Holly Pilcavage, of Dallas, receives nomination for 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30

By Matt Mattei - [email protected] | October 13th, 2016 7:28 pm - updated: 8:31 pm.

A desire to help others and a belief in the value of human connection has landed a young Dallas woman a nomination on the Forbes list of 30 Under 30 in the media category for 2017.

Holly Pilcavage, 26, is the founder of Project Wednesday, a forum for people to share life stories, a professional speaker for ForCollegeForLife, a Michigan-based organization that delivers impactful speeches to college students nationwide, and the director of business development for Coal Creative, a multi-media marketing firm in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Pilcavage will attend the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Boston, Mass. Sunday through Wednesday.

According to the magazine’s website, “From an initial screening list of more than 15,000 of the best of the best, the 600 women and men featured in the Forbes fifth annual 30 Under 30 are America’s most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars.”

Yearly, Forbes nominates 30 professionals under the age of 30 in 20 fields ranging from the arts to commerce to science and technology. If selected, Pilcavage will be one of only 600 worldwide to earn the distinction in her field.

Six months out of graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio and motivated by feeling a bit alone and lost in her own right, Pilcavage put out feelers on Google Drive in December 2014, to anyone who wanted a weekly dose of inspiration. Overnight, she had over 100 subscribers.

Now, Pilcavage has thousands of subscribers, an online presence and a team of people who work remotely. She also obtained certification as a life coach in 2015.

“Our mission is to foster positive human development through the sharing of stories,” she said. “It’s connecting the everyday person to the next everyday person who might not come in contact otherwise.”

As an early offering, Pilcavage told a story about seeing a homeless woman in Akron, holding a sign announcing it was her birthday. Pilcavage, on her way to get groceries, bought a cupcake and some birthday items instead, and returned to the street to speak to the woman for a while.

“It was incredible that she didn’t know where her basic needs were coming from, but she was more positive than most people you meet,” Pilcavage said.

In June 2015, Pilcavage quit her full time job in event coordination and student engagement at Johnson College in Scranton and traveled to 25 states where she left Project Wednesday letters in different cities and talked to people to understand what inspired them.

Project Wednesday is currently shared in business and classroom settings. Story topics are wide open, touching on subjects as serious as suicide but finding inspiration in all discussions.

The effort led to Pilcavage signing a contract with ForCollegeForLife and has landed her opportunities like delivering a Tedx talk at the University of Akron.

Casey Cornelius, CEO of ForCollegeForLife, said Pilcavage is one of the most inspiring, impactful, cheerful and positive people he’s ever met.

“There are people out there who hope to inspire others, and it’s a noble calling,” Cornelius said. “She has the ability to bring people from wherever they are to a higher place than they ever imagined, and she’s done it at every step along the way.”

Pilcavage’s current project is called 100 Coffee Dates, which invites people to spend an hour with her conversing over a cup of coffee.

She’s currently 22 hours in.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t even talk,” Pilcavage said. “It’s really 60 minutes of just letting someone talk. It’s ‘let’s just be human for an hour.’”

Coal Creative, founded by 30-year-old Kingston entrepreneur Gerard Durling, gave Pilcavage her most recent direction, where she’ll engage students and young professionals in NEPA.

Durling, who tries to foster the realization that young people cannot only build their resume but construct a formidable career in NEPA, said he found Pilcavage to be the right fit for Coal Creative after reaching out to commend her work and finding the two aligned philosphically.

“I think it’s absolutely incredible,” Durling said of Pilcavage’s nomination. “With the work ethic I’ve seen so far, she’s definitely deserving. There’s no task she can’t take on.”

Pilcavage’s participation in the Summit puts her among successes like Jessica Alba, Bobby Flay and Ashton Kutcher, and she hopes to put herself out of her comfort zone to learn as much as possible.

If she’s selected for next year’s 30 under 30 list, she said she’ll look at is as confirmation of her hard work but also as motivation to continue to be an agent of change.

“I’ve had conversations with people where my heart was breaking because they were holding onto their last string,” she said. “After one conversation, I got a message that said, ‘You saved a life today.’”

“If I can help one person a day, that’s really my goal.”

Holly Pilcavage talks about her entrpeneurial journey in her Wilkes-Barre office on Thursday, October 13. 10/13/16. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_TTL101416Forbes303-1.jpgHolly Pilcavage talks about her entrpeneurial journey in her Wilkes-Barre office on Thursday, October 13. 10/13/16. Sean McKeag | Times LeaderSean McKeag | Times Leader
Holly Pilcavage expresses her passion affecting change through the telling of stories Thursday in the Coal Creative office in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Pilcavage will attend the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Boston, Mass. Sunday through Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_TTL101416Forbes304-1.jpgHolly Pilcavage expresses her passion affecting change through the telling of stories Thursday in the Coal Creative office in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Pilcavage will attend the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Boston, Mass. Sunday through Wednesday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Holly Pilcavage seeks to be an agent of change

By Matt Mattei

[email protected]

Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]


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