Chad Rea - Ideas too Good to Waste

If there was an all-star game for creative superstars, Chad Rea would be in the starting lineup for his successes.  Whether it’s working as a writer, creative director, career and business coach, or drummer – Chad can be summed up as a creative problem solver.  He has touched many projects including his own brand innovation and consulting collective – 86 the onions; Project Hello, a homeless philanthropy initiative; and ‘Create Your Happy‘ where he doubles as a career and business coach.  These days, he goes by social brand innovator and entrepreneur.  His latest masterpiece is Ecopop, a free idea exchange that promotes brand innovations and business opportunities.  We caught up with Chad to discuss why some ideas are too good to waste.

While getting his own ideas off the ground, Chad took the road less traveled when he launched 86 the onions.  “While many ad agencies are great at building brands for others, they are crap at building their own brand. When I set out to change the ad agency blueprint by starting my own shop, I started with an unconventional agency name: 86 the onions.  Our website was never an online brochure for marketing directors. Instead, it was an interactive playground for young adults that garnered 8,000 hits a day. Our manifesto was a coloring book. Our newsletter was disguised as a pop culture trade magazine. Our business cards, moist towelettes. Our calling card, a raw onion–at least until that idea backfired. (Someone let it sit way too long in the sun.)  We even sent an intern from our LA office to Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle, on his bicycle, for a cup of coffee. The list goes on.”

And rather than using words to describe his vision to potential clients, Chad proved his creative chops by making his own ideas happen.  He explains, “We executed a ton of our own initiatives that were not only creative outlets, but an opportunity for us to prove our innovation unlike any other agency could. Most importantly, we informed people about what we were up to every chance we could get. PR was never an option for us. Everything we created–be it for our clients or our brand, had to be newsworthy.”

These days, I tend to work when I am most productive–not when the rest of the working world thinks I should work.

When it comes to organization and time management, Chad manages himself by setting goals and being results-driven.  “Even though I no longer have employees to manage, I still need to manage myself. These days, I tend to work when I am most productive–not when the rest of the working world thinks I should work. However, I still do weekly status reports and make use of a giant white board in my office. I’ve never met a creative person that likes to fill out stats, but if you tailor them to suit your personality and needs, they really do help. For me, it’s not just a to-do list, but a timeline of measurable results that includes things like what has been done, what needs to be done, and what my intentions are. Intentionality is key. After all, if you don’t know what you want to get out of something, how do you know what to ask for or when you’ve actually achieved it?”

As someone that coaches creative professionals, Chad shares his insights for making ideas happen.

  • You’re ready already.

    Nobody knows what they hell they are doing. There is no instruction manual for exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it. It hasn’t been written yet. And only you can write it. Now’s the time to do it. Stop waiting to live your dream.

  • Listen to your gut and make up your own mind.

    Do your research, lots of it, but just because you can’t find any believers or proven success stories doesn’t mean you’re not the one to make it successful.

  • Be less afraid of failure.

    There’s no doubt that fear is a good motivator, but failing is inevitable. And thank God. It’s how you learn and grow. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. You can always say you tried which is more than most people.

  • Don’t put all your happiness into one basket.

    It’s a lot easier to deal with the constant breakdowns and breakthroughs if you have more than one source of happiness.

These days, Chad Rea strives to solve the world’s leading problems through Ecopop.  “My mission with ecopop is to use my creative problem solving talents, pop culture sensibilities, proven intuition, and integrated marketing and new media prowess to solve problems that matter to the world and ensure that constructive brands have the creative tools necessary to compete with leading mainstream brands. And to do this is a way that entertains and embraces people through pop culture.”

For Chad, the measure of his influence begins at home.  “Going to Texas and seeing my family still driving SUVs, using paper plates, and filling up their spare fridge with 12-ounce water bottles also motivates me. My family is middle America. If I can get through to them and change the way they think about the world, I feel like I can get through to anyone. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.”

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