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MINDShare 2021: A Virtual Retreat with Tangible Connections

What happens when a company’s annual all-staff retreat falls in the middle of a global pandemic? Well, I suppose it depends on the organization, but in many cases, what once was in person becomes virtual, and that’s what happened this year at MINDShare. 

I’ve only been at MIND for six months, but even in that time, I’d heard plenty of my colleagues talk about how incredible MINDShare has been in the past. They’d say things like: “the breakout sessions and keynotes are so inspiring!” ; “having time to sit and share a meal with your colleagues is so special!” and the list goes on. 

After hearing what it was like in the past, it was hard to think that a virtual MINDShare would be able to hold a candle to the “real” thing. I was, however, just plain wrong. Here’s why:

Intentional Virtual Connections 

In my short six months with MIND Research Institute, I picked up on one thing quickly: this organization does “virtual” really well. MIND has a highly collaborative culture, and each person I’ve worked with, whether in California or on the East Coast, is always present and engaged. MINDShare was no different.

MINDShare Connections

There was intentionality behind the connections that were being made, whether in an educational breakout session, a fun trivia game, an inspiring keynote address, or even the online conference hosting platform. I learned something new about my colleagues and my organization every day of MINDShare because the organizers designed each activity to make that happen. 

My main takeaway: virtual connections feel more authentic when they are intentional.

A Focus on Our Customers

This year, MINDShare was held on a Wednesday and Thursday, and there were several time slots of sessions and keynotes we could choose to attend on each of the days. A common thread between all of the sessions that my colleagues chose to present on? A focus on the people who use ST Math on a daily basis: educators and students. From pedagogical approaches and understanding how different states approach the role of education, to product updates and how we use data to inform our decisions, our customers were the centerpieces of our conversations.

My main takeaway: MINDers are passionate about understanding the educator and student experience.

A Mission With Meaning 

In many of the sessions I attended, audience members were asked big picture “why” questions. Why do we do what we do? Why is the future of education so important? Why should we be focused so strongly on building out STEM fields? Seeing what my colleagues chose to share in the various chat boxes to answer these questions was perhaps the most moving part of my MINDShare experience. I realized in those moments, without having to be in the same room with them, that my colleagues and I shared a common bond in the steadfast belief of MIND’s mission of equipping all students to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

My takeaway: The belief that MINDers have in the power of our mission is palpable.

In short, my time at MINDShare 2021 was truly a wonderful experience, and made me even more proud to work for this incredible organization. Sure, this year’s MINDShare had to be virtual to keep us all safe and healthy, but that did not stop deep connections from being made and inspiration from taking place.  

Rachel McKinney

About the Author

Rachel McKinney is a Customer Success Manager at MIND Research Institute. She takes pride in creating strategic approaches for how the organization can use data to better serve its incredible customers at a scalable level. In her spare time, Rachel likes to plan her upcoming travels, befriend random strangers’ dogs, improve her ever-evolving cooking skills, and explore the mountains of Colorado.


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