Holly Gordon | Co-Founder of Girl Rising

Holly Gordon is the co-founder of Girl Rising. Holly is also the Executive Producer of Girl Rising, the film at the center of the movement. Holly has been selected by Fast Company as a member of the League of Extraordinary Women named by Newsweek/Daily Beast as one of 125 Women of Impact. Forbes Magazine named the Girl Rising movement the #1 Most Dynamic Social Initiative of 2012. Prior to launching the campaign, Holly Gordon worked at the Tribeca Film Festival, and before that at ABC News, where she was a producer and booker for the major news broadcasts, covering high-profile stories, including the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the shootings at Columbine, and the September 11th attacks. 

Holly-Gordon_P3My Definition Of Success | To me, true success means waking up every morning feeling inspired and passionate about doing what you do. In other words, being challenged by the task at hand and excited to wrestle it to the ground, whatever that task may be. My definition has definitely changed with time. I used to think success was a destination – like being quoted in the newspaper or asked to give a commencement speech or being a CEO.  Now, I believe that success is a journey that never ends – so whatever marker you choose, once you get there, it’s likely that you won’t feel much other than “Wow! Cool! What’s next?” It’s like a rainbow: the faster you run toward it, the more it recedes. So don’t run for it, make the most of the walk.

I Am Driven By | The big picture answer to what drives me is the possibility a world where girls and women are treated equally and are never in danger because of their gender. In a more practical level, I am motivated by my to-do list. That’s what gives me focus each day. I think it’s important to have both – a big vision for what you want to see (and know is right, so you are willing to go to great lengths to achieve it) and a micro vision for what you need to accomplish in the next day, week, month to get closer to that big vision. And of course, then you need that internal voice to say “GO!” every single day.

The Difference Between Good And Great | I think the big difference is that people who are great at what they do genuinely love doing it. They are also determined. They pick themselves up when they fail. They don’t take no for an answer. And they work really, really hard. There is nothing like hard work and persistence to lead to results. I also think that people who maintain a sense of humor tend to be great.

Holly-Gordon_P2Principles I Live By | I tell my kids that the most important thing in life is to be nice to people. I think kindness wins, always. I don’t want to work — or win — any other way. Of course, I also emphasize work hard and not settling for mediocrity or “it’s fine.”  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing really well.

Critical Skills I Develop | I’ve been working hard on creating organizational structures that will help Girl Rising grow. For me, in my previous career as a journalist, I’ve always been a lone wolf. Running a team requires a whole new set of skills, which means I’ve been reading books on team management. I am by no means an expert, but I hope I’m getting better. It’s important to recognize that you can learn new things even when you’re the boss.

Dealing With Doubt | Building Girl Rising has been the most terrifying experience of my life. Everything about it was new and terrifying. And so I guess what I’ve learned is that rapid personal growth only comes when you’re terrified.
The feeling of fear is actually a positive marker that you’re challenging yourself and pushing your capacities. If you like the feeling of climbing a mountain, like I do, you’ll find that it’s the same in your career. Sometimes you need to rest, sometimes you need to go back to base camp and figure out another way up, and sometimes you need to take a day off. All those things apply when you’re trying to do something professionally. If you’re determined and you ask for help along the way, you can get there. So I guess my advice is to take fear head-on and to keep walking toward it.

Holly-Gordon_P1Performing At My Peak | I exercise almost every day. It’s like resetting my hard drive, and it’s the most important thing I do for both my mental and physical well-being. I can’t imagine surviving without it.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I am a books-on-tape addict and combine my exercise with listening to novels, historical books, books on leadership, and books on management. I find both the fiction and nonfiction really inspiring. I also love music and am learning to play the guitar. I figure that I have 40 years to become really good at it, but it’s pretty slow and painful (ask my family!). Spending time with family and friends also keeps me connected and engaged with the world around me.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | It came from my first boss who told me that if I could be a good assistant, I could be a good CEO. That meant being punctual, solving problems, being polite, making decisions, and paying attention to every detail.

Advice On Building Wealth | There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow rich and build wealth, but make sure you love what you’re doing and you’re not sacrificing family, friends, and personal happiness to do it. And for goodness sake, if you make a lot of money, be sure to give a lot of it away.