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From transformational leader to face mask designer

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

My name is Jo Englesson. I was born in Sweden, moved to the US in 1990, and have been here ever since.

In 2007, I embarked on a transformational journey that has yet to complete (we all know that we will never be fully “transformed”). In August 2010, I launched Gratitude Training, what was to become one of the larger transformational training centers of its kind.

I quickly discovered the difficulty of co-mingling business metrics and regulations with the transformational distinctions we taught, at least given the rapid growth we were experiencing along with the affordable price point we initially set.

Either that, or I may need to face the fact that my need for approval and, as a result, the pandering to a growing community of over 15,000 graduates, had me make some decisions that were not grounded in the interest of the company’s sustainability.

Being a huge visionary with a “promoting controller” personality has its benefits as well as its pitfalls.

At the end of the day, I have been the context for hundreds of thousands of lives being touched by the Gratitude Training’s curriculum, whether directly or indirectly. I am proud of that.

I noticed as the company and community grew, I became more and more pigeonholed as a human being. Now granted, this may be my own interpretation of the developments, and definitely a result of wanting to be liked by EVERYONE.

It started on a small scale, like feeling bad removing disgruntled students from our Facebook pages, to bigger, sometimes poor business decisions, such as giving away free trainings valued at over 1 million per year. All with the perceived “come-from” that everyone matters, win-win, and abundance.

During the 10 years leading up to COVID-19, with all of the ups and downs, I was able to scale up to $2,7 million in sales last year. Yet, in that same year took a loss of $90,000. Yes, you read that right. After 10 years in business, a Hurricane, a cyber bully, and now COVID-19, there were simply nowhere to turn for the kind of support the company needed.

In the first few weeks following our shut down, I couldn’t even move. I had to furlough 15 employees and cancel all trainer’s independent contracts and was left completely alone with 3 empty training centers at a total monthly rent of $36,000. Not to mention other high expenses such as past disaster loan payments, utilities and $135,000 due on the corporate AMEX card. All this with no reserve whatsoever.

So yes, looking back, I must have made some really poor business decisions all in the spirit of helping people find joy, peace, connection, love and abundance. And it worked. For them.

For me, my light grew dimmer each day the company grew. What started as an innocent vision of wanting to share my joy with the world and create peace on the planet, ended in courtrooms, damage control and endless nights in front of cash flow sheets. Spending time in the training rooms, at graduations and at legacy projects, which was my initial passion, was simply out of the question. There was not enough of me.

Given my deeply rooted passion for transformational work, I was willing to give up who I am in order to forward that vision, completely forgetting that doing so goes against everything we teach.

I stopped sharing my truth, trying to be diplomatic and “neutral” to not ruffle peoples’ feathers.

I’m sharing all this to give some background as to why, to many that think they know me, think it may be bizarre to see me sewing and selling face masks rather than gearing up and going virtual to continue the vision.


I firmly believe that the more impactful we become, the more dramatic the breakdowns are. Well, apparently I needed a worldwide pandemic to stop, turn inward, and design a new story. A story where I again can express my joy, experience peace and continue to make a difference in the world.

A few weeks into the stay at home order, I found myself sewing face masks. It was just what the doctor ordered. I found it meditative, calming after putting the kids to sleep, creative and at the same time significant. It is what the world needs in this moment, and possible for some time in the future.

Simply doing what I love is now creating a new context. Joy is creeping in, abundance is surfacing, and authenticity is being reborn. Given my innate ability to create and manifest when I am in the “flow”, I have no choice but to fit this new me into the vision of creating peace on the planet.

So here I am, a transformational leader and trainer, like it or not, making and selling face masks. Take it or leave it. We’re in a pandemic after all.

Tomorrow looks brighter, yesterday less dim, and I’m learning that “all roads lead to Rome” on a completely new level.

The Gratitude Training curriculum is still, what I believe, the fastest way to world peace in my lifetime. Until that changes, I will do whatever it takes to get us all back into the training rooms however long that takes! For now...


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