Fearless Leaders Series: Holly Stiel
A video transcript of this interview for the deaf or hard-of-hearing is available here.
"If you are not in the thank you business, you're probably not in business." That's the tagline of Thank You Very Much, Inc., Holly Stiel's consulting and training firm that offers companies customized business solutions leveraging best-in-class skills she learned as a hotel concierge. Jennifer Willey recently interviewed Holly as part of the Wet Cement Fearless Leaders series that showcases executives across industries who are driving change and helping develop professional talent in exciting new ways. Watch the interview above and read on below to find out more about what makes Holly's approach so unique and effective.
Self-advocacy is one of the toughest areas for women based on Wet Cement survey findings. But if we don’t advocate for ourselves, we won’t be able to fulfill our missions. What is the biggest professional challenge you had to overcome and how did you do it?
I think the biggest challenge has to be when I left my job as a concierge to become a trainer and speaker. I was completely devastated and shocked that people who always took my calls in the past were suddenly in a meeting and would not take my calls. I had to believe in my path and passion and put my mission in overdrive to continue to reach out and to get clients so I could keep going. The way I made it happen was I called the owner of WHERE Magazine and said "concierges need training, not cocktail parties,” so I suggested they sponsor a book tour for my brand new book called Ultimate Service: The Complete Handbook to the World of the Concierge. They agreed and that is how I started my career.
We love Webster's definition of courage: "Strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty." What advice would you give to your 13-year old self when it comes to acting courageously?
Courage means to Thine Own Self Be True. While that seems simple, it is the most difficult thing to do because it requires that we not only know who we are, but LIKE who we are, behave in ways that make us proud of ourselves and not wait for the validation of someone else.
We believe confidence is beautiful. All of us stumble sometimes when it comes to feeling confident in our careers. What do you do to overcome self-doubt or Impostor Syndrome when it starts to creep in?
I am trained to say YES! I live in YES whether it scares me or not and then I figure it out. Over the years I have learned that all entrepreneurs feel like imposters sometimes. I am also very much in touch with what is right for me and what isn't. I will say YES when it makes sense even if I am a bit challenged by it but when it makes more sense to say NO that is the most integrous thing to do.
Research shows girls lose 30% of their confidence between the ages of 9-13. What advice would you give your 13-year old self?
There is NO such thing as NOT GOOD ENOUGH. That is a made up, cultural lie. I would tell my teenage self that I was smart and beautiful, fun, creative and valuable. If that teenager could believe it, years of struggle would disappear.
Assertive and effective communication is a key skill for success. What is one of the most important attributes of your communication style that has helped you achieve your goals?
I am completely authentic, assertive and passionate which is disarming. I have a very lovely smile and it exudes warmth. I tell it like it is and do it with heart.
What advice would you give to your 13-year old self when it comes to being a confident communicator?
Stand up straight, keep your voice tone strong but not harsh, look people in the eye and learn to listen and be interested in someone else.
Networking is critical for career growth and success, especially for women. What is your secret to building win-win relationships?
I ALWAYS do something that is grounded in helpfulness. How can I add value? is a constant companion question for me. I love to connect people. I love to share knowledge and resources.
Wet Cement research shows that women are not as comfortable as men when it comes to taking control of difficult conversations and feeling empowered at work. How do you overcome any barriers—internal or external—to take control in challenging situations?
I am not sure about this because I am such a take charge person--I say what is on my mind and don't really have barriers to overcome around that. It has never been an issue for me; not sure why that is.
We want to celebrate the accomplishments of Fearless Leaders. When you look back on your career, what are you most proud of?
The contributions I have made to the Concierge Profession and the addition of Heart and Feelings to The Customer Experience. I am truly a pioneer in this field. I also created a Foundation for Concierge that gives grants when illness or tough times prevent them from working. It has been giving grants for 27 years.
We are profiling Fearless Women but it’s important to recognize that men can be critical advocates and mentors for women throughout their professional journey. What have you learned about gender roles and inclusivity over the course of your career?
Being the FIRST female in an all-male profession made me a groundbreaker although it never FELT that way. I just did my job so amazingly well as a Hotel Concierge that people could not help but notice and I insisted that I was included (it was just a little bit past the women's movement and I seized on those ideas).
What is your ‘mission’ or the work you are most excited about that you are currently focused on?
My passion and mission has always been helping people love their work in Front Line Service. Now at this time in my life I am owning and truly loving the mantle of Mentor. My new on line program called Help Me Holly really highlights the many years of work and wisdom that I am thrilled to share.
Are you comfortable sharing your age? We only ask because we want to highlight fearless women at every age!
71. I am loving this fourth act--the time of the wise elder.
Please let us know if there is anything else important you would like to share?
Follow your heart, add love to what you do.
All her books on Amazon
Don't miss Holly's moving spoken poetry piece on how you can say THANK YOU and show your gratitude to acknowledge all frontline workers here.