Name, age, where you live.
Mindy Grossman, 61, New York.
Give us an overview of your career.
At 19, I was an undergrad, planning to go to law school and engaged to be married when I had the sudden realization that the path I was on wasn’t really for me. I broke off my engagement, decided not to go to law school and packed my bags for New York City to do something completely different.
That wound up being a 38-year career in retail and apparel, starting at a menswear company called Manhattan International and working at various brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, before joining Ralph Lauren in 1991. I held different roles at Ralph Lauren over my nine years there, which included launching and leading the Polo Jeans Company. I then joined Nike’s apparel business, serving as VP of Global Apparel for six years. Working at Nike – and for Phil Knight especially – was an incredible experience for me.
I left Nike to join IAC Retail working for Barry Diller and saw the opportunity to transform that business into a brand storytelling and digital commerce platform. We relaunched the Home Shopping Network in 2007 as HSN, leveraging celebrity partnerships, entrepreneurs and boundaryless retail to transform the brand and the business. Leading that company through the rebranding and IPO was an inspiring challenge.
I started to think about what was next for me and recognized that health and wellness was more and more important to the consumers we served and brands we partnered with. When the opportunity to lead WW – then Weight Watchers – presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always loved the brand and was excited by the chance to lead the company into its next chapter.
Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now.
Since July 2017, I’ve had the privilege of leading WW and our 18,000 employees around the world. Having the opportunity to expand the purpose and mission of such an inspiring, iconic brand is really powerful to me, and I’m honored that I get to do that every day.
Not every company has the opportunity to impact the lives of millions of people, but we do. We’ve been transforming lives for decades through our weight loss program and we’ve always known the impact we have goes way beyond the number on the scale. We don’t just have the permission, but also the responsibility, to not only help people lose weight but to put our behavior change expertise to work for an even broader mission of making wellness accessible to all.
It’s interesting – we did a clinical trial for our Freestyle program and found that not only did people lose weight, they also slept better and felt happier. It’s so powerful – to be able to help people in these really profound and meaningful ways. And I don’t just see it in the clinical trials…everywhere I go I meet people who want to tell me how what they experienced through WW made them a better parent, partner, leader, person.
Our vision is to become the world’s partner in wellness and I’m so proud to be leading the team that is building a wellness ecosystem that is grounded in science, supported by community and enabled by technology.
How do you define wellness?
To me, wellness is all about feeling your best – whatever that looks like for you. WW empowers people to lead their healthiest lives by providing a wellness ecosystem that focuses not just on losing weight, but also on moving more, shifting your mindset to support your efforts, and most importantly, community both through engaging digital experiences and face-to-face group workshops.
WW recently launched a huge rebrand. How did you come up with this strategy? What are you hoping to achieve as a brand?
When I joined about a year and a half ago, I realized that that if we were going to take WW – then Weight Watchers – from the undisputed leader in weight loss to a more holistic partner in people’s health and wellness journeys, we would need to reimagine the company’s purpose, vision, mission and overarching strategy. So together we redefined the impact WW seeks to have on the world and introduced our new purpose to inspire healthy habits for real life – for people, families, communities, the world – for everyone.
Ultimately, this means our evolution as an organization and as an integral part of people’s lives is much bigger – and, in my opinion, more meaningful – than a rebrand. We are fundamentally redefining our role in our members’ lives and seeking to broaden the people we serve.
You’ve said before that people crave purpose. What does this mean for you, not only in work but in the other parts of your life?
In today’s world, if purpose is not at the core of what you’re doing, you simply will not have the same trajectory of opportunity that others do. And I believe this applies just as powerfully to individuals as it does for organizations.
At WW we have a “purpose filter” that is at the core of all that we do. Every decision we make, partnership we forge, investment we make and product we launch, must advance our purpose. It holds us accountable to these decisions from a brand, a business and a human perspective.
Ok, moving away from business and your career, I know you’re very into home and interior design. How would you describe your style?
My fashion and interior design sensibility are quite aligned. I would describe them as classic mixed with bold statement pieces and an eclectic twist on how everything is put together. No rules.
If a big part of wellness is feeling good about yourself, what makes you feel your best?
Taking the time to replenish and recharge helps me feel my best – whether it’s being around the people I love, doing things that pique or allow me to express my creativity, or exercising my body and brain.
You’re probably not what people think of when they hear “grandmother, ” but you are one nonetheless. How did your granddaughter change your perspective?
For the record, my moniker is Mimi! I love my new role. Not only is Emma such a gift, but I love seeing my daughter Lizzy be such an incredible mom. It has made us all even closer, and we are so enjoying every moment together.
Is Oprah as fantastic as we all think she is?
Of course she is! She’s just fantastic – and to have her as a Board member and brand ambassador is something unique and special. Since coming to WW, I have been fortunate to have her not only as a brilliant thought partner but also a friend who gives insightful and honest advice that I know I can trust.
What advice would you give an older woman about getting back into her career or even starting a completely new one?
Never define yourself as older. Define yourself as more valuable because of your life experiences. Focus on what you are passionate about and how that can add value and depth that many companies don’t have today in their organization. Be very specific in outlining your attributes.
Culturally, aging is viewed as this sad thing. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel bad or sad. I feel better than ever. What’s the key to changing the conversation about aging?
I love being age-defying. At 61, I am more confident and resilient than at any point in my life. I don’t have to conform – I can be more declarative, I can make a statement with my style, and I can express my views more confidently. It’s only sad if you don’t live with the philosophy that you are not defined by a number. I define power by what your impact can be in all aspects of your life.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
Educated by Tara Westover. It’s an amazing and powerful story.
What’s your go-to hostess gift?
I try to customize gifts specifically for the individual – I love the idea of finding something that has a personal connection. For instance, is the host/hostess a collector? Do they love a particular style? What gives them joy? I want the gift to be memorable – it’s not the dollar amount that counts but the meaning.
Do you have any family traditions?
My daughter and I love cooking together at our home in the Hudson Valley. We also love a great theme and the creativity of making dinner an event.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?
My husband just commissioned a set of china that was inspired by an art installation in our home by Jimmie Karlsson. Every place setting was inspired by a different historical figure but done in a very modern way. I was totally surprised and am still in awe.
Your biggest splurge lately?
I am obsessed with an Alexander McQueen embroidered leather jacket. It’s my new power suit!
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
Violations of trust, ethics or values will never be forgiven or forgotten. Who you are as a human being in both good and tough times is what defines you.