Watch Deni Robinson take the stage and tell the ASEA story or receive an award or lead a discussion, and you might think she got where she is by hyperfocusing on her business. And if you think only that, you’ll miss the mark.
Though she’s driven and always has been, Deni is as fulfilled by others’ success as she is by her own. That’s how she got where she is. This high-powered businesswoman is also an attentive wife, mother, and grandmother.
One of ASEA’s top earners, Deni is one of only two people to date to have achieved the rank of Presidential Diamond. As an icon for women in business, she’s often asked to speak at industry events—she has even been tapped more than once by network marketing guru Eric Worre and has been invited to speak this coming June at an Association for Network Marketing Professionals event.
While it takes a lot to run a business as large and successful as Deni s (thousands of people call her their leader), she will tell you that at its heart, her business is about building friendships. “It always has been,” she says. “When I first started in this industry, they told me to go friend-finding and knock on doors. I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
As the sixth of seven children, Deni has never been one for stranger-danger. She also saw firsthand from her entrepreneur father what going after the things you want looks like. “My dad always told me that I could have anything in life if I was willing to work for it,” she explains. “In him, I always saw the freedom of that. I knew that if I worked hard, I could do what I wanted.”
Whether that took the form of piano lessons for the kids or a kitchen remodel, Deni would set a goal for what she needed to do in her business to get it. That also meant organizing her time so that she could focus her efforts on income-producing activities. And she mastered that before she was even a legal adult.
Deni graduated from high school at age 16, finished two years of college, then married her husband Tom. Before she knew it, she was a young mother living in a 40-foot travel trailer in Star Valley, Wyoming, where Tom was working on power lines.
Then Deni attended a direct-sales party for kitchenware and saw that they offered everything she was lacking in her own kitchen. So she did what she had to do to get it all for free: she hosted six parties. In doing so, she found out that managers could earn cars.
“I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” Deni remembers. She got down to business, knocking on doors and setting up displays in grocery store parking lots. Two months later, she had earned her car—and she realized that she could make enough money for Tom to go back to college.
Looking back on it, Deni seems nearly as astounded by her own startup success story as someone who’s hearing about it for the first time. “When we went back to Star Valley for ASEA’s Ascent trip,” Deni recalls, “I realized this is where I had earned my first car, and I thought, ‘What in my head told me I could do that?’ To have earned that in such a small town—what was I thinking?”
But in reality, that’s how Deni operates: taking the next step and the next until she’s where she wants to be, no matter where she’s starting from. “I recently got a call from an associate who said, ‘Deni, I’m so scared; I don’t know how to become a Triple Diamond,’” she relates. “I said, ‘You don’t have to know how. You will become that, but you have to become each and every other rank along the way.’”
That kind of leadership—empowering people—is Deni’s mantra. “I don’t try to create followers,” she explains. “I pass the mantle of leadership on as quickly as I can, as soon as a new leader emerges and starts pulling the reigns out of my hands.” So you won’t just hear Deni welcome a new person to her team. She’ll tell them they have a fantastic upline leader and encourage them to do whatever that person is doing.
“It’s not what you do; it’s what you duplicate,” she clarifies. “If you always have to be in the front of the room, you’ve created for yourself a high-paying job. But if you can sit in the back of a room of 100 people and no one knows who you are, that’s success.”
With as high-profile as Deni is, that takes vigilance because people naturally want to follow her. “You’ve got to get over yourself in a hurry,” she smiles.
Deni is big on creating a culture of belonging in her organization. She often hosts get-togethers in her home, a spacious residence she built herself that has plenty of acreage for her horses—an interest and love Deni has had since before she could walk. She’s also planning summer retreats with her team at the cabin she and Tom bought last year, a lakeside property that sits just outside of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
All of this is in addition to Deni’s dedicated ASEA center in Spokane, which began as conference space she borrowed from Tom’s CPA firm. Now she has her own space where she and her team hold meetings every single week. “All my leaders have keys to it,” she beams.
In turn, her business’s culture of belonging flourishes. “If someone’s not recruiting, it doesn’t matter,” Deni continues. “I had one gentleman who always came to meetings. We would greet each other with a hug. He never sponsored anyone. There came a time when he was in the hospital, dying. He called me and told me how much all of that had meant to him. It was the belonging part. It’s really not what someone can do for the company. It’s what we can do for them.”
That doesn’t mean that Deni doesn’t recruit. She does, and she still gets rejected just like everyone else does. “I just don’t let it steal my joy,” she says. “Someone’s negative 10 seconds isn’t going to ruin the rest of my day.”
Her outlook on recruiting doesn’t stop there. “Enrolling someone isn’t a destination; it’s a doorway,” Deni explains. “You can’t sign someone up and wait. Amateurs do that. Pros open the door. You keep going, getting into their warm markets, and you’ll never make a cold call, ever.”
Deni is most inspired by the thought of leaving a legacy. “It’s not just a living,” she states. “It’s something that will live through other people; not just my children, but people who I’ve been able to affect in some way, whose lives have changed financially or physically.”
As hard as Deni works to build her ASEA business (she’s always got a goal), she carves out “me” time, squeezes in workouts, and finds downtime in the evenings for just her and Tom. She is fully engaged in the family legacy she and Tom are building together. On any given weekend, you’ll find them at the cabin, boating, horseback riding, and enjoying solitude with any or all of their four children and four grandchildren.
“That’s what it means to be a business owner,” Deni says. “The possibilities. The freedom. You’re still going to work hard—you’re going to work very hard—but you get to choose when you’re going to work hard. I’ve designed a professional life that fits around the rest of my life.”