Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Wayne & Raylene MacNamara

Hey everyone!

Today on the blog, Bethany profiled Wayne and Raylene MacNamara as a part of the Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders series.

Wayne and Raylene are such a success story. They have reached high levels in our business, and the reason they’re so successful is because they’re very good at helping others. They’re leaders of leaders! They represent our biggest organization, and I consider Wayne one of the key leaders of the Kaizen organization.

Through this journey, Wayne and Raylene have become best friends with me and Lana, and now they’re some of the closest people in our lives.

Enjoy!

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Wayne and Raylene MacNamara, as written by Bethany Sampson

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RAYLENE & WAYNE MACNAMARA

Wayne and Raylene MacNamara didn’t start out in the leadership industry. Wayne was a welder and Raylene was a tire builder. Financially, the couple was doing okay, but when a workplace injury occurred, Raylene was forced to take time off from her job.

It was around this time that Raylene’s sister introduced her to the business. Since Raylene’s injury, finances had been tighter for the couple, so they decided to take a chance on the business. If they could replace Raylene’s salary until she was able to go back to work, or until she decided on a new career path, the couple would be happy.

Initially, Raylene was drawn to the idea of having the materials shipped to her. Due to her injury, she wasn’t able to go out and shop on her own. As soon as the material would arrive, she and Wayne would read or listen to the information.

Despite their initial interest in the business, Wayne and Raylene declined their first invitation to attend a big convention. Claude, however, wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Claude called Wayne directly and the two spoke about the business and its financial benefits. After the phone call, Wayne told Raylene they were booking the tickets. Raylene wasn’t thrilled about the decision, but she saw the chance to visit her friends and family in the area as a positive.

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THE HAPPY COUPLE

Claude and Wayne and Raylene met in person for the first time at that major. Despite geographical obstacles—the MacNamaras lived in Ontario whereas the Hamiltons were in Nova Scotia—Claude encouraged them to commit to the business. In fact, Claude said more than that; he told the MacNamaras that he would fly out to Ontario once a month to help their growing business.

Claude stayed true to his promise, and for the next four years he flew to Ontario for monthly opens.

Though Wayne initially saw this distance as a negative, he later realized he helped him and Raylene to become more independent leaders and to grow confident enough to run seminars and opens on their own.

The Hamiltons didn’t just help Wayne and Raylene’s business grow; they helped their family grow, too.

Wayne and Raylene had been together since they were teenagers, but were uninterested in marriage.

“I didn’t want to get married because my parents got divorced,” says Raylene. “I thought if I didn’t get married I couldn’t get divorced.”

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THE  WEDDING DAY

Claude and Lana, however, were able to sit down with the couple and help them to confront the hard, but important, questions.

In 2004, Wayne and Raylene—a couple of 23 years now—were married. This past July marked their eleven-year wedding anniversary.

The couple also has a two-year-old son, Beau.

Wayne and Raylene consider Beau to be their greatest blessing, and are grateful for the time and freedom allotted to them by LIFE, as it allowed them to become parents.

As a tire builder, Raylene would’ve been working 12-hour shifts, and the couple isn’t sure they would’ve been able to balance parenthood on top of such long work hours.

In addition to the logistical aspects, the LIFE material also helped the couple to feel prepared and confident in their decision to have a child.

They’d been exposed to many children with great lives whose parents are in business. Knowing that they’d have both the support of other leaders, as well as the knowldge and preparation from the material they were consuming at a rapid pace, the couple felt confident in their decision to bring a child into the world. This confidence also helped lessen the fear that they wouldn’t do this well, or that they would fail as parents.

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This association with other leaders has been crucial to the MacNamaras’ many successes.

“Associations are the number one key factor why we’re still around,” said Wayne.

And both Wayne and Raylene say this proves to be true for new couples starting out.

“Motivation is such an individual thing,” says Wayne. “You have to get around someone who’s highly motivated, then you get to see that they’re real people, and their motivation is what makes them get up to do work that they don’t have to do everyday.”

In addition to being inspired by others’ motivation, surrounding yourself with leaders serves as a reminder of how well the business can work.

Starting out can take time, but seeing others’ successes can help you to actualize your own dreams.

Raylene echoes the importance of surrounding yourself with other dreamers, because it allows you to feel comfortable with sharing your own goals and ambitions.

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WAYNE & RAYLENE

Wayne and Raylene were hundreds of miles away from Claude and Lana when they first started out, so they used audiotapes and books as a way to stay inspired by other leaders.

Though Raylene was doubtful of the business in the beginning, not thinking the success could happen to her, she soon realized it all came down to attitude. She says her emotional intelligence used to control her, causing her to focus on the negative of a situation instead of trying to find the positive and to move forward.

Raylene worked hard to change her attitude, and she sites John Maxwell’s book The Difference Maker (which she received as a gift from Claude) as a game changer for her. This book served as a reminder for Raylene that attitude truly is a choice, and so she began to believe that this could and would happen for her and Wayne.

The couple’s relationship with Claude and Lana was also crucial in their successes.

“They’ve gotten us to where we are today,” says Raylene. “Everything we have today is because of their leadership.”

The two couples have been best friends for over ten years now.

Wayne and Raylene both admire Claude’s and Lana’s unprecedented leadership. Claude is tough, but treats everyone as an equal. Lana is gentle and soft, but “if she needs to roar, you can hear her roar,” says Raylene.

They both speak of their gratitude towards the Hamilton, knowing they can never fully repay Claude and Lana for all they’ve done; all they can do is treat them with respect, says Raylene.

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WAYNE, RAYLENE, & BEAU

Though the concept of working together was initially daunting, Wayne and Raylene came together as a couple to make their business blossom. They ask each other questions, work to find the best solutions, and most importantly, they dream together.

The couple’s relationship has only strengthened since going into business. Wayne and Raylene consume the LIFE material quickly, and the audio CDs and books have allowed them to read and hear about others going through similar stages in life.

“Dating brings out the best, marriage brings out the rest,” quotes Raylene. She says the LIFE material, including books like The Five Love Languages, helped strengthen her relationship with Wayne, as their understanding of each other and their relationship continues to grow.

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BEAU, 2

Wayne nods in agreement. Though he’s believes he and Raylene would still be together today without the business, he’s confident their relationship would not be what it is today.

In addition to what the couple has learned and how they’ve grown, they’ve also been financially free for eight years now, allowing them to spend more quality time together and with Beau.

The couple knows they’re blessed to have this life, but it didn’t come without hard work, a willingness to learn, and, of course, a proven business model.

“When you struggle for anything in life, the moment you get it, you just appreciate it that much more,” says Wayne, “whether it be a child, your money, your time, your freedom, or your relationships.”

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THE MACNAMARA FAMILY

Wayne and Raylene are careful not to take anything for granted, and are always looking to help others improve their lives, as well. Even if you just get in for the money, they say, all these other amazing things will happen on the side.

“This business has affected us in so many areas and it has helped us to grow tremendously in order to have the life we have today, which is incredible,” says Raylene. “And I did not see that the first night we saw the business.”

“When you get around other people that are motivated and that are dreamers, it’s almost like you catch a dream of your own,” says Wayne.

And it’s clear that this couple has indeed caught a dream.

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To find out more about Wayne and Raylene, you can visit them on Twitter or Facebook.

If you know Wayne and Raylene, and have more to add, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!!

Choosing Your Personal Culture

Have you ever spent time in another country? If so—whether you’ve been a Canadian in Japan or an American in Canada—you definitely experienced some cultural differences. But if you haven’t had the opportunity to travel, let me give you an illustration of what it means to live in Canada.

You might be Canadian if…
(by comedian Jeff Foxworthy)

I’m sharing this because I think it’s funny. But I’m also using it to illustrate how each national culture has its own distinct quirks that dictate how people behave, affecting the way they’re viewed by others.

Each person lives by his or her own internal culture, just like every country has its own cultural identity. We choose the values and way of life that are most important to us and use them as a guiding force, driving our decisions and our actions. Based on my experience, there are generally two personal cultures that people choose from: a culture of convenience, and a culture of excellence. These cultures extend past national borders; just about every person in the world operates within one culture or the other.

But here’s the thing—when it comes to personal culture, there’s no riding the fence. You have to choose how you want to live your life and what you want to get out of it. You need to decide whether excellence or convenience is more important to you and, when you decide, that culture will ultimately pave your life’s path. Yes, you may veer off the path occasionally, but the personal culture you choose will ultimately keep you on track towards the destiny you’ve set in motion.

If your goal is to achieve your life’s purpose (and I hope it is), you have no choice but to choose a personal culture of excellence. Choosing convenience might help you get by, but you’ll never achieve as much as you will if you choose excellence. You have to work for excellence. You have to make tough decisions and overcome challenges. And you may even have to fight. But the pay-off is huge. Not only will you build character, you’ll also be more likely to become the person you were meant to be, doing the duty you were meant to do.

Which culture will you choose?

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Aaron and Denise Hutchings

Hey everyone,

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.

Enjoy!

Claude

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Aaron and Denise Hutchings as written by Bethany Sampson.

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DENISE AND AARON HUTCHINGS

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.

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AYDEN, DARIUS, ANYA

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.

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DARIUS

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.

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ANYA

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.

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AYDEN

“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.unnamed-3

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 activeunnamed-4 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.

Deciding Where Your Duty Lies

In my last blog post, I wrote about some of the people who, throughout history, selflessly sacrificed their lives out of duty. Although Jesus, Socrates, and Joan of Arc are a few of the more notable martyrs, countless people have given up their lives for their duty over the last few centuries. And these martyrs include the soldiers who go to war to protect their country and their families, knowing well that they might not return. But they do it anyway, because they feel it is their duty—as a mother, a father, a wife, a husband, or a citizen.

Today, I want to look at how duty has changed over the years. As our governments and our cultures have evolved, so has our allegiance. Author Stephen Ambrose wrote about this change in his book, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point. In the book, he says that in European nations, almost all military leaders were members of the ruling aristocratic family, which makes a lot of sense since, at the time, a military officer’s duty was to their country. Because a ruling family or party represented the country, this translated to an obligation to put themelves at risk to protect the country’s aristocracy.

But as people began settling in North America, their loyalties began to shift. This old sense of duty was eventually replaced by the American Dream, which told people that everyone has an important role to play in the grand scheme of things. As social hierarchy began to flatten out, the public sense of duty shifted a little. Although people still remained committed to their country, they no longer felt a strong duty to the people in charge.

Duty can also vary depending on your culture, according to the great political thinker Montesquieu. For example, a citizen living in a country ruled by a king or queen will feel an obligation to serve the ruling family. But a citizen in a country ruled by a dictator will direct that same sense of loyalty and service towards that one person. And duty will differ depending on whether you live in a democracy or an aristocratic nation. In an aristocracy, people are inclined to serve the parliament, where the people of a democracy remain loyal to their constitution and the people of their country.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, as an individual, you need to decide where your duty lies. Is it to your children? Your spouse? Your parents? Your country? Your God?

If you don’t know already, this is something you need to figure out in order to achieve your life’s purpose. After all, if you don’t know who you serve, how can you work towards your goals? More to the point, how do you even know what your goal is?

Take some time to think about who deserves your service and your loyalty. I guarantee that once you figure that out, you’ll be well on your way to valiantly doing your duty.

Staying True to Your Duty

Remember that old Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hatches the Egg? It’s one of my favourites. At the start of the book, the elephant promises to sit on an egg until it hatches, taking over for a bored, lazy bird named Mayzie (after a certain amount of hesitation).

When the negligent Mayzie flies off for a year long vacation, Horton gets down to business. He figures out a way to strengthen the tree so that it’s able to support his weight, and climbs up to perch on the egg. The massive elephant sits perched in the tree for months, through lightening storms, blizzards, and teasing from his friends. But despite terrible conditions, he stays on that egg, doing his duty, even after being captured by hunters and sold to a circus.

In the end, he was rewarded for his efforts. And he deserved it—after all, “an elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”

I love this book because it poses an important question. Will you be faithful, one hundred percent? Will you stay fully committed to your duty, no matter what happens?

These questions are especially important to me because of the time I spent in the military. After all, when a man or woman joins the military, there’s an inherent understanding that they could end up sacrificing their life for their duty. What could possibly motivate someone to put their life on the line in this way?

It’s a question that people have been asking for decades. Throughout history, great thinkers have been debating whether or not people do their duty for love or fear of punishment. John Locke framed the question by asking why we should do our duty. Should we do it because God will bless us, or because He’ll punish us if we don’t? Should we do it because it could bring us wealth and fame, or because our peers will think less of us if we neglect our duties?

When we look at remarkable martyrs throughout history, we realize that duty should be done for love, not fear of consequences. Jesus is the greatest example of duty because he chose to sacrifice his life to save humanity.

Socrates is another great example. Although he had his faults, he still felt it was important to ask the people of Athens questions about justice and freedom. He angered many people, and was eventually given the option to be killed or deny his teachings. As hard as it must have been, he stayed true to his duty and chose death.

From Roman martyrs to Joan of Arc, people have been giving up their lives for what they believe in for centuries. What’s your duty? Would you give up anything to do the right thing?

Until next time!

-Claude Hamilton

Changing Your Life With Perseverance

Jim Rohn made an notable observation when he said, “Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.”

It’s interesting because many people seem to think that character is built-in; either you won the character lottery or you didn’t. But Rohn’s right—a good character is a habit that’s formed by consistently making the right choice for the right reasons.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t all have a little help. Each of us has our own strengths and, when we push ourselves to discover them, we often learn that they can be quite useful for building character.

When I was in the military, I took a performance test that was disguised as an advanced training course. The test was designed to weed out the best people to pursue a new career in diving. It was an impossibly strenuous course, and we operated on little to no sleep and limited nourishment. We were up at all hours of the day and night–running, swimming, and working out. It was an emotionally challenging time, and we were all forced to push ourselves to our limits, physically and mentally. Now here’s the catch: the course didn’t end until we were down to just six people. The longest record was 21 days.

Everyone was given a whistle, and when they were at their breaking point, they blew it to indicate that they were giving up. I had some tough competition—each of the twenty participants were at the top of their current line of work, whether they were medics, infantrymen, or search-and-rescue technicians. But still, it wasn’t long before we were down to nine.

After all, it was easy to quit. If you weren’t in the top six, nothing bad would happen to you. You just went back to your current high-level career. But if you won… you got to move on to a new diving career with a new mission. You’d be taking your career to the next level. And it was all up to you.

The night the test ended was also the night I encountered one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever endured. That night, we were woken up for a run after only an hour and a half of sleep. We were asked to bring our diving gear along with us.

We ran and ran. We passed all of our usual landmarks and kept running. It felt like we were never going to stop. I knew I didn’t have much left in me, so I started playing mind games, telling myself to run to the next landmark before giving up. Then, when I hit the next landmark, I’d set myself up for a new challenge.

Finally, we hit the water, and without letting us stop to rest, the instructors told us to suit up and start swimming. At that point, I really knew I was done. But then I heard a whistle. We were down to eight!

There were only two of us left to quit, but I decided to try and push through until one more person whistled. When they did, I was almost ecstatic. I’d be done soon! It was my turn!

Just when I was about to blow my whistle, someone else beat me to it. The challenge was over, and I was in the top six. There were just seconds between winning and losing, but I kept persevering, and in the end, it paid off. We were finally done, after 19 long days.

Staying true to my character and testing my limits allowed me to take a step in my career that I almost missed out on. Has there ever been a time when perseverance changed your life? I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments below.

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Jean and Tamie Belanger

Hi everyone!

Welcome to part five of the Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders series. This week Bethany profiled Jean and Tamie Belanger.

Jean and Tamie have been with Lana and me since the very beginning of our business. They’ve watched us, helped us, and have always been there for us, as both business partners and friends. They’re such hard workers, and even pioneered the French side of the LIFE business. Jean and Tamie are trusted and respected leaders, and they’re going to have a big influence in the years to come!

Enjoy!

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Jean and Tamie Belanger as written by Bethany Sampson.

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TAMIE AND JEAN BELANGER

Jean and Tamie Belanger aren’t new to the industry; in fact, they’ve been with Claude and Lana since the very start.

It was 1991, and the Belangers were newlyweds with two young children. They were living in Edmonton, Alberta. Jean was in the Canadian Special Forces and Tamie worked for a cement company doing accounts payable. Jean and Tamie were doing everything they could to get ahead—Tamie was even playing BINGO with two daubers, Jean jokes—but it was Jean’s job as a hockey coach that ended up being their entryway into the business.

It was a parent of one of Jean’s players that introduced Jean and Tamie to the industry and within two and a half years, they were job optional.

They’ve remained job optional for over twenty years now, as their business—and dreams continue to grow.

For a long time, it’s been Tamie and Jean’s goal to live on a ranch, with horses and animals.One month ago, they were able to finally watch this goal come to fruition as they moved into their coveted ranch house.

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THE BELANGER RANCH HOUSE

The Belangers have spent the last twenty plus years dedicated to the business. They’ve watched the system change and grow as they, too, grew.

“We had products that could help build our business but that wouldn’t necessarily help build ourselves,” says Tamie, but, with the entrance of LIFE Leadership, that changed.

LIFE, Tamie says, has helped make them more likable, more teachable, more outgoing, just more.

Jean echoes this, saying the LIFE material helped him to outgrow his sometimes ignorant attitude, which aided him in becoming a better leader.

But Jean and Tamie weren’t just satisfied with building their business and themselves; they wanted to go bigger. Together, they spearheaded LIFE’s growth in Quebec, as they pushed for the French system.

They describe this experience as “a ship leaving the harbor, and going into the middle of the ocean with no navigational system. You just sail until you find land.”

Eventually, they found that land. And that land greeted them with an abundance of success as the French system took off.

Jean is a self-described “system person.” He credits his background in martial arts, hockey, and the military for his systemized approach to life, and thus allowing him to have such success in a systemized business.

“It was a perfect fit for me,” he says, “and it became a perfect fit for us.”

The business suited the Belanger’s familial lifestyle as Jean had been aching to spend more time at home with his children. He’d always dreamed of being married and having children, but with all these financial responsibilities, he wasn’t actually able to spend any time with his family. Tamie, on the other hand, was at home raising their children, but was never able to see her husband.

Getting into business wound up remedying this problem.

When they first started out, the family-oriented Belangers set a goal to take their whole family to Disney World. They succeeded.

And with every goal they surmount, they set a new, even higher, goal. Yesterday, Disney World. Today, the ranch house. Tomorrow? LIFE Coach.

The Belangers are dreamers indeed.

“This is what we do,” says Tamie. “It’s make it or break it, and we’re going to make it.”

Jean nods along in agreement. “We’ve got the right people. We’ve got the right culture,” he says. “I always believe that when you hang around with the right successful people, you become successful.”

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JEAN AND TAMIE WITH CHILDREN, NICOLE AND CHRISTIAN

The Belangers grew up with great parents for role models. Jean says he never felt pressured to obtain a certain level of education or a certain career, but instead was encouraged to follow his passions.

For a long time, this meant a career in hockey, but after Jean didn’t receive The Call, he decided on his alternate career route: the military. Luckily, Jean was able to revive his passion for hockey as a coach, which eventually led him and Tamie to the industry.

Jean and Tamie’s children are now 26 and 29. Though they’re grown, the Belangers say LIFE Leadership has helped reinforce the way they chose to raise their children—to be confident, dream chasers.

Their kids grew up listening to audio cassettes or CDs in the car, and weren’t permitted to spend a lot of time watching TV. Jean recalls many days when his daughter would gather friends on the couple’s veranda, and the kids would sit outside listening to Jean talk about leadership, the business, and dreams.

Today, both their children are motivated and ambitious, dreamers and achievers. Jean and Tamie, however, haven’t stopped parenting.

Now, they have a myriad of team members who call them Mom and Dad, and who trust Jean and Tamie like family.

To these new couples starting out, Jean and Jamie say, focus on the whys: why are you getting started in business? They encourage team members to use that “why” to help stay motivated.

“When you set your mind to do something—when you have the right tools, the right help, the right mentor or coach—you can do pretty much anything you want,” says Tamie.

For the Belangers, Claude and Lana have been the right mentors.

“Claude’s a team guy,” says Jean. “That is what our industry is. It’s all about team.”

Jean emphasizes the importance of trust and teamwork in any business relationships, but particularly this industry where one person’s success is directly correlated with another’s.

“Claude’s always been determined that he was going to win and that he was going to take as many people as he could with him,” Tamie says. “Claude and Lana have vision, and we follow them.”

In addition, the Belangers consider their relationship with each other to be vital to their success.

“We had ups and downs in our relationship that affected our business,” says Jean, “and we had ups and downs in our business that affected our relationship.”

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JEAN AND TAMIE

“If life happens to you and you don’t get back up, then you’ll never get back up,” says Tamie. “For us to work, we couldn’t ever stay down.”

No matter the up or down, Jean and Tamie are certain to stay by each other’s side, likening themselves to peas and carrots or chocolate and peanut butter.

“A lot of things can happen when it’s you and your wife holding a business together,” says Jean.

And after speaking with the Belangers, it’s clear that Jean is right. A lot of things can happen. A lot of really, really great things.

“We’re here to stay,” says Tamie. “We’re not going anywhere.”

I have no doubt that she is right.

If you have anything to add about Tamie and Jean, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Building Confidence and Character

Throughout our lives, we’ll all experience adversity—in our personal lives, our careers, or both. We meet adversity when we learn to take our first breath, and we encounter it again and again for the rest of our lives. Not only is adversity a great test of character, it’s often what motivates us to keep trying until we get it right.

But there are a couple of other things, namely power and mistakes, that test character, and have the potential to reveal much more about a person than adversity ever could.

POWER

When you’ve got everything you need and the ability to get pretty much whatever you want, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

In Plato’s Republic, he writes about a discussion he had with several men. One of those men is named Glaucon, and he argues that “no man would keep his hands off that which was not his own if he could safely take what he liked.” It’s a sad argument that leaves no room for common human decency.

Of course, people will always be tempted to take the easy way out, but someone with true character will resist that temptation and find the honest, fair way to get what they want or need. In fact, I’d go one step further and say that many people in power will consciously avoid using that power in an abusive or negative way, because they’re fully aware of how easy it is to become corrupted.

MISTAKES

How we respond to our mistakes can give away a lot about our character. In his novel Confessor, Terry Goodkind, a successful fantasy writer, says, “I’m afraid that we all make mistakes. One of the things that define our character is how we handle mistakes. If we lie about having made a mistake, then it can’t be corrected and it festers. On the other hand, if we give up just because we made a mistake, even a big mistake, none of us would get far in life.”

And he’s right. I believe that mistakes are opportunities. They’re the wake-up call that tells us we’re doing something wrong and forces us to start over again, with a different approach.

Taking responsibility for mistakes is key to improving character. When we own up to our errors, we’re free to move on, and fix whatever caused the mistake in the first place. And when character is built in this way, we also benefit from increased self-confidence. As journalist Joan Didion wrote in On Self Respect, “Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

-Claude Hamilton

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Patricia and Tony Tefel

Hey everyone!

Here is part four of the “Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders” series.

This week, Bethany talked to Tony and Patricia Tefel.

Since Tony and Pat joined the LIFE business, I’ve been watching their progress from afar and have been continuously amazed by their enthusiasm.

Chris Brady introduced me to the Tefels about eighteen months ago, and since then we’ve become best friends.

They’re great people and have added so much value to my whole family’s life. They’ve been married forty-seven years and are an excellent illustration of what marriage should be. On top of that, they’ve been in the industry for over forty years!

They’re a great example of American entrepreneurship and family values. I hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I have!

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Patricia and Tony Tefel as written by Bethany Sampson.

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PATRICIA AND TONY TEFEL

According to Tony Tefel, there’s good and there’s great. The Tefels, high school sweethearts who’re now just a few years shy of their fiftieth wedding anniversary, weren’t satisfied with a good life. They aimed for greatness.

Today, they’re planning a fiftieth Mediterranean anniversary cruise on a private yacht with their whole family, and it becomes abundantly clear: they have achieved this greatness.

The Tefels have been in business for almost as long as they’ve been married. As a young couple, their hearts were full of dreams, but they knew with their current jobs—Pat was a social worker and Tony an engineer—they wouldn’t be able to accomplish them.

As they began to look around their community for new opportunities, they discovered something: those who had the lifestyle they desired were business owners.

Pat’s next-door neighbor growing up played a particular influencing role in Pat and Tony’s life. The neighbor was an illustrator and both he and his wife worked from home on his business. They had lunch together, and in the evenings they were able to sit out on the porch and relax. Pat and Tony spent an abundance of time with the successful couple, and as a result, their own dreams morphed to match the couple’s lifestyle.

Unfortunately, the bank wouldn’t approve a loan for Tony and Pat’s traditional business plan, so they were forced to look elsewhere.

Eventually, a friend of Pat’s parents introduced the couple to the entrepreneur industry.

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PAT, TONY, & FAMILY

The Tefels were hard workers, but what they quickly realized was that they preferred to work on their own time, to be their own bosses. When Pat became pregnant with their first child, it served as more of a motivation to work hard in business so that she could be a stay-at-home mom. Eventually, Pat could retire from his job and become a stay-at-home dad as well.

This stay-at-home lifestyle allowed the couple to teach their children the same principles that were learning as a part of their business. They had four children within six years, and their fifth and final child—a son—was born eight years later. Their children are now all grown and work in a diverse array of fields. One daughter is a missionary. One son has his own contracting business. No matter what their choice of work, Pat and Tony believe that their five children’s successes, and their propensity to follow their heart, can be related back to the LIFE Leadership concept and the way they were able to raise them.

Though the couple’s schedule today is more relaxed, they remember the days of babysitters, time management, and attempting to build a business with young ones running around. They are both empathetic and encouraging to those in business with children. They were there. They faced these challenges—albeit many years ago—and made it through.

For Pat and Tony, the business was a blessing because it provided them with what they describe as “vital information. In addition, it put them in direct contact with mentors who had been down this road before. Today, five kids and forty-seven years of marriage later, Pat and Tony are those mentors, those role models, those people looking to guide new couples on their way.

Not only did being in business help their familial values, it also helped shape their marriage. Working together, having common dreams and goals, helped unify the couple. Prior to the business, they were going in different directions: Tony and Pat headed out to different jobs in the morning, and though they were together in the evening, they couldn’t afford any hobbies or extracurriculars.

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TONY & PAT LIVE IN NEW YORK STATE

“I tell couples today, even though the business will be adding something else to your plate or your calendar, it’s something that you get to do together,” says Pat. “It’s time that you can grow closer, and achieve goals and dreams that you probably would not have a chance to achieve otherwise.”

That said, everything wasn’t all roses for Pat and Tony. The couple struggled with debt when they were younger, and once again when they were older. This unpretty financial experience allows them to appreciate today’s debt-free life more than ever.

“It’s the freedom and the peace of mind that brings,” says Pat, “Not having to worry about where the money’s coming from and living month to month or week to week.”

Tony echoes this sentiment, focusing on the flexibility being in business has allotted them. When Pat left her job to work as a stay-at-home mom, the couple didn’t have to stress about losing half their income. Being in business meant they didn’t have to sacrifice their security in order to spend time with their children. This flexibility eventually allowed Tony to leave his engineering job, which in turn meant the couple was able to spend more time with their children and focus on the family they’d always wanted.

Pat and Tony are grandparents now, and family still remains their number one priority. They enthusiastically tell me about their many trips to Disney, including, most recently, a trip that included all five children and their spouses, as well as their many grandchildren. In total, twenty Tefels ventured to Orlando, Florida for sunshine and Snow White, magic and Mickey Mouse.

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THE TEFEL FAMILY

With fun like this, it’s no wonder why the couple is already anxiously planning their fiftieth anniversary cruise. They both credit the idea to Claude, who, up until eighteen months ago, they’d never formally met.

Now when I ask Tony to describe his relationship with Claude, he jokingly—though with an edge of seriousness—asks if I want him to cry.

It was at a major in Ottawa when Tony first felt connected to Claude. After a talk Claude gave about his kids, Lana, and his relationship with his father, Tony was set back, telling members of his own team, “I think I just fell in love with Claude Hamilton.”

Since then, Claude has become a coach, a leader, and most importantly, a best friend, with Claude’s son Wyatt even calling Tony Grandpa.

When Pat and Tony first started, over forty-years ago, the industry was brand new. As a result, they’ve been able to watch and learn as the industry has changed, grown, and adopted over time. What they’ve noticed is the closeness between today’s leaders and teams.

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PAT & TONY NOW LIVE THE LIFE THEY’D ALWAYS DREAMED OF

“We always wanted to have the close knit team they had,” Pat says of Team Kaizen, “and now we’re a part of it!”

Within four months of their switch to Claude’s team, they’d gone from Leader to Senior Coordinator.

“They’re just amazing people, both of them,” says Pat of Claude and Lana. “Their desire to help people is refreshing. They’ve truly invested their life and their time into other people.”

It is these ideals and generosity that has kept Pat and Tony motivated in this business after all these years.

As a social worker, Pat was looking to help people better their lives. As an engineer, Tony wanted to build things.

As business owners, they are able to bring to fruition these dreams. Today, they get to see other people’s lives dynamically change for the better.

“I changed from building buildings to building myself and people,” says Tony. “We’re building a better future through people and with people.”

Despite their successes today, Pat and Tony are still only looking to help other people grow.

“We ultimately want to build our lives to edify our Lord and to learn better and better how to do that and how to help other people,” says Pat, who encourages all newcomers to think long-term. “Anything worth having in life is worth working for, and LIFE Leadership is so worth your time.”

“If you have cable TV, you have both the time and the money to build a business.”

Looking at the couple today, their gratitude for the decision Tefel 4x5 8x10 crop edited 6 15 15-8456.JPG-8456they made many decades ago is evident. They were just a young couple with a growing family who decided to dream. Today, there are no regrets.

“God has big plans for his people and Kaizen is a part of that dream,” Tony says, and with a smile, Pat echoes this: “We’re not done yet.”

No, they’re certainly not.

If you know Pat and Tony and have more to add, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!!

Reader’s Legacy Awards

Hey everyone!

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TOUGHEN UP – CLAUDE HAMILTON

I was so humbled and excited to hear this past week that my book Toughen Up! won a Reader’s Legacy Award!

Writing a book was not something I’d ever planned to do, and I can’t even say I really enjoyed the writing process. That said, once Toughen Up was finished, I was able to recognize just how worth it this journey had been. It was so awesome to see the final product, and I’m so glad I stuck with it!

The book, I realize now, was like most long-term projects: hard in the middle, but ultimately you never regret undertaking them, because in the end you have something you can be really proud of. In this case, the hard work redeemed itself with an ultimately gratifying experience.

Just to get this book published was such a great feeling, but to then be nominated for a Reader’s Legacy Award alongside Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady who are New York Times bestselling authors. They aren’t little guys who wrote a book and published it themselves—these are bestselling authors!

To be nominated alongside Orrin and Chris was spectacular and humbling.

To actually win the Reader’s Legacy Choice Gold Best-Seller Award is the cherry on top! What a phenomenal surprise!

Reader’s Legacy Founder Ken Dunn is such a great guy. He thinks like a winner and he set a goal to put together the Reader’s Legacy Awards and he pulled it off amazingly.

If you have a chance, I encourage you all to visit Reader’s Legacy site and create a profile. It’s been really neat to see what other people are reading. I’ve also had a lot of fun adding books and authors to my virtual library.

The founders of LIFE have written so many outstanding books. Tim Marks is one of my favorite authors. His two books, Voyage of a Viking and Confidence of a Champion are awesome. Dan Hawkins and George Guzzardo also have books being released in the coming months, and I cannot wait to dive into those next! I’m sure I’m going to love those, too.

Most importantly, I can’t wait to read the book that you write someday.

Below is a great blog post from the LIFE Leadership blog with more information about the Reader’s Legacy Awards. It’s another awesome blog from LIFE and I hope you all go read it and leave comments. It’s a great way to stay in the heartbeat of what LIFE is doing out in the world. Enjoy the post! (And have fun setting up those Reader’s Legacy profiles!)

Claude

Life Leadership Founders Won Reader’s Legacy Choice Awards

Originally published on Life Leadership’s blog
By Kristen Seidl

Anyone who has read an Obstaclés Press published book have recognized that the authors are not amateurs. Executive Publisher, Chris Brady and Chairman of the Board, Orrin Woodward sought to start a publishing company within Life Leadershipthat would ‘expose the truth, no matter what the barriers.’ Since its inception, the company has printed nearly 40 books–with many titles earning multiple awards, including NY Times & Wall-Street Journal Best-Seller, Lauching a Leadership Revolution–and this is just the start. On average, Obstaclés Press releases one to three books per quarter and the pace of printing will only continue to increase as the company grows.

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Recently, three books from the Obstaclés Press library received recognition at the Reader’s Legacy Choice Awards in Las Vegas:

“With over one million books being published every year in North America alone, the competition for best-selling status has become fierce. In addition to the sheer volume of new books, self-reporting book launch gurus are now teaching writers how to work the system and fake best-selling status on websites like Amazon and B&N. The Reader’s Legacy Writers Conference brings togetherreal best-selling authors from the NY Times, LA Times and Amazon in an intimate setting, and gives them a forum to share real experiences of writing and marketing a best-selling book. The faculty are world-renowned authors, speakers and experts who have been hand selected for their successes and their abilities to share valuable information with attendees whose dreams include becoming a best-selling author.” ~ Reader’s Legacy

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The number of authors who actually receive accolades for their content is very small. For a book to be voted on, it must attract the attention of thousands of readers. Needless to say, in order to win a Reader’s Legacy Choice Award, the work must be extraordinary. Not suprisingly, Life Leadership is proud to have had three of its founders be among the 18 winners for an award at this unique function. The titles include:

And Justice For All – by Orrin Woodward

PAiLS – by Chris Brady

Toughen Up – by Claude Hamilton.

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In addition, Orrin was chosen among the other brilliant panel of speakers to talk on a subject he is passionate about– specifically his recent publication, The Financial Matrix–to the aspiring writers at the Writer’s Conference:

“I loved the fact that Orrin showed how history is repeating itself. For me knowing that the financial matrix is a vicious circle gives me the strength to know that I have to break it.” Ken Dunn (Founder/CEO of Reader’s Legacy, Inc)

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Orrin Woodward‘s arsenal of best-seller’s continue to make him a sought-after speaker around the globe. He knows how to deliever truth in his writing and in his speaking and I’m sure those in attendance were captured by his wisdom. Life Leadership is proud to have some of the best thinkers in the industry–including co-founders of the company Chris Brady and Claude Hamilton–who were also recognized for their work. The fact that these authors and leaders are able to produce content that is recognized by credible platforms such as Reader’s Legacy is a testament to the authenticity of the company.

We would love to hear your feedback in the comments section:

What do you enjoy most about Orrin Woodward’s writing? 

What is your favorite book in the Obstaclés Press book collection and why?