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Life Lessons: Holly Pavlika


Powerhouse. Awesome. Driven. Focused. Compassionate. Oh brother, there is no way I can say all the things I feel about this woman without coming off as a complete and total suck-up. It is a risk I am willing to take. I met Holly earlier this year when Candace Derickx (who wrote this fabulous piece for GEM) heard me speak at Disney Social Media Moms and decided we had to know one another. Holly’s a big, damn deal; she has two jobs, one as managing director at Big Fuel Communications and the other, as founder of Mom-entum, which markets to women. Oh wait, if you add the “Mom”, that’s three jobs. More now from Holly, in her own words, and if you want to take part, drop us a line; we’ll shoot the questions right over to you!

Are you happy at the moment?

I think as parents much of our happiness is directly related to how happy our children are. And my kids are happy. Mine are both in a good place right now so I’m pretty happy. And career-wise I’m sitting on the edge of something exciting so 2012 should be a very interesting year. I hope I didn’t jinx everything by saying this.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

I think I would say, “Hey, you idiot, stop worrying yourself so much, it all works out in the end. And you will learn something along the way that will help you with future endeavors. Everything happens for a reason. You just might not be able to see it yet.” Too much of youth is spent worrying about what others think and say about you and stressing about what is happening at any given moment.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

Hmmm, good question. People, generally speaking, will disappoint you.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

Career-wise, I’m going to launch a new company so I’m hoping it’s going to be a resounding success. This will be my fourth start up. They’re hard work, but a company in it’s early stages is usually when it is most exciting and rewarding. When I look back at my career, the times when I was working 16-hour days, a weekend, wearing 15 hats was the most fun. I know I’m crazy, but it’s a good crazy.

Personally? I’m preparing myself to be an empty-nester as of September. My kids tease me about being home alone with the dog. But I think after raising them for the past 20 years, I’m ready to have more “me time.” I can’t wait to be able to come and go as I please and not have to worry about putting meals on the table or helping with homework. My sentence is up and I’m getting paroled. I can’t wait to taste freedom. LOL!

What’s your secret to happiness?

I believe to be happy you have to be accepting of yourself and all your good points and flaws. You need to be appreciative of who you are and what you’ve done. And I also thinks it’s important to live for the moment. I like to celebrate the smallest thing right on the spot. It might change 5 minutes later, but let’s jump on it and be happy. There’s nothing wrong with living in the moment. Especially when you can string a whole bunch of those moments together.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

I always speak my mind even if it means delivering messages that someone might now want to hear. My integrity and certain values are very important to me. 1. My mom taught me to treat others like I would like to be treated. 2. I never ask anyone to do something I would do myself. I learned that from my first boss.

What’s your biggest regret?

Sometimes I think I miss out on things because I’m not impromptu enough. I need to go with the flow more and not be such a planner.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Hmmm, you should probably ask them. But I’m hoping that it is my work ethic. So many kids get out of college and don’t realize that you’ve gotten where you are by a lot of hard work. I think mine realize life isn’t going to just be handed to them and having potential is nothing without drive. Everyone has potential. Not everyone has the drive to make it happen.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

My kids think I clean too much. They’d like that to change because my obsession becomes their cross to bear. I am a little neurotic about it. A clean, organized house translates to having an organized life. When my house is dirty I always feel like there is something else I’m not on top of or have forgotten to take care. So l guess I could be a little less of a clean freak.

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I come from a tiny little town in Michigan. I came here a shy, little girl who knew no one and would call home to my mom every Friday in tears. But I stuck it out, grew some thicker skin and went onto having my name on the door of three different companies. But I had to put that thicker skin to test about three years ago when I needed to survive a perfect storm. I went through a horrible divorce, lost my father and lost my job all at the same time. I thought the dark cloud over my head would never leave. So I gave loose change to homeless people everywhere I went thinking the karma would come back my way. It worked. Ha! But in reality I made it through it all by taking it a day a time. (And unlike many New Yorkers, without a therapist!)

When were you happiest?

There are too many moments…my daughter getting into college, my son being chosen as part of the honor guard on Veteran’s Day, but last year at Mother’s Day was a pretty great feeling. I finally acted on an idea. We all have ideas that pop into our heads, but often don’t follow through on them. This time I did. I was appalled by how much is spent on Mother’s Day gifts and thought “what if we could get 1% of that millions of dollars to go to charity?” Together with 10 other social media moms we organized a twitter party and a unified effort to get as many blogs posts up as possible on a singular day. It was crazy. 21 million impressions, 175 blog posts and more. But it was the feedback from everyone who participated that blew me away. It was the first time I really felt the power of social media and what my voice could do. Made me pretty darn happy.

What ten words best describe you?

Self-motivated, crazy, creative, funny, caring, hard working, positive, thoughtful, out-spoken and energetic.

Holly Pavlika is an award-winning creative marketing industry veteran who now sits atop the nation’s largest, pure play social media agency as Managing Director of Big Fuel Communications. She is a social media expert with particular expertise in moms and women-focused marketing. In 2009, she founded Mom-entum, a mom blog, community, events and marketing subsidiary of Big Fuel that connects brands with moms through insight, technology and community. Holly has also contributed pro bono efforts to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, EveryMotherCounts, Global Poverty Project and been selected as one of 30 women to attend a United Nations Foundation Summit in Washington in support of Shot@Life.

3 Comments

  1. Sandra Sharp

    December 29, 2011 at 9:41 am

    No therapist and speaks her mind…..love this lady!!!!

  2. Mike McGinley

    December 29, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I love the line about getting through tough times WITHOUT a therapist! Great piece, Holly. : )

  3. Holly Pavlika

    December 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Thanks you guys! Nice to meet you, too.

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