Ene Obi: Transforming Dreams—My Journey from Corporate Human Resources to Global Impact with Ziano Mindspa
Pivoting from an international Human Resources career to a world-wide speaking business, the founder of Ziano Mindspa faced a challenging shift. During a tough meeting, she realised that the corporate dream had turned into a nightmare and it was time for her to let go of that part of her life. The content we present here talks about personal change, backed by opportunities to be exposed to famous individuals such as Les Brown and Lisa Nichols. The importance of telling stories in personal change is stressed, along with key points from her book, “Your Life Is Calling.” Ziano Mindspa now reaches out internationally, offering a safe haven for women seeking to redefine themselves, discover their purpose in the next chapter of their life and create fulfilling business from it.
Your journey from a successful corporate career to becoming an international speaker, certified transformational coach, certified executive coach, and bestselling author is truly inspiring. Can you share a pivotal moment that led you to embark on this transformative path with Ziano Mindspa?
It was a cold, dark wet January evening in 2020. It would have been my mother’s birthday but she’d passed on eighteen months before. I remember sitting in the small meeting room in the office building where I worked, about to start a meeting. A meeting which I felt had the potential to be challenging because I was about to deliver unwelcome news to a senior business leader. I didn’t know the meeting would result in such a significant turning point in my life.
It started pleasantly enough and then it was time for me to give my update. My update was that we needed more time to reach an outcome on a proposal we’d been working on. At first there was silence, then out in came. “This is awful! It is terrible! You and your team are ridiculous!” Each word was louder than the one before, causing the walls of the small room to vibrate. If felt like they were closing in on me, the room started to vibrate. My hands were shaking, as beads of sweat dripped down my face and I held on to the edges of the table to steady myself. At one point my mouth opened. I couldn’t trust what would come out. I looked out of the window, wondering how an almost 30-year corporate career come to this. I’d worked for some of the world’s most recognisable global organisations, mostly in Human Resources. For a long time in my career, I felt that I was destined for more, for something else, but I didn’t know what. I was doing all I knew to do, or so I thought, telling myself I was living the corporate dream. The corporate dream died and turned into a nightmare.
On this January evening, as I looked out of that small window in the small meeting room, my life flashed before me – my salary, benefits, reputation and perks of being employed by such prestigious organisations. Then, more slowly, from the other side, I saw the tears that I’d left on my pillow that morning as I cried, yet again, “There’s got to be more to my life than this!”
I looked back in the room. Eyes were upon me, waiting for my response. Suddenly, a peaceful calm came over me. My mouth closed and I was able to let go of the table as I heard two very quiet words in my head. “Not today.” I pushed my chair back, gathered myself, grabbed my stuff and left.
I don’t mean I left the meeting, I don’t mean I left the room, I don’t even mean I left the building. I mean I left that part of my life behind. In that moment, with those two words, “Not today”, I knew that I’d been sleeping. It was time for me to wake up and live. I asked myself, “Now what?”
Sometimes we know we’ve got more in us. We want to explore new horizons, to experience new opportunities but something holds us back. We might feel guilty for wanting more, especially when life is good.
We have a tendency to feel like we should be grateful, like wanting to rise higher is a sign of ingratitude, so we disqualify ourselves, we count ourselves out. We think small, we act small, we play it safe. Or worse, we don’t even play at all. A wise man once said that sometimes we tiptoe through life like we’re trying not to wake anyone up when in fact it is us who are sleeping.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in situations where you’re asking yourself, “Now what?” Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘What am I meant to do with my life?’, ‘Is this it?’ Could it be life’s way of alerting you to greater possibilities? If this resonates with you, please allow yourself to raise your hand, even if you’re the only one who can see it. Actually, especially if you’re the only one who can see it! Now is the time to be honest with yourself and explore the feelings that are showing up for you.
After I walked away from that part of my life, I spent time getting to know myself all over again, asking myself – Who am I? What do I want? What makes my soul sing? It was 2020, the world had gone virtual, so I signed up and attended several online courses, seminars and events. I stumbled on personal development and signed up with a coach. Actually, I signed up with three! My heart hasn’t stopped singing since.
Your mission to “Go back and get the others” reflects a deep commitment to helping individuals rediscover themselves and create new chapters. What personal experiences or insights drove you to focus your efforts on guiding age 45+ women through life and career transitions?
Even though our individual stories and journey details differ, I believe we want to be happy and to live abundantly. By living abundantly, I mean that we desire is to be all that we can be.
In my corporate career of almost 3 decades, I met many women, both personally and professionally, who are living a life they’ve outgrown. They want more, they have dreams and desires to be and do more, they want to change their lives but for one reason or another, they’re not doing it. They desire deeper personal fulfilment, to feel like they’re really living life and not just existing, from one day to the next. They want to reignite their spark and renew their purpose. Perhaps they have been stay-at-home mums whose children are now grown. Perhaps they are career professionals or even business owners. They have achieved a level of success and now reached a point of stagnation. They are no longer growing. Like me, they may be looking in the mirror, asking themselves, “Now what? Is this it? What’s next for me?” It is to this woman who I am called to serve and support. I want to be her guide, to let her know that if she feels there’s more for her, it’s because there is! Sometimes all we need is someone who’s a few steps ahead of us, who’s done the journey and can look back, hold out their hand and shine the light on our path so that you can see more of your possibilities.
I am committed to this woman because for so long, that was my life. I am her and she is me. This is why I say that my mission is to “Go back and get the others.”
A version of a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. states that, “Once a man’s mind has been expanded with an idea or concept beyond their circumstances or the trauma or adversities they’re experiencing, it will never be satisfied to going back to the way it was.”
Navigating transitions can be challenging and even intimidating for many. How do you help your clients develop the Clarity, Courage, Commitment, and Conviction needed to embrace change and reimagine their lives?
Navigating transitions can certainly be challenging an intimidating. For many, it can be so overwhelming that they may feel like they’re stuck, unable and unsure of what to do. However, it can also be exciting! I think a lot depends on how it is viewed in the mind of the person navigating the change.
The first thing I do is help my clients rediscover who they are and identify what they want. I call this the Clarity stage. As we journey through life, we often get buried beneath our circumstances and the expectations of others. So, we might feel lost. This is why people sometimes say, “I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
Self-discovery is key to navigating transitions. Of course, we’re not lost, we may just have lost touch with our true selves. So, through a series of questions and activities, we discover or re-discover who they really are beneath the cloaks which have been adopted. Some of these may even look good. But they feel uncomfortable. So, we answer the question, “Who do you think you are?”
In the words of T.S. Eliot – “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the very first time.”
The clarity phase is about exploring, excavating, discovering and re-discovering. Sometimes we don’t want to discover because we don’t know what we’ll find. But there’s really nothing to be worried about because what we find is who we are and if we want change, we need to know what we’re changing and why.
Then we move on to identify what they want. So many people do not know what they want. When asked, they often state what they do not want, rather than what they do want. So, we get crystal clear on the desire, the dream, the goal. I do this by guiding them to envision what their ideal life would look like if there were no limitations. Inviting them to think like a child again, to forget, for a few moments, about life as it currently is, I ask them to imagine that they’re given a beautiful pen which fits perfectly in their fingers and writes smoothly. This pen has been custom made just for them and whatever they write with it becomes real. Now, because of its magical powers, it has only one use – to be used to write their reimagined life, referred to at Ziano Mindspa as the ‘Next Chapter”. Then I give them a beautiful pen and journal and leave them to daydream and write. You know, it is said that our best dreams happen when we’re awake. I love to see the looks on their faces as they go to that place where their dreams lie dormant, waiting to be released and unleashed.
This is a powerful exercise which sometimes is all that’s required to get some people in action, running into their Next Chapter. For many though, me included, it’s just the beginning. You see, we can want something, desire something or even know something, but so often, struggle to take consistent action. We might start to doubt ourselves, asking ourselves who we think we are to desire so boldly. The commonly used phrase “imposter syndrome” might set in. As well as this, we often have fears – fear of judgement, fear of criticism, fear of past mistakes, fear of failure and other people’s expectations, to name a few. These fears are real and dangerous. They bring with them, supporting evidence. My job is to help my clients learn how to silence these doubts. We identify and unpack these labels and voices that are holding them hostage so that they can get back to their core, their power, their greatness. They have greatness in them. This step is called Courage. This is where are build our muscles in self-belief, self-worth and self-value. This is where they recognise that it isn’t so much about whether they are worthy of their dream, it’s more about whether their dream is worthy of them.
Next, we work on our Commitment. Life happens. Sometimes life throws us curveballs. Without a deep commitment it’s easy to be knocked off course. At Ziano Mindspa we mitigate against this by identifying a strong reason to stay committed to the end result. We also create a plan, a roadmap that gets us from where we are to where we want to be. If we were going on a road trip, this would be where we acknowledge why we’re embarking on the journey and map the desired route. The plan includes identifying who is going with us on the journey. By this I mean who and what can support our dream – coaches, mentors, skills, training etc. do we need?
Also, what accountability partners and communities can support you and who can you supported? It is said that we become like the people we spend most of our time with so it’s important to monitor and scrutinise not just what we do but who we do it with. In the words of Sidney Poitier, “When you go for a walk with someone, something interesting happens. Either you adjust to their pace or they adjust to yours.” Recognise and monitor whose pace you adjust to.
Finally, take action, start the journey! Get going! Create the life you want. Learn, then turn around and teach. As the saying goes, “We learn, we earn and we return.” In the words of my coach, Lisa Nichols, “Only transformed people can transform others.”
At Ziano Mindspa we are committed to transforming not just our lives but also to using our voices and sharing our stories to impact and inspire others to transform theirs. This commitment is reflected in our mission to “Go Back And Get The Others.”
These are some of the questions we explore in each step of the transition journey:
- Who do you think you are?
- What do you want?
- What’s stopping you?
- What are the consequences?
- Why is it important that you create the life you want?
- Who are you called to serve and why?
- How can you use your personal stories, expertise or experiences to inspire others to transform their life?
- Create a plan to launch your new mission, movement, business or brand.
- Take daily action!
You’ve shared stages with renowned speakers like Les Brown and Lisa Nichols. What have these experiences taught you about the power of storytelling and its impact on personal transformation?
Storytelling is powerful and is one of the three main pillars of what I teach (The other two being Self-discovery and Personal Growth & Transformation For Your Next Chapter)
One thing that Les Brown and Lisa Nichols have in common is they are both powerful storytellers! I think that’s what drew me and continues to draw me to them. How people see and live their life is as a result of the story they tell themselves. Through effective storytelling, we can inspire people and give them hope.
As Maya Angelou famously said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
How we make them feel is by touching their heart. Stories connect to the heart. I often say that Google provides information and stories provide emotion. When we use our voice and share stories of the challenges we’ve overcome, we are able to get into the hearts of people and shift their focus from disempowering thoughts and inspire them with hope. Our stories create a shift, they interrupt the story people are telling themselves about themselves and introduce them to a part of themselves they may not have been able to reach by themselves.
In the words of Dr Cheryl Wood, ‘Our stories are about us but not for us.” What is the point of having a powerful story if we don’t share it? Our stories help people get through the misalignments and challenges of life so they can return to a place of peace and joy. When we have peace and joy, we have harmony.
Sometimes, people say that they’re not storytellers. I say this is wrong, we’re all storytellers! We repeat and relive stories all the time. We think in stories and speak in stories. Imagine that you bump into a friend who asks how you are. You might say, “I’m doing great, thanks. I just got back from holiday (vacation) and you’ll never guess what happened…” Then out comes the story!
There are many reasons we share stories – to educate, inform, motivate, inspire, influence, persuade, entertain, connect etc. At the root of these is that storytelling enables a change in behaviour. Our story becomes a bridge that when shared, results in a in behaviour. This change is personal transformation.
In your book “Your Life Is Calling,” you provide valuable insights for individuals seeking to reinvent themselves and pursue new dreams. Could you elaborate on one key principle from your book that has resonated deeply with your readers?
“No regrets”. That’s it. Short, sharp and simple – No regrets.
Bronnie Ware, author of The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying, is a nurse who worked with end-of-life patients. She undertook some research where she questioned her patients about the regrets they had about the way they’d lived their life. The #1 regret was – ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’
When I started my journey of re-discovery after my corporate career, I was asked by my very first coach to write my own eulogy. I was shocked by such a morbid exercise! I didn’t want to do it and said as much. But the seed had been planted. I did the exercise, I wrote my eulogy. I wrote about what I wanted to be said about me when I’m no longer here. I allowed my soul, probably for the first time in my life, to speak. Or perhaps I should say that I allowed myself, probably for the first time in my life, to listen to my soul. Really listen. I learned that we don’t get to the end of our life and suddenly leave a legacy. To leave a legacy, we must first live a legacy.
This single activity created the biggest shift in my reinvention journey, it made me realise how far away I was from what I want to be remembered by. I do a similar activity when my clients, where they’re able to get their intellect out of the way and activate the voice of their soul so they can access what’s inside of them, answer the call from their life and live with No Regrets.
Ziano Mindspa focuses on helping professionals tap into their untapped potential. Could you share a success story where a client’s transformation exceeded their own expectations, and how did this inspire you?
I love sharing success stories of my clients. The stories I love sharing the most are those of clients who have achieved the most personal transformation, the ones who have come the furthest, who have travelled the most distance. This is how I believe in measuring success. The personal part of the transformation is exactly that – ‘personal’. What this means is that it is internal, it is about personal growth, about self-awareness and self-belief.
One of my clients, when I started working with her, would walk into a room with her head down, eyes firmly fixed on the floor. She wouldn’t make eye contact because she felt small, invisible to the world. She didn’t believe she belonged or deserved to be in the room. Physically tall, she hid herself and shrunk to fit in small spaces and provided evidence to herself to support the narrative she believed about herself.
By attending our transformational Ziano Mindspa events and programmes, her self-worth has grown 180 degrees. She’s now taking up her rightful place in the world. She’s more visible, smiles constantly, looks beautiful and makes direct eye contact when she walks into a room. She has deeper clarity on who she is and what she wants. She’s identified who she was called to serve and how to share her story powerfully to create impact in the lives of others. She is now hosting her own events and positioning herself as the impactful leader that she is.
The concept of “creating your Next Chapter” is both empowering and forward-looking. How do you see the landscape of personal reinvention evolving in the coming years, and what role do you envision Ziano Mindspa playing in this evolution?
I think that the global pandemic shook the world in so many ways. As well as the obvious death toll, loss, suffering and devastation, it caused many people to reflect on their life and ask themselves some searching questions. Questions such as, “Who am I” and “What do I really want?”
The pandemic helped to make people more conscious and intentional about their life choices. I see this trend continuing for many people. There was the reported “Great Resignation” in the job market and while this now appears to have slowed, many people have made short and long-term life and career changes, such as new work patterns and locations.
At Ziano Mindspa we pride ourselves on the work we do serving, guiding and supporting women navigating this change. We provide a safe space where women can come in, lay down the weight they are carrying from life, and be. Just be. They are free of judgement, including self-judgement, and repercussions. It is a safe space and community with love and acceptance to connect, share, learn and grow.
Our vision is to grow Ziano Mindspa to a global organisation which is recognised by women from all over the world as the place to go for Reinvention & Transformation, specifically, Self-Discovery, Personal Development and Storytelling.
With almost three decades of corporate experience, you’ve navigated various industries and roles. How have your corporate insights enriched your approach as an executive coach, and how do you integrate these insights into your transformative events?
Everything I have done has led me to where I am today. I’ve learned that my blend of corporate and personal life makes me perfectly equipped to support my clients from a comprehensive body of life and career expertise, which provides them with a fuller and richer experience.
I am able to understand the corporate landscape, connect with the career corporate and professional woman and most importantly, speak her language. I can get in her mind, I can understand her challenges, I can empathise with her fears, concerns and worries. I’ve been where she is, I’ve lived that life. I am her and she is me.
As well as these, my corporate training shaped my time, performance and project management skills, especially as a Human Resources professional. Human Resources experience lends itself naturally to coaching. It also helps when dealing with multiple stakeholders with conflicting interests and priorities. And of course, it is uniquely helpful with relationship and client management.
Writing it all down like this is so eye-opening to the many values and strengths from my background Thank you for this question!
Building on your expertise, what advice would you offer to women who are on the verge of embarking on their own reinvention journey, particularly those who may feel uncertain about taking the first step?
As I look back on my life, I recognise that there were signs all along of what my heart and soul desired. I was 13 years old when I bought my first personal development book. I was interested in personal development all through my life but didn’t consider that it could be a career. I’d offer women who are about to embark on their reinvention journey 3 pieces of advice and let them know that what they seek is hiding in plain sight.
- Check in with 4-year-old self – if you met them today, what promises would they remind you that you haven’t kept? You’re not looking for the actual thing, you’re looking for the experience, how it makes you feel, the joy it gives you and others.
- Your future self. The one who’s lying on their death bed. If that person could live their life again, what regrets would they have?
- Your current self – what meaning, what impact, what legacy do you want your life to have?
You are what you seek. In the words of Rumi, “What you seek is also seeking you.”
Your partnership with your husband, Henry Obi CBE, and your shared commitment to empowering others is remarkable. How do your personal and professional dynamics complement each other, and what vision do you both have for the impact you hope to create together in the future?
I am very lucky with my husband and life partner. He is very supportive of my goals and dreams and gives me the emotional space to achieve them. I believe that the main reason we work so well is that we have similar values. There are things on which we disagree but with our non-negotiables, we are 100% aligned. Our children are grown and we recognise that now is the time to pick up the things that we were not able to do when they were younger and we were focused on raising them.
Our shared vision is to be the highest versions of ourselves. We have different gifts and expertise and we’re supportive of each other’s dreams. Our shared goal is for the other person to live without regret and we do all we can to support that.