Who am I?
It depends on your perspective. I am a father, lover, provider, builder, designer, writer, editor, storyteller, photographer, producer, manager, strategist, coach, sportsman, resource, teacher and musician.
I’m better known professionally as a writer-producer-editor of multimedia projects and freelance journalist.
Whether it’s five-minute video to set the scene for a panel discussion or a 20-minute exploration of a key issue or concept with differing points-of-views, I can provide on-time and on-budget services.
I write and produce speeches, white papers, editorial/advertorial/media relations materials and strategies, advertising copy, still photography and facilitate translation, directly or through a network of resources.
But at my core, my essence, is that of a freelance writer.
My career path has wound from the ranks of front-line reporting, to international assignments and on to management and marketing and then to teaching a post-graduate College program.
Along the way I have overseen two web launches, a web site and magazine in French and English and managed a copywriting and translation department.
More recently I've collaborated with a partner to build websites, provide user training and support and used my considerable media background in a media relations role at one of Canada's biggest, most awarded and recognized itegrated creative services agencies.
But really, who am I? I am English by birth, mixed race by blood and Canadian by choice.
By choice and by nature I am a storyteller, one who has made a successful living at it for 25 years.
Newspapers proved to be the perfect outlet for my A-Type personality. I covered hard breaking news locally and internationally for the Toronto Sun, from street shootings to plane crashes. I dropped everything to jump on an airplane to chase stories involving international invasions, riots and the bloody birth of democracy. I saw humanity at its ugliest and its most beautiful. I lusted after the thrill of the hunt for news and the adrenaline rush that comes with deadlines. I lived hard and on the edge. If someone drew a line, I crossed it to get the story.
And I loved it all.
Along the way I went through the usual social changes: Marriage, fatherhood, birth, death, divorce, love lost, found, misplaced and rediscovered.
But I am what I do. I live my work and my work is shaped by my life’s journey.
I cope by reinventing myself or by indulging my passions, seeking refuge from stress through other channels.
I designed and built my house and a car with my own hands; I can renovate a bathroom, a kitchen, add room, build a deck or rebuild an engine. Why? Because any big job is really a series of small tasks, and with the right tools and the will to investigate you can accomplish almost anything. It also allows me to see beyond what is to what might be.
I played a thunderous bass guitar in an R&B/Rock band made up of working journalists for the sheer thrill of it and the odd free beer. And I still play regularly. Playing in a band nurtures my creative spirit and gives me the stage – pun intended – to work with a group of like-minded, creative people.
I have been the struggling single father of a teen daughter and son who reminded me daily that the key to managing people is to find out what motivates them. Negative reinforcement will only get you so far. It also teaches me patience – something I could use more of.
I am an obsessive soccer player and keen observer of the sport. It has taught me that no matter how competitive and how much you want to win, you can’t do it without a team where everyone brings their talents, skills and determination together. Yet, sometimes, a superior performance and commitment by a single player can make the difference between winning and losing.
At the Sun, I moved on from crime to focus on politics, social issues and the moral issues of the day … real stories about real people facing real issues. Then came the Net and the convergence of humanity and technology in a tsunami of social and cultural change I embraced with glee.
In 2000, after 22 years in print with the odd diversion into radio and television, it was time for another change. I ended up spending an intense six weeks directing the launch of a promising web site on Canoe.ca. However, Some 15 months later, fyitoronto.com was redundant; It washed out in the dot-com crash along with the other city sites in the Quebcor chain. Like almost everything Quebecor did - and still does - the sites were under resourced, poorly modeled, over hyped and never given the time to properly develop.
Still, to paraphrase Shakespeare, some are born to change, some grow to accept it and sometimes great change is thrust upon us. So I moved on.
Three months later to the day I was part of another Web-launch team, this time at a marketing giant where
I was briefly assimilated into the corporate world of Power Point, Outlook, Business Models, Focus Groups, Market Research, Key Messages, Deliverables, Take-Aways, Reorganizations and more.
Since resistance was futile, I adapted and learned. And then I woke up one day and realized it wasn't for me.
In Feb. 2004 I moved on to the Canadian Film Centre's New Media programme where I spent five months in a learning environment, diving into how technology is impacting how we create and share stories.
I was a nice break and cool to wear a beret with aplomb but by September I knew chasing the grants or struggling and starving with a start up wasn't really what I wanted to do.
So I made the best move I have ever made since deciding to go into journalism - I went back to journalism. I started freelancing in the third week of August 2004 and I have not looked back.
There have been some scary moments. I actually took a full time job in late November 2005 when things dried up so much that summer I panicked. But after eight days I quit - though I did stay on for six weeks because leaving good people with good intentions in the lurch over Christmas wasn't right. Today, they are among my best clients.
I liked to describe myself as T-Shaped: I am a writer at the core of my being who understands the limitations and realities of a business model and the need for an ROI. Someone who can look at possibilities and see what might be but who needs a diverse and dedicated team to seize opportunities and realize goals.
Every team needs a leader. I can lead as passionately as I follow but I know all leaders need great leaders to inspire them.