Chris Reed is a first generation Croatian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a self-made man who cannot attribute his success by a college education, as that was not his path. His was one paved through trial and error, success and failure. Reed found his passion for project-based-work in the Performing-Arts-Sector. As a child he enjoyed playing saxophone, writing songs, plays and directing his original musicals. Naturally, as he grew, he eventually returned to his first loves. Musicals, Plays, Bands, Classroom Music and instrumental instruction is where Chris discovered a career he could feel good about. He has been a community organizer curating events and festivals for his community while helping to bridge that gap between artistic talent and the community.
Chris Reed is the CEO and Director of Programming and Education for the Educational Services Company, Modern Minded. He is also a professional musician under his own name and Sunny State. Between European and South American tours, Reed has been passionately starting sustainable band, theatre and performing arts programs since 2006. In that time, his programs have taught more than 50,000 students across California how to proudly nurture their artistic talents. Over the years, his programs and events have touched the lives of almost 150,000 members of his community.
Chris is a father of two daughters, a husband and an activist that’s been recognized by international radio stations and networks like MTV and has used his music to fight for positive change.
Motivated by a desire to be present for his growing children, Chris is constantly adapting to successfully balance his family and career.
Where did the idea for Modern Minded come from?
I was teaching during the day at a couple schools and was being offered more work than I could physically do myself. I knew my methods were solid and friends who I knew could do this job and use the money. I decided to offer them the work and train them and that was the start.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Before the Pandemic, this what a typical day:
Wake up and help with my kids as I made coffee and homemade almond/coconut milk. Helped with breakfast, getting the kids ready, etc. Then I would get myself put together, check email and head off to one of my school sites where I would shadow one of my teachers. I would typically have an in-person meeting with the administration while I was there and potentially a phone meeting.
Then, I would head to the YMCA for a workout as I checked and wrote emails, enjoying my favorite reggae jams as I balanced my health with work. Some days, I would be lucky enough to see my wife there with the kids and would hang with them in the grass after our workouts for a little bit.
Then, off to Philz coffee for a coffee and some more day to day work before heading home to spend time with my family. Naturally, some days required me to go in to 3-5 schools and I would need to skip my work out or my Philz time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have found that I need about 5-6.5 hours alone a day. Even if this is time spent working or driving, etc. this provides me the mental space for ideas. They often come when I am doing something else. Even at home watering my garden. By engaging in one activity, it frees my mind up to be inspired, often bringing me creative solutions to problems I wasn’t trying to solve at the moment, but needed to. Sometimes, even knew business ideas.
What’s one trend that excites you?
All the online learning currently taking place. I love that we, as a business, are able to provide clients with high quality services without having to be anywhere else, other than our own homes. I love the idea that those that work for me get to have a better quality of life and believe that alleviating their commute time has to help with that.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I spend time each morning centering myself as I shower, shave and get dressed. It is a ritual that hones my mind into the tasks of the day and the mindset needed to feel strong and confident as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
OO, that’s a tough one. I learned a lot the “hard way”… I am not sure I could change any of that… “Stay healthy and strong, keep working out and taking care of yourself. You only have one body and you’ll need it to achieve all you want to in this life.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I work on each of my business endeavors each day, even if it is only for a few minutes. I find it important to touch each daily to ensure I am keeping my eye on them and they are fresh in my mind.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A few years ago I realized that I got frustrated with certain tasks that required me to learn new tools and systems. To overcome this, I hired a Personal Assistant. This changed my business strategies for ever. Even if I am not currently using a personal assistant, I have learned so much from the process in becoming efficient. Basically, if I am working and come across a task that I find daunting, for whatever reason, I enlist the help of my personal assistant to take that task or set of tasks on so I can work on the items I enjoy/excel at and, potentially, may even have time to care for myself.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I tried getting out of business with someone and wasn’t able to. To this day, I am still in business with them. I tried everything short of taking them to court. In the end, it isn’t worth the lawyer fees, etc. to only end up in an even uglier battle. It consumed two years of my life, but the individual is unreasonable. Due to the amount of income I receive from this business, I decided it best to stick it out… This is a failure that is regularly in my face. I overcome it by working hard in my other businesses to ensure they are strong and fruitful. I focus more emotional energy into those and that helps me stay sane.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Quickbooks has been a Godsend. It allows me to do my books once a month and then my CPA just hops in there for taxes. Only other thing my CPA needs from me is our mileage. This has saved tons of money on my CPAs hours and is so much easier and has provided me lots of peace of mind.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemmingway. Persistence, Mental toughness and Resilience are at the core of this story—keys I believe we all need to survive on this planet, let alone in business.
What is your favorite quote?
“What one man can do, another can do.”
Anthony Hopkins, The Edge 1997
• Always check your motivations and goals and constantly adapt the way you work and your efficiency to ensure you’re working toward these goals.
• Seek help in your business operations when needed. CPA, Assistant, janitor, anything to lighten the load of tasks you do not enjoy. This way, you will have more times for the things you love in your business and in your life in general—which is why you went in to business for yourself in the first place.
• Anyone can have the life they want. It takes perseverance and constant reevaluation. Don’t just be a dreamer, be a “do-er”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.