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Raising a Strengths-Based Generation

If you’re anything like me, you wonder all the time if you’ve got this parenting thing down yet. Am I permanently screwing up my kid? Did I make the right decision? Was I too hard on him? Was I too soft on her? It’s a constant minefield of discovery and learning.

There is little doubt that we, as parents or teachers, want what’s best for our children. There are 1000s of books on how to raise them right and just as many philosophies on how to educate them. But one thing is for certain, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our kids.

This is part of the reason I believe so strongly in the importance of using strengths when raising our children. I feel they have a pivotal role in improving our future and creating an environment where we not only look at leadership as a hierarchical model but one that is heart-centered and led from a place of personal responsibility. Where else would we start, but with the generations we are raising?

I was introduced to the Strengths Psychology in 2003 when a co-worker and friend of mine bought me the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths. When I discovered my talents, I felt like I had finally received a personalized user’s manual on my personality. While none of it was surprising, it gave me the vocabulary I needed to explain myself more effectively. I no longer had to enter an interview and get stuck explaining my outgoing personality as being a “people person.” We all know that is a pretty ineffective – as well as being a frowned upon – answer. Instead, what I could say was that I have high influencing talents that allow me to be at my best in a collaborative environment where new ideas are appreciated and encouraged; that I need people in order to be at my highest performance level and a conversational exchange is crucial. Sounds a lot better than “people person,” wouldn’t you agree?

My deepest “why” stems, at its heart, from motherhood. What kind of future do I envision for my little boy, O? How will he lead? How can I set him up for success? What obstacles will he face in this rapidly evolving world? And for me, that answer lies in strengths. Allowing him to take advantage of his own unique gifts that he brings into this world and lead from his place of authenticity.

When I watch him, I see Presence in his desire to always be seen, to entertain others and in his super-expressive mannerisms and phrases. I see Dependability in his desire to always help out with the sweeping or cleaning up. I see Discoverer in the way he plays with his toys and focuses on every little piece; not playing with them from above, but lying on the ground, eye-level, studying the movements and possibilities.

Did I mention he’s only 3?

Talents don’t show up later in life, they are with us always; some from birth, some from our upbringing. The talents I use to describe him are found in the book, Strengths-Based Parenting and the assessment for younger children, StrengthsExplorer.

So, when we, as parents have not only this opportunity but a responsibility, in my opinion, to use a tool and a language which didn’t exist 20 years ago, why wouldn’t we? Can you imagine all the possibilities and the leaders we could raise? Leaders that see problem-solving with an optimistic eye and that think of long-term and sustainable solutions. Ones that recognize our differences as something positive instead of something negative. I can. And I plan to do my part to ensure it happens.

The best way to do this, is to understand ourselves first. Why we do what we do, what triggers us and stresses us out, what relaxes us and keeps us in a “happy place”. Knowing our talents gives us insight into our parenting style and helps us be the best parent we can be. It also helps us see our children more objectively and not just though our filters and expectations, but truly see them for who they are and in their own uniqueness.

You can see more about my vision by visiting this LINK where you will find both the video and the English transcript to my TEDx Talk (which was done in Spanish).


The Roots

It’s never too early to start talent spotting for our children. As their personality develops, we are right there with them, identifying what makes them special and how to create a solid base for their development – focusing on what’s right, and not what’s wrong. It isn’t so much about parenting advice, but how to really be a coach for your child encouraging the positive in them.


The pre-teen years can be the hardest. They’re not yet adults, but they’re not really children either. They’re maturing, filling out and struggling to create their identity. When you know what you do best, it builds confidence and security. We see what is beautiful about us –  and others – when we use a strengths lens. Now is the time to really build on those talents and grow strong.


It’s decision time. What will they study in college? What is the best career? How can they apply what they do best in an ever-evolving world? Knowing one’s talents is the surest way to set them up for success – and less stress. We are now developing our future leaders and ensuring a brighter future as they see differences as a strength and not a weakness.


Appreciate. Communicate. Illuminate.

Parenting Strengths 101 is a four week class is designed to help parents, understand their own unique parenting style. Using our Top 5 talents (discovered through the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment), we will meet weekly to discover how our talents influence our actions as well as how they are entwined with our values, what motivates us, what we do best and ultimately, what we hope for our children’s future. This program can also be run directly for groups, schools and organizations, please inquire for more details.

Classes forming monthly. Register now to save your spot. 

Understanding Your Talents

We, as the support network for our children, must understand our own talents. It is imperative to the process of raising our children to truly know ourselves. We must understand how we filter information and how we satisfy our own needs.

Class 1: Understanding your Unique Gifts
Class 2: Exploring Values, Motivations and Needs
Class 3: Understanding Your WHY
Class 4: Communicating your personal parenting style..and I’ll add a little more to make sure there’s stuff.



  • COURSE VALUE: Priceless
    • One person, $699
    • Two people, $799  (can be billed separately, $400pp)
    • Why do I do this? I really want parents to take this program together. If it takes a village to raise our children, then let’s learn together, too! Mom and Dad, Dad and Grampa, Mom and Step-Dad… you get the idea. I am much more interested in building a strengths-based generation and offering amazing value. Period.
    • Payment can be divided into 2 payments. You will NOT be charged until your registration is confirmed.
  • CLASS SCHEDULE: We meet 1x a week for 4 weeks. Classes are online and last 60-90 min, depending on the liveliness of the discussion
  • START DATE: Classes begin the first week of each month. Actual meeting day and time will be agreed upon by participants of each group. I will do my best to group according to region and time zone for maximum efficiency and ease of collaboration.
  • CLASS SIZE: All classes are limited to 6 people to provide adequate time for all to share.
  • COACHING: All participants in the class have unlimited access to my calendar for individual coaching throughout the program as well as a 60-min coaching session at the end of each module to discuss personal goals and concerns.
  • ASSESSMENTS: All participants will receive one (1) Clifton StrengthsFinder code.
  • MEMBERSHIP: Access to a private Facebook Group for ongoing support and learning opportunities.


  • All participants will receive workbooks and all resource materials to be used throughout the program
  • All materials are for the express use of the program and not to be sold or shared outside of the program.


  • Please note the start dates are merely an indication of the week we will begin.
  • All meetings will be held via Zoom and recorded. Downloads of the class will be available to all participants for up to 10 days after the class. You may download either the video or just the audio and keep for yourself.

It was with excitement and hope that I took Jo’s Branding Canvas class – and she did not disappoint. I feel that I already had a good deal of self-awareness and Strengths awareness, so I was blown away when Jo presented a robust framework for more, deeper “aha’s” about who I am …. and who I can be …

Lela Meinke

Her methodical approach just makes sense. She has an outstanding command of Strengths-based coaching. She’s also an engaging trainer and speaker. Her mix of images, stories and personal experience bring the content to life and keep you with her the entire time.

Ryan Houmand

If you are looking for a coach who will celebrate your talents, help you clarify your goals and inspire you to action – choose the not so average Jo Self!

Donna M. Gardner

Her confident and informed style is great for those who are new to strengths discovery, as well as those who have extensive experience. Her Strengths Branding Canvas course will provide any participant with guided, comprehensive exercises that produce individualized, personal descriptions that have multiple uses. And she will make you laugh – a lot!

Ken Barr Jr.

The series was professionally executed and, with only a few participants, took on more of an intimate tone and allowed for extensive feedback and engagement with each other. I found it an eye-opening process and appreciated Jo’s hugely positive and compassionate demeanor.

Gehan Haridy

What I loved most about Jo is her genuine, caring nature. She encouraged me to honor my strengths and to have personal accountability.  If you want to maximize your potential and make strides in achieving your goals, I highly recommend Jo.

Rhonda Rosborough

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