Character Study: Joey Reiman

Character Study: Joey Reiman

Innovator Joey Reiman, father of ideation, is CEO and founder of BrightHouse.
Innovator Joey Reiman, father of ideation, is CEO and founder of BrightHouse.


The highlights of Joey Reiman’s life read like something out of a Hollywood screenplay. It’s no exaggeration to report he’s had a powerful impact on thousands of people as a businessman, writer, educator and humanitarian.

In short, he’s lived his life as a mensch. And his remarkable journey began in a truly amazing way.

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A native of New York, Reiman attended Brandeis University. In his senior year, he wrote a screenplay and had the chutzpah to submit to Fedirico Fellini, the hugely successful and famous Italian filmmaker.

He was subsequently offered a summer internship on the set of a Fellini film in production in Italy but unfortunately involved in a horrific traffic accident that nearly severed his arm shortly after his arrival overseas. He found himself with little to do in a small rural hospital in a foreign country.

But something important happened while he was recuperating: Reiman began to believe in the power of ideas. It’s something that changed his the way he views the world; he started to realize that if you can change your thoughts, you can change your life.

For example, although his injuries left him partially paralyzed, Reiman found himself visualizing his thumb moving as he lay in his hospital bed. He came to believe that if he could eventually move his thumb he would be able to move his shattered arm.

The long months of healing proved transformative. Reiman became proof positive humans are resilient and that we all possess incredible recuperative powers, eventually regaining full use of the injured arm, and he remains in good physical condition today.

When he left Italy, he took along a few new core beliefs that have guided his life:

  • You are what you think; as you think, so you are.
  • The human mind has the power to envision and create amazing things and great wonders.
  • Each person has tremendous latent power in their mind.

Putting the Power of Thinking to Good Use

After returning to New York, Reiman wrote a musical and began an advertising

career on Madison Avenue. He joined the firm of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) as the company’s chief creative officer and was eventually transferred to Atlanta, where in 1995 he joined forces with Joel Babbit and formed Babbit and Reiman, an Atlanta-based ad agency.

Believing that many agencies were “ad-rich and idea-poor,” the goal of the firm was to embrace the idea of “thinking positively,” be creative and – just as importantly – match passion with persistence.

The agency prospered. Among the highlights were:

  • Being named Ad Week’s Agency of the Year for the Southeast region
  • Winning 29 of 32 major presentations
  • Becoming the first ad shop in Atlanta to reach $100 million in business
  • Creating some notable – and controversial – TV spots

In 1998, the company was sold to a British firm and Reiman once again had the time to do what he enjoyed most: thinking. He wondered what the world might be like if companies sought to improve public life, not just their image and bottom line.

Maybe, he thought, he could find a way to help companies improve lives while also serving the interest of shareholders. That was the genesis and goal of his next endeavor: BrightHouse.

The Bright Ideas of BrightHouse

The business, the world’s first “ideation” company, was formed to bring purpose to business and to work with leaders to create a world in which business could improve the world and be profitable.

In Reiman’s mind, purpose is inextricably linked to business: It’s the positive impact businesses and their leaders seek to make in the world, and it illuminates everything in its path and defines and drives all organizational activity – innovation, communications, programs, mergers, acquisitions, HR measurement and recruiting and training.

The Coca-Cola, Sun Trust Bank, McDonalds and Proctor & Gamble are just a few of the companies that in recent years have embraced purpose as a part of their corporate culture. Reiman is certain that companies with this key element can be profitable and better the lives of people in meaningful ways.

Over the years, he has received more than 500 awards for his visionary thinking, including the Lion at Cannes and the Gold Medal at the Houston Film Festival. Here are some other highlights:

  • Fast Company named Reiman one of 100 people who will “change the way the world thinks”
  • He has been called “the Moses of Marketing” by “the Father of Marketing,” professor Phillip Kotler
  • He is regarded as the “father of the Ideation movement” and a “prominent worldwide thought leader”
  • He serves as an adjunct professor as Emory University’s Goizueta Business School
  • In 2012, he received the Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation Ladder Award

Given all these accolades and accomplishments, Reiman still thinks his greatest accomplishment is in being a “famillionaire” – a person whose wealth is family. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Cynthia and two sons, Alden and Julien.

And to think all of this – the success, the companies, the ideas, the vision and the fulfilling home life – started in a small hospital in Italy. It’s something for all of us to think about.

Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident a former CPA and an Investment professional with more than 35 years industry experience.


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