Welcome to Feel Better Now!
How do you harness your belief to achieve beyond your wildest dreams?
This week, Jackie talks with Holly Budge, adventure extraordinaries. She is a TEDx inspirational speaker, the first woman to skydive Mount Everest, and the founder of the NGO How Many Elephants.
Through her nonprofit, Holly is making a big difference in the most courageous way you can imagine, and her passion is palpable. Her charity has raised over £400,000 and counting. If you want to meet a true pioneer with a hugely positive mindset making a massive difference in this world, Holly is your gal.
Tune in to learn how jumping out of an airplane changed the course of Holly’s life, her unbelievable experience standing alongside the Black Mambas of South Africa, and why she wholeheartedly believes that the barrier is the gift. Holly brings her inspiring, no-nonsense, and down-to-Earth charm to our conversation. You don’t want to miss it!
Key Topics and Tips
● How to turn fear into action.
● Holly’s secret to seeing past the “barriers” that hold most people back.
● What Holly does to get out of a funk.
● The one non-negotiable trait that Holly looks for in a friend.
● Working with the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit.
● The less glossy side of adventure.
Where You Can Find Holly Budge
“Getting up, going to work, and jumping out of a plane is as normal as getting up and cleaning your teeth. I was able to normalize that fear.” (6:13, Holly)
“My motto is: Think big; dream bigger.” (7:40, Holly)
“I’m nothing superhuman. I’m passionate, dedicated, and just giving it a go even if it scares the hell out of me.” (11:49, Holly)
“What I’m doing is using design to bridge the gap between scientific data on one hand and human connection on the other. So, what do I mean by that? When you tell someone, ‘35,000 elephants are poached a year,’ we can’t visualize that. It’s just way too big a number. So, my exhibition showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes on a wall. Each square represents one day of poaching, and there are 365 squares, normally. Connecting with this data in a purely visual way is proving to be really successful in terms of people engaging with the subject matter and, also, impact.” (19:46, Holly)
“‘Specific is terrific.’ If I spread myself too thin, I’m not making an impact.” (36:53, Holly)
“I believe that my work is dedicated to women, because […] this balance between ‘selfish’ and ‘selfless’ is so hard to crack. How can you stay satisfied by giving and also receiving and looking after yourself?” (38:09, Jackie)
09: Life Hacks From the Death Zone with Holly Budge
jackie: [00:00:00] Welcome. Welcome. Welcome Holly budge. Oh my goodness. Adventure. Extraordinary. I’m so excited to have you here today. Thank you so much for your generous time.
guest: Thank you, Jackie. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Chatting with you.
jackie: Holly, you are absolutely incredible. And one of my favorite quotes of yours is I turn fear into action and the rest is history. I want you to teach me how do I turn fear into
guest: action. Well, there is a question. That’s a big question. So for me, Jackie I started turning fear into action when I first jumped out of an airplane.
So jumping out of an airplane, a perfectly good airplane for the very first time completely changed the course of my life. Those 60 seconds of adrenaline and sheer terror really did change the course of my life. And that was fear interaction. Not only did I want to go back and jump out of [00:01:00] the airplane straight away, do it all over again.
I was also blown away that people were getting paid. Jump out of perfectly good airplanes for a job. And funnily enough, nobody had told me about this especially my careers advisor at school. So I decided there, and then this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be employed as a freefall camera woman in New Zealand.
So it was a pretty far fetched goal. But I came back, came back to the UK, carried on working in my role as a graphic designer, saved up enough money to go back to New Zealand, put myself through my skydiving course. And several months later I got my dream job and was employed as a skydiving camera woman and was getting paid to jump out of airplanes up to 12 times a day every day.
And it only took three jumps a month to pay for my rent. So I knew I’d never had so much disposable [00:02:00] income. But what this did in ref on reflection. I like to call this the boldness of youth because I knew nothing about skydiving. I knew nothing about filming and I knew nobody in New Zealand, but none of that mattered because I knew I could learn those skills or I could at least have a go.
So when I achieved this, this far-fetched goal, it gave me this massive self-belief and confidence that I could achieve, whatever I put my mind to. And that was 20 years ago. So I’ve tried to keep that mindset going for the last 20 years. And I call it holding on to your 21 year old mindset. And that’s taken me on some pretty incredible adventures around the world, including becoming first woman to skydive, Everest, and more recently climbing to the summit of Everest.
jackie: That is so incredible. I love. I love that belief about, [00:03:00] about, you know, keeping yourself in that 21 year old mindset, because it, it really is, you know, we’re born into this world as babies completely feel it some way. And the fear just, I always wonder, like how, how does the fear creeping, you know, what’s the difference between you being fearless and me being a scaredy-cat.
guest: Do you know, I don’t think there’s that much difference in that. And again, use, well, I use bungee jumping cause I did a bungee jump just before I jumped out of the airplane for the first time, just to use this as an example it was really terrifying, absolutely terrifying, but some made myself do it and then felt, you know, quite good that I’d done that.
And the same with the skydive, it was absolutely terrifying. But once I’d done it, I thought, well, I could do that again. So then when I did get employed as a camera woman, it was really interesting how suddenly jumping out of an airplane became very normal. And I [00:04:00] used to say to people, getting up, going to work, jumping out of a plane is as normal as getting up and cleaning your teeth.
And so I was able to normalize that fear. So what was. So, so frightening. And I remember in the, when I was skydiving, I used to look at the experienced guys you know, the tandem masters and the other cameraman and the instructors in the plane. And they were so relaxed and they were laughing and joking with each other.
And I just remember thinking, how can they be like this when I’m just terrified? And before long, that was me. That was me laughing and joking. So I don’t think it’s that big a gap really? Between a fear and fear fearless.
jackie: Yeah. Well, it’s almost, I suppose it’s almost like a muscle, isn’t it? Like the more you, so what you’re talking about really is, is flexing that muscle with the practice.
guest: is. Yeah, absolutely. So, it’s, it’s quite fascinating [00:05:00] really when you just start pushing yourself and, and suddenly what seemed impossible. Becomes possible and then becomes an everyday habit or routine and then it becomes completely normal. Yeah.
jackie: So amazing. What a spirit you have. I wonder if I was your, if I was your daughter, what would you instill in me?
guest: I would just, I mean, I, I just say my, my motto is think big dream bigger, and, and I just think, you know, why not give, give something a go? Like I said, my dream of becoming that, that camera woman was far fetched, but I I remember once a lady coming up to me when I was filming her and she came up to me and says, you’re so lucky.
And I said, why? And she said, because you’re here and you’re, you’re doing this amazing job in this beautiful place. You know, I, I love the expression, you know, the harder you work, the luckier you [00:06:00] get, and it’s, it’s about putting, putting those Farfetch goals into action and giving it a go. So, you know, yeah.
Like I said, I don’t, I don’t, I think you make your own luck for the most part.
jackie: Absolutely. It’s like your, your thoughts, your dreams, and your actions turn into your reality. Isn’t it? I mean, you sure are an action taker.
guest: Yeah, yeah. Hops. I know nev you know, I grew up sort of as a, a young adventurer and.
You know, used to do to track lawns. Most weekend, I was competing from about the age of seven or six or seven, so very young. So I was doing running swimming like target shooting and horse riding. And I remember just being really competitive, even at a young age, we were there like literally as a team.
So there was four girls, I think we will be like 4, 7, 7 year old. And we used to win most times out. And what I realized very early on was the importance of teamwork and that you couldn’t be good at everything. So I was a [00:07:00] terrible runner, but there was a brilliant runner in the group. I was good at the swimming and that some of the others weren’t so good.
I was good at the horse-riding and my shooting was okay, but, but the other girls were, were good at the bit. So I wasn’t, and for that reason, we used to like say when most times out and that became normal. As good as you can be, you know, you’re getting really good and then expecting to do well. That that was instilled from a, from a very early age.
And also Jackie, it was, you know, very different life than now. There wasn’t the screens, the iPhones, iPads. It was, it was much more outdoorsy and, you know, climbing trees and playing with people that like ours, you know, playing with your mates outside or, and what I loved, I think about my childhood was, well, two things.
One if, if I fell off the horse you get back on. So there was no sort of, you know, wrapped up in cotton wool, but [00:08:00] also I loved the attitude of my mum and dad. They were always. Instilling into me and my brother that you can do, you can achieve whatever you you want. And so I always laugh that when I came home at 21 and said, mum and dad, I’m moving to New Zealand, jump out of airplanes.
Most parents would have had a fit and said, you are not. And they were like, go for it. That’s fantastic. And they, they just gave me full support on that. And looking back now at 42, I just say to my mum and dad, God, you guys are amazing because you didn’t stop me. And I think there’s something huge.
And, and when I climbed Everest, you know, my mum wanted to come with me
just to be at base camp. I mean, given half the chance she’d have probably he wants to go higher, but she just wanted to be there and be a part of that. Oh
jackie: yeah. That’s awesome. So you sound like you.
guest: Best mates. Absolutely. Yeah. She’s she’s incredible lady. [00:09:00]
jackie: Wow. So, so you know, so much when people, what I’ve read about you, Holly, is people say you’re so funny and you’re such a, such an artist.
You superhuman, I read, you said about someone else that they’re a beacon of hope. You’re a bit, you are the beacon of hope. Like what a mirror. So do you, do you, do you have those moments where you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re, you know, you’re telling a story that you, you know, you know, is not that healthy, like you, are you like most of us, most of us
guest: are you superhuman?
Exactly the same, Jackie, nothing, super human passionate dedicated and. Like just giving it a go. Even if it’s scares the hell out of me, I’ll just try and give it a go. And I kind of like that in everyday life, too, just trying to add a bit of adrenaline and into my, my normal life. So, you know, I spend as much time as everyone else looking at a [00:10:00] laptop and, you know, working at homes, I’m on my own, a great deal.
So, you know, obviously the pandemic not being able to get out and travel and be around people is being really tough. So yeah, I’m, I’m definitely not superhuman. I have all the same sort of challenges and concerns as everyone else. I know. I guess with me the difference maybe between me and some people is, you know, I kind of don’t see those barriers as much, you know, they’re still there, but I just think right.
Almost take that as the bigger, the barrier, the biggest. You know, the, the motivation for me to push through that. But also I don’t have children, so maybe that would change things, you know, certainly for going out on big adventures. It would probably change my mindset a lot if I you know, had children at home and sort of felt more responsibility towards them.
So I do have quite a freedom [00:11:00] as well.
jackie: So what happens, Holly, if I don’t know, you have, you have a big speaking engagement or you, you do have an adventure that you need to front up that that does take courage and you’re in a total funk. Like what does holy budge do to get out of a funk?
guest: Really simply breathe. Uh, I find breathing like obviously breathing helps just conscious breathing techniques. .
I quite enjoy that feeling that sort of, when your heart’s pumping and it makes you feel like you’re about to jump out of an airplane, but you just stood in a room every day adrenaline, but I use techniques, breathing techniques work really well for me. So just a really conscious sort of circular breathing.
And I have this really weird thing where I’ll go and put cold water on the inside of my wrist under a tap and I. Just brings my heart rate right down and sort of centers me. And I’ve told other people [00:12:00] that technique too. And they come back and said it, it works really well for them. And then another technique is a visualization.
I use that a lot in speaking and in adventures and just you know, just figuring out how, how it’s going to be in my mind. And then, yeah, the last one is belief just knowing that I’m perfectly capable and that I can do that, get out there and deliver a great talk or, you know, on an adventure. No, that I can give it my best shot.
So, yeah, lots of different ways of dealing with fear.
jackie: Absolutely. And you know, I absolutely love, I do not love fear, I have to say, but I, I love belief. And I remember even before my first podcast interview, I was given the advice, just play it back from, from the end to the start, just exactly how you would like it to unfold.
And I found that so incredibly helpful from a visualization standpoint, so I can [00:13:00] totally relate to that. And my other, actually, my other favorite saying that I use all the time is everything is perfect. Everything is perfect. Everything’s perfect. And I find that is just such a beautiful way of realizing that everything is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to.
guest: Yup. Yup. No, I love that. That’s brilliant. Everyone has their own techniques and it’s fascinating hearing how other people, because we are, like I said earlier, no one’s superhuman and even the people out there, you know, delivering incredible speeches to massive audiences or, or doing other things
. So even people that you would think, you know, absolutely smashing it, giving. Fantastic keynotes or you know, addressing hundreds of thousands of people and you think, God, how are they doing that?
Even they you know, they’re, they’re just human and they’ll, they’ll be feeling those nerves too, but it comes back to what we were saying earlier. If you’re doing this stuff all the [00:14:00] time, it’s incredible. What can become normal. Yes,
jackie: absolutely. Absolutely. So, Holly, I want to be your friend. What’s, what’s one non-negotiable character trait that I must have
Love it. Yeah. Yeah. Just, I think the power of a positive mindset is phenomenal. Whether you’re in times of adversity, how on adventures or in, in your life? I think who you surround yourself with and, and being around positive people and people that believe in you and people that say, yeah, you can do this.
That’s huge. So for me, you gotta be positive to be my friend. Well, that’s good.
jackie: We’ll be friends. And I’m labeled the endless optimist. How important isn’t it? It’s just how, you know, your perception of the world makes the hugest difference, you know, to what, to what ends up coming [00:15:00] back to you.
So, so much more than you could possibly ask for.
guest: Absolutely, definitely.
jackie: So tell me about these black members.
guest: Yeah. So these ladies, so, they are an all female anti-poaching team in South Africa. And I first heard about their work eight years ago whilst I was studying for a masters in sustainable design.
And I was actually, so just to rewind you know, as much as I love adventuring and jumping out of airplanes, you know, after a while I felt I wanted to go back to my roots of being a designer. So, I came back to the UK and enrolled on a master. And I was actually researching a material called vegetable ivory, which is a nut from a Palm tree from south America.
I’ve actually got them a coacher here, one of my most favorite objects. So this is from a south American rain forest, this [00:16:00] is full of these nuts. And when you open these nuts up, they look almost identical in color and texture to elephant ivory. So is a little elephant. In vegetable ivory, and it’s, it’s a fantastic material in its own.
Right. I went out to south America and did a research project out there and met the, you know, the guys that are working with this material, making jewelry and shrink it. And I went deep into the rain forest and met the the F I say, farmers, it’s not farmed, but they, they gathered the nuts off the, the rainforest floor.
And it was it’s material similarity that got me researching the African elephant crisis. And I was so horrified by the statistics of 96 elephants being poached each day in Africa for their ivory. I’m just so taken aback by that, that I wanted to use my skills as a designer to come [00:17:00] up with a really fresh awareness raising campaign.
So I built a necklace to show you that. I feel this necklace here, which shows 96, elephants cut in vegetable ivory. And this is showing the daily poaching rate in Africa. And I’ve weaved a narrative into the piece. One elephant is hand-cut in bras to represent the one day aspect of the infographic. And one elephant is facing the other way to say that this crisis can still be turned around.
So what I’m doing, Jackie is using design to bridge the gap between scientific data on one hand and human connection on the other. So what do I mean by that? When you tell someone 35,000 elephants are poached a year, we can’t visualize that it’s just way too big, a number. So my exhibition to accompany that necklace showcases thirty-five thousand [00:18:00] elephants silhouettes on a wall.
I’ve got a picture of that. Ah, so each square represents one day of poaching and there’s 365 squares normally. And to see and connect with this data in a purely visual way is proving to be really successful in terms of people engaging with the subject matter. And also impact. So I’ve purposely made my campaign a hundred percent non gruesome, non gory nonpolitical.
It’s just visualizing the data. And I’ve been very conscious about that because I do a lot of work with younger people going to schools. But also adults. You know, con and don’t want to interact with, with gruesome and gory images. And I’m one of those people, like once you’ve seen something, you can’t unsee it.
And if I see something, you know, it can just affect me for, for a long time. So people know when they follow my, my, [00:19:00] my charity is now a charity registered charity. How many elephants they know when they follow how many elephants they follow us online, you’re never ever going to see a gory gory or gruesome image.
So, that’s a big part of the campaign. So in answer to your question about the black members, I saw these women when I was studying and I was just like that, this is a brilliant, this is amazing. So I got in touch. Well, I advocated their work for a few years. And then I got in touch with the founder of the black members and they invited me to go out there and I was.
Privileged because I literally had, I spent several weeks on the frontline with these women. I was eating, sleeping, patrolling with them. So just to put that in perspective you know, a lot of film crews because the media loved them, as you can imagine film crews generally get quite limited slots with these ladies, but I was literally, you know, living [00:20:00] intertwined and, and heavily immersed with them.
And I went back to one of their villages and I was just trying to gain a really intimate insight into what drives and motivates these women to do the work that they do, because not only are they working on the frontline of conservation, which is often challenging and dangerous, they’re also you know, beacons of hope, they’re role models in their communities.
These women’s. Now that they’re the breadwinners, you know, that, that ripple effect of, of, you know, that they’re like, I’m buying land, they’re building houses, they’ve got access to health care. Now that some of them are studying for degrees or you know, they’ve put their kids into school and. It’s like an onion.
You just keep peeling back the layers on what’s being achieved by employing these women. And that has been the inspiration behind this [00:21:00] year, my charity, how many elephants we launched wild female ranger day because I’ve spent time with multiple all female teams in Africa. So we decided to spotlight Africa this year, and it’s a platform that brings these ladies together so they can share their story, share best practice access, and receive peer support the media.
Just picked the story up this year. We had I brought Rangers together for the first time. They’d never met other ranges in different countries. And we came together on BBC women’s hour, sky news, times radio. I think the global reach of the campaign this year was 350 million viewers. So it was huge.
And then, you know, it’s just now which chatting with women all over the world, female Rangers, wildlife Rangers. So we’re chatting with ladies in Venezuela, in Tasmania, in Sri Lanka in China, in India, in Scotland. [00:22:00] And what we’re finding is even though these ladies are on different sides of the planet, many, many of them are facing very similar challenges.
And some of those challenges include ill fitting equipment. So, you know, equipment that’s designed and made for men. So, you know, women are sort of having to make it work for them, but in, in a lot of cases it’s not really working that well. Security in the workplace is another big challenge.
So, you know, some of the Rangers I’ve spoken to in, in different countries have said they don’t feel safe being in very remote outposts, for example, well, as say a a male team might not have those, those kinds of challenges healthcare things like you know, menstruation, let’s say not having access to sanitary towels.
Or tampons when they’re out in the field or not being able to afford to buy them all, all of these sort of things that you might not [00:23:00] necessarily uh, think of when you think ranger and then you think female ranger that they’re kind of dealing with their own set of challenges and also the stigma in a lot of cases, of, of, from their villages and their communities of women doing this work, you know, a lot of the Rangers I’ve chatted to I’ve said sort of very similar things that they kind of grew up having that instilled into them by, by their elders or certainly by the male elders that, that women can’t do that work or women can’t drive big vehicles or women can’t do this.
Women can’t do that. So, you know, you can imagine the pride. When I went back to the village with one, one of the Rangers in Zimbabwe, she’s in full uniform, she’s in a big four by four vehicle taking me back to her community. And it was just incredible to see her. With which she wore that uniform, but also the [00:24:00] positivity that was coming back to her from the community, because she’s an incredible role model.
So it just, as I said, it is like an onion. You just peel back the layers and, and these women are proving to be incredibly successful, not only out on patrol, but also easing local tensions in the communities through the power of conversation. They’re not going in with force or ego that they’re going in, resolving it in a, you know, conversation away.
And yeah, the female range of movement is picking up momentum fast. When I spoke to the founder of the black members, he said back in 2013, they were losing elephants and rhino at such an alarming rate. They were literally knocking their head on a brick wall. What, what are we going to do? And that’s when he had this absolute genius idea that women in the local communities or a totally under utilized [00:25:00] workforce.
So he went into the communities and asked women to come forward for selection and turns out even the sort of strongest critics that didn’t, you know, didn’t want women in the workplace in, in this line of work. Most of them, a lot of them, not all of them are converted because these women they’re, they’re, they’re tough.
They are strong. So another founder that I spoke to just gave me a, he was an ex special forces and he just gave me a sort of example. These are just example figures, but he said, you know, with SAS training, you might have 38 men turn up and three will finish. But with these women, 38 turned up and 35 minutes.
Yeah, so just incredible. And when I spoke to them about this, they literally said to me, Holly, we had, we had nothing to lose. Like when we were given this [00:26:00] opportunity to go forward and try out to be a ranger, we just gave her efforting cause we just had nothing to lose. And I just think that speaks volumes.
So very humbling experience, a very rare privilege to uh, spend time on the front line. And it just blew adventure out of the window for me. So when I was patrolling with the actors, shingle Rangers in Zimbabwe, they’re all fully armed. They all have AK 47. And they come face to face with the poachers.
The black members have pepper spray and handcuffs, and they’re the eyes and the ears on the ground. And they have an armed response team that would come in if needed. So two very different models there, both of them making tremendous impact. But when I was patrolling with the actor singer ranges, you know, I’m the only one unarmed.
We are literally in the middle of nowhere. We’re camping out and I’m white. So I stand out like a, a [00:27:00] beacon in, in the African Bush. So they gave me their uniform to wear, to try and blend me in, but it didn’t work so well because it was a short. Sure. So sort of feel like this beaming light out there. And, and also, I mean, they were my lifeline, you know, there’s wild animals, there’s signs of poachers.
And I’m fully aware that if we, you know, pick up a poacher’s trail or we, we sort of stumble upon them, which is the worst scenario where you surprise each other you know, they are, they’re going face to face. We won’t be retreating and making a phone call or a radio call and, and getting an arm response.
And it’s like, these, these ladies are the last line of defense. So as much as I was thinking, they’re my lifeline. Without them, I’m dead woman. There’s no running and hiding in, in this environment. I also, afterwards on reflection, thought that it be. A massive responsibility. I’m sure they felt towards [00:28:00] having me there because I haven’t been through their training.
I’m not, you know, trained with an AK 40 sevens and stuff. So you know, that it was pretty incredible of them to, to take me under their wing and take me out with them. So some really incredible experiences that blow any adventure I’ve done out of the window. I mean, this is real life. This is scary, scary stuff.
I’m not saying climbing big mountains, isn’t scary, but there’s not this fear or sort of that, you know, human to human Aggression and possibly, you know, you could lose your life. Life is cheap out there for sure. And you know, being a white woman out in the Bush, we, I found on occasion, you, you are a bit of a target out there too.
So you don’t have those challenges as much on other adventures or I certainly haven’t. Anyway. So with these ladies, it’s, it’s just about really raising awareness of the work that they’re doing and raising [00:29:00] funds for them. The pandemic is absolutely crippled. The funding streams coming in lots of funding from tourism isn’t happening anymore, and the knock-on effect for these Rangers to lose their jobs or have significant salary cuts.
The knock on effect of that is huge because one ranger may support up to 16 family members. Wow. And also the tourists in, in many places play an important role, even if they don’t know it, they’re there you know, sort of extra eyes and ears on the ground or just their mere presence while is, you know, without any tourism for the past 18 months, the Rangers, there’s only so many Rangers and obviously you know, , the areas they’re patrolling a huge, so, you know, they’ve had some huge challenges and there’s definitely in areas had seen spikes in, in poaching.
But on the flip side of that in other areas, there’s not been a spike in [00:30:00] poaching. So where the black mambas patrol they’ve, they’ve built such strong relationships with the communities and they were taking food parcels in every week. During the pandemic and they haven’t seen a spike for bushmeat poaching in particular.
So I think that’s Testament to the work that they’re doing in education. As much as in being out, protecting the wildlife.
jackie: Absolutely incredible. My goodness. I can’t even begin to imagine how scary some of those adventures were and the women so brave, so resilient and such beautiful role models for the children of the future as well.
My greatest. And so Holly is what, you know, you’ve achieved so much and so, so talented and such so much integrity and authenticity. What’s something that you are personally working on yourself now.
guest: So.[00:31:00] For me, like my whole life is my work, my sort of work life balance. You know, I, I don’t, I know everyone says, you know, when you, when you love what you do, you never work another day.
But that really is true. Like for me, , it’s completely integrated to the point that now my adventures are integrated with my conservation work and my charity. And for years, I didn’t know how the stars haven’t didn’t align for me, I suppose until just a few years ago. Cause I had sort of this adventure interest and I’m a designer and a, I love wildlife.
And I was just like, ah, how can I pull all these things together? And now those stars really are aligned because through my adventures adventuring is a fantastic way to raise funds. So I’ve so low fund raised over 400,000 pounds so far through my adventures. The design. Absolutely a brilliant [00:32:00] skill for me to have, because you know, I do all the design in house for all of our campaigns.
And that’s something that got really noticed on the world, female ranger day. You know, so many people said, oh, we just love the branding. It’s so fresh. And it’s a completely different take. And what many others are doing. So, being a designer, I mean, I just wouldn’t have had the funds to work with a design team and just knowing how I am, I just tinker for hours and hours and hours until it’s just right.
So if I was a paying someone on the hourly rate, you know, that that would have, I just wouldn’t have been able to do it. So, so now it’s brilliant that it all kind of feeds one feeds the other. And I love that. I love having the skills in house. I love seeing the impact that I’m making. So when I go out into the field in Africa I can see where the money that I’m raising is being spent.
And that just, there’s nothing better than that. [00:33:00] And with my charity, we’re a very small charity and we like to you know, tell people and, and we, we practice it as well. We preach practice what we preach that we account for where every single penny goes. So when people are giving to the charity, it’s not like dropping money into a black hole and hoping and wishing that it ends up where it should it’s efforting is accountable for so, you know, that’s a, that’s a really important part for me of, of running a charity is transparency.
Yeah, absolutely. And I take no money out of the charity. I’ve never taken a penny out of that. My, my bread and butter is keynote speaking. And so it really is. It’s a passion project. So when you say, what am I doing personally? It kind of spans, it’s all personal really? Cause I’m not monetizing any of it.
The talking luckily you know, if, if, if you can get talking gigs in, it pays well. So, [00:34:00] you know, even if I do one or two speaking engagements a month, that’s me completely, I’m happy with that. And that allows me to spend 80% of my time working on, on conservation and promoting the female Rangers so slightly our work balance there, but it totally works for me.
And I, I just don’t know what else I would do to feel this passionate. If someone says you can’t do anything. You know, in those fields, it would be, you know, I’d have to think what, what else do I want to do that? I feel that I’m making a difference and an impact. And just to finish on that note, Jackie, I have a brilliant expression I use specific is terrific.
So if I spent spread myself too thin, I’m not, I feel I’m not really making an impact. So I’ve been very specific about African elephants and female Rangers. And I get asked a lot why females what’s wrong with the male Rangers? Absolutely. Nothing is wrong with them. It’s just [00:35:00] through my own experiences with the women that I felt deeply inspired to help them and to, to share their stories.
But yeah, I feel the more specific I can be. And I’m sure that that works across the board. If you try and do everything, you know, it’s kind of, the impact is lost. So.
jackie: Absolutely. And I can totally relate to that. My focus is on women as well, you know, and women are notorious for putting themselves last and you know, running on empty constantly.
Exhausted 75% of reporting. People are reporting they’re burnt out. So people are saying, they’re like, can you please work on on men? Like, you know, it, it seems so sexist that you want to work with women, but I th there’s a, there’s a difference to me like the woman, even as hunt together as the woman being the nurturer of the tribe you know, it makes it, I, I believe that my work is dedicated to [00:36:00] women because if I can get women to realize that, you know, it’s a, this balance between selfish and selfless is so hard to crack, you know, how can you sort of say, stay satisfied, satisfied by giving, but also receiving and really looking after yourself.
So I can completely relate to that. If there was one thing that you wanted me to take from today’s chats, what would
guest: that be? That you can do anything you put your mind to, or you can at least have a go yeah. In, in, in a new sort of very short answer. Yeah. Someone said to me the other day and that stuck in my mind that the the barrier is the gift.
No, I thought, yeah, I like that because a lot of people shy away from the, the challenge or the barrier and we all, we were all guilty of that we all put barriers up. And yeah, sometimes the barrier [00:37:00] is the gift. So it’s yourself putting your, your, putting yourself in the way of doing things. And you know, actually if you forge ahead and push through that, then, then the gift is, is you, so you’re the barrier and the gift.
jackie: love that. One thing I read about you. That you were saying, you know, it’s, it’s there’s a less glossy side of adventure. Tell me, tell me about a less glossy adventure.
guest: Yeah, to be honest, Jackie, all my adventures are not glossy. You know, if I showed you my, in my keynote talk, I show videos and photos and there’s nothing glossy.
Certainly climbing big mountains on Everest. 47 days above 5,000 meters, you know, and people laugh because my nails are quite manicured and painted and people always say, how do you have those like that when you’re out in the Bush, in Africa or, or up a mountain. And then the reality is you don’t, you know, I’ve got photos [00:38:00] of, of my nails as one, or, you know, on Everest.
I lost two thirds of my hair fell out, but not still not. Haven’t gotten to the bottom of that one, quite whether that was the high altitude or, or just wearing beanies the whole time. And who knows. So no, definitely nothing glamorous at all in my mind about adventure. Certainly the adventures I’ve done anyway is, is rolling up your sleeves and, and, and fully living it, living the, the grime and the grub.
And that’s part of it. And I think that that’s gone in my favor now for my work in Africa. And that I’ve been told before. That’s why I’m allowed out patrolling with these women because of my background as an adventurer. And they just know that I’m not going to be precious and, you know, worrying about my nails or my hair, or if you know, things go wrong, then they know that, you know, probably not going to freak out and do anything too rash.
So, you know, [00:39:00] glossy and adventure , don’t go together.
jackie: Incredible. So, Holly, tell, tell me about what adventure are you embarking on next?
guest: So I’m going to Africa next week. So that will be the first time that I’ve been to Africa in two years. And I’m going to South Africa to see the black members for a week, which I’m really excited about because you know, those guys have become friends so that that’s, it’s just an incredible privilege to go out there and hang out with those guys and I’ll go out patrolling with them and, you know, meet new Rangers that have come on and et cetera.
And then I’m going to Kenya. So I’ve never been to Kenya before. So I’m meeting multiple all female or mixed ranger teams and again, huge privilege to be able to get that access to, to these teams and be able to, you know, go [00:40:00] and interview the ladies. And I guess just keep learning and keep sharing their stories.
Yeah, I’m excited. It would be amazing. Oh my
jackie: goodness. You know, in Australia at the moment, it’s a, it’s a funny time. It’s very difficult to to leave the country. So I’m very envious of your travels. I can’t wait to get out exploring again. So wow. You are absolutely phenomenal. I, the black members are absolutely beacons of hope.
And as are you I can see exactly why they allow you the privilege of coming on on the adventures with them and inviting you into their communities and into their tribes. You have so much to give. Thank you so much for coming on this. Get on the, on this chat today. You’re an abs. Absolute inspiration.
And I, I really hope that you know, belief to me is so important. We’re very like-minded in, in that way. The way I teach, I teach seven [00:41:00] factors to go from feeling bad, to feeling better. And belief is, is the pinnacle because you can work on everything else, but if you don’t believe you’re always gonna reach a ceiling effect or, or, or even worse going in the wrong direction.
guest: Yeah. And I love your principles, but when I saw them, there was just that one belief that was, that jumped out. Like you say, if you don’t believe in yourself, then you know, you’re probably not going to achieve your goals. So can I just finish Jackie on saying that I believe. That when passionate people come together, the sparks really start flying.
So what I found certainly through the pandemic is people want to get involved. They want to help. So if you’re listening to this thinking, how can I work with Holly and how can I get involved with, with how many elephants? Please absolutely reach out to me. My website is how many elephants.org and world female ranger day dot.
And there’s real [00:42:00] people at the other end of those emails. So every email we get is replied to, and we just love working with people from all different skillsets and backgrounds and people that can’t give donate money. That doesn’t matter if you can donate time and skills. That that really is huge. So, we have a volunteer program as well, and there’s just so many different ways that you can make a difference right down to sharing our posts on social media, right up to becoming a volunteer and, and committed.
Some time and skills each week or each month. So yeah, I, I, like I said, real people on the end of those emails and you will get a reply. Oh, absolutely.
jackie: Put all of those details in, but follow Holly budge on social media and we’ll put everything in the show notes as well. Absolutely. It’s, you know, people are craving connection and community and making an impact and I love really relate and I’ve always believed in [00:43:00] collaboration instead of just working in silos, which is one of the many, many things I love about you, Holly.
So I’m sure many people will reach out and connect with you so that they can provide some of their tools to make an impact. So thank you so much.
guest: You’re adorable. And thank you for having me jackie. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. You too.
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