Zoe Moore, 32
Lives: Zurich, Switzerland
Have you ever been in one of those work meetings where it feels like everyone has forgotten that we’re just regular human beings? British-born Zoe Moore has and after eight years in a corporate environment she decided to do something about it. She pitched herself to her company as their new healthy living manager and after three years of campaigning and six months of the company president postponing a meeting, she got there!
So what does a healthy living manager do exactly? The way Zoe puts it, she encourages big businesses to be more human by initiating programs for staff that are fun, sustainable and interactive. This can be anything from setting up a gym to teaching a yoga class or hosting a company triathlon. She also takes to the stage to talk about her own path to making a stand for health and happiness in business.
And it’s not just about corporate life. In the end, Zoe believes we all have the same basic aspirations: to be balanced, to be happy and to be healthy. This is her story on persistence, what big businesses are missing and connecting the dots to a meaningful life.
When you speak about your work, you come across as a woman with conviction. Have you always been this resolute?
I think I’ve always been driven but I haven’t been clear about what I’ve been driven about. It took me a while to find my passions in life and to gain strength in myself.
During the time [I was pitching my initial idea], I was actually going through a burnout without realising it. It was a particularly hard time in my life, where the tools that I had learnt helped me through even though I didn’t know what was happening to me, I knew I had to practice staying healthy. Part of this whole process was pushing me to cultivate my inner voice. I practiced being mindful of my environment, surrounding myself with people that reflected and grew who I am today. Now I regularly practice sports and meditation, and do my best to eat healthy. And of course, I still can have doubts but I see this growth as an ongoing journey.
I think long-lasting relationships and friendships are important. They highlight the ‘red thread’ that will always remain part of you.
So if someone asks today who you are, how do you respond?
I always laugh because when people ask me what I do, and I tend to say that it’s a difficult question. If we start with what I do, I sum it up as: I encourage humanity in the corporate environment, empowering people, offering tools and education on how to live a healthy, happy life.
Who I am as a person? I’m very loyal and I think long-lasting relationships and friendships are important. They see you throughout your growth and usually highlight the ‘red thread’ that will always remain part of you. I think I’m funny! [laughs] I really like to laugh, and I like to be witty—that’s part of the British in me—and I like to be healthy and sharp in the mind.
People tell me things like: ‘I’m not comfortable sweating in front of my colleagues.’
You obviously believe in what you do because it’s had such a good impact on your own well-being. How do you get other people to believe in the change you want to make?
I often work with a large range of people. This can be people who are regularly exercising and need help in other sectors, to people who tell me things like: ‘I’m not comfortable sweating in front of my colleagues.’ I believe in leading by example; people see how motivated and passionate I am on a personal level. Also, once they then see the programs that I implement and the effect they have, I find they tend to forget about their initial hesitation.
We’re always bombarded by these images promoting: if you make X amount of money, then you will live this ‘perfect happy life’. It’s just not real.
It sounds like you also allow people to take away that layer of fear. Why do you think we’ve forgotten to value authentic human interactions in business environments? I find it so confusing.
I was confused for a long time, too, until I realised what it was. And it’s a lot of things. We’re always bombarded by these images promoting: if you make X amount of money, or if you look a certain way, then you will live this ‘perfect happy life’. It’s just not real. We can then feel trapped by the assets or obligations to maintain this ‘perfect happy life’.
It also seems that everything these days is done at such a speed that people don’t have the time to digest and feel what might be the correct decision to take, that works towards a collective better future. I also believe the things that we’re basing decisions on are out of date. Purely basing decisions on profit is not sustainable, however it seems to be the current majority evolutionary deciding basis at the moment. Hence the confused state that I think a lot of people share.
It would be great if more large companies used their power for good, and became the leaders of this movement.
Which makes me think, is there another fundamental shift that needs to happen in addition to the one you’re working on?
Yes, for sure. I believe that there will be a shift in what corporate entities are responsible for. At the moment it seems to be more about ticking boxes, and not so much focus on implementation, effect and result. I’ve lived a ‘corporate life’ and really understand the culture, work load and other factors that can cause stress. But when it affects your health then something needs to change.
I’ve actually started to see patterns that this shift is taking place, especially in the start-up, Gen Y and the millenniums mentality. But overall it would be great if more large companies used their power for good, and became the leaders of this movement, like Richard Branson for example.
On the way to achieving this bigger vision, what are you most afraid of?
I think I have the same fears as most people: I wonder whether I can sustain myself, about my security and losing loved ones. I would also say maintaining integrity is important. When you meet strong-minded people in high positions, you can feel intimidated, so for me keeping your morals and integrity is crucial. I want to be and represent the change that I’m talking about. In other words, it’s what people say about you when you leave a room.
A sign of success is when you walk into a room, you’re alone, and you’re happy because you’re comfortable with who you are.
It’s interesting thinking about what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It reminds me that a lot of what we do is based on guess work. We just don’t know, most of the time at least, what other people are thinking and why.
Yes, and that’s why I think people tend to judge. In a way we can’t help but judge because it’s the way we’ve been conditioned; we’re rarely given the time to assess a situation fairly. I always find meditation helps me learn to distance myself and assess it from a third party perspective. I also enjoy whenever I do pre-judge something and my initial thought gets completely blown out of the water. I think, Yes! That’s cool!
We’re all here to grow and it’s about how you grow internally, not about how many assets you have. So for me, a sign of success if when you walk into a room, you’re alone, and you’re happy because you’re comfortable with who you are.
That’s a really beautiful way of summing up success. I love that definition.
I thought of it just then! [Laughs]
I have learnt to take a step back and ask question, Would I talk to my best friend like that? Would I be that hard on them? No way.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
Finding myself! There’s this quotation by Oscar Wilde that goes, ‘To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long relationship.’ It is. At points you can think, God, you idiot, why did you make that decision? I tend be hard on myself, and I have learnt to take a step back and question, Would I talk to my best friend like that? Would I be that hard on them? No way. So I’ve tried to stop acting that way towards myself.
I think the actual topic is to just be more real.
Although I feel like our whole conversation feeds into this, what do you wish, generally speaking, we had more conversations about?
For me, all the wellness topics, of course they’re good—it’s part of my life—but I do think the actual topic is to just be more real. Talk about things that actually matter, how it makes you feel, and be more honest. I’d like to see more honest conversations and more honest self-reflection.
You’re a good person. You’re doing a good thing, don’t give up!
What’s the best reaction you’ve had as a result of working with people?
When it makes a lasting impact on a person’s life—that’s is the best thing. I have a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Zoe you really made a difference’. I tend to reply, ‘You did it, I just showed you the tools and shared my ideas!’ In the end, I think it’s all about empowering people; they have to choose to do it, and live it.
Last question: If you were to go back to when you were trying to pitch your initial idea to the company president, what advice would you give yourself?
Try not to worry so much! You’re a good person. You’re doing a good thing, don’t give up!
If you’d like Zoe to help you or your company, give an inspiring talk or workshop email her for more information:firstname.lastname@example.org