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Mindy Meads: Former CEO Initiates a Sun Valley Retreat with Illuminating Result

Positivity. Responsibility. Communication. Achiever. Arranger.

These are the CliftonStrengths where Mindy Meads excels. Sounds impressive? Just wait.

Mindy Meads has a CV that’s chock-full of high-profile brand names like Lands End, Victoria’s Secret, Aeropostale, and Calypso St. Barth. After decades of being a CEO and board member; of growing, transforming, and restructuring global apparel brands; of being a former Director of the Federal Reserve for the 7th District (Chicago) among many other luminary roles—Mindy was ready for her third half.

When she got a taste of the Third Half Milestone Program, the sparks started flying. “It rang so true to me. I’ve always been a high achiever, taking on too much; I loved the opportunity to figure out what I needed to do next.” notes Mindy. This wasn’t a process that she wanted keep to herself, it was a discovery process to be shared. And she knew just how she would do it. Now living in Ketchum, Idaho and the Chair of the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, Mindy would use her strength as an Arranger to bring together 10 women from her vast network for a Third Half retreat program.

A Third Half retreat in Sun Valley brings businesswomen together

“I’ve always been passionate about events and doing things with women,” says Mindy, who formally served as the Global Chair of the Zenith Group within the Women’s President Organization (WPO), the premier peer advisory organization connecting women presidents, CEOs, and managing directors of privately held, multi-million-dollar companies. Women entrepreneurs in the Zenith Group are extraordinarily accomplished, overseeing revenue ranging from $50M to over $1B in sales.

With her skills facilitating meetings and her love of connecting women, Mindy combined long-time friends with close business peers for an October 2021 weekend in Sun Valley. The secret to the gathering? As Mindy says, “I wanted a diverse group that would harmonize. There was something about each one that I knew they would enjoy this and, importantly, be open.”

Regardless of whether the invitee was recently retired or still fully engaged in their business, Mindy positioned the retreat program as an opportunity for each to learn more about herself and figure out what’s next.

“All 10 women loved the retreat. Incredible things happened to each woman.”

“For one woman, it was the impetus to figure out her next move, which was big, really big for her. For another, it helped her discover herself more. As she looks ahead, this was a wake-up call for what she needs to do in her life.”

Going deeper and forming connections

Mindy is an excellent example of a C-suite executive using her strengths to the max and calibrating them for her third half. “Gardening, cooking, decorating, events—I love creativity and this this came out a top-five value. What I’m doing now with culinary fits perfectly with my strengths and values. Transitioning from the corporate world to a nonprofit—though I love it—I also had to find my way to not do everything.”

“Through the process, I learned to lessen stressors. My friends saw the stress I was going through. And they saw what an incredible space the Institute is and why I love it. The retreat program helped me recognize that organizing, sorting, and being deliberate, open and honest would help me eliminate stress. I now feel good where I am.”

True to the spirit that Mindy envisioned for the retreat, the group was open and worked to figure out how to make their lives simpler, easier, and more joyful. “These are all very successful women, and they didn’t talk about their businesses, per se. It was much more personal and deeper about their personalities, which was refreshing.” And for some, also quite emotional.

The weekend was led by Third Half Advisors’ Program Designer and Facilitator, Polly Chandler. "Imagine the talents in a room of 10 women who had served as CEOs or presidents. It would be easy to focus on career and accomplishment. Yet, this group was ready for a different conversation: not to talk about what they were doing but who they wanted to be in their Third Half and how they want to focus their time and talent. They shared their joys, concerns, frustrations and longings. The program design guided the women through many authentic conversations. Together they became explorers and discovered new ways of being. Thanks to their willing spirits and openness each woman began to see a new version of herself—a version led by values and strengths that focused more on who am I longing to be instead of what do I have to do.

"I was thrilled with how this worked out. There were revelations, and the entire group developed bonds and trust. I’ve done a lot of gatherings, and this group bonded really well. Seeing friends connect like this brought me joy. It was just wild the connections that developed among all these women. I love seeing the people that I love enjoy each other.”

Third Half Advisor co-founder Caroline Brecker notes, “The best groups are brought together like this, with one person serving as a champion to bring groups together. Third Half is a learning community and Mindy’s furthering this community.”

As she reflects upon the memorable and impactful weekend retreat, Mindy says, “I have so many women where a retreat with Third Half would be beneficial."

"It’s an incredible opportunity to look at yourself honestly—to understand yourself better and what you truly love and what makes you happy.”

Learn about others who are transitioning from their corporate career to “what’s next” in our Third Half Masters stories. And if you’re interested in exploring what your Third Half can hold, check out our upcoming programs here.


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