*This article is also published on Huffington Post.
Paul Rosenberg is a Vice President of RLG International (‘RLG’ ) – a worldwide performance improvement organization that acts as a coach, a catalyst for change, and an expert implementer. Paul is an award-winning and engaging Strategic Business Management Leader possessing a winning blend of marketing, human resources, team leadership, strategic and communications acumen. He is an ‘influential leader’ who has captured over $75MM in performance improvements, cost reductions, and efficiency over two decades with Fortune 500 companies. He has delivered solid results across business strategy, operations performance, and cross-functional team leadership, with experience gained in key project management and client engagement roles with a leading provider of performance and leadership coaching to multi-national clients. Paul builds highly effective operational strategies that drive gains in performance, work culture, accountability, and recognition of employees across multiple industries in South America, North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. Hon. Pauline Truong recently had interesting discussions with Paul Rosenberg regarding how he creates ‘change’ in Fortune 500 companies and his suggestions for traveling in light of recent (terrorism) events.
GlobePreneurs ( ‘GP’): How did you develop one of the first joint ventures with the West in the former USSR?
Paul Rosenberg ( ‘PR’): Serendipity. Vision. Persistence. I was sharing a cab in NY which I never do on my way to my team in Madrid, and my co-rider said ”check out the USSR…that market will open up.” For some reason I listened and heard him. I began a dialogue about our conference and training work with the Deputy Ambassador to Spain. One day I dropped in and he said “please stay I have a press conference but we will meet after.” I found myself in the garden with the Ambassador and the Economic Minister of the USSR who helped conceptualize Perestroika. This led to the first phase of training sessions on marketing in Moscow and while ultimately the rest of the JV was shelved due to other priorities, it taught me the power of establishing relationships and staying connected.
GP: How did you establish new markets in Scandinavia South America New Zealand and Mexico?
PR: Over the course of my career I have had the opportunity and been given the challenge to develop businesses in multiple international markets. My approach has always been get on the ground, be present in that market, and develop robust business relationships through open and somewhat future thinking communication. “Fly by’s” don’t work for me. I have always found that cultural barriers fall down much more quickly when one establishes trust and authentic relationships one person at a time.
On a side note, during my time in Sweden I also became a stand-up comic, which has given me a great tool kit to reduce resistance, read my client’s needs quickly, and get alignment. It is my version of sky diving. It also brings some fun and creativity into the work place.
GP: How did you go from being an improvisational actor and comic to an international businessman?
PR: My family has a rich tradition in improvisation. My mother was in a successful professional improvisation group in Denver. Along with my twin brother and a colleague, we toured nightclubs and theaters in our own group during our university days. My sister-in-law is one of the founders of the seminal Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, where my brother was also part of the Sunday Show cast. The comic gig was a natural outgrowth of my background, and happened in parallel to my business career, first in Sweden and then in the US.
GP: What challenges did you face while capturing ‘over $75MM in work with Fortune 500 companies’? How did you create ‘change’ in these companies?
PR: RLG’s focus is on the front line worker and their immediate leadership. That is where value is added or taken away each and every day, usually unintentionally. Our approach is being embedded with the team every day. “Connecting the front line to the bottom line” means exactly that. Helping the workforce and their leadership understand the business and how they can impact it positively.
I focus on behavior because at the end of the day the best process or software still has to be executed by human beings. Through regular immediate feedback and coaching, that creates muscle memory of effective work execution and sustainability, focused on doing the right things for any company.
Change occurs when you have alignment with “influencers” and leaders, both formal and informal. In my view, it doesn’t take a majority, it takes a critical mass. I have always loved the monkeys on the island story.
Long term change can only happen with consistent baby steps at a time, unless there is a disruption or compelling sense of urgency. When leaders listen, communicate more effectively, measure the right things, hold people accountable in the right way, and there is alignment throughout, then there is true ownership by the workforce. That ends up driving performance. It is amazing to me how many executives see the human side as soft; to me, it is the hard results driver. That’s how my clients generated and captured that 75MM USD.
GP: What is your advice for entrepreneurs and business people who want to or are traveling, in light of recent events?
PR: Go to the client wherever he or she may be. If we really took every risk to heart, we would never leave the house. My favorite quote from Woody Allen is “I am not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Everyone’s risk tolerance level is different and I respect that. You have to balance risk and desired outcome. For me, I can’t live my life thinking about what could go wrong; I live it focused on making my vision happen. What I can’t control, I leave out of the equation.
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