Humans of INKspire

Joshua Doner | Marketing Manager for General Assembly Canada

Joshua Doner | Marketing Manager for General Assembly Canada
For those who are not familiar with you, what is your story?

Hi! My name is Josh and I am the Marketing Manager for General Assembly Canada (GA.co). GA is a global digital skills training company or better known as a Coding Bootcamp. We innovate on the future of education and work. GA operates around the world with 40+ Campuses and is the largest bootcamp globally.

What are some of the biggest things you’ve taken away from your journey?

It is hard to plan your journey. So if you don’t have a plan in place, don’t worry. A lot of the opportunities that have come my way are a result of being in the right place at the right time — whether it be in digital advertising, the early days of Facebook advertising, getting in at the right time of fast growing companies like Kobo, JUICE Mobile and General Assembly. I think you can put yourself in front of a lot of opportunities just by seeking new challenges at companies solving interesting problems.

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My Wife and I got married!

What is your advice to youth who have not found their passion yet?

Finding your passion takes time and you need to be international in seeking things that bring you joy in your work. With that said, DO NOT DWELL OR WORRY. In the meantime, find meaningful work that enables you to positively impact others and contribute to society. For me, working in education is not my passion, but I get to impact people’s careers and be a positive contributor in Toronto’s Tech ecosystem.

Advice To Find Your Passion: Try a lot of different things with the mindset that if you start something (i.e. a job, side hustle, creating, building a business), someday one of these activities will lead you down a path to figure out what you like to work on. You will know, when you know.

Advice To Starting Your Passion Or Side Thing: Break your vision down into 10 mini projects that you can do over the next 10 weeks. Type it in a Google sheet and each week document starting each mini project. Get to an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) ASAP, aka launch a website or go live with the minimum version of your vision as quickly as possible.

Optimize For Influence Not Celebrity:

Everyone focuses on “celebrity”. Their mindset being they can’t start because “I don’t have 10,000 fans at launch”. Instead, your mindset should be to share with the world and focus on influencing 1 person at a time. As the data rolls in, constantly collect feedback and build your community.

If you work in a position where you are in the public, ensure you are self promoting and bringing people into your personal community. I host Livestreams at General Assembly and my call to action is always to engage with my LinkedIn here: Add me and let me know you read this far 🙂 — https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuadoner/

Project Ideas For Students: Students and young people should be starting and hosting communities. I am a huge believer of community, especially online. It can be anything, but people need community right now and they need you guys to start building those communities. It’s something I’ve done at GA and it’s been one of the most powerful marketing tools.

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Me, Top Middle, hosting “Using AI Chat Apps For Market Research with ai.science”

One thing you want to improve about yourself: I am a proud procrastinator!

I procrastinate on a lot of tasks. When I don’t understand something, I push it off and figure it out later, so I always work on things that I understand first. When I have to build a complex workshop schedule in Excel, it takes me longer, and often I work best under pressure. Organizing things is not my strength. I like working under pressure, I am most creative and focused then.

In these uncertain times, how do you stay resilient? How are you adapting to this new norm of physical distancing and working from home?

General Assembly Toronto was 100% in person and our team transitioned to 100% remote pretty easily in a massive organization of hundreds of employees, dozens of campuses with $300 million a year in revenue. We did it in one week but it was very natural for our instructors and our team.

Zoom exhaustion and tips: I am on Zoom all day and I’m exhausted, my eyes hurt and my screen time is way too high. Staying motivated during COVID is difficult and for someone who is a digital native, it has taken some adjusting. Here are some tips to stay focused.

  1. Book mandatory morning 15 min calls with your colleagues
  2. Select a new host each week
  3. Play games like hangman, or name your first concert + most memorable concert, or do a Stop — Start — Continue self reflection and share with everyone.

Tips to manage employee output for remote work: Managers used to value their employee output by showing up at 9am and leaving at 5pm. Now as a manager, you have to look at metrics to understand an employee’s performance. So sit down with your employees and your team and understand what metrics and KPIs you are measuring them against. You have to look at those things and say, “are these things healthy?” and if they are, then your team is doing a great job.

I recommend managers scheduling 15–30 minutes in the morning and afternoon for their team to catch up on what everyone is working on. Beyond that, leave your team alone and let them work.

How to stay focused for students, remote learning tips:

  1. Have a buddy system of checkins in the calendar to review progression on courses and or projects
  2. Use virtual workspaces like notion.so and Google Collaboration Tools
  3. Go to virtual events and engage with the community, build your network
  4. Be a positive contributor on LinkedIn, commenting with your opinion on other people’s posts
  5. Use alternative education providers to learn hard skills like General Assembly, Fiverr Learn, Udemy ect.

How do you stay motivated in your losses and grounded in your wins?

Share your wins with the world. I believe that LinkedIn is one of the greatest sources of community and connecting with others. Share the process with your community by documenting the process. Each event you host, each new data point you get from your website analytics, each new partnership; share these with the world so people can join the journey with you on what you are building or working on.

Do you have any final thoughts?

People have a lot of barriers in starting things, whether it be starting a blog, focusing on their social media, or inspiring their followers with great content. Everything that you think about when starting a company comes down to creation. I want to encourage people to be creators and to create things that are great for others either at a company, for your passion or as an entrepreneur.


Want to learn more about INKspire? Check out our organization's website.

Want to learn more about INKspire? Check out our organization's website.
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