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: 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!!

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Joce and Cynthia Dionne

Hey everyone!

Today on the blog, we have part three of the “Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders” series.

This week Bethany interviewed Joce and Cynthia Dionne.

I first met Joce and Cynthia when they had just started dating. Since then, Lana and I have watched them get engaged, married, move into their first home, and most recently, have two children. It was especially awesome to see them both retire from their jobs!

Joce is one of the best people I know. He is a great, quality man. He and Cynthia are some of the funnest people in our life. Over the years, they’ve really become like family, and I’m excited for you all to be able to read about them.

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Joce and Cynthia Dionne, as written by Bethany Sampson.

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JOCE AND CYNTHIA, FIVE YEARS INTO BUSINESS

Steadfast. It isn’t just a word to Joce and Cynthia Dionne. It’s a lifestyle, a team name, a commitment they have to each other, their children, and team members.

Cynthia was doing an internship in her mid-twenties when she was introduced to Claude and Lana. After attending an Open, she immediately called up her then-boyfriend (and now-husband) Joce to tell him of the opportunity that had just been presented to her. Joce, however, was not as enthusiastic. Initially, he was skeptical of the business, thinking it sounded too good to be true.

In the next year, Cynthia worked on building the business, while Joce developed a relationship with Claude and began to look further into the industry. Once he started to understand it, he started to believe it.

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KALEB, 3

Flash forward eleven years, and the couple’s business is continuously growing. Additionally, they now have two children: Kaleb is almost four and Ellia recently turned two.

Today, Joce considers the decision to join LIFE a “no-brainer,” comparing the traditional career plan—which involves working until you’re 60-70—with his and Cynthia’s more relaxed lifestyle that allows them both to be stay-at-home parents.

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ELLIA, 2

Joce’s life today is drastically different than his life growing up. He was raised in a typical Canadian household, and he says he never looked outside the boundaries. Now, as an entrepreneur, he’s able to look outside the box and scope out opportunities as they come.

That said, their journey into success was not one without trials or hard work.

“A lot of people get started and they expect quick results,” says Joce, “but that’s impossible.” LIFE, like any other industry, requires time. Joce reinforces that you must think in terms of years, as opposed to just weeks or months. There is no get rich quick plan; instead, there’s hard work and a time-proven business plan they chose to focus on.

While working to build a business, both Joce and Cynthia point out how important it is to surround yourself by positive people.

“You hang around people who are average, you’ll be average,” says Joce. “You hang around people who are successful, you’ll eventually become successful.”

Cynthia and Joce are hanging around Claude and Lana, and successful they are becoming.

When the couple finds themselves lacking motivation or if they’ve just set a goal, they spend time with Claude and Lana who, they say, have the life they want. That said, the Hamilton’s don’t just dream for themselves, but also for the Dionne’s.

“They speak a vision to us of where we can be before we even see it,” says Cynthia. “They believe in us before we believe in ourselves.”

THE DIONNE FAMILY

Joce and Cynthia generously credit today’s success to the support provided by Claude and Lana. Cynthia says she and Joce stood on the shoulders of giants and that has made all the difference.

In addition to this business relationship, the two couples have also developed a personal relationship over the years.

Joce describes Claude as a best friend, business partner, mentor, and coach. He also points out how easy it is to trust someone when you know they care about you and have your best interest at heart.

That heart, by the way, both Joce and Cynthia describe as massive: generous, caring, supportive.

Cynthia is quick to chime in about her relationship with Lana, saying Lana helped her to learn and grow, and as a result, Cynthia has become a confident woman.

“She’s everything to me,” says Cynthia. “She just has a heart of gold.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Lana’s heart described this way. In fact, I’ve heard this from each of the three couples I’ve spoken with thus far, prompting me to believe it’s true what they say: a fact is confirmed by three witnesses.

With the support of Claude and Lana, as well as other team members, the couple was able to focus on their goal to grow their business and drown out any naysayers.

When starting out, they struggled with the opinions of people who didn’t understand their decision to go against the status quo.

“I think if you’re going to chase a vision—something that nobody can see yet—and you’re telling people that you’re going somewhere, and they can’t see it, then you’re standing out,” says Cynthia.

Success can bring criticism, Joce says, but it’s important to turn your cheek and keep going, to keep chasing your dreams and the life you want.

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KALEB

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ELLIA

This life now includes two children and a much busier household than when they first started out. The couple says they’re continuously working on their time management as they learn to balance their main priorities: children, business, and, of course, each other.

Taking has actually helped Joce and Cynthia’s parenting. They’re cognizant of the influence they have on their children, and because of this they make conscious decisions to parent on purpose.

“Everything we learn,” says Cynthia, “even if it’s just a principle that builds your business, you realize that you can apply it in all areas of your life, including parenting.”

Joce echoes this idea, saying he and Cynthia hope to teach their children the importance of having a positive attitude and how attitude has the power to influence a situation.

“Just like be an entrepreneur, everything in life is about your attitude,” he says. “Attitude is everything.”

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JOCE AND KALEB

And Joce and Cynthia’s attitude towards life is only positive.

With the freedom to control their time, they’re able to stay at home with their kids, prioritize their days, and do, as Cynthia says, what matters the most.

With all this success, it’s no wonder why this couple is swift to encourage others to get into business.

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CYNTHIA AND ELLIA

“It’s something anybody can do because of our system,” says Cynthia. “As long as you’re hungry to learn and you’re willing to listen, then you can have success.”

Joce is also quick to say this isn’t a business solely focused on making money. It’s about learning,having fun, making friends and a difference.

“I hope that if I leave this earth tomorrow that I’ve added significance, that I’ve made a difference somewhere,” says Cynthia. “I hope that I’ve changed someone’s life in some sort of way, whether it’s with my kids, my friends, or somebody in the business.”

It’s clear, however, that together they already have.

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THE DIONNE FAMILY IS ALL SMILES

 

To find out more about Joce and Cynthia, you can visit their website or find them on Twitter.

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

 

LIFE Leadership Blog

Hey everyone,

LIFE Leadership recently started a new blog and I wanted to share it with all of you.

life_logoIt’s a great online destination that can help you to stay up-to-date with all things LIFE. More importantly, it contains awesome posts on how to live the life you’ve always wanted. It’s loaded with information and we’re all super excited about! Share it with your team members and friends, and leave some feedback in the comments!

 

Yours in victory,

Claude

Getting to Know Kaizen Leaders: Alex and Leighann Nickerson

Hi everyone!

Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be posting profiles showcasing some of the awesome people I have the privilege to work with. Every week or two, in no particular order, a different Kaizen leader will be highlighted.

My social media coordinator, Bethany, will be interviewing these terrific people via Skype, so you can read about them from her perspective, and get to see for yourself just how great they are!

Alex and Leighann Nickerson are first up!

Lana and I have known Alex and Leighann for close to twenty years now. We’ve enjoyed having them as both friends and business partners. They’ve been incredibly loyal and dedicated, not just to me and Lana, but to all the people they lead. They have the utmost character and are fantastic leaders.

Like Alex says, I know they’re only just getting started!

So here you have it: Getting to Know Alex and Leighann Nickerson, as written by Bethany Sampson.

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ALEX & LEIGHANN

When I first met Alex and Leighann (via Skype, that is) I was struck by their outgoing and enthusiastic nature. Parents to four children under the age of five, the married couple of six years is still full of energy and zest, talking easily about their woven past and their exciting plans for the future.

Both Alex and Leighann were still in university when introduced to this industry. Leighann, a kinesiology student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was studying with the intent to pursue medicine. Alex, a small business and entrepreneurship student at St. Mary’s University, also located in Halifax, planned to execute his business education in a traditional route.

Leighann, at nineteen years old, was introduced to the profession first, describing this as the “night [her] whole life changed.” She’d expected to make money the conventional way: go to school, get a good job, and then work 45 years. Realizing that she could live her dreams and one day be a stay-at-home mom was an opportunity that changed everything for her, and she committed from the very start.

As a single female in a couples-dominated industry, Leighann set forth on her own, hoping to achieve success and freedom, while also paving the way for those that would follow behind. She described this experience as a way to show other women that “it doesn’t matter if you’re a couple or if you’re a single, the opportunity is the same or everyone. As long as you commit and follow the pattern, it can work.”

Still, this experience was not without challenges, and Leighann remembers saying in response to other couples, “Well, of course they can do it. There’s two of them!” Claude, she assured me, was always able to help her focus on the positive, by reminding her that when she makes the money, she would get to keep it all.

When Leighann began, she was insecure, had low self-esteem, and was afraid to talk to people. She’s able to laugh now at the irony, as she was getting into a people business. Claude and Lana began directing Leighann to books and CDs, while providing her with constant encouragement, which is what allowed Leighann to grow in what she calls her “incubation period.”

“It really just became eliminating distractions,” Leighann says. “Staying focused on the prize, and just putting my head down.”

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THE HAPPY COUPLE SAYS “I DO.”

With the help of this focus, Leighann met her now-husband, Alex, for the first time in 2001 by sponsoring him through his sister. Leighann was looking for anybody ambitious, focused, and outgoing. Alex’s sister and brother-in-law thought of him immediately. Alex was a full-time university student at the time, but Leighann recalls him recognizing the opportunity immediately. He, too, saw this as a chance to achieve financial freedom.

Alex was a business student, but he saw this profession as a more outside the box approach to what he had been studying. He was excited to learn more, as he saw this as a chance for both he—and others—to change the directions of their lives and move ahead.

Though Alex was ambitious from the start, the journey was not without challenges as he stepped outside of his comfort zone. He struggled, initially with public speaking, laughing at the memory of his first attempt. Leighann, he says, describes it as a special evening, occasionally using the word “terrible.” Alex struggled to relate to the crowd, but as he grew older, more experienced, and delved into learning as much as possible, meeting people and public speaking became easier.

Claude also played a part in Alex’s success, lending life experience to the then-25-year-old Alex, who describes his younger self as “very young, very immature” and lacking life experience. Since then, Claude has become more than just a mentor to Alex, but also a friend. Alex describes him as someone you can go to anytime to help overcome anything. The two, Alex says, are best friends—brothers of sorts—with Claude even standing at Alex’s wedding.

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WITH DAUGHTER BROOKLYN, 8 MONTHS

Today, Alex is able to name his business as one of the greatest things in his life, as it’s given him and Leighann the ability to live the life they’ve always wanted. Despite the personal success it has brought, they’re both quick to say their favorite part of the business is helping other people.

“The only way it works for you is if you help other people.” Alex says. “There’s no success without helping other people create success,” he says.

Alex now finds himself lending advice to those embarking on a journey in this industry, encouraging them to “dive in and learn all [they] can.” The only thing he says you need to begin is a “hunger level to learn.” Once you know what you’re doing, it all comes down to hard work.

“Dive in with both feet and we’re going to show you the ropes,” he says. “The faster you go, the more exciting everything gets.”

For Alex and Leighann, the most exciting chapter has just arrived—parenthood—bringing with it a new set of challenges.

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THE COUPLE NOW HAS FOUR CHILDREN

The couple has four children—Jaxon (5), Marik (4), Baileigh (3), and Brooklyn (8 mos.). Though they had kids before Claude and Lana, they still found their mentors to be a huge resource for them in learning to balance their business with marriage and kids. Leighann says it’s with Claude and Lana’s guidance that she was able to figure out how to be a mom and a business owner and Alex’s wife, and how to do of all of those things really well.

The two also point out how the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired as business owners has helped to make them better parents. They describe parenting as “raising little people to be responsible adults, and to eventually become leaders themselves,” which is why they find the skills and knowledge of both roles—parent and business owner—often coincide.

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JAXON, MARIK, BAILEIGH

Thanks to their hard work and their business’ success, Alex was able to leave his construction job when their youngest son was just ten months old. Getting to both be stay-at-home parents is something Leighann says you can’t put a price on. This lifestyle also allots them the time and means to embark on international travels. They both laugh as they attribute their fresh tans to a recent trip to Mexico, and tell me with enthusiasm about their many upcoming adventures taking place across North America in the next few months.

This freedom, they say, is a direct result of the decision they both made to pursue this alternative route and the hard work that followed.

Together, they’re looking towards their bright future, already excited for what it might bring.

“We’re really just getting started,” Alex says. “We haven’t even really made our true mark in this yet.”

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To find out more about Alex and Leighann, you can visit their website
or find them on Twitter: @leighnicker @kaizendynasty 

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

so God made a leader

Hey everyone!

After receiving many requests for a video I recently presented in Moline, Illinois, I’ve decided it’s time to get back on the blogging horse!

The Ram Trucks 2013 Super Bowl commercial is an all-time favorite of mine, so we decided to emulate it in a Kaizen Leaders version.

Here’s the original:

Great, right? Now, here’s our version:

A special thanks to Lewis Thibault, Alicia Pilo, Scott Lacrosse, and Denis Leger for helping bring the video to life.

Until next time!

Claude