Dr. Assegid (AZ) Habtewold

My name is Assegid Habtewold, you can just call me Dr. AZ (your Advocate for the A to Z of holistic development). As you can tell from my name, I’m not originally from the US. I’m from Ethiopia (an ancient nation with over 3, 000 years of history and rich traditions) and came to the US in 2005.

I’m passionate about holistic development. Before I even came to the US, I was reading diverse books, befriending people outside of my profession, and volunteering to serve in areas I didn’t have expertise in.

Back then, I didn’t know what I began doing would help me in such a grand style. I was just doing what I felt appropriate without having the full scope of where it was leading. Looking back, my thirst to become all-around contributed to where I’m today. Of course, where I’m maybe not that impressive to many who are born and raised in the US.

I was born in one of the poorest villages in Ethiopia and the first in my family to go to college. When I first came to the US, I didn’t know anyone. I experienced culture shock and struggled for a few years to find my way back to where I was in my native country just before I had left for the US.

My accent was so thick, that I was asked again and again to repeat myself. What is more? I faced tough resistance from some relatives and friends when I made a decision to pursue my doctoral degree in leadership to become an author, coach, speaker, and facilitator. They discouraged and attempted to stop me. Understandably, they cared so much that they didn’t want to see me fail and be disappointed.

As a black man and immigrant coming from one of the poorest countries in the world, they argued, I won’t have any chance to survive, let alone to succeed in this industry. Some even ridiculed saying ‘who is going to listen to a black guy, let alone an immigrant from Africa with a thick accent, talk about leadership!’, and many more discouraging comments.

Of course, I’d be lying if I tell you that these comments didn’t shake me. While still doubtful, discouraged, and unsure, I kept going. Even if I had so many disappointments on the road, I endured and remained committed to the mission, and the vision I saw. 

Fast forward, not because the journey was easy nor did I get lucky, since I have been growing holistically on a consistent basis, I could pursue my passion in the new culture.

Today, I coach, inspire, equip, and train leaders in some world-class government agencies, major corporations, and community organizations in the US and overseas. My unlikely journey from where I began till now is a typical underdog to topdog story.

Please don’t miss understand me; I’m not bragging nor anywhere close to where I should be by now and where I’m heading. I’m sharing my journey to show you the power of growing holistically. For over more than 25 years, I’ve been working on myself first and empowering others in the four major holistic development areas.

Let me quickly share with you what I’d been doing before and since I founded Success Pathways and continued to serve people like you who defiled what others (their culture) told them what they can and cannot, passionate about pursuing their passion while growing holistically to serve the world around them with world-class excellence, and ultimately to become great in their own unique ways.

1. Organizational development. At the early stage of my journey, I realized that it is impossible to advance, become world-class, and finally attain greatness individually or corporately without having an organization (team) that functions like a well-oiled machine. It occurred to me that one person is too insignificant, insufficient, and too little to have a meaningful impact without working with others, and having organizational development competencies to form, nurture, and empower teams/organizations.

As a result, together with my peers, I helped create a youth association in the early 90s while I was in my hometown. I also formed my own three different organizations in three totally different industries since I came to the US.

I’ve also consulted and coached some friends, colleagues, and clients to form and successfully launch teams and organizations in diverse industries. I advised them to articulate their mission statement, clarify vision, discover core values, identify their brand, design the organizational structure, create a unique culture, craft the establishing document, recruit and impart the vision to the new Board and/or the founding leadership, and more.

2. Leadership development. Likewise, I immediately understood that one must become a leader, first to lead self, and then influence others to achieve common goals.

Accordingly, I volunteered to lead our youth association in the early 90s and became the president of the largest university students’ union in Ethiopia (AAU). The opportunity gave me a chance to travel to some African countries such as Ghana, Botswana, and Cote d’Ivoire.

I also volunteered and led many teams throughout the years in diverse industries. Wrote blogs, articles, and books on leadership. I did my doctoral degree in leadership and designed and delivered leadership development programs for emerging, middle, and senior leaders for our clients.

3. Personal development. I’ve been a committed student of personal development since the early 90s. I dedicated countless hours at the early stage of my life while still in Ethiopia reading many personal development books that gave me a glimpse of human potential and how far one can go. Since then, I’ve never remained the same.

By the way, when people who don’t know me well or are aware of the distance I’ve come, read my books, social media posts, and strike up a conversation with me, they think I’m egotistical. What they don’t know is that I wasn’t like this. I was shy and reserved only comfortable hanging out with close family members and friends.

But, I couldn’t stay in my comfort zone once I came in contact with the glimpse (I’ve not yet captured the full scope) of human potential, which now dictates how I think, talk, decide, and act. The encounter made me confident, bold, and refuse to settle for average and ordinary.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m still a work in progress, and will continue to grow on a consistent basis.

I spent countless hours reading, reflecting, researching, and engaging in deep conversations about purpose, vision, and values. These led me to discover my purpose in life, conceive a vision, discovered my core values (what matter the most), and continue to write on these concepts. For instance, I recently wrote a book that encourages individuals to lead a purpose-oriented, vision-centered, and values-driven life.

Besides, I’ve got certifications to help me coach (I’m a certified coach) and help others work on their personal development. Certifications such as Myers Briggs Types Indicator (MBTI), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Project Management Professional (PMP).

By the way, I’ve been coaching 1-on-1 and in groups with or without taking self and multi raters assessments such as 360.

4. Spiritual development. Like personal development, I began my spiritual journey in the early 90s, and have been growing by reading books, and practicing what I learned. I still read spiritual books, pray, and meditate on a daily basis. I got also some opportunities to coach, consult, and train spiritual leaders from diverse religious backgrounds.

What is encouraging these days is that many businesses including some of the major corporations have embraced spiritual development and begun inviting spiritual gurus to empower their people to grow spiritually, and they are enjoying tremendous benefits.

Considering the enormous challenges we face in this century filled with so many personal, organizational, community, and global crises, we all need to grow spiritually to tap into our spiritual side so that we may be able to solve tough problems creatively, overcome stress, remain mindful and calm even if we’re pressure on a daily basis.

By now, you can easily see why I founded Success Pathways, which was formed in 2010. Since then, we’ve been passionate about serving individuals, teams, organizations, and communities who would like to grow holistically to take their life, profession, team, business, organization, and community to the next level quickly, and ultimately to become world-class in what they do, and attain individual and collective greatness in their own unique ways.

Before becoming an author, speaker, coach, and facilitator in 2007, I had worked as:
1. Researcher for an international research organization in Ethiopia,
2. Software engineer for an American multi-billion dollar semi-conductor manufacturing company, and
3. Trainer for some national and global training companies.

• Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree,
• Master’s in computer science, and
• Doctorate of Strategic Leadership

Below are the 6 books I have published so far:

  1. Overcoming 1st Timer Syndrome in Leadership
  2. Unchain Your Greatness
  3. The Highest Level of Greatness
  4. Soft Skills That Make or Break Your Success
  5. The 9 Cardinal Building Blocks for Continued Success in Leadership
  6. Redefining Leadership

Whenever I’m not caching, speaking, or facilitating workshops, I produce and host the Pick Yourself Up show that airs on MMCTV Channel 16.

I live in Maryland, USA. I’m  a member of the following professional associations:

  • National Speakers Association (NSA),
  • Association for Talent Development (ATD),
  • International Leadership Association (ILA),
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM),
  • Meeting Professionals International (MPI),
  • Project Management Institute, and
  • Toastmasters International (TM).