Adam Cohen: “Digital Touches Everything”
Adam Cohen knows that in the shifting economy, if you don’t think and act like a 20-year-old, you’ll get replaced by one. Cohen graduated from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management in 1991, at a point when digital was barely a thought, but his ascension to his current role as Director of ABC Full Circle has come from his ability to adapt as it transformed his business.
Cohen is the epitome of the successful media executive. He lives in New York City and works in a prestigious corner office, but he began his career in “media time-buying services” as an assistant. This role taught him a core value: “learning how to go to work.” He didn’t just learns the ins and outs of the business, but the approach to work, the constant learning on the job. As he progressed through his career, Cohen “got to work” at every new stop.
He moved from media buying into local radio sales, then to the television industry, first local, then national with CBS. But after 10 years there, Cohen realized the industry was fundamentally shifting. Television was no longer confined to a screen that sat in your living room, but was expanding into a multiplatform octopus of content. The industry isn’t about television anymore, he says, but about its digital integrations.
As he saw this change coming, Cohen didn’t act like a man content with a great job at a leading company in his field. He thought like a 20-year-old and decided to face the harsh new reality of the business with a new job at ABC. “I needed to adapt with the new environment,” he says.
ABC has always been first into the digital breach. It was the first broadcast group to offer live TV anytime, anywhere on mobile devices, and the first to introduce mobile and tablet apps. Today no one in the company talks about TV advertising, they talk about “the 360-degree approach” to the business. That phrase reminds everyone that the digitization of business has a multiplying effect. Messaging is constant and the consumer is in control.
“Digital touches everything,” Cohen says. And as his career shows, in digital economy, only those who can constantly adapt, and beyond that, learn, will succeed. In media, there is no longer room for those who don’t go to work every day trying to learn something new. Don’t rest on your degree.