Vibe High

Vibe High with the Experts: Gene Bernier, ACC, CPCC

Gene Bernier is your go-to navigator in the journey from confusion to clarity. Merging a tech-savvy background with a profound passion for coaching, he specializes in steering leaders through the maze of life's complexities. More than a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Gene is the ally you need in transforming challenges into triumphs, ensuring a seamless fusion of your professional achievements and personal joys. Beyond the mic as the insightful host of "Conversations With Podcast" and "The Rawle & Gene Show," he's the mastermind behind the transformative "Conversations With Your Saboteur" workshop, advocating for the courageous shift from a life obscured to a future illuminated. When the spotlights are off, Gene thrives as a dedicated dance dad, an avid sci-fi aficionado, and an active force in his community, living out the harmony he preaches, one quirky adventure at a time.

Vibe High with the Experts features visionary coaches who are committed to results. In this edition, we speak with Gene Bernier. Read on to learn about Gene’s top tips when starting and running a coaching business, plus what he finds to be the most rewarding and challenging parts of being a coach


November 20, 2023

What is your area of expertise or focus and who do you help?  

I help leaders and entrepreneurs who are at a stage in the growth of their company and personal development where they are like, “I started somewhere, I’ve gotten here, now what do I do with it? How do I use what I have to get me to the next level?” I talk a lot about this as they feel trapped in the fog and a victim of their own success. They worked really hard but now they’re shifting from the doer into this leader role. It’s a big transition for them.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m a father of 4 and a husband. When I’m not here at my desk, I’m helping out with the kids because I’m the work-from-home Dad. I’m on call for school pickups, dance drop-offs, and all those other good things. I spent 20-plus years in the world of technology, helping build teams and aligning people to work on clear objectives. I worked as the bridge between clients and technology. I grew up as a developer. If you can’t tell, I’m a bit of a nerd. I loved programming and building things but, I was also the developer who could hold the conversation without looking at his shoes, which ended up being a huge strong point because I was able to understand what clients were actually trying to get to. I would then merge that with what the technologists were trying to say. Throughout my career, I’ve learned that was a great skill and it has now helped me as a coach in trying to figure out where a client is and marrying that to their future self. Where do they want to go? That’s really the thing that inspires me and really gets me excited about asking questions and being a little different than everybody else.


What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a coach?

It’s that “aha” moment that clients get when you’ve asked a question and their eyes go from looking down at their shoes to starting to sparkle. Their perspective gets changed just because of one question or reframe. That’s really the thing that gets me the most excited. It’s the fact that your next great adventure or path in your life is just one reframe away.


What is the most challenging thing about being a coach? 

I root for my clients a lot. The most challenging thing is sometimes going, “I have the ways that you could go through all this. I could just give you the little recipe.” It’s that fine line of acknowledging the advice monster because as a tech lead, that was my role for so long in my life. It was, I solve problems by pointing at them and going “I have the solution.” Now, I’m standing on the other side going “What is your problem? How would you look at the solution?” And really, it’s a small differentiation, but it’s an important one. It’s one of the hardest things and sometimes you’re just like, I just want to pick you up, I want to hug you. I’m going to tell you that it’s okay but, I can’t necessarily give you the next steps because my next steps may not resonate with them.

The transition from being a tech leader to this was a little bumpy at the start. I made the decision to put a lot of effort into doing training. I went through something called the Coactive Training Institute, which I got my certifications from. That was a two-year journey of learning to stand back, start to see their problem, ask what they want, and then begin to help. Instead of, this is where you should go, it’s more about is this where you want to go? It’s also an opportunity to ask, “Hey, do you want to do some brainstorming? Do you want to shift the session around if you’re truly stuck? Do you need to shift your ideas so that we can work through them instead of just tossing them around?” It’s an offer and it’s an invitation. So all those little things have helped slow that part of me down. And the other side of it is that I used to talk really fast and learning how to be slower and more articulate also allows me to capture those moments and actually be present in them. That was definitely something that was really difficult as I transitioned into this career. Being fast and agile was part of my tech world for a very long time. But now, being slower and meticulous allows me to stand in discomfort with my clients and to allow them to realize that it’s okay to be outside of their comfort.


What are some of your top tips for starting, running, and growing a coaching business?

My top tip and this can be pulled back to running any business, is that it’s simpler than you think and getting started is critical. The other piece that goes along with that, is that you are going to have failures. You’re going to stumble, you’re going to mess up the wording, your marketing isn’t going to be right, and you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who’s your ideal client while also trying to figure out who you are to those ideal clients. All of that takes time. It’s part of the process and there is no hack for it.

Another tip is to get mentorship and get coaching as well for yourself. It’s important to find the ones that are right for you because there is a specialty in running your own coaching business. There’s no lack of people out there who are going, “I can help you build your coaching business.” Starting to understand what it is that works for you, doubling down on that, and appreciating the places that work for you is important. Start delegating and shifting the work that doesn’t align for you early on to get it off your plate as soon as possible.

It’s also about chasing the right metrics. Your followers really don’t matter, and the likes really don’t matter. If you’ve got 30 followers, they’re your ideal clients, and they’re like “We love everything about you,” that’s better than having 10,000 people who don’t want anything to do with you. So understand that those metrics are just leading metrics. You’re going to do a lot of work and make a lot of effort which will show up for the right people. Understand where you are trying to go, like “I’m trying to grow from one client to two” or “I’m trying to grow this skill about reaching out and connecting.” That growth is going to take time, there are not really any overnight successes. It takes five to seven years just to get to overnight success status. So if you’re one to four years into it, you still have another couple of years before this gets really good.


Where can people find you and your business? 

We’ve got a podcast called The Rawle & Gene Show: The Power of Coaching and it’s available across all audio platforms. We record it live in front of a studio audience every Friday. So definitely come check us out on YouTube if you want to be part of the live experience. You can also find me on my website Pealed Back. The business name is spelled wrong because it’s an acronym for my kid’s names. I’m also hanging out a lot more on Instagram lately, as well as LinkedIn.

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