Episode #064: DJ Mitsch: Zombies to Zealots: Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work


How can leaders, teams and organizations bring human spirit and engagement back to the world of work? Tune in to this week’s special Halloween episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast where host Dr. Krister Lowe interviews DJ Mitsch the Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of the Pyramid Resource Group and the Author of “Zombies to Zealots: Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work.”

DJ Mitsch was featured back in Episode #009 of the TCZ podcast where she introduced listeners to the Team Advantage team coaching approach and to some stories that illustrate the transformative potential of team coaching in organizations.

In this episode DJ takes us into the journey of how we can move from being “zombies” at work into become “zealots.” Themes explored in show include: the impetus for the book; the cause of low engagement in organizations; paying attention to the language we use at work and in particular to how we refer to people; a new consciousness trying to emerge in today’s organizations; reclaiming the mind, heart, body and soul in our work; 4 pathways back to the light:

1. Reawaken
2. Remember
3. Reconnect
4. Rehumanize

DJ also shares linkages of the book to team leadership and to team coaching.

This is an inspiring episode that all team coaches will surely not want to miss! Tune in today and get ready to come back to life!

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Resources Mentioned

  1. www.pyramidresource.com
  2. Mitsch, D.J. (2016). Zombies to Zealots: Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work.

Listen to the Episode:








  • 2nd time with DJ on the podcast. First episode was #009 which chronicles the origins of DJ’s work in area of team coaching, the creation of the Team Advantage team coaching program, the story of coaching 60 teams at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals and more
  • Updates at Pyramid Resource Group: establishment of the Healthcare Coahcing Institute at Virginia Tech University; launch of book Zombies to Zealots: Reawake the Human Spirit at Work
  • This episode focuses on an introduction to Zombies to Zealots

Hopi Elder Quote

  • “There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore and they will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly. Now is the time to push off into the middle of the river and to celebrate.  The time of the Lone Wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in sacred manner and in celebration as we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Impetus for Book

  • DJ attended a writer’s workshop to focus on writing a 700 page about the Sanofi organizational transformation: was coached during the workshop to focus on what she really does: which is bringing people back to life at work, bringing people from being Zombies to Zealots
  • Paying attention to the language people are using at work: indicates a sense of fragmentation and being dis-embodied
  • Selling oneself out for paychecks, for a job, for health benefits vs. being employed for what one is called to do
  • Low level of engagement
  • A new conscious trying to emerge in the world: generational shifts
  • Flattening out of society requires new forms of leadership and organization

Overview of the Content

  • 4 pathways back to the light: “re” alpha and omega – look at the origins of a place to return to
    • Reawaken: Remember who you are: you are enough; we stay in a competitive space all the time where we never can be or do enough; story of Anne Whitaker at Sanofi; analogy of the atom and observation and how change occurs; catalytic elements; helping people through coaching helps people observe themselves and be seen which acts as a catalyst; the archetypes of who we are; language used at work: exempt employees, high potentials, movers and shakers, human resources, heavy hitters, headcount, top 20% bottom 20% — ends up objectifying people; what would be possible if we viewed work as a game or as play; Hopi poem about letting go of holding onto the bank of the river and getting out into the middle; play and neuroscience linkage; workplace as a playing field for developing ourselves as spiritual beings; origins of the word “work” about 200 years old – originally meant “to suffer”; Montessori approach to education
    • Remember: taking a snapshot of who you are right now and how you are investing your energy; 7 types of Zombies; story of a man who took up skiing at 72 years of age
    • Reconnecting: conscious knowing, intuition and courageous action; integration of the inner and outer worlds; aligning thinking – heart – your right service – will center; what are you willing to step into more fully. Theme of embodiment – Native American medicine wheel (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual); somatics is a great way to hold things but all the components are important; the spiritual is as equally important as is the somatic and emotional; people are afraid of death – ego death as well as physical death; creating an environment is one piece of feeling home but its more than that – shifting the kinds of conversations we have where they are truly embodying the spirit of the work.
    • Rehumanize: helping people to stand tall in who they are; helping ignite people as a leader; finding a larger purpose; why dehumanization is going on; response to chaos and change and being told that they have to be resilient; where do people start moving down the slope to zombiedom; just like the US election right now in organizations we are ready for it to be over!; definition of an employee – coming up with a new definition, employee = a soul; a human spirit at work, what would be possible if we looked at people this way at work; “hueman”

Linkage to Team Coaching

  • Need for leaders to see the human spirit as work but also for teams to do this; every team has a leader that can take on a coaching way with their teams to unleash the potential that is there
  • What is extraordinary enough for teams to work on; something compelling; how to look at your goals in a soulful way; making business goals soulful
  • Zombie resource kit in the back of the book
  • We are not who we are in the absence of those who are around us

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