Career Growth

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 skill set 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. So, 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.



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

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?


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
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.



A proud ESFJ and Nurturer, I’m a challenger of people. I remain deeply concerned about the relational health and harmony of my teams. I am committed to protecting values and principles while understanding how certain actions, behaviors and initiatives affect people. Let's connect on Twitter: @todmeisner