028: Ready, Set, Storytelling with The Marketing Quarterback – Henry Adaso

C: Podcast

Henry Adaso is The Marketing Quarterback. In this episode, we discuss what a mentor is and why Henry didn’t have the broadest access to mentors when he was younger. We also discuss how storytelling and teamwork are the key pillars of marketing success in the digital marketing world. 

Key Points + Topics

  • [1:59] Henry Adaso grew up in Nigeria. In high school, he realized there was no press club. So, he started one and was elected president. He launched a newsletter and organized a newscasting team. He would handwrite the newsletter covering the school sports teams, events, and more. This is when he first fell in love with words. Looking back, he now realizes this was the foundation of his career in marketing. What was a newsletter in high school would today be called content marketing.
  • [3:30] Henry went to Colorado State University, where he got his Bachelor’s in Marketing. He originally believed he wanted to be a publisher, though he didn’t fully know the details of what that job title entailed. He just knew he wanted to publish content. And that is how he started in the marketing industry. He started as a music journalist and launched a blog. As he was writing about music, internet marketing began to truly pick up steam. So, he made the jump, and thankfully many of his skills from the journalism world translated to digital marketing. 
  • [6:55] A mentor is a guide. Adaso knows that’s what it means to him. A mentor is someone who can lead the way and guide you down the path you want to go. It’s a different world today than when Henry was young and looking for mentors. He didn’t have the same access people have now, with the internet giving you ready access to mentors all over the world. That access was even more acute when he started looking for a mentor with similar worldviews and life experiences as himself. Mentors can be a lot like sports coaches. Many of the most successful coaches are those who have played the sport. They know what it’s like to be a player and how to guide their teams to success. 
  • [13:00] One of Henry’s first mentors in the marketing world was Conrad. He hired Henry to a marketing agency with no agency work experience because he saw and valued Henry’s unique personality and background. Later, Henry worked for Pam Lockheart. He was initially brought in for a 2-week content creation contract. He completed the contract and was offered a full-time position. Everyone that worked at the agency was appropriately intimidated by Pam. Once, she came to give Henry feedback on his writing. “You write at a 5th-grade level.” Heart-sinking, Henry tried to take in the critique. “That’s a good thing!” Then Pam began coaching Henry on copywriting and readability and assessing your content’s reading levels. 
  • [14:50] Now Henry is in a leadership position and mentors others, both through his day job as the Head of Marketing and also through his books. His number one key to successful mentoring is listening. It’s essential to understand what people’s goals are. It’s very easy for leaders to default to mentoring others based on their goals. It’s important to ask, “What do YOU want?”
  • [16:25] Henry took part in the Global Mentorship Initiative. He mentored a recent engineering graduate from Ghana that had just had to return to his home county of Zimbabwe. It was a very structured relationship, a type of mentorship set-up Henry recommends everyone try if they’re able. They met weekly for about 14 weeks and discussed different topics. It was very rewarding for Henry to watch him transition from graduating from his college program to defining his career goals to crafting his resume to landing career interviews, offers, and opportunities. Henry still checks in on his former mentee to this day. 
  • [18:40] Henry has written and published three bestselling books in four years. How did he use his storytelling superpowers in his books? Simple – they all start with a story. His first book was published after seven years of procrastinating and second-guessing. The book counters the notion that internet marketing success is found by pushing out the most content, but rather by pushing out quality content. He recommends you write your content with ONE customer/reader in mind. The book was a resounding success. The Gap, his second book, was about the process of writing the first book. Every journey has a gap, Adaso says. If you can make it past the middle (the gap) when you get frustrated or bored, or distracted, you can make it to the end and see your success. His third book discusses how to clarify your messaging so it resonates with your audience. It situates messaging in The Messaging Tower. At the bottom, the least interesting thing you can say about your product is its features. The middle of the tower discusses the product’s benefits. Most marketers stop there. If you can make it to the top – the transformation your product can bring about – that is where you have the best chance of resonating. 
  • [23:55] How do you break through the noise? Henry knows we live in a world with more content available than we could possibly consume. Many marketers and consumers struggle with the amount of messaging seen by every person every day. This is why it is even more important to clarify your message, hyperfocus on who the message is for, ignore everything else, and deliver it in a way that meets your consumers where they are. You really need to picture an audience of one. Creating customer personas can seem to many marketers like an abstract exercise. However, if it’s done correctly, it’s an exercise in empathy. You have to imagine what it’s like to be in the customers’ shoes, struggling the way they are, and how that feels. And how it feels to have that pain relieved. 
  • [29:24] When it comes to building exceptional teams, Henry says he told the candidates during their interviews that he was “assembling the Avengers.” Meaning he wanted to build a balanced team with superpowers and skills that complemented each other. Additionally, he makes sure he’s bringing on people that share his vision and have a growth mindset where they are always wanting to learn new things.
  • [32:00] Why is Adaso the marketing quarterback and not the marketing coach? He loves to be in the trenches of marketing with his team. There’s nothing he will ask of them he is unwilling to do himself. He feels this is best personified in the role of a quarterback. He can set up the play and run it. 
  • [32:50] Henry has worked as an in-house marketer and in the agency world. Agency work exposes you to many different strategies and industries. However, it is challenging to develop a depth of expertise in any one of those industries. In-house marketing work does help you develop deep knowledge of a given industry; however, you often have to step outside your company to stay up-to-date on trends and things not of your industry. 
  • [35:23] As a devoted soccer fan (Chelsea FC!), Henry knows teamwork is one of the main elements of soccer that translates to marketing. You have to compliment each other on your team. In soccer, if someone on your team moves forward, you have to be willing to drop back and defend the goal. It’s important to have chemistry and teamwork dynamics. 

Guest + Episode Links

Full Episode Transcript

Danny Gavin    00:05 

Hello everyone, I’m Danny Gavin, Founder of Optidge, Marketing Professor and the host of the digital marketing Mentor. Today I’m so excited to introduce Henry Adaso, Head of Marketing for the US region for cemex and also a really close friend of mine. Henry’s A storyteller with an eye for opportunity and a natural ability to cast his clients as heroes. Henry crafts compelling journeys that drive. Measurable results for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike. With 15 plus years on both the agency and client side of marketing initiatives, Henry knows how to connect the dots between C-Suite priorities and audience needs to produce data-driven creative. He’s a three time best selling author, The Art of Messaging, The Gap and content mapping three amazing books. Today we’re going to talk about building a winning team and breaking through the noise. Henry, how are you?


Henry Adaso    01:15 

Fantastic thank you so much for having me on.


Danny Gavin    01:18 

It’s really a pleasure. Wonderful to have you on. Been thinking about you for a while and you know our relationship, we’ve gotten a lot closer over the years yeah and it’s just you know someone that I look up to. I think you’re doing some great work out there and just a great symbol of someone who works hard and successful and is out there. So it’s awesome to have you here.


Henry Adaso    01:38 

Thank you so much, Danny, and congratulations to you on the podcast. I watched it from the very first episode and look at you now, it’s an amazing podcast full of rich content and I’ve just enjoyed seeing the growth and the evolution of the podcast. I’m a fan pleasure thank you. All right. So let’s dive right in. Usually we start with like your educational background, but I know, Henry, you were born and grew up in Nigeria, Africa. For people who don’t know, I was actually born in South Africa. So it’s nice that we have our African connection. But tell me a little bit about your childhood, obviously growing up there and then coming to the United States, you know, how did how do you feel like that laid an impression on you, especially as you became a marketer these days?


Henry Adaso    02:21 

Yeah, I grew up in Nigeria as you mentioned, and I was in high school when I first. Fell in love with words and I realized that our high school had no Press Club and so I started one and they made me president of the Press Club and so we launched the high school newsletter and the high school magazine. We had a newscasting team and I would hand write my own personal newsletters with the day’s top music and top sports events and all kinds of top ten lists. And then I would run around annoying my friends and making them read these poorly written newsletters. But you know, what I realized looking back now is that was ultimately the foundation for what ended up becoming my career in marketing. A lot of the same things I was doing now are the things I’m doing now. So that I was doing back then sorry are the things that I’m doing now. So when you think about that newsletter that I used to make, well today we call it content marketing. Or email. Marketing so it really laid the foundation for who I ended up becoming today amazing so after that, obviously you came to United States, you went to Colorado State University, got your bachelor’s in marketing. You know, obviously you had like a kind of an early journalistic background. Did you think about maybe doing journalism in school, or was it always marketing?


Henry Adaso    03:40 

That was my dream. I wanted to become a journalist. You’re absolutely right. And in fact, my initial career goal was to become a publisher. I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew that I wanted to publish things that were interesting, and journalism was the first career that I thought of where I could do that. So that’s what I reached out for, and I worked briefly as a music journalist. I launched A blog. And eventually my career in journalism took me into marketing. Now I know you’ve had some guests on the podcast that talked about how they began in journalism and then realized that they could transfer those same journalistic storytelling skills to a marketing environment. And then they made that pivot. So i relate with that journey because that was exactly how it went. Ultimately, I was writing about music, and eventually. There was this thing called Internet marketing that was starting to take over. So I made the jump and I saw that. A lot of the same skills that I had developed and honed from storytelling to questioning to really finding out what matters and how to connect with people. All of those things translated to my career today in marketing.


Danny Gavin    04:53 

What brought you to Houston?


Henry Adaso    04:55 

I had family here, so it was an easy decision. Also it’s just as hot in Houston as it was in Nigeria. So that was a an easy adjustment to make weather wise. And Houston, I tell people today it’s the food capital of the United States and I think that’s true. So there are a lot of positives, but mostly because I had family here, it was a lot easier for me to anchor myself in the city. So I came here over 20 years ago and. Now I love it. I’m the Houstonian.


Danny Gavin    05:26 

Yeah, we similar in that sense. You know, when my parents decided to come to the United States, it’s obviously a lot easier when you can find a place where you have family. So we happen to have my mom had an aunt who lived in Houston of all places. So we came here. I think she left like a week after we arrived. But thank god no.


Danny Gavin    05:47 

Yeah, we won’t go to that. We’ll have to get my mom on the podcast and talk about that story but i want to hear that story that sounds like an interesting story.


Danny Gavin    05:56 

Yeah, but you know, it’s all good because obviously I met my wife here and so it all worked out. Well, talk about wives. I know you’re engaged and you’re having a wedding soon, right?


Henry Adaso    06:06 

Absolutely i am engaged to the most amazing woman in the world and I feel very lucky to have met her. And we’re getting married four days after my birthday in October, so we’re. Pretty much in wedding planning mode right now. It’s a lot of fun to get to plan a big production congrats and I know, like, you know the pictures that from your engagement shoot are just so beautiful. You, like, guys look like a wonderful couple. So I’m really excited for you and yeah.


Henry Adaso    06:34 

Thank you we’re both. I’m a marketer. She’s a creative. She worked she worked in the performing arts space. She’s an actor. And so between the two of us, just imagine what the storyboards look like. We throw a lot of creative ideas on the wall and we’re just really trying to have fun with it as too creative. So yeah we’re really excited yeah enjoy this time? It’s very special. All right, so let’s jump into mentorship. So, Henry, how would you define a mentor?


Henry Adaso    07:01 

A mentor is a guide, someone who can show you the way to get to your goals, whatever those may be. If you think about a lot of the professions that we get into like marketing, part of why we’re able to do what we do is because people left trails. They left clues, they left ideas behind that allowed us to make that transition that we needed to make. So a mentor is someone who can guide that journey from I don’t know what I’m doing to. This looks like a great career and I think I can thrive in this career.


Danny Gavin    07:34 

I like the concept of a guide. I feel like whenever we go through our careers, it helps to have you know that person who can push us to go, where to go. You know, Obviously there have been important people in your lives and we’re going to get to that. But you’ve mentioned how like you haven’t. You didn’t necessarily have access as much, maybe to others, to mentors. Can we talk about a little bit? Why do you feel like you didn’t get access to mentors?


Henry Adaso    07:56 

It’s a very different world now. You can get online and access a lot of mentors from a distance, but there was a time when it wasn’t always that easy to be in the same space as the people that had done the things that you wanted to do. So it was a lot more difficult to access mentors and that list gets even smaller when you consider the fact that a good mentor typically is someone who. One has been where you’re trying to go, but it’s more effective if they’re also someone who shares certain commonalities, life experiences, whether it’s your gender, background or career. And so that becomes a much smaller list. And now I think today there’s a little bit more access because of just this small global village that we live in. But yeah, there was a time when I had to find creative ways to be able to access mentors.


Danny Gavin    08:51 

It’s hard, right. It is hard because that. But that’s why I think it’s so cool of like how amazing you are. Like anyone who goes to Henry’s LinkedIn and will have a like man, Henry’s like done some amazing things yeah so just to kind of go through that and maybe not always having access to the right people or the people who you could relate to the most, I’m sure was tough. But I think you know putting that aside I’m sure that’s what makes you an amazing mentor these days because you know what you’ve gone through and how you can help others.


Henry Adaso    09:21 

It’s, you know, think about sports coaches. Some of the most successful coaches are people who have played the sport, maybe not necessarily to the highest level, but they’ve played the sport. They’ve been in the shoes of the players, So they know what it’s like to be a player. They know what buttons their coaches pushed to get them to perform. And it does make a difference. That relatability makes a difference. I’ll tell you a quick story when I was getting into the agency world. A million years ago I applied to this job and i didn’t have any formal agency background at the time. And so I get to the job interview and the hire managers is asking me all these questions about my background and I’m presenting the this profile of a candidate who can do the job. And I say, yeah, you know, I’ve written a lot of stuff i hadn’t done any marketing copywriting at the time, but I was like, yeah, I’ve written some things and I can write. Just give me a chance. Put me in coach, right? And he stops me, he goes, wait, you have a blog, right? I hesitated. I was like, yes, I do have a blog. And he pulls out a laptop, pulls up my blog. At the time it was a music blog. And he goes, I really like your blog. I’m a fan. And he starts telling me that he’s a DJ And so here I was thinking. And we didn’t have anything in common. And thinking that I needed to talk up my experience and my skill set as a writer. But he was fascinated by the idea that I was able to make that shift from writing about music to writing about marketing. He loved the blog. He was a DJ himself. He had been through the same path. He was now a hiring manager in the marketing capacity. And so. Long story short, he ended up hiring me, we became best friends and he was my first mentor in marketing. I know we’re going to get into mentorship and so that was the beginning of my journey with my very first mentor, Conrad. But again, it came back to he understood who I was and he allowed me to be who I was. And in fact he valued the fact that I had that diversity of experience and having worked in different fields, so. That’s one of the keys when it comes to being able to find ways to access mentors, is you have to leave yourself open to the possibility that you’re going to come in contact with someone who has taken the same path that you’re trying to take.


Danny Gavin    11:46 

But I think it also brings up a good point that, you know, you can have people who look different or maybe they have different backgrounds, but man, if you just get them into a room and you open up, you don’t know what are the commonalities and what are the amazing things that bring us together. I mean with the way we know each other is through like a networking organization. Am a of Houston and you know, i can’t stress how important it is for people to get out there and actually meet people. Because sometimes when you’re at home and you’re in a little box, you don’t have the opportunity to meet people. But when you go out there, you get access to like mentors, friends, other people. And just by having that chance to speak to someone more often than not, you’re going to find some commonality. That can create that bond and then create that mentorship or friendship sort of situation.


Henry Adaso    12:35 

Ooh, that’s such a powerful point. That is such a powerful point. And really what you’re saying is we have to be curious about people. And when we’re open and curious, it opens up a world of possibilities yeah you put it a lot more succinctly than me, so.


Henry Adaso    12:52 

But I can’t stop being a writer.


Danny Gavin    12:54 

No, you’re good, man. We’re going to get into that. But that’s awesome. So Conrad sounds like an amazing mentor. I know you’ve also mentioned Pam Lockhart. Anything about her in particular that stands out as being a mentor in your life?


Henry Adaso    13:06 

I went to work for Pam in 2013 Prior to that i had I told my ACL had surgery, was laid off from my job and so I was looking scraping for any opportunity to get back. Into the workspace and so the DM N3 opportunity came up. Pam is the CEO and founder of DM N3 was brought in to do a two week contract job and it was a marketing content creation job. I completed the contract and they offered me a full time position and one day. So prior to meeting Pam, everyone at the agency was intimidated because she’s extremely accomplished and. Just one of the smartest marketers you’ll meet. And so I was working on a piece of content and Pam comes over and i’m very nervous because I have no idea what she’s going to say. And she comes over tells me she has some feedback from me and she says you right at a fifth grade level and Dan in my heart sank, I thought up this is it. Jig is up. I’m definitely getting fired. And she goes, no that’s a good thing. I was like wow it is and so and so she starts. Talking to me and coaching me on copywriting and readability, things that I’d never heard of and she taught me how to assess the readability of my content and ultimately over time Pam just kind of took me under her wings and coached me and mentored me and I. Would not be the marketer that I am today without her generosity and her mentorship.


Danny Gavin    14:39 

Sounds like one of those like America’s Got Talent right, where they tell you did not but you didn’t make it right yeah so.


Henry Adaso    14:47 

Now obviously you’re in a leadership position, you’re mentoring a lot of people, your teams. So tell me a little bit, like, what are your keys when you’re mentoring others? I think it’s really important to understand what. People’s goals are because everyone has a different idea of what success means and so I think it’s important to listen, be open, understand their goals. Because when we understand what it is they’re seeking, that’s when we have the best chance to guide and help and coach them towards attaining that goal. So I would say listening is the most important attribute of a of mentorship.


Danny Gavin    15:32 

You know, it’s making me thinking like do I know everyone in my company, their goals and I’m like a lot of them. I do. But I’m thinking there’s some that I don’t know and it’s important, right? Because otherwise you don’t you can’t steer them in the right direction and they’ll become unhappy if it if it doesn’t align right like what they’re doing, what they’re experiencing. I think it’s a really important point that maybe, you know, we overlook.


Henry Adaso    15:55 

Yeah, because it’s easy for us to. Default to mentoring people based on what we want, our goals, our aspirations, But the next person may want something different. You know, we may be thinking about it in terms of career aspirations or maybe success, and they’re thinking in terms of meaning or finding work that aligns with their values. And so it’s really important to ask that question and say, you know what do you want? And that allows us to then mentor and coach and guide in the right way.


Danny Gavin    16:26 

So I know you’ve also had the privilege of serving as a Global mentorship initiative or GMI mentor where you had a mentee, I believe, a college graduate in a different time zone. You want to tell me a little bit about, you know, how you got involved with that and how that process went?


Henry Adaso    16:39 

Yeah, absolutely. I had the privilege and honor of mentoring a student who was a recent graduate. He graduated from an engineering program in Ghana, and then you had to move back to Zimbabwe, where he was from. And so we were in, we were six hours apart and so i’m getting up at eight a m and it’s like you know one or one or two p m for him. And it was a 14 week period I believe and we would meet weekly. It was very structured, very disciplined and we would meet every week to talk about different topics And so it was completely rewarding to see him. Go from graduating from the program to clarifying his goals, to polishing his resume and his LinkedIn profile, to acquiring job search skills, to landing job opportunities and landing interviews. And on and on and on and so watching that journey. Honestly I got probably got as much out of it as he did because it was it was so rewarding to see his evolution and he’s a very bright kid and it’s all down to his discipline and his dedication and commitment to that journey to get to where he is now so. Really enjoyed that mentorship experience.


Danny Gavin    18:10 

That’s amazing. Do you still keep in touch with him at all?


Henry Adaso    18:12 

I do. I check in on him every now and then and I and i encourage people to, who have never done it in that kind of structured manner to consider doing something like that. Gmi is a great program and they do provide you with the cadence and the resources to guide the conversations. So I highly encourage it. I think you you’ll get a lot of a lot out of it and then you’ll make a difference in someone’s life.


Danny Gavin    18:36 

Yeah, I love that. And we’ll be sure to include a link in the show notes for GMI. So Henry, let’s segue into your area of expertise, storytelling and team building so you have a strong focus on storytelling and how to craft a compelling story. As we mentioned before, you’ve written and published 3 books in four years. Clearly, storytelling is your thing. What led you to write these three books? And I’m sure each one has its own story, but you know, in general, how did you use your own storytelling process while writing?


Henry Adaso    19:07 

My fiance’s going to laugh when she hears me say this, but I I’m retired from writing and I told her that and she left because I’m always coming up with ideas for books. All three books are different. As you mentioned. Content Mapping, which is my first book, was published during the pandemic so early 2021 published 2020 Late 2020 launched early 2021 and that book was a seven-year journey. I had the idea, the initial idea, seven years prior to writing the book, and then I kept putting it off and postponing and second guessing and postponing, and eventually published the book. My goal with that book was one I had I. Felt like I had a perspective and a point of view. I’d seen a lot of the conversation related to content marketing being steered towards pumping out more and more content and I don’t think that’s the answer. I think we have to create more quality content for the right audience, not necessarily try to out content to the next person. So that’s the idea behind the book is that if you could. Narrow down your audience to one person and map your content to their journey. What would that content look like? To my wildest surprise, the book did phenomenally well, and what I got out of it was learning how to book industry works and what resonates with people and how to publish. And that was enough for me. It was a bonus that people liked the book my six months after publishing that I had another idea for a book, and then within three months I had written that book. And it was called The Gap. And that book was about the journey of writing the first book. Meaning every journey has a gap. There’s a beginning when we’re all excited about that new workout program or that new project or that new business venture. And then you start doing the thing and you get to the middle of the journey and you face discouragement you face fear, you face doubt and other priority stop pulling at you. So now you have shiny object syndrome and on and on and on creative block and then you if you make it past the middle, you get to make it to the end of that project and if you’re lucky enough you gain traction. I wanted to address the middle of the journey because I think that’s where the magic happens. So that entire second book was about how to navigate that middle part of the journey. And to my wildest dream, one of my favorite authors, Seth Goldin, endorsed the book, which is a huge bonus. And then the third book, The Art of Messaging, is about how to clarify your story, how to clarify your message so that it resonates with your audience. And the big idea in the book is what I call the messaging tower. And the messaging tower says that there’s a hierarchy in messaging. So at the very. Bottom of the tower, the least interesting thing you can say about any product or service is your features, the features of the thing. And then in the middle of the tower are the benefits, which is where most of us stop. But if you can get it to the very top, which is a transformation, you always have a better chance of resonating. So those are the three books and i’m very lucky to have written three of them and they all have different messages as I mentioned earlier.


Danny Gavin    22:36 

I love it and I love that you have that drive to like when you have this big concept to actually go and then package it, right. I think a lot of people, they have these ideas, but then they just leave it on the shelf. So the fact that you’ve actually done it and put it together and then I mean essentially you’re mentoring others by taking this information, putting it in a book and then making it accessible for others, so.


Henry Adaso    22:56 

It’s really.


Danny Gavin    22:56 

Yeah, it’s really cool.


Henry Adaso    22:58 

Yeah, and sorry I didn’t answer your second question, which is how I use storytelling to write these books. All three of my books contain stories. A lot of the ideas in the books are weaved around stories. In fact, the very first sentence in the very first paragraph and chapter of my first book is a story and you open it, you start reading and it doesn’t read like a marketing book. You think you’re reading the novel, It’s a story and I carry that on to the second and the 3rd book. So they all open with stories and a lot of the ideas revolve around stories of examples of what I’m talking about, or stories of success, or stories that illustrate the point. So i am a storyteller, even when I’m writing these books.


Danny Gavin    23:46 

So going from storytelling in books to storytelling in digital marketing, you’ve primarily worked in the world of online marketing. What particular challenges and opportunities do you think the online space specifically presents for storytelling and breaking through the noise?


Henry Adaso    24:02 

I think it’s that since that last thing that you said, which is how do you break through the noise. And I think that’s what a lot of us are struggling with because we have more content today than we can consume. There are over 330 billion emails sent every single day. I saw another stat that blew my mind, which is in the seventies and eighties, the average. Us adults are about 500 to 700 messages per day. Today, that number is between 5000 and 10.000 thousand messages per day. And I actually experimented with this. You know, I get up and i look at the cereal box. You go to make cereal. The back of the cereal box is a message. You turn on the TV There’s a message you you’re driving to the grocery store to work. There are messages all over billboards and signage. So that is the biggest challenge that we have is that we have more contents that we can humanly consume. And I think that’s why it’s even more important to clarify your message, hyper focus on who it’s for, ignore everything else and deliver it in such a way that it meets your audience where they are.


Danny Gavin    25:14 

Because if it doesn’t, then how? How can you compete, right?


Henry Adaso    25:18 

You can’t. There’s one of the principles. In art, in art of messaging is to focus on an audience of 1 and when you So when you’re thinking about your marketing channel, whether it’s your newsletter or podcast like this or a video, you really have to picture one person on the other side of that Channel that’s interacting with your content. That’s how we get to content that truly captures our attention is by hyper focusing on who it’s for and ignoring everything else. There’s a strong temptation to mass market and try to appeal to everyone. That’s a very resource intensive way to do marketing today. So we really have to hyper focus on that one person that needs to hear from us. If this channel went away, this brand went away and that and we didn’t deliver the content, will that person miss us? Well, that’s who we want to hyper focus on and I think ultimately if we can deliver to them. They become your brand ambassador. They tell the others, and then the others tell the others, and that’s how great content spreads.


Danny Gavin    26:26 

The crazy thing, Henry, is that like, I’ve done some good consulting for some pretty big organizations that they do a lot of marketing, but they don’t have personas. They don’t have that one individual that they talk to. And when they hear this concept, it’s like, whoa, this is crazy, right? But it’s amazing that there’s a lot of opportunity out there to teach this concept to others.


Henry Adaso    26:48 

There really is opportunity to teach it. I think a lot of businesses, to your point, see persona development exercises as an abstract exercise. But it’s not if it’s done correctly, it’s really an exercise in empathy. It’s imagining what it’s like to be the customer, imagining what it’s like to walk in their shoes, imagining what it’s like to have the pain that they have, and then imagining what it’s like to remove that pain for them. That’s really what it’s about. It’s how do we create content that connects with another human being?


Danny Gavin    27:22 

Man, I love how you just explained that. That’s going to be a good YouTube short. Thank you, Henry. All right, now that you’re the head of marketing, you manage digital as well as offline media and marketing for Cemex. Do you have any fun or interesting experiences getting more involved in the offline or traditional marketing world?


Henry Adaso    27:43 

I do. We have lots of fun. Marketing is not a solo sport, it’s a team sport and i have a great team and we have fun with our marketing ideas. One of my favorite offline campaigns has been our holiday newsletter. So every holiday we make a newsletter for our customers to entertain them and enlighten them. And for the past couple years we’ve been making these newsletters with trading card style. Cards of our sales team, and we put them in all kinds of different outfits. So the last one that we did was a comic book, essentially that we called Tales of Cement. And so inside of this comic book, we’re telling the story of how our products helped enable the customer project and helped save the day. And then you get to the middle of it, and there are these trading cards of our salespeople in superhero outfits. And on the flip side of that. Are fun facts about them. So you get to learn a little bit more about them, you get to learn about who they are as a person, and you also get to be entertained at the end of the year. Oh, and by the way, there’s subtle marketing going on behind all of this. So that was one that our customers really enjoyed and we received dozens of messages from customers asking for us to send more of those comic books to them. So that’s probably one of my favorite offline. Campaigns that we’ve done.


Danny Gavin    29:16 

I love, whenever you can incorporate comic books or trading cards. I’m a big fan, so that’s really cool. So you mentioned your amazing team, and I know you’ve been a part of a lot of amazing teams, but specifically, you know, in this situation, how have you gone about building these awardwinning teams? You know, how do you nurture those under your leadership? Find the right people.


Henry Adaso    29:35 

I told the candidates when I was interviewing them that I was assembling The Avengers and. What I meant by that is that i wanted a team that was balanced. We all have unique strengths and superpowers and I wanted a team of people with those unique strengths and superpowers that were complementary so we can we can have a balanced team. So that was number one. And the second thing is, so the number one is being clear about what you’re seeking in terms of skill set. The second is vision. So what is the vision for your team what? What kind of team do you want to build? What do you want to set as goals for them? What do you want to accomplish? And then the third is the marketing aptitude. So not necessarily that you have a skill set in this with a specific software or tool, because tools can change, but that you have the aptitude to continue to learn that you have a growth mindset, that you’re curious, and those are things that. Are a little bit more difficult to teach and coach, but some people naturally have that and so if you have the right skill set, the right balance and people with the right attitude and aptitude, you’re going to build an amazing team.


Danny Gavin    30:56 

So being the head of marketing, you know you’re the head and marketing, right? So how do you balance the duties of like managing the marketing for the company, but then also managing the people and the individuals?


Henry Adaso    31:10 

So I think you have to have the right set of skills. I believe that worldclass marketing leaders have to be poets. They have to be data detectives. They have to be actors in the sense that you have to be able to empathize with another person and put yourself in their shoes. And you also have to be a technician because you need to understand the product in and out. So to be an effective marketing head or marketing leader, you need to have a variety of skills and you need to be able to recognize when to put on one hat versus another hat so that you can connect with your audience, connect with your team, or connect with your fellow leadership team.


Danny Gavin    31:58 

So you call yourself the marketing quarterback, not the marketing coach. What led you to choose A-Team member title rather than the one directing the team, as you certainly have plenty of success in both positions?


Henry Adaso    32:10 

I love being in the trenches with my team. There’s nothing I would ask of my team that I’m not willing to do. And so I think that exemplifies a quarterback. A quarterback can set up the play or they can run the play. The quarterback can galvanize the troops, motivate them. Or they can take the ball and just go for it if a teammate is down or if the opposition changes their game plan. So I think that perfectly captures the way I think of marketing, which is I’m not a part of the team, I’m part of the team, so.


Danny Gavin    32:44 

I’m sure you’re expecting this next question, but you’ve worked at a few advertising agencies as well as in house marketing departments for specific brands like Equipment Depot and Cemex. What are your thoughts and feelings on agency versus in house work? And, you know, what did you enjoy about each type of work?


Henry Adaso    33:01 

What I love about agency work is that it gives you exposure to a lot of different marketing strategies and tactics, a lot of different industries and at the same time the challenges that it doesn’t always allow you to develop depth of expertise within any one of those industries. The flip side of that on the brand side is you do get to pour all of your knowledge and all of your expertise into one brand. But the downside of that is you have to go outside of your industry sometimes to supplement your experience, to stay on top of trends, to continue to expand your knowledge. Because you are dealing with just one industry versus many industries or many strategy, different types of marketing approaches. So there are pros and cons on both sides and I’m grateful to have been able to enjoy the best of both worlds so to speak.


Danny Gavin    34:09 

So Henry, we’re going to talk about your love of hip hop in a little bit, but. I know that one of your first jobs, you were the editor and social media manager for Roca Wear, which I think that’s how you pronounce it, which is an apparel brand. Rockaware, which is an apparel brand for Jayz, would love to know about that experience, especially like one of your first jobs being kind of at, you know, at a place you know with that you’re passionate about. I’d love to talk about that a little bit yeah so i went to Rockaway first as an agency marketer and then eventually they the contract expired with the agency and they reached out and say you want to come in house and really like working with you. And I was like absolutely I’m a fan And so I took over the content management and social media and I was. My team was running all of the social media channels and we were creating the content for the website and it was such a fun experience. It aligned with my love for hip hop and I’m a huge Jayz fan. I see Jayz as one of my mentors you know so is it was it was a fun, rich rewarding experience to be in that environment to be able to merge 2 things that I really love which is music and marketing at the same time.


Danny Gavin    35:20 

And I know that another one of your loves is soccer. A big soccer fan. You know, some people call that football. I don’t know why, but you’ve been part of the Cemex team and presumably other teams before. Not to mention watching and cheering on plenty of teams. What if elements and facets of soccer do you think translate well to marketing?


Henry Adaso    35:40 

It’s teamwork really. You have to be able to complement each other and so in a in a soccer environment if your teammate goes forward. And there’s nobody defending the post. You have to be willing to drop back for the sake of the team and defend. And it’s really about teamwork and chemistry. And the same thing happens in marketing. So you may have a strength in one area and you step up, you take charge and a teammate might do that next time if it’s if it’s a in within their wheelhouse. So it’s about. Having that chemistry and the dynamic of teamwork of complimenting each other for the for the betterment of the whole team.


Danny Gavin    36:26 

I love that. It’s a great perspective. So who’s your team of?


Henry Adaso    36:28 

Choice chelsea chelsea awesome i’m a Chelsea fan. Chelsea FC.


Danny Gavin    36:34 

So now we are at the lightning round. Love to talk about Hip hop with you? What are your top three hip hop albums of all time?


Henry Adaso    36:43 

Well, number one is Easy Illmatic by Nas. That’s the greatest. Hip hop album ever illmatic you could listen to it front to back without skipping a track number two i would have to give it to Biggie. Ready to die. So that was very gritty, very raw, very emotional album. Classic third, I would go with Scarface, The Fix.


Danny Gavin    37:09 

So what about hip Hop really speaks to you? Like what? What’s special about it?


Henry Adaso    37:13 

Hip hop originated as a way to. Break the mold. And that’s what I love about it. It’s about taking what’s there and molding it into something new. So when you think about sampling break beats, which is how hip hop originated, the creativity is just stunning. And so breaking the mold, creativity, it’s fun, it’s poetic. And those are things that those are things that I like, that I connect with. So I’m a hip hop head.


Danny Gavin    37:52 

Have you ever tried like making your own music or own like, I know you’re a writer, but from like a music side, Have you ever, has that ever spoken to you?


Henry Adaso    38:02 

Yeah, I did. When I was much younger, I used to try to write rhymes and write songs and. They weren’t any good. But yeah, i tried my hands at it. And then I realized that I was actually better at writing about people who are talented than writing music myself. And so that’s how I became a music journalist instead. And I think society is much better for not having heard any of my.


Danny Gavin    38:25 

Raps love that. What are you currently working on? What’s your next big project?


Henry Adaso    38:30 

That’s a tough one to answer because I’ve written and published 3 books in the last three years, so. Now I’m trying to figure out what’s next and I’m taking a break. Not writing any books at this moment, but just taking a pause to figure out what that next thing looks like. But I’m sure once once it happens, you’ll be one of the first to know danny i’m sure I will and I will be rooting you on. So where can listeners learn more about you and your business?


Henry Adaso    38:58 

You can go to my website henryadaso.com HENRY adaso.com And you can also connect with me on LinkedIn and it’s also Henry Adasa.


Danny Gavin    39:08 

Well, Henry, thank you so much for being a guest on the digital marketing mentor and thank you listeners for tuning into the digital marketing mentor yeah danny, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor. I appreciate it. I’ve been listening to the podcast from day one, so I’m really honored to be here.


Henry Adaso    39:23 

Thank you for listening to the Digital Marketing Mentor Podcast. Be sure to check us out online at the DMmentor.com and at the DM Mentor on Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts for more marketing mentor magic. See you next time.


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