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Spotlight: VT Marketing Alum, Chad Savage, Stars in New HBO Series

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This holiday season we bring you the gift of a very merry spotlight featuring VT Marketing alum, Chad Savage, who recently starred in the new HBO reality series, “12 Dates of Christmas.” This charismatic and entrepreneurial alum graduated from Tech in 2014 and was, as he told us, “a champion of the VT football practice squad.” Although Chad was never able to see playing time, his experience with the athletics program allowed him to form many valuable relationships and learn some very important lessons. While at Tech, Chad also had the opportunity to take a class with Professor Wertalik, who opened Chad’s eyes to the world of marketing and inspired him to pursue a career in the field.

After graduating, Chad began working at staffing agency, Insight Global, and then went on to become an Executive Salesman for his family-owned business, Savage Promotions, Inc., a merchandise wholesaler where he continues to work today. Here, he finds joy in building his family's legacy and in his freedom to flourish in his role.  Although he loves working alongside those he cares about most, Chad is determined to pave his own way, which is why he recently started coordinating his own watch company.

When this alum is not working or filming for the show, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as meeting new people. He loves to work out and is a huge movie buff, especially when it comes to the Disney classics. Read on to hear Chad’s incredible advice for students, his experience as a reality TV star, and his marketing journey!

What were the highlights of your time as a VT Marketing student and at Tech in general?

“While at Tech, I think the most impactful lesson I learned was how to really open up and take risks-- I learned the value of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.”

Transferring to VT as a sophomore, I had never played football before, but I knew I was a good athlete, so I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone and try out for the VT football team. To my surprise, I made the practice squad, and over the next couple years I tried my best to create a meaningful impact for my team.  I learned a ton from this experience and made so many valuable connections, so my time with the football team was definitely a VT highlight.

From an academic perspective, my experience in Professor Wertalik’s class really sticks with me and continues to inspire me today.  Inside of the classroom, she pushed students so well and just the right amount, so that we were uncomfortable in the best ways. She inspired me to develop my social media presence, to feel comfortable in being myself, and to have fun in the world of marketing. With Professor Wertalik’s help, I learned to build my own personal brand. I now understand that

“I am a very charismatic, people person, and I really care about others. Kindness is one of the best attributes a person can possess, so I always want to be in touch with my emotional feelings and those of others’. Words matter and they go a long way, so you have to be very particular about what words you use, especially when it comes to a career in marketing. I now understand that success can’t be defined in monetary value-- it is defined by how you are perceived and by the differences you make through your actions.”

I have no doubt that Professor Wertalik is one of the most, if not the most influential professor I’ve ever had.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in Marketing and does that same concept continue to motivate you in your career?

My parents have operated a business for 35 years now and I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. So, I knew that I wanted to pursue business, but was just not sure how or exactly what area was for me. I realized that I am a people person and absolutely love to talk to and meet new people. I was also very interested in products and ideas. To me, Marketing is the perfect combination of all my passions. It’s how you communicate your product or idea to the consumer, and it teaches you to be confident in your actions.

These same passions continue to inspire me and as I have explored the field, I’ve grown to love Marketing even more. I’ve learned that Marketing really starts with confidence. You need to know what you are talking about and it also helps if you enjoy what you're talking about as well. I mean, when you smile because you love the depth of your message, in a sense people can hear it and that excitement will spread. I learned so much of that at Tech in the marketing program and from Professor Wertalik. You have to bring your full self to any interaction and must understand that how you carry yourself reflects your story. It doesn’t matter what you are marketing, presenting your true self with confidence will go a long way!

What do you like and dislike about working for a family business?

I had always considered joining the family business, but I never imagined it would become the best career decision I ever made. For me, it is so exciting to build on my family’s legacy, and I love the freedom I’m given in my role as Sales Director. I’ve had the opportunity to truly establish my confidence in the field of marketing, to discover my passions, and to learn to be an effective self-leader. I am very proud to say I’ve added accounts like Barnes & Noble & Follett to our Savage Promotions profile, and truly do feel like I'm benefiting my family. I love being in this business because, for me, family is everything- it’s my core. Still, I have encountered some challenges working in the family business. It can be difficult to separate work from home, and it took a few years before I learned to manage my new family-work dynamic. 

What led you to star in the new HBO show ‘12 Dates of Christmas,' and what has your experience in this role been like?

Not that long ago, I moved to NYC, because I love the city’s energy, cultural variety, and melting pot environment. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be one of the most impactful decisions of my life- it would be one of the many stepping stones in my career journey and would be a launchpoint for future success. I was beginning to understand that your dreams don’t just come true with the snap of your fingers- you have to work towards them gradually over time, and sometimes you just have to be open to opportunities that will come your way by chance.

While living in New York, I received a surprising message on Hinge, asking if I would be interested in playing a role in a new Christmas dating show on HBO. Originally, I said, no, and dismissed the message as a funny occurrence. Of course, I told my sister what had happened and she immediately asked if I was crazy. I realized she was right- you never know where an opportunity will lead you, so it is important to take advantage of everything that comes your way. In the end, I decided to take a shot, and ended up getting the role.  It was an amazing yet challenging experience that I would not give up for the world.

“12 Dates of Christmas” is a dating show with three “leads,” and is set in the Austrian castle where the “Sound of Music” was filmed. I would describe it as the Bachelor meets Hallmark Christmas. There are “gift-giving ceremonies” and it is all very exciting, since you never know when a new date is going to come. The idea of the show is to have the leads bring a date home to their families for the holidays, and although the hope is to find love, there is no commitment requirement at the end of the show. One of my favorite aspects of the show is how diverse it was-- it really painted a picture of how the world is today and how it should be. I am so grateful that I took this risk, since it enabled me to meet the love of my life, Kate, who am now lucky to call my fiance.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

Like I said, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to incorporate my family name into my business and wanted to produce something unique and valuable. I have always admired watches, so I began looking into how they are manufactured. I was intrigued by the intricate process and the idea that all these different elements come together from all over the world to create an extravagant, yet elegant whole.

It dawned on me that watches were what I wanted to create and sell, so I named my company Daniel Savage Watches after my father.  Now, I can sell my watches with a smile because it has that very personal connection to me. I am extremely excited to say that I will be launching my company around Valentine’s Day of this upcoming year. My vision is to create unique, high-quality couple’s watches, with matching “his and her” components. My Swiss movement timepieces are quartz battery-operated, containing sapphire crystal glass, stainless-steel ultra thin casing and genuine leather bands. I really push quality out of this brand, as I want to make sure my products are a daily staple.  Confidence is key, and now it’s on your wrist.

How do you like to get into the holiday spirit?

I know it’s Christmas time when the Claymations come on the television. I have watched them since I was a kid and I always will. I also think that Eggnog is a staple of the holiday season, and I always try to decorate my apartment as much as possible.

If you could spend a day with any person, who would you choose and why?

Muhammed Ali. He was inspiring both in the ring and out of it. I love his mantras and mindsets towards believing in yourself (confidence). The mind is so powerful. I admire who is and who he was everyday.

What are three things you can't live without?

  • Family
  • Movies
  • Milk. Doesn’t really matter the kind of milk. As long as it’s dairy, just keep it coming.

Chad's Advice for Students

Learn to open up and take chances and risks. You have to be uncomfortable if you want to grow. It’s easy to become complacent and stop taking risks, but you’ll gain so much more from leaving your comfort zone. Even more important, once you’re in that new, unfamiliar situation, you have to understand that it is also okay to mess up. It’s perfectly fine if you missed something, because you won't miss it the next time around.

Therefore, I truly believe you should join everything you can at Tech, so you can make those connections and grow as an individual. You never know who you are going to meet, how they will inspire you, or where those relationships will end up taking you.

Remember, if you believe in yourself to the core, you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.