Episode 173: From Math Teacher to Ironman to Moms That Lead - How Teri Schmidt Found Her Calling

your next stop Nov 07, 2022

Teri Schmidt is passionate about human connection and the leadership potential within each of us. She loves to develop individuals, teams, and organizations and has led multiple teams during her 20-year career. At JetBlue Airways, she led teams focused on using data to help employees excel on the job, facilitated professional development workshops, and coached leaders and individual contributors. In 2017, she founded Stronger to Serve, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easy for families to connect with needs in their communities while having fun and boosting their physical and emotional wellbeing. Eager to support working moms who excelled in many of the power skills necessary for success in today’s economy, she launched the Moms that Lead podcast in 2020.  Through the podcast and associated leadership coaching, she helps women gain clarity, confidence, and connection so that they can share their unique talents in the workplace, community, and at home.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. How Teri Schmidt went from being a math teacher to working in corporate America to starting a nonprofit to creating a podcast.
  2. What motivated Teri to leave her corporate career and start a nonprofit focused on helping families get active and volunteer together.
  3. How Teri's experience as a shy child led her to develop strong empathy skills.


You can find Teri on LinkedIn and check out her Podcast.


Remarkable Quote:

“I became very adept at understanding people's emotions and being the peacemaker. That has led to my strength of empathy, which has both benefits and drawbacks, because that can also lead you to be so sensitive to what people are thinking, that you worry too much about it."



Today’s episode is sponsored by:


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Welcome to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode, I interview Teri Schmidt. She is the founder of Moms That Lead podcast and coaching services. She also started a non profitfit in 2017 called Stronger to Serve.



You can find [email protected], you can also find her on every podcast player at Moms That Lead. IG we are, moms. That lead LinkedIn. She is. Moms, that lead.



Or you can also find her Teri Schmidt. And Teri is Teri and Schmidt with a DT. In this episode, we talk about how Teri went from being a math teacher then to work at JetBlue, then to starting her own nonprofit and then to starting mom set lead. So really fun pivots all that around family and she had some tragedy that happened when her second child was born as this was all coming to kind of a head and you don't want to miss this episode again. You can follow Teri on LinkedIn.



You can also follow her podcast moms that lead. You can find her in IG. We are, moms, that lead. Also, don't forget to follow me. I am Juliet Hahn.



On most social media. LinkedIn and Facebook is Juliet Hahn. And then you can find my website at I am Juliet Hahn. And don't forget to subscribe to your Next Stop podcast. Have you ever been listening to your favorite podcast and that moment comes up and you think, oh my gosh, I need to share it?



Well, now you can with picked cherries. What I love about picked cherries so much is that when I'm listening to my favorite podcast and that moment comes up that I want to share, I can take a Snippet which is called the picked cherry and I can send that to my friends and family so they can get involved in the podcast that I love. It's almost like sending an IG or a tik tok available now. iOS and Android. If you're not picking cherries, are you really listening to podcasts?



Hello. Welcome back to your next stop. I say it every time and every time I say I'm not going to say it, I still say it. I am excited to bring you another person that has followed a passion and turned it into a business. Welcome Teri Schmidt of Momsfat lead.



How are you? I'm excellent. How are you today? I'm good. I always like to let my listeners know where people can find you.



Momsatlead.com. You also have Moms That Lead podcast on IG. We are moms that Lead LinkedIn. Moms that lead. And they can also follow you.



Teri Schmidt And Teri is with Teri and Schmidt. Like it sounds correct. We were just kind of reminiscing about when we actually hooked up last year. I was on Moms. That lead podcast.



And then when you start telling me a little bit about what you're doing with the coaching and the retreats and everything, I said, wait a second. Well, now we need to have you on our podcast, and so that's kind of where we met. Exactly. Yeah. It's great to reconnect.



Again. I know my audience loved having you on the podcast and learning from you, so I'm excited to be on your podcast today. Yeah. Thank you so much. All right, so what we always do on your next stop is we would love a little background of who you are, kind of where you grew up, if you went to university, and what happens after that.



Of course. Well, I kind of have to warn you, in order to understand what's important to me and what I'm passionate about now and the work that I do, I kind of have to start way back at the beginning. I love it, so hopefully that's okay. So I came into this world as what my family lovingly called an oops baby. So my brother was 13, and my two sisters were 15 and 16 when I was born, so not exactly part of the plan.



And right now I have a 13 year old daughter and a 17 year old son, and I honestly can't imagine having a newborn in my life. So I definitely feel for what my parents were going through. But they didn't really let it break their stride at all. Instead, they just brought me everywhere. Everywhere that they could bring me, they did bring me.



And that experience kind of led to my main values in life, really, at that time. So they treated me like an adult, essentially, when I was growing up. They were much more laid back, I'm sure, than they were with their other kids. And that really ingrained in me a deep value of respect, because they treated me with respect, and they were also very faithful people. So they took me along to church.



My dad had me listening to audio tapes focused on faith in the car all the time. And from that, I really gained my deep appreciation and urge to help those who are poor in our community, as well as just a deep belief in I don't know if you're familiar with it, but it's called Amago Day. It's a Latin phrase that essentially means, the image of God is in all of us. So that is one of my deepest, health beliefs. I deeply believe, just like you believe, that everyone has a path, whether they believe in God or the universe, but everyone has a path.



I do believe. I believe we all have a unique contribution to give to the world. So that really drives a lot of. What I do today, and I love that. And I have to pause you because I have a 17, a 15 year old and a 13 year old.



And when you said that, I was like, wow. Now there was a period of time we had our kids a little later. So I'm going to be 49, so if I did have an oops baby, I would be an old mom. I'm sure your parents were a little bit older, but not up in their close to their 50s. I'm sure it's probably more later.



Mid forty s or early forty s? I feel like back then when people had babies, it was a little earlier. But the thing that kind of struck me is I know how many turns I have taken since my kids have grown. When my kids were growing, I stayed home with them. And then as I got a little older, I remember and we talked about this, where I was like, okay, I need to do more.



I want to contribute to the family in a different way, money wise, really. I want to take a little pressure off my husband because he did well. I was in does well. I was able to kind of find some passions and really follow that thinking about having a newborn in my life. What does that do when you're kind of finding yourself again because your kids are a little bit older and so you're really finding yourself?



That's a really interesting thought, and I've never really thought of it that way. So you came in as your parents were probably reinventing themselves, and so that again, yes, you probably got a lot of an older perspective, which is kind of cool, if you think about it. Definitely. Yeah, it definitely had its benefits. Some of its drawbacks, too, which I'd be happy to get into, but, yeah, definitely had its benefits.



And they really became my best friends. And so, speaking to the drawbacks, I probably have always been more comfortable relating to adults than at that time, relating to the kids my own age. And I was kind of known as a shy child.



So those were some of the drawbacks. And also, to be completely honest, they were both amazing people, but so different. My dad was very out in the community, kind of. He was the man who didn't have a trouble walking out to anyone and starting a conversation. My mom was a little bit more to herself, but she was just an advocate for the underdog in all elements of her life, and she was fun loving, and she became a preschool teacher because of those two things.



And she was the type of teacher that someone else would say, oh, this child is going to be a problem. And that would be her favorite student, and that student would love her. So they were both wonderful, but they were very different. And because of that, they didn't always get along very well. So because of that, I became very adept at understanding people's emotions and kind of being the peacemaker.



So that has led to my strength of empathy, which, again, has benefits and drawbacks, because that can also lead you to be so sensitive to what people are thinking that you worry too much about it sometimes. So definitely those early years were very formative in my career now, and so I did go to college and grad school. I grew up just knowing I wanted to help people in some way, like I think a lot of us do. I started out as a high school math teacher, moved on to being a volunteer coordinator that actually lived in the homeless shelter that I was working at. So that was an experience and decided I wanted to find out what the corporate world was all about.



So after going to graduate school, really started with JetBlue Airways, a wonderful company and just helping to improve performance, human performance. So working in their corporate learning university. So now what area of the country did you grow up in? So I grew up in the Midwest. I was right outside of Chicago, was in the suburbs of Chicago for the first 23 years of my life or 21 years of my life, and then my husband got a job that moves around a lot.



So I was then in Indiana and then New York. So when I work with JetBlue, I started there when we lived in New York to Northern Virginia and then down to Houston, Texas. And now we're in Dallas, Texas. Okay, so what is your favorite kind of area? Because you've had, like, a little bit of taste, maybe not so West Coast, but a little bit of if you think about I mean, I know as we grow and evolve, sometimes what we think was our favorite changes.



But if you could kind of think, what was your favorite feel of the coasts and the places that you lived? Yeah, definitely all of them have their benefits and drawbacks. I love living near New York City just because of the food and the culture and just the accessibility of everything, but I absolutely love Northern Virginia because I love to do things outside. And we backed up to parkland, so there were trails basically in our backyard. Right.



And so I loved that part of it. So those two are probably my favorite. And of course, I always feel the ties to the Midwest just because I spend so much time there. Right, okay, so then when you went to grad school, and so where was this about when you were starting to have kids? So you were at JetBlue in New York, and then where did that kind of lead?



Yeah, so my son was six months old when I started with JetBlue, and then my daughter was born a few years after that. And so during that time, actually, right around my daughter's birth was a very challenging time because my dad passed away from lung cancer, and while he was kind of at the end of his life, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Oh, my gosh. So she thankfully was able to be with us for the birth of my daughter, but she passed away two months after that. So it was kind of like I lost my best friends at that time right.



And really kind of lit a fire in me to make the most use of the time that I had on this planet and to make them proud. So that kind of led to some of the career changes that come on a little later. Right. So that has to be really hard. I know my husband lost his mom two months after we got married to a brain aneurysm, and then when our first was a year, lost his father, and so his family really never got to know us as a family, which I know is really hard, especially for you, being, as you said, these are your best friends.



I mean, these are your parents, but you really grew up as they grew up or later in their life grew up. You know what I mean? That had to have been so hard, especially because your son had, I'm sure, a bit of a relationship with them. And you want that for your daughter. Right.



You want that same, you want them to have the same. I know even with having mine, my kids are all two years apart, and I remember being like, no, I have to do it the same way, because he turned out okay.



It really doesn't had some really a hard time. That's crazy emotional. Yeah, it definitely was. And I think the misconception with grief is that it's just after a year, you're done and you're all better, and it is not that way at all. It comes back at the times that you would least expect.



So definitely challenging, but definitely motivating as well. Right now. I'm very curious, after you had your daughter, where did that lead you? Yeah, so after I had my daughter, I was still working for JetBlue, and I actually got moved into a leadership role, which I just loved because I love developing people. One of the best pieces of feedback that I've gotten is one of my employees said, you know, you really help people believe that they're capable of way more than they think they are.



That's amazing. Yeah, I just love that, and that's what I love to do. That's kind of my home, and so I really enjoyed my time there, but I was always looking for a challenge, and the challenge actually came in the form of my husband, and I decided to do a full distance ironman triathlon.



It was a tough decision because he had done one previously, and I knew how much time it took away from the family, and so I wanted to do it a little bit differently. And I said it was kind of a voice from God that said, make it about becoming your best. And so we started just a small little family project called Project Becoming Our Best. And we involve the kids in our workouts, and we focused on volunteering together as a family during this ten month period that we are getting ready for the race. And that kind of gained some attention.



A small following school teacher, a local school teacher, decided she wanted to start a club that was kind of modeled on that, combining fitness and service. And so that's when I got kind of motivated to leave my corporate career and started a nonprofit called Stronger to Serve. Amazing. At what ages? Where your kids at this time?



So at that time, that was 2017. So my daughter was nine and my son was twelve. Okay, so I mean, that's a really great time to be able to do that. So tell us a little bit about the nonprofit and where that led. Yeah, so it was really focused on making it easy for families to get active together and to volunteer together.



And I love the experience. I distinctly remember a mom coming up to me and saying, you know, I finally connected with my son that I never get to connect with. And we had this conversation that I never thought I would have with him. And then I love the story of the little like, six year old girl coming up to me. And I told her about the impact that she had, how she helped like, another child who was hungry in our community and her eyes just getting wide and knowing that she could do something good in the community.



And I just love that. But I also kind of craved talking about leadership and getting into leadership again. And I was seeing these moms too that didn't have any sense that they were leading in their lives no matter what their role was. And so that's when the podcast moms that lead and the coaching business was born. And one thing I just want everyone to listen to, because this is like one of my favorite things to kind of point out and connect the dots to.



And when people think like, oh, I was in the wrong career or I didn't find my path, I always say there's no wrong career and no wrong path. You always learn in the past that you were in. So you went from being a math teacher right into corporate America, then to starting a nonprofit as you were finishing up your Iron Man, as you had your children, and then creating a podcast because you wanted to bring back the leadership that you had and you saw in the community what people needed. And bringing that leadership in is so important because as a teacher, you're a leader. People sometimes don't think about that, but you're leading a class, so you're already leading.



And then the fact that you learned so much in corporate America with the company, and that's why sometimes people think, okay, if you're with a corporation, there's only so much you can learn, there's so many places that you could go. But if that's your path, you're going to find some really amazing things in that corporation. You just have to really keep your mind open and love what you're doing. Because if you don't love what you're doing, you're not going to find any of it. So the fact that you were able to take that leadership and then put it into the nonprofit, then seeing these moms that are, you know, probably you might have even found yourself as a new mom.



When we have kids, and I always say to this, and I always will sometimes surprise people that don't have children or even surprises me to say I was never an insecure person. I was always pretty confident in my life. And I remember the first time I had my son was like, I remember that insecure feeling and I was like, what is this? I hate to ask what's happening? Why am I so confused?



And I don't know what to do? I've babysitted my whole life. I love kids, I'm good with kids. Why do I feel so uncomfortable? And then I think about people that are insecure all the time and that just has to be terrible.



So the fact that you were able to see, OK, these moms are flailing, whatever they are, whether they were confident at one point and you're just seeing them in a moment of their time when they're like, I'm lost. The fact that you were able to kind of say, hey, I can help you. I've been there, but I can also do this, I think is amazing. So take us a little bit into the podcast. You've had the podcast for a number of years now.



Yes, we're just approaching our hundredth episode. So episode 97 just went out today, so our hundredth is coming up in a few weeks. I started it in June 2020. So it's been just over a couple of years now. And actually I'm in the middle of kind of another pivot with that, which I haven't even shared with you yet, with moms that lead and Stronger Serve.



Kind of balancing both of those. I was feeling a little bit stretched too thin, like I couldn't give my best in either element. So what I'm doing is kind of combining those two missions and forming Stronger to Serve coaching and team building, which is really especially in the past year, right? Seeing so much disconnection and so much unhappiness in the workplace. We have the whole great resignation and I think the stats are 70% of people feel disconnected from their teammates.



And so we are introducing leadership coaching as well as team building events that aren't just those one and done kind of mountain top experiences, but people are really learning skills to help build their team culture to a place where they can feel safe and connected and find meaning at work. And then they're applying those skills, doing a community service project together. So this is all facilitated and then we help to make sure that it lasts by offering coaching for the leader. So kind of combining both the meaning you can find through finding your passion as well as helping others with the connection that you can have by knowing who you are and building that culture in your workplace. So really excited about that.



That's awesome. So that you're going into corporations and doing that. Exactly. Got it. Exactly.



Yeah. Exciting. It's a lot of fun. And we have some great holiday events coming up where people can make this part of their year end or holiday party. Everyone wants to do something meaningful at that time anyway.



Let's do something that's not only going to be meaningful in the moment, but also help you to kick 2023 off to a great start. Right. And isn't it crazy to think you started in 2020? And I always think the pandemic is not that far away, but it's far away. Yeah.



Actually, I think we're all on COVID time. It's so crazy. I started my podcast before COVID I started in 2019, but it's still like, to me that I'm like, I can't believe I've been doing this for three years. When you're doing something that you love, it goes by fast. It does.



Really does. It does. Yeah. I say that about coaching. It's kind of a weird description, but I've told people it kind of feels like just slipping in under a warm blanket when I'm coaching, it just feels right.



Right. And then it's so true. So that is really cool. So I know we shared in the beginning, and before I share my episode, I always going to give a little recap and I'll share again. But where can people find you to find out everything you're doing?



Like, where's the one place that you really hang out the most? Yes, LinkedIn is the best. So they can follow me. Just Teri and then Schmidt with A-D-T at the end in case people get confused about that. That's probably the best place, but you can also go to Strongerdeserved.com.



That's great. That's great. And now if someone's out there thinking, okay, I love what Teri is saying, I want to share it, but do you give a talk before? Can people look up some stuff? I'm sure you talk about it in your podcast, so they definitely can go rate and review and then subscribe.



That's how we get our podcast out more. But they probably can listen to a couple of episode of you talking on there. But is there other things that you can share with people where if they want to find out if you're the right fit for what they need in their corporation, like, you know, something like that? Yeah, definitely. Moms lead, like I said, is still going.



And that really is the best picture of who I am as a leader, who I am as a coach, who I am as a facilitator of team building events. Because the mission isn't changing. Our leadership development model isn't changing, it's just that we're applying it in a different venue. That's so awesome. Well, I mean, I'm so excited for you know, I love how we evolve.



I love how when our kids grow, we also evolve more because it just gives us a little space. I know having teens is not easy. It is not easy. It's an adventure. It is an adventure.



Someone just said to me, like, I feel like you always have something going on. Like there's something always going on. I'm like, there is something always going I mean, my dog just got ACL surgery. I have an injured kid. There's always something going on.



There is always something going on. But that's life, and that's what I love about life. If there wasn't always something going on, I'd probably be bored.



Right, okay. So anything else that you want to share with the listeners? Anything that you just, you know, any podcast episodes? If someone wants to go look that you're like, you know what? You want to go listen to that one first kind of thing?



Yeah, no, I think definitely if you want to get a sense of who I am and what I believe, obviously, the first episode of Mason Lead was kind of where I introduced all that, but that's woven throughout all of the episodes. If you want to get a sense of what a team building experience looks like, I just shared one last week on my LinkedIn, so you can kind of get a sense of what that looks like. And then obviously, like I said, there are more details on the website. In addition, stronger to serve.com. Oh, that's awesome.



Well, Teri, thank you so much for joining your Next stop. I'm so happy that we were connected a year ago and then continue this connection. It always makes me happy to see people in a similar position that I am. Moms that are out there really evolving and helping other people and other moms just be better. That's what we all need to do.



So thank you for joining your next stop. Yes, and thank you for having me and for the work that you do. It's amazing just to hear the stories of the different people that you have on the podcast and how they are turning their passion into careers. So thank you for all the work that you do. Thank you so much, Teri.



You guys know what to do. Rate review like and subscribe and share this episode. You might have listened to this episode and said, oh, I love that. I love where they are. You might be not a mom and think, oh, this is only for moms.



No, there's someone out in your life that needs to hear this or someone in your life that needs to be connected to Teri. There's someone in your life that needs some inspiration to share this with as many people as you can, and we will see you guys later. This week or next week with another episode of Your Next Stop or a Y and S Live with NFL thread episode. We'll see you guys soon. I hope you liked this episode of your Next Stop.



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My focus is entirely on helping you follow your passion, even when you feel like you've got stuck in crazy town. There is a way out, its me helping you. You don't have to ditch everything in your life that is making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, you just need some help to navigate it.


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