Jennifer Adler: “A positive attitude”

A positive attitude — It is inevitable that there will be lows as an entrepreneur. You can’t always control them, but you can control your reaction to them. Maintaining a positive attitude and knowing that the lows are temporary are key to getting through them. Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling […]

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A positive attitude — It is inevitable that there will be lows as an entrepreneur. You can’t always control them, but you can control your reaction to them. Maintaining a positive attitude and knowing that the lows are temporary are key to getting through them.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Adler.

Adler Public Relations is a boutique PR firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona that specializes in lifestyle and luxury brands. With experience across most major industries, Adler PR focuses on representing food & beverage, hospitality and real estate clients. Founded on more than 15 years of experience, Adler PR prides itself on strong personal media and community relationships, along with the expertise to garner results that truly move the needle for the brands it represents.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Sure, I’m originally from Southern California and moved to Arizona after graduating from UCLA. At the time, it was the height of the real estate market and I quickly got a job working for a high-end residential real estate developer. There, I worked on the development side and assisted the company with its marketing efforts. When the real estate market crashed in 2008, I was laid off from that position along with half of the company. Although I was devastated at the time, it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me because it prompted me to change careers and get my first job in PR at a Scottsdale advertising agency that specialized in representing real estate clients. I started at the bottom as a PR account manager and worked my way up the ranks before leaving that agency to join the largest and oldest advertising agency in Phoenix, where I worked for nearly five years, representing the agency’s high-profile, large corporate clients. I then transitioned to a Scottsdale agency for another four years as the Director of PR, where I managed all PR and social media team members, strategies, and deliverables for the agency’s mostly lifestyle client roster, which included a lot of hotels, restaurant, and entertainment brands.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I had been toying with the idea of starting my own company for years. Over the course of my career, I had become increasingly frustrated with many aspects of working for a full-service advertising agency and had a desire to do things differently and in a way that I believed would better serve clients. But, I had a great agency position with a good salary, benefits, and a team of people that reported to me, so it was a lot to walk away from. I had started to put the wheels in motion when I turned 35 with the thought of “if not now, when?” So, I created a business plan, applied for my LLC, and slowly started putting the word out to my network that I was thinking about making the leap. What really pushed me over the edge, was a big client contacting me when they heard that I was thinking about going out on my own and expressing interest in working with me directly, rather than with a big agency. I pitched their team of executives and landed the account by myself, which was larger than any client my agency was servicing. That’s when I knew I had to make the leap and go all-in on starting my own company.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My dad owned his own printing business while I was growing up and my parents really instilled the value of hard work in me and my sister from a young age. But I didn’t always have a desire to start my own company. That developed later after gaining years of work experience and, frankly, after experiencing a lot of frustration with working for other people. I ultimately realized that I had the knowledge to do it on my own and the drive and determination to be a successful business owner.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

I’ve unfortunately had a lot of really bad bosses throughout my career, who taught me many valuable lessons of what not to do with running a business. But, I also was lucky enough to have one really phenomenal boss, Melanie McBride, who is now a good friend and a mentor to me. I reported to Melanie at the Phoenix advertising agency where I worked and, among other things, she taught me how to walk the fine line of being both a boss and a friend. She was tough, but fair and gave both constructive criticism and credit when it was warranted. She was and still is, a strong female executive that I admire and she taught me to lean in and always let my voice be heard. Melanie now lives in Utah and I actually went to visit her right before I gave my prior agency notice that I was going to leave to start my own company. She gave me valuable advice then and still does to this day.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What really sets Adler PR apart is that we offer the best of both worlds — years of big agency experience combined with the benefits of working with a small and experienced team. Full-service advertising agencies, especially the big ones, typically have a lot of junior talent and an account service department that acts as the “middlemen” between the client and each department. This can result in messages getting lost in translation or the work suffering since it is being executed by junior team members. We offer direct to expert access and go head to head with all the big agencies in town, oftentimes winning the business because we offer more personalized service, senior talent, more flexibility, and just as good, if not better, results at a more affordable price.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Resilience — As a new entrepreneur, surviving and thriving through 2020 required a great deal of resilience. Adler PR represents a number of local restaurants that were hit hard and early by the pandemic. Many of our clients were forced to pause their contracts with us and we lost half of our revenue overnight. Rather than despair, we quickly pivoted to diversify our client roster and picked up some new clients in other industries that weren’t as heavily impacted. We managed to have a record year despite the challenges of 2020.

Resourcefulness — Being resourceful is key to being a good PR professional. Inherently, pitching media comes with a lot of unreturned emails and rejection. Instead of getting discouraged, we think outside of the box and find other ways to get our clients the coverage they deserve, whether that means trying a different angle, reporter, or even a whole new approach.

Ambition — Being self-motivated and extremely driven are traits that most entrepreneurs share. My ambition is the reason I have a company in the first place and what keeps pushing Adler PR forward to accomplishing bigger and bigger goals.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Growing up when I did, there was a lot of emphasis from a young age on doing things in a linear fashion in order to be successful — go to college, pay your dues (oftentimes at a job you don’t like), work your way up the ranks, keep your head down, work hard and if you’re lucky, retire in your 60s or 70s. I am grateful that I followed that path to a certain degree because I gained a lot of valuable work experience and learned a lot of lessons along the way before I made the leap to start my own business. But, I don’t think that’s the only path to success and I love that there is more encouragement now for the younger generation to find a job that they love or to start a business that relates to their passion. Life is too short to hate your job, even if it’s in your twenties in an effort to pay your dues. My only regret with starting my own company is not doing it sooner.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Traditionally in advertising and PR, there is a lot of focus on billable hours and time tracking. When I started Adler PR, I did away with time tracking altogether, which is cumbersome and time consuming in itself. Instead, I empower Adler PR team members to manage their own time and encourage open communication when someone is feeling overwhelmed or starting to get burnt out, so I can adjust workloads as necessary.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Public relations is one of the best things a business can do to build trust, credibility and authority in their industry and in the community. Unlike advertising, where it is obvious to the consumer that you paid for the placement, earned media coverage is not guaranteed and is a non-biased endorsement for your product or service. Because of this, consumers place greater trust in editorial content and are more likely to believe something they read about in an article or see being featured on the news, rather than something they see in an ad. So, I would advise business owners to promote their brand’s story, products, or services through PR, whether they do it themselves or hire a professional.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Building trust is extremely important right now, especially as it pertains to how consumers feel about interacting with your brand during COVID and as life starts to return to “normal.” Brand loyalty is cultivated through authenticity and transparency. Also, media consumption has spiked during the last year due to people craving information and valuable resources. There is no better time than now to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and generate valuable brand awareness for your business.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

One mistake I see new founders making and even more established CEOs is having exorbitant overhead in an attempt to impress potential clients and peers. It can be tempting to have fancy office space, fun company swag, and hosted happy hours and events to promote on social media, but all of those perks come at an expense that affects both the company’s bottom line and what they are charging clients. My intent is to keep Adler PR’s overhead low and pass those cost savings along to our clients in the form of more affordable prices.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Highs and lows are part of the job when you’re an entrepreneur. When your name is on the door, the buck stops with you and every win and every loss is that much more significant. When I worked for ad agencies and we lost a client, it was a bummer and a blow to morale, but it didn’t directly affect my income. Now, as a business owner, losing a client is much more impactful and directly affects the company’s revenue, which in turn, affects mine. That’s why being a business owner is not for everyone, there is a lot of risk and also a lot of reward. It takes a certain personality type to be comfortable with both.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

This is a great example of a high and low all wrapped up into one client. Soon after I started Adler PR, I had the opportunity to pitch Maple & Ash, a high-end steakhouse from Chicago that was opening a second location in Scottsdale. Although I felt really good about my presentation, I was only a couple of months into running my business and ultimately they decided to award the contract to a more established agency. I was super disappointed because I loved the brand and it would have been a dream client for me. Fast forward a few months and I received a call from Maple & Ash corporate asking if I would still be interested in representing them since they were extremely unhappy with the other PR agency they had hired. Of course, I jumped at the chance to re-pitch the business. I ended up winning the account and Maple & Ash Scottsdale has been an Adler PR client for a year and a half now.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

There are no guarantees in the business and that is a lesson that I’ve learned over and over and that was particularly evident during 2020. We went from having a record month in February to losing more than half of our revenue in March and April last year due to the pandemic. Talk about highs and lows! Even though the loss of clients was situational, it still stung and almost seemed worse since it was so far out of our control. That was a definite low point as an entrepreneur and it was especially hard to go through only being a year into the business.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Even though most of our restaurant clients were forced to pause their contracts with us because they couldn’t afford to keep us on, they were in dire need of help with COVID-related messaging. Rather than stop work for them, we continued to assist out of a good will and being a good partner to them. That paid off for us because they all returned as paying clients when they were able, with the exception of one restaurant client that was forced to close its doors permanently.

We also quickly pivoted and diversified our client roster to pick up some clients in the real estate industry, which was ironically booming. That really sustained Adler PR through the tough time and now we have a much more well-rounded client roster, which is better resistant to market fluctuations.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

A positive attitude — It is inevitable that there will be lows as an entrepreneur. You can’t always control them, but you can control your reaction to them. Maintaining a positive attitude and knowing that the lows are temporary are key to getting through them.

Celebrate the wins — Since being an entrepreneur does come with a lot of lows, it’s important to celebrate the highs. Every time I win a new client, I do something to celebrate, which typically involves oysters and martinis or a nice dinner out at a favorite restaurant.

A support system — Having someone to vent to or share in your success is really important in navigating the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. For me, it’s my boyfriend, who also is an entrepreneur and can relate to what I am going through, and my family who keeps me grounded.

Coffee & cocktails — Being an entrepreneur comes with late nights and long hours. I need my iced coffee in the morning to get me going and I look forward to a cocktail or a glass of wine at the end of a long day to wind down (enjoy in moderation).

Vacation — It can be hard as an entrepreneur to take time away from the business, but for me, it’s really important to recharge. Going on vacation, whether it is a tropical week-long beach trip or just a long weekend somewhere close by, helps re-inspire me and gives me a valuable perspective on the business. I am lucky to be able to work from anywhere with wifi, so even a change of scenery while working remotely is good for the soul if you can’t completely disconnect.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is the ability to get back up when you are knocked down and the will to keep going through challenging times. At my first advertising agency job, I was given an award for “most resilient,” which I perceived as somewhat meaningless and was even a bit insulted by at the time. I didn’t know then how well that attribute would serve me throughout my career and that being awarded “most resilient” was in fact one of the highest compliments I could’ve received. Resilient people are extremely determined and bounce back quickly from difficult situations, which couldn’t be more important for entrepreneurs.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Growing up I had a horse and rode competitively, so I literally experienced getting thrown off and getting back on again. That was a great lesson in resiliency, along with responsibility and persistence since caring for a horse is a lot of work and becoming a good rider takes a good deal of practice.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

I absolutely do and I would say that being poised under pressure is one of my greatest strengths. I try to maintain the perspective that no matter what I’m dealing with in business, it’s not life or death. I also try to remember that difficult situations are usually fleeting. It helps me to think about my blessings during difficult situations and realize that one bad day doesn’t define me or my business.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Having a positive attitude as a leader has a trickle-down effect on team members and clients. Positivity is contagious and when you are optimistic and appreciative as a leader, your team tends to reflect that and work harder because they feel valued. Clients have a choice of who to work with and much prefer engaging with someone who is enthusiastic about their business, respectful, and a team player, rather than someone who is the opposite. One of my previous bosses was a fear-based leader who treated both employees and clients disrespectfully. Her toxic behavior at the top permeated the entire company and resulted in excessive team turnover and issues with clients.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

“One day, or day one?” — This was the inspirational quote displayed on my old agency’s reception desk the fateful day I put in my notice to start my own company. Even though my mind was already made up to quit, it was like divine intervention reinforcing my decision and it’s stuck with me ever since. You can either pursue your dreams one day or this can be day one of making it a reality. You get to decide.

How can our readers further follow you online?




This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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