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Do What You Love: The Dancewear CEO

Do What You Love: The Dancewear CEO

Robb Lippitt is the CEO of Revolution Dancewear, which makes and sells bodywear, footwear and recital costumes, to more than half of the 18,000 dance studios in the United States. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a baseball player or a dentist. Eventually, Lippitt became an attorney and it was in that job that he got bitten by the entrepreneur bug.

Lippitt, whose companies costumes are used in many of this season’s productions of “The Nutcracker,” tells BusinessNewsDaily how he found a way to love what he does for a living and how you can, too.

Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.

BusinessNewsDaily: Explain you what you do for a living.

Robb Lippitt: I am the CEO for Revolution Dancewear, which designs and markets dancewear to dance studios in the U.S. and Canada and direct to dance studios and consumers in Europe. On a practical level, this means I get to lead a team of talented professionals who empower dance studio owners to run more profitable businesses, and help dancers achieve their artistic dreams. I serve the members of our team as they grow as individuals and leaders, keep everyone true to our vision, drive business growth, and generally do whatever it takes to help our business provide the best products and experience for our customers.

BND:How did you end up doing this for a living?

R.L.: I began my career as an attorney, yet I was always fascinated with how businesses run and what made them successful (or not).  Because Revolution Dancewear works closely with so many small business owners, it offered me not only the chance to grow our business, but also to use our company to help support and grow many others at the same time.   

BND: What was the crucial decision you made that led you to this place in life?

R.L.: When I was practicing law, many of my friends and clients were entrepreneurs and business people and I quickly realized I was way too interested in how their businesses were operating. I was really intrigued by the complexity and nuance of running even a “simple” small business, which involved people, technology, systems, customers and more.  One day a friend and client asked me to join him in his new Internet startup and I jumped at the chance to try business myself.

Revolution Dancewear CEO Robb Lippitt

BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?

R.L.: When I was little, I wanted to be a professional baseball player.  My Dad, however, told me I had a better chance at owning a team than making it onto the field. As I grew older, I wanted to be a dentist.  Later, I decided to become an attorney as I was intrigued by the idea of trying a case before a judge and jury.  After a few years practicing law, I knew I wanted to build and to run a business.  Perhaps if I ever really grow up, I’ll run out of new things I want to be.

BND: Why do you love your job?

R.L.: I love the people I have the privilege to work with every day – our team members, our customers, and our partners. I find it tremendously rewarding to see people learn and grow – and I enjoy helping them do so.  Businesses are all about the people on the team and what they can accomplish together as a group.  When a business is going well, the sense of “team,” of working together to achieve some larger vision, is a powerful motivator.  I truly enjoy being part of something bigger than myself and bringing others together to feel the same.

BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?

R.L.: That, as CEO, it’s my job to “boss” people around. Really, my job is to remove the obstacles that could prevent employees around me from being great at what they do.  Those obstacles can range from a slow computer to a lack of clear alignment with a shared set of goals.  When I am doing my job well, it means that everyone else is working together and to the best of their abilities.

BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?

R.L.: I would love to be the President of the Detroit Lions.  I have been a lifelong frustrated fan with their lack of success.  While I don’t know a great deal about the Xs and Os of football, I would love the opportunity to help build an organization that could bring that ever-elusive Super Bowl victory.

BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?

R.L.: Without question.  Being in business has caused me to learn about how to be a better leader, which is exactly the same as being a better human being.  It has taught me to see the best in others, put them in the best position to shine, care about them more than I do myself, value team over individual success, be more patient, and much, much more. 

BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?

R.L.: Take responsibility for yourself, your success, and your happiness.  You are not limited by your boss, your situation, or anything other than your own willingness to grow and change.  When you approach things from this perspective, it will help you make better choices, be more creative, take more (positive) risk, and feel more empowered.  Taking responsibility will always lead you toward your dreams.

BND: What's your idea of the perfect retirement?

R.L.: I can’t ever see myself “retiring” in the traditional sense.  I love working with people and businesses too much to ever stop.  Maybe I would be less involved in the day-to-day operational functions at some point, so I could indulge some of my other passions even more, but I hope to always remain actively learning and growing as a leader and an individual.

Revolution Dancewear sells exclusively to dance studios and dance schools across the U.S. and Canada.  Through its Dance Direct brand it sells in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.