Ron Robinson: We Only Go Around Once

Ron Robinson

Ron Robinson and CJRW coworkers after IABC Awards courtesy: Jason Burt

Last week, Ron Robinson, Chairman Emeritus at Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, was honored by the Arkansas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators with the John K. Woodruff Award for Lifetime Achievement. He more than deserved the recognition. His career accomplishments are frankly astounding.

I’ve been to several of these awards events in the past few years. Honorees are generally really grateful, the audience squirms through perfectly nice speeches and the wine is usually average.

This was unlike any previous event. Ron’s acceptance remarks were both beautiful and cautionary. I’ve been thinking about them since. He spoke of the need for balance in life. I was a bit stunned to hear him speak so candidly. I won’t lie, I cried. I don’t do that. It was embarrassing. (the crying, not the speech)

Since I was so moved by his words, I asked his permission to share them here. He graciously agreed.

I will be brief, but I want to take this opportunity to pass on some personal and professional advice.  A Vietnam veteran, I have endured back surgery, a stroke, brain surgery, heart procedures, tumor surgery…and a bout with deadly pneumonia.  I have been through two divorces over the past thirty years….and I stand here hobbling with a walker, with double vision and the pains of a 68-year-old.  Therefore, I have given myself permission to share one singular plea with you.


I worked for decades at a seven day pace…90 hours a week…pushing longer and stronger…my clients and my work were my mistresses.  And in this high-impact, high- stress communications business we all know…it is demanding…it is rewarding and it pays wonderful psychic and financial income. But this profession and all professional endeavors are not worth the sacrifice of your health and your family. 

My advice?

  • Seek balance in your life…enriching your body, mind and spirit.
  • Recognize the value of being harmonious with your God and your family.
  • Be persistent…but patient…in your pursuit of success.
  • Know that success is much more than a bigger paycheck, a bigger house, a larger fundraising goal, a newer car or whatever you choose.

Importantly, we all must define our own realities and our own definition of “success” and “happiness.”  Yes, there are times when our profession demands more and you should make that investment.  Your mission is to work smarter, not just harder.  Believe me, the path of constant sheer slavery to your work eventually will lead to a life where your passions and possessions possess you.

You will be your own best friend if you “put the luggage down” and make your life, your family and your career all positive contributors to what makes you “you”…today and tomorrow.  … my greatest reward is these two granddaughters who love me because I am “me” and who will carry our legacy and smile into the 21st Century.

Thank you again for this humbling honor.  Be mindful that we only go around once in this life…but if we do it right…once might be enough.  God Bless…



Filed under Words of Wisdom

7 responses to “Ron Robinson: We Only Go Around Once

  1. Holy cow. I think I’m crying right now. What a testimony to what’s truly important in life. And that’s coming from a guy who knows what those of us in this industry face every day (the demands and challenges, the highs and lows). Thanks so much for posting, Kerri.

  2. Ron’s acceptance speech and heartfelt wisdom also moved me to tears. Thank you so much for this blog entry and for getting his permission to post his remarks. With your permission, I’m going to ask our IABC/AR web guru to publish a link to this blog entry on the chapter’s website. Thanks again.

  3. Key lessons to be remembered for sure. In addition to his many professional accomplishments, he has impacted so many people with his wisdom and creativity.

  4. Wow. That is an amazing speech. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded.

  5. Stephanie

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and not have any time leftover for what’s truly important. Ron’s words are a great reminder (for me) to just slooooow dooooown!

  6. Pingback: Ron Robinson’s Woodruff Award acceptance speech featured in blog : Arkansas Chapter of International Association of Business Communicators | IABC/Arkansas