She Went from Living on Welfare to Helping People Pursue Their Dreams
This post is part of a series of branded posts sponsored by Verizon. The focus of the series — part of a paid partnership between Verizon and CircleAround — is on women small business owners, and how they are navigating the complexities and challenges of contemporary business, from the pandemic to the economy.
So many of us have aspirations to have a creative life, be it as a singer, writer, artist, actor, or something else. But monetizing your passion can be a challenge, to say the least. There is so much competition out there, and making your creative work a business means carving your own path. Lisa Robbin Young didn’t let the competition get her down. The Girl Scout alum built a career as a performing artist with three full-length albums, as an author with two best-selling books, and as a business coach to help others with similar interests achieve their goals. She is the founder of Ark Entertainment Media, which aims to help creative minds like herself build thriving businesses.
“I grew up in a mixed-race, blended family that lived on welfare,” Young tells CircleAround. “I saw firsthand the effects of raising a family in poverty and the challenges of getting out of that cycle.” Inspired by her own experiences, Young now helps clients who might not otherwise be able to afford help to grow their business.
Ark Entertainment Media has two divisions: a production company that helps clients produce videos, audios, books, and other media for creative entrepreneurs, and a business incubator, where Young coaches and trains folks on how to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what they love.
"It all grew out of my own work as a creative and as other people came to me asking for help, it ballooned from there."
It all grew out of my own work as a creative and as other people came to me asking for help, it ballooned from there.
“The incubator is only a few years old, but we've helped our clients (most of whom started from zero) generate nearly $1M in real revenue for their companies.”
“The biggest rewards, though," she adds, "come from the joy and satisfaction of my clients when they find their book on a bestseller list, or achieve their income goals, or FINALLY achieve a goal they've been struggling with for years."
Young also produces a podcast titled The Creative Freedom Show. Topics include learning about building a business plan hierarchy, figuring out where to devote your energy in competitive markets, and more, with a “real talk” kind of attitude Young says is lacking in the traditional business sector today.
"Get comfortable wth asking for help, because you can't do everything by yourself."
Get comfortable with asking for help, because you can't do everything by yourself.
“For years, I thought I had to. I was from a welfare family. I had no one to put me through college. I've been a single mom, with no one to help with my kids. It was HARD. But when I started reaching out and asking for help, my life and my business became easier to navigate. Don't expect that everyone you ask will be able to say yes, and be grateful when they DO say yes.”
But her favorite piece of advice is a quote from Judy Garland: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else.”
“From my experience, the best way to actually FEEL successful is to stay true to who you are and what you stand for,” she adds. “Success is a destination and you're already there! If you don't like the way success looks and feels today, what will you do to make tomorrow's success different?"
This post is also part of a month-long February CircleAround series, tied to Black History Month — the first since the loud calls for social justice this past summer — in which we asked writers to explore the topic of race in America from a variety of perspectives. The murder of George Floyd last summer catalyzed a national reckoning on race, with many questions to be answered. To see all the posts in the series — including relevant news stories — visit here. And if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to email@example.com or post on our "2021 Inspiration Wall."