Normal is overrated
April 19, 2022

Adaptability and Executing Vision with Entrepreneur Holly Shannon

Adaptability and Executing Vision with Entrepreneur Holly Shannon

Helen talks to 3x Entrepreneur and business culture podcaster, Holly Shannon, about using a multidisciplinary lens to guide our craft of specialty.

Three Big Things We discuss in this episode:

  1. Life is Unpredictable, Embrace what Comes
  2. Ready, Fire, Aim > Why Action is Better than Over-Analysis and Over-Thinking
  3. Permission to Work Your Own Way - Divergent brains rock!

Supporters of the Show (affiliate links)




[00:00:00] Helen: Hi. This is Helen, and this is the brain crafty podcast. Today's guest is my friend, Holly, Shannon as luck would have it. I met Holly during my first year of grad school. I was interested in media and wanted to coincide and intersect that with the world of mental health. And I was scared because I hadn't seen a model like that before.

[00:00:22] But when I met Holly on the clubhouse platform, she gave me one phrase that would change the trajectory of my belief in myself. She said, I believe in you now, the reason why I wanted to have her on the show in the creative and mental health industry, we're often told that we have to pick one thing that we want to get excellent at.

[00:00:42] Well, what if you encounter a house fire that burns down all of your possessions and you're forced to move, or what if you have a child. And your perspective on life changes. There are various reasons as to why we pivot and we move in different directions, but it doesn't mean to say that you are supposed to give up your past talents to pursue something else.

[00:01:03] Sometimes those past talents can be utilized to get better at what you're already doing. And Holly is the perfect example of. I wanted to talk to Holly because her experience working in various areas of business can be applied in mental health too. I'm not even going to give you the three points we talk about.

[00:01:21] I'm just going to tell you what you will get at a heart level. From this podcast. You're going to get permission to fail. You're going to get permission to pivot. They're going to find new wants to ways to go from a place of doubt and jump into a place where you give yourself permission. To learn every single day because the truth is we're always open to learning.

[00:01:42] Especially if we have a calling you're never going to stop learning. You're always going to have a place where you will continue to grow. And so if this podcast gives you permission to grow, I know it will do that. So let's start with our sponsors and then start the show.

[00:02:07] this episode is sponsored by the amazing Riverside dot F M. It's actually a tool that I love to use every time I'm doing an interview with a guest. In fact, every interview was done on It's locally recorded files, which means you'll get the best quality for your podcast. I have the link for you below.

[00:02:29] Use this link specifically, if you want to help support this show, it would mean a lot to me. is used by 70,000 plus creators and fortune 500 companies to provide you with 4k quality content from the comfort of your own home remote recordings that don't have to look awful. Use

[00:02:50] Now back to the.

[00:02:55] Okay. Got it. Okay. So one of the, I wanted to start by acknowledging you for a second because I met you on clubhouse and I was this scared, I guess, 23 year old young lady. And I had just started my first podcast and I had entered the clubhouse room. And I remember saying, um, I don't know what to do. And you gave me the courage.

[00:03:21] I don't remember exactly what you said, but you were probably the first person to tell me, you can do this. Like he just have to do it. You can't overthink it. You just have to keep going. And, you know, we don't give advice based on what we don't know. And so I'm wondering. What was that process like for you Holly, to create and to step out in courage and, you know, be the person that you

[00:03:45] Holly: needed.

[00:03:46] Oh, you are going deep right away. I love it. I love it. Um, so I really enjoyed meeting you in clubhouse. You know, there's a handful of people that are still, um, close to. From the very beginning, I've met a lot of people along the way, but you were one of the first people to, and I was immediately attracted to you have a way of just putting yourself out there and, um, you have just a welcoming way about you.

[00:04:17] So I've known you from the beginning and we're still friends. Like it's, it's pretty special, but I think, you know, being somebody who has. Reinvented themselves numerous times. Um, sometimes it's been on purpose and sometimes it's been on accident. Um, and sometimes I've just been pushed to do so. Um, I've learned to get to that point where you have to just push the damn button, take the ch take the risk, go for it.

[00:04:52] Um, Plow forward, be the bull in the China shop. Like I am not strangely, I'm not a risk averse person. I know that a lot of, uh, women tend to be risk averse. It's just part of the social. Landscape, but, um, I'm, I can be very impulsive and take chances pretty easily. Um, I think that's probably worked in my favor, uh, to be really honest.

[00:05:18] Maybe it's my sign. I'm an Aries. I understand that areas is tends to be impulsive. So maybe I'm just, you know, in sync with my own self. I don't know. That's awesome. So, Yeah, I'm not sure if I really answered your question, but I'm, I do believe that you just gotta do it. Like you just gotta take the chance.

[00:05:38] Um, and if it sucks, you erase the podcast and you start over, right? Yeah.

[00:05:44] Helen: Thank you for sharing that because. I haven't heard anyone talk about how often they've reinvented themselves numerous times and led with impulse. I can see so much of who I am and what you

[00:05:56] Holly: said. I'm curious. I like that. Yeah. I mean,

[00:06:01] Helen: I think that we need, we need more of that.

[00:06:03] We need more of that honesty and you know, off camera and on camera, you are the same person. If not, you're better off camera than you are on camera, you know, because

[00:06:13] Holly: thank you. I hate being on camera. I'm not gonna lie. I there's, there's a little moment for you. I've really struggled with how all of the platforms have optimized for video.

[00:06:25] Cause I love the voice and I love to like, yeah, I have this thing, like when I was just doing podcasts as pure audio, um, there was no screen. We weren't. Yeah. You know, doing zooms or anything. Like when I was like listening to people, sometimes I was like, close my eyes. Like I would just be like listening to what they were saying and absorbing it in my cells and then reacting or responding.

[00:06:51] And I miss that. You're not

[00:06:53] Helen: a Tory process.

[00:06:55] Holly: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I am.

[00:06:58] Helen: Can you tell me a little bit about how many times you've reinvented yourself? Like who were you when you first started and how you got to where

[00:07:06] Holly: you are now? Uh, I did like customer service and I did, um, you know, uh, fulfillment, you know, different working with the, with the, uh, the client.

[00:07:15] And I went on to do domestic trade shows and traveled around the country building, uh, large scale events. Um, I changed companies at one point. And instead of being on like that exhibitor side of planning events, I was now on the other side where I was, uh, blocking like the hotel rooms and the meeting spaces and working with companies, uh, that were coming in for a show.

[00:07:41] So, and that was a really huge company. That was one of the world's largest trade show management companies. So when I say like, Working on events. I'd have like 60,000 people that I was doing. Hotel room contracts for a meeting spaces for, you know, hundreds of exhibitors coming in. So it was very, um, I learned a lot during that time.

[00:08:04] Uh, but like remote from home didn't exist at that point. And, uh, we were moving. And I had to leave that job. So I had to go like, I, you know, like I couldn't drive into work every day. Like I used to and remote from [00:08:20] home didn't exist. In the event world probably always should have existed because you could do everything from home.

[00:08:26] But, um, nevertheless, we moved to a very remote area and um, I opened my own company planning events and yeah, which was great, which is great. Cause I really liked doing like corporate retreats and, and parties and that type of thing. And um, one of the properties I worked with them. Recruited me to come work for them.

[00:08:53] Um, and I did that and I actually had to shut down my business cause a little bit of a conflict of interest. Um, but where the shift really began is, um, when I was having my son, I left. Uh, my, my role at this hotel, um, and it was boutique hospitality. It was super high-end white glove, five star five diamond property.

[00:09:19] And I left that to go home and raise my son and I started a jewelry design business. And so I really pushed my creative side. I learned all kinds of techniques, um, really pushed myself. Um, I worked in a lot of mediums from, you know, sculpting and oil painting and everything. So I really worked on my creative side, which kind of made my type a brain and like my business analytical side kind of drop off a little bit.

[00:09:48] Like it was weird how my body and my mind recalibrated for the type of material I was working with, um, maybe to make. T to allow me to be more expressive. Um, but I did that for gosh, probably a better part of a decade. Um, I collaborated with amazing designers like Rachel, Roy and Rockoware and, uh, MTV and L'Oreal.

[00:10:15] And I did all kinds of, I was like in boutiques, in New York city and, and Connecticut and I loved it and I was thriving. And so we're one of those big. Pivots came was we had a house fire and it made me have to like pack up the entire business. Um, thankfully my studio was in the basement, so it wasn't damaged, but it basically got put in big Tupperware bins and got put away.

[00:10:45] Um, because my next task at that point was to rebuild our home. And my son was five and he needed my attention. So I put that away and I focused on rebuilding our home, moving us from house to house until we got back into our own. Um, again, I know like when I say house fire, people are like, wow and everything.

[00:11:12] But look, we had insurance. I was very fortunate. So it, it was. A shitty thing. Like I'm not gonna lie, you know, going through it was tough. And I learned a lot. I learned more about community than anything. Um, and we came out on the other side, our houses rebuilt, but I have really lost my mojo. Like I really was not feeling very creative at that point.

[00:11:38] Um, you know, I was in the fashion world and I knew like being gone for even 10 minutes. Like destroys your, your track record. People just forget about you. Um, so I did try to go back in. I struggled with it. Um, I worked part-time for a little bit just to like, get a change of scenery and see if it could get me going again.

[00:12:02] My, uh, my boss from the hotel hired me back, um, to help him out on a project. And I did that. Um, and then when I tried to get back into the jewelry, it just was really hard. I just, you know, I learned a lot. I, I had done really. Ancient techniques like lost wax casting. I taught myself how to do 3d printing.

[00:12:27] I did like all kinds of really cool stuff, but I just couldn't get it back. And, um, the model had changed a lot as well. The, the industry had really shifted to, um, a consignment model for indigent. Uh, designers. Uh, so if you weren't a big brand, um, they didn't buy your inventory. They only sold your inventory if they were even interested in it.

[00:12:53] So, um, I started leaning back in, on my marketing background and my strategy work, um, and so forth. And so there came another pivot. I hear a

[00:13:07] Helen: story of someone who just won't. That's what I'm hearing, because you know, when you think about career, it really is due to circumstance. You know, if you have the privilege of staying in one town, if your house doesn't get burned down, but you're someone that like keeps going and keeps reinventing.

[00:13:25] And I just want to thank you.

[00:13:27] Holly: Yeah. Oh, you're so sweet. Yeah. I have reinvented myself a few times for sure. Um, my, my friend calls me a boomerang because it's just throw me out there and I come back somehow and maybe you're going to be that kind of person too. I mean, I think one thing that I would say is if you do have any interests, other than what you're doing, you should always pursue them.

[00:13:52] There's never a law. You know, you, you may find that you didn't love what you decided to explore or that you weren't as good at as, as you had hoped, but nine times out of 10, you will leave with skillsets that apply to other things that you do. So, you know, when I was doing oil, painting, it informed how I created jewelry.

[00:14:17] When I worked with Cleggs, I worked with a unique product called precious metal clay. When I was designing spaces, um, in my home and working with color, my experience with color theory and shape and composition of the work that I had done, whether it was painting or creating a piece of jewelry for collection.

[00:14:42] Like I took that stuff with me. Um, you know, when I did. Boutique hospitality. And I had a very demanding client. I mean, it was five star, five diamond, uh, clientele. It taught me how to, um, take care of people like how to. Always give a hundred percent, if not more to people. And I know a lot of people use that term and throw it out there wildly.

[00:15:12] Um, but I'm telling you, you immerse yourself in hospitality, any kind of work in, you know, even if you're like you're a server at a restaurant, when you have to give yourself. Truly a hundred percent to serve somebody. Those skills really stay with you. Um, and they inform other work that you do. So yeah, if I, if, if I've given you any permission to take chances and try new things, do it because there is no loss,

[00:15:38] Helen: break it down for me.

[00:15:39] Like what are the habits to learning new skillsets as you're progressing and moving towards different interests and careers.

[00:15:52] Holly: Uh, so I heard mark Cuban say this and I stole it. So I can't even say that I created this. Um, but there is a saying, um, a lot of people know it. Ray, ready, aim, fire. And he said, um, I was, I was at south by Southwest, uh, where I was speaking recently and he was on the stage and he said, ready, fire aim. And I was.

[00:16:21] Yes, that is how I've always operated. And quite frankly, Helen, I have apologized for that throughout my life. Um, thinking that that was a negative, um, You know, you should ready yourself, you [00:16:40] should learn whatever it is you would like to do. And then you build out your business plan and you aim towards, you know, who, who is my client?

[00:16:48] You know, what is my, why? Who am I selling to? And then you fire, you know, all pistons fire. They say right for me, I don't work that way. I never have, I. I get an idea in my head because I have a lot of them. I literally on my phone there in my notes, I have a list of business ideas. I constantly have. I, I, I dream marketing.

[00:17:12] I think about it all the time. I give people ideas all the time because I can't shut it off. And I think that's why I'm good at strategy where, cause I just constantly thinking different ideas for people. I think like, if you're ready to try something, you're just ready. Just fire, just go for it. Don't overthink it.

[00:17:32] Press the damn button. However you want to say it. Um, don't spend too much time aiming because. You might actually be aiming towards the wrong, wrong fit. Like you might actually be aiming towards a market that you think is your market. And it really isn't. You know, I look at my stats on like, when I use Instagram and like with my, you know, I use that as my gauge with my podcast, because that's where I do like a lot of my, um, posts and interactions with people and my stats on there, like who my demographics are.

[00:18:09] Are completely different than what I thought they would have been. I mean, I'm like roughly 50, 50 men, women, which I never thought. And the majority of the people who follow me or engage in my posts and my reels are between 35 and 44. And then it's like evenly weighted 25 to 34 and 44 to 50. But. It is so weird, like who you think you're targeting, who you think your community is, whatever it is you're building.

[00:18:45] And that's why, like, maybe it's really great to like ready fire aim and don't overthink and, and spend months or a year building a business plan only to find out it was the wrong direction all along. And now you have to recalibrate everything

[00:19:01] Helen: blown away because I'm, I'm someone that actually acts on impulse.

[00:19:06] I as a therapist, there's, there's three methods of, of executing an action. You either think about it first, feel it first, or you take action first. When I have an idea, I take action and I just like, I'm just ready to go for it. And one of the things that I've learned about myself is that I don't really think at all.

[00:19:27] Um, I kind of just do it. And I had a friend asked me the other day, Helen, how did you know that you wanted to be a therapist? And I was like, I didn't really think about that. I just kind of went for it. And you know, maybe the only person's permission I needed was my mother's, but like that's, that's about it.

[00:19:44] And then. I, um, I don't know. I, that gives me permission because right now this podcast was originally, you know, keep creating and, and realize who you're working for and towards, and just be adaptable to it is what I'm hearing

[00:20:00] Holly: you say. Yeah. In reference to what you're saying, actually. Um, because I think we're a lot alike, you and I, how we operate, um, Taking action to me is using your gun barometer.

[00:20:16] And thinking is using your head. Um, and that's a different barometer. And I think a lot of people overthink things or they overanalyze things and, you know, analysis paralysis. That's where that whole came from is because you're over analyzing, you're thinking about it too much. And I actually, um, you know, I've gotten pretty far in life by, uh, Doing the gut check.

[00:20:41] And it sounds like you naturally do that. Like you just felt in your gut, like this is what you needed to do. And that's where you took your action instead of thinking and letting your head digest all types of. Analytics or data or read this, read that to determine what you're supposed to do. Like you just didn't do that.

[00:21:02] You went with your gut and, um, and I'm glad your mother confirmed that. That was a good idea. Cause it sounds like you're in the right

[00:21:08] Helen: place. Thank you, Holly, for people listening that don't understand what a gut check is, how do you know. You're listening to your gut and not the voices of other people or the feelings of others.

[00:21:21] Holly: I think some people are not as intuitive because they shut down that natural instinct to use your gut. To me, that's like, You know, your fight and flight mode, you know what I mean? Like when people, um, are up against the wall, for some reason, even if it's for a good decision, like I can't decide which, you know, I don't know which thing to do.

[00:21:44] They're both really good things. Um, when we're. Up against that wall. That's where that whole fight and flight comes in. And I think actually your intuition and your gut live in that space too. So if you go forward with something and it still feels out of balance, or if you're constantly validating it in your head, like justifying the decision you made, like it just doesn't feel organic or natural, then you probably weren't allowing your gut to drive your decision.

[00:22:17] That would probably be how I would. I know it's not really methodical and there's not really a science to it, but, um, I guess if you are justifying your decision, you might still be in your head and not in your gut. You have this

[00:22:30] Helen: interesting combination of humility, confidence, and just like a fiery passion.

[00:22:36] I relate to you a lot. Part of what I'm relating to at this moment is. You can make these different connections with creativity, marketing strategy, um, human, human connection, hospitality, and bundle it into one. And I've had people tell me that before, like Helen, how did you make that connection from here to here?

[00:22:59] You know, how would you. Summarize that for people, like, how is it that you can take different pieces and apply that

[00:23:07] Holly: one thing, all the work that we do in our lives, even if it's something that's for fun, you know, like a creative project or a hobby, it always informs things right. That we do. I mean, you, you take every lesson that you learn with you.

[00:23:21] I think for me to sort of understand how I operate. I had to look at. Each of the things I've done in my life to see where they apply, like how they serve me in other things. And my. Emotional quotient is so high because my adaptability quotient has had to be so high throughout my life, adapting and changing and shifting and being resilient.

[00:23:48] Um, so they kind of traveled together in the end. And I used to think that my EKU was my deficit was the. Negative was my weakness because I felt it was part of why I said I would. I'm sorry. And I realized that actually that empathetic quotion that emotional quotient that I had. Is actually my super power.

[00:24:16] And it's what people strive for now is to be more empathetic. I mean, you hear it in the language and you read it in the books everywhere is to channel your, your empathy, um, or, or, you know, it's okay to be emotional, um, and to be passionate and to be thoughtful and. I've always been that person, but I was polymerized for it because it was drilled into me that as a woman, that, that was like more of a weakness.

[00:24:48] Um, so I'm still learning that, but I will tell you that for you, Helen, without a doubt, it is your super power.

[00:24:55] Helen: I've never heard anyone in like, summarize. [00:25:00] In a couple sentences because I didn't, I never knew that Holly and all my years of grad school, I didn't know that I didn't know that adaptability. And,

[00:25:11] Holly: um, I didn't go to school for that.

[00:25:14] Um, I, I think maybe the school of life, you know, just realizing, you know, again, taking stock of why I do certain things and how the. Apply, you know, that's strategy work for myself. Why do I do this? Well, maybe it's because I learned that and, and it taught me to handle this situation better. I don't know.

[00:25:36] Um, it's just. I think everything we do in life apply. So if you've adapted a lot, like if you're like a human boomerang, like I am, um, you, you take those skills every time you come back, you're you're different. Right. They throw you out and you come back with a new skills, you know, hopefully along the way you didn't get.

[00:25:56] You know, uh, burned or become a Senator. I, this is

[00:26:01] Helen: what I've known about you for the last almost two years. I think you have a really great group of friends and the circle that you keep is really it's small, but it's, it's close and it's family. What is the secret to finding and keeping good friends?

[00:26:17] Holly: So, you know, I've moved.

[00:26:20] So actually finding a tribe is been a little bit harder for me. Um, but yes, I do have, um, a small group of people that I know I can rely on. Um, I've learned with age that the quantity of friends. It doesn't necessarily serve you. Fringe. Friends are fun to bump into at a cocktail party, but you know, if they're not really doing much more for you, you probably shouldn't put too much energy into them either.

[00:26:50] But with personal and with work, I believe a small and mighty community can take you further. Everybody goes for big numbers and big influence, and I can guarantee you those people who have hundreds of thousands of followers or downloads or whatever, the metric they use. They probably only know two of the people that are, that are in there.

[00:27:14] So I'm okay with keeping, keeping my, my friends, my circle, small. I consider you one of them, Helen. I know I could probably reach out to you any time. Um, and yeah, and, and even in work and things that I do, but I tell you I can make shit happen. I can rally anybody, uh, especially in business. You know, my husband used to say, if you want to find a monkey on a unicycle, ask as Collie.

[00:27:42] So I know I can make things happen. Like I am. Just somebody who believes in getting it done and figuring it out. And I know who to call and what to do to make it happen. So my ideas I can execute on all of them. Um, whereas a lot of people are idea people. They can't execute. I know I can do that because I've surrounded my.

[00:28:10] Good

[00:28:10] Helen: people. Maybe we can do a part two on how to surround yourself with good people, because I think that in order to Excel in business and in life, you need to know

[00:28:20] Holly: who to go to. That's a deeper talk, getting into like toxic friendships and fringe and the whole thing, but I'm in for it.

[00:28:31] Helen: Thank you for listening to the brain crafty podcast, a podcast specifically tailored for creatives and mental health

[00:28:37] Holly: professionals who want to level up their game and use multi-disciplinary practices to inform their

[00:28:43] Helen: work. For more information about this episode, please go to brain to get more information transcripts.

[00:28:51] And goodies from this podcast, this podcast was executive produced by me. The theme song was created by my sister, Nina Garcia. And thank you for listening. If you'd like to support the show, please leave a rating or review on apple or Spotify. It would mean a lot to me. And I will talk to you in the next episode.

Holly ShannonProfile Photo

Holly Shannon


3x Entrepreneur, Culture Factor 2.0 Podcast Host, Business Strategist