What is your full name and title? How long have you been in this role?
My name is Ross Simmonds. I'm an entrepreneur who helps startups and brands achieve success online. I've been working as a consultant for the last year and a half, after a two-year stint as a digital strategist at an advertising agency.
What exactly do you do?
I help brands and startups develop and execute digital marketing strategies using content marketing and social media. I help businesses drive awareness of their brand and increase sales through digital channels. For example, I help them to develop media strategies, brand messaging, online advertising, content marketing and other tactics they can use to drive success. From there, I work with them to bring these ideas to life by managing projects and creating content such as eBooks, articles, essays, infographics and more.
Describe what you do on any given day.
I start the day by getting caffeinated with a cup of Tim Hortons coffee. Tim Hortons has played a role in my life since I was a young kid, so I've been loyal to them for years. I was a camper at the Tim Horton Children's Foundation (THCF) camps when I was young and attended their Youth Leadership Program until university. (Tim Hortons Camp Day is June 4.)
Once caffeinated, my typical day includes writing content for my clients' blogs, managing marketing projects, writing my own essays, developing strategies for clients and working with Web developers and designers to bring new software ideas to the market.
What's your background and education?
I have a marketing and human resources degree from Saint Mary's University in Halifax.
How did you get to your position?
I've been an entrepreneur since I was in high school. I've always had new ideas and I always wanted to work for myself, but I didn't know what the path would be to get there. Luckily, I had the support of my community, family and key influencers like the THCF to help guide me.
If I could attribute one key driver to my success so far, I'd point to the people who have helped me get here. As a young man growing up in East Preston, N.S., the largest black community in Canada, I wasn't privileged to see much outside of my hometown. The THCF gave me an opportunity to see beyond rural Nova Scotia and a chance to understand the opportunities that exist through education.
For five years, I attended the Youth Leadership Program at the THCF camps and gained skills that I would carry with me for years to come. I remember one summer we went on a university tour with the Youth Leadership Program. The THCF staff explained that if we did our part in getting accepted, they would offer bursaries to help pay for tuition. That was all the motivation I needed to focus on getting accepted into university, something I would not have set my sights on without the THCF.
The THCF leadership program also helped shape me into a person who strives to make a difference in my community and chase my dreams.
If it wasn't for my experience at camp, I don't know where I'd be today and unfortunately that's the case for many Canadian kids. At its core, the THCF is about making a difference in the lives of others. I strive to do that every day through my work and involvement with my community.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the freedom. I've worked with clients from Singapore to Miami and I've had the chance to work everywhere from my office in Halifax to a beach in the Dominican.
What's the worst part of your job?
Saying no. Sometimes great opportunities come across my desk that I just can't take on.
What are your strengths in this role?
Adaptability. Every week Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are changing. In this industry you need to embrace these changes to ensure you're offering recommendations and solutions that aren't dated.
What are your weaknesses?
My biggest challenge is striking a balance between work and life.
What has been your best career move?
Leaving my 9-to-5 job was the best move I ever made.
I believe the moments that scare us the most are also the moments that define us.
What has been your worst career move?
Once upon a time, I took on a client solely because of the great pay.
My heart wasn't into the work, the client was dreadful and I pressed snooze on my alarm clock every single day. No matter what some people say, money isn't everything.
What's your next big job goal?
My business has grown rapidly in the last year, so I'm looking to double revenue and bring in new talent to help it go further. I'm also building a software product that will launch this year that will deliver marketers and media with deeper insights and intelligence around their content. That's a project I'm very excited about and look forward to launching.
What's your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?
As I said before, the people you surround yourself with are very important. The THCF was a huge supporter and helped me see the value of taking risks, chasing dreams and building a quality network. If it wasn't for the support of them, my family and community – I don't know where I'd be today. From an advice standpoint, I'd say take risks, work hard and be relentless in helping others.