Each month AWC Austin highlights a member making a difference in the communications industry in Austin, Texas. Renee Trudeau, owner of Career Strategists and Renee Trudeau & Associates, met with us this month and we couldn’t have been more delighted. Take a moment to read up about Renee Trudeau. You’ll be reminded of a few things: why you love AWC Austin, to make sure you’re making time for yourself and to call up your mentor and schedule a much-needed coffee date.
AWCAUSTIN: How did you come to join AWC Austin and what is your favorite thing about being a member?
RT: I was a student member at TCU while studying Advertising and PR – I was also a double major in English/Creative Writing. The minute I graduated, I became a member of the Dallas chapter in 1988 and was on the Dallas board in 1989 as their student liaison. I remember a powerful woman leader speaking at a Dallas AWC event about the positive impact AWC had on her life and remember thinking that this is an organization I’ll be a part of for a long time. I’ve been a member ever since.
In my 20s and 30s, AWC provided professional support, contacts, mentoring (both being a mentor and a mentee). It also provided more breadth and depth for understanding the communications field. Today, even though I can rarely go to the meetings or actively participate day-to-day due to my travel schedule, I support it through word of mouth and as a mentor/resource. I really believe in AWC. I joke that I’m one of the organization’s free publicists because at least twice a week, I find myself telling my interns, clients, colleagues and vendors to join!
AWCAUSTIN: Can you talk me through Career Strategists and Renee Trudeau & Associates?
RT: I was a marketing and PR exec for almost 14 years; during that time I was also doing career/leadership coaching on the side. In 2000, I launched my first business, Career Strategists. We do strategic, high-level career and small business coaching and consulting; everything from transitioning careers, to career management and personal branding, to job search and career fulfillment. We do individual and group coaching and workshops/presentations and serve clients all over the globe; we have three senior coaches on staff.
Renee Trudeau & Associates was launched in 2007. It is completely devoted to work-life balance and life balance for companies and professionals. My third book –another life balance title—is coming out in February 2013. I do a lot of teaching, writing and coaching around themes related to life balance. We offer workshops for corporations like IBM, Ernst & Young, retreats for women, speaking, products/telecourses and a global women’s program called Personal Renewal Groups (based on my first book). These life coaching groups are meeting in more than eight countries. A team of seven women handle the work for both Career Strategists and Renee Trudeau & Associates.
Renee Trudeau & Associates was never meant to be a business. I had my son Jonah, and was looking for a women’s support group that focused on me – not a play group – but something that helped me stay connected to my creativity and essence AND focus on my self-care. I started this group and initially distributed a flyer through AWC. Within 48 hours, I had 20 women committed for an entire year. That group turned into a book, more groups, a training program, an international women’s initiative and this business. That first group was what I needed; it grew from my heart very organically– and it has exploded.
AWCAUSTIN: Your two businesses appear to have a common thread of guiding people through transitions in life or periods of varying uncertainty. How did your career path lead you to this?
RT: I had done some graduate work in leadership and organizational development and extensive personal/professional training and study in the area of human potential. I’m very interested in the culture of companies and throughout my career I would be consistently tapped to work with leadership programs. Beginning at 22, I’ve been involved in leadership and organizational development and management. As a marketing/PR director, I would often coach employees out of working for me if there was a better place for them to be – I truly cared about their career development! For years, I was coaching co-workers, employees and friends on how to manage their careers and they would often ask why I wasn’t charging for it.
AWC AUSTIN: In September of 2010, I had the pleasure of spotlighting Jennifer Paladino. She told me that you were the catalyst to her joining AWC Austin. I was curious about her drive to succeed and do well at such a young age and she said something that stuck with me: “For me, it is really important to do my best and be independent and self-sufficient. I think Renee would encourage me to ask for help now and then! But I always try to surround myself with knowledgeable, positive people and am constantly reaching out to anyone with particular insight or expertise.”
As an active board member of GenAustin and an obvious supporter of superstar students, I know that encouraging youth is important to you. What do you think is the most important thing about the professional growth of students?
RT: Really get the power of mentors and the power of long term relationships. Many interns focus on getting a letter of recommendation at the end of it – but we try to drill into our interns that they need to focus on long term relationship building.
The other thing is to focus on breadth and depth. In the new workforce you need to have a wide variety of skill sets. Students need to be able to understand everything from technology to the relationship between marketing and PR and even a bit about employee and community relations. This can be accomplished through internships, projects or one-time gigs and volunteer stints.
I had some really valuable mentors. I would not be where I am today without the mentors I’ve had and most of them are from AWC.
AWCAUSTIN: What’s the number one thing you’d tell a young woman right about to enter the workforce?
RT: Part of the work that I do entails hosting retreats around the United States. I’ve got opportunities to connect with many different women at all life stages and hear what they’re struggling with. Based on that, I would stress the importance of developing strong self-awareness: know yourself and befriend yourself. Beating yourself up only hinders your success; being kind and compassionate towards yourself gives you the space you need to grow. Knowing yourself can be as practical taking the Myers Briggs and seeing how you’re wired or working with a coach or therapist, attending a retreat or creating space for reflection and introspection. Identifying and leveraging your gifts is vital. Know yourself to befriend yourself.
AWCAUSTIN: What do you do to reset your mind and your life and how often do you do this?
RT: I’m a big believer in daily practice and ritual. Every day I meditate, do yoga and try to spend time in nature. The biggest thing I do (and teach) is allow myself permission to get quiet and tune in to what I need that day. Life brings many trials and sometimes you have to take it day by day—or hour by hour! You need to allow yourself time to check- in and respond to your needs. Many people think that self-care has to be expensive and time consuming but it doesn’t – it’s really about slowing down just enough to tune in and ask what you need that day and that moment. Don’t skimp on girlfriend time and time with groups of women. We need it. And sometimes what we most need is to be easier on ourselves.
AWCAUSTIN: When it comes to AWC, what are you most thankful for?
RT: I have tremendous gratitude and deep appreciation for AWC, my mentors, the relationships that I’ve found through the organization and the sheer depth and intentionality around AWC. One of the things I think sets AWC apart is a strong desire to help other women. I believe it’s our responsibility. I have received so much mentoring and support that I feel it is my responsibility and my joy to help other women for generations to come.
Renee Trudeau’s Resource Rundown:
I read a lot (much more than I spend time online). Right now piled up next to my bed you’ll find:
- Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money by Geneen Roth
- Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
- This I Believe : The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison
- Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields
- National Geographic
- Yoga Journal
Some of my favorite recommendations for clients:
- The Big Leap by Gay Hendrix
- Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create the Life You Really Want by Jennifer White
- A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World by Daniel Pink
- Career Strategists Inspiration Café
- Renee Trudeau & Associates Life Balance Newsletters
Mark your calendars! Renee will be leading Envision, Align, Expand: Empowered Entrepreneurs Visioning Retreat June 8th in Austin. Learn more today and view all of her upcoming events to see if any are a good fit for you!