- Zalli Foundation
Letting Go and Creating Opportunity
Updated: Jan 31
Paul Rosenberg is an award-winning and sought-after leadership coach, business developer, and speaker. With over 25 years of extensive experience across multiple industries and continents, he has established a unique track record which ties leadership development to tangible performance improvement. Working with front-line supervision to the C-Suite, he brings depth and experience in skill development and execution. Featured in Huff Post and Thrive Global.
Paul, you are an award-winning, transformational leadership coach, senior executive, and performance consultant with over 30 years of experience. I am interested to get to know the man behind all these successes. Who is Paul in your own words?
Having a lot of willingness to go with the flow and see what shows up. I've never been a person who had a plan, really. Just a lot of things that interested me when I was a kid. I would say I am a citizen of the world who could have lived on every continent except Antarctica, and I love penguins, which is kind of ironic. A sense of humor, and I'm a very loving and lucky husband, father, and grandfather.
I also know that you are an identical twin. As you know, I too am an identical twin and I want to know how important was your twin-bond in your successes. Did David, your twin brother, influence you? Or did you influence him?
We like to joke about who is the original egg and whose is the other. We both influenced each other. David is a writer and very creative, and I was always kind of jealous that he had the path forward and knew what he wanted; he was successful, got straight As, and always won awards and other things. He felt the same way about my willingness to put myself out there and take some risks to do something that most people wouldn't do. It's been a good balance, always having that best friend you can always trust.
Can you share a little more about your childhood? Where and how did you grow up? Who was the most influential figure in your life?
I grew up in Denver, Colorado. I grew up in a family that was very focused on education, which was really important. My mom grew up in the slums of Chicago, was very poor, and went to high school. She put herself through nursing school and then got through my dad. He worked two jobs to go to university after he came back from the war. Dinners were great in my family because we'd have these great discussions and we were embraced for who we were as kids. My folks are very active in the community and very active in social issues as well. There has always been a focus from them on giving back to the community and providing justice. Dr. King was an outside influence because I was watching the big black-and-white TV when the civil rights movement was in full view, with blood, sweat, and tears.
In business just like in life, we often encounter obstacles. How do you deal with obstacles to stay on track toward your goal?
There will always be obstacles. It depends on your mindset about that. You can be paralyzed by the things you can't control, or you can find a way forward. When I became a coach. I was leaving my company; I didn't feel I was adding value, and I just walked into the owner's office one day and said, "Look, this isn't working out." I was conscious enough to recognize that it was nowhere, and that day, as I was walking out, I saw an ad in the paper. and I became a coach! I have learned to deal with obstacles by not trying to suppress the fear. I give the worried voices in my head 15 minutes a day, and that's how I deal with them. I give them their space, and then it's time out for the rest of the day!
In your book, Rogue Leadership, you employ “stealth change management” to avoid burnout and to create sustained change. What is the most important message that you are trying to convey to the audience and why is this important?
If you look at the statistics, most change initiatives fail—about 70 percent of them. They fail for a number of reasons. Usually no buy-in from the front line, lack of understanding, and no pre-work For most people, there's a fear of change, so any change initiative will face some subtle, unintentional sabotage or slowing down. When I talk about "stealth change management," Change in nature is a slow process. If you have children: those changes you know happen and the growth happens in front of your eyes and suddenly your child is a different little person every day. The same with "stealth change management." Do the changes without making a big deal about them. Putting in the building blocks without fanfare because the fanfare is what causes the problem. If I do one thing differently every day, like increasing communication or visibility, and I layer that in, nobody is going to notice until the changes are embedded. That is how culture changes—it is not just one big event that changes over time.
According to you, what is the definition of success in the 21st century?
I will answer in two ways. First and foremost, I believe that ESG and sustainability contribute to global corporate citizenship.COVID made it really clear that we are all in this together, and I think that is going to be a success if we come together as a planet and start taking care of each other better. I think that's something this new generation has a lot of hope for because it's something that they value. Gen XYZ, you see, have different values than my parents and me. They want to work for some of those values. Success isn't about money; it's not about being successful on an individual level; it's about one word: impact. I'm I changing people's lives or adding value? Then you are going to have a successful 21st century, whenever this is for you if you're purposeful about what you do and focus on that.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs to be successful?
"Slow down, to speed up."
The pace of entrepreneurship happens super fast, and that is great. New markets open up new ideas. That whole creative kind of flow is amazing to me sometimes—how someone at the age of 18, 19, or 20 can be doing this. Some young folks want to achieve everything now because everything happens now and social media is everywhere now. and they are making it happen. Always take a step back and reflect on where you're at. Is this what you want? Is this what you want to achieve? Why are you doing this? And you don't need a million followers on social media; you just need a small group of people who believe in your service and product. You can be a success story in your own right, making your own mark.
Can you tell me a leadership quote that has influenced you in your life?
I have two. One is funny but true, and one is also pretty profound. I will do the profound first, from Thomas Edison.
"I've never had any failures; I've just had 10,000 ways that won't work."
My favorite is by a songwriter from the 1960s. Tom Lehrer
"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it."