The multi-faceted career of Paul Renaud, author of A Networking Book is a testament of the power of meeting new people, its usefulness and the milestones that every entrepreneur should seek.
Over the years, Paul has become an executive, an entrepreneur, writer, Public Speaker and Certified Executive Coach and, as you will see in this interview from Ad Hugger, Paul strives to give the aspiring networker the tools he or she needs.
Written by Romanita Oprea on 21 October 2016, in Ad Hugger
Paul Renaud coaches with clients worldwide either in person or via video conference.His professional background includes 15 of the past 30 years working at senior levels with operations experience in Marketing, Sales and Customer Care as well as Strategic Planning.
AdH: What would you say that are the most important steps and decisions you took along your career? What about the most risky ones?
Paul Renaud: I’ve learned the hard way and that was the best way to learn. Let me give you a few examples;
I’ve tried new jobs – jobs I was not qualified for but I thought they would be fun. They were!
I’ve worked in 10 countries and understood the cultures along the way. I learned what to say/or do and what not to say/do in different cultures and yes, I made mistakes. Some cultures were open to me (i.e. Romania) while some others were not open. I accepted it and then I moved on. Live and learn.
I’ve tried to become an entrepreneur on 2 occasions (risky decisions) and failed. I discovered that very successful entrepreneurs failed many times in their quest to becoming successful – that motivated me. I’m now in my 3rd attempt and I can tell you now that I really ‘get it ‘. Those mistakes along the way have helped me.
I’ve learned that one should not fear ‘of failing’ but rather fear of ‘not trying’. A lot of people dream about becoming an entrepreneur yet few ever make the move. Even fewer fail but they get right back up again and push!
Failing is part of learning – that applies to becoming an entrepreneur as well.
AdH: Have you ever truly been afraid of change?
P.R.: Of course, it’s human nature. When change was imposed upon me the best way to confront it was to fully understand why change was happening. This gives you context to better understand, adjust and move on.
When I was risking leaving from full time employment to becoming an entrepreneur, this implied a significant change. To alleviate this fear I found that preparing a plan (business plan) always helped me, regardless of the outcome.
AdH: Does everybody have the entrepreneurial gene in sight or not?
P.R.: Whenever I coach my clients and we discuss their dream goals, the idea of them becoming an entrepreneur may come up. That’s when I ask them: “Ok, at what age did you ever dream of becoming an entrepreneur?”
That answer usually tells me how bad they want it.
Is this what you consider part of their genes? Maybe.
My brother once told me that ‘being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart’ in other words you need to be comfortable with taking risks. He was right.
It’s tough. You need a lot of energy, you need to accept rejection, you need a network of people (customers, staff and investors) that believe in you, you need financing and you need a mission. These are the characteristics of entrepreneurs.
One thing is for sure: You can learn this new stuff. You learn by keeping that inquisitive mind that you had as a child, questioning everything; you accept setbacks along the way and you surround yourself with mentors, coaches, stakeholders that can and will give you sound advice. Never stop learning; ask questions and always seek advice.
AdH: You said that People Power is a two-sided coin. How is that more precisely?
P.R.: Well the first side of the coin relates back to 24 years of searching and discovering a new career for me: Executive coaching. I can honestly say that the people I have met through networking in my life have helped me find my new career.
In Canada 10 years ago, I signed up to teach adults at a community college for a seemingly boring topic. At my surprise, at the end of 10 classes one student wrote in his evaluation of the course and said ‘Paul is captivating’.
This one comment from one person changed my life! This is the first side of the coin. Someone witnessing and recognizing you for a very special skill or attribute that you didn’t know or realize you had! This is very compelling!
The second side of this coin is that everyone has this ability to transform others. We just don’t know we have this power. Everybody has the ability to help transform others by giving a bit of yourself and by adopting the law of abundance. We all have this gift!
AdH: How hard is to find “one’s zone”? How did you find it and what advice would you give to the people that are still searching for it?
P.R.: Some people discover their Zone early on, some people discover it only after many years but anyone can discover their Zone if they give it enough time.
Cervantes, the famous Spanish novelist said that success is not a destination, but rather a journey. According to Cervantes: ‘The road is better than the inn’.
I always knew I could be better at something. OK I was a decent Sales Manager, a good Marketing Director and a competent executive but deep down I knew I could really, really be good at something. I often looked at some athletes, young gifted musicians that discovered tremendous abilities at a young age and artists that seem to have the knack or talent. Why couldn’t I have something similar, unique?
At one point I wanted to change my career. A friend spoke to me about coaching 14 years ago. My career was still doing fine but about 7 years ago, it was time to change and I researched once again the topic of Coaching. This was the defining moment for me.
Then I looked at what I had acquired my career, my skills and my experience:
By using my skills ( as a listener) plus my experience in business, and add to that all the advice I received from the many people I had met, these were the key ingredients to get me started in my new career.
From my peers, I learned which segments to target my coaching practice. These segments are 30% of my clients today…30%. They were right!
From Jim, one of my favorite bosses, I learned that if combined what I like to do with what I was good at, he said, I would become …deadly that is, the best in the business. ‘Find the intersection of what you are good at and what you like’, said Jim.
I call this finding your ZONE…as surfers would say on a good day of surfing…’Surf’s up dude, ride the wave’.
My advice? Never stop looking. My intuition was right with regards to athletes and young gifted musicians that discover tremendous abilities. We all have an ability that lies latent or dormant. It cannot be otherwise.
Forget what your mother or father told you: Try those piano lessons you’ve always wanted; dance the Tango: take up a finance course; try to sell Avon products; test drive a motorcycle; write poetry, but just try.
I am convinced now that we all have a unique ability. And the best way to discover it is by trying different things.
I am not different than anyone else. If you didn’t find your Zone yet, you still have time!
AdH: You are often talking about the importance of a Mentor. Who was the one for you and why?
P.R.: I can think of two mentors.
My very first mentor, my Mother taught me to believe in people – not in a forced way but in her own way. To believe in people in a work setting, a social setting, with friends or when people need us the most, in difficult moments.
‘What we do to better this world is entirely up to us’ she used to say. ‘Making one person feel good is one step of attaining that goal of making the world a better place ’.
This was her way of improving the world, one person at a time.
Did she succeed?
I guess it doesn’t matter if she succeeded but I really do believe that she left a little something of her with everyone she touched. I would add that anything worth doing to better our world has to be done through people.
When she passed away I was communicating with friends and family as part of my duties as executor and by doing so I was reminded of the effect she had on people. The same people she cherished and made her happy. It’s tough to reconnect with bad news but at the same time it connects us, puts us closer and brings back friendships and nice memories.
I hope I can one day, emulate her greatness. This is what a Mentor teaches you – to be really great in your own way, your career, your life and your dealings with people.
Jeff Imelt, from GE once quoted Mentors as “People you trust to provide feedback and advice”. Mentors opens doors, are generous of spirit and time and best of all, a mentor’s time is free.
In 1998 my boss suggested to interview a fellow called Bob Henson, an american. We spoke; I loved this fellow after 2 minutes and we agreed to hire him. He became my second mentor.
After 6 weeks of consulting, mentoring and design, my new sales structure was complete with org. charts, job descriptions and a calendar of milestones, Bob had delivered on his promise. Bob’s expertise came for free – he was sent by the IESC or the International Executive Service Corps which is a NGO based in the US that provides executives on short term projects in developing countries.
When Bob was later asked to travel for his work under the umbrella of the United Nations he’d receive a stipend that would be just enough for him to buy a ticket for his wife. After a while, their frequent flyer miles added up, helping them pay for trips. By 2011 he had visited 200 countries. He then decided to ‘Go for it’ and attempt to visit all the countries in the world.
According to The Travelers’ Century Club, “there are 324 territories or sovereign states, certain exclaves and island groups. Although some are not actually countries in their own right, they have been considered because they are removed from parent, either geographically, politically or ethnologically”. Bob has visited all 324!
While busy travelling the world, Bob kept providing me with sound advice on my career and actually lined me up for a few job prospects and contracts. As you can imagine, Bob is what Malcolm Gladwell would call a ‘Connector’ in his bestselling book “The Tipping Point”.
Bob has demonstrated at 80 years old, that one’s age should never be a limiting factor especially when you‘ve got an important goal to achieve. He had told me many times “Paul nothing in life worth achieving is ever easy…it’s had work”.
AdH: What differentiates you as a Coach in Romania, what unique or different services you offer?
P.R.: I love to Coach people for two reasons:
1) I have identified this as an inherent skill of mine and,
2) I have always been someone who is interested and cared about people.
Like a sports Coach I help my clients maximize their professional potential – either master new responsibilities or aspire to a new career while at the same time finding balance with other equally important aspects of their lives such as their partner, family, social life and spirituality.
In the past, as an Executive I needed to coach my staff and mentor since this is part and parcel of the job when you lead people. Given my passion to help people and seek peak performance, I always considered myself a Coach. What Coaching really means? Change… Coaching implies a change. A Coach facilitates change.
I’m able to highlight my client’s weaknesses and less than optimal behavior since it is virtually impossible to assess one’s behavior or style objectively and identify the reasons our career is on ‘stand by’.
Lastly, I’m a certified Coach with unique work experience. I’ve worked in 10 countries for multinationals, yet I’m now an entrepreneur. I fully understand Romanian insights since I have lived here for 10 years. The ‘value-add’ I provide is not only coaching but a global network of people I have access to and the corresponding learnings I have acquired from this network. This knowledge is used during my coaching protocols.
AdH: How open are the Romanian business people to coaching? (on the surface it looks like the market is growing and having a lot of potential)
P.R.: Coaching is growing as an effective tool to develop managers and executives in Romania. Clients are recognizing the benefits of this progressive method of learning.
Believing so much in this concept, together with my partners, we’ve launched a Coaching consultancy with locations in Romania, France, Morocco and Poland, called the Centre for Effective Coaching (http://www.centreforeffectivecoaching.com).
The Centre for Effective Coaching will be recognized as the Leading Partner in creating sustainable change and a positive impact in the culture of performance for the European market.
We strongly believe that every Romanian manager has the potential to become an inspiring Leader. It is only a matter of time, focus and self-actualization.
Change is possible and we are here to witness a transformation.
AdH: What can you tell us about Brain Science and why are you using it in your coaching sessions?
P.R.: Srini Pillay. Brain Science provides us with good news. It proves that as adults, we can change. Our brains have enough neuroplasticity; in other words we can change the way we interact with people even if we’ve been leading in a certain way for many years.
Brain Science can be applied to any level of your organization and facilitates change because the focus is on the brain and not on personal behavior thus making it easy for participants to engage in change. The brain can change, therefore we can change.
Brain science adds another element to my Coaching toolkit as a certified and qualified Coach.
AdH: In the Coach’s professional life is it similar to the life of a psychologist, that is, a coach has to have his own coach, just like a psychologist will have his own psychologist ?
P.R.: Coaching is a dynamic profession and as such it requires us to be up to date on a lot of subjects, be it business, human resources, staff engagement, psychology and peak performance to name a few. It also requires us to practice with other coaches which I do on a monthly basis. Lastly, I also have a coach. It’s good to be reminded on how the Coachee feels and the importance of verbalizing what is in one’s head. In my case, my coach through his leadership and methodology has enabled me to save over 1m Euros. That’s what I call a good ROI for his services.
AdH: What are the main challenges in your professional life in Romania nowadays? How have they changed during your years of staying here?
P.R.: I’ve learned that living 10 countries is exciting and it also has its drawbacks for someone that has to develop a network for business. In other words when you leave a country for another you have to start your network all over. Having lived in Romania for 10 years now has had important benefits and my network has grown. My clients are the best testimonials of the kind of services I deliver. To witness my clients growing and prospering has been very rewarding for me – it’s my calling.
Romania is home for me and I would Iike to thank all my Romanian colleagues that have made me feel welcomed.
Challenges? Well, finding new clients is a full time job; trying to replicate or clone myself in order to sustain my practice and manage a second coaching business requires good time management. Finally, I’m also trying to find time to do other things such as public speaking and writing.
Are these challenges? I prefer to think of them as an attempt to be ‘arriving’ at my next destination as opposed ‘having arrived’.
As Nassim Nicholas Taleb has taught me in his book called The Black Swan…’you always control what you do; so make this your end’.
It is my intention to have control over what I do.
The column in my web site is called “I Feel Good”. That is a genuine adaptation of expressing how I feel.