making his own happy ending
never look back
They say without great risk, there can be no great reward – that’s especially true when it comes to business and careers. Michel Brisson knows this first hand.
A few years ago, to anyone on the outside looking in it may have seemed like Brisson was living the dream. He was living in a city he loved, Ottawa, with the man he would go on to marry and had a steady career in the Canadian public service. In reality, though, the daily work grind of cubical life was wearing on him and he began to look for a way out.
“Truly, every Sunday night I had a pit in my stomach knowing I have to go back to my weekly routine on Monday,” he recalls.
Brisson was born in Casselman, a small village in eastern Ontario where French is the predominant language. He moved to Ottawa at the age of 18 – a 30-minute drive away – for college and never looked back.
“I absolutely love Ottawa, it is clean, not too big so more quiet than bigger cities, many parks and green spaces and great restaurants and bistros,” he says.
In the capital city, Brisson found jobs working for the Federal Government for more than two decades. He worked under several departments including the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and a brief stint at Health Canada. In 2007, he realized his days in public service were numbered and he began looking for a way out.
“My plan when I joined Arbonne was to go full steam ahead and make my dreams reality and finally leave my cubicle life, Monday to Friday 8-to-4 routine,” he says. “I took a leave of absence from the Federal Government when I was at the District Manager level with Arbonne and finally left when I was in qualifications for the following level which is area manager.”
While some might feel apprehension about leaving behind a cushy government job, Brisson refers to it as the best decision he ever made – and with good reason.
Arbonne is a line of skin care and beauty products distributed through a network marketing system, which sees sellers act as independent consultants. For Brisson, it offered him an opportunity to become his own boss and set his own schedule. He flourished in his new environment and took his home-based business to the next level, becoming executive national vice president with Arbonne International. The steps to success, he says, were as simple as following those who came before him.
“Back in 2007 there were not a lot of men in the business but that never stopped me, all I did was duplicate the system in place and followed my female business partners. I didn’t re-invent the wheel, I duplicated exactly what they did,” he said, noting it wasn’t bad being the only guy at the table. “I actually enjoyed working with so many women because so many were intrigued and wanted to know my opinion on what products to use and how I built my “now” very successful home-based business.”
It wasn’t all easy though. Brisson admits there were some obstacles along the way. “If it was easy everyone do it,” he says. Instead, he uses those obstacles as teaching points when working with new independent consultants just entering the business.
“I coach and train my teams on facing the obstacles because we all face them while building our businesses and building a new life for ourselves and our families. There is no way around the obstacles, it is part of the journey. I could have let those obstacles stop me in my tracks, but I decided that nothing would stop me from changing my life and helping so many others have a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
Since leaving his career at the public service behind, Brisson admits his life has changed quite a bit – all for the better. He and his partner Roger, married in November 2013 after both proposing to one another over dinner that September. It was an intimate affair for the couple, who said their “I dos” at Ottawa City Hall with close friends and family looking on before heading to a downtown restaurant for dinner and celebration.
“It was a beautiful sunny day and evening that we will remember for the rest of our lives,” Brisson recalls.
The pair met on an online dating service more than a decade earlier. Dating sites were still pretty new to the general public, but Brisson said it was his friends that pushed him into checking it out. Roger also worked for the Federal government, as a police officer for the RCMP. He retired in February after 29 years of service.
When the couple isn’t off traveling, they enjoy entertaining at their home, inviting friends over for dinner or heading out in the city to enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants in Ottawa.
The freedom Brisson’s new career offers, in terms of setting his own hours and managing his own time, enhances his daily life in ways he couldn’t imagine possible before.
“I am an avid cyclist. In the summer time I wake up early, have my Arbonne shake then get on my bike and hit the pavement on the beautiful Ottawa cycling trails for about two to three hours each day. In the winter I have my bike on a bike treadmill in the gym at our house,” he says.
For Brisson, following his heart allowed him to make his own dreams come true.
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