Please Introduce yourself, what is your name, business name, where you are from?
I’m Jo Fitzgerald, I’m originally from Kent, I lived and worked in the Middle East for 17 years – where I brought up my two gorgeous children, Sam and Anya. We now live in West Sussex, where I am blessed to be the MIBA Coordinator.
What is your business about?
My company is Tiny Sponges. I have always been a teacher, in very many roles. I have been a Deputy Head in a Pupil Referral Unit, I ran a Nursery in Muscat, Oman for The British Council but my real passion is Early Years. I started Tiny Sponges two years ago, I wanted to help parents teach their children wellbeing and resilience skills. Mental Health is hugely important to me, I have lost close family members to suicide, my mum was an alcoholic and I have Bipolar Type 2 – and was recently treated for PTSD. Quite a mixed bag!! I have seen first hand, how more children have anxiety issues and mental health conditions, and how little help there is out there for them and their families. I believe that, if we teach our children well-being and resilience skills from an early age, they are better equipped to cope with life’s obstacles.
What made you get into this line of business?
I have written two children’s books, one of which is now in schools across West Sussex, along with a Scheme Of Work for teachers to teach Mental health and safeguarding to their pupils. We have also been in collaboration with a leading Danish educationalist, and are now the sole distributor of her resources in the UK and Ireland. These positive mindset resources are used in schools and families across Denmark, and have had amazing results with both wellbeing and learning outcomes. We are exhibiting at The Education Show in London this year, and our aim is to get all of our resources into as many schools as possible in the coming year. I also have two more books ready for publication, and am collaborating with a couple of other people on two more. I write a Blog, published by the Pre-school Learning Alliance and Early Years Matters. I speak at conferences on Child Safeguarding and Mental Health. Our online courses go live this year. The huge Childcare insurance company Morton Michel have bought my ‘How To Keep Safe … in a sometimes crazy world’ book in bulk, and are about to start selling it on their website … things are on the up!
What makes you get up and go in the morning, do you have a morning power routine?
My morning routine consists of a walk with the dogs, a green juice and straight into the office (at home). My ‘to-do’ list gets me up in the morning! The best advice that I have recently been given is from Leona Burton, CEO of the ‘Mums In Business Association’ who recently spoke at one of our West Sussex meeting. One of her golden nuggets of advice was to block your time every day in your planner – and stick to it – i.e. one hour for social media, one hour for emails, one hour for writing … I often compare myself to the dog in the film ‘Up’, constantly distracted by “squirrel” “squirrel.” I really need the discipline of blocking time!
What is a book you would say everyone must read?
One of the resources that we have brought over from Denmark is about strengths of character – and how they help with our general well-being and quality of life. I would really recommend reading the ‘Mumprenuer On Fire’ series of books (especially MOF 4, as I am one of the co-authors). My reason is this – women in business are all on a similar journey, we all know how difficult it can be to juggle business, family and life, the stress and the worry is regular and familiar. In these books the stories of women battling through huge adversity, HUGE adversity, are a real lesson and can teach us a lot about ourselves. We all have strengths – bravery, perseverance, grit, gratitude … and we should recognise them in ourselves and use them. We need to have a realistic and positive love for ourselves and our strengths, instead of focussing on our weaknesses – what we don’t know or don’t have, and berating ourselves.
What One thing do you do to change your mindset instantly?
The one thing I do to change my mindset in an instant, is to practice gratitude. I have so very much to be grateful for in my life. I am blessed.
What do you love most about helping others?
Two of my top strengths are kindness and social intelligence. I love going into schools, and seeing how my books make a difference. The feedback I get is gratifying and quite wonderful – it feeds my soul! I get a huge buzz from my work as a MIBA coordinator too. Watching people on their journey, meeting them, supporting them, getting them help – watching collaborations and friendships form. I use my strengths to help make a difference – and the Universe always responds by sending great things my way, and placing them in my lap!!
Your favourite quote?
My favourite quote, though I have so many, is by Dr Seuss – it’s what my teaching is all about:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Have a wonderful day.