March 06, 2014
The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling
by Beth Douglass Silcox
CEO, Take Shape For Life
President and COO, Medifast
“How do you step into a leadership role when the person who was there before was such a huge figure?” Meg Sheetz kept asking herself this when she replaced her father, Bradley MacDonald, after his 2012 passing. He had been Chairman and CEO of Medifast Inc. and Co-Founder of Take Shape For Life.
“In direct selling a lot of these founders are very dynamic and have a lot of presence to them, so really trying to figure that out was interesting. Our field was wonderful about that. I think the family tie and family unity were certainly a big help,” she says.
Sheetz, however, brought strengths of her own, too. “I think women have the ability to sense things. I think men may drive harder at a particular thing, item, or goal; whereas women may have a more feeling aspect to business. I think in some cases that is a gift,” Sheetz says.
As a woman and as a younger person, in general, Sheetz has learned the value of smart generational leadership—the importance of respect and learning from people who are older and to some degree wiser. “It was a wonderful thing. It taught me that, for my teams, I want to hire people who are better and smarter than I am. I don’t know if I would have had that lesson if I hadn’t been in the situation that I was in. I learned so much from them, and from a leadership perspective I was able to balance the accountability piece with the respect and understanding of what they brought to the table and their talents,” she says.
The autonomy to get things done is paramount to Sheetz’s up-front and honest leadership philosophy. “I try to give our teams the freedom to make decisions they need to make. Results, though, are extremely important,” she says. “In our world, we have a strategy—a five year strategy. We update it on a year-over-year basis and come up with an implementation strategy. We use that tool to help us work together to make sure that priorities are aligned and that everyone in the organization it supports knows what needs to get done by when.” Big goals, even audacious ones, are easier to meet when measures are firmly in place and the entire organization pulls together.
Enabling the Take Shape For Life field organization to focus and grow, while expanding consumer knowledge of the brand, is important this year. From an internal perspective, this means gaining feedback from field leaders and offering up the right support infrastructure to facilitate that growth, like apps and a simplified back office. “The business should be at their fingertips and easy to do, and they should have reminders that come to them really quickly,” Sheetz says.
Brand enhancement comes through the new “Stop Challenge Choose” campaign for participants to share transformational stories with the public. She says, “It’s not just a before-and-after picture sort of thing. Yes, we help people lose weight, but our biggest goal is to help people keep it off and to really start learning the habits of health.”
Meg Sheetz on developing women…
“Our executive team sits down on a quarterly basis and has a discussion about who in the organization we see as having huge potential. We call out the promising aspects, no matter the rank within the organization. We have a conversation about what we see as their skill set and why we think they have potential.
In that process, we are able to bring forward strong women within the organization. And the great thing is we don’t have to purposefully search out women—they just happen to
Meg Sheetz on personal development…
“I have a coach, someone that I meet with monthly. We go over goals and what I am doing to get these goals accomplished. Sometimes it can be a tactical conversation, and sometimes it’s very much a psychological discussion about the role, what’s happening or maneuvering a situation. You practice it and get pointers that help lead you down the path.”
Take Shape For Life
Take Shape For Life changes people for good. Some 11,000 Health Coaches guide consumers toward weight loss quickly and safely using the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan, while teaching healthy eating habits that keep the weight off.
Last year, the Baltimore, Maryland-based company partnered with Villanova University’s Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) to provide all interested Health Coaches training and certification through the university’s nursing school.
Co-Founder Dr. Wayne Andersen’s book, Discover Your Optimal Health, hit both the New York Times and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists in 2013, while the company launched Healthy Happy Hours meant to engage people in a healthy living social environment. The single-day events included 900 happy hours and 2,000 community walks.
Take Shape For Life is the coaching division of Medifast Inc. Since 1980, Medifast has developed, manufactured, and marketed portion-controlled, nutritionally balanced meal replacements for weight loss. Medifast products and programs have been recommended by over 20,000 doctors since 1980. Medifast is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Take Shape For Life posted revenues of $216 million in 2012, which ranked them 52nd on the Direct Selling News Global 100 in 2013.
Cover Story | Women’s History | Sheryl Adkins-Green | Claire Bancino | Meredith Berkich | Lori Bush | Dr. Oi-Lin Chen | Doris Christopher | Angela Loehr Chrysler | Kathy Coover | Shelli Gardner | Jessica Herrin | Wendy Lewis | Candace Matthews | Sheri McCoy | Cindy Monroe | Kay Napier | Joani Nielson | Meg Sheetz | Pam Sowder | Jill Blashack Strahan | Connie Tang | Heidi Thompson