Octoryia Robinson, Founder and CEO of Dream That Big Publishing
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
My origin story started with a traumatic upbringing that included teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, losing custody of my children, being a victim of domestic violence and felony probation for 2.5 years. It took me until I was older to break free from the negative spiral and started trusting and seeing the value in myself. Through my career in business management and executive leadership, plus my passion for teaching and the role of Professional Certified Coach, I transformed myself into the woman and leader I always envisioned for myself.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
My grandmother Ruby Williams. She's been there at every phase of my life and through all of the ups and downs, and she always reminded me of this one truth: "No matter how bad or hard or challenging things may become, this too shall pass." This hopeful and powerful statement gave me strength to keep trying and never give up.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
One piece of advice I was given that I still benefit from today is to never ask someone to do something that you are not equally committed to doing or working on in your own life. This advice did help me to build an authentic business built on servant leadership values. It also taught me to lead with conviction, because that is when you have permission and power to bring transformation!
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
One thing I have learned about leadership is that nurturing is very different from motivation when it comes to leading a team. Motivation must come from within, and it can’t be forced. I have learned over time that I do have the ability to nurture and inspire the qualities that are within my team, empowering them to be 100% themselves and put full effort into everything they do.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
1 - I wish I knew the importance of a niche. When I first started my self-publishing business, I wanted to help everyone. And I still do. But, I’ve recognized that I can truly help female nonfiction authors and after spending nine months pausing our services to spend time understanding and researching my niche audience, we’ve relaunched and will be able to support these authors better than we ever could have before. 2 - I wish I knew the value of building a network. I am constantly surrounded by positive, successful entrepreneurs and they not only push me to be the best version of myself, but they support me in my own growth as a business owner.
3 - I wish I knew the significance of building a team oriented vision. I realized early on that I cannot do this by myself. Having a team is what is going to propel my business forward so I can reach my dreams.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
The best way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors is to provide them with value, but also ask them for feedback at the same time. I am a big believer that everybody needs a mentor, someone that is unbiased that can give real feedback that is meant to help them grow. I also believe in mentoring and advising others, who one day see themselves in your shoes. This full circle is truly important for business owners to succeed.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
I realized a year ago that I needed to pivot with Dream That Big Publishing, because we were trying to help too many people, and we were not doing our best because of that eagerness to help. I would definitely encourage other business owners to factor in their current target audience, who they truly can help, and accept that sometimes it’s best to narrow down your focus instead of trying to cast too wide of a net.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
My faith is what got me through the trauma in my early years of life, and it’s what keeps me strong through the ups and downs of business and life today. Having that one solid foundation of faith is something I have dedicated my life to, and I am confident that it will guide me towards a prosperous future.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
If I could go back and do things differently, I would start with a niche, instead of stumbling into one. I am happy with the way my journey turned out, but I would love to help another business owner who is still unsure of their path.
Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?