Awesome People I Know - Kayla Hollatz

If you could give five books to everyone you meet, what would they be?  

This is probably the best first question I’ve had in an interview. Major kudos.

  1. The Anatomy of Being, Shinji Moon

  2. The Lover’s Dictionary, David Levithan

  3. 1984, George Orwell

  4. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

  5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Tucson, AZ and moved to Minnesota the summer before first grade. I lived in Wisconsin for the first half of college and then moved back to Minnesota when I transferred universities. I’m a freeze baby so I terribly miss the south.

What do you do for a profession, and how did you get into this profession?

I’m a PR professional at a global PR agency in Minneapolis. I first pursued fashion journalism but when my passion started to slip, I changed to the more broad field of public relations. I knew I wanted something in writing and communications so public relations seemed to be a good fit. Now I do social media and media relations work for various health and wellness brands. The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a mermaid, but that didn’t quite pan out.

What do you love about what you do?

My first love has always been writing and I get to write every day. I also love helping brands build communities and truly connect with their audience. With being multi-passionate, having a variety of clients and tasks helps me stay enthusiastic about my work.

What are some of your professional achievements you are most proud of?

It’s been really incredible to be headhunted for several job positions right out of college. I can’t say I expected that, but I’ve been incredibly thankful for the doors that have been opened for me. It’s actually been largely due to my blog and social media presence. I love relating my passion projects to my professional work and seeing them collide. It’s really rewarding for me.

What are some of your hunches about the future of digital/social/SEO?

I think (and really hope) that social teams will increasingly value engagement metrics over vanity metrics. Follower counts don’t paint the whole picture. The most successful business owners online will be those who are investing in their communities. Our generation is so used to being talked at that we are looking for brands to talk with. It will be interesting to see the digital landscape shift to fit this need.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I’m a short form poet and have been sharing my work online for almost three years. I’m in the middle of finalizing my first poetry collection, Brave Little Bones. I think my love of Twitter stemmed from my early love of haikus and other short forms.

I’m also really passionate about music. I sang in choir throughout school and it was my everything. Unfortunately during my junior year of high school, I found I had vocal cord damage. It flipped my entire world upside down. I can’t sing like I used to, but I sometimes do despite some pain. I miss it every day, but I really leaned on poetry during that time and the rest is history.

When I was young, my family would go on road trips every year for weeks at a time so I’ve always loved exploring new cities and hiking to see beautiful scenery. I’m always attached to my camera and capturing memories. I’m also really laid-back so give me a juicy burger and a Vikings football game to watch with friends and I’m on cloud nine.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  

I’d say healing. Both mentally and physically. I can’t imagine a better power.

What are three items you bring with you to a deserted island?

I suppose a plane can’t be one of them. In that case, I’d bring a laptop (for writing and listening to music), my collection of fortunes, and an unlimited supply of hot chocolate.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be and where would you go?

I’d pick these three for completely different reasons:

  1. Shel Silverstein - Besides nursery rhymes, Shel Silverstein was the first poet I was introduced to as a kid. I enjoyed his poems when I was younger, but now when I reread his collections, I see incredible depth in each piece.

  2. Zooey Deschanel - Okay, so my favorite movie is 500 Days of Summer, but that’s not the only reason why she earned a spot on my list. No only is she an incredible actress, but the girl has pipes and she’s a savvy business owner/blogger as well. I think we’d be best friends.

  3. Elena Tonra - She is the lead vocalist of my favorite band, Daughter (tied with Mutemath actually.) Seeing her perform two years ago in Minneapolis was life-changing. Her lyrics affect you like poetry and she has the sweetest spirit.

Give us three of your favorite quotes.  What do you find so powerful about these quotes?

  1. “You are your problem, but you’re also your solution.” I know it’s from Bridesmaids, but I watched the movie during a very difficult time in my life and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment and it has always stuck with me. You can’t always change the cards you’ve been dealt but you can choose what you do with them.

  2. You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” We all know writing makes us very vulnerable, especially poetry. When putting my poetry collection together, there were times where self-censorship seeped in because it’s scary to let people know what even an ounce of my past looked like. To combat that, I had this quote on a post-it note on my laptop so whenever I started to feel that way, I could snap out of it and celebrate my small victories instead.

  3. “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” I actually considered getting this as a tattoo a few years back. I think it describes humanity so well. Our flaws make us who we are, and are they really flaws if we learn to love them?

What is one piece of advice you would give to your 18-year-old self?

No one has their life all figured out, so trust your instincts and know when to throw out your plans. You are human and you will stumble, but you’ll find enlightenment in the fall and beauty in the rise.

Give some advice to those up-and-coming professionals out there.

Just put yourself out there. Don’t network; connect with people on a more personal level. Take them out for coffee and really listen. You’ll find more success doing this than “climbing the ladder.”