Coles Notes of who I am
Born and raised in the 'burbs, I moved to the big city in 2002 with my now wife Adriana. We live the condo life with our son in Toronto’s innovation hub, Liberty Village. I’m a sports fanatic and music addict. For cash I’ve sold shoes, rented Sea-Doo’s, worked with troubled kids and scouted models and actors. For the past 14-plus years I’ve built a career in the media industry’s digital space. Just like everyone else, I’ve had my ups and downs, but overall, my life’s been pretty great.
Status Update: I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect opportunity. Whether it’s a full-time position with an energizing company or the freelance hustle full time, remains to be seen. I’m pursuing both avenues simultaneously at the moment and predict I’ll end up with a combination of both. Whatever I do, I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives and be able to see and feel it. Like I said, I want the next step to be a perfect one.
What I do
This is my bread and butter. For tight and tidy online content, I’m your guy. I’ve worked with several different content and video management systems, built and serviced internally, as well as by third-party vendors. I have a thing for management systems.
I launched my first html website in ‘02 and by ‘06, I graduated to WordPress installations. After three months in HackerYou’s Web Development program, I once again used straight code (no template or CMS) to build the site you’re on now. Thank you RuvenThemes for the design.
I’ve explored The Five Planes of UX methodology and The Systematic Approach to Design throughout HackerYou’s UX Design Fundamentals and Advanced courses. We also covered UX Accessibility and I independently completed the Beginner and Intermediate Sketch Master courses.
A strong process is the sharpest tool in my shed. Consistency equals efficiency, which leads to clarity and successful executions. Set the standards, communicate and follow the standards and the results will almost always be positive. From video encoding to native advertising, that’s been my story and I’m sticking to it.
My process management philosophy came into play when I was entrusted to manage the native advertising executions for Rogers Publishing. I led the team that set up the tools and laid out the steps. Together, we created a boatload of revenue.
I inherited the gift of gab and have spent a lifetime filtering those words from pen to paper, and then keyboard to monitor for essays, case studies, blog posts, ad media, contest sites, etc., etc. Personally or professionally, I have a knack for getting one’s point across.
I establish communities, host events, market products and inspire social justice commentary from all sides through a vast, organically-built social network (and many Facebook ads and MailChimp blasts). Promotion is literally in my blood. Social media was hand coded for people like me.
Throughout 2018, in between freelance projects and my studies at HackerYou, I’ve worked through the Google Analytics online courses. I’ve completed the beginners and advanced courses and will continue to work through the plethora of teaching resources in the Academy as I integrate GA in my freelance projects.
What I use to do what I do
Where I’ve put my skills to work
I absolutely love building online brands for small businesses. I’m inspired by their courage and dedication to pave their own path and I find the work incredibly rewarding. So many business owners don’t have the time, resources or expertise to oversee a quality online brand. I believe I can provide the skill and knowhow to make their dreams a viable reality.
My personal brand, Barney’s Updates has been officially revitalized. Stay tuned for the full web presence in 2019 and more exhilarating projects like the four I’ve completed in 2018…
Mercasa – Little Italy Eatery & Catering – I’ve known Executive Chef Tom Mercante since kindergarten, so it’s been a labour of love to rescue his site from the state it was in when we first navigated through it together. It’s a stark reminder that content is king (or queen).
Mercasa is a beautiful creation. Tom and his team put their heart and soul into each dish and that’s what their website needs to be portray. The bells and whistles of parallax and the like distract away from what really matters—and it makes for a very buggy experience. I reorganized the layout, cleaned up the copy, optimized the images and colour corrected them for consistency and to accent the vintage feel of the eatery.
The entire online brand continues to be a work in progress, as we’re working on the introduction of a promotions blog and a mailing list to communicate the wonderful story of this authentic family affair. Nevertheless, I think we’ve already stabilized Mercasa’s web presence in a very effective manner.
25 Saunders Ave. – Selling a home is a stressful process. From staging to positioning, you want to differentiate your house from all the others on the market. That’s what the owner of 25 Saunders Ave. hoped to accomplish when he created a WordPress site for his listing. The only problem, setting up the website wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
That’s when I came in to sort through the testy template he had purchased. Once again, I cleaned up the copy, streamlined the content flow and tweaked the code to hide some features that weren’t necessary in the presentation. I would have loved to tidy up the folder structure in the back end, but time was of the essence, as the owners needed to shop the site around before the holiday lull was upon them.
Just days after the realtor blasted the site out to the media; a very impressed editorial team at The Globe and Mail featured the listing as their 'Home of the Week.' Multiple offers were made within hours of publishing and less than 24 hours later the home was sold. Mission accomplished.
Chenil de la fermière – Establishing this online brand has required a lot of patience and will continue to do so as we attempt to properly tell this inspiring story online. The website was put together for a client who recently uprooted her life and career in Montreal to board dogs on a farm just outside Quebec City.
The owner is not technically inclined and to some extent doesn’t see the value in an online presence, as it’s not very important in her own life. The imagery on the site is still something we’re working through, but the copy—in both English and French—provides the sense of security her clients need when they leave their prized possession at Chenil de la fermière.
The site is on the Squarespace platform. It’s the best service I’ve found for people who don’t know much about the inner workings of their site and desire an inexpensive, all-in-one option for their business. We’re slowly working through many of the details of this online brand, including the business’ social presence, but we’ll get there, even if it takes baby steps.
CancerCounselling.ca – My first-ever freelance gig and was it ever a heartwarming one. In my middle age, I want to make a difference in people’s lives however I can. If that’s through someone like Miriam Sweet Goldstein, sign me up. This Squarespace site (a collaboration with January Content) is simple, yet the message is clear and concise. If you have a breast cancer diagnoses and feel overwhelmed, Miriam is experienced and available to help. I’m so proud to have been able to lend a hand in Miriam’s mission to assist those in need.
I couldn’t have been in a better situation after I accepted the offer to join the Client Solutions team. We had it all; the all-time greatest Director, strong Project Managers, knowledgeable Engagement Managers, super creative Designers, skillful Developers and a wordsmith for a Copywriter. For a time, we even had an in-house QA Analyst and Information Architect! It was a tight-knit group who delivered high-quality executions worth millions of dollars. Restructuring got the best of the entire team, but not after I was able to gain invaluable experience alongside some of the smartest and most talented people in the Digital Media business.
I applied to a coordinator posting at Alliance Atlantis, but didn’t land the job. Two months later, I received a call to meet with the Digital Director. Within a couple hours of that meeting I accepted a more senior position with one of the country’s top media organizations. The following year with the aa Digital team was extraordinary in so many ways. Personally, I was privileged to have the opportunity to lead the group that developed the video-encoding process that produced Canada’s first-ever online stream of a television episode. Despite the struggles that came with the sale of Alliance assets to Canwest—and partly because of them—I grew to become a true professional at 121 Bloor Street East.
It was like I rubbed a bottle and out came a genie with my first Digital Media job. In reality, it was the Director of Marketing who became the perfect mentor throughout my first career position. I was a sponge learning the technical aspects of Digital from the Craig Media IT group in Calgary and Broadcast Television from Toronto 1’s superstars in front of and behind the camera. After the station’s transition to Quebecor Media, I worked on sun tv’s website with another well-oiled machine at Canoe. The entire experience was the epitome of starting off on the right foot.
It seems strange to place this very special interest at the bottom of my experience list, as it’s a passion project I will pursue for as long as my heart beats. It doesn’t do the BTB community justice to place it down here, unfortunately as a dad, I don’t have as much time to invest in the late-night underground scene as I used to. For all the time and energy I’ve put into our house music movement, I’ve received equal parts knowledge and inspiration in return. bringthebeats remains an ideal training ground for my writing, content management and social media marketing. Technically, I’ve learned so much, but emotionally I’ve profited even more. Our memories of musical bliss are absolutely priceless.
Where I learned to do what I do
I loved HackerYou so much the first time, I had to go back. The Web Development course I took was excellent, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never venture into the code grind full time, so I searched for a course that provided skills better suited to my strengths. The strategy side of UX Design is definitely something I can sink my teeth into, although it’ll take time and practice to refine my wireframe and prototype skills. I found the problem solving aspect of our two capstone projects to be incredibly interesting and definitely an area I’d like to explore in my next career opportunity. Who knows, after I receive my critiques and fine tune a little, maybe the transit app add-on and political community ideas I came up with could move into development one day? Stay tuned, at the very least, I’ll post them to this site.
As the websites I managed evolved to become responsive, I realized I needed to learn a little code. So, when I was blessed with the opportunity to reboot my professional growth in the summer of 2017, I immediately enrolled in HackerYou’s Web Development program. To help me compete in an ever-advancing digital world, front-end skills are the perfect complement to my content-focused abilities. Completing the program was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’ll take time, practice and certainly more study if I was ever to consider myself an actual Developer, but the foundation is pretty well set, as you can experience on this site.
I was strong in English throughout high school and fine-tuned my essay-writing skills as I earned my BA in Political Science. Nevertheless, I needed more specific training for media and this course provided just that. It tightened my copy for snack-sized reading on the web and other mediums, i.e., scripts and voiceovers. Plus, I learned some tricks of the trade. For instance, we all use the word 'that' way too much! Writing is an area I continue to invest time in through my social media presence and study on Lynda.com).
Before this course, I knew very little about the specifics of the Internet and the process behind the launch of a website. After a year of correspondence study, I had a much better understanding of web design and development. Unfortunately, despite receiving top marks on all my multiple-choice tests, I wasn’t very good at either. CDI College was a hands-off environment, which was not very helpful in actually acquiring tangible skills. Nevertheless, because of the knowledge I obtained, I was able to secure my first Digital Media gig as a New Media Coordinator. So in the end, the year reading at CDI did the trick.
Not that anyone should dwell on regrets, but I should have moved to London right out of high school. I was always a Mustang at heart and my degree proved that correct. Transferring schools was frightening and at no point easy. Earning my BA was a grind. Only a few of us in my entire family have accomplished this goal, which makes it extremely gratifying. It wasn’t pretty, but mission accomplished nonetheless.
Enrolling at WLU and chasing a misguided basketball dream would have been my gravest error, if I hadn’t learned so much about myself. When you make costly mistakes as I did, you dig deep and figure out what you’re really made of. As quickly as I realized my playing career was over, I also understood I would never be a businessman. I may not have achieved my athletic dreams, but I know I’ll always be a teammate first and foremost. Nevertheless, I can lead when the moment requires me to do so. My first confirmation of individual leadership was when I filed my transfer papers.
Where you’ll find me
Many thanks to the fantastic team at Lee Hecht Harrison / Knightsbridge for helping me sort an effective profile and so much more.
Politics, social justice, pop culture, music, sports, friends and family. This personal diary is where I have my say, my way.
My wife is definitely the picture-taker in the family, but I’ll post a pic when the moment feels right. It’s hard not to when your son is so damn cute.
It’s think it, find it, play it with the over 1000 tracks organized among 50-plus playlists. Music is always my answer.
With over 600 DJ sets available to stream and download, this collection is the beating heart of the bringthebeats community.
A celebrity, I am not. Don’t expect many tweets, but when breaking news hits, head to my Twitter lists.
A dude who loves games
Since I was four, basketball has been an integral part of my life as a player, referee, organizer and coach. I led a squad of Grade 9’s and 10’s at my high school alma mater to a city championship, coached Brantford CYO’s select team and was recently a volunteer for Etobicoke Basketball’s Jr. Hoops program.
I love a good fight. I’ve been a fan of boxing since I was a child and mixed martial arts right from UFC 001. In search of a healthier workout regime, I began training muay thai under Kru Clifton Brown in my early thirties and transitioned to boxing five years later. I’m currently a casual boxing instructor at Totum Life Science.
I love everything about hoops. And because of our neighbourhood football club, I’ve also developed a mad passion for the beautiful game. Out of respect for both and a desire to stay in touch with my hometown crew, I help moderate Bell City Raps and Bell City Reds. Two Brantford-based supporter groups dedicated to basketball and soccer in Canada.
I write DJ bios and stuff