, you've got to let go of control, or you can't control anything or right, or control is an illusion, or you know, that there's all these different things about it. That's one way to look at it, like you can practice letting go. Or another way is, is that you can create an environment that works for you, that's healthy for you, that's healthy for your family, like you said that you can thrive in, right. And it and that it helps you to be the best you can possibly be.

Karl 22:53

I think that's a good point. I think that's a good way of framing it, right? It's like wanting all of the control as a bad thing. If you let it get away from you don't acknowledge that's what's going on. Yeah, you're aware, becoming unhealthy to other people, you start becoming unhealthy to your family and others, you know, because you don't have it.

Karl 23:11

So like, acknowledging it, accepting it, and then setting yourself up in a space that's like, I'm going to thrive in this situation, and I'm not going to hurt anyone, right? You know, I'm not going to hurt my family, I'm not going to hurt my co workers, my friends, I'm not going to lash out and say dumb shit and let my angst manifest in weird ways. Right? Brian? It's like, it's, it's, it's kind of taking control. It's like, alright, like, these are the elements, these are the things I need to be able to live a happy life, a healthy happy life. So let me construct that, yeah, put myself in a place where I'm happy and healthy, and kind to others,

Athan 23:51

Right? Because, like, if you look at it, like you can assess yourself and like, we all have our thing, you know, everybody's got their version of what you're talking about. So you can take inventory of that. And, and, and take ownership of it. I think rather than saying, you know, you know, anything else that's out there, like I recognize this about myself, I'm owning it, I'm putting it out there, I'm speaking it, I tell you about it, and I'm going to use it to my advantage, rather than let it be something that helps me that makes me spin out or spiral out of it, you know, and so, you know, it's only been till recently that I've like, uncovered that dealt with that and, like embraced it. And,

Karl 24:34

you know, it's like, it's like knowing I need these foods to feel good the next day, but not eating them. Right? And then feeling like shit, you're like, God, I know, I need to just be eating these other foods, but I'm eating these other foods and I feel like shit. Like, it's like what? I don't know, man. It's like knowing what you need. Yeah, you know, like you said, it's like taking something that could be perceived as negative

Athan 25:00

And then and then and then turning it like flipping it into something like you found, in my opinion, what better field to be in better industry to be in when you when you realize that you like the details that you like to control the the pieces of it and have like full ownership of it than something like branding or something right like art. You know, it's like you found your place, man.

Karl 25:25

Yeah, totally. Yeah. And yeah, I'm a micromanager. It's what it is. Yeah. I mean, you know, I was director at three different studios and like,

Athan 25:39

it wasn't fine. And I find it wasn't my thing. How did other people experience it? Did you ever get feedback about you? Did people perceive you in a negative way? Because I like to follow it up. Oh, okay. Right, which is probably why you exploded? Yeah, yeah, totally. But I also found this this place in me where it's like,

Karl 26:03

I think in order to get this work to the level of polish, it needs to get at these things that need to happen. But like, I'm, I don't want to be a micromanager. Yeah, I don't want to do that. So finding myself in a place where it's like, I'm just sort of compromising the work. Because it's easier than dealing with it. It's like, is this good? This is great buying. Let's move on? Yeah, right.

Athan 26:29

So did you feel like the stuff you were supervising was like, not to your standard, but you kind of just let it go? Because some of it was great.

Karl 26:39

Yeah, some of it less than, but it's like, again, it's like, there's so many people involved, and it's just like, kind of a mass? And I don't know, man, it just I know, I didn't thrive. Yeah, it didn't make me happy.

Athan 26:52

Yeah. You know, so being a business owner having been in situations where I, I think I might be the opposite of you, right? Like, where I don't want to be involved in the details. Like, I don't want to control it, I like to, like, from a high level, like, have my part in influencing or giving some vision to or, or something like that. And then And then, and then sending it out and letting it go, you know, I really do let go of outcomes and results. And so in my, like, we're, we're talking about the same thing, just in different situations where like, I spun myself out, by trying to be in, like really trying to control everything, and trying to be the identity that wasn't healthy for you. It wasn't healthy for me, right. And so, so the important part, and I think, hopefully, for anyone listening to this is to like to know, where you fall, and you know, know, just become aware, to wake up to who you are, and accept it and own it and then take care of it.

Karl 28:00

I think self discovery is by far and away the biggest thing any human could do. Yeah. Like, what makes you tick? Yes. Why? And as soon as you sort of lay that all out, and feed that, like, I think that's where happiness, success, like contentment. Yes. You know, I think that's where that stuff comes from.


Athan 28:26

So with self discovery, do you have things that you do? Or have I guessed? So you mentioned, like, obviously, you've you're growing, you're growing all the time, you're a different person than you were two years ago? Like, are there things that you make sure that you do to become intimately involved with yourself and become aware of yourself?

Karl 28:43

Yeah, I mean, I think well, I go to therapy. Yep. You know, yeah. Every other week, and then my wife and I go to couples therapy once a month. Yep. So there's lots of introspection there. But like, surrounding myself with people that are fruitful and heavy and deep. And you can have a good conversation with that. Super important. I think, just to use this analogy again. I went years and years knowing what I wanted to feed myself. Right. I wanted to be a person that read more, I wanted to read more. I wanted to write more. I wanted to meditate. I wanted to wake up early, I wanted to like there were these there were a litany of things that for years I wanted to do and be and didn't. Yeah, right. Yeah. So it was like knowing I needed to be eating these foods, making the choice not to eat them. Just to completely ignore that and do whatever else. And years and years of that data until finally like you can't do it anymore. Yeah. And so had this experience where, you know, complete breakdown, left my job like on the spot, kind of just disappeared and started going to therapy again. You know, I discovered I was very depressed and had for decades sought help for that, you know? You know, it's funny they say like, yeah, suicidal thoughts. And it's like, you never really put much thought into what that means. Yeah. And it's a very vague term. Sure. But I had that. Yeah, I had suicidal ideations and like thought about it quite a bit. So anyway, once I came to terms with like, Okay, I like it well. I got medicated for anxiety and depression. And then a good friend of mine, Angelo Keeley. He has developed this program, where you basically go through this packet, and it just helps you identify what do you want in life? And what are the things standing in front of those things? Like, what are the things preventing you from achieving those goals? So I went through this packet, and that was super helpful. And I realized, like, I need to be waking up at five, I need to be stretching, I need to be, these are the foods I need to be eating, I need to be reading. So every day starts with an aggressive five hours of self care, like, I don't go here until I don't start working until 1030. Yeah, and I wake up between five and 530. That's awesome. So the entire front part of my day, the first five hours, is doing all the things that I need to do so that when I get here, there is zero distraction. Yeah, my mind is not like that. It's like a read today, or didn't, I didn't exercise or do this or do that. And it's like, that's keeping me like, I better leave here so that I can go do those things I get here and it's like, super focused and intense. You know,

Athan 31:44

Yeah, I cannot emphasize that enough. Like I tell people all the time, like the people I know who are really struggling in their lives, it's there's something so fucking magical and powerful, about a morning practice, that, that I just don't think that enough people really understand, like, how just good fat is

Karl 32:09

The idea of waking up 10 minutes before I need to leave the house. Not even me, anyone like that is thrusting yourself into the day in a way that just you're already behind. You're rushing to get dressed, you're rushing, you brush your teeth, you're rushing to put food in your mouth, you're eating in your car, I don't know, you're just sort of behind the, the sort of wave the whole time. Versus waking up early, prepping your body, prepping your mind. And then getting in the water and waiting for the wave and riding that way. Right? Versus like, being thrown in the water and the waves there. And you're turning around. Yeah, like trying to get smashed onto the coral, you know? Yeah. And it's like it does, it takes a lot of commitment man to like, wake up that early. You have to go to bed. Yeah, you know, and you have to, like, make sure that you're not, you know, drinking too much so that you can wake up and like it's mind body, right? It's both Yeah, you have to like and of course, the older you get, like, you have to become tuned into what your body needs.

Athan 33:17

But I think more importantly, probably what your spirit is, what you need, yeah, to like, be a kind of productive person. Yeah, you know, yeah, I, as you're kind of speaking, I'm thinking about, like, you, we were talking earlier about the distinction between our gut and like, our brain he, and and like, somehow, I'm like, making this like, connection between like, our like, who we are like our soul, like we are not our body, right? We are not our brain, we are not our thoughts, we are not our ideas, were something beyond that, you know, and so, doing things that nurture and feed, like, who we are at our most core level, you know, and like we live in this body, we live in this meatsuit right, you know, but but that is not who we are, you know, and so like, you have to you have to do things that like really get to the core of who you are. Yep. And having morning practice, I am so ritualistic. Yeah, you mentioned reading and writing, like what are the things that you liked in that five hour period? What are you do?

Karl 34:29

When I wake up, the first thing I do is drink warm lemon water. Because that seems like the most gentle thing you could put into your body after eight hours of laying in one's body. And then I put the news on to the soda speakers and I do like a 15 minute stretch routine, like a full body stretch out. Then I make my first coffee and then I read For, you know, 30 , 45 minutes, I wake my daughter up at six, because she's very regimented to if I wake her up later, she's not pleased. And then get her some food, we spend some time together, I continue to read, I take her to school, I come home, I exercise for an hour. By that time, my wife's up and moving around, and and then, you know, we spend a little time in the morning hanging out, make my breakfast, make my lunch, you know, supplements, get ready to leave the house, I leave the house by I don't know, 9:30 I'm here. I meditate when I get here. You know? Yeah. And then after my meditation, I always tell myself, me first. What do I want to do? Like what's gonna get me excited? So if there's a personal project that I'm working on, or if I want to collage or if I want to make art. I do that first before anyone else. Clients, anyone? Me first? Yeah. Even though I've just spent like, four hours on me, but still like, Yeah, and so once that is out of the way, then I feel like the slate is clear. And I have space for other people. Yeah. And I think that is what led me to like such a dark place, never putting myself first Yeah, ever. Always just saying yes. And always just paying attention to other people's needs, whether it was my job or whoever else before my own. Yeah, and that's a bad idea.

Athan 36:29

I've absolutely spun out so many times by my nature and the people who've listened to every episode of the show, I bring it up every episode is people pleasing. Like I, I put everyone before me I you know,

Karl 36:44

And that's just a quick recipe for me too and you know, it's funny, you said like to go back to the comment that said, like, I've never walked around and more of my middle fingers up in the past few years. And I think that's what I'm, I think that's more what I'm getting at. Yeah, I've been putting myself in my own needs first. Like, I got to be good. Yep. If I'm not good, then like, I can't be anything better to anyone else. So I think that that's the core of what I mean by like, me first. Yeah, that's, that's really, yeah. Like, there's this power, like when you know, like people who are we all know people who are

Athan 37:19

disagreeable for just because they like to be disagreeable just to like go against the grain. But then you see,

Finding Your Specific Needs

Athan 37:29

There's a different kind of person who is healthfully somewhat, you know, disagreeable and also self centered in a way that's not negative to other people. Like there's, there's two different kinds of people. And you can you know, when you meet them, sure, you know, and it sounds like you're really developing yourself to become that second one, you know, like your fingers up to everybody else, but not because I don't like you, or because you're gonna do anything for you. But because I want to do my best for you. I want to bring my best to this world. I want to be about something.

Karl 38:02

You know, it's also really interesting to as it relates to other people is like, I just told you my morning routine. I come here where I like, I don't I don't have much of a social life. Yeah, you know, hang out very much. Yeah. And I don't have the desire to move it. Yeah. To really have much of a social life. Like I'm focused right now. Yes. You know, and like, I'm sure at some point, like, and not to say that I don't hang out with folks. But not that much. Yeah. And I don't make it a priority. Yeah, you keep it. Like, what's that about for you? Like, what do you what do you think that is, is? Well, I mean, I'm pretty introverted. To begin with, right. Like, I like being alone. Yeah. But I don't know, man, that's a really good question. I feel like, I feel like I had gotten to a place in my career, where I was a personification of myself. And felt like, every day when I went to the office, I had to, like, be this version that everyone expected me to be. And I would do that. And like, I'm just not there anymore. Like, I'm not, I don't want to be something that I'm not. And if I don't want to go to a bar and have drinks all night, like I just, I'm not going to do it just to like, please other people, or like, Oh, they're expecting me or I'm going to let them down or whatever. You know, and obviously, like, the pandemic maybe has, like, how would that say some people living their best life but like, I've been so focused, yeah, the past three years, you know, and like, on my family, on my work on my art on myself, and, like, it's almost like you get to a point where you're grooving. And you're like, you're really fucking scared to change anything. Yep. You know, it's like, Man, I'm scared to throw variables in here because this shit feels good. Yep. You know, and like I don't know there's this There's only so much energy, you know, and it's like, I don't have much left. Yes, at the end of the day to give to social activities. I just don't. Yeah. And it's not like oh, poor me like, I wish I had, like, I don't I don't wish. I'm good.

Athan 40:21

Yeah. Well, it goes back to the other thing like, like you the awareness of the like it comes to awareness, I actually read this great book by Anthony de Mello called awareness. And it blew my mind and I need to read it again. But it really does come down to that, right, like you have done the work to be aware that this is what helps me to be my, this is where my best comes from, I will probably say something different. I am more social in nature, if I were alone all the time, I would probably be miserable, right? But the difference is, not that one is right or wrong, right? It's just, it's just becoming aware of it. Because like, in my situation, I would probably feel like my worst at my worst if I were isolated or like not feeling like I was connected to other people. And so I you know, I just think that people need to be not enough people are doing that level of introspection to like, figure out which ones are everything? Yeah, like, I cannot stress that enough. And just being okay with whatever that is, right. Like, I've gone off for a year, and I've really dug and searched and

Karl 41:32

uncovered who I am. Now I've got, now I've got a choice. I can either be that and facilitate that realness or I can like and some of that might require change. Right? Like, okay, I know what I need. Now I'm going to make these changes. What will other people perceive? What will they think? Yeah, how will they feel about me once I do make these changes? And I would venture to say that probably a lot of people are scared to make those changes, or you know, and thought, man, some of that change might be like, You know what, I have to leave my girlfriend. Yeah. All right. I've got to, like, change my life pretty dramatically to be a happy person. Yes. And again, you're faced with that decision. Do you do it or not? So I mean, self discovery is key, but also the follow through of like, once you discover,

Athan 42:18

implementing, implementing that courage, the courage to be like, alright, if I really see myself happy, like, I've got to, like, stay on that flame. And, you know, what do I need to do to do that? Yeah, it goes back to the thing we said all the way at the beginning is like, okay, get out of your head. Don't overthink it. Listen to your gut. Right? And, and pull the trigger. Like, right and do it. And some, like you said, that sometimes happens with relationships that happen with jobs, it happens with all different kinds of things. Where right where they I knew how many times in my life, I'm just speaking about me. Have I known in my heart of hearts, I got to do this one thing, and I didn't fucking do it because of exactly what you know. You're gonna think about me, who am I? Am I gonna? How am I gonna pay my bills, or whatever it is? And, then I kicked 10 years later, I kicked myself in the ass because I ended up doing it anyway. But it took me 10 years. And I know I'm like, I suffered. Yeah, down the road. Right. Yeah. So I think that's powerful. I know you're teaching now. You mentioned that you're teaching which goes a little bit against what we're talking about now. Because now you're kind of responsible for the education and yeah, other people. So like, what's that experience like for you? And it's been wild. It's been wild.

Karl 43:37

Well, first off, it makes me so grateful that I'm like this far in my career, and I'm not a student anymore. You know, yeah. It makes me super grateful for the progress I've made because I went to the school I went to Texas State Yeah, I graduated from school there. So I like to go back into that building. And then be a teacher. It's a wild experience. But it does it makes me recall like It's like looking at myself. You know, looking at my college self. Yeah. And like, being super proud of myself for like, man, you did it. Yeah, you did it. Way to go. Yes. You know, you were in this because they are you? Yes, they are, they are you, they are me. Right. And so like, I try to, it's funny. The thing that I find most rewarding about it is not like teaching technical skills. Like here's how to use the Bezier tool, best an illustrator, whatever like that. You can YouTube that, too. You know, if you really want to learn that. The thing that I get the kick,

How to Deal with Emotions

Karl 44:56

The biggest kick out is teaching the students how to deal with their emotions. Right now. How to like, because that was my biggest struggle when I was in school in my first, you know, five to 10 years out of school just like the emotional tool that combining art and commerce trying to make a living doing art had on me. And so you know, I always try to empathize with them, you know, read their faces, read the read the read the the torment, they're going through, like you are stuck, and you are frustrated and you want to give up. I get it. I've been there. I still do that. Like that. And then seeing the look on their face change, like Yeah, for real? Yeah. Like, really? Am I supposed to feel this way? It's like, yes, dude, it's fine. Everything's going to be okay. This is hard. And just letting them know, like, you're not supposed to be good yet.

Athan 45:52

Your student?

Karl 45:53

Yeah, this is what it is. Yeah. You know, you go around in your world, and you look at professional design work, you don't know who's behind it, or how much work it took to get that stuff into the world. And you're comparing your work to that. And that's not fair. Yeah. You know, so it's, it's more of the like, I don't know, the more emotive Yeah, to me, the human aspect of Yeah, of like, you're human. I'm a human, we both do the same thing. Like, let me try to teach you a few things and not about software. Yeah. You know, yeah, I think that at least that's what I feel like I have to offer students yet Woody.

Athan 46:30

So that's what you're giving them? What do you get out of it? Like, what do you feel like you're getting out of teaching?

Karl 46:35

Man, you know, I have this, it's funny. There's a lot of times where I feel like what I do is very pointless. Like, as a teacher or as a, as a professional. It seems silly that I make money doing this, really. And so, you know, not that I feel guilty about it. But it is weird that what I do makes money. And so having a few years ago, it's just like, How can I give back in some capacity? You know, obviously, I'm not gonna like, you know, quit, what I'm good at, that makes makes me and my family a good living to go be a social worker, like, that's not my calling. Sure. But is there something that I could be doing that is paying it forward a little bit, or enhancing someone's life other than, like, you know, making companies lots of money on a new packaging, you know, like, so that was really the impetus of it. And so, again, it's, it's when those moments of like, real connection happen, happens, where, like, I can tell that, like, I've made them feel better, or given them confidence, like just today, I was leaving the classroom. It had been a relatively quiet work session type of class. And I was like, Alright, folks, I'm going to split out of here. And I passed a student's computer and I looked on it and like, what she had up was like, really good. And I got to the door, and I double back and I turned around, and I went back and I said, like, that's really cool. And, and she looked up, she was like, beaming. And I left, right? I just and like, it just made me feel like that fucking probably made her day to, to, just to have the, like, the affirmation of like, oh, what I what I'm, what I'm doing is, maybe it is good. Yeah. Yeah. All right, and not have to sit and like, talk about it, critique it, but like, hey, that's cool. That's good. And leave it at that.

Athan 48:37

mean, that's, that's like, that feels like you're helping a person. Yeah. With their life. You know, yeah, I love that. I'm a firm believer that all of us get to choose a purpose. And the purpose that we choose cannot be solely for ourselves, you know, like, I think that and so I love like, now even art, I mean, art, like you've talked about, it's visual problem solving. It's, it's, obviously you're helping businesses and professionals and entities or whatever, like speaking to the world. So your work is still for the greater good. It's for other people. And I think people, sometimes people, like you'll hear in certain industries, or certain types of people like, Well, my purpose in life is to make as much money as I possibly can. Right? Yeah. So I can have the cars and the boats or whatever else. And I'm like, No, man, you're like, you're missing it.

Karl 49:38

Well, I mean, I think I've always tried to like, I mean, you're a perfect example in it's like, when you were doing your boot camp. Yeah. You know, it's like, you know, you recognize the passion and the drive and the desire and other people and their mission and their thing. And it gets me excited to be like, Man, I could help

Athan 50:00

Yes, like I can help you. Yes. Yes. By the way, what he's talking about is that Carl designed my very first logo for my business. It's the My Favorite logo. The T-shirt that we first made with that logo is still my favorite t-shirt. So many people have, like, just love that brand. And Carl designed it, you know, and like in this is not at all to like, pat myself on the back. It's like pro bono. Yeah, you don't I mean, that's like, because you have a passion and you are. So then like, I have the thing that is gonna help you like, and I've done that with a multitude of other people to where it's like,

Karl 50:36

I love being involved with people who are passionate about what they're doing. Yeah, I mean, and like, I try when I can to help, you know. Yeah. And that, I think, makes me probably feel best. Yeah. Moreover, any, like, awards have won, or whatever. It's like doing something for some other person that has allowed them to succeed. Like, that's fucking awesome. And I used to tell you all the time, it's like, every time I'd go see you, you had a bigger gym, and then a bigger gym, and it was bigger and badder. And I was like, that made me so fucking happy. Yeah, I can I remember I always tell you, man, I'm so fucking proud of you. Like, this is awesome. Yes. You know, that, like, that makes me so happy. Yeah, because that's like the,

Athan 51:25

that cannot be under. That's not that cannot be like, understood enough that someone who like again, as someone who's a coach, or a trainer or whatever, who want has something that they want to do in the world, like, like having someone like you in their life, being able to hire you or for you to contribute in some way. Because like, I'm not an artist, like I can't, like put my feelings into a visual package. But you can. And that's so powerful. I mean, that's so powerful for people and like all these differences I'm looking around your, your studio and all these different people you've helped do that. It's just inspiring.

Karl 52:04

Yeah, I mean, it can be really rewarding. Yeah, it can be just soul sucking, if you're not in the right environment, but like, it can also be really rewarding. I find the most reward out of helping tiny little businesses. You know, be successful. Yeah, that is so fun to me. Yeah. You know?

The Beauty of Short Stories

Athan 52:24

Well, shifting gears a little bit. So you said that you read as much as you possibly can. What do you read? What are you reading right now? You know, or what have you read that you love or I went through a phase where I read all of Malcolm Gladwell. And that was great. I feel like I shouldn't read them back to back.

Karl 52:44

Because they all sort of like, you know, he's got his thing. Yes. sapiens? Uh huh. Great book. Read that. Yeah. And the second one, I haven't read that. opions Dave's, okay. worth reading? Is it wild? So sapiens is a brief was Sapiens a brief history of mankind, I think is what the full title is. And then say the second book sort of starts from now and talks about the future. Oh, it's pretty alarming and pretty wild. You know, okay. Yeah, I love Sapiens, bio technologies and all this stuff. Really anything that currently I'm reading, two of my best friends recommended this book, Letters from a young poet, yet Letters to a Young Poet, I think, was essentially Maria rookie. I don't know how to say his last name. Brookie was a famous poet in like 1900. And he had this random younger dude, write him letters, who was also a poet, and wanted feedback on his poetry. And so it just sort of like, catalogs this dialogue. And it's like, the heaviest deepest like thought, like, amazing. Like, I feel like I sit there with my red pencil. And just like, every morning, I'm just like, Oh, my God, look at this thing. And this, and that line. And most of the books that I read are, they're all pretty introspective. You know, I'm reading. Currently, I'm reading. Was it the 48 laws of humankind, Robert Greene. Oh, is it Robert Greene? I think so. Because he also wrote I thought you were gonna say 48 Laws of Power. Yes. So this is the second one. Okay. Okay. That's Robert Greene. Yeah, yes. Robert Greene. The laws of human laws of human nature. Okay, that's what it's called. Uh huh. You know, like anything about humans and the way we tick and self discovery and, and like, you know, the struggle with five grand is being a human on the earth. You know what I mean? Like that to me? Like, those are the best books. Yeah, you know, like, that's what I like to read. I think we're right in the same vein there. I think. The Bose started out

Athan 55:00

I suppose you could call them self help books? Or maybe that's what they call them either. I think you find them in the Self Help section. Yeah. But I hate that term. For some reason. I don't know why I'm like that, I mean, they are very helpful to me. But it isn't every book, but um, yeah, so I, but I'm in this, like, the human condition is just fascinating to me totally. And it's so complex, but at the same time, so simple. Yep. That is automatically. It's just something that's just fun to study. And, you know, so

Karl 55:33

you know, I mean, again, it's like, I can't imagine. I don't know, reading nonfiction. I used to read nonfiction.

Athan 55:43

You mean fiction? Yes. I used to read fiction. Yeah. Before but like the past few years. I've just like, kind of left fiction all together. And like, I'm just totally obsessed with nonfiction just like hacking human nature. Like yeah, thing. Yeah. But even the fiction I read, I bounce back and forth a little bit like I probably read 90% of this nonfiction, but I'll jump, I'll sprinkle in some fiction, and even the fiction I like to read is still kind of an artistic take on the same shit. Sure. You know, like I recently reread again. The long walk, which Stephen King wrote when he's writing as Richard Bachman. Uh huh. And all it is is literally a book about these guys who go on this long walk. And there's a lot behind it that the details were it's really just about human relationships. Right. You know, and yeah, you're just analyzing Yeah, yeah. And it's his own kind of aha, dark take on that. But it's super cool. I read a ton too. But the same thing as you. I have a part of my morning practice reading.

Karl 56:46

And I and I, I don't know, I just, I knew it is a really great book. I think there's two of them. Do you? Are you familiar with them? No. So the moth is? Gosh, it was a kind of a spoken word concept where people would get on stage and tell stories. Okay, right. Like your stories. Yeah. And so you had to submit your story, and they would accept you. And then they would help you sort of develop your story. And then they would sort of travel around the country. And these people get on stage and just tell them like a 10 minute story. And it was great. And it was all about storytelling.

The Beauty of Short Stories

Karl 57:28

Yeah. What it was, this thing you can only see live well, they've released two books a few years back. And again, it's just short stories. It's like little books, but it's like, you know, 25 short stories. And, you know, I never cried so much fucking reading, like, short stories. Yeah, because they're so concise and simple. And, and you can tell that they're all and I think the foreword actually sets it up like, these were told live. But we've actually worked with these storytellers to help compose these stories to read well on the page. And like, God, man, like some of them are only like three pages long. And they're just, like, thick. Yeah, I mean, like, just good math. So what I try to do is list these in the notes of every episode, so. So for anyone who's listening, we'll put them in the notes, what you were talking about, it's kind of fiction, right? There's like stories that you're eating. But it's, they're all real. And it's just, it's all about human experience. And some are funny, and some are heart wrenching. And it's just, I, I've incurred, like, every, that's the thing about books anyway, it's like, they're written by humans. So even books that are like,

Athan 58:32

about anything and finances, right? It's still a human writing that and you get some introspection into you, you get some insight, I should say into, like, who they are, and like the human brain and the human experience and all that stuff. And so it's just another form of like, I love visual art. But the written form is also just like something I really appreciate so well, in you know, you know, we could probably sit here all day and talk which we were long overdue for, for, for catching up like this, but um, was there anything you thought I was going to ask you about that? I did. Like, you know, if you were sometimes kind of in their head, they go, he's definitely gonna ask me about this thing. Or was there anything that you like? Were you preparing yourself to talk about something that we didn't talk about? No, man. I kind of expected this is what I kind of expected. Okay. Yeah. That was I don't know that. I don't know that there was anything that I'm like, I can't believe he didn't ask me about that. Yeah. Well, for the audience, you know, I highly recommend you check out the gold lunchbox on Instagram, if you want to see some amazing things that will blow your mind. Karl's Instagram is just you'll get a little bit of an insight to the talent but also to the real skill that he has. So check that out. Where else Can they find that the best place to kind of your website is calm? Yeah, gold lunchbox calm. Also, you'll see. I do do your website still I remember back in the day you were doing your own website. Yeah. So like the level of, you'll get an idea what he was talking about earlier about, like owning and controlling the details like through that website. So go check that out. But man, I just want to thank you so much. Like just being someone who's really special in my life, you've, you've been a running thread of someone who I just have, like really care about a lot. And I just really respect what you're doing and how you approach life. And so thank you for being on the show. And, and I know everybody's gonna get a lot from you, ma'am. Damn, man. I appreciate this. This is great. I love what you're doing. Thank you. It's, uh, we don't hang out enough. No, we don't. But now I know we hang out the right amount of that, you know? Hide under rocks. So, all right, well, that's a wrap. Have a good night, everybody. All right. I'm so grateful that you joined us for this episode of doing the work podcast. Providing you with value is why I do this and I hope you got something out of this episode that you can put into action into your life. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, please share this episode with your friends and family who are looking to level up in life. Sign up for our email list at To receive special offers and discounts from our sponsors. subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and anywhere podcasts are hosted. Thanks again for joining the word podcast. And we'll see you in the next episode.

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