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10 Questions with Robert Rund

Robert Rund serves as Founder and CEO of R2C2, a firm specializing in helping both nonprofit and for-profit organizations accomplish mission and manifest vision through aligning structure with strategic goals and objectives; navigating organizational crisis; adapting to significant organizational change; and both identifying and recognizing internal and external stakeholders in order to maximize engagement and optimize communications. For over 20 years, R2C2 has been successful in applying creative process and solid business acumen to complex business challenges. 

Robert has led throughout his career, having served as President and Head of School of American Boychoir School; Associate Publisher of Musical America Worldwide; Executive Director of Encore Creativity for Older Adults; Executive Director of The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra; Regional Director of Development for Harmony Foundation International; and Founding Executive Director of Community Arts Partnership at Peddie School (CAPPS).

Rund earned an M.A. (Goucher College), B.M. (Westminster Choir College of Rider University), and will soon complete an M.B.A. (University of North Carolina – Pembroke). In 2004, Rund was selected as one of fifty non-profit arts leaders worldwide for the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leadership, a joint fellowship from Stanford Graduate School of Business and National Arts Strategies. Robert also completed the Authentic Leader program through Contemplative Leadership Development.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Robert spends much of his time arranging and composing music, exploring cities, hiking woods and mountains, and being a community activist.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND WHY? 
Choosing a singular piece of advice as the 'best' is a challenge as situations tend to evoke applicable advice I have received through the years, and in those moments, those are the best. If I were to choose the most universal, it would be this simple fact: you lead as you are. This is an inescapable truth, and while on the surface sounds obvious, it is a kernel of a concept that has tremendous depth. More often than not, leaders are so immersed in their roles and their goals that developing a deep understanding of themselves and how that manifests in their leadership is overlooked.

WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU AND WHY? 
Throughout my life, people who persevere through significant adversity inspire me. While all of us face some challenges in life, there are those that seem to get more than their fair share. And among those, there are the rare few that, through the very challenge that faces them, develop a strength, humility, grace and optimism that could have been found through no other circumstances. These people can be found in every corner of society and are not necessarily marked by wealth or professional success. I have been fortunate to encountered many of these giants along my journey, and each one has left an indelible mark that inspires me daily.

WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD SHARE WITH OUR READERS TO UPLIFT THEM IN LIFE AND CAREER? 
Above all else, stay teachable. Too often we feel we must have all of the answers. In fact, our success lies in the ability to ask the right questions, and to remain open to the information and intuition that is available to us. I am not sure about you, but the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. That is a wondrous thing.  

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK AND HOW DID IT INSPIRE YOU?
I tend to avoid words like "favorite" and "best" as my answers to these types of questions change often. At this moment, I would select a trilogy of books, though not designated such by the author. Malcolm Gladwell's books, The Tipping Point; Outliers; and Blink are books that I return to when I want to be transported to a different way of thinking...when I feel I may be in a paradigm rut, as Gladwell offers compelling cases for shifts in thinking to explain certain phenomena.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
Walking has always been my favorite way to relax. This is somewhat counter-intuitive as it is exercise and generally increases the heart rate. However, for me, it is a release of energy and an opportunity to align with my breath in such a way that ultimately allows me to truly rest.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU OR YOUR INDUSTRY FACES, AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THOSE? 
In my field of organizational leadership, the most common challenges I encounter seem to correlate to where they are in their life cycle; to how financially secure they are; and to the degree with which they continually ensure the integrity of their governance model. 

With organizations that are either in their start-up stage, or have significant looming threats to survival, the challenge that seems most limiting is a paradigm of poverty. The mindset of "we cannot afford to do that" is, by definition, self-limiting, and must be shifted in order to unleash the creativity necessary to realize vision. 

With organizations that are in the stabilization or maturity phase, and/or have some level of financial security, the greatest challenge I see is complacency and attachment to the status quo. Leaders in this situation really must continue to challenge themselves and their organizations to not allow complacency to become the culture. While the antidote to this problem must really be derived from the specific processes of an organization, the general approach is one that is captured in a poem by Bernard Asuncion..."Practice like you've never won. Perform like you've never lost."    

WHAT IS ONE TREND IN YOUR INDUSTRY THAT EXCITES YOU?
One trend in the field of organizational leadership that excites me is the increasing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. From my experience, it is just that, diversity of perspective, equitable governance, and inclusion of all stakeholders that offer the greatest set of possible outcomes. The more diverse our community, the more equitably they are treated, and the more inclusion we offer, the greater our assets, and the better we can leverage them. When we view diversity as a direct indicator of richness of perspective, when we lead with an insistence on equity, and when we ensure inclusion of a greater number of voices, we become more alive, more creative, and more capable. It is not just the right way to go, it is the best way to go.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU DO EVERY DAY THAT ADDS TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I begin each day with the following question: "What am I being asked to do today?" Whether it be in my personal or professional life, this question, in my experience, puts me in the best posture to succeed. Rather than trying to rely entirely on my own thinking, it opens me to what others need.  

WHAT TECHNOLOGY PRODUCT CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
My desire is to answer "none!" as I hope that it is not a technology product that powers my existence. But as a practical matter, my smartphone is the device that, without it, would make my current life a lot less convenient. It serves as my most accessible communication tool; access to information; banking and financial management; time and weather; news; and camera. But to my earlier point, I do make concerted efforts to create time and space to "live without" my smartphone. For all of the function it provides, it can get in the way of meaningful human exchange.

PLEASE, FINISH THIS STATEMENT: LEADERSHIP IS...
in its best form, service. It is humility, accountability, commitment to community, teach-ability, and an enduring enterprise of possibility.

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