Chamber member Barry Bourassa, owner of Coaching From the Back Row, shares his business insights.
Tell us a little about your business?
My name is Barry Bourassa, and I am the owner of Coaching from the Back Row. I deliver personal and professional results for individuals, small business owners and leaders within large corporations through the process of coaching. When I was in the Learning & Development department, I was responsible for training room setup, tear down, and overseeing the live training events. My spot was always in the back row, because it allowed me to see the speaker, the audience, and the whole room from a larger perspective. Because of what I learned sitting in the back row, I am able to bring a different focus to my one-on-one work with my clients.
What inspired you to start your business?
I delivered a two-day workshop on Presentation Skills to a group of senior leaders within my former workplace (a large insurance company). The next week one of the people in my class, delivered a speech to his team of 30+ people and used NONE of the tips or processes I just spent two days teaching him! The bad news was that the speech did not go over well because of his poor delivery. That led me to meeting with him one-on-one, working to craft his next talk which went extremely well. This led us to working together on other goals he was having trouble meeting and over time I helped him succeed at what was important to him. I later found out this is what Executive and Leadership Coaches do for a living. I was hooked and made it my mission to become one.
What services or products do you offer?
I offer the service of Executive Coaching. What makes what I do unique is that I provide a space to allow you to practice, learn and try on new Leadership Skills before you go back into the world. I also provide a process to allow reflection and intention in the direction you want to grow. To quote my favorite movie Kung Fu Panda, “The real secret of coaching is that there is no secret.” It is the process of slowing down, asking good questions, and letting your client think and determine their best path forward. We are all on a journey, and with my coaching style, we are just walking (and learning) together as part of that journey.
How does your business give back to the community?
Right now it is by participating in the Chamber’s Leadership McKinney program as a facilitator. This is my way of helping to grow the future leaders of tomorrow for McKinney
What methods have you used to grow your business?
The two R’s have been very important to me: Referrals and Relationships. By creating deep relationships with people, helping them reach and accomplish things that are important to them, they are more than happy to refer others to me when their peers ask them, “How did you reach this goal so fast?”.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
For me the secret to keeping happy customers is to make them unhappy, or maybe make them uncomfortable is a better way to say this. They do not need a friend, they need somebody to tell them the truth or ask them the questions that they have been avoiding wanting to answer. The ability to guide and deliver the hard truth with a compassionate touch is my greatest strength.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
It sounds cheesy, yet my greatest inspirations are my wife Lisa, my son Brady (age 20) and my daughter Emily (age 17). They each have faced and overcome tremendous obstacles in their life and continue forward with grace, humility and strength that inspires me every day to do my best.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
My favorite thing is when my clients have the “aha” moment. That time when their eyes light up and they get it. They see a different reality or option that they had never seen before. The energy and possibility that is created is my favorite thing about the business of coaching. My least favorite thing is numbers and financials that come with any business. It is the place that I need the most help to keep things moving forward. It so good that there are people out there that love this stuff.
To what do you attribute your success?
Lifelong Learning. The drive to always be learning, reading and having new experiences is the key to staying sharp, relevant and on top of a constantly changing environment.
How are you involved in the chamber and what is the effect on your business?
My main involvement with the Chamber’s is as a facilitator for the Leadership McKinney program. I have been working with this program for the last 5 years. I was introduced to this program when my spouse Lisa Bourassa went through the program in 2013. After each session, we would discuss the day and all the things she had learned. I planned to apply in 2014 when I found out that Carolyn Corbin (the main instructor at that time) was retiring. I spoke with Deb and volunteered my services as a facilitator for a year and loved it so much that I was asked to be a permeant part of the facilitator team (along with Buzz Kolbe and Randy Williams).
I bring my 20+ years of Leadership Development training from State Farm along with my Executive Coaching background to each monthly session of Leadership McKinney. Each day starts off with a Leadership Topic that is tied into the theme of the month. The Leadership McKinney program has allowed me to grow in my knowledge of McKinney, the history of the city along with the opportunities and challenges we face in the future. By helping to grow the future leaders of tomorrow is my one small way of giving back to my city.
This program has allowed me to create deep friendships and memories with many incredible people. It is amazing how quickly bonds are formed and it almost always starts with the beginning retreat. My favorite (or at least most recent) memory happened last year. For the retreat, we had purchased 3 new charcoal grills for the cookout. Deb said let’s put these together ahead of time and I said, this would make a great team building activity before dinner. Everything was going perfect until the grill boxes were opened and hundreds of small parts fell out of each box. What I was thinking would be a fun 15-minute exercise turned into a long drawn out test of patience and endurance for the group of participants that had just met each other! Nothing like working under pressure when people are hungry! The Leadership McKinney program has allowed me to serve others and provided me the opportunity to grow my business as well.
What’s the best advice you would give a new chamber member to get the most out of their membership?
Just Go. Go to the events, go to the meetings, go through Leadership McKinney, just go. The chamber puts on some many high-quality events that allow you to learn and meet other like-minded individuals.