Sunday, January 31, 2016

Embracing Vulnerability: My Most Dramatic Post Yet

I wasn't planning on publicly sharing what I am about to share, with anyone but my family and close friends, but recently the word has gotten out and a lot of questions, excitement etc have come from it, so I thought why not? Why keep it a secret? So, here goes nothing...

Monday nights are my favorite {and really only} night to watch TV.  As an exciting season of Monday Night Football comes to an end, a new season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette rolls out. Always promising to be the most dramatic season ever,  I plan my evenings around getting to know the contestants, "live" texting with my friends as the drama unfolds,  and casting my vote for who will receive the final rose. Some seasons are better than others, sometimes love is found, and sometimes the drama is more than I can handle. During the last couple of seasons, I have had an overwhelming desire to apply to go on the show.  For those who know me, and I mean really know me, that is a HUGE leap of faith.  From fighting back thoughts of insecurity to overcoming my complete discomfort with being in front of a camera {ironic as I am applying to go on a TV showed aired on national TV}, it was a leap of faith I was willing to take...

So I started researching on what all the application process entails & connected with people on twitter in hopes of gaining additional inside information.  I'll be honest, the details are hard to come by...there is no timeline/deadline, you don't really know when to submit your application and which season you are applying for.  But after several seasons passed and my desire to at least put myself out there to apply to go on the show increased, and with the a little nudge from my friend, I printed off the application, outlined my desired video, and started the process.  Fully embracing vulnerability. 


Well let me begin by saying that I am 32 and single in Medford, OR and am looking for more than this small southern Oregon town seems to have to offer.  I want more adventure, more experiences, more culture.

I believe in the potential of the process to work for some.  I know more people than not are skeptical of the show, and it's ability to create a match made in heaven.  But I think it can be a great platform to meet people who you otherwise wouldn't meet, while truly having  a once in a lifetime opportunity. So whether its true love you find {the ultimate goal}, new friendships you create, or adventures you have, its bound to be an EPIC experience.


You have to submit a 5 page application answering questions ranging from your dating past, what you are looking for in a spouse, to your occupation, etc, along with 5-10 pictures of yourself, and a 10-15 minute video basically convincing the casting crew to select you.

Did I mention I absolutely hate being in front of a video camera?? Oh the irony.  But I outlined what I wanted to include in my video, picked out my outfits, determined the shoot locations and set out with a camera and my friend to depict The Life of Holly in only 10 short minutes!  10 minutes isn't a lot of time to fully encompass whats important to, friends, serving/community involvement, my faith, running, my job, traveling, etc...while truly capturing my personality and who I am.  I can honestly say I have never had more fun being uncomfortable...we laughed as we highlighted my corporate job in downtown Medford and staged a scene at the Dutch Bros drive thru.

The application was filled out in its entirety, the top pictures selected and printed {each individually labeled}, and the video edited and formatted to their specifications {complete with a personalized CD label}...and were all sealed up in a gold manilla folder, sure to catch the attention of the casting crew, and sent off to California.  I tracked the package to confirm it was delivered, and then just waited. And waited. Always anxious when an unknown number called me.

I heard nothing.  Not even a confirmation that my application was received.


I thought I would be disappointed that I didn't hear back, but I really wasn't. Rather I was so thankful I followed a desire of my heart and forced myself out of my comfort zone.  If anything, I hope I can encourage others to be willing to be uncomfortable and possibly face failure, because it is through the process that we experience many blessings in disguise.  I have never had so much fun doing something that I really don't like; we seriously laughed until we cried several times during the filming process.  And I grew as a person, gaining more confidence and an increased desire to continue to live life to the fullest.  Something I thought would be so difficult and uncomfortable for me really wasn't, making me question what other opportunities I have passed up because at first thought they might make me uncomfortable.

So while I might not be riding elephants in Thailand, flying in a helicopter over LA, or having a camera crew follow me around 24-7, I am still living life to the fullest, making the most of every adventure and opportunity that comes my way, and at some point along the way I will receive my final rose.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

{MY} Auctions 101

I have been involved in many fundraising efforts, ranging from participating in Dancing With The Rogue Valley Stars, to putting on a 5K fundraiser, to being the event manager for the local Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. I enjoy the event planning portion, and love the challenge of reaching & surpassing a goal.  I have helped with a couple local auctions, but on a rather limited scale.  I have been involved with the Gingerbread Jubilee for a couple of years, and now as a board member of the Craterian Theater, I agreed to take on a larger role...that of procurement co-chair.   With the help of my co-chair and our committee, we were responsible for procuring all of the silent and live auction items. I took on the role with a goal to spice things up, changing up items that we had repeated for several years, and introducing new, perhaps risky packages.  I am happy to say, that with a phenomenal team and great collaborative effort, we pulled off the most successful Gingerbread Jubilee Auction in history.  I did a lot of research to learn HOW to put on a successful auction, and I want to pay it forward and share what I learned from my experience.  

Do your research. Google "Tips to a successful auction." "Top Selling LIVE auction items."  There are so many amazing resources out there...take advantage of them. There is in fact a science to putting on a successful auction, including how to put together the LIVE auction order, how many items to auction off, when to do the ask, etc.  Also, research the history of your event and notice what has sold well in the past, how many years a certain package has been offered,  what areas you are lacking auction items,'s important to be familiar with your event.

I came across a list of unique auction items, one being to auction off dessert prepared & served table side by a local famous chef, and we did just that! The dessert was part of the entertainment for the evening, a huge success, and got the evening off to a fun & exciting start...I mean, if a dessert goes for over $1,000, its bound to be a good night!

Put in the extra effort. If you are easily able to put together a package valued at $1,000, put in the extra effort to create a $2,000 package.  That might mean adding a transportation component, a live performance to a dinner package, OR a behind the scenes experience. 

Make it a night to remember.  It's important that your guests enjoy themselves, and want to come back the following year.  So in addition to offering a quality dinner & great auction packages you need to incorporate entrainment components into the evening.

At this year's {well now last year's} Gingerbread Jubilee Auction we knew we were going to hit the $1,000,000 mark {over the history of the auction}, and it was important to make a big deal of it. During the auction we celebrated raising $1 million by having a surprise celebration complete with champagne, sirens, and confetti!

Get items donated. I am a firm believer that the auction items need to be donated NOT purchased. The ultimate goal is to raise money for the organization, so it is counter intuitive to purchase {aka underwrite} items to be auctioned off.

With that being said, there are a few {very few} situations in which adding a component to a package will significantly leverage the package, thus increasing the perceived value.  For instance, I was able to get 4 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Grandstand seats donated, and while those are priceless, I knew the package didn't have much value without overnight accommodations.  After submitting over a dozen donation request letters to NYC hotels with ZERO leads, I had to go to plan B. So with the help of a board member I solicited a financial donation from a local physician group to cover the cost of the hotel room & tickets to a broadway show.  It was win-win situation...the package was our highest selling auction item at just under $8,000 and we developed new friends of the theater from the physician group.

Include an element of exclusivity with each package.  For the live auction it is important that every package include a component of exclusivity, something that is truly priceless; whether it be a behind the scenes experience, signed memorabilia, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Tickets :), a VIP dining experience with a local celebrity, a private flight for a day golf trip etc.

Be willing to take a risk. In an effort to change things up, and spice up the auction, we had to be willing to take a risk and get rid of packages we have offered for several years, and introduce completely new & exciting packages.  While some weren't as well received as we would've liked, others were a HUGE success! 

Ensure the right people are in attendance.  You can have the most perfectly executed event, but without the right buns in the seat, the event will not be a success.  I think there are 3 categories of people you need to focus on 1) Those who are big supporters of your cause/organization.  They want to and will give, despite what packages etc you offer.  2) Specific buyers for specific packages.  3) People who are well known in the community for their support of several always want to be introducing new people to the event and the organization. 

Continue to cultivate relationships after the auction.  When the night comes to an end, it is so important to continue to cultivate & develop lasting relationships with your donors, sponsors, and buyers.  Don't ever under estimate the power of a hand written thank you note or a nice bottle of wine to show your appreciation.  

While there were moments I said NEVER AGAIN, I enjoyed the process and the challenge of figuring out the ins & outs of putting on a successful auction.  It took a lot {and I mean A LOT} of time, energy and resource to pull it off, but in the end it was all worth it and an incredibly rewarding night & experience.