Holly Green is an experienced business leader, behavioral scientist, speaker, and best-selling author. She is the CEO & Managing Director at The Human Factor, Inc., a consulting firm that helps develop the leadership knowledge, skills, and competencies to navigate today’s complex business world and achieve long-term business success. Green helps companies around the globe make new neural connections, change perspective, challenge assumptions and focus on the target.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I was born in Japan on an Air Force base. We lived in numerous places while I was growing up. I am one of 6 children and we had a good childhood with supportive parents. My mom was my biggest fan always encouraging me in whatever I did (even when it was very painful when I took violin lessons!). I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when I was 13 and that shaped me enormously. It reminds me every day to live as if every day is the last…to explore, wonder, and play hard every moment. To lift others up. To be kind.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
How to have and exhibit patience!!!
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Everything will just work out – not necessarily. You have to put in the work to have things work.
Follow your path no matter what. Sometimes you have to take a different path to gain new experiences, to learn something new, to realize a different path is even more fun and exciting.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I have a sibling that took horrible advantage of my parents in their later years. It was a time of despair and frustration for me because I did not know how to manage it to protect them. I wish I had known then what I know now so I could have stepped in and stopped it sooner.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Work hard, be persistent, always show up with enthusiasm. (that’s three things all rolled into one ?)
What is your morning routine?
I wake up at all sorts of times. I am not consistent. If I could sleep in until 8 am every day I would (I often read late into the night)! But, due to travel and client commitments, I do whatever it takes, in whatever time zone, to show up and be present. I have a cup of tea every morning (my mother was British, and it always reminds me of her), a protein bar, and then face the day.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Smile. Even when I am down, fake a smile.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Plan. I make lists and use them every day to stay focused and on track. It forces me to be thoughtful upfront on what needs to be accomplished and keeps me away from distractions. Every morning I reprioritize by asking myself “Of what I do today, what will move me/clients/my company closer to winning?” I organize my time and energy around achieving those things.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It is the seminal work on the brain as far as how we think emotionally and logically. It helps us to understand why humans are primarily irrational and illogical creatures. It correlates directly to the work I do to support clients every day. Others in this same vein include:
- The Invisible Gorilla by Daniel Simon
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Brain Rules by John Medina
- Why Not? by Barry Nalebuff & Ian Ayres
- The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
Fast Forward by Daniel Burrus is a fabulous book on how to think about strategy and success, especially from an innovation perspective.
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! By Dr. Seuss is a classic.
More Than a Minute and Using Your Brain to Win by Holly G. Green – of course, have to have two of mine on this list. These were huge influencers in my life because they forced me to get very clear on what I do and articulate it in a way that is helpful to others.
I could list hundreds of fiction and historical fiction novels that have influenced me personally as well. I read, on average, 4 to 5 books every week, so my list would be very long.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Pause, think, and focus” is one I developed and use with clients. I have to remind myself to do it continuously as well ?
“Go fast and the wrinkles won’t show” – one of my favorites by Gertrude Boyle, chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear
“There are no blackout dates in life” – from an old ad I have had for 20+ years. It reminds me to take advantage of every day
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” – Sandra Day O’Connor
“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” – Serena Williams