Failure, France and the Future

October 24, 20223 Minutes


2022 marks the 10th anniversary of 60 000 Rebonds, a French non-profit that helps hundreds of entrepreneurs ‘rebound’ after the liquidation of their companies. As one of the association’s volunteer coaches I’ve given some thought to their motto Changer le regard sur l’échec, which literally translates to “Change the perception of failure”.  Failure may seem like an unnecessarily strong term for what is by definition a risky venture, but échec is strong with a lot of baggage and strings attached.  In France, we don’t talk about entrepreneurs that “did not succeed”; rather, we talk about ones that failed.

This perspective is rooted in the French culture.  At school in North America, children earn points for the work they do, hoping to reach a coveted A or A+. In France, they lose points for each mistake made, making it possible to receive less than zero on an assignment. The stereotype of fault-finding French schoolteachers that appraise good work with silence is unfortunately the reality of many a classroom. As a university exchange student, I recall being told that many teachers never give 20/20 on principle since “le 19 est réservé au prof et le 20 à Dieu” (a score of 19 is for the professor and 20 is for God).

So it is no wonder that, while in the US an entrepreneur often has no qualifying adjective until she or he is considered successful, in France success is defined as the absence of failure.  And when an entrepreneur’s company goes under, that difference becomes critical.  While going through the turmoil and pain of losing their ‘baby’ which they have been building over the years, they have to carry the additional psychological burden of being perceived as a failure. Does a potential investor or employer value the experience brought to the table, or judge solely the latest end result?

Changing a perception engrained in the culture will not happen overnight.  Getting from ‘failure’ to ‘not successful’ might be only a baby step, but one that has yet to be made.   Which is why the 60 000 Rebonds motto resonates so strongly for me.  To help entrepreneurs see the value of their experience, the amazing skills they have developed and the achievements they can be proud of, all of which will make them even more astute and effective in their next adventure, whatever the form. And with the increasing number of entrepreneurs in France, and expanding ecosystem to support their ventures, I’m optimistic that it’s simply a matter of time before all those around these ‘veteran entrepreneurs’ see it too.

From identifying preferences to leveraging Talents

September 27, 20224 Minutes


I don’t think anyone can possibly have a complete inventory on the different assessments that coaches can use.  It feels like a new one pops up every day. Each has their own focus and merits, but what they all have in common is providing someone insight on what makes them tick, a useful starting point to explore from.

When I first started coaching, I looked into multiple assessments– DiSC, ProcessCom, Tilt, GallupStrengths, MBTI, and more.  Some I found the value of the results and insights did not measure up to the time required to complete the assessment. For others, I felt the scope of application was either too narrow or too wide to be actionable. And some were simply too simple – or too complex – to resonate, at least for me personally.

I ultimately chose TLP-Navigator’s Talents profile for my practice.  Not as well-known as some others I had considered, I’m often asked what motivated my choice.

  1. Optimised time: my corporate clients don’t want to spend 45 minutes (or more!) filling in an assessment. By investing just 15 minutes they can receive a profile that is at least as accurate as other Jung-inspired models, and in my opinion, even more so.
  2. Professional context: since specifically focused on workplace preferences, people who operate differently in their personal environments are not hesitant or inconsistent in their responses. The profile resonates more strongly, and whether it is a one-on-one session or a group seminar, the discussion kicks off on an open, inquisitive note rather than a resistant, closed one.
  3. Language/Geography: profiles are in both of the languages I work with clients in, English and French. And the database/benchmarks are not limited to just a few countries, so more relevant for managers in multinational companies.
  4. Concrete application: each profile goes into detail on aspects ranging from preferred management styles and motivating types of work to aptitude for change and interpersonal relationships. The person can apply the insights immediately, resulting in better performance and greater well-being in the workplace.
  5. Relevance for teams: I wanted to spare my clients separate individual and team assessments, and the Talents profile is equally powerful for both. The insight a team can gain by sharing their key Talents and preferences is invaluable for bringing the best out of each person in the group and working together in synergy.

Above all, people are not a specific type or category to be classified in.  A good assessment tool recognizes that it is just that, a tool.  If it allows an individual, or team, to gain insight into their motivations and how they operate, then it has served its purpose.  If it enables them to become a better version of themselves while feeling respected and valued, then it has proven itself to be a truly worthy investment.