We had the good fortune of connecting with Holly Cotton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Holly, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important thing to me regarding my success is staying genuine and humble. I take pride in showing the realistic side of my life. I show the struggles I have as well as the success. The whole goal of my brand is helping people. I find so often people only show the perfect finish or all the success they have and forget that it is the overcoming failures that actually inspires people. I like to tell my story of surviving cancer to show other people going through an illness that you can come out on the other side and live a great life. My books and courses are all designed to help people, not just me showing how great I am. I believe my down to earth approach has allowed me to reach more people as well as allow people to feel they have a connection to myself and my brand. My goal was and always will be using whatever I have to motivate others to live the best versions of themselves and define their own strength in life.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been a nurse my whole life. My goal has always been helping others. I always loved taking care of people and watching them get better or overcome something. I realized along the way that it was also important to help the people who weren’t going to come out on the other side. I had a passion for my dying patients and making sure they had the most peaceful departure. As I spent time with them I learned a lot about death and they dying process. I began to realize the pattern of regretfulness and how that was something I didn’t want in life. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I finally understood what people feel in those last days or when they are diagnosed with a terminal disease. I began to think about the things I took for granted as well and the time I wasted on frivolous things. I used to workout every day and thought I was the strongest and healthiest version of myself. Cancer humbled me. it showed me that no matter who you are and what you’re doing it can all be taken away and what are you leaving behind? What have you actually accomplished that you will be remembered for? After surgery everything I had that I took pride in was taken away. All the strength, the chiseled abs, the nonchalance. I vowed when I survived and overcame this chapter I would come out the strongest I had ever been mentally and physically. That’s just what I did! I wrote my first book “Strong. More than Muscles” to describe my cancer journey and all the lows I felt during my process to give a transparent look into the life of being diagnosed with cancer. After my book I developed my company Strong Squad to unite others together as a strong unit. I wanted to bring everyone together that had to overcome something in life, not just cancer, but any and everything that we deal with in life. I began to get LIFE survivors. People who had lost loved ones, people who were sick, people who were depressed, lost children, stuck in life in bad relationships or jobs. We all have to go through things and my journey would be the glue to combine us all. My journey to having a successful brand and company has been hard and long. It forced me to lose everything in order to gain everything. I get emails and messages from people telling me how I helped them, how I inspired them or pushed them and that is the greatest part of my career thus far. The biggest lesson I learned was stay genuine and the support will come. I never try to sell anything to anyone. I post what I believe in, I share what items I have and how I use them in my own fitness journey. On my podcast I talk about topics that define us being strong inside and out. I want people to remember me for everything I did not what I owned. It takes a lot of time and energy to build a successful brand. It takes time away from your family. Thankfully my kids were always involved in my business. From graphic design to shipping orders out, they always were next to me helping in some way. Thankfully they didn’t feel neglected. I am still a nurse, I actually am a college professor as well. I am a certified fitness instructor as well as a business owner. I hope people see that you can do everything you want in life if you set your mind to it. Yes, money is very nice, but the success that you get from actually making a difference. The smiles and thankfulness you get when we host one of our displaced residents (homeless) events, is priceless.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hmmmm, Houston has so many spots! I would definitely take them to Discovery Green for a day…something about that area is always so comforting especially around the holidays. I love all of the museums we have as well. So my itinerary if I had them for a weekend would be to start by eating breakfast at Lucille’s. Then depending on the season, plan the day. For cold or rainy days I would head to the Museum of Fine Arts or Houston Museum of Natural Science to look at exhibits. If it’s sunny then we would grab a to-go lunch, like some sandwiches from Potbelly, and head to the Williams Waterfall to eat and relax followed by some shopping in the Galleria. Hop on the ice rink for some laughs. We would definitely stop by the “Houston is Inspired” sign for some great photos! Depending on the sports season we could go to an Astros, Rockets or Texans game and if no games are happening we would stop by the Miller Outdoor Theater for an outdoor show. We definitely would catch a late lunch with margaritas at Ninfa’s and end the day with some treats from Ooh La La bakery in Katy!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Honestly, the credit goes to anyone who has supported my company. I have encountered so many people who have read my books or own a Strong Squad product that I have never met. They chose to support a stranger and believe in my mission. They used my book to help them overcome something difficult in life or to start organizing their own goals to be successful. They wear their Strong Squad t-shirts and send me pics of them doing a workout because they saw a video I posted on social media. They gave a product as a gift to someone who was in a dark place to inspire them to keep going and come out stronger on the other side. I couldn’t be remotely successful without the people who support and believe in me, so they deserve all the credit.

Website: www.defineyourstrong.com

Instagram: hollycotton_

Facebook: Holly Cotton

Other: My “Beyond the Fit” Podcast on Ebony Podcast Network: https://ebonypodcastnetwork.com/beyond-the-fit/ or listen on Apple Podcasts search for Beyond the Fit by Holly Cotton

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.