Career Advice From 10 Marketing Professionals

If you’ve been following my writing this spring, then you know I have been featuring Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational.

Each of these individuals possesses a skill set that I believe my readers will find extremely valuable. Additionally, they have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them here into perpetuity.

To make things easier for you, I have linked to all 10 posts below. Please check out all the sessions and drop me a line or leave comments to share your thoughts. If you have advice or something you want to add, I want to hear it!

I hope that you are able to learn something from one of these great people.

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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Q&A LINKS

Part 1: Chris Yandle  

Part 2: Karen Freberg  

Part 3: Kevin Adema

Part 4: Kristin Seed  

Part 5: Troy Johnson  

Part 6: Lora Wey

Part 7: Mark Hodgkin  

Part 8: Brett Myers  

Part 9: J.W. Cannon

Part 10: Kevin DeShazo 

Professional Development Q&A With Kevin DeShazo

This post is the 10th in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7   Part 8   Part 9

Name: Kevin DeShazo (@KevinDeShazo)
Profession: Founder of Fieldhouse Media and Culture Wins Championships
Degree: BS in Management Information Systems, MBA in International Business

You should know by now that I’m a big fan of Twitter.  You’ll find out below in this interview that so is Kevin. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he and I first connected on our favorite social media platform. We’ve been having conversations on our favorite social media platform for around 2-3 years now. He may even have ended up in my timeline because of interaction with Mark Hodgkin or Chris Yandle.

But, I digress. Kevin and I share many common traits and have had lots of conversations outside of Twitter quite frequently. His thought leadership when it comes to smart social media use for student athletes is second to none. Make sure to check out what he has going on over at Fieldhoue Media. His latest effort, Culture Wins Championships, is all about providing leaders in athletics with a proven program to create a championship winning culture. He is an expert in both areas and is constantly delivering his messages to the top athletic programs in the country.

All of that said, I think you will find Kevin’s discussion below not only informative, but useful as well. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Kevin DeShazo.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
Ha. It doesn’t, at all. My degree was in Management Information Systems. I knew early on I didn’t want anything to do with that field, but I sort of stumbled into where I am now. My first job out of college was as an embalmer’s assistant at a funeral home (a story for another day) then I got into the healthcare recruiting. In 13 years (that makes me feel old), my actual degree has had nothing to do with my professional career.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
Truth be told, I’m not much of a planner. I go wherever “feels right” and love to keep my options open. So I didn’t have a specific plan once I graduated. This is probably why I ended up working at a funeral home. It seemed fun, so why not? I never could have envisioned doing what I do now.

For one, social media wasn’t really a thing. Facebook existed and MySpace was coming, but the iPhone didn’t exist and the world as we know it was vastly different. And traveling the country to speak to athletes, coaches and leaders was honestly never something I considered. I always wanted to do something “big” but I didn’t know what that was.

Along the way I went from the funeral home to the corporate world and then to starting my own businesses. There were incredible successes and failures along the way (I went 2 years without making any money). But those opportunities and situations gave me perspective on the bigger story of life, and drove me to want to help people believe they have a story worth telling.

3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Know your strengths and weaknesses, be humble yet believe you’re capable. Be willing to do the work. Know your why.

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4) What do like the most about your profession?
I love being on campus and interacting with people, getting to help them realize what they’re capable of. On the social media side it’s helping players, coaches and administrators realize they have a story worth telling and guiding them in how to tell it. With leadership development, it’s helping them believe they are capable of being leaders worth following and guiding them through that process. It’s incredible to see a leader and a team truly change their culture. And the emails/calls/texts I get about the impact that our work is having on individuals, teams and even families/marriages. It’s incredibly humbling and energizing. It’s a tiring job that requires a lot of travel, but I head home every trip grateful for what I get to call work.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
People have gotten to a place now where they think that because student-athletes spend a ton of time on social media, that means they understand it and know how to use it well. So helping administrators realize that’s not reality, and that social media education is still crucial for these groups. I thinking also battling complacency. Fieldhouse Media has established itself as the leader in social media education for college athletics, but that doesn’t mean I can get comfortable. With Culture Wins Championships, the challenge is that the leadership space is really noisy and crowded, so trying to serve leaders in order to show them how what we have to offer is different.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
I started Fieldhouse in 2011, when the social media world was mostly Facebook and Twitter and most people were afraid of it. Today, social media is the way people communicate and new platforms continue to arrive on the scene. Early on, administrators wanted student-athletes to be scared of social media and wanted education centered on that. Today, they realize how important and valuable it is for student-athletes to use social media purposefully. I prefer to focus on the positives so that has made my job a lot easier.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
I think people leave the field because they are exhausted. Athletics is an “always on” industry and it can cause serious stress on individuals and families. People either embrace that and find the balance where they can, or they get frustrated and tired and pursue careers outside of athletics.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
Absolutely not. I genuinely love what I do.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
Twitter, without a doubt. I love the community, the people I’ve been able to meet and the opportunities it’s provided me.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
Last book I read was Shoe Dog (the Phil Knight bio – highly recommend). Also a huge fan of the StoryBrand podcast and (shameless plug) The Liberator podcast – provided by the guys who run the GiANT Worldwide, the leadership company behind Culture Wins Championships.

11) Where do you receive your news and information?
Twitter…end of discussion. Just kidding…

A. Print Newspaper — What’s that?
B. Online Newspaper — The Oklahoman, The Tulsa World, The New York Times
C. Television — Typically tuned to ESPN or The Food Network. (I try not to watch cable news).
D. Twitter — A variety of news outlets and individual journalists (from sports to politics to culture to religion or a variety of other topics)
E. Facebook — I try to avoid Facebook

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
If I’m not at work or with family/friends, I’m running, cycling or roasting coffee.

Professional Development Q&A With J.W. Cannon

This post is the ninth in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7   Part 8

Name: J.W Cannon (@cannonjw)
Profession: Senior Project Lead, Sponsorships and Events at UPS
Degree: Kinesiology

I was introduced to J.W. through my good friend Chris Yandle. In fact, I think a trend is developing on these blogs as not only have I profiled Chris, but many of the other folks who have been gracious enough to be featured on here I have met via Chris. But, I digress.

J.W. was kind enough to speak with me a few times as I look for new career opportunities. He had excellent insight for me about his career path and things I should/could consider as I pursue my next opportunity. He was transparent and very helpful and I can’t thank him enough.

You’ll learn more about him below, but I highly suggest giving him a follow on Twitter. He’s funny, has some great #dadlife tweets and also is one of the creators of #sbchat, a weekly twitter chat discussing all things sports business. Just search #sbchat on Twitter. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from J.W. Cannon.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
My degree program and current profession are both tied to sports, but that’s where the comparison ends. Kinesiology (the science of human movement, for those that don’t know) programs largely serve to train informal and formal recreation/fitness professionals and physical education teachers/researchers. Quite a bit different from the business world.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
When I stopped playing sports in college, I needed something to fill that void, so I started working at the recreation center at James Madison. At the time, it was a brand new facility, and the organization was getting students more involved in NIRSA – the governing body for recreational sports. I got really involved, and thought that I would be taking a graduate assistant position somewhere, and going on to work at a university somewhere. Just before I graduated I decided to take an internship (required for graduation) with a global sports agency – at the time Advantage International, but is now known as Octagon. After that three months, I decided that the sports business world was more my calling. So I scrapped my original plans and started seeking jobs in that space instead.

3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Learn to independently solve problems and do things for yourself. Resourcefulness is a trait that’s innate and almost impossible to teach, but so useful. That trait is something I lean on a little bit every day.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
Seeing the work that I do make so many people happy. In the beginning, all of the bright lights and big personalities of the sports business are easy to get swept up in. Over time, going to another game is just part of the job. But I never get tired of seeing the passion fans have for the work that we do. It keeps me going on a day-in, day-out basis.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
Convincing people that we are more than just banner hangers and ticket brokers. Yes, we deal with signage. Yes, we deal with tickets. Yes, we go to cool events. But sponsorship is a strategic marketing discipline just like every other part of the marketing mix.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
Accountability has become a much bigger issue, especially given the price tags involved with sponsorship and media. Gone are the days of impressions based metrics or doing sponsorships because “the CEO likes X”. Those are replaced by more complex engagement metrics and ties to the bottom line of the company.

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7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
Most people leave the industry for greener pastures because they feel that their skills are not valued properly. It’s not the highest paying industry, you tend to work odds hours and upward movement is often dependent upon how willing you are to move somewhere else. Some people feel that they should be getting more for that effort. The challenge is that there’s a line of hungry people out the door that are willing to do that job that look just like you (or better than you) on paper. So the industry is a little resistant to change in that regard because they don’t have to. I can’t say I agree or disagree with anyone’s decision to leave the industry, though. That’s a personal decision.

8) Are you considering leaving your current filed or company?
No, I’m not considering leaving. But in this industry you always have to keep your eyes and ears open, otherwise you’ll miss opportunities.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
Twitter (@cannonjw)

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
Last Book: Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez…fascinating look at the crazy Silicon Valley tech world
Last TED Talk: Tim Urban, Lessons from a Master Procrastinator

11) Where do you receive your news and information?
A. Print Newspaper – Never
B. Online Newspaper – All the time, largely through a series news feeds and aggregators (RSS, Flipboard, Nuzzel, etc)
C. Television – still quite often
D. Twitter – specialized and real time news
E. Facebook – personal only
F. Other – go through over 2K pieces of content per day using aggregators

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
My 6-year old son and my family is my hobby. Whatever time I do have, I like to spend with them.

4 Easy Ways to Find Work-Life Balance

It is possible to make some subtle changes to your lifestyle and find the right balance that makes you function efficiently in all aspects of your life. 

This post was originally published by and written for Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport).

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Individuals working in athletics and sports business know they’re choosing a certain lifestyle making the career decision to work in sports. A lifestyle that typically includes late nights, long hours, stretches away from family and friends, low compensation, lack of healthy meals, too many meals with limited activity, and the list goes on.

Those are just some of the reasons why people get burnt out and tend to transition to other career opportunities which offer a suitable work-life balance. That phrase “work-life balance” can mean different things to different people however. It doesn’t always mean changing careers or leaving a job that you really enjoy even if you have to make personal sacrifices.

Take it from someone who used to work in athletics and made the decision to look for a more balanced opportunity a few years ago. It is possible to make some subtle changes to your lifestyle and find the right balance that makes you function efficiently in all aspects of your life.

Below are some things to consider and some resources that exist to help you find that work-life balance to help you be the best version, both personally and professionally, that you can be.

Prioritize what gives you the most satisfaction –  Prioritization is key to achieving many things in life, but especially in finding balance. Does your job need to pay a certain amount? Does it need to have no travel at all or less travel than you experience currently? Does it need to offer flexible vacation time or generous holidays? Will it allow you opportunities for career development and growth? Will the employer offer a gym membership or on-site gym access? Prioritizing what aspects are important to you and will help you feel balanced. Discuss these items with those important to you and rank them. Use this a guide to help you remain where you are, look for something better, or just to keep you in the right frame of mind throughout your career.

Build downtime into your schedule – “Busy” is such an overrated word. There I said it. We’re in a culture of busy. People always say they are busy, like it’s a badge of honor. It’s really not. To me it means you can’t prioritize your time and efforts. Therefore you’re left scrambling all the time and use “busy” as a cover. Let’s stop the culture of busy. It can be done day planning your day with periods of down time, or periods when you are doing things that aren’t worth the time and effort. Make plans around improving your health. Make plans around strengthening the relationships that matter in your life. Downtime can mean many things and building in the time will make you a better person.

Focus on the good: complain less, appreciate more  – Gratitude is a powerful thing. So is positivity. YOU have a choice each day and during each situation you encounter to face it positively. YOU also have the choice to count your blessings and be grateful for everything you have in your life. So, stop complaining and start appreciating. You’ll be amazed at how your life will change. You’ll be amazed how you can change other people’s lives. You’ll also be amazed at the opportunities that will come your way when you remain connected to those that matter with a positive and grateful attitude.

When working, get in the zone  –  This last tip applies to being the most productive worker, employee, boss or mentor you can be when working. You have to be able to multi-task when working in athletics. Actually, looking at most job posting for any advertising and marketing jobs in any field will have “multi-tasking” as a critical skill. I tend to think of multi-tasking a little differently. I think you have to be able to accomplish multiple tasks and meet multiple deadlines within a given day or week. But, you need to tackle each task with a single focus. Don’t try to handle them all at once. Set your task priorities, focus on finishing on each task without interruption and get in the zone while working on each one. This will allow you to accomplish those tasks, but not get derailed along the way. It can get tough spinning so many plates at your agency or athletic department, but setting up your day with this focus can be a game changer.

These may seem like simple tips. And you know what, they are! They’re easy ways you can transform your life. They can make you a better person and help you achieve the professional and personal life balance that so many seek to achieve. Believe me, I practice the tips above and can attest to their power.

 

Professional Development Q&A With Mark Hodgkin

This post is the seventh in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Name: Mark Hodgkin (@Mark_Hodgkin)
Profession: Director of Product Development
Degree: BA in History, University of Texas at Austin; MBA, Bryant University

Mark and I connected via twitter (which isn’t that uncommon in this day and age). I would say it was in 2015 or so and again it was via my guy Chris Yandle. We traded some comments on Twitter for a while, and then in 2016 Mark reached out to me to discuss careers and other items.

At the time Mark was in career transition (or at least contemplating it) and he was picking my brain about my decision to leave college athletics and enter the private sector. He was genuinely interested in hearing about my story and also what I was up to in my career at that point. I never forgot the feelings I felt when he reached out and wanted to talk to me. I was humbled to think that I could help someone out and also excited to make a new connection.

Since that time, we stayed in touch and often discussed sports, brown drink and other common interests we shared. Mark was one of the first people I reached out to recently as I began looking for other career opportunities. He has been gracious in recent months to stay in touch to discuss careers, networking opportunities and of course bourbon. With that said, by the end of this blog I’m confident you will realize why Mark is such a great resource for me. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Mark Hodgkin.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
It’s hard to point to any direct relationship between my degrees and my current role. Late in my undergrad career I realized I wanted to work in sports. That led me to a graduate assistant position at Bryant University doing marketing while getting my MBA. I had never considered an MBA until then, but believe it has been useful in my career. Even my BA in History, which doesn’t seem terribly practical, definitely helped my writing and reasoning skills. That was very helpful with my MBA and in a general sense after my career.

My shift to digital came after taking an internship at Boston College, which came just as schools were starting to hire digital-focused people. That was a bit of good luck and timing as it led to a seven year stint at the Big East/American Conference and my current role at NeuLion.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
I credit one of my mentors, Dennis Coleman, for suggesting that working in sports could be a viable career path around the time of my junior year in college. Until then, I was drifting along assuming I’d do something like teach, work at a bank or perhaps even go to law school. So I got a late start, but as Dennis told me, he “could open the door, but you have to prove you belong.” Ever since then I’ve been full into sports, but have been able to find my niche in it with digital media.

3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
It’s almost cliche at this point, but Network, Network and then NETWORK some more. Opportunities to advance will almost always correspond with relationships you’ve built. Relationships I’ve worked to cultivate have led to every job I’ve ever gotten. If you want to work in sports, it’s especially important as it is a very small, close-knit community.

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4) What do like the most about your profession?
The thing I like most about college sports are the passion of its followers and the community of people. I always try to take a moment to think about how many people pay to attend events that we call work. That’s not to say that it is easy or without serious challenges. But at the end of the day, most people have to work and I think what we do is special.

I also think people in college sports have been amazing to connect and learn from. I can’t speak for every other industry but am amazed at how many people take the time to talk shop and trade ideas in this space.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
Currently, it’s adjusting from a chair on a school or conference side to life at a tech company. While I interacted with digital partners in my last two jobs, the challenges on the inside are totally different. You’re trying to build a cutting edge platform that suits the needs of hundreds of partners, while living within the confines of a business. I’ve always worked with a broad array of people, but going more to the technical side has its challenges.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
Thankfully for me, college sports has really gotten more focused on social and digital media. There are full-time positions everywhere and many now at a more senior level. What you’re seeing today from schools on the digital front is staggering. Take a look at the graphics today as opposed to just 3-4 years ago. It’s amazing and now something that almost all administrators and coaches see value in.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
Speaking from a college sports perspective, a lot of people leave because of the hours and often low pay. It can be hard to have that elusive “work/life balance” and I see people get burned out. The economics of the system obviously push the big bucks to head coaches in revenue sports and the long line of qualified applicants keep wages low for many others.

As far as why people leave, I can’t agree or disagree. We each have our own journey and I understand the desire to spend more time having “a life”. Though I do think it can be done, many struggle with the so-called balance.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
Absolutely not. A former colleague of mine always referred to what we do as the “toy section” of careers. It’s hard work and plenty challenging, but at the end of the day very rewarding.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
From a usage perspective, it’s Twitter followed closely by Instagram. I love the connections with strangers who have often become real life friends. I love how we can talk about common interests as well as follow along with news and sports stories in real time. I do think there are some scary addictive symptoms of too much social media use so I try to keep that in check. A few months ago I got off social media completely for a full month and really enjoyed it. Now I try to be more mindful of the time I spend and how easily it can distract me from more important tasks.

From an observer of the space I have an amazing amount of respect for what Facebook (and its subsidiary Instagram) has built and run. When you stop to think how Mark Zuckerburg took a fairly run-of-the-mill idea and built it into a globally transformative company (as a 20-something with no business background) really is staggering. I tend to think what Facebook is today is just the start and can’t imagine what it will look like in five years.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I read a ton. Typically a few books at a time. The best one I read recently was “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by a very interesting writer named Cal Newport. His book “Deep Work” was also very interesting to me even though he’s a strong critic of social media. I don’t agree 100% with everything he says but think his perspective is important – especially these days.

11) Where do you receive your news and information?
I don’t subscribe to a print paper or watch much TV. Most of my information comes from Internet sources be it social media or curated feeds via something like Pocket or Feedly. I also have a subscription to the Washington Post on my Kindle and find that useful.

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
For a time during my college career I seriously considered dropping out and pursuing a culinary degree so cooking is still a great hobby for me. I also read a ton and love playing golf when I have the time.

Professional Development Q&A with Kevin Adema

This post is the third in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Part 1   Part 2

Name: Kevin Adema (@KevinAdema)
Profession: Digital marketing consultant and educator
Degree: B.A. Business & Psychology, post-secondary CAAP designation from
ICA

I was introduced to Kevin at Second Wind’s Agency Account Manager College in Chicago last spring. I was lucky enough to attend last spring’s two-day certification, where Kevin was a featured presenter. As the only agency representative in attendance that worked for a digital-only agency, I was dubious Kevin would tell me something I didn’t think I already knew.

Thankfully, Kevin’s presentation offered a wealth of new ideas and perspective on the state of digital and how agencies are falling behind. Even though I was working for a digital first agency, there was still plenty I learned and I’ve remained in contact with Kevin ever since.

Please check out his website and look into his classes on digital strategy. You won’t regret it. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Kevin Adema.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated
with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
Education’s aim is always to empower and to train the student “how” to
think, “how” to learn and then, “how” to apply. My formal education paved
the path for me to have knowledge in both the business and personal realm
so in that regard, it is fully aligned with what I do currently. Are the
specifics from one course or another directly linked to my daily practice?
Not really as in my field of marketing, every day presents new issues.
Moreover, as marketing marries businesses with consumers, a marketer must
be a continual student, obsessed with learning and continually willing to
adapt.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what
you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations
along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
I didn’t have an exact ideal job in mind. I love business and I love
working with people. I was blessed to start my career in an agency as
marketing fuses my two professional passions together.

Deviations: no, not really. I’d say there were delays: Agency life can be
grinding as we get wound up in the daily ebb and flow of turning work
over. These patterns of “busy” can keep a person stuck and not growing.

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3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Be obsessively humble. Marketing is NOT about you and moreover, it’s
definitely NOT about the brand. Marketing is about understanding human
behavior and real human needs and then, filling those needs. I’d humbly give free access to our Fundamentals course to any marketing professional.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
The exact moment when someone says: “now I get it” and they get fired up,
excited and passionate about doing digital the right way.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
I’m battling 100-year old legacy thinking. It’s deeply entrenched into our
academics and established business protocols. Although millions of dollars
have been spent proving the “old way” isn’t working, change is never easy
even if it’s desperately needed.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
When I first started in an agency, we still had CMYK film and Quark was
the epitome of a designers toolbox. Those are long gone and digital
has completely changed how marketing works forever. We can’t use
traditional media approaches where we talk AT an audience. Digital has
given the consumer a voice and real power. It’s a dialogue, not a
monologue.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they
leave?

Marketing is not 9-5. Burn out, stress, fatigue are all factors.
Marketing is also very people centric. Any time you put more than 1 person
in a room, there exists a good chance for drama and politics.
I’ve learned many hard lessons dealing with people. I’ve made many
mistakes but hopefully, I’ve also empowered and taught enough people to
make a difference.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
Never.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
Any coffee shop where two people can put their mobile devices away and sit
face-to-face and talk. 🙂

If I had to choose, probably Linkedin as it attempts to stay professional
but as with most platforms, it’s loaded with content and not discussions.

10) What was the last book you read?  The last TED talk or othere-learning content you consumed?
I have a very large business library and use it frequently. The most
recent book I’ve spent the most dedicated time in was: “The Shift” by
Scott M. Davis. His philosophy of how marketers must change to become
leaders of tomorrow has inspired much of my work.

11) Where do you receive your news and information
A. Print Newspaper
B. Online Newspaper
C. Television
D. Twitter
E. Facebook
F. Other

Yes to all, but remember, reading or watching is not necessarily learning.
For example, if I read something in a certain publication that has an
inherent certain slant, have I learned the truth? NO. I’ve learned a
perspective on the truth. Read always to gain information from numerous
sources and then learn how to combine it for value. When numerous credible
sources all point to the same outcome, you have knowledge.

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a
hobby?
I am married to a wonderful woman and we have three beautiful kids.
Spending time with them is my hobby and of course, I wish I could do it
more than I do.

Professional Development Q&A with Karen Freberg

This post is the second in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Name: Karen Freberg (@kfreberg)
Profession: Assistant Professor in Strategic Communications
Degree: Ph.D from the University of Tennessee (Communications), M.A from University of Southern California (Strategic Public Relations), and B.S from University of Florida (Public Relations).

If I remember correctly, I started following Karen on Twitter within the last year. In fact, I believe I discovered her via my first Q&A subject Chris Yandle. Social media is a funny thing, you can really feel like you get to know someone based on their Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat content. You can also get introduced some very cool people whom you might not have otherwise got to know.

Through Twitter I learned early that Karen is not only a passionate instructor of all things social media, she’s a practitioner as well. There are so many speakers, instructors and others out there who discuss social and its best practices and it becomes obvious they’re not practicing what they preach. Karen however is active on social, especially on Twitter and Snapchat and she was an obvious choice to feature on my blog. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Karen Freberg.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
I’d have to say my current role is very closely aligned. I always knew I wanted to go into teaching, but I didn’t know in what until I discovered PR during my first year at the University of Florida. I was a pre-med major (didn’t last long) before switching to psychology. However, thanks to my athletic academic advisor at the time, she saw what I was doing in promoting myself as a student-athlete online (websites, newsletters, etc) and suggested PR. Took my first class and the rest is history!

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
Pretty close! I have always been a fan of technology, so teaching courses in strategic communications and social media really make sense to me. It’s been a fun journey and one that makes me very happy. It’s a combination of research, teaching, mentorship, and practicing what I am preaching in class with consulting and speaking engagements.

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3)What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Learning does not end after school. You are going to have to work hard, continue educating yourself, and networking within and outside of your chosen field. This is a field that is constantly changing, so you need to work hard to keep up.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
The fact that it is constantly changing and evolving. I get bored REALLY easily and if I was doing the same thing every day – that wouldn’t work. I love learning and exploring new ways of solving problems, identifying opportunities, and helping others.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
I’d say time management. We all have time, but we decide to spend it on certain things. It’s our most precious currency and we have to make the most of it. Some people do, but a lot of people don’t.

6) Has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
YEP! I remember when I was working and doing my internships, MySpace was the place to be. However, I try to actively take on projects and consult so I am able to stay in touch with the profession still as an educator. Plus, my research is very much on the applied side, so that also helps.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
I have had a few friends leave academia to go into practice, and I think it all comes down to what their overall goals are personally. Each case was different – but life is a journey and I have always supported my friends in their decisions. Thanks to social media, we all are able to stay in touch!

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
NOPE. Never has crossed my mind. Love what I do!

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
This is a hard one!! I’d have to say Twitter for networking and being able to connect my students with professionals. It’s been my go to platform for my classes for years. I’d have to say I am also a fan of Snapchat and Instagram (especially Instagram Stories) is slowly growing on me.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I read Mark Schaefer’s latest book “Known” and it was pretty good. I am an avid reader of online content and the last piece I read was an article about why people were leaving Snapchat to go over to Instagram. Fascinating!

11) Where do you receive your news and information?
I’d have to say a variety of places. I spend about 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to catch up with what is happening in the field, society and world. I have a list of industry, local, national, and international resources I check on a regular basis. This is my morning routine always with a cup of coffee in hand.

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
Love working out and cooking. I am currently training for my second mini marathon (did my first one last year to celebrate my 10 year anniversary of my retirement from track and field!) I also love photography and traveling. I have a few trips planned out for this spring as well as summer (including going to the Cannes Lions Festival) for work, which I am excited about. Exploring new places, cultures, and environments helps spark my creativity and appreciation of the wonderful world we live in.

Professional Development Q&A with Chris Yandle

This post is the first in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.

Name: Chris Yandle (@ChrisYandle)
Profession: Communications Specialist, St. Tammany Parish Public School System (former college athletics administrator)
Degree: B.A., Public Relations (Louisiana-Lafayette, 2004); M.S., Athletic Administration (Marshall, 2007); current Higher Ed Leadership Ph.D. student, Mercer University (estimated completion: 2019)

I first met Chris during my time with Conference USA from 2006-2010. Chris was a graduate assistant SID at Marshall University and served as the media contact for various sports, which I also handled, for the conference office. We stayed in touch as he climbed the ranks in college athletics at various schools, while I began working in digital media on the corporate and agency side.

We’ve stayed in close contact as he and I have both been making career moves. Chris is one of the smartest and most driven people that I know. Despite what he may think, he was at the top of my list of people to profile for this series. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Chris Yandle.

1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
My entire professional career has been in the public relations and communications field. Before my current role, I spent 15 years in communications for college athletics. That career allowed me to learn many skills and juggle many job demands which ultimately prepared me for the next step in my career in K-12 education. The beauty of having PR and communications skills are that you can work in any industry; you learn to become very versatile and multifaceted.

2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
That’s an interesting question. Before starting college, I didn’t know the athletics communications field existed. I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter, but I quickly fell in love with college athletics. But because I devoted my entire life to the field, it consumed me and I fell out of love with it. I learned that there was more to life than a career. Looking back on my career, I think I accomplished all that I could accomplish. I wish I would have enjoyed more of the journey than I did. I didn’t celebrate the small victories and the little things. I was so consumed with conquering the big events and big victories. I think not enjoying the journey ultimately led to me falling out of love with my career. On a positive note, that lesson has helped me in my new career. I’ve celebrated more small victories in eight weeks than in the previous 15 years.

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3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
Make the big time where you are. Don’t continuously look for the next big thing. The big thing should always be where you are.

4) What do like the most about your profession?
Being the K-12 sector now, I get to visit our schools regularly and interact with the kids on a daily basis. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed being on campuses and telling the schools’ stories.

5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession?
The biggest challenge in college athletics was the constant rat race. It was never-ending and it was a constant fight for the next title and the next big thing. While college athletics offered upward mobility, K-12 doesn’t offer the same mobility. I think that’s the biggest challenge I would face, but I am not looking for the next big thing. I want to enjoy the journey.

6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
Social media has changed everything in how we communicate and do our jobs. When I started in college athletics, website video wasn’t a thing yet. Now, it’s hype videos, live videos, graphic design, digital recruiting, and 90-hour work weeks. Because of the constant need for information and attention, the purpose of college athletics forced PR and communications offices to change their focuses.

7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
People in college athletics get burned out easily because of the long work hours and no time for decompression. You’re constantly on the go. I worked weekends constantly for 15 years. Now that I’m in K-12, I have my first M-F, 9-5 job in my life. I can totally relate to why people leave the field. It’s hard to have a family and work 70-90 hours per week. It’s demanding, it’s a grind. I don’t know how my wife put up with it for so long.

8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
I was contemplating leaving college athletics for a few years before I was let go from my last school. It was unplanned and certainly led to several months of struggles for me and my family, but it probably was a good thing it happened. For the first time in my career, I am happy with what I’m doing in K-12. I feel fulfilled.

9) What is your favorite social media platform?
My wife and kids will you tell – in unison: Twitter. I like the real-time and 1-to-1 interaction with people. You can instantaneously comment and respond. It’s where I get my news.

10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I am currently reading ‘Do Over’ by Jon Acuff. It talks about making a career change and it’s helped spark my creativity for a book I’ve always wanted to write. The last TED talk for me was ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek. We watched it in one of my higher ed classes. I also read his book, too.

11) Where do you receive your news and information? 
A. Print Newspaper – New Orleans Advocate
B. Online Newspaper – New Orleans Advocate, USA TODAY
C. Television – NBC News, local New Orleans stations
D. Twitter – New Orleans media, national writers
E. Facebook – #FakeNews 🙂
F. Other – Nope

12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
My hobby in the fall was coaching my son’s U6 soccer team. Now that I have more time on my hands, my hobbies are reading, playing with my kids and probably doing homework on the weekends 🙂

Where Personal and Professional Meet

IMG_1307When I launched my personal blog last spring, the goal was to share my personal experiences through a creative outlet (writing, duh) that most recently I hadn’t been able to do for pleasure. Each blog to date allowed me to express information I am not sure I would have shared publicly in the past, while remembering how much I love to write. 

Additionally, the feedback and encouragement I have received about my posts has been tremendous. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment or reach out to me in some way. Those messages reinforced that I made the right decision.

That said, my blog is going to take a slightly different direction and tone as I continue to immerse myself in the world of Verge Pipe Media. After my first few blogs, I mentioned that my goal was to mix personal posts with content that would establish me as a thought leader and innovator in the world of inbound marketing. Now that I am at VPM, I’m spending a lot of time and effort to help grow the company, as well as writing for our company blog.

Going forward, I will link to the blogs that I publish for VPM on this site. I will also occasionally take the time to write about my personal journey and express my thoughts on how to set a positive example.

Because I have a very structured “work” blogging schedule, I want to make sure that my creative professional efforts are published to the widest audience. So, I hope that my readers (do I have readers?) will welcome this new mix of professional industry information as well as personal posts.

I said all that to say this . . . I won’t just be pushing my marketing and public relations thoughts on this blog. But, you will see a lot of that content here more often.

I plan to hold myself accountable and also provide additional blogs that are both entertaining and inspirational for those that may need the encouragement.

In the meantime, please read my first official blog post from the Verge Pipe Media Blog: Creative Possibilities For Brands and Live-Stream Video Apps

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Failing Your Way to Happiness

unnamedFailing Your Way to Happiness…sounds like a funny concept right? But when you think about it a little bit deeper, it kind of makes sense. I know when I really thought about what that phrase meant, it hit home for me.

I must give credit to my inspiration for this entry, Marc and Angel. I learned of this couple and their blog just recently, and they are a great source of encouragement for me.

The words fail and failure carry a negative connotation. I mean, they are defined as being unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal.

But I like to flip that notion on its head and think like Winston Churchill once said: Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

What I take from that quote is, it’s all about how you handle failure. You can either look at all the positives you still have in your life and move ahead in hopes of better things, or you accept the failure and pack it in.

For the better part of my 33 years, I’m positive I accepted failure as a finality. Now, through reading sites like Marc and Angel, clearing negative things out of my life, and realizing that thinking positive is an easy change, I’ve had the courage to continue in the face of failure.

I’ll be honest, my pursuit of a full-time job this spring has produced mostly rejection. Through all the rejections, I was able to stay positive and always cherished the good I had in my life. It’s through these events and actions that I think that I’ve finally “Failed My Way to Happiness.”

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Remember, thinking positive costs nothing and changes things for the better. I’m the happiest and most confident I’ve been in my life despite all the recent rejections and what some would perceive as failures.

By facing things with a positive outlook, I’ve been able to have my “moment of clarity” and am ready to share publicly my latest happy news. It is with great excitement that I announce I have taken the newly created position of Executive Director, Client Services with Verge Pipe Media (VPM) here in Auburn.

I’ve been doing contract work for VPM and its founder Don Crow since March. Along the way Don and I realized that we had many things in common both personally and professionally. We also developed a great respect for each other and realized that together we could really take VPM to new heights.

I’ll let Don chime in here to lend his perspective…

“When I think about what makes an entrepreneur, or in this case, join me in an entrepreneurial journey, I think about Tod’s transformation over the past year. I’ve seen him grow as a true professional in many facets, including having a ‘stable’ job working remotely, going into a contract role with us, and then making the decision to join Verge Pipe Media full time on the partner track. The trait that sealed the deal for us was watching the resolve and the positive mental outlook he maintained through the journey. Once we saw that, coupled with the consistency in performance, we knew Tod had the character to make this work and ride the roller coaster that this industry demands.”

I’ll say this again, positivity is a choice. You have a choice to wake up every day and be positive. Choosing to face each day with enthusiasm and positivity has changed my whole outlook on life.

It has allowed me to stop worrying about what I can’t control. It has also allowed me to not rely on other people to define what makes me successful.

I’ll close with a passage from the great Steve Jobs. To me this is a perfect way to show how drowning out negativity and doing things for only yourself can truly allow you to Fail Your Way Into Happiness.

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”