AMA Marketing / And with Bennie F. Johnson

Finding Community and Full Circle Moments

Episode Summary

Colin Adams, a fourth-year Business Administration student at North Carolina State University joins AMA’s Bennie F. Johnson to talk about leaning into your community, how marketing can make a difference, and the value of confidence and authenticity.

Episode Transcription

Episode: Finding community and full circle moments

Colin Adams, a fourth-year Business Administration student at North Carolina State University joins AMA’s Bennie F. Johnson to talk about leaning into your community, how marketing can make a difference, and the value of confidence and authenticity. 


Bennie F Johnson

Hello, and thank you for joining this episode of AMA's Marketing And. I'm your host, AMA CEO, Bennie F. Johnson. In our podcast, we like to explore life through the lens of marketing, delving into conversations with individuals that flourish at this intersection of marketing and the unexpected. We hope to introduce you to visionaries and leaders and folks who are growing in marketing that you may not have heard of but exactly the ones you need to know. Our hope is that you'll enjoy our thought-provoking conversations as we unravel the challenges, triumphs, and pivotal moments that have all been shaped by marketing. Career journeys are often unexpected, long, and are filled with hope and moments of inspiration. What's really nice is when we can have a conversation at the beginning of this journey and talk about the promise of the future. So today, my special guest is Colin Adams. Colin is a fourth year business administration student at North Carolina State University, concentrating in marketing, psychology, and entrepreneurship. When asked about himself, Colin said, I'm a creative student with exceptional collaborative skills who enjoys learning and approaching problems with an entrepreneurial and inclusive mindset. Entrepreneurial and inclusive are our agenda for today. And so I welcome Colin to the podcast. Hello, my friend, how are you doing?


Colin Adams (01:59.73)

Hey, I'm doing good. Thanks for having me.


Bennie (02:02.784)

Well, it's a pleasure to have you here. And as I said, it's really fun to talk about our journeys from the beginning. So you are now a fourth year student, and you're settled in as a business administration major with a focus on marketing, psychology, and entrepreneurship. When you talk a little bit about yourself, what brought you to that point? Of all the majors, of all the spaces, why marketing, why now?


Colin (02:26.658)

Yeah, well, so I kind of started my interest in marketing when I got into college. I got in with business administration, just in general. And throughout my freshman and sophomore year, really refined my.


Bennie (02:33.317)



Colin (02:40.518)

Interest in business into marketing. And so my freshman and sophomore year, I was the class of 2020-20 graduating. So that was very much the COVID class and I didn't have that high school graduation. So it was a very turbulent and self-discovering time, like in that freshman and sophomore year area. And I was lucky that I was able to find my community and niche at NC State within marketing. And so just kind of that.


Bennie (02:49.358)

Right, right.


Colin (03:07.302)

App for creativity and just being able to lean into that at that time really hooked me and got me interested. And so, you know throughout my junior and senior year I tried to get some more relevant and real-world experience and then I just kind of Found myself getting more and more interested and specifically. I know you mentioned my psychology minor That's what also Helps me lean into that passion for marketing


Bennie (03:26.885)



Bennie (03:32.08)

Talk a bit about that experience. I saw you light up when we talked about finding your community, finding a sense of community. So what did it mean to find other people and realize you all had this embrace of marketing and entrepreneurship?


Colin (03:37.016)



Colin (03:46.258)

Yeah, well, big surprise, it was my collegiate chapter of American Marketing Association. I kind of started off my extracurricular kind of community finding at NC State. And our at North Carolina State University, we have an in-house consulting agency called CMS Consulting. And I joined it my freshman year. And it was just so interesting to have


Bennie (03:50.72)

Yes, yes.


Bennie (04:06.702)



Colin (04:12.706)

People from freshmen to senior year who are all passionate about marketing doing real world, real client projects, I was 18 doing that. And so, it was so fun just to be around those people who are all sharing that. And you have people who act as mentors and just the full gambit of  that marketing community really.


Bennie (04:19.002)



Colin (04:38.082)

Like hooked me on marketing and also my AMA chapter as well. And so I, I've stuck with AMA and eventually was ended up leading that consulting group my junior year. 


Bennie (04:46.796)

Right. Which is amazing about kind of a short journey. You come in from kind of discovering a community of marketing and then being a part of this in-house agency, which I'll let our listeners know, which really is amazing. So you have students who are in our AMA chapter at the university working with clients, and we use the term real world often, but working with real clients on top needs of the day for market research, web design, social media, data analytics, and overall and you're really getting a kind of firsthand hands-on experience. But then adding to that, you were able to have a leadership experience on guiding others during this work. You know, talk a bit about what impact that's had on you as a person and your confidence and your thoughts about marketing.


Colin (05:34.462)

Yeah, so I guess just in terms of leadership of the consulting agency, it was an opportunity to take the driving wheel in terms of the brand of the actual consulting firm. And so that was one thing going into it that me and my co-leaders at the time were very much like wanting to make the brand into something more defined.


Bennie (05:50.426)



Colin (06:03.454)

And so like that obviously started off with a lot of the typical, making sure all of our colors are cohesive and things like that, but evolved into instilling that entrepreneurial and inclusive mindsets into our consultants. And so, um, just kind of being for the first time in that more mentor capacity was a very, very interesting experience for me because I.


Bennie (06:03.576)



Bennie (06:12.559)



Colin (06:34.418)

Had those mentors when I was a freshman. And so then being that mentor when I was a junior was kind of very, very full circle moment. And so just being able to bring my ideas to the table and share it with others was very full circle for me.


Bennie (06:50.012)

So one of the things that we talk about a lot is the future of marketing. And it's interesting as you get ready to embark on your career, tell me a minute, how do you envision marketing working for good, marketing working for social good? I know that's something that's really important to you as well. I'd love to hear your thoughts as you start your career. What role do you think marketing can play in social good?


Colin (07:19.082)

Well, I think marketing kind of at its core is all about people. And so, when it comes to social good, it's kind of baked into marketing in general. And so, I feel like kind of any marketing opportunity has the chance to have that social good element. And so, I would say kind of in the future of it, I'm making sure, as I'm like entering my...


Colin (07:46.666)

Kind of first entry level job and graduating college that I really have kind of my values, thought through and worked out and stuff. So when I enter that workforce, I have the ability to make any marketing job for social good. So that's how I see it. And I feel like the future of it is definitely leaning more towards that social good for sure.


Bennie (08:16.58)

No, that definitely makes sense. When you look at what are some of the marketers and organizations that you admire, looking in as you look for inspiration or recognition of people using Marketing for Good, who are some of the brands that you get excited about today?


Colin (08:34.514)

Yeah, I would say definitely the first one that came to mind was Apple. Just in general, from kind of a leadership perspective, I know Tim Cook was the first, queer leadership person in business that like, that I heard of, period. And so it was kind of funny because my, he, Tim Cook actually worked at


Bennie (08:49.06)



Colin (08:59.986)

Some facet of IBM and Raleigh that my parents also worked for. So like I knew about him before he was even CEO of Apple. And so seeing his journey and having that translate into the marketing vision for Apple is just such an interesting thing for me because it's kind of part of that like.


Bennie (09:04.206)



Colin (09:24.01)

Like that inclusivity and just that sharing of ideas. And so that's definitely one of the companies and individuals that I like, definitely am following on LinkedIn and have my eye on. I know he just did a, he just did an interview with Dua Lipa, a podcast actually. And so, well, I was so baffled, but it's just, it's stuff like that where it's having.


Bennie (09:36.057)

Right, right.


Bennie (09:40.422)



Bennie (09:44.114)

How did I miss that?


Colin (09:52.75)

Queer voices in the marketing space like that, or just in the leadership space, C-suite in general, is so monumental to me. And so that definitely comes to mind.


Bennie (10:04.124)

So as you think about the work in which you've done at your own agency on campus, how have you created a space to make sure that it's inclusive and diverse voices are involved?


Colin (10:16.426)

Yeah, so I am actually the founder and president of the Queer Business Student Association at NC State University. And that was kind of initiative that was in the works and me thinking about it throughout the past year, but launched this fall semester. And so just the intricacies of starting and forming that kind of community is definitely a way that I see that. And you know, the purpose of founding the Queer Business Student Association is to kind of is to create those communities. And so having, especially on campus, that kind of network and community of people who, see themselves in each other is super important. And there's also a lot of intersectionality that comes along with that. So like we


Bennie (10:56.663)



Colin (11:13.386)

Are often a lot in collaboration with the Black Business Student Association, the Asian Business Association, Women in Business, all the other kind of affinity groups at our college are super collaborative in making this community. And so, you know, kind of with my marketing background, I wanted to make it very much a marketable organization. And so it's been a very, very interesting thing, starting the


Bennie (11:33.999)



Colin (11:42.626)

We're putting on like first of a kind events at our college that are promoting this kind of inclusivity. So I would say that for sure.


Bennie (11:50.061)

Right. Which is really powerful and really impressed at the way in which you're working, not only within your cohort of other marketing students, but also working through the networks of your community, of the school, and finding spaces in there. So I'm going to ask these questions because in a minute, you're going to graduate. And so folks always ask this. And I don't know if there is such thing as a dream job, but what type of roles are there?


Are you looking most forward to? What type of role would you like to play in an organization? Either of your own? I'm an entrepreneur at heart, so I'm not leaning towards one that you create or one that you work for. Either way, either answer is good.


Colin (12:22.038)



Colin (12:32.07)

Yeah, I would say definitely see that entrepreneurial kind of mindset, I feel plays into anything no matter what. So I definitely see myself down the line wanting to work in that entrepreneurial kind of space. But I'm finding throughout my studies and what I've learned at school that I'm kind of interested very much in that creative route. Like I know I mentioned that was one of the first things that.


Bennie (12:39.968)

Right? Right.


Colin (12:59.662)

Grasp me on to marketing in general. And as I got more experience through psychology and other kind of classes like that, I definitely see myself kind of in those first steps of my career wanting to do things that are creative and being able to utilize that kind of creativity. So whether that's branding or UX design, especially things of that nature that really utilize creativity and...


Of course, just being at a place where I can bring my authentic self is also very important to me. But yeah.


Bennie (13:34.66)

Very important. I will give you this spoiler alert. Having an entrepreneurial mind-set will always serve you well, because so many problems of problem solving or new creations are really kind of entrepreneurial prompts. And so I found the combination of a creative lens of having design prompt combined with an entrepreneurial prompt really positions you well to solve like our contemporary problems.


Colin (13:58.794)

Yeah, no for sure. It's definitely kind of multifaceted and very, very nuanced in that sense for sure.


Bennie (14:06.7)

I think these are the spaces in there. When you're having conversations with, let's say, the Colin of freshman year, what advice would you give to yourself now? You know, having gone through a few years choosing the major and having the courses and the success you've had and really being involved in the community, what encouragement would you give to the freshman colon?


Colin (14:30.53)

Yeah, oh my gosh. I would say definitely to, but to stick it out. Like, that COVID freshman and sophomore year was like, those were the trenches. That was definitely rough. But also just being aware of your community, I feel is especially important I remember my freshman and sophomore year, it was very intimidating to lean into that queer community.


Bennie (14:37.753)

You're right.


Bennie (14:51.993)



Colin (14:59.278)

Especially just because we were so isolated on campus. And so being aware that having community is often a need for some people, because it definitely was for me. And so just being proactive about finding and getting involved in my community, I feel was something I wish I would tell my little self.



Mm-hmm. Right, right.


Bennie (15:23.487)

Do you think that the freshman column will be proud of you today?


Colin (15:26.914)

I would say very much so. I think, yeah, it would be an open mouth, kind of like a jar, like, whoa, I feel I would say proud would be one word for sure, I hope.


Bennien (15:42.592)

Now, if you think about your time and what you've been learning in your marketing program there, are there any things you wish you had explored more?


Colin (15:51.046)

Um, yes, honestly, I would say I found I know I mentioned this a little bit, but I found the kind of intersection between psychology and marketing as UX design a little bit as something that I've done my own research and was interested a lot in but you know, as a business administration and marketing major, there wasn't that much opportunity for me to get you know, that kind of official, experience in design or UX design, especially at my college in general. So that's definitely one thing that while I've loved being able to take the wheel of it and like kind of do my own research and learn things in that realm, just being able to get more experience in that, I feel is what comes to mind.


Bennie (16:41.584)

So when you think about the work you've done with the agency, what have been the projects that you think have been most defining for your growth? What were the projects that really stood out for you?


Colin (16:52.354)



Yeah, I will say one project that really stood out for me was we did a pro bono client for one company that was working with individuals with Down syndrome, getting them job opportunities and specifically like packaging, I think, and supply chain oriented.


Bennie (17:13.529)



Colin (17:21.63)

Like position. And so we were doing LinkedIn marketing for them. And it was very interesting and impactful for me for two reasons. One, because it was my first client as that COO position. And so in that really top leadership position, guiding,consultants through that experience was super valuable for me. But then also like the


Bennie (17:36.741)



Colin (17:49.43)

That was the start of one thing that me and the leadership at the time wanted to do was to implement a structure of getting one pro bono client, the goal of getting one pro bono client a year within our agency, but also the ambition of getting one per semester. And so we were able to do that. And definitely that project being the start was super impactful for me just to be there and actually talk to.


Bennie (17:56.943)



Bennie (18:07.65)



Colin (18:19.142)

Individuals who were like not only the client, but like the people that we were working with the client to provide marketing for was just super impactful for me, especially in that leadership position.



So if you could serve as brand leader for one brand today, not Apple, because we already talked about Apple, who would that be if you could serve as brand leader for one brand? And once you answer that question, the follow-up is, what would you do?


Colin (18:55.37)

Yeah, oh my gosh, I would say definitely one thing, I feel like I'm a little bit centered in the tech space just because of my own interest, but I would say just Google comes to mind just because of the general reach and global capacity that brand has, just the fact that it is so worldwide. I would say one thing that...


Bennie (19:09.721)



Colin (19:22.946)

Kind of comes to mind in terms of the brand is how accessible that it is and in tandem with that multicultural considerations that there are so many things that brand has to be aware of, when it's in all those spaces. And so, you know, from my perspective, I would say being able to implement inspirations of queerness into


Bennie (19:27.897)



Colin (19:52.278)

That kind of worldwide brand would be very impactful for me just to, you know, experiment with being able to have that worldwide perspective, but also be able to bring myself to that. But yeah.


Bennie (19:55.65)



Bennie (20:11.804)

So, which is really, really powerful to think about. And I'm gonna take me back to a question of thinking to other students who may be coming in or other young marketers, what advice do you have about being confident in being authentically you? What advice do you have about you?


Colin (20:26.846)

Yeah, I would say to get involved, because the more that you see people that are like you, the more confident that you'll be in yourself. I feel like that's kind of one thing that I've noticed, even when it just comes down to straight up inspiration for clothes and stuff. It's always my friends that...


Bennie (20:52.346)

Okay, great.


Colin (20:55.254)

That are in the same communities that I am, that I'm always like, oh my gosh, I look at you and I just feel good about myself. And I feel like we can share ideas and things of that nature. So definitely finding community, but also getting involved for sure.


Bennie (21:19.536)

So if we were to reverse the tables here, and you'd have one question for me in our conversation, what question would you have?


Colin (21:25.774)

Yeah. Yeah, oh my gosh. I would say, am I allowed to have two?


Bennie (21:34.74)

You know, you're being a little greedy there, but yes. Yes, no, definitely.


Colin (21:37.558)

Okay. Well, one question that I had is one thing that me and the Queer Business Union Association are kind of mulling over is we've been finding that mentorship is a really, really good way to kind of promote communities as well as just diversity, equity, and inclusion in general.


And so I was kind of curious what you would say makes a good mentor and what makes a good mentee, especially kind of within that realm of DEI.


Bennie (22:10.66)

You know, it's, I think a willingness and openness really starts. And that's more, you know, it's not about degrees and experience and other spaces, those kind of hard CV resume spaces that go in and say, Oh, this is a good fit on paper. It's about the willingness to want to connect and authentically share in there. I've found in the relationships that I've had in my life that really become relationships, whether they become mentee mentor, it becomes about that exchange in which over time we're facilitating care and knowledge back and forth. So I always look for kind of that sincerity of being connected. And when I found it in having some mentorship relationships that are 20, 25 years along the line, you end up changing roles and learning and reteaching and learning and sharing from each other as you go through it. And I think, you know, that makes, that's when mentorship really hits, right? When you have the space in there.


Some mentorship relationships are not going to be decades long. They may be a season, right? And those are still valuable as well in thinking of your first role that you're in or someone who has a technical skill that's based in there. What's important with the mentorship is that you end up with the kind of guide and wisdom that helps you kind of navigate the space a bit more. You know, it doesn't eliminate the roadblocks, but it makes it a little easier to know that they're there or how to navigate, right?


Colin (23:26.027)



Colin (23:30.486)

Yeah. No, definitely I feel like that kind of community of mentors almost is super important. And then also that like synergy, it kind of goes both ways. No, I love that. That's awesome. And then, okay, my other question was, other than of course joining the American Marketing Association, what advice would you have for people kind of like me in the like senior year about to graduate position in terms of entering the marketing workforce?


Bennie (24:01.028)

Oh, I would say be open. It's an incredibly fun and dynamic time and which organizations are changing how they think about marketing. And it's so many things that you're working on every day now with the experience you've had with A&A chapter in your coursework and agency, that you're gonna be a step ahead of many of the candidates. As I trust the experience that you've had and trust that you have things to bring to the table, I would be open to looking for experiences.


Is it a good organization? Is it a good challenge? Will I be working with people who are going to care and be interested in? Because that's going to serve you well. I often say, don't expect to come into the first job and say, like our parents or grandparents generation, where I would stay 50 years. This may be for a season and a role that helps prepare you for the next season and role.


Colin (24:47.726)

Yeah, no, that's awesome. I love that confidence, I guess, in self also. Like going into that translated.


Bennie (24:53.612)

Yeah, confidence itself is important, my friend, right? That's half the battle, believing you can do it. We think about marketing as a way to kind of do things that are bold and unexpected. You don't get to be able to do bold and unexpected things being shy and not confident, right?


Colin (25:11.918)

For sure, for sure.


Bennie (25:15.012)

So as we think about kind of our world here, and we look at all of the spaces that we see a lot of tension and crisis in the world, we talked a bit before about marketing for good. You know, what are the areas that you've been most interested in seeing marketing make a difference in our world? What things when you look around the world today that you see that marketing can and should be making a difference in?


Colin (25:42.434)

I definitely think that just kind of in general, marketing really has the power to get people passionate and activated. And so whatever kind of topics that everyone is individually passionate about, I feel like marketing has the opportunity to amplify those voices so that they're not like only heard but represented. And so I would say definitely marketing having the power to help in terms of people voting, I would say is something that's super important because the ability for marketing to reach people in that capacity is super important because it doesn't really...


Bennie (26:23.92)

Right, right, yeah.


Colin (26:38.186)

It matters what kind of issues you're passionate about, but that's just kind of like a very umbrella way that marketing, I feel like, could help for social good. But yeah.


Bennie (26:50.608)

So it's hard to believe we're at the end of our conversation. And I know you've got to get back and finish out the semester strong. So if I were to issue you a challenge, what challenge would you issue to your generation of marketing students? What would you say to encourage them to go forward and have an impact on the world?


Colin (27:14.654)

I would say definitely, I feel like it all kind of comes full circle that I'm learning that this kind of like confidence and authenticity is something that is super, super important, not only just kind of to be a marketer, but just to be a person. And, you know, getting involved and getting passionate and making friends and finding your community is kind of all part of that, like being authentic.


And so I feel like it's very in tandem with marketing. And that's definitely something that I would express to my generation of marketers.


Bennie (27:54.2)

I think that's a great note to end our conversation on today. Thinking about finding your community, finding a place that a platform for you to be authentic, to help drive the work that you do as a marketer. Thinking of ways that you can create and be both creative and entrepreneurial as a way to go forward. And the challenge for our emerging marketers, to be confident in being able to change the world. So I thank you once again for joining me, my friend.


Colin (27:57.887)



Bennie (28:23.076)

And I thank you all for listening today. Our guest is Collin Adams, fourth year business administration student at North Carolina State University and AMA student member concentrating in marketing, psychology and entrepreneurship. It's at the beginning of the journey that we find sometimes the most fun and energy and passion. And I'm happy that you reflect that my friend. Thank you for joining me.


Colin (28:48.35)

Yes, thank you so much. Yeah, thank you for having me.


Bennie (28:52.408)

Well, and I thank you all for listening. This has been a great inspiring conversation on AMA's marketing and podcasts. You can find more information about our podcasts at, our student chapters, our AMA Foundation, which supports scholarships for students like Colin, who are exploring marketing. And you can also listen to this podcast anywhere you find your podcasts. Thank you all. Goodbye.