Gotta admit, I’m a bit of a fan girl. When I got the yes, Kelly Rizzo would love to speak at your Durham Women’s Network event email, I may have jumped up for joy. In fact, the highlight of my entire spring was getting to interview the talented and business-savvy entrepreneur, who joined DWN for a live chat to talk food, travel, music and branding.
I originally came across Kelly’s phenomenal Eat Travel Rock YouTube channel years ago and instantly fell in love with her creative approach to exploring culture and mixing delicious cocktails. I resonated with her because I saw a lot of parallels at the time between her and myself—both of us have had some major changes—including a career pivot and marriage breakup—in our 30s (who knew that’s the age when everything happened).
It also clicked because of my love for promoting cool people, places and things. Kerri and I worked together more than a decade ago promoting Durham Region as a tourism hub of delicious local food, great live music and unique experiences. That was well before we started DWN and pre-dating an era of masks and social distancing.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, I have experienced and seen the effects of fatigue from virtual meetings. I knew that we needed to pull in top notch talent for our live events—and we did. From hosting a DWN virtual vacation in Barbados, helping Author and Former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes launch her new book, to chatting with Durham College VP of Alumni and Fundraising Linda Flynn about leadership; and reintroducing Radine Corr to the world with The Wyld School. We have brought some amazing experiences to the women of DWN in the past six months.
A lot of people have asked me who connected me with Kelly…the answer is me. I reached out. And, if you had told me that a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. The simple fact is, I wanted to do something and so I did it. I truly had no idea someone with 120k + Instagram followers would say yes. But it happened.
Not only did it happen, but Kelly dropped some amazing insights on our 30-minute chat.
Don’t be afraid of no’s
You will undoubtedly be on the receiving end of the word “no.” Accept that, and don’t let it stop you from going for more. Be confident in your ability to sell yourself and your ideas, whether you’re talking to the CEO or you’re pitching a client. “Get used to people saying no,” Kelly explained. “Be fearless when it comes to presenting yourself and your vision. The worst anyone can say is no.”
Communicating is Everything
How do you make a name for yourself and become the kind of professional that people want to work with over and over again? Level up your communication skills. Kelly notes that she is keen on returning calls asap, answers her own DMs and gives business partners the information they need before they ever need to ask. Under-promise and over-deliver and always tell people exactly what’s going on. Kelly explained that she learned this valuable skill from her career as a realtor. “The extra communication will set you apart from the rest,” she explains.
Take things at your own pace
Good things take time. Kelly took a decade to grow her brand to where it is today. In fact, for a number of years she juggled her full-time career as a realtor while starting up and nurturing her successful Eat Travel Rock venture. She also provided advice about post-COVID travel “Do what you feel comfortable with,” she explained, whether that’s a day trip, road trip or involves getting on a plane again.
The conversation enlightened me about my own vulnerabilities and nervousness. As someone with an introverted nature who thrives behind the scenes, I can find it difficult to put myself out there—even if I want to. What surprised me the most was that Kelly was so down-to-earth, approachable and accessible. In fact, this whole experience taught me to keep moving towards my goals—because we can all do hard things.
Speaking of new challenges—what other social media influencers, speakers, authors do you recommend we interview in future?
Check out our discussion with Kelly and let us know what you think.