Alton is president and chief searchologist at Searchology, a digital marketing firm he founded in 2009. For the last 10 years, he has also been a Creative Circle candidate in Chicago, developing and executing digital marketing strategies for SEO, SEM, SMO, paid search, and display for both national brands and local companies.
Along with sharing some of his favorite quotes (“Ambition’s debt is paid.”), he’s given us a look into his career and what it’s like to work with Creative Circle.
Tell us about your career journey.
It has been a journey of professional, personal, and educational growth due to my partnership with the Creative Circle Chicago team which began in late 2008, early 2009. The economy was a disaster; companies were not hiring; digital marketing and advertising were nothing more than a small disco ball; and money was not flowing anywhere. It was a very scary time for those of us who recall.
My first position with Creative Circle was for a major Chicago-based company that moved billions in various financial markets. It was during this same time I launched my own small company called Searchology. I didn’t have enough clients to support my household nor did I have the ability to seek new clients. And that is exactly where Creative Circle came in.
During my interview, they knew I was trying to launch my own digital brand. Not only were they able to find me positions with some of the biggest companies in Chicago, they put me in position to continually succeed at every step since. Because of their support, encouragement, faith in me, and faith in my abilities, I have been able to grow as a speaker, professor, and business owner.
Since 2009, Creative Circle has consistently provided me with opportunities and challenges I would not otherwise find on my own. I have worked on incredibly complex websites, business goals, analytic conundrums, and strategic digital efforts.
I can say emphatically that I would not be in the profession I am in today with a successful business and a life I love so very much without the continued support and unique opportunities Creative Circle provides for me and now, my family.
What advice do you have for other candidates?
This may sound a little ‘old school’ but when the knock of opportunity comes, it is the wise man who opens the door. Every opportunity is a chance to learn, to grow, and to gain valuable experience.
For those of us in the digital space, I learned our clients don’t really care about education. What they DO look for and NEED is experience. They don’t want to know your GPA, they want to know your case studies. They want to know the industries you’ve worked in and the results you’ve delivered. That is exactly what Creative Circle provides: constantly-changing opportunities for professional growth and experience clients will pay top dollar for.
How do you find creative inspiration?
I landed my first job in digital marketing nearly 20 years ago. Since then, much has changed which means professionals in the creative and digital realms need to constantly be thinking on their feet and devising creative ways to generate income and support their lifestyles. They MUST be creative and offer unique solutions or else they will fall behind and wither into the digital abyss.
In many ways, the opportunities from Creative Circle are the fuel that feeds my internal digital engine. Over the past 10 years they have kept my mind and creativity razor sharp by working with very large companies, associations, digital agencies, and top brands.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned?
- Gain all the knowledge you can and share it freely.
- Take time for yourself and recuperate your energy and mental faculties.
- Find your source of energy and use it to bring life and light wherever you go.
What are your plans for the next 10 years?
My ten-year plan is to continue the road less traveled. If there’s anything my first 20 years of digital marketing experience has given to me it’s that truth is the key to success. My personal bucket list includes becoming a better father to my son, a stronger and humbler man for my wife, and extending a helping hand to all who need it.
Achievement is not something monetary; it is something that fills your soul. After all, the measure of any one individual is not what they are willing to take but what they are willing to give without the expectation of something in return.
Any other favorite quotes?
- “But wait there’s more!” – Ron Popeil
- “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” – Walt Whitman: Song of Myself, Part 51
- “If you want something in this world…you WILL it into existence.” – My grandmother, Dr. Pola Zuska
- “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein
- “This above all: to thine ownself be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonius in Hamlet