Far from Camera Shy, Douglas Tardif Features Business Abilities Program in Video

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Trish: Hey there listeners welcome to access talk with Trish. A 30 minute weekly online radio segment dedicated to examining the good the bad and the reality of accessibility in our communities and I'm your host for the show Trish Robichaud. Disability inclusion coach, author, facilitator motivational speaker. A woman with a disability but definitely not a disabled woman. The access talk with Trish radio show can be heard live on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. Eastern at accesstalkwithtrish.com or you can listen to past show recordings on demand at any time at the same address or on iTunes if that's how you roll. This show is brought to you by changing paces an accessibility consulting firm that simplifies disability legislation for organizations that don't think that have the time or money from compliance. Visit changingpaces.com and nurture a culture of inclusion where everyone matters and on that note I'd like to introduce you to my guests for this week. My guest is Douglas Tardif. Douglas has enjoyed a long successful career as a businessman, performer, fundraiser as an online provider of self-employment expertise in the nonprofit sector as well. His company has provided project management and information technologies consulting expertise in several sectors including Canada's leading trust companies and the Southham newspaper group. Back in 1991 Doug accepted a two-year consulting assignment with the government of the Cayman Islands. Oh exciting! His work with immigration, tourism, customs, health services and Cayman Airways was rewarded with a contract with contract renewals for next ten years. Awesome! Concurrent with these activities he also worked undercover investigating money-laundering fraud and government corruption. Cool. In late 1998 Doug was invited to join imagine the United Nations as the International Y2K consultant. Isn't that's so cool. In his capacity he provided seminars on contingency planning and infrastructure evaluation in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Doug has appeared on a number of films, television commercials and stage productions. He has worked as a volunteer with the Heart and Stroke Foundation mother Teresa orphanages and Scouts Canada. He's the founder of the world's worst let's get that right the world's worst oil paintings auction and exhibit exhibition inc. An outrageous fundraising initiative that has so far generated close to a million dollars for the Canadian paraplegic Association. Wow Bravo! In recent years Doug has been bringing his employment and self-employment expertise to the nonprofit sector as a team leader with make a change Canada. So as a business coach working on business abilities you've got to be the most entrepreneurial person I have ever met Doug. Welcome to the show and thanks for joining me.

Doug: Thank you too. I really enjoy attending these things and it's a real pleasure to be here today.

Trish: thanks I really appreciate that. So Doug tell me. Tell me about your entrepreneurial spirit and how you ended up coaching people with disabilities.

Doug: Well it's a little bit of an interesting story. I'll give you the short version. Essentially back when in the year 2000 just after the y2k escapades I found myself requiring some bypass surgery and so I proceeded to take care of it immediately in the United States because I was working offshore as you recall and had the the problem dealt with very very rapidly but the thing that's interesting with bypass surgery is that the after-effects are a little interesting. I was warned that I was going to go through a period of depression and I thought that's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard in my life. I'm a very upbeat guy very entrepreneurial as you know and they were absolutely right. It reached the point about three months later where I didn't even really want to shave and so I re-evaluated whether I wanted to continue in the fast-paced world or whether or not I wanted to do something else and I tried unsuccessfully I might add to get a job and this was something that I had never done before. I've always been self-employed. So I completed a resume got it ready send it out to hundreds of companies and didn't receive a single response from anyone. It was the most demoralizing exercise that I never ever want to go through. And this went on for a period of about yeah everybody a year and I spoke with my sister and she was working with a non-profit in Toronto and they needed someone to do some business coaching with a group of young people 19 to 29 I believe it was and would I like to try that. And I thought well I've been self-employed all my life. If it's something that I might enjoy I'll take a stab at it. The pay was awful as you can imagine. But I really really enjoyed it. I just thought it was the most wonderful experience meeting these young people who wanted to get into business and everything for them was achievable. They had no idea of what they were going to go through. They thought they could conquer the world and it was just a wonderful experience for me. So I did that for a number of years and eventually I wound up doing some work with Make A Change Canada in an online environment. So I transitioned from a life in technology to a life in the nonprofit sector.

Trish: awesome. What a powerful story. I'm thrilled for you that things went so well in the transition. Transitions can be so difficult.

Doug: That's true you're absolutely right and many people have grave difficulties in going through the transitions because they get really involved in their own personal stories and the things that are holding them back. And sometimes you know if they if they can sit and review their situation with someone and get a different perspective they might be able to change that attitude that they've got. I've always looked at what I do working in the nonprofit sector and helping people become entrepreneurs and doing outstanding things. I like to call it ordinary people doing extraordinary things and it's astounding to me the businesses that have been started and the people have overcome many many difficulties, some greater than anything I would have gone through and yet they've got the spirit of the entrepreneur and they want to make it happen and it does happen for them.

Trish: In a bit I'm gonna ask you to share a bit about that your powerful stories of some particular students you had but I'd like to first talk about the business abilities program. I know my listeners going to want to hear about it. This is the icing on the cake that I wanted to cover in your interview today. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for people with living with disability who are thinking about Oh thinking about starting or trying to grow a business. Tell me about that.

Doug: Make A Change Canada is an accredited federally incorporated nonprofit organization with a charitable status and our mission is to provide persons with disabilities and those facing challenges to employment with the skills they need in order to make it in today's competitive job market. What we do is we offer two programs essentially. One is called the business abilities program which helps individuals create a business plan, we help them do that in an online environment and the other one the other program that we offer as well is called web essentials and web advanced. And those programs are for individuals who might want to be employed but want to bring their technical skills up to a greater level so that they can be really employed. That one's open to everyone but the business abilities program is the one that I love. It's terrific. When we started this about eleven years ago it was state-of-the-art because nobody was offering as a self employment program in an online environment and we do it completely online. So the individuals taking the program can do it at their own pace. We have continuous intake, they can join and view the business abilities program anytime, we assign them a business coach to work with them and help them through the entire process and we take them through worksheets that eventually reach the point where the sum total of all the worksheets are essentially all the things that you're going to need in your business plan and they can create the business plan. Now what I really love about the program is that many of the self employment programs out there will stop at creating the business plan. We don't we take them to what we call phase two which is when the individual is actually getting the company rolling and we will have the business coach stay with the client and they will use that business coach as a resource as much as they need during the process of starting up the company. Once they are done with us we put them in a category. I don't like the name but it's called aftercare. It has connotations I don't really like but we'll change it at some point in time. And in the aftercare it's essentially a relationship with the business coach and with make a change. Where you're running the business and you think my goodness I could really use some advice some mentoring perhaps. Maybe I can give coach Doug a call or I can call one of the other coaches and get some advice and we maintain that relationship. It's been very good. Over the years we've had an awful alot of clients stay with us and call us from time to time to let us know how they're doing.

Trish: wonderful wonderful and this program is funded federally correct?

Doug: It's federally funded. It doesn't cost a red cent and as I said it's self 11:29 inaudible so we'll take you in for...

Trish: because it's funded federally that means people from across Canada can register?

Doug: It's open to individuals across Canada and they can register you're absolutely right and we offer the course in both official languages as well. So I'm a bilingual and so I will handle all of the individual clients who require coaching in French as an example and we can do that quite easily. In fact all of our material is in both official languages.

Trish: and do you have...it can't be just you guys be handling...you out of your your new Brunswick office handling clients across the country?

Doug: No I have two other business coaches working with me. Both of them are seasoned business coaches. One you may know I believe you know her Louise Doyle.

Trish: I do Louise is awesome.

Doug: Yes yeah Louise is fantastic and she's my sister in fact and so we've been doing a lot of work in the eastern provinces and I have another business coach Chantelle and she has her own company as well and does business coaching and mostly on the west coast but we mix it up. What we try to do is to pair coaches who have some affinity for the business that the individual wants to start so that we develop you know we want to see some bonding taking place. So if it's someone in the arts community for example I know that Louise has had an awful lot of experience in that area and she's an artist in her own right as well and so we would pair them up on that basis. So it's a very good marriage actually it works well. So we have three business coaches at this time. I'm the team leader for the group and if we keep building we will add more business coaches as required.

Trish: Fabulous. Tell me about the weekly events that you facilitate for clients.

Doug: We have what we call online webinars and the webinars are in two formats. They're online broadcasts that we have and we take the soft skills and the hard skills that are required to be an entrepreneur and we speak to those and we also have workshops where individuals can attend and let's want to discuss the formation of a company and how should we structure this should be a sole proprietorship or a limited company or a partnership. And what I do is take them through the worksheets which enable them to decide which way the company should be structured and they can ask questions online. They can meet with the other participants and we make it an open forum and as friendly as we possibly can. We offer this on Tuesdays and on Thursdays it's across the country if unfortunately the individual can't make any one of the broadcasts they can get a recording very similar to how you do yours as well.

Trish: Fabulous really fabulous. We're going to take a quick break for a commercial. When we come back we're going to talk more about how you've made this program fully accessible to people with disabilities. We'll be right back.

Devon has been with this company for over five years since before his legs started giving him trouble. He loves his job. He's great at it and he plans to stay with the company till retirement if possible. Problem is it's getting difficult for him to walk from his desk to the washroom. His supervisor Aisha lets Devon know that she's noticed he's having some trouble. She suggests they move his desk closer to the entrance and the washroom. Devon is revealed and agrees. This is an example of a basic accommodation that helps make a workplace inclusive. Did you know that 50% of accommodations don't cost a dime and 80% cost $500 or less. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce is the best answer to our current labor shortages and making businesses accessible to customers with disabilities sees you tapping into their thirty two billion dollar spending power. Sound good, then let it changing paces warm and friendly experts take you by the hand and walk you through the steps to making your business accessible to everyone. Visit us at changingpaces.com today.

Trish: and we're back so Doug let's talk a little bit about accessibility of your program being that the program is developed for people with disabilities I'm assuming that you've taken accessibility into mind every step of the way yes we have first of all we it's open to individuals with self disclosed disability and chronic health issues and and those with invisible barriers as well and and mental health is the great invisible barrier to employment as well as far as in salability answer and we excuse me so self disclose meaning they don't have to provide medical proof of disability that career at all fabulous correct you're absolutely right yep and that seems to work out very very well for us and it does put the clients at ease in that you know it's not another barrier that's been put in front of them in order to know you've got to make this happen you've got to have the paperwork ready etc the other thing that we do is we will look at the needs of the client and the learning styles that they have you can imagine that you know when we started this we had a course we had the course material we had everything done in a linear fashion you know you started module one and your work your way through to module seven and then eventually you create a business plan but what we found in facing Lee as we were getting into the into the program that people had different learning styles and that we had to modify how we presented the material as well in different ways for example for the hearing-impaired we had to have signer people who would sign and have them visible on camera so that they could pass the information on we had other individuals in the program who required a written text of everything that had been spoken about in a presentation so we had to take that into account as well and and most recently with we've had quite a number of mental health clients coming to the program and what we found is that there some of them are all over the map they they will follow their emotional journey today I feel like working on marketing well that is in module five but but they will start with that they eventually they'll make their way back to module two and and they'll go somewhere else in between and the business code I can so relate to that I can I can so relate to that and it the mental health piece I have to work on what I feel like working on yeah how it's and it's funny yeah it's it's very powerful and we find people that become extremely focused in one particular area and won't leave that that thing or they will have an idea that will take them down a different path and suddenly instead of looking at one business they're looking at four businesses and so you know it's the business coach working very very closely and trying to bring some focus and making it happen we're very compassionate we're very understanding of the of the difficulties that our clients face and we want them to succeed that's the thing so we make the environment as friendly as we possibly can and professional but we want them to succeed and we try to find the ways in which to make that happen awesome thinking outside the box and every turn what about self-employment in general does it the self-employment in general seem like and like it's an accessible option for people with disabilities yes it is and and I will say one thing it should never be a decision that an individual makes out of desperation in other words you can't get a job you can't do this I can't do that maybe I'll try self-employment and you know if you go in with the wrong attitude it's never going to work out you have to go in with a an awful lot of energy and you've got to go in with an awful lot of passion for what you want to do and but it is a it's a wonderful path for for people to take what people do sometimes is they they forget about their real life and what they love to do in their real life and once I have a conversation with the the potential client I'll ask them what you know what their hobbies are etc because many times you can turn your hobby into a part-time career or a part-time self-employment project as well mm-hmm and that's like double the fun right when you get to do something for a living that you love doing oh absolutely you know when you were speaking about what I'd been doing all my life I always when people ask me you know how did you manage to pack it all in the the thing that for me is that I'm probably a very fortunate because I've never considered that I've ever worked in my life for a living every day was a joy for me to wake up in the morning I was very passionate about everything that I wanted to do and my goodness there were people out there who actually willing to give me money in order you know to receive the service right now an offer yeah so I enjoyed it enormous Lee III and I'll uh I try to bring that passion and joy to my clients and to make them realize that if they enjoy what they are doing they are going to completely transform their life it will affect every aspect of their life I completely agree you must have one or two heartwarming success stories you could share with us yes I do I have one fellow right now in New Brunswick I and I haven't met him yet I've only I've only I'm only I've been working with him for the last eight years and I will be meeting with him sometime this year because I'm now in New Brunswick but he is pardon me he harvests cultivates mushrooms and he is absolute wonderful joy of a man he's a older man and has some difficulties with his knees and he what yet didn't he had great mobility issues and he wanted to set up a company where he would harvest and mushrooms and fiddleheads and sell it to the wholesale market and also to restaurants etc and when he came to us about eight years ago I didn't really honestly think that this was going to be a very viable business but you know we sure let's go with it let's see what it's all about today I was absolutely wrong and I love that once in a while I love that I really really love it one of his first ideas was he to create a book and which would give people wanting to get into wild mushrooms some information on what they should be looking for so I wrote a book called foraging for cooking with wild mushrooms and he sent me the you know the manuscript and and and wanted me to make some comment etc and I made some comments and he finally eventually over one year and a half he had got the thing published I wrote a something for him on the back cover and he published the the book it was an instant bestseller did very very well and what he did in order to finance it initially was that he got some fine restaurants from across the country to provide recipes for the mushrooms that he was talking about and so the book is is replete with wonderful wonderful recipes for mushrooms and how to cook them in in different settings so we did that and eventually he was contacted by the CBC he was featured on many programs he increased his business tenfold quite frankly and started a school where he would take people out into the forest and show them how to gather mushrooms how to ship them etc and how to and how to prepare them in a that became a training facility for the province and he's been doing an awful lot of work in that and he recently has been increasing his business so that he's now shipping a considerable number of mushrooms across into the United States so he's into a six-figure business at this point now and my goodness well I'm so proud of him yeah I'm Gavin to them I'm so happy for them you're so happy to have been wrong that's so cool yes absolutely I'm the first I'm the first one to admit it when I'm wrong that's awesome for the kitchen so let's let's wrap up with maybe two or three tips for new or wannabe entrepreneurs who are struggling entrepreneurs who are struggling first thing that you want to do is you want to check your I'm going to talk about attitude first of all I think for someone who is starting out you have to get yourself into the mode of I'm working today I'm not going to mope around the house I'm going to actually sit down at a table and I'm going to turn on the computer or whatever it is that you're going to do and you're going to get yourself your mind into business mode and you're going to act professionally and you're going to set do everything that you would normally do if you were going to the office so that's the first thing you've got to change your attitude and you've got to be happy about what you're doing and you've got to set your mindset that I'm doing business that's the first thing for a struggling entrepreneur to do so he actually has again aftershave a happy actually you know I had one style yeah I have one client who every single morning his ritual was to get in his car go to Tim's pick up a coffee come back to his house sit down with a Tim's copy and when he entered the home and he got into his office he was in business as far as he was concerned but he had to take that little Drive in his car down to the Timmy's and get it it's a ritual right yeah and I didn't drive yeah ever the trick is do it yep the second thing you if you are struggling as a an entrepreneur start thinking outside the box quit thinking traditionally about how your product or your service is going to be marketed there's a great fallacy out there and the fallacy is if I put my product or service online thousands and millions of people will see it and they will come to my website and and want to buy from me that's not true there are purveyors out there who will tell you that they have they can put you in the Eno in a search or from Google or whatever way up at the top and you're going to get an awful lot of business it's not true it's you have to know your demographic you have to know who you're selling to you have to know how why they want to buy your product or service you want to know what their habits are and you want to be in their face and have information provided to them so that they will know that you exist fabulous speaking of being speaking of being in in your face I have to write we have to wrap up so if any of our listeners want to know more about you Doug or get in touch with you talk about the program how can they do that they can get ahold of me at Douglas business abilities CA they can go to our website at www.ge.com [Music] by the way thank you so much for joining me today - thank you to our listeners so much for joining us for today's episode of access talk with Trish a 30-minute weekly radio segment dedicated to examining the good the bad and the reality of accessibility in our communities please join us again next week and on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Eastern the show is brought to you by changing paces and accessibility consulting from the simplified disability legislation organizations that think they don't have the time or money for compliance there's a change in pace of calm and nurture culture of inclusion where everyone matters till next time take self-care seriously and God bless [Music] you [Music]
Love talk radio. Hey there listeners welcome to access talk with Trish. A 30 minute weekly online radio segment dedicated to examining the good the bad and the reality of accessibility in our communities and I'm your host for the show Trish Robichaud. Disability inclusion coach, author, facilitator motivational speaker. A woman with a disability but definitely not a disabled woman. The access talk with Trish radio show can be heard live on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. Eastern at accesstalkwithtrish.com or you can listen to past show recordings on demand at any time at the same address or on iTunes if that's how you roll. This show is brought to you by changing paces an accessibility consulting firm that simplifies disability legislation for organizations that don't think that have the time or money from compliance. Visit changingpaces.com and nurture a culture of inclusion where everyone matters and on that note I'd like to introduce you to my guests for this week. My guest is Douglas Tardif. Douglas has enjoyed a long successful career as a businessman, performer, fundraiser as an online provider of self-employment expertise in the nonprofit sector as well. His company has provided project management and information technologies consulting expertise in several sectors including Canada's leading trust companies and the Southham newspaper group. Back in 1991 Doug accepted a two-year consulting assignment with the government of the Cayman Islands. Oh exciting! His work with immigration, tourism, customs, health services and Cayman Airways was rewarded with a contract with contract renewals for next ten years. Awesome! Concurrent with these activities he also worked undercover investigating money-laundering fraud and government corruption. Cool. In late 1998 Doug was invited to join imagine the United Nations as the International Y2K consultant. Isn't that's so cool. In his capacity he provided seminars on contingency planning and infrastructure evaluation in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Doug has appeared on a number of films, television commercials and stage productions. He has worked as a volunteer with the Heart and Stroke Foundation mother Teresa orphanages and Scouts Canada. He's the founder of the world's worst let's get that right the world's worst oil paintings auction and exhibit exhibition inc. An outrageous fundraising initiative that has so far generated close to a million dollars for the Canadian paraplegic Association. Wow Bravo! In recent years Doug has been bringing his employment and self-employment expertise to the nonprofit sector as a team leader with make a change Canada. So as a business coach working on business abilities you've got to be the most entrepreneurial person I have ever met Doug. Welcome to the show and thanks for joining me.

Doug: Thank you too. I really enjoy attending these things and it's a real pleasure to be here today.

Trish: thanks I really appreciate that. So Doug tell me. Tell me about your entrepreneurial spirit and how you ended up coaching people with disabilities.

Doug: Well it's a little bit of an interesting story. I'll give you the short version. Essentially back when in the year 2000 just after the y2k escapades I found myself requiring some bypass surgery and so I proceeded to take care of it immediately in the United States because I was working offshore as you recall and had the the problem dealt with very very rapidly but the thing that's interesting with bypass surgery is that the after-effects are a little interesting. I was warned that I was going to go through a period of depression and I thought that's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard in my life. I'm a very upbeat guy very entrepreneurial as you know and they were absolutely right. It reached the point about three months later where I didn't even really want to shave and so I re-evaluated whether I wanted to continue in the fast-paced world or whether or not I wanted to do something else and I tried unsuccessfully I might add to get a job and this was something that I had never done before. I've always been self-employed. So I completed a resume got it ready send it out to hundreds of companies and didn't receive a single response from anyone. It was the most demoralizing exercise that I never ever want to go through. And this went on for a period of about yeah everybody a year and I spoke with my sister and she was working with a non-profit in Toronto and they needed someone to do some business coaching with a group of young people 19 to 29 I believe it was and would I like to try that. And I thought well I've been self-employed all my life. If it's something that I might enjoy I'll take a stab at it. The pay was awful as you can imagine. But I really really enjoyed it. I just thought it was the most wonderful experience meeting these young people who wanted to get into business and everything for them was achievable. They had no idea of what they were going to go through. They thought they could conquer the world and it was just a wonderful experience for me. So I did that for a number of years and eventually I wound up doing some work with Make A Change Canada in an online environment. So I transitioned from a life in technology to a life in the nonprofit sector.

Trish: awesome. What a powerful story. I'm thrilled for you that things went so well in the transition. Transitions can be so difficult.

Doug: That's true you're absolutely right and many people have grave difficulties in going through the transitions because they get really involved in their own personal stories and the things that are holding them back. And sometimes you know if they if they can sit and review their situation with someone and get a different perspective they might be able to change that attitude that they've got. I've always looked at what I do working in the nonprofit sector and helping people become entrepreneurs and doing outstanding things. I like to call it ordinary people doing extraordinary things and it's astounding to me the businesses that have been started and the people have overcome many many difficulties, some greater than anything I would have gone through and yet they've got the spirit of the entrepreneur and they want to make it happen and it does happen for them.

Trish: In a bit I'm gonna ask you to share a bit about that your powerful stories of some particular students you had but I'd like to first talk about the business abilities program. I know my listeners going to want to hear about it. This is the icing on the cake that I wanted to cover in your interview today. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for people with living with disability who are thinking about Oh thinking about starting or trying to grow a business. Tell me about that.

Doug: Make A Change Canada is an accredited federally incorporated nonprofit organization with a charitable status and our mission is to provide persons with disabilities and those facing challenges to employment with the skills they need in order to make it in today's competitive job market. What we do is we offer two programs essentially. One is called the business abilities program which helps individuals create a business plan, we help them do that in an online environment and the other one the other program that we offer as well is called web essentials and web advanced. And those programs are for individuals who might want to be employed but want to bring their technical skills up to a greater level so that they can be really employed. That one's open to everyone but the business abilities program is the one that I love. It's terrific. When we started this about eleven years ago it was state-of-the-art because nobody was offering as a self employment program in an online environment and we do it completely online. So the individuals taking the program can do it at their own pace. We have continuous intake, they can join and view the business abilities program anytime, we assign them a business coach to work with them and help them through the entire process and we take them through worksheets that eventually reach the point where the sum total of all the worksheets are essentially all the things that you're going to need in your business plan and they can create the business plan. Now what I really love about the program is that many of the self employment programs out there will stop at creating the business plan. We don't we take them to what we call phase two which is when the individual is actually getting the company rolling and we will have the business coach stay with the client and they will use that business coach as a resource as much as they need during the process of starting up the company. Once they are done with us we put them in a category. I don't like the name but it's called aftercare. It has connotations I don't really like but we'll change it at some point in time. And in the aftercare it's essentially a relationship with the business coach and with make a change. Where you're running the business and you think my goodness I could really use some advice some mentoring perhaps. Maybe I can give coach Doug a call or I can call one of the other coaches and get some advice and we maintain that relationship. It's been very good. Over the years we've had an awful alot of clients stay with us and call us from time to time to let us know how they're doing.

Trish: wonderful wonderful and this program is funded federally correct?

Doug: It's federally funded. It doesn't cost a red cent and as I said it's self 11:29 inaudible so we'll take you in for...

Trish: because it's funded federally that means people from across Canada can register?

Doug: It's open to individuals across Canada and they can register you're absolutely right and we offer the course in both official languages as well. So I'm a bilingual and so I will handle all of the individual clients who require coaching in French as an example and we can do that quite easily. In fact all of our material is in both official languages.

Trish: and do you have...it can't be just you guys be handling...you out of your your new Brunswick office handling clients across the country?

Doug: No I have two other business coaches working with me. Both of them are seasoned business coaches. One you may know I believe you know her Louise Doyle.

Trish: I do Louise is awesome.

Doug: Yes yeah Louise is fantastic and she's my sister in fact and so we've been doing a lot of work in the eastern provinces and I have another business coach Chantelle and she has her own company as well and does business coaching and mostly on the west coast but we mix it up. What we try to do is to pair coaches who have some affinity for the business that the individual wants to start so that we develop you know we want to see some bonding taking place. So if it's someone in the arts community for example I know that Louise has had an awful lot of experience in that area and she's an artist in her own right as well and so we would pair them up on that basis. So it's a very good marriage actually it works well. So we have three business coaches at this time. I'm the team leader for the group and if we keep building we will add more business coaches as required.

Trish: Fabulous. Tell me about the weekly events that you facilitate for clients.

Doug: We have what we call online webinars and the webinars are in two formats. They're online broadcasts that we have and we take the soft skills and the hard skills that are required to be an entrepreneur and we speak to those and we also have workshops where individuals can attend and let's want to discuss the formation of a company and how should we structure this should be a sole proprietorship or a limited company or a partnership. And what I do is take them through the worksheets which enable them to decide which way the company should be structured and they can ask questions online. They can meet with the other participants and we make it an open forum and as friendly as we possibly can. We offer this on Tuesdays and on Thursdays it's across the country if unfortunately the individual can't make any one of the broadcasts they can get a recording very similar to how you do yours as well.

Trish: Fabulous really fabulous. We're going to take a quick break for a commercial. When we come back we're going to talk more about how you've made this program fully accessible to people with disabilities. We'll be right back.

Devon has been with this company for over five years since before his legs started giving him trouble. He loves his job. He's great at it and he plans to stay with the company till retirement if possible. Problem is it's getting difficult for him to walk from his desk to the washroom. His supervisor Aisha lets Devon know that she's noticed he's having some trouble. She suggests they move his desk closer to the entrance and the washroom. Devon is revealed and agrees. This is an example of a basic accommodation that helps make a workplace inclusive. Did you know that 50% of accommodations don't cost a dime and 80% cost $500 or less. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce is the best answer to our current labor shortages and making businesses accessible to customers with disabilities sees you tapping into their thirty two billion dollar spending power. Sound good, then let it changing paces warm and friendly experts take you by the hand and walk you through the steps to making your business accessible to everyone. Visit us at changingpaces.com today.

Trish: and we're back. So Doug let's talk a little bit about accessibility of your program. Being that the program is developed for people with disabilities I'm assuming that you've taken accessibility into mind every step of the way.

Doug: yes we have. First of all it's open to individuals with self disclosed disability and chronic health issues and those with invisible barriers as well and mental health is the great invisible barrier to employment as well. As far accessibility is concerned...

Trish: excuse me so self disclose meaning they don't have to provide medical proof of disability is that correct?

Doug: Not at all you you're absolutely right yep and that seems to work out very very well for us and it does put the clients at ease in that you know it's not another barrier that's been put in front of them in order to know you've got to make this happen you've got to have the paperwork ready etc. The other thing that we do is we will look at the needs of the client and the learning styles that they have. You can imagine that you know when we started this we had a course we had the course material we had everything done in a linear fashion. You know you started module one and your work your way through to module seven and then eventually you create a business plan but what we found in increasingly as we were getting into the program that people had different learning styles and that we had to modify how we presented the material as well in different ways. For example for the hearing-impaired we had to have signer. People who would sign and have them visible on camera so that they could pass the information on. We had other individuals in the program who required a written text of everything that had been spoken about in a presentation. So we had to take that into account as well and most recently we've had quite a number of mental health clients coming to the program and what we found is that some of them are all over the map. They they will follow their emotional journey. Today I feel like working on marketing. Well that is in module five but they will start with that and eventually they'll make their way back to module two and they'll go somewhere else in between. And the business code...

Trish: I can so relate to that I can I can so relate to that the mental health piece. I have to work on what I feel like working on.

Doug: Yeah and it's funny yeah it's very powerful and we find people that become extremely focused in one particular area and won't leave that thing or they will have an idea that will take them down a different path and suddenly instead of looking at one business they're looking at four businesses and so you know it's the business coach working very very closely and trying to bring some focus and making it happen. We're very compassionate, we're very understanding of the of the difficulties that our clients face and we want them to succeed that's the thing. So we make the environment as friendly as we possibly can and professional but we want them to succeed and we try to find the ways in which to make that happen.

Trish: awesome thinking outside the box and every turn. What about self-employment in general? Does self-employment in general seem like it's an accessible option for people with disabilities?

Doug: Yes it is and I will say one thing. It should never be a decision that an individual makes out of desperation. In other words you can't get a job you can't do this I can't do that maybe I'll try self-employment. And you know if you go in with the wrong attitude it's never going to work out you have to go in with an awful lot of energy and you've got to go in with an awful lot of passion for what you want to do and but it is a it's a wonderful path for for people to take. What people do sometimes is they forget about their real life and what they love to do in their real life and once I have a conversation with the potential client, I'll ask them what you know what their hobbies are etc because many times you can turn your hobby into a part-time career or a part-time self-employment project as well.

Trish: And that's like double the fun right when you get to do something for a living that you love doing.

Doug: oh absolutely! You know when you were speaking about what I'd been doing all my life I always when people ask me you know how did you manage to pack it all in, the thing that for me is that I'm probably a very fortunate because I've never considered that I've ever worked in my life for a living. Every day was a joy for me to wake up in the morning. I was very passionate about everything that I wanted to do and my goodness there were people out there who actually willing to give me money in order you know to receive the service right now that I'm offering. So I enjoyed it enormously and I try to bring that passion and joy to my clients and to make them realize that if they enjoy what they are doing they are going to completely transform their life. It will affect every aspect of their life.

Trish: I completely agree. You must have one or two heartwarming success stories you could share with us.

Doug: Yes I do. I have one fellow right now in New Brunswick I haven't met him yet I've only y I've been working with him for the last eight years and I will be meeting with him sometime this year because I'm now in New Brunswick but he harvests cultivates mushrooms and he is absolute wonderful joy of a man. He's a older man and has some difficulties with his knees and he what yet didn't he had great mobility issues and he wanted to set up a company where he would harvest mushrooms and fiddleheads and sell it to the wholesale market and also to restaurants etc. And when he came to us about eight years ago I didn't really honestly think that this was going to be a very viable business but you know we sure let's go with it let's see what it's all about. It turned out I was absolutely wrong.

Trish: Got to love that once in a while eh?

Doug: I love that I really really love it. One of his first ideas was to create a book and which would give people wanting to get into wild mushrooms some information on what they should be looking for. So I wrote a book called foraging for cooking with wild mushrooms and he sent me the manuscript and wanted me to make some comment etc and I made some comments and he finally eventually over one year and a half he had got the thing published. I wrote a something for him on the back cover and he published the the book. It was an instant bestseller. Did very very well and what he did in order to finance it initially was that he got some fine restaurants from across the country to provide recipes for the mushrooms that he was talking about and so the book is is replete with wonderful wonderful recipes for mushrooms and how to cook them in in different settings. So we did that and eventually he was contacted by the CBC. He was featured on many programs. He increased his business tenfold quite frankly and started a school where he would take people out into the forest and show them how to gather mushrooms how to ship them etc and how to prepare them. Eventually that became a training facility for the province and he's been doing an awful lot of work in that and he recently has been increasing his business so that he's now shipping a considerable number of mushrooms across into the United States. So he's into a six-figure business at this point now.

Trish: my goodness.

Doug: He's doing very well I'm so proud of him. Yeah I know it's wonderful. I'm so happy for him.

Trish:you're so happy to have been wrong that's so cool.

Doug: yes absolutely I'm the first one to admit it when I'm wrong. It does't happen often but occasionally it does.

Trish: that's awesome. So let's wrap up with maybe two or three tips for new or wannabe entrepreneurs who are struggling.

Doug: entrepreneurs who are struggling. First thing that you want to do is you want to check your, I'm going to talk about attitude first of all. I think for someone who is starting out you have to get yourself into the mode of I'm working today. I'm not going to mope around the house I'm going to actually sit down at a table and I'm going to turn on the computer or whatever it is that you're going to do and you're going to get yourself your mind into business mode and you're going to act professionally and you're going to set do everything that you would normally do if you were going to the office. So that's the first thing. You've got to change your attitude and you've got to be happy about what you're doing and you've got to set your mindset that I'm doing business. That's the first thing for a struggling entrepreneur to do.

Trish: so you actually have to get up and shave?

Doug: absolutely! You know I have one style who at every single morning his ritual was to get in his car go to Tim's pick up a coffee come back to his house sit down with a Tim's coffee and when he entered the home and he got into his office he was in business as far as he was concerned but he had to take that little drive in his car down to the Timmy's and get it it's a ritual. Whatever the trick is do it, yep. The second thing is, if you are struggling as a an entrepreneur start thinking outside the box. Quit thinking traditionally about how your product or your service is going to be marketed. There's a great fallacy out there and the fallacy is if I put my product or service online thousands and millions of people will see it and they will come to my website and want to buy from me. That's not true. There are purveyors out there who will tell you that they can put you in a search or from Google or whatever way up at the top and you're going to get an awful lot of business it's not true. It's you have to know your demographic. You have to know who you're selling to you have to know how why they want to buy your product or service you want to know what their habits are and you want to be in their face and have information provided to them so that they will know that you exist.

Trish: fabulous. Speaking of being in your face we have to wrap up. So if any of our listeners want to know more about you Doug or get in touch with you to talk about the program how can they do that?

Doug: they can get a hold of me at douglas@businessabilities.ca.Tthey can go to our website at www.businessabilities.ca and they'll get a full look at what the program is all about. There is my video there as well which will tell you in two minutes or less exactly what the program is all about and if you want to get a hold of me personally as I said douglas@businessabilities.ca. I'll be delighted to sen you an email and respond or even talk to you.

Trish: And that video is fabulous by the way. Thank you so much for joining me today Doug.
Doug: Thank you to our listeners so much for joining us for today's episode of access talk with Trish. A 30-minute weekly radio segment dedicated to examining the good the bad and the reality of accessibility in our communities please join us again next week on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Eastern. The show is brought to you by changing paces and accessibility consulting from the simplified disability legislation for organizations that think they don't have the time or money for compliance. Visit changingpaces.com and nurture culture of inclusion where everyone matters. Till next time take self-care seriously and God bless.

Or CLICK HERE to download transcript

Douglas Tardif has enjoyed a long successful career as a businessman, performer, fund raiser, and as an on-line provider of self-employment expertise to the non-profit sector.

His company has provided Project Management and Information Technology Consulting expertise in several sectors including Canada’s leading Trust Companies and the Southam Newspaper Group.

In 1991, Doug accepted a two year consulting assignment with the Government of the Cayman Islands. His work with Immigration, Tourism, Customs, Health Services, and Cayman Airways was rewarded with contract renewals for the next ten years. Concurrent with these activities, he also worked undercover, investigating money laundering, fraud and government corruption.

In late 1998, Doug was invited to join The United Nations as the International Y2K Consultant. In this capacity, he provided seminars on contingency planning and infrastructure evaluation in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Doug has appeared in a number of films, television commercials and stage productions. He has worked as a volunteer with The Heart and Stroke Foundation, Mother Theresa Orphanages, and Scouts Canada. He is the founder of The World’s Worst Oil Paintings Auction and Exhibition Inc., an outrageous fund-raising initiative that has so far generated close to a million dollars for the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

In recent years, Doug has been bringing his employment and self-employment expertise to people with disabilities as a Team Leader with Make A Change Canada. As a Business Coach working on the Business Abilities program, you’ve got to be one of the most entrepreneurial people I’ve ever met.

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