Jul 7, 2017
I met Holly Dowling recently when we connected through Sonia Bueno de la Torre. It was clear from the get-go that Holly and I had a lot in common. Holly focuses on strength-based leadership and change management, now specializing in corporate women’s empowerment. She has consulted for major companies such as Facebook, IBM, Gap, Wells Fargo, and now is working with the United Nations and their Girl Up initiative.
As a little girl, Holly sat in her basement watching Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. One day she had a clear vision, one where she grew up just to be like Julie McCoy - cruise director of the show’s ship. Fast forward to college, Holly was in a political science program and on track to be an attorney. Deciding that she wanted to follow up on her dreams of following the world, she decided to head to the library. After plumbing through 40 magazines, she called every cruise ship featured in an ad to ask about positions on the ships. Holly was told by many of her peers that she would never land a job on any ship, but she persisted, sending out a stack of hot pink resumes. 6 months later, she had two offers and was flying to Tahiti for training.
As you can see, Holly found out first hand that your visions can become dreams. And through enough hard work, your dreams can be manifested into reality.
More than a handful of people tried to tell Holly she should give up on her cruise ship dreams. The more she was told “no,” the more fuel she had to succeed. It was through this hardship she developed a mantra that would carry over through the rest of life and career in working with leaders: Tell me no - watch me go.
Holly feels that the greatest gift she has is that of rekindling the spirit and privilege of being a leader. She works with high-level executives that are focused on strategy and unlocking bigger and better things, often by trying to fix “points of opportunity” in those they lead. Holly marches into those boardrooms and tells them how it should really be. Starting with a simple conversation, stop looking at people as knowledge banks and things to fix. Stop, ask questions, and then sit back and listen. See what they are excited about and where they are overworked and where their strengths are. When you discover a strength make sure to shine a spotlight on it and focus less on bringing up other areas to that level.
We’ll have to bring Holly on again to do a whole show on the art of listening. It’s so crucial, especially in virtual environments when you’re not face to face. I mean, take a look here - you’re listening to a podcast!
Work with United Nations
Holly was asked to engage with the United Nations and ended up as a speaker for Girl Up; a program focused on empowering every girl, in every country, grow up to make their dreams a reality and become the leaders they deserve to be. The initiative stole her heart and even gave her the courage to stand up and share a story that’s been a source of physical and emotional pain for her over the last 28 years. She has found a true calling and home in Girl Up and will be speaking in Washington D.C. on July 17th for the UN’s annual event. She offers you to send her an email to try and find a time to meet if you are going to attend - don’t pass this opportunity up folks, Holly is the real deal and knows first hand what it takes to rekindle your light.
I'd like to give a special thanks to the team that helps make the show the powerhouse it is! First I'd like to thank Tina for helping coach me through the podcast process - you can find her work over at Start Something. And then there's my editing team over at Audio Editing Solutions - if you need any audio work go drop them a line!