In this episode, Jennifer and I are discussing her tendency to be the fairness cop, time in living and working in Germany and the differences between there and the US, and sacrifices made in the pursuit of big titles and big money. Plus, making decisions your 80-year old self will look back on favorably and what it takes to finally make a change.
Jennifer DiMotta is the Founder of Uprisors, a Leadership Wellness Program for Women. She has 20-plus years in high-ranking roles where she’s led more than 1000 team members. Jennifer speaks often on female leadership and the Uprisors methodology to develop into an effective leader. She’s a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and earned a Masters Degree in Leadership. In 2014 she was given Colorado’s Most Influential and Most Powerful Woman award and in 2017, named to the Top 100 Women to Watch. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Midland States Bancorp.
Jennifer’s hype song is Lose Yourself by Eminem. Listen at https://youtu.be/_Yhyp-_hX2s
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Hello, and welcome to Fine is a 4-Letter Word. My guest this week is Jennifer DiMotta. And I am so happy to have you on my show. It's been a while since we first connected. Welcome, Jennifer,Jennifer DiMotta:
thank you it has been a while I'm so glad we were able to reconnect. I know I moved away from Virginia, but it's always good to keep in contact with everyone that you've had such good relationships with. And we always did when we met together in our consulting group.Lori Saitz:
Yes, yes. Well, I moved away to for a little while. We were gone in about the same time. Yeah, so let's start off the conversation with tell me what values and beliefs you were raised with, that then contributed to how, what what decisions you were made when you became a young adult? Yeah. Or even throughout, not just young adult, throughout,Jennifer DiMotta:
yeah, and I still carry these, I would say honesty is at the top of my mother's list. And so it's always I believe in it, too. I have followed that just like my mother instilled that in us. And I just think it's what makes the world good. So honesty, for sure. And then, you know, she, she taught us like self discipline, you know, really holding yourself accountable to being a good person holding yourself accountable to doing good to being good to other people. Just, you know, a lot of self discipline, a lot of self accountability. And then the last one, and I might have even taken this way overboard than she ever expected. Is a fairness. I'm kind of like the fairness cop. I, you are okay. I mean, you know, even like, for example, I've always been the digital and ecommerce world. And, you know, I don't, I don't want Amazon to just keep winning and winning and winning by leaps and bounds and not see some of the clients that I have, you know, get that same kind of opportunity for success. And, and, you know, one of the things I do is I work with the, I work with companies that I want to help them, you know, see the value of digital and learn the value of digital, so they have that opportunity as well. But fairness is something that fairness and equality, I really love that and part of the reason that came to light, I think for my mom, it does for us in childhood was she grew up in a lot of different environments, like she was born in Canada, but she really grew up in Puerto Rico from the time she was nine till she was 16, you know, and then came here to the United States. And she was in the Washington DC area, which you and I were in for a while, you know, and then she went to Omaha, Nebraska. So she's just seen a variety of cultures, uh, you know, a great diversity beyond what many of us see. And I think it got her to thinking about, you know, how people are treated and the different ways that fairness can stream through your life and, and then she just really wanted me and my brother to make sure that we were treating people equally, and that there was every opportunity for everybody to succeed at the same pace, you know, if at all possible.Lori Saitz:
Okay, that's really interesting. That's a very diverse background that she had. And then you grew up in just one place. Right? Or did you move around a lot?Jennifer DiMotta:
Yeah, I spent 31 years growing up in Omaha, Nebraska before I finally moved. And yeah, and she's, she's still there. I think she got her opportunity to move around and live in different cultures, environments when she was a kid. So as an adult, she kind of wanted to stick. And so she's still there. You know, she moved there when she was 22. Versus I needed that more in my 30s where I wanted to travel. And I think you and I've talked about this, I went to North Carolina, then I went to Florida, then I went to Colorado, then DC, then Germany, decided the United States wasn't good enough. I needed more diversity. So I went to Germany. And now I'm back here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where my daughter resides.Lori Saitz:
Well, there is there is diversity within our country. And at the same time, that it's not representative of the whole world, we I think everyone should have the opportunity or take advantage of the opportunity to travel outside of their own country to get to see how other parts of the world live. Yeah,Jennifer DiMotta:
I found some people would ask me, you know, because I've I've lived in a lot of different places, and usually only for two or three years. Why not just travel and go on vacation rather than living? It's so different, right? You see, yeah, you're not integrating yourself into the culture, or you're not really living, what those individuals live in that city, town, state, country, whatever, unless you're actually living there. So when I got this opportunity to actually live in Germany, with a very good job, and it was, so the timing was just perfect. I mean, my child had been out of the house for five years, I'm an empty nester. And all of our parents were doing extremely well. So is just like the windows open. And we need, I felt like there was a need to just get a little bit more diversity get a little bit more of a flavor for something different. And going beyond the United States was what I felt was required to kind of meet that need.Lori Saitz:
What did you learn when you were living there? Yeah, I mean, that you maybe something you learned that you didn't expect tomorrow?
Well, one thing I learned how they feel about the United States. You know, so you get a chance to hear how, what their perspective is of Americans. And I can only speak to a point in time. So, you know, and it was very heightened because Donald Trump was president at the time. So it was very heightened, but they do feel overall that Americans are positive, and but falsely positive. So, you know, they, they call it funny that we ask people how they are, but we don't actually care what the answer is.Lori Saitz:
We're fine, we're fine. Right?
We're fine. We're doing fine. Yeah. They, they think that. I think, though, that I learned a lot about the fact that were also a lot the same. You know, I always, you know, I was so in fear, to be honest, it was, is a fearful activity for me to go over there and actually spent the first five months by myself, before my husband even got there. So I was all by myself in a country where I'm not speaking the language just yet. And in a very large company. You know, first of all, busting through fear is a big thing I like to do, because I think it helps us all grow. I mean, the only times I've ever really felt like I grow is when I bust through fear. But I also just reminded myself, you know, we're all humans, we all kind of operate the same. And the United States is not, you know, kind of at this high level, and at the top while everybody else is down here in the in the dirt, or whatever. You might say exactly.Lori Saitz:
Wait, wait, wait, we're no? I'm kidding. Kidding. I know a lot of people in our country think that but I don't agree
They could think they're going to a third world country by going anywhere besides the United States. And the fact is, is you, you do get to some of these places like Germany, and you realize they're actually doing some things better, they think the same. And they also, by the way, feel the same as humans, we all have the same feelings, we have react to the same types of things. And they're better at some things that we are, for example, they're way more in tune with environment. I mean, they're very much in tune with, like, they don't want air conditioners in the homes, and they're all bought in. By the way. This isn't like a society where the government says one thing and the group and the people say something else. They're all bought into things. And, and that really goes to show the culture they built over time. But you know, I have, I still talk to my two really close German girlfriends to this day, every single week. It's been a year and a half since I left. And this is the only two girlfriends I talked to you every single week. When you when I learned that they're very loyal when you have friends over at least where I was in Germany, when they make a friend. It's a friend for life. And I love that too. Because it's special. It's deep. It's loyal.Lori Saitz:
Yes, yeah. So that leads me to the question of people there are not moving around as much as Americans are, are they like they are oh, they're they're not moving to to different. I don't know what it is in Germany, but like, like we have states like we're moving to different states all the time, different and different countries.Jennifer DiMotta:
They do have states and regions and whatnot. It's not something that we look at on the map. but they do. And I'm not an expert in that on any level. But they, you know, what's interesting, at least in this company is everyone that worked at the top level with me, actually did come from another place. So one thing they still I think, do it was more prevalent there than I've seen here is they, the person who's working might fly somewhere else, another country, to work the whole week in that country, and then fly back to their home. So the other parent may not be working, has the kids, and they stay in their home. And sometimes that's a different country. They don't they're okay. They go through different countries or, or two different countries at ease, basically,Lori Saitz:
it totally I mean in Europe, it's like the United, I don't want to compare Europe to the United States. But the proximity of all the different countries are they're close, like we are in our different states.
Yeah. The proximity is the one thing they told me that would be my Achilles heel as an American, is that I would not understand that every country is different. They're very adamant about that. And I can totally understand why it makes a lot of sense. Once you get over there, you can really see and feel the differences of, of the people of everything. But they said, you know, you Americans just do not understand it's not Europe, it's all these different countries. And we are different no matter if we share borders or not. So I thought that was really interesting, because they pointed that out.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, yeah. Since this show is called Fine is a 4-Letter Word. Tell us about a time when everything in your life was fine. Or you were saying it was fine, but it really wasn't fine.Jennifer DiMotta:
Yeah, oh, gosh, well, oh, how many times is that happen because she loved it, we love to tell ourselves things are fine. And they're just not. I think there's, there's, it's strung through my career. So I generally speaking with this, you know, whole value of honesty, and I'm not saying this totally against this, but this, the values I carry, I, a lot of times would struggle in big corporations. However, sometimes big corporations is where you need to be to get where you want to go, which so I had this sort of conflict in my head going on between, okay, I want to rise to the top, you know, I want to get a great title and a great salary. And that requires being sometimes in a big company, but the politics and everything like that don't, you know, feed my soul, if anything, they're bringing me down. So a lot of times through the career, you know, I go through the honeymoon phase, everything would be great. And then we get into that stage of, everything's fine. And you just keep telling yourself that all the way through the process. And then you they find it and then I would finally kind of leave two or three years later and go start over. You know, and so sometimes, you know, this is the problem with fine is, it's because you're having a con or for me, it's because I'm having a conflict in my, my wants and my desires, you know, I want the big title and the big money. But I don't want to deal with these other things that you do need to intelligently deal with at a large company. And so you get into the state of I'm fine when you're really not, but you say you are because you know, your other side is like, Oh, but I need to stay here because I want this so bad, if that makes sense.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, it makes complete sense. And the episode that was released today, we were talking a lot about values, and making decisions based on your values, knowing what your values even are in the first place. And so if that was something that you are aware of, and you go into a company whose values don't match, or the job you're doing doesn't match the values that are important to you, that's when you're going to run into a conflict and maybe you could put up with it for a couple of years. And then it starts really grating on you rubbing you the wrong way. And you're like yeah, no, I can't do this anymore. Yeah,Jennifer DiMotta:
yeah. And eventually something wins. So is it going to be your need for being you know, for me, is it going to be my need to be in a large company with a big title with a big salary? Or is it going to be living kind of these nally these values but like being happy, generally speaking, just feeling joy. And you know, it took me 20 plus years. Not that long. Yeah, whatever. It took me 20 years to say, Okay, that's it. The The other thing has to go because they're in direct conflict. They can't live. I cannot figure out how to get these two things to live together. That's the bottom line. So they're in direct conflict. So I'm letting the title, the big dollars, all that go, I'm moving towards my values. And I know and now I have to define what you know, brings me joy as, as far as a, you know, kind of a job goes or career goes, and I. And now I've found that so I'm like, I'm way beyond fine at this point in time, like, you know, I've lived fine for 20 years now I'm beyond fine, which I'm thrilled about.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, which is awesome. What were the tools that you use to help you get there, too?
Oh, well, you know what, I teach this also to the women in my program, but you know, I, I really had to evaluate if, if I was going to go the other route, let's just say I said, I'm going to drop my values, and I'm instead staying with the big company, you know, what's going to happen? If I do just stay fine. For another 20 years? What's gonna happen? Well, I started evaluating what did happen. Let's not talk about the career, because the career actually if you look on the surface was great, you know, you look at my LinkedIn, it's all nice and going up the ladder and all that nice stuff right on the surface. So you got to go past that. And it wasn't just values it was I wasn't, I was eroding in my relationship, that which means a ton to me with my partner. My relationship with my daughter, I kind of felt like I was a little tense and getting irritable, you know, all those things are gonna happen when you're fine. With my mother, and I thought, What am I doing, I am sacrificing the most important things, you know, family, friends, happiness, love, like everything. For that, is that worth it to me, because now I'm almost at a crossroads, I've got to make a decision, because I've really kind of pushed the envelope quite a bit by going 20 years, like this. And everyone's supporting me, by the way, my husband's moving with me every single time. You know, my daughter has to deal with that too, because she moved with me three of those times. So, you know, my mother has to be away from me the whole time. Is that all worth it? You know, in the end, just for what for exactly what and I, you know, you have to make your own individual decision. But I just said, Listen, it's now's the time, I'm putting the relationships first, because those are what get me beyond fine. Not a job, not money that doesn't get me beyond fine relationships. Love, everybody that's really close to me, that gets me beyond fine. So those start have to come first. And that means there sacrifices that I am more than willing, like completely committed to making.Lori Saitz:
That word sacrifice is interesting, because people think when you you have to sacrifice something that it means that you're giving up something that you really want. And sometimes it is but sacrifice, if you have to sacrifice TV watching time, so that you can study to get a degree that is important to you. That's a sacrifice, if you have to sacrifice it, I mean, anything, it's giving up something to get something greater,Jennifer DiMotta:
right? You're gonna have situations where you're like, it's gonna be a or b, it's not going to be both sometimes you have a and b. But other times it's a or b, it's TV watching or study. That's it. I mean, like, yeah, you know, or it's sleep, or study, whatever it is, but it's a or b. So if you're sacrificing that thing, that's of lesser value to you. That's actually good. That's a good decision sacrifice. For sure. Right? Yes.Lori Saitz:
Right, right. And at the same time, so many people don't recognize that and they are. They're making poor choices, or they're not how to say this. They are making choices that are sacrificing what they really want to do. Yeah, so there they are sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix or they're sitting with a bag of chips. What what they really want is to be in better health. They're they're making the sacrifices for their, their best version of their future. Because it feels good in the moment. Right? Right. But then, like you said, you have to look back and go, Okay, well, is this the life I want? Moving forward? Yeah, that's right. What what do I want to create? What would future me want to do? Yeah, I can't How can I act in the best interest of future me right.Jennifer DiMotta:
And you know what, that's actually really hard for the human race. The human race is not built to think about the future. If you think about it, I mean, think about Humans for the last, you know, 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of years. We're not built to be like, Oh, what do we want to be when we grew up? You know, this is a very new set of thoughts. So it does take actually effort, it takes saying, okay, yeah, I really do want to watch TV. Like, if I'm being real about it, I want to watch TV. So let's get real. I want to sit around, I don't really want to do anything. But am I going to be happier if I just spend? Let's try it, let's try 30 minutes doing what I really should be doing. And then you know, a lot, we know a lot of times that 30 minutes turns into an hour, because all it's all it's about is getting started because the human races. And actually our bodies are built to only do what's the path of least resistance. That is one of our intuitive, that does one thing that's just on instinct is we are built to do path of least resistance because the body's going to attempt to survive. And that's it, they're not your body is not trying to thrive, it's trying to survive. That's it. So it wants you to just sit around and watch TV could care less basically. So it's a new frame, you know, you sometimes and this is the self discipline thing that I really value that my kind of my mother instilled in me. Because if you don't have that discipline, it gets even harder. Because we are just not naturally built to go what is our future going to look like? You know, kind of thing.Lori Saitz:
Right? And if you can get yourself into the momentum, yes, of, as you said, starting to open a book and start studying, turn off the TV and get into the momentum of it, then 30 minutes could turn into an hour. And just to be clear, we're not saying never watch TV, never do anything that you want to do to just relax, right? It's it's a it's aJennifer DiMotta:
it's an 80/20 rule. I mean, yeah, generally speaking, or I mean, whatever it is 60/40 rule. But you know, you set you set some guidelines for yourself, and you try really hard just to hit them knowing you've got to expand beyond, you know, sitting around and, and TV, but also being realistic that you are not built for that, that this world is forcing you to operate in a new way. But humans were never built to go beyond like, what do I need? Right? This very second, basically.Lori Saitz:
Right, right. Because if you don't force yourself if that's the way to put it, to do the thing that you know, is the good thing for you. You are going to turn around in 20 years, and go wait a minute, where did those past 20 years ago, I'm not where I thought I was going to be or I where I'd like to be? Yeah. And they go by really quickly, as we all know, you. You just said 20 Years went by and yeah, I we all know we were we were justJennifer DiMotta:
a guy, I was just reading this article about you know, because I try to stay up to speed with any new ideas, because I'm always teaching clients how to improve their leadership and things like that. career change often comes up. So I was just reading this article about tips for career changing. And it brought up Jeff Bezos, and he has this camera was called like, net regret or regret zero or something like that. So basically, he just started instilling in his brain, make decisions that you're going to be happy with, or not regret not happy with sorry, that you're not going to regret when you're 80 years old. Yeah. And I thought, yeah, you know, that's actually, again, I have to attribute this to my mom, because I think she instilled this so well in us, but that's the way I would think as I would raise Caitlin, is, I really wanted a career while Caitlin was around, and I was a single parent. So I wasn't given up the career but I also didn't want to be a bad I wanted to be a great mom. So I would say okay, if I make this decision, am I gonna, you know, basically be on my deathbed regretting it. And we've seen those I think those studies where they asked people on their deathbeds, what do you regret the most? And these are the things I mean, people do regret sitting around watching TV or doing mindless stuff. And actually, that has its own value by the way but doing mindless stuff too much too much of the time, and not doing stuff that helps us grow or change or not spending time with our family or whatever, you know, that more higher value more joy activity could be.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, yeah, I mean, that's really what the program that I have the fuck being fine experience about helping women live without regrets, so that they don't die with regrets and finding the courage because it often takes courage. It took courage for you to walk away from those big companies and those prestigious jobs, finding the courage to do the thing that they know they need to do. But it's scarier.Jennifer DiMotta:
Yeah. And Tony Robbins talks a lot about this, like, when do you finally change? Well, because we are built to do things to survive. And path of least resistance change is not a thing, human race does that well. So you are really only changing when you are put up against the wall, essentially, the thing is, is we're in a world now where you really can't wait that long. If you wait that long, you could lose what you might have wanted in the first place. And so defining what you really want to the best of your ability, and sometimes that takes coaching from either Lori or myself, right? Sometimes it takes like a little bit of guidance, coaching or accountability. Figure out what you really want, then break it down in bite sized pieces can really help create some motivation to I'll just stick with the TV thing to stop being fine watching with TV and say, Fuck, fine. We're moving to better than fine. Yeah, this gets more fun. Life gets more fun when we're better than fine.Lori Saitz:
Yes, yes. More fun, because we could all use more fun. Yeah. And like you said, defining what you really want, helps you then figure out what is fun, because a lot of people I talked to want more fun in their life, but then you go well, so what do you do? That's fun? Like, I don't know. Yeah. Like, they can't even come up with what is fun for them. And I've been there too. My friends and I have had these conversations. Well, we should do something fun this week. Okay, what's fun? And then we all sit around, like, I have no idea what's fun anyway.Jennifer DiMotta:
Yeah. Well, and yes. And the whole loss of feeling like we're part of society does not make that any better. You know, with a pandemic, you know, separate separate, yes, isolating us, but it was before that. I mean, if we're being I wasLori Saitz:
gonna say these conversations happened before pandemic.Jennifer DiMotta:
Yeah, yeah, I gave a healthy leadership workshop last week. And I said, Okay, guys, if we're being honest with ourselves, burnout, anxiety, depression, all of that was actually happening way before pandemic could it? Is it exasperated, sure. But it was also pretty high. And a pretty big problem prior to the pandemic. It's just it started getting some light on it with, you know, the pandemic, essentially.Lori Saitz:
Right. And people had time sitting at home. Yeah, to look at it before they were kept themselves so busy and so distracted that they didn't have to look at that. Yeah. And then they had the opportunity. And then you became even more obvious, yeah,Jennifer DiMotta:
inhale, that probably just, you know, the more I think about this, I just love this podcast. And I just love the whole concept of fuck being fine. Because the more I think about it, like, you know, when the Germans tell me that Americans are just falsely positive, I think we're like, we act like we're fine. We're not fine. We're, we're totally fine. We just say we're fine. You know, and we're just constantly adding to that environment, just continuing to make that wheel spin faster and faster. Because we all have to just tell each other we're fine. Because God forbid, we said something real, like I have anxiety or, you know, whatever. Right. And I'm glad it's starting to come out. But it's still pretty small. But you know, before all of that, yeah, before you know the diversity started heightening before anxiety and depression was heightening. Before burnout was heightening, before a lot of these things were happening. This is exactly what we were saying to ourselves, all of us. Were all just saying, I'm fine. Thank God got us through the data got us through the next five minutes.Lori Saitz:
We weren't necessarily being superficial, either. We just we weren't even admitting it to ourselves. So it's not like we were telling you a lie. We didn't even admit it to ourselves.Jennifer DiMotta:
We were just we were trying to be fine. Like thinking that if we said it would actually be true at some point in time in our you know, livesLori Saitz:
because because we look around and everyone else is fine. So yeah, I better play along. Right.Jennifer DiMotta:
I have to be fine too. Because look at all my friends. They've got these amazing social media. Post they all look super happy. I mean the the at least I need to be fine.Lori Saitz:
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. What a good conversation. Thank you so much for joining me before we go tell me what the song is that you listen to when you need to get extra enthusiasm. What's your hype?Jennifer DiMotta:
Oh my hype song is easy Eminem Lose Yourself. It's my favorite Seiling Yes, I love love love. Like, if I if I need to get hype in the morning, like I'm not feeling it. I'm gonna go for a walk or run. And my first song is that song. Yeah,Lori Saitz:
I love it. Love it. Fantastic. Well tell my audience how they can reach out to you if they want to continue the conversation or find out more about what you're doing right. Yeah, soundsJennifer DiMotta:
good. So I run up risers, which is a female leadership program for early female risers kind of anyone in their manager to early VP stage. And you can reach me a variety of ways on LinkedIn you can find me at Jennifer DiMotta you can search you can go to UpRisors.com which is up r i s o r s.com. Or reach me at email@example.com.Lori Saitz:
Fantastic. And as always, we will put a link to all of those places in the show notes.Jennifer DiMotta:
Sounds good. Thank you for having me. Lori. This was great.Lori Saitz:
My pleasure. We'll see you all next time on Fine is a 4-Letter Word.