This week Bethany profiled Aaron and Denise Hutchings as a part of the Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders series.
I grew up with Aaron and I’ve known him since I was a teenager. I was lucky enough to watch Denise and Aaron get married, and build a family with three awesome kids. Denise and Aaron have always been independent, resilient, and tough people who have succeeded in leading a business from afar. They’re such consistent business owners, and now you can all get to know them the way I do.
Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Aaron and Denise Hutchings as written by Bethany Sampson.
Aaron and Denise Hutchings have been together for twenty-two years. June 28th marked fifteen years of marriage for the couple. Claude and Aaron, however, have known each other for longer.
Claude and Aaron first met when they were fourteen and sixteen, respectively, when, as Aaron joked, Claude was still shorter than him. The two were in sea cadets together and would meet at summer camps. Later, they both joined the Navy and drifted apart. Claude was on the East Coast and Aaron was on the West Coast.
It was 1997 when the two reconnected through a friend of Denise. It was at this time that the couple was introduced to the industry.
Despite his history with Claude, Aaron was initially skeptical of the business, immediately assuming it was a scam. Denise, on the other hand, was open-minded about the business and reminded Aaron that he could trust Claude. Aaron, the self-proclaimed skeptic, still wasn’t sure.
It was after Aaron attended his first seminar that he began to think of the industry as a good opportunity.
Denise, who was at sea and couldn’t attend the seminar, left behind a cynic, as Aaron jokes, and came home to a husband who was enthusiastic about starting in business.
Despite Denise’s busy schedule—she was in the Navy, playing on a competitive rugby team, training for an amateur body building competition, and was getting her commercial pilot license—she committed to the business from the start, talking to and communicating with people about the program.
Aaron explains that his initial reluctance had much to do with how busy Denise already was. He worried that in taking on another commitment, he would see his wife even less.
The opposite proved to be true.
Starting in business together gave Denise and Aaron a new venue in which they could spend time together.
Aaron jokes that every time he showed up to one of Denise’s rugby tournaments, she’d end up in the hospital with a concussion, and when she took him flying, she scared the pants off him. The business, he laughs, is a safe place where they can spend time together.
Denise’s initial motivation was different: she saw the business as a way to realize her potential in life. She knew God had a purpose for her, but she also knew she wasn’t quite living it yet.
The couple now lives in Vernon, British Colombia, where the average summer temperature, Aaron boasts, is 28 degrees. They have three children—Darius, 14, Anya, 11, and Ayden, 10—with their eldest, Darius, already reading and learning from the LIFE Leadership material.
Life is good for the family of five, but it wasn’t without tribulations to get to where they are now.
The couple, that today appear inseparable and still very much in love, were on the precipice of divorce twice. The first time, they were horrendously broke and their financial situation put a huge stress on their marriage. The second time, they were doing well financially, but were stressed out due to their high level corporate jobs. The pressure of their jobs began to take a toll on their marriage as they took out the stress and anxiety on each other.
During the couple’s first hardship, Claude helped the two to figure out their finances, and thus eliminate the trigger of their problems.
The second time, however, things were not so simple.
This time, things were far more personal, says Aaron.
“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for someone to do with us what Claude did with us,” says Aaron. And what he did was help the couple reassess their priorities and their marriage.
At this time, both Aaron and Denise occupied high-level positions at two well-known companies. However, upon realizing that these stressful and time-consuming jobs were contributing to their breaking marriage, they each decided to step down from their roles and into new roles that were lower paid, but also had lower responsibility, and a lesser time commitment.
The healing process of their marriage began from there.
During this period, their business was forced to take a back seat as they prioritized working on their marriage.
“It took a very big hit,” says Aaron, “But personally, we got our lives back. I would do it again tomorrow.”
Since then, the couple’s marriage has only continued to strengthen, and after working through their marital problems, they were once again able to focus full on their business.
Aaron and Denise are still working corporate jobs, but not in the same way they once were. Today, they both work predominantly from home in an office they share, and their work travel is limited to about six days a month.
Their slower paced jobs allow them to focus on growing their business while not uprooting the familial balance they’ve worked hard to obtain.
This past November, the family of five moved to BC, after sixteen years in the neighboring Calgary, Alberta.
The couple is confident that change will bring good, including the changes in LIFE Leadership.
“Everything has become better as the experiences of the people leading the teams has become better,” says Denise, speaking of Chris Brady and his visions.
Aaron echoed this sentiment by drawing on the differences between a Chevette and a Corvette. If you know nothing about cars, you might think they’re the same; they both have four wheels, doors, and a steering wheel. That said, as soon as you’re put in the driver’s seat you would quickly realize the difference. The Corvette has power and handling, it has features below the surface that you cannot see.
Aaron says he’s watched the business evolve from a Chevette to a Corvette.
“The fundamentals are very similar,” he says, “but there are huge differences that happen when you put your foot on the pedal.”
This leadership, that has benefited Denise and Aaron personally, financially, and spiritually, has included the guidance of Claude and Lana.
“We’ve derived all kinds of benefits from that pool of knowledge,” says Aaron. “I’ve never seen anything with the depth and the real breadth of what the leadership of this organization does,” he continues, comparing his experience at LIFE to other corporate positions he’s held.
Denise nods in agreement, pointing out how corporations are infamous for poor leadership. “It’s not only astonishing, it’s appalling,” she says. “We have no problems aligning ourselves with a team environment.”
In addition to that team environment, the Hutchings are also proud to have a business that aligns with their values.
“If I need a bop in the nose, I talk to Claude,” says Aaron. “If I need some understanding or perspective on how I’m thinking through something, Lana gives me that, because she process information similar to the way I do.”Both Aaron and Denise are grateful to Claude and Lana for sticking beside them during what they describe as the hardest time of their
lives, when anyone else would’ve run for the hills.
“We honestly have no doubt in our mind that we would’ve never weathered our own storms, and we wouldn’t be standing here, if it wasn’t for them,” says Aaron, who sees Claude as a father figure.
Denise agrees, pointing out that Claude and Lana are a great sounding board when it comes to parenting.
The Hutchings have an active parenting style, and work
hard to implement all the information they learn from LIFE material.
Darius, whose favorite speaker is Claude, has already read Financial Fitness for Teens. The parents are certain to discuss the material with their eldest son while he’s reading.
This summer, they’ll continue their reading and active discussions. And soon enough, the younger children will be able to join in as well.
“If you took away all the money we ever made, and just made this about the change in our own relationship, in our parenting, and our interactions with our kids, it would be worth it right there,” says Aaron.
As Denise nods along, it becomes clear that she doesn’t just agree, but she, too, believes this wholeheartedly.
And after twenty-two years together, it’s comforting to see this couple is still reading from the same page.