Women Of The C-Suite: “Be positive! With the right attitude, you can figure anything out” With Holly Peterson

Be positive! With the right attitude, you can figure anything out. My 12 year old daughter was recently asked what she thinks it takes to…

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Be positive! With the right attitude, you can figure anything out. My 12 year old daughter was recently asked what she thinks it takes to be successful. She responded that to be successful, one must spend at least five minutes every night and every morning pondering what they want to happen. Almost in hindsight she added, “and be positive. If you are not positive, it means you are sad or angry, and every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” I recommend the same thing to other female leaders as I taught my daughter, be positive.

I had the pleasure to interview Holly Peterson, the founder and president of Elite Retirement Strategies in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In life, it is often difficult to pinpoint a specific place in time that leads to a specific decision, I believe that a culmination of events and life experiences lead each of us to where we are. My first introduction to the financial industry was early in my career when I worked for Shearson Lehman Brothers. Years later, I owned a retail company that ultimately failed during the 2007/2008 recession. In an attempt to rebound from the financial loss, I trusted a source that I shouldn’t have and invested all of our remaining assets in the risky options market where I ended up losing everything in a short period of time. After that, I became determined to help people protect what they have earned and began my own financial business. I am passionate about helping others shelter and grow their estate without the risk of loss.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The financial industry is a male dominated field, so I am used to being the only woman in the room. Most of the meetings I go to are attended and run by men, and throughout years of going to these meetings, I have realized that when there are other women in attendance, they are often the wives of businessmen and not involved with the industry. As such, I am frequently presented with moments where I can exceed expectations.

In a recent meeting, I attempted to join a conversation with a group of men but wasn’t taken seriously. As this is sometimes commonplace, I didn’t think anything of it. When the meeting started, my sales numbers were announced in front of the room. I had submitted a substantial amount. Suddenly, everyone wanted to talk with me and trade advice to see what I was doing to help my clients that garnered such a return. Some people may sweep the idea of a successful female under the rug, but it’s just another opportunity for me to step up and show that I am an equal member on the playing field.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve never been a very good navigator, which can be tricky because I visit my clients in their homes. One time, I was driving several hours away from my office to visit a client’s house that I had only been to once before. I was listening to an audiobook to pass the time and accidentally missed my exit. My GPS said there was another exit I could take, so I continued my path. The GPS led me off the exit, past a lake and up into the mountains. This was winter in Idaho, and I became concerned when it started to snow and I realized I hadn’t seen any other vehicles in a while. Before I knew it, snow had completely covered the mountain road. I checked my GPS for reassurance and… there was no signal. I thought I was going to be a story on the nightly news. I continued to push through and finally reached a summit sign that assured me I was on the correct path. I promised myself I would never miss another exit.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I’m not a typical financial advisor, I’m a guest columnist for the Idaho State Journal, former host of “Safe Money Radio” and the author of Wealth in Abundance, which is scheduled to be released this winter.

As the founder and president of Elite Retirement Strategies, I help clients create a financial plan that could quite literally change not only their life, but the lives of their children and grandchildren. I pride myself on my “get the ball rolling” attitude and leverage multiple licenses to develop and secure unique strategies for my clients. I believe in a consultative approach to retirement planning and give my clients financial options that will best fit their needs and circumstances. 
 The sad truth is, most Americans will run out of money in retirement. Knowing this, I’m here to “get the ball rolling” and provide my clients with the knowledge they need to get ahead in life and protect themselves against the possibility of a failed retirement plan. I’m here to show them how to safeguard their future and make it last for as long as they need it.

My deepest passion is helping families grow their wealth, get ahead in life and plan for a predictable retirement. I believe in the power of education and hope my book and columns can help teach people how to protect their future lifestyles.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I meet many business owners who all have the same concerns: how can I save money? Regardless of the industry, that’s the biggest thing on business owners’ minds. I am currently working on several projects that will teach business owners different strategies to save money and help their businesses grow stronger.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Be positive! With the right attitude, you can figure anything out. My 12 year old daughter was recently asked what she thinks it takes to be successful. She responded that to be successful, one must spend at least five minutes every night and every morning pondering what they want to happen. Almost in hindsight she added, “and be positive. If you are not positive, it means you are sad or angry, and every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” I recommend the same thing to other female leaders as I taught my daughter, be positive.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Listen to your team. There is much to be learned when you come together as a team and provide an opportunity for open discussions. As part of a strategic “think tank” for my industry, I have witnessed the power of how a team can come together, solve problems and create solutions that we couldn’t have done on our own.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?

My mom was the greatest influence in my life, to her I owe the greatest debt and most heartfelt gratitude. Among other things, she taught me to believe in myself. From a young age, she encouraged independence and made me want to be a better person and to make her proud. She passed away when I was 32. I often think about what advice she would give me when I encounter obstacles and what encouragement she would give me when I celebrate success. Besides my mother, I’ve had many mentors that helped me along the way.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My greatest joy resides at home. Raising seven beautiful children alongside my husband is the highest honor and accomplishment I could hope for. The greatest goodness I could give the world is passing on values that have been, and will be, upheld by my children and grandchildren. These values will be shared and multiplied by the people they come in contact with along their journey of life.

I also help support and uplift women in my own community. Each year, I nominate and write about amazing local women to the Nation of Neighbors program. One woman won a $10,000 award and went on to help formerly incarcerated women find jobs and get another start on life.

Through my church, I’m able to serve people far from home. Recently, I donated money to purchase supplies for an orphanage in Paraguay. My son delivered the supplies in person and was there to witness the joy from the children who were receiving these gifts.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

● The first and foremost is gratitude. I quickly learned that the more grateful I am for things, the more goodness fills my life. I have a gratitude journal where I write things I am grateful for. When I first started this, I wrote about things that would seem small to many people. Things like, “I’m grateful that I didn’t miss my exit” and “I’m grateful that the sun is shining.” The more I recognized the little things I was grateful for, the more big things became apparent to be grateful for. I began to wait for good things to happen, because they always did. When you start to do this on a regular basis, it becomes a habit. One day when traveling home from Detroit, I realized I left my phone in the airport bathroom. Although it had only been minutes, when I rushed back to the bathroom, my phone was gone. Instead of focusing on the loss or blaming myself, I immediately began to think of all the things I was grateful for. I was grateful that it was my phone and not my keys, I was grateful that I still had my purse, I was grateful for the lesson and for the people who helped me. I did not get my phone back, but I have no doubt that the positive attitude helped me in ways I cannot know.

● Don’t let things get to you. We are bombarded with things every day, it can be easy to get down. Take a deep breath and move on. Do everything you can do within your power and turn it over to a higher source. All you can do is all you can do. I learned this when things don’t go my way. Sometimes there are clients who do not listen to my advice or who cannot see the bigger picture, but I remind myself that the most I can do is provide them with the tools for their success and I hope that they come around.

● Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. When a task seems too difficult, jump in and do it. When I was young, I was terrified of heights, they paralyzed me. I was a low diver on the high school swim team but the thought of the high dive was more than I could imagine. One day, I ventured to the high dive only to freeze with fear, I couldn’t jump. I crawled on my hands and knees, gripping the board, back to the ladder to climb down. One day I decided I had to get over my fear of heights, it would no longer own me. I joined a professional high diving team, signed a contract and moved away to dive from platforms that were much higher than the high dive at my school swim team. Standing on the high dive on my first day, I thought I would pass out. As time went on I became more comfortable with the thing that had once made me so uncomfortable. Soon, I was diving from platforms 35 feet in the air. Now when I’m faced with a task that scares me, I remember my diving experience. I know that after I do something for a while, it will seem like I’ve done it forever. Thinking of that makes the first step into the unknown a little easier.

● Celebrate along the way. It’s good to have goals and push both yourself and your team, but burnout happens quickly when you are in a fast-paced environment. Take the time to celebrate with your team, reward them and yourself for accomplishments. After a long summer of hard work, I took my team on a canoeing trip. It provided not only the well-deserved relaxation we all needed, but also brought team building to a level that could not have been achieved in the office.

● Lead by example. If you want your team to do it, you need to do it. I never assign anything out that I haven’t done myself. I believe that’s the only way to truly help your team. If you can understand what they need to do because you have done it, you become a more effective leader.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I wish a movement of tolerance would start. If we could all be less judgmental and more loving and accepting of others, it could go a long way at making the world a better place. I can imagine a world where everyone wants the best for each other and when someone needs help, others would anxiously offer their assistance.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right,” by Henry Ford, and “successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better,” by Jim Rohn. I read these every day and realize that no matter what happens in life, I play a role in how my life turns out. I can either believe in myself and move forward, or not. I constantly strive to be better. The better I am, the more I can help my clients. They deserve that.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I can be found online at and on linked in at

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