Adam Stetzer Bio

2021 Update

We have been running Semify for 10 years since I wrote the blog post below.

What a ride! What can I say?

Well, we've learned a ton about digital marketing as Google has evolved.

At Semify, we believe that Growing Together creates the freedom to do more, have more and be more.

We've helped thousands of small businesses Grow Together with online marketing - which is endlessly rewarding.

We've also learned a great deal about community, communication, culture and leadership along the way. Our industry has changed, and so has our company. We've developed our values, and now talk about them every single day at Semify. We started measuring our Company Culture (formally, every quarter) several years ago, and it has been growing - in lockstep with our people.

Leadership and Professional development have become a passion for us as we endeavor to produce professionals who continually reach for their highest potential. Our team has identified their deepest aspirations for our tribe, and we have shifted our focus away from "solving problems" and toward "building a legacy."

Tribal Leadership is read by just about everyone at our firm and copies sit on many desks. This has driven us to become more precise in our daily language as we build strong bonds among team members. Amy Edmondson's The Fearless Organization is also high on our reading list, as it highlights the importance of Psychological Safety in building a sustainable High Performance Culture. We are also big fans of Radical Candor, by Kim Scott. Finally, Sean Achor's The Happiness Advantage has taught us volumes about how to frame our work in positive ways that emphasize our strengths. All of these books form the basis of our leadership practice, which we strive use in our daily interactions and language.

Press Placements

Las Vegas Sun

Original 2008 Post

A little background about myself today. I'm Adam Stetzer, and I hold a Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Purdue University (1996). Industrial and Organizational Psychology sits right at the intersection of Management and Psychology. Think of it as "Psychology at Work." As a discipline, we focus on topics such as worker satisfaction, motivation, productivity, turnover, job design, safety, and pretty much any other area where psychology or group dynamics intersect with business objectives. We are extremely analytical and are trained with the classical empirical methods of the social sciences.

Other than various consulting projects during my doctoral training, I started my career at Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) in 1995. I initially worked in the Selection Research department. I then moved into the Health and Safety Department and conducted a large-scale research study to try to understand the true root causes of accidents among cable splicers. These are the guys that install telephones and maintain the telephone network. They do dangerous work, up on polls and down in manholes.

I surveyed over 18,000 workers, first line supervisors and second level managers to try to get a handle on patterns of unsafe behaviors as well as any damaged social structures that might be in need of management attention - all with the goal of making the phone company a safer place to work. The results of this study were later published in the Academy of Management Journal in 1998, a peer-reviewed academic journal. I spent my last year at the phone company working closely with the Vice President of Human Resources on a variety of assignments related to measuring the productivity of our workforce as well as the efficiency of our HR systems.

It was during this time at Verizon that I met the VP of Health Affairs, who would later become my business partner at Nucleus. We hit it off immediately. Though a medical doctor (Internist), we shared many views about how entire organizations can become "sick", just like individuals. He was fascinated with my discipline as he would often say that "70% of what walks into my examining room at the phone company can't be fixed with anything in my black medical bag." In his opinion, many organizational and psychosocial issues where driving individual performance and absence behavior. Based on my findings in the safety arena, I couldn't have agreed more. We also shared a deep passion for technology and belief that organizational strategy should be data-driven. We saw the Internet emerging and very much wanted to be a part of that as well. He, myself, and third partner founded Nucleus in 1997. We shared a common vision that organizational and psychosocial issues are poorly understood in large organizations. We saw an opportunity to bring a new philosophy, combined with cutting-edge technology tools to a market in need of new solutions, using the Internet for all analytic delivery and transactional management (a new idea at the time).

Over the years we grew Nucleus from the 3 of us to 250 employees. Our initial growth was all organic, with the later growth augmented by a merger and an acquisition (ultimately we were called LCG). Through the years, we remained committed to our core mission to bring cutting-edge human resource strategies and technology tools to Fortune 100 customers. We resisted the urge to take on large capital investments, though they were easily available in the early days, because we wanted to build a company for the long-haul. We acquired customers such as General Electric, AT&T, SBC, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Chevron-Texaco, Nissan Motors, Ford - to name a few. Our web system evolved, as did our consulting and intervention strategy. Often times, companies knew what they needed to do, but they needed an outsider to coach them through it - much like a personal trainer helps you do things at the gym that you already know you need to do - but just won't. Additionally, our customers needed our system to help them stay organized.

I was at the company for 11 years and my role was COO - Technology and Analytics, and owner. I also served as the CIO for the firm, overseeing a large technical staff. During this time, my understanding and appreciation for enterprise-level information technology strategies really came to maturity. I built a data center from scratch to host our ASP software that now has around 90 servers in it. As you can imagine, our Fortune 100 customers had high expectations. Our application performed to 99.9% uptime under strict SLAs. I became intimate with the industry-leading web and database architecture concepts as we managed extremely large data sets. We also managed thousands of data interfaces with our corporate customers, and over 30 million end-user sessions per year. We managed sensitive health data, and completed SAS-70 and SOX audits. I opened satellite offices. And as the organization grew I was able to apply many of the concepts I had studied in my doctoral program in my own organization. My time at Nucleus was an extremely rewarding experience. I stepped down from my position as we sold the company to Hewitt Associates in 2008.

I've known Chad Hill since 2001. Since leaving Nucleus / LCG, I've become extremely interested in search engine optimization. Given my background in large data operations, and propensity for analytical thinking, the topic is naturally appealing. I'm also intrigued by how new the discipline is and see great opportunity for helping educate confused purchasers as we help them achieve their business results through systematic approaches to web site promotion. Much like the challenges I've seen in the Human Resources space, organizations need help getting organized and executing when it comes to online marketing. Chad and I feel strongly that we can bring that structure to our clients. Based on our combined expertise in marketing, information technology and the Internet, we can rapidly provide value to a corporate online marketing strategy.