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Unstoppable: How Jo Gifford made incredible accomplishments despite endometriosis and chronic fatigue

We don’t all work in the same way. Creating cultures that are challenging for people with limitations can mean many feel left out. Consider questioning whether a meeting or a long call is an energy drain or the most effective way to use time.

As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jo Gifford.

Jo helps brilliant, unboxed leaders develop and scale content that creates change. Fuelled by creativity, coffee and kettlebells, Jo is a content creator, strategist and project manager for multiple global agile teams.

Jo’s soul passion and purpose is to create connections and conversations that help people to re-discover their brilliance, to get their message out to the world, and to use content to create change.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Sure! I have had endometriosis for 25 years, and chronic fatigue for 15. I used to work in a busy design agency, and went freelance 14 years ago in order to find flexibility in the way I live my life.
I have been on a quest for healing and to thrive at my best ever since. I now work as a content development lead, author and podcaster, on a mission to help leaders create change through content.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

I reached a point in 2012 where I had young twins, and I was SO exhausted and unwell. I was scheduled to have serious surgery, and felt I knew in my soul I could heal myself by looking into the cause of the pain and the emotions of it. I started a journey then of various modalities, working with my energy, nutrition, my emotions, counselling, and that journey is ongoing. I was determined to thrive and to succeed, my way, and to model for my daughters that we can achieve and create our own way of living life when we have things we need to work around.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?

I have created a wonderful business serving global clients, with plenty of room for flexibility. My illnesses taught me I needed to design life my way, and to listen to my body. I wrote a book called Brilliance Unboxed, which shares my journey of unboxing how I live and work, and finding gifts within the challenges.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

To articulate what you need to thrive, to be confident in sharing what your needs are, and to not feel held back.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I am SO grateful to my partner, Miles, for his constant love, belief in me, and support. To my amazing circle of friends and my soul support crew who help me to grow more every day.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I share my story and my journey on social media daily, and am often told I inspire people with my realness and my words. I shared my book, Brilliance Unboxed, as a way to inspire people to find their own brilliance outside of the boxes we find ourselves in.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

  1. We don’t all work in the same way. Creating cultures that are challenging for people with limitations can mean many feel left out. Consider questioning whether a meeting or a long call is an energy drain or the most effective way to use time.
  2. Articulating the need for downtime is not laziness, it’s self care.
  3. We all have a cyclical nature of working, when our energy and brains work the best. Allow space for that for everyone and life becomes more inclusive.
  4. Don’t make assumptions — everyone’s experience of a condition is different.
  5. Limitations teach us a LOT about how we live. Empathy goes a long way, you never know, one day you might be struggling, so consider how you might like to be treated if that were the case.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” Brené Brown.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Jacinda Ardern — her leadership is incredible.

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