I help powerful leaders radically improve their discernment and decision-making in order to manifest the resilient, inclusive and high-performing cultures critical for growth in an uncertain world.
Rob Schuham is a discreet high-involvement advisor, coach and confidant to influential leaders and founders at personal and professional inflection points. He helps them confront and work through complexity to find pathways and breakthroughs that yield organizational and planetary results, while transforming their own self-identification and leadership resiliency.
For the last 35 years, I have worked with, advised or mentored hundreds of people in leadership positions from top executives at the largest global corporations in the world to founders of dozens of startups to the heads of various nonprofits.
In the context of organizational design, digital transformation, marketing, experiential design and storytelling, I have had the good fortune to work with so many brilliant and inspiring CEOs, visionaries and strategists whose large organizations were vibrant and exciting. Conversely, I’ve seen firsthand the insides of cultures where toxic leadership styles resulted in talent brain-drains and drudgery while billions of dollars were squandered because of cultural misalignments, innovation paralysis and lost opportunity. I have also experienced this personally. I have climbed my way up the hierarchies of both a large creative services company and a well-known hard goods manufacturer, and also as a leadership consultant and an agency partner charged with both consumer engagement and workforce motivation for Fortune 100 clients.
While some of this is endemic to large organizations, early-stage to midsize companies have their own unique leadership challenges as well. As an angel investor, GP and LP in various early stage VC funds and mentor for multiple accelerators, I’ve been an advisor to well over 150 startup founders, exposing me to a wild range of leadership styles and approaches.
All of these lessons and interactions, good and bad, were put into play as a founder or co-founder of successful agencies and consultancies, as well as a package goods company. My organizations were carefully designed around cultures of positivity, inspiration, inclusion and performance. And my subsequent exits gave me the space and time to philanthropically co-direct a nonprofit organization deeply aligned with my values and, prior to that, serve as a chief advisor to another equally aligned and renowned nonprofit. And finally, I am a co-founder of a thriving global community for social entrepreneurs.
All of this is to say I have become a keen and astute observer of what works and does not work in leadership. I have seen the good, the bad and the very ugly in organizations of all sizes. I myself have had extraordinary and rewarding partnerships, and I have had toxic ones that debilitated and depleted me. Suffice it to say, like all of us, I continue to learn important lessons throughout my career.
Yet through all of this, the most rewarding thing I have experienced is my own joy in advising and being a confidant to incredible leaders who go on to do great things for themselves, their organizations and society writ large. And sometimes those great things are merely persevering through and surviving difficult times. Or finding balance and flow while in a complex job inside a complex company inside a complex world.
We as leaders are at an unprecedented crossroads. As individuals we are confronting our own priorities as our families and communities face an increasingly uncertain world. Meanwhile, rapid and disruptive change is forcing organizations to struggle with numerous tensions around talent retention & acquisition, inflationary pressures, supply chain breakdowns and dwindling resources.
Consumer and customer demands are only increasing, while internal organizational cultures are strained and stretched. Externally, worldwide and regional economic instability is magnified by the pending catastrophic risks facing the world as a result of climate change, erosion of our biodiversity, war and violence, lack of effective discourse due to division and polarization, unchecked exponential technologies, the cumulative effects of globalism and much more.
Civilization itself has never been more fragile, as problems that emerge in one place can now cascade and impact other sectors and other parts of the world rapidly. Governments are impaired in coordinating and executing systemic strategies to avoid collapse, thus we as high-leverage leaders who steward trillions* in resources have the most powerful opportunity in history to step in together and drive positive outcomes and externalities for themselves, their families, their companies and the planet.
I work confidentially with individuals to deeply understand their growth to date, the internal and external pressures they face, their pain points and the cross-complexities between their personal and business lives. I lean in to help leaders address big, messy and sometimes abstract problems through pattern recognition and the identification of blind spots, fears and constrictions. We work together to create new critical thinking paths and heuristics. Through this work, we can become more compassionate with ourselves and interpersonally more in connection with all those around us, while also increasing performance and effectiveness. One does not have to exclude the other, and we will find balance and flow while stepping into higher levels of discernment and choice-making.
As needed, I will bring in world-class domain experts in personal transformation & growth, organizational design, sustainability and regenerative practices, diversity/equity/inclusion, consumer and customer engagement and narrative and storytelling.
I am engaged as a consultant, and my fees are based on both time and impact. I am deeply involved in all aspects of the engagement, and I will also curate additional experts for specific needs on an as-needed basis. Typical engagements take place over a four-month period and include three in-person meetings and five Zoom meetings. My fees do not include travel, expenses, and day rates of domain experts.
Rob is a successful entrepreneur who brings nearly three decades of organizational transformation, leadership development, branding and experiential design to bear. He is an early stage venture capitalist, angel investor and advisor to dozens of startups and their leaders. Rob is also co-founder of COMMON, a global community and design accelerator for socially responsible organizations, where he co-created The COMMON MBA (Maniacal Business Attack) to help leaders of companies and nonprofits align to create new ventures, products and services. Rob was most recently Executive Director for The Consilience Project, a nonprofit think tank that publishes novel research at the leading edges of global risk mitigation, governance design and culture. Rob was also co-founder of Undercurrent, an award-winning organizational design and transformation consultancy that reimagined ways of working and brought unique digital and innovation techniques and experiments to bear for the largest corporations in the world. He has keynoted at many high-profile gatherings and conferences on climate change, social impact and media. Rob has also worked on cultural narratives and storytelling in the climate and social impact spaces for over 15 years, having created or co-created numerous global media platforms for The Climate Reality Project and other positive-impact causes and brands. He also founded and scaled award-winning experiential design agency, Action Marketing that, when sold, was creatively concepting and producing over 2,000 events a year. Prior to this, Rob was Marketing Director at Schwinn Bicycle Company, a Supervisor and Strategist at Chiat/Day Advertising and a Managing Director at Warren Miller Films.