The Possibility Mindset Podcast

#26 The Power of Purpose with Clifton Alexander

April 15, 2024 Devin Henderson Season 1 Episode 26
#26 The Power of Purpose with Clifton Alexander
The Possibility Mindset Podcast
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The Possibility Mindset Podcast
#26 The Power of Purpose with Clifton Alexander
Apr 15, 2024 Season 1 Episode 26
Devin Henderson

Devin sits down with Clifton Alexander, his longtime friend turned award-winning founder of REACTOR Design. Tune in to this bold new episode as they discuss the pivotal moments that took him from SoCal mountain boy to a mainstay of Kansas City's vibrant creative community. It's packed with powerful takeaways about finding your purpose, why - even in the digital age - relationships still matter, and the unapologetic philosophy that made it all possible.
__________________________________________________________
 
Guest website: https://www.reactor.design
MUDWTR: https://www.mudwtr.com/devin

For the full experience, check us out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@DevinHendersonSpeaker 

Support the Show.

Download and listen to The Possibility Mindset Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
__________________________________________________________

Get social with Devin:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/DevinHendersonSpeaker/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/devinhendersonspeaker/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@devinhendersonspeaker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DevinHendersonSpeaker
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HendersonSpeaks

Book Devin as your Keynote Speaker: https://devinhenderson.com/contact/
Learn more: http://devinhenderson.com
Email: info@DevinHenderson.com
___________________________________________________________

Would you or someone you know make a great guest? Interested in sponsorship opportunities? We want to hear from you!
Email our Producer: Ashleigh@DevinHenderson.com
___________________________________________________________

A special thanks to our sponsor, Eggtc. Shawnee: ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Devin sits down with Clifton Alexander, his longtime friend turned award-winning founder of REACTOR Design. Tune in to this bold new episode as they discuss the pivotal moments that took him from SoCal mountain boy to a mainstay of Kansas City's vibrant creative community. It's packed with powerful takeaways about finding your purpose, why - even in the digital age - relationships still matter, and the unapologetic philosophy that made it all possible.
__________________________________________________________
 
Guest website: https://www.reactor.design
MUDWTR: https://www.mudwtr.com/devin

For the full experience, check us out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@DevinHendersonSpeaker 

Support the Show.

Download and listen to The Possibility Mindset Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
__________________________________________________________

Get social with Devin:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/DevinHendersonSpeaker/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/devinhendersonspeaker/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@devinhendersonspeaker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DevinHendersonSpeaker
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HendersonSpeaks

Book Devin as your Keynote Speaker: https://devinhenderson.com/contact/
Learn more: http://devinhenderson.com
Email: info@DevinHenderson.com
___________________________________________________________

Would you or someone you know make a great guest? Interested in sponsorship opportunities? We want to hear from you!
Email our Producer: Ashleigh@DevinHenderson.com
___________________________________________________________

A special thanks to our sponsor, Eggtc. Shawnee: ...

Speaker 1:

Hey, what's up everybody. Welcome to the possibility mindset podcast. I'm Devon Henderson, I am your host and I believe that something greater is always possible for you. I really do believe it. It's not just a catchphrase, it's something greater is always possible. I love that it's true for you. Clifton, my man. We're going to introduce him here in just one second. We've been friends for a long time. So we got a little catch enough to do.

Speaker 1:

This is going to be a fun one, man, I'm excited. It's always fun to have someone from your past on the podcast. It brings this old soul feeling to the new podcast, if that makes any kind of sense. Let's start off by thanking our sponsor, egcedra Shani, for providing us drinks this morning. You got some drinks Diet Coke.

Speaker 1:

How's the diet? I think that's the first time someone got a soda diet Coke in here. Hi, Sonia. Yeah, we started recording without you, Sonia. Sorry, but we're good. I'm more like a celebrity these days because Zach sets up, so I pop in at the last second I got important things going on.

Speaker 1:

That's right. That's right. So, anyway, that's off. Cam that Sonia over there. She's rocking it as usual. The regular listeners know Sonia, she's kind of becoming like a character. They don't see your face, but one day we're going to get you on here. We'll get Zach on here too. Awesome. So, speaking of etc. I said etc in pop. Sonia, she was waiting for it. Thank you for that. Also, watch the full experience on YouTube, Subscribe, like, share it so we can extend our impact and show other people how to never stop asking the question. What else is possible? Also, if you're listening on Apple iTunes, just give us a rating. Give us a five star rating. Is it presumptuous Don't even know if that's the word to ask for a five star.

Speaker 2:

You might think so, but everybody does it.

Speaker 1:

Everybody does it.

Speaker 2:

I want to be like everybody. I don't want to be like me. Everybody does it. Five star review.

Speaker 1:

Leave us a comment. So anyway, that's it. Well, one more thing before we introduce Clifton. Is I just exciting announcement? I'm 117 days off coffee, that's amazing.

Speaker 1:

It's the longest I've gone without. Yeah, yeah, thank you, sonia, you're excited for me too. So 117 days, I was telling you. I kind of feel like a vegetarian now, in the sense that to me coffee is like the meat it used to be the meat of my morning drinks. Right, it's that rich, bold flavor that's gone. Now it's more just mushrooms. Green tea, yeah, and even though coffee is technically comes from a plant, it feels more meaty in nature.

Speaker 2:

So anyway.

Speaker 1:

I just want to let you all know about mudwater. You've heard me talk about it several times. Go to mudwatercom slash Devon. That's mud, and then water is WTR because they're artsycom slash Devon. You get less the amount of caffeine. You get all kinds of amazing nutrients mushrooms, cacao, turmeric. That's going to like boost your immunity, help your focus and not give you that afternoon crash. So just give it a try, See what you think. Mudwatercom slash Devon. We will link to that in the show notes. And now it is time to introduce my good friend Clifton Alexander.

Speaker 2:

I'm like I'm like actually kind of giddy man. I'm so excited to have you here. I love seeing you. I love seeing you.

Speaker 1:

Like just look at his face, look at the orange glasses. It's like how can you not be happy? Are we going to call it a Mohawk, or a Mollet.

Speaker 2:

What's happening? It's like that. Yeah, I don't know what it is.

Speaker 1:

I know I'm making a change too.

Speaker 2:

I've kind of just gone with more of a flow. I'm just like you know. It's gotten big. That's a great term for it.

Speaker 1:

And I don't even know what you call it these days either. So what you got going on there, I don't know. A Mollet flow 80s Bond Joby look A flow. I'm going for the Patrick Swayze, you don't know if I'm going to have quite the body for it.

Speaker 2:

But you're getting there, but I love it. I love it.

Speaker 1:

Now I just need to get like the Chip and Dale body and go for it Right and go all in.

Speaker 2:

It might be the Chris. Farley version of the Chip and Dale body, but you know the dad bod, all right man.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so Clifton is a mountain boy Originally from SoCal, southern California. Clifton came to the Midwest because who wouldn't want to go from California?

Speaker 2:

to the Midwest.

Speaker 1:

I mean, that's a no brainer hey he came here to attend the esteemed Kansas City Art Institute and so, after working for several local agencies and creative roles, he founded I must have found founded Reactor Design. So he has appeared on national television, been featured in countless publications and guided the studio to more than 200 design awards.

Speaker 2:

Let me just pause and say wow, that's what I'm glad. Relations man, that's really cool. That's really cool.

Speaker 1:

Thanks. His philosophy that there's no point in designing something unless it's awesome permeates the soul of Reactor and helps the drive to achieve better results for clients. Clifton was honored as a rising star by KC Business Magazine. Now you're just a star.

Speaker 2:

Right, it was a while ago, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So that was by the business magazine and the firm was named one of the Kansas City's top 25 small businesses from thinking bigger business media.

Speaker 2:

You just like all over the media space man that's great.

Speaker 1:

So, although he prefers the much warmer and more consistent weather that SoCal offers I know you're talking about it it's beautiful here today in Kansas City. It is nice, I will say they're going to listen to this later, but it's like March, early March, and it's like amazing already.

Speaker 1:

So it's been a weird winner. Anyway, not that no tangents today Devin no tangents. He and his wife Holly have chosen to remain in Kansas City because of, not the weather but the vibrant creative community and the fact that it's an amazing place to raise their three awesome kids. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome with me Clifton Alexander. Thank you, appreciate it, thanks I don't know if we sometimes we need to add the cheesy applause and their Zach just for fun so man, great to have you here.

Speaker 2:

It's good to see you. Yeah, it's great to see you too. It's good to see you. We go back. We go way back.

Speaker 1:

Should we share some like origin story or how we?

Speaker 2:

Okay, so I was telling you this earlier. I have a fun memory of you.

Speaker 2:

Okay, let's have it Whenever anybody says oh, you know Devin Henderson, I go.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I know Devin.

Speaker 2:

In fact, back in college days we didn't go to the same college but we were involved in some of the same groups, youth groups or whatever they're called yeah, I'm sorry, we were on a I don't know.

Speaker 2:

We were going to a retreat or something on a big van with a bunch of kids on it, okay, and Devin, over here, even back at the right pole age of I don't know 19 or something, was in the back of the van doing card tricks for the kids all the way down from wherever, hours, hours, card tricks for kids in the back of the van on the way to a summer treat or whatever. And so I tell that story because I love the fact that you've been performing for people since you were a teenager I don't even, I don't even know what it started before then yeah, and that has manifested itself into your life's work, your career, maybe a book, all those sorts of things, and to me that's a really cool piece of the story that I love to tell people if they ask me if I know you and I go. Oh, I know him.

Speaker 2:

All the way from back in the day of doing card tricks in the back of a van at the age of like 19.

Speaker 1:

Man, I appreciate that story and it honestly makes me think of you, because I was asking you, where did the orange thing come from? Cause orange is part of, always been part of your brand. And you just said as a kid I was like, was it your favorite color as a kid? And you just said you liked bright colors. So it makes me think I was doing this as a kid. I started when I was 11. Well, you've always been into art. You came to the art institutes growing into what you are. So could you, for you, take us back to where this whole design art thing started, as a kid even?

Speaker 2:

Maybe. Well, and honestly, I wasn't always into art, not until basically high school, and so I was a sports kid. I played baseball and football and basketball and everything you could imagine.

Speaker 1:

I was a sports kid.

Speaker 2:

And there was in my town where I lived, a little tiny town there just happened to be this world class art high school and when I was getting out of town, I had a wild California the little I had a wild. It's a little tiny town in the mountains in California.

Speaker 1:

If you're from I'd, a wild California, you've got a comic. Yeah, let us know. Let us know yeah.

Speaker 2:

Or if you know where it is, it's up in the mountains. A lot of people went to summer camp up there and some other things like that.

Speaker 1:

You grew up in like paradise.

Speaker 2:

Basically, it was incredible, incredible, yeah Mountain biking and rock climbing and then all the sports and the other sports, and that's what I did as a kid. That's all. That was my entire identity. And I had the opportunity to go to the arts high school. There's there's a whole story behind that I won't go into, but I had an opportunity to go there and at the time I said, 100% no, like I'm not an artist, I'm like I want, I want sport. They don't have sports there. I didn't barely have PE. Okay Right, so why would I go to school there? I want to play sports, I want to do this. And my mom and her infinite sense of wisdom, which parents tend to have about their kids, she said you have to try this. You're a, you're a good kid. I know the sports is a thing, but maybe you're destined to be an artist. I was like no way.

Speaker 1:

I mean, did she see something like did you draw pictures? Yeah, you didn't. I'm not, but I'm not a drawer.

Speaker 2:

I'm not a drawer, but she saw some kind of creative. I still can't draw to this day Thinking something.

Speaker 2:

There's something about it that she saw. I think there's also a thought process of saying you have an opportunity to go to one of the top private art high schools in the entire world and it just happens to be in our town. You're able to go there for this, for this other weird reason. But she's like why don't you just try it one semester If you hate it and you're just like there's no way I'll ever go back there. I don't have to, you can go to the public high school. You're good, no problem, just try it.

Speaker 1:

And does that mean sports would have been like? I know you said they didn't have sports, but we could you still do rec leagues or club or anything, or were you just? No, I mean, there's nothing basically now.

Speaker 2:

There might have been some. I don't. I think that even the rec league in town was not high school Like.

Speaker 1:

I think it kind of just stopped I can't. Was it hard to let go of, you know, because sometimes we have to let go of something to move to something, was that? So that would be a hard moment.

Speaker 2:

I don't. Okay, which is really interesting to me, and nobody's ever asked me that question, because what happened was I went there actually starting in eighth grade not ninth, but in eighth grade and I loved it. I fell in love with it.

Speaker 1:

Wow, I got chills for what I know. I really did.

Speaker 2:

I really did I think that's such a creativity. And you know what? I don't think I ever missed sports after that.

Speaker 1:

And so there's an interesting question.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah is that that that was honestly probably what I was meant to be and to do Right Now. I still did things like mountain biking and rock climbing, some of the stuff, the individual things and I raced mountain bikes and I did a lot of stuff and I was so active and all that. But I didn't miss the team sports anymore. It just kind of like faded away like so quickly because I think I was, I was, I found something that was my true passion or calling.

Speaker 1:

I thought sports was it, but it really wasn't. What did you love about it? You said you loved it. What explain that?

Speaker 2:

I don't even know if I know the answer to it. It just felt right to me, and maybe it was just the fact of creating every single day or being creative in an environment. And, like I said earlier, I can't draw.

Speaker 2:

I still can draw to this day but I love making things and I love creating things and thinking big thoughts and doing all those sorts of things, and so that is a huge part of being an identity in art school is you're just there to learn and to create and build and to do whatever, and the school that I was in just was so great about allowing me to focus on things like ceramics and photography and sculpture and some of the things that I liked more than drawing. I didn't have to do a lot of drawing and painting and things like that. I was able to focus on some of the things that I liked the most, which are these more dimensional forms of art and I just absolutely loved it and I thrived there.

Speaker 2:

I did really well, ended up going there from eighth grade all the way through senior and high school, and I have friends from literally all over the world because of it. It was a boarding school and kids would literally come from all over the world to study art, music, dance, theater. It was a very, very special place.

Speaker 1:

So what did they think when they thought you didn't have to travel to get here? Like I know, I was a day.

Speaker 2:

I was a day soon. Yes, I lived at home. I was a day student. There's a small percentage of the population that lives at home and that's from town or whatever.

Speaker 1:

And there wasn't like a stigma on you guys, for like these guys are from Okay All right, okay, no stigma.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, nice, it was just an awesome experience.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think what's awesome about just like letting your creativity breathe? You know it's like sometimes we think a creative person art, you know, music it's got to be something specific. But creativity lends itself to all kinds of things in the world and then even in the corporate environment you know, because my daughter, my oldest daughter.

Speaker 1:

I see the creative juice in her and most of my kids. I told my oldest she's like what do you think I should be? I was like you're going to be in some kind of design. I don't know what that means, but you're going to design something. You know, whether it's ideas, concepts, you know even like in relationship. There's like creativity for who to meet with, how strategic ways to connect with people. So I just think it's awesome. That sounds like that school is more just like. Just let your creativity breathe and you know, the sky is the limit.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's very rigorous. There's again people pay a lot of money and they come from all over the world for the school, so it's very rigorous. But it's also, yeah, it is an art school and it is designed to get people out of their comfort zone and to think creatively and to have a different kind of a mindset.

Speaker 1:

Did you guys get a local discount? I'm fixated on this whole thing, Well. So how crazy it is that this school is right in the wild.

Speaker 2:

To this day is one of the most expensive schools in the entire country for high school, but I happened to go there for basically almost free. My mom worked at the school, or she got a job at the school. The first year I got to go there, though, was really all about the school. I was going to closed its doors. It was like an 80 year old school just closed in the middle of the year, and they said and this other school said we'll, we'll accept all the day students for this semester, and then after that you can figure out what you want. So I had the chance to go there, and then my mom got a job there, and me and my brother both actually graduated from there too.

Speaker 1:

So I'm loving this. See, these are the questions like I think if we just got coffee, I probably wouldn't ask these kinds of questions but I, but I really. I'm just like what, the journey so? So take me from there Like what, what's then? So you're in this school you love, you're finding out what kind of your potential you have. Then what?

Speaker 2:

So then I I said, okay, well, now it's time to figure out college. I knew at that moment that I was likely to go to an arts college as well, because I I figured that's what I knew. That would be good.

Speaker 1:

But I didn't want for you. Yeah, right, it's working for me, right.

Speaker 2:

But I knew that I I knew that I didn't want a career making art like ceramics or photography. I felt like that would just be a difficult path, that it would be hard to make a lot of money, It'd be a grind, it would just be something that was difficult. But I liked the idea of design and from a very young age I think even in my even maybe pre-art school days I had loved the idea of creating logos for companies. Like that was something that just that just resonated with me as this idea of saying can I take a company and name and create something that's an identity for them, and is that a creative profession? And absolutely it is a creative profession. And so I applied to some different art schools that also had design, Design programs, and so that's how I end up here in Kansas City.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I was I came back in the day, art schools from all over the country would travel to other high schools, and so I was recruited, essentially from California to Kansas City Art Institute.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

And so on my 18th birthday, literally, I got on a plane. For like the second time in my entire life. I got on an airplane and I flew to Kansas City by myself, with bags full of luggage yeah, my entire life and I'd never been here before. I didn't know where I was going. The school at the time didn't even have a place for me to stay and they were just like just get here and we'll figure it out. And I was like, okay, and it was my 18th birthday. It was the first day I arrived here in Kansas City.

Speaker 1:

How did that feel?

Speaker 2:

It felt so scary you were terrified oh dude so, but excited, right so, terrified but excited. I didn't even know how I was going to get from the airport to the school. Oh my goodness, this was pre. There was no Uber right, yeah. And so it was just okay. They were like, maybe there's a shuttle to get you the Marriott, which is two blocks away, and so I just go go the Marriott, and then I'm walking down the street with all my luggage and I just show up on campus and I'm like I'm here and they're like you know.

Speaker 2:

So it was just a weird, weird, weird experience.

Speaker 1:

So did you stay in the hotel for a while?

Speaker 2:

No, they basically the day before I left, they said we're not sure if we're going to have a dorm room for you yet, but just get here, we'll find a couch for you to crash on. We'll figure it out. And the day that I got there the orientation day one of the dorm rooms opened up and I ended up getting a spot in the dorm and yeah, so it worked out. Everything worked out.

Speaker 2:

But it was just such a weird part of my life and experience, and I hadn't even really traveled that much up to that point. It was just me in my bag, no cell phones, of course, and all my luggage, just walking down the street.

Speaker 1:

Imagine no cell phones. Imagine like. That's mind blowing Even to me now even though I was lived in that time, it's like no cell phones. How do you make that work? You know, you carry coins to use pay phones and you go in places.

Speaker 2:

Can I use your phone?

Speaker 1:

You know they look at you like I guess you know that's slid across the counter to you. And you're at the front desk of a restaurant, calling you know your mom or your. So how hard is it to get into the Kansas City Art Institute? I mean, what was you?

Speaker 2:

know they wanted you.

Speaker 1:

They're like get here, we're going to find a way to make this work. Clifton, we saw something in what your application process that made us want you.

Speaker 2:

I think going to the school I went to helped a lot because I think they figure anyone from that school is going to thrive at this school. So I think that helps a lot. But they knew I wanted to go into design. But they were looking at ceramics and photography because that was the only work that I had. I'd never designed anything in my life at that point. But it is, as far as I know and understand, it's a decently rarest process to apply and to be accepted, and so that was yeah. So I ended up making it and here I am.

Speaker 1:

And here people from Kansas City probably applying like crazy. And here comes in this walk right in.

Speaker 2:

I just walked right in From a small town in the mountain, california.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Well, congratulations on that. That's a huge that was cool I think like winds like that are so big at the time that they just get smaller and smaller as we get older. But, if you ever reflect back on that and think, dang, how awesome is that that you know what I mean, Like that's a big win.

Speaker 2:

That's a really good point because I think you're right, Like I don't really think about that story that much anymore. But if I really do think about the pivotal piece of part of my life, that eighth grade year when I was kind of not forced but pushed into art essentially, and then that graduation year and coming here for the first time, just all of the difficulties surrounding those things and the fact that I did it and made it Like that is pretty pivotal moment in my life.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

And the fact that it happened is like oh, I can't forget about that. That's part of the story and how I got here today and what I'm doing right now.

Speaker 1:

Well, with a possibility mindset, it makes it so much easier to ask what else is possible when you reflect back and you count your blessings and think, man, if that was possible, think about how impossible that felt at the time. What else is possible now? You know, like what's your next Kansas City Art Institute, even though you've come so far.

Speaker 2:

What else is possible?

Speaker 1:

for Clifton right now. You know so I think that's one of the things that I don't do it enough journal and think about, man, what big wins that I have today. You know, I've heard it said it's good to write down your three wins you had for the day and the three big wins you want to have tomorrow and just keep those possibilities going. You know so your story is just possibilities all over the place. So, what was college like? How long were you there? Tell me about that.

Speaker 2:

Typical four years lived in the dorm, a couple years lived out of the dorm. The college was very rigorous in the sense that we were working all the time, all the time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it'd be like an architect equivalent, like in terms of time put in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're putting in tons and tons of time. But the thing about art is and this happens to this day even with client work is you don't know how long something's going to take. There is no formula. You cannot sit there and say this logo design for this client is going to take this amount of time, this piece of artwork is going to take this amount of time. You start getting into it and you tweak and iterate, and tweak and iterate and you don't know how long it's going to take. And sometimes it takes a really long time, and so we would be working all the time. Me and the folks in my studio in our design school were just always there. If we weren't in academic classes, we were in the studio, sometimes all night, all the time.

Speaker 1:

I was going to say how many all-night hours do you think you've pulled in?

Speaker 2:

four years, so many, so many, and we spent so much time together in the school during class but then after hours, yeah, from six, seven o'clock at night all the way until midnight almost every night, just working on projects together. Yeah, and it was such a cool experience in so many different ways. Right, a lot of great experience, but that was what college life was about. But we had this one teacher. There were two different teachers in our and I love telling this story too. There's two different teachers in our design school and half the students had one teacher and half the students had the other teacher. Literally probably a third to a half of the students in my group with my one teacher couldn't handle the teacher. She was too hard. Wow, she was a hard and she expected a lot like she expected so much and she was very, she was brutal in a lot of ways, and so literally half those kids transferred out and went to the other you can do that now.

Speaker 2:

I guess right, yeah, and both teachers were great. I didn't have any issues of both teachers. Both teachers were great, but she was just really, really, really hard and me and a small core group of teach of kids stuck with this teacher and you know what? We were better for it, because the things that we learned from her I don't think we would have learned if we had had stepped back from that and said let's take the little bit easier path. We ended up, we ended up just bonding so well together as a group, but we also learned a lot about work ethic and and how to overcome Adversity and how to, how to deal with someone who is really difficult.

Speaker 2:

At the end of the day, she was not a difficult person, she was an incredible person. Yeah, she expected a lot, and when we gave her a lot, she was incredible, and so that was the part of it that was that I loved was Was we became very close with her, the teacher, because we were putting in the work that she was expecting, and when she would get Hard or when she would get mean, so to speak, was when students weren't putting in the work. Yeah, and that was the biggest piece for me was learning how to how to deal with that sort of thing and learning how to go around it and how to do what's needed in, or to succeed in, that environment right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah and I think that me and the this the group that were part of that ended up Ultimately in a better place, because wow and again, I don't speak bad about anything because I think the other students incredible, I know all of them.

Speaker 2:

We're all doing great things today, yeah, but for me at that time that was what I needed, right, and me and that small group, it's well, maybe it's more in that sense. Okay, it was different and it was what we needed. Our small group and the other group needed something different. Everybody needs something different.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that's that's crazy that yeah. And did you have that awareness at the time where you're like this is hard, she's good, like I see the goodness I'm gonna see? You knew you had the witness at the time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we knew how to. We knew how to get on Her good side so to speak, and it wasn't just about doing the work.

Speaker 2:

It was about it wasn't like she was just like you can get on my good side by just doing more work. I mean that was part of it. But it was also listening and understanding how she worked and kind of, yeah, just real understanding how she worked right and learning, learning her intricacies and what she was looking for right was part of that too. Yeah, and I think we knew at the time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, what a cool life lesson that you're able to adapt to. This person expects this yeah but at least the expectations are clear.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you're a to.

Speaker 1:

that's one thing Brad talked about last week. Brad Ellis, our friend, he's like I love knowing what people Expect and so that teacher had those expectations so you could not only know the expectation but know you adapt to that and realize that the parts that are hard with this teacher, it's gonna make me stronger, it's gonna make me better.

Speaker 2:

I love that. You knew that at such a young age and that's crazy.

Speaker 1:

So so yeah. So then from there you know you go through college and you're you're working with now. Are you with kind of like the same I you say you're working on a project and a project what takes months or a semester. Yeah, so you're working the same small core group on this big project long term.

Speaker 2:

We each had our own individual versions of projects, but we had the same Task or the same Directive, I see, and we all individually. There were some group projects that you worked on, or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay, okay, gotcha. And so that will continue throughout okay, so four years of art school. You make it through any other significant moments in that?

Speaker 2:

no, I don't think, I don't think anything super significant this art school.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was awesome design school. Yeah, you graduated before you start a reactor.

Speaker 2:

There was maybe a couple other got a couple of jobs in in industry. Yeah, yeah, the the one, one of the jobs I had was with a really big ad agency here in town. It was, it was a good job. It wasn't the job I wanted, but it was one of those scenarios where I had to just kind of take a job to get in, to get my foot in the door. Sure, a lot of the, a lot of the younger folks today Want to come out of college and go right into the career that they want, or they want to jump right into being the lead Person at some agency or whatever, and I have to remind them a lot.

Speaker 2:

I have to say you know, it's okay to start somewhere else, it's okay to start in a position that's lower or being low on the totem pole, to start and work your way up. Yeah, because that's what. That's what we have to do in life a lot of ways yeah and so I don't.

Speaker 2:

I don't love it when, when students come right out of high, out of college, and expect to be put in a leadership position at any kind of job, right. And so I started at the very low end of the totem pole and one of the things that I noticed about the big agency life was there was a lot of what is like the telephone game kind of scenario. So I'm, I'm working on a design and then I'm giving it to a person who's then transferring it to this person, and then they're presenting it to the client, and then the client says the client says, okay, I don't like this, this, this, and then it goes to this person and then back to this person, they're back to me and then I say, well, but did you ask him this or did you know? I was like I was so low on the totem pole, I was never in a client meeting, none of that kind of stuff, okay.

Speaker 2:

And I, I, I, I hated that environment. Yes, yes, like there is nothing. That is the way a very large agency has to function, because there's so much moving parts that they have to have some process around things.

Speaker 1:

Well, you're so relational I bet you were just dying to talk to the client.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it was killing me, can I just?

Speaker 1:

go meet with them.

Speaker 2:

It was killing me yeah yeah, and that was the thing it was. I understand how a large agency has to work and I get that right, but that was not for me. I couldn't handle it. And then I was passed up for a promotion opportunity. I was like I'm out of here, so I'm like I can't handle this anymore, right, and so I went to work for a different firm and had a great experience, had a lot more, a little more direct client information. I was still pretty low in the tone, but I had some decent client interaction.

Speaker 1:

And was this just like an extremely humbling experience coming from your art background to bottom it. Yeah, even like you said, you know, that's kind of maybe what you were expecting.

Speaker 2:

I wasn't even, yeah, I wasn't even really designing that much. A lot of what I was doing was just production work, I see. But I was okay with that. I was like I'm fine with that. This is a way to get into the industry, it's a way to hone my skills, it's a way to do all these sorts of things to get to where I need to go.

Speaker 1:

That's fine Awesome.

Speaker 2:

Cool. And so then I worked for this other firm and then this firm. At some point I love the job, it was a fine job, love the people I was working with and then the company a large company they decided to eliminate the entire department that I was in, so it was just a. They said we're an architecture firm, we don't really need to have design, graphic design, in-house anymore. It doesn't make sense. And so we're eliminating your entire department. And so I was like okay.

Speaker 1:

I'm surprised to hear that an architecture firm had graphic designers in the first place.

Speaker 2:

And, to be honest with you, a lot still due to this day. So it's a it's a fairly standard practice and it's not as much marketing type of graphic design, it's more signage and wayfinding and identity. Come on, hey, come on, you're good, you're good man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, whatever, we're just chill bro you can go up through right here. Man, yeah, okay, he's navigating through tables over there we got the Minsky's people in today.

Speaker 2:

Minsky's Another shout out my favorite pizza place in Kansas City. I don't just say it because they're right there. I'm like Minsky's.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. My kids aren't as into Minsky's, I'm like what?

Speaker 2:

is your name. I know it's too fancy.

Speaker 1:

I think you're right. I'm used to, just like you know, rectangle pizza and whatnot, so okay.

Speaker 2:

So anyway, yeah, so you were talking, architecture had the graphic but it's more for marketing, more for a while Signage, wayfinding, dimensional kind of stuff for you to put logos and things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that makes sense, okay, so. So they just like goodbye.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And so so my bosses at the time they were going to, we're still in the middle of client projects. And so they were like we're going to start a firm and we're going to take these client projects. Yeah, do you want to join us? And I me and my wife for probably a year had been talking about the idea of me going out on my own and starting a firm. It's something that I'd always kind of wanted to do. And I said, man, now's the I mean, if there's not a, if there's not a good time, if there is a better time, now's there's not a better time. We were fairly newly married. We didn't have kids yet. Life was simple and we had a little room for risk here.

Speaker 2:

We had a little room for risk and so we just said you know what I said to my? I said to those guys I said I would love to, but this is my opportunity to start something on my own. If it doesn't work, maybe I'll come back to you guys, or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Let's what a pivotal moment right.

Speaker 2:

Just because we know where the story ends. It's like imagine if you got down the other path 20 years ago imagine you got down the other path.

Speaker 1:

You know what I mean.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I think about that every once in a while and I go.

Speaker 2:

I don't know. You know, and not not that this has been all roses and sunshine and has been great for 20 years, but because there's a lot of hard things that happen. But I also legitimately cannot imagine myself working for someone else Like you, you had the entrepreneurial fire in you and you were like I have to do, I have to do this.

Speaker 1:

I remember that feeling. I was that same way 20 years ago and I was like this is going to happen, so wow.

Speaker 1:

So that's when you started and I started reactor your whole process that you just named about starting on the totem pole, starting small. I call it start small or start ugly, start small, pick up the ball. So I feel like with you you picked up the ball, with you know, every time you went out and found a new job and then with reactor, that was a big ball you picked up. So, here we are. Let me just say congratulations on 20 years.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, I'm glad you did that. I just celebrated my 20th year, so it's so funny that like same amount of time we've been in business but that's so great, man, 20 years.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, I mean this is. I want to hear so much about reactor. I will say that I remember during those days I was doing magic at Fizzoli's kids night, like 20 years ago, and you came in with your family at the time, so you had tiny little kids. I did If you even had kids at that time, probably If we were coming in.

Speaker 2:

Well, I don't know, we lived in, we lived near you and yeah, yeah, I remember seeing you a couple times, so I don't know if you were there for kids night or if you were just there for lasagna.

Speaker 1:

But I remember seeing you and I remember I was, I needed a logo and stuff like that and I was just like, oh, you do that and you use the word we. Oh, we could look at that for a week. I was like who's we?

Speaker 2:

Because, like me, it's like Devin Anderson the magician. That's all that I am, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Now I'm hearing this we thing and kind of the first time I'd ever been introduced to, you can build a team of people around you. I know you're very big about hiring them, right people, hiring people who are better than you at certain roles, so that you can be freed up to let your creativity continue to breathe and move forward. So tell me about the whole who, not how. But if you I don't know if you've heard that book who, not how? It's yeah, what's that look like for you?

Speaker 2:

The whole, the whole, we for the and I use that word from day one, even when it was literally just me Okay, All right, Because I saw the possibility of being more than just myself in this business. I love that. The reason I didn't start the business as Clifton Alexander design or or I'm my name is Clifton and I'm a freelancer. The reason I didn't do that from day one is because I wanted to build a company. I wanted to do something different than what I experienced at the agency with the telephone.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

I wanted to have more direct connection with clients. I wanted to have a team of designers and I never wanted even though I started with the we and I started with building a company from ground up, I never wanted it also to be a very large company. So I knew you know cause I am a relational kind of person. I went to a very tiny high school and a very tiny town, even Kansas city art institute very small school. Kansas city is a big town with a small vibe to it. That's me. So I never wanted to build a very large ad agency but I knew it was, had had to be more than just me. So from day one it was we, it was we're going to look at this thing, and eventually I got an intern and got an office and then just started kind of building from there.

Speaker 1:

That is so cool. Well, so in the first couple of years, I mean, did you have a? Was it a rough start?

Speaker 2:

It was a very rough start, I will tell you, I and my wife deserves so much credit for yeah, holly, for just just supporting me and thinking and just sticking with me through all this it seemed the longterm vision, right.

Speaker 1:

that this is like, this is necessary, right?

Speaker 2:

And she just supported me for all those years because it was like I had. I had very little client interaction. I had no idea what a proposal looked like. I had never been involved in pricing conversations or writing proposals.

Speaker 1:

Because in the ad agency you were way down, I was way down. You didn't see all that happening.

Speaker 2:

Even in the other company I was working with, I had a little bit of client interaction, but it was never on the level of writing a proposal or bidding out work or scoping work or anything like that. It was just somebody did that or sales, right, somebody did that, and then I just was there to help create and whatever. And so I, I basically created everything I just learned. I talked to people. I made a lot of mistakes. I thought when I launched this thing that I could just send a postcard or some emails to people and they would just hire me and that's how it worked, right. And so I created a lot of stuff and I put it out there and then, like, the calls didn't come in, these are people I didn't even know. So I thought I thought if I just mail stuff to all the cool businesses near me, that they would just be like oh great, a designer, I need branding, I'm going to hire this guy, right? That is not how it works, man.

Speaker 1:

That is not how it works. How disappointing is that that you put all that time in designing mailing.

Speaker 2:

looking at addresses, that's very disappointing.

Speaker 1:

That's what we were doing at the time. It wasn't even email yet, it was like hard mailing.

Speaker 2:

I literally just found, like what are the cool businesses in downtown Shawnee Cause, that's where I lived, and I said what are the cool businesses? They could use some help. And so I just send them something in the mail and expected a phone call. Right, I learned so much about how business development works, and now, after 20 years, I will tell you that it has not changed. It is a hundred percent relationships, man. It is relational. I know you probably feel the same way. It is. It is people that you have met. It's people that you've already done business with or connections therein, right?

Speaker 1:

See, that's what was different about your start and my start as a magician. I was face to face with people in a natural set I didn't have to like like I was thinking like oh, one thing you could have done with downtown Shawnee was like knocked on doors and walked in, not that I'm saying that'd be, effective, but that'd be the closest thing you could get to some kind of face to face interaction.

Speaker 1:

Reminding just lent itself to. I'm just in front of these people, here's my business cards, and then you get. I was just, you're already you know, so this is a but you're creating that relationship from the beginning.

Speaker 2:

So the person that's hiring you is saying I've seen this person and I've talked to them and I really like what they do and they're good at it and so I want that for me and so. So design and branding and business is the same way where you have to have those relationships built in or some kind of connection. Otherwise, a person, a person I won't say that I've never gotten business from somebody just randomly finding out about who we are, because every once in a while I do, but it is. It is by far the exception to the rule Almost every other piece of business in 20 years is some person I've met at a networking thing or a connection or relationship or an existing client.

Speaker 1:

And that's what I was going to. One of my questions for you was going to be like what would you tell the young entrepreneur what's the best thing to do? And it sounds like network, build relationships, go to go to chambers right Like go to go to socials, like after hours, whatever you know. Start talking to people, start meeting people start building relationships.

Speaker 2:

Take people to coffee Um. Take them to lunch. Jump on podcasts if you can Like, like uh, if you have something of value to share to the world. Try to get a small lunch speaking gig at a chamber event or try to try to try to figure out a way to get your name out there in any way that you can. Um build content online. I am terrible at that, but it is a great way to um build an expertise in something. You're doing it um with the podcast. You've been doing it for a long time with videos and with things like that, where the more someone Googles your name and the more you show up in some type of? Um expert opinion or expertise, the more they're likely to hire you for something.

Speaker 1:

So take us past the turbulence. Well, how'd you get through it?

Speaker 2:

What it looked like, when you came out at a higher altitude, was I think, just I think it gets real when you hire someone and then when you have an office like that's when it really starts to um, to feel like a business where you're saying, okay, now it's no longer just me, I have to now feed another person, and now that person maybe they even have a family and I'm now I'm not having to feed their family, yeah Right. And so that becomes a real like, like, okay, now I've got a really hustle and make sure that I am all in on this, because there are people that are counting on me now, not just my own family, but other people's families, and that's a whole different ballgame, right.

Speaker 1:

And so that's when it feels real commitment. It is a level and now you're committed to like support, yeah, quote, quote support all these people, and so that was a scary moment, hiring like full time.

Speaker 2:

I'd had an intern, um, this person interned with me for a little bit first, and then I said you know what? We are too busy, we're doing too good of things and I don't want you to go get a job somewhere else. Do you want to come work with me? And um, let's do it. And so here's my very first Hire. Um end up working for me for 17 years, 20 years absolutely incredible run that we had.

Speaker 1:

Wow, wow. So so building your team, I mean it sounds like that was kind of what helped you get past. It was making that commitment, building the team, and then then then you have to up your game. But now you've got these people around you to help you and support you, and that help, so there's more.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly, pass the hard part to help me learn and build process and creative. You know there is no set way to build a brand for a company. There are things that you can do that are best practices, but there are things that that we learn through experience and that I bring in with team members who have different ideas and new ideas to say can we help a company build their brand in this way or can we get to the end in a different way? How can we do that? And so we slowly tweak our process and we slowly tweak our creative ways that we do things over the years, depending on the type of expertise that we have in house, depending on who we have working for us. And we've had we've had as many as seven full-time people, as few as just myself and one other person over the years, and so we've kind of ebbed and flowed over the years. But just staying in business, I've found, is maybe more difficult than growing a business if that makes sense right.

Speaker 2:

Because sometimes you have to just take what comes and sometimes you have to try and go out and get whatever you can get. But it is really hard to go out and get business when the only way you can get business is if people are ready for it. So there is. So so you know that everybody has to eat. So you're a restaurant and you say everybody's got to eat at some point. I can find enough people, most likely that are need to eat something.

Speaker 2:

But with design, with branding, with the stuff that we do, even with marketing, a lot of companies, even if they know they need it, they might already have it. And so how do you find the timing that's exactly right with someone? So, even if you meet someone and you have a great relationship, the timing might not be right. I've had I have clients now that are great clients that I had started talking to six, seven, eight years beforehand before I ever got something for them, and that is a really long slog of just keeping after it or just keeping relationships up or just thinking eventually they're going to need something, eventually they're going to be unhappy with whoever they're at.

Speaker 1:

I've seen the same thing too when you're like this may not pay off right now, but just keep loving people At some point. Keep keep relational and yeah so so yeah, I remember at one point in time it might have been one of the Fizzoli's visits you gave me a business card of some like, because I was like, what do you guys do? And you're like, we focused on print.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so at the time you were very much into print and you gave me this really cool like almost origami type business card that like opened up and I don't know. I can't remember, but I was like that's really cool. So I know that was your focus at one time. So what's that progression been like for the various types of specific services you've offered in the years?

Speaker 2:

There was a. There was a point in time where and kind of going back to my art school days where I I like creating things, I like physical things, and we get into a world where, especially like starting in the early 2000s, where where everybody was so all in on technology, on websites, on everything that businesses said why do we need to do anything physical anymore? Physical things cost money, web is inexpensive, whatever. So let's get rid of anything physical, okay, and let's just focus on doing everything digital.

Speaker 2:

And you can't as as a, as a human, literally it is built into our nature. It is built into us as beings to be relational, to touch, to feel, to experience all the senses, and one of the things that web or digital experiences does not do is it does not hit on all of the senses. It hits on one sense or two senses or whatever. It doesn't hit on everything. And so I saw this like this overcorrection of society of saying, like we're going too far into the to the digital, all digital realm and we as humans just can't. It's not good for us, or and it doesn't fit into our nature, and so we're going to eventually swing back the other way. And so we said let's get ahead of that, and let's just yeah right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, let's get ahead of that and let's go all in on just saying we're going to be the best in the world at creating things that are physical and tactile and all that sort of thing. Right, we found out pretty quickly that it was a good strategy, but our clients needed not just those things. They needed other things. They needed digital along with the physical and all that stuff. And what I found was as we would create something physical for someone, even physical being a brand then we would hand it off to somebody else to finish it, to do all the digital stuff, and we were never happy with what we experienced back and we had great vendors and we had great partners, but we were never really happy with that, and so we said, you know what, maybe this isn't the best idea, because we do have to live in a society where things are integrated. I'm still a firm believer that we have to come back to some physical things, but digital is here to stay, and so we couldn't. We couldn't quite figure out that process of how do we create our things in the physical world and hand them off and still be happy with what we were giving to our clients, and so we slowly started getting back into being more of an integrated firm, and so right now I'd say we're definitely more of an integrated firm.

Speaker 2:

We have things that we specialize in, where we are creating brands.

Speaker 2:

We're helping companies grow with their identity, their brand, their voice, their marketing and all those sorts of things, but we can help the client in all of those aspects.

Speaker 2:

We don't do all of those things in-house 100%. There are some things that we do that we're really, really, really good at and we have great partners that we work with that we will either pass off to or we will manage like a general contractor. We're managing the drywall, we're managing the electrical, but we're managing the website build, we're managing the digital marketing or we're managing whatever. We're still in charge of the brand and how everything looks, but we're not passing it off completely and we're still managing that. So we're much more integrated. To this day, I also found that it was very difficult to make money just doing the printed things, because the printed things themselves can be kind of expensive, which is great, and companies like that that love the physical whatever. But when I tell them I'm going to charge you thousands and thousands of dollars to come up with this thing, and then they're like and then I got to pay for the oh my gosh you know it just it became a weird thing.

Speaker 2:

So we still do it from time to time, like when people really need it or it's part of the plan, but our focus really right now is on the brand itself.

Speaker 1:

How do we?

Speaker 2:

build a brand and create an identity for a company which you do, great. You have your own personal brand with the orange and the glasses and cool hair and just everything you got going on, just your personality, your smile. We took a selfie for Instagram.

Speaker 1:

You're just like you know it's so cool that, like I can. Like that's who you are. You know, if you can do that with yourself, that's like a good indication you can help other people do that you know, and before I, you know, kind of I want to kind of give you a pitch. You know you didn't ask for it, but I would just want, like people who are looking for logos.

Speaker 1:

So I want to get there. But just a couple like sort of business or life philosophies you have. I know one of your big things is like just ask, yeah, right, just tell me about that, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I tell this to my kids. I've been doing this for a long time. I, when I speak on sometimes I speak on literally personal branding to college students and things like that and how to build a brand. Yeah yeah, One of my number one things is just ask. And all that means literally all that means is, if there's something in front of you and there's a person that's essentially the gatekeeper to that thing, just ask. If you don't ask, you're not going to know. And the very first time I experienced this was in college and it's kind of what set it up.

Speaker 2:

I was working on a project where I had to do something related to Union Station. At the time, Union Station was under construction. It was decrepit. They were building it back up as under construction. I needed to get some pictures of Union Station down on the ground. I was kind of like I don't really like the way these look. And then I looked there's a building in Crown Center, across the street from Union Station and I said if I could get up to the top of that building and look down, I could take some really cool pictures. And so I literally just walked in to the front desk and I said I'm an art student and I'm doing a project and I need some photographs of Union Station from up high. Is there any way I could, like get onto the roof or whatever? Yeah, and the security guard was like, wow, I can't get you on the roof, or whatever he's like. However, there are some office spaces in this building that have like a window and like a little balcony. He's like I could probably just walk you up there and just kind of like, let you go out, take a picture. I was like, okay, and he let me up there. So we didn't go on the roof, but we got up high and we just opened some random person's office window and I stepped out, took a picture and left.

Speaker 2:

And there were some other things that happened in school where I created some cool projects for the same thing. I literally would just call someone, say I'm an art student, I'm creating a sculpture, I'm creating a project. Do you have anything you'd be willing to donate or whatever? Yeah, and I tell this to my kids all the time as well. We had.

Speaker 2:

I was with my kids at a minor league baseball game and I was looking at all the people that go around and they film kids and they answer trivia questions and I was like I wonder how the kids get on the screen. And I was with my kids and this lady was walking around with a camera and she had this little notepad and I said, kids, come here, let's go. And so I walked down to the lady and I just said, hey, how do the kids get on the screen? I just asked her and she was like well, I'm the person who handles that and I've got a slot between the fourth and fifth inning. Do you want to come back down and meet me here and one of your kids can answer the trivia? I was like let's go.

Speaker 2:

So it's those kind of things where you always wonder at the stadium. You're like how do those people get to be the person on the screen. Sometimes somebody literally just saw somebody walking around with a clipboard and asked them can I be on screen? And they go okay, and you're just like what the heck.

Speaker 1:

It applies to anything I think about, even in restaurants, we'll go, We'll sit and we'll be seated where we don't want to be. Just ask can? We sit over there, why not? The worst thing happens, you get to know. Yeah, the worst thing happens, you get to know.

Speaker 2:

And so I say that is a philosophy that I live by. I'm not always great at it, to be honest with you. Sometimes I'm scared to ask or sometimes I don't want to, but it is something that I try to instill in my kids as much as I can, and then I always put that as part of my talk. When I talk about personal branding with college students, it's like you don't know what someone's gonna say, unless you ask them what's the worst that can happen. They can just say no, awesome man.

Speaker 1:

Well, speaking of networking, we gotta let you cut here soon, because you got a client meeting. You gotta go network.

Speaker 2:

I gotta client meet and live up to your.

Speaker 1:

But last thing, before we kind of give you a shout out and find out what you do or how you can help people specifically, why do people love working for you so much? I mean, I could guess the answer to that, but obviously you're doing something. You're letting their creativity breathe. There's something that makes someone stick around for 17. People would love to know how do we retain these employees? You know, what's your secret sauce, man?

Speaker 2:

It is a tough business to have employees. That is a tough thing to keep people as long as possible. The 17 year thing is definitely an anomaly. I'll be honest with you, especially in my industry, most people don't stick around more than two to four or five years, and we've experienced a lot of that too. But when we interview candidates, a lot of times a candidate will say what do you like about the job? And I'm sitting there in the interview and my employees will answer that question and I love to hear the answers to that because it gives me a little bit of an insight in terms of, like, what is my employee thinking and how are they reacting to that?

Speaker 2:

But you know, at the end of the day, there's yes, I am like the boss or the leader or whatever, but there's a lot of autonomy that I want to instill in the folks that are working for me and the sense of saying we have a great culture, we are able to create our own schedules, we're able to do the things that we're really good at. And I think that's a big piece of the puzzle where people say I want to work at a place where I feel valued and where I feel like I'm getting the best of who I can be, but I'm also learning and growing and doing all those things and I think those are a lot of the answers. That I see is like we have things like flexible work schedules. That's great, A lot of people can do that. But there's also the just the personal growth potential and all those sorts of things. We don't have a ladder to climb.

Speaker 2:

There were a small company, You're not going to go from this position to this position. You know you're not going to just keep climbing ladder. So how do you grow in that way? And a lot of that to me is autonomy and is saying I don't care that you're only 22 years old or 24 years old. If you have a really fricking good idea related to the operation of the company, related to a client, related to how we can be better at something, I'm all ears, let's do it, let's try it, Because people are inherently wired to be good at certain things.

Speaker 2:

And I'm here to say how can we get those things out of you? Right, how do we get those things out of you? And I don't want to ever be in that position where I say I've been doing this 20 years and this is just how it has to be. Now there are certain things where I will push back. If one of my employees has an idea, and I'll push back, and I'll push back and I'll push back. But if they're so passionate about it and they see it more than I can see it, there may be a point where I eventually say you know what, let's try it. Wow, let's see what happens.

Speaker 1:

You are the Michelangelo who sees the David in your employees.

Speaker 2:

And you're like let's just do my part to chip away what we can to bring out that beauty.

Speaker 1:

I love that and people can probably feel that, and since then I have a chance here to live out my true purpose.

Speaker 2:

And I'll argue with them about it.

Speaker 2:

Because I want to know how, in part of me arguing and pushing, and pushing, and pushing and saying, yeah, I have been doing this 20 years and this is what has worked up to this point, so why should we change this? Okay, I can see that. And so the more that I argue, the more I get that nuggets back of saying, okay, maybe the world is different than it was 20 years ago and so maybe we should think about doing things differently. And then it's like, okay, well, let's experiment with it, let's take a smaller client, let's try it with that and let's see how it works as a group. And if it works great, then I'm okay with changing our process to make that work.

Speaker 1:

I love how you're open to possible change possible pushing your thinking.

Speaker 2:

Especially communication. That's the only way to stay alive, man. And the communication thing is huge, I think, about parenting.

Speaker 1:

We've got to be talking to our kids about their ideas and fight with them in a healthy way Like challenge their thinking. Let them challenge your thinking, and I think that's why it's a huge part of why you're thriving. It's not about being argumentative.

Speaker 2:

It's about making sure that their argument back is not a frivolous one, that it's a real argument, that it's a real reason, and not just say, well, because this is how I want to do it. It's like, okay, why and why should we change the way we've been doing things for all these years to accommodate that? And let's figure it out and maybe we experiment and try some things.

Speaker 1:

What a great way to learn, man. Hey, we got to let you cut loose here, Cliff, and to get to your meeting. So quick question there's people out there listening who, whether they know it or not, need a brand or maybe need an update on their existing brand. How can you help those people?

Speaker 2:

So that is exactly what we do is we take companies that have never existed before and we take companies that are sometimes 100 years old and we help them to grow who they are. We help them to build an identity, to build a brand, to market themselves, to get out there in the world, and that's everything from logos and voice to marketing, to social media, to everything in between, and that is it. And so Reactor Design is our website. It's pretty easy. I don't know if you have to put a WWW in front of it.

Speaker 1:

I don't know, we'll figure it out. Reactordesign. Reactor makes sure. R-e-a-c-t-o-r.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just like perfect, just simple.

Speaker 1:

ReactorDesign that's the name of our company, and the dot in the middle, You're like you don't need to spell it. I chose it specifically Devin, so you wouldn't have to spell it out Just the name of our company with a dot in the middle.

Speaker 2:

That's our website. We have tons of case studies. There's easy ways to get in touch with me and to look at more of our team and the type of work we do, but that is really all about it. It's about growing brands. It's about building brands.

Speaker 2:

One of the things that I love to do the most is working with companies that are experiencing some sort of change or core difference in their core, who they are so like. We've worked with companies that are 80 years old or 50 years old, who have felt like they're not in the same place as they were all those years ago, and they may need not just an identity change but a name change. That is a big deal, and so we work with companies in that sense too, and we have helped companies change their names. We've helped them change who they are and how they are viewed in the world, and those companies then have a new lease on life at that point and they can say this is how we're gonna survive and how we're gonna continue for the next 80 years Is we're gonna change with the times and we're gonna move and grow, and that's some of our favorite stuff to do Clifton Alexander from Reactor.

Speaker 1:

Hey man, thanks for being here.

Speaker 2:

Great connecting again. I love it Good to see you, brother.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we'll put his website in the show notes and just yeah, thanks again. And also wanna say thank you again to Excediver Shawnee for sponsoring us, thank you to Zach behind the scenes, and we'll just wrap with our catchphrase here what else is possible? Okay, because this is what you've been asking Ever since you went to that small high school art school.

Speaker 2:

You know what I mean.

Speaker 1:

Your mom's like, try it. You're like, what else is possible? Let's do it man, I love that, so okay. So I'll say what else you say is possible.

Speaker 2:

You ready for that?

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right, y'all Thanks for joining us, and remember to never stop asking the question. What else?

Speaker 2:

is possible.

Speaker 1:

We'll see you next time, wow.

"Introducing Clifton Alexander
Origin Story of Artistic Development
Journey From High School to College
College Life and Professional Growth
Building a Business Through Relationships
Building a Successful Integrated Business
Building Brands With Strategic Partnerships
Building Brands and Empowering Creativity