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Holly Sydnor

Holly Sydnor

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I am a branding and marketing expert with extensive experience developing strategic campaigns that connect brands with the people they want to reach. I have worked in the corporate and government space, and have built successful brands and ad campaigns from the ground up and managed their evolution. I am currently making the move from working in a corporate environment to go out on my own as a brand consultant.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I joined Ellevate because I believe that when women support each other, no goal is too lofty. So many organizations have developed a cutthroat culture in which someone else has to lose for you to win and I have always tried to combat that. Ellevate offers a way to do that. My squad is a group of wonderful women from all over the world who came together weekly to support each other and celebrate each other's successes. We can all reach out at any time for support and to bounce ideas around, and that level of connection is powerful and hard to find.

How would you define your professional mission?

I have a passion for helping brands develop and evolve their identity in the marketplace and tell stories that create connection and delight their customers. My mission is to help brands grow by doing good.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

To be successful in branding and marketing, you need a curious mindset, the ability to make connections and see the big picture, and attention to detail. Marketing creates demand, and a brand articulates the promise you make to your customers. Every interaction someone has with your organization should be consistent with that promise. To successfully deliver that experience, you need to be able to think creatively and keep learning about new ways to reach people. You also need to keep a big picture view and understand how each channel and function of your organization supports your brand and marketing efforts. It's all interconnected and relationships are critical. Attention to detail is extremely important too. One small detail that is missed can have a ripple effect that turns into a crisis. But when you attend to the small details, they compound to create a seamless and valuable experience.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

I am most proud of the work I did on The Real Cost. I worked with a wonderful team to develop a brand and advertising campaign that had an ambitious goal of preventing 300,000 youth from starting to smoke. We then incorporated smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes into the campaign. The most rewarding part of the work was the ability to connect directly with the teens and hear first-hand about the impact the campaign had on their lives and decision making. Building a brand from the ground up, from initial research, to brand development, to advertising development and media planning, to launch, to brand management and evolution is a rare experience and I am incredibly proud of the team who worked with me to develop the brand and the impact it still has on teens in tackling one of the major public health issues facing our country.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the people I work with. Whether it's colleagues, clients, or partners I am lucky that I get to work in a cross-disciplinary function (brand touches every aspect of an organization) and am constantly learning. Diverse teams who share their expertise and learn from each other can produce amazing results.

What is your morning ritual?

My morning ritual is to get up, go to the gym, come home and shower, and have a cup of coffee and breakfast while I write in my journal. I love "The 5 Second" journal that Mel Robbins put together. It's a great way to start out with focused reflection and planning so you can conquer your day. I cant say that I am successful in following my morning ritual every day, but it helps me focus and accomplish a lot more when I do!

What would you say your personal superpower is?

My personal superpower is the ability to simplify and summarize complex concepts in easy to understand language. It comes in handy in meetings to be able to recap the discussion and give clear direction to the team moving forward. It is also a great skill to have in consulting to be able to summarize client issues in a way that they know you heard and understood and can develop a plan to solve their problems.

What does success look like to you?

The concept of success should be very individual in nature. There is no universal definition. Success is really about individual fulfillment and building a life that makes you happy. For me that means balance and acceptance that I cant do everything and I'm not perfect. It means building a network of friends, family and colleagues that support each other, and doing work that advances the branding and marketing fields and does good in the world.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

You can't read the tea leaves if you're drinking coffee. My boss and mentor said this in a meeting once, and it stuck with me. It is a constant reminder to evaluate what I am doing in terms of how it contributes to larger goals, and to regularly reevaluate those goals to stay on track. We all need reminders to step back, look up, and get a fresh perspective, and this saying helps me keep that at the forefront and focus on what's really important rather than the distractions.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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