Work for justice. 
Go to bed happy.

Zo Tobi • Coaching for progressive social change leaders

Zo Tobi - Headshot - 2019-07-30

Hi! I'm Zo.

My job is to care for the folks who fuel our social justice movements — so they can be happy, healthy, thriving, and in it for the long haul.

I help folks find clarity and joy in every area of life and work:

  • Purpose: Design your life and work around what really matters most to you.
  • Time: Focus your energy on what matters — and stay sane in the process.
  • Leadership: Be the kind of leader who always brings out the best in others.
  • Resilience: Stay grounded and centered even when it's all chaos around you.
  • Self-care & well-being: Nurture your joy so you can be in it for the long haul.
  • Communication: Bring courage, compassion, and grace to each conversation.
  • Relationships: Live your values in all your most important relationships.
  • Money: Bring alignment, power, & gratitude to your relationship with money.

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

Why coaching?

Coaching takes you past your stopping points.

When you're doing something new or important, your brain looks for danger. Buddhists call this "Monkey Mind," for that aspect of the mind that is always chattering at us as it swings from doubt to worry and back to doubt again.

Coaching helps you tame your brain — so can turn your true intentions into action.

Enjoy what you do and stay in it for the long haul.

Many of us "do" a lot, but at the cost of exhaustion and burnout. Coaching helps you take action with clarity, focus, ease, and grace — versus anxiety and struggle.

How is coaching distinct?

  • Therapy is about healing the past; coaching is about taking action.
  • Consulting offers expert advice; coaching draws forth your own expertise.
  • Mentoring offers wisdom from experience; coaching taps your own wisdom.
  • Training fulfills set learning objectives; coaching clarifies your own objectives.
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Who I work with

I work with growth-oriented leaders in:

  • Progressive politics & electoral campaigns
  • Social & environmental justice movements
  • Progressive philanthropy & investment
  • Socially conscious businesses
  • Progressive spiritual communities
  • Forward-thinking schools & universities
  • Public sector agencies

Coaching the Beloved Community

I'm passionate about using coaching to create what MLK Jr. calls "the Beloved Community" — a world where everyone can thrive and no one is left out.

My identity: I am a white-passing, multiracial, Jewish (half-Ashkenazi half-Sefardi), middle-class, cis-hetero dude from New Hampshire.

My passion is to empower folks from marginalized backgrounds, including:

  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)
  • LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer, nonbinary, intersex, asexual, etc)
  • Immigrant and refugee communities
  • Poor and working-class communities
  • People from communities lacking socioeconomic privilege
  • People released from incarceration
  • People with disabilities
  • Young people
  • Neurodivergent people
  • People of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds

Coaching clients

I have coached leaders in organizations such as:

Packages & pricing

No-risk guarantee

Not getting your money's worth? Cancel anytime, I'll even refund your last session.

What you get

  • Sessions: 45-minute sessions by phone
  • Tools and practices for your daily life and work
  • Unlimited between-session support by text & email
  • View our simple 1-page contract »

Coaching process

  1. Roadmap: Before our first session, you'll write your Coaching Roadmap, a simple way to capture what you want from coaching in a few bullet points.
  2. Session focus: 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 anything personal or professional.
    • Everything in life is connected anyway, so there's no "wrong choice." 🙂
  3. 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.
  4. Integration: After sessions, you have unlimited support by text & email, and you can use this optional Recap Form to capture takeaways and next steps.

Packages

NOTE:

  • My top priority is always to work together in whatever way is in your best interest. We can tailor your package to your needs.
  • Scholarships available. Apply below and we'll see what we can do.

Package 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

Package 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

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

OR: 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: Tuesday through Thursday (plus Mondays & Fridays if needed)
  • Hours: 6am-2pm Pacific // 9am-5pm Eastern
    (plus 2pm Pacific // 5pm Eastern spots if needed)
  • Booking: Booked upfront online, reschedulable with 24 hours' notice
    (can't find a time? Email me + I'll open up a spot! 😊 )
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This is worth it.

"We don't buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our life." - Joshua Becker

Your time and money are sacred.

You've exchanged precious hours of your life for the money you have.

That's why I take your investment very seriously.

And that's why I promise you this: If you are willing to partner with me in this way, you will get more in value from coaching than the time and money you put into it.

Hours of your life toward a life well-lived.

What would you love to get out of coaching, in terms of hours of your life?

For me personally? By investing in coaching, I've gained countless hours of my life:

  • Taking my authentic path vs. following inertia
  • Saying YES to the adventure vs. living with regrets
  • Expressing my true gifts vs. holding back
  • Nurturing my relationships vs. neglecting them
  • Completing projects vs. talking myself out of them
  • Celebrating successes vs. wondering what might have been
  • Empowering those around me vs. doing it alone
  • Savoring and being present vs. rushing and worrying what's next
  • Learning and growing vs. insisting on being right
  • Course correcting quickly vs. bouncing from crisis to crisis
  • Taking small sweet steps vs. struggling to the point of exhaustion

And this is exactly what I want for you.

Bio & approach

It's a big deal to invest in a coach. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this someone I want by my side for an important time in my life?
  2. Do I trust this person at a fundamental level?
  3. Do I feel good being around them?

“Chemistry” is important.

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. 🙂

Qualifications & training

  • 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

Philosophy

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.

  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’re in the “daily grind” of things.
  2. Each of us is here to contribute. We all want to know our life makes a difference — that the world is a little brighter, safer, and more joyous because we were here. A coach’s role is to offer tools, skills, and support to overcome the obstacles we face along the way.
  3. Each of us has a voice of wisdom. We all possess an innate wellspring of creativity, the power to envision new possibilities, and the courage to act on them. A coach’s role is to help us clear away the “mental muck” so that we can tap into that voice of wisdom more easily.
  4. Each of us is here to bring our greatness to life. We are here to discover and express our true greatness — to know the joy of being thoroughly “used up” when we leave. A coach’s role is to help us hold that “long view” of our lives, and to live without regrets.

Approach

My approach centers:

  • Timeless principles: My approach is grounded in principles found across spiritual and secular traditions, from wisdom teachings to brain research.
  • Practical tools: My approach turns simple yet powerful tools for living your values, realizing your vision, and empowering others.
  • Daily practices: My approach teaches you how to create lasting shifts in the way you see and do things — long after the high of an “aha” moment wears off.
  • Compassionate support: My approach honors each person's unique experience, identity, and context, while also acknowledging the universal human experience we all share, in all its messiness, comedy, and poignancy.

More about me

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 at age 4, watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood and listening to Raffi (the children’s musician & eco-activist); and at age 7, watching my mom organize a successful campaign for citywide curbside recycling from our 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!

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Why I do this

#1: I love helping people grow.

A formative experience for me was after college, organizing for the youth climate justice movement, supporting students to lead climate campaigns in their schools and communities.

I loved supporting these young leaders to envision their campaign, craft their strategy, and design their tactics.

But the part I loved most was coaching: How to find the courage to lead… how to keep going when things don’t go as planned… how to bring out the greatness in their teammates.

I had an epiphany in a bar in Keene, NH on Election Night in 2008, after getting out the vote all day. I was having a Guinness with friends in the movement, and out of nowhere it came to me…

I wrote it down on my beer napkin: "My purpose is to be a coach!" I had no idea what a coach was... but something deep inside me said, "YES! This is what you have come here to do."

I hired a coach shortly after, and I knew I needed to learn to do what she was doing. I was in awe. My life was changing for the better, and quickly. I asked her how I could learn to do what she was doing, and she directed me to the coaching school where she was trained. The rest is history!

#2: Thriving leaders make a greater impact.

My days are filled with what MLK called “the fierce urgency of now" — and what the dancer Martha Graham called "blessed unrest."

I want to see a world in which everyone can thrive and no one is left out… and we’ve got a ways to go.

I have hope. And my hope is in you. (Not only you, of course, but all of us!)

I believe that, when purpose-driven people are thriving, we all go further, faster, toward the world we want to see.

When we are grounded… centered… resilient… and tapped into our courage, our creativity, and our sense of purpose, we can hear our voice of wisdom, turn our values into action, and create a thriving world.

I believe we all have a part to play in creating that world. Me personally? My calling is to support you to see your part to play… and to play it well and with joy.

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Let's talk!

  • Everything you write is confidential.
  • You'll get an email after with your responses.
  • I'll reply ASAP and we'll set up a free Discovery Session to see if we're a fit!
  • Unsure and want to talk further? Fill this out and share your questions. 🙂