Local couple encourage others to pursue passions

Michelle Hickman is a board certified behavior analyst and recently started her own franchise, while Landon Hickman switched gears and just began a career as a real estate agent.

While they may have enjoyed the work they previously did or the company they worked for, the Seymour couple can now say they have found their passions.

“You spend the most time at work and home, and so if there is something that you want to do that you’re passionate about, I say, ‘Find a way to do it,’” Michelle said.

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“We couldn’t be happier to be where we’re at and to be doing what we love, and when you go to work and you don’t like your job and then you come home, it makes home life stressful, everything is stressful,” she said. “So if you have a passion, I say, ‘Run with it and do what you can to do it.’”

Over the years, Landon said they’ve figured out happiness is worth a lot of money.

With his previous job of pipeline construction, he said he missed Christmases, birthdays and other times with his wife and their two sons.

Now, he has more freedom to adjust his schedule, which he said is worth a lot.

“Nothing can replace your time,” Michelle said. “I don’t care how much money somebody wants to give us. I don’t want (Landon) gone at night. The boys don’t want (him) gone at night. We were determined to find a way for it to work because it’s hard, and it’s not worth money to us.”

Landon said the phrase “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” comes to mind.

“If you can find a way to make money at something you enjoy doing, you’re not really working,” he said. “You shouldn’t dread going to work.”

Michelle’s story

Michelle grew up in Seymour, and when one of her sisters moved to Tennessee, she went there and earned a psychology degree from Lee University. She found a local position working as a special education teacher.

The parents saw great progress with their children, and Michelle found her passion — working with children with autism.

“At that point, I didn’t know what autism was,” she said. “(One child’s) mom actually asked if I could go all the way through school with him because I worked so well with him.”

She then decided to move back home to Indiana and found an applied behavior analysis company in Carmel. She drove there to work with a client for two hours and meanwhile earned a Master of Arts in child and adolescent psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

She became a BCBA in 2014 and began working for Unlocking the Spectrum in Seymour as a regional director.

With experience in leadership, management and specializing in the field, Michelle decided to start her own in-home ABA practice so she could provide services to children in her hometown.

In September 2019, she signed on with Hi-5 ABA. She’s now a BCBA and owner of Renew Behavior Services.

She’s now seeking clients and is able to accept Medicaid and commercial insurance plans. She’s also building up her team of technicians so they full understand ABA and have a sense of ownership for each child with which they work.

Landon’s story

Landon grew up in Brownstown and moved to Seymour shortly after graduating from high school.

He worked in construction for most of his life until about 10 years ago when he got into pipeline construction. He started out as a welder helper before becoming a certified pipeline welder.

“I welded on the pipeline from Arkansas to New York for a couple years,” he said.

Over time, though, he said his work shift became really hard on the family.

He had always been interested in real estate, so late last year, he chose to switch careers.

“Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases most people will make, and it’s one of the most important,” he said. “If I can help people make that purchase and they end up happy, that’s an honor to me. That would make me feel really good.”

In October 2019, he began taking the two-part, 90-hour real estate license course. One part is on Indiana state law, and the other is on national real estate practice. He chose to take the course online so he could do it on his own time.

He completed the course in December and later sent in an application to the Indiana Real Estate Commission to receive his license. He was issued his license March 3 and decided to be associated with Steve Silver’s RE/MAX Professionals office in Seymour.

“Since I’m a new broker, I have to be associated with a managing broker, which would be Steve Silver,” Landon said. “I have to do it for two years before I can own my own firm or become a managing broker.”

Landon already is showing and listing houses, and he is working on becoming a member of certain groups and gaining access to the multi-listing system.

“It’s a long process,” he said. “Of course, you’ve got to get your name out there, and you’ve got to build a reputation of integrity, honesty, hard work and dealing what’s best for your client. Those are pretty important things you have to build up. Buying a home is a big purchase, so they are not going to just trust anybody to help them through that.”

Keys to success

While Michelle and Landon settle into their new positions, they are balancing spending time with their sons, Axl, 4, and Jax, 3.

“We are standing on God’s Word and faith because there have been tough times to almost question God because we felt pretty clearly that this was the direction that God wanted us both to go, and it’s like, ‘Wow! Really? Together?’ because we don’t really know how long the process is going to take for either one of us,” Michelle said.

They, however, have been reassured weekly, if not daily, this is where God wants them to be, and if they stand on his faith, they will be successful, she said.

It has been a lot of work, Landon said.

“There are certain processes that you have to go through starting a small business, and I think after we get settled in, it will relax a little bit,” he said. “There are a lot of things that you have to keep organized and you’ve got to have straight.”

Money management is a big thing to have set up correctly, Landon said, and they now have to provide their own health insurance for their family and have retirement funds established.

“I don’t think people realize when you go to an employer and they provide good insurance and good retirement, those are big perks to having a job,” Landon said.

Motivation and discipline are key, too. The Hickmans already have those qualities.

“It’s exciting to think about where we could be in a year and what we’ll be doing because we finally both feel like we’re able to really focus on our passions,” Michelle said.

In their new capacities, the couple also hope to get involved in the community. They agree that’s important to do as a small business owner.

“You get to get out there, you can shake hands, you can get to know people. I love buying things local, keeping money here in the town, investing in Seymour and Jackson County in general,” Landon said.

“You’re also supporting people that have passions like us,” Michelle said. “You’re giving them a chance to love their job, as well.”