History is replete with people whose actions radically changed the world. Some are household names and others are ordinary people from obscure corners around the world. Yet, they all have one thing in common: They pushed beyond the frontier of their limits and went an extra mile to achieve stunning results. Rene Godefroy is one of those rare individuals.
A recognized authority on performance and change management, Rene has inspired thousands to stretch, push beyond their limits, and go an extra mile. His story of grit, perseverance, courage, and growth through change—one that shatters the ceiling of doubt and fear (of change)—touches the soul and rekindles the spirit.
His journey began in an isolated and impoverished village in Haiti. As a child, he was often tormented and tortured by malnutrition, dysentery, cholera and other deadly diseases. Too weak to withstand the strong tropical winds in his village, Rene often spent his childhood days on a dirt floor fanning flies off of his face.
His father abandoned him before he was even born. His mother left him behind with a neighbor when he was only nine months old. It was a painful separation, but his mother had to venture out to find a better way to provide for her son.
Young Rene survived primarily on breadfruit and the occasional rare fish he caught with a string and a bent hook. Many gave up on him and predicted he would not survive. But he continued to defy logic. The frail and ailing boy built up strength by climbing coconut and mango trees for survival. At the age of seven, he left his village. He went on to the city to join his mother in a little shack infested with rats and roaches. There, Rene began a new and different uphill battle with poverty. But when an American couple of tourists gave him a dime and compassionately patted his head and gently touched his shoulder, a transformation took place in his life. A dream was born. “I want to go to America to eat lots of rice and chicken and enjoy a good life.” said Rene. Sure enough the dream became a reality.
In 1983, at the age of twenty-one, Rene left Haiti for Montreal, Canada. But Montreal was not the dream—America was. He took the ultimate risk that almost cost him his life. He paid a truck driver to smuggle him into America. Rene arrived wedged between the rear tires of a tractor trailer covered with ashes and dust. His personal possessions were five dollars, two shirts and one pair of pants housed in a tattered briefcase. And he didn’t speak any English at all.
Where many would see nothing but overwhelming odds stacked against them, he saw an abundance of opportunity and a chance to live the American dream. But he knew intrinsically that he had to go an extra mile in all his endeavors in order to enjoy the good life that many wish for. In fact, he has been going the extra mile since leaving his village at the age of seven.
Whether Rene was washing cars on the streets of Miami, taking care of a sick and elderly man, or being a doorman at a hotel, he has always gone above and beyond the call of duty. He also has the gift and talent to inspire others to do the same.
One day while working as a doorman, Rene’s talent was discovered by someone who asked him to speak for about 2,000 people. And yes, he didn't shy away from stepping into the limelight. He finally had the chance to do what he naturally does everyday, inspiring others to shake off mediocrity and to go an extra mile to excel.
Today, Rene energizes, empowers, and inspires audiences worldwide. His favorite motto is, “if you are not going an extra mile in everything you do, you are jamming the highway to success for yourself and others.”
His unquenchable drive and heroic triumphant story stirs in others laughter, tears, and deep reflections but more importantly, it gives them the permission to excel. Today, companies such as AT&T, Charles Schwab, and Coca Cola are among the many organizations that seek out Rene to help their employees re-fire their work cylinders, embrace change as their good fortune, and to recognize the opportunities that exist on the extra mile.