Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Diana Adkins. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos  and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Diana, please provide us a short bio.

I started out in technology publishing in New York City and then the dotcom bubble burst and I moved to lifestyle publishing at Runner’s World magazine; boy do I miss the free shoes! After publishing I spent time working with a marketing consulting firm and then did freelance work before ending up in the nonprofit world in Alexandria, Virginia. Currently, I’m a product marketing manager for SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. I manage the marketing for several of SHRM’s products, from conferences and events, to education programs to the SHRM store. It’s a fun and interesting role; I’ve had the opportunity to work with a ton of talented individuals and push SHRM outside of its comfort zone and develop bold and dynamic campaigns.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

Not formally. I have worked with Catholic Charities on feeding the homeless from time to time, I get way more out of that then the homeless do. I also try to volunteer at the kid’s schools through various activities. Another cause near and dear to my heart is the Heat it to Beat Walk at the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

What are the things you are most proud of?

Probably the relationships I’ve built throughout my career. Whenever asked, my typical response is people are the main reason I’ve enjoyed my jobs. I’ve had some amazing bosses through the years and I can comfortably say that any of them would have me back if the opportunity presented itself. I’ve also had some stellar employees and what makes me proud is to see them advance in their careers. It’s happened to me numerous times where one of my high performers is recognized in the organization and offered a promotion that no longer reports to me. While challenging, it is rewarding to see that my leadership and training played a part in their advancement. I’ve also helped several of my colleagues and past employees negotiate new job opportunities. Negotiation is such a crucial skill; one that is often overlooked; we sell ourselves short and don’t quite know our own true value. Over the years I’ve had several colleagues and past employees thank me for helping them negotiate an offer they were happy to accept.

Who were your personal role models?

As I said, I’ve had some great bosses through the years. One that comes to mind is Mary Zagrobelny. She was my manager during my tech publishing days and she really knew her stuff and stood out in a male dominated world. She earned the respect of top executives. I learned a lot from her, she pushed me to be better. I think what I learned most was that no task should be beneath you; she was a director and had no problem rolling up her sleeves and helping with the grunt work. At the time there were plenty of directors who only directed and didn’t get into the business of doing the work. She gave me plenty of autonomy and true ownership of projects. She also celebrated my successes and made sure to give me recognition rather than taking credit for it. If I made mistakes she made sure they were learning opportunities versus something to beat myself up over.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Yes, a lot of what I just said, learn from your mistakes and move on. And sometimes pretty good is good enough because perfect isn’t always possible. That is one I refer to often. In this fast-paced marketing world, you don’t always have time to tinker with copy or creative, sometimes getting something into the market at the right time is far more important – convincing your clients of that is a completely different story!

What professional advice do you have for others?

Figure out your strengths and play to them. Know your weaknesses and find someone who has that as a strength, partner up! Don’t be afraid of failure; be afraid of not even trying. Go after what you want, nobody is going to hand you what you want even if you think you deserve it. Build up the people around you, a rising tide will lift all boats.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

It’s a total mixed bag. 60s,70s, 80s, 90s early 2000’s and today’s pop. I’ve got a play list with Neil Diamond, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Vampire Weekend, Metallica, Green Day, Moon Taxi, George Michael, Britney Spears, Pitbull, Nicki Manaj and more. My husband is in a band and we go see a ton of live music. I don’t always love the band, but I usually enjoy the evening. My favorite place for live music is the Anthem, there isn’t a bad seat in the house and getting a drink is easy. I love to blast music in the car; I’ve probably ruined my kids ears, they can’t stand how loud I play music, but sometimes you just gotta feel the music. Music can completely change my mood.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

That is such a hard question! There are so many great places. There’s a tiny sushi place in San Francisco called Saru, it might be my favorite sushi restaurant ever. However, there’s another great one in Bethany Beach that I also love called Misaki. I really miss the small Italian places in Hoboken, one of my favorites is Delfinos, their pasta fagioli is amazing, oh and the pizza, how I miss the pizza and bagels too…D.C. bagels really don’t compare. Locally, I’ve had a lot of great meals. Rasika is wonderful and so is Birstot Lepic. I just went to Ana, the restaurant attached to District Winery and that was excellent too. I don’t think I could ever choose a favorite, but given the opportunity, I’d probably go to Saru once a week.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I love to laugh! And I don’t take myself too seriously. For me, I work to live, not the other way around. Working provides me the opportunity to travel—another one of my passions. The more I see of the world the more I learn. Experience doesn’t just come from on the job training. I love hanging out with friends and family and have been known to have dance parties in the kitchen with my kids, at the office, book club or right in the middle of the grocery store – they know what they are doing when they play those oldies. I have a signature move and to date, nobody has wanted to copy it, but I don’t care! With that said, I can do a mean worm … and no, that’s not my signature move!

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