The Birth of Be Exceptional

Cover photo – Be Exceptional Logo

Where It All Began

It was the afternoon of 14 August 2016, and we were on a stage at the Kyalami venue, Johannesburg in South Africa. We were invited to attend a business conference, and we were delivering a 20-minute presentation about the importance of integrity in business. This was the first time Bernard and I presented together to an audience of over 1000 young entrepreneurs. This conference was where our first business, Be Exceptional Consulting and Coaching was born.

Bernard and I come from very different backgrounds – medical research and community development yet we knew when we met, we shared plenty of common ground. Our values were aligned. A month before we landed in South Africa, we worked with globally renowned Canadian business coach, Les Evans, for two days holed up in a room at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Perth. Les skilfully drew out from us what we really care about, and it was a fascinating and challenging process.

Integrity – a quintessential quality we value highly

Even though Les was jet lagged and had visa issues that delayed his entry into Australia by a day he was charming, centred, and totally present with us for the entire duration of our time together. We learned a lot from his stories of his business’ successes and of his failures and he managed to make sense of our stories and what topic we would present on. We chose integrity as it’s a quality that we both value highly. It would be an understatement to say Les is the best coach I have worked with so far.

In the weeks that followed we iterated the skeleton presentation, building on we wrote with Les. We practiced delivering what we wanted to communicate with our audience about 30 times in the week before flying out to Johannesburg. We didn’t do the 200 practice runs that Les promised us was essential to be totally at ease in front of an audience. We learned how right he was.

The first time is often the worst time

On the day our presentation was not perfect. At the time, Bernard was a more experienced public speaker than me and he was at ease in front of a large audience. I didn’t deal with my nerves as well and I made many rookie mistakes – my dress didn’t allow for a lapel mic, so I had to hold a big microphone right near my mouth; my new high heeled shoes were very uncomfortable, I was dazzled by the bright lights, and the list goes on. We took turns speaking. Near the end, the stress got the better of me and I forgot an important line of my story. It was probably not obvious to the audience, because it wasn’t to me at the time and Bernard carried on not missing a beat. I got off the stage as quickly as possible and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then Bernard told me about my blunder. I was devastated for him, for me and for our audience. I eventually consoled myself that the first time is always the worst time and that was now behind us. Were we being exceptional? Not really. To be exceptional is an ambition we continue to aspire to every day, and we fail often. And we get up again and give it another try.

Continual development is crucial

In the four years since we continued to develop ourselves and our ideas for our business. Bernard completed his contract with Murdoch University and started working full time in the business in January 2019. I complete my contract with Regional Arts WA and joined him in July 2019. Our first full year working together included a pandemic. Clearly, not an ideal way to start and it concentrated our minds like nothing else could. We completed our Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing and 13 weeks of an intensive Thrive coach training program. To keep fit we did the push up challenge, experimented in the kitchen during No Meat May and we went alcohol free. On the weekends we put in a new food forest garden and for a break away, in July, we hiked for two days along the Bibblumun Track near Donnelly River.

We also invested in an online training program to use a new assessment tool specifically designed for entrepreneurs called the Being Profile. We were ready to take our clients on the next step of their journey and by the end of 2020, the Institute of Regenerative Leadership was born amongst the forest near Kadardup, Augusta, WA.

December 2020