Zo Tobi - Headshot - 2023-12-31 (Square)

ZO TOBI • LEADERSHIP COACH

Work for justice. 
Go to bed happy.

Hi! I'm Zo. I offer coaching to help progressive movement leaders who want to be happy, healthy, fulfilling their calling, loving life, and in it for the long haul.

Coaching topics

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 and thought distortions.
  • Wellness: Center self-care, build in support, & master time management.
  • Work-life harmony: See what matters most, act on it, go to bed happy.

Empower others

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

  • Communication: Have tough conversations with courage and compassion.
  • Leadership: Lead from your vision and values in the face of uncertainty.
  • Management: Use coaching skills to empower your colleagues.
Without inner change - angel Kyodo Williams

Who I work with

I've worked with leaders at every level and stage, from organizers to managers, directors, executives, founders, funders, fundraisers, and board chairs. My clients include:

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

Identity + Equity

I'm a white-passing, half-MENA (Middle Eastern / North African) Jew with an Ashkenazi-American mom and a Sefardi / Middle Eastern darker-skinned dad (with ancestry in Turkey, Egypt, & Iraq). I am a cis-hetero, middle-class dude.

I grew up in suburban New Hampshire as one of a few "brown kids," with a funny name ("Zohar") and a big nose, different from my mostly white peers. Now as an adult, some see me as white while some see me as... not white.

I strive to leverage my privilege by supporting others' leadership. As a coach, my "backstage" role allows me to support:

  • 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

"Zo did a coaching training for my organization with our audience of a few staffers and a few dozen Democratic County Party leaders. I haven't walked away from a training feeling so empowered and having learned immediately actionable tools in quite some time. Zo's demeanor was so calming and refreshing. Several of our team leaders immediately shared with me that they were greatly impressed with the training and just over the moon about how helpful it was."

Lauren Gepford, former executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, and Director of Rural Party Building Program for Movement Labs

"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 play your best game.

Coaching is "partnering with clients ​in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential​." (International Coaching Federation)

When you're doing something new or important, your brain is primed to find danger and seek safety. This was evolutionarily adaptive when we lived in caves, but it's not always optimal in today's world.

Coaching helps you learn, grow, and develop, so you can follow your voice of wisdom and act on what matters to you.

How is coaching different from other support?

  • 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 learning objectives; coaching clarifies your own objectives.
  • Managing is "how you get things done through other people." Great managers use coaching to empower and develop the people they manage.

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

Approach

My approach is rooted in ontology, the study of being. The focus is on the values we cherish, the difference we want to make for others, and 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” at the end. A coach’s role is to help you 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 theirs accredited by International Coaching Federation?
  2. Ethics: Is there a clear contract? Are they clear what coaching is & is not?
  3. Alignment: Are we values-aligned? Do they "get" me and my context?
  4. Authenticity: Can I tell that they love their work and want me to flourish?
  5. Gut check: Do I like them? Trust them? Do I want them on my team?

If you want a well-qualified coach who is straight-talking but compassionate, politically progressive, and spiritually-oriented but action-focused, I’m for you.

Step 2: Working together

  • Onboarding: You'll get a welcome email with our contract, invoice, scheduling link, and an optional "Coaching Roadmap" template to clarify your coaching objectives.
  • Before each session: Think about what you want to achieve.
    • Optional: Use this Prep Form to gather your thoughts.
    • We can focus solely on one topic, 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 challenges; gain new perspectives; and make 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.

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 research and my own lived experience:

Packages & pricing

All packages include:

  • Sessions: 45-minute sessions by phone
  • Unlimited "laser support" between sessions (text, email, & 5-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.
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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Qualifications

  • Coach certification: Academy for Coaching Excellence, a rigorous school 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
    • 2013-2019: On faculty with the Academy for Coaching Excellence as a 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
Zo Tobi - Headshot - 2023-12-31 (Square)

Bio

Zo Tobi is a progressive movement organizer, leadership coach, and trainer, currently serving as Director of Donor Organizing at Movement Voter Project.

As a coach, Zo's mission is help build a progressive movement in which people 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 trained and mentored progressive movement coaches from 2013 - 2020, 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 about me

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.

Backstory

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 am now Director of Donor Organizing at Movement Voter Project. 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 one of my core contributions 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.

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 🥰

New clients by referral only

At this time, I am taking on new clients by referral only. If that is you, please contact me and I will follow up with you for next steps.

For others, here are some coaches I know, love, and wholeheartedly endorse:

  1. Jeremy Blanchard
  2. Allison Roeser
  3. Mazin Jamal
  4. Meg Beliveau
  5. Radical Support Collective

Tell them Zo sent you.

All my best,

Zo