The Retreat Episode – She Leads She Thrives Podcast Episode 36

She Leads She Thrives Episode 36 | Shannon Dunn | Business retreat in Ubud Bali | Cambodia women's retreat
She Leads She Thrives Episode 36 | Shannon Dunn | Business retreat in Ubud Bali | Cambodia women's retreat

In some ways I never imagined that this episode would finally become a reality. Returning home from leading my last international retreat for business women in November 2019, I never imagined it would be 3 1/2 years before I got to return to a place I love to reignite a part of my business that is super important.


I adore hosting retreats and in this week’s episode I share with you insights, learnings, adventures and more after wrapping up my 2023 Leadership and Legacy retreat in Bali. Wether you have attended a retreat, want to attend one, host them or want to host them, this episode is full of wisdom for life, for business, for travelling and all things retreating.


I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I loved recording it for you.


In this episode you’ll hear

2:40 – 12 top considerations before hosting a retreat
24:27 – Intentionality and the experience
29:36 – What we did on the Leadership and Legacy retreat this year
33:50 – 2024 retreats

Episode Transcript


She Lead She Thrives, the home of inspired conversations, practical and creative wisdom, expansive leadership and business insights, abundant Bragaudacious moments of celebration and useful info you can actually do something with.


You’ll hear about mindset marketing, money, magnetism, self awareness and the Thrive Factor Framework, it’s Archetypes and more. Amplify your role as a leader, a self led soul. Tap into your effortless success zone. Turn your ingeniousness and wisdom into profitable income streams.


From solo shows to guests you’ll definitely want more from, there’s something for every ambitious ingenious soul. 


I’m Shannon Dunn, a true OG of the business coaching space, with an obsession with thriving. You are so welcome here. Let’s dive into today’s episode.


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Shannon Dunn  00:04

Hey superstars, a huge welcome to episode 36. Now if you’re a regular follower of She Leads She Thrives, you may have realized we missed a weekly episode last week. Now there’s good reason for that. And it wasn’t totally planned at all.


Shannon Dunn  00:20

 I’ve just wrapped up my first international business retreat for women in three and a half years on the 28th of May 2023. And I had planned to prepare a friendship so with you in the early days of retreat to be released last Friday, but life and retreat took over and this became an opportunity to let things flow and allow timing to play out as it was clearly destined to, despite my initial intentions. 


Shannon Dunn  00:45

So this week, I’m back with a complete retreat wrap, including insights into why I added retreats to my business model, things to be mindful of, how I plan and decide what to focus on, the experience and how I bring intentionality into every single piece of all of my retreats. I’ll also be sharing some of the things shared with this year’s participants and share news of the two 2024 retreats and why I’m expanding into a new destination next year. Plus how I decided where to adventure to. 


Shannon Dunn  01:16

Now I’m Shannon Dunn, business and leadership coach supporting the ambitious impact driven souls of the world. Women determined and destined to leave their mark and have their destiny speak their story of belief in spiritual wisdom and courage into the world forevermore. So today as host at She Leads She Thrives podcast, I can’t wait to take you on a retreat immersion. 


Shannon Dunn  01:36

Are you ready? I feel like I want to say “get your passports out, pack your bags”, but you know we’re in a virtual space. So get ready for an incredible ride all the same. Let’s go back to around 2011-ish or so, somewhere around then. I don’t remember the exact year. But I was sitting in a room surrounded by women I knew and some I didn’t. We’d gathered in Bali to share a retreat experience focused on art and yoga. It was my first time traveling overseas to attend a retreat. I participated in many before, but not gone on a plane with my passport previously to go retreating. 


Shannon Dunn  02:13

I vividly remember sitting with a duality of excitement and nervousness. I’m not often a nervous person. But that’s the best way to describe the anticipation of not knowing what was about to unfold in the week ahead of us. It ended up being a phenomenal experience. There were many personal transformation expansion moments and many times over I saw visions of myself in the retreat leadership role. I envisaged myself hosting retreats with such vibrant detail that I never forgot that vision imprinted, if you like, in my soul during that experience. 


Shannon Dunn  02:50

As our long term lover of travel, like such a long term lover, going back to my teens, and when I first went overseas, to my 20s, when I journeyed is the backpacker, to the ensuing decades that have been filled with all kinds of travel, traveling, I feel like it’s part of my soul contract. I was actually sharing with one of my retreat participants just in the last week or so how as a little person, we’d go to a shopping center or a shopping mall, and I would kind of seek out wherever the travel place was, there was always a travel agent somewhere in the shopping mall. And I would go and collect all of the print brochures and bring them home, cut out all the pictures, stick them places, clearly making vision boards before I knew what a vision board was. But it was my desire to see the world that never left me. 


Shannon Dunn  03:42

So really, as I said, I do feel like traveling is part of my soul contract I have no doubt about this. I’ve traveled far and wide and have a list of places that I’m yet to visit that will focus on getting to in this lifetime for sure. So adding retreats to my business model felt so obvious.  It did take me I should say about seven years to go from that visioning space of possibility and potentiality for everything to come together to host my first international retreat. Like there’s no specific reason for the delay in time. But over these many years in business, I’ve worked with clients and group scenarios, but a whole week together in a different country with multifaceted logistics is next level compared to events in your own country, in your own space. 


Shannon Dunn  04:23

Now I’ve had people ask me why I host retreats when they are obviously a lot of work in energy. I’ve had people question their profitability, been challenged as to why I lead them the way I do. But you know what, I wouldn’t change this part of my business for anything right now. It’s one of the most expansive things I do and offer and having just been immersed in the 2023 retreat after an enforced break for 3.5 years, I fell in love with retreating all over again. So when I returned to Australia in November 2019 I never imagined that the retreat for October 2020 that was filling up fast would be canceled. I never imagined, as I know was common across the world, that we would not be able to travel freely. I never imagined the impact of not being able to fulfill one of my most significant parts of my business and the impact it would have on my mindset, my sense of purpose, my freedom. 


Shannon Dunn  05:16

But here we are, though, back to doing what I was doing late 2019 and planning the fabulous expansions in 2024 and beyond. Now, I remember hearing people say things like retreats change lives, and way back when thinking that sounded like a nice idea, and awesome possibility. But the thing is, this phrase gets shared because it is a retreat truth. Retreats, both participating in them, and from my experience, hosting them, have changed my life and business for the better and Thrive Factor Co, they are here to stay. 


Shannon Dunn  05:51

Now I did say I would share some things to be mindful of. So here are my top considerations before diving into retreat hosting. In no particular order, let me just say that I just wrote a list of the things that were top of mind and heart. And you know what, I ended up with 12 of them. So let’s go through them all. So if you are already we’re hosting retreats or considering doing that these are things that I would recommend you consider. As I said, they’re in no particular order. So let’s just go through and just go through one to 12 and I’ll share them with you. 


Shannon Dunn  06:20

So the first one, be super clear on your proposed expenses and factor in contingency funds to navigate things like unexpected changes in prices at your destination, and changeable exchange rates on currencies. Just this year, I found that despite my extensive research, when I priced the retreat, back in August of 2022, that in once we got to May 2023, the exchange rate meant that things were a lot more expensive. I also found that things just generally were a lot more expensive. For example, transportation, which is something that I pay for us to get to our activities has gone up, I would say 30%. We all know all around the world, no matter where you are, that the cost of fuel has gone up. So I expected that but you know, these are things you need to be mindful of. 


Shannon Dunn  07:10

So the second thing to consider when pricing. Take into account the amount of time and effort you’re putting into pre and post retreat, organization, and production, as well as the reality that you will be on and available for the duration of your retreat. This isn’t always something that’s easy to price, because you don’t exactly know how much time pre and post retreat you’ll be spending, doing various things, connecting with your attendees, preparing documentation, all of that kind of thing. And then when you are on retreat, you literally are switched on the whole time. Now, this, as I said, is not an easy thing to necessarily price. But just be mindful of that. And keep that in mind and make sure that you are being rewarded financially for everything that you’re putting into what you’re doing. 


Shannon Dunn  07:55

I know for me, I don’t necessarily charge for this because it’s not something I can but I traveled up to retreat for this year, we started on a Saturday, I traveled the Monday before. So I was up in Ubud in Bali, which is where we were, for a number of days beforehand to prepare, to get printing done, to make sure the rooms were as I expected them to be, all these kinds of things. And as the attendees for this year’s retreat started traveling to Bali, from different parts of Australia, because they were all Australian based participants this year, I was already in my mind and in my heart, already aware of their travel. You know, did they get to their destination on time? Many of them traveled early and stayed in other parts of Bali before coming up to Ubud. Then the day that we commences, which was a Saturday. You know, it’s about logistics a day before, really a couple of days before, about drivers picking people up, what times, what dates, what times, in which order, like there’s so many different things. And being mindful that some participants at times or attendees can have different ideas about what they think things need to look like, feel like and be like, that don’t always work with the local providers. So, you know, you put a lot of energy and effort into all of that well beforehand and even afterwards.  You know, retreat wrapped up on Sunday, it’s a few days later that I’m recording this solo episode for you so it can go live this week. Every day I’ve done something to do with retreat. In terms of wrapping up the retreat, communicating with everyone, we have a wrap up call, there is a lot that goes into that. So just keep that all in mind when you’re pricing and ensure where you can that you are pricing for profitability.


Shannon Dunn  09:35

Okay, number three of my list of 12. Arrive at your destination at least a few days before so you can check in with local service providers and ensure accommodation is ready for your guests to arrive and you’re aware of any specifics that you need to be aware of. This makes such a difference I have found on building that relationship with the location or the place that we’re staying. Now in Ubud in Bali, we have returtned to a place I have stayed at before for retreats. For the foreseeable future, I see us going back there, it was really fabulous to be able to reconnect with some of their senior managers at this place where we stay. And one of them particularly to say to me, Oh, hello, welcome back. I remember you. It was three and a half years ago that I was last there. But Made was like, No, I remember, I saw your name, I see you coming back, I see you have a group. He’s worked at this accommodation for 17 plus years he was telling me and prides himself on remembering when there are leaders of groups bring their groups back, that’s a big deal for them. And a huge part of this particular location where we stay, a huge part of their business is having and hosting groups of various sizes, mostly yoga groups, sometimes art groups, not often business groups. But for me, it’s a business group. So you know, being able to do that it makes such a difference. And just check in with all of your service providers wherever you are. 


Shannon Dunn  11:03

Number four of my list of 12 things to consider add a few days, even up to a week post retreat for some downtime. Whilst I adore hosting retreats, they do take a lot of energy. So downtime to rest ahead of going home is a non- negotiable for me and has been since the first international retreat I hosted, if possible, even move to a new location so you can separate yourself from the retreat space, and location. Now you might move to another place in the country, you might move to another accommodation, it’s up to you entirely.You might not want to move. I tend to find that my retreat attendees move on the day of or the day after we wrap up retreat. But if you really want some downtime and want to disconnect yourself from the entire retreat experience to rest, I know for me it’s it’s a rest time, it’s a sleep time, as a catching up on some of the business things that I wasn’t able to do when I was in retreat. It’s just more leisurely enjoying not having a schedule to be anywhere. And going home can be quite confronting for a lot of people. I tend to find not so much for me these days, but for when you’re an attendee at retreat, it can be a big deal to go from the often intensity and the schedule of a retreat environment to the next day or the day that you wrap or the next day, you’re going straight home into whatever life was like before you left, and you’re a different person. So the same thing can be for a retreat host. So you have some extra days if you can, just for yourself, solo, if that works for you. I know in the past, I’ve had friends come up stay with me, my Mum came up one year a couple of days after retreat wrapped up. And we had a lovely little holiday together. Whatever works for you, but just some downtime doing something different. 


Shannon Dunn  12:54

Number five, build relationships with local service providers where you can like, I’m proud to have a team of incredible people that I work with in Bali, some I’ve known for more than a decade. They appreciate the work I give them. And it’s so welcoming for my groups each time we connect. And as a side note to this, I’ve made a commitment from the beginning that I would prioritize local service providers or product businesses. So I choose to work with locally owned businesses, including say restaurants we eat at  and accommodation wherever I can. This way, the money that we spend stays local and support small business a majority of the time, and that’s something that’s really important to me. When you are paying, say for accommodation at a venue that is owned by an international organization, that money doesn’t necessarily go into the local economy. And when I think about the places that I’m traveling to for retreats, the economy is very different to how it is in Australia or in a first world country. So the individuals that we’re working with, they don’t earn a lot of money. Yes, their cost of living is different to what we have. But I would like them to receive the maximum amount of what we are bringing in, myself and my attendees, is receive as much of that as possible. 


Shannon Dunn  14:12

Number six, specifically who you retreat is for, and don’t be concerned either about saying no to someone who’s just not good fit for your group. You don’t have to accept them just because they willing to pay to come. This is really a business lesson. You don’t have to work with everybody who wants to pay you or wants to join a program or work with you in some way. If you really truly feel that someone’s not right for the group, then honor your instincts on that. 


Shannon Dunn  14:40

Okay, number seven have my 12. Get your paperwork in order early. Now I have a highly detailed retreat terms and conditions and agreement document, as well as written contracts with service providers, a thorough health form, and I collect a lot of details from my attendees, including like two lots of next of kin contact details and travel insurance information. When you’re away from home, as a retreat leader, you are the participants advocate. So being able to support them by being prepared and able to quickly access information in the event that there was an issue or concern, an illness or an injury, is essential. So get all your paperwork in order. Make sure you have follow ups, make sure you get everything to everybody, my business manager helps me with this as needed, it makes such a difference to having all that all there and having a good system to access that information, work out what you need to print to take with you what you can access digitally, and then make sure that you have access to do that digitally as well. 


Shannon Dunn  15:39

Number eight, plan to connect with your participants both before and after retreat. Now this might sound obvious, but I’ve certainly been on retreats as a participant or an attendee where there was very little before and after, and it’s not 100% required. But I know for me, particularly those first couple of retreats I went on as an attendee, I feel like it would have made a difference, particularly the homecoming part. A softer landing, if you like, being able to have a connection with the group. So being able to connect with your attendees both before and after retreat gives a chance to create some group connection, you can answer questions, set the scene pre-retreat, and a post retreat catch up is a great way to continue the connections made and to do a general check in. Returning home to all that someone left can be challenging, even for the most resilient soul and someone that travels regularly. You have just been in an entire week or however long your retreat was, of expansion of thinking differently of having different experiences, of getting to know yourself differently. And you go home a different person. And often you go home to family or your clients or your business connections or partners or friends. And they’re expecting you to kind of be the same and you’re not. And that can be as I said before, quite confronting for some people. So you know, being able to support your attendees with a call, a couple of weeks after everyone sort of gets home or after retreat wraps up, can make a massive difference for a lot of people and they really feel supported. 


Shannon Dunn  17:14

Okay, number 10. Plan well in advance. Now where I can, there is at least an eight month often even 12 plus months lead time between opening registrations and the retreat commencing. And I found my retreats are sold out within days to weeks of retreats or registrations opening. But once you have all of your places secured, you can enjoy the countdown, share in your marketing ahead of time, share also what you can about future retreats, and seeding what is coming can create a lot of interest for potential future guest attendees, which makes a huge difference. Plus giving yourself that space and time to be prepared to get everything done. Because you’re not I imagine like me, you’re not just hosting retreats as your business model. Retreats is one part of your business model and you’ve got other things going on as well. And of course life.


Shannon Dunn  18:07

Okay, number 11 of our 12. Visit the location – so where you’re going to be hosting your retreat – before you host your retreat. Or choose somebody you know well and have connections. Now this makes a world of difference to your planning, to organization and to delivery, and of course this can positively influence your attendee experience. For me, it’s was an easy thing to come to Bali for my first retreats and to particularly go to Ubud, which is a place that I have retreated to, I have come to know like a second home. Things change, yeah, places open, places close, different people to connect with. But generally I know Ubud very well, I know what to expect. I know what to do if there is an issue or a concern. I have local connections there as a support. And it’s a place that I love with all my heart. So it made it easy to be able to come here for a retreat. And I’ll talk a little bit later about the fact that we’re expanding into a new location in 2024 and how I chose where we would go for that new location. 


Shannon Dunn  19:14

And the last one of these considerations is ensure the accommodation allows for every attendee to have their own room and bathroom. Now this really is a non-negotiable and has been for me since day one. When you’re away from home, there are a lot of things that can come up. Sleep can be already disturbed by a new environment, new noises, a vastly different bed and pillow situation. I’m laughing because sometimes I’d be like, What am I sleeping on? Like, it looks like a bed but it’s very uncomfortable. Or you know, the pillow that I don’t even know if you can call it a pillow, those kind of things. And I’m laughing now, but trust me at the time it was incredibly impactful and not having that opportunity to rest and to sleep can make a huge difference to how you can show up as an attendee, and particularly if you’re hosting, getting that rest time is incredibly important. 


Shannon Dunn  20:09

So you don’t want to find out when you turn up to a retreat that you’re sharing your room with another person. Even if it’s the friend you came on retreat with, like personal space and a place to literally retreat and get some alone time is a priority. You know, Asia is the place that I go to, at this point in time, to host my retreats. Some people’s digestion and way of eating changes, there can be tummy upsets and different things. But as I said you want your own bathroom as well as your own room, your own bed to sleep in. It’s incredibly important that people have their privacy and feel that they can be comfortable in their own space, that they can unpack their things, that they’re not worried about, you know, encroaching on somebody else’s personal space. So I know that there is a trend, particularly for retreats in Bali, to have a beautiful villa that often has multiple rooms, but you find that people are sharing or maybe it has the potential for having six to 10 people like in terms of bed sleeping, but you might have two bathrooms. And you know, you’re getting up in the morning and off to do something for a retreat and you’ve got to get up early or something to make sure that you can have a shower when you want. That I don’t want people to think about that I want people to feel that they can be as comfortable as possible, and make their their room where we stay feel like home for the time that we are there.


Shannon Dunn  21:36

 I’m sure there are more things that I can add to that list. But those as I said, were the the top ones on my heart and in my head that I wanted to share with you all. So next, it’s time to share a little bit about how I plan and decide what to focus on. My retreats at this point in time are for women in business and as a long term business and self leadership coach, the focus for my retreats are really relatively easy to choose. They are an extension of my core coaching and education services and programs but delivered in a retreat environment. And really that’s it. And the overall focus of Thrive Factor Co retreats is self leadership and legacy. And then from next year we begin with an annual focus so with two retreats in two individual locations in 2024, the theme will be self-led soul. So think CEO vibes but your way in terms of retreat masterclass content. There are some elements of my retreats that are the same each year to maintain some consistency. But also each year with a change in the sub focus or sub theme, there’ll be brand new masterclasses shared with everyone. I like to keep my content fresh and current and as much as possible, aligned with what you’re looking for in terms of your own learning and expansion. 


Shannon Dunn  22:49

So this adds variety and offers opportunity for attendees to come year in year out and have a new experience. It also keeps it interesting for me and has provided a chance for me to stretch myself beautifully in terms of content choice, and delivery design. I also get to create retreat specific resources that are where possible, personalized for attendees, where it’s really taken them into consideration. Now every one of the attendees at my retreats, if they haven’t already been profiled and know their Thrive Factor archetypes, that’s included and they get to do that as a bonus. Now this gives me an overview of who we’ve got coming to retreat from an Archetype perspective. And while not every set of Archetypes will play out exactly the same, there are consistent potential behavior responses, mindset responses, emotional responses for certain Archetypes. 


Shannon Dunn  22:49

So I can see ahead of time, with a particular masterclass we’re doing, or retreat activity we’re doing, a cultural experience, how that might land for someone based on their Archetypes. It gives me such an opportunity to really understand what could be going on for someone and to support them as best as I can, through whatever may come up for them. So each year I also teach something about the 12 Thrive Factor Archetypes that is a brand new retreat. Even the Thrive Factor Coach community don’t know what I teach at retreats and there were two Thrive Factor Coaches on this year’s retreat, and so the content we taught about Thrive Factor Archetypes was new for them. And I love that, that they get something new as well. 


Shannon Dunn  24:27

The experience is so important to me, I consciously bring intentionality into every single piece of all my retreats, and I create the kind of retreats that I’d want to attend. That’s an awesome Litmus test to check for alignment. Whilst every attendee comes with their own expectations influenced by her past experience of traveling, of attending group events, or other retreats, my focus is on considering the majority and as I said, what I’d love in terms of experiences and schedule. Now I can 100% say that some of my retreat experiences in the past as an attendee, or a participant, haven’t been what I hoped that they would be, haven’t stacked up to my expectations, haven’t delivered in the way that I dreamed that they possibly would. They’ve all been positive in the majority. But some of those different things that I’ve experienced or feedback I’ve heard from other people that have been on those retreats with me have 100% influence, in the way that I have pulled my retreats together and how I focus on and choose what I’m going to include and how we schedule all of that across the week. 


Shannon Dunn  25:42

Now, I’ve have certainly had things some attendees were resistant to, other things, including retreats that people did not enjoy. Some where the occasional person chose not to participate. And this is all part of working with groups. And as a retreat leader, you can’t take these decisions by your attendees personally. You want to, but you’ve got to really not do that. Staying focused on the majority, whilst checking the individual who has made it different choice is okay with their choice is the best that you can do. Now, having the Inspirer Believer Thrive Factor Archetype,  I get wildly attached to all we do in the utmost excitement.  So there have been times when I felt disappointment when someone doesn’t want to participate, is obviously wanting to be somewhere else or can cannot participate because they’re unwell, something’s going on, and they need some time to rest. But I’ve had to learn to be as detached as possible whilst maintaining my genuine enthusiasm for what we’re about to do. So that I show up for those who show up. And I’m still mindful of whoever – if there is somebody who is not there present – what’s going on for them and how I can support them as well. Kind of like being in two places at once. But you know, I pull it off. 


Shannon Dunn  26:53

 I plan the activities well in advance. And I do spend a lot of time communicating with service providers to ensure that all dates, times, transport and other arrangements are in place. That I’ve learned many times over does not always mean that things run smoothly or on time as scheduled. We’re in a different country, people have different priorities. But just as an example, with my recent retreat, I booked our spa experience six weeks in advance, communicating regularly, had a long email trail with proof of our booking, checked reviews multiple times before booking at this spa, because it wasn’t my first preference. The actual top of my list spa couldn’t accommodate a group of eight despite a seven week advance notice which shocked me, but you know, that’s how things happen sometimes. And yet, despite an email the day before to reconfirm with the spa we did choose to go to that they would pick us up and receiving a reply confirming the date and time again, we found ourselves waiting and having to get our accommodation to actually follow up with this particular venue. 45 minutes later, we all  had arrived and had to wait a little bit longer for our treatments to begin. Now one of their treatments I booked for everyone, frequently one of my favorite things to experience as spa in Bali, was received with a lukewarm response from half of the group. 


Shannon Dunn  28:13

Now the experience was not what I’d booked or what we were all expecting. So I intervened and shared that feedback with a spa. And to be honest, I won’t use them again, despite their excellent reviews. Things happen experiences change, but as a retreat leader, you have to be able to intervene fast and do what you can to make sure the experience is a positive one for the group. Now, because of what this experience was, I didn’t find out that people weren’t happy with it until afterwards, when we were still at the venue and they were able to share their feedback. So during the process of it all, I couldn’t go around and check you know, and intervene and interrupt someone’s massage and everything and say how’s it all going? Do we need to change this? That’s not appropriate. But I did get feedback quickly. And sometimes, there’s little you can do other than pass on the feedback from your attendees. But do this it really is so important. 


Shannon Dunn  29:04

Now, as a side note here, if you have a phenomenal experience, be proactive and review the location or the experience or the service provider. As a business owner, you know the value of a genuine review. But don’t wait to be asked to share one, share the love and appreciation. It could really be the difference in someone making a choice to work with that provider in the future or attend that restaurant or participate in an activity. And I feel like it’s a simple thing to do that takes a tiny bit of time to really say thank you to someone who went out of their way to support us. 


Shannon Dunn  29:36

So what did we actually do at this year’s Leadership and Legacy Retreat in a Ubud in Bali. Well, so many amazing things. The highlights for attendees, based on their feedback with a blended business and self-leadership focused masterclasses, with the local activities like visiting the most divine Water Temple for what the Balinese call a water purification process. And just as a side note to this, this year, the experience fell on an auspicious day in the Balinese calendar the day after Saraswati Day which coincided with the commencement of our retreat. 


Shannon Dunn  30:06

So just literally a couple of days before we commenced on 20th of May, I found out that it was an auspicious day to be commencing a week long immersion for women in business. Because the 20th of May this year in the Balinese calendar is the day the Balinese people show their respect and appreciation to the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. She’s the Goddess of wisdom and learning. And in reading about her I’ve also discovered she’s the goddess of speaking and self expression. So what an ideal day for the self leadership and legacy retreat to begin. 


Shannon Dunn  30:37

Then the following day, the day that we were scheduled to visit the Water Temple under the guidance of a local Priestess Luh Manis we discovered was, let me I’m not going to get this pronunciation, right, but I’m going to try, Banyu Pinaruh, a day that she described that most Balinese participate in water blessings. They go to their local holy springs or to the ocean. And it always falls the day after Saraswati Day and occurs every six months. So talk about synchronicity. I had no idea about these different days falling on day one of retreat and on our water day of retreat or our water purification day. So this for me, definitely added to the power of the retreat and this particular activity. 


Shannon Dunn  31:19

Now we had spa time, as I mentioned, we shared meals and incredible restaurants and our days of intention setting and creative expression. We thought a lot, shared a lot, listened to each other, supported each other ,shared a creative experience. This year, it was a Batik class of someone I first joined for a Batik class over a decade ago. Now with art therapy in my background and being an artist, there is always, always always a creative expression in every retreat. I have about four favorites I rotate each year, so there is something new for everyone returning. And it’s always a lot of fun. And I’ve shared pics and reels over on my Instagram if you want to see what we got up to. Just head to Insta and you go to shannon_thethrivefactor and you’ll be able to find what I’ve shared in the last week or so. 


Shannon Dunn  32:03

And we also had a day at the sound healing center in Ubud, Pyramids of Chi. It was so fabulous to be back there, immersed in the most incredible experience. I’ve been visiting this place for about six years maybe and it never disappoints. Being able to spend the entire day there and enjoy the ambience and the surrounds, nourished by the incredible cafe on site and work together at a secluded table was just brilliant. And we found out that the sound healer we had for the day, that was his first time hosting a sound healing session in three years, he was a regular sound healer that used to come and work at Pyramids of Chi pre the whole pandemic. And he was saying that it was such a incredible experience to be back there doing that and we were there, so it feels really cool that as well. 


Shannon Dunn  32:51

Now this year for the first time, there was a VIP option for retreat. This included a full 24 hours of additional retreat immersion full of nourishing and celebration experiences. Plus the three ladies who took the VIP option will get one on one coaching for the next couple of months to support the integration of all retreat offered these incredible souls. Now I loved every moment of retreat for the entire week. And I love the VIP experience with all my heart. That additional time with an intimate group of three was next level. Choosing special experiences to celebrate these women and keeping them a surprise, was such a joy, right from what we did on a Saturday afternoon once everyone else had gone home, to the dinner where we actually went to eat, to the thing we did on the Sunday morning, to even traveling together as they were departing and I was coming to a new location. Everything about so much joy. And I can’t wait to see who’s going to join me and choose the VIP options for the 2024 retreats. 


Shannon Dunn  33:50

Now I’ve mentioned this already. In 2024, we’re expanding and taking the Thrive Factor Co Leadership and Legacy retreats to a new location. Now Bali remains a focus and we will be there in August 2024. It is such an effortless thing for me to return to Ubud each year and to return to Bali. But after a nudge from someone last year, I decided to expand our list of destinations. And choosing where to go is easy for me. It really comes down to countries or locations I’ve traveled to before, that I have a connection with, and that fill my heart with the kind of energy that draws me back. 


Shannon Dunn  34:25

So in March 2024, if you haven’t seen already on my socials, to coincide also with International Women’s Day we will be going to the region of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Big breath out. I can’t wait. Can’t believe we’re going there. I first visited this glorious country around 15 years ago and fell in love with it. I just love Cambodia so much. There’s so much to see, adventures to be had, ancient civilizations to explore, a fascinating culture, and a people who are humble and welcoming. I really can’t wait to get back there and to have a group with me to explore and get excited all about Cambodia has to offer is just like filling my heart with so much of everything, everything and more. 


Shannon Dunn  35:06

So expanding to a new destination really was always on the cards. And in fact, in the future we may we’ll have two locations in Bali. That’s something that I can see and sense and feel so much. My wanderlust heart will always be open to new places to explore. And when I fall in love with a country and a destination, I know will be considering how I can weave retreat into the future there. Perhaps though, in time, there may be three, or four or more retreats a year? I don’t know. Let’s see what the future holds for Thrive Factor Co retreats.  I don’t actually know what it will be exactly, but I sense an excitement about what is possible, and my Visionary Creator Thrive Factor Archetype 100% sees me co- hosting retreats with key Thrive Factor Coaches who decided to do this and share their magic and expertise with women the world over, so stay tuned! You never know what will be in store for 2024 and beyond. 


Shannon Dunn  36:00

Now, we’re getting close to signing off for today’s episode, and I have a few little things to share with you. But before I do that, I just want to say next week we’ll be back with a new guest, Sas Petherick. A coach who focuses on self belief and offers a unique support experience for coaches that draws on a model traditionally seen in the therapeutic industry. I loved connecting with Sas after finding her on Insta sometime ago and we had a blast creating this conversation to share with you, so you’ll love it, I’m sure. 


Shannon Dunn  36:28

So, before we wrap up for today, I want to share something I wrote and shared on my socials for maybe two or three days before we commenced this year’s retreat. It summed up all of my feelings so fabulously. There’s something about the anticipation of retreat group coming together that fills my heart and soul with an energy I don’t often experience in my life and work at other times. It comes from the excited waiting for everyone to arrive. The months and months of dreaming about what’s possible. The even longer timeframe of planning, booking, getting all the moving parts in order. The getting the communication ready to send to all those who booked, checking in all the final details, finalizing the paperwork, the program or workbooks or gifts, traveling to the destination or waiting for everyone to arrive. 


Shannon Dunn  37:13

This energy is definitely one of eager anticipation. But also something else I don’t exactly have words for, it’s an energy that I welcome, energy I haven’t felt until now in such a long time. Energy I’m glad to experience again. And it’s a handful of days till the 2023 Leadership and Legacy Retreat for business women begins. And also a time I’m finalizing dates in the two locations for 2024. Visioning ahead, while also staying grounded in the present is an incredible thing.


Shannon Dunn  37:44

 Have you ever been on an international retreat of some kind? I’d love you to tell me about what you experienced. You can do that. Send an email to, I’d love to know. My combined love of travel, my curious nature and commitment to working with inspiring ambitious souls individually and in groups definitely underpins my choice to host retreats. As I’ve shared, I first fell in love with retreats after attending the first international one maybe 12-13 years ago, I forget which year. But I don’t forget the experience and the profound effect it had on me. I vividly remember first attending a retreat in Bali and seeing myself hosting retreats of my own. While that vision took about six or seven years to unfold and become reality, I continue to stay connected to my vision and believe in its potential reality. 


Shannon Dunn  38:29

This is a key part of the way I also work with clients. I see coaching as a form of connection, a supportive connection, linking your more profoundly and at times with a different kind of intent to your dreams, your visions, your desires. It also offers opportunities for you to believe in and trust yourself, to move forward with reliable confidence and turn those dreams that often start as a little whisper in your heart, into reality, into your lived experience. It’s such an incredible thing to witness and be a part of.


Shannon Dunn  38:57

 In the last few days, one of this year’s participants described how affirming retreating with me over the two and a half days in Australia in 2021 had been and why it was an absolute honor and no brainer for her to join me for this year’s week long experience in Bali. And to have a friend join her because of her previous experience. The added benefit of travel just made it much better. I can’t see a time I won’t host retreats. They’re a key part of my offerings. And I can’t see that changing at all. So now’s the time to think about whether retreat may be just the right thing for you in your future. Imagine how you’d feel after a whole week exploring what’s possible and essentially creating and affirming foundations for your future growth and success. personally and in business. 


The 2024 Retreat details can be viewed in a link in the show notes for this episode. Certainly all over my social media. If you’re on my email list, and you receive communication from me via email, you will get information there as well. But as of today, when I’m recording this for you, there are actually three of eight places secured for Cambodia, with only one of three VIPs remaining. Imagine what’s possible when you gift yourself the time and space to retreat? 


As always superstar adventurous soul and remember you were born to thrive and to follow your dreams, your visions, your ambition, your desire. I will always hold that reality for you, for me, for us all. Have the best week.

Thank you

Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. You are so valued and appreciated.


Aside from this podcast, my favorite place to hang out online is definitely Instagram. So come and join me shannon_thethrivefactor and know my DMs are always open for genuine questions and connections.


For all the latest Thrive Factor goodness visit where you’ll find more about thriving in life and business.


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Meet host Shannon Dunn

Shannon Dunn, CEO here at Thrive Factor Co is your host of She Leads She Thrives podcast.
Having hosted two podcasts previously, Shannon loves an opportunity to share her musings, wisdom and lived and learned experiences about a whole range of topics to support the ambitious, ingenious souls of the world to thrive in business, leadership and life.
An OG of the coaching world, Shannon believes thriving is a birthright and with the creation of the Thrive Factor Framework® and it’s 12 distinctive and female centric Archetypes, she’s on a mission to ripple as much thriving as possible across the world.

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