Category Archives: Professional Coaching

Another satisfied customer…

When I first arrived in France In February 2012, I was grappling with indecision about whether to continue or resign my full-time volunteer work back in Canada. After some months thinking it over, I still could not make a decision.

Using her professionnal coaching skills, Pascale helped me sort out the situation. Listening carefully and asking probing questions, she helped uncover my true feelings about the volunteer work itself, my relationships with the other volunteers, and the impact this work was having on my life.

As I became closer to making the decision to resign, Pascale suggested I compile a summary of the various tasks I normally performed, a job description to be used by the organization after my resignation. I spelled out my position and its responsibilities and was able to feel satisfied that the job description would help the group find a replacement without difficulty.

In fact, I’m thrilled with my decision to resign and wonder if it would have felt as ‘certain’ without Pascale Vernetti’s help. Thank you Pascale, for your help in this important decision.

Marilyn Pincock

Corporate business writer

Pincock and Associates

a dip in the River Seine on a Sunday morning or the Paris Triathlon




I started my triathlon race from Trocadéro…as I missed my wakeup call at 6AM. Actually I did not really miss it, I was too petrified to get up! I realized the day of the triathlon how much was involved and I would have rather stayed in bed and enjoy a  leisury breakfast with croissants and fresh orange juice. Instead I wolfed down a banana and a dreadful sort of energetic muesli.

So, as it stands, I was the last one in the bike park, frantically trying to get my shoes in the right order (so I would not run with my bike shoes and vice versa!) with the judges shouting after me to get the hell out towards the river Seine…nice way to get motivated for a very long swim in the river Seine I’d say…

Anyway, I galloped bare feet with my wet suit, glasses and the white triathlon  cap towards the departure, 1.5 k away towards the triathletes. Luckily I found a nice chap to chatter with along the way (funny how chatting about anything does calm my nerves J) and here we were, all gathered around a plastic sort of bridge enabling us to jump in a dark grey river. Loads of athletic looking men, which should have been my dream in a normal environment, but made me really scared at that moment. Where were the ladies??? Mind you I found out afterwards that they were only 135 triathlete ladies out of 2346 competitors at this event.

So here we were jumping in groups (I even wondered if someone one was going to jump on top of me!).The start of the race happened so quickly (I guess the judge wanted to get on time for a nice Sunday lunch) that I did not have time to realize what was happening. Forgot to say that, like most triathlete, swimming is not my best discipline. I endeavoured to learn to swim free style but as I found out, one more time, practicing freestyle with 1500 other swimmers going like crazy, is not the best. So I calmed down, tried to get my head above water, and went for it. It felt like salmons going upstream. People going past, arms, legs everywhere. I was saved by Carol, one of my Expatriés triathlon buddy, who enticed me to start freestyling  without panicking. So off we went, bridge after bridge, the Eiffel Tower disappearing and reappearing every single time.

Finally they appeared… the nice metal steps leading out of the metal looking waters…going out make you feel like you are drunk : no leg power left . From the effort of course! The cheer leaders made my day, as well as the automatic showers. I feel like in the Alien movie! Getting out of the inferno, back to the normal world.

Then Galloping again, still bare feet with the wet suit dangling, I reached my Porsche bike (It goes very fast indeed, superb piece of equipment) and tried to figure out how to get rid of the  wet suit the fastest way without falling all over. Luckily the judge (must have been the one shouting at me at 7.30 in the morning) gave me a tip: walk on the wet suit with the other foot. So my brain finally agreed to kick in and here I was, jumping in my bike shoes, grabbing the Porsche and running as fast as possible towards the start line.

40 kms on the bike is, in fact the best part of the triathlon. This year I have learned a new trick: drafting (thank youuu so much Bob J).  So I found a nice competitor going a bit faster than me and…became his shadow. We ended up going as fast as the wind (well…for me anyway !) and in a group of four bikers. It felt good, especially for me as I was behind most of the time (French men do not like a lady in front…suited me fine in this instance)

Back to bike park for the last transition after 1h17 of flying in my Porsche. Pompom girls cheered me again, it felt good!

Jumped in my running shoes (good job for the triathlon laces, all elastic and no laces to tie, my brain would not cope!) and now  the worst feeling to come : the 10K race! My legs feel like they refuse to obey, my calves are so tense it feels like I have no power and I am running on springs!

But that is where the motivation kicks in I guess. I just carry on, God only knows why! After a stop at the bar (glasses of water on a table that is!) I start running the hill towards Trocadero and the same happens again: I saw the sign 6 k and assume that perhaps I have run so fast there is a possibility of having already reached 6k. However I knew that I am not exhausted enough to have reached this distance!

The run is hard but all the contestants stick together, cheering each other and enticing the one that start walking to run again. So I join in and make sure a chap starts running, until I realize that he is on his second round and I have one more round to go! Luckily the runner explains that the second round is easier (oh yeah…and pigs will fly!)

In fact he is absolutely right. I guess after the first half of the run, I coaxed myself in realizing that I have less than half an hour of effort and then I’ll feel like the world champion. However k 8 feels like it’s never going to end, I’ll never make it bladibla…and it’s the finishing line appearing! I always sprint like a crazy lady; I just want it to end.

So that’s it!  The very best feeling is giving my foot to the person collecting the electronic chips! Then I stew for a while in my wet sweaty trisuit but also relish every second of this feeling: I have done it again and yes I am a champion! J)It does not last for very long though….but it is worth all the training achieved, the stress I went through (will I achieve a better timing this year? Yes I did. Will I not drink too much water from the Seine River?? No I did not.

Just one question: Why do they call this Paris triathlon short distance….??? Bloody long one if you want my opinion

English humour vs. French humour

During these bleak times, through the recession and dark longish  nights…I thought I might cheer you up with a bit of lightness and…humour….

Humour is by definition an Anglo-Saxon concept i.e. the equivalent in French would be “esprit”, farce (prank) and humeur (a state of mind, or mood), but not humour. Only in 1932 did the French Academicians give their approval to the noun “humour”!!! (Economist 18/12/2003)

As quoted in the movie Ridicule by Patrice Leconte: “the French have jokes but do they have a sense of Humour ?”…

I asked a Brit living in France what she thought about French humour and her answer was: “only a couple of words..!!”…typically British dry reply I assume..!

French esprit is unique in the sense that it can be described by the Anglo-Saxon as ‘Grinçant’ a concept typically French where the object of the humour is usually somebody else …(cf le diner de cons). The main aim of la “derision” consisting of mocking someone else’s weak point or naïve attitude.

Where British humour has a lot to do with self derision – which is perceived as demonstrating low self-esteem in France. However I’d like to point out that when one does mock oneself it does avoid others mocking him or her …!!! One can therefore set the limit to the extent of self derision which they are prepared to reach…

French humour is usually under the belt and fairly straightforward known as “l’esprit Gaulois” It is a licentious humour one would describe as visual and according to David Trotter in l’Esprit Gaulois: Humour and national Mythologie “a form of coarse humour characteristic of the lower orders of society, and thus inevitably concerned with the baser instincts”. My own perception of French Gaulois humour is that it can be as naughty as English humour, the only difference being…in the way it is laid out!!! (er…so to speak!!!)

French version is usually quite literal (we call a spade a spade!!) and situation based (cf all Feydeau plays based on a “quiproquo” ie situations being mixed up, the lover being taken for the husband and the servant for the mistress etc… Whether British humour possess (equivalent) several levels  : the first level which is quite literal, second level usually a bit more complex to understand …however…fairly naughty and finally a last level that one would not dare even think about…as it is far too shocking…!!! But everybody…eventually… works it out !

Contrepétrie is another form of French humour: where one changes one letter for another and it becomes fairly salacious…; the fun part being creating “contrepétries”: ie mixing letters so it becomes witty. Making an innocent remark such as: “nous avons convenu de la date…”if you reverse the C for the D, then things becomes somehow… more interesting!

The goal of the contrepétrie game is to banter with colleagues or friends without the audience understanding how cheeky the sentence can really be…in this sense this form of humour is similar to Cockney slang i.e in the way it is structured…by association of ideas.

English humour is somehow more subtle: it comes at several levels and in different shapes.

For example Pantomimes at Christmas times are one of my favourite entertainments ever… as I come from another culture… it becomes the d challenge of a few days to fully understand the different messages delivered…hence making my enjoyment bigger when I finally get it !.

Traditionally performed at Christmas, with family audiences consisting mainly of children and parents, British pantomime is now a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo. There are a number of traditional story-lines, and there is also a fairly well-defined set of performance conventions. Lists of these items follow, along with a special discussion of the ‘guest celebrity’ tradition, which emerged in the late 19th century. Panto story lines and scripts typically make no reference to Christmas, and are almost always based on traditional children stories, including several written or popularized by the French pioneer of the ‘fairy tale’ genre, Charles Perrault. Plot lines are often ‘adapted’ for comic or satirical effects, and certain familiar scenes tend to recur, regardless of plot relevance. (Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia)

The first level of the humour developed in the panto is for the children and the more subtle one is usually salacious …geared to the adult’s tastes.

Potter called humour an “English inherent reaction” and considered this as one of the pillars of the English society. It was cherished by the upper social class but has now spread to the whole society.

It tends to analyse a given situation and extract the most absurd sides in order to highlight the ridicule of the situation. This allows the person to distance him or herself from the situation, thus enabling them, in some cases, to take an objective decision. This nonsense approach forms the art of developing absurd ways of thinking based on a logical approach!!! Absolutely fantastic for imaginative personalities as it brings one to unkown territories of fantasy …one can banter indefinitely …

To summarize : English humour or French esprit?? Of course I will give you a twisted answer as I believe both have their defined role to play in their given culture. According to Pierre Desproges in Les étrangers “ Comment reconnaitre l’humour anglais de l’humour français ? l’humour anglais souligne avec amertume et désespoir l’absurdité du monde. L’humour français se rit de ma belle-mère ».

My personal choice would go for English humour with a French je ne sais quoi …! and I do not hesitate to use humour in large doses during my training sessions and in my coaching practice when I need my client to relax slightly before starting the hard work !

To be or not to be a coach??

To be or not to be a coach??

Lorsque l’on me demande quel est mon métier, je réponds toujours après un long moment d’hésitation et du bout des lèvres : coach…en attendant la réaction qui suit immédiatement : « pff de nos jours, me répond-t-on on est coach pour tout et n’importe quoi !!! »

Pour parer à cette attaque, j’ai appliqué plusieurs techniques :

L’humour : je suis quooackkk : la réaction… est celle de l’incompréhension.

L’intellectualisation du concept : j’accompagne le changement… moi-même je m’y perds avec ces deux concepts. Comment peut-on accompagner un changement, alors que la nature du changement est justement de ne pas connaitre la destination?

L’approche pragmatique : je suis un outil d’accompagnement pour vous aider à atteindre vos objectifs…la dernière personne à qui je l’ai déclamé a vite fait de tourner les talons !!!

Alors, alors ??? Que dire et surtout qu’ont en commun tous ces coachs, coac,quack ???

Les dénominateurs communs semblent être à mes yeux, une très grande bienveillance, une paix intérieure et de fantastiques qualités d’écoute, tout cela allié à une grande technique! En outre le principe commun à cette profession, si l’on devait en nommer un, est la question qui commence invariablement ainsi :

–          Comment…pour quelle raison…. ???

Montrez-moi un coach qui n’a jamais posé cette question et je vous répondrai qu’il ou elle n’exerce pas la profession.

La bienveillance provient de la profonde conviction et du respect du monde de l’autre, en particulier de ses valeurs et de ses croyances. Une grande humilité dans l’approche des rapports à l’autre va de pair avec la confidentialité qui doit être respectée.

Les qualités d’écoute sont extrêmement développées sur plusieurs niveaux :

De l’écoute latente, à la perception de la gestuelle, en passant par l’analyse de la sémantique du langage du coaché.

Enfin le questionnement est la capacité sans cesse renouvelée, de s’émerveiller et d’aider le coaché, par le biais de reformulations et de questions précises, à avancer dans son cheminement intérieur et à identifier ses propres ressources.

Enfin la démarche du coach va vers l’avenir, et est donc intrinsèquement positive, elle ne juge pas, et est pragmatique. Le respect de la vitesse de progression du coaché est essentielle.

La ‘ pratique du coaching se matérialise par des gestes précis qui visent à produire des états mentaux ou des réaction du coaché ‘ ( Michael Pichat – dec 09 – désu Paris 8). En d’autres termes les sessions de coaching sont structurées et possèdent un fort contenu technique, le coach possédant toute une trousse d’outils plus ou moins développée en fonction de son expérience, découlant de théories comme la systémique, l’analyse transactionnelle, la programmation neuro linguistique et bien d’autres encore.

Je m’interroge : comment reconnait-on un bon coach ? Une possibilité de réponse m’a été transmise par mon amie M.R Jolivet, coach de son état : » l’art du coaching c’est l’art de poser la bonne question, au bon moment, qui permet de considérer sa perception d’une réalité sous un autre angle. Un bon coach posera une question pertinente, et ira au-delà sans juger.

Une autre possibilité de réponse est la suivante : le bon coach est celui qui  définit des résultats, et qui les fait atteindre par le coaché. En sus je préciserai : » et qui a coconstruit avec le coaché des résultats. Après les avoir obtenus, en obtient d’autres, latents, qui avaient été exprimés par le coaché. D’ailleurs le fameux ‘contrat de coaching’ existe pour justifier les résultats.

En quelque sorte le coaching est l’énergie du désir, et le rôle du coach est de mettre en autonomie ou d’aligner son client sur la trajectoire que celui-ci s’est dessinée.

La grande différence avec le métier de psychothérapeute est que le coach étudiera la situation actuelle et la situation désirée, il aidera son client à identifier ses ressources afin d’atteindre la situation choisie, ce, en validant les acquis personnels du coaché mais en ne les analysant pas. Alors que le rôle du psychothérapeute sera d’adresser les drames personnels vécus en aidant le patient à les comprendre afin de pouvoir se projeter dans le futur.

Alors finalement que répondre lorsque l’on me demande quel métier j’exerce ? Peut-être tout simplement que c’est un métier d’accompagnement dont la finalité est d’aider une personne à élaborer, mettre en œuvre et évaluer très concrètement des projets professionnels et personnels. Le plaisir de partager avec le coaché le succès de ses objectifs est un réel boost !

Mais au delà de ce que l’on peut dire de et sur ce métier encore mystérieux, on devient coach que lorsque l’on s’autorise à  l’être.

Alors… à vos téléphones et mail pour me contacter !!!

Octobre 2010


The art of making a mistake: French or British way?

The art of making a mistake: French or British way?

An error according to Wikipedia has different meanings and usage relative to how it is conceptually applied. It is a deviation from accuracy or correctness or can be an involuntary act adapted to a given situation.

To the contrary of an illusion, an error can sometimes be dispelled through knowledge i.e. knowing that one is looking at a mirage and not at real water does not make the mirage disappear.

However a mistake has a different meaning. It is, for example, failing to stop at a red light and getting a ticket for it by the police. Well, you should have known better. So how can we turn our mistakes into positive experiences by drawing upon the knowledge we gain from them?

In England, many successful entrepreneurs interviewed mentioned the fact that they failed many times, to the point of bankruptcy several times, but still they came back with a revenge and eventually became successful.

A combination of both success and failure is essential to an entrepreneur according to the article: diving back in: what second-time entrepreneurs learned from the first time around.

In British culture, ‘practice makes perfect’ is commonly accepted and one learns from their mistake. Creativity is, therefore, much valued.

In France we tend to follow procedures, leaving few gaps for creativity. However I noticed that the French spirit comes on board and creativity is developed rather fast when trying to cut corners or dodge the heavy procedures that ‘theoretically’ need to be followed.

A mistake is, in French culture, viewed as a failure. However the perception of being courageous for having tried tends to come to light.

This approach puzzles me as France is one of the most advanced country in experimental Research and Development and “the notion of error in science is not “a mistake” but rather a difference between a computed, estimated or measured value and the true, specified or theoretically correct value”.

According to an article published by  l’atelier pédaggogique “everybody agrees that you learn from your mistakes. However not everybody has the same attitude towards the result of making a mistake. The teacher, in France, acts as a judge who gives a good or a bad grade. Therefore it is not stretching the learning capabilities of the students.

“Making a mistake is perceived as positive and an integral part of the learning procedure. It’s the correction by the student in order to reach the result forecasted by the teacher “according to Jean-Luc Force.

Trying -> mistake -> correction = experience

The perfect teacher, according to JL Force, would know how to create a positive structured environment in which the student would dare try new avenues.

An English friend of mine teaches drawing and she kindly explained to me that rubbers are forbidden in her classes. I was most intrigued by this way of teaching until she specified that making mistakes when sketching builds the scaffolding of the piece of art being produced. I find that methodology really positive.

But how many times can one try and make mistakes before reaching the decision to finally give up or try one last time ?

An article published in the Australian businesswomen’s network written by Robert Kiyosaki “The magic of making mistakes” stipulates:

“The first thing that happens after you make a mistake is that you become upset. At this point of upset, you find out who you really are”. This article then describes the cast of characters who are brought to centre stage when upsets from mistakes occur:

The liar – : I did not do that

The blamer -:  It’s your fault, not mine

The Justifier – :well, I don’t have a good education, sot that is why I don’t get ahead

The quitter – : I told you it would never work

The Denier – : No, there is nothing wrong. Things are fine

Robert goes on to mention a good piece of advice : “If you want to learn and  gain wisdom from this priceless mistake, you have to let the responsible You, eventually take control of your thinking and apply the following mental Attitude Quiz :

What are your attitudes to risk, making mistakes, and learning?

And if you are upset with someone else or yourself, what lesson can you learn and be grateful for being courageous to have taken a risk and maybe learnt something?

In other words, it is taking responsibility for your error and once the disappointment is over and the situation accepted, finding the courage and the ability to spring back and try a new path.”

The art of making mistakes is neither French nor English. In my opinion it is the ability to assess the risks involved in an objective manner, establishing a plan A and a plan B, both viable, leaving an exit door within easy reach. Thus still leaving the possibility to change direction when required and adjust the decision making process to the given situation.

Applying the ‘no rubber available’ methodology.

June 2010



Mai 2010


Since the launch of this “unique” site addressing the bicultural community in Paris, I thought long and hard and decided that instead of laboriously shutting my mind to the French words when writing my articles in …English I could, indeed, benefit from both cultures and write in Franglish…so here we go: but to help as this is the first of the new serie , I will highlight in  blue when swapping to French…

Resilience is a fantastic concept, clearly dear to my way of progressing in life.  I Looked up the “Que sais-je” , this is the definition:

“La capacité de résister à des situations traumatiques et la possibilité de transformer un traumatisme pour en faire un nouveau départ”

In other words what does not kill you makes you stronger!!!

One could articulate the concept in :

  • Identifying an opportunity in a difficult situation
  • Exploring the opportunity in a structure way
  • Thinking positively
  • Making Changes to a difficult situation in a positive way
  • Making a difference

How would one apply this concept to one’s life I wondered and what consequence does this concept has to lead one’s life?

When recruiting in London for Cisco an American company, on their international campaign, I interviewed an Engineer in Nigeria, Central Africa and Europe. Had to interview a chap who clearly seemed to be standing in the middle of a market place, as I could hear goat’s noise in the background….however in the process I came across an outstanding Engineer from Nigeria…and this is, in short, his story:

Brian came from a poor family and could not afford his further education – bearing in mind his school did not have any computer…let alone books… so he worked for several years in order to save money, took exams to be selected for engineer school in the capital of Nigeria (find the name) and was selected to go to ….Russia to further his education. When asked how he settled in St Petersburg…he replied that it was cold over there and lonely he resorted to launch a club of “African students in Russia” and became president of it!!! Now that was outstanding I thought…a lost student in the depths of Russia making the decision to grab this opportunity and explore it to the full….one of the trait of resilience..

This, I believe, is outstanding: out of a difficult situation, this student was able to identify a brilliant opportunity and translate it into a benefit for himself.

Transposed in a business situation this could sort any difficult situation into a business opportunity. As long as one can think positively and analyze the given situation from several angles in order to identify the best way forward.