Holly Pavlika is SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias. Collective Bias is a social shopper media company that weaves organic social content into engaging, real-life stories.
My Definition Of Success | When I first started out I was very career-focused, and was uninterested in marriage or starting a family. I was going to be the consummate career woman. But now, I look at success a little differently. Maybe it’s the stage of my career, but I love mentoring women and passing on stories from my past. I host monthly mentor meeting at Collective Bias. It started out as a few women and has grown to over 25. I love mentoring my daughter, as well, who is looking at a career in communications. Its so rewarding nurturing her and watching her grow as young business women.
I Am Driven By | I love what I do. I always said if I stopped loving what I do and learning every day then that is the time to start looking for a new career. I’m fortunate to have found a company that allows me to fly. I have the freedom to drive the business forward how I see fit. Collective Bias is very much a company that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit. There is accountability in place, but a freedom to create.
My Highlights | I’ve had my name on the door of several companies and quite often people have remarked on it as “pretty amazing for a woman.” But that resume isn’t what makes me most proud. What makes me most proud is when years later, someone will reach out and tell me that they learned something from me or that I contributed in some way to the success in his or her career. I love that I have several young people who although we no longer work together, they continue to feel comfortable to ask me for help and direction. But I would say one of my most proud was a result of my blog MOMentumNation. Through it I discovered a passion for communicating some of the issues facing young girls, moms and women around the world. By using social media and my voice, I made connections with the UN Foundation, UNICEF, Girls Rising and Global Poverty/Global Citizen organizations.
The UN Shot@Life grassroots campaign is something I joined as a result of my blog. I’ve gotten to go to Tanzania, sit in the UN General Assembly, lobby on Capitol Hill and more. One time I was sitting by the side of the road in Tanzania and speaking to two moms through an interpreter (I don’t speak Swahili). They wanted to know why I had come all the way from the U.S. to speak to them. I said, “If women all join together, we can change our lives. We live in a unique time where social media and technology can help us connect shared ideas and challenges.” They told me they had never thought of that and were going to go back to their village and gather all the women and see what they could accomplish together. It was a very poignant moment for me.
A Key Talent | I like to think that one of my strengths is getting things done. Often, that is easier said than done, especially when working in a company with different departments, different personalities and different objectives.
1. Start by doing your homework.
2. Build a team that shares your vision and passion for the idea.
3. Seed the idea with key constituents.
4. Anticipate all the questions that might be asked by the decision makers.
5. Present with passion.
6. Don’t take no as the final answer. Find a different solution.
7. If the decision is yes, then act fast to move forward while the passion is high.
I once had to come up with four different approaches to hiring a creative resource manager I wanted and believed in. It took two years to finally get the idea sold. And 15 years later the woman I hired is still working at that company. Being a relentless doer is a very important trait for having success in business.
Principles I Live By | These are my guiding principles and values:
1. Work hard. Hard work will get noticed.
2. Care about your job and the company you work for.
3. Never be afraid to speak your mind. You might have to be careful about how you make your statement, but never shy away from bringing your ideas and thoughts out into the open.
4. Be a doer. And hand-in-hand with that is having a can do agency.
5. Always tell the truth.
6. Treat people like you would like to be treated.
Lessons I Have Learnt | There are so many lessons, but I’ll narrow it down to three:
First, I would say the old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is so true. Having a business network is important on many levels. It’s great for gaining insights, setting the stage for your next job and collaborating. As a working mom, networking was hard in my early career as I juggled career, children and running a home. We live in an era of technology and social media, which has changed my career immeasurably. Social media is a great tool for women and can be used from wherever she may be and at any time of the day.
Second, I learned that my energy and demeanor has the power to energize people or to demotivate people. For example, I would walk the halls at the office and have a very serious look on my face. Little did I know people were misinterpreting that as my being upset and angry. People feed off their leaders moods. I’ve learned it’s important to remember to keep a positive attitude even in the face of adversity or challenges.
Third, I learned standing up for yourself and your team is a great way to gain respect from the top down and from the bottom up. Good CEO’s don’t want followers; they want your ideas. It’s important to make sure you are heard. I’ve had CEOs inappropriately treat my team, and I defended them to my boss and offered suggestions on how to handle the situation differently going forward. I was never fired or reprimanded for voicing my opinion—and I reported to some difficult bosses in my past. Your people will respect you as a leader for having their interests at heart.
Dealing With Doubt | Self-doubt and fear are expected. I think fear can often lead to better work because you push yourself. I have a great fear of public speaking. I was terrified as a child of standing in front of a room and presenting my work. So very early on in my career I forced myself to speak at conferences. My first experience was at a conference; I was on a panel with two men. We didn’t have an opportunity to practice beforehand. Luckily, I was last to speak. Even though I ran through my presentation at the speed of light, shaking the entire time, I made myself do it. I did it over and over again until I became reasonably comfortable.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I read and write often. They go hand-in-hand because in order to write, you need to read and be educated on the topic you’re discussing. Being well-written is important in everyone’s career. A simple thing is to set Google Alerts on topics you care about. I subscribe to a number of publications that provide valuable content, and I’m an avid down loader of white papers. Also, in the course of writing for my blog and other publications, I meet people and often interview them. Through the interviews I learn and network. In some cases, these contacts have become go-to resources.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | At my first job in New York I worked for a man who told me, “Women are notorious for not being able to make decisions in business. I don’t want you to be one of those women. Make a decision. If you’re right, great. If you’re wrong, apologize. But don’t ever not make a decision.” That stuck with me my entire career. I never like to leave co-workers at a loss for next steps. However, I like to put that decision on my direct reports now. They come to me with their ideas and suggestions and I ask, “What would you do?” I know what I would do, but it’s important they learn how to make decisions on their own.
On Inspiring Others | I’m a great believer in practicing what I preach. I don’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I think the best way to motivate people is by how you work during the day to day. Leaders find the balance between leading and rolling up their sleeves to get things done. We learn from those around us: both the good, the bad and the ugly. Hopefully we take the good and throw out the bad. The best way to find good people is to treat your coworkers well. They will be your best spokespeople and will want to bring new people to your organization.