Holly Gottlieb is an executive headhunter / recruiter based out of Los Angeles that has been at the top of her field in bridging corporate search experience with interest towards a conscious approach to living. She has been working across LA with clients who share common values, to find exec-level talent: typically VP Level / C-Suite, and through it all has been building executive level communities through in-person events, with a focus on how we all connect to ourselves, each other, and the planet.
While she hasn’t always lived here in town, since her return she has found much success, and we spoke to her all about it all and the business landscape throughout the pandemic in an exclusive interview.
1. How has your return to Los Angeles been, and why did you decide to come back?
I didn’t think I would be returning to LA… I tried to leave this city 3 times, but then kept being drawn back! I realized that leveraging my existing network of executives in the corporate world would be the best way I could make the impact I wanted to. I have been living the ‘Nomad’ lifestyle since June 2020 when I gave up my apartment in Venice. I spent some time in LA / touring across the US. The decision that sparked the move back to LA came from a job offer that fell through. I was singing at an event in Kansas City in October 2021 (playing for 700 people, which was really something, considering I’d only played for 50 before)… one of the speakers at the event was launching a DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) in the food economy, and offered me a role to help build the company out of Los Angeles. So I moved back to Los Angeles at the end of 2021, but learnt some hard lessons when the job offer fell through! Once back in Los Angeles though, I was drawn to the idea of rebuilding the executive community I had previously built, with a more intentional focus on clients which I aligned with. I reached out to my network and was connected to Shane Heath, the founder of MUD\\WTR, who was looking for a Chief Marketing Officer. In my previous role as an executive recruiter, I had placed multiple Heads of Marketing / CMO type roles, and given the mission of MUD\\WTR, it seemed like a perfect fit, and has helped me to shape the niche that I am carving for myself in this market.
2. How have you been helping people around the world and here in LA during today’s landscape of a mental health epidemic?
The last couple of years have been quite a journey through my own mental landscape. Since hitting a rock bottom in January 2020, I have been learning so much about my own mental health, to be able to then share this with others – both online through content I have been sharing, and in conversations with others who have been struggling during this time. I have worked closely with Kate Nasuti of Rename, Reframe, Shift whose approach has provided me with tools to skillfully navigate the challenges that life brings. With our work together being so impactful, I felt called to connect her with others, with similar mental struggles to mine. By helping Kate grow her clientele, I have impacted the lives of 30+ others. Our vision is to see this approach implemented into the corporate world, via my existing network in this space.
3. What do you feel separates you from others in your field?
I feel there is a niche in the job market to help people align with jobs / income that feels more purpose driven. During the pandemic, 1 in 4 Americans quit their jobs, and we’re seeing an overwhelming shift of people wanting to take a step-change in their lives. I feel like recent times have given people a lot of opportunity for reflection, i.e. what is it that I really want to do with my time? What makes me happy? Why do I want to get out of bed in the morning?…. I think that we live under the assumption that a job is to just to pay the bills, but when we aren’t finding purpose or satisfaction in how we spend the largest majority of our time, the mental challenge is inevitable…. Having taken a 2 year break from ‘the corporate world’, and returning to a very similar income stream that I left, I now firmly believe that we can find purpose and satisfaction in our jobs / careers, and it’s a case of understanding of what our personal values are, and then consciously choosing to live in alignment with them. Whilst the ‘wellness’ space is obviously huge, I feel my niche is quite distinct – I am building a community of businesses and executives who believe that work can be done a different way, and exploring what it means to find purpose and fulfillment in our lives, whilst building real, tangible businesses that are making an impact for good on the planet.
4. You currently work at MUD\WTR, which is a ritual-building company. Tell us how that is going?
I am currently consulting with MUD\\WTR to help grow their executive team. So I wouldn’t say I work for MUD, but they are my first client in this new world I am building… I learnt that once I aligned with my values, I would attract clients who do the same!
5. LA is also a city where people come to follow their dreams/passions, and you have recently released your own music. Tell us about it!
I originally moved to Los Angeles with my business partner, Tom Vaughan, in 2016, to set up the US arm of our headhunting business. We had worked together in London, and for a period of 6 years worked together to build our business. Our conversations often centered around purpose, and finding creativity, but during that working period, we both struggled to find that creative outlet. In 2019, Tom, who had been suffering with anxiety and panic attacks, walked into the Santa Monica Ocean and drowned – this is what sparked this exploratory journey for me over the last couple of years. Before Tom passed, I played him a song in my backyard, and he encouraged me that this is what I had to do! I had never played publicly, or even written any music, but when we held Tom’s memorial in Los Angeles a few months later, I knew I had to sing this song… It was a cover of Big Thief, ‘Masterpiece’. Youtube Link HERE . After singing, I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I’ve been following that pipedream ever since! I started doing live performances over Instagram during the pandemic, and wrote 40+ songs during my travels across the US. I met a producer, Austin Brown, whilst camping in Joshua Tree in 2020, and when I returned to Los Angeles, we recorded a couple of songs that are now on Spotify. First song released on my birthday 2/11/22 – Venus Walks. I used to think that you were either in the corporate world, or creative. What excites me now is understanding that you can do both! So I am continuing to create and record music, whilst building my professional business.
6. What about Los Angeles do you love so much about and where are some of your favorite places to go eat, hang out, etc.?
Having spent 5 years living in Venice, I just moved to Altadena to a home with old fruit trees in the backyard. There are so many different neighborhoods in LA that are unique, and I’m now loving discovering a new one. I live just below the mountains, so go hiking up there at sunrise and watch the city rise up! There are various spots in Venice which I feel very familiar with – I co-host a monthly happy hour for business execs called ‘Friends of Friends’ at The Penmar Clubhouse (an awesome spot which has seen a cult following grew during the pandemic). I’m now loving the fact that I had friends in neighborhoods all over town, and get the chance to explore them. Locally – ‘Pizza of Venice’ which is actually in Altadena, is worth a shout-out. I ended up meeting the owner, Jamie, at one of the Happy Hours, so that was a small world moment. As I said before, I tried to leave this city 3 times…. but I feel like I might be back for good now. There’s a familiarity here which I love, the people are open, and it has the largest recovery community in the world, which is one that I’m starting to dip my feet into. They call it the city of angels for a reason!
7. What do you have planned for the rest of 2022?
Continuing to build my business, working with other clients like MUD\\WTR to build their executive team – I’ll be hosting events aimed towards facilitating conversation around mental health / purpose / creativity. I believe creating the opportunity for conversation and connection with the people who are change-makers in their own right, is how an organic sense of community is created, rather than a forced one. I am also looking at other ways to partner with the brands / businesses that are in alignment with what I stand for (facilitating connection to ourselves, to each other, and the planet)… I’m a connector. Period. So looking at revenue generating ways I can use this to grow my business, including partnerships / sales in general / connecting event sponsors.. And of course, continuing to focus on recording more music!
FOR MORE ON HOLLY: