Overwhelmed: Day One of Outdoor Retailer 2018

Hi Happy Campers!

I was overwhelmed with positive and negative emotions during this whirlwind trip full of old friends and new ones which lead me to experience incredible personal growth. Through that, I was able to reach professionals in the lifestyle industry with two key #workHAPPY workshops as a sample of our #workHAPPY mindful leadership retreats.

I wanted to document my journey to Outdoor Retailer for you to give you an inside look at my personal experience and what it’s like to be in the outdoor industry. I have personally experience a lot of growth as I make my way into the public eye, sharing with you and thousands of Happy Campers across the globe change their lives. I had to let go my old life and ways and embrace this new life spreading the message of Happiness.

I feel it’s important to share with you how I felt and what personal struggles I went through during this trip. I realized old fears lingering inside of myself and in this emotional transparency made deep and meaningful connections with those I’ve met along my path.

Overwhelmed: Day One of Outdoor Retailer 2018

Our bags were finally packed. Franck had to cleverly arrange our Leslie Inc. event banners in two separate suitcases to make everything fit into a convenient arrangement for Hannah and I.

I woke up at 5AM and I felt a warm, tingly feeling in my stomach. In a light pattern of breathing, I arranged my items into my carry on and both on my clothes for the day. It was if my chest was closing in on itself and I wasn’t consciously aware why, but I tried to brush off the feelings because I was simply so busy getting ready for my flight and my day.

Franck whipped up a couple of eggs for me while helping the children get their breakfasts and lunch boxes. In an overwhelmed fashion, I just focused on giving my children affection while staying focused on my personal tasks while we waited for Hannah to arrive.

I tried to eat the eggs, but my stomach was tight and I felt like gagging with mucus from a cold that had come and gone over the last week. I suddenly became aware that I was emotionally overwhelmed, but again, faced with a time crunch I needed to be ready to get in the car on time. I didn’t have time to process the feelings that were starting to arise in me.

Hannah, our #workHAPPY West Sales & Corporate Development Manager arrived and we began to load the truck with our luggage. I began to feel the emotional pressure grow inside of me and I did my best to remain calm so as not to alarm my husband, children, friend and colleague. But, that wasn’t going to last long… as it never does.

My family and Hannah made our way to the children’s school to drop them off before heading to the airport. Sitting in the front seat of the truck, I felt the emotional pressure rising and I realized that the mucus wasn’t because of a cold, but because I was gagging – a sure sign of a panic attack.

So there, in the truck, I rolled down the windows, tears welling in my eyes, I felt like jumping out of the truck and running home. Ugh! I felt so bummed that I felt this way again after my Brooklyn trip. I realized how overwhelmed I felt by traveling to teach large groups of strangers from all over the world.

I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I had to share with the group the thoughts that came with the tight and constricting emotions that I felt.

“Guys, I realize how now uncomfortable I am feeling with being the center of attention.” I said in tears, “I know my company has to grow, but it’s weird to have a publicist, a national team, and a business that is centered around me.”

Franck and Hannah were totally understanding. They reassured me that everyone was working with me because they cared about the message and how powerful their personal change has been as a result of their work with me. They told me that Leslie Inc. had to grow because of the demand and the great value of helping people regain their happiness.

“I never had that experience of being the center of attention,” I explained, “I’ve hidden myself for years, behind the scenes of my clients lives and businesses and now I feel like life is forcing me out of my life as a hermit.”

“But you’re a star, Leslie,” Hannah explained, “It’s your calling to shine for other people to guide them.”

My five year old daughter chimed in, “Sebastian was the star of the week!”

We all burst into laughter. And, miraculously, laughing broke my state of fear and anxiety and I felt a release of tension.

We continued talking about the conflicting feelings that I felt inside, but there was more processing to do…


Our flight was comfortable and fast. A two hour flight from San Diego to Denver International Airport, I flew next to a mother with her baby girl. A 9 month old named Stevie Lynn. It was nice to be next to this little child, who was totally engaged in the moment. Her focus engaged my mind and brought me back to center.

By the time we landed, Hannah and I were starving. We made it to an organic restaurant next to our hotel to continue the conversation we had in the car and discuss all of the events leading up to Brooklyn and Outdoor Retailer.

I opened up and told her that I was in such a state of feeling overwhelmed and uncontrollable anxiety that I vomited twice just ten minutes before the first workshop. I told her that it was so strange for me to experience this because I’ve spoken in front of hundreds before in my life – even working with celebrities – but something about this situation was different…

Hannah confessed that she, too, is in personal transition and that she believed that this opportunity with Leslie Inc. was going to push her forward. And, she suggested that I allowed it to do the same for me.


hearth and dram Denver outdoor retailer dinner party

That night, Hannah and I were invited to Hearth & Dram with our friends at Outdoor Retailer and other guests which included a combination of my clients and professionals from Volcom, Burton, and sponsored retailers.

We shared a rich meal of meats, sides, and drinks well into the evening. We talked about the state of action sports (surf, snow, skate) and what product leaders can do to improve relations with retailers to ensure its future. They spoke from the company and retail side, while I gave a different perspective having guided hundreds of action sports industry leaders navigate their businesses, careers, and personal lives.

In this group, I felt totally within my element. Talking about what I know, what I’m passionate about, and with a group of people who also care about the same things. Thanks to my hosts, the pressure was off and I felt totally safe and welcomed.

After the dinner, we made our individual ways back to our hotels to rest for the big opening day… but there was more for me to learn about myself and my feelings and this new chapter in my life…

Leslie Juvin-Acker

Leslie Juvin-Acker is Chief Happiness Officer of Leslie Inc. Since 2008, she has been coaching executives and business leaders all over the world. She is an expert in emotional intelligence and helps professionals tap into their own imagination to find solutions for personal and professional happiness.

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