Wednesday, December 26, 2007

John James Carson Dot Com

It's been an excellent eight months in my current role at the College. I have learned a lot about communications, and made some great contacts in the business.

I talked a while back about starting my own freelance business, so today launched my new website,

As you can see, it is very simple in design, but serves its purpose.

My current contract ends in July 2008, so I don't want to rest on my laurels. I want to see if all the knowledge that I've gained in the last 12 years of working in the media can turn into a full-time freelance business next year. This is the starting point.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Today I accepted the position of acting communications manager at Upper Canada College, a great opportunity at one of the most prestigious schools in Canada, if not North America.

I always look for something new I can learn in every role I take on. I now have the chance to add communications and PR skills to my resume, work with a very dedicated team and also use some of the Web 2.0 experience I have to help UCC raise its profile. I get to write a lot too, something I missed quite a bit at my last job because I am a writer at heart.

So, my job search comes to an end. Until maybe July 2008 when the contract ends, but I'll cross that bridge next year.

Big question: Did this blog help me get a new job? In a word... No.

Did it raise my profile, increase my chances of finding a new job? Yes.

At the end of the day I found a job because of people I know who contacted me out of the blue. But the blog did not actually lead to that. It was fun to do -- especially the Metro article and being on CityNews TV -- but once I started taking on more freelance work, it got too much to keep up.

It was easy at the start when a lot was happening, job interviews and so on, but I found it harder to maintain as nothing different was really happening in my routine after a while once I had paying clients to put first.

Anyway, all that's just a personal insight. It was fun and I've decided to keep it open in case I want to continue it as just a regular blog. That way I have no pressure on myself to write stuff, only when I feel like it.

So, thanks for all the links, e-mails, flames and encouragement -- and thanks for reading!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Still Around

Still here! The only time I get to post now is at the weekend as I'm freelancing during the week. Lots going on behind the scenes, looking good though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mixed Bag

It's been a very mixed week.

I did a small piece of freelance work for UCC; began the process of parking and monetizing 56 unused domain names for David Bronstein; wrote a draft press pitch for a new reality TV show starting very soon; attended a seminar on starting your own business; met for coffee with a freelance graphic designer friend of the family to gauge her interest in taking on some work I may need to outsource; and set up a 2nd interview at a major non-profit for early next week.

And it felt like patio weather today too!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lucky Escape

Saw an ad for a position that interested me, worth an application to find out more...

[Reproduced verbatim.]

Company: "When would you like to come for discussion?"

Me: "Thanks for the quick reply. Please can you let me know where you're based?"

Company: "****/****."

Me: "OK, cool. Please can you send me your phone number so I can ask a few questions about the position?"

Company: "You can ask any question by e-mail."

Me: "Please can you give me a salary range?"

Company: "Sure, but I need to know what can you do for me first."

Well, you already know "what I can do for you first" as I outlined it in my comprehensive cover letter and resume. And I'm not jumping through hoops for a company that won't even give me a phone number to call.


Sunday, March 18, 2007


Spent a nice week in the Blue Mountain resort at Collingwood, not skiing, but enjoying some good food, drinks and poker with friends. My batteries are recharged and I'm back into the reality of working for a living.

I now have Upper Canada College as a client and went in Friday to do some writing/editing/website work for them. The world of communications and PR is definitely different from the other side of the desk that I'm used to, but I'm learning a lot of new skills and rounding out my resume. It pays better too.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday Fun

A cool few days. Downtown with David Bronstein yesterday for a meeting with a third party, things happening next week with a famous face, keep an eye out. It's fun and I'm learning a whole new range of skills.

Also had an "interview" -- that's in "" -- because it's a former colleague I used to work with that needs a communications/editor person, followed up on that today. Would be great to commit to that as I could still do freelance PR/own company stuff in my spare time.

To that end, had another meeting downtown today with a PR company owner that I've been talking to about setting up some sort of c0-op scheme whereby we swap skills, clients and workload. For the price of a lunch I picked her very smart brains clean and learned more in one hour than a day of looking on Google.

I feel great about where my future career is heading now; it's very exciting and different to what I've done over the last 11 years working in the media. And I like taking control of my own destiny.

So, the Friday Fun part? Our American friend Sheryl is flying in tonight for a week, so time to have some fun...

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rolling Up My Sleeves

Been another busy time. I am putting together my own business plan now and want to get something going quickly. I have a few clients lined up, but need to formalize some stuff first before I get going in the world of self-employment and the rewards that will bring.

Also contacted a few potential partner companies that I want to work with, as there are some skills I need that they can provide.

More to come soon...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Early Hours And My Ex Appeal

It's 5.43 a.m. and I've just spent an hour uploading some videos to Revver. Quickly realizing the freelance game is not a 9-5 clock-watching-then-go-home life, but it's cool. Got a meeting downtown at 11 so need to get back to bed and catch some zzz's for that.

On another front, an ex-Rogers editor hired an ex-Silicon Valley NORTH freelancer a while back. Now they need someone to take on a year's contract in a few months, so contacted me to see if I'm interested. Looks quite appealing so am checking that option out.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chicago Pizza (The Action)

Forgot to mention my efforts today at setting up David Bronstein and his new reality show with a major distributor based in Chicago, a contact I made back at actually. He found my blog and got back in touch, so it's a small world.

I Think Alex Tew Is Doing The Spice Test

Was just doing some browsing on the popular YouTube vids and came across the Spice Test. Not bad at over a million views. I think it's Alex Tew, he of the Million Dollar Homepage trying a viral, just a hunch.

I interviewed him for at the peak of his money-making success. He's also got a British accent. And the user is "GistheName" as in guess the name.


Spice Test Guy

Alex Tew

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Lone Arranger

Set up a meeting downtown today with my mate's start-up and the PR woman I met with last week. Basically she will get us press, exposure and all that jazz in return for exclusive access to some of the clients that we are working with.

It's a win-win so that's another "to-do" crossed off the list.

Spent the last day or two proofing a letter to investors and uploading a whole lot of content to some of the main money-making sites such as Revver and Metacafe.

Now I'm moving onto my other PR gig. A former Rogers Media Publishing colleague of mine has put together a classy website template for when... and if! ... I make it all official and register a company name to put all this under. Too busy at the moment laying the foundations.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How To Screw Up Your Job Interview

There's a lot of very useful interview tips in this article. Most are common sense but it's good to have a checklist of things to follow.

Forget the paper round and the after-school gig in a grocery store, my career started in 1986 with hope, ambition and a good Rick Astley suit so I've been through one or two job interviews. They used to make me nervous, but not now as I know my worth and what I can bring to a company so that gives me confidence. If the interviewer thinks I'm not right for a job, then another one down the line will. I take the meetings very seriously though as first impressions last and you only get one shot, especially if it's a really good opportunity with lots of candidates.

Anyway, to round out the article above, here's some tips on things not to do, or, How To Screw Up Your Job Interview.

1) Don't be late. No excuse -- you know the time and date, you Google the area to find a coffee shop and kill time. Invest a dollar in a beverage and pretend to read the free commuter paper 10 times. Which leads nicely into:
2) Drink tea. Not good to walk into the interview and blast them with a dose of Colombian special blend coffee breath.
3) Make good eye contact. That doesn't mean constantly staring at them like you'll be dropping gloves [for Canadian interviewers], whooping their goddamn ass [for American interviewers] or using duelling pistols at the crack of dawn [for British interviewers]. Looking at someone while talking to them is simply a sign of respect, not a challenge.
4) Don't lie. An obvious no-brainer tip, but be honest about what you've achieved as they can easily do some research and find out. Saying that "I have a lot of experience bringing substantial resources into a company," isn't the same as your former colleagues making you do the lunchtime sandwich run every day so you'd feel more popular.
5) When asked, "So, where do you see yourself in a year's time?" DO NOT reply "In your chair, yesterday's man."
6) Never diss former colleagues or companies you've worked for. Trust me, that boss you hated -- the one with no talent and a lazy eye -- that's the interviewer's brother-in-law. It's a very small world.
7) Be prepared for everyone's favourite interview question: "When was a time that you faced conflict, and what steps did you take to overcome the issues?" [Forget tip #4 at this stage and make up some story about how you were really ill one day, there was a major snowstorm brewing and even though the boss begged you to go home, you fought back and demanded to stay and put the finishing touches to an Excel spreadsheet highlighting sales figures for fiscal year 2003. Or something like that... something that can't be checked. Turn a negative into a positive.]
8) Don't keep checking your watch. Even though it may be past the time to check your blood sugar levels, stick it out. Risk a twitching fainting fit -- which might not even happen so the odds are good -- rather than looking at your watch as though you're bored and have somewhere better to be.
9) Your first question should not be: "Will my expense account include Vegas?"
10) End the interview by thanking them for their time and telling the next candidate waiting outside that they've had a wasted journey.

So, avoid those clangers and you should be fine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Two things today... had the meeting downtown with a small PR company, a nice chat with a very smart lady, need to put my thinking cap on and suggest how I can help her. I am really amazed at a niche customer base she mentioned that is not being served, especially in a place like Toronto.

Then got an e-mail from a company I contacted that wants me to call them and discuss some viral marketing ideas; I'm intrigued.

[Still deciding on setting up a PR biz of my own. Would take me away from a full-time job search, but it could lead me into a career I never considered before. And then there's the start-up I'm helping. I can sense a crossroads coming.]

Friday, February 9, 2007

Nice To Meet You

Followed up on an interview I had before Christmas, thought it was dead in the water after so long... but the company wants me to follow-up next week. A glimmer of hope, but I'm not celebrating till I sign a contract!

Then I went downtown on a beautiful sunny day, met the start-up team and had a meeting with a large Canadian broadcaster that I arranged. It was a "getting to know you" meeting but I think it went well, and now the ball is in our court for the next step. Gets the blood pumping for sure.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Big Deal... Or No Big Deal?

I'm number 1 on Google now for the search term "john carson blog" which is cool, now easy to find me. Sorry to any other John Carson out there with a blog...

It's not hard to get a top 5 position on Google these days. Just need to get linked from certain high-profile sites and other bloggers. (But it doesn't pay the bills so keep those e-mails coming!)

Bud.TV: A Taste Of The Future Of Online Content?

This article caught my eye this morning. It talks about a beer company -- always a bonus -- but it also looks at the future of online content, an area that interests me and that I have a lot of experience in.

It also references my former employer too near the end.

"Armed with a $30M budget, Bud.TV is a who’s who of successful creators and businesspeople trying to crack the code: Reach men and get their attention, which is no easy feat."

The article talks about a beer company's attempts to target a certain demographic, but screwed it up somewhat by requiring a lengthy registration process. The writer is also crtitical of the actual content itself as not offering anything of real substance that you can't get elsewhere, like trailers and sneak peeks.

I agree. Why would you spend 10 minutes typing in your personal details just to watch a clip that you can get immediately on's trailer section? Seems like a waste of time. I understand they need to collect certain info (age being one of them considering the company) but these days users are fickle and will just jump to another video-sharing site if the sign-up process is too much of a hassle.

Just an e-mail should be enough for the time being, then once they become regular visitors you can offer them an e-newsletter, contests, promos and so on in which they do have to supply names and addresses.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Three's Company

I've dived behind the overt job market today and made three good contacts.

One... is the woman who runs a very funky little PR company that I e-mailed expressing an interest to work there. Been invited to meet next week.

Two... is the main player(s) behind a recent Web 2.0 launch, not hard to work out which one. Meeting being set up as part of the ongoing relationship-building tasks for my mate's start-up.

Three... is a friend of someone who works at a very large entertainment company. Asking him to get my name and resume in front of the 100's for a cool job that I spotted.

(All without stepping out into the -25 wind chill.)

Friday, February 2, 2007 Time For A Video Resume?

Had a strategy meeting downtown today with the start-up company I'm helping out, very interesting stuff. Trying to build relationships with new and exciting online properties and also get an advisory board together.

My journo friend attended the launch of BlogTV on Wednesday. This looks very cool especially as I've been blogging a lot in the last two months, and I'm about to get a Webcam. Might record a "video resume" or something.

Alliance Atlantis is licensing the BlogTV service from Israeli company Tapuz, who appear to license the service on a geographic basis, so only Canadian users will be able to access BlogTV -- for now. We'll see if that changes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kevin Federline Leaked Super Bowl Commercial

On a lighter note, there is someone who is more unemployed than me. (Already pulled from YouTube, and the title will be a hot search in the blogosphere = hello traffic.)

Want fries with that?

PR? Hmmm.

A former colleague saw my CityNews slot and asked me if I'd be interested in trying to get the same kind of exposure for a couple of his niche Web properties. I'm seriously thinking about it.

I tried PR in the UK and only lasted three months. I am a creative guy, but was very frustrated that every press release or article I wrote promoting the client was checked by around two million people in the chain before it was released. I understand it has to be the right message, accurate and so on... but if you work on something for too long and have too much input from too many people with too many opinions for too many days, then it loses the original buzz and impact. So I quit, and vowed never to work at a PR job.

But, my attitude has changed since setting up the blog and I realise that I can get things noticed in the right places if I am interested enough in the property I am trying to push. So, I am toying with the idea of setting up my own little one-man-band PR biz for clients that interest me, that I can approach with some guerrilla marketing ideas. Low overheads for me, lower costs for them.

Friday, January 26, 2007

CityNews TV Interview

Yesterday I e-mailed Amber MacArthur of CityNews and told her about my blog. Just by chance she was planning a story on people using online media to find jobs. Great timing!

She came by today with her cameraman Al and interviewed me for tonight's CityNews so I'm keen to see how it turns out and what happens to my blog traffic.

You can click here to watch the video. Just type "january 26 2007" into the search box at the bottom, and my news item is the 2nd one along.

Here's a couple of pics of Amber doing her promos in my den.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

TV Interview Tomorrow

I contacted a TV station and they're coming to my place tomorrow for an interview that will be broadcast later in the day. Will post details and a link once it's done. (Now I gotta clean the condo, ah well.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Biz Plans Are Not The Yawn I Thought They'd Be

Just had a quick Messenger chat with a former colleague and realised I haven't updated the blog in a few days, so taking a couple of minutes to put that right.

Been very busy writing the Web content part of a business plan for my friend's start-up, so making sure it's the best it can be as a lot rides on it. I was dreading it actually -- thought it would be too dry -- but I'm very happy with how it's going. It's exciting to put a vision down on paper, guidelines that you hope people will at least try and follow so they become successful.

Break over... back to it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scratching Backs

Never say never... I am doing some freelance stuff to keep busy, which is pretty interesting actually as it's for a start-up that needs some help. It's for a friend of mine, so no coin, but I'm happy to help out rather than get bored at home. They need some knowledge that I got in my last job so it's easy for me to sort that out without breaking a sweat.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Slip Sliding Away

A busy couple of days to start the week...

Got some replies to my "What's up?" e-mails about past jobs I've interviewed for. Job 1 hasn't replied yet, job 2 said it will be a week or two before they decide... so in limbo on those prospects.

I was downtown at a meeting yesterday. Nearly hit a streetcar on King when my car slid backwards down an icy slope. Staring death in the face will not thwart my job search.

A TV network contacted me yesterday about an interview... looked like a junior role to me... asked for the salary range... much too low, so declined. As I mentioned in another post, salary is NOT a taboo subject. I didn't waste their time going for an interview, nor mine when the time is better spent prospecting.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Please Can You Let Me Know..."

Time to start tying up some loose ends.

This morning I sent a couple of e-mails to companies that interviewed me before Christmas, so they've had a couple of weeks now to decide if I'm still in the running or whether they are still seeing other people. Both are very big companies, so the wheels may be grinding slower than normal.

Being in limbo is the worst part about job hunting. Better to get the "No thanks" and move onto the next opportunity, rather than not knowing.

But, of course, the "We are pleased to offer you..." is always better!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Stretch For That Line

Friday's meeting was postponed till today; was there for four hours, could be some good news soon. At the very least, it was nice to get out in the sun.

The article I wrote for RGX Life was never used unfortunately, but I still got paid for it so that's cool. Maybe I do have a sideline as a freelance writer after all? That uncertain life has never really appealed to me though.

[Any tech pubs reading this who need an 800-word article on a smart young business guy, give me a shout.]

Friday, January 5, 2007

End Of A Quiet Week

As expected, this was a short and quiet week.

I had one speculative e-mail from someone who passed my blog along -- I could tell by the e-mail address that it came to -- sending me details about a job I had actually already spotted a few weeks ago. It was writing about a subject matter that I don't know much about, and also the position was less senior than the one I want... so I declined.

Next week should be much busier on the job hunt front, so have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn

I'm a big fan of LinkedIn -- it's helped me stay connected to former colleagues, make contacts and allow others to approach me after seeing my work history.

Guy Kawasaki has an excellent list of 10+bonus ways to use the networking site here.

(And thanks for lunch Sue... good luck on the big day!)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

3... 2... 1...

I have to head to Mississauga tomorrow to pick up my final cheque from, so will try and have coffee too with a former Beer-dot-commer and catch up.

Been invited downtown on Friday for an important meeting, looks interesting.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Back At Work... For Other People

A nice sunny day greeted the commuters heading to work today after the hangovers had worn off. My New Year's Resolution = job!

Someone who apparently used to work with a few of the Beer-dot-commers contacted me out of the blue via my LinkedIn profile, and wants to chat, so that looks interesting. Still waiting on an important e-mail that I thought would arrive last week.

Also, the website I wrote the article for decided not to use it, but are still paying me, so that's cool. Plus I can now use that article somewhere else.