As co-founder of Family Board Meetings, Jim Sheils organizes a different kind of “board meeting” – one that helps busy entrepreneurs connect with their kids at family retreats in Ponte Vedra, where sun, sand and surfing helps families reconnect and forge deeper connections.
What brought you to Ponte Vedra Beach?
Along with Family Board Meetings, my business partner and I have run a real estate investment company for almost 20 years. In 2004, while still based in California, we began researching the growth patterns of Northeast Florida and realized there was a ton of potential here. We fell in love with the area on our first visit. It wasn’t just the business opportunities; the lifestyle was tremendous. It was an easy move to make. Since then, we’ve had a lot of families and friends move to the area as well.
What is Family Board Meetings and how does it work?
Family Board Meetings is a support network of entrepreneur families that want to be successful not only in business but in their home life as well. Our mission is to create relationships between entrepreneurs and their children that are deeper and more meaningful than they ever thought possible. We do this by sharing proven strategies and hosting specialized events, like our retreats here in Ponte Vedra. We’ve had families from all over the U.S. and Canada, Europe, even Australia join us here at the Sawgrass Marriott to participate. Experiential education and learning is critical in helping a child realize their best future and our events create the space to make this happen.
We believe a child’s confidence in life comes from a powerful mindset that needs to be tested, nurtured and guided by a loving parent. We believe financial empowerment is taught and supported through experiential education and hands on learning from a young age. And we believe that service and contribution to the family and community build children who have a greater appreciation for life and a compassion for others.
What types of activities occur at a Family Board Meeting retreat?
We are big fans of experiential education. It gets everyone laughing and allows people to drop their guard (both parents and young people). When hosting here in Ponte Vedra, we aim to soak in the natural beauty of the area. We might be hiking in Guana, at the beach learning to surf, boogie board or paddle board – or even playing Giant Jenga back at the Sawgrass Marriott. We have a style of teaching that involves less lectures and more round table discussions. Our goal is to get communication going on a ton of different subjects and we want the younger crowd to have the opportunity to lead us.
How did you come to found Family Board Meetings?
My business partner, Brian Scrone, and I saw a great need to help support that work/life balance that so many busy entrepreneurs and professionals have a hard time maintaining. We live in a time when the power of a parent in shaping their child’s most abundant and happy future has never been more important – and the need to do so is unprecedented. Family Board Meetings started as something small among friends and grew into what it is today. We believe no one should ever live as a stranger to their family just to achieve success in their career. It is possible to have the best of both worlds. A few simple rhythms and shared lessons can make a huge difference.
Your next event – to be held in Utah – is a departure from your previous beach-based retreats. What motivated you to plan an event out west?
We’ve had a lot of people on the West Coast wanting to get involved in our retreats so for ease of access, we decided to team up with The Summit Group and host a retreat at Powder Mountain, Utah this June. We’re big fans of the beach, but we also appreciate a beautiful mountain setting once in a while. With that said, Ponte Vedra will always be home base for us.
Are there any charitable groups or activities with which you’re involved?
Yes, we’ve supported The Homes of Hope Organization, which build houses in Mexico. Locally, we’ve supported The St. Augustine Public Montessori School, which is the only charter school in St Johns County. We helped create The Anthony Strong Project, which provided a local family with a much-needed wheelchair-accessible van.We are also involved with many other local charity groups like Silent Surfers, Wounded Warriors, Never Quit, Life Rolls On and more. These groups use the ocean and outdoors to help improve people’s lives. Best of all, they allow our children to be actively involved in their events. It’s great to watch the kids shine while volunteering. It instantly removes the myth that kids and teens are inherently selfish. We’ve found the exact opposite to be true. We have found no better way to instill values in our children than to get them actively involved in service and contribution activities like these.
What is your favorite part of living on the First Coast?
Growing up in the New Jersey, I felt trapped inside half my life. Now I get to enjoy the ocean and other outdoor activities with my family and friends all year long. We also love the camaraderie and sense of community we’ve built here. Our family is never short on fun activities and great people to spend time with.