CEO Shuronda Robinson discusses the importance of communication and mindfulness in business.
Photo by Dwayne Hills.
In 1995 Adisa Communications served its first client, the Austin Area Urban League. I was so proud to be in business working for an organization with such a powerful legacy and mission. That experience taught me the importance of aligning our mission and purpose with that of our clients. Alignment is key to everyone’s success.
Twenty-five years later, we are an award-winning full-service communications firm specializing in public relations, community engagement and media relations. Our company is named after the West African Yoruba name Adisa, which means “one who makes himself clear.” I proudly sit in the C-Suite as a third-generation entrepreneur who has developed a firm that not only services Texas-based companies, but also corporations, public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations across the globe.
However, the success I experience today did not come easy. As a Black businesswoman in Austin, I quickly learned that I had to be adaptable and over deliver in order to keep the doors open. In the early days of building the firm, I experienced racism and lack of opportunities—we were often hired to “talk to Black people” or fulfill a contractual requirement. We fought hard in the early stages, and still do today, to be seen as creative professionals who can solve big business and societal problems. And, even in this moment, it is my hope that the global awakening surrounding structural and societal racism will usher in more opportunities for business owners like me.
Despite the obstacles, I remain passionate about running an organization that truly makes a difference for the clients and communities we serve. I attribute my passion to growing up in a business-oriented family that proudly owns and operates a community newspaper in Houston.
Also, being in business for myself allowed me to set my own priorities about being a mom. I started working from home at a time when it “wasn’t the cool thing to do” so that I could pick up my boys from school, fix dinner and help with school activities. All but one has flown the coop, and I am grateful to myself for taking that time with them.
From the very start of my entrepreneurial journey I have always believed that I didn’t have any competition—I only had to be myself and continue to improve my leadership and skills. After being in business for a few years and initially failing to achieve my goals, I learned how to build a great team composed of people who are passionate about fulfilling our mission, which is to create more peace and beauty on the planet. I began to study other CEOs and leaders. I also worked to understand the importance of building a strong culture. It’s an integral part of our DNA—to care deeply about the people and places where we work. Service to others is how we market ourselves. We believe that givers gain.
Today we are able to take on complicated assignments that require innovative approaches and solutions. I am proud of the fact that we empower our clients and the communities they serve through impactful communication campaigns. My team is a diverse group of special people (right now we are all women) who are committed to their own personal and professional growth. I see it as my role to create a space for them to learn, make mistakes and express their innate genius. I am more of a coach than a manager, and as a boss I am keenly aware that I set the standard. It’s tough work to do every single day—to be “on” and to know that everyone is watching. But I love that part of being my team’s leader, and it pushes me to live our mission of peace and beauty.
My team will tell you that I push, cajole, play and do whatever is necessary to pull out their best selves. For the past year or so, every Monday morning, I’ve hosted a “mindfulness hour” where we delve into a topic surrounding self-development, universal principles of truth and reflect on our own practices of personal development. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
When I first started my company, no one told me that entrepreneurship is akin to a spiritual journey. Being in business for yourself tests your character, your faith and your level of discipline. But I think most importantly, I’ve had to learn how to take care of myself first in order to keep serving others.