Montreal Author Denis Coupal

I’m Denis Coupal. I am a Director of Business Development for a major accounting firm and business advisory firm in Montreal called BDO Canada. I’m a Montrealer, most of my life I lived in Montreal. I’m also a lifelong writer, who just recently published his first novel, a thriller called

Blindshot: A Montreal Novel

I started the book a few years ago and finalized it not that long ago, put it in the hands of a publisher I admired in Montreal, here, Linda Leith Publishing. They took it on with all the competition to, from writers in Montreal. There’s a lot of writing going on and a lot of publishing going on, and not everyone gets access to that. It’s a tough competitive grind for anyone trying to put out a book. But, luckily, Linda Leith put out my book and it’s really doing very well in the stores. You can get it online, Indigo, Amazon all that. So very pleased about that.

It’s a lifelong venture to get to that. As a kid, I was nine or 10 when I was dreaming of writing books, had all these ideas of thrillers and suspense and things going on in Montreal, and making films in Montreal. Actually my writing motivation came from the books and movies around me. So I always wanted to write screenplays, write books, turn books into screenplays, and I did that my whole life other than they weren’t produced or published, but I learned a lot of and got better at it to the point where I put out

Montreal’s Literary History

Who are the people that inspire me in what I do? And there’s business folks for the business side of it, but in terms of writing I think of two people that come to mind in the writing itself. It’s Mordecai Richler, who didn’t write the kinds of books that I want to write but he wrote incredible works and was a notable figure in literature in Montreal and made Montreal sparkle and be filled with joy and culture and questions, a lot of questions. And that was inspiring aside from reading

Montreal Is A Place Built For Self Expression

Well, I feel Montreal, for many years, was paralyzed by its political issues and I felt that it wasn’t evolving like other cities. We lost a lot of people to other big cities in North America that were just young people, well-educated people to other cities where they thought they might prosper there faster than in Montreal. What’s changed is that has changed. Montreal is much more sophisticated now.

Montreal is on the map worldwide for business, culture, its diversity, its openness. One aspect of Montreal I find that’s not discussed enough is the fact that we’re a safe city. There’s a whole aspect of it that has to do with a comfort here, a comfort of expression. You could say anything you want in Montreal. You can say it however you want in Montreal whether it’s artistically, whether it’s through music, through word. No one would criticize me for writing the wrong book. Everyone would kind of probably just ask me why I wrote that book. But it certainly always feels safe, from an artistic point of view, in Montreal as well.

Mentorship Is A Big Part Of Our Attitude

What I felt in Montreal being, for years of wanna-be writer and a wanna-be filmmaker and not quite getting to the level I wanted, even, there was a thought of, should I leave, go to Toronto, should I go to New York, should I make these bold moves, perhaps. In the end, I stayed here for personal reasons, for all kinds of reasons. But I stayed in Montreal and I’m pleased with that.

The idea that was always present for me was that if I wanted to know something, I could always approach someone who’s done better. If I didn’t know something or wanted to improve a certain skill, I could approach whether it be a filmmaker, film producer or other professional that’s accomplished something or I think always proud in Montreal, of these folks that do well. And even though they might have an opportunity to leverage their works across the world and nationally, the younger ones or the ones up and coming I think can ask for mentorship in Montreal. I think mentorship’s a big part of our attitude even though it’s perhaps unspoken and it is developing in more formal circles. In business as well there’s mentorship groups and that sort of thing. I think across the board the different ecosystems and the different industries whether artistic, creative, et cetera, Montreal is a good school for everyone.

The Montreal Board Of Trade

The Montreal Board of Trade is an incredible organization that rallies people together that helps business thinking move forward. It’s a real spearhead for development. And as a business developer, I look for places and for contacts where that new knowledge is available and where new contacts can come that teach me what is going on. Because that’s what people come and ask me at work. They say, well, what’s the latest on something, or, where should I go, I’ve got some time to get out there and meet some potential clients, where should I look for that opportunity?

The Chamber of Commerce in Montreal. I find they do such really beautiful, sophisticated events where you have a chance to meet the top level of people in Montreal, so why not be there. And I try to be there as often as I can. And that makes for great relationships that build over time, and that’s the key to business development, right? It’s really building relationship where people understand the value you bring.

We’ve Built A Diverse Economic Ecosystem

We’ve been known internationally for aerospace. We’re one of three major cities where aerospace occurs that relates to some sophisticated aerospace manufacturing and everything that’s around that and that keeps growing. So that’s really interesting.

Of course, there are professionals who are working internationally all the time. There’s world-renowned architects in town, there’s engineering firms that are working everywhere. But the ecosystems that are really up and coming are the artificial intelligence hub, the multimedia aerospace continuing and others.

BDO Canada

BDO Canada helps organizations in Montreal. I facilitate it by bringing the knowledge of some very, very talented accountants, fiscalists, and tax experts and bring them to the table to help businesses make better decisions and accelerate. And nowadays business owners really have to be on the cutting edge of financial management. They can’t just improvise here, it just doesn’t cut it. There are too many decisions to be made too quickly that have too great an impact on their business.

Business evolves quickly. So small and medium sized businesses, which is the focus of BDO, small and medium sized businesses are the larger make up of the fabric of the community of business. In Quebec, the public companies are far less numbered. We address ourselves to them and provide services that really help them be strategic to the utmost and we’re very proud of that.

There’s some very talented people at BDO Canada in Montreal and very always pleased to make a good match. ‘Cause there has to be chemistry between an entrepreneur and their suppliers. There has to be chemistry, there has to be the right knowledge coming to the table.

Economic Development In Montreal

Well, in Montreal, one great thing is we’re really well-organized in terms of the ecosystems, the industry cluster groups and how these are addressed. There are quite a lot of people that are dedicated to economic development in Montreal whether it’s within Ville de Montreal or whether it’s an industry group and everyone eventually knows each other and helps each other in these groups. And that’s a bit of a generalization, but it’s what it comes down to. It’s collaboration between people of different expertises in different industries. So when they come together it’s very powerful.

We can take, for example, Investissement Quebec is an amazing organization that’s one of the keystones in economic development in Quebec that supports companies in their growth, supports companies as they come from other places internationally and settles here.

That’s also the role of Montreal International, which is a phenomenal organization that reaches out to entrepreneurs around the world to come and settle in Montreal, and they really clarify all the advantages and benefits of being here in Montreal with an organization and they’re very good at that and their numbers show that. And I think you’ve talked to Nikolaus Hottenroth in this series Make It Montreal and I admire very much what he does. He’s quite a phenomenon as he brings companies, he builds a bridge for companies to come here and invest and grow and contribute to the Montreal business community.

Creating Events For Shared Knowledge

In Montreal, it being my home, my home base, filled with people I admire whether in business or the arts, I found what we do really well is lay the groundwork for learning about being in these industries. And we’re always asking a lot of questions in Montreal, we’re always creating events where you can go and learn what you need to learn to do the same thing as others whether it’s startup world, whether it’s in AI that we’re talking about. There’s so much buzz about it, but it’s not just buzz. You can actually go and learn from people actively involved in there. Learn from the leaders. And I think that’s something Montreal does really well.

Our Safe Streets Allow You To Be Who You Want To Be

One thing about Montreal that I really care for is the idea that it’s a safe city. I don’t think that’s trumped enough in the international dialogue of the quality of life that we have here. It isn’t just the festivals, it isn’t just the night life, it isn’t just the arts, venues, and the fun that we have; it’s that we do this out in the street. And the streets are safe, and they’ve always been safe, and that’s an unbelievable thing. Not many cities across the world can say, hey, come here and celebrate and be who you wanna be. And without it being really formally done, you’re completely protected because everyone believes in that here because the value system is good here. I think Montreal does that really well.

Getting Involved In Your Community

Well, I think we can make a positive impact in Montreal if we simply get involved. I think Mike Jager alludes to that in what he’s saying. I think between the lines, he’s saying get involved. If we’re passionate, if we love something, if we wanna do more of something, then learn about it, get involved and just offer your time. That’s the simplest, most basic thing we can do to have positive impact. How do we contribute to what we believe in? I believe in Dawson College, so I get involved. I believe in the mission of BDO Canada, which is my job, and I respect the knowledge and the people there and what they bring to the table for businesses, so I put a lot of passion into my work every day.

In my own work as an author, as a writer, I didn’t just write a book and disappear, I’m writing a book and I’m going to the book shops, I’m talking to people about it. I’m looking for literary festivals and meetups and so forth where I can say, here, here’s my experience.

I think in the end what I’m saying is that in Montreal there’s a real opportunity and openness for those seeking mentorship, and for those wanting to contribute their time who do know or have the knowledge or the experience and wanna give it, and those who are ready to be part of an organization, of a movement. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. You can contribute a little bit of time to something and that’s enough. Sometimes it’s just helping someone with a few questions on something.

Investing Locally In Montreal

Why is it important to invest locally in Montreal? Because we have talent here, because we have manpower here, because we have the resources here, the schools are here. So there’s so many factors why the money should be spent here and investment aimed at local entrepreneurs who can do something that then becomes valid on a world stage. There are very simple or very obvious iconic examples of that from the Cirque du Soleil to Celine Dion and a whole lot of people who have gone out on to the world stage in the last 20, 30 years.

But in business as well there are some incredible entrepreneurs who have done incredible things and have been projected on to the world stage with their products or their service and that’s commendable, and that comes from investing locally first.

Montreal Is No Longer An Underdog City

Montreal is not an underdog city. It used to be. There were issues that perhaps paralyzed it in terms of what we communicated around the world. This is a very complex issue, touching on many, many different subjects that explain why. But I think today Montreal has opened a new window, has let the air in and the sunlight in and is obliged to get on the world stage because it’s ready, because it’s sophisticated enough, because there’s enough know-how here, there are incredible brains here, incredible talents that are being exported around the world and are saying, hey, my square one was Montreal.

I hope one day to be able to say that and go, look, if my book is going internationally and creating waves somewhere that someone will say, well, he’s a Montreal writer, and that would mean everything to me. Montreal is a beautiful diverse place that is very, very dynamic and vibrant. And I think we’ve grown into a sophisticated city ready to contribute to the issues that are global whether it’s environment, sustainable development, diversity in terms of working folks in companies. It’s a sophisticated city.