How Ex-Corporate Mom Jo Dodd Went From Leaving Corporate America to Living in Jotopia, Episode 123

If you’ve been working in Corporate America, you could find yourself in that rat race and not even be aware that you’ve been running on empty. And having to juggle that with raising your kids and all your other responsibilities in life would most likely put you on the brink of burnout and breakdown. 

In today’s episode, Jo Dodd talks about her experience of leaving the corporate world to “living in Jotopia,” a hybrid life that she created on her own terms to make sure she and her four sons are emotionally well. She talks about her decision to leave corporate and how she found the courage to pull that emergency cord and leave.

Jo got furloughed in 2020 and when she realized she didn’t have work anymore, creativity just flowed out of her and she started to write a book. But when she got called to get back to work, she couldn’t breathe. She knew that if she went back, she was going to get completely drained. She was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

While she was watching her friends who had gone back to corporate America struggle, she was also dealing with the fear of launching a coaching career. It was simply a choice she had to make. In her first year out of corporate, she managed to publish two children’s books. She worked on her own hours and things were starting to tick along.

One of the interesting things Jo talked about was that even if you may have left corporate America, realize that the pace you’ve grown accustomed to might still be catching up with you. And so, having that awareness is key to making sure you’re able to manage your home, your new career, and your life more effectively.

Now, try this: Let yourself feel totally inspired by our conversation today. Then if you’re thinking of growing your business or starting a side hustle whilst “mommying,” feel free to DM me on Instagram @melissallarena

For many new entrepreneurs, especially after a corporate career or hiatus, it’s normal to begin thinking about your product or service idea and to feel a little hesitant to take action. However, for those of us who have been building our dreams for a while, we have come to realize that any hesitancy is just a sign that you (like us) may need some solid accountability and a fellow mom’s tough love to get you focused, thinking imaginatively, and picking up the pace like a boss! 

If you don’t have Instagram, then email me at melissa [at] to share your idea or ask for help. I will then send you my booking details for that free 15-minute Zoom session.

Share this episode with someone who just left the corporate world or might be thinking about leaving corporate life, and hopefully, they will get more inspired to pursue your dreams and live the life you want!

Jo Dodd’s Biography

Jo Dodd worked in Corporate America for 25 years in various roles for a Fortune 500 company. A mom to four boys, Jo’s youngest son has a learning disability. Jo was furloughed during the pandemic and decided to never return. It was then that she created Jotopia, her own coaching and publishing company, where she gets to live her own utopic life as a present mom. Jo has written a children’s book meant for moms called, “Dear Mama Bear with the F*cked Up Hair.” She also co-wrote the book, “We All Like Different Things and That’s A-OK With Me,” with Joseph, her youngest son.


Creativity: Once Jo got furloughed and didn’t have to work anymore, creativity started to come out of her and she started writing.

Curiosity: Just stop and look at yourself in the mirror to just check in with yourself. What do you need? What’s missing? What’s not working? Allow yourself to be vulnerable in the privacy of your own home.

Courage: Jo also co-wrote a book with his son about making fear your friend based on the experience they had together, as well as listening to your heart and finding the voice of courage.

Emptiness: Jo realized she had been running on empty for so long and she didn’t even realize it until she stepped away from the corporate world and felt a massive release. 

Empowerment: Enlist your kids to work with you on whatever goal you have. Work side by side with your kids and live out your dreams together. Not only are you teaching them what life is about, but they’re reminding you of what’s possible for you and for them as well. 

Awareness: Once you’ve left the corporate world, watch out for that corporate mindset. Look at it very honestly and overcome or manage it more effectively.

Grace: As moms, we take that load on ourselves, and it’s important to be able to give ourselves some grace. You have to work on yourself first otherwise you will be running on empty.

Motherhood: Jo’s book is about the journey of motherhood, which is poignant. It’s dark, sometimes it’s funny. But it’s an authentic tale of motherhood.

Community: Just as “it takes a village” to raise kids, it also takes a village to be a mom. And having that safe space where you can connect with other moms is very helpful.

Dream: Things happen, and you can recover from them. You can still move on and keep going after your dreams.

Vulnerability: Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability to your kids because they will encourage you to keep on and they will be your source of strength.

If you enjoyed this conversation, check out these episodes with similar themes:

Van Lai-DuMone Explains How Creativity Workshops Can Increase Creativity in the Workplace, Episode 87  

Is Your Child an Aspiring Writer? Amy Wong Founded Dreamwriters A Self-Publishing Platform For Aspiring Writers Who Are Kids Or Kids At Heart, Episode 70 

Links to continue to learn from:


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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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