Dubbed by many as the “original mind and body thinker”, Annbeth Eschbach (Founder and CEO of Exhale Spas) shared with the room how Exhale has has grown from vapor and vision to what is now a leading wellbeing brand with 24 locations throughout the country, and recently acquired by Hyatt Hotels.
Annbeth shared the story of her remarkable journey into the world of fitness- from dropping gems on leadership, navigating change, entrepreneurship and making valuable and sincere connections in order to leverage opportunities- and left the room full of women inspired to uplift one another through actionable change.
Below are a few of our favorite moments.
Importance of Self Care
While a proponent of prioritizing mental and physical well-being, Annbeth does not consider herself to be “balanced”. A self proclaimed “Type-A” personality, she has found it essential to schedule time for herself to allow for reflection, regeneration and recovery. In no ways would she consider herself a rule follower stating that she has “probably broken every rule in [her] business and self care routines”.
Collaboration and NOT Competition – Small Acts of Kindness Go A Long Way
In a demanding and expanding industry, it can be easy to see competition as an impediment. Instead, Annbeth looks at this as an opportunity for collaboration and paying it forward- “you get more out of life and work if you help people, even competitors—lift people up and help them, you do not know where you will be in two years”. Annbeth even offered her personal expertise to the entire room saying “do it, go for it and call me if you need help!”
Navigating Change as a Leader
Being a leader today is being able to love change. She shared two milestones in her journey that required change:
The first was in 2007 in the downturn when exhale had just opened a handful of flagship locations in New York, Boston, Chicago and Dallas. The recession hit, capital was no longer available, and exhale was facing a major juncture. At that time, the real estate world also shifted and developers of hospitality mixed use projects began to recruit exhale for hotel/residential developments and exhale was able to grow with developer capital. The business doubled the unit size during the recession and exhale sustained its brand and business. It was more complicated and required multiple accountabilities—but it was worth it and it also gave exhale a strong leading foothold in the hospitality space.
The second is in 2017 when she sold the Company to Hyatt Hotels.
Annbeth shared her decision to partner with Hyatt Hotels, an opportunity to bring well-being and the brand to a larger platform to impact the hotel giant, and to properly capitalize exhale for strategic growth. Now exhale is reporting into a large public company and she is navigating change with a focus on leading with resilience, teamwork, and positivity.
Learning to Make Mistakes
While serving as an Entrepreneur-in-residence at Babson College, Annbeth shared that many of the women enrolled in the class, when creating their final group business plans, would not take C-Suite positions while their male counterparts would almost always do so. Annbeth implored the women in the room to be risk adverse while being unafraid to make mistakes- “the first part of making decisions is getting comfortable with making them, even the bad ones. You will make many bad ones before you make good ones”.
Positive Energy Begets Positivity
One of the things that she refuses to compromise is who she allows within her circle—she makes a contested effort to stay away from toxic people but also “yes people”.
On Power Pieces
Annbeth swears by a classic pantsuit when she needs to feel powerful at a business meeting. As a self-described anti-shopper, she was shocked by how comfortable and confident she felt in MM. LaFleur’s Taylor Dress. “It’s like a suit… but better.” Looks like MM. has a new fan!
On Being a Good Business Woman
“Be objective”! Great leaders have objectivity in the workplace, in business it is not personal and you should not take offense. If you approach everything with that mindset, you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress.