Something remarkable occurs when self-improvement becomes obsessive. Individuals that suffer in stagnation, individuals like Jo, act as the unstoppable tide that raises all boats. Somehow in marching to the sound of her own drum, Jo has successfully raised up an ensemble in her legacy as a leader, further progressing the rhythm of an organization that walks together. The fruits of such a legacy are abundant, being collected by all she trains, leads, and converses with. I gratefully count myself as one such individual.
A veteran of England Logistics for 12 years, Jo started as a capacity manager in 2009. After ascending the ranks through unrelenting work ethic and heed to feedback, Jo was promoted to manager of operations for England Carrier Services (ECS) in 2011. Jo’s talent for career coaching landed her a position as a corporate trainer in 2012, and finally the director of training in 2014. Jo is the happy mother of two children.
Caden: So Jo, you’re a bit of an all-star in terms of our EL culture. You’ve had a chance to do quite a few events, and you’ve just been very participative in the company culture overall. I want to start out by asking you, and don’t let me put words in your mouth, but being a cultural contributor seems to be a priority to you. Why is that?
Jo: That’s kind to call me an all-star, that might be a stretch, but culturally, England is really big on hard work and lots of fun. Those are two things that are part of who I am.
Caden: So you feel like the cultural values that EL has harmonize with those that you hold?
Jo: Definitely. It’s been a nice fit, so fluid and natural. It worked out well.
Caden: What that being said, how did you come to England Logistics in the first place? How did you become part of our team?
Jo: So that’s kind of funny. I came out in 2008 when the economy was just terrible. My brother-in-law worked at C.R. England when I was having a hard time finding a job. He told me about this awesome side of our business, the brokerage, and he thought it would be a great fit for me. At first I was super hesitant, just because I was a Florida girl and loved where I lived, but something just felt really right. Once I got here, it was just a really good fit. I had the expectation that I would stay for a year, and that was 12 years ago.
Caden: It’s interesting that your expectation of your stay changed. Do you think there was ever a moment for you that you can recall where you were like, “Wow, I can actually see myself being here over a long period of time?”
Jo: Yes, there was that moment for sure. It was my first kind-of grown-up job, if you will, and I never experienced working on that level: I worked harder than I ever had in my whole life. Something about that became really exciting for me. Something about that process of working super hard, and then achieving things–it became really empowering for me. As I just got further and further into it, the further I wanted to go.
Caden: There was even more good to find, right?
Jo: There was just a lot of opportunity too. The company was growing really fast, so I had the ability to benefit from that forward momentum. That’s important to me, still is.
Caden: You felt the trajectory of opportunity and ran with it. That’s beautiful. That being all said, if I were to go and ask anyone that has been here more for more than two or three years, they would say, “Yeah, Jo is absolutely somebody that could be the face of the company,” because you represent what we hold as values. And so I want to ask you, in your mind, what were some of your most memorable moments at EL? If you were to go back and create a timeline of impactful and memorable events, what would be included?
Jo: I feel like I have so many! I think one of the biggest ones that was pivotal for me was when Ryan Lavigne hired me to be the manager of operations for ECS. That was a big deal for me, because I had worked incredibly hard and really, really wanted an opportunity.
That was the first time, though I had leadership roles, that someone really believed in me and gave me an opportunity. That opportunity really gave me a chance to prove myself. This was a huge moment of shift for me professionally. It felt really great when I got that chance.
Caden: That’s wonderful. It’s empowering when someone places that trust in you. And with that being such a major moment in your occupational upbringing, would you say that has effected how you lead and manage?
Jo: Definitely. What excited me was proving myself and working really hard in achieving. I just needed someone to give me that chance, so I think that’s really important as a leader is to know your people well enough to know what lights them up and project them forward. So definitely when I am dealing with people, or working with people, that’s always something I try and tune into.
Caden: That shows a lot of empathy. Would you say that is the most prominent lesson you’ve learned as a leader in logistics, or would you answer otherwise?
Jo: I really do think that the most powerful leaders that I have had are connected: they’re connected to the purpose of the business as much as they are connected to the purpose of an individual. And when people have been able to do that for me, I am able to look at my purpose and tie that to the company, that’s when I have achieved the most. When that alignment happens, that becomes really powerful.
Caden: Jo, that hugely speaks to your priorities, helping those you lead realize their potential says something about your leadership style. It’s appreciated. So, if you were to give advice then to an individual in this company that is just starting out, but they’d eventually like to lead in a culture like this that we’re in, what advice would you give them?
Jo: You know, I’ve always been a big believer that energy creates energy, that’s kind of the way I try and live. If I want something big, I have to do big things. You just have to keep moving. There’s always gonna be roadblocks; there’s always gonna be things that come in your path that you don’t want there. There’s gonna be opportunities that you deserve but you don’t get, but you just have to keep moving, keep working, keep trying, hop on the horse and when your effort is big, big things will happen.
Caden: There is such a power in making sure we understand that our relationship as leaders is symbiotic–it’s two-fold. You’re an awesome example of that. So here you’ve got this 12 years, a good 12 years of experience, but in any career there is going to be hurdles and challenges. Can you recall for you, what were some obstacles you felt like you needed to overcome in order to grow, and what did you do about it?
Jo: My first couple of years working here, I never worked that hard in my life. I was really focused, I cared, and I was putting a lot of energy and a lot of myself into what I was doing. And then I got passed up for a couple of opportunities. Of course, I felt really frustrated because in my mind, I deserved them. I ended up asking for a little bit of time with Jason. I sat with him, and had a very honest conversation with him where he was transparent with me about some of the areas I needed to work on, areas I didn’t see within myself, and got some honest feedback. I trusted Jason and I knew that he cared about my success, so it was an easy person to receive that feedback from… but it wasn’t easy feedback, but I took it to heart. I really tried to take a step back and look at what he said with an open mind, and what he said was right. So I worked on [those things]. That’s what I would say to someone in that spot, I think most of us are trying to do our best, most of us are giving our all at work.
When you get into that space when you aren’t given opportunities that you feel you deserve, find yourself a Jason or find someone that will be honest with you. And then take that to heart.
For me, that was a big jump when I changed those areas. Then I was able to get some opportunities that I was excited about.
Caden: I’m grateful for the honesty in your answer. It seems that anybody that is truly serious about growth and actually, sincerely desires it, it’s not just a formality for them. They take that step of being willing to evaluate what they can do to grow personally.
Jo: Yes! And that is something that has always been really important to me is self-evaluation. I’ve always felt like a really self-accountable person, but I think it’s an even bigger step too see yourself clearly. You know your effort! You know your effort level! You know what you’re putting into something, so it’s easy to think, “Well, I’m trying really hard so that means I’m qualified!” But it’s another layer of recognizing that I still am human, and I still have areas that need improvement. Someone might help me see that more clearly than I do myself.
Caden: It just goes to show though that you’re also willing to talk the talk in the most literal sense: that you went to somebody to seek feedback. It’s impressive that you recognized that there might be a need for improvement, but then there was this deliberate step of action that, I’m sure that you might be able to speak to this, took a little bit of courage to walk into that room to have that conversation. Was that intimidating for you, to square up with what you wanted to improve with a leader?
Jo: Of course! I was sweating head to toe. I was completely nervous. I knew Jason enough to trust him and I knew he was a kind and gracious human being, but yeah! He’s the president of the company! It did take a leap of faith and courage, but truly it was the best thing I did for my career, and it moved me in a better, more productive direction.
Caden: That is just so admirable. Those turning points do not come without those moments of just insane, sweating courage. And that’s what you did! It’s awesome that is part of your success story. Now, this interview is professionally-oriented, but it’s refreshing sometimes to sometimes peer into an individual and find out what they value personally. I’d like to be able to know, what are things for you and your life, not necessarily occupationally, that are important to you and, stepping back into that professional realm, is there any way that EL helps to supplement those priorities for you? I know that’s a complex question.
Jo: No, that’s actually really easy for me. Something that is wildly important to me is constant growth. I want to be better everyday in all areas of my life, as a partner, as a mother, as a sister, as a friend—
Caden: You’re in the right place for sure.
Jo: Exactly! That’s what I was talking about earlier when I said I was culturally aligned with England. At first, honestly, that will either exhaust or excite you, to live in that state of always wanting to be more. But England’s been the perfect place for me because we have really high expectations of people, but that excites me as I have high expectations of myself.
That’s one of the biggest and most important things to me as a person, I don’t ever want to be stagnant, I don’t want to ever stop growing. That feels to me like I’m not living a full-life if I’m not growing.
Caden: I think that’s some powerful content that you’ve offered, in that this culture is for those that are just repulsed by stagnation, that the thought is actually uncomfortable, not some enticing form of, “If only I could slow things down.” That doesn’t mean there’s not a time and place for taking your time, but growth is the ultimate desire. Up to this point this interview has been completely impromptu (because you’ve made it so easy), but I want to make sure I hit on a few of these formal questions. What do you love to do outside of work? I understand that you are all about your family, so if you have a Saturday to blow, for example, what do you do?
Jo: I, as you mentioned, love my family. I have two little kids and a husband and I adore them all. Sometimes it’s a wild ride. We just try and spend time together. I love being outside, love being in the sun, and I am a big hot yoga fan.
Caden: You’re incredibly brave. So just the outdoor life is what appeals to you?
Jo: Yeah, but outdoor minus the dirt. I like to be in the sunshine, but not necessarily getting actively dirty. I’m a Florida girl.
Caden: I, unfortunately could have been born in the dirt, so I can’t relate. In this period, speaking of your family, we’ve had quite a historic epoch these last couple months where we’ve had the opportunity to accommodate some remote work, as I know that was the case for yourself. From what I understand that came with one small complication in the form of your daughter’s haircut. Would you just elaborate a little bit on that?
Jo [laughing]: My sweet girl was born with slow-growing hair. She naturally has a bit of a mullet. She was just getting to the point where it was long and lovely. I had a quick video conference that I had to host, so I stuffed the kids in our bedroom, and bribed them to behave. As I’m doing the meeting, I hear them laughing! And that should have been my first sign that something was terribly wrong.
Caden: There’s no way they could be having fun in a safe environment.
Jo: Right. They aren’t sitting and reading a book. I knew that some form of destruction was taking place. So I go in, and I see Kingston has his kids scissors in his hand, and there’s a pile of Mila’s hair on the floor. She had her little pigtails in and he just cut them right off. So we’re back to the mullet, and she rocks it. She looks fantastic with her mullet, we did try to glue a bow in, but we’re doing what we can. Working from home with kids is an adventure to say the least.
Caden: At least that this will likely be the only time in her life where she can tout that she rocked a mullet, and she owes that to her brother really.
Jo: That’s true! It’s only fair. It’s a rite of passage. And she’s killing the hair game.
Caden: I had to get the whole story. Coming to the conclusion of this interview, with all of this being said, I had asked what your advice on leadership was, but I just want you to speak to, if you can, a more general sense of advice to those that are just entering EL and especially those that have the same passion for growth that you do. In 12 years of experience, in all the experience you’ve gained, in all the things that you’ve learned, what do you tell these individuals as far as advice is concerned?
Jo: I would say if that is who you are as a person, you will thrive here. And it might take time, but keep working. You work as hard as you can and consider the theme Future in Focus. I love that theme because I can imagine all the things I want from my future and all the things I want to achieve vividly. I am a very ambitious person and there is always something on the horizon that I am working towards! Which is great, but that’s the easy part. The hard part comes in the focus. I have to show up, in every moment I possibly can, to the best of my ability. How am I engaging in this current moment? This current role? This current responsibility? This interaction I’m having? Am I wildly focused on my future goal, in this moment?
It’s in the mastery of the moments you are in that you will achieve the thing that you want.
So, you keep moving, you keep working, you keep trying. You get back on the horse, and it will happen. Continue to push forward.
Caden: With all of the momentum that you’ve generated for yourself, and if you compound that with all the momentum you’ve generated in the individuals you’ve worked with, it seems like, in your case, the only direction you’re going to be moving is forward.
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