About the author.
What have I been up to? I'm glad you asked.

About the author.

This is an independent publication launched in October 2022 by Rob Wahlen.  If you subscribe, you'll get an alert when new content is available.  Thank you for your interest!


(January 5, 2022) - Despite my address, I don’t see myself as being a Midwesterner.  When I moved to Chicago for college, I used to tell myself that if it wasn’t for this city, I wouldn’t live within a 500 miles radius of here.  But this city is an oasis among the less appealing parts of the overall (and very flat) landscape.  It is known as “the city by the lake” for a reason and has enough density to support a host of cultural opportunities, like world class concerts, symphonies, museums, schools, conservatories, and culinary options that could easily take a lifetime to explore.  That is what has kept me here for the past 30 years.  And when it’s time to explore the outdoors, I use the airport as a trailhead. I’m just two hours from the Rocky Mountains, and far less from any sunny destination in Florida or urban options on the east coast.

I’m the father of three kids who are almost exactly four years apart in age, which makes for very interesting transition milestones.  We have applications into 15 colleges for my middle child (who is a HS senior) and two applications into high schools for my youngest (now an eighth grader).  My oldest is working a few seats down from me in the Chicago office, but uses his artistic and creative talents in fashion design and modeling.  If you’ve scrolled through the menswear section on Abercrombie, Nike.com or any number of Instagram designers, you’ve probably seen my son wearing their clothes.


When there is no plane involved, I’m on Lake Michigan competing in a regatta of Yankee Dolphin 24 sailboats.  I’ve sailed with the same boat partners for about 15 summers, from the first warm day in the spring until the fall winds whip up the lake into a wavy (and frightening) frenzy.  All of them are much older than me, which continually challenges my sailing expertise, sailing vocabulary, and racing acumen.  When I’m on the lake, even in the harbor, it feels like a faraway destination.  And during the last two summers of the pandemic, it was a lifeline of sanity.

Also, while home, I’m tempted by all the new and remarkable restaurant options, plus I’ve invested a small fortune in exploring all that this city has to offer, like Lollapalooza this past summer, Sigur Ros at the Lyric Opera, Coldplay (or U2) at Soldier Field, Fran Leibowitz touring her book at Auditorium Theater, or a Ted Talk at Chicago Ideas Week.  I don’t mind taking in a baseball game, a Bulls game, or a Bears game.

But when there is a plane involved, I’m headed ice climbing in Ouray, back country skiing up Red Mountain Pass, resort skiing in Telluride, or snow shoeing up a bowl in the San Juans. I’ve walked in from every entrance into the Wind River wilderness area in Wyoming, and I’m always up for a backpacking camping trip if there are mountains involved.  This past year my occasional weekend respite has included water skis on my feet in Winter Haven, FL.

Professional Experience

I’ve tried to escape title, unsuccessfully, for years.  I have a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and held a therapist’s license with an adolescent focus for 6 years.  I’ve also been a climbing wall instructor and took courses in graphic design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when I thought that could be an option.  I also come from a family of wordsmiths, so I used to think I could work for a PR firm or as newspaper journalist.  But I’m still here; and by now I’ve certainly embraced it.  I fell into title at the very end of 1993, and held every possible position since, most recently, as a Regional President overseeing Illinois, New Jersey/Philadelphia and the MidAtlantic states.

Preferred Communication Method

People sitting 6 yards from my desk will email me, Teams message me, text me and leave me a voicemail, all in the matter of a few minutes.  I’ve accepted orders over WhatsApp and LinkedIn.  I’ve even received a few Christmas cards in the mail this year.  Challenge me; I will respond.