A Passion for Performance

Robin Read’s Performers Add Joy to the Christmas Season


Robin Read

Everyone in the tiny town in upper New York state knew little Robin. In elementary school, she decided to be a singer. Family encouraged her. At age 13 she trotted off to the Seagle Music Colony, the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States, probably the youngest person to attend this program.  Here, she learned about set building, make up, costuming and  took part in plays, musicals and operas.

When she graduated from high school in the largest class ever (33 students), she found a path to Texas, as she hated snow. While attending Texas Christian University she majored in Music Performance and continued to build her performance and production skills . Voice and performance brought attention from renown artists and professors.

Her Journey

Robin Read’s history, rich with stories of success, delivers a message of hard work, business savvy and gutsiness. Immediately after college, she married a photographer who taught her the importance of accounting, operations, along with the mechanics and dynamics of photography.

Divorced after 15 years of marriage, she returned to her dreams. At her first audition after her hiatus she pretended confidence with fear rumbling in her stomach. She won the role, leading to admiration from many in the industry with her peppy personality, acting ability and technical talent. Her theatrical acumen kept her busy with minor and leading film roles. She’s been on the same set with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and starred as the leading lady for many theatrical performances.  Robin’s entrepreneurial spirit led to voice-overs, commercials, television, film and theater, preventing any “starving artist” experiences.

Robin Buys Holiday Cheer Entertainment

About 20 years ago she joined a singing group, Holiday Cheer Entertainment company, with other trained

Christmas Cheer Singers

Victorian Costumes for Crisp Christmas Weather

singers who perform during the holidays for tree lightings, corporate parties, elevator lobbies, and other venues. Sometimes they sang at elegant, private, holiday parties. Other times they sang outdoors, waiting in the wind and weather for Santa to arrive.

Four years ago the lady who founded the Dallas based group decided to sell. When she asked Robin to purchase the group, Robin thought, Work from home? Flexible schedule? Singing gigs? Christmas joy and cheer for others? Remarkable Robin took the risk.

She loves holiday music, customizing each performance on the spot. For example, if the crowd resonates with children’s laughter, they quickly switch from “Silent Night” to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

During the holiday season, life becomes overwhelming, as she is a control freak, a big reason for her success. Before she signs a contract to send a group (usually three to eight singers), the individuals must commit to the event. She chooses the specialized singers based on personality, location, and type of event. Customers return year after year because of her consistent attention to detail.

Off Season

In the off season the singers continue to meet, but not as often. Since she participates in the groups, she understands singing “White Christmas” can cause frigid fingers. She has lined the capes they wear and added hoods. They wear gloves. Who knew owning the group would require her expertise in sewing? She copes with the myriad of staffing issues, such as the mom with a teenager who was rear-ended on the highway, recent divorces, and sudden bouts of laryngitis. She indicated, “My singers are like family. Most of us have been together for years.” She hires, coordinates the schedules, bills the clients, pays the singers, and warms cold hands. She upgrades costumes during the summer, storing them in a special room in her home.

The Rewards

Although her singing groups are paid, it’s not the money that keeps them singing to hustling crowds. The joy she and her singers see as the crowds sing with them, whose faces reflect memories from long ago, and the wide-eyed children which fills the crisp air with cheer. When she chose singing for a career, she had no expectations for the rich rewards she would find bringing holiday happiness to crowds.

Watch for her at a tree lighting or on a street corner with her classically trained, enthusiastic choirs or quartets in their Victorian costumes. Like her on FaceBook Holiday Cheer Entertainment or visit her website to see upcoming events and watch her upcoming company growth. She is adding weddings, birthdays, and other holidays to the repertoire in the future.

The world offers opportunity in the arts for jobs and businesses; however, it takes long hours, hard work, risk taking, revenue building, and talent. Robin Read and Holiday Cheer Entertainment demonstrate careers in singing are possible, but it doesn’t happen without passion and performance. Being an accomplished singer is not enough. A singer without performance is like a writer without readers.





Start a Business with Little Investment

Last week you read about three popular ways to start a business.  I promised to share innovative ideas for people who prefer self-employment with little investment.  Today, we look at family businesses and ideas for “tiny”companies, which may grow like mushrooms in the dark.

“I came back home to raise crops, and God willing, a family. If I can live in peace, I will.” -William Wallace ‘Braveheart’ 1995

Family Business

Maybe you grew up in a family owned dry cleaning business.  You started helping your mom and dad at age ten.  With your new degree in Business and the scarcity of jobs for new graduates, you gravitate towards working with your parents. Growing the business might be fun!

If you expect your ideas to be welcomed, think again. Your parents may say loudly, “We’ve always done it this way and it worked.  No!  We’re not investing in your cockamamie ideas.”  Whether you join your family in a thriving, established business or struggling start-up, personality plays the predominant role.

When I asked an HR-VP (non-family) who works for a fast growing, family owned company to comment, he replied, “Family members are expected to demonstrate leadership, both by the owners and the non-family employees. Many talented family members work here, but those with limited leadership skills, cause many issues.”  Another friend with a smaller family business responded that her biggest issues occur when she sees family members headed toward ethical problems.

I’ve been onsite when relatives were terminated.  Talk about pain!  Ouch!

Clear expectations with a balance of personalities keep family members from pulling out their hair or maiming one another.  Some challenges may be insurmountable.  Coming home to run a business may not be an easy way to find work after graduation.   But, you won’t know unless you try!

Start Now to Make Things Happen

Start Now to Make Things Happen

Little Investment: Start Small

Many boomers long for change, but think they lack funds.  Start by exploring alternatives.  Don’t wait until you lose your job.  Start by talking with friendly business owners.  What hobby keeps you busy in your spare time?  Maybe you like to design websites.  Maybe you like fishing.  Hobbies, interests and volunteering often lead to new careers.

You may begin a tiny business from your kitchen table.  It may not grow like Steve Job’s Apple, but by collaborating with other business owners, you will be less likely to flounder.  Learn from your mistakes.  Keep accurate records of what brings the most profit and excitement.  Whether you choose to sell knitting needles or fishing trips online, the ingredients are the same.  1) Research. 2) Plan. 3) Implement. 4) Adjust. 5) Repeat.  You may need a full time job and part time self-employment for several years.

A wonderful article in USA-Today provides several examples, both positive and negative that reinforce that you can do it!  Be sure to read Boomers Take Midlife Cues to Pursue Passions.

I chose the “tiny” business route.  I love being self-employed.  I started with a $28 investment. Although the ride has been bumpy along the way, I know that I am in charge of my destiny, not tethered to some wimpy manager with ego problems or other dreadful situation.

If you start small, there is less risk. Start now, as your business may grow to a point where you can sell it and make millions or use it for a softer landing into retirement.

A few examples of people who changed their careers are: a teacher who started a school supply store, a quilter who began a wholesale quilting supply business and an irrigation company, purchased by John Deere, when the owner decided to retire.

Self-employment is not advisable for everyone, but knowing you have alternatives, since security is a rare commodity, helps with your survival and success!

Crazy Ideas for You

segway tour

Have fun with your business!

Rent Bikes

Artist/Writer/Painter (think George W. Bush)

Golfballs Online

Swim Classes for Special Needs Children and Adults

Segway Tours of Specific Areas

Lawn or Beauty Supplies Online

Antiques on EBay

Sell Useful Products at Industry Conference or Trade Shows

Lawn Service/Snow Removal/Window Washing/Tree Trimming

Fishing Guide

Fitness Products


Dog Groomer

Food Cart in Your Neighborhood

Short List of Resources

Most colleges and universities offer courses and conferences for entrepreneurs.

Small Business Administration-http://www.SBA.gov

SCORE- http://www.score.org/

Texas Technical Enterprise Center     www.ntec-inc.org

Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship   www.murphycenter.unt.edu/

UT-DallasCenter for Innovation and Entrepreneurship- http://jindal.utdallas.edu/centers-of-excellence/iie/

Local Chambers of Commerce

3 Ways to Start a Business

“I’m tired of corporate America,” she said.  “I want to be my own boss.  I saved for years and my family obligations are less than ever.  Now’s the time!”  But is she sufficiently prepared?  Research, personality, experience and passion result in success.  After careful introspection, which way will you start a business?


Collaborate for Planning and Research

The three most common ways to start a business are 1) Buy an existing business.  2) Buy a franchise. or 3) Establish a start-up.

Everyone yearns for his or her own business occasionally, but careful research is essential.  First, you must look at your personality.  How is your ability to take risks?  Who are your role models? Who will support your emotional needs?  Once you establish you want to move forward, you’ll need money to invest for these three options.

Buy a Business

Since buying a business requires financial risk, you may have long hours in planning to locate money for your adventure.  Find a business broker with great credentials.

Business brokers assist you with difficult decisions.  If you are in Texas, begin by looking online at Texas Association of Business Brokers a non-profit agency with a tight grip on maintaining the integrity of the industry.  A list of business brokers is available, but personal referrals may assist with your discovery.

Recently I met with Chitra Gupta to hear how she started her commercial real estate business.  She’s exited corporate America a little over ten years ago and never looked back.  Check her website at http://www.cgaworldwide.com/ for a sample of properties.


If you want a safer path to business ownership, consider a franchise.  Ways to finance a franchise exist, rather than risking your life savings and borrowing from your 80-year-old grandmother.


Financial Planning for Starting a Business

Dave Omholt of the Entrepreneur Authority, offers a monthly seminar to help you decide what fits you best when becoming a business owner.  The next free seminar is February 21 from 1:30-2:30.  People can register by going to http://eAuth.com/upcoming-e-learning.  Dave is a franchise broker, which means he represents many different types of franchises.  Whether you decide on a relatively small investment, such as a Subway, or something more elaborate, like Camp Bow Wow, he understands that owning a business in not for everyone.  Even if you have the money, you must have the right personality and ability to manage it.  He wants repeat business, not new owners who may fail.  Owning a franchise provides assistance to help with all business facets, but you may not want to live with their rules.  Less risk, more requirements!


If you want to build a product or service, which takes a large investment, you’ll need detailed documentation with significant time for growing the start-up.  Trying to find investors is a different ballgame for a start-up.

Since I recruited for start-ups in the past, I know that extraordinary leadership and good hiring is not always a guarantee for success.  Start-up leaders require an abundance of confidence, good stomachs for surprises, big feet for kicking butt, and diplomacy with their Board of Directors.  Start-ups are fast-paced with little structure.  Even a start-up with a fabulous product, going gangbusters, can fail with the loss of funding.  In other words, you must be a little crazy, and profoundly smart!


You’ll definitely need to spend time examining the statistics before you invest your time and money in any business.  Are you a calculated risk taker?

Failure rate it high but security is difficult to find anywhere.  How have you managed failure in the past?   How badly do you want to be an entrepreneur?  Is it time for you to move forward with the idea?

List of Best and Worst after 5 Years –from http://www.statisticbrain.com/startup-failure-by-industry/

Businesses with Best Rate of Success After Fifth Year
1 Religious Organizations
2 Apartment Building Operators
3 Vegetable Crop Productions
4 Offices & Clinics of Medical Doctors
5 Child Day Care Services
Business with Worst Rate of Success After Fifth Year
1 Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning
2 Single-Family Housing Construction
3 Grocery Stores
4 Eating Places
5 Security Brokers and Dealers
6 Local Trucking

We must plan for the next step in our career and life planning.  Will one of these three ways fit you?

In next week’s article, I’ll give you more insight into several ways to start a business with much less financial risk.  Additionally, I’ll give you a short list of local resources.













Ghostly Fears in Your Job Search

Ghost in Job Search

Get rid of the fear and ghosts in your job search.

What is holding you back?  Could it be fear?  Do ghosts interfere with your job or job search?

Do you hate your job, but stick with it because you know the people and politics?  Are you facing a possible layoff by the end of the year?   How can you conquer your fear during job search?


Let’s name the fear.  If your fear is financial, study the monster and  lighten your load.  Don’t buy alcohol.  Cancel excess cable channels.  Fire the housekeeper.  Talk with your creditors to alert them about your issues.  Don’t let your kids browbeat you into buying $100 tennis shoes.  Hide some cash for the holiday gifts now.  Face the reality that it could be a long haul.


You need to remind yourself constantly that your job is to find another job.  Rather than trying to find a job with the same requirements of your current or most recent job, think creatively.  If you are stuck, you might want to read a good book to pump new energy into your job search.

Post-it notes may help.   Place them on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror and in your car.  The notes may say:

“Get over it,” if you are harboring anger.

“Today’s the Day!”  OR

“I will hear from my next employer today.”

Affirmations may seem silly, but they help you maintain momentum.

A quiet time daily for inspiration helps, as well.  No matter how hard you work, you don’t have total control; other factors intervene.


Conquer time management.  Block time on your calendar for items on your “to do” list.  Spend more time on the telephone or in person networking than on the computer.  If you decide to spend eight hours a day on job search, then two to three hours a day on the computer can be accomplished nights and week-ends. Accountability and organization play an integral role in your search.  Maintain accurate records, as if you are in sales, to see what happens when your activity improves.  That means you must track the number of phone calls, phone interviews, networking meetings and interviews.

Often I hear from people who suddenly see a bigger picture.  If unemployed, the time may be important to help an aging parent or special needs child.  If employed, remaining in that boring job may help you keep your sanity when the spouse decides to leave for “greener pastures. Maybe the time is ripe for you to start Plan B, the business you’ve envisioned for years.


Ghosts live with all of us.  Maybe you call them another name but ghosts from our past can erode confidence during job search.  If someone in you life gives you grief daily about finding a job, you may rebel, as a child might.  When we are stressed, we don’t always behave as sane people.   Perhaps a ghost from your childhood told you that you would never amount to anything or that you lacked the intelligence to become an engineer or a public speaker. Our ghosts may affect us more than we realize.  What “voices” do you need to kill, which play with your mind when you start to make a phone call?  Perhaps you can identify that “ghost” and slay it forever!

Look carefully at what you are avoiding.  I could become psychological or philosophical about this, but the bottom line is clear.  You can play the blame game, be tortured by your ghosts from the past and/or present or you can murder the monsters and move away from your fear.

Happy Halloween!

If you would like a spreadsheet to assist with your marketing and time management while looking for work, please send an email to careers.@hotcareers.com for your free template.

Reminder: Sachse LIbrary is sponsoring a writers group.  The organizational meeting is at 6:30 p.m., October 29, 2013.  If you are an author in the area, want to blog, write articles, fiction, a memoir for your family, please contact the library or me for details at careers@hotcareers.com  about the group.