Creativity guru is next Graham Executive in Residence
Joey Reiman, founder and CEO of BrightHouse, a marketing and creative consulting firm, will be the Graham Executive in Residence for 2012. He will be in Sewanee April 9-10 and will deliver a public lecture Tuesday, April 10, at 4:30 p.m. The Graham residencies are a program of the Babson Center for Global Commerce.
Reiman’s lecture is titled “The Story of Purpose: A New Chapter for Business And Life.”
BrightHouse’s client list includes Coca-Cola, Rubbermaid, Procter & Gamble, and Estee Lauder. BrightHouse was a partner with the university last year in Sewanee’s 10% tuition-reduction announcement.
Cathy Carlisi, C’89, BrightHouse’s chief creative officer, will also be on campus. Carlisi has won numerous awards for her work in advertising and is a published poet and established painter. She and Reiman will each teach classes and advise students on career paths.
Reiman, a veteran advertising executive, ditched his successful traditional advertising agency in 1995 to start Atlanta-based BrightHouse, which sells its consulting services rather than relying on revenues from advertising placement. Reiman’s argument for the shift was that advertising agencies essentially give their ideas away for free.
In 2006, he told an interviewer for “Smart Money” magazine that the advertising business “is not based on creativity or innovation or visioning. The model itself, the notion of advertising, was to sell space, then create the creativity for free. As a result, the world is now ad rich and idea poor.”
He proposed a different way of doing business: his firm would be paid for developing ideas, a process he calls “ideation.” This, he acknowledges, is essentially being paid to sit around and think, a process he has said can be as slow as molasses.
Too many businesses don’t allow time for their employees to think, he says. “The five last bastions of thinking are the car, the john, the shower, the church or synagogue, and the gym,” Reiman told “Inc.” magazine in 2008.
He has been successful at convincing companies that paying BrightHouse for its staff to cogitate is worth the money. The firm’s website includes testimonials by executives from businesses as diverse as Home Depot, MetLife, Red Lobster, and McDonald’s USA.
BrightHouse practices what Reiman preaches. The 2008 “Inc.” story cited BrightHouse for giving employees plenty of vacation time, regular days when they are encouraged to leave the office to reflect, and a day each year when all employees are urged to do something new (like go skydiving or start a novel). Reiman told “Inc.” he believes time for unstructured thinking is just as important to successful projects as is time meeting with clients.
Reiman also believes in looking outside the company for perspective: among those whom BrightHouse has tapped as consultants are the oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic (Robert Ballard), and Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon.
A big part of the BrightHouse gospel is the need for companies to become “purpose-driven.” To carve out a distinctive identity – an important goal in a marketplace full of competitive firms chasing after consumers – Reiman and BrightHouse argue that having a clear understanding of corporate purpose is essential. “Purpose is your organization's distinct reason for being, and the positive impact you seek to make in the world. The soul of an organization and its purpose lie at its origins.”
The Graham Executives in Residence at the Babson Center are made possible by a gift from Diane and Henry H. Graham Jr., of Jacksonville, Fla.