Real Creative Lives

Riva Robinson

Student

Riva Zuri Robinson, a bright and bubbly Bay Area resident, was a decade into her education in Western medicine when she realized that a career as a traditional doctor wasn’t for her. “I hated feeling like I had to play by their rules,” she says. “I love giving people the confidence to be healthy. I wanted to do that.”

The problem? She wasn’t sure how. In spite of her family’s roots in medicine -- both her parents work as doctors -- Riva found herself at a loss. “I saw how Western medicine wasn’t my idea of what wellness should be, which was living a healthy life outside of hospitals,” she says. “Traditional medicine just didn’t resonate with me.” She left her residency and began to search for a new way to help people. While temporarily working at her parent’s practice, she became discouraged. “I didn’t want to be there,” she admits. “For six to eight months I was hopeless. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life.”

I’m a one-woman show.
It can feel isolating being a solo entrepreneur without coworkers or a community.

It wasn’t until attending a conference on anti-aging that Riva stumbled upon something called Functional Health. That’s when everything changed.

“I thought medicine was just about pills and treating illness,” says Riva. “I didn’t know it could be about helping people thrive.”

Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, the keynote speaker at the anti-aging conference, caught Riva’s attention. She spoke of Functional Medicine’s focus on gut health and its connection to underlying conditions such as depression. It struck a nerve in Riva who had struggled with her own body dysmorphia and eating disorders as a child. She immediately bought Dr. Bhatia’s book and went through the suggested elimination diet to find her sensitive food areas. “Suddenly,” Riva says, “I had more energy, my skin looked good, I lost weight, my whole body was operating at 100 percent capacity.”

It was a breakthrough moment she wanted to share. She sprung into action, eager to bring her learnings to others.

While she wasn’t equipped to begin her own practice quite yet, the former competitive gymnast got to work as a personal trainer, taking clients in the gym at her apartment building. It wasn’t long before Riva began incorporating some of the principles from the Functional Health conferences to her fitness clients. She evolved from a personal trainer to a life coach who doubled as a doctor. She began to embrace online patient meetings, a brick-and-mortar practice wasn’t even an issue.

Riva was at the forefront of a new frontier in medicine, but it wasn’t without its challenges.

“I’m a one-woman show,” says Riva who goes on to admit not having colleagues can make a business owner feel like a recluse. “It’s isolating being a solo entrepreneur without coworkers or a community. I work for myself and I miss that feeling of comradery. I would love to not feel like I’m alone in all of this.” But Riva knows one of her biggest challenges is that what she does looks very different from what other doctors are doing. “Other doctors don’t even understand what Functional Medicine is,” she says, “This is the future, but it takes a while for the seeds to grow.”

I built a family of coworkers when I didn’t have any. To have people on the same journey as me has been so amazing. I love being part of the community.

One way to grow a business fast? Go viral. Riva turned to CreativeLive, taking part in Social Media Week and learning from top instructors like Sunny Lenarduzzi and Sue B. Zimmerman who taught Riva how to cultivate a digital market by bringing her business -- and effervescent personality -- online through social media and video marketing.

“What blew me away was that CreativeLive provides so much value. Just the sheer fact that I could obtain that knowledge and then create relationships with people. I love having a place to share my quirks and personality. To have a place to share my struggles. I was able to build a family of coworkers when I didn’t have any. To have people on the same journey as me has been so amazing. I love that I have a community now and I love being a part of it.”

Moreover, Riva found that CreativeLive instructors taught her how to give extra value to her patients. “One of the greatest things about Sue and Sunny’s classes is they don’t shy away from giving away too much knowledge or too much value,” says Riva. “I can also do that. I want people to see the value whenever they read one of my social media posts or watch my videos. I want their lives to be better because of it. That’s how you build trust within your community and stand apart from the others.”

Riva admits, she used to hide behind her discomforts, but not anymore. “Vulnerability is key,” she explains, “CreativeLive presenters say that we all struggle in accepting who we are and the sooner we can love ourselves and get over the discomfort of sharing, the better off we’ll be.”

Says Riva, “Be yourself and be open. Also, just constantly learn. No matter what.” She says that an ‘always be learning’ mentality is what pushed her forward at CreativeLive. “At first I thought Srinivas Rao’s Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity didn’t apply to me, but then I realized so much of what I do is creative,” she says. “Some of the most powerful and helpful courses at CreativeLive have been the ones where I kept an open-mind.”

Sometimes you may not know exactly where you’re going or what you want to do, but you know how you want to feel. Lean into the things that restore you. You’ll figure out how to work around the obstacles.

Riva is excited to bring that idea to her business.

“It’s so gratifying to see your growth make a massive impact on the world,” says Riva, “I know I’m able to reach people in a way most doctors can’t. Sometimes you may not know exactly where you’re going or what you want to do, but you know how you want to feel. Lean into the things that restore you. You’ll figure out how to work around the obstacles.”

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