Shelli Johnson, of Lander, will be the commencement speaker Friday, May 11. The graduation ceremony will be at 7:30pm in the Central Wyoming College Arts Center theater.
Johnson is an entrepreneur, life and leadership coach, keynote presenter, writer and adventure guide. In the last seven years, Johnson has coached more than 150 individuals throughout the United States and has taken countless others on unplugged wilderness adventures.
Johnson, who first started a company called the Yellowstone Journal Corporation in 1994, is now the owner of Epic Life; a company that combines life and leadership coaching with a guided epic adventure. Yellowstone Journal was a company she created that geared toward Yellowstone National Park tourists, which grew to incorporate travel magazines, a website and a premier trip-planning business. After she sold the company in 2008 to Active Interest Media, Johnson refocused her efforts to create a new endeavor.
“After selling our company, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. One of the first things I realized was I wasn’t healthy, physically or emotionally,” Johnson said. “I spent the first year reinventing my health and spending as much time with my husband and three young sons.”
Johnson started hiking as a way to get in better health and along the way was inspired to start thinking about what was next for her.
“I was eventually hiking long distances in a single day, including two adventures that were transformational, a 45-mile rim-to-rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon in a day and a 50-mile traverse of Zion National Park in a day,” Johnson said. “I spent a lot of time hiking in my “backyard,” the Wind River Mountains, and during those hikes and the solitude I was inspired to start a company that combined life and leadership coaching with guided epic adventure.”
Johnson said she remembered how profound and impactful working with a coach had been for her, which inspired her to start Epic Life. She enrolled in the Coaches Training Institute and attended courses in California throughout a six-month period to become a certified life and leadership coach. Through coaching Johnson helps people discover more about themselves and helps inspire them to find their own answers. Through consulting she shares expertise and advises others.
Johnson said she doesn’t agree with statements that companies change lives; she believes that people change their own lives and people can help inspire others to change their lives.
“The work is always theirs to do and in the end is more fulfilling,” she said. “While considering what would be next for me, I realized that I am someone who always believes in other people’s potential, often more than they do.”
Not long after Johnson started Epic Life she started compiling, writing and sharing the things she was learning from her work and working with others, which eventually lead to a keynote presentation called “Epic Lessons Learned in the Field.” She has traveled the country in recent years to present her keynote to organizations such as Sapient Corporation, Turner Networks, and Johnson & Johnson.
Since starting her business Epic Life, Johnson has expanded the company, offering unplugged adventures for groups such as Epic Women programs, leadership team programs, couples programs, just to name a few. These unplugged adventures are programs that bundle life and leadership coaching without technology, such as cell phones, into a guided epic adventure. She has done these expeditions in places such as Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Mount Whitney and the Wind River Range.
“Most clients are from urban areas throughout the United States and many of them are high level leaders who are in high demand,” Johnson said. “To take them into the wilderness, on an unplugged adventure is intriguing but also daunting. The epic adventure provides a unique, inspiring and transformative experience.”
Johnson said she loves using the wilderness and Epic Adventure as a platform from which clients get to practice doing the hard work that living their epic life and/or being an epic leader requires. Johnson works with each client personally months prior to the adventure to prepare them for the expedition.
“Many reinvent their health in preparation for the adventure which is an added benefit to signing up for the Epic programs,” Johnson said.
The Epic Adventures include climbing mountains, hiking off-trail, crossing rivers and learning to read a map.
“In the wilderness, like in life, we can’t control everything,” she said. “There is often adversity, poor weather, altitude sickness, blisters, etc. During these struggles, my clients practice and learn how to manage their emotions in tough conditions.”
The program also helps clients learn how to get along with people when they are uncomfortable and stressed. Johnson said they return inspired, re-energized and more confident. Confidence is a main reason clients sign up for Epic Adventures.
“By doing something hard, that is out of their comfort zone, my clients also return with humility, which for leaders is a great attribute,” Johnson said. “They also return with clarity about who and what are most important in their life, new friendships and lasting memories.”