With close to 25 years of both business and legal experience, Robin Rotenberg is a powerhouse advocate, leader, and lawyer.
Most recently serving as president of the $1 billion+ business — BASF Canada — and then as vice president and chief communications officer of the North American division of BASF — Robin is an expert strategy development and leadership.
- CEO Hack: Self-care apps- MyLife and Calm
- CEO Nugget: Make your own rules and follow your own path
- CEO Defined: Making own path and helping people in a meaningful way
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the IMC o podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I've run Robin Ruttenberg consulting Robin, it's awesome to have you on the show.
Robin Rotenberg 0:38
Thank you very much for having me. I'm really happy to be here.
Gresham Harkless 0:41
No problem. Super excited to have you on as well. And before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Robin. So if you hear about all these awesome things that she's doing, and with close to 25 years of both business and legal experience, Robin is a powerhouse advocate, leader and lawyer most recently serving as the president of the 1 billion plus business BASF kins Canada. And then as Vice President and Chief communications officer of the North American Division of BS BASF. Robin is an expert strategy development and leadership. Robin, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community? Yes, I am.
Robin Rotenberg 1:12
Gresham Harkless 1:12
No problem. Thank you for being on. And what I want to do to kick everything off is just hear how you got started? Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? We'll let you get started with all I'll say, Oh,
Robin Rotenberg 1:21
sure. Sure. Thank you so much, I'm really happy to be able to speak to the community and tell a little bit about my journey. I think everybody starts in a place where they think they're going to be for a while. And then that's not exactly where they end up. So for me, my first job was as a summer camp counselor Way up north in Northern Ontario, where I taught little kids looked after them and actually taught them to swim, which is an essential life skill teaches you a lot of coaching, especially when you're when you're young. And now I say that I only camp in five star hotels. But I've moved from that into special ed teaching, I taught special kids how to read again, it's sort of a coaching and learning opportunity with that. And I wanted to help the kids more. So I went to law school because I thought I could help children a little bit more by having sort of the administrative side of it behind me. And I ended up as a corporate lawyer and a trial lawyer and went in house when my daughter was little. So I could have a little bit more time with her and ended up in a big Chemical Company. In fact, the largest chemical company in the world, and ran their business on the Canadian side for a while then was transferred to the US and ran their North American communications department across Canada, the US, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean for 10 or 12 years, then I decided because of you know, you do things for a while and you think you have something different to offer, you want to do something different. And I decided that I would start my own business, it coincided with the Times up in the me to movement. And I really thought having had 25 years of experience or a little bit more in the corporate world. And younger women or earlier in career women were coming to me all the time asking for advice and encouragement, that it was a time to be able to tell positive stories and positively encourage women to become alpha women or women in their careers. And I started Rotenberg consulting, in order to try to help women in their careers with coaching and consulting and I do business management consulting, too. But it was really, you know, sort of a continuation of the helping part of the professions that I was in? How do you really encourage the generation coming up behind you? What kind of lessons can you teach them? And what kinds of tools can you equip them with, so that they can do a little bit better and pull others up also behind them?
Gresham Harkless 3:34
Yeah, it's so funny, you said that, because everything you were talking about reminded me of being able to kind of, to pull back or to look back and to be able to pull people up and to be able to kind of create that atmosphere where you know, people can win as well, too. It's so funny, you were taking me back to one of my first jobs and my absolute favorite job, I used to go to preschools and I would teach sports camps, the little ones and I thought it was the most exciting thing to be able to kind of give and impart your wisdom on others. So I stuck right with you, you know, in your story and everything you've done to be able to help so many others.
Robin Rotenberg 4:02
It's, I think it's really important thing, otherwise we get stuck just focusing in on ourselves or the day to day, and you don't really think too much about the generation behind you or even the people beside you. It's really important and how do you tell positive stories? And how do you help other women or men if they if they want your help to but largely it's to impart the experience of being a woman executive in a largely male dominated world I had that in the law, I had it in the company that I was in, and you learn a lot about yourself and about how to speak up and find your voice, and how to follow your dreams and or change your dreams if you need to along you're sort of fairy tale of the things that the things that you do. And as the CEO you have the opportunity to really define your mission, define your vision, define your values, and find a way through all of those things to coach and to impart that wisdom, as you say, it starts with anything but I think it's for me, it was really about the ability to give back and to try to encourage Women to do things in a way that suited them and suited their life as they go through their lives. As we go through our lives in our careers and with the pandemic, I think it's even more important to really dig deep, and try to figure out what do we want to do? Where do we want to go? And sometimes people need a little help with that, just some analytical tools or a little bit of coaching or push to follow their dreams.
Gresham Harkless 5:21
Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate you for providing you know, that opportunity to be able to do that. And, and I don't know if you find this or heard this sometimes when you don't feel as if it's possible, where you may not even know if somebody that has done it, sometimes you feel like it's impossible or feel like it can't be done, when in reality, you create a platform and opportunity and sounds like communication and relationships that allow Matt just to be able to impart on these women is the next generation about what can be possible, but also give them the tools to be able to execute on that as well.
Robin Rotenberg 5:49
Yes, I mean, one of the things that I did when I was starting my business was put together a book called pound on from the glass slipper to the glass ceiling that contains stories of Alfa women, following our dreams, chasing the dreams, the obstacles, the things that had to be overcome. But it's positive stories for attainable careers. And it's about chasing your own dreams and finding your own path. And try to make sure that you don't give up, never give up, you may have to change course a little bit. You may need somebody to help you along the way. But it's really about finding the things that you want to do finding a way to get there and following that pathway.
Gresham Harkless 6:25
Yeah, absolutely rest rest, if you must, but just don't quit. So I love that and
Robin Rotenberg 6:29
never quit. Yes.
Gresham Harkless 6:31
Exactly, exactly. So I know you touched on it a little bit, could you take us through a little bit more about your business and how you serve the clients that you work with?
Robin Rotenberg 6:38
Yes, what I do is provide a highly customized coaching and training and business management, but also seminars and things that that that particular business might need or that particular person might need. And I pride myself in being able to understand where people are coming from to dig before I start coaching, to really have a conversation with people about where they want to go what they're struggling with. And I think it's important to have that customized learning. When I was in the corporate world, I had a number of coaches, some of them were great, and we are still great friends. But part of what their offerings were to me were the same as what they offered to everybody else, no matter where they were in the company, whether they were men, whether they were women, whether they were early in career, whether we were later in career, and it's good, but it's not as good as if it's relatable just for you. Because if it's just for you, and it's customized for you and the things that you're worried about, it's going to help you and resonate with you. And that's really what the offerings of my company are, is to do things in a way that's highly customized, tailored for whatever the needs are. And to have that agility to really listen and understand what people are looking for what they're looking to do. Because if you can listen and you can understand you can really help people. And that's really the goal and mission of what I'm trying to do is to really help particularly earlier in career women to really follow their dreams and find ways to achieve them even in the face of great difficulty.
Gresham Harkless 8:05
Do you do you feel like your ability to be able to balance the both of those and to be able to integrate both of those is your secret sauce, oh, thank you feel kind of sets you in your organization apart?
Robin Rotenberg 8:13
I think it is I think that that's a big piece of it is the secret sauce or something that's unique is to combine the IQ and EQ. And one of the things that I developed in order to really utilize that is an axis called the Rotenberg axis where you find where you are on the IQ and the EQ axis so that we can sort of plot where the alpha woman is and what she has to do to continue to develop to the next level. And that's really a fundamental element of the secret sauce, because everybody wants to know, where am I? Where am I on this journey? How am I doing? And what do I need to do to improve? Otherwise, they wouldn't be looking for a coach or for a business consultant. So yes, that's the IQ and EQ, where do they mesh? And where do you land on the Rotenberg axis, where then I can help you with where you are? What does it mean, what attributes Do you have already? And what other attributes Do we need potentially, to that to develop to a greater extent to bump you to the next career level or alpha level so that you can continue to succeed and to drive the change that you're looking for?
Gresham Harkless 9:15
I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Robin Rotenberg 9:24
And my hack is around self care. Because I think that we have to always take care of ourselves men and women alike no matter what we're doing in our careers. So I have a couple of apps that I use. One is called my life. It used to be stop breathing think, which allows you to sort of put in where you're feeling during the day. And it gives you a series of meditative things that you can choose from including some yoga apps which are fabulous now only, you know, six minutes or 15 minutes so you can spend a little bit of time there's another one called calm, that has also really incredible assistance and it little aids but it's also got bedtime. Stories like when was the last time somebody read you a bedtime story. And they're raving these soothing voices. And I find that we really have to take the time to slow down and calm ourselves and take care of ourselves. And those apps are really like my secret weapon. Because if I was going into a meeting, and I was nervous, I could just look at those punches and you know, sort of what I was feeling. And they would give me some way to breeze through it or to prepare myself. And they're really for me, they've really been critical and essential to help me deal with my own lack of confidence in certain things are my own anxieties. People didn't believe it, they would say, Oh, we see you up in front of 500 people talking away, I'm like, you don't realize I could have been sick before I stood up in front of all those people. Because that it's rude. I'm really very shy. And when you have those tendencies, when you're sort of an introvert at the beginning, it's hard to get yourself to the point where you can talk like this or talk in front of a big group. So those apps have really helped me, they really helped me center myself and find the innate courage because I had it but to find the courage to speak out and speak up,
Gresham Harkless 11:10
I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget is in this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, and might be something you would tell a client or if you have to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business self,
Robin Rotenberg 11:21
make your own rules. Make your own rules, nobody should make the rules for you. I mean, there are some rules that you know, if you're driving down the street that you have to obey. But with respect to your own career, I think it's really important to make your own rules around what it is you want, what your dreams are, how you're going to get there. Because if you allow people to make the rules for you all the time, you won't realize your potential and you won't be happy. And I think making your own rules allows you to be happy and fulfilled. Because no matter what the decision is, no matter what the rule is, no matter what you've decided, it's your decision, you've made it yourself. I'm not saying don't take people's advice. I mean, you can listen to what people say. But in the end, make your own rules and make your own decisions. And sometimes I'll say that to people now, they'll come back and they'll say, I heard you in my head, make your own rules, make your own rules. Because if you allow too much of other people's influence, you're not living your own dream you're living somebody else's. And that if you make your own rules that will allow you to follow your own path. For better or worse. Sometimes you have to course correct. Often you have to course correct, or change and dive in to something new and different. But I will tell you that every educational program, I pursued every job I pursued every career change. I had people telling me Don't do it. Lots of people saying don't do it, it's scary. It's too hard. You won't like it, I don't think you'll like it. And I did it anyway. And I think that for me, I know that whatever the path, whatever fork in the road I took, I knew that it was my decision. If I fell on my face, I fell on my face. But I knew that I could, that I had the wherewithal to follow my own path and to make my own rules and follow my own on my own dreams. And looking back at the times that I made those decisions. I'm happy with the decisions that I made. And that that's all you can really ask for. Make your own rules. Follow your own path. Dream big, never give up. But I really think it comes back to making your own rules.
Gresham Harkless 13:17
Yeah, absolutely love that. And I think so many times, we forget that the person that we're looking at in the mirror is a real person that we're going to have to kind of answer to more than anybody else. And I often say if you run your own race, you can never lose. we're so busy running somebody else's race or doing what somebody else said we should do or doing it the way that they said that we should do it. And we forget like what our races and what we're kind of put here in order to do so I absolutely love that nugget. And now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is a definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're open to a different quote unquote, CEOs on this show. So Robin, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Robin Rotenberg 13:49
Being a CEO, to me means to chart my own path, and to really help people in a way that's meaningful for me, and for them to set my own guideposts and make my own rules. And it allows me to have more control over my path and my career. So that's what being a CEO means to me to really help people in a meaningful way that allows me to do it in a way that also works for me.
Gresham Harkless 14:13
Yeah, absolutely. And I think so many times we forget that we think that you know, in a situation we have to have a win loss, but there's no reason we can't have a win win win opportunity for so many people and, and that obviously being able to help out people but also being able to help out ourselves in the way that we feel is our zone of genius is so important. So I love that perspective. because it reminds us of that just like your book and and creating those possibilities where sometimes we forget that that is possible and allows us to chart our own path and our dreams.
Robin Rotenberg 14:38
Yes, I love being able to help people. I think that, you know, that's really why I'm here and that in a sense, you know, what am I doing and why did I choose this particular path and sometimes your path chooses you, it just seems to be where you go. And I think being a CEO has taught me also that the buck stops with me. And you have to make I have to make all the decisions for the day. erection of my business for the direction of the company, what I'm going to do, what I'm not going to do, and what the company will do and what the company won't do. And those are really interesting decisions to have to make, because it tests who you really are. It tests your integrity, it tests your goals, it tests your dreams. And I like that. I think that you should always be true to yourself, and where you thought you were going to go in the first place. And still, always try to get there.
Gresham Harkless 15:26
Yeah, absolutely the same is no pressure, no diamonds. So getting that opportunity to have those tests really give you that opportunity to create some really phenomenal things in our lives. So absolutely appreciate that. Robin, I appreciate your time even more, what I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get an overview and find out about all the awesome things you're working on.
Robin Rotenberg 15:47
Well, thank you very much. Thank you for the opportunity, I would just like to tell all your listeners to dream big and never give up. And really remember make your own rules. If you want to get in touch with me. You can at Robin at alpha women rock.com. Again, that website is alpha women rock. And that's how you can get in touch with me. So thank you so much again for having me.
Gresham Harkless 16:09
No problem. definitely appreciate you. We will have the links and information in the show notes and I truly appreciate that reminder, I appreciate you for embodying that reminder for yourself and so many people as well too. So I appreciate your time again and hope you have a great rest of the day.
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