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Making Music…and a Difference: Q&A with Holly Mueller

Posted by cleveland

You grew up in Canton, Ohio but left after college. What drew you back to Ohio and Cleveland in particular?
I left shortly after college and lived a few different places across the country. It was great! And I recommend that to anyone: if you have the bug to travel, do it. I realized after moving away how great Ohio really was. I wanted to focus on career development, and I had a lot of connections in Cleveland, so that’s why I moved back. And, I missed my family.

What are you up to now?
Currently, I own the strategic public relations (PR) firm Holly M Communications, which specializes in corporate communications. I work mainly with B2B companies in the manufacturing industry on everything as tactical as writing content for marketing collateral to executive media training, crisis communications support, and strategic communications planning.

You’re a chanteuse! You recently hosted a fundraiser for SVP at the Market Avenue Wine Bar where you provided the entertainment singing and accompanying yourself on the piano. How long have you been performing?
Writing music, playing piano, and singing since I was 11. I’m classically trained, and I’ve used my talent many times over the years as a part-time job playing in jazz bars or to raise money for various fundraisers.

What kinds of music do you like to listen to?
I really like everything! Depends on my mood. I like to play and sing all different styles as well—so on any day, I’m listening to Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Nirvana, and Tupac!

If you could perform on stage with any musician living or dead, who would it be?
P!nk—I feel our voices would be amazing together! At least they are in my car when we duet.

Where does your love of music come from?
My grandmother played the piano during my childhood, and my mother sang to me growing up. It’s really just in my genes!

The fundraiser is a clear example of using your talents for a good cause. In what other ways have you used your creative side to aid nonprofits?
As I mentioned, I’ve done a lot of performing for good causes. When I lived in Florida, the company I worked for had a fundraiser every year for various local charities, and I would perform for those!

I see you have worked in communications for a broad spectrum of clients—everyone from the U.S. Military to Eaton Corporation! Now you run your own communications firm Holly M Communications. What excites you the most about having your own company?
I am in total control of my situation. If business is slow—I’m responsible for changing that. If business is booming—I’m grateful, and I ask the universe to send me more! It’s just so fulfilling to take charge of my life in every single way. And I really hope I inspire others to do the same.

What is a challenge you have overcome as a new business? Any advice for other entrepreneurs in a similar position?
It’s true what they say—enjoy the ebb and the flow, the ups and the downs. Appreciate the down times, because when it gets busy (and it always does), it gets SUPER busy. The ups and downs are what make this so fun. It’s really helped me learn how to handle stress better and have a more “go with the flow” attitude in life. Because one way or another, it always works out—that’s the one constant in all the crazy.

If life is a journey, where do you see yourself right now? What is your journey?
It’s funny, because this was always my one and only dream—owning my own business. So now what? I asked myself that question when I first started last year. So, I hired a fantastic executive coach in Cleveland, Yan Maschke, to really help me identify my goals—not just as a business owner, but as a leader. I want to be more than just the owner of Holly M Communications. I want to build an empire—gracefully pieced together with all of the people I can help, connect with, and inspire along the way. I feel very strongly about helping young adults, especially women, get the education and the guidance they need to follow their dreams. I have a mentorship program that focuses specifically on that, and one day, I plan to turn that mentorship program into a fully functioning nonprofit organization.

What motivates you to do good?
Two things:
1. I am beyond grateful for the loving family that raised me and for the opportunities I have been presented in my life. It’s my responsibility to give back, to help others who don’t have those same opportunities.
2. I’m a firm believer in energy. The more positive energy I’m able to put into the world, the more that comes my way. It energizes me to do good and to have an impact. Without that energy, I would have no purpose.

How do you think other people in similar communications and creative fields can contribute in big ways to nonprofits—especially with their capacity-building goals?
Communicators are fundamentally problem-solvers. We are able to listen—comprehend—and share messages to broader audiences in a format they’re able to understand. That’s really powerful. And in essence, isn’t that what all nonprofits are trying to do? Educate and receive community support? Communicators have really strong tools we can share.

How did you become involved in SVP?
Cindy Fisher was a colleague of mine at Eaton and she invited me to the Investment team event last May. I loved the format, and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I fell in love with the mission and business model of SVP.

What is something unexpected you have learned through your involvement with the SVP?
I really like being in rooms with really smart people—and at SVP, I’m not even close to being the smartest person in the room! I love that everyone has such diverse backgrounds and we can learn so much from each other.

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