Despite years in the non-profit and activist world, he finally had to admit he was a marketing nerd and, in the end, he became a marketing coach for hippies. Maybe it was because he couldn’t stand seeing his hippy friends struggle to promote their amazing, green and holistic projects. Maybe it was because he couldn’t keep a 9-5 job to save his life.
Whatever the reason, for almost a decade, he has been touring his marketing workshops around Canada, bringing refreshing and unorthodox ideas to conscious entrepreneurs and green businesses that help them grow their organizations and businesses (without selling their souls). And, over the years, he has become recognized as a leader in the wider movement towards green and local economies.
This all feels like a minor miracle as Tad spent his early marketing days learning and applying some very inauthentic, high pressure, extremely gross and pushy marketing approaches. This has made him suuuuper allergic to these kinds of approaches because he discovered they made him feel slimy (even in personal friendships), he didn’t sleep well and he’s very sorry to all those people he spoke with back in the day. After a decade of unlearning and unpacking that whole scene – he now feels ready and able to help other people find ways to market that feel wonderful.
He’s also considered a pioneer and leading thinker in the field of ‘Hub Marketing‘ (and is puttering on a book about it’).
“There are so many people in the world doing such incredible things! Green businesses, holistic practitioners, local and independent retail . . . But they’re an expert in what they do – not in articulating what they do; not in marketing what they do. And yet they can’t afford to learn how to be a better marketer because so many of the marketing workshops cost a fortune. They’re not accessible to the people who need them the most. The people whose businesses are the most cutting edge, inspiring and radical are often on the most shoestring budgets. But these are the businesses the world needs right now. We need to see more examples of successful conscious businesses. People thriving doing something they love that also makes a positive difference in the world. So, instead of charging outrageous amounts, I started doing most of my events on a pay what you can basis – where people come to the whole workshop and then paid me whatever they wanted to pay at the end. It created such good vibes, and I found that people paid well when they got real value. It builds such a beautiful sense of community.” says Tad.
His approach to pricing has made him a pioneer and documenter of the provocative new economy that is being written about and explored globally – the Pay What You Can Economy. It’s an economy where people decide on the price tag themselves.
When he isn’t hosting potlucks, spending too much time on facebook, designing a new product or puttering at Noorish Cafe in Edmonton on his laptop he’s likely working on www.thelocalgood.ca - a project he c0-founded in 2008 which has become one of Edmonton’s leading hubs for green and local lifestyles. One of the main projects of The Local Good is the monthly Green Drinks events. Tad seems to have spent much of his adult life building community around positive change and creating events for people to come together to make good things happen.
His fun project in the summer of 2012 was a series of secret streetcar concerts in Edmonton. If you happen to live in town and are charmed by the idea of secret shows on a trolley in the middle of the High Level Bridge at sunset you can join the facebook group for find out more or watch this little newsclip about it.
His work has been featured in publications from the Edmonton Journal, Alberta Venture, The Edmonton Sun, The Globe and Mail, Alberta Report, IONS Review, Ed Magazine, React magazine and nationally on CBC Radio. In 2002, he was featured in the book Global Uprising and was chosen as one of the thirty leading young visionaries in North America by Utne Reader magazine in their September, 2002 edition.
Tad is also a funny fellow. He has been a founding member of 3 comedy troupes, and has been performing with Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre since 1992.
Between Sept 2004 – Feb 2006, Tad dedicated himself to learning his ancestral language, Scottish Gaelic, in both Nova Scotia and Scotland. He can speak Gaelic pretty good now.
He also has a blog called “Healing Whiteness: An Exploration of the European Indigenous Soul” at which is woven around the core question, “Are white people indigenous? If not anymore, can they reclaim that?“
Every once in a while Tad leads workshops on Non Violent Communication in Edmonton for the community. He’s not certified or anything – but he finds it fascinating.
Tad Interviews Himself:
So, Tad, what are you interested in?
frisbee, road trips, smoothies, the sugar bowl, plaid shirts, remedy cafe, psychology, outdoor activities, crafty people, outdoor music festivals, flight of the conchords, live music, black and white photographs, independent films, farmers markets, live theatre, yoga, the smell of old books, handwritten letters, organic food, local food, hosting potlucks, recording my songs, handmade things, listening to people’s stories, outdoor markets, anthropology, backpacking, bonfires, TED Talks, Slow Food, Sustainability, celtic history, sushi, chai, Pecha Kucha
What are your favourite movies?
Away We Go, Children of Men, Braveheart, Life Is Beautiful, Much Ado About Nothing, American Beauty, Whale Rider, Pan’s Labyrinth, Where the Wild Things Are, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset
Who are your favourite musicians?
Ben Sures, Daniel Moir, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Royal Wood, Tom Keenan, Patrick Keenan, Mumford and Sons, Bruce Cockburn, Michael Franti, Josh Ritter, Tracey Chapman, Sun Kil Moon, Whisky Town, Dar Williams, Arcade Fire, Stars, Indigo Girls, José González, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, Fish & Bird, The Arcade Fire, Essie Jain, Julie Doiron, Bon Iver, The Gruff, evalyn parry, Mary-Grace Koile, David Celia
Anything by Derrick Jensen, The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida, Nonviolent Communication – Marshall Rosenberg, Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay, Wasase – Taiaiake Alfred, Warriors of the Word – Michael Newton, Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughn, Martin Prechtel, The Mist Filled Path – Frank MacEowen
Doctor Who (I am a huge nerd for this show), Firefly, Torchwood
Tad’s passion for bringing people together for positive change first showed itself at age 18, when he founded The School Revolution – a company that led day long workshops for student councils across Alberta. Between 1995 – 2001, he led over 80 day long youth events and retreats for over 150 schools .
Simultaneously, between 1996 and 2002, he worked as the Executive Director of the Canadian branch of Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) a world renowned youth organization. With YES!, Tad organized and facilitated over 40 week-long, summer YES! Action Camps! across North America for youth from over 40 countries representing every inhabited continent.
In 1997, Tad also founded of YES!’s Facilitation Trainings for young leaders. In 1999, Tad founded Youth Jams. These week-long community building events (25 youth per event) continue to connect and support young, committed change makers from all around the world. That project continues on without him – and a group of the core facilitators from that project have joined together in a new project called The Global Collaborative.
Other tidbits from his sordid past . . .
Maybe my passion for building community came from my schooling when I was younger. I grew up in Edmonton going to an alternative hippy school called Waldorf. In kindergarten we would sit carting wool, then spinning it and then knitting our own recorder cases. I was, possibly, the only child at my school who never really learned how to play.
We learned Greek, Roman and Norse myths in elementary school, having Homer’s Osyssey told to us by the teacher from the front of the room. We would bake our own bread in class, play capture the flag in Mill Creek ravine and somehow consistently persuade our french teacher to let us play soccer during french class (“Okay! But you guys need to speak in french while we play!”).
My best memories are the Summer Solstice bonfires at Hawrelack Park where are the families and children would get together for a big end of the year picnic and celebrate. Then, when it was dark, we would gather around the fire for stories. So many happy memories from those times. The school, to my immense heartbreak, collapsed when I was in grade 6 due to politics I have never fully understood.
I went to public school in junior high and then to Victoria School for the Performing Arts (then Vic Comp). It was a wonderful, open and creative environment and I was blessed with incredible teachers across the board.
To the utter dismay of many of my teachers, I never went to university after high school.
In 1999, Tad toured with the Whole Life Expo (the largest New Age Consumer Expo in the country) giving day long workshops for young people from around the country as a part of their Youth Challenge Program.
In October of 1999, The State of the World Forum chose Tad to be the facilitator of their prestigious Emerging Leaders Program. He has also been a core member of Canada’s Youth Environmental Network.
What This is All About for Me:
This quote from Judy Wicks says it all. She’s the founder and proprietress of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia. She co-founded the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a network of business groups in North America that create living economies in their regions.
“The Local Living Economies Movement is about: Maximizing relationships, not maximizing profits, Broad-based ownership and democracy, not concentrated wealth and power, Sharing, not hoarding, Life serving, not self-serving, Partnership, not domination, Cooperation based, not competition based, Win-win exchange, not win-loose exploitation, Creativity, not conformity, A living return, not the highest return, A living wage, not the minimum wage, A fair price, not the lowest price, “Being more, not having more”, Interconnectedness, not separation, Inclusion, not exclusiveness, Community and collective joy, not isolation and unhapppiness, Cultural diversity, not monoculture, Bio-diversity, not mono-crops, Family farms, not factory farms, Slow food, not fast food, Our bucks, not Starbucks, Our mart, not Wal-Mart, a Love of life, not love of money.”