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Balanced Pursuits

Author: Kristi Leskinen & Jen Hudak

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A podcast for dreamers & doers, Balanced Pursuits is hosted by all-around badasses, extreme sport athletes and television personalities, Kristi Leskinen & Jen Hudak. Each episode, Kristi & Jen interview thought leaders in sports, business, and entertainment. They discuss what it has taken each guest to cultivate a life of purpose & passion, to live life on their own terms, and find balance in their pursuits. Balanced Pursuits is an compelling exploration of the grit, fire, and determination it takes to create a life you love and offers a dose of inspiration for those seeking to do the same.
21 Episodes
Phil Costa is a former starting center for the Dallas Cowboys. After retiring from football, he worked as a medical device salesman, assisting heart surgeons during more than 500 operations. And in 2018, Phil graduated with an MBA from Columbia Business School. All of this makes it sound like he transitioned smoothly out of sport without struggle, but as you’ll learn in this interview, that was not the case.Phil faced challenges in his retirement process that he wasn’t expecting and wasn’t prepared for. After navigating the transition, he realized that there was a void in the market for resources to support athletes as they face this transition out of sport. It was then that he decided to write a book. Phil co-authored the book The Transition Playbook for ATHLETES, How Elite Athletes WIN After Sports in which he interviews 100+ athletes about their transition process and shares their best strategies & tips.In this episode, we discuss:Phil’s time in the NFL and how he got his start as an undrafted free-agentThe power of vulnerability and how this was a pivotal element in navigating the transition out of sportHow he shifted from being an expert as an athlete, to becoming a novice in the business world.We’re so thankful that Phil was willing to join us and to continue being an example of how vulnerability can transform lives.Resources:Follow Phil on Instagram @costa_philFollow his book on Instagram @thetransitionplaybookWebsite:
About Steph:Stephanie Dankelson is a body acceptance coach, podcast host & writer on a mission to flip diet culture on its head. She is passionate about helping high achieving women end their battle with food so they can discover what it means to feel at home in their bodies.From the age of 14, Stephanie struggled with disordered eating, exercise addiction, and body image issues which lead to over 10 years of seeking externally for approval, endless perfectionism, and feeling disconnected who she wanted to be on this earth. It wasn't until she learned what it meant to drop out of her head and into her body to truly understand her worth that she was able to start healing and feel whole again.Stephanie is now helping others learn how to not only feel freedom around food, exercise, and their bodies but deeply know their worth through 1:1 coaching, online courses, and her podcast Move with Radiance.In This Episode We Discuss:Steph’s process for learning to recognize our self-worthWhy dieting doesn’t workWhy what we’re chasing is a feeling, not a resultThe dangers of playing the “when/then game”What “intuitive eating” really IS and what it is NOTHow to start trusting your bodyThe power of exploring long-held self-limiting beliefsHow to turn obstacles into action steps for you dreamsTweetables:“If you’re chasing freedom, if you’re chasing connection, if you’re chasing abundance, how can you activate that feeling in your body right now? Because that’s possible.”“A lot of people view acceptance as ‘giving up.’ It’s not giving up. It’s accepting where we’re at right now, coming from a place of love and then still setting goals that we want to achieve for ourselves, but our success is no longer placed in the end-result.”Resources:Experience Steph’s 5 Days to Jumpstart Your Body Acceptance JourneyApply for 1:1 Coaching with StephInstagram: @stephaniedankelson and @movewithradianceWebsite: www.stephanie-dankelson.comPodcast:
This might be our favorite interview of all. Kelly Clark was an early pioneer in women’s snowboarding and a women that both Kristi & I looked toward for inspiration throughout our careers. She is incredibly wise, grounded, and committed to leaving a legacy that motivates others to live their fullest lives.In This Episode We Discuss:Kelly’s wakeup call with her strength and conditioningHow her 2002 Olympic Gold Medal catapulted Kelly into deep reflection about what she had been seeking for her lifeWhy Kelly’s work to understand her identity helped her reconnect with snowboardingHow being internally motivated is the key to Kelly’s successHow her motto of “what an opportunity” transformed her competitive careerTweetables:“Success won’t fulfill you.”“I looked my whole life to be successful, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want to just be successful I wanted to matter.”“Sudden success is easy, but sustained success is very difficult.”“I’ve learned to value the things that no one sees more than the things that everyone sees.”“You can’t really have a victory unless you have a fight.”“You value things based on what they cost you.”“Things are either a threat or an opportunity. I just chose over and over again to look at things as an opportunity.”Thought ExperIment:Kelly’s outlook on facing challenges and hard times through her life and career is incredibly powerful. She has made the choice, time and again, to see obstacles as opportunities and it seems this has played a large role in her success. So, how can you look at a challenge you’re facing and start seeking the opportunity in it? Let us know in the comments below!Resources:Follow Kelly on Instagram @thekellyclarkOrder your copy of Inspired: Pursuit of ProgressSee how Kelly is giving back to the next generation throgh the Kelly Clark Foundation
Hey friends! Welcome back to the Balanced Pursuits Podcast! This week’s guest is Jen Gurecki, the co-founder & CEO of Coalition Snow, a women’s ski and snowboard company designed to deconstruct the status quo. We have a very raw and honest discussion with Jen about the state of the outdoor industry & how to use business as a tool for radical change.Jen is not shy about sharing her opinion on how we, as a society, can do better for marginalized communities. She’s committed her career to this work not only through Coalition Snow, but also through Zawadisha, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide small loans to rural Kenyan women, and Sisu Magazine, a quarterly print publication whose focus is to uncover the untold stories of the outdoors.Also, I’d like to make a special shoutout to our male listeners today. Kristi and I didn’t start this podcast with the intention of focusing exclusively on female empowerment, but it’s a theme that seems to turn up quite often. I suppose it’s because it’s the world in which we live and it’s close to our hearts. In our eyes, this is not just a conversation to have with women, but with all people. So guys, thank you for being a part of the conversation and being a part of the change.In this episode we explore:Turning a void in a market into opportunityHow business can be a tool for radical changeWhy not preparing can sometimes be a key to successWhen Jen first got the call to step into women’s advocacyThe difference between being “nice” and being “kind”How solar lamps elevated the lives of Kenyan womenTweetables:“I didn’t know that much, so I just did it.”“Being naive sometimes can be such a blessing because you do things that, if you knew everything, you wouldn’t do.”“Business can be a tool for radical change.”"I like to think about life as a series of choices and what’s behind the next door.”“I never think about the practical side of things, but I think that that’s served me relatively well so far, so I’m just going to keep going with it.”“Service is the rent you pay for life.”“We’re having conversations about things that there’s no definitive answer to. And how interesting is that? To question the concept of fact and to question the concept of knowledge.”“We have to be very careful and very discerning between what is a marketing message and what is true change.”Learn more about Jen’s & on & on & on InstaFollow Jen Gurecki on Instagram
This week we have the honor of introducing you to Taylor Killian! Taylor is the co-founder and creative director of And She’s Dope Too, a world-wide adventure collective of women that he and his wife Jenn started. Their mission is to connect people & planet with perspective & purpose. They’ve done this by completely stripping away the compare-and-compete culture that is so prevalent in our media today. ASDT encourages women from all walks of life and of every ability level to get out with them. They’ve created rendezvous & retreats that allow women to feel 100% comfortable in their own skin while trying new and exciting things.Taylor is also the father to four kids, a photographer & filmmaker and the Creative Director for And She’s Dope Too and Lady Wild Film Festival. We’ll dive into all the details of these endeavors in our conversation. Today’s episode may bring you to tears (as it did me), while Taylor shares how he balances family, business, community, and giving-back. He’s a true example of how to leave the world better than you found it & it’s an honor to have him on today’s show.In This Episode We Discuss:How Taylor (& wife, Jenn) balance adventure while raising 4 childrenWhy Taylor considers AndShesDopeToo to be his Phoenix RisingThe importance of having a true north in life and businessHow to create community that is truly welcoming to allHow to navigate outdoor adventures with your significant otherWhat ASDT is doing to support the mountain bike culture for women in NepalWhy you have to believe in yourself before others will believe in youTweetables:“I seek purpose so much more than happiness. Happiness is, in a lot of ways, fleeting and has so many attachments to it, but purpose is constant. And when you have that purpose and times are rough and nasty and nothing looks attractive, purpose is what gets you through.”“We know we have to stick to our true north and make sure we’re in alignment with what we set out to do in the beginning.““I’m hopeful that what it [long-form conversation] does more than anything is make us realize how similiar we really are. And maybe cut, not only ourselves, but other people a little slack.”“If you believe in what you’re doing, it may not come the way you expect it, it may not have come the way that you want it, but none of those lessons would have been learned through the hard if we wouldn’t have stuck with it.”Resources:www.AndShesDopeToo.comFollow ASDT accounts on Instagram!@AndShesDopeToo@ASDT_adventures@ASDT_media@ASDT_wasatchCheck out Taylor’s personal account @Killian_TaylorWatch their film Moksha - Freedom Through the Mountains on Vimeo!
This week, Kristi & I sit down to answer some of the best questions we’ve received on Instagram since starting this podcast. We’re doing this podcast for you, after all, so we want to make sure you’re getting everything out of it you can!QUESTIONS WE ANSWER:How do you become such great friends with your competitors?I’d love to hear how you manage stress?Can you share more about the people behind the athlete?Where do you find inspiration?How do you keep going/push through/never lose sight of the dream, when you have those moments where it feels hopeless/no one else thinks you can, etc.What sectors of the ski industry need more women?How do you advocate for yourself in a male dominated arena/change male dominated thinking?Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?Thanks for tuning in!FOLLOW:Kristi on Instagram or TwitterJen on Instagram
We’re so excited to share our conversation with Lane Merrifield with you! Kristi & I both met Lane at Baldface Lodge separately, four years apart. But it was the same qualities in Lane that struck us both. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, welcoming, engaging, and interested people we’ve ever met. Yes, interest-ED (also interest-ing, but we’re sticking with ED for now). He truly wants to connect and learn from everyone he encounters now matter how different their respective walks-of-life may be.Lane has achieved a level of business and financial success that many of us could only dream of, but it’s not his success itself that we admire, but how grounded, unchanged, and unattached to it he is. Lane has maintained a level perspective and always remains focused on how he can contribute to the world around him.In this episode we discuss:The three skills/subjects that are the most important for students to learn, but are often overlookedHow being aligned in the ‘why’ is crucial to business successHow Lane went from running remote controlled alligators at Disney Land to being an executive vice president at DisneyThe benefit of not identifying what you do with who you areLane’s foray into reality television as a dragon on Dragon’s Den (what Shark Tank is to the rest of the world)Tweetables:“One of the upsides of my school experience as a kid, was that I had to make sure I wasn’t defined by what I did in school… as I got older I learned to not overly associate who I am with what I do.”“If you don’t let it define you when you have it, then you’re not going to let it define you when you don’t.”“There’s a thrill in overcoming the fear, there’s a thrill in moving past the fear.”“You have to take risk in order to get better at anything in life.”“That’s what it’s about, like ‘how am I getting better?’ Not this idea that if I can’t be the best, then I’m just not going to do it all.”“I love life. I’ve always loved taking risks and doing crazy things.”“Just leave it better than when you came. Leave this world a little better environmentally, in business, friendships, relationships, even if you part ways. Just be good to people and everything tends to work out.”About Lane:The newest “dragon” to join CBC’s hit show Dragon’s Den, Lane Merrifield is one of Canada’s leading tech entrepreneurs. He is the founder of Club Penguin, the largest children’s online social network. At age 28, he sold it to Disney for $350 million, and, as their youngest executive vice president, turned it into a billion-dollar brand.In 2012, Lane returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that connects teachers, parents, and students to help personalize and improve learning. It’s now used in 80% of districts across Canada. Lane is also the founder of Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs through mentorship, access to capital, and connections to global business networks.Under his leadership, Lane’s teams have won dozens of awards including a prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) award for Club Penguin. Lane is also the recipient of an Honorary Fellows Award and a Business Leader of the Year award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and has been named as one of the “Top 35 Executives Under 35” by The Hollywood Reporter.Lane currently sits on the board of Spin Master and the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation.Resources:Lane on InstagramLearn more about Club PenguinExplore what Lane’s up to with FreshgradeCheckout Dragon’s Den
Circe Wallace is a woman you want in your corner. She’s walked an incredibly unique path through this life and has so much to share. Circe was an early pioneer in the women’s snowboard movement as an athlete and she now represents some of the biggest names in action sports as the VP of Action Sports & Olympics for Wasserman Media Group. But that’s not all, she’s an entrepreneur (twice over), a producer, mother, and advocate for social change.In This Episode You’ll Learn:The unforeseen cost of living a meaningful lifeHow mindfulness is necessary for rebellionWhy it’s important to make peace with the patriarchy while working to change itHow to take responsibility for the changes you want to see in the worldThe challenges of being a pioneer in the cannabis industryHow becoming a mother has allowed Circe to live a richer more spiritual lifeTWEETABLES“I feel comfortable speaking my truth, which comes at a cost.”“I was always inherently kind of cocky. I overcompensated any insecurities with confidence, just intrinsically thinking that is how I can be great.”“I really have to stay in a daily mindfulness practice to not be completely mortified or shaking in my boots, literally every day, with what is being asked of me or what I’ve asked of myself.”“To be successful in today’s times, as a woman in business, I don’t know any other way but to make peace with that reality [of the patriarchy].”“In the board room or in the c-suite, we just need more women that have a seat at the table to help have these kinds of conversations and make sure that we continue to be progressive.”"We need to teach our children to be looking for things that are really meaningful and not just about how you look.”“What is the real tangible work that we’re doing? You can’t just project out your perfect life. You have to be DOING something. Whether that’s making art or working really hard in marketing or sales or any of those areas that are elevating your own experience and not just ‘hey, look at me.”“I’m a really closer. I know how to land a client and I know how to make it rain.”“The opportunity that cannabis provides for individualized medicine is really interesting because we’re all totally unique. Certain things work for you and certain things don’t work for you and we need to get more refined in our approach to healing.”“You have to allow yourself to live a life without boundaries, because the minute you put boundaries on it is the minute that it no longer becomes interesting.”“I’m basically totally petrified, but that’s why I do it.”“I’m humbled and brought to my knees everyday by the journey of parenting.”“I saw that my experience would allow them some relief from some of the more mundane aspects of the business that would allow them to pursue their dreams with reckless abandon. And that is how I parent.”“I’m definitely a byproduct of the belief that anything is possible if you’re willing to do the work.”Resources:Follow Circe on Instagram @CirceSnowCirce’s Cannabis Company, Hot Nife: Website & InstagramSISU Magazine - order issue #1 to read Jen’s article “Influence”Don’t forget to follow Balanced Pursuits on Instagram!
Before sustaining a spine injury at the end of 2014, Jim Harris made his living from hard days in the mountains. After 6 years of teaching wilderness mountaineering courses, Jim began creating content in photo, video and written form, for clients like National Geographic, Camp 4 Collective, and Powder Magazine. That is, until he was paralyzed while snow kiting in Patagonia. It took over a week for Jim to reach definitive care in the States where five of his nine broken vertebrae were fused.After his spine fusion he began to wiggle a toe. Within a few months, muscles in both legs began firing. In the four years since that accident, Jim transitioned from wheelchair to walker to cane and continues to challenge the limitations of his disability. He is now mountain biking and backcountry skiing at a level most able-bodied individuals would only dream of. Be sure to stick around to the end of this one. It’s one of our favorite episodes to date.In this episode you’ll learn:Why you should aim high in adverse situationsThe difference between Type I fun and Type II funThe healing benefits of being in flow stateHow creativity of the arts and outdoors go-hand-in-handWhat it really means to be authenticTweetables:“In the absence of a prognosis in South America, in the absence of an expert opinion, I was like, ‘well, I’m just gonna aim high here, I guess.’”“It seems like so much of life satisfaction is about having your expectation line up with what actually occurs in life.”“I never saw myself as a professional athlete before I got hurt, but in hindsight I was usually getting hired for jobs because I could keep up with them.”“What came up time and time again, was marketing departments being like, ‘Oh, well, we hired you because we really like the authenticity that you convey.’ And that always made me uncomfortable because I don’t know how to deliver authenticity in a photo.”“One of the outcomes of being so helpless for weeks & months is that vulnerability stopped feeling very vulnerable.”Resources:Follow Jim’s Instagram accounts: Personal | ArtAdaptive Training FoundationHigh Fives Foundation: Instagram | WebLearn more about flow state in FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
This week we have the pleasure of sharing Sarah Herron with all of you! If you’re a reality TV fan, her face may look familiar from her time on The Bachelor. But, that show was just the beginning for Sarah and the impact she’ll bring to this world.Sarah Herron is a Colorado native who gained her notoriety on ABC’s The Bachelor for being the first contestant with a physical disability. Sarah was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, but it hasn’t stopped her from climbing mountains, skiing double black diamonds and even searching for love on television.It was the outreach of young women who watched and related to Sarah on the show that inspired her to start the nonprofit, SheLift and A Course in Confidence. Sarah wants to share with other women that whether it's on the slopes, on a trail or on a show... finding love is possible, and it starts with loving yourself.In this episode You’ll Learn:Why a successful career is sometimes not enoughHow The Bachelor led Sarah back to her true selfFinding your self-worth by stepping outside of your comfort zoneHow to alleviate the pressure of datingHow to find true confidence when false confidence fadesWhy it’s so important to create a mission statement for your lifeTWEETABLES:Sarah, on leaving 72 & Sunny: “I knew I could always go back. Nothing is ever permanent.”“I wasn’t feeling fulfilled with my authentic potential and the story I had to share.”“This is going to be healing for me and I know that by doing something that scares me pants-less right now, it’ll help me in the long-run.”“I would go out with my friends and then, all of sudden, since the pressure of meeting a guy had been eliminated, I felt more free. I felt like I could be myself because there wasn’t this intense pressure to go home with a guy’s phone number that night.“You just want to say yes to everything once you see the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something you thought was impossible.”Resources:Follow Sarah on InstagramFollow SheLift on InstagramSign-up for Sarah’s signature A Course In ConfidenceLearn more about SheLift!——See the rest of the show notes and our tips on finding your core values at
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