Health, Wellness & Emotional Intelligence


Today, we are going to talk with Zeina Ghossoub. Zeina, we know as an executive coach, she’s a speaker, an author, and a wellness expert. We know her from the College of Executive Coaching. Cathy, her and I have shared some programs together. She has a very unique background that we are excited to tap into and for you to hear some of her expertise.

Zeina is a clinical dietitian who has been in practice for over 18 year. She’s had thousands of patients. She is the first and only certified wellness coach in Lebanon and in the Middle East. So, we’ll get a really good flavor for internationally some of these concepts that we talk about weekly. She is the owner of Vie Saine, and you’ll have to correct me Zeina if I said that wrong, which is a wellness center that uses dietitians, physicians, physical therapists, wellness coaches, body remodeling techniques, and physical trainers to promote and apply the concepts of her approach to the total mind, body and soul wellness. It’s very popular and unique there in Lebanon.

Aside from all of that, Zeina is also a doctoral counseling student at Capella.  So aside from everything else she’s doing, she’s working on her doctorate. She also currently is a regular on four TV shows; has her own TV and radio talk show, so she’ll be a pro at this. She is a writer and contributor to several magazines, has her own newsletter and websites which we’ll share with you. She developed nutritional manuals for children to be taught in Lebanese schools, and has been approved by the Lebanese Ministry of Education.

She is also an author of Ready, Aim, Excel: The Experts Insight Weekly Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership. She’s currently writing a book about coaching, which we will talk about. She co-authored a book with Cathy, and was able to get it translated into Lebanese. Cathy, is our well-known executive coach and wellness coach. Cathy, welcome to call.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Hey Relly, I’m so excited to have Zeina here and she is going to give us some of her secrets from her wonderful spa. Her wellness center, Vie Saine. I’m very excited to be sharing our show with Zeina today. I think our audience is going to be really excited and pleased to hear all the things she is going to share with us. She is one of the most extraordinary, remarkable and unique human beings that I have ever met. I’ll say one more thing about Zeina in terms of her publications. Zeina and I were fortunate enough to meet, as you said Relly, at the College of Executive Coaching, probably almost a decade ago, and you were one of our faculty. So the three of us have great history. The thing that I’m very proud of that Zeina has accomplished in the last year, is that she took our New York Times #2 Best Selling Book, What Happy Working Mother’s Know, and she translated it into Arabic. It went public in Lebanon and the Middle East on March 16th of this year, and to my knowledge, and Zeina correct me if I’m wrong, it is the first self-help book for women published in Arabic and it’s now available to the entire Middle East and we owe that to Zeina. Zeina, welcome to the show.

Zeina Ghossoub: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, both of you. It’s an honor to be here. I cannot thank you enough. It’s been really such a pleasure and an invigorating experience to meet you both and to be with you both for the last ten years and working with you. And yes, Cathy, it is moving up the ladder. The book is doing really well, and we will be definitely touring with the book in October, November and December in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait. Hopefully, when I get back to the Middle East, definitely.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I just want to say a couple of words too, and then we have a series of questions that we want to ask you. Dr. Jeff Aeurbach who founded the College of Executive Coaching—we had a joint conference at which you presented and I presented a while back along with what we do with Cathy at the Miraval. He said it really well; he said, “you are a Fearless Leader.” We hear your background and what you are doing, and then not only yourself but your husband Naim—you are just a power couple–so we are just so excited to know you and help you spread the work that you are doing in the Middle East.

Zeina Ghossoub: Thank you Relly, so much. We are really very grateful. I can’t tell you how grateful we are for meeting people that have the ability to understand and honor the development coming from a part of this world that is a bit troubled and has a lot of things going on with it. It is really a challenge, as we spoke earlier with Cathy and you, to be able to do this kind of work in Lebanon and the Middle East with everything that is going on, and has been going on, and will still be going on.

So there is a bigger need. I applaud all of the coaches that are really putting in an effort first in doing so. Definitely we have a lot of work to do so it’s really a pleasure and an honor to be doing this kind of work. It is so difficult, though. But we are definitely persevering in doing so.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Zeina, can you first tell us little bit about yourself. One of the questions we love to ask our folks is, who have been some of the main influences or leaders in your life that have allowed you to be who you are today?

Zeina Ghossoub: Well, Relly, I believe that every one of us has a guiding light in their life, like a rock, if you will, that we lean on and we use it to support us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Mine lies, personally, in my faith and my religion first and foremost. That short list of a human beings I will include one of my closest friends, her name is Nancy. She is a leader in a way; she is closer than a sister and embodies the very faith I believe in. The other professionals and coaches that I really admire, aside from definitely yourself, Cathy and Dr. Auerbach, is Mr. David Peterson and his methodology as a coach. His way of pushing and helping people get the better of their selves, going over the comfort zone.

I must say, as I have said before, that both of you have influenced me tremendously in my work, both as a Fearless Leader—Cathy has helped me so much at having the ability and believing that I can accomplish what I am accomplishing. You have helped me also with EI. Also, I think my biggest rock is my family, Naim and me being a mother also has helped me a lot.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: You know Zeina, I think it’s so important for people to understand that you have really been a guiding light, a leader and a trail blazer in your area of expertise and wellness in the Middle East overall. Can you talk a little bit about the kinds of experiences that you have had? You’ve worked with leading families in the Middle East, can you talk a little bit about the kind of work that you do and how you got started?

Zeina Ghossoub: Like I said before, Cathy, that I started my journey as a clinical dietitian and I wanted to help people get better, healthier and I thought that better and healthier would be definitely by being healthy; exercising well, having no disease. I fell into a wall, I think. I thought that I was not helping people, 8-9 years into my experience, I felt that I what I was doing as a dietitian was not really helping. So, I started searching and I bumped into wellness coaching, into coaching in general. Our listeners have to realize that the Middle Eastern culture and for those Middle Easterners that are listening to me, it depends more on counseling not on coaching. It’s helping others, giving them advice, is what they need. So searching inside of themselves and coming up with solutions is more difficult. That is one obstacle that we face.

Everything is blamed on the environment. The environment, everything, the politicians—the environment, the financial status, everything, the economical status—it is not their fault. So, the blame is on everyone but themselves to move forward in their life. So basically, the obstacles are there when I go public and talk about that you really need to look into yourself and look into your own guiding light, your own inner critic, your own inner coach, that can help you—it’s like, what are you talking about—are you for real? That was my biggest obstacle.

The second one was definitely my gender—that I am a woman and it’s very difficult as an expert, coming from a woman introducing a new concept which is coaching. That is really up until now, after I have been doing this since 2007, people think I train people physically, I take them to the gym. So, it’s like just introducing the concept of coaching and what wonders that it can do for them and to society and the positive thinking, is basically off the wall. So, all of the coaches are trying to work as an organization. We are trying to build a positive impact on people and being able to see the positive in a very negative environment. This is how things are and it challenges you. It pushes you into a place, Cathy, that is—people would say, “I didn’t know I could do that. How did you make me do this?” I would tell them, I didn’t do anything, you just did it. So, it’s introduction of coaching and the power of coaching and positive psychology has been—taking care of themselves is basically the struggle. I haven’t crossed that barrier yet to introduce more new concepts that I always try to take back with me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well Zeina, this is so empowering just hearing what you are doing. I imagine that it has got to be so gratifying for you for people to look inward and make some of the changes. We know that is where it starts, but especially when everything around you, like you were saying, can be oppressive and can be offensive and can feel like a huge handicap. Maybe, just as we are sharing this, is there one or two successes that would kind of highlight the work and then we’ll get into some of the actual things that you do. Is there anybody that stands out for you that’s like, okay, this person really made some changes, discovered some things in themselves, and that you were a guiding light?

Zeina Ghossoub: Definitely, there are many successes actually. I’ll pick some different successes than the ones I work with in the States or in Europe. I will pick among them a lady that is 45 years old and single, that comes from a very difficult background in Gaza. I have been working with this lady for 3 years now and she has changed through the power of coaching from being a person that says, “I am somebody that has no use in life,” to somebody who became a physical trainer. She was obese, now she has lost almost 80 pounds, she has opened her center, her physical training center. She’s a graphic designer, and she has changed her life. This is one success story.

Another success story would be the youngsters, actually, the adolescents, the people going into universities, that really have no outlook on what are they going to do with their life, how are they going to build their life, because it’s very difficult for them. If you get your bachelors degree and then, what do I do  with it? I work as a driver for a car, I don’t get to work with my degree. So, attending to school, attending a university and helping people look at opportunities and creating more opportunities for themselves. That would be many young adults that I have been working with through school that were able to do so. Forty percent of them were able to land jobs after they graduated and are somewhat satisfied, and looking for either getting better jobs or getting out of the country to get more learning experiences and come back. These are just two examples.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: These examples, Zeina, I think they are just incredibly insightful in terms of how people view themselves in the context of a culture. I’d love to hear more about how you define wellness: what wellness is.

Zeina Ghossoub: I think wellness is a dynamic state of existence. Meaning, it is a state that is constant motion, it’s more of a journey than a realization or an achievement. As we all know wellness is not made of one part, it’s made of several parts. It’s emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, economical, and social. Hippocrates said, “health will be the expression of the harmonious balance between ones whole person, the environment and the ways of life.” So that’s how I view wellness. I view it as a whole.

I think this is what took my journey from being only a clinical dietitian to grab the other parts of the emotional and spiritual. The mental, economical and social. You cannot just take and help a human being and get well, and the definition of being well for them excluding everything else. It just has to be there with all of the other parts. Coming from a place of having the ability to help the client see what is Well for them, is what I find wellness. What is wellness for them? How would they be well? Some of the work that I have been recently doing, Relly, after I have trained with you and Cathy on the emotional intelligence which includes the emotional and social part of wellness, is that this has really elevated the work of what wellness means for me and for the clients. Its that they were really able to quantify, really, where they are. They have the ability to see where they are and to want to work and move it one notch further. So, it’s really, this is how I look at it. I look at it as where they are right now, what do they want more of, and how are they going to get there and does it encompass the whole elements of the wheel of life or is it specified in the moment in one goal or two, and what do they want to do.

This is how I would define wellness, is that they are being okay with who they are, and with their environment and having the ability to be grateful and enjoy their lives in every second like what we did in Miraval; all the mindful experiences that we did in the Mastermind group—are they able to do that? You have to really understand that it’s very difficult in a very negative world, with very negative influences.

I’ll give you for example: once I was on TV and an explosion went by. It was a car explosion—it was like 10 miles away. So, they put me on hold and I was talking about  how to be okay and well. Then the anchor came back after they put on the flashes and they put on everything, and they gave the amount of death and injuries, and they came back to me and said, Zeina how are we going to be well when we don’t know if we are going to die when we get out of the building.

These are the kinds of questions, or these are the kinds of issues that your face in that world. It’s like basically am I surviving or not. So how do you expect us to be well or to take care of our health, or to take care of our finances when we don’t know if we are going to die. Definitely this is very dramatic and very negative, but these are the challenges of applying this kind of wellness in such a world. How would you go to the mall when you know that there are car bombs? These are the kind of things and here are where mindful experiences come in; it’s that you just live in the moment. You  really have to believe in what you are doing and you really have to become convinced in what you are doing and try to be as safe as possible.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Zeina, let me ask you a couple of questions because I want to clarify for the audience, first of all, the context. So you are on a radio show or television show, I believe it was a television show. You are in Lebanon so you are surrounded by all kinds of terrorism and horrible things going on related to the public sector in the community. So the TV pauses, shows all of this horribleness, comes back and then says, “what would you tell people?” Can you go back to that moment, you’re sitting in the TV studio, the anchor person comes back; you’ve been told about the death toll and the number of people who were injured. What did you say to the audience?

Zeina Ghossoub: I was shocked, actually. I, first of all, told the audience that they would be in my prayers and we cannot look at the gloomy outlook of where we are. I told them I was in a state of shock. I told them the truth. I told them that I would not be able to answer you this question right now because I need to process it, like everyone else because of so much destruction and so much pain going on in front of me. I said, all I can do is I can pray, and this is what I told everyone. I think we need to be grateful for what we have and this is what we need to do: we need to be grateful and we pray. We will get through this, we always do. This is what I said. I was very truthful, then and there. This is not the first time, Cathy.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: And it wasn’t the last time because the day the book launched, the first Arabic book What Happy Working Mothers Know, that was a very traumatic day as well, but yet, people came out to the bookstores to see you and to get copies of the book.

Zeina Ghossoub: High resilience, very high resilience. I think people have it, but they don’t acknowledge it and are not aware of it and I think our role as coaches is to be able to help them see that kind of resilience in themselves and to be able to apply it in their lives, because they can do tremendous work for themselves and for society and maybe, I told them something, maybe that really stop our society from being that destructive also.

Because, I believe in the power of coaching. I believe in the positiveness. I believe in human nature and the positivity and the goodness of human nature. Not the evilness of human nature. I think this will ripple off as long as it takes, it will ripple off on people.

Learn more about Zeina, her coaching and her wellness center by listening to the complete recording above, without commercials.




Leave a Reply