Michel Bernard, a digital advertising expert, was born in Gatineau, Quebec. Michel’s father would let Michel help with advertising ideas for the family business when he was a young boy. At the onset of the digital age, he was eager to be an early adopter, developing a website for his father’s business. Knowing without a doubt that he wanted to be involved in digital advertising mediums, Michel Bernard attended McGill University, completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree and earning a major in advertising.
After university, Michel Bernard worked as a copywriter for various Toronto-based ad firms. There, he learned from the industry’s leading experts and gained a wealth of experience. After years of working as a writer and building his skills in digital advertising, Michel Bernard gathered enough of a client base to start his own firm. Today, his firm provides top quality advertising solutions for individuals and business owners in the Gatineau/Outaouais region of Quebec.
As a digital advertising expert, Michel Bernard believes that sharing knowledge and learning from others are the best ways to stay at the top of your game. He regularly attends and speaks at seminars, webinars, and conferences all over the world.
Tell us a little about how you got into digital advertising
I’ve always loved advertising, even as a boy. I grew up with a father who was a businessman and I remember seeing him work with advertising professionals and advertisers. I’d sit in on board meetings and watch the presentations they would give and I thought it looked like so much fun: to create something that would entice viewers to take action. I love that idea. When I was old enough, my father let me take a crack at creating a advertising plan for him and from that moment, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. When the Internet became popular, I had a feeling it was going to be huge for the advertising industry and I got on board right away. I was right. This industry is so appealing because it’s always changing and evolving — it never gets boring or stays static. That’s a big draw for me.
What surprised you the most when you started your career, what lessons did you learn?
I was surprised by the sheer number of avenues in the advertising industry. Especially with digital advertising , there are so many paths you can take and so many industries you can be involved in. I learned that the best thing to do is to try to experience as much of it as you can — work as a writer, work as a designer, work as a developer. If you can do it all then the number of doors that will open to you becomes enormous. Another important lesson that I learned from one of my mentors at a Toronto firm is that persistence is key. If you want that huge new client, you have to go out and get them. Show them what you can do for them and don’t let them forget you. That lesson has helped me get far in this industry.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?
A piece of advice that I would give someone starting in this industry would be to never turn down an opportunity. You never know what you might learn or what doors will open for you when you try something new and different. So, if someone offers you the chance to learn something new, to take on something different, take it.
How would your colleagues describe you?
My colleagues would describe me as charismatic, energetic, a go-getter. I like to lead by example, so when I tell my team that something is going to happen, it does. I also think, and hope, my employees would describe me as someone who is easy to talk to, approachable. Employee satisfaction is a huge aspect of business in my mind and so I like my employees to feel like they can approach me with anything good, bad, or otherwise.
How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
Working in digital advertising can make it very difficult to maintain a strong work-life balance. Everything is available at the touch of a button and there’s no shortage of things to do on a daily basis, so you could work 24/7 if you really wanted. What I’ve come to learn over the years is that when you leave the office at night or go on vacation it means leaving work behind. I turn off my work phone and stay away from emails. Unless, of course, I’m expecting something important.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
This is going to be a bit of a dull answer but, I have to say my phone. It does everything for me. Honestly, I’m lost without it. I can view all my emails, organize my day, contact my staff, and literally organize my entire life with this thing. I can’t imagine what I’d do without it.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
When I was a boy, my father always told me to never give up an opportunity. That has always stuck with me. Over the years I’ve taken this lesson to heart — taking jobs and new opportunities whenever they arose. This has helped me gain a wide range of experience which, I believe, has ultimately made me more valuable as an advertising expert.
What does success look like to you?
To me, success doesn’t just come down to my company’s bottom line or how much I make. Yes, of course, it’s great to live a comfortable life. But, real success looks like having a company that makes money for me and my employees and their families. It means having happy and productive employees. It means having a happy and healthy family. It means having friends and travelling and helping others in need.
What is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers with?
Never stop learning. I feel like a lot of people in many different industries get started in their careers, learn what it is they think they need to know, and then carry on using the same knowledge for the rest of their career. In my mind, you can continue learning, regardless of the industry you’re in. There’s always more you can and should know. So, get out there and learn something new! Ultimately it will make you a better businessperson, a better employee, and even a better person in general.