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Conversations with Kevin Desrosiers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Desrosiers.

Hi Kevin, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am an author, speaker, and public speaking coach.

Author:
In 2001 I had the idea of writing a book based on my parents’ story. English is a second language for my dad, and he dropped out of high school. From there, he went into the service, met my mom, married, and they had my sister and me. Knowing they could not provide the life they wanted for our family, my dad earned his GED and then used the GI bill to attend college. For most of 4 years, we barely saw him since he worked full time during the day and went to school at night (or vice-versa). My mom was the proverbial glue that held the family together. The book was going to be called “Break the Chain,” talking about my parent’s sacrifices to make a better life for us. But I worked full-time and always came up with excuses as to why I did not have time to write the book.

Fast forward to 2018, when I retired from corporate life. There were no more excuses, so in December, I started writing. I interviewed people who had overcome severe adversity in their lives and settled on 12 to write about. It became obvious after the first few interviews that being poor paled compared to the struggles other people face. It made me realize how lucky I am. The book’s focus changed to telling their stories and finding the common characteristics they had that enabled them to escape their challenges in life and become happy again. The new title is Bridge Over Adversity: Trues Stories About Overcoming Personal Challenges. It was released in October of 2021 and gave readers the 11 keys to overcoming any challenges life sends their way. It serves as a blueprint for bridging any of your adversity.

Speaker:
I have been a Toastmaster since 2001, so I have continually worked on my speaking skills. In 2008, when the company I worked for was taken over, they cut the budget for travel to conferences where I kept current on my technical skills. I knew these conferences paid the expenses of people that speak at their events, so I applied to speak at a conference and was accepted. Since it didn’t cost my company anything, they let me attend. Because of everything Toastmasters taught me, I was one of their top-rated speakers and started getting invitations to speak at other conferences. I spoke at conferences in Australia, South Africa, and various cities across the United States.

Now that I am retired, I speak at events and conferences for companies, organizations, and associations. I have two speaking programs. This first in based on my book and uses the stories to give the audience the 11 keys to overcoming any challenges life sends your way. The second program utilizes my Toastmasters and speaking experience to teach people how to become more effective speakers.

Public Speaking Coach:
This also evolved from my Toastmasters experience. I was teaching a class that the vice president of my organization kicked off so the attendees would know the importance of the class. Before talking to my class, he asked me to evaluate his presentation to the class. Later that day, I gave his secretary a 5-page critique. About a week later, he asked me to accompany him on the corporate jet and evaluate his presentations at communications meetings he was holding at one of our facilities. After we returned for the next 6 months, he asked for feedback on his presentations at various conferences. I even did the same for a few of his directors. When I changed companies 4 years later, I told them about this, and even though that wasn’t what they hired me for, it became part of my job, and I was helping directors and managers improve their speaking skills by watching them present and then giving them feedback.
When I left the corporate world, I also decided to offer this service to others. Now, I work with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and sales/marketing professionals who want to capture their audience’s attention, keep it, and ensure their message is heard.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
The biggest obstacle I faced was procrastination in writing my book. It took 20 years from the time I had the idea to finish the book. Part of that was based on fear. I am an electrical engineer by degree and stereotypes say I am not supposed to be a good writer. I had a fear of failure. Without the prodding of several friends, this book would have never been written. They believed in me when I didn’t.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I love what I do. To me, that is the ideal job. I do not make much money for each book I sell and still haven’t recouped the costs to write and publish it. Still, to see the look on my parent’s faces when they were a book dedicated to their struggles to create a better life for our family, or when people tell me how my book made a difference in their lives and buy additional copies for friends and family, it makes my time and effort worthwhile. When I am speaking at an event, and someone from the audience tells me afterward how what I talked about positively impacted them, it makes my day. The same holds when I coach people in public speaking. I beam with pride when I see my clients improving with every presentation they give. I think what people realize most about my work is that I am doing it for them and that my main goal is for them to become better people in some way.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I think people will always read, but instead of a physical book, or even an eBook, almost all books will be audio so people can listen wherever they are.

As far as speaking at conferences and events are a concern, this is migrating to virtual, and I think it will go even further in that direction in the future. As much as we love the human interaction, event planners are learning that it is far less costly for them and the participants to attend virtually. We are also seeing increased attendance at virtual events not only the cost factor but because of time savings since people will not have to travel to get to an event and can be home before and after the event.

In public speaking coaching, I can see this industry growing. Business leaders are finding that new hires almost all lack effective communication skills. Smart employees who realize this will have a decided advantage over others in the workplace and grow their careers faster. I do fear, as in any rapidly emerging industry, though, that several unqualified people will advertise themselves as speaking coaches and take advantage of people.

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