The world needs more Jovian Zayne, but according to the long-time leadership and professional development coach, the world needs us all in different ways, and she’s dedicated to helping people rise into their full potential.
Zayne started her career as a recruiter for a corporate giant, she spent her days speaking with rising career hopefuls and helping them narrow their focus to prepare them for a lifetime of success. It was this line of work that led her to create the International Day of Purpose. Through this annual day of celebration, she hopes to encourage people around the world to live on purpose and be more intentional with what they put out into the world. Whether it’s reading, working out, taking on a healthier lifestyle, or simply saying hello to the typically shy barista at your local Starbucks, do it on purpose.
Her Agenda spoke to Jovian about what living in On Purpose means to her, the upcoming International Day of Purpose on June 21, and the importance of maximizing our time.
Her Agenda: Tell us a little about who you are?
Jovian Zayne: Well, my name is Jovian Zayne. I am, as I like to say, a southern girl, turned Big Apple biter, now West Coast lover. I grew up in the south, but spent most of my formative years in New York City before now living between New York and L.A. I’m a person of faith, and faith has played a huge part in who I am and the way I understand myself and my purpose. When we first moved here, it was January 1st and I was sitting on our back porch, and I remember being emotional and crying, just thinking like, wow God look what you’ve done. It was 7 a.m. and I hadn’t been able to be outside and have that kind of peace and reflection in January in I don’t know how long. It was just a real moment for me when I realized, yeah, I’m in a completely different part of the world now.
I’m a person of faith, and faith has played a huge part in who I am and the way I understand myself and my purpose.
Her Agenda: Let’s talk about your career trajectory and how the On Purpose Movement came into fruition.
Jovian Zayne: For the past number of years, I’ve been running my own professional and personal development firm called the On Purpose Movement. We are an organization that works with Fortune 100, 500, and mission-driven brands and organizations around the world like the New York Times, Google, Goldman Sachs, Janelle Monae’s Wonderland Records, Teach For America, among others. We do a lot of executive coaching, training, and development, and strategic consulting projects, all under the guise and with the focus of helping these organizations make a connection between their values and mission, and how that carries out into the lived practices of their organization.
The organization can say, we believe and diversity equity inclusion, but there has to be a strategic plan to accompany that. There has to be learning and development. There has to be executive coaching that accompanies that, and that’s the work that we do with organizations. We connect real purpose and values to actions. What has carried me has been a genuine love of people and a deep and abiding commitment to supporting people in business and doing their best because I know that people spend more time at work than their personal lives. It’s critically important that the work environment is a place where people can thrive and not just survive.
It’s critically important that the work environment is a place where people can thrive and not just survive.
Her Agenda: What was your ‘ah-ha’ moment when you chose to initiate the process of jump-starting the International Day of Purpose?
Jovian Zayne: I was a staff recruiter at Teach for America, where I was responsible for helping to place the right people in the right positions, at the right time at the organization. When you have recruiter calls, you are helping people explore their skills and experience to match them up to potential roles. My motivation wasn’t to hit all of my goals, although I was killing it, but more so to help people come alive. I wanted to be a mirror for them to reflect back on what they couldn’t see in themselves.
So many people felt dejected. They couldn’t communicate what they were able to do well and needed help translating that into a new opportunity. They were unsure how to get back to work that was passion and purpose driven. So, instead of having recruiter conversations, I was having purpose driven conversations. I’m having hundreds of conversations over that period of time and spoke to maybe three or four hundred people. While I was also doing that full-time, I started to build up my experience, excitement, and personal brand. I had gathered a lot of data and the thing that I saw consistently with my generation was the pressure people were feeling to be like other people or to be liked by other people.
I’m not going to be living by accident anymore, I’m going to live on purpose.
I wrote on Facebook, maybe in 2009 or 2010, that I woke up one day said I’m not going to be living by accident anymore, I’m going to live on purpose. Fast forward to 2015, I had a great opportunity to be a contributing author for an anthology on leadership. I wrote a chapter on lessons in leadership and it was called Lead On Purpose. I had this incredible celebration for a book launch and it was also the launch of me beginning my second coming in New York, getting ready to step out on my own and run my own practice. It was incredible. Everything was on purpose that whole day and night for everyone. It was eat on purpose, drink on purpose, connect on purpose, it was just lit on purpose. Everyone who attended kept hitting me afterwards saying that it was the most inspiring night. They were making changes in their lives. They were telling me how they quit their jobs and were redoing their resumes. Some people were saying they had written a letter to reconcile with someone they’ve had an outstanding issue with because they want to be more purposeful in how they take care of themselves and other people. People were making changes.
I went to dinner with one of my big sisters and I was on fire. The dinner was at the table and I couldn’t even eat. I was on Google at the table and there was no International Day of Purpose. Before dinner was over she was like, you’re getting this day. That will be a day we will all reflect on our individual sense of purpose and our collective purpose to the earth. That’s where the day came from.
Her Agenda: For readers who want to celebrate but aren’t sure how, what are some suggestions?
Jovian Zayne: The International Day of Purpose happens everywhere. Visit dayofpurpose.org. This year we’ve got over 30 ambassadors who are hosting programs literally all over the world. There are yoga classes happening in Kuwait. Someone is doing a wealth management workshop, being wealthy On Purpose, in South Africa and a part of it will be virtual so people everywhere can view it. There is a Soul Cycle class happening here in Los Angeles. I’m also going to be hosting a night of inspiration dinner here in L.A. There is an online class, specifically for white moms, about building more social justice and equity-minded children. Demetrius Thorton is going to be leading a conversation in New York City with men of color around establishing a sense of purpose and managing yourselves.
If you want to individually do something, I tell people to spend time that day answering some reflection questions for yourself. We’ve got our free Day of Purpose packet online, it’s an incredible resource to go through and spend some time reflecting with these questions and some revelations will very likely come to you that will influence how you show up the next few days or the rest of the year.
Her Agenda: When you started this journey, did you imagine this day being as huge as it is?
Jovian Zayne: If I’m honest, yes, because I saw the potential in my mind. It’s not even as big as what I believe it’s supposed to be. My dream is that this day lives on forever. My dream is that it is adopted by the United Nations, Presidents recognize around the world, schools, that it’s built into the fabric of culture on earth, not just in the United States. What is my purpose? The more we wrestle with the significance of that question, we’re humble enough to approach it with sincerity and with the humility that requires us to take ourselves as seriously as our creator did to make us. It challenges us to show up differently on earth. When we are serious about who we could be, the positive things we can do for one another, the responsibility we have to this planet and to the citizens who inhabit it, I think it would do incredible things for how we treat each other and how we spend our time here. So yes, I did see it being this big, but if I’m honest, I see it being way bigger.
What is my purpose? The more we wrestle with the significance of that question, we’re humble enough to approach it with sincerity and with the humility that requires us to take ourselves as seriously as our creator did to make us.
Her Agenda: Passion projects are so necessary because more often than not, those are the ones that feed our soul and the souls of others. Ex. Day of Purpose, On Purpose movement. These are always the hardest to get off the ground but always so spiritually rewarding. What’s your advice for professionals working hard to build dreams out of soul and water?
Jovian Zayne: Things take time. When you take your time with things that are worth it, they come to pass. Enlist the right people. When I say the right people, I mean those who believe alongside of you, the vision which you set forth, it’s so important. You don’t have to go through this alone. It’s very likely that you’re not the only person on earth who shares that passion in some way. Passion and purpose are different things, but you can’t be your best self by yourself. We’re not on Earth alone for a reason, and there are so many gifts, skills, experiences, and points of perspective that many people have to provide us that would encourage our spirit. Yes sometimes we do encourage ourselves, but oftentimes, that’s why we have other people. Pay attention to who’s in your circle, and more specifically, who’s on your team and who can support you on your journey. I have a Day of Purpose team that works with me all year long. These are people who just deeply believe in the Day of Purpose. They are the reason I get hype. They won’t let me quit. Get people around you who won’t let you quit, who remind you why you did it in the first place.
Her Agenda: How do you deal with feeling stagnant? How do you pause, reflect, and regroup?
Jovian Zayne: One of the things I use most is journaling, because when I can look back at my journal to see where I’ve been, it gives me immediate perspective. Also, something my mom has taught me to do, is keep track of my prayers and the answers. If God answered it once, he’s doing it every single time in that prayer. The other thing is, when I’m feeling in a swamp, it typically means I’ve had too much attention on myself and I can get out of it quickly by immediately turning to service. How can I help somebody else at this moment? It just reminds me that I’m not alone. The times that I’m able to contribute to someone else’s life in a positive way, I get replenished. The Bible talks about this, the giver is way more fulfilled than the receiver and it’s true.
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