Today, Kevin Anselmo of Experiential Communications has graciously agreed to sit in the spotlight and answer a few questions.
In addition to being an experienced communicator, he has taken his passion as an entrepreneur and experience in education to launch the Global Innovators Academy training program for high school and college students.
I’ll let him explain more.
Tell us about yourself and your agency.
Great ideas – whether from research, expertise or an organizational key message – often never see the light of day. There are various reasons for this such as time, resources and the inability to communicate a compelling message.
I started Experiential Communications, a consultancy based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to address this challenge, primarily for researchers, Learning and Development departments and those in higher education.
Experiential Communications’ purpose is to ensure that important ideas are heard in a world of misinformation, distracted audiences and alternative facts. I do this by deploying smart communications strategies for clients and providing experiential in-person trainings and online courses (such as my Research Translation Writing program ).
I am also in the process of launching a new initiative that I am very excited about – the Global Innovators Academy. The goal is to provide students with exposure to innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers through an experiential communications training program that high school and university educators can use in their classes (free of charge). A complete description is on our website.
The first course that is part of the Academy is called Interview an Innovator and I plan to have it ready for the Fall 2019 semester. For this course, I am putting together 9 highly produced short videos that will guide students through the process of identifying and interviewing an innovator that is of personal interest to them. The second part of the program guides students through the process of writing and publishing an interview article that will be accessible via a public blog. A supporting curriculum guide will provide educators with ideas on how to leverage these materials.
How did you end up in your current role?
I always dreamed of running my own business. My father was a small business owner and I spent a good deal of time studying the lives of entrepreneurs. It was always extremely enticing to go out on my own. I am grateful to have worked in full-time roles at some really interesting organizations, the majority of which were based in Europe, over the course of 10 plus years. This was an important training ground to ultimately pursue my goal of running my own show. The key drivers were to explore my own interests, use my creativity, align my business to my values and ultimately run a business that is 100% geographically independent.
In 2013, the stars aligned as I was able to secure my first retainer client, thus giving me the clarity that I could leave my full-time role and run my own business while supporting my young family. I am now six years into the journey and don’t plan on ever stopping what I am doing. Running my own business has definitely been the most satisfying professional experience of my career.
How has your agency changed over the years?
When I first started out, I envisioned that my work would solely be in the higher education space. I realized though that there were some drawbacks to being too niche and thus thought creatively about how I might be able to also bring my skills around communications in the learning space to different organizations.
Education is certainly more than just what we learn in universities. Before going out on my own, I had worked in the executive education space for different business schools and had collaborated with individuals associated with Learning and Development (L&D) departments at different companies.
I considered how L&D departments grapple with similar communications challenges that many higher education marketers face. An L&D team needs to clearly communicate the value of its learning activities to employees and stakeholders, while higher ed marketers and admission teams need to do the same thing for prospective students. Obviously these are different audiences, but both challenges require thoughtful communications strategies and then the skills to execute them.
In an effort to grow my business among L&D leaders, I launched an interview podcast for L&D leaders that explored their communications tactics. This and other activities have opened the doors for me to collaborate with L&D departments directly in my client work, which has been a great learning experience.
What will be your agency’s biggest challenge in the years ahead?
I have grand aspirations for the Global Innovators Academy. It will mean introducing a business model that is different than the typical client to consultant paid arrangement.
I believe there is such an important need to inspire the next generation of innovators and I want to create the ecosystem and community that helps make this possible. Nobody knows how technology is going to impact the future of work and society as a whole. However, the workforce will always need individuals who are curious, driven by purpose, great communicators and effective networkers. I am trying to bring this into our education system through an experiential communications curriculum. My goal is to introduce this as free training so that any student and teacher can reap the benefits. It has been initially exciting to hear interest in adapting this curriculum both for high schools in the developing world as well as notable universities here in the States.
I will need to continue to find the right educational partners as well as identify the right corporate sponsors that will enable me to make the goals for the Global Innovators Academy a reality.
What software/service do you love that you would recommend to other agencies?
Otter.ai. I do lots of ghostwriting for clients and also interview different stakeholders for the communications strategy reviews that I lead. Otter.ai is an amazing resource in that I can record my interviews, drop the file in Otter.ai and then receive a nice transcription within a very short period of time.
How do you clear your mind when you’re not working?
I love basketball – both playing and watching. On average, I play 3 times per week at lunchtime with some friends. It is amazing how much more productive I am in the afternoon as the result of stepping outside and exercising.
What book is on your nightstand?
I currently have 3 books on my nightstand that I am working my way through:
- In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado
- King Hussein, A Life on the Edge by Roland Dallas
- Answers for Modern Communicators by Deirdre Breakenridge
I am also deeply engrossed in an audiobook by Scott Harrison entitled Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World.
Where can people find you online?
- Twitter: @kevinanselmo
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinanselmo/