Episode 40 – Shuronda Robinson, President and CEO of Adisa Communications

Down to her last $35, Shuronda Robinson went scared and leveraged it all to start a hugely successful communications firm. This week, Shuronda sits down with her friend Jessica and talks about the fear of starting something new, the joy in finding your truth, and making the decision to jump into the deep end.

Shuronda Robinson

Untitled Document


Jessica: Hey there, it’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand, Noonday Collection. And this is The Going Scared Podcast, where we cover all things impact, entrepreneurship, and courage.

Today’s show is such a treat. I met Shuronda Robinson on a panel where we were both asked to speak about generosity. And when she shared her story on that panel, I knew she had to come share it with you all. I love that quote by Rumi that says, "If you start to walk on the way, the way appears." And her story truly exemplifies that.

She is the president and CEO of Adisa Communications, a corporate marketing and communications firm. They create clarity for clients around their plans, products, or services, and craft messages that deliver a comprehensive, relevant—and in a responsible way.

She is truly a master at facilitating tough conversations and leading to greater clarity and productivity. In 2009, she founded the Joyful Living Center to encourage individuals and organizations to build their organizations in harmony with their heart’s desire. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that today.

This week, we are continuing our series of shows that dig into what it looks like to take a dream and make it happen. Maybe it’s a goal in your life, maybe it’s a business, maybe it’s a nudge that you laid down after the kids came, whatever it is, this conversation is definitely going to encourage you to give it a go.

So, I wanted to hear a little bit about the story behind your story. I’ve already given the listeners an intro to your businesses and what you do now. But there is something about the purpose and the missions and the values that you’re living into that I want to know more about how you grew up. Tell me a little bit about your background.

Shuronda: Sure. Well, I’m originally from Champaign, Illinois. And my family moved to Texas when I was in the sixth grade. So, I like to say, now, I say "ain’t" and "y’all" like the rest of the Texans. But I was really fortunate. I have two brothers. My younger brother is deceased and one sister. So, it was a very balanced family, two boys, two girls.

And my parents decided when I was in middle school to go into business for themselves. They started a weekly newspaper in Houston. And so, I grew up in an entrepreneurial-type family and working for a newspaper. And that really shaped my view of the world and the importance and power of story and the narrative.

And I learned a lot of skills. I was telling my team a couple of weeks ago, I feel like I’ve got my MBA by the time I graduated from high school because I grew up working in the company. I didn’t know that then because I was very resentful working for free.

Jessica: Yeah. You’re like, "How come I’m not out there playing?"

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. Well, I wanted to be a waitress because all my friends were waitresses, which means that they had tip money in high school. And I worked for my parents and like, they didn’t pay me. You know, they were like.

Jessica: They’ve got tip money there.

Shuronda: Exactly, you get to eat.

Jessica: You’re earning your keep.

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly.

Jessica: OK. And so, your parents come from, sort of, this communications background, is that what got you interested in the path to now having a career in communication?

Shuronda: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, being exposed to writing and photography and, you know, the power of the narrative and the message, and being able to communicate and articulate that, both, you know, verbally and in the written format, as well as visually is something that was very natural to me by the time I left home.

Jessica: OK. I wanna jump forward now many years. I don’t know how many years. After high school, you started your business and you shared a story on the panel that day that was such a beautiful picture of a “going scared” moment. And I wanted you to share a little bit about your beginnings.


Going Scared from Scratch

Shuronda: Sure. Well, you know, I started my company in ’95. And then, in about 2004, 2005, I was headed towards divorce. And so, I took "a break" and I went to work for another consulting firm. So, I didn’t have the pressures of running a business.

And I did that for two years. And then, I restarted the company in 2007. And I had an opportunity, you know, I was completely without money. I just moved out. I was restarting my life. I had two young children.

Jessica: So, you’re going through the divorce, you’ve got two little kids with you?

Shuronda: Exactly, and I had this opportunity to work on a project to pitch to Working Mother Magazine in New York with a client. And so, my client said, "Well, will you go with me to New York to help me make this pitch?" And I’m like, "Absolutely." My account was overdrawn. All my accounts were overdrawn. My credit cards were maxed up. And I had no money at all.

But I had a check that the Boy Scouts had sent me. It was a refund check for some kind of registration I paid for my two boys, it was $35. And I knew inside of me that I had to go to New York. I had to be there. I had to support this client. You know, I had to step out there on faith and make my business happen again.

“I had to be there. I had to support this client. You know, I had to step out there on faith and make my business happen again.” Shuronda Robinson on starting from scratch.

And so, I took that $35 check to my ex and asked him to, basically, give me the cash for it. I signed it over to him. And, of course, he was watching the kids for me. He knew I was going to New York and he was like, "You’re going to New York with $35?" And I tell you, I remember standing in the doorway and feeling maybe like two inches tall when he said that, because I was like, "You know, he’s right. This is crazy. This makes no sense, right?" New York is one of the most expensive cities on the planet.

Jessica: I mean, you can’t get out of the airport before spending 35 bucks clean.

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. So, I was really terrified. And that doubt started to creep in, like, "Can I do this?" And so, I called the hotel that I was staying at and I asked them what was the taxi fare to the hotel from the airport. And they said it was about $33. I was like, "OK. I can make it to the hotel." Because I knew once I made it to the hotel that, you know, I could charge on my meals to my room. You know, that I would…my client was paying for my room so I was fine. I just needed to eat while I was there.

And so, I took my $35 and I went to the airport, I got on the plane, and I went to New York. And I got there…you should have seen me when I got into the cab from the airport, watching the fare on the way to the hotel. And when it got to $17, I started to panic. I was like, "OK." And when it got to $20…

Jessica: Like, "I’m not even in Manhattan yet."

Shuronda: Exactly. So, I made it to the hotel and I was able to…I think, the fare was like $32, so I was able to give the taxi driver a tip.

Jessica: I mean, that’s generous right there, girl, because I think I would have given myself permission slip to save my three bucks for the pretzel on the street for lunch.

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. Well, givers gain, right?

Jessica: That’s right.

Shuronda: And so, I walked into the hotel and saw my clients. We went to a reception, ran into a woman from Austin that I knew from another social situation. And she was like, "Hey, you’re from Austin." I’m like, "Hey, yes, we are." "Let’s have dinner tonight." So, I was like, "OK. Let’s go to the hotel restaurant and have dinner because I can charge the meal to my room."

Jessica: That’s right.

Shuronda: So, we had a wonderful dinner. There’s the power of knowing what you want, even when you’re afraid, is so important, it’s magical, right? Because I always say…I learned this from my coach that my conversation is with the universe, that whenever I’m speaking, whatever I’m thinking, my engagement, my interaction, who’s gonna be able to provide the answer to that question is the universe.

“My conversation is with the universe, that whenever I’m speaking, whatever I’m thinking, my engagement, my interaction, who’s gonna be able to provide the answer to that question is the universe.” Shuronda Robinson

Now, the universe does it through people or events or circumstances, but my conversation is always…I’m always asking and telling the universe what I want. And so, at the end of that conversation, she said, "Well, how can I help you?" Because we talked about business and career and all of that good stuff. And I said, "Well, I want to do some work with the State of Texas."

The State of Texas was doing a really huge infrastructure program, which meant that they were gonna need some communication support. And they were spending…the legislature had authorized about $5 billion worth of work. And I’m like, "OK. So, there should be some work in there for me, some opportunity in there for me to do some communication work."

And so, when she asked me that question, knowing that my conversation is with the universe, right? I said, "Well, I’m really interested in doing public utility work. And she said, "Oh, well, I know a guy who just got a huge promotion. Actually, he lives on my street. I’ll connect you with him." He just got a huge promotion to one of the largest public utility firms in the country. And he’s a really nice guy. I’m sure he’d be happy to meet with you and introduce you and, you know, connect you and find out what you do and connect you with any opportunities that he may be aware of."

And for me, that was like a magical moment. I was like, "Wow." I went all the way to New York to meet somebody from Austin, who could then connect me with someone who is in…

Jessica: And who offered generously…because I love that question, "What can I do for you?"

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. And I think, you know, as businesswomen, we have to be able to…even when we don’t think we have anything to offer, we always have something of value to give, right?

Jessica: Yes. And honestly…yes.

Shuronda: And so, to be the person who ask that question is really powerful.


Asking What We Can Offer (and Receive)

Jessica: I have noticed women that ask me that question that were professionally far ahead of me. And I have started to ask that question now even though, you’re right, I am often like, "Well, I don’t think I have anything to give this person." But just the asking of the question creates that space of generosity and of mindshare and of, you know, supporting one another. I love that that was sort of your magic moment.

Shuronda: Absolutely. And you have to know and the power of it for you, right, is to be able to have something to offer, but also to know what you want when you get asked the question, right? Because it’s the universe asking.

“You have to know and the power of it for you, right, is to be able to have something to offer, but also to know what you want when you get asked the question, right? Because it’s the universe asking.” Shuronda Robinson

And so, she asked me the question, I answered, and then, she said, "Hey, I know this guy." And so, the next day, we did our pitch, it went well, and then, we…I was leaving to come back to Texas. And there was some kind of snafu. I was actually gonna be flying back with my client. There’s some kind of snafu that they were having with checking out of the hotel, which means we were rushing to get to the airport on time, which meant that we couldn’t check our bags.

Well, luckily, I had packed the size, you know, a bag that could roll on to the airport. And so, my client was like, "You go ahead. You can make it." They have these huge bags. You know, they had to catch the next flight.

And so, anybody who knows me knows that I will typically be wearing four-inch heels. So, I’m like, "OK. Are you sure you’re good?" I’m like, "I don’t wanna leave my client." She’s like, "No. No. No. Get on the flight." So, I’m running through the airport in four-inch heels, pulling my roller bag. I’m asking these amazing New Yorkers, "Can I go in front of you in the security line? I have a flight to catch." They’re going, "Yes. Please, go." You know, they let me go forward. I run to get on my plane. I make it maybe two minutes before the door is closed.

And I’m so like worked up and out of breath that I don’t even notice the person sitting next to me. We had a three-row seat aisle and he was on the window seat and I was on the aisle seat. And so, literally, I believe airplanes are for sleeping. I just, you know. So, I put my bag up. I plopped down. I strapped myself in and I go to sleep.

But we had a layover in Dallas. So, I wake up before I get to Dallas. We land in Dallas. We don’t get off the plane. We sit there and we take on new passengers. So, what do I do? I’m like, "OK." I’m gonna call some people that I know and see if they know this guy who I just learned about, who I’m going to meet and be introduced to in a couple of weeks so that I can be ready for that conversation.


Universe Moment: Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

So, I am making phone calls and I’m leaving messages going, "Hey, do you know such and such? I understand that he’s a really important figure in this industry and I wanna learn more about his background so I can be prepared. I’m gonna have an introduction…" that sort of thing. And I’m leaving these messages while I’m sitting at the gate on the runway at DFW.

And the gentleman who’s sitting in the window seat after I hang up maybe my third phone call, turns to me and says, "I know that guy." And I’m like, "Whoa. OK. Yes?" And, of course, me, right? "You do?" He says, "Yes." I said, "OK. Well, how do you know him?" He said, "Well, I’m in a leadership position with the Public Utility Commission of Texas."

Jessica: That is so crazy.

Shuronda: This is the organization that is responsible for ensuring that the $5 billion that I talked about gets spent, that they’re making the awards. They’re overseeing this project. And, you know, God moment, right? Universe moment, right? I couldn’t make that happen myself. My network didn’t include anyone who knew him. But because I had the answer, I knew what I wanted, the universe put me in on a plane in the same row on the same day, you know, the day after I got this information about somebody that I needed to connect with.

And, you know, goosebumps to this day, and he said, "Well, you need to meet such and such. He’s a great guy but you also need to meet another friend of mine, who actually has one of the contracts and is gonna need your help. So, I’ll connect you. I’ll only be on this board for another three days. But before I leave this leadership position, I’ll connect you. I’m sure he’ll be happy to talk with you and good luck."

Jessica: Wow.

Shuronda: Wow, $35.

Jessica: Thirty-five dollars.

Shuronda: And it ended up being the contract that got me back on my feet in business.

Jessica: Wow. Wow. So, I have goosebumps right now because I’m contrasting right now, the moment where you’re standing in the doorway, looking at your ex, feeling like you are two inches tall, suddenly filled with major self-doubt. And now, this airplane moment of connection, that God obviously provided.

I want you to take us back to the doorway moment, because I think that’s where a lot of women get stuck. They feel the self-doubt and they start thinking, "Yeah, 35 bucks going to New York? This is crazy. Never mind. I’m just gonna stay small." What do you think in that moment? You talked about, "I knew what I wanted," so what helps you to rise up and what do you say to the woman now listening, who’s had a lot of doorway moments, but hasn’t yet gotten to her airplane moment?

Shuronda: That’s a beautiful and powerful question. And everyone’s answer is going to be different based on their circumstance and based on what is important to them. I think what drove me in that moment was the desire to serve. I just knew I had to be there for my client, that I had to be there to support her and that it was an opportunity and that… At that point in my life, I wasn’t expecting everything to be great and amazing. I do now. But I had to be there to serve and to support.

“I think what drove me in that moment was the desire to serve. I just knew I had to be there for my client, that I had to be there to support her and that it was an opportunity and that… At that point in my life, I wasn’t expecting everything to be great and amazing. I do now. But I had to be there to serve and to support.” Shuronda Robinson

And so, if I could put myself in a place where I was of service to another human being, that I knew that I would be taken care of. And that had been proven to me over and over again in my life. So, I just had to trust that in a way that I had not before. And it paid off.

Jessica: And it really goes back to the generosity, that you were living your life not thinking, "I don’t have anything to give." But you’re living your life thinking, "I have something to offer others and I’m gonna live my life offering myself to other people."

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. You always have value to add. There are no accidents. There are no mistakes. When you are in the presence of another human being, you have something to give them, as well as you have something to receive.


Being Generous to Ourselves and Loving Ourselves Fully

Jessica: That’s right. So, you get back and things start falling into place. You pick up a contract. You pick up more clients. But you are still recently divorced and learning how to single-parent for the first time. And I’ve had a few listeners ask me over the last couple of weeks, "Could you please have someone have speak a little bit more to single-parenting while you’re starting a business?" Can you speak to that a little bit?

Shuronda: Oh, wow. It is the most incredible…the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I do have to say this. I’ve never really considered myself a single parent because my kids’ dad has always been a great partner in terms of parenting.

Jessica: So, I guess, it’s co-parenting?

Shuronda: So, it’s co-parenting but it’s so tough, right? Because, first, I think you go through the guilt, you know, of the relationship not working. And then, for me, I was really concerned about the impact to my kids, right?

Jessica: It was like double guilt?

Shuronda: Right.

Jessica: Because already you have working-mom guilt. And then, now, you have co-parenting guilt or divorce guilt.

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. Because my parents stayed together and I’m like, "Well if they did it, you know, I should be able to do it." That sort of thing. I just think that you have to…what I learned as part of that process is that I had to love myself. And when I left that relationship, I realized, I really didn’t know who I was and I really didn’t love myself in the way that I knew I could. Like, I was always putting other people in front of me and ahead of me. And I wasn’t taking the time to fill my cup, you know, and to explore what was important to me, to explore what made me excited about life.

“I really didn’t love myself in the way that I knew I could. Like, I was always putting other people in front of me and ahead of me. And I wasn’t taking the time to fill my cup, you know, and to explore what was important to me, to explore what made me excited about life.” Shuronda Robinson

And so, I don’t think it’s like necessarily finding a balance. I don’t know if I found the balance yet, but I do know that I am incredibly, incredibly, what most people would call selfish, you know. I’m like, "I do what makes me happy. I do what makes me know that I love myself first." And then, I take care of other people.

And so, co-parenting and, you know, giving up that control, right? And then, training my boys that you have to live in two different worlds, you know? And know how to make that transition and to be able to do it in a healthy way.

Jessica: So, a lot of communication, self-love, and then walking that out with them in an intimate, open way?

Shuronda: Exactly. And you know, I think for me, I needed a lot of validation. I was really insecure about who I was because I hadn’t taken the time to get to know who I was at that point. I was doing all of these things but I wasn’t being like a human being, if that makes sense.

You know, I was really, really busy and really, really, really important and really, really active and, you know. But it was all to keep me from focusing on this, you know, low self-esteem and not…that lack of confidence on who I was.

Jessica: So, what’s that journey of, you know, and I think it’s a… I want listeners to understand that it is a constant journey. You have had many taxi cab moments since where you’re watching the meter and you’re thinking, "Oh, my gosh. I’m not gonna have enough." You know, like, I think women look or listeners look at success… You have 23 years in. You’ve obviously reached a beautiful success in your business. I’ve been blessed with having a lot of success and I think people think of theirs like this arrival point. Right? You know, but it’s…

Shuronda: Right. I’m here. Where am I? I have no idea.


Finding Clarity about What We Want

Jessica: But it’s funny because I experience you as so confident and generous and it’s so interesting to me to hear about those years of insecurities. So, talk us through that process of how you, sort of, un-layer these insecurities and really begin to ask yourself the questions that enabled you to understand what you wanted and to have clarity in your life.

Shuronda: I remember one of the most profound questions, it was when I was feeling really, really depressed. I heard myself asking, "There’s got to be more to life than this, it can’t be just about this pain. What else is there to life?" Right?

So, even in the midst of our negative experience, it births in us if we’re listening, right? If we’re willing, if we have the courage to listen a question that will…that can ultimately lead us to a better life. And so, that was my first question. You know, is there more to life than this?

“Even in the midst of our negative experience, it births in us if we’re listening, right? If we’re willing, if we have the courage to listen a question that will…that can ultimately lead us to a better life.” Shuronda Robinson

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, it’s a good question to ask when you’re at the bottom of the barrel.

Shuronda: Exactly, and the universe said, "Yes. Hell, yes." And then my next question was, "Am I willing,” right? “To let go of what I think my parents want me to be, what I believe society will allow me?" And you know, air quotes. "Allow me to be the picture that I have created of myself? Am I willing to do the work to let that go and to forgive all of those stories and experiences that shaped, you know, this opinion that I have of myself? Am I willing to forgive?" That’s an incredible…that’s a powerful, powerful question.

Jessica: Well, first, too, there’s this awareness that you are living in other people’s narratives, that you haven’t yet stepped into your own narrative. And you became aware that I’m living into a narrative that my parents gave me. Either they gave it to you or just from observation, you naturally grow up thinking, "I’m gonna follow in this footstep of my parents." Or, you’re thinking culture. This is the path that culture tells an African-American woman, "This is the way that you go."

And now, you’re aware of these narratives. And I think only in that awareness can you just begin to go, "Wait. I can write my own story. Time to make my own script."

Shuronda: And that’s what I did. I was asked the question… And so, I hired a coach when I restarted because I knew I needed help. We all have blind spots and I have like, you know, 17,000 of them.

So, I was like, "How do I get help to get to my goal?" Right? And what I want to have in life, without having to experience all those blind spots? Well, when you look at people who are successful, they always have folks in their corner saying, "OK. Go this way. Do this way. Think about it this way." You know, "Get up and exercise." You know, all of those things.

And so, I hired a coach and I started working with the coach, which completely transformed my internal narrative, my internal landscape. And so, one of the first exercises that she asked me to do was to write down what I wanted.

Jessica: I think that is a very hard question. Isn’t that crazy?

Shuronda: It’s so difficult.

Jessica: It is so simple. I was on a leadership retreat a month ago and we were actually going through the biblical narrative. And our therapist on the retreat said, "You know, Jesus wants to know, like, what do you want." I mean, we just sat there with our pens, sort of, still, you know?

Shuronda: Yeah, because no one asks us that. I mean, it was one of the first times in my adult life where I gave myself permission to want something for myself, to even explore the question. And the first three pages I wrote was everything that I thought my parents wanted for me. I didn’t know it at that time. And after I wrote it all out, I was like, "OK. This is who my parents want me to be." And I read it, I was like, "Oh, that’s not my story."

Jessica: Wow.

Shuronda: And then, so, I tore that up or I deleted that and then, I tackled the question again, "What do I want?" And I wrote down everything that I thought, you know, society, my culture would allow me to be and to have. And just going through that process made me aware, made it conscious for me. And I was like, "Wow." And I was so, like, upset. I was like, "I don’t even know what I want."

Jessica: I don’t know what I want.

Shuronda: But it was like peeling back these layers, right? To get to what I want. And then, when I got there, it was so simple. I want to live a life of joy and eat great food and dance. I mean, really, that’s what I want. And it was OK and to make it OK. Once I had that…experienced that evolutionary experience, then I had to give myself permission to have what I wanted, to make it OK for me.

Jessica: And so, that’s one of the first questions. Were there other clarifying questions that helped you during this time to sort of uncover these places of doubt and step into your God-given story?

Shuronda: Well, you know, one of the… So, at that point in my life, I really started getting interested in this whole idea of who I was as a spiritual being, having a human experience. And so, I started to read and to study and to go to seminars and do those, you know, self-help and personal development.

And I remember being in a session with Mary Morrissey and her son, Mat Boggs, was coaching a group of coaches at this point through this question. And also, Paul Martinelli was a part of that conversation. And the question was like around finances, like who are you listening to? Whose narrative have you adopted, you know? And are you listening to people who don’t have any money?

And most of us listen to our parents, right? And unless our parents are like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey, right, they probably don’t do money really, really well. And so, I remember having this like breath-taking clarity around, "I need to fire those people, right, who have given me a formula that does not match my story, does not match what I want. They can’t give me advise anymore." You know, I love ’em, right?

Jessica: Right.

Shuronda: I love ’em to death but you can’t give me advise on…you know, if you don’t have a positive or healthy relationship, I love you, you know, but you can’t give me advise on relationships.

Jessica: Sit at my dinner table…yeah. You can sit at my dinner table but not in my boardroom.

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly. I love that.

Jessica: Let’s chat over wine, but then, when we go into my inner boardroom, I’m gonna have the right people in the right seats.

Shuronda: Exactly. And so, that was mind-blowing for me, that I could actually like not make the authority figures in my life, right? The authority figures of my adult decisions, that I could adopt other authority figures. I was like, "Really? Well, you’re fired. And you’re fired. And you’re fired."

Jessica: Well, I think when you grow up and… You know, I know, I grew up in the South and with a more demure mother who…and with a fiery father. And we did more walk around eggshells in my family around my dad and his goals and his business. And so, I think, there is that level of, yeah, you’ve gotta…you can’t fire the people that are in authority but you can.

Shuronda: Absolutely. I highly recommend it.

Jessica: Yes. I mean, what a great practice for people to even do after listening to this podcast, is to imagine who is in your boardroom right now that doesn’t need to be there and just kind of move into the… move them into your dining table instead.

“Imagine who is in your boardroom right now that doesn’t need to be there and just kind of move into the… move them into your dining table instead.” Jessica Honegger

Shuronda: Exactly. Exactly, and allow yourself the permission and the freedom to do that.

Jessica: That’s right. So, you do talk about this transformation of self-doubt and not having enough self-love. And now, you are continuing in your business. Can you think of another taxi moment that you’ve had over the years? I find it really interesting that before we hopped on this podcast, I said, "You have to share the story about New York and 35 bucks." Because I related to it, because I pawned my gold jewelry at a pawnshop in order to fund Noonday’s first website.

And I remember that day going around the various pawn shops, sweaty palms, you know, a handful of jewelry that my grandma, my mom had given to me. And I have to say I kept that story quiet for years because I had a little bit of shame about it. And you just told me that that was the first time you shared that story publicly. So, tell me a little bit about that. Why do you think you hadn’t shared that story publicly and has that helped you step into your story since?


Honoring Our Story and Letting It Serve

Shuronda: It has. I’m getting goosebumps all over again. You know, one of things that I have come to know about all of the experiences in my life is that they are there to serve, right? They’re there now to serve someone else.

“One of things that I have come to know about all of the experiences in my life is that they are there to serve, right? They’re there now to serve someone else.” Shuronda Robinson

And so, I no longer look at those negative experiences or those positive experiences the same way, right? I look at them as, "Oh, that’s just like another chapter in my book that I get to share with someone that will, hopefully, support and inspire them along the way.

Jessica: I love that.

Shuronda: And a good book has good stuff and bad stuff in it, right? I mean, the hero’s journey is about slaying the dragon and, you know, leaving home and traveling across the ocean and facing your fears. And so, you know, I think part of me adopted this idea way back when I was growing up that I had to be perfect. I don’t know where I got that from, right? And I had to live this life that looked a certain way. And therefore, I was trying to control and manipulate circumstances so that I could have this experience and…

You know, that’s just not the case, it hasn’t been the case for me. So, I now honor my journey and recognize that it is a journey and honor the stories along the journey because the power of the story is what teaches, it’s what heals, it’s what inspires, it’s what moves us.

“I now honor my journey and recognize that it is a journey and honor the stories along the journey because the power of the story is what teaches, it’s what heals, it’s what inspires, it’s what moves us.” Shuronda Robinson

And so, I don’t like it. You know, I don’t like the negative stuff. I don’t like the stuff that I don’t like, but I don’t fight with it in the same way that I used to. I’m like, "Oh, this is just more fodder." You know, a musician would say, "This is just another song being written in my life." Right?

Jessica: Right.

Shuronda: And so, that’s how I see that. And I’ve had plenty of experiences. And I was telling my staff yesterday, we had lunch together, and I was sharing that, you know, once I got through the depression and, you know, started building up my own self-identity and self-worth and being more proactive about how I spent my time and who I spent my time with and really doing those affirmations and talking myself up, right, once I got really a lot stronger and a lot more practiced at that, then I started to take on the things in my life that I was afraid of on purpose, right?

Jessica: Right.

Shuronda: And I was telling my staff yesterday at lunch that I learned how to swim when I was a little girl but I really wanted to learn how to swim laps. And I’ve always been afraid of putting my face in the water and breathing in the water. So, I never really learned how to swim laps and I thought, "Well, you know, I’m getting older. This will be a great exercise that I could do for the rest of my life."

And so, I started taking lessons. And I had my staff laughing at me because I hired an instructor at the Y. And before the class started, a couple of weeks before the class started, I started to get back in the water and like get acclimated to swimming again. But I would swim down from the shallow end to the deep end. And as soon as I got to that point…and anybody’s who’s been in a pool, there’s like a drop-off point where it goes from like 5 feet to 10 feet.


Finding Choices Among Fears

As soon as I got to that drop-off point, I would freak out. So, I guess, I had some experience growing up where I thought I was gonna drown or something like that. I mean, and I would have all this fear come up inside of me. And I would get to the deep end and stand on the little ledge and just do the ugly cry, just sobbing.

And today, I laugh at myself because the poor 16-year-old lifeguard didn’t know what was going on. He was like, "Well, you’re not drowning. You’re just standing up." He was like, "Are you OK, ma’am?" I was like, "Yeah, I’m good. I’m just gonna swim back down and swim back." Because I had to face that fear and work through it, you know.

And now, I can swim laps when I want to, you know. It’s such a powerful meditation for me, quite honestly, to get to the other side of that. So, you know, I think you get to a place once you understand what that emotion is telling you, that the emotion is just telling you, "It’s just a boundary from where you are and where you’re headed." You know, it’s that breakthrough moment.

So, now, I get excited about being afraid, having that emotion of fear come up because, I’m like, "Oh, I’m learning. I’m changing. I’m growing. I’m getting ready to break through to something new." Because fear always happens right before that.

Jessica: That’s right. And there’s so much about reframing that moment of fear. Because, obviously, fear serves us in situations where we’re about to get robbed or we are…you know, the house is about to burn down, get out. But that’s a different kind of fear that serves to push you into the life that you’re meant to live.

Shuronda: And anybody who answers the question, "What do I want?" You know, as you explore that question, you’re gonna hit an edge. You’re gonna hit a boundary and it’s gonna be fear. And that fear is gonna tell you, "You’re not smart enough. You don’t have enough money. You didn’t come from the right family." You know, you don’t even know what it is that you’re…you’ve never done what you wanted before, right?

And that’s gonna keep you stuck. But if you recognize that that’s just information, right? And you can choose how you wanna treat that information, how you wanna handle that information, and don’t ever lose sight of the goal of what you want, then you will evolve your life in ways that you can’t even begin to know right now. So, I just encourage, you know, what do you want? Just, what do you want? What do you want? What do you want? And then you discover who you are.

“If you recognize that [fear is] just information…you can choose how you wanna treat that information, how you wanna handle that information, and don’t ever lose sight of the goal of what you want, then you will evolve your life in ways that you can’t even begin to know right now.” Shuronda Robinson

Jessica: Yeah. As you were talking, I got this picture of that boardroom table where you really…I think when we ask ourselves that question, we have so many other people sitting at that table with us and it’s scary to stand alone. It’s scary to stand alone and yet, I do believe that a hero’s journey comes from standing alone sort of first, you know, to understand what we want, not through everybody else’s lens before we can, kind of, invite other people into that journey with us.

Shuronda: Yeah. You know, I mean, and I love the analogy of the boardroom, right? I think that is so powerful, right? Regardless of if you are an entrepreneur or not, you are the CEO of your life.

Jessica: That’s right.

Shuronda: And so, who are we listening to? What direction are we setting for our lives? Because if we don’t set the direction for our lives, it’s kinda like being on the ocean. You know, we’re gonna go wherever the current goes as opposed to really steering the ship and getting to that…a fabulous island that we wanna be on.

Jessica: So, eventually, you started the Joyful Living Center in 2009. What led you to start that and kind of begin to share your journey with others and help them, you know, recognize the current that they’re on.


Finding and Sharing Joy

Shuronda: Well, you know, it started with that question years before, "There’s gotta be more to life than this. Like, what else is there to life?" And then, I got a coach and started understanding the benefits of coaching. And I realized that whenever I would sit down with clients or friends or even people that I didn’t know… It’s so funny, people will tell me their life story when I sit down and talk with them. I love, love, love talking with people and learning about their journey.

I realized that I was doing something in that interaction that had nothing to do necessarily with the problem that they were presenting, the circumstance that they were dealing with. And they would leave feeling better. They would leave feeling more empowered. They would know the answer to their question, you know, or how to solve the challenge that was in front of them.

And I wanted to be good at that because I knew that it was gonna be a skill that I needed for my work and that I could help move people along through their journey by offering a perspective maybe that they didn’t grow up with or they didn’t have or that they needed to have a breakthrough in their lives.

So, I started the Joyful Living Center out of this idea of inspiring others to live their life of joy. And so, now, one of my most powerful questions is, "How is my joy today?" And every time I ask myself or I ask other people that question, it makes us focus on our joy that is eternally joyful. There can be all kind of drama happening in our lives, you know, and in the world, and at work and in relationships, but our joy never changes. Our joy is always joyful. And so, I wanted to create a space where people could connect with that.

Jessica: Yeah. I wanna wrap up but I’d love for you to share how you’re going scared right now.

Shuronda: Well, I have a little secret.

Jessica: Tell us and the thousands of people listening to your secret.

Shuronda: Doing this podcast is me going scared. I’m really in this place in my life right now. You know, my business is 23 years old. I am looking at how I continue to grow it and step away from the role that I’ve traditionally played, so that I can do more of other things that I want, right? That question of what I want is constantly evolving.

And so, because I have done public relations for so long, I’m so used to being behind the scenes, right? And putting my clients out there and having them be front and center. So, like, saying yes to this podcast… I think you saw my face, when you asked me, I was like, "Oh, my goodness." And my insides were screaming, "No. Don’t do it. People will know who you are."

Jessica: But, I bet, you speaking on a public panel in front of hundreds of people and so I just I thought this was your gig because I experience you as a leadership coach-speaker person so, I knew that you were gonna have diamonds for us today and you completely have.

Shuronda: Oh, thank you. You know, stepping out there and speaking my truth is a going scared moment, you know, in a group of people. I can never say no to the Boys and Girls Club. So, when they ask me, I was like, "OK. Yes. I’ll do it."

Jessica: But it was a scared yes?

Shuronda: It was a scared yes. Absolutely. But I loved the feeling of it. And I love the fact that, you know, you can feel when people are shifting. And so, that is the most incredible thing in the world and so I want to do more of that. So, I’m stepping into more speaking and coaching and panels and training and that sort of thing.

Jessica: You just said it out loud to thousands of people.

Shuronda: I know. My conversation is with the universe.

Jessica: To know that truth. And I am so thrilled for you and can’t wait to see what all of this leads to in the next year or so. And I’m so glad that we both live in Austin together. We will definitely be grabbing lunch soon.

Shuronda: I would love that. I wanna see the next line of beautiful jewelry that’s coming out.

Jessica: That’s right. That’s right. Well, thank you so much for the conversation today. I really enjoyed it.

Shuronda: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much, Jessica.

Jessica: Gosh, ever since I heard her story, I think about that moment in the taxi cab. And I’m just wondering, what is your taxi cab moment, that moment that’s standing between what is and what could be? I hope that fear is not what’s keeping you in the cab, keeping you on the sidelines. And if it is, I wrote a book for you. Go check out Imperfect Courage and follow along Shuronda’s journey. You can go check out makingthingsclear.com or you can find her on Twitter, @shuronda, S-H-U-R-O-N-D-A.

I really wanted to thank all of my listeners today. Thank you for the over 600 amazing reviews and ratings. Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend, Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.