Sales would be the least of your worries. As of writing this, 90% of my sales calls have resulted in clients. As a self-proclaimed “non-salesy” person, I was petrified I would jump into this adventure and have no clients. Turns out, managing my time is the hardest thing I’ll ever figure out how to do.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Hoholik.
Kara Hoholik helps socially responsible businesses create compelling content to amplify positive messaging, connect online, and spark belief in a vision for a better future through content writing, design, marketing, and social media. As the founder of Social for Good Co, a content marketing agency that supports entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits, Kara works on issues of a global scale like climate change, human trafficking, and childhood cancer. Her work has been published in Harness and she has contributed to The New York Times. When she’s not wiping muddy feet, you can find her reading with a cup of cold coffee still in the microwave.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in New Jersey in a loving house with 2 parents and 2 younger brothers. We have a lot of fond memories that we currently reminisce about in our family group text. My dad owned his own bricklaying business with his father and brother and my mom stayed home with us until she went back to college and got her teaching degree when I was in high school. I was a lovably dorky and gifted child, attending special programs and classes, but never quite feeling I could live up to the hype. I spent many a weekend writing in notebooks, developing a decent callous on my middle finger. In high school, I discovered the power of group friendship and felt for the first time that I belonged somewhere. I competed in speech and debate tournaments, dove deep into American history and current events, and watched my friends sob in the hallways on 9/11. In college, I floated around to different majors — from Diplomacy to Psychology to eventually landing on Sociology. I still find it a fascinating study to this day. I traveled internationally for the first time in my life, to Costa Rica, and fell in love with the abroad version of myself — daring, adventurous, joyful. My childhood felt pretty basic at the time, even lacking in things like name-brand jeans, but now? It was nothing short of magical, knowing as a parent everything that it takes to build a life for kids that seems “pretty basic”. I didn’t know until I grew up just how special our family was and how important that solid foundation would be.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” — Martha Washington
When I first came across this quote, I found it marvelous. Here was a woman who undoubtedly had lived through a lot of trauma and adversity, and still found she had power over her thoughts and feelings and the trajectory of her life. I carry this quote in my mind daily. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it can be a hard job to constantly monitor our disposition or remain cheerful, but it’s a great reminder that with focus and effort, we can really control our happiness.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
In high school we watched Schindlers List on assignment. It was a big deal — my parents had to sign a permission slip and I got to watch it in my parents bedroom (alone) because I had younger brothers that couldn’t see it. I don’t think I moved the entire time. It was my first exposure to the Holocaust in an adult medium (I had read children’s books before) and it stunned me. Besides the shock and horror at the capabilities of adults to do atrocious things, I think my biggest lesson was the power of an individual. At the time, of course, I focused on the girl in the red coat. Just one tiny character in a sea of 6 million that stood out so clearly and purposely to make a point. Now I think of the power just one individual like Schindler had to make an impact on the world. We might not think of ourselves as a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the reality is we all have the power to not only improve the lives of those around us, but also to indeed change the world. It doesn’t have to be a pipe dream — it can be reality.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
My Bachelor’s is in Sociology and Spanish (hence the study abroad). My parents were right (of course) in asking me what you do with a Sociology degree besides more school, because that’s what I did. My Master’s degree is in higher education administration. I spent most of my adult career working on college campuses and supporting students in their entrance into adulthood. After getting married and having my first child, I decided to quit my job and stay at home. My Masters-required job didn’t pay me enough to afford daycare. I had dabbled in some direct sales businesses pretty successfully. I am a firm believer that direct sales is a great personal development business and a useful introduction to business and marketing in particular. It gets a bad rap, but truly it’s an industry that allows you to travel, move, raise kids, work another job, and still earn a successful side income and learn about yourself along the way. I’ve met some incredible, hard-working, resourceful and smart people in direct sales and I am the better for it. Direct sales is what taught me that for-profit business has the power (and money) to make significant worldwide impact on any number of important social issues — human trafficking, women’s rights, racial equity, climate change. The veil was lifted — nonprofits were not the only noble way to make change.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Eight years of diapers and laundry later, the pandemic hit and I found myself wondering what was next. I felt sort of like I was on a train that I couldn’t stop and didn’t know where it was going. I was hustling in my direct sales business, Sseko Designs, which I loved but didn’t feel quite aligned. My kids were getting older and I wasn’t making full-time income. I was trying to fit round pegs into square holes. I spent most of March, April, and May directionless. I know I’m not alone in that existential crisis. When I started Social for Good Co. in August, I didn’t really intend to start a business or become an entrepreneur. The whole experience was sort of by luck and accident, but from point A to now has taken a lot of work, research, and betting on myself. Something I had never really done before.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I was already writing social media content for a few local businesses as a contractor through another agency. It was sort of a stepping stone job, an opportunistic “what should I do now?” kind of job. When the agency closed last year, and the clients still wanted me to write their content, I said out loud, “Well, I guess I’m starting a business!”
How are things going with this new initiative?
I could not have predicted how well things would go. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was doing, if any of this would work, whether socially conscious businesses even wanted my content help, from a stay at home mom with a Sociology degree no less. But I have yet to prospect for a client. I don’t even consistently post on my own social media (I know, I know — do as I say, not as I do) because I am so busy supporting these amazing companies and initiatives by writing content and creating strategies and building community. I earned a good 5-figure income in the last quarter of 2020, and am on track to gross 6 figures this year. I started my company with no capital, no professional training or experience, while my kids were at home doing virtual school during a pandemic. I went from 0 to 12 clients in one quarter. I am now working with a small but incredible team of women. But on top of all this, we are working together to fight childhood cancer, support women in recovery, build a sustainable future and planet, and so much more. Social for Good Co. is making a difference in the world with words, and it’s that, to me, is all I need.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think there are too many to share! Both of my parents have always been extremely supportive of me and my dreams (even when they didn’t understand them), but I recall a few years ago, sitting in the parent waiting area of the dance studio where my daughter was taking lessons and my Dad said to me, “I always knew you’d find a job writing.” His words have stuck with me since then and have served as a guide to get me here.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I think one of the most interesting things about this journey is the different reactions I’ve received from people I know. Ranging from downright rude to extremely supportive and everything in between. I used to ride the highs and lows of these reactions, but I’ve learned to use myself as a compass instead. I’ve never been more clear about what I should be doing.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Sales would be the least of your worries. As of writing this, 90% of my sales calls have resulted in clients. As a self-proclaimed “non-salesy” person, I was petrified I would jump into this adventure and have no clients. Turns out, managing my time is the hardest thing I’ll ever figure out how to do.
- Don’t do it all yourself. While maybe that’s the definition of a solopreneur, running a content marketing agency is not for one person to accomplish — even if you work nights and weekends. Hire help. Even if that means paying your kids to pack some boxes for you.
- You’ll mess up. You will. Big time. And sometimes you might not come back from it in one piece. But that’s okay. It’s part of the deal and you’ll learn very quickly how to deal with it and move on. Own it, and make it right.
- Hire an accountant yesterday. Budgeting for a business is different than a personal budget, especially when you’re paying others, and you’re not good at accounting…
- Say no. Saying no to one client, doesn’t mean the door will close and no more clients will appear. Trust your gut and say no when it’s not right. There will always be more clients.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I have tried ignoring the news. I’ve tried over-indulging. Neither works. The best strategy I’ve found is to give stressful things (whether it’s news or something else) time and space. Read or watch, sit with what’s going on and then work to process some of it. Put a time limit on it, and then walk away with a sense of purpose to do something positive. As someone who suffers with anxiety, action always helps. If something on the news bothers you, process it, and then do something about it. Write in your journal, call your representative, donate, read a topical book with your kids, just do something.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If my entire life’s goal could be summed up as one thing it would be this — to encourage others to use words as a means to spread positive change and impact. Especially lately, words have been used more to damage others and our progress rather than to uplift. I’ve always wanted to change the world and as I get older, I’ve come to realize that one of the best and most simple ways to do this is through our words to one another.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
This was a hard question because there are so many, but I have to say Brene Brown. My Sociology and research-loving side cannot help but geek out when reading her books. And while that part is fun, it’s even better to learn about myself and grow in my relationship with others through her words and analysis. What a gift it would be to sit in her presence and listen to what’s on her mind currently and skip the small talk and go right to the deep stuff.
How can our readers follow you online?
My website is socialforgood.co and you can find me on all the social media channels: Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, and Clubhouse as @socialforgood.co
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!