Inspirational Woman: Rúna Magnúsdóttir | Author, International Speaker & Creator of the Change Makers

Runa Magnusdottir

Rúna Magnúsdóttir is a leadership and personal branding author, international speaker and brand strategist from Iceland, and creator of the Change Makers.

Rúna has worked in the entrepreneurial and political sphere for over thirty years, working with leaders to make the change they wish to see in the world. Rúna is the creator of the award-winning “Discover Your X Factor” programme, was named one of the Top 20 Business Women to Follow on Twitter by Forbes, and appeared on The Oprah Show in 2009. Rúna’s awards and accolades include the EUWIIN award in 2011, the TIAW “World of Difference 100 Awards” 2009 and the EU WIIN Special Recognition Award in 2007. Prior to the Change Makers, Rúna was the founder of Connected Women, a global community of women business owners and entrepreneurs in over 75 countries. For more information, visit

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m a change maker, and consider myself to be blessed being a woman, born and raised in Iceland, the country that has ranked as the number one country for gender equality by the World Economy Forum for 9 years in a row.   I’m an international leadership and personal branding author, speaker and a strategist and the CEO of The Change Makers; we are a group of world-class transformational leadership and personal development leaders coming together to empower humans to be the change they want to see in their world.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Great question! Well, both yes and no. And let me explain. I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my adult life, starting by working in a family wholesale company, a business that my biggest role model in life (my mother) founded when she was 52 years old. I later bought the business from my parents and sold it in 2006, 45 years old at the time. That was the first time I had space in my life to plan my career. Yes, can you believe it? Upto that period in my life, I had never set myself a career goal – I had set many bold and brave goals for my business, but never for myself.   When I finally did start to plan my career, I did that with a help of a wonderful life & business coach who helped me to dig-deep into my personal values and visions.

That process totally transformed my career. My work was now aligned with my passions, values and purpose in life (which I discovered in the process). I founded a global internet network community for women entrepreneurs – I received number of international awards and appeared on Forbes as one of 20 women to follow on Twitter – all for my work as a change maker, leadership and personal branding author, speaker and strategist.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?

Gee… yeah! I’ve faced so many challenges on the way. I’ve visited some of my deepest and darkest moments when nothing seemed to be working out for me. Finding and knowing your true passions and purpose in life does NOT mean you don’t face challenges – for me, it has more been my guiding light on the way.   I’ve had to let go of my plans – and that has been a real challenge for me, often thinking if I did let go of my rigid plans, I would be seen as a failure — and that is something that I absolutely did not want to happen. What I’ve learned on the way was the power of; a) constantly re-invigorating my future visions, b) checking regularly in on my values in my decision making and c) at the same time being wide open for the opportunities. In other words, letting go of how everything was supposed to happen – because it does not happen as you think it will.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

I’m a huge fan of both being a mentor and having a mentor. Like I mentioned earlier, it was a very skilled life & business coach who helped me in the beginning of my transformation. Ever since that time, I’ve had a coach or a mentor by my side. As a large part of my personal clients hire me for my own coaching and mentoring skills, and they need me on a long term basis, so that must mean it’s giving them a huge benefit back as well.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

The Change Makers and I have been looking deeply into this question. Looking at what is causing the so-called ‘Glass Roof’, and why are having, still to this day, such a big gender pay gap? Despite the fact there have been more women graduating from Universities for decades.   Iceland is the first country in the world putting an equal gender pay into law, demanding all businesses and organisations with 25 employees or more to go through a Gender Pay Gap Certification process, with the goal to irradiate pay gap in 2023. –

Yes, one might think that the country that has been seen as the country with the best gender equality in the world for 9 years has despite that fact, not managed to close the gap.

We – The Change Makers- see this as a deep bias cultural issue. The #MeToo revolution is showing us clearly, that the culture we have in one way or another been accepting, is no longer an accepted behaviour.

I would like to see workplaces giving space for deeper conversations about the hidden bias that we all have – both men and women.   It takes a courageous leader to start the process and open up to these types of conversations. The managers / leaders that will find the courage to do so, will be the ones that will get the positive change they want to see in their environment. Making both their team thrive from the inside out, because they feel they matter — no matter which gender, race or religion.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Having given birth to and raised two amazing human beings who are healthy and independent individuals, empowered to live their live to the fullest, is without a doubt my biggest achievements. All international fame, awards or recognitions fall short and mean little when you have been able to achieve that.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

As we are talking right now, I have few major projects ahead of me. I’m being asked to advise other nations on how to move their gender equality work forward, based on the work Iceland has developed throughout the years for gender equality. I’m doing several events in San Francisco with 3 other European women, transformational leaders – coming together to share our journeys ‘From Worrier to Warrior’ around the Wisdom 2.0 Conference late February 2018. My Change Makers and myself will be on a special discussion panel at the Impact Leadership 21 Global Summit held at the UN HQ March 5th, we are so honoured to be asked to share our wisdom. These challenges do take time, and as they have such a deep meaning for me, it doesn’t really feel like a challenge. I guess the challenge for me on this journey is to make sure I take super good care of myself, that includes continue my daily meditation, time for myself and space for my own growth.

My goal for the future is to continue to empower humans to become the change they want to be in the world.

Follow Rúna via her website, Instagram and Twitter

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