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Work for justice. 
Go to bed happy.

Zo Tobi • Leadership coach & trainer for the progressive movement

Hi! I'm Zo.

I offer coaching & training on the internal, interpersonal, & organizational "soft skills" that I think are key to the progressive movement's long-term success.

My view is that our movement grows stronger, faster, when our leaders and teams are happy, healthy, fulfilling their calling, loving life, and in it for the long haul.

Coaching

Empower yourself

How can we stay in it for the long haul AND live of life of joy & well-being?

  • Resilience: "Lower the volume" on stress, overwhelm, & thought distortions.
  • Wellness: Center self-care, build in support, & master time management.
  • Work-life harmony: See what matters most, act on it daily, go to bed happy.

Empower your people

How can we bring out the best in others, especially when we're all under stress?

  • Communication: Handle difficult conversations with courage & compassion.
  • Leadership: Lead from vision & values amidst inertia, uncertainty, & change.
  • Management: Use coaching skills to manage down, up, & sideways with ease.

Empower your culture

How can we work together in a way that embodies the world we want to see?

  • Culture: Build a culture of support, community care, belonging, & inclusion.
  • Structure: Create roles, agreements, & systems that empower our best work.
  • Alignment: Clarify your mission, vision, values, & goals worth playing for.
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Without inner change - angel Kyodo Williams

Who I work with

I offer coaching & "soft skills" training for:

  • Progressive candidates, elected officials, and their staff
  • Progressive campaign consultant groups
  • Organizations building the progressive political leadership pipeline
  • Progressive funders, philanthropists, and their grantees
  • Election reform & voting rights organizations
  • Social & environmental justice organizations
  • Businesses with a social/environmental mission

I have experience working with leaders at every level and stage, from organizers to managers, directors, executives, founders, funders, fundraisers, & board chairs.

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'm also a husband, sole family income-provider, and father of a sweet toddler.

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.

I want to leverage my privilege by lifting up others' leadership. My "backstage" role lets me support the leadership I want to see in the world, including that 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

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 for healing the past; coaching is for taking action in the present.
  • 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 approach is rooted in ontology, the study of being. We focus on the values we live by, the contribution we want to make to others, and, ultimately, the legacy 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 bring this larger context to the forefront.
  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 others discover and give their 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 helps clear away the “mental muck” so people can hear their voice of wisdom and act from 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 people live with this “long view” in mind.

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.

My take on what to look for in a coach:

  1. Training: Is their training accredited by International Coaching Federation?
  2. Ethics: Is there a clear contract? Are they clear what coaching is & is not?
  3. Alignment: Do we share values + worldview? Do they "get"me + my context?
  4. Genuine care for you: Do they show that they genuinely want me to flourish?
  5. Gut check: Do I like + trust them? Do I want them by my side on this journey?

If you want a well-qualified coach who is straight-talking yet compassionate, politically progressive, and spiritually-oriented but 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. 😉)

All sessions by phone

I started out in 2010 coaching by video, but switched to phone in 2013. Why? Here's what I've learned through my own experience and from the research:

Packages & pricing

All packages include:

  • Sessions: 45-minute sessions by phone
  • Unlimited "laser support" between sessions by text, email, & 10-minute calls
  • 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

Choose the sliding scale tier that is a stretch but not a hardship. NOTE: Scholarship rates also possible — get in touch and we'll see what we can do.

OPTION 1 • 2 sessions / month retainer, unlimited "laser support," 3-6 months

  • $1,000/month if you’re financially flourishing (for-profit / foundation rate)
  • $800/month if you’re financially comfortable
  • $600/month if you're financially sustaining
  • $500/month if you're financially stretching

OPTION 2 • 1 session / week retainer, unlimited "laser support," 2-6 months

  • $400/week if you’re financially flourishing (for-profit / foundation rate)
  • $320/week if you're financially comfortable
  • $240/week if you're financially sustaining
  • $200/week if you're financially stretching

OPTION 3 • Unlimited retainer + unlimited "laser support," 3-6 months

  • $2,400/month for unlimited 45-minute & 15-minute sessions + texts/emails

OPTION 4: On-demand 45-minute sessions

  • $500/session if you’re financially flourishing (for-profit / foundation rate)
  • $400/session if you're financially comfortable
  • $300/session if you're financially sustaining
  • $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? I often have "secret spots" open. Email + we'll find one! 😊 )
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Soft skills training

Fortify your leaders & teams for the long haul.

I offer training on the internal, interpersonal, & organizational "soft skills" that are key to our organizations' (& movement's) long-term success, health, and longevity.

I love training growth-minded leaders at all levels, especially managers & directors who want to empower their teams and create organizational culture change.

"Soft skills" bring real results.

I focus on 3 "Empowerment Areas": 1) Yourself, 2) Your people, 3) Your culture.

Empowering yourself: Emotional intelligence, resilience skills, & growth mindset all increase organizational productivity, & retention.

Empowering your culture: A coaching culture improves performance, well-being & loyalty, and adaptability amidst uncertainty & change.

Curriculum

Empower yourself

How can we stay in it for the long haul AND live of life of joy & well-being?

  • Resilience: "Lower the volume" on stress, overwhelm, & thought distortions.
  • Wellness: Center self-care, build in support, & master time management.
  • Work-life harmony: See what matters most, act on it daily, go to bed happy.

Empower your people

How can we bring out the best in others, especially when we're all under stress?

  • Communication: Handle difficult conversations with courage & compassion.
  • Leadership: Lead from vision & values amidst inertia, uncertainty, & change.
  • Management: Use coaching skills to manage down, up, & sideways with ease.

Empower your culture

How can we work together in a way that embodies the world we want to see?

  • Culture: Build a culture of support, community care, belonging, & inclusion.
  • Structure: Create roles, agreements, & systems that empower our best work.
  • Alignment: Clarify your mission, vision, values, & goals worth playing for.

A note re: Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI)

I don't do JEDI work, but my work helps JEDI work stick. My work offers resilience, emotional, & interpersonal skills that make it easier to examine personal blind spots, address organizational obstacles, and transform organizational culture.

We shouldn't use the simplicity of spiritual truths to avoid the complexity of spiritual ones - Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey quote square
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Packages & pricing

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
  • Includes: Prep, training, debrief, + digital materials (video, slides, handouts)
  • Fee: My sliding scale is $350-$450 per training hour or $2,100-$2,700 per 6+ hour day (design, prep time, & debrief built into the fee).

Design process

    1. We'll start with a needs assessment survey + conversation to clarify desired outcomes, learning objectives, budget, and other 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.

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.
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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
    • Coached 200+ leaders (including 64% women + non-binary folks)
    • Worked with leaders at every level & stage, from organizers to managers, directors, executives, founders, funders, & board chairs
    • Experienced in & sensitive to the unique challenges of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, & other marginalized groups
  • Trainer & mentor experience
    • On faculty with the Academy for Coaching Excellence since 2013 as Course Leader, Licensed Trainer, and Mentor Coach
    • Have led or co-led 45+ in-person 4-day leadership & coaching skills trainings (1,200+ training hours total) since 2013
    • Mentored 30+ professional coaches through a rigorous 1-2 year training & certification process
    • 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 longtime progressive movement organizer, leadership coach, & trainer.

Zo's core mission is to help build the internal, interpersonal, & organizational "soft skills infrastructure" that is key to the progressive movement's long-term success.

His view is that our movement grows stronger, faster, when our leaders and teams are happy, healthy, fulfilling their calling, loving life, and in it for the long haul.

Zo started in the progressive political world as a volunteer, staff organizer, and then manager of organizers in the youth climate movement. He helped envision and execute a campaign across a coalition of 50+ organizations to turn out hundreds of thousands of new youth climate voters in the 2008 election.

In helping lead the failed push for climate legislation in 2009, he saw how urgently the progressive movement needed concrete skills for staying in it for the long haul. In 2010 he became a professional certified leadership coach, and since then has coached and trained leaders in groups such as the Movement Voter Project, Sunrise Movement, ACLU, 350.org, Avaaz, & Brand New Congress.

He is a Certified Professional Coach through the International Coaching Federation, and has been training and mentoring progressive movement coaches since 2013, as a core faculty member with the Academy for Coaching Excellence.

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.

Fun facts

I love dark, apocalyptic sci-fi, ideally with some mind-bending time-travel.

I go from serious discussion of spirituality, death, politics, and metaphysics one minute to poop jokes, bad puns, and irreverent dark humor the next minute.

I love jamming hard to Gospel & Christian Rock, although I am a pantheistic Jew.

I am a raging extrovert who also loves solo time in the woods.

I love coaching by phone so I can pace in circles and figure-8's for hours.

I can play songs by ear, transcribe dialogue in real-time, and mentally calculate 2-digit square roots, but when I exit a public bathroom I don't remember which way to turn to get back where I was. I probably don't know where I am right now.

A bit more on 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" 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

Zo Tobi - Headshot - 2019-07-30