Misha Safran (she/her) is a trilingual ICF (International Coaching Federation) Professional Certified Coach, international speaker, and award-winning leadership trainer with a combined professional experience of more than 35 years. She is the founder of The Center for Empathy and Emotional Intelligence, LLC (CEEQ).
GGBA: We are intrigued to learn about your nonprofit, CEEQ. Please tell us about its mission, goals, and values.
Misha Safran: CEEQ supports organizations to develop sustainable inclusivity, cohesion, and play in the workplace centering empathy and emotional intelligence by providing leadership and development trainings, individual and team coaching, and motivational speaking. CEEQ’s work is centered on the foundation of Compassionate Communication, Principles for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Belonging (IDEAB), as well as Assuming Positive Intent. CEEQ’s mission is to improve open dialogue between team members, regardless of hierarchy, a sense of belonging as a valuable contributor for each individual, and a deeper understanding of how empathy and emotional intelligence play a role in creating positive and joyful spaces in which to live and work.
As founder of CEEQ, I absolutely love working with leaders who strive for culture change in their workplace. In order for staff to feel autonomous, productive, and supported, they need leaders who are willing to be part of the change. Being part of the change means taking an active role in the process. This means that leaders must model the change they want to see. And in doing this, leaders create a culture of empathy and belonging instead of one based on blame and shame. I empower my clients to build the necessary skills for culture change by—but not limited to—developing sustainable and healthy relationships, integrating play into the workday, and navigating compassionate communication, thus reducing staff attrition, increasing job satisfaction, and increasing productivity.
GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who helped to influence CEEQ?
Misha Safran: There have been a lot of influences and people who have inspired me to build my business. As I am a life-long learner, I believe that everyone who has come into my life is a teacher from whom I can learn—whether it be learning to do something or learning not to do something. I definitely want to highlight my colleagues Priya Jindal and Nkanta Hines for pointing out my strengths in the areas of empathy and emotional intelligence when we were facilitating IDEA workshops together for the National Institute for Health (NIH). They both inspired me to create CEEQ.
My relationship with my partner, Jodi Lewis, has also been one from which inspiration arises often. We are really good at centering empathy and emotional intelligence, assuming positive intent, and creating safe space for each of us to share uncomfortable feelings. This not only provides more opportunity for a fabulous relationship but also demonstrates that I walk what I talk and I am very proud of this.
It is also important for me to recognize the perseverance and strength of those marginalized and underserved. I have learned through dialogue and observation the importance of sitting in the uncomfortable; and that we must acknowledge that, for many, this is not a choice because they live in the uncomfortable most minutes of their day.
As a result of personal experiences with medical institutions, law enforcement, and academic institutions, I have felt and witnessed the impact when empathy and emotional intelligence are lacking. Thus, I feel guided to bring clarity, understanding, and support to these institutions’ leaders. They are CEEQ’s ideal clients.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?
Misha Safran: As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I was seeking a business community that valued and honored me as a human. I happened to notice that a colleague of mine had an email signature with NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce). I had never heard of NGLCC and was delighted to learn that it was a large and impactful LGBT chamber of commerce. To then also discover that there were local chapters was delicious! So, my decision to join GGBA was to have a local community that would be excited about me and for whom I could be excited about as well. So far, it has met all of my expectations, including helping me to become LGBTBE certified.
I have been a member since December 2022.
GGBA: Although that is less than a year, has being a member of the GGBA already helped your business?
Misha Safran: So far, I have had the opportunity to meet friendly and supportive people. I have especially enjoyed my interactions with staff. The GGBA also helped me obtain my LGBTBE certification and I was delighted to be recommended for this spotlight.
GGBA: Have you been to one or more of the GGBA monthly Make Contact networking events? If so, have they benefited you and your business, and would you recommend them to others?
Misha Safran: At this point I have only been able to attend one networking event where I was able to enjoy meeting people in person. It is not always easy to be boldly visible so I have to push myself to get out there and say hello, say who I am, and learn about other people and what they do. I also recently had a pretty major shoulder surgery, so with that in mind, I give myself grace. I highly recommend attending these events. I hope that I will be able to attend more as I maneuver my shoulder surgery recovery. To date, CEEQ has not yet felt a fiscal impact of being a GGBA member, but I am still very new and know that a large part of networking is truly on the business owner not on GGBA, so I also need to be more proactive. It is important to know that building a business can feel slow, but I have no doubt that being a member will help heighten my visibility and success. Consistency is key! Showing up is vital.
GGBA: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Misha Safran: This is a tough question with potential for a lot of different answers. My advice will not work for everyone; and so rather than give advice I would like to give encouragement: If you know that this is something you want to do, are willing to do the work, and call upon others to be with you on this journey, then find ways to enjoy the process instead of letting it get you down. I love what I do and I am glad that I am where I am. However, I will not sugarcoat things by telling you that it was and is super easy. It takes time, commitment, and a willingness to ask for help. If you are passionate about starting your business and are willing to ask for the support you need, then go for it! And don’t forget to play along the way. Create your freedom calendar so you know that you have time for work and play!! I guess I just gave you advice, didn’t I? Ha!
GGBA: Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Misha Safran: Yes, please! I think it’s important to mention that building my business has also allowed me time to engage my creative side. In addition to what I love creating for my clients, I am also a singer and songwriter and now, a published author! That’s right! I just published a book and I want everyone to know about it because I’m so proud of myself. There will be another one coming out soon focused on leaders. This one is called A Teacher’s Companion: How to Center Empathy & Emotional Well-Being for Yourself and Your Students and it is for teachers who want to keep teaching and keep loving it each day!
I am super excited about the possibility for every teacher in the world to have my book because it focuses on being the best version of themselves every day. The purpose is not to tell teachers to change who they are or that they’re not good enough but to support them in truly embracing their passion and showing up centered and healthy for themselves and their students. So, if you didn’t know, Teacher Appreciation Week this year is May 5–9 (in the U.S.) and my book is now available on Amazon, just in time for you to be able to buy my book for all the teachers you love, and even those you wish you could love, so that they can begin to learn how to center empathy and their emotional well-being in and out of the classroom! It is an interactive book. I’m so happy to get the opportunity to share this with you all. Thank you!
To purchase A Teacher’s Companion: How to Center Empathy & Emotional Well-Being for Yourself and Your Students by Misha Safran, go to:
For more information about CEEQ: https://ceeq.org/