Part 1: The building blocks, I was raised helping.
There was a big age gap between my dad and I. He was not the playing type. So, spending time with him meant helping. My mom was a 3rd grade teacher and since I was fairly bright, she too had me helping to correct papers and exams.
So this is the baseline…
Part 2: Quitting school for the school of Life.
As music and girls came into my life, the perfect little boy took the back seat, I began “exploring”. Changing topics of study at school at a rapid pace, scores began to fall and I had to quit. If I had known then what I know now…But I understand what it feels like to not live up to your potential!!!
After a few years of this, I found myself sweeping floor in a big industrial company…not exactly related to my childhood dreams. Then my parents left town, moving 700 miles away. Without that security-net I soon realized that I was going nowhere, totally out of focus.
I had to take a cold hard look at my life. Had to stop fooling myself. I had to swallow my pride and make a deal with my dad. I would go back to school, live with my brother, finish college and get a degree, if he would help me financially. I was lucky enough that he could afford it.
Part 3: Been there, done that and all that crap…
So it was a second chance. I didn’t miss it. This time around, being older than my classmates, it put me in a situation where I could really help. Making sure no one would waste talent or years, like I did, became an obsession. In class, an uncanny ability to explain complicated matters in a simpler way became my trademark.
But I didn’t stop the fun. I kept making music, took dance lessons and acting lessons. I was part of the college rock band, doing shows and musicals, even co-wrote a musical in the process. The singers, and actors, would come to me naturally. I was the “big brother”, in a good way. Even after leaving college, I was a regular visitor, helping the stage performers.

I decide to leave a secure and well paid job, and take the risk of losing my girlfriend who couldn’t follow me, by seeing what opportunity existed abroad…

Alain Theriault

Part 4: Coaching without knowing it…
That led me to become a guidance counselor. Working mainly with adults. I was more about “what they REALLY wanted” more than using the results of tests. I can honestly say that the “life coaching” part of my coaching started there. After a few years I started working more and more with adults coming back to University and foreign students. In both cases, even having more “maturity” didn’t prevent them from having issues to deal with, as far as careers were concerned.
Then something big happened….An opportunity of a lifetime
Part 5: The turning point
I had helped a visiting professor from France with a research he had to do for a student magazine in France: L’Étudiant. To make a long story short, that led to an upper management job in Paris. I decide to leave a secure and well paid job, and take the risk of losing my girlfriend who couldn’t follow me, by seeing what opportunity existed abroad…
I can’t say that I was exactly welcomed there. With just a few MBA classes, and no knowledge of the French culture (Quebecers speak french but are more closely related in their way of life to North Americans), I faced an uphill battle …
But being kind of a business “mercenary” gave me a taste for entrepreneurship. I had to make people talk, reveal their motives as to why they were sabotaging what we were trying to build. I discovered the art of Leadership the hard way. Sharing the reward but paying the price…alone. I wish I would have known about coaches then because I would have asked The Company to give me access to one…
The seed of coaching was well planted. Listening, asking tough question, helping people come up with their own answers….but I didn’t do the job fast enough. They were asking me to do in a year what I had set to do in three…so I came back to Montreal and to finish my MBA.
Very early after my return, My girlfriend left and I had to sell the house we had bought. I went from a house in Montreal and an apartment in Paris to living in a basement room at one of my aunt’s house. Now, in times like these you learn to focus on the bright side of things. You learn to focus on DOING when it would be so easy and understandable to SULK….
Having an MBA, some international experience and being bilingual, I thought everything would come back to normal fairly fast. They didn’t. Those weren’t good years. And I had no referrals…My MBA or my lack of professional experience would scare most employers…got me thinking about wasting potential (again), that’s for sure…
That had to be one of my biggest lesson in ASKING. Asking is so hard to do for most people. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Of course there is a way to do it, but basically people are afraid to ask. In the case of freelancers, it is often about asking for the right amount of money.  For entrepreneurs, it is asking for help.
So I went around and asked. The break came. “Such luck” people said. Well, apart from the lottery, I don’t believe much in luck. You make it, you stack the odds in your favor… so I did, so I won…
I was asked to build the Entrepreneurship Center of the University of Montreal. All the University had was an agreement from the engineering school and the business school. I jad to convince levels of government to invest, as well as faculties. Challenges, struggles, rejection, pressure, time limits, conflicting interests… I had to deal with them all. But it worked…
For 8 years, would-be entrepreneurs were my life. Teaching, workshops, conferences, one-to-one, business plan competitions, business partners, v.c.s and angels were everyday surroundings. But, my pride and joy was when former “would-be entrepreneurs” came back for advice after being in business for a few months/ a year or two. Working with them, the hours flew by. The problems were real so were the results!
Those conversations were so stimulating, the impact powerful and the results always emotional. Those men and women were better entrepreneurs than I was, but they kept coming. For ideas, for a sounding board, to open up, for motivation to keep on going, to rant, to tell the whole truth– Startup entrepreneurs will mostly tell the truth but not all of it, the only affinity they have with politicians.
So there you go. It may sound self-serving, but coaches play an important part in the economy. Entrepreneurs are job creators and as insane as they have to be to choose such a “career”, they sometimes need a little help from their friend, the coaches, to keep it all together…. We help them keep their heads in the clouds while having their feet on the ground. Sounds like a stretch? It is, but my time is really worth while, I make a difference, and that, is priceless..

Alain Theriault, B.Ed., M.B.A is a speaker, trainer, entrepreneur and a business coach specializing
in Startups and Entrepreneurship.
You can connect with Alain On twitter: @startupcoach or on Google+
Read Alain's blog posts on Startup Coaching

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