Drago Adam, a former goalie with the New York Rangers, acquired his skills first as a goal tender in soccer. With his father’s encouragement and his own dedication and desire, Drago moved up the ladder of success into the ranks of the NHL. Today he is a family man and, in business, uses his e-magazine, the “Monday Morning Motivator” which reaches some 80,000 readers in the Vancouver area and markets the products of his many clients. He is a dedicated family man and raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Tell me how your dad’s interest in soccer influenced your career in hockey.
Answer – My dad was a professional soccer player in Croatia and he was very good in his own right. What was impressive about my dad was that he was a goal keeper and he only had one good eye due to some medical issues at birth so to be able to play at that high level with only one good eye shows the level of athletic ability my father had. I guess some of his athletic genes were transferred over to me. My father was a very big influence in my sporting career, he taught me how to play soccer when I was 3 and by the time I was 5, I was playing with 8 year olds. I didn’t try hockey till I was 6, we were living in Edmonton and friend of mine and his father were going ice skating and they asked us to come along. As the story goes my friend was 8 and he had already been playing hockey for three years, I borrowed a pair of his skates which were way too big for me, but apparently as soon as I hit the ice I was a natural. My friends father told my dad that he can’t believe that this was my first time on skates and that I was a better skater than his son and that my dad should put me into hockey. A year later we moved to Vancouver and my dad registered me for hockey. Being from Europe, soccer was my dad’s number one sport and he didn’t know much about hockey, but our love for the sport caught fire quickly. I played both soccer and hockey together and was a goalie in both sports, this made for some interesting techniques as I often used soccer style while playing hockey and vice versa. So it would be fair to say that my dad’s love of soccer was responsible for me ending up a hockey goalie!
Can you talk about the process of becoming an NHL goalie?
Answer – Early on in my playing career I knew I wanted to play in the NHL, I would say as early as twelve that’s what I made my goal. There are two main ways to make it to the NHL. One is through Junior hockey and the other is to go the schlorship route through an Amercian or Canadian University. I choose the Junior route because I felt the schedule and experience were what resembled the NHL and would give me the greater opportunity to achieve my goal. I played my first year of junior hockey in Saskatchewan, for the North Battleford North Stars. We did not have the greatest team but I played a lot and got a lot of shots against me. I won awards for MVP and Most Popular Player. The following year I played my first year of major junior hockey for the Lethbridge Bronco’s, I was eligible for the NHL entry draft that season and despite having a good rookie season and being ranked in the top twenty category for goal tenders I was not drafted. The following year I was traded back to Vancouver and played for the New Westminster Bruins. We were not a very strong club and gave up a lot of shots against which I guess opened up the eyes of NHL scouts because after that season I received an invitation to the New York Rangers training camp. So I attended my first training camp as a free agent and I had a very good camp, New York wasn’t quite ready to offer me a contract yet, so I came back to New Westminster and played my last year of junior hockey. We were a team that was young and inexperienced and we finished in last place, but for me personally it was a great year, I was selected to play in the WHL All Star Game and was selected MVP of the game. I was also a first team all star at the end of the season and won Molson Player of the Year, all while playing on a last place hockey club. After that season New York offered me a contract and that was my path to the NHL.
Tell me about your hockey career and how this experience helped you with your career?
Answer – My career was not the easiest path to the NHL, I really had to work hard and prove myself at every level. When you play hockey, you have to prove yourself every game that you are worthy to be in the line up, because if you don’t there is somebody wanting to take your place. So you learn early on that you have a responsibility to yourself and more importantly to your teammates to be prepared to play. Nothing feels better to be part of a team and contributing to the success of your team. The things you learn in high level sports are, discipline, sacrifice, comittment, work ethic, goal setting and a team first attitude. If you are lacking in any of these areas you will stand out quickly in not a positive way. I have found these skills that I have learned from sports totally transferable to the business world. If you don’t show up everyday and provide value for your customers they will leave. It takes discipline, comittment, sacrifice to achieve anything in life and even more so to have a successful business career. In my marketing company when we take on a client, I feel like we become part of their team and its our goal at the Adam Ad Group to be of value. We may not be playing for championships anymore, but the stakes are just as high. When someone is paying you for knowledge and expertise, you better deliver because if you can’t, they will find someone who can. I always strove to better each year as a hockey player and I strive to do this in my business life because this is what makes you invaluable to customers and I am proud that most of our clients have been with us for five, seven, ten years.
Talk about your business, how it evolved and what the future holds for you.
Answer – The Adam Ad Group is an integrated advertising and marketing firm offering a full range of services including: marketing strategy, search engine marketing, web design and development, video production and media buying. We blur the lines between old-school full-service advertising agency and progressive online marketing firm to help businesses connect with their customers and clients—wherever they are. Marketing has evolved radically with the growth of the internet, technology and social media. The days of being able to spend your way success are long gone. Companies with big ad budgets are losing market share to savy marketers. There is still a place for mass media but we see something that we like to call the internet/outernet convergence, where online and offline meet to form a powerful marketing alliance that is trackable and quantifiable for our customers. Google has changed the world in how we consume information and research products that we are interested in. This is a very exciting time to be in business, technology and the internet are the great equalizers for entrepreneurs to compete against established brands or companies. We see this especially with the automotive industry, car dealers are realizing that the days of spending boat loads of money on newspaper ads just doesn’t work anymore. They are learning to engage customers online when people are doing their research. Wwe call this “Content Creation Marketing” and it’s paying huge rewards for our clients in sales and profits. The future for us is very exiting, we know that the way people consume and share information are going to be keys to our clients success and we know that google will be a very big part of that, we are already seeing that with the analytical data we study, many of our clients are already seeing 40 to 50 percent of their visitors to their websites are arriving via smart phones and tablets and this is growing monthly. The fact that Google is leading the way in this area in no coincidence.
You have a son, Caleb, who has Type 1 diabetes. Can you talk about the daily challenges that you and your family face and how this impacts your life?
Answer – My 12 yr old son Caleb has Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. He was diagnosed at age 4 and this came as quite a shock to our family as there is no history of diabetes on either side of the family. You don’t want your children to have any health issues but we do feel blessed that diabetes is very manageable, and for the most part Caleb lives a very normal and active lifestyle. He plays hockey and Daniel Sedin is his favorite player! He carries an insulin pump which has given him much more freedom. He doesn’t have to have 5 needles a day like he did previously. Now at meal times Caleb programs how much carbs and proteins he is having at a meal and the pump automatically delivers the insulin into his body. There still are challenges. We constantly have to monitor his blood sugar levels, as highs and lows affect him adversely and if he gets too low he is prone to a diabetic seizure which is never easy to watch. This has happened about 6 times since he was diagnosed and it has caused our daughter some anxious moments when she witnesses a seizure. Diabetes has just become a part of our lives. You have to be more prepared and put more thought into your daily activities. Other than that it doesn’t slow us down at all and I am extremely proud of the way Caleb has handled his diabetes. Caleb has been very active in fund raising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and over the last three years he has raised over $22,000, so I would say he hasn’t let diabetes get the better of him and we are very hopeful that there will be a cure during his lifetime.
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