How we got here
Have you ever felt like your fate was decided in advance?
Everything in my life pointed me towards one career, ever since I was in the first grade. A talent for math, a teacher who told me I should be an engineer… it just seemed like a natural choice. Actually, it didn’t even seem like I had a choice. So right until my senior year of college, life as an engineer was where I was headed.
If engineering was the obvious path for me, being a business owner was exactly the opposite. I thought that entrepreneurship meant having a brick and mortar presence, hiring lots of employees, finding venture capital and taking out loans. That had ZERO appeal to me.
But then a book changed my life.
I picked it up in 2008, right as I was about to graduate as an electrical engineer. The title, The Four-Hour Workweek, shocked me with its audacity to imagine a completely different life. The ideas inside about automation and outsourcing made me rethink what entrepreneurship could be like. Heck, it made me completely rethink what work could be like!
The seeds were planted for a complete paradigm shift.
So while I spent the next eight years working as an engineer at a traditional 9-5 job and starting a family, that mindset shift had already begun. I was willing to consider a much less traditional path for my future.
I started six different side hustles. Six. Why so many? Well the first one failed, then the second, then the third… you get the picture.
Each one was a failure, but each one taught me valuable lessons along the way.
I didn’t make a dime in those early years, not on blogging or creating physical products or working on apps. Good thing I hadn’t quit my day job! But the drive to keep trying was still there. And I learned so much about myself and what I like doing.
Yes to making videos, no to writing. Yes to putting together logical systems, a BIG no to the headache of prototypes and packaging.
One day after a stressful shift at work, I came home and decided to blow off some steam by playing piano. To be honest, I was procrastinating. I’d rather have played piano than work on my latest side project. And then it hit me.
Piano could be the project.
I could teach piano online.
See, years of childhood piano lessons had left me bored to tears and pretty unaccomplished. It took a chance encounter at a youth camp to find a better way to play piano, to actually enjoy it. What I learned had completely transformed how I played. It went from being a chore to being something I wanted to do.
I could teach that to others. I could help transform people who hated or didn’t understand piano into people who enjoyed it and could actually play songs they love.
Okay, cool idea Jacques. What next?
As an engineer, I am very analytical. That means that breaking down my piano knowledge into a system or program made complete sense to me. Traditional lessons had never resonated for me, yet I could take what I had learned since then and make it accessible and logical for others as an online course.
I reverse-engineered what I knew and figured out how to present it so it could make sense even to a complete beginner. It might have taken me six failed ventures to get to this point, but once I got there, I was convinced this was going to work.
By then it was 2013, and it was still pretty rough out there in the online course world. The tools and resources that are available now just didn’t exist.