RHIANNON ROSALIND – CEO of The Economic Club of Canada
Rhiannon Rosalind, a serial entrepreneur, is the CEO and sole shareholder of The Economic Club of Canada. On her podium, the highest-profile and most recognized in Canada, she has hosted some of the most relevant speakers of our time. The likes of President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and former President of France Francois Holland have all graced her stage. Rhiannon is the youngest woman in Canadian history to be inducted into the Most Powerful Women in Business Hall of Fame. She is the founder of Lunar Club – a monthly gathering of eclectic women where she shakes things up by interviewing some of the most powerful feminists in Canada. Her 2019 guests include Marie Henein – the high profile Canadian defence attorney and the former Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne. She is a nationally recognized philanthropist – she is the founder and CEO of The Jr. Economic Club of Canada where, in partnership with the National Inuit Youth Council of Canada, she created the first-ever financial literacy program for Inuit youth across all four arctic settlement regions. As of 2019, 50,000 youth have participated in her programs. She is the co-founder and CEO of The Global Institute for Conscious Economics – a forum dedicated to awakening business leaders to the benefits of consciousness (mindfulness) and validating the link between mindfulness and economic prosperity.
Rhiannon is a former board of governor members at her alma mater, Ryerson University (voted not appointed). She is a former board member of the Ryerson University Alumni Association. She is an advisory board member to the Ted Rogers School of Management MBA. She is the co-author of a ground-breaking book ‘Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to the conscious business’ where she shows how consciousness (mindfulness) can: (1) improve individual health, (2) optimize performance by maintaining a state of ‘flow’, (3) enhance creativity and innovation, and; (4) increase organizational performance by functioning at optimal levels more consistently, and; (5) enhance sustainability through the integration of both eastern and western practices. As part of this book, she co-designed the first-ever university course on conscious business. Rhiannon was the creative vision behind her own TV series that ran through Rogers and Bell Media (Much Music) for six seasons. She is currently a regular on Toronto’s most popular radio station – News Talk 1010. Rhiannon is also the proud mother of two young boys, Luke and Bennett, and enjoys exploring Toronto with them in her spare time.
As CEO of the Economic Club of Canada, can you tell us more about the organization and how it’s inspiring the next generation of leaders?
I’ve been the CEO and Owner of The Economic Club of Canada for almost 9 years and over that time we have certainly changed. When I first took over the organization, it was a much more traditional public policy forum, serving very senior-level executives working on Bay Street. Over the years, we have evolved into a much more inclusive organization, where Bay Street leaders can mix with artists, creators, young people, educators, and policymakers. We are still talking about the most important issues impacting the Canadian economy, but I believe we are facilitating that conversation in a much more open and transparent way. I believe that the innovation of thought is born out of diversity.
I’m focused on involving our younger generation in a much more meaningful way, having them join the national economic discourse now. We operate as a social enterprise, using the profits from over 100 events each year to support programming for young leaders through our Jr. Economic Club platform. We also work to have equal access for young people at many of our most important events. The complex challenges we face as a country, require ideas and solutions that will work for all Canadians. I think those ideas will come from intergenerational dialogue and that’s why I keep challenging the traditional hierarchies.
Through the platform of the Economic Club, you’ve featured some of the most high-profile leaders of our time, such as Amal Clooney and Michelle Obama, just to name a few. Among the many people you’ve hosted, who would you say has inspired you the most and why?
To be very honest, the person that had the greatest impact on me as an entrepreneur was the late Ted Rogers. He spoke with the club back in 2008, when I was still just an employee of the organization. He spoke very openly and candidly about his many failures and successes as a business person. He spoke of the importance of preparation, positivity, and risk. Although it was early in my career, something in his delivery really hit home with me. I find myself still following his advice to this day. I think he was a very important business figure in Canada. An icon really, and a very classy person.
How does it make you feel to be the youngest woman in Canadian history to be included in the Most Powerful Women in Business Hall of Fame?
I’m humbled and honoured to hold that title. It’s very meaningful to me, and I hope that it inspires other young women to go after their dreams. Agism can be a real problem in our world. Sometimes we discredit ideas that come from the younger generation, but I feel now more than ever, the voices of young people are needed. We are, as a society and an economy, In your book Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to the conscious business of which you’re the co-author, you discussed the benefits of consciousness in business. Can you further explain this theory and why you believe it’s important for leaders? I believe that evolving human consciousness through practices like mindfulness and meditation can lead to better business outcomes. Not only are these practices better for mental health and wellbeing, but they can also help us bring more awareness into our thought patterns, daily routines, and decision-making habits. As a collective, I believe we are making many unconscious choices that lead to environmental degradation, financial instability, and poor physical and mental wellbeing. We don’t necessarily want to make these choices; they have just become normalized over time. When we bring consciousness to our actions, patterning, and mental programming we have the ability to make better choices. As business leaders, this kind of work is critically important to the success of the business and the wellbeing of our planet. in need of deep systemic change if we are going to tackle climate change, mental health, equality, and reconciliation in a meaningful way. Being a younger woman, I feel that I have the responsibility to use my platform and privilege to elevate new voices that haven’t traditionally been included. When someone like me is awarded and publicly recognized for this kind of work, it moves the needle in a positive way for others hoping to do the same. When we see others that look like us in positions of power, we gain more confidence in ourselves.
In your book Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to the conscious business of which you’re the co-author, you discussed the benefits of consciousness in business. Can you further explain this theory and why you believe it’s important for leaders?
I believe that evolving human consciousness through practices like mindfulness and meditation can lead to better business outcomes. Not only are these practices better for mental health and wellbeing, but they can also help us bring more awareness into our thought patterns, daily routines, and decision-making habits. As a collective, I believe we are making many unconscious choices that lead to environmental degradation, financial instability, and poor physical and mental wellbeing. We don’t necessarily want to make these choices; they have just become normalized over time. When we bring consciousness to our actions, patterning, and mental programming we have the ability to make better choices. As business leaders, this kind of work is critically important to the success of the business and the wellbeing of our planet.
What would you say is the most challenging part of being a leader in today’s world and what do you believe are some of the strategies that we can implement to help overcome that challenge?
I think mental health is by far one of the biggest challenges of our modern age. Our world is so fast-paced, and constant digital connection makes it impossible to separate work and life. I think its time we prioritize the health and wellbeing of our labour force. For many business leaders, this will require new strategies and new ways to measure success. Profit is important but without balance it’s unsustainable. Embracing new technologies to support remote working will give people more personal time and reduce pollution and commute. I also believe we must rethink compensation to mean more than just money, but also life balance and wellbeing. I also feel it’s important for business leaders to understand how important our connection to the planet and nature is. Productivity, innovation, and creativity don’t just appear because we have some whiteboards and bean bag chairs, true innovation and creativity come from people who are happy, connected, and purpose-driven.
If you could give a message to the next generation of leaders, what would it be?
Start now. Lead now, save your money now, go after your dreams now- and speak up now. There is no time to wait. Don’t doubt the value you bring. Sometimes those that have spent the last time within the system can more clearly see what the challenges are. Don’t underestimate your power to change the world.
On a final note, what would you say is your overall goal? What are you hoping to accomplish through the many platforms and organizations you’ve put in place?
My goal is to help foster a new economic dialogue that promotes the wellbeing of people and the planet, working in harmony with profitable business models. I really feel that social entrepreneurship and social enterprise are the real way forward. Good profitable business, solving social issues is something I’m very passionate about. I feel excited to help a new generation of thinkers connect to some of these ideas- in hopes that we can drive real meaningful change.