Although she's married to arguably one of the most famous psychologists in the world, Dr. Phil's wife Robin McGraw has burnished her own path throughout an unexpected life in the limelight.
In the past 15 years, Robin, who has a recurring role on her husband's daytime television program, has written multiple books, launched a female-focused lifestyle company and founded a charity organization inspired by the women she's met through the Dr. Phil Show. During their 40-year marriage, Robin and Dr, Phil have been a solid unit, boldly championing and complementing each other's business pursuits.
The secret?“He doesn't 'Dr.Phil' me," says Robin, of her psychologist husband whose show has been on the air for 15 years. “He asked me one time to be a faux patient for psychological test. I got into three or four questions in and I thought 'wait a minute, are you grading this?' [When I realized he was] I said this test is over. I will never be your patient again. That was the first and last time."
Robin and Dr. Phil, who have two sons, Jay, 37, and Jordan, 30, and two young grandchildren, met the summer after high school through his sister. Since then the couple has been inseparable.
“It always was my mission to be a wife and mother," says Robin. “I was a stay at home mom and very thankful. Now I am thankful I can say I am a grandmother."
Beyond being a wife and mother, Robin has also come into her own as an entrepreneur. Her inspiring business and charitable pursuits are each dedicated to the people she has met in her life and through the show, which this bubbly southern lady counts as one of the biggest impacts of her life.
“At the end of the day when you want to be successful and work really hard, I believe the true celebration is what you have done for someone else," says Robin.
The Dr. Phil Show
After a successful run as the resident expert on human behavior on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil was offered the chance to star in a new program, created by Oprah, that would focus on the clinical and forensic psychologist's “life strategies" and frank approach to counseling.
“I've always been so proud of my husband. I always thought he was so brilliant when he was on Oprah. I always saw in him what Oprah saw in him."
In 2002, Robin and her family moved from Texas to California so that her husband could start shooting The Dr. Phil Show. At the time, Robin was an at-home mom caring for her children, who were in college and high school at the time. She went to the set to watch her husband's debut episode, and her life took a surprising turn towards the spotlight.
“I watched him in his first show and I was just so proud of him," says Robin, who was sitting in the front row of the audience. “He looked over at me and I was probably crying. He walked up to me thinking the cameras were off and said 'what did you think of it'? We started talking about it and walked off."
That impromptu moment between the doctor and his wife gave the show's executive producer, who hadn't yet decided how to end the show, an idea.
“The producer came up to me and said 'what we just saw took him from being a very serious doctor helping solve problems to being who he is when he's not doing that. We saw the real Phil,'" says Robin. “They asked me to come every day after that."
After becoming an unplanned recurring character on her husband's show, Robin said a cult community of women began forming around her.
“The viewers who watch the show see me like a girlfriend even though we never met," says Robin. "They would write me thousands of letters asking what shampoo I use, what color nail polish I'm wearing, what my skin care regimen is, and where I get my clothes."
After years of feedback from these female fans, McGraw wrote five books, including Inside My Heart and What's Age Got To Do With It? to answer questions and help give advice. Soon Robin began to see white space that would not only give back to these women she was interacting with, but also fulfill her passions for philanthropy and entrepreneurism.“I've been to over 2,500 [Dr. Phil] shows over 15 seasons," says Robin “I have to say the shows that have moved me the most have been on domestic violence and sexual assault. It is very hard to hear those stories. We've had such strong amazing women come on who been through it and survived, and I always want to help those who need rescuing."
In 2013, Robin launched When Georgia Smiled: The Robin McGraw Revelation. The organization (which is named after Robin's mother) is dedicated to helping the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by giving them access to support in times of crisis. The organization was inspired by assault survivors she met on The Dr. Phil Show.
“I thought I cannot sit here another day and not do something to help."
As part of her philanthropic efforts, Robin has also released the Aspire Initiative and The Aspire News App, a free virtual lifesaving app, that serves as an emergency contact system designed to reach friends, family or the police should someone need protection at the hands of an abuser.
The app, which was recognized on Capitol Hill for its ability to help end domestic violence, has been downloaded more than half a million times across the country.
In addition to her revolutionary tech breakthrough, Robin is also a businesswoman with a particular passion for the beauty industry. In 2014, she launched Robin McGraw Revelation, an anti-aging skincare, makeup and lifestyle line, which became a hit on HSN almost immediately after its launch. In 2016, Robin introduced her newest luxury skin care line, in collaboration with dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu. As a founder, Robin says she is extremely hands-on with the business, from picking the packaging to overseeing the product formulas.
“Women are busy, so I wanted something they can use and get back to their jobs and families," says McGraw, who named some products after people in her family. “And I want it to be effective. I wanted them to see results."
According to Robin, Revelation will continue expanding into lifestyle, fashion and accessories, everything of course with the end consumer in mind.
“My true philosophy for my company, for my foundation, for anything that I do is to create anything that helps women," says Robin. “I'm not an expert at a lot of things but when I share with other women and try to inspire them it's about what I've learned and what's helped me through my life. Everything comes from my heart."
When talking to Robin about her journey, it's hard not to talk about Oprah. Oprah, of course, gave Dr. Phil his start on her show in 1995 after his legal consulting firm was hired to help her win her now famous Amarillo Texas beef trial. Robin still considers Oprah like family, and says she is in constant communication with the media marvel.
“I talk to her all the time," says Robin, of Oprah. “She's just precious. I can email her now and get a response in 15 minutes. She's like family and she cares. She's very humble. I love and adore her."
“Every chance I get to tell anyone what an amazing down to earth real woman Oprah is I do it," says Robin. “She is like a mother hen."
In addition to her successful ventures, Robin's 40-year marriage is something else she is very proud of. We asked her the secret to keeping the spark alive after four decades.
“Before we got married, I'm proud to say we did our homework," says Robin. “We had lots of conversations what would work for us and what doesn't work. It's an ongoing conversation we've had over 40 years and still have."
According to Robin the secret is simply to find out what your partner doesn't like, and then don't do those things.
“I was the youngest so what always worked for me at home with my father was pouting, but with Philip it didn't work. He told me 'just tell me what I did that upset you and I won't ever do it again," says Robin. “So my advice is to find out what they don't like and don't ever do it. Don't use what you know will upset them against them. I know what I can do to push Phillip's buttons but why would I do that? Find what makes them happy and do that instead."
The Quick 10
1. What app do you most use?
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
The first thing I do the moment I open eyes is I pray and say thank you.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
Sheryl Sandberg. She is not only an inspiring business woman, but she is a woman who comes across as real and down to earth.
4, What product do you wish you had invented?
The Wolford body shaper. It's very thin, but it holds everything you want to tuck in. I love it.
5, What is your spirit animal?
A bird in the air flying.
6. What is your life motto?
There's a quote in the lobby of my office that says in neon lights: “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise." That's my motto.
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
I'm a big carb eater. Toasted Trader Joe's cinnamon bread is my favorite.
8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful?
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
Notre Dame. I went in and lit a candle.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
My family, 50 Fierce Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Moisturizer & Sunscreen, and a bible. But to be practical, a fishing pole so I can get some food.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.