You must be prepared to convince others that your product is the best because so far you are the only one who believes in it 100%. — I learned that just because I tell someone it is a great product, that will not turn into a sale. You must learn how to effectively communicate to the public and convince them that trusting a new brand before the crowd is the right thing to do.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. Mcdonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the mcdonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen d. Fultz-Robinson, Esquire.
Karen d. Fultz-Robinson is an attorney in Tampa, Florida who practiced law for over 20 years when she decided to explore fashion design in sports apparel. Ms. Fultz-Robinson practiced civil litigation in Georgia and Florida before she joined academia at Thomas KM. Cooley law school’s Tampa bay campus. In 2013, Ms. Fultz-Robinson became a marathoner which is when she created a provisionally patented athletic apparel line. During the pandemic, Ms. Fultz- Robinson decided to make a full pivot to invest into the second chapter of her life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Fultz-Robinson was loved and mentored by her mother who was motivated by ensuring the success of her children. Fultz-Robinson is the last of 8 children and first to graduate from college and obtain her law degree in her family. Fultz-Robinson is driven by her admiration of her mother who demonstrated that all can be achieved by dedicating the time, research and the proper purpose.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is “be still and know I am god”. That quote resonates throughout my soul. With meditation and focus on god’s purpose and plan for my life creates the clarity to see the messages conveyed by my mother to reach for the stars in all that I do.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Top three qualities:
1. Commitment to my purpose on this earth
2. Respect for others
3. Help others in each of my achievements
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
The first chapter of my life involved practicing law and teaching the law to the next generation. During my career I explored all high-level opportunities to ensure for myself that I experienced all that I wanted to achieve in the field. I worked for a federal judge in Detroit as a judicial intern while in law school. After graduating, I started my own practice and then joined a national firm where I later became the only African American female partner at that time, and then transitioned into academia. I served as a professor and then accelerated to the position as assistant dean before returning to the practice of law full-time.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
During my career climb, I always asked myself and others “what’s next?”. I knew that I wanted to explore a creative side and find a way to push myself harder. Through my journey for a healthy lifestyle and running, I designed and developed the observamé® line of athletic apparel.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
The need to achieve a greater purpose in life.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
I rely heavily on mentors who are more successful than myself to help guide me through my life. My mother became ill and passed away in 2019. She was my rock. Even through her battle with dementia, she would speak to me, with clarity from her bed and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I learned that we don’t have to have only one dream. Once I decided that the sports world was missing a key ingredient to making a work-out easier, I put pen to paper and started sketching out the idea and a plan of action as I would if I was preparing for trial in a big case.
My patent attorney suggested that I not only register the idea but work to bring it to the market. Many setbacks occurred, but I remain focused on the ultimate goal: to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle which in turn helps with a healthy mind set.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
Now that I have changed my focus to the company on a full-time basis, the product line has improved 110% and we have created more product lines to give the consumer a complete experience. We have the great opportunity to join an on-line site for the sale of our designs which is exciting too.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom, the examples above show how instrumental she was in who I am today!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
Yes, remain focused on your goals and purpose. Know that you are the worst person to tell yourself “no”. Also, stopping is failure and failure is not an option.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
My husband has been critical in my support system. He has reassured me of my ability to make this happen. He has truly stepped in where my mother left off. My mentor circle has also been critical to keep going with this new dream and endeavor.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
I spent a lot of time meditating, praying and journaling to see it in print and make it a reality. I had a career coach who always stressed the importance of writing down your goals and to create a realistic timeline. He explained that the written plan generated self-accountability. Inherently and unconsciously, we don’t want to disappoint ourselves. When you write it down with a due date, you strive harder to make it happen.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be patient — you want everything to happen yesterday, especially success
2. You must be prepared to convince others that your product is the best because so far you are the only one who believes in it 100%. — I learned that just because I tell someone it is a great product, that will not turn into a sale. You must learn how to effectively communicate to the public and convince them that trusting a new brand before the crowd is the right thing to do.
3. Self-doubt will creep in, but don’t let it win — you start a business on cloud 9 and can only imagine great things when you come off of the heals of a successful career in your first chapter. You forget how your first career also had humble beginnings which leads me to the new lesson.
4. You have to start from the beginning –
5. Hone your marketing skills-
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?
Investment into the development of better resources for those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, etc.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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 if we tag them. 🙂
Oprah Winfrey and Sara Blakely:
I followed Sara Blakely’s career for several years before I developed or designed the observamé® apparel line. I was motivated by her red backpack story (her trip to Nieman Marcus) and how she is a self-starter. A chance to sit and chat with Ms. Blakely will be amazing to learn more about her life and career experiences at the beginning of spanx.
I have always wanted to ask Oprah Winfrey — — “how did you do it?” I would like to hear more intimate details about how to navigate the waters in a field that has many obstacles made to prevent or delay your movement. I admire her grace, and more importantly, her commitment to kindness to others regardless of her stature in life.
As I said above, I always seek to have mentors more successful than me and I am not referencing money as the focal point of that success.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!