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Every now and then you come across an individual who lives a humble life. Yet, his very presence strikes a chord within you. This is who you are about to meet right here.
Rene Godefroy’s story is one that moves, touches and inspires. It’s a story about determination and personal accountability. It’s the story about a poor Haitian immigrant living the America Dream.
Although he has risen to the high levels of success as an acclaimed author and keynote speaker, it’s his down-to-earth personality that endears him to those that come across his path. His message is very simple… Change Is A Gift!
Rene defines change for his audiences this way: “Change is innovation crying for attention. It is not a stress generator. It’s how it occurs to us that makes it so.”
Born in a tiny and impoverished village on the Island of Haiti, Rene’s early years were dismal. When he was only nine months old, his mother left him behind hoping she could find a better way to provide for her infant boy. Right after she left, several lethal diseases pounded Rene and vowed to end his existence.
Many of the people in his village wrote him off. They predicted he would not survive. They teased him. They called him names. They called him “kokobay” –A Creole word that means crippled.
A loner in the village, young Rene spent his days on the dirt floor fanning flies off his face. At nights, he would shoe away the mosquitoes while crying for his mother’s presence.
As a child, his toys came from the ocean. The plastic toys that the waves would wash ashore along with the seaweeds are what Rene used to create his little amusement park in the back of the hut he lived in.
It’s where he draws insights and innovative ideas to do more with less. In fact, he reminds us, “The problem with doing more with less is more. The more we have, the more we want. That takes away our power to innovate.”
From His Village To Port-Au-Prince
At the age of seven, Rene arrived in Port-Au-Prince to reunite with his mother. He met his sister and brother for the first time. Together they lived in a tiny one-room basement infested with rats and roaches.
Most of the people in his circle lived a life of resignation. But Rene never gave up. Something on the inside of him made him feel there was more to life than what meets the eye.
While walking behind the American tourists in Port-Au-Prince begging for spare change, he saw a new possibility. An American couple gave him a dime and they touched him compassionately.
As a result, a dream was born in Rene’s heart. He said, “One day, I want to go to the United States to eat lots of rice and chickens.” He jokes about it in his keynote speeches. “I’m sick of rice and chickens now. I want the fillet mignon. Life is good in America for me.” Rene would say.
Rene Arrives In The United States
At the age of 21, Rene entered the United States. His only personal possessions were one pair of pants, two shirts, five dollars, and he didn’t speak any English. Without any resources or connections, the road to success seemed a very long way.
Most people would see an opportunity to quit or settle for a meager living. Rene saw an opportunity to seize the American Dream.
Whatever the price, he was ready and willing to pay it. Every day, Rene would drill his tongue and rehearse the three English words.When he realized that no one would give him a job, he decided to create his own. With three dollars in his pocket, Rene did just that.
He bought two used towels, a bucket and one bottle of liquid soap. Then he began to pound the pavements of Miami looking for some cars to wash.
His first stop was Total Bank in South Miami. Persistently, he asked the bank’s employees to let him wash their cars. He got one rejection after another. But he did not give up until he got his first yes.
Years later, after spinning his wheels in Miami trying to make ends meet, Rene journeyed to Atlanta, Georgia. He took a job at a warehouse to load trucks. Then, he became an elderly caretaker. And finally, he landed a doorman job at a luxurious hotel.
Rene continued to see the possibility to seize and live the American Dream. But something was missing. He needed to reinvent and educate himself in order to have access to the dream.
He began to notice books in the back seats of the cars he was parking at the hotel. He jotted down every title and bought them all. He devoured every word on the pages. He says, “I didn’t read those books. I studied them.”
Soon he was reading some of the great minds of this country such as Peter Singe, Edward Deming, Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, and the likes. He also read countless biographies.
Then he stumbled upon a book talked about speaking for a living as a motivational speaker. “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a keynote speaker in this country.” Said Rene.
He jotted down the names of the speakers on the agendas. He would then meet and greet them at the door by their names. “Sir, I’m your doorman. I’m carrying your bags now. But my dream is to become a keynote speaker just like you. You will see me on a stage.” He would say to them.
On his breaks, he would sneak into the back of the hotel’s ballrooms and listen to the speakers. He took great notes and reviewed them often.
A year later, Rene saved all his tip money and attended his first annual conference for the National Speakers Association – NSA. He would re-introduce himself to the speakers he had met. “Hi, sir! This is Rene—your doorman. It’s good to see you again. I told you I wanted to become a speaker. I am determined, sir. Here I am!
Rene is Living The American Dream
Today, Rene is a highly sought-after keynote speaker on change. He has shared the platform for some of the biggest names in the speaking industry. He commands big fees for his “Change Is A Gitf!” message.
The City of Smyrna, Georgia where he now resides declares a day as “The Rene Godefroy Day.” The Mayor of Fort-Lauderdale, Florida honored him with a Key To The City.
He has appeared on CBS 60 minutes along with Colin Powell, Anthony Robins and Zig Zigglar. The Atlanta Journal Constitution calls him a “motivational hit.” And the Miami Times calls him a “motivational guru.”
Successful companies such as At&T, Aflac, Coca Cola, Verizon, and Hyatt Hotels are among the many companies that brings him in to help inspire their employees to embrace change and do more with less. His award-winning book Kick Your Excuses Goodbye is transforming lives the world over.
Meet Rene The Humanitarian
Rene never forgets where he came from. He reaches out to his fellow Haitians. He is the CEO and founder of The Rene Godefroy Foundation—A non-profit 501c3 company dedicated to improving living conditions for poor children in Haiti.
He is aligned with orphanages and health clinics in Haiti to help transform children’s lives and create a better tomorrow for them. He is indeed the light at the end of the tunnel for many Haitians.
When you book Rene to speak at your conference, you are also helping Haitian kids in Haiti. A portion of his fee goes to the foundation to help fund his projects in Haiti.
Hopefully, one day you can take a trip to Haiti with Rene to help him rebuild his country and rekindle the spirit of the people.
“When all your wanting is about edifying and uplifting others, all your wants beg to come to you.” That is what Rene often tells the people who are associated with his projects in Haiti.