At RYZ we interview creative and motivated people who are actively pursuing their dreams. Today we interview Robin Satterwhite:
Robin is a writer and traveler who has been in San Diego for 19 years. Originally from the middle class of Silicon Valley, the personality type of a creative adventurer wasn’t exactly seen as a realistic option for a successful life. Still, she always knew who she was even if the world around did manage to make her question it when young and impressionable. Starting at 20 years old, she spent almost a decade in the Subprime Mortgage Industry playing both rowdy sister and mom to her brother and others in the military. Something she has since written a book about. From there she spent three years working in the matchmaking industry starting in San Francisco and ending by working with elite clients at It’s Just Lunch from the office based in UTC. While loving it, there came a time when she was either to take up funding that had been offered to start her own service or walk away. She knew it would take all of her and the dreams she had always found her way back to would never be accomplished. To finally finish her degree, to go pro as a writer and to travel the world. Making the hardest decision of her professional career, she walked away. While working in sales, events and PR & marketing, she finished her degree in PR & Marketing at Ashford University, started writing freelance for our very own FINE Magazine (among others) and did indeed start a lifestyle that was to revolve around travel. At present, she lives between Ocean Beach (homebase) and the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains (Felton, CA). While working in the gig economy, she is in prep mode to move to Jeju Island, South Korea to teach English. A curveball brought into her life by others in the profession during her travels and to which was solidified in her heart by working in the India program of Global Leadership Adventures. Playing Gaelic Football with their accountant and with their offices based in the small neighborhood of Grantville by SDCCU (formally Qualcomm) Stadium, the program practically chose her. Robin’s writing, something that has been an outlet for processing and self-expression for as long as she can remember, hasn’t stopped being a priority in her life. While not currently writing for others, she has taken to working on getting her book, Melody of Mortgage, out to the public and continuing on with a journalistic travel and lifestyle blog: Free Robin Fly. Feel free to keep up with her adventures at www.freerobinfly.com. And don’t worry. She says it’s OK to only be into it for the video and pictures.
Tell us a little about some of the projects/works that you have created?
My blog turned 10 not too long ago. It started as an attempt at an e-magazine when looking to figure out how to incorporate all of my interests without them holding me back from travel. Since then, it’s evolved into a travel & lifestyle journal blog. It’s still quite rough and I don’t post consistently enough but it’s on my radar to clean it up sooner than later. I dream of it enriching the lives of others and to keep any monetization I may eventually incorporate as a distant goal only if it doesn’t get in the way of the authenticity and heart.
I wrote a novel a few years ago about the subprime mortgage industry with a sublot about the military when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of the 2000s were going on. It’s told from a female perspective and has a coming of age quality. Yes, I pulled extensively from my own experience. It was my way to process as well as fight back. While I (surprisingly) enjoyed the work and saw amazing opportunity to help people with one of the biggest and most emotional purchases of their life, what was actually going on at that time was traumatizing and horrible. I never felt like I could make a difference, no matter how hard I fought. Like the nightmares of no noise coming out no matter how loud the screaming, I felt like I had no voice. Writing this book gave it back to me.
What was your background before?
I fell into subprime mortgage in 1998 and spent almost a decade in until the crash. I did try to get out two or three times but was always pulled back in because so few had my level of expertise. Something I developed by a workaholic work ethic and obsession with doing things right as well as learning every detail. I knew what I was doing at a level few had interest in putting in the work to obtain. That and just just not been in the industry long enough to. I have always been a slow learner but these qualities and my people skills are what have attributed to most successes in my career.
At the end of 2007 when I lost everything as my third mortgage industry crashed within two months, I left San Diego to stay with my family in San Jose while licking my wounds and figuring out what to do. Looking for work in San Francisco with the hopes of finding something I could do remote most of the time from SD, I knew the instant I saw an add for a receptionist at a matchmaking company that I had to have it. I had always brought people together in a multitude of ways and was relieved for the chance to do something easy for a minute after holding so much responsibility for so long. With that background and work ethic as mentioned above, it didn’t surprise me when I started moving up almost instantly. By the time I left three years later, I was a matchmaker in La Jolla to the elite of our community.
While I had a client who wanted to partner to start my own service and at least one or two more interested in investing, I knew I would ever accomplish my dreams of finishing my degree, going pro as a writer and traveling the world if I did that. Walking away from that was maybe the most difficult decision in my career. I loved it.
That sacrifice didn’t go in vain, though. While doing random PR, digital marketing, events and sales work, hats I had always worn regardless of title, I did indeed finish my degree, advanced my freelance writing work and soon after, really took off with the travel lifestyle.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced and how do you face new challenges?
It’s amazing how much the people and community around us make a difference. Especially when young. This is the kind of thing we hear all of our lives but it still comes as a shock when experiencing it. Not being around those like me and the lack of their support during my foundational years was damaging. San Francisco and the community of Burning Man, where I have found a lot of “me too”, “why not?” and “of course you can”, wasn’t far by distance when I was growing up but may as well have been a world away.
In addition to self-doubt, general life distractions are great at getting in the way. Especially when things we derive pleasure from.
While my own individual self, I’ve found that most of my challenges to be pretty stereotypical of folks like me.
Was there any defining moment that led you to pursue your current path?
Absolutely. My little Jack Russell, Layla, got run over by a car four days after her tenth birthday. It was my mom’s birthday.
I was in a meeting in San Francisco working in business development in a creative and marketing staffing firm, at my last job in the business world, when the call came in. I didn’t know the number and thought it odd to be coming from a 408 area code. My life was more based in San Francisco, not San Jose where I had grown up. It was strange and enough of an alarm went off to answer. It was the woman who hit her. If she hadn’t called, I may have never known what happened to my girl.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the people who have finally made the leap for such a big life change have often recently gone through something big like that. A huge loss or surviving something like cancer. I suppose I went crazy enough for a moment to scream inside “BRING IT!” to the things that had previously scared me or made me doubt.
That was the first moment. The second that kind of made my it all slow down and my life turn on it’s access was when my sick Dad told me that, even though it scared him, he knew it was time for me to go.
The first day of the first time I went to Burning Man in 2015 (I have gone every year since), I knew everything had changed. That year became very much about mourning my Layla and processing all that had been along with where I was. While the next couple years would be soul-crushing as I set up my new life, I knew I had finally found my foundation. I was finally home.
What work are you most proud of?
The blog has my heart and I feel so much pride and gratitude for the impact I can make in the educational world but what I’m probably most proud of is the book. It was hard!
What projects are you working on now?
The blog and book while getting set up to teach English in to S Korea.
Who would you say are the people that have influenced you the most?
Brandi De Carli, cofounder of Farm From a Box, had been the director of the first matchmaking company I worked for. We had become close by the time it went under. I remember when the owner blindsided us with the news that the company was going under in a staff-wide meeting we, in shock, looked at each other and she exclaimed something about starting a business helping others while I did about finishing my book. During that scary and stressful time of no work being out there and feeling lost and unsupported in our direction, we were each other’s rock during that time of getting through and getting there.
My two angels, women who have supported me no matter what and have become honorary sisters, are the loves of my life and have been the heart of my support system throughout my whole adult life. Kati, a pilot and Nikki who previously working as a senior dolphin trainer at Sea World, are two actual sisters who I have known since high school. They have always been there, supported and believed in me no matter what. The influence of that gave a strength and belief in myself that I never would have had without them.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring entrepreneur/artist/musician/writer?
Get away from people who don’t believe in you! They are a cancer to your dreams and feelings of self-worth.
Find people who think your goals are amazing, are also going for similar and have already accomplished theirs. You need to be around others who both appreciate from different walks of life as well as those who are like you. Especially those from worlds that have hurt you. I wish we didn’t need it for closure but most of us do.
Hope for financial and other success in whatever you are doing but make it secondary. As in far-away secondary. You only have so much control over that and it can distort something that means so much to you. Really. It can turn it into misery and a prison. Pay attention to turning away from those paths when they start taking you down.
Make a plan for how/when you’re going to work on your goals. Make lists, vision boards, set alarms, join groups, whatever you need to keep trucking forward. Make sure you’re not setting up too much work in your goals. Once again, if you don’t enjoy it enough (of course it’s going to be painful and hard sometimes), or don’t have realistic goals, it’s going to turn it from a dream into a nightmare.
Be patient and forgiving with yourself. You’re probably going to get pulled off course a lot. That’s life. Do your research and join support groups to set realistic goals and know how common it is. You’ll lose track of how many times you’ll have to get back on the horse.
Finally, baby steps. You probably have no idea about which part of the journey will mean the most to you. For me, it was finishing the first draft of my book regardless of getting it out, making money or success. Of course I want those things but they’re just gravy.
Where can people go to learn more about your work?
Journal and travel blog:
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