Interview with Ben Latour, Founder of Latour Language Coaching
Ben Latour is the founder of Latour Language Coaching, a Montreal-based company that provides English fluency and accent reduction services to non-native English-speaking professionals, entrepreneurs, and ex-pats who want to confidently speak English clearly and naturally.
Since early 2020, Latour Language Coaching has consistently helped individuals and teams gain credibility, improve their communication, and reduce their accents for success in life & the workplace.
For more information on Latour Language Coaching, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Ben, to know a bit more about his journey as an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Ben: As a kid, I always found it difficult to “fit in the mold” of traditional schools and organizations, so I guess you could say the seed started young. Traveling, connecting with new people, and experiencing new things were always passions of mine, so I often found myself jumping from one city or country to another. As a result, the work I did and the connections I built would often get left behind, forcing me to start over again.
After working in leadership roles and jobs where I had crazy hours and no freedom, the prospect of being able to implement my own vision and make my own schedule were things I knew I could no longer live without.
How did you get started?
Ben: What ultimately pushed me into entrepreneurship was the last job I held in South Korea, teaching spoken English to adults. I loved the actual work, but because of the school’s curriculum, I often had to deviate from what would really help the students.
I had enough settling for average, so on February 29th, I took a leap of faith and never looked back.
By that point, I had already been learning and teaching languages for over a decade, I had work experience and a degree in the field, so it was a clear choice.
From traveling and living in a few different countries, I knew how much of a difference it makes to be able to speak confidently and “blend in”. I personally hated always being the outsider, and especially when I lived in Asia (where I obviously don’t look local), being able to speak in a way that people treated me like a local was HUGE.
I always knew that accents are just a question of habits that can be learned and unlearned. I had the skills, the experience, and I knew there were millions of people out there who needed my help.
The rest was easy. I found some mentors, followed their instructions, and here I am.
What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Ben: My biggest startup challenge was definitely learning to find clients then create and present an offer that they’d be excited to get on board. Much of this comes down to articulating the services we offer (which are quite unique, since traditional approaches typically fall short) in a way that the client understands the value and importance of starting soon (if they’re a good fit).
To tell you that I’ve completely overcome it would be dismissing the work that still has to be done in this area, but I’ve learned that simplifying everything down to the very basics and packaging it so it’s a no-brainer is the way to go.
This makes things easier for everyone.
Sadly, I mostly learned this the hard way by talking to people who I could definitely help, people who needed my help, people who had the time and money to sign on, yet still fell through the cracks. That hurt, but I realized that that’s just part of the game, and I just need to hone my ability to make the next step a no-brainer.
What is the Most Memorable Thing You’ve Done Since you Started your Business?
Ben: Oh my, to pin it down to just one. Every time we work with a client who starts off with low confidence and a thick accent, but then one day it “clicks” and they start sounding amazing, that gets me every time. I think back to a client from France who started working with us and had the typical, ultra-French accent and tons of pride, wanting to sound almost like a native speaker. For months, they were almost fighting the progress they were making, and then it clicked. Suddenly, they “got it”, and every day past that point, my eyes couldn’t help but tear up with pride at how well they were doing.
This middle-aged professional started off sounding almost like a cartoon character and suddenly they were giving international conferences and spotting everything the other participants were mispronouncing.
I could go on and on with stories like these.
I remember a client from Ecuador living in Miami who noticed that people always spoke to him in Spanish whenever he said anything. That was great and all, but he came to the US hoping to learn English and find work, but he was having trouble with interviews and presentations. After a few months, people only spoke to him in English, and he suddenly had more job offers than he knew what to do with!
I knew I would improve people’s lives with my work, but I didn’t expect to have my heart melt with joy on such a regular basis.
I love what I do.
What is one book you recommend, and why?
Ben: Never Eat Alone — Keith Ferrazzi
This is one of those books I would re-read a dozen times. They say “your network is your net worth” and this book is all about connecting with people.
In entrepreneurship and beyond, life is all about the experiences you live with people you know and love. Why not make it a priority?
What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools, or resources and what do you love about them?
LinkedIn — Where else can you have a constant networking cocktail party of people who are all out there looking to share, grow, learn and earn. I love it.
Evernote — I used to be one of those people with a dozen notebooks and papers all over my desk, scrambling to find what I wrote down months ago. I still have a few too many paper notebooks, but at least I can find the majority of what I’ve written down.
Canva — As much as I love working with my brand designer, it’s nice to be able to quickly make something visual in a pinch. No fancy tools are needed.
In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Ben: I’d like to leave the world more connected, more open, and as a place where people not only care about each other deeply but actually *want* to listen and understand each other.
Though I love the diversity of cultures and languages (I speak 5 fluently), I realize that not everyone is like that, and sadly people miss out on opportunities because of how they speak. I want to end that.
I’d love to change how other people think, but it’s a lot easier to learn a way of speaking that gets your foot in the door. Once you’re in, just be yourself!
In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Ben: Ask questions and make sure you understand your audience before you do anything.
It’s too easy to build something and find out nobody wants it. Ask first, do your research, then do some more. Once that’s done, build what people actually want and need.