Today we’d like to introduce you to Rúna Bouius.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Rúna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Part 1: REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND
Should I become an actress or a psychologist? That was my big debate as a young woman graduating from college in my native country, Iceland. But life had a different plan for me and answered that question by sweeping me off my feet and into entrepreneurship at the early age of 23. I could say that I was an accidental entrepreneur. In those days, being a young, female entrepreneur was definitely outside the norm.
My first company, Klassík ehf. (a wholesale company representing a large portfolio of internationally known cosmetic and perfume brands on the local and duty-free market in Iceland) became a trailblazer, introducing innovative practices and services to the beauty and wellness industry and positioning itself as an industry leader.
My second company, Mysla ehf., was launched solely at the request of the famous cosmetic and perfume brand Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. And my third company, Sigurboginn ehf. at Laugarvegur (in the main shopping street in Reykjvík) was a retail store — a perfumery — that I co-founded with my sales manager from Klassík, Kristín Einarsdóttir, who ran that store for well over twenty years.
During my twenty years running my businesses in Iceland, I had to learn — on the job — about leadership and building a company culture. With no business education nor experience when I started, I had to learn by trial and error. Thankfully we stumbled nicely into building a healthy and vibrant company culture and strong relationships with all our stakeholders, both in Iceland and with our suppliers around the world. My business was thriving, we were having fun, we were creative and innovative, and we were serving and helping people.
On the home front, I also felt lucky. I was happily married and had two beautiful boys. We lived in our dream house in a desirable area in Reykjavik, and life was good.
But my picture-perfect life was shaken to it’s core by two significant events. My husband died in an accident related to his long-hidden and recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. And the second event was selling my businesses and leaving my role as a CEO and my twenty-year career. Something I felt compelled to do after owning up to the fact that there was a roar coming from the depths of my soul asking for something more out of life. I had begun to feel like a robot trying to keep the whole operation going. I started to ask myself the question, “Is this all there is to life?” The answer was a resounding, “No.” I knew there was so much more to life — to learn, discover, and unleash — but I didn’t know how to accomplish that at the time. So I decided to make another bold move…
Part 2: SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, USA
So I embarked on the hero’s journey by leaving behind the status quo and everything safe and familiar to me and moved to the United States with my two boys in 1996.
Nestled in the magical New Mexico desert, Santa Fe is where I started my healing journey and search for wholeness — my higher purpose and a renewed life-vision. I went through an intense process of mentorship and training for well over a decade. I worked with powerful teachers through modalities such as psychology, Shamanism, ancient wisdom, energy practices, and universal principles, by learning through awareness and mindfulness-cultivation, spirituality, and direct teachings from Nature.
Then, in early 2000, I began putting together leadership and well-being programs for business professionals, both in the USA and in my home country. But after the financial crash in Iceland in 2008, that part of my business was wiped away.
Part 3: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA
In 2009 I made another big move by uprooting from my friends and community in Santa Fe and moving to Silicon Valley — Palo Alto — and spent a year there on my way to the city of angels. Finally, at the end of 2010, my dream of living in Los Angeles was realized.
Since in LA, I have been very active in community-building around the new-paradigms of Conscious Leadership, Conscious Business, Conscious Capitalism, and female entrepreneurship.
I co-founded the Conscious Leader Network in 2011, a peer-learning community promoting Conscious Leadership and supporting and connecting Conscious Leaders who had the desire to lead and live consciously. Unfortunately, we ran out of funds and bandwidth and folded the operation at the end of 2012.
My next venture was as one of the co-founders of the TOGETHER! Network with Tatjana Luethi and Rocio Villalobos, both of whom have been interviewed by you. We focused on empowering female entrepreneurs and professional women through educational and skill-building conferences and workshops in which Conscious Leadership and Conscious Business practices were emphasized. For example, in 2014, we produced a two-day conference around Conscious Business in West Hollywood.
My lastest community contribution was as one of the co-founders of the Conscious Capitalism LA chapter. CCLA’s mission continues to be to building awareness, participation, and opportunity for the Conscious Business community in LA.
Now I’m excited to guide progressive CEOs and visionary leaders, founders, investors to lead and live from their TRUE Power. To lead and live as Conscious Leaders while building their social enterprises and conscious businesses. I believe that when leaders align the purpose of their business with their own higher purpose, they create a more meaningful life and career. They can make a positive social impact on the paradigm shifts humanity is transitioning through today, through the power of their business. And that will fulfill a legacy they can be proud of.
Has it been a smooth road?
No, absolutely not. There have been endless surprises, uncertainties, chaos, loops on the path, re-routing, delays, and challenges.
Early on, as a young entrepreneur in Iceland, I build the company by self-funding it. Doing it this way was hard work and required long working hours. Something that is not good for your long-term well-being. At the end of my twenty years as an entrepreneur, I received a rude awakening that I was a workaholic. A realization that entered through the back door and forced me to turn my focus to healing after I sold my businesses. It was evident that I needed to learn working habits and practices that would promote keeping my well-being pendulum relatively balanced.
I struggled with another challenge once I was ready to bring my new work out here in America. How to position myself, how to fit in or accept not to fit in. In those days, my work was heavily focused on offering to business professionals stress management and well-being programs based on mindfulness practices, meditation in motion, and energy awareness. Ideas that are mainstream today and widely practiced in LA, thankfully. But these were the early days for this kind of work, and companies and business people weren’t exactly jumping at the opportunity as they do now. Today we even have a country like New Zealand, that has unveiled its first “well-being government budget.” And I trust other countries will follow with time.
That same issue came up for me as I took on promoting and offering Conscious Leadership. Again, being on the cutting edge is never easy. Much of the work is in the realm of intangibles — the so-called soft skills — that have been ignored and undervalued for far too long in leadership. Now, these skills can make or break a leader. I call these the new hard-skills.
I also went through another very life-altering experience after my first startups in LA failed, when I was faced with starting from scratch again. I was new to LA. The community I had been building with my co-founder was redirected into his new venture. I had used up all my funds. And now I didn’t have a job nor platform for my vision and my work. At the time, I literally thought that I was done with LA. I closed my home and went back to Santa Fe while I allowed my next steps to emerge. It took nine months, and then my direction was clear again — back to LA was the order of the day. So I returned, and new opportunities began showing up to continue my work with new people and other platforms. But for a long time, I felt guilty and ashamed of having failed with the business. That’s something I chuckle about today because I don’t see challenges like that as failure anymore. But as opportunities to grow and develop and use our creativity to design our next version, an upgraded version of our vision.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the True Power Institute story. Tell us more about the business.Up till now, my business has primarily been a coaching & consulting company. I’m currently interested in moving towards being more of an advisory and media company, as I look for avenues to have the most significant impact globally.
What do you do?
Keynote speaking, strategic advisory, executive coaching, workshop design and
facilitation, and writing. And I’m soon to be a podcast host.
What do you specialize in?
Guiding CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other influential professionals to tap into, reclaim and unleash their TRUE Power, and how to wield it wisely for the benefit of all through Conscious Leadership. It’s about helping entrepreneurs and business leaders to build and grow the social impact and conscious businesses.
What are you known for?
For being a Conscious Leadership influencer, a tireless ambassador for raising social consciousness, and a change agent on a mission to evolve humanity’s relationship to power — TRUE Power.
The words of my collaborator, Rocio Villalobos, also express what I often hear from clients, colleagues, and people in general:
“The thing about Rúna is that behind the calm, cool, and collected demeanor is deep wisdom, a quick wit, a touch of playfulness, and above all, an extremely caring, mindful observer — in other words, a Conscious Leader to her core.” — Rocio Villalobos
What are you most proud of as a company?
That the work is always focused on uplifting, inspiring, and empowering people, honoring our planet, and making the world a better place.
And I am also proud of having been a part of a new docu-series, “The Social Movement,” which was filmed in Montreal, Canada, earlier this month. To be aired on Amazon Prime and iTunes in the summer of 2020. It was a pleasure to work with other global leaders in taking on real-life social issues and coming up with viable solutions.
What sets you apart from others?
Well, being Icelandic is definitely a differentiator here in LA — there are not that many of us around!
Another differentiator is my experience as a founder and practicing CEO enhanced by my long and in-depth study and practice of Conscious Leadership. That, alongside my visionary mindset, my immersion in the new paradigm thinking, and my contribution to the Conscious Business and Conscious Capitalism movement make me well equipped to guide the next-generation leaders.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
As I mentioned before, ten years ago, mindfulness wasn’t mainstream. Today it is. Today Conscious Leadership isn’t mainstream — but I believe that in 5-10 years it will be.
Any big shifts, changes, trends?
First, we all need to accept the role of being a leader. And we all need to be entrepreneurs — leaders and entrepreneurs designing and building our own lives intentionally and consciously. As leaders and entrepreneurs guiding our teams, companies, communities, and society — really, our world — to a new story, a story that we co-create since that is what the times are calling for. So… step up!
Secondly, for the leader of the 21st century to stay relevant, resilient, and be able to adapt to the massive changes the world is undergoing right now, they need to evolve beyond the traditional business training and MBA curriculum. A real leader — a Conscious Leader — constantly needs to add new attributes, attitudes, understanding, practices, and awareness to her/his leadership toolbox. The focus on getting advice and guidance solely from external sources is shifting, and it asks the leader to integrate his/her internal leadership and activate the inner guidance system with the outer. The need to connect and align the personal life with the professional one and to stay grounded and fully present are more imperative than ever.
Thirdly, as humanity, we have outgrown the usefulness of the negative us of the masculine patriarchy — the vertical hierarchy sometimes referred to as the “Era of man.” The present-day predominant practice of “power over” that has run the show for the last 5000 years. What’s emerging is the restitution of the “Era of woman.” A regenerative and integrative model where the feminine and masculine energies in both men and women are utilized interchangeably. Where women and men work side by side to collaborate and co-create our new story and usher in a new way of wielding power. Think of horizontal power of networks, systems, platforms, and communities. A change that has been slowly but surely emerging over the last 50 years. And think of the shift to “power with” or “power to” versus the “power over.” Power to the people, self-leadership, autonomy, and agency.
That’s what the focus of my work is about today.
- Website: http://truepowerinstitute.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TruePowerInstitute/?ref=br_rs
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RunaBouius
- Other: http://thenewvision.com
Image Credit: LaVoie Films