An unexpected turn of events
“How did I get here?” is a question Phoenix’s Aaron Scherle has asked himself frequently.
Scottsdale LIVING WELL Magazine
It was not much more than a year ago that then-Captain Scherle was living in rural Ontario as a member of the elite Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR); flying from one (frequently classified, occasionally covert) assignment to another, carrying a BlackBerry and an emergency pager wherever he went, and taking advantage of the long Canadian winters to cross country ski as much as he could.
The career of a military officer follows a fairly predictable trajectory; every officer must pass certain benchmarks in order to advance to the next rank. Captain Scherle’s future was planned out; as a “lifer” in the military, he had a firm notion of what he would be doing, and where he would be living, until retirement.
But then, in the fall of 2010, everything changed.
Scherle attended high school at Luther College, a small private school in his hometown, Regina, Saskatchewan. The year 2010 marked his 20th reunion, and a friend back home asked if he would come.
With a full schedule and an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, finding the time to attend was going to be a problem.
“Pam will be there,” said his friend.
Pam and Aaron were senior prom dates in 1990. The two went together as friends, but the reunion would be the first time they had seen each other since graduating. They had gone their separate ways and had completely lost touch: Pam moved to Phoenix in 2002, whereupon she established a highly successful career at an IT staffing and services agency, and Aaron worked in Regina for several years as an anti-poverty advocate before joining the military and spending the next decade moving gypsy-like from one posting to another.
Having made time in his schedule, a pre-reunion dinner with mutual friends brought Pam and Aaron together again and that was it; the course of their futures was fundamentally altered. As if no time had passed at all, they started dating––taking turns flying between Ottawa and Phoenix––and were married just over a year later. With an amazing fiancée, and confident of new opportunities in Phoenix, Captain Scherle became Mr. Scherle and moved to Arizona in the fall of 2011.
As the sole public affairs officer for CSOR––director of communications, in civilian parlance––Scherle was responsible for planning communications strategy, media relations, media awareness training (namely, making sure the unit’s classified activities stayed out of the media), information operations and a variety of other responsibilities the unit’s senior leadership and operators downrange relied on him to execute flawlessly. His duties at CSOR took him to the Winter Olympics in 2010, where he was embedded with Canada’s top counterterrorism unit, Joint Task Force Two (JTF2), to Jamaica, Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
Eager to put his relatively rare qualifications to use, in 2012 Aaron founded Polaris Communications (polarcom.net), a communications consulting firm intended to help businesses and individuals find their voice, communicate effectively, and stay out of trouble in the media. Scherle calls it “Communicating Like a Commando”: combining conventional public relations methods with characteristics of special operations warfare: being smart, deliberate, judicious, flexible, innovative and economical.
“I took a look at the major PR firms in Phoenix and saw there was definitely room for my skillset and perspective,” says Scherle.
“I see a lot of businesses, politicians and other organizations making easily-preventable mistakes, oftentimes because they’ve been sold on new or trendy means of communication without understanding how it can––or can’t––help them accomplish their goals,” he adds. “No matter the means, communications can be so much more effective, and a lot of the risk can be removed, if they’re approached with the deliberacy and calculated execution of, say, commandos storming a compound.”
He may not ask himself how he got here quite as frequently these days, but Aaron Scherle is glad that he’s here, living an exciting new––if unexpected––life with Pam, and putting his skills and experience to use in his new home.