Jarrod Goldsmith, 43, has led a successful and fulfilling career in both music and entrepreneurship here in Ottawa.
Goldsmith is well known in his community as a result of running for city council for the Orleans ward. “17 candidates running in Orleans is a record, it’s never been seen before. It just seemed like the right time in my life to go make more of a difference outside the business community.” He said. Goldsmith has always kept up to date and deeply involved in his widespread work.
Goldsmith began with school and music. The entrepreneur didn’t start out knowing what he wanted to do. In fact, there were no set plans for the future. He first picked up the sax in 1986 and knew that he enjoyed music even if it wasn’t something he thought of making a career out of.
After high school, Goldsmith only knew he liked music but didn’t decide to go into it at that time, rather, continued his studies. Instead he went into business at Marianopolis College, Quebec’s pre-university CEGEP program. Goldsmith came to realize he didn’t like it and that it wasn’t the course for him. In his second to last semester he branched off to anthropology. In his last semester Goldsmith took up archaeology courses which led to a McGill undergraduate degree in archaeology, and a further Master’s degree from the University of Alberta.
While greatly enjoying archaeology and music, Goldsmith didn’t see a future in either. Archaeology did, however, lead him to travel while working on digs. Goldsmith got the chance to spend a summer in both Europe and Japan, even earning school credit through McGill University. He enjoyed the experience in Asia so much that he decided to extend his stay and found a second excavation to work at. When money started to run out, Goldsmith took up teaching english as well as working at a sleep away camp for a few days. Goldsmith remembered the experience as a good one and feeling lucky to get the opportunity.
After school Goldsmith moved back to Montreal and stayed with family. He struggled to find a job and settled on being a public security officer for his municipality. That all changed in 2001 when Goldsmith met a woman at a concert that he was performing in. Him on saxophone and her on clarinet. The two connected and started dating. Soon after, she was accepted to the University of Ottawa, Goldsmith made the decision to move with her and look for work there.
While in Ottawa, Goldsmith searched for a job in museums to go with his archaeology background but had no luck. He pursued a career in the government and ended up working from contract to contract, all the while trying to earn a permanent position so he could advance. He later left this to follow other work and became an entrepreneur. “I was happy to work as hard as I could so that I could prove myself. But it wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur that I realized I’m doing it for myself now.” Goldsmith said. “I don’t have to appease other people. I want to keep doing what I’m doing so I stay in business in the future.”
Goldsmith shifted to change his life and start down his own path. He was determined to break away from work he didn’t enjoy and make a future out of his passions. He thought that there was more to life then practicing getting better at the sax or studying artifacts behind a desk for hours. Though joking, he did confirm he likes rocks more than most people.
Goldsmith set out to make a career in music.
Photo by Claude Brazeau Photography on Jarrod Goldsmith’s website
He came to build up his band Sax Appeal and worked to do everything he could to get the name out in the world. He knew that getting into music would be a tough road. “My parent’s still think I’m crazy going into music. But I wanted to make it work so I went into the band treating it as a full time business,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith quickly realized that an all-saxophone band wasn’t something people saw often and would never be hired for gigs. The average person isn’t familiar with this type of ensemble. Sax Appeal performs mostly background ambiance jazz, classical or Christmas music. One of his favourite gigs is for the Gatineau hot air balloon festival that they play every year. He explained how the balloons inflate and start to drift off to their music. Another of his favourites is for Manotick’s Women’s Day. Every year they are hired to walk up and down Main Street, while going into boutiques to perform and celebrate the day. Goldsmith believes they bring a warmth and experience to every event that always creates a special atmosphere. Their style of tuxedos and fedoras has become a signature and easily recognizable across the city.
Goldsmith enjoys making people’s lives better when he can. He explained how playing music allows him to do that. An experience that he appreciates is playing for retirement homes or long term care facilities. Usually residents in those facilities do not get the chance to see live music. He found that people suffering from dementia may not always fully be aware but they love the music. “Sometimes they cry, they dance and it’s just so much fun to see,” he said. “I was never in it for the money, I didn’t start Sax Appeal to get rich. And believe me, going into music is tough for anybody even if you’ve been around for a long time. Most of us struggle.”
Goldsmith also started up eSAX, a trade show and networking opportunity for other entrepreneurs. He always wanted to help small businesses to succeed and bring together a community. He eventually found that there was a need for an organization such as eSAX. Goldsmith hosts the events every three months, allowing for over 300 entrepreneurs to gather on a regular basis. Goldsmith continues to promote his work and bring awareness to both entrepreneurship and Sax Appeal through posting hundreds of YouTube videos and public speaking.
While frequently having Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson attend, he’s also had big names such as W. Brett Wilson who was on Dragons’ Den for three seasons. He also had Steve Cody speak on launching his new business Ruckify, an online marketplace for safe rentals. Another popular guest was Bruce Linton; owner of Canopy Growth, the largest cannabis producer in Canada which is actually located in Smith Falls, about one hour from Ottawa by car. Linton spoke on Oct. 17, 2018, which just happened to be perfect timing as that was the day cannabis became legal in Canada. He’s also had experience being an ambassador for all the local area Chambers of Commerce and served on the Board of Directors for the Orleans Chamber of Commerce.
Goldsmith has always been a big supporter of helping people. One such case was when an Algonquin student approached him with help doing a documentary. Wasim Baobaid reached out to Goldsmith via LinkedIn while enrolled in the documentary film course at Algonquin. Goldsmith was quick to help and allowed Baobaid to do a documentary on Sax Appeal. Years later the two still keep in touch and frequently work together. Baobaid was able to get his start with Goldsmith and worked with him on creating his first promo videos. “He’s really on top of everything around him, he’s so organized. I asked his mother one day how he got that way, she said she taught him,” he said. “Down to earth, humble and is always willing to offer what he can. He’s straight forward. When you see him that’s him. If he can do it he will do it, if he can’t he’ll tell you and find ways to help.”
This wasn’t Goldsmith’s only connection to Algonquin. He has also been invited to regularly speak for several different courses, chatting about entrepreneurship, networking and music. He’s also done workshops and spoke to students about entrepreneurship, networking and music.
Another colleague is Shawn Shoesmith who got his placement with Goldsmith while in the event management program at Algonquin. Shoesmith is another student who later stayed working with Goldsmith and has had many opportunities through him. “He’s very personable and he’s all about making those connections in every way possible,” Shoesmith said. “It helps huge, anyone he interacts with has huge ramifications on their life and on their progress.”