Southeast Idaho woman rises high in business world
Southeast Idaho resident Judy Robinett was up at 4 a.m. in New York recently because she needed to be ready for a makeup artist who arrived at 5 a.m.
Then a driver from Fox Financial News showed up at 6 a.m. to take Robinett — who lives in Franklin, which is Southeast of Preston — to Fox studio’s makeup and hair stylists, who redid her makeup. Three hours after her alarm went off, Robinett was in front of the camera with Fox News’ global markets editor Maria Bartiromo.
“Mornings with Maria” is the most-watched business news program in its time period right now. A couple weeks ago, Robinett was interviewed by Yahoo Finance TV and before the week is over, she will have interviews with CNBC, Cheddar TV and Bolt TV, to name a few.
Why? because in the world of business, Robinett is a big deal.
The author of two business how-to books, Robinett recently received an award from Best Selling Authors Association for having written the best selling book in the business and money category on Amazon.
“Crack the Funding Code,” was released for sale last month. That book also earned her Amazon’s #1 International Best-Selling Author award this year.
In 2014, Inc.com listed her book, “How to be a Power Connector” at the top of their list of the top 10 business books. In it she interviews top fundraisers such as Reuben Abraham, who raises money for George Soros.
Wouldn’t that surprise the person she says once told her she wasn’t smart enough to attend college. The 1971 Preston High School graduate describes herself as a shy kid from Franklin who just didn’t fit in. Being bullied was part of her junior high experience.
But somewhere along the way, she took charge of her destiny. “I’ve had a life of doing what I have been told. Out of my way, I’m going for it,” she said, citing a quote from Lucy of the “Peanuts” comic strip.
Today, she hobnobs with the likes of Shark Tank producer Mark Burnett and Jeremy Andrus, CEO of Traeger Pellet Grills. She is an internationally sought-after speaker and leader of business ideas.
As a past CEO of both public and private companies herself, she is a recognized leader on helping others develop strategic business relationships.
She is an “angel investor,” who provides capital for entrepreneurs or business startups, usually in exchange for ownership equity. She is a board member for venture capital organization and was invited to the White House for FINTEC - a conference for financial technologies.
She’s a TEDx speaker and has been interviewed extensively by podcasters, papers, and magazines. Just google her name to find them.
Forbes and the New York Times have labeled her as “a new breed of power connector.”
On her calendar is a speech at an angel venture fair in Philadelphia in May, a keynote speech at the Larger than Life Science Event in San Diego in May and in November, a speech at the Kyiv International Economic Forum in Ukraine.
But when she comes home, Robinett is content to leave behind the glitz and glamour, and tend to her century-old home and four horses. In fact, she lives in the home in which she was raised, taking care of and sorting through what her late parents (Loren and Venna Oliverson Robinett) left behind. In her heart, that childhood shyness has morphed into a desire to teach others to succeed. That’s why she wrote her books — to share what she has learned along her path from dim beginnings to a blazing star in today’s financial world.
Robinett attended Utah State University after graduating from PHS. She earned a degree in social work, and returned later for a master’s degree in human resources. It was an alright career, she thought, until she dealt with her 19th rape victim. It was too much. Eventually, a friend she had made suggested she apply for a job at INL. On a whim, she decided to apply and was hired.
That job catapulted her into an entirely different business universe, as she began finding ways to solve problems — something she thrives on.
“I discovered that your problem is somebody’s else’s solution,” and that “there’s no lack of resources,” said Robinett. “There is $317 trillion in private global wealth, countless ideas, information doubling all the time. But you have to get to the right people in the right room.”
She finds, however, that most people don’t understand wealth, and as a kid growing up in Franklin, she didn’t either.
She read a study that said people could become wealthy in one of five ways: marry into it, inherit it, become a doctor, become a lawyer, or own one’s own business. That last option was the route she took.
She and lifelong friend, Dee Burgess, decided to open a restaurant in Twin Falls. They learned, through trial and error, the keys to succeeding in that business. But they also discovered ways to improve their industry.
“I’ve always been fascinated with making things happen,” said Robinett. She’s also a lifelong learner, always seeking ways to better understand how things work, and working to create sense out of chaos. Her opinions found their way into the Wall Street Journal in the 1990s when she let an Idaho reporter know that she disagreed with a popular idea at the time, that the standards of education and health care should be applied to business.
“I knew it wouldn’t work,” she said, “because I’d already been in those industries.”
Respect for her opinion eventually led to her becoming the CEO of a public biotech company that was delisted from the stock exchange. She had always wanted to be a CEO, and, as mentioned already, she loves a challenge. Through raising millions of dollars to save that company, she learned that doing so was “all about strategic networking,” she said. People are behind everything that needs to happen in a business. And that, she said, is true in any business, whether they are doing well or not. It is also why generosity is so important to one’s success.
Today she is an adviser to Springboard Enterprises that has helped 19 companies through their initial public offerings, and helped 165 startups sell their successful businesses for an average of $65 million, and more. In their early days, Robinett helped Utah-based business Skullcandy obtain funding to propel the company into one that went public in 2011 at a valuationof $383 million.
Robinett said she hopes the books she has written will demystify business success and help others find prosperity.
The book has been available for seven weeks, now, and she is already getting reports back from readers who have put her principles to the test.
“I heard back from a man who had negotiated a $2 million deal with an off-shore shipping company successfully,” she said. “That’s fun.”