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From Rocky Mountain Campfires To Corporate Leadership And Coaching– Interview With Donna Oberg

Donna Oberg is a Flourishing and Wisdom Coach, avid traveller, creator, disability advocate and author of the powerful and quirky personal transformational memoir “The Art of Falling: Lessons from a lifetime of trips, slips and faceplants!” Donna was featured on Canada’s CBC Radio One and the Apple iTunes radio program, “People of Distinction” with Benji Cole.


Born with cerebral palsy (CP), I’ve had my share of flops, failures, and unexpected detours. But they didn’t stop me from becoming a successful leader with one of the world’s largest companies, a respected coach, travelling the world, or living a fiercely independent and successful life.


Donna Oberg, Flourishing and Wisdom Coach


Talk about your childhood; what was the best part? Worst?


I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to William (Bill) Oberg, a train engineer and musical instrument enthusiast and Jane Oberg, a homemaker and talented seamstress. The youngest of six children, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) at six months old, and doctors were not sure I would ever walk or talk. Blessed with parents who didn’t coddle their children, Bill and Jane encouraged me to try anything I wanted (with appropriate supervision), allowed me to fail and fall, and taught me the power of grit, determination, and resilience. It is those lessons that resulted in my ability to walk when I was seven years old (yes, with a pronounced limp), and I do talk, sometimes too much and often unfiltered, much to the amusement and sometimes the annoyance of family, friends, former colleagues, and leaders.


The best part of my childhood was the road trips we took every summer through the Majestic Rocky Mountains to our favourite lakeside campsite in the interior of British Columbia. On the way, we would camp overnight in the heart of the mountains, start a campfire, and Dad would start playing either the banjo or one of his guitars (usually his steel guitar). Other campers would start gathering to listen to Dad as he played. He was very talented. I didn’t realize it then, being an impatient child wanting to get to the final destination at the Okanagan Lake to see my friends, but as I reflect on those moments listening to Dad play, being mesmerized by the flames of the fire, and noticing people gather, I learned incredible lessons that I discuss with my clients today. The lessons of finding a passion, being present and in the moment, appreciating the journey, not just the destination, and building an engaged team and community.


The worst part of my childhood? I think it’s a tie between being separated from my family when I was having surgeries and enduring in-hospital physical therapy, and the bullying I experienced at public school. At least, that’s what I thought while I was experiencing it. Yes, both were difficult to live and navigate through, but wow, did they make me stronger, more independent, compassionate, empathetic and a believer in the power of forgiveness. The bullies weren’t all bad people; they were also young individuals going through their own challenging situations, and from what I’ve seen, they have become amazing grown-ups. And the truth is that before I found a path to self-acceptance and gratitude for my disability, I was perhaps my biggest bully.

How did your journey to a coaching career come about?


It was not a straight path, and I took many detours.

When I was 15, I overheard my dad talking on the phone about what kind of opportunities there were for people with disabilities in the workforce. His tone and answers revealed that the bar was not high. And in the 1980s, truthfully, there weren’t a lot of opportunities nor examples of people with CP attaining successful careers. At least they weren’t visible or talked about. So, from that day on, I knew it was up to me to assure my parents that I’d be ok, I would live a happy, successful life.

Despite not being the best math student in High School, I received two bachelors’ degrees—one in Economics, the other a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting. But I have always been fascinated with human behaviour, and most of my electives were in psychology and sociology.


After getting my accounting degree, I began working for Shell in 1995. Dad had passed by then, but I felt he was smiling down at my progress so far. I spent 25 successful years with Shell in Canada in various finance positions. In my leadership roles, I discovered I had a passion for developing people and a gift for authentically connecting with people in a way that built strong bonds of trust. Little did I realize I was building the foundations for being a good coach.


Also, within those years, after a car accident that broke my femur and forced me to relearn to walk, I started a journey of self-mastery and spiritual growth. I hired a coach who worked with Joe Vitale and his zero-limits program and ho’oponopono, a traditional Hawaiian practice of responsibility, reconciliation, and forgiveness. And thus, my experience with coaching began.


In my last two years at Shell, I craved more. I felt like life was on autopilot and that my purpose was evolving and pushing me to take a leap of faith. During a restructuring opportunity, I did just that. I retired from the corporate world and opened the door waiting for me. During the pandemic, I discovered the teachings of Vikas Malkani that deepened my spiritual journey and inspired me to become a wisdom life coach. I also connected with my former Coach Abe Brown, who founded Certified Flourishing Coach with a Canadian Professor of Psychology, Dr. Wayne Hammond. Together they created an evidence-based coaching model that spoke to my corporate leader brain. It focuses on building and leveraging people’s strengths helping people move from surviving to thriving and flourishing. Both Coaches, Vikas and Abe, continue to guide me to be a coach that combines wisdom, spirituality, and evidence-based tools to elevate not only my life but other people’s lives. A good coach also values having a coach and adopting a lifelong learning attitude.


In 2021, I founded Moving Mountains Consulting Limited, where I coach people in life, leadership, workplace health and business.


I’ve also founded the Moving Mountains Consulting Learning Center on Teachable.com, where I’ve launched my first online self-paced course: Dare2: An 8-Step Model to Find Your Superpower and Elevate Your Life.


Why do you think there is so much need for coaches these days? What can clients expect from you as a coach?


The world has become so busy and chaotic, uncertain, and complex, and our lives are mirroring that to a point where many people feel stuck on autopilot. People are experiencing high-stress levels and mental health challenges and are seeking more passion and purpose. Engaging the right coach will inspire you to unlock your talents, remind you that you are stronger than you think, and give you the tools to master yourself, and renew your passion and purpose in life. And that is what my clients can and do expect from our sessions together.


It is my mission to meet my clients where they are at in their minds, lives, and professions, to remind them how strong they are, provide them with the tools I so gratefully have learned from my teachers and coaches, inspire them to take action with my story, and become the person they were meant to be, in the life, they want to live.


Is there a specific type of person who can change compared to someone who cannot?


I genuinely believe that everyone can change, and everyone does change from each experience they walk through. Healthy change is born from self-work, intention, commitment, and clarity on your why for wanting the change. Malcolm C. Gladwell stated, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” That’s true for anything you want to overcome or achieve. Whether you want to change a limiting mindset, become a flourishing leader in a flourishing workplace, or start a successful business/non-profit, there is work to be done. The great thing about finding the right coach is that when you build a bond of trust when you reveal your clarity and purpose, you will willingly use the tools the coach provides to break through obstacles and create the change and the dream you may have once thought to be out of reach.


What is your Mission as a Disability Advocate?


The disabled community is one of the few communities that anyone can become a member at any point. With that reality in mind, it benefits everyone if the world becomes more educated and more accessible and equipped to have the right conversations. My mission can be summed up into three categories:

  1. I want to celebrate how far we’ve come since I was a child and to highlight the great things people/companies/countries, and communities are achieving in the advocacy/accessibility and inclusion space.

  2. It is my mission to challenge individuals (including disabled individuals) and companies to ask themselves what is one thing they can do better in the Arena of Disability Advocacy.

  3. My mission is to help facilitate much-needed conversations, especially the uncomfortable and awkward ones. As a lifelong disabled person, I have become very comfortable with awkward conversations, and I encourage people to respectfully ask me those questions they think they dare not ask. It is an opportunity to create much-needed learning moments that inspire action and change.


How can people connect with you for coaching or your advocacy work?


I’m available to coach individually and in group sessions in person and virtually via Zoom. To book a discovery call, you can email me at here or go to my website and click on book a consultation.


How can people register for your course?

Taking my course would be a great way to test what coaching with me would be like. Click to register.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or connect with me on my website.




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