Friday, September 7, 2012
Robyn Streisand of Platinum Business Member The Mixx
If you have ever spent thirty seconds in a conversation with Robyn Streisand then you are well aware of how much joy and zest for life she infuses into her interactions and connections with others. The sparkle in her eye, the excitement in her voice, the seemingly tireless energy in her body, all serve to connect, inspire, and enlighten everyone who crosses her path. Her accomplishments in founding the successful marketing company "The Mixx", and co-founding NGLCCNY, are renown. But who is the woman behind the energetic force? What drives her? And what is the next step on her long and winding journey? Please join me for this unique interview with a living legend, community leader, and truly inspirational role model.
Damon L. Jacobs: You have become such an inspiration for me and so many others in our community. Have you always been in leadership roles in your life?
Robyn Streisand: Ever since I was little I had this appetite to try things and figure them out. I was never somebody who followed the rules. I wasn’t afraid to do what I should or should not do. So there has always been this entrepreneurial spirit in me, even though I didn't know what it was then. Right out of school I landed a job in financial services, and never really fit in. There I was, gay as the day, in corporate America with a blue suit and high heels. I was cool with clients because I was into connecting, collaborating, and doing what was best in order to deliver on the results that were needed. And that was the platform for how I did everything thereafter.
Damon L. Jacobs: How then did "The Mixx" evolve?
Robyn Streisand: After I left the bank I started a company called D-Zine with two other women. We saw there was an opportunity to give to clients what I thought was missing from the industry. We built our business on having a fresh and innovative look at problem-solving for clients, and delivering a quality product from a place of good energy and openness around collaborating.
I had that company for a little over eight years. I was in charge of all business development and client relationships. We were young, doing well, and I felt grateful. But I saw over time that we were all outgrowing each other. My partners started to get cranky. There’s this thing about creative people, “It’s not good enough, it’s not creative enough, the photography sucks...” And I was never that way. For me, the glass is always half full - who cares as long you're building a good business and leading a good life and the client is happy. The essence of what we created started to disintegrate. I’m not somebody who wallows in pity or patheticness. You’re responsible for your own destiny and your own happiness. I’m not somebody who complains, I’m someone who takes action.
So I found myself going into work and quitting. I said, “I love you all but I’m done. My happiness and my vitality and my energy is positive and moving forward and it doesn’t seem that that’s where we are at right now.” It might sound ballsy but to be quite honest I woke up the next day thinking, “Holy shit, now what?”
Damon L. Jacobs: Then what?
Robyn Streisand: This began a soul searching about what was next. I found myself realizing I had a passion for the business of developing creative problem-solving with clients and that I was growing older and growing up in this business. It’s cool from an entrepreneurial space to watch yourself evolve and become something else that you didn’t even know was possible.
So I decided to be a freelancer and see if I could take these relationships on the client side, and on the vendor side, and see if I could put a company together. And then it was a matter of what to call it. I did naming for clients all the time so I thought, "Why don’t I do for myself what I do for everybody else?" Six or eight of my friends helped me come up with a name by reviewing the things I love. The first name was “cookie dough.” Then “Madonna,” then “dancing and clubbing”, “the color pink,” any random things. We looked back at the names and dissected what each one meant. It was my friend Fran who looked at “cookie dough” and said, “Maybe we should call it ‘The Mix’.” I’m like, “What an awesome name! People will gravitate toward it." I went to submit it for trademark and learned “The Mix” was taken. What a surprise, why wouldn’t it be taken? I felt defeated, like maybe that was a sign, maybe I should step back and re-look at all this. All of a sudden, one of my friends said, “Maybe we should add another ‘X’.” And at that moment it became clear. This was about love, it was like the two “xx’s” were kissing. And here we are sixteen years later.
We have evolved so much, but the same values we started with are the same values that are literally on my wall now: “Respect, Integrity, Collaborative, Thoughtful, Proactive.” Passion is the spine of the business, and all those words wrap around it. I don’t have anybody working here because it’s just a job. People are here for a reason. It might be to creatively express themselves, it might be to come into their own, or it just might be that they don’t really know what their purpose is and they’re coming here to find themselves. Inevitably they figure it out here. To me, that’s the greatest gift you can give somebody.
Damon L. Jacobs: You talk with such enthusiasm and passion. How have you coped with disappointments and setbacks?
Robyn Streisand: Lots of therapy! Plus, I’m not somebody who stays stuck. I have done a lot of transformational work in my time. I’ve done a lot of work with Landmark Education, and that is a lot of the core who I am. It sets you up in the face of defeat and cynicism and despair. It gives you the ability to rise above those conversations and to be a catalyst for turning things around. That’s training and development that you have to invest in yourself and seek out. It’s not the thing where someone touches you with a magic wand and says, “Ok now you’re going to be a positive game changer.” It doesn’t work like that. You have to seek that out and find it within. I have done that my whole life. When it comes to making myself as good as I can be I have done a lot of supplemental stuff. I’m a leader. If you’re going to lead you have to lead. You have to be professional, you have to be articulate, you have to show up on time. I am the same way at work as I am at home as I am at the NGLCCNY M3: Monthly Mixers. It’s the same level of professional passion, education, and dedication.
Damon L. Jacobs: Speaking of NGLCCNY events, what's new for members at the Chamber?
Robyn Streisand: This year we expanded our programming. The M3s are big and may not be for everybody. So we’re trying to build more intimate groups around people, and trying to understand how to offer the most from the Chamber in an environment where people feel comfortable. We’re also offering programming online around getting certified and what it means to be an LGBT Business Enterprise. Whether they are a start up, or a five-year-old company, we are working hard on being full service and catering to our members' needs with valuable tools.
Damon L. Jacobs: What are the main advantages of becoming a certified LGBT Business Enterprise?
Robyn Streisand: The economy is in a particular place. For corporations it’s all about saving money and reducing costs. If there is a way to actually do that without scaling back on quality, what would that be? What has occurred through corporate procurement and supplier diversity officers is that they have identified suppliers who are certified LGBT Business Enterprises that provide the level of talent needed in a high quality and cost effective way. It allows the corporations to achieve the level of cost savings that they couldn’t get by using a big firm. This is what supplier diversity is all about. This is a hot topic right now, I hear about it everywhere I go.
Damon L. Jacobs: You seem fearless. Is there anything that holds you back?
Robyn Streisand: I get caught up sometimes in putting everybody else first and not doing what I want to do. Sometimes it holds me back from taking on more, or changing. I don’t let circumstances or money or what I do hold me back. I hold myself back. I always want to do the right thing and I want to be happy. It’s about finding the balance, and I’m really not good at that. It’s always a work in progress. I’m turning 50 this year, and I’m like holy smoke! It’s a milestone coming upon me. It’s not good or bad, it’s just telling from a place of time. It means something, it’s the other side of the rainbow. Am I where I want to be like I thought I would be? Where am I going? What else do I need to do on this planet while I’m here? I’m looking at all of it and identifying my next path and journey.
Damon L. Jacobs: Instead of talking about change you actively create change. Do you see yourself as a role model?
Robyn Streisand: Sometimes. Last week Phil Giorgianni at the NGLCC asked me if I would speak at a panel for the young entrepreneur committee. I was like “Okay, I’d love to.” And after I say "yes" I always think, “What am I going to talk to these people about? I’m like this old dog and they’re young. What would provide value for them?” I picked a subject of how I spend my time and the top seven things to identify before you say "yes" to an event. It became really relevant for me as a tool and then for others. You can be surprised sometimes by what a difference you make when you create and just put it all out there. I think at certain points and times I don’t give myself enough credit.
Damon L. Jacobs: If you could go back sixteen years to the beginning of The Mixx and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that be?
Robyn Streisand: Take a pause.
Damon L. Jacobs: Are you going to follow that now?
Robyn Streisand: I am going to follow that now. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks but I’m very much in that conversation right now. I’m going to enjoy the next part - instead of just taking a b-line to get to the other side.
Damon L. Jacobs: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like to share with the Chamber?
Robyn Streisand: I have been with my partner Linda for 15 years. We have raised two children, ages 21 and 25. They are launching. Time is a precious thing and there’s not enough of it in this world. I think for people that are like me, that are hungry and go-getting types, it’s important to be able to embrace what you have and be grateful for what you have. Life is too short. So smell the coffee, look around, appreciate life and give back.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who helps individuals and couples learn to experience more serenity and satisfaction in life by working effectively with issues related to anxiety, stress management, grief and loss, health issues, depression, anger management, addiction, ageism, HIV specific concerns, bullying trauma, and caretaking fatigue. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To schedule a counseling visit or speaking engagement, call 347-227-7707, or email email@example.com. An initial complimentary consultation is offered to NGLCCNY members, or people who are referred by NGLCCNY members.