Testemari: awakening the human potential
Testemari is an enterprise centered on self-learning, feedback based training and inner development fostering a community of self-aware and creative visionaries. The platform was created by Abeba Fantahun and musician and entrepreneur Carlo Ertola in 2019.
Carlo and Abeba met at Khul Holistic Development Center, an organization that facilitates human centered development through spiritual, physical and psychological growth. The two participated in an exercise that had them looking into each other’s eyes, an experience they describe as magical.
This initial meeting led to a formation of a small group of likeminded individuals that eventually grew into Testemari. A combination of eastern philosophy, psychology, spirituality and personal development, Testemari offers a variety of services including workshops, one-on-one life coaching, and a podcast series.
“We’ve never believed knowledge is outside of people. It’s not something we need to acquire externally. Our perspective was different. We all know a lot, it just needs rekindling. We asked how do we create a place where people can access this knowledge freely?” says Abeba, talking about the conception of their organization.
Abeba’s interest in life coaching combined with Carlo’s experimentation in self learning has informed a lot of the work they do together. They began giving training at Khul center as part of the Khul Academy in November of 2019. The workshops were primarily based on Tony Robbins’ self help book Unlimited Power.
Operations continued until, like many initiatives, their plans were foiled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Khul center was closed and Abeba and Carlo had to find new ways of doing their work and online courses seemed like the best solution. Carlo tested the waters with mini courses like vocal training and beginner guitar lessons but their real innovation during this period is their podcast Yeamiro Tila (Shadow of the Mind).
Podcasting was something Abeba wanted to do for a long time and the pandemic led to Testemari’s explorations of new platforms. First intended to be broadcast on radio, Yeamiro Tila deals with subjects such as identity, kindness, power and dreams and it’s currently in its second season. They look at this podcast as a stepping stone towards a bigger audience on a radio station. Carlo’s experience with music editing has been useful in creating a podcast that is easy on the ears.
Each episode begins with a direct question posed and they attempt to give sincere answers throughout the show. Both hosts have soothing voices that generously introduce listeners to topics that may be unfamiliar. Some topics are based on audience feedback and engage with listeners’ desires actively.
“We want to connect people to what they see is a shadow of them, take abstract, esoteric knowledge and turn it into applicable wisdom without reading or getting trapped in the complexities within,” Carlo explains.
Real life application is integral to the format of the podcast, and Testemari’s general vision. “We want to allow people to tune into a story and think about the topic for themselves. We want to build a real audience, gather a community of people.” he says.
“Letting people know the help, power, whatever they need is seating within them. We’re bringing stuff that’s normally undiscussed to the front,” says Abeba. Their conversation feeds on each other, leading to newer topics.
“Human experience is broken into many aspects - the emotional, practical, mental, physical. One thing we fail to recognize is what’s happening outside is happening inside. We grow with the assumption that we need to seek knowledge outside, but it exists within us, it’s in our thoughts, feelings, actions.” says Carlo.
They have found the structure of formal education is designed to make people dependant, and controllable. One needs the skills of self learning if they’re to break free of boundaries and begin anew.
Life Coaching is one of the services Testemari provides. In a process they describe as giving people the tools to frame their lives through conversations that create a moment of realization that leads to solving their own issues and accomplishing their goals.
“She’s empathetic, she tunes into their emotions. That makes me grateful for her presence. I’m direct, logical. I want to break walls sometimes. She has sensitivity and pays attention to timing and so on. The combination of our different approaches isn’t too uncomfortable for the person, it gets people to open up. That contributes to the synergy we have as a team.” says Carlo.
“It was a natural thing. I can sense people, starting from early on in childhood. I’ve always been interested in psychology. I read a lot about that. It wasn’t intentional that I moved in this direction. When you experience something it becomes easier to recognize it in others.” Abeba’s approach to life coaching is based on empathetic listening. “Sometimes people don’t want to talk about their problems. They just want someone who can recognize their pain. People need to hear each other out, that’s what’s most important to me.”
Carlo has always been driven to understand many things. “I wanted to understand life, to feel like I could impact my surroundings. That’s led me to create this multidisciplinary approach.”
“We haven’t had a lot of resistance. We explain what we do and people understand different levels of that and that works for us.” they say.
“The biggest challenge I’ve seen is people having trouble breaking their self image. They project an identity that isn’t true to what’s inside them.” says Carlo.
“As human beings, we want to be accepted. That’s an innate need. In some way that person is denied acceptance. That need is what makes people create a self that can’t be hurt anymore,” explains Abeba. The way people live today, says Abeba, is detached from who people really are. This discrepancy is what they are continuously trying to address.
“We begin with imitating our surroundings and stop when we recognize we can independently build what we want. Without the capacity to create our version of success or progress, we continue to imitate.” Carlo continues.
“People create this false dichotomy between survival and spirituality. They think they have to give up their worldly possessions and go to an ashram or something to be spiritual. That could work for some people but you can be spiritual while functioning in this world. You can go on to create value.”
And value creation is at the center of it all for Carlo. He proposes a conscious capitalism to battle pernicious and predatory ways of gaining financial wealth. They ask for more awareness, an awakening of human potential through Testemari. It might be worth a try in these times.