Ladies, we are just TWO WEEKS away from this year’s Yellow Conference! If you haven’t grabbed your ticket yet, make sure to do so and join us for this incredible time! We’re continuing our speaker series and introducing you to Holley Murchison, Founder & CEO of Oratory Glory.
Tell us a little bit about your work. What sparked you to take on such unconventional roles as an education producer and communication strategist?
HM: Since I was a kid, I’ve had a hunger for learning and a passion for service. At every phase of my career, whether I was project managing high-end construction projects in NYC or working with a college to help them grow their entrepreneurship program, the success of whatever I was doing depended heavily on my ability to navigate the nuances of interpersonal communication in my day-to-day conversations. So, I’ve always been really moved by the way stories shape our world and communication shapes our relationships.
After starting a business while working part-time and freelancing as a communications consultant for about five years, I decided to pursue my wildest dreams full-time and launched a storytelling agency and speaker collective called Oratory Glory in 2015.
Our grounding belief is that when people can communicate confidently and authentically, they’re better equipped to propel innovative ideas, excel at leadership, and solve global challenges.
We’re always focused on catalyzing diversity in the spaces and industries that need it most by helping to amplify the voices we don’t hear from enough - from LGBTQ communities and people of color, to women and young people. We curate courses and events, design coaching and training programs, and develop communication and storytelling strategy for companies, schools, artists, and entrepreneurs around the world. I’m usually dividing my time between business development, curating learning experiences, and special projects.
Who has impacted your life in a profound way?
HM: My girlfriend. She’s on my top 10 favorite humans list, for sure. Everyday she reminds me of the importance of accountability and partnership. We’re aligned on values, we celebrate each other’s dreams, we don’t ignore the hard parts, and we hold ourselves and each other accountable for doing the work in the places where we need to grow.
That’s what impacts me most profoundly: being with someone who encourages my growth and helps me understand what a solid foundation feels like - for myself first, then between us. And the way we’ve grown (individually and together) has made me more discerning about all of my other relationships - professional, platonic, familial. I’m much more intentional about surrounding myself with people who confront the hard shit and are committed to being great.
What times of transition in your life have proved most important to get you where you are now?
HM: Two moments come to mind. The first was moving across the country to the Bay Area. I was born and raised in New York, and in 2013 right before my 30th birthday, I starting craving a pace and environment that was more conducive to growing my business. So I gave away two thirds of the stuff in my apartment, packed three bags with what I really needed, put the rest in storage, and moved to Oakland. That decision to leave my comfort zone was the fresh start I needed to find my way as an entrepreneur.
The second was writing and finishing the manuscript for my book coming out in September, Tell Me About Yourself. In a climate where we all need to contribute to moving things forward, it’s an action guide with a 6-step process for confidently crafting personal stories and introductions that articulate what you can contribute to the world. Even though I’ve taught the method from the book for three years and coached hundreds of people on how to implement it for themselves, when I made the decision to turn the training into a book, I had to acknowledge how often I deflected and avoided situations where I had to introduce myself. So in writing the book I was able to unravel, find my way through it, and reshape my own story. I gained so much clarity and confidence through the writing, and it gave me a renewed sense of purpose not only for myself but for the book and who we want it to reach.
What has been your greatest struggle as an entrepreneur?
HM: Delegating and asking for help. Sometimes the solitude of entrepreneurship makes you feel like you have to do it all alone.
But the whole “me against the world” thing isn’t sustainable. And as humans, that’s not how we function at our best.
I’ve been working hard over the last year to pivot from that mindset by being more vulnerable and giving my team the space to take ownership of projects, acknowledging when I need help (I have an assistant starting this summer!), and bringing different partners on board for bigger projects. This kind of trust gives me the freedom to focus my time on the areas where I’m most useful and not get bogged down with unnecessary stress or anxiety.
The theme of this year’s conference is The Present Journey. How we must embrace the process instead of only focusing on the finish line. How does this tension of being present, while looking to the future, resonate with you?
HM: I was just joking with my trainer the other day about having a hard time grounding and planting my heels when we do certain exercises. I’m so used to thinking and moving ahead that I’m constantly walking on my toes. I’ve gained a lot of momentum in my personal and professional endeavors this year, and right now I’m in a place that demands a more grounded version of myself.
So I’m honestly re-learning how to do one thing at a time. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable but I’m grateful for the way it’s stretching me out of the habits and behaviors that aren’t serving me, or the vision I have for Oratory Glory. It’s important that I have the capacity to slow down and focus on the long game. We’ve got some really exciting things in the works that we hope will make an impact even beyond our time here, so I’m a lot more conscious about managing my enthusiasm, pacing myself, and taking things as they come.
One of my mentors told me a few years ago, “Just make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach.”
Photos provided by Holley Murchison