Wellness Reimagined: Dan Chard Of Medifast On 5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve and Reform The Health & Wellness Industry

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Teach people. Beyond just treating the symptoms, we need to provide evidence-based, simple tools to help people build healthy habits in every area of life in a realistic way. We need to teach them by first meeting them where they’re at.

In our world of constant change, and with life moving faster than ever, topics such as mental health, self-care, and prevention have become popular buzzwords. People are looking to live healthier lives, and there is superb care out there that is being offered. At the same time, there are misconceptions about the meaning of self-care and exercise. Many opt for quick solutions — surgery, pills — to dull the problem without adequately addressing the underlying cause. Meanwhile, many parts of the industry are unregulated and oversaturated. People with years of training are competing with people with weekend training. Many providers are overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid. The general public is not educated about asking the right questions when selecting a wellness provider. In the face of all this, what can be done to correct the status quo? In this interview series, we are seeking to hear from a variety of leaders in the health and wellness industries who agree that the wellness industry is in need of an overhaul and offer suggestions about what can be done moving forward. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dan Chard.

Dan Chard is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medifast, the global company behind one of the fastest-growing health and wellness communities, OPTAVIA. Mr. Chard has more than 25 years of direct selling, marketing and consumer products experience and is responsible for overseeing the company’s overall strategy and growth plans. Under Chard’s leadership, the company’s full-year revenue has gone from just over $300M in 2017 to more than $1.5B in 2021, when they joined a select group of billion-dollar brands.

Before joining Medifast, Mr. Chard served as President and Chief Operating Officer of PartyLite, an affiliate of a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, which specializes in home fragrance products, and experienced success in numerous leadership roles during his 17-year tenure at Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc. (Nu Skin), including managing more than $2.5 billion in revenue across 53 countries as well as overseeing all functions of sales operations for the company as President of Global Sales & Operations.

Thank you so much for doing this interview. It is an honor. Our readers would love to learn more about you and your personal background. Can you please share your personal backstory? What has brought you to this point in your life?

Thank you for having me. I was born in the U.S., but my family moved to France when I was three years old. At ten, my father died tragically in a commercial air accident, so we returned to the U.S. where my mother raised me and my three siblings on her own. My mother taught us that good values, character, hard work, service and education are important parts of a successful life. Once I finished high school, I began doing volunteer missionary work for two years, which took me back to France for some time then returned to the U.S. to study economics and business. Throughout all those experiences, I was building character traits early in life that have stuck with me to this day. Things like persistence, grit, curiosity and generosity have been the most enduring. It’s these character traits that pushed me forward in my business career and ultimately led me to the health and wellness space, wanting to grow with a company focused on helping others.

What is your “why” behind the work that you do? What fuels you?

I’m fueled by the success stories, the lives impacted by the work we do and my passion for looking at how people can achieve health and wellbeing from a different lens. Health is deeply personal and individualized but it shapes the life you live, which is why I believe in the importance of teaching healthy habits and leveraging the power of support.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?

We’ve developed a comprehensive program that’s impacted more than 2 million lives and now we’re working on making all the tools we’ve developed over the years available on the OPTAVIA app so it’s a one-stop shop. We’re also working on finding ways to bring similar success to our other healthy habits, from sleep and exercise to mental health, hydration, and surroundings, as we have to our innovative healthy eating program.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In one of my previous roles, I was speaking to a large group of Japanese consumers who were interested in a new health program my company was marketing. I don’t speak Japanese but asked my translator to teach me something to say in Japanese to warm up the audience. I practiced it a few minutes before going on stage but when I repeated the phrase from memory, the audience remained silent and confused. After completing my presentation, the translator told me that my attempt to speak the Japanese phrase came out as “pirates are powerful” rather than the intended salutation. Luckily the audience was forgiving, and this helped to break the ice. From that time on, my Japanese colleagues jokingly referred to me as The Pirate, a nickname that reminds me any situation can be turned into a positive one with the right mindset and that communication is nuanced. It’s easy to be misunderstood even when your intent is sincere.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. From where you stand, why are you passionate about the topic of Reimagining The Health and Wellness industries? Can you explain what you mean with a story or an example?

My passion stems from the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Within the health and wellness industry, there’s been too much emphasis on creating medical advances in pharmaceuticals and care for people who are already sick. It’s important but it’s not the only part of the equation. That’s why I’m passionate about the preventative side that comes from teaching people to take control of their health by learning a set of powerful habits that are foundational to health and wellbeing — and not only how we eat but also how we live. It’s simple but many lack the structure and support to build these small, everyday habits that are absolutely integral to long-term health, addressing the root cause not just the symptoms.

As for a story, there are so many from our community I could share. I’ve met with many of our OPTAVIA clients — many have gone on to become independent coaches in the community with hopes to help others learn what they have learned. One story in particular stands out. A couple who was facing some challenges raising their children but also struggling with their own health. They had tried surgery, medicines and other interventions to overcome obesity and its associated health side-effects — all of these solutions failed. With the support of their OPTAVIA coach, they were able to learn healthy habits and change the way they thought about the challenge they had to overcome. They changed the way they approached every day and were able to transform their health and family life. This is one of thousands of stories that demonstrate the power that we as individuals have to overcome and transform our lives. Typically, this change will be passed down for generations to come as well, so people have the power to impact their family’s future.

When I talk about Reimagining the Wellness industry, I am talking about reimagining it from the perspective of the providers as well as from the perspective of the recipients and patients. Can you share a few reasons why the status quo is not working for both providers and patients?

The industry is often focused on medicines and procedures that treat symptoms, while consumers and patients are taught to look for the easy solution. Because of the way the system is designed, healthcare providers alone don’t have the tools to influence the way people live. The solution starts before people have complications related to living an unhealthy life.

Why do you think there is a good opportunity now to improve and reform the health and wellness industry?

This is a great time to improve and reform the health and wellness industry because we as a society have changed the way we live our daily lives. We’re busier than ever. At the same time, the number of solutions out there has multiplied, which is good because health should be individualized but it can be overwhelming and complicated, and often not realistic. This is why we approach health simply yet holistically, acknowledging that all parts of our lives are connected — from how we sleep to ensuring we stay in motion to what we consume. Helping people learn how to take control of their health in a way that they can stick with is the ultimate goal and that can only be done once the industry is in its best state to support them.

Can you please share your “5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve and Reform The Health & Wellness Industry”? Please share an example or story for each if you can.

  1. Remove blame. There are often many factors that lead people to develop unhealthy habits. Behaviors passed down from generation to generation, our busy lifestyles leaving little time to prioritize health and wellbeing, lack of access to healthy foods and more. We often hear from coaches and clients that they’ve tried everything to get healthy but keep failing. It’s not their fault!
  2. Empower people. Transforming your health and wellbeing feels like a big undertaking but with the right tools and support, it’s possible to transform your life. Shifting your mindset around your approach to your health and wellbeing, and what’s possible when you have the right system in place, is the first step.
  3. Teach people. Beyond just treating the symptoms, we need to provide evidence-based, simple tools to help people build healthy habits in every area of life in a realistic way. We need to teach them by first meeting them where they’re at.
  4. Offer support. No one can do anything of great significance (like transforming your life) alone. You need support and you need it often.
  5. Stay focused on the “why.” Do you want to get healthy to be present for your children and pass good habits on to them? Or strong enough to pick up your grandchildren? Encouraging people to focus on their “why” makes it easier to build intrinsic motivation around a lifestyle change and stay on course when faced with challenges or setbacks.

From the recipient and patient side of the industry, can you please share a few ways that patients and recipients should reimagine what the wellness and healthcare industry should provide?

Providers, companies, or anyone else who sets out to help people with their health and wellbeing should be focused on addressing the root cause as opposed to just treating the symptoms. We know people are looking for simple solutions that help them create healthy habits, so we need approaches and systems based on science and evidence that are also realistic for everyone. Above all, people need more support. In addition to experts and medical providers, someone who has been in your shoes and can walk alongside you in your journey. Someone to lean on for advice and motivation from their perspective as someone who has already accomplished what you have your mind set on.

What do you think are the biggest roadblocks to reforming the industry? What can be done to address those hurdles?

The problem is not that people don’t want to focus on their health and wellbeing; they see it as a priority but they’re struggling to make it a reality. In a survey Medifast conducted, we found that while 70% of adults consider their health to be a top priority in life, many say the lack of time and positive influences are barriers.

To solve this problem, we can start with simplifying the complexity of solutions and recommendations that are out there and begin making small changes in our daily lives that will ladder up to larger goals.

I’m very passionate about the topic of proactive versus reactive self-care and healthcare. What do you think can be done to shift the industries towards a proactive healthcare approach? How can we shift the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike?

People find it hard to prioritize their health and wellbeing while going about their increasingly busy lives. This creates the assumption that it’s hard to build healthy habits and they’re just not sure where to start. I think the first step is helping people to understand there are small, daily changes you can make that will have an immediate impact on your overall health — this can be something as simple as drinking more water or taking small breaks in your day to move. Once people understand the simplicity of getting on the right path and are given the right tools in a comprehensive structure, they are empowered to be proactive with their health and wellbeing to truly create habits that can be lifelong.

Thank you for all that great insight! Let’s start wrapping up. Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“If you want to go far, go together.” The most successful people in life didn’t get there alone. No matter what it is you set out to do, you need support and a community.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 😊

I’d be honored to grab lunch with psychiatrist and author of “The Good Life” Dr. Robert Waldinger, who is leading the world’s longest-running scientific study of happiness at Harvard, which implies that relationships — the people in your life and your community — are the biggest predictors of happiness.

I appreciate your time and valuable contribution. One last question, how can people reach or follow you?

I’m on LinkedIn at bit.ly/Dan-Chard-LinkedIn, where I often share my thoughts on business, what we’re working on at Medifast, our OPTAVIA program and more.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at angelova@rebellious-intl.com. To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.