Uncommon Person: Chad Hutson

Chad is Uncommon.

As Co-founder and CEO of Leviathan, Chad Hutson facilitates creative strategy and all key business developments for this experiential design agency, including managing the company’s overall operations. His efforts have led to client relationships with Nike, Amazon, Disney, T-Mobile, Kohler, Universal, McDonald’s and Airbus, among others, and he has been a speaker at SXSW, VCU Brandcenter, InfoComm and numerous SEGD events. Chad lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago area.

We asked Chad to share some uncommon sense from his life and career.

Bulldog Drummond: What value, phrase or uncommon truth do you live by?
Chad Hutson: Loyalty has always been a value I’ve held in high regard, starting with childhood friends and family, then extending into both client and team relationships. The right balance of showing up and delivering when needed, giving your full attention and being true to your word is not only appreciated but also reciprocated by the right people in your life. If you can consistently live up to this value and surround yourself with others who do as well, good things will follow.

BD: What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
CH: The hard work of building Leviathan certainly evokes a sense of pride, though the close relationship that has been forged between my wife, daughter and myself is what I’m most proud of. A healthy balance between the two is key—family first, Leviathan second. 

BD: What gets you out of bed in the morning? What’s your purpose?
CH: As Leviathan was just starting out, I sought inspiration from peers and established organizations, wondering how we could achieve their level of greatness in clientele and creative work they had amassed. It was less about being competitive, more about emulation of quality without replicating the ideas—all to learn about how the established firms get things done. Now that we ourselves have landed top-tier clients and gained recognition in our field, the motivation has turned to being a company that thinks ahead of the rest, that is followed and emulated, and in turn keeps our valued clients ahead of our competitors.

BD: What’s the most useful question you ask often? Why?
CH: “How are you?” Not as in how you greet someone, but asking how they are really, truly doing. Genuine relationships start with trust, and if someone trusts in you they will answer questions truthfully—not just how they are doing but what their actual pain points are. This isn’t about gaining an inside track, it simply helps cut through the clutter around problems the other person may be experiencing, be it a business or personal contact, which leads to clearer paths to solutions.

BD: Can you tell us about an experience that made you who you are?CH: So many experiences have shaped my life! Hard to state just one, but let’s give it a go.

I once had an executive tell me he didn’t need another generalist in the organization as I was trying to hire a support staff member with a similar background to mine. My childhood experiences had always been a little of this, little of that—I was a kid who enjoyed programming computers, playing music, tinkering with technology and trying to fit in with the popular crowd but only doing OK at any of it. When I became a project manager for the aforementioned company, I used my abilities to communicate with both technical teams and the clients we served, acting as a valued liaison between specialists and those who needed their services. It was this realization—that my “generalist” skills were actually needed—that led me to start my own company and shaped how I lead today.

BD: What is the most important decision you’ve made in the last twelve months?
CH: It goes without saying that the pandemic has thrown challenges at us all, Leviathan included. But the decision to quickly pivot how we service our clients, not only for their physical environment needs but also for their virtual ones (even providing a hybrid of the two), allowed us to not only overcome a difficult period but also expand our company’s offerings well into the future. This decision ultimately allowed us to not only keep our entire team whole but also augment them further, while simultaneously supporting our valued clients during such an uncertain time.

BD: What are you working on that you are excited about?
CH: I almost hate to brag, though I’m very proud of what our team has been working on for the past year. In the branded environment category, we’re developing over a dozen immersive interactive experiences for T-Mobile’s new executive briefing center, with an engaging hybrid of digital technology, top-tier content, physical exhibits and personalization features throughout. On the opposite end of the spectrum is our work with Universal for their new Super Nintendo World attraction in Osaka, which just opened this Spring. Looking forward to sharing more with the world in the near future.

BD: How has the industry you work in changed as a result of the pandemic? 
CH: Our practice areas cross over multiple industries, and while branded environments have largely withstood the impacts of the pandemic, both themed entertainment and live events have taken some devastating hits, which is sad to see. Humans want and need to have shared experiences, and we are already seeing signs of a strong return, but it seems clear that a hybrid approach of physical and virtual engagement will be part of the “new normal”. Blending safety, social distancing and “wow” moments will not be easy, but it is what the world needs right now. With our current capabilities and those of our parent company, Envoy, we are well-equipped to meet these new challenges. 

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