Saturday, December 30, 2017

Farewell Minnesota!


“Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.” 
- Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul

How do you write a deserved tribute to a place that has shaped you through both sweet and tough love? A place that has given you amazing experiences and friendships? A place where you endured so many ups and downs? It's been about 8 months since I left Minnesota, and I am finally able to write the tribute it deserves.

I spent the past 4 years schooling, working, and living in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities to be specific. I first lived in Minneapolis for three years and then in St. Paul for a year. I was a full-time MBA at the University of St. Thomas for two years and worked in a few marketing positions for another two years after graduation. I was able to nurture and grow some existing friendships and develop some new ones. I had some really amazing times and some rather low valleys. Through it all, I realized that the Land of 10,000 Lakes will always have a special place in my heart. 

How Minnesota and I First Met 

I met Minnesota 11 years ago when I landed at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport on my way to Luther College in Decorah, IA. At the time, I didn't know that the state would have such a profound impact on my life. During my junior year of college, I visited the University of St. Thomas, spoke to an admissions counselor, looked around the campus and fell in love. I would however not have a fully committed relationship with the state and with the university until another three years had gone by. 

Before that, in addition to landing at the airport on my way to and from Luther, I visited friends at Macalester College in St. Paul during breaks, until I graduated. I had no idea that my sister would be a student there 2 years later and that I would be spending a large part of my time there. Post graduation, I visited The Cities every year to see friends. How I didn't realize this was where I would end up for a while is beyond me. But sometimes, a good thing can be staring you right in the face, and you may not be able to see it until the time is right. 

Schooling and Working in MN

My time at St. Thomas was life-changing. I came in thinking I was going to focus solely on entrepreneurship. Then somewhere along the way, I remembered that I also had a love for marketing. That love morphed into a passion for digital marketing. I started working towards a career in the marketing field, picking strategic classes that I knew would give me the opportunity to interact and work with real-life clients. In addition, I started finding courses and certifications online to hone my marketing skills and learn what at the time was not being taught in the classroom. You can find a list of some of the course this blog post

During the MBA program, I had two summer internships, as a Marketing and Digital Strategy Intern at the American Academy of Neurology and as an MBA Marketing Research Consultant at the Forum for Workplace Inclusion. I then worked as an Integrated Marketing Communications Consultant for the AMA Alliance, the spousal network for the American Medical Association, a Project Coordinator/Market Researcher for Neka Creative, a Marketing Consultant for the Graduate Business Career Services office at St. Thomas, a Market Researcher for the Executive Education office at St. Thomas, a Digital Marketing Consultant at LeGen Leaders, and a Web and Social Media Specialist at the Opus College of Business at St. Thomas. I gained a lot of experience that has equipped me for my current role. Thank God for the journey. It was interesting but made me who I am today.

Remember how I said I had some valleys? Well, I am not going to linger too long on this, because the past is the past. I had some naysayers cross my path in my 4-year stint in Minnesota. Rather than let their words determine my destiny, I decided to surround myself with mentors who would give me constructive feedback and direction. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying don't listen to feedback. You just have to make sure it is constructive and builds you up, rather than tear you down and discourage you. I was very fortunate to find people who took a chance on me, nurtured me, and allowed me to grow my craft. Though I cannot mention them all by name, I would like to single out the following organizations: the marketing team at the American Academy of Neurology, the marketing and Executive Education teams and the career services office at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas. 

Life in MN

My sister, friends, and I spent a lot of time exploring parks, concerts, museums, galleries, and eateries. I know many people think the Fly-over States don't have much to offer, but the joke's on them. We got to see Lauryn Hill, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ibeyi, Lizz Wright, Lianne La Havas, Yuna, Bosco, ZuluZuluu, Fela Kuti, Bernhoft live, just to name a few. We got tickets to see movies before they premiered. Thanks to my awesome sister, I got to meet wonderful people like Mama Nikki Giovanni, Papa Haile Gerima, Uncle Gary Hines, and Big sis Danai Gurira. Shout out to Macalester College students and alumni for making me feel like a Scot. 

We used to take walks around The Cities, exploring paths along the Mississippi River, discovering paths and trails we didn't know existed. We walked around lakes and got to know each other better, having all sorts of conversations. We even went on road trips within Minnesota and to other states, to places like Mankato and North Field and Rochester and Decorah and Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument and Devil's Tower and Yellowstone and on and on. 

We ate at so many places during the four years, but few places could match the delicious global delicacies Grand Ave in St. Paul had to offer, including Vietnamese Pho, Indian Keema Naan, Falafel and Mint tea, Afro-Latino inspired Rotisserie Chicken and Yellow Rice, and the best Thai Green Curry money could buy. 

Now, lest you think Minneapolis had nothing to offer in the culinary arts, she too would show off with amazing eateries dotted along Eat Street and Hennepin Ave. Cafés, brunch spots, and some of the best Bandeja Paisa I have ever tasted, Oh, and I must mention my beloved Fogo de Chao. I could write so many posts about just the food alone. 

Throughout all these experiences, the ups, the downs, Minnesota was my home base and refuge for four wonderful years. And so I say with a heavy heart, farewell for now dear Minnesota. I am sure our paths will meet again soon 💜. 

Stay tuned for an update of what I am doing now in a couple of weeks. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Meet Katrina Garnes, Digital Marketer and Business Owner


"Build relationships, not links."
- Scott Wyden Kivowitz    
Katrina Garnes is a digital marketer and business owner making waves in the digital marketing world in Georgia. She works full-time in Marketing and Communications, while running her own business as Chief Executive Officer of Cold Storm Media. Katrina is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of a blog called Tell What's Going On and the curator of Digital Empowerment MastermindBefore these positions, she worked as an Online Media Coordinator at Rosewell UMC and the Director of Communications at Central UMC. 

Katrina got a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and Broadcasting from Francis Marion University, where she was Vice President of Student Media Association. I met Katrina virtually on Instagram and was instantly impressed by her your knowledge, career path, and zeal to help youth succeed in their desired careers. I knew she would be an excellent fit for the NK the Marketer community and readers. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. 

What does a typical day in your role look like?

I work full time in Digital Marketing and Communications, while also running my business, Cold Storm Media LLC, so as you'd probably guess, my day is very busy! Immediately after waking up I meditate for about 10-15 minutes, then proceed to get ready for work. I always make sure that I have at least 20 extra minutes before leaving home, and during that 20 minutes I check and respond to any emails or inquiries. My 9-5 job requires the same thing as my small business. I manage the company's social media presence across all digital channels, brainstorm new and creative growth strategies, create brochures, produce press releases and even do production work for them. After working 8+ hours there, I go home and tend to my business for an additional four to six hours and then my night concludes.

What are you passionate about?

I'm most passionate about helping the youth! During and right after college, a lot of young people have an idea of what they want as a career, but they aren't entirely sure. That was me when I was younger, and I didn't have a mentor to give me firsthand guidance or experience, so that's what I use my platform for now. Communications is a very broad field, and it can be challenging to narrow down the exact route you want to go with it. Once deciding which direction they want to take, I equip them for that role, just to give them an idea of what their day-to-day work life will be like. 

What do you find most challenging about being a Business Owner and Marketer?

One of the most challenging things that I've faced is having balance. As I mentioned earlier, I have a 9-5 takes a lot of my time and energy, which I'd much rather be putting into my own business. Because running my own business is so demanding, I have had to hire interns and assistants to help out. Client dependence can also be complicated and as you know diversifying the client base is vital to growing your business. As business owners, we take on a risk not having our clients pay for services in full upfront. We do want to be considerate and fair, but let's face it, a lot of times people do not follow through and we, as business owners have to protect our finances! As Marketers, we have to make sure that we are staying on our toes and are in tune with trends and creativity. We don't want to lose the ability to attract future clients.

What do you find most enriching about being a Business Owner and Marketer?

Being able to call Cold Storm Media mine is enriching in itself. My blood, sweat, and tears were put into the creation of my business. Starting a business is already a lot of work, but to have it reach exponential levels, is a huge accomplishment. Now, I'm very humble, but I also know that I've put in great work to get my business where it is now, and I'll never allow my work to be undermined. 

How did you find yourself on a marketing career track?

I always loved technology and keeping up with the latest trends and innovations. Digital Marketing won me over because I knew I'd be doing something different every day. I wanted to be able to use my creative mind and take on entrepreneurship, which is what I always wanted. As I mentioned before, I do the same thing for my 9-5 job, for my business, so I'm continuously improving and perfecting my skills.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in marketing?

Be consistent with working on your skills. You should always be looking for new things to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy. If you decide on marketing as a career, it should be something you love! Reason being, it can require a lot and become overwhelming, and without a genuine love for it, your drive may die down. Know your audience and stay connected with them. Engage with them and keep them entertained! Lastly, take advantage of the different applications and content management systems that are made available to you! They make life a lot easier by helping you organize. 😀

To learn about Katrina, her previous and current projects, or how you can work with her, visit her website.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Meet Aparna Ashok, Design Strategist and Anthropologist


"No one ever got to the top of the mountain in one giant jump. Challenges can be overcome, goals can be reached, but it can happen only one step at a time."

Aparna Ashok, Design Strategist, Anthropologist, Entrepreneur Coach and Sudoku Lover is currently working on her Master of Arts in Digital Experience Design at Hyper Island. Her last position before starting the program was working as a Design Strategist at Robosoft Technologies. Prior to that, she was an Artist-Curator at Maati Baani, a Development Manager at Barefoot Acupuncturists and an Incubation Associate at UnLtd India. 

Aparna was a sole proprietor for a few years, working as a Producer and Ethnographer at A-shock Production. One of her first jobs was working as a Video Editor at Luther College (Go Norse!), where we met. She also worked as Student Manager, Cashier, and Resident Assistant. Aparna got a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Media from Luther College, and while studying there, she did an exchange program in Culture and Media at the University of Nottingham.

What does a typical day as a design strategist look like?

As a design strategist, the one thing that is guaranteed is that every day will bring new challenges and new ways to respond to uncertainties. If I am in the early stages of a project, the day would consist of gathering information from secondary sources, setting up or conducting interviews, and immersive research. If it is a project that is further along my team and I would be synthesizing the insights gathered from various research methods and ideating ways to bring those opportunity areas to life. If the project is nearing the end, then I would be focusing on communicating the concept effectively to various stakeholders - this involves building prototypes, strategic roadmaps, and a strong presentation. 

What are you passionate about?

Regarding work, I’m passionate about helping businesses to identify and address the core human needs in the ever-changing digital landscape. Currently, I am working on an action research project on ‘Digital Ethics’ to build an ethical framework when developing emerging technologies. We are on the brink of exponential change with technological breakthroughs happening regularly at all levels across the world. Yes, it sounds like science fiction, but as futurist Ray Kurzweil says, we will experience 20,000 years worth of progress in the 21st century. To me, this is an opportunity for us as a human ecosystem to reimagine progress through better long-term choices.

In my personal life, I do vipassana meditation every day to find some grounding amongst all this change. Vipassana meditation training involves a 10-day silent retreat where all you do is meditate for 11 hours a day - it was a refreshing life-changing experience. I am also passionate about Indian classical music and how different ragas (combination of notes) produce entirely different emotions. At the moment I am experimenting with dream yoga and sleep yoga techniques. 

What do you find most challenging about being a Design Strategist?

In the beginning, the most challenging thing was the lack of a methodology. Now after working on a few projects and doing an MA in Digital Experience Design from Hyper Island, I see the method to the madness, and it's exhilarating. Now, I realize the other big challenge, or rather an opportunity for growth is emotion management. Your own and that of your team. For the most part, when doing exploratory research, you are in ‘the fog.' The process of innovation is filled with dead ends and sticky messes, with a magical door thrown in occasionally. It’s paramount for the team to trust and support each other and for each member to embrace prototyping as an opportunity to learn. 

What do you find most enriching about being a Design Strategist?

Every project is a journey filled with uncertainty and discovery. What I find most enriching is the novelty of each project and the magic that comes out of multi-disciplinary teamwork. There are so many ways to approach each project, and I enjoy coming up with the research plan to get the needed insights that fit into the time and scope of the project.  Since these projects come from different industries and sectors, they are opportunities to deep-dive into in that industry and its trends. As a collaborative activity, each team member brings a distinct approach, making the product bigger than the sum of its parts. 

How did you find yourself in your current career?

By serendipity. I studied anthropology and started my career in social entrepreneurship helping set up and scale early-stage social ventures. I was doing service design but wasn’t aware of the term then. Initially, problem-solving was done through strategic and operational changes. I got acquainted with technological solutions when we looked into implementing digital health records for a grassroots health organization preparing to scale. From then on, there was no turning back from digital. I worked with an international music project where all the audio and video was put together through digital collaboration. Then I joined a technology company that made mobile apps where I got a taste for the vast world of design and technology. Most recently, at Hyper Island, I got exposed to lots of industry leaders actively shaping the human-technology future and a wide array of new roles such as service design, digital transformation, etc.

Early in my career, I had asked a Google executive for career advice that I have since taken to heart. He said that his current job didn’t exist when he was studying. His advice was, “Your biggest currency is your skills and how you can apply them. Find something that you are passionate about doing, articulate it, approach people who need that and tell them how you can use your skills to help them achieve their goals”. 

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?

Design strategist is a newer role where you need to use design for strategic innovation. People often confuse this with knowledge in visual or industrial design. The word ‘design’ here is used broadly. It refers to using design-related principles (read: design thinking) to come up with new ways of doing things. It is about leveraging your previous work experience to do creative problem-solving in an increasingly digital world. Those with liberal arts backgrounds will do particularly well in these roles which require interdisciplinary work. 

Showing the work experience is a chicken and an egg situation. My advice is to get a grasp on Human Centered Design and apply it to a real-world problem with a small team. It can be a small 3-week project. The community garden, waste disposal, finding interesting activities to do around the city - take your pick. Document the process and think about how you can apply the process to a work challenge or another real-world problem that bugs you. IDEO and Acumen+ have a great online course on it. Experiential learning is the best and will help articulate how you approach problem-solving when interviewing for a position such as Design Strategist. For starters, you can also read books like Change by Design (Tim Brown) and Creative Confidence (David Kelly).

If you want view examples of her work and learn more about her career journey, visit her website.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meet Digital Marketer Fidelis Odozi


Change is the end result of all true learning.
- Leo Buscaglia               

When Fidelis Odozi has a goal, he works hard to achieve it. He has taken a winding road to the advertising world. Fidelis is a Media Planner at FRWD Co. in Minneapolis, where he also worked as an Assistant Media Planner and a Media Intern. He is very active at various marketing and advertising events in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Before working at FRWD Co., he worked as a Social Media and SEM Specialist and Market Research Intern at Denamico Inc. He also worked as a Marketing Associate at SunShare, a Marketing Intern at Award Staffing, a Guest Service Agent at DoubleTree by Hilton, Night Auditor/Front Desk Representative at Days Inn, a File Clerk at Wells Fargo, and an Administrative Assistant at ShopTrak Inc.

One of his first jobs was at Another Land, Inc. as an Operations Specialist. Fidelis got his B.S. in Marketing from Metro State University and Inver Hills Community College. He has great advice and insights on what is needed to build your knowledge and skills for an advertising career, and I am very excited to share his thoughts and experiences with you. 

What does a typical day for you as a Media Planner look like?

A typical day consists of:
- Attending meetings to discuss and align on deliverables (internally, with the client teams, or with vendors).
- Answering to emails so that my inbox does not become too overwhelming.
- Working independently or collaboratively with colleagues to make media planning and buying decisions.
- Setting up campaigns in various media platforms, including paid search (Google AdWords, Amazon), social media (Facebook, Twitter), or programmatic display and video (MediaMath, Doubleclick, Amazon Advertising Platform) platforms.
- Optimizing campaigns to drive the most impact.
- Analyzing results and reporting on the performance of campaigns.
- Building the digital media capability of internal client teams.
- Conducting research on the latest digital media trends.
- Meeting face to face with vendors to learn about the latest on data and measurement from their respective companies.
- Conducting audits of internal media plans, teams, and processes for new or potential clients.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about working collaboratively to arrive at an answer/solution to a question/problem.

What do you find most challenging about being a Media Planner?

It can be challenging to make decisions about which vendor(s) to work with in a constantly changing landscape of tools and technologies that enable more accurate measurement of media, and more precise audience targeting.

What do you find most enriching about being a Media Planner?

The exposure to a wide variety of verticals which provides never-ending opportunities to learn new and useful skills and techniques.

How did you find yourself on an advertising career track?

For me, it was a combination of personal interest and networking.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in advertising?

A few words of advice:
- Focus primarily on digital advertising.
- Start your career working on the agency side.
- Polish up your resume, print copies, go to agencies in your area and try to get yourself an internship.
- Attend networking events in your area.
- Know what terms like CPM, CTR, CPC, CPA, ROAS, Reach, and Frequency stand for and what they mean.
- Watch YouTube videos about advertising. I guarantee there are YouTube videos that will provide you with the definitions and training opportunities.

To learn about Fidelis' career journey, check out his LinkedIn profile.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Say what??!! I Went to INBOUND 2016!


"Success is making those who believed in you look brilliant."

- Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot

Last year, one of my biggest career dreams came true. I got to attend INBOUND 2016! It was my first time at the conference.  I did not think I would be able to attend so soon. I figured it would happen a few years down the line. As some of you know, in December 2016 I completed the Inbound Marketing Certification. Well, about a month or two before the conference, I found that the certificate got me a free ticket (valued at $500) to attend the conference. My blessings didn't stop there. My parents gave me an early Christmas present: Tickets to Boston. My big sister and her family offered to host me while I was there. Everything was in place for me to have the experience of a lifetime. #blessed. Oh, did I mention that Boston has always been one of my favorite cities, even before I ever stepped foot there? Anyway I digress.  

The Conference

INBOUND 2016 lasted for 4 days. It opened with a musical performance by Hamilton star, Leslie Odom. This was followed by a keynote talk by motivational speaker and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Gary Vaynerchuk. Other speakers included psychologist ,Angela Duckworth; tennis star and my personal role, model Serena Williams; movie star, Anna Kendrick; child entrepreneur and author, Marley Dias; author and social activist, Ta-Nehisi Coates, comedian and TV-host Trevor, Noah and more.
In addition to these exceptional speakers, the conference also had close to 300 breakout sessions for marketers, salespeople and execs of all kinds to acquire and grow knowledge. The sessions were split into seven tracks:
  • Agency Track - Strategic ideas to grow and scale your agency.
  • Bold Talks - High impact, short form, remarkable storytelling on diverse topics.
  • Executive Track - Sophisticated, actionable content for the C-level audience.
  • Grow with HubSpot - HubSpot product deep dives and marketing strategy transformation stories.
  • Hacks, Tips, & Tricks - Elite skills, how-tos, and practical, actionable presentations.
  • Ideas and Experiences - Overarching trends, leadership, and inspiration.
  • Inbound Sales - Everything a sales professional needs to know to master inbound sales.
I was not able to attend these sessions because of the type of ticket I had, but have access to all powerpoints, videos and handouts as these were made available to attendees. #alwaysbelearning What I was able to experience live and in action was the speakers I listed above and more.  I have summarized key takeaways from some of the spotlight speakers.

Be Self-aware

Gary Vaynerchuk opened the conference with his keynote discussing the importance of self-awareness if you want to be successful or achieve your dreams. He drew links between  the process of becoming more creative with the idea of being introspective. You have to know who you are, the skills you possess and how they align with achieving your dreams.

Be the Best!

11-year-old Marley Dias talked about how growing up, her parent told her to be the best, not good, because being good can limits you, not better because that means you are comparing yourself to others, but best because then only your dreams are your limit. This really made me think about how each of us are brilliant in our own unique ways and that we need to tap into the essence of what makes us who we are in order to reach our full potential.

Be You!

Serena Williams when asked how she excels in tennis and has managed to create a successful image on social media, she answered that she always remembers to be herself, because no one else can be Serena. We live in a world that in many ways tells us to be anything but ourselves. It was refreshing to hear a woman, who if she chose to conform to societal pressures who would an easier life, hold her head high and say she had absolutely no intention of being anyone but her bad-ass-self!

Be Defiant!

Anna Kendrick discussed how learning to be defiant has helped her expand her career. She stated that often people in the movie industry try to limit her, so if she believes she can do something, she is defiant, pushes and works hard to show she belongs in those spaces and roles. Wanting to broaden aspects of your life does not end with just wanting or wishing for change. You need to add action to the equation to really make things happen.

Put in Work!

Angela Duckworth discussed her research that explores what people need to be successful, the components of grit: passion and perseverance. GRIT is an important trait that creative people have. Angela went on to explain that based on her research, she has found that first:
Talent X Effort = Skill, then Skill + Effort = Achievement.
As Duckworth's unpacked the key traits of creative people and the components of success, I began to notice connecting threads among the talks at the conference.

This truly was an experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot that I continue to apply to my life and work today and I am happy to finally get a chance to share this with you.


Thanks for reading! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Thank You for Following Me on This Journey!


Hello, everyone! I hope you have all been good. My blog has been completely silent for about four months now and sincerely apologize for that. I wish I could go into all of the reasons why now, but I still have a lot to work through before I can get to that point. I want to say a big thank you for continuing to follow me and for reading my posts!  

Thank you!

I have great news! As you see from the image, NK the Marketer officially has 10,000 pageviews! You have all been so gracious to keep sharing my posts, commenting, and reaching out with ideas of what you would like me to cover. I appreciate this community a lot and I am excited to continue this work.

What is to come!

I am happy to announce that I will finally be posting a review of my key learnings from Inbound 2016 and my course work from last semester. I will also be diving into the various social media platforms and the tools each of them have that can be great assets to your business or career. I have already featured Facebook for Social Media Marketing if you would like to check that out. Up next in that series will be Twitter. We also need to catch up on our measurement series and the digital marketer interviews.

As always, if there is something you would like to hear about and I have not touched on it yet, email me at Stay tuned and thanks once again, blog family for staying by my side.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy 2017 Everyone!


"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something." 

Happy new year! I hope you are having a great start to the year. 

First of all, I would love to say a big thank you for following my blog and my journey. I can't believe how far I have come from my days as a biology major in college. (Be sure to check my post about how I met and fell in love with marketing!) I have enjoyed sharing all that I have learning with you; exploring dos and don'ts of industry and getting a few scrapes and bruises as I fight my way through the ups and downs of a budding career. I have been so blessed to meet amazing people along the way who have given me great advice and experiences. A special shout out to my mentor Diane Kulseth, as she continues to nurture and groom me, giving me tips and ideas for how to grow not only my digital marketing skills but this blog as well. 

Coming Up Next...

This year, I will continue interviewing marketers in various fields to explore their career paths and any advice they can share with up-and-comers or career changers. I will also be expanding on the Social Media Marketing Platform Series and the Measurement Series. There are also some new certifications I have found that I will be taking and reviewing for your perusal. I will also be reprising the Grow Your Skills With... and 5 Ways to... Series. And of course, I can't forget to share the various marketing event and conference recaps with you, starting with the recap of Inbound 2016. If there are any topics you would like me to explore or dig deeper on, please comment below or email me at Also, I found this incredible notebook from Quotable Cards that has made me very excited for all the learning that is about to happen this year. 

Oh, there is so much to share and 355 days to do it left to do so, so I must get going! Once again, thank you so much for joining me. I hope you are here to stay. Please like my Facebook Page and Follow the Blog to get notifications when new posts are published!

Much love and thanks for reading!