Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Adam Wilensky, Director, Marketing & Communications at Canopy

Adam Wilensky is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Canopy, an ad tech company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My first job in communications was for an urban planning agency based in LA. It was 1993 and I had to sell the press, including the LA Times, on the idea that Southern California’s infrastructure was going to turn to crap by 2016.

I suppose that taught me how to package and communicate unpleasant realities. I then migrated to entertainment, primarily because it seemed like a reliable source of income. I worked for 20th Century Fox, where I began my career in the international TV marketing department.

I was transferred to News Corp (Fox’s parent company) where I helped support the company’s first foray into digital media, including online sites like WebMD and The Street. I got transferred back to Fox when the internet bubble burst.

After that it was all about mobile. First with a new short video format called “Mobisodes” for programs like 24 and Prison Break and then it was all about apps. Everything changed when Apple released the first iPhone in 2008.

We knew made-for-mobile was pretty much over at that point. The emergence of the App Store was a seismic shift. This was essentially the dawn of a new era of entertainment and there was a lot of experimentation and excitement.

After Fox, I bounced around at a variety of ad agencies and startups. I was married at the time, and we decided to leave LA’s hustle and bustle for Asheville, North Carolina where I started a new position at UPM overseeing U.S. and Latin American regional marketing for their pressure sensitive label vertical.

UPM is a Finnish company based in Helsinki, so I ended up spending a lot of time on the road and far less in Asheville than I had anticipated.

I am currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for Canopy, an ad tech company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. We specialize in digital marketing solutions for various verticals, including the Senior Living space.

Canopy has grown dramatically over the last year, so I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. I truly love this job and the company culture. At the end of the day, it’s all about the data, which is something I’ve grown to appreciate.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I grew up in Los Angeles, but as mentioned, we moved to Asheville, North Carolina three years ago. I went from living in one of the largest cities in the U.S. to a secluded mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I used to battle morning traffic, but now I get to walk my dog and check on my kids. I spend most of my working days at WestBase, a co-working space located in West Asheville, about a mile from my house.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Canopy is nearly all remote and has been since well before the pandemic. At UPM I traveled thousands of miles for work. In LA getting to work and home could take hours. Today my life/work radius spans about 3-4 miles.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I lost my wife to cancer two years ago. As you can imagine, my role as a father changed significantly at that moment.

I suddenly had two grieving teenagers to take care of, so I was rapidly forced to pivot from being a workaholic with an “always on mindset” to someone who needed to be far more present and engaged in both my life and theirs. I also reassessed the need to have healthy relationships with my family, friends and peers as well as starting a new relationship which is going strong.

Fortunately, I love my work so it never feels like I’m toiling away in a salt mine. However, I also wanted to ensure I didn’t slip back into my past habits so effective time management and prioritization are a must.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I ended 2019 with a set of assumptions and future plans that changed drastically in March of 2020, when the COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders were announced. Like practically everyone else on earth, my life changed in unforeseen ways.

I got to spend time with people I loved but I also battled intense anxiety over the U.S. presidential race. It pained me greatly to hear about job losses and dreams deferred as the saying goes. It still does and we continue to be a long way off from a semblance of normalcy.

Perhaps it’s the severity of the situation, but I think I’ve become more focused on learning and listening.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Digiday has a great podcast on digital media. The webinars produced by Direct Agents in New York are fun.

The New Abnormal political podcast on The Daily Beast has saved my sanity more than once. I’m an avid reader of magazines including Fast Company, Fortune and Wired. Sometimes, there’s nothing like getting a new magazine delivered right to my doorstep.

I rely on blogs by AdAge, Kissmetrics, AdExchanger and Social Media Examiner to keep me up to date and informed on content marketing, branding and metrics. There’s no shortage of great writers out there, but I try to ration myself.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Salesforce is our go-to CRM solution and Datorama is an incredibly powerful platform in terms of analytics and reporting.

Slack and Trello are time tested tools which I have relied on over the years. Todoist is an excellent multi-platform planning app which has become a big help over the last year. I’m all Mac, all the time.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Doctor Anthony Fauci. If anyone deserves to be called a modern day hero, it’s that man.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s a cliché but try to slow down. I spent years grinding from early morning to late at night. I missed out on a lot of stuff, including spending time with my kids. The loss of my wife taught me some hard, but invaluable lessons.

Each and every day is a gift. Focusing on work is definitely important, we all have passions and bills to pay but life can be a whirlwind unless we pause for a deep breath here and there.

Focus on health. Build new relationships. Be kind. Forgive yourself for the missteps that accompany growth. You’re doing far better than you realize.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.