Personal Development

Robin Stanaland: Finding fulfillment and balance as a CEO coach

Robin Stanaland Cope Award 2020

Being an executive coach 17 years, I’ve realized this is my calling and I absolutely love it. I lead a balanced and fulfilling life, staying deeply connected with my family, while supporting over 100 local business leaders.

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage Chairs — executive coaches who help guide CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses to make better decisions for their companies, families and communities.

While growing and running an IT consulting company, Robin Stanaland spent 40% of her time on the road with clients, the largest of which was in Hong Kong. Within five years of starting the firm, Robin and her team propelled the firm from a startup to $20 million in revenue.

“I was a Vistage member in the 90s and my group was instrumental in my leadership development as well as selling the business when we did,” she says. “I had never built a company before, and I was in a group with members who were really tough on me — and I needed that.”

Following the company sale, the new owners retained Robin to oversee the Houston division. After a couple of years, she was ready for a change and worked with her Chair to determine what was next.

Vistage Chair Robin Stanaland

Vistage Chair Robin Stanaland

“Vistage used to have a product called NEXT Steps for people who had sold their businesses, and the Chair would team with an organizational therapist,” she explains. “She helped me come up with my non-negotiables for what was next after running the IT company.”

Robin’s list included four non-negotiables: no travel, freedom and flexibility to be home when her kids returned from school, no employees (she’d had 150), and earnings equal to her previous role. So, she launched a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) firm.

“I was busy building my M&A firm and raising a family,” Robin says. “I was trying to get deals done and juggle the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.”

Becoming someone ‘they can rely on’

When Robin was 41, a local Vistage Chair approached her about becoming one herself. The Chair talked her into completing the training, and she fell in love with the model.

“I knew that one day I would want to be a Chair. But I thought it would be a retirement career — all the Chairs I knew at the time were retired and 60+ years old,” she says. “Honestly, on the weekends when I would hang out with my daughter, both wearing baseball caps, people thought we were sisters. I thought there was no way I would have the credibility to convince a CEO to follow me.”

Robin and her group at an axe throwing event

Robin with one of her groups at an axe-throwing event in Houston. 

However, Robin has had no problem convincing CEOs to follow her. Today, she leads eight groups and supports over 130 business leaders in Houston, Texas, while continuing to manage her M&A firm. She is an eight-time STAR Award winner and a ten-time recipient of the Chair Excellence Award. She’s also been named a Master Chair and won the Pat Hyndman Award.

“I appreciate the unique role that coaches play in members’ lives,” she says. “Many CEOs don’t have someone to talk to, whether they’re facing a personal or business challenge. As a coach, we are someone they can rely on for anything. We are always available to help them navigate their journey. We have their back, no matter what.”

In 2020, Robin was honored with the Don Cope Memorial Award, the highest honor a Chair can receive, recognizing her passion for providing value to her members.

Lead with head, challenge with heart

The honor celebrated her commitment to having members’ backs, whether in their business or personal lives. One example, while meeting individually with a member, she noticed he kept grabbing his back and pushed him to see a doctor. He called from the hospital, sharing he only had days to live.

She sat with the member at the hospital for several days, helping him process that he was dying and reassuring him that she and his advisory group would educate his daughter on how to run the business — which allowed his daughter to generate more profit in one year than he had ever achieved.

“It is an honor to be there for them through transitions and challenges in their businesses and lives,” she says. “If you care deeply for people, you will love this work.”

Robin with her family and horse

Robin with her family (and one of their horses)

Stanaland describes her Chair work as the “most rewarding and meaningful” work she has done and is grateful that she is not only impacting the lives of others, but she is living her best life. “I am told that I lead with my head and challenge with my heart”.

“I lead a fulfilling and balanced life, staying deeply connected with my two daughters and maintaining a thriving 38-year marriage,” she says. “I am fortunate to spend time with my adorable grandsons who live next door and occasionally get to ride my horse.”

Explore more coaching journeys

If this coaching story interests you and you’d like to see more, learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.

Category: Personal Development

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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