Jennifer Lynn Robinson Of Purposeful Networking: “Remove the naysayers”

Remove the naysayers. There are always people around you that will tell you that you cannot or should not do something. They do not need to be in your inner circle. Example: People told me not to leave the law and not to start a business. Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand […]

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Remove the naysayers. There are always people around you that will tell you that you cannot or should not do something. They do not need to be in your inner circle. Example: People told me not to leave the law and not to start a business.


Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Lynn Robinson.

Jennifer is founder and CEO of Purposeful Networking. Her expertise is in strategic networking, communications, public speaking, and workplace relations. She is also a TEDx Speaker who does motivational speaking on resilience and change.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I was a litigator and a newlywed when I was struck and pinned under a truck as a pedestrian. I almost died and my whole world was changed in an instant. I suffered serious physical and mental injuries including a traumatic brain injury which took me out of practicing law. I had many surgeries and treated for anger, depression, PTSD and cognitive impairments. It was suggested that I did not continue with a career that involved public speaking because it would be difficult for me. I struggled with finding words, memory loss and thinking on my feet. Being in front of an audience is what I enjoy most so I ultimately started a consulting and speaking business. At the beginning it was mostly consulting but as I improved, I grew it into mainly a public speaking business. My goal was to share my story on the TEDx stage, proving to myself I could memorize a timed talk and showing others how they could bounce back from obstacles in their own lives. I was rejected for five years. Right before the pandemic, I was selected to give my TEDx talk. It was to be live on March 17, 2020. And then the country shut down on March 13, 2020. I was given the option to wait a year and see if I could deliver it live on the TEDx stage if covid improved or alternatively to tape it by myself. I taped it in an empty studio during the national shutdown. It was not the TEDx experience I had envisioned but that does not mean it was any less impactful. I felt strongly that people were dealing with so much. Every aspect of people’s lives had been uprooted at once. I had been down that road already with my accident and come out the other side and knew my message could help others. It ended up being a featured talk on TED.com.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I am a big believer that everything in life happens for a reason and exactly as it is supposed to unfold-even if it may not seem that way at the time. My dream in law school was the be a DA (District Attorney). I generally interview very well but when I interviewed for the role it was a disaster. I did not get the job and I was devastated. I took a job at a civil litigation firm so I could still gain courtroom experience. I ended up meeting my husband at that job. If I had not been rejected by the DA’s office, we would have never met. I learned to have faith that although things may not happen in the way you expect or want, there is a greater design to everything. Keep the faith.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I have very much “walked the walk” I ask my clients to walk. As a busy attorney I only networked within the legal community so when I left law after my accident and decided to become an entrepreneur, I had no network outside of that community. I built a name for myself quickly by building relationships and networking. I had no idea how to run a business and had never aspired to be an entrepreneur. So, when I preach the value of networking to individuals and companies and discuss my own background, I am speaking from direct personal experience. I can show them if they follow my advice, they can be successful with relationship building as well.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Although she passed away while I was still in college my grandmother on my father’s side (Mina Perlberger) has remained a constant source of inspiration for me. Her parents and all siblings but one younger sister died in the concentration camps during the holocaust. She lived with her sister underground in a hole hidden on a farm and survived. She kept a diary that was published and became a national speaker who shared her story of resilience until she died.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is a muscle. It is the ability to move forward. It does not mean you have to be able to do it alone. For me resilience also meant recognizing I needed a lot of help to help me move forward. Resilient people challenge themselves and do not maintain the status quo.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

In my opinion “courage” is more about a mindset of confidence or boldness. You need courage in order to be resilient, but you gain more confidence or courage each time you are able to move forward after an adverse situation. The more you develop your resiliency muscle, the more courage you have.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

A close friend of mine passed away suddenly several years ago from a brain aneurysm. She had been an addict well before I knew her, and we had conversations over the years about what she went through to overcome her addiction issues and build better relationships with her children. When she passed, she had just turned 60 and was really living life. I had never seen her happier. She helped me to be vulnerable in sharing difficult portions of my own story such as becoming addicted to sleeping and pain pills. She made me see that sharing my whole story was a sign of strength.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

When I was in the ICU after my accident it was one week before my youngest sister’s wedding. Some family members and doctors would be in my hospital room talking about me in the third person saying I was being unrealistic and would not be able to go to the wedding. In my mind I knew that if I weren’t there, my absence and what happened would overshadow my sister’s day forever. I had rehab in the ICU every day and I asked what I needed to be able to do before they would let me leave in a wheelchair for the wedding. Once they explained those things, I made sure I accomplished them against all odds so that I could be there for the wedding.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Several years after my accident I was started to see improvement and then my mother and mother-in-law died within the span of about a week. My mother was only 61. I really went into a downward spiral which my psychologist explained was “compounded trauma.” For about six months I really was not functioning. There were days that getting up and getting dressed and brushing my teeth was too much. I also gained about 50 pounds from emotional eating. After that I realized I hit really hit rock bottom and did not want to stay there. I started working out regularly and I started my business.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Both of my parents were immigrants, and their families fled their home countries. My father’s family fled Poland following the Holocaust and came to Ellis Island to start a new life with nothing. My mother’s family fled Morocco at a time of anti-Semitism. They said they were going to a wedding in Paris and left their house and everything they had and never returned. Growing up and hearing these stories from my parents and extended family made me feel that I should always find a way to rebuild and pick myself back up.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Remove the naysayers. There are always people around you that will tell you that you cannot or should not do something. They do not need to be in your inner circle. Example: People told me not to leave the law and not to start a business.
  2. Challenge yourself. Set new goals that are outside your comfort zone and work to accomplish them. Each time you will be able to reflect on what you did before that you did not think you’d be able to do. Example: Giving a TEDx talk after five years of rejections.
  3. Give up the idea of perfection and do it anyway. Example: I am not a perfect speaker, but I am an impactful one.
  4. Find your joy. Example: For me, that is boxing. Find something you enjoy and make it a priority in your life no matter how busy you are.
  5. Do not be afraid to fall apart. Example: I learned that I have come through better and stronger after hitting rock bottom.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a program bringing strangers together in person once a month. In today’s world it is easy to hide behind the internet and social media. Truly getting to know people and understanding their views by “breaking bread” is really becoming a lost activity.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Serena Williams. She is someone who inspires me everyday with her work ethic, tenacity, philanthropy, and activism. I would love to talk to her about how she stays so focused, continues to compete at such a high level when she has nothing to prove, and drowns out the media and others who tell her that she can’t. She is my idol.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out my website purposefulnetworking.com or follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @areyounetworked.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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