Do you remember how you first learned about leadership? Today’s show will make you take a step back and reflect on that. Maybe it was in school, an internship, or at your first corporate job. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur, and it was when you launched your first company. My guest today has a really interesting career journey. She is going to be sharing how she learned about leadership in an unexpected place.

Helen Rothberg, PhD, was a bartender in New York City throughout her academic career. She has also consulted with Fortune 500 companies, small technology start-ups, and nonprofit organizations. She speaks regularly at associations, alumni, and student gatherings about leadership and bartending.

She is the author of The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender. She has dual degrees in business and behavioral science. She is a professor of strategy at the School of Management at Marist College, senior faculty at the Academy of Competitive Intelligence, and president of consulting firm HNR Associates.

Show Notes

  • [02:49] Helen originally planned on becoming a doctor.
  • [03:30] Having summers off was a big motivation for Helen to go into an academic career.
  • [03:54] She also realized that there was something special about helping young people find something magnificent in themselves.
  • [04:11] She became addicted to helping young people have an impact on the future.
  • [04:28] She also helps companies build a future.
  • [05:49] Helen’s book is a fantastic book, and Deirdre thanks her for writing it.
  • [06:25] Helen realized all of the skills, about management, being successful, and leadership were learned when she was behind the bar.
  • [07:20] She thought the book would be meaningful.
  • [07:46] Deirdre was also a bartender, and that is one the reasons the book resonates. It’s also interesting how these bartending stories relate to corporate stories.
  • [09:03] A friend recommended that Helen match the stories to corporate life.
  • [09:45] ADVICE is Helen’s recipe for leading yourself.
  • [10:14] The A is about taking action and the lesson is doing more and saying less.
  • [10:18] D is about determination and finding a way to get things done with civility and ingenuity.
  • [10:35] V is about vision which drives everything. A leader turns on the light and shares the vision.
  • [11:02] The I is for integrity. Tell the truth all the time, don’t create drama, and if you do own what’s yours.
  • [11:35] C is for communication which is one of the hardest things to do well.
  • [12:00] E is for empathy dare to care, because everyone has a story.
  • [12:23] Stand in your own shoes and don’t be afraid to be your authentic self.
  • [13:02] Shape shifting and having the courage to change. Have the courage to leap.
  • [14:15] Helen’s favorite story is the story about Eduardo in the empathy chapter.
  • [17:55] Helen shares the story where Eduardo regained his humanity.
  • [18:45] A story about communication and five guys in a bar. Communication is more than just words.
  • [21:17] Actions speak louder than words, and there are other ways to handle situations rather than being violent.
  • [27:30] Deirdre shares a story about how she had a similar moment, but decided to leave the job. Once we feel threatened it’s hard to move forward.
  • [29:55] Helen’s biggest lesson learned is that bartending, just like life, is about relationships.
  • [31:03] Helen also learned how to build a community around herself.
  • [33:34] Letting people shine and do what they do best makes great things possible.
  • [35:16] Helen shares how Frank McCourt who wrote Angela’s Ashes was her English teacher in 10th grade. He was her first influencer.
  • [37:50] He made her believe that at a young age she could do it and be a writer.
  • [39:59] When we are young, we don’t realize that we are stressed. Walking and dance class always made Helen feel better.
  • [42:16] She learned lessons from living life and wasn’t afraid to say so. It’s important not to get lost in life. Keep something that is yours. This will help manage stress.
  • [43:53] Trust yourself and ask yourself what really matters to you and what you can do to support it.

Links and Resources:

Helen RothbergThe Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Helen Rothberg
About Helen
@HelenRothberg on Twitter
Helen Rothberg on Facebook
Helen Rothberg on LinkedIn