For many, sitting in New York’s LaGuardia Airport means the promise of a vacation. For TJ Adeshola, an airport trip means the promise of a new opportunity.
On this day, Adeshola is on his way to Atlanta to meet with a top sports league. As the Head of US Sports League Partnerships, he is excited about new ways Twitter and the NBA can partner when the season tips off. And while in Atlanta, the University of Georgia alumnus also hopes he can sneak in a football game with his alma mater close by.
Adeshola loves sports and attributes his passion to having grown up as an only child.
“Growing up, I remember times where I would walk to the park with my basketball and hope that someone was there and I could tag along,” he said.
Sports were a way that Adeshola found a sense of community and from an early age, he loved the way that sports brought people together.
Little did he know, those moments at the park would define him and spark an obsession with sports and teamwork, putting him on a path to find a way to achieve both.
That obsession is what led Adeshola, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, to apply for an internship with ESPN nearly a decade later.
“I vowed to myself that the ESPN internship would not conclude without me getting a full-time job offer,” says Adeshola, who credits his mother for holding him accountable to achieve that goal.
“Each day was a new day to prove myself and develop substantive relationships that would eventually lead to me getting an offer.”
Sure enough, a full-time job followed.
Adeshola worked on the digital side of the business operations team at ESPN. Around the same time, social media sites were being born. Everyone was in search of followers, friends, connections and Retweets.
Adeshola starting exploring the digital world, learning that he had a similar passion for technology and social media that he did for sports. He applied for an open position at Twitter as his responsibilities continued to grow at ESPN.
He was offered the job shortly after.
There was a catch. Adeshola would not have a sports-related role at Twitter. Instead, he worked with Fortune 500 companies, helping them leverage the platform to achieve their marketing objectives.
Adeshola noticed right away that Twitter was a microphone for influencers and celebrities around the world, particularly athletes. It was the best place for real-time conversation, where leagues, teams and players had an instant connection with their fans.
Adeshola realized that he could did not need to choose between his two passions and ultimately found his way back to sports. His return was natural, a product of his character and a testament to who he is as a person.
Adeshola, who values building relationships, sought to learn as much as possible from those working in sports roles at Twitter. He believes it put him in the right place at the right time for an opening on the Twitter Sports Content Partnerships team.
“One thing that I consistently did from Day One is, I would grab coffee once-a-week with folks who were in roles different than mine,” he explains. “I’d say, ‘tell me about your role. Here’s what I do. How can I help?’”
“It allowed me to be top of mind.”
Now, four years later as the Head of Sports League Partnerships focusing on U.S. sports, Adeshola works with the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL. He suggests social strategies and provides them with tools to help leverage their presence on Twitter in meaningful ways.
Adeshola takes the Partnerships word in his job title seriously. He strives to make his partners better on the platform and their success makes him happy.
Adeshola says his desire to see the leagues doing great things is authentic.
“The more cool things our partners do on Twitter, the happier our users are, the happier their fans are,” he explains. “That’s of the utmost importance to me, and it makes the leagues happy as well.”
Innovating and having teams participate in fun activations is only a small piece to the puzzle. Adeshola wants sports content on Twitter to reach as many fans as possible every day. He also helps leagues monetize on the platform by pairing them with sponsors.
After describing his current job, he paused.
“I try to keep my answers to 140 characters,” Adeshola says joking, referring to Twitter’s character limit. “I think I just went on a tweetstorm.”
Yet, like all tweetstorms, his monologue was fueled by passion. Adeshola loves what he does, confessing he believes he has, “the most awesome gig in the country.”
He’s excited by the way that the social and digital media space is expanding and rapidly changing. He loves being in the center of it and having the chance to help his partners lead the way in the ever-changing tech landscape.
While he loves being at the center of a fast-growing industry and having a front row seat to the changing ways that people consume content, one of the things he likes most about his job is the community he’s building.
Conversations are happening all over the world on Twitter. For instance, when the Golden State Warriors are taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Draymond Green’s mom (@BabersGreen) or Ayesha Curry (@ayeshacurry), wife of superstar Stephen Curry, could be tweeting to celebrate a clutch three-pointer. At the same time, heated debates among fans and media take place questioning whether LeBron James is the GOAT — Greatest of All Time.
“Twitter is just like a global sports bar,” Adeshola says. “Fans from all over the world order up great conversation, video highlights, and in some cases, live games.”
“Sports fans can #SeeEverySide,” he says, referring to the company’s campaign launched earlier this summer, celebrating the fact that on Twitter, users can find a different perspective about any topic.
Twitter has married a unique mixture of content consumption and conversation, bringing athletes, sports business professionals, and fans alike together to engage and express themselves. Just like a sports bar, the conversations on Twitter are bustling, as people are able to discuss everything from moments on the field to trades, off-the-field issues, and even social media best practices.
Outside of being a place for sports fans to engage, Twitter is also a place to connect with professionals working in the industry. Adeshola encourages young professionals to join conversations happening on Twitter, particularly within the #smsports community. He says the best way to find your way into the industry is by being a student of the game and someone who is always learning. He suggests finding ways to add value and provide insight to the community.
Adeshola has come full circle. While he’s no longer entering the park alone, he is always looking for a new game to join. But this time, he challenges himself to help others — his league partners — win by being the best, most authentic and innovative brands on Twitter. He’s now helping to build the community.