How Leslie Juvin-Acker Stepped Into Executive Coaching
My specialty as a career and leadership coach for the action sports industry came as an organic passion. As a young teen, action sports took me out of the confines of an unhappy family life and into an expansive, global world.
A Way Out: Something Productive To Do
Surfing saved me. It really did. My family life was in the pits and what provided a vision of something else out there were the skate and surf videos and magazines I poured over. When I picked up surfing, I loved the feeling of dropping my burdens on the shore and leaving them behind in the water. I wasn’t just into a sport, I was into the liberation that, at it’s best, could offer. Surfing gave me something productive to do with the anger, sadness, and helplessness I felt at the time.
When I was younger, action sports were marketed as “extreme sports”. We just couldn’t get enough of it. My brothers and I would watch skate videos when we were cloistered at home during the summers while both of our parents were hard at work. My buddies and I would look at what D.C. was coming out with in the CCS mail order magazine before class started. I used to pass out copies of Wahine magazine at my high school that I’d get from a Jacksonville beach distributor as to pump up interest in the publication. I hung around Clay Bennett’s workshop and talked him into shaping a board for me (and gave it back when I started studying and working full time at UNF). I loved surfing and ocean preservation so much that I started a high school surf club.
My interest and involvement in what is now being called the “lifestyle industry” suited my independent and unique energy and allowed me to channel my relationship building, speaking, and writing skills as a way out of an unhappy personal life. Whenever I felt most alone in life, the action sports community always surrounded me and helped pull me through. Without realizing it, I developed a fierce loyalty to the people in this industry and want to be a part of their success.
My First And Most Important Client: Franck Juvin-Acker
My professional expertise in the lifestyle industry began in 2007 when my husband, Franck, who is equally passionate about action sports, wanted to switch from pool care to the action sports industry. Despite some of his paralyzing fears and very little relevant professional experience, I coached Franck to develop relationships, re-create his “brand image”, and put together a transition strategy which landed him a spot (out of 500 applicants) at Salomon Snowboards as their snowboard and bindings product line manager in 2010.
Thanks to his own commitment and passion, Franck went from an industry unknown to a sought after product guy. Professional athletes, executives, and lower level managers were intrigued because they, too, wanted to expand their professional horizons and didn’t know how. Our friends and his business associates continually asked him what was the secret to his success of breaking into the action sports industry and he continues to swear by coaching today. Whenever business associates or pro-athletes would come by for dinner or couch surf, the conversation always came up.
After several productive years with Salomon, Franck was ready to move forward and build upon his industry recognized success as a product marketing expert. Reorienting our focus back to the U.S., I coached Franck going forward and in 2014 he landed Nixon’s main product line position. This position moved us back to southern California and the energy of opportunity was electrifying.
Writing A New Chapter with Malakye.com
Chad DiNenna (Nixon co-founder) and Colleen Quigley (director of digital marketing at Dakine) supported my passion to elevate the talent pool within the action sports industry after I explained to them the merits of coaching and my observations on current leadership and company culture trends that presently affect the action sports business as a whole. Their advice and encouragement led me to Chad Mihalick, Malakye.com’s owner and head honcho, who enthusiastically brought me on board to write a weekly advice column for Malakye’s Picks.
After noticing the positive reception of my articles and recognizing the value I have to offer, Chad invited me to coach and speak before an audience of attendees at Malakye’s Shmooz tradeshow job networking events. My reach within the highest echelons of the action sports industry grew since this strategic partnership and the influence of my coaching has made a visible shift in its leadership and their influence on business and corporate culture.
My favorite time of the year is when I get to go to the trade shows and stop by the booths of my clients and friends. I get to see my clients that I have helped move up over the years and have achieved amazing personal and professional success. Everyone is in one-place, doing what they do best, showcasing their skills and I get the pleasure of seeing them in action. It’s an amazingly gratifying experience for me.
Getting Personal With The Action Sports Industry
Adding to this success in a way that I couldn’t have foreseen, word of mouth developed throughout the action sports industry among the wives of executives, directors, professional athletes. These women, who are amazingly gifted, talented, and spiritual came to me organically and especially after seeing how their husbands were experiencing expansive personal growth. They, too, wanted to see what was causing the shift in their men. Their patronage and support for the more intuitive aspects of my work further cemented my specialty and relationships within the action sports industry.
Not only do I know the business, the products, the sports, and the culture – I also know the people. I intimately know their personal challenges, their values, hopes and aspirations, and most importantly, their spiritual missions. By helping them be the very best people, they become the very best professionals – the benefits of this process are innumerable for everyone.
The Collective Effort Goes Full Circle
So, how does a girl who was empowered by action sports give back to an industry that made so many of her dreams possible? By empowering the entire industry – at every level, top to bottom – to stay grounded, to remember the culture that makes their business so special, and to support every individual to be who they really are: unique spiritual beings. I want to reach the professionals who want to break into action sports and climb their way up, too. These professionals matter to me because what they do is a collective effort to reach into the hearts of wayward kids, like that girl I once was, and give them something productive to do with their lives.
Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.