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Facebook Live interview at UN Migration Agency- IOM DC office

Live from Washington DC: a Conversation with Ethiopian author Assegid Habtewold

Posted by IOM – UN Migration Agency on Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Here is the link to the Youtube version of the live interview:



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Interviewed by a local TV station based on my new book

The Ethiopian TV and Radio (ESAT)’s Reeyot interviewed me based on my new book. The interview wasn’t conducted in English. It’s in Amharic…


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Adopting to Change, Flowing with the Current…

ChangeEverything in life and nature changes except change itself. It remains the only constant that doesn’t bow down to the course of nature. Change has been with us since the beginning of history. The only thing that changed is the pace of change that has been quickened especially in these days.

In the 21st C, either you change and flow with the current or die. You cannot stand on the way of change and survive to tell your side of the story. Even if you don’t like it or feel uncomfortable about it or angry with what is changing; you cannot stop it. It didn’t just change. It had been there for years. Now, it just surfaced and exploded in your face 🙂

When the CEO of Nokia cried in front of an audience saying that they did their best but still lost it, what he didn’t realize was that they didn’t just lose when Microsoft acquired them. They had failed to sense the change that was coming ahead of the curve. And, that negligence had a steeping price.

Ask yourself, did your organization or business or even you as a person anticipate the change that is now overwhelming you? The answer is simple. If you are just mad, angry, and helpless as you struggle to cope with the change, you didn’t anticipate what was coming well before the change exploded and became obvious. That is okay, it happens. The real question is, what do you do about it, now change is here?

You don’t need to lose twice by resisting the change that you haven’t anticipated coming. This time, brace to flow with it and find ways to maximize the opportunities that may exist within the changing pattern. Don’t allow yourself and organization lose twice and maybe forever… The ball is in your court…

History proved us again and again that even in the midst of recessions, new millionaires and thriving businesses emerged.

In the midst of rapid changes that are going on in the US, and around the world, as much as there are challenges, risks, and dangers ahead, there are overt and hidden opportunities you should tap into by turning your anger and frustration into meaningful and fruitful actions.

Yes, some are going to lose big time while others may win in a given change equation. But, there are some people and organizations who may find themselves in the first group who won’t surrender to lose it all. If you are in the other side of the fence and one of the losers, don’t give up yet, be like those who have braced to face the change boldly and those who attempt to change the course of the change in their favor. Regroup, and strategize to adopt to change, and change the course of history for good.

Brace to face the change that is inevitable. Don’t spend too much time and energy in complaining and resisting the change you cannot stop or slow. Understand that it’s wise to flow with the current and achieve your goals what so ever up hill the battle may be to succeed in the changing circumstance that may not favor you right now.

This afternoon, together with some awesome community leaders, I’m going to talk about the nature of change, what happens when we don’t change, and stories of organizations and nations that couldn’t be able to discern a change ahead and paid dire prices, and some models to reference as we navigate through the change that is happening, and tools and approaches to overcome fear, uncertainty, confusion, and so on as we pass through a rapidly changing landscape around us.

If you’re in the DC Metro area, and available this afternoon (@4pm), why don’t you come and let’s have conversations about change management. Here is the address: Lincolnia Senior Center 4710 N. Chambliss ST, Alexandria.Hope to see you soon…


Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is the owner and lead trainer at Success Pathways, LLC. He facilitates Change Management workshops. Here is the link to learn the learning objectives of our Change Management workshop:

From Chewing Khat (a little sister of Amphetamine drugs) to Grinding Knowledge…

KhatThis week, I promised to share my humbling story- from where I came from. That is important at many levels. First, when people learn some of my accomplishments such as becoming the president of the largest university students’ union in my home country (AAU), having multiple degrees including a doctoral degree, writing two books on the theme leadership, establishing a couple of organizations, working with world-class training organizations, and more, they may assume that I came from a well to do family. Second, when some people notice my confidence, upbeat, and positive personality as they read my articles and watch me present and/or facilitate workshops,they may think that I’ve been this way throughout my life. Third, a few may assume that I might have neglected to look inward and be realistic; otherwise, they may wonder, how on earth someone like me (an underdog full of visible disadvantages) remains optimistic all the time. I’m aware. Like everybody, I do have limitations, struggle here and there, face setbacks once in awhile, and failed a number of times but these never make me bow down my head and remain pessimistic.

There could be many other reasons for this undying commitment to remain positive and having the attitude of always moving forward regardless of facing things that I didn’t expect that surprised and sometimes frustrated me. One of the reasons is from where I came from- my humble beginning. Think about this. I’m from Ethiopia- considered as one of the poorest countries in the world. Of course, I’m proud of my root like millions of my fellow countrymen and women. I’ve many things that cause me to remain thankful for being an Ethiopian. As if this isn’t enough though,I came from a poor family (I’ll share more on this in the future). I’d like to point out one thing, however. Though my parents hadn’t a chance to get education for themselves, they committed themselves and tried their best for their kids to go to school. I’m grateful. That being said, let me give you a little background about the place where I grew up so that you may have a clear picture where this all began 🙂

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It’s in the Eastern part of Ethiopia, Harar. My village is a notorious place called Kelad Amba. I’m sure many from Harar would find it difficult to believe that I’m actually from that place 🙂 Don’t ask me, the story is long. But, they know why 🙂 Like many of my peers, I was from a military family. In that part of the world, we had our own subculture. As we grew up, we were like brothers and sisters. We loved each other and it was a wonderful place to grow up as kids. The trouble started when we become teenagers. Rather than focusing on education, and use our time effectively and protecting our future, and ourselves, we got distracted partly because of our roaring testosterone that made us prone to do crazy things.

Looking back retrospectively, I wonder how come some of us survived? As teen-agers, we chewed Khat (Qat)- a green leaf illegal in the US and many Western countries. The substance from this leaf is mild compared to Amphetamine drugs. When you chew Khat, you experience euphoria for a couple of hours. Unless you tried it- or other similar drugs, it’s very hard to explain what happens when you chew Khat here on this page. I hear you say, try me 🙂 Well, when you get elated, you begin fantasizing, talking nonstop and loudly without any care to listen what your companions have to say. You feel happy, forgiving, idealist, and romantic even if these aren’t your natural attributes.You promise yourself to study hard starting tomorrow, go and ask forgiveness from the persons you offended. You envision becoming the president of the country, break world record in long distance run, marry the most beautiful girl in your village, and many more. You may wonder what is wrong with these seemingly great things? Well, what you may not know is that, the next day, these all beautiful thoughts on the cloud are gone. You won’t make yourself accountable. What is interesting? When I look back retrospectively, since back then I didn’t have the luxury to think about this kind of things :-), is that the following day you start from scratch and continue to fantasize more and endlessly 🙂 lol By the way, as I write this part, I went back and reminisced the old good days 🙂 Recounting this part caused me to stop writing and laugh so many times…

Chewing Khat is unhealthy if it is done on a daily basis. The trouble, however, was what we used to do afterwards. To break the mild depression that follows the euphoria state that stays for a couple of hours, we go out to drink. We used to say, let’s go out for ‘Chebsi’. Most nights, we party and dance while some nights we do other crazy things. Many of my friends have already deceased because of HIV Aids. I don’t know now. Back then, more than two decades ago, the awareness wasn’t there. Many of us slept with multiple partners, and did sex without protection.

Some of my peers who escaped the wrath of this disease could be able to survive and even thrived while the majority of them couldn’t survive life and the challenges it presents since many of them didn’t get a chance to continue in their education. In our subculture, we lived one day at a time disregarding to spend a fraction of the time to think about our future. Partly, we didn’t have enough role model individuals that succeeded in business or education. There weren’t institutions and government supports to equip us become fruitful citizens. It looked like we were going to stay in that the same place and environment in the rest of our lives without vision and hope. Some of us became lucky not because we were better or special while some of our dear friends were not so lucky. It’s very painful when I think about those great individuals who were victims of the environment… Sad!!!

So you know, I don’t consider myself better than any of my peers. For that matter, I was well aware that many of them were more intelligent and smarter than I was. I say this not to appear humble. I know myself. The only thing that, looking back, helped me to advance in my education, and succeed in my other endeavors were very small things like passion– the determination not to quit regardless of setbacks. Most of my successes took time. I overcame those setbacks that confronted me since I stayed on them long enough. Passion empowered me to outlast them one at a time. That is why I don’t take my little achievements seriously and motivate others to succeed in life. Having passion doesn’t require education, intelligence, and smartness. If you just have passion, nothing else, my friends, you’re bound to become one of the great world changers. The sky is the limit. If the guy who used to chew Khat and fantasized ‘for a living’ has come this far, you don’t have any excuse. Remember, I didn’t have any clue I’d reach this far. I didn’t have any idea that those little things that I believed in and practiced would lead me to where I’m currently, and where I’m going…

Remain tuned. Part II coming soon… In the meantime, let me know if you relate to my story. Share with me your beginning? Have you thought you would come this far? What enabled you to survive, and even thrive? What do you advise others who may be where you were?

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is a motivational speaker at Success Pathways, LLC. His passion is to inspire people to make positive changes in their attitude, mindset, values, and in turn to take bold actions to transform their lives, relationships, and organizations. To learn more about the themes of AZ’s motivational speeches, check out this page: The list isn’t complete. If the topics you’re looking for couldn’t make it to the list; let’s know, we can come up with the right topic and customize it for your audience.

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Don’t give up on your business ideas too quickly

university-of-bern Rejeection LetterHave you got a ‘rejection letter’ against your ‘radical’ ideas (visions, books, projects, and so on)? Einstein too got this thing. He got a nicely written letter (see the letter on the left side) calling him ‘Out of Touch’.

However, rejection had never stopped him.

He became a genius the world has been celebrating for decades.

What about your business ideas? Have you given up on your unique and artistic business ideas because people are calling them too radical and impractical?

Reconsider your decision.

Use this letter as a reminder that your today’s artistic and radical ideas will be celebrated by millions tomorrow if you don’t get discouraged because people have rejected them. If you don’t give up on your great ideas too soon, you will see them bear fruits in due time.

THE Show- Season I- Topic II: Visionary Lifestyle- Episode 2

Season I– Personal Development

Topic II– Visionary Lifestyle

Episode 2

To watch previous Episodes:

Visionary Lifestyle

Vision-LedThe term vision is a household name and almost everyone claims having one. However, it has been confused with other terms that cannot fully express its true meaning. People confuse vision with fantasy, and trance. Some people have also difficulty to differentiate between vision, mission, motto, and goal. Unlike vision, fantasy is daydreaming and you don’t make yourself accountable for its realization. You don’t have control or say when you pass through trance because you’re influenced externally. In case of vision, you are the author of your vision, and have the control and the one who initiates it.


Mission is the reason of your existence while vision is seeing the accomplishment of it. Motto is a concise expression of who you are, for what you stand for, and what you deliver. Goal is specific and measurable. If you say, I would like to generate fifty thousand dollars next year; it is a short-term goal. It is specific and once you generate the money, it is over. On the other hand, vision is the abstract of your future and you don’t change it frequently.


Many dictionaries briefly define vision as a picture we see in our mind. Let me give you a more elaborate definition: The abstract of the whole journey that will be used as a roadmap from where we are now, to navigate through, and finally reach our destiny. It is about the mental image of who we would become at the end of the day, and the legacy we leave behind.


We may have mini visions for the various aspects of our lives: family, school, career, business, and so on. However, here we are talking about our lifetime vision and the vision of our organization. You should also note that your mini-visions should align with the umbrella vision, the big picture.


There are lots of advantages you may enjoy when you lead a visionary lifestyle. To enjoy these benefits, you should overcome the challenges that may prevent you from living a visionary lifestyle. You should also assess your progress on a consistent basis, and use some tools that may help you lead this kind of lifestyle.


If you’re interested, I have produced four Episodes on Visionary Lifestyle via ESAT TV and Radio- THE Show (The Hour of Empowerment Show). The first Episode was released last Friday. Here is the link to watch Episode 1:


The coming three Episodes provide Reality Checks, Self-Measurements, Tools, and Interview that are very helpful as you work on your personal and corporate vision. They will be released in the coming three weeks. You may visit this link to watch the three Episodes on Visionary Lifestyle when they are released:

The above notes are taken from my book entitled “The 9 cardinal building blocks for continued success in leadership”, which will soon be published. We will notify you as soon as the book is out. Chapter two of the book covers the second cardinal building block- Imagination, more specifically visioning. It provides insights, the benefits you may enjoy, the challenges that may deny you from benefiting from a visionary lifestyle, reality checks, assessments, tools, process, steps, assignments, group discussions, and more.  Stay tuned…

The Eight-Steps of True Visioning

LiftingMyHandsYesterday, March 26 2013, I had a wonderful opportunity to share the eight-steps of visioning. I opened the speech by making a point. If we must divide the world right now into three, we will find three categories of people: Visionless, Visionaries, and people in between. I have been in these three categories and I know how it feels to be in each category.

I was merciful (because I was there :-) ) to call people without vision visionless. Otherwise, Helen Keller called them ‘Pathetic’. She said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision”. You will be surprised to know the full meaning of pathetic: sad, pitiful, fearful, and unloveable. Who in his/her right mind would like to fall in this category, and most importantly, stay there for a very long period of time!? These are horrible words…

In my brief speech, I shared with my audience about how it was difficult for me when I made a shift from being pathetic to pseudo-visionary, and finally into the visionaries camp. As a guy from the eastern part of Ethiopia, I used to chew Khat as the majority of the youth in Harar do until this day. Every afternoon, we chew  Khat, which is a green leaf considered in the US as an illegal drug. Of course, it is not as powerful as other amphetamine drugs. But when you chew chat, you enter into a state of euphoria. While you are in that state of elation, you fantasize things that are crazy and unrealistic.

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