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Work for justice. 
Go to bed happy.

Zo Tobi • Leadership coach & trainer for the progressive movement

Hi! I'm Zo. My mission is to strengthen the progressive movement by caring for our people — so we can be happy, healthy, thriving, and in it for the long haul.

My focus is on bringing personal resilience, spiritual grounding, and emotional intelligence skills into our movement's leadership development infrastructure.

When our leaders thrive, we all go further, faster, toward the world we want to see.

How can I help you?

My role as a coach is to help you make the difference you're here to make, while living a life of joy and meaning. I support my clients in these areas:

  • Meaning & purpose: Align your life & work to what matters most to you.
  • Resilience: Stay centered even when it's chaos around you.
  • Time: Clarify priorities, focus your energy, and stay sane in the process.
  • Leadership: Lead with vision, and enroll & empower others to join you.
  • Well-being: Care for your body, mind, & spirit. Stay in it for the long haul!
  • Communication: Bring compassion and clarity to difficult conversations.
  • Relationships: Live your values in all your most important relationships.
  • Coaching skills: Hone your ability to bring out the best in others.
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Who I work with

I support progressive leaders & groups such as:

  • Progressive candidates, campaigns, & political organizations
  • Progressive elected officials & their staff
  • Progressive funders and philanthropists
  • Election reform & voting rights organizations
  • Social & environmental justice organizations
  • Businesses with a social/environmental mission

Identity + equity

I'm a white-passing, multi-racial Jew (Ashkenazi-American mom, Sefardi / Middle Eastern dark-skinned dad), and a cis-hetero, middle-class, college-educated dude.

I grew up in suburban New Hampshire as one of a few "brown kids," with a funny name and a big nose, different from my white peers. Yet, I also learned to blend in to white and middle-class spaces, and as an adult, many folks see me as white.

Personally I want to leverage my privilege by playing a "behind-the-scenes" role as a coach in the progressive movement, focusing my practice on supporting, uplifting, and centering the leadership of:

  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color)
  • Women and LGBTQ+ folks (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer, nonbinary, intersex, asexual, etc)
  • People from immigrant and refugee communities
  • People from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities
  • Justice-involved people
  • People with disabilities
  • Neurodivergent people
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Past clients

I have coached leaders in organizations such as:

I have led trainings for organizations such as:

Testimonials

"Zo changed my life in all the best ways. As the director of an organization, entrepreneur, community organizer and leader, I had always felt overwhelmed. Working with Zo, I learned the next level of prioritizing what's most important to me, graceful ways to lead and communicate, and by the time we were done, I looked back and saw I had redesigned my life and leadership into my dream job! I recommend him to all of my friends who are leaders in their companies and communities."

Mazin Jamal, Founder & Executive Director at Holistic Underground

"Working with Zo has been a true gift! He brings clarity and perspective to both work and life. With his help, I have been able to reimagine and improve upon many of my daily practices, particularly those related to organization and priorities. He's also helped me significantly in thinking through bigger picture outlook, aspirations and goals. I would recommend his services to anyone."

Talya Stagg, Donor Advisor + Head of Influencer Strategy at Movement Voter Project

"Zo has made me a believer in coaching as an important tool for both professional and personal growth. I absolutely feel more confident in myself as a supervisor, but more importantly, I feel that Zo's coaching has helped me learn how to examine and approach difficult situations in ways that are both productive and healthy. The tools and resources I've gained from our sessions are ones I know I will continue to use throughout my career and my life."

Nassim Moshiree, Policy Director for ACLU of DC

"Zo didn't teach me anything about myself. He did something better; he helped wipe the fog from the mirror so I could see my own reflection and begin to ask myself the hard questions I'd been too afraid to answer. Zo is exceptional and incredibly insightful. I've never met a coach like him."

Barbara Jefferson, Education Director at The Wildfire Project

"Y'all, Zo's coaching is incredible. He combines game-changing coaching tools with a deep understanding of the specific work and challenges of organizing and campaigns. He is compassionate, visionary, and whip smart in his approach to supporting individuals and organizations to get unstuck and show up powerfully."

Mattie Weiss, Vice President at The Management Center

Coaching with Zo helped me to slow down, stop hustling, and start working (and living) in a way that nurtures me daily.

Matthew Armstead, Director of Culture Work Studios and Core Trainer at Training for Change

"I've seen a serious shift in my ability to be true to myself in my work: by showing up for my team, making tough decisions, and trusting my instincts. Working with Zo helped me go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling intentional about where and how I spend my time and energy. It gave me the space to really think about what I want and what's possible."

Jenny Zimmer, Divestment Campaign Manager at 350.org

"Zo surpassed my expectations as a coach, and I would recommend him to anyone who is serious about taking an honest look at themselves in order to grow as a leader. He helped me identify impediments to my personal and professional development, even though in some cases I wasn’t even aware of them. Zo also provided tools and strategies to address challenges and mentalities that aren’t serving me. All this was driven by his warm, upbeat, open, and accepting personality, which guaranteed I always looked forward to our calls."

Matt Allen, Field Director, ACLU of Massachusetts

"Zo has helped me stay grounded and find clarity. He cuts through the noise with ease and helps me discover truths I had buried deep inside. He is unfailingly kind, supportive, patient, and encouraging, yet he doesn't let me off the hook when I start falling into old ways of thinking. I can't imagine how I would have made this journey without his support and guidance. I am discovering myself as a leader, learning to be comfortable with saying no when I need to and yes when I've previously been afraid to. I am finding the courage to pursue radically different paths than the safe roads I've always taken. I am emerging, and I have Zo to thank for it."

Cory Archibald, Board Chair, Brand New Congress

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What is coaching?

Support to go past your stopping points.

When you're doing something new or important, your brain looks for danger — whether or not danger is there. Buddhists call this "Monkey Mind," for that aspect of the mind that is always chattering at us as it swings between doubt and worry.

Coaching helps you tame your brain, do what matters to you, and stay sane in the process. It's a good antidote to regrets, burnout, anxiety, and struggle. 🙂

How is coaching different?

  • Therapy is about healing the past; coaching is about taking action.
  • Consulting offers expert advice; coaching draws out your own expertise.
  • Mentoring offers the mentor's wisdom; coaching uncovers your wisdom.
  • Training fulfills set learning objectives; coaching clarifies your own objectives.

None are "better" than another — just different tools for different jobs.

Approach

My philosophy is rooted in ontology, the study of being. Ontology looks at what it is to be human: The values we live by, the heroic journey we are each here to take, and, ultimately, the gift to others we want to be known for. My viewing point as a coach stems from these premises:

  1. Each of us is a hero. We are here to embark on a "hero's journey" in which we fulfill a calling, triumph over obstacles, and contribute to our community. A coach’s role is to remind us of this larger context — especially when we forget.
  2. Each of us is here to contribute. We all want to know our life matters — that the world is brighter, safer, and more joyous because we were here. A coach’s role is to help us discovery and give our unique gifts.
  3. Each of us has a voice of wisdom. We all have a wellspring of creativity and the ability to imagine new possibilities. A coach help us clear away the “mental muck” so we can hear our voice of wisdom and act on it.
  4. Each of us is here to bring our greatness to life. We are here to discover and express our true values and intentions — to know the joy of being “used up” when we die. A coach’s role is to help us live from this “long view” of our lives.

My approach centers compassionate presence, reflective listening, humor, and occasional "call-you-on-your-BS" (as needed or by request! LOL) to help you:

  1. Acknowledge your strengths, values, intentions, goals, and good heart.
  2. Observe any ways of thinking or acting that might be getting in the way.
  3. Discern the truth vs. interpretation, and clarify your voice of wisdom.
  4. Take action that's simple, doable, and grounded in who you are.
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How it works

Step 1: Making sure we're a fit

Coaching is an investment. That's why we'll have a free Discovery Session, to discuss your objectives, answer your questions, and make sure we're a fit.

In addition to qualifications, "chemistry" is important. Ask yourself: Is this someone I'd want by my side for an important journey? Do I trust them intuitively?

If you want a coach who is straight-talking, compassionate yet willing to poke fun, spiritually oriented, politically progressive, and action-focused… I’m for you. 🙂

Step 2: Working together

  • Onboarding: I'll send you a welcome email with our contract, online invoice, scheduling link, and an optional "Coaching Roadmap" template for listing your coaching objectives.
  • Pre-session: You set the agenda based on what you want to achieve.
    • You can use this optional Prep Form to clarify our agenda beforehand.
    • We can focus on one topic exclusively, or a different topic each session.
    • We can talk about any topic, personal or professional.
    • Everything is connected, so there's no "wrong choice." 🙂
  • Session flow: Each session is an organic conversation, in which I'll support you to clarify your intentions, vision, and goals; address your challenges; adopt new perspectives; and create a simple, doable action plan.
  • Post-session: You have unlimited support by text & email, and you can use this optional Recap Form to capture takeaways and next steps.

(If you can't tell, I like structure. 😉)

Packages & pricing

All packages include:

  • Sessions: 45-minute sessions by phone
  • Unlimited support between sessions by text & email
  • Tools & practices for your daily life and work
  • No-risk guarantee: Cancel anytime, I'll even refund your last session.
  • View our simple 1-page contract »

Packages

NOTE: I can tailor any package to whatever is best for you. Scholarship rates also possible in cases of hardship — get in touch and we'll see what we can do.

OPTION 1 • 2x/month retainer, 3-6 months (your preference)

  • $700/month if you’re financially flourishing
  • $600/month if you're financially comfortable
  • $500/month if you're financially stretching

OPTION 2 • 1x/week retainer, 2-6 months (your preference)

  • $280/week if you’re financially flourishing
  • $240/week if you're financially comfortable
  • $200/week if you're financially stretching

OPTION 3 • Unlimited retainer, 3-6 months (your preference)
$1,600/month for unlimited 45-minute sessions, plus 15-minute laser sessions

OPTION 4: Pay-as-you-go (for short-term coaching needs)

  • $350/session if you’re financially flourishing
  • $300/session if you're financially comfortable
  • $250/session if you're financially stretching

Scheduling

  • Days: Monday - Thursday (+ Fridays if needed)
  • Hours: 9am-5pm Eastern // 6am-2pm Pacific
    (+ 5pm Eastern // 2pm Pacific if needed)
  • Booking: Booked upfront online, reschedulable with 24 hours' notice
    (can't find a time? Email me + I'll open up a "secret spot" just for you! 😊 )
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Training for teams

Empowerment skills and resilience practices to fortify your leaders and teams for the long haul.

My mission is to build an equitable, sustainable, and resilient leadership infrastructure for the progressive movement. My trainings cover these areas:

Thriving leaders

How can we create lasting change AND live a life of joy & well-being?

Empowering teams

How can we work in a way that consistently lifts everybody up?

“Dream job” organizations

How can we operate in a way that embodies the just world we envision?

Curriculum

Packages

  • Format: Virtual by Zoom or in-person (when public health allows)
  • Duration: Anything from a 2-hour intro session to a 1+ day program, to an ongoing coaching & training series
  • Fee: My sliding scale is $350-$450 per training hour or $2,100-$2,700 per 6+ hour day (design + prep time built into the fee).

Design process

    1. We'll start with a needs assessment conversation to clarify your desired outcomes, learning objectives, budget, and parameters.
    2. From there, I'll share a written proposal outlining suggested program design, outline, and deliverables.
    3. After any feedback and edits, we'll sign a written contract outlining our roles, expectations, and agreements.
    4. After the engagement, I'll share an evaluation survey and we'll have a short debrief to discuss outcomes and any next steps.

Topics

Coaching skills for leaders

  • Leading & motivating from vision
  • Navigating uncertainty and rapid change
  • Using coaching skills as a manager
  • Creating a culture of belonging & empowerment

Resilience & well-being

  • Staying motivated and centered for the long haul
  • Dealing with stress, doubt, and worry
  • Handling and preventing burnout
  • Finding and keeping "work/life balance"

Communication & collaboration

  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Having difficult conversations
  • Navigating conflict skillfully
  • Acting as a team that supports everybody 100%

Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

I am not a trained JEDI / DEI consultant, and my curriculum does not replace such work — BUT, it will complement and bolster it, by giving your team resilience and interpersonal tools and skills that make it easier to:

  • Examine how our organizations may be perpetuating systems of advantage, disadvantage, preferential treatment, and marginalization.
  • Dismantle organizational obstacles to intersectional and equity-based leadership, so we can embody a vision of “Beloved Community” and an ethos of love, dignity, respect, and reverence for all in our organizations.
  • Transform organizational cultures and systems to value, center, and uplift those who have been disadvantaged and marginalized.
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Training approach

Pedagogy

My training pedagogy bridges the disciplines of personal transformation, leadership development, and coach training. The result is an engaging mix of didactic teaching, personal reflection, group coaching, peer interaction, and experiential skill-building. See my qualifications below »

Training components

  1. Timeless principles: I take universal success principles based in wisdom teachings and neuroscience, and distill them into an accessible form.
  2. Practical tools: I then offer simple tools and practices participants can use to immediately apply those principles in their everyday life and work.
  3. Experiential skill-building: My trainings prioritize real-time practice, so participants leave with skill and confidence to use what they've learned.
  4. Tangible action: My trainings give folks simple practices and ways to turn insight into action, to create actual shifts in life and work.

"Soft skills" = Real results.

Qualifications

  • Coach certification: Academy for Coaching Excellence, one of the most rigorous schools accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Coach credential: Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through ICF
  • Coaching experience: 2,000+ professional coaching hours since 2010
  • Trainer & mentor experience
    • On faculty with the Academy for Coaching Excellence since 2013 as Course Leader, Licensed Trainer, and Mentor Coach
    • Have developed and delivered dozens of 4-day leadership & coach training courses for hundreds of participants since 2013
    • Have personally trained and mentored 100+ professional coaches
    • Have developed and delivered dozens of grassroots organizing and campaign strategy trainings since 2007
Zo in the ACE course room teaching at the flipchart
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About Zo

Bio

Zo Tobi is a leadership coach & trainer for the progressive movement.

His mission is to strengthen the progressive movement by caring for our people — so we can be happy, healthy, thriving, and in it for the long haul.

His focus is on bringing personal resilience, spiritual grounding, and emotional intelligence skills into our movement's leadership development infrastructure — because when our leaders thrive, we all go further, faster, toward the world we want to see.

Zo got his start as an organizer in the U.S. Youth Climate Movement, helping to turn out hundreds of thousands of new youth voters in the 2008 election. Since then, he has coached and trained leaders at organizations such as the Movement Voter Project, Sunrise Movement, ACLU, 350.org, and Brand New Congress.

He is a Certified Professional Coach through the International Coaching Federation, and has been on faculty with the Academy for Coaching Excellence since 2013 as Course Leader, Licensed Trainer, and Mentor Coach.

His coaching philosophy is rooted in ontology, the study of being. Ontology looks at what it is to be human: The values we live by, the heroic journey we are each here to take, and, ultimately, the gift to others we want to be known for.

A bit more on who I am

Love and family are the center of my life. I’ve been in love with my wife Kelly since we met in 2010, and my heart grows bigger every day since we had our sweet little Ayla in August 2019.

I’m a lifelong radical. I come from a family of left-leaning, working-class and middle-class Jews. I became "radicalized" in my youth, absorbing the principles of love, social justice, ecological reverence, and dignity for all from watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood; from listening to Raffi (the children’s musician & eco-activist); from taking in the story of Exodus at countless family Passover Seders, and from watching my mom organize a successful campaign for citywide curbside recycling from the kitchen table.

My background is social movement organizing. I’ve volunteered and worked as an organizer, manager, and leader with Greenpeace, FairVote, and the Sierra Student Coalition; I’ve studied with the renowned organizer Marshall Ganz; and I co-founded and co-directed Generation Waking Up and Coaching for Social Change. Through all this, I’ve learned that social change leaders need to develop the spiritual fortitude — and practical success skills — to sustain for the long haul.

Coaching is my contribution to social change. I believe that, when social change leaders thrive, we all go further, faster, toward the world we want to see. We each have our part to play in creating a world built on love and justice, and I am so grateful that this is mine. In addition to my private practice, I have the privilege of serving on the faculty of the Academy for Coaching Excellence, where we offer coach training to leaders, coaches, and organizations dedicated to transforming the world.

I’m also a “purpose-driven rock” musician. 🙂 My purpose is to help people find their place and play their part, and music is one way that I do it. Enjoy my songs below and find more of my music here.

2019-12-31 - Zo, Kelly, & Ayla on Fairlawn Drive walk

^ that's me on the left, my wife Kelly on the right, and our sweet little Ayla in the middle 🥰

Book a free chat

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