I am super excited for this episode of Fraud Busting because we have Holly Hoffman with us. We’re taking a lighter look at fraud today. She was a cast member on Survivor on TV. You’ve seen her on TV, season 21. Reality TV at its best I think is Survivor. She has been speaking, just like me, she’s a keynote speaker, speaking for 10 years. She was the last woman standing on Survivor, the last chick they voted off the island. She’s got her certified speaking professional designation which is super neat. She’s an author. Holly, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting.
Holly Hoffman: Thank you! I’m so honored to be here, Traci. I was very, very honored when you asked, so thank you very much for asking me.
Traci Brown: Oh, I am thrilled. I love your background there. I’ve just got to say, I have so much to ask you. I want to take this a couple ways. First, I want to know, let’s get to know you a little bit better before we jump in. We’ve been at home. We’re off the road. The conferences are illegal now. How’s your toilet paper stash?
Holly Hoffman: This is really odd. Before all this happened, I just ordered a case of toilet paper from Amazon. I don’t know if my sense of something was telling me to order tissues and toilet paper and paper towels, so I have a huge rack in my closet that I stack it in. It’s wonderful. But you know Traci, here’s the deal. I could go days without toilet paper.
Traci Brown: I’ve heard this.
Holly Hoffman: Survivor! Yea. That wasn’t even an issue to me. I went 38 days without using toilet paper when I played Survivor. I wasn’t even afraid. I thought, if I can’t find toilet paper, I will survive.
Traci Brown: Let’s talk about that. On Survivor, did ya’ll have like latrine pits or were there Port-a-Potties, or what? What happened?
Holly Hoffman: No.
Traci Brown: Nothing?
Holly Hoffman: There was absolutely nothing. When I applied to be on the show, I was shocked that I had made it. I got out there, and I had this vision in my head that I would see Port-a-Potties and tents and campers and maybe a table or two with some coffee and donuts. Absolutely nothing. I know this sounds really bad, and I hope I don’t offend anyone, but we were required to dig a hole if we had to go to the bathroom. I basically used grass or leaves when I went to the bathroom.
Traci Brown: Oh my goodness. Okay. I don’t want to know anymore, but I’m glad that you’re so hearty because you’re just better than everyone else who’s whining about toilet paper right now. Okay. Tiger King. Where are you on that?
Holly Hoffman: Pardon?
Traci Brown: Tiger King. Have you seen it?
Holly Hoffman: Yes, I did. We quarantined here. I have never in my life watched more Netflix ever. I did. I watched the entire series, the seven episodes. It’s crazy. It is absolutely crazy.
Traci Brown: Now, being a reality TV person, what’s your thought on that as far as why we’re sucked into it and why is it taking over society like it has?
Holly Hoffman: I think people like to see unusual situations. These people are very unusual. I love animals. Don’t get me wrong. I love exotic animals. But the whole story of how these people are arguing and how they’re fighting and the hatred, that’s what really shocked me. I struggled a little bit because I am such an animal lover. If you choose to do that, that’s okay, but I have a hard time seeing animals behind cages and so forth. But I think it’s so unusual and the way they treat each other that people are drawn to this to say, what is this really about? My son was the one that reached out to me and said, “Mom, you have to watch this.” I was like, okay. You start it and you can’t stop. You just want to know what’s going to happen next. I think that’s another reason that people are so drawn to it. They want to see what’s going to happen on the next episode.
Traci Brown: I think they want to know what’s going to go wrong next. It is this horrible downward spiral. I would never have watched it, but people kept emailing me and calling me. Hey, what do you think of this girl, Carol Baskin? They wanted me to read her body language and really do some analysis. I was like, finally, on the fourth one, I was like, okay, fine, I’ll freaking watch this thing, and I got sucked in too. I feel though, I feel a little dumber now after having watched it. Yea, it’s crazy. Talk about a perfect storm for Netflix man. I wonder if they knew everyone would watch it. Let’s drop this right now.
Holly Hoffman: It’s real. It’s a true story. That’s another thing. People want to see something that’s real and true. Another thing, it doesn’t take you very long to watch.
Traci Brown: Right.
Holly Hoffman: Some episodes, I’m actually watching Ozark right now. That’s going to take me awhile to watch. Like I said, I’ve never watched more television in my life.
Traci Brown: I know.
Holly Hoffman: It was a quick show. You’re done and you’re just going, those people are real? Yea.
Traci Brown: Oh my gosh. Okay, okay. A couple more questions. Just pandemic questions. What is the latest time in the day that you changed out of your pajamas?
Holly Hoffman: Um, 24 hours I’ve stayed in my pajamas so far, I will admit. I probably hate to admit that, but yes. I put them on at night. I kept them on through the morning. I kept them on through the night again.
Traci Brown: (Laughing). Okay. The earliest time you started drinking?
Holly Hoffman: Um, 3:30. It was just yesterday. I had a Zoom with some of my ladies, and one of my friends, she turned 50, so we decided to do a Zoom. We all had a glass of wine, and we started logging in at 3:30. Yea.
Traci Brown: There you go. Okay. Okay. One more. I can’t leave this one alone. What has been your most random quarantine purchase?
Holly Hoffman: My most random quarantine . . .
Traci Brown: You know an emergency purchase where you went to the store, freaked out, and then bought something because they didn’t have anything else.
Holly Hoffman: I can’t really think of anything. Probably. Oh, I know what it was. I felt like I was going to run out of hand sanitizer, so my mom told me to get rubbing alcohol.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Holly Hoffman: Have you ever put rubbing alcohol on your hands?
Traci Brown: Not when I don’t have a . . .
Holly Hoffman: Don’t try it! First of all, the smell is horrible. It was burning my hands because my hands were so chapped from putting Purell on, hand sanitizer, so I would have to say rubbing alcohol. I’m just going to leave that in the back in the bottle in the cabinet. I’m not going to use it again.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay. At least you know the virus was gone for that period of time when you used it. Let’s jump in. We’re taking a lighter look at fraud today. What we want to know is if the TV shows that we’re seeing that are “reality TV”, how real is that? Let’s talk about how you got selected and that process, how it was when you got there versus what you thought it was going to be, and that progression. Let’s talk about that just real quick.
Holly Hoffman: Okay. I applied. I had to send in a 3-minute audition tape and fill out an application. I sent it in. Actually, my audition tape was not very good. I just did this. I stood in front of a camera. I spoke for three minutes, and I was done. Never thought in a million years I was going to make it. I did watch Survivor before I applied, so I knew what the show was about and so forth. Sent it in. Eight months later I got a call. They flew me to Los Angeles for a casting call. I was there a week. My season, there were right around 100,000 people that applied.
Traci Brown: Man. Okay. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: I thought, um, okay. Just going to the casting call alone was quite an experience. When they called me and told me I made it, I was shocked. I was totally shocked. But when I got there, I visually walking into the jungle and seeing tents and campers and Port-a-Potties and maybe a table with some donuts and a cup of coffee, and there was nothing.
Traci Brown: Nothing.
Holly Hoffman: Speaking from the Survivor reality show, it is the absolute real deal.
Traci Brown: Okay. Oh, that’s good to know.
Holly Hoffman: What we’ll have to survive on your own. There’s no toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, blankets, pillows. It is absolutely the real deal.
Traci Brown: Okay. Now I heard that they – I’m going to interrupt you – I heard that they did give you razors. Is that true or not?
Holly Hoffman: Not true.
Traci Brown: Oh, it’s not. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: We did not get to shave our legs, under our arms, nothing. No. We did not get razors.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Holly Hoffman: No toothbrush. I didn’t brush my teeth the entire time. The only thing they gave us is they gave us this water bottle. This is my original water bottle.
Traci Brown: Okay. Oooh, that’s cool looking.
Holly Hoffman: Isn’t it cool. It’s a little glass bottle with a leather cover. They gave us that, and they gave us this bag that we could put our things in.
Traci Brown: Oooh, that’s a nice looking bag.
Holly Hoffman: Yea. I saved that. Then, of course when we started, everybody got their own tribe buff.
Traci Brown: Yea. I wanted to know about the tribe buffs because it seems like they get filthy as ya’ll go along.
Holly Hoffman: You just wear them. Basically, what they do is they’re like this. I always wore mine on my head. You could wear them anywhere, but you have to have your buff on. Basically, what it does is it indicates what tribe you’re on. I was on the Espada tribe. I would always wear mine on my head. Some ladies would wear theirs as a little tube top or a skirt or around their wrist. But on Survivor everyone gets a buff. But you don’t wash your buff. In some seasons they have to burn their buff after they’re voted off.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Holly Hoffman: We didn’t. We got to keep our buffs, so we were very, very fortunate. We were very lucky.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about what actually goes on because what I’m most interested in here, what I think people listening are most interested in, is that when you pit people against each other, but then have them work together, you have a real interesting dynamic of needing to learn to detect lies. It’s really a game. You have alliances that kind of pop up. Some of them pop up really early and others are later. Some people think they’re in control, but they’re really not. You stack that on top of probably a lot of low blood sugar and a lot of what’s really similar to what we have right now, a lot of I think, let’s call it desperation because there is a million dollar prize.
Holly Hoffman: Yes.
Traci Brown: At the end. Tell me a little bit about the story on how did you pick who to align with. What was it like when some of these alliances melted down and could you see that coming?
Holly Hoffman: Oh yes. You could definitely see that coming. I want to back up just a little bit.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Holly Hoffman: And go back to the casting call.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Holly Hoffman: What they do at the casting call is you have to take a lot of tests: Personality tests, IQ tests, and so forth, and what they do is they evaluate those tests. You also have to do some interviews with counselors, and they read your body language. They read your personality. Then they pick all these different personalities from all walks of life. They throw you in the middle of a jungle. The elements are horrible. It rained 17 nights in a row. We slept in the rain.
Traci Brown: Yea, the cold. Oh!
Holly Hoffman: It’s freezing. The sleep deprivation, the starvation. We all know what happens when we don’t get enough sleep and we’re hungry. We know you have a tendency to get angry or short tempered. Right.
Traci Brown: I’m the worst. My husband carries food around for me.
Holly Hoffman: Hysterical. Just think about in the real world, in the workplace. There are all these people from different walks of life, different personalities, and you have to be a team. But in Survivor, you have to be a team. You have to work together. But you also have to work against each other. It is a big mind game because you have to be strategic and you have to look at people and think: Who can I really trust and who can’t I trust? For me, that was really hard because my personality is: I want to have everybody get a long and nobody fight and everybody just . . . I’m the mom that wants all the kids to get along and I want all the junior high girls not to fight. Let’s just all get along. That was really hard for me. What I did is before I went, I would go places and I would try to read people’s body language.
Traci Brown: Oh, you would.
Holly Hoffman: Yes. I would sit in the mall or I would sit at park, and I would watch their body language and I would watch their facial expressions, and I would watch how they react with other people. It is amazing. If you ever want to do this, sit in a mall and you can tell when a husband and wife come out of a store and they don’t agree on a purchase by how they’re interacting. Or you can tell if there’s two people that are just dating and they’re smiling at each other, or you can tell if a mom is angry at her child or if she and her child are having a wonderful day. It is amazing how you can tell what kind of a day a person is having or their personality by their body language or by their facial expressions.
Traci Brown: Absolutely. I agree. I am fascinated consistently when I go out of the house, when I can go out of the house.
Holly Hoffman: I know! Isn’t it amazing though? You don’t even need to talk to these people or hear what they’re saying. You see it within their body language and their facial expressions. I did that. I would sit places and I would try to evaluate what kind of a day is that person having or what kind of person is that.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love that. That’s what I’ll tell people to do when they want to know if a politician is lying or not. Because you get sucked into what they’re saying. I’m like, great, you want to know, watch the debate with the volume off. It’ll tell.
Holly Hoffman: You can completely tell.
Traci Brown: Yes.
Holly Hoffman: So for me, I made the alliance with two people immediately into the game. The main reason I did it is because they were at my casting call.
Traci Brown: Oooh.
Holly Hoffman: We couldn’t talk to people at our casting call, but you could look at them. There were two other players, Wendy and JT, Jimmy T, excuse me. They would look at me and I would look at them, and we would nod and we would smile.
Traci Brown: At the casting call.
Holly Hoffman: At the casting call, even before I knew I made it. I remember being at the pool, and I was swimming laps and Wendy was swimming laps. I would try to make eye contact with her under the water, and I would stop and she would stop. We were not allowed to look at each other or talk to each other, but anytime I would look at her and make eye contact with her, I would nod.
Traci Brown: Oh, you are so conniving and smart. I love it.
Holly Hoffman: I did the same with Jimmy T. Those were the two that I made my first alliance. When I got there and I realized they made it and I made it and we were on the same tribe, those were the first two that I tried to connect with.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. Now, okay, I’m going to let you take it from here. Here’s the other thing I want to know. You can work this into what you’re going to say next because I know there’s so much to say. As far as the storyline that actually happened there versus the edited version that you saw, that’s what I want to know about on Survivor. Because I was on Amos and Andy, which is an Australian reality show, and it was pretty close to what happened that day. But yours is over almost 40 days.
Holly Hoffman: Right.
Traci Brown: So tell me about how things went, like for you, and then what you saw when you got home.
Holly Hoffman: Okay. I will have to agree with you. There are people that have been on the show and they come out of the show and they say, I got a horrible edit. No, they didn’t. They didn’t like seeing what they saw, what they did. I thought our season was right on.
Traci Brown: Really? Okay.
Holly Hoffman: Brenda in our season was a flirt. She was a flirt. Chase couldn’t make his mind up. Chase couldn’t make his mind up. I had to honestly say the personalities that you saw, the season 21, those were the personalities I saw in and out of the game.
Traci Brown: Oh, really? Okay. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: Yep. Of course, they have a lot of hours filmed. What I was mostly surprised with is the fact that what they didn’t show. They have a camera on you 24 hours a day. You have basically, by the time you show they show one episode every week, you have 45 minutes. I was more surprised at what they didn’t show. I had a complete meltdown on day 5.
Traci Brown: Let’s talk about that.
Holly Hoffman: It was the absolute real deal. People were like, my friends, they made you do that. Was that really you? Is that really how you felt? When you stole the guys shoes, did they tell you to do that? Nope. As much as I would love to say they told me to do that, they didn’t.
Traci Brown: Now, let’s go over this. Because I’ve gotten to know you, and I was shocked when I went down to watch this on Amazon. You stole – he was kind of a Guido guy – and you steal his alligator shoes. For one, why would he show up to an island with alligator shoes? Those are expensive, like really expensive.
Holly Hoffman: They were $1,600 shoes.
Traci Brown: You went off by yourself. You filled them up with sand from the beach, and then you took them back and drowned the shoes. They were almost like their own little set of cement shoes and that was it. The guy was looking for his shoes and I think you said, “I don’t even know where they are.” And didn’t someone find them like in the shallow water?
Holly Hoffman: I admitted it.
Traci Brown: Oh, you admitted it. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: I admitted I took them. I filled them with sand, threw them in the ocean. They were gone. Here’s why I did it. I had a complete meltdown. That guy really bothered me because he was constantly making fun of me. He was making fun of the way I spoke. He was making fun of where I was from. He just started to get under my skin. The reality is this also happens in life. We all have that one relative. We all have that one coworker, right. As much as we don’t want to admit it, there are times when we would love to do this to one of our relatives or a coworker, right.
Traci Brown: Oh yea.
Holly Hoffman: Get back at people. It’s a human reaction. Then you do it. We all say things we really shouldn’t say sometimes. We say them without thinking. We do things without thinking them through. That’s what I did. It shows that we are all human. After I realized what I did and that it had the possibility of being on national television, I thought to myself, wait a minute, this is not who I am. I went and I did tell them I was sorry. I admitted that I took his shoes and I told them I was sorry. But it’s really a life lesson about how we all say and do things that we are going to regret, but how do you react to those things that you regret? Do you just blow them off or do you say, I’m sorry, and hopefully the person will forgive you.
Traci Brown: I’m hearing a lot of that from people that are committing fraud. A lot of them are actually sorry. They got in a pinch. Maybe they stick an IOU in a file of someone that they borrowed, the financial planner, they just borrowed off someone’s account and things like that. That’s a real common thing.
Holly Hoffman: This is a great comparison because people do get in a pinch. Let’s face it, money right now, especially now, it’s hard. Finances are hard. Trying to pay that mortgage, putting groceries in the refrigerator, in the car, and taking them home and feeding your family. We all think, okay, is there something we can do? Big companies have done this as well. They go back. How do you react when you get caught? That’s probably when your true personality comes out.
Traci Brown: Right. You’ve got to own it or not.
Holly Hoffman: Yes.
Traci Brown: I have, I have talked to people, and they’ve paid everything back and then they went to jail. It gets crazy out there. It doesn’t make the behavior right, but it makes it more understandable. I think that’s important, for all of us, like to give people a little bit of a break right now.
Holly Hoffman: Absolutely. I do admit what I did was wrong. I stole his shoes. That was wrong. I was angry at him. I took it out on him. It was wrong. I should have just walked away and said, okay, this guy is getting under my skin. I just need to go over here by another tree and spend some time alone. Instead, I let my feelings get under my skin, and I did something that I regret doing.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea. Okay. Let’s talk about these alliances and then these tribal councils which is where the alliances seem to break in an instant.
Holly Hoffman: Yea.
Traci Brown: Or maybe they don’t. What do you know about that and how can we relate that into trusting people now? Because fraud’s on the rise.
Holly Hoffman: Oh yes.
Traci Brown: Because when the economy goes down, fraud goes up. That’s just it. What did you learn from that, that we can use today?
Holly Hoffman: Right. Fraud and desperation are both the same thing because when you’re desperate you find something to do where you can get through. That’s kind of how Survivor works. This is for a million dollars. You have to scheme. You have to lie. Yes. You may have to steal. What is that? That’s fraud.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Holly Hoffman: It is totally fraud. I knew going into this game that this was part of the game. I would have to make an alliance. I would have to lie to people. I may even have to steal. I set a course. I told my family I was going to try to play the best game I possibly could, the most respectable. I wasn’t going to swear. I wasn’t going to lie. I did it within the first hour.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Holly Hoffman: This is how I look at it. I knew that I would have to lie, and I knew people would like to me. I tried to come up with things that happened to me in the past or when somebody lied to me. What was the first thing I noticed when someone lied to me? The very first thing I noticed, and I also noticed this on Survivor, two things, people would not make eye contact with me. If I would ask them a question. I’m just going to use some names that were in my season. I remember walking up to Marty and Jill. I remember walking up to them one day and asking them if they were in an alliance with Eve. They looked at each other and they said, “No, no. We’re not in alliance.” They didn’t look at me. But they looked at each other to make sure they were both going to give the right answer.
Traci Brown: Yea. Looking for support. You bet.
Holly Hoffman: I knew immediately it was a lie.
Traci Brown: Um-hum. Good job.
Holly Hoffman: That’s one of the first thing, I think, with fraud, questioning someone, playing Survivor, if they do not make eye contact with you, they’re lying.
Traci Brown: Well, and if they’re looking for support from someone else before they answer, that’s a giveaway.
Holly Hoffman: I specifically remember that. They immediately looked at each other to make sure they were both going to say, “No, no. We are not in alliance.” I knew immediately they were in an alliance with Eve.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow.
Holly Hoffman: Another thing is, in Survivor you do make alliances and you trust your alliances. But your alliances also break on you sometimes. I was in an alliance with two gentlemen at the end. There were five of us left. There were four men and myself. I was the last woman. I was in an alliance with two of the men and the two other men were in their own alliance. Of course, the three of us outnumbered the two men. One day I looked over and two men that I was in an alliance with, they were talking to one of the other gentlemen that we were not in alliance with. They were talking and talking, and I was back a ways and I just watched them for a while. They were having a very heavy conversation. But as soon as I walked up to their conversation, they immediately stopped talking.
Traci Brown: Oooh, that’s a good one right there. Yes.
Holly Hoffman: I knew they were talking about me.
Traci Brown: Um-hum. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: They kept looking down to the ground and they started talking about a different subject. It was like they started stumbling over their words. I pulled one of the gentleman aside that I was in alliance with and I said, “You guys are going to vote me off, aren’t you? And you’re going to jump into an alliance with this other gentleman.” He immediately looked away from me. “Nope, nope, nope. That’s not what we’re going to do.” I said, “Chase, that’s what you’re doing.” I looked at him right in the eyes and I confronted him. He goes, “Well, we’re just worried that if we let . . .” and he started, and another thing you can tell when someone’s lying, they start to ramble.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea. They try to get ahead of you and answer questions you didn’t ask. Also, you touched on it before, vocal error rate is actually a bigger indicator of deception than body language, like when people can’t get their words out. Here’s why and this is super interesting. Your brain works at about 1,250 words a minute. Your mouth works at a 150. By the time their mouth opens, they’ve gone over three or four scenarios and they haven’t quite settled on one and it doesn’t come out just right. Good job of catching that.
Holly Hoffman: Yea. I was way at the end, day 36, and I totally remember that because, like I said, they were over there scheming. First, I watched them and then I approached them. I knew immediately when I approached them and they stopped talking and they tried to change the subject, but when I just confronted Chase he just wouldn’t stop talking. I thought, wait a minute. So I had to do some swift talking on that one. I wasn’t voted off that night.
Traci Brown: Oh, good.
Holly Hoffman: I think the whole observation plus the approaching. When you play the game of Survivor and I’m sure you find this when you research fraud as well, this isn’t something that you can do two minutes out of the day. I had to observe every little situation and scenario 24 hours a day. In fact, here’s another thing, I would take my buff and at night when we were lying in the hut I would pull my buff down over my eyes and try to sleep but I would lie on my side and I would always be able to look underneath my buff because people would get out of the hut at night and they would sneak off and they would talk.
Traci Brown: Oh.
Holly Hoffman: One night I saw Jill and Marty get up and they were sneaking, you know trying to be real quiet and get out of the hut. They left. The next morning we were standing around the campfire, and I said, “Did anybody leave the hut last night? I thought I heard somebody leave. Did anybody leave? How did everybody sleep?” Everybody was like, “Nope, nope.” Jill and Marty, “Nope.” Immediately Jill and Marty were in an alliance.
Traci Brown: See, that’s really important because, and it’s the same with your keynotes as with mine, you can get a couple tips and if you go back to life and you’re not heads up, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not something you do 10 minutes a day or two minutes a day in a conversation. If you want to know who’s lying to you, you’ve got to be heads up all the time. It doesn’t mean that you’re suspicious and negative around people, but it means you need to check on what’s more than immediately obvious there. Good job for asking questions about things you knew about.
Holly Hoffman: Yes. Oh, yes. That’s another thing. All of these scenarios really relate to the real world as well.
Traci Brown: Oh yea.
Holly Hoffman: The body language, the eye contact, visuals, speaking, how people speak. Even when I watch movies now, I watch out for that. I watch and think if people are lying on if they’re not. Going back to Tiger King, what’s the lady?
Traci Brown: Carole Baskin.
Holly Hoffman: When they questioned on if she killed her husband, did you notice she started talking?
Traci Brown: She did that and she’d always laugh.
Holly Hoffman: Yes.
Traci Brown: That’s a sign when you laugh like that. It can be. It’s called duper’s delight where they think they’re getting away with it and having a good time. We saw that from Tom Brady. We saw that from Tonya Harding. It’s real consistent. Okay. Let’s talk about the tribal council. I want to know about your torch sitting there behind there.
Holly Hoffman: This is my original torch that I had when I played the game of Survivor. They light it on the top. This is the original torch. They did not give me this torch. I had to bid on this torch on ebay.
Traci Brown: How much did you have to pay for it?
Holly Hoffman: $1,500.
Traci Brown: No! Who had it before you? How did it get to ebay?
Holly Hoffman: Here’s what happens. When you’re done playing, if you make the final three and you’re done, or you get voted off, the last torch that you carry to tribal council, they put this nametag on it.
Traci Brown: Oh, I see it. Yea.
Holly Hoffman: The thing that has my name.
Traci Brown: Uh-huh.
Holly Hoffman: This was the last torch that I carried. Because you don’t always carry the same torch.
Traci Brown: Oh, really. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: When you’re done, if you do make the final three, it’s the last torch you carry to tribal council. They put your name on it, or if you got voted off and Jeff Probst puts your torch out, they do put this. This was the last one that I carried to tribal council.
Traci Brown: Uh-huh.
Holly Hoffman: After our season was over, they sent us an email and they said they were selling everything from the season. I really wanted my torch. I started bidding on my torch, 2:30 in the morning with six seconds left I pressed the button and I got my torch, and I paid $1,500 for it. But I want to mention this, it was a lot of money. I did also get my tribal council bench. I got a flag.
Traci Brown: Did you get the thing behind you there? Your background?
Holly Hoffman: I also got this. Now this was not from my season.
Traci Brown: Oh, that’s from Panama. Because you were Nicaragua.
Holly Hoffman: Yes, Nicaragua. I did not get the Nicaragua one. Someone outbid me on that one. I just really wanted a Survivor sign, an original, and so I got this one. But all the proceeds go to a charity. It’s CBS Survivor. They pick a charity every year. Our charity for our season was Stand Up to Cancer for cancer research.
Traci Brown: Oh, great.
Holly Hoffman: It does go to a good cause. It doesn’t go back to CBS. It doesn’t go back to Survivor. It does go to a charity. All the proceeds, the $1,500, I think I paid $350 for this. I just wanted some Survivor stuff.
Traci Brown: Oh, I’m so glad you bought it. That is so cool.
Holly Hoffman: When I speak, when I go to presentations. Of course, when I fly I can’t get this thing through security or on the plan . . .
Traci Brown: The TSA wouldn’t like that? A torch?
Holly Hoffman: No! (Laughing). They would probably go, what is she carrying? When I drive, I take it with me, and people love to see it. They love to hold it. Because it’s heavy.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Holly Hoffman: This is what you carry to tribal council. Of course, in the game of Survivor, fire is life. You want to keep your torch lit for 39 days. If you get voted off, Jeff Probst, the host of the show, puts your torch out and you’re done. This is your lifeline right here. You want to keep this thing lit.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love it. Okay. One more thing we’ve got to talk about. Jimmy Johnson. It looked like you two were pals. Tell me about Jimmy. What did you learn from him about how to handle people, how to persuade them to go your way, and are you still in touch?
Holly Hoffman: I love Jimmy Johnson. I was so excited when I heard he was on our tribe. I couldn’t believe it. He’s a huge Survivor fan. I connected with him immediately. I know why. It was his personality. The first day we were out there, we’re sitting around after, we’re building our hut, we’re all tired, and we kind of took a break. He said to us, he said, I really want you guys to know that he applied three times to get on the show.
Traci Brown: Really.
Holly Hoffman: Yes. He said, “I’m a huge Survivor fan, but I’m not out here to win the million dollars.” He said, “I don’t need a million dollars. I want this experience. But mostly, I want to help someone else further themselves in the game.” On day five when I had my meltdown, I remembered he said that, and I walked up to him and I said, “Coach, can I talk to you?” And he and I walked over, and we sat on this log. They probably showed four or five minutes of it, but we were there for a long time, and his character was what just – it melted my heart. Your goal is to vote people off and get rid of people so you can get yourself to the end, and he was encouraging me to stay. He said, “Holly, we really need you. If you quit, you’re going to regret this for the rest of your life. This is hard but you just have to keep going.” The words that he said to me, that just hit me. It was his encouragement and his inspiration that just inspired me to keep going. We are still great friends. He wrote the forward to my first book.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love that.
Holly Hoffman: Yea. When he was inducted into the NFL Coaches Hall of Fame, I sent him a message and everything. Yea. He’s just an amazing man. He really is.
Traci Brown: Fantastic. Alright. I don’t want to take your whole day here.
Holly Hoffman: I can talk Survivor forever.
Traci Brown: I know. We could. We could. Okay. What is the one thing, if you could leave people with to survive this whole pandemic and all the things that everybody’s going through, because we’re all in this together.
Holly Hoffman: Absolutely.
Traci Brown: What can you leave people with here?
Holly Hoffman: You know, Traci, it brings back a lot of memories to me. I feel like I’ve walked back into the jungle. I feel like people right now are panicking. I feel people are lonely. I feel people are fearing the unknown. They’re sad. It’s okay not to be okay. I think people, we as a society, we walk around, we say hi to people, we smile, and sometimes on the inside we’re hurting. When I played the game of Survivor, I was hurting at the beginning. I had to reach out to someone. The biggest thing I think right now is we need to reach out to each other. We need to reach out to a family member. We need to reach out to a friend. If you are feeling lonely, if you’re feeling sad, it’s okay. Sometimes we put on these masks and sometimes we walk around like, “I’m okay, everything’s fine”, but this is a situation in our world where we need to just take a step back and we need to say, “You know what, things are not fine.” It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to tell someone, “I’m having a really bad day.” I remember doing that when I played Survivor. I remember one day I got up and I just started crying because I missed my family. I was dirty and I hadn’t brushed my teeth. I feel like that right now. I stayed in my pajamas for 24 hours. I’m not wearing makeup. I haven’t washed my hair in three days. Get up. Wash your hair. Put some makeup on. Call a friend. Go for a walk. This is hard. This is a hard situation. But reach out to people is probably the biggest advice I can give someone right now. Don’t think that you can do this alone because you can’t.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love that. That is such timely info. How can people get more of you? Tell us about your books. You’re a keynote speaker. You could come and energize someone’s conference. Tell us a little bit about that. How can they get a hold of you?
Holly Hoffman: I have a website, HollyHoffman.com. My contact information is right there on my website. I answer all of my emails, if they are interested in getting a hold of me, having me speak at one of their conferences and so forth. I have written two books. My first book is Your Winner Within. One of my presentations is called Never Give Up: The Survivor Way. I speak about six words and those six words are faith, attitude, determination, confidence, desire, and perseverance. I took those eight words and I put them into chapters in my first book.
Traci Brown: Cool. Okay.
Holly Hoffman: Then I talked about some things in my personal life. Then my second book is called Write Yourself a Note. I truly believe in the value of writing things down. Even right now, what is going on with the coronavirus. Have you ever tried, if you’re angry or upset, to start writing? See what happens. It opens up your mind. What I do is I talk about things and at the end of each chapter I leave a couple pages where you have to write things down. That’s my second book as well. You can get those on Amazon as well as you can contact me through my website, and I’m glad to mail them a book.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love it. Well, thank you so much for taking the time with us today. I know people are going to love this. Thank you.
Holly Hoffman: Traci, thank you so much for having me. I love your personality. You have a wonderful smile. I was very, very honored to do this today. Thank you.