Holly is a CEO & Farmer
Holly returns to the podcast from episode 60 to give us an update on her long-standing home renovation project and how much her farm has grown! She also talks about how her clients have been more open about their passions & hobbies as Holly has become more comfortable to share hers!
• What animals she has on her farm
• How she got an emu
• How she is teaching her kids to be entrepreneurs
• Having board meetings at her farm
• What helped strengthen her client relationships
• Why she feels people are more willing to share with her
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Welcome to Episode 246 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also to hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m also so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know. And please don’t forget to hit subscribe on the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Holly DeVito. She’s the CEO of Sum of All Numbers. Now, she’s with me here today. Holly, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Holly: Happy to be here.
John: Oh, this is going to be so awesome. I mean Episode 60? Are you kidding me? That was three years ago. That’s insane. It doesn’t feel like it was that long, but yeah. Hopefully, those home remodeling projects have finished by now. That’s a good benchmark, but we’ll get to that in a second. But now, I put the rapid-fire questions up front. So here’s one. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Holly: Harry Potter.
John: Harry Potter. All right. Cats or dogs?
John: Dogs. Okay. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
John: Hot. All right. How about oceans or mountains?
John: Oceans? Interesting. All right. How about — this is a good one — brownie or ice cream?
Holly: Ooh, how about brownie ice cream?
John: There you go. That’s a good answer. That’s actually a trick one. That works. Two more, two more. When you fly, window seat or aisle seat?
John: Window? Okay. And the last one, toilet paper roll — this is important — over or under?
Holly: I saw something the other day that said, “Beards are good. Mullets are bad.”
John: Yeah. Right. I just heard that actually. Some of that was just on as well. And I hadn’t seen it either. So that’s exactly it. That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. Very cool. When we chatted three years ago, you were remodeling your home, doing quite a few of those projects. And also, it started a small farm. Is that still a thing?
Holly: Yeah, it is. Yeah. The home remodel is mostly done. And the farm is up and running and going and it’s awesome.
John: That’s awesome. On your farm, you have quite a few animals as well. So what do you have going now?
Holly: Yeah. When we talked, I think I only had goats, the fainting goats.
John: The fainting goats. Oh, my goodness. Those videos were hilarious.
Holly: Right. They’re great.
John: To anyone listening, check out fainting goats on YouTube when you’re done listening and laugh your butt off. Hilarious.
Holly: Now, we have the goats, the fainting goats which we breed. Then we have chickens which we breed and sell eggs. And we have hogs that we raised for meat. And we have an emu and a goose.
John: That’s awesome. What? An emu? That’s great. Is that like an ostrich or is that —
Holly: Yeah, smaller, only four or five feet tall instead of seven feet tall. I don’t know how big the ostrich is, but they’re big. They’re not as big as that.
John: Right. Okay. All right. Because I was just making sure that in my head, I knew what that was. But that’s awesome. That’s very cool. So what made you want to get the emu?
Holly: Well, our neighbor actually gave it to us because he breeds them. I had just had surgery and I was in a drug-induced haze when he asked me.
John: There you go. I mean it’s be good to be completely honest.
Holly: Exactly. Because when you’re on drugs, everything is great.
John: Well, I mean I’m jealous. I wish I could get an emu because it’s like — I mean I don’t know if I’d be able to take care of it properly, but then you could tell people, “I have an emu.”
Holly: He’s actually a very cool animal. But he is funny.
John: That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Yeah. You’ve got quite the farm going on. That’s impressive. Yeah. Then the chickens, for eggs and breeding. I mean are the eggs significantly different than what you get at the store?
Holly: Way better. Yeah. If you’ve ever had farm fresh eggs, you’ll never eat store bought eggs again. They’re horrible. So yeah, much better and fresher. I mean they go straight from the chicken to the car and to the house, so they are fresh.
John: Yeah. And they’re just right in the backyard. So it’s like you don’t even have to go to the store.
John: That’s even better. That’s awesome.
Holly: Really fun. We breed the chickens for chicks. So every spring, we sell chicks.
John: Oh, wow. Look at you.
Holly: That’s right. That’s my kids’ training to be an entrepreneur that they have to raise the chicks and then they get to sell them.
John: Oh, nice.
Holly: Good for them. I buy them stuff so they have to buy it themselves.
John: Right. Wow. That’s really great. You have a whole side business going on here. I know when we talked a couple of years ago, there’s something where you shared it, but not really. It’s this something that now — I mean clearly, everyone’s got to know. I mean you have an emu. So we’re done. Everyone’s got to know.
Holly: Yeah. Everybody knows about the farm. I have a Facebook page and an Instagram page that we share and people follow. Almost all of my clients are super excited about the farm. When I talked to them, they asked about it. Yeah. We’ve worked meetings here at our property, so it’s good.
John: Yeah. Do you feel like those relationships are a little bit different than maybe early on in your career where it was, “Look, this is what I do as a business advisor”?
Holly: Absolutely. Early on, I was super guarded about anything with my personal life, even to the point that I had two different Facebook accounts set. One was for business. One was for personal. And clients were not allowed on the personal one. Then eventually, I moved everything over to the personal which that alone helps strengthen those relationships because then when you see them, you have something to talk about in common rather than just work.
John: Yeah, which is huge, right? Because I mean anyone, you can talk to them about work. But to actually have that relationship, it goes above and beyond. But also, it’s probably more enjoyable.
Holly: Way more enjoyable. Exactly.
John: Right. Yeah. I mean at the end of the day, it’s like, “What do we rather talk about? Let’s do the work and let’s get that other way.” Yeah. Do you find that some of your clients also have farms?
Holly: Yes. I actually have a client that moved to Canada and bought a blueberry farm. Then they have a whole — they’re living my dream now. They’ve got a whole retreat there. They do yoga classes and all kinds of cool stuff, which includes yoga classes with the goats. But I think yoga might be a problem.
John: Right. “All right, everyone, fainting pose and then go.” I’ll do that yoga class all day long.
Holly: I’d probably do yoga too.
John: Exactly. “Can we just do this on the couch laying down with the football game on?” I do that all Saturday.
John: “Honey, I’m doing yoga.”
Holly: goat style.
John: Right. Well, that’s so cool though that even the ones that don’t have farms are curious about it. I mean I’m asking all these questions.
Holly: Not very many people have farms.
John: Right. But I mean I think that’s fantastic and really cool. Do you find that they then reciprocate with things that they’re passionate about?
Holly: Oh, totally. Yeah. They’re super excited to tell me about their hobbies or the stuff that they really want to do with their life. We do a lot of consulting with our clients. A lot of it revolves around, “What do you want to be when you grow up besides the owner of your business that you have now?” Most small business owners fell into their businesses. It may not be what they’re extremely passionate about. So it opens up a door to say, “Okay. What do you really want to do? Can you quit your job and go run your farm? Or can you quit your job and go do whatever your passion is?” My client, they sold their business and bought their blueberry farm. They retired to do that.
John: That’s really great. And I mean such deeper conversations than just the surface level, business advisor, whatever because then it wades into your life now type of thing, which is cool. So do you find that people are sharing more now or that maybe you’re just more keen on it than in the past?
Holly: I think they’re more willing to share because they know more about me and it’s no longer — I mean I used to say to our clients like, “I’m like your OBGYN. I have to know everything about you and I have to see it. I’ve seen it all. I need to know.” And they’re all super guarded. We always would get to like, “Oh, here’s this and this and this.”
Holly: “Why read books. You’ve seen it all.”
John: Right. That’s exactly it. Oh, my goodness. That’s such a great parallel there. That’s awesome. That’s really awesome. Yeah. It’s like, “Look, I’ve seen a million books. Don’t worry about it. Just…”
Holly: Exactly. “I don’t care what that looks like.”
John: “Trust me. Whatever you’ve got, I’ve seen crazier.”
John: But then one time, you’re like, “What the…”
Holly: Right. Good enough we work remotely. They don’t see us do that.
John: Exactly. But that’s really cool though. I mean that’s really cool that you’re setting the tone for that and leading the way. That’s really awesome.
Holy: It’s good too because it’s transferred over to my team because I don’t work with the clients a lot anymore. But I have teammates. They do, all my team members do. And by allowing me to be open with what I do with my life, it’s transferred to them as well. So not only do they talk about it at work, we support each other. One of my teammate members, she’s in an orchestra. She tells us about that or we go and see her at her performances. But also with the client, they’re openly sharing with the clients now, too, because they feel comfortable that they don’t have to be so “professional” in order to do the work or work with the client.
John: That’s really cool. That’s such a great point of what we think is professional. I mean when I speak, I tell people that what’s professional is everything up to when you interfere with someone else’s ability to do their job. But up to that point, it’s all professional. I mean why not? I mean as you’re proving that it makes you better at your job and makes you serve your clients in a better way. Anyone that thinks that that’s not professional is just not doing their job as well as you are. Yeah. That’s great. That’s awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to others that think, “Hey, I’ve got an emu, but no one cares.” First of all, everyone cares, okay, If they have an emu. But no. But just whatever their passion is that they think has nothing to do with their career?
Holly: Yeah. I think that if they’re more nervous about talking about it or — I mean I think Facebook and social media is such a great platform to be able to be personal without feeling like you’re shoving stuff down people’s throats as far as they want to talk about it or not. Because let’s be honest. We all have a friend that has a hobby that you’re like, “Really, I don’t want to hear about it again.”
But I think that being able to share it there first and inviting your clients to be friends with you on social media or to follow you and being open there, it opens the doorway to being able to have those conversations and interact with them on that more personal level. It really has changed how our relationship is with all of our clients.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. That’s so cool and so encouraging to hear. Before I wrap this up though, it’s only fair, since I rudely fired away at you from the beginning with my rapid-fire questions, to open the door to allow you to ask me maybe two or three questions. I’m a little nervous. I’m not going to lie.
John: All right.
Holly: They’re not really rapid-fire but they’ll just get to know you. So what would you change about yourself if you could?
John: What would I change about myself if I could? Wow.
Holly: I know, right?
John: Dang, that’s a hard one. I guess I would maybe not be so hard on myself and self-critical. That would probably be something that would be a good thing to change.
Holly: We’re all our own worst critic, right?
John: Yeah. Yeah. And I’m a really good one. I’m too good at it.
Holly: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
John: Oh, Denver, Colorado. I’m here. It’s amazing.
Holly: Of course, right?
John: That or, yeah, maybe Costa Rica. It’s pretty sweet too.
Holly: Two totally different places.
John: Yeah. Exactly. Totally different, but probably those two that’ll work.
Holly: One more, what is your favorite thing about your career?
John: My favorite thing about my career was meeting Holly DeVito.
Holly: Oh, of course.
John: That is easily number one on the list. Everything else is a distant fourth. I mean not even close.
Holly: I should have answered that one myself.
John: Right. I mean you have an emu. What more do I need to know? My friend has an emu. Done.
Holly: You have to come visit, see the emu in person.
Holly: You can stay in Airbnb.
John: Oh, that’s even better, even better. Yeah. Absolutely. Because just making a difference on the way, people look at themselves and look at their profession and the people around them. I mean it’s pretty amazing that I come in and speak what I think. Then people make changes that have a significantly positive impact to themselves and the people around them. It’s just so cool. Yeah. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes.
John: That’s it. Thank you so much, Holly, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was a blast.
Holly: Cool. Thanks for having me here. It’s been fun.
John: Absolutely. If everyone wants to see pictures of Holly in her farm or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends, so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.