My Story: How I Became A Brand Strategist

I didn’t choose it, it chose me.

In 2015, I was passionate about art, music, and business.

I went to an audio engineering school in Montreal to build a network in the scene and hopefully get a job in the music scene.

Fast forward to the end of the program, we kept getting discouraged by the teachers to pursue a career in music production.

I’m guessing they resented for the most part the fact that they didn’t all succeed in their own pursuit so they decided to teach instead. It wasn’t all of them, there was a teacher that is actually in music producer that I still love to this day: Eekkoo, he’s on Deadmau5 Label Mau5strap.

Which is kinda huge.

Nevertheless, when the course was over, I gave up the dream of making music for a living because the prospect of not being able to make money fast, wasn’t appealing to me.

(I’m sure one day I’ll get back to music because its truly a passion of mine)

This is where the fun begins, I give up the music career and get a job in sales in a real estate corporation. Drastic shift I know, I was making way too much money for my age and It got to my head real fast. (I made about 80k in 6 months)

Even though the money was great, I was miserable, I dreaded getting in my car in the morning, getting to work, making sales calls, selling stuff I didn’t truly care about.

Don’t get me wrong, I was good at it, I loved to chat with entrepreneurs about how I could help them, but I didn’t LOVE selling what I had to offer.

After 6 months on the job, I gave in my resignation, the lack of purpose in the work almost drove me insane.

And that’s where my life started to shift for the better.

I felt ecstatic, I sold everything I could and moved to Australia, hopefully for 1 year.

I had no plans really, I wanted to visit and do freelance video work.

After spending Christmas in a random hostel in Tasmania alone, without cash nor friends and family around, I realized that I didn’t want to ‘’live’’ somewhere else. All I wanted to do was to be around my friends and family and work on something that would make me happy.

That was an eye-opening experience for me, it made me realize that the true nature of this trip was to open my eyes to what I really wanted in life. And that was to build a business, that I loved and work on projects I enjoyed with driven and ambitious people.

Turns out, Australia is freaking expensive and we ran out of cash after only 4 months with all my credit cards maxed.

10K in debt later, we had to come back to Canada. I had to move back in with my dad, in the basement.

I was determined because I knew I was on the right path. But so depressed at the same time.

I did not want to get back into a corporate job. That was a certainty.

So I improvised, I started driving people around with Uber while I was figuring things out.

6 months later, I started to get really bored of driving 12 hours a day.

Some random business person I drove downtown Montreal suggested that I join my local chamber of commerce, it would help me make a step forward in the business world, and that I should go to a networking event.

I thought it was a great idea, I picked one, it was the launch of my local chamber of commerce just 5 minutes away from my dad’s place.

I put on a suit, my favorite jeans and jumped in my car.

When I got to the event I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was doing there, a 22 years old Uber driver who wanted to be in business without a plan. In the end, it served me well.

When I think back about this pivotal moment in my life, I still have no idea what made me do the jump.

So here goes nothing, I aimed at chatting with people at the event without anything to pitch, and that was the right mindset because I was listening deeply.

Early in the evening, I found the most un-intimidating guy in the room. His name is Phil. Everyone wore suits and tie and this guy had a lumberjack shirt and a cap on. I’ll always remember spotting him.

That was my guy.

Turns out he owned a Gym with 5 personal trainers and couldn’t care less about what he looked like.

I chatted with him and we immediately clicked, he was passionate about entrepreneurship, he had won an award the year before within the chamber of commerce and was super keen on speaking with fellow business owners.

As you can imagine, I was excited that I found someone cool to talk with. We also shared a passion for building a brand.

We dove deep into subjects like which is the best branding strategies to deploy online using social media, content strategy in order to bring in more clients organically, entrepreneurship & how a powerful, well-executed brand strategy is working for you while you sleep.

(See a breadcrumb here?) 

The event ended and we closed the place down. After a few drinks, he invited me to visit his gym the following Monday.

Monday comes, I get back in my red car and go meet the guy at his Gym. It turned out there were multiple personal training businesses that were operating in the same gym. I was like, okay, maybe I’ll have more prospects…

Little did I know what was to come…

I meet with Phil, we start chatting and his colleague heard us from afar.

He stops us shortly to ask if I can meet with him after our meeting.

‘’I was like, sure! I’ll come to see you’’

I went back to my conversation with Phil and eventually we finish our chat without concluding a concrete business deal.

Which is fine.

He was interested in what I had to offer but didn’t quite know what he wanted at this point.  Nor did I have something to sell either still.

Eventually, we’d start working together but only a few months later.

When we were done, I went upstairs to meet with his colleague, Jacob.

We started to discuss what he needed help with and I told him my story, what I was passionate about (branding, personal branding, strategies, etc.)

At one point, I started to share that I loved the idea of helping entrepreneurs restructure their content strategies on social media (remember this was in 2016, social media was exploding and Facebook pages actually had organic reach), in order to use their brand recognition to become known in their niche.

We went straight to the point, he asked how much I would charge him to help him build a solid content strategy to achieve his dream of being the most renowned personal training business in Quebec.

Of course, I was in, I was taken by surprise because I still had nothing ‘’official’’ to sell!

We discussed what he would need me to do and I told him I’d get back to him with a one-year proposal.

When I met him for the second time I had studied what he was currently doing and spotted many opportunities. He was producing a lot of content without a strategy behind it. He knew that ‘’content’’ worked but didn’t know what would work for his brand and how to attract the clientele he was after.

So that’s how I got started, I offered him to work 10 hours a month on a consulting retainer to help him reach his dream and restructure his content & brand strategy. That was the basis for my super successful ‘’Branding Training Program’’ which’s more than 80% of my business today.

We started by evaluating who his dream client was, and focused ALL of our effort to appeal to him in any ways possible throughout his content on social media.

We built a Facebook content strategy, then we graduated to Instagram, built a podcast that led to him interview HUGE names in the industry.

He started to build info products, built multiple revenue streams to deliver valuable information to his audience and now, 5 years later, he now owns his private gym (which is huge by the way) and has more than 10 trainers under his brand to execute his vision.

That’s where it clicked. I found purpose in my work.

I got hooked immediately, from now on, I wanted to learn everything and anything about branding and content strategy.

From the psychology behind why people buy in a brand to how much colors affect a decision.

I started to consume everything I could find on branding and content strategy on YouTube and books.

Fast forward 5 years, I’m writing this with you in 2021, sharing my story.

I think the saying is true.

You don’t go into a career you love, you love something enough it becomes a career.

To me, that’s being a brand strategist.

See you soon,
Simon