The SHEROES Most Inspiring Women 2021

Posted on Jan 31, 2022

“Tell me no, watch me go”

Humility and strength are rich character attributes that define global keynote speaker and inspirational thought leader Holly Dowling. While she is clearly strong, independent and bright, she is also someone who has had her share of struggles, yet likes to find goodness in every individual and believe that human beings, in general, are inherently good.

Holly is best known for her greatest strength of choosing joy, and yet she is well aware that it is not always easy to find joy in difficult times. Her beautiful soul shines as someone who consistently finds the miracles in a mess. She believes that everyone has a choice, a choice to be happy, a choice to explore themselves, and a choice to find their true calling.

When faced with trials and tribulations, Holly distinctly chooses to get better, not bitter, and that is what shapes her into the wildly successful and highly sought after global speaker she is today.


When asked how Holly decided to become an inspirational speaker and thought leader, Holly emphatically will tell you this business found her, she did not seek this career, which she likes to believe is a huge part of her story! She was the little girl who was overweight and shy, watched the TV show “Love Boat” and dreamed of being Julie McCoy, the cruise director. It was that dream, and what she calls the “butterflies on her shoulders,” that never left her and pushed her to find herself as someone she always knew she could become. Fast forward to college, and little did she know when she was on track to become a lawyer, her mantra, “Tell me no, watch me go,” hit her. Most everyone in her world at the time dismissed her dream and was adamant about her pursuing law as a profession. However, Holly had a strong sense that becoming a lawyer was not what she was meant to do so instead, she decided to follow the little voice in her head. Holly started researching the cruise ship and tourism industry, developed her own major in college, and tenaciously applied to cruise ships. As a result, she created the first internship in this field at Kansas State University and crafted her own degree. Holly strongly believes that if you want something bad enough, you can make a dream come true! It is her “Tell me no, watch me go,” mantra and her versatile experience in entertaining and engaging with diverse cultures that laid the foundation to catapult her into the global speaking industry. It is also this same mantra that pulled her through to the other side of one of the darkest periods of her life.


Staying aligned to her core values has always been the most important character attribute to Holly and she holds this value to high personal and professional standards; there is no separating the two. In other words, Holly feels your personal self and professional self is one in the same and as human beings we cannot be two separate people or pretend to be anything but our very own selves, otherwise, we are not living to the highest and purest version of our identity. For Holly, the purest version of her identity encompasess her spirituality which is part of her four quadrants that dictate her day. Spirituality is extremely crucial for her, as she lives her soul’s highest calling, considering herself to be a messenger of hope,joy, and inspiration.


Joy is Holly’s greatest strength! Holly will tell you she is different from others in her field because she has accomplished everything she has today by defying all the rules, yet with grace and humility. She has achieved, in the world’s eyes, a global platform and is revered as a global expert in what she does, recognized as a top ten thought leader and an inspirational speaker by taking a non-traditional approach in her journey and not merely doing what is dictated by society. She has no best-selling book, no TED Talk, and she has no speakers bureau representation; all her business is done upon referral, which truly defines her influence as a thought leader.
Holly’s impact on every individual she meets is so great that they feel compel led to share her joy with the rest of the world. The desire for Holly’s audiences to want more long after the end of the presentation and share joy was the inspiration behind her Hollyisms Daily Dose Of Inspirations App, which was launched at the height of the pandemic on November 11, 2020. Based upon her well known book, Hollyisms, the app is an insightful dive into what drives this inspirational speaker everyday as she describes audio and video nuggets of wisdom from her more than twenty years as a global keynote speaker and inspirational thought leader, her impactful experiences encountering people from all over the world, and her successful “A Celebration of YOU” podcast where every day people share extraordinary journeys. The app is available on Google Play, the App Store or go to


Growing up, Holly never had any particular individual she looked up to in terms of a SH ERO. To her, “First and foremost, a SH ERO is a human being, a person;’ Holly states. She believes that a SHE RO is someone who has overcome immense obstacles and adversity and has chosen to not live in “Whoa is me, but live in wow is me;’ which happens to be her second mantra. There have been many dark times in her past and she has chosen not to allow that quicksand to pull her down. She has chosen to not only survive but to thrive! Holly states that a SHE RO is a thriver, someone who has the courage and vigor to stand up in difficult circumstances, not only for the ones they care about, but because it is right. A SH ERO is one who strives to make a difference, whether big or small, and they create a precipice for the seeds of greatness.


Holly’s work over the years is commendable, and she considers herself privileged to have received such love, support, and recognition. As a highly sought after award-winning global keynote speaker, she is grateful to serve amazing clients such as Facebook, Deloitte, PaloAlto Networks, Disney, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Home Depot, Google, Hilton, and IBM, among many others.

She has also had the joy of impacting the hearts and minds of millions in over 120 countries worldwide with her podcast, “A Celebration of You” podcast via iHeart Radio. Recently, Holly was honored to be featured as a Top 10 Global Inspirational Thought Leader, among other honorees Deepak Chopra and Dr. William Wilson, President of Oral Roberts University. Also, Holly has been featured on the BBC, interviewed on CNN, and was asked to join the African American Consulate as a result of starting a business called “Worldwide Etiquette;’ with the goal of supporting Denver businesses to learn cultural nuances during the Summit Of The Eight World Leaders.

In addition, she is an award-winning host of Notoriety Network’s, “The Advisers” series, a member of the United Nations Girl Up, a two-time Stevie Awards winner, a recipient of The American Riviera Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a global speaking member of the AICET Council, and she was recently recognized as a 2020 SH ERO who are women “thrivers” making a positive impact in people lives.

Ongoing projects include Holly’s “Extraordinary Speaker Private Circle” series where select individuals learn Holly’s secret sauce to “let their light shine” in the speaking industry. Also, Holly’s lifelong dream to impact people daily on a larger scale came true when she created Hollyisms Daily Dose Of Inspirations app, which is based upon Holly’s well-known book “Hollyisms:’ And finally, as a result of the pandemic and the creation of the app, Holly’s keynotes have become sought after by leaders and human resource professionals worldwide as an expert in joy and wellbeing as companies assimilate to a post pandemic world, which includes a focus on employee mental health as well as diversity and inclusion.


Holly chooses to believe that she has not encountered obstacles; she chooses to focus on the doors that open for you and not dwell on the doors that close. She is highly aware that the industry she operates in is male-dominated, but she ensures that gender is not the barrier that stands between a person and their utmost potential. Holly strives to be recognized for what she does, not for her gender because Holly herself looks at people as human beings, not as male, female, and non-binary.

Holly has excelled in the speaking industry because she has always listened to her gut and allowed her spiritual nudge to guide her and not allowed others to dictate otherwise. As a result, she has always forged forward and chosen to do it her way, delivering a message she genuinely believes in. Holly continues to speak to ballrooms where there are 80% men and she continues to be brought back time and time again where she delivers a message of authenticity and humility, lifting one spirit at a time with her voice.


Confidence and Poise! Holly strongly feels that men and women are attracted to confidence. Poise is elegance, power, strength, class and just enough sass! And she doesn’t think that it matters who is on the other side of the stage, whether it is clients or board members, a woman must possess poise and confidence and be comfortable in her skin. She knows that she can be the feminine, classy and sassy Holly, and she doesn’t care if it is a male audience or a female audience; she simply views them as people and they are all just human beings. Holly goes on to state that for a woman to succeed, she needs to be comfortable with who she is and bring her very best to whatever she chooses to do.


Holly feels that every woman should stand in front of the mirror every morning and say, “You are amazing, you are perfect just the way you are, and there is nothing that you need to change about yourself to make others happy. You don’t need to be anyone other than yourself. Bring your light, find your gift, and use it to change the world. Stop dimming your light to help others shine!” She advises everyone to find what gets them going, what drives their soul and lights up their passion!. “Figure out your soul’s highest calling, be comfortable in your skin, and stop trying to fit into what the world feels you need to be and start creating a life that fits you “(Hollyism).

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