Lisa Robbin Young

[Editor’s note: This is the next installment in a series of posts. Each year since November, 2010, I've posted an annual re-cap of my happenings and a projection of things to come.  If you're ambitious, curious, or just plain bored, you can find the previous posts here: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 ]

For six years now, I've been selecting a theme to carry me into the new year. I'll get to this year's theme shortly, but before I do, let's look back at the crazy, effed-up, wonderfully horrible year we called 2015.

2015 Sucked Hard, But I PLANNED It That Way... Sort Of.

Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness. - Brene BrownThe theme for 2015 was Compassionate Determination, which was about creating my own niche, living as myself more consistently, and not wearing so many masks in my life and work. As I mentioned in my previous post, it's about progress, not perfection, and being consistent met with more challenges than I anticipated. I'll admit that sometimes I forgot it. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the day to day of working and living. I think John Lennon said "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" and that was a clear reflection of 2015. So much "life" happened.

Here's my recap of my 5 Key Areas of Success:


From a financial perspective, 2015 was awful. My total business income was roughly $3k.

Nope, that's not a typo. I didn't leave off a zero. Yes, it's scary to admit that.

Three thousand dollars. $3,000. USD.

And if I hadn't planned on it, everything else would have sucked, too.

Some would call me "lucky" and say that because I had a husband to "take care of me" I didn't need to make any money. But that's not true. My business has to stand on its own - without sucking money out of our family finances. I paid myself for the work I did during the year, and still managed to have one of the most profitable years on record (percentage-wise) in my business because of the strategies I implemented in 2014. Profitability, for me, is not just about the money anymore. It's about the quality of life.

Two things I knew I wanted to accomplish this year: re-focus my brand and get my album, The Fine Line, out into the world. A good portion of my income this year came in during my work on the web series $30 Days to $5k. It might be a spoiler to tell you that I didn't hit that goal, but the experiment in offering paid entertainment programming was a big success. I filmed a 30 day reality-type series and offered it for about what you'd expect to pay for a season of your favorite TV show. It was one of my biggest-selling offers of the year. People who watched it said they got a lot out of it and it gave them a deeper insight into what really matters to them as well as  who I am and how I operate in the world.

As for re-focusing my brand, well, that wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. I began my online coaching journey about 10 years ago, working with direct sellers almost exclusively. In fact, Direct Sales Classroom and its flagship program, Direct Sales 101, still serve clients from all over the world, even though I don't promote that website much at all. People still find that site via search engines, which speaks to how well it's positioned in the marketplace, despite my lack of attention through the years.

A few years ago, as my audience expanded, I started waffling back and forth, working with all kinds of entrepreneurs. Best selling authors, direct sales leaders,  and even people who have chronic health problems have come to me seeking new ways to reach more of their right people using the internet. It made it very difficult to clarify who I help best. As a result, I had clients all over the map, and I couldn't figure out their common denominator in a way that would allow me to speak to them with confidence and clarity... something I'm pretty good at helping other people do.


"I ran away in shame and pride, but the echo in my heart keeps telling me to try." - What Love Can Do

So, 2015 was the year I dug in and got market clarity. I researched, tested, tweaked, interviewed, listened, and spent countless hours honing in. Some would say I spent too much time listening, and not enough time "shipping", but I disagree. I debuted the first season of "Creative Freedom", launched two new training programs, an album, and the aforementioned paid web series. Add to that my music videos with Des, and it was a pretty full year - it just wasn't focused on making a lot of money. It was focused on testing the market, validating demand, and really listening to what my audience was telling me.

So often entrepreneurs, especially creatives, throw so much spaghetti on the wall they don't have time to see what's really sticking because they're too busy cleaning up their mess. Chaotic Creatives want everything to show up a certain way. Linear Creatives want results YESTERDAY, and Fusions want it all.

In that pursuit, there's a lot of rushing, a lot of hurry, a lot of "hustle" that, frankly, can kill you, and I wasn't having any of that.


conniewonniehamsterwheelOn the physical fitness front, I learned a lot about what triggers me as an emotional eater. I learned that I have cycles of "bad eating choices" that coincide with school breaks. In short, when the kids are home, I stress out and eat more... or at least, I did, until I figured that out. Now, I'm spending more time in my new office (more on that in a bit), and less in the kitchen - which was the hub of activity in our old house. I'm inching my way down the scale, and I'm buying smaller clothes. All good signs in my book.

I also watched "the hustle" nearly ruin four colleagues last year. They all hit major financial milestones, but their health and mental well-being fell apart. One nearly died from a burst appendix because they were "playing through the pain" to complete a project launch. Sure, they hit six figures, but it cost them a lengthy hospital stay in the process. Another pushed so hard to launch her program and hit seven figures (while she was pregnant and due any day), that after it was all over, she spent a week doing nothing but waking up, feeding the baby, and going back to sleep. She admitted to being depressed, unmotivated, and exhausted.

Gee, I can't imagine why.

To be clear: they were not my clients. I don't advocate that kind of approach. The "push. push, push" approach to "fast cash" attacks the heart of what it really takes to build a profitable, sustainable business. Sure you can work like crazy (well, some people can), but then you have no life. I remember the great Jazz vocalist, Wesla Whitfield, once saying that people told her she'd never have a career in Jazz if she stayed in San Francisco. She replied "That's right! I'll have a life!"

This fabulous woman - who was paralyzed by a shooting in her twenties - is a staple in Jazz music, with over 500 songs in her repertoire, dozens of albums to her credit, and a musical legacy that has inspired people all over the country. She's been doing what she loves for decades, despite her circumstances, and making a good living doing it.

That is what profitable and sustainable looks like. Yes, it's glamorous to brag about making millions of dollars in less than half a nanosecond, but that's not the norm. Not for creative entrepreneurs who are in it for the long haul.

And I am.

tajciOn the mental fitness front, I challenged myself and read over 25 books this year - and not all of them non fiction! I spent time with Shakespeare's sonnets and whole lot of Dr. Seuss, alongside helping Lewis Howes and Michael Port launch their new books into the world last fall.

In the process, I got inspired to write another book, which is nearing completion. Creative Freedom is a how-to book specifically for Creative Entrepreneurs who want to make good money doing what they love serving an audience that loves them right back. I spent a good part of the year meeting, interviewing, and learning about all kinds of creatives, which led me to develop my Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Type Quiz. Hundreds of people have taken the quiz and it's been a big help to my research for the book.

I also met some really fascinating people (that's me and Tajci Cameron in the photo), reconnected with some old friends and colleagues, and had some challenging conversations about race, gender, diversity, and inclusion. I was really proud of myself for NOT shying away from those conversations, which I might have done in previous years, just to avoid conflict. Being myself, fully and completely, means being willing to speak my truth, in love, with the people that matter most to me.

That wasn't always easy this year.

Family & Freedom

DidItAnywayWhich brings me to the hardest subject of the recap. The people that matter most to me. As I mentioned in my last post, 2015 was a long slog at figuring out what really matters. What's staying, what's going, and all that jazz. We talked early in the year about relocating to Nashville, but that didn't happen. Lots of emotional baggage and childhood trauma reared its head. Tempers flared. Things were said. We survived it. The upshot was my need for freedom. To be mobile, agile, and able to travel. I need people. My husband doesn't. He's content to live like a hermit. I am not. So we bought a house (which actually saved us a good deal of money every month),and upgraded my car.

Then, I asked my husband for a divorce.

I don't say that glibly. There's no joy in that sentence. It's taken years to make this decision, and I didn't make it lightly. I truly love my husband and want nothing but the best for him. Even after 12 years together (10 as a married couple), our wants and needs are still in opposition to one another, and that's painful for both of us. If one of us is happy, the other is frustrated or feeling anxious, which doesn't make it easy to be married to each other. I want him to be truly happy, in a meaningful relationship with someone that is in alignment with what he wants and needs. I want that for myself, too.  I believe we'll both have happier, more enjoyable lives if we're not married to each other.

"My wounds are deep, I can't deny. And the salty rivers flow down my face 'til they run dry." - What Love Can Do

So while I intended to take only a month off for the move last fall, it turned into a season-long hiatus because of depression, fear, and other emotional baggage that I had to work through to come clean in my relationship with my husband. There's no need for commentary, and we're still in the early stages of sorting this through. We're committed to doing this our way as much as possible - focused on doing right by our son, giving him the best possible environment in which to thrive, with no mud-slinging, fighting, or passive-aggressive behavior. We're still in the same house. We're still co-parenting, and for now, there are no plans to change that. I'm sure that will evolve as time moves on, but for now, that's where we're at and it works for us.


SmallcoverThe new album is out in the world and has already outperformed my last two albums combined. That was a huge leap of faith for me. I can't tell you how many people (friends and family alike) told me that it was a bad idea to do an album of pop-infused jazz and blues tunes. Nobody will buy it. Nobody will listen to a jazz version of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" or Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" - well, maybe once, but who's going to listen to it over and over again?

Apparently at least three times as many people as bought my last two albums combined.

I can start breathing again.

"I heard a whisper on the wind and an echo in my heart tryin' to tell me to begin." - What Love Can Do

I put a lot of time and effort into this album. After spending several years working myself to the middle of 300 songs, and bringing Des on board as a permanent fixture last year, it was time to put the album to bed and get it out into the world. But it didn't exactly go as planned.

All kinds of things tried to thwart our progress. I got sick several times and ended up not being able to record the vocals until after we completed the move. We kept pushing back the launch date until, finally, I bumped it to 2016, just to be sure I could get the project done.

After getting sick a few more times during and after the move, I recognized the tell-tale signs of an upper-limit problem. So I focused on extreme self care for the remainder of the year, just so I could finish the album.

Mission accomplished.

2015 gave me exactly what I asked of it, even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted.

I expect 2016 will be more of the same. I just turned 41, and women keep telling me that your 40's are the best years of your life, So I'm going to try and hold them to it. I've got new tools and support options launching this year, and I'm getting closer and closer to the core of ME.

My goal this year is to come to terms with my divorce with grace and compassion (for both of us). In the process, I've still got work to do: a summer concert tour, a new group coaching program for creative entrepreneurs, and of course, the launch of Creative Freedom - the book and the second season of my web show. Oh, and I'll be studying acting with Kevin Spacey this Spring, booya!

Those are just the tip of what appears to be an exciting iceberg for 2016.

Let's pray we don't run aground, okay?

"Once again your love is calling with the words, so gentle, and so clear." - What Love Can Do

My 2016 Theme: Radiance

It's about stepping up, stepping out, and shining my light for all my world (or at least my right audience) to see. It's scary, but it's also pretty freaking awesome. I already have a great story to share (but I'll save it for the next blog post). It takes a certain level of clarity, confidence, and courage to show up every day as yourself - warts, sparkles, and all - without letting the world deter you. The good news is, you already know how, because it's born in you. You were made to be you. And I was made to be me. And that's exactly what the world needs. Judy Garland said it's better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rater version of someone else.

That is what I'm up to in 2016.

My 2016 Theme Song: What Love Can Do

It's a work I began in earnest last year: peeling off the layers of dust and debris, practicing showing up as me - even if people might find the real me a bit to their disliking. As luck would have it, the more me I shared, the better my friendships became - even if we didn't always see eye to eye. Relationships got real. People drew nearer, and they didn't run screaming for the hills as I feared they would.

That's the power of love - loving yourself and putting as much time and energy there as you do any of your other relationships. For decades, I didn't. I put everyone else before me. I even taught this stuff, for pity's sake, but we often teach what we most need to learn. Turning and returning to a place of love and loving service (to myself and others), that is what I choose to radiate in 2016.

What about you?

[Note: this is the condensed version of my annual year in review. A more in-depth piece is coming next week, but since today is a special day, I thought this was timely and appropriate.]

I "broke" my first resolution ON New Year's Day. I don't tend to take them too seriously, but since it's a cultural tradition, I try my hand at considering waht would really serve me during the new year. One of those things is to eliminate gluten from my diet completely (long story).

But as we rang in the new year, I was happily munching on a cookie or something.

2016 is already reminding me that it is about progress, not perfection.

Since today is my birthday, and it's only a few days after the new year, it's always a great opportunity for some personal reflection. I was ready to shed my skin and embrace more of my true self in 2015. I was turning 40, and dammit, I was gonna be myself whether people liked it or not.

Shedding skin means friction

What I forgot was that, in order to shed skin, there's a lot of writhing and friction before you emerge victorious with more wiggle room. I wasn't ready for all the writhing, all the friction, and all the other things, people, etc. that I had to let go of that we're part of my "old skin". As a result, 2015, though punctuated by some pretty awesome experiences (like finishing my album (on sale now!), getting a car, meeting new friends, and reconnecting with some old friends), was mostly a long slog at figuring out what gets to stay and what will go when the shedding is complete.

I don't regret the work, and I am certainly ready for more peace and ease this year. 2015 was hard and painful for me, but I am choosing to see the friction and writhing as a necessary step to the beautiful re-emergence that 2016 promises to hold.

No regrets, just more compassion

This year, however, I am practicing more compassion with myself. Instead of expecting that things "should have already happened by now" I am setting the intention to just be where I am as much as possible and own the truth of my life and work. It is what I've chosen to make it, for better or worse. There will always be someone who doesn't get it, doesn't like it, or doesn't care. I am not living and working for them. I am living and working for me... and the people who love and need me most are the ones who don't want a watered down, bastardized version of me. They need me to be 100% Lisa.

So that is my real New Year Resolution: to show up as honestly and authentically as I can in each moment - without masks, without fakery, warts and all (and sparkles, too!). I can't promise it will always be pretty, but I will do my best to always be real.

Reality is messy sometimes. It's how we clean up the mess that shows our true nature. (tweet this)

The best gift you can give me...


In my book, The Secret Watch, I wrote that "the best gift you can give is time and attention" - and that's all I want for my birthday. Hop over to iTunes (or your preferred music outlet) and give my new album a listen. If you like it, rate it, share it - heck, even buy a copy or two). Let the world know about the precious people who helped make this project possible. At last count something like 30 people helped bring this project to life in one way or another, and it wouldn't have happened without each and every one of them. And BECAUSE I had so much help, this album is leaps and bounds beyond the quality of my last two projects. I'm just So humbled and grateful for the work that everyone put into making #TheFineLine such a world-class project.

That's my birthday wish for me. Now, my wish for you:

May you have an exceptional year filled with all the wealth, faith, truth, beauty, love, justice, and peace you can handle.

Happy New Year. #BringItOn2016

Shazam! My audition in Detroit for The Voice went better than I expected, although I did not get called back. It's always fun for me to go to "The D" and this time was no exception. I learned some powerful business lessons during my long wait in the audition line (post coming soon), plus I met a childhood friend of Anita Baker who designs Mustangs at Ford! We had a fun time connecting and learning about each other. Hooray for new friends!

Speaking of, this week's video is actually a request from my facebook page. Jessica-Lynn Sage asked about hiring help in your business. Her big concern was in being able to trust someone else to handle the work and "let go" of doing it yourself.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect, since I've been working on my photo shoot for the new album (and website). This week's episode of Creative Freedom gives you the low down on how I sourced and "hired" the team for this shoot.

But there's something else I didn't include in the video that's also important...

How different types of Creatives hire help

In my research, I've been exploring the three different types of creative entrepreneurs (a quiz is coming soon!), and each one has their own sets of challenges. Chaotic Creatives look for people they trust with their vision and the direction they're trying to go as creative individuals. Linear Creatives are more concerned with getting results NOW - and getting the "right people on the bus" as Jim Collins would say. I'm a Fusion Creative, so I tend to walk the line between the two. Results are important to me, but I also don't want people to deviate too far from my vision, so I'm willing to forego some short-term results for a better overall project at completion. Understanding your Creative Entrepreneur type will help you know what to look for in hiring your support staff, as well as your temporary team members, like my photographer and stylist for this shoot.

Chaotic Creatives want to see their vision carried out in exacting detail.

Like the contract riders rock stars have for "green skittles," Chaotic Creatives want to adhere to the vision above all else - no exceptions or deviations. It's that kind of exacting, demanding nature that makes Steve Jobs both a brilliant mind and a jerk.

Because my vision included some specific shots I wanted, and a certain look and feel, I put together a pinterest board of ideas and inspiration. I put the call out on Facebook for a photographer (Thanks Heidi!). I shared that board with everyone, and made sure they were in sync with what I was trying to achieve. I actually had someone that didn't like my idea - so they were off the team. I knew my direction for the project, and didn't want to deviate.

Linear Creatives are more concerned about hitting the deadline or budget goal

At the same time, I didn't want to wait around for months to make this happen. We had already been negotiating a shooting date for a few weeks, and I know it takes a bit more time after the shoot to get the raw photos processed. So I really wanted to have it all hammered out before school got out on June 9.  When my original venue fell through, the photographer suggested an alternate outdoor location. She recommended and secured a stylist, and we finally booked June 8 (we couldn't have cut it much closer, right?).

Linear creatives tend to focus on structures, routines, and processes. Above all else, don't deviate from the system (versus the vision), because the system works. It's the kind of strategic creative thinking that made Edison a genius in the lab, but a social misfit with his own family.

Fusion Creatives are willing to be flexible if the final outcome is in integrity with their vision

When it rained the day of the shoot, the outdoor venue wasn't viable, so we punted, opting for an indoor location for almost all of the shots (Thanks, Ted!). The indoor venue provided a lot of great images we couldn't have gotten anywhere else, and my willingness to be flexible on the results made it possible to complete the project without dealing with rescheduling.

A true Chaotic Creative wouldn't negotiate on the details like that, while a Linear Creative would be more interested in meeting the deadline more than the creative vision. I fell somewhere in the middle, allowing for and trusting flow, but still making sure I got the key shots I wanted for the project.

For example, there was one shot I was insistent on having, and if we couldn't do it that day, I was willing to do it another time with another photographer if need be. Gratefully, mother nature cooperated in the end. The skies cleared up and I stood out in the middle of traffic while Heidi snapped the shot that will likely be the album cover. I like to think it was my flexibility that gave us the better weather near the end of our shoot.

How do you "let go and trust" when it comes to hiring your team?

Whether you're paying for help, or just getting started with asking for help, whether it's a long-term or short-term hire, you need to be able to trust that your team will do what you've asked them to do. The video outlines a few ideas, but did I leave anything out? What else should Jessica-Lynn know about getting help in her business? Leave a comment and be part of the Rising Tide for all the creative entrepreneurs in our community!