Looking at the World Through the Lens of Social Justice with Zoe Paliare

Why do we people please? We want to make everyone happy. We want to help them and we want to be accommodating, even at the expense of ourselves. It’s vital that we sacrifice for others, but if we are kind and selfless in order to be liked, that’s manipulation. We all want to be loved, but we must be loved for who we really are.

In this episode ofIn a Manner of Speaking, Elena Armijo speaks with litigator turned leadership coach, entrepreneur, and development professional Zoe Paliare. Zoe’s fiery personality, strong convictions, and giving spirit make her a powerful champion for social justice. Through their discussion, Zoe talks about why social justice is so important to her, how she helps create avenues for more diversity in the workforce and coaching spaces, what coaches can do to be more inclusive, and what her latest social justice project is (here’s a hint: it’s a new podcast!).

From Litigation to Leadership Coaching: How Zoe Paliare Combined Her Passions to Create a Thriving Career

Social justice has been intrinsically woven into Zoe Paliare’s life. Her father’s father was an immigrant and her mother immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. “There's no question that their roots and their stories have a huge influence on my life,” Zoe says. “Social justice is such an important part of it.”

Her parents intentionally laid the foundation for her interest in advocacy and social justice at a young age. Both of her parents are lawyers, who have made it their mission to tackle social justice issues through their practice and in the community. “[My dad] has done a lot of pro bono work to really try to move the dial on social issues over the course of his career, and those were always the things that he would highlight at home and talk to us about,” she recalls.

Zoe’s mom eventually left law and began her own organization, Peace Builders, which does restorative justice work with youth. The organization focuses on getting kids out of the system without charges or convictions attached to their names, while also ensuring that they understand where they went wrong so they can move forward in a better direction.

It comes as no surprise that Zoe would be so impassioned about social justice issues and be such an active changemaker. Certainly, this passion for helping people was evident throughout her life. In high school, her friends would call her for advice or to talk through things. As she became an adult, she decided to practice law and be an advocate for change, which she enjoyed. However, because the majority of litigation is reading and writing instead of interacting with clients, she soon became dissatisfied in her work. “I was spending so much time in my office just by myself. And I was working with a coach and my coach asked me what I wanted to do… the answer that came out of my mouth wasIwant to become a coach.”

Now, she utilizes her legal experience and her passion for people to help leaders and businesses with leadership training and EDI programming. Through her own leadership coaching practice, she offers pro bono coaching slots. For outreach events and retreats she leads, she also offers sliding scale slots that are prioritized for people of color and people from diverse backgrounds.

The Disruption:According to Zoe, she brings an aspect of social justice to everything she does. Her ultimate desire is to support people and help them realize their potential. Part of the way she is doing this is through her latest social justice passion project: her new podcast,The Field.

This podcast highlights the struggles that formerly incarcerated people face after they are released. “I've spent time working within the criminal justice system and also in prisons,” Zoe says. “I've seen firsthand that, for better or for worse and agree or disagree, we've created, as a society, a system where you are convicted of a crime and there's an amount of time that you serve… then, you get out and you're supposed to live life or continue your life. And the reality is that you can’t. That time spent [and] that conviction is so often a mark forever, and it takes so much to overcome it.”

As she was considering what she could do to help in a significant, long-lasting way, Zoe realized she could use her voice to reveal the humanity of people who have been incarcerated. Through her podcast, she talks with people who have been convicted and they share stories about their past, what they are doing in the present, and what their hopes are for the future.

Weekly Coaching Tip

People-pleasing: the desire to make everyone around you happy, even at the expense of yourself.

From the outside, people-pleasing seems that you're helping others, but it is actually a covert way to control and manipulate people. We often think that we're assisting others and that we're being kind, generous, and open-hearted when we're trying to please other people. In reality, it's a way to stay safe, because we're afraid that if people don't like us, we're not worthy of something or we're not good enough. In response, we use control and manipulation so that people like us.

Scary, huh?

Here are three examples that can help you determine if you’ve fallen into this trap:

  • Burning yourself out in order to make sure that other people see you as the person you want to be.
  • Saying things that you think others want to hear, instead of being honest.
  • Dampening or denying your own feelings so you do not cause conflict with others.

The problem with people-pleasing is that who you actually are is not the same person you are presenting to the world. Your authentic voice is not being heard and your true self is not being seen. People-pleasing causes you to be inauthentic and creates false relationships, because people like a version of you that is not real.

We all desire to be loved. Just remember to make sure you are loved for who you really are.

Let’s Get Social!

Want to hear more from Elena? https://elenaarmijo.com 

Learn more about the beautiful Zoe Paliare on




Take a look at Zoe's coaching website:https://www.zoepaliare.com 

Listen to Zoe's podcast,The Field:https://podbay.fm/p/the-field-with-zoe-paliare 

This podcast was produced by the following amazing team:

John Biethan, President of Imagine Podcasting:https://www.imaginepodcasting.com 

Sam De Santo, Creative Director:https://www.sandgstudios.com 

Rye Taylor, Podcast Design Strategist & Producer:https://www.ryetaylor.com 

Meg McCarley, Brand Designer & Social Media Manager:https://www.linkedin.com/in/meg-mccarley 

Raejan Noh, Content Writer:https://www.linkedin.com/in/raejan-noh 

Aaron Boykin, Musician & Artist:https://hollatchaboykin.comand get updates about Aaron’s music via Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/jaaron_hi