This week, we have Jodi Low in the Shes_Trending interview corner. Jodi was nominated by her team at U & Improved because of her impact in the community and personal story. Jodi founded U & Improved, a leadership development and training program, with a mission of improving people’s lives and affecting the world on a global scale. Last month, we got to witness Jodi’s passion for speaking and helping individuals grow firsthand. Not only was it proof in the pudding, but also seeing and hearing the reactions from the participants in her class validated why she’s taking the world by storm.
ST: Who is Jodi Low, what do you do, and why?
JL: I am a passionate mother and entrepreneur, whose focus in life is to be an inspirational role model to others. My burning desire is to help lead people to become the greatest version of themselves. I absolutely love watching people light up when they realize the dream they had for their life is actually attainable — all it takes is the confidence and shift in mindset to go after it. In our two-and-a-half-day classes, people give themselves permission to think and be BIG. That’s when the magic happens. For me, it’s important that leadership and personal development become more mainstream, more accessible.
ST: Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up?
JL: I was born in Binghamton, NY and have called Scottsdale home, since I was five. I’m a single mom of two amazing girls, 11 and 9, who are the joys of my life. I graduated from ASU, with a degree in Interpersonal and Intercultural Communications and a minor in Family Studies. I started my career in advertising and quickly realized I was much more drawn to entrepreneurship than the corporate world. I launched several companies and always found myself in a role, where I was mentoring, training, and developing other people. I eventually found the most powerful way I could connect with people was in front of a room.
ST: When did you realize you had a passion for helping others and motivational speaking?
JL: I realized I had a passion for serving others at a very young age. Even as a child, I would play office in the tiny closet of my grandparents’ guest room. I have always loved the idea of a business that helped people, and I always gravitated toward that. The big “tap on the shoulder” moment came in 2009, when I went to a workshop given by inspirational speaker, Les Brown. I was in a room with about 40 people. He walked up to me and said I had something he can’t teach…a gift to connect with others in a powerful way. That was the moment I recognized this was my space, and his validation was a launching point for me. That’s when I knew I was where I needed to be.
ST: What were some positive and negative challenges you had to overcome while growing up?
JL: I would say growing up without a mother was both a positive and negative force in my life, mostly positive. I was raised by a wonderful, active, supportive, and very creative dad, who was always there for my brother and me. He was engaged and involved with every aspect of our childhood. There were just those challenging moments, when it would have been helpful to have a female around. I was lucky, though, to have several positive female role models in my life.
ST: In 2008, you founded U & Improved. What was the vision behind the company name? Do the colors of your logo (red, white and black) have a symbolic meaning?
JL: The vision early on was to coach and mentor entrepreneurs and business owners, to help them get out of the weeds, and really focus on their goals and visions. It evolved into something much bigger and greater. There was a ripple effect of people coming through our doors, who wanted this same clarity for everyone within their organization, and a clear need emerged for better communication, collaboration, and individual empowerment within the corporate world. That led to the development of a phenomenal training team and the weekend-long immersion style classes. Our brand colors represent our vision of standing strong, acting boldly, and owning your own power.
ST: You have two beautiful daughters, named Alex and Iliana. From cooking to beach vacations, it seems like you do it all as a single mom. How do you balance the weight of emotions from helping people in your everyday job, while being the best mom you can be?
JL: I have a strong empathy streak, so I often take on the powerful feelings and emotions of our students. What I do, though, is extract learning from those experiences, and that’s what I bring home to my girls. Since they were very young, they’ve grown up in an atmosphere of ‘anything is possible’ and not settling. I can see the tangible benefits of that in the things they say and do, even at 9 and 11 — from the words they use to the thoughts they share. Trust me; being the best mom I can be takes conscious effort, and I am so grateful I can pass along these life lessons to my girls and help make them better people. They make me a better mom.
ST: You are on every social media platform there is; however, we couldn’t find you or your company on Snapchat. Tell us, do you have a Snapchat, and how do you feel about this emerging platform?
JL: Snapchat is an entertaining engagement tool and a fun way to connect with people. I don’t use it because of my kids. I’ll do anything to protect them from bullying and inappropriate behavior. I understand there’s value in it; I just I prefer to stay away from it. I don’t want to encourage things I don’t think are necessary.
ST: Every woman loves to stay cool under pressure. Metaphorically speaking, how do you learn not to sweat under stress?
JL: I do my best to hit the pause button as much as possible. When I feel pressured or overwhelmed, I simply take a deep breath and a minute to remember to be grateful.
ST: Family time seems like an important regime in your daily routine. Recently, you had a small cookout with your daughters and friends that involved some tasty hamburgers. What are some other healthy recipes you recommend for a mover and shaker on the go?
JL: LOL, me … cook? I have no love for cooking, which is not a secret. For me, it’s about efficiency and being healthy. I gravitate toward smoothies, protein shakes, nuts, and clean snacks. For meals, we’re a salad, veggies, and lean meats family. Trader Joe’s is my best friend. I’m one of those who eat to live, not live to eat. I will tell you, though, for me, in all areas of my life, it’s about balance. I let my kids be kids, too, and don’t get too extreme with the healthy eating…pasta and pizza and desserts are treats I am okay with them having, now and then. Life must be lived fully, in my opinion, and a life with no carbs and chocolate…well, that’s just sad.
ST: In your LinkedIn profile, you mentioned a quote by Nelson Mandela that inspires you every day. It says, “There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than one you are capable of living”. As you’re expanding into the next phase of your company, with the U & Improved Leadership Foundation, what’s another quote inspiring this next journey in your life?
JL: Two come to mind: “Leap and the net will appear” and “Risking nothing is risking everything”. As we move forward with the company’s growth and the launch of the non-profit arm, trust in the future is imperative.
ST: U & Improved has been established for over 7 years. How can U & Improved help the community, and what type of programs do you offer?
JL: We offer two-and-a-half-day experiential classes that are small, intimate, and lead students through processes that give them the awareness, knowledge, and focus to implement improvements in their personal and professional lives. Our core classes, U the Leader and U the Communicator, give our graduates skills and hands-on experience to lead and communicate with confidence in all areas of their lives. Our advanced leadership classes, U the Warrior and U the Samurai, are designed for individuals, who want to challenge their inner strength and take actionable steps toward a life of purpose and passion. We also offer U the Teen Leader, which instills focus, effective communication skills, a sense of teamwork, and self-confidence in teens transitioning into adulthood. We believe — and we’ve heard from student feedback — these classes have a powerful and sustainable ripple effect with our graduates’ businesses and home lives.
ST: What advice would you recommend to anyone starting his or her career that you wished someone told you?
JL: Invest in yourself continually, both your time and money. Attend trainings, sign up for workshops, read biographies of successful people, listen to CDs and podcasts. Never stop learning. Luckily, someone told me this early on, and it continues to be the best investment I’ve ever made.
ST: Arizona faces tough issues ahead, as the state is ranked 47th for education, according to www.copamonitor.com. In addition, Arizona remains one of the worst states for poverty. How can U & Improved help bridge the gap between these social issues for the community?
JL: The principles of all U & improved classes are to step up and be leaders; that means a humble servant leader and a leader in the workplace. One of our ideologies is pay it forward, and we are constantly striving to improve individuals, so they can step up and make a positive impact on their community. We also do several events throughout the year to help serve underprivileged communities. Creating the teen program is the perfect bridge between those two things, because it provides education, and through the foundation, it reaches those who could not afford it, otherwise. I believe education in the classroom can only go so far. We impart confidence, passion, focus, and self-esteem — qualities often so hard for young adults to own.
ST: As U & Improved expands with new programs, along with the foundation, how can people help and spread the word?
JL: The easiest way is by sharing the benefits of their experience and how it has impacted them and continues to impact them. Sharing that with business leaders and those within their circle of influence leads to the real impact in people’s personal and professional lives and our community, as a whole. And by living the principles of the training daily, others will notice, because living with confidence, passion, and decisiveness is recognizable and attractive.
ST: With all of our interviews, we like to sign off by saying thank you! We know that you’re trending, which is why we chose you to be one of our featured guests. In honor of our tradition, we would like you to finish this sentence…. My name is Jodi Low, Founder of U & Improved. I am trending because…
JL: I am a true champion of human potential!