An exclusive interview with Holly Ransom by Janine Garner
Holly Ransom is the CEO of Emergent, a company that works with leaders, organisations and Governments globally who want to set the benchmark and be frontiers of change and innovation.
She is a woman on the move and it’s clear from the very start of our conversation that the work she does is not just so she can reach a societal set career pinnacle. What drives Holly is the fact she knows, at only 26 we can do stimulating, important and change-making work that is heart centred and uses our passions.
Holly has surrounded herself with the best and the brightest- the leaders, the game changers, the thought leaders and shifters including the likes of Simon Sinek, President Obama and Janine Allis, because she has knows her power as an influential and valuable entrepreneur and change-maker comes from the support team she surrounds herself.
You don’t just get to be the youngest person to be named in Australia’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’ by chance. You get there by allowing yourself to be supported by the right people. It is this that Holly has found to take her from where she was, to where she is, and will inevitably take her to where she wants to be.
The ‘Why’ as a Reminder
When I meet people like Holly, successful, influential, intelligent and kind, I am often drawn to try to understand the everyday essence of them – do they struggle with the same things everyone else seems to – like staying focused and getting out of bed when we are feeling less ‘on’ than normal.
Holly refers to a favourite Mark Twain quote of “the two most important days of your life are the day that you are born and the day you work out why.” Hey ‘why’ being something, which, it would appear, Holly has worked out, much earlier than most.
Reimaging The Status Quo
As a ten year old child Holly recalls being struck by the “why do I have so much when others have so little” question after meeting a homeless man in a shopping centre. She speaks of how this random event lit a fire within her, which would take a few years for her to make sense of. All she did know, at that age, was that it wasn’t right, she didn’t know how to fix it but she wanted to know why.
It may have been this moment, and it was likely solidified with many other moments, but this was the beginning of Holly’s passion for “The Why.”
A passionate lover of problem solving along with her commitment to questioning the ‘why’ in any situation has helped Ransom to re-imagine new ways to drive social and economic impact.
Holly sees her role as a thought leader as including a large commitment to capacity building. She is passionate about developing the next generation with her heart in capacity building. She is dedicated to ensuring that those she leads feel part of the change and can shake the world up for the better, rather than leading apathetic, disconnected lives.
Leading into the Future
“One of the best bits of advice I got is – it’s more important who you work with
and for, than it is the work that you’re doing.”
Holly says that in her experience, “Good leadership must be built on the bedrock of a strong set of values, which infiltrates every aspect of how an individual leads.” This includes the ability to effectively communicate in order to inspire and bring others along on the journey.
Waiting on concrete stability, Ransom believes is dangerous and why she believes future proofing, by that means, does not take into account the way the world has been working for the past two decades. Instead she attests to keeping your finger on the pulse and to be aware of what’s happening with this new platform over here that’s fundamentally changing the nature of commerce and consumer interaction with companies, because if that takes off and goes wild for fire, that will take your business out from under you.
Holly’s natural proactivity is evident by the way she leads and is supported by her belief that it is important that organisations are making a choice as to how they engage, rather than just sit on the outside not taking risks. She shows, at every opportunity she is one of the brave ones who gets in and meets any challenge.
The Challenges of Young Leadership
Having grown up much faster than she had expected, Holly speaks of one of the most pivotal moments of her young career being when she made the decision to take the leap from the corporate life. With a split camp of mentors, Ransom had to rely solely on what she had learnt over the past few years of forging a successful career and life for herself.
Since making the decision, she sees that is was clear all along that this was the best path for her to take, but she does concede that it has so far been a solid six months of learning and growth, and the shift phase is challenging in ways she had not considered.
Holly does not shy away from admitting that this was one time, where having a broad and diverse range of mentors was both a blessing and a curse. She had been surrounding herself with leaders and not necessarily builders.
Designing Support Teams
Holly knows the power of ‘me to we’ and adamantly believes that mentoring has played a very large role in getting her to where she is. In her words she is “its single greatest beneficiary”. Having been taken under the wings of many successful Australian’s Holly jokes that if “it takes a village to raise a child it takes a whole army to raise a young woman”.
I heard this great quote when I was 19, it changed my life – “How long does it take to learn from someone’s lifetime of experience Lunch.” I was like, “Hold the phone. I can do lunch. I can do a lot of lunches. I can do a stack of coffees.”
She is especially thankful for her mentors because unlike many successful young people, her family were not overly interested or engaged with what she was doing or had planned for her life. As a result Ransom looked to her community, growing up in Western Australia, for opportunities to connect and learn from others.
Getting from there to here, to where?
There is no doubt that Ransom values connection and not just networking for the sake of it. She understands the deep level transformation that can occur when we surround ourselves with the right people in honest, authentic relationships.
In her own words Holly says “people are just the be all and end all for me, and one of my four points in my definition of success is that the people I love and care about know that I love and care about them, and I’m doing everything that I can to support their growth, and development, and journey too. So the notion of that ever being transactional just makes me feel ill.”
Since her profile has started to rise, Holly has seen first hand how people begin to appear out of the woodwork to ride your coat tails for all the wrong reason. This simply gives her further reason to value authentic connections and her intuition on what motivates others and what their values are.
The things that scare us
More recently Holly has set herself challenges with a friend to do things that scare them every day. It’s clear she has no plans to slow down, is in a constant sate of stretching her comfort zone and putting her hand up for opportunities she would normally find too challenging. It’s hard to believe a girl who completed an Iron Man could be scared of anything!
Holly again quotes Mark Twain – “It’s actually that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the mastery of it, and that’s this journey I’m trying to go on. I’m never going to run out of fear, because if I do, it means I’m not pushing myself.”
Looking very forward to the horizon
Holly sees a legacy on the horizon and it is a view that is clear in feeling but not in vision. Not wishing to avoid committing to a definite plan, Holly is fast to explain that keeping her plans loose is so as to shift with the ever-changing pace of the world on a whole. Whilst she knows the direction, Ransom also has strong faith in the emergence of a path to take her where she needs to be.
Holly reminds me, that at any time, to get anywhere, we only really do need to be able to see a metre in front of ourselves to make it, wherever we want to go. This also allows us to move and adapt our direction as the environment changes.
Ransom is sure of one thing, she wants to influence, and create what emerges, and play a core role in that. Whatever that means she will be working to engage others in the good journey and making a sustainable strategic impact in the process.
Doing it for the We
We wind up our conversation with Holly telling me a story of the 85km mark of the ride leg of the Iron Man event she competed in. Feeling ready to give in, facing a 35km headwind, she spotted a mother and two girls in the sidelines. She heard one, at about 12 years of age call out “mum, mum, look! It’s a girl just like me!” Without knowing it, that young girl’s words got Ransom over the line.
Just as that young girl said, there’s always someone who is “just like me” showing us, leading by example, inspiring us, and holding us accountable, so that we too can achieve greatness. In the end, the only thing that stands between us and everything we want to achieve might be a 35km headwind.
This ends up being insignificant when we have the strength of en entire tribe behind us