This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration
By Adam White, @FOSAdam
In life, there are people who say they will and people who do. Adam Martin is the latter.
The current principal creative director of Mtn. & Co., his own strategic design and branding studio focusing on enhancing the experience of sports design and technology, Martin finds himself in a role he never even envisioned growing up.
“I remember in 6th grade, I was given a copy of SLAM magazine and I fell in love. The writing was like nothing I had seen before. It had swagger,” Martin said. “Throughout high school, I took a plethora of art classes and had my eyes set on studying sneaker design in college.”
Not knowing of any programs available at that time specifically for sneaker design, Martin decided to attend Eastern Kentucky University to study art.
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It was there he would have an encounter that would change the course of his career forever.
“The first day of school, I found out that to be a sneaker designer, I had to take industrial design and at that time, the university did not offer that kind of program,” he added. “A baseball player who was interested in the same thing as I happened to be in the same class and told me that I should check out the graphic design program.”
Martin heeded his advice and not more than a week into college had switched to studying graphic design. With his newfound interest, Martin was able to marry his love for art and sports with his creativity.
While he is an infinitely curious person who studies topics like business, art and design religiously nowadays, Martin freely admits that he wasn’t as focused on academics outside of his design classes while at EKU.
“I had a lot of fun in college and while I didn’t graduate with the highest GPA, it was all about your portfolio when it came to getting jobs after college.”
Like many graduates, finding a job right after college proved somewhat difficult for Martin.
After 5 different interviews, his job prospects seemed bleak. That is, until he landed an interview and a job with Host Communications.
A leader in the college athletics space at the time, Host was where Martin was first introduced into the world of sports business.
While he loved his time at Host, it wasn’t long before he was ready for a change.
“I didn’t have entrepreneurs in my family, so I just thought I was going to get a job and work there forever,” he added. “After spending many all-nighters at the printers, at 22, I got really burnt out, really quick.”
Realizing his desire to go out on his own, Martin made the decision to start his own company.
“I got to the point where I was ready to go out on my own,” he said. “I remember that when I told them that, they sent out an email to the company that read, ‘We would like to congratulate Adam in his new adventure and for starting a company.’ I knew at that point I had to do it.”
And do it he did.
Without any clients or plan originally, Martin relied on his skills and his desires to prove to himself that he could do it.
If that meant being broke, Martin was willing to do it.
“I left and started freelancing. That first year, I was dead broke,” he said.
Fast forward 12 years and Martin now has a wife, two kids and a successful podcast and strategic design and branding studio.
While the last decade for Martin has been filled with ups, downs and even a job helping run another business as a part owner outside of his own freelancing, he has been able to pursue his passion at each step.
In March of 2014, Martin added podcaster to his resume when he launched the Makers of Sports podcast.
3 years later, Makers of Sport has become an industry stalwart and has been a way for Martin to not only learn from his fellow peers but also give people the opportunity to showcase themselves to an engaged community.
Whether it was with his business or his podcast, Martin didn’t reinvent the wheel, he just went ahead and created what he wanted to create. Something that he says more people need to do.
“One of the big things I preach to my listeners and the people I speak with is to just start stuff. Having that entrepreneurial mindset can take you so far.”
Makers of Sport has continued to grow and Martin has continued to learn.
He credits the fact that the podcast goes beyond the typical questions to its growth and popularity.
“Everyone is pushing out content. You have to get deeper,” he added. “When you get deeper, that is when the fun stuff happens.”
Ever since his time at Host, Martin knew that the only thing he could count on was betting on himself.
“The best investment is the investment you make in yourself.”
By believing in his work and his abilities, less than 15 years later he accomplished what he set out to do the day that email went around the office.
His design work has been used by brands from the Red Sox to the SEC to his son's local soccer club and listeners as far away as Australia have heard his podcast, but Martin knows that there is no time to let up.
After all, the kid who used to read SLAM Magazine is now doing work for them.
You can check out Martin's work and his endeavors at the following sites.
Studio site: http://madebymtn.com
Personal site: http://adammart.in