Season 2 of “Just Stories with BT” features all Female Executive guests in the mattress/furniture space or other underrepresented industries!
These episodes focus on getting to know the amazing woman behind these roles and giving a platform to talk about getting our male dominated industries more balanced out!
Episode #14’s guest Michaela Guzy can be seen all over the world starring and producing in 3 different shows: Michaela’s Maps, Inspiration Station and Sleeping Around Safely (Again). You have seen her all over the news, travel channels, publications and on her website “Oh The People You Meet” where she has millions of views (https://ohthepeopleyoumeet.com/). This episode goes deep into getting to know Michaela through some of her amazing stories, some funny (like really funny) and some motivational. You will hear what happens to a hyper driven successful business owner when they worked in the travel industry during a pandemic! Her newest show Inspiration Station, focusses on live interviews in IGTV from all over the world where people come on to tell inspiring stories when the world has needed them the most. Her stories alone have surpassed 7 million views this year! Listen to an unforgettable episode with Michaela now 🙂
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Brett Thornton: All right, welcome back to another episode of just stories with BT. We are in season two, which is focusing on female executives and I could not be more happy to have this week’s guest Michaela Guzy which I just learned how to pronounce who is the founder and runs Oh the people you meet. Welcome to the show.
Michaela Guzy: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor.
Brett Thornton: So for anyone listening on the podcast, you wouldn’t see this but if you’re watching the video, you will notice that I am sitting you know, in an office, whereas Michaela is not tell everybody where are you? Why is the background looks so amazing.
Michaela Guzy: I am guest hosting my friend Jimmy and Abby’s hotel and to loom Mexico and it’s called Casa de la sola. And the beautiful LEED certified kind of beach house guest house property on the sandy beaches of Tulum Beach Road. So no complaints over here.
Brett Thornton : Absolutely. I’m extremely jealous. Just start actually finally just started traveling again, like a month ago. And so I’ve been each week I’ve traveled somewhere like Georgetown, Seattle, the Bay Area, and it feels so good to just get back out and start traveling for work again. But I am yet to like do something exciting, like just for vacation, so I can’t wait to hang out.
Michaela Guzy :Wait, well, one of the shows I launched during COVID was called sleeping around again safely. And I didn’t quite make it as long as us September, I was just like, I got to move. I like it has to happen. It has to happen right now. And I started sleeping around again safely, which my mother was horrified by the title. But it’s not quite as scandalous as you think it’s about documenting the world’s reopening safely. And so in the fourth quarter, I focused mostly on domestic but starting in January started going international and I just really haven’t gone back yet. So.
Brett Thornton: Hey, more power to you. So before we get going into the podcast, I want to give people obviously a chance to get to know you a little bit. And I’ll give you a chance to kind of just talk about all the people you meet and the three different shows in a second, but I’m going to introduce you for you. And the reason I do this is because what I found out through a lot of podcasts is that the host often will be like Hey, well, you know, tell the audience about yourself and then that’s a very, like broad question. And so sometimes people go on for like 20 minutes and you can tell the host is like squirming in their chair like Okay, stop and then sometimes people say like four things. So I’m going to introduce you for you. And then afterwards you can tell me how I blew it or what I missed.
Michaela Guzy: So I’m good.
Brett Thornton: Okay. Awesome. Okay, world. This is Michaela Guzy.Alright, so she was born in St. Louis, Missouri grew up there. Midwest girl. At four years old. She told her aunt, she was a she was obviously prophesizing in the future that she was going to move to New York City which came true. She grew up I have three younger siblings, Meredith mere and made and her parents are Michael and Maureen, which you can get it and then now we have obviously Michaela so you’ve got all the AMS which I’m sure was really confusing. Funny story my dad and same both so my dad is Terry and it’s Terry, Tom Trent Tim and Todd and my aunt and my grandpa was Thomas. So same deal. So growing up, she was really into singing and dancing and acting and active at school. She was an artist and with three younger sisters obviously did tons of babysitting, which is really cool. But school was very important, wanted to get a good education and get a scholarship, which she did. And she left and went to Spring Hill College, which is in Mobile, Alabama, I’m sure we all knew that. Never. And, but then she fulfilled her four year old destiny, which was after that she moved to New York City took a job working for Dutch advertising that way. Deutsche advertising that parlayed into a career in the travel publication world, and as she was progressing through different companies and growing in her career, she realized that there was not a very good digital solution for what was happening to the travel publication world. Obviously, the internet was blown up. That’s where everything was moving, where she was wasn’t working, or at least you didn’t see it. So she decides to start her own company in 2012. Oh, the people you meet, which now blew up all over the place. She has three shows wildly popular, you can see her all over TV news channels everywhere. And then obviously, this is shows dedicated around travel. So pandemic hits, what do you do, and she actually created a new show or two shows, which will tell us about but one was inspiration station, which now has 102 streaming episodes on igtv with 4.2 million views already probably even more now.
Michaela Guzy: I was going to say it’s actually going to meet at 100 instead 10 episodes in over 100.
Brett Thornton: Yeah. Either way, amazing. So these are inspirational stories that obviously during a pandemic, people need hope they need they needed to hear good stories and good things. So that’s probably why it costs so much traction plus, obviously, you’re a great producer. And then now here you are. I’m just frozen VT live from Tulum.
Michaela Guzy: Well, thank you so much for having me. And thank you for the cliff notes version, I guess. But yeah, no, it was really fun. I started doing advertising and I find things come full circle. And those are kind of like signs to me that I’m on the right path. Right. So to take it from joy, ah, my first job in advertising. My Chief Marketing Officer there, Peter Gardner. And I like lost touch over the years where I went into publishing and worked at Conde Nast and Hearst and some of the really major publishing brands. And yeah, and I digital social video solutions, we didn’t have one, like a concept didn’t have one or the company that was about to acquire us. And also none of the brands that I work for spoke to I like to travel, which is meeting new people. So those are kind of like my business and editorial reasons for leaving, and starting with the people we meet back in 2012. And, yeah, we had a show have a show called Michaelas map . And while we always have focused on people, places and purposes, and so Michaelas map was always me as the curator and going to find the Lobos to tell their own story. And on Michaelas map we’ve had, I mean guests ranging from the president of Rwanda to fashion designer in Sierra Leone, to a marine biologist, who’s also a scuba instructor in Los Cabos, and everyone in between. And I really like to help people tell their own stories. And so my kills map and other people you meet and all our social channels are, are just different ways and different platforms that we’ve built, to help share those inspiring stories. Because of COVID, we are about to roll out this whole season of shows that me and my team have worked literally for years, to create and to capture. And we had this whole season and COVID head and I was like, okay, now is not the right time to release a show about connection. So, I’m going to rein that back in. But in the very weirdest of ways, I always like to see a positive, or the silver linings and things that in the very weirdest of ways I pulled back releasing season one of our long forms show Michaelas map, and we’re about to roll it out sometime in the next hopefully month or two. And we’re in talks with places like Qatar airlines to roll them out in flight. So, in a strange way, now all of a sudden, what we were doing before the pandemic, human connection and travel, all of a sudden, all these light bulbs are going off with a distribution houses and airlines are like, oh, traveling human connection. We all need that right now. We all want that right now. Oh, and you already have a fully produced show around the world. And I’m like, yeah, Isn’t that crazy? By going to the second show inspiration station, so we just there’s no way you would have known this unless you were like obsessed with counting our viewership. But I’m which I would find strange. We just published 100 and 17th episode, and we have had over 6 million views on just IGTV alone and just on that show. And I mean, as an entrepreneur, these are the things that I have to get excited about. And with inspiration station, what’s great is I got to do things like totally differently. I got to interview people outside of the traditional travel space, and interviewed DJ D Nice. You know, he’s been featured in The New York Times and like Oprah and Obama is tuned into him. And I just had Mark groves who I’m totally obsessed with on a personal front not really like not a creepy way. And then a third show that we created, which is also like very relevant of the here and now was back in September. I finally just had the moment where I was like, I got to fly. I got to move. I was like, it is it is my duty. I’m feeling called. I’m going to do it as safely as possible, but I need to give him what I do as a living. I need to show people that it is safe to get out there and I need to help the travel industry rebound. And so that was when I started the show sleeping around again safely back in September 20, Tony, and I’ve literally been on the road ever since I took a pit stop to spend Christmas with my family. But I’ve been to Panama and Kenya and Utah and up and down the coast of California. I’ve been to Miami, and I think there’s something like two and a half months plus now and we’re going to have a whole another month in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, everywhere from the Mexican Caribbean and the island with full Bosh up to the colonial town of Merida. And Dooley, which I probably still mispronunciation. But I’m trying. And it’s, such a magical and special place. But basically, I’ve been outdoors since September, and it’s been really fabulous and very therapeutic. And just to do a Larry David full circle since my, my career started toy advertising. My Chief Marketing Officer, and so I was like, Oh, he like remembers who I am. That’s nice. So, you have a lot of time has passed. And so, I was flattered. And we ended up like having a chat. And it was like a nice to catch up chat. And then I sent him a few things. And it’s just like, you know, I always value feedback. As an entrepreneur, I don’t often get someone that takes time to spend time to get to know me and my company and like what I’m doing. And he’s the tough guy. But like, most of the time when I feel like he’s confused about something that I’m saying, which is so crystal clear to me, obviously, because I created that. I’m like, Oh, well, then there’s probably other people on the outside that are confused by XYZ. And so just like everything from like our presentations to know, my positioning statement, whatever, like, I’ll go back, and I’ll look at it, I mean, pretty awesome to have someone that I used to work for, but they used to like work in branding and advertising and like major ad firms to give me feedback. So I’m like, you know, sometimes I translate what I need from those messages. But he ended up becoming the first investor in my company, late last year. So, it’s, yeah, so yeah, it’s been a wild, insane ride. And I have to say, in terms of inspiration station, it’s been great, because that truly kept me inspired during the dark and early days of COVID, when nobody knew what was going on.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, absolutely. And I love you know, that part of, of the story is reconnecting with someone from a previous career, and then they end up becoming this really big part of the future. Because I think that it’s actually a really strong message and something that I preach all the time, not just to my employees, but I actually talked to my kids about it. Because, like, we were both my kids were, we were driving somewhere a couple weeks ago, and I’m an ex someone I used to work with long time ago, called and I always take two, I always take my work calls with the kids in the car, and I let them listen, because I just think a lot from it, you know and it was interesting, because after the call, I said, Hey, like, what were your takeaways? And it’s like a full business thing. This guy was trying to start this business and they were kind of telling me and I just said, Listen, at the end of the day, I say, you know, schooling is important. You know, your work ethic is important. All these different things that you do help mold your career, I said, but for me, at least in my experiences, my relationships have been the thing that took me everywhere. It’s always been the people that I met the relationships I built, how I treated people how they treated me. And I said, you know, you’re going to learn this phrase in school a lot, where people say, hey, it’s you know, treat others This way, you know, how you want to be treated, and that’s great. And you want to make all these connections. I said, that’s fine, but it is you want to make connection so strong than that person would do you a solid, just like them. I go, that’s what matters. And I look just like you like where I’m at now in my career is because I work with a guy that I worked with a decade ago, you know, and years he kept saying, oh, I’ve got this thing I got this cool come and I got this thing you know, and he kept just trying to get me and eventually like, you know, he got slowly because we had that relationship. And I’m always baffled especially on a platform like LinkedIn and I anytime I see someone say something negative about someone else, or someone they worked or whatever it always just I’m always like, what are you doing? Like it makes no sense to me because you’re like, why would you close any door ever?
Michaela Guzy: I am nine years into running my own company. And we’ve I mean, everyone needs assistance and help and support like you don’t, nobody can really afford, I think to have like the negative attention especially when you’re small or getting started or pivoting or whatever the case may be. But I don’t know, like some of my, definitely my corporate career wasn’t easy. And by the way, neither has been my owning my own company. So, I need all the love and support I can get. And sometimes love and support comes from some of the strangest places and like, you don’t realize on social media, like who’s watching, you don’t know who’s watching. And so, I didn’t know that my former Chief Marketing Officer for my first job in 2001 was like watching my journey, I had no idea. And I also like, I had some icky stuff around my especially my last job, I was a young female executive, very young VP at American Express publishing, and I, my team, like my New York team, were men that were older than me. And I was working with independent contractors all over the world. And Funny enough, the independent contractors were massively supportive of me, as were my external clients. And then I’m referring back to like an old, what did they call it? There’re so many freaking reports that we had to do in corporate America, I know they have their place, but I don’t miss them at all. But there was the it was a 360 review. And so, where I excelled in my 360 review was like, the very top people like really liked and admired and respected me. And I think they saw me as like, you know, this go getter, do good or whatever. And then the, like, very junior people, I think, thought me very inspiring, and like, looked up to me and whatnot, and my external clients. And then, like, partners, and I see is and stuff, but it was usually the people right around me, like, in my circle, and I now is space and time, I think was probably they were threatened by me. I was like, Man, I’m really nice. Like, I’m this nice Midwestern person. And I mean, part of that comes with, like, the leadership, like, meaning my leadership was not strong. And it I mean, it could have been better on so many levels, but they, when you have a good leader, like your leader works with you, they ask you hard questions, they have hard conversations with you, they stand by you. And, and or you shouldn’t be in that position, right, they shouldn’t have put you in that position in the first place. So I didn’t, I definitely didn’t have that and not something now like, and I work with almost all I sees and like all over the world. So I took that learning that was like, Okay, well, where were my strengths and not 360 report. And that was my external clients, which by the way, I still have not only all of them, but like more of them. And now like clients not only like hire me to create content, but those same clients will like have me come given inspiring talk to their colleagues, as we emerge out of the pandemic, or even like, before the pandemic, I was doing trend predictions and forecasting for them. So, it’s such an honor to like, be very valued and trusted in that regard. Like that, to me is like one of the highest compliments that I could in fact receive. And I have my model now for in terms of like the people that work with me has been independent contractor. And that was for a number of reasons. One was they were my favorite people to work with because they didn’t have to get involved necessarily in all the HR and the politics of things. But also, I knew I was like, I like being my own little boss and my own little business and all of my international offices were set up that way. They were their own boss and business, but they would come to me and they’d be like, okay, here’s situation, I need you to come in tomorrow, we’re going to do these things or have these meetings like because they were incentivized to bring in the business and only paid on that business. And so, I just, I always found that people owning their own business, if you will, and like kind of managing their own timetables and schedules, like it boils down to trust and independence. And I’ve been a digital nomad and like a believer in that even from my days of ampyx because I was on the road, like three weeks a month. And so that really is how I’ve focused my team structure. I know the people you need over the past nine years.
Brett Thornton: Nice. And so, tell me because I want to get into you created these few shows during the pandemic, especially But before that, just I always ask for a few stories. And one of them was always like, you know, during the last year, it could be any time during your career, you know, but are there any stories you can think of that?
Michaela Guzy: Every time you think about it, just makes you laugh when I was in corporate America, and I was traveling with the editor in chief of this very prestigious magazine, like she literally was like travel royalty like, could you not people like rolled out red carpet when she like checked into a hotel. And so, she and I had been on the road for quite a long time, we had gone to a huge conference in London, and I feel like we’ve popped for meetings in Paris. And I think we’re well into week two, and we were at a conference in Morocco. And while all that is overstimulating, and like managing the calendar, I had teams of people at the show, and then at this show, it was just like me and her, and everybody wants to talk to her, like, they will all want to be featured by her, whatever. And she was a little bit high maintenance of those, to be very blunt, but she, like, worked your ass off. And I mean, it’s not my style, but like, yeah, she was badass. So, whatever. That was her style. And she liked all like the fanfare and the attention. But as the person that was traveling with her, and like trying to navigate all the appointments and stuff, I was like, Oh my god, this is so unbelievably stressful. And like, actually, a guy that used to work for me at the company was like, Can Sherpa Michaela talk right now. And I was like, shut up. That’s actually not funny. But it was very funny because it was kind of true. was like, I’m the highest paid Sherpa ever. And so anyway, we’re in Morocco, and it’s been exhausting. And I really do admire this person, but also it stressed me out. Right? Like, she’s super senior. I’m here, I’m trying to look good. Like, I haven’t had a day off and like weeks, like blah, blah, blah. And so anyway, I’m so honored when she comes to me. And she is like, we’re I booked this ticket treatment at this very fancy Riyadh Hotel in Morocco. And I made you an appointment. And I was like, Oh my god, like one she likes me. And like, so I’m honored, like in a business sense. But awesome. Like, oh, this is going to be so like, awesome. And like, so relaxing, and so luxurious and all that. And so, I like, tell all my travel friends at this conference that I’m going to be like, Oh my god, that’s so amazing. I’m like, I know, I’m so excited. And so anyway, we get to the Riyadh and get taken back into this, like, super posh spa. And they take me to a little dressing room and they’re like, okay, they’re kind of speaking French and an Arabic And it’s this. I speak neither, except for like, really what? I have no idea what’s going on. And they’re basically telling me that, you know, stripped down to nothing, and like, put on a robe. Okay, so they leave, and I opened my little locker. And there’s no robe and all that’s there is this like, little mini towel. And I’m like, God was what am I going to do? And also, I’m in an Arabic country, right? So, I’m like, Okay, so I’m like, standing there. With like, the little towel over me and a very, like, I’ve always been self-conscious. And like, most certainly back then and like Midwestern, so like, a little bit like conservative and like, grew up Catholic. And I was just like, Oh, my God. And I’m like, literally, like hiding behind the curtain and like, looking out, trying to get someone’s attention. And finally, the guy comes back and like whipped soap in the curtain. I’m like, oh, and I’m like, Oh, my God, like an Arabic man. And I’m standing here, like, make this tall is not doing enough here. Yeah. So you just like, kind of like, she hits me on the arm and I’m like okay. And so I’m like, following him to where I think is like, a towel or a robe. And the next thing I know, he’s like, brings me into this, like, dark room. It’s all tiles. There’s like one little window with like, a little gate on it. Like with like, one little beam of sun coming in. There’s like a shower faucet and a bucket. And I’m like, what’s that like? What’s going on? And he just closes the door and leaves and I’m like,Oh, okay. What’s happening right now and so flash forward, he comes back in and he is with my editor in chief, who was given a full size tall. So now I’m like, oh my god. So, anybody that’s ever worked as an executive or in a corporation can be like, Oh my God, this situation is already wrought with, like so much corporate compliance, like nightmares that like you can’t even. So, I’m sitting there like with my little thing. And the guy like would this also was like, so different than any of my experiences in the Middle East as far even though this is Northern Africa that feels very Middle Eastern. He like comes in in this like basic, basically white loincloth situation. And he like motions to us. And my editor in chief pushes me forward. And I’m like, okay, and so I like, go up to him. And I’m, like, still standing with this stupid little towel. And I’m trying to like, hide my back end from her. Because I’m like, this is I’m mortified. Mortified is the only way I know how to describe it. And the guy motions to like the floor, and I’m like, okay, and the next thing I know, he is like, scrubbing me down with this, like bucket and sponge, my editor in chief is like sitting there. And I hear I keep hearing her like, gasping. Like, at one point, he like, throws the bucket of water. I mean, I’m like, Oh, I’m like, what he like, literally, he did this thing where I don’t even know how it happened. But he like grabbed me. And it was like, imagine airplane that you do with your kids. Yeah, I’m naked. And I’m doing airplane, but he’s kicking me in the stomach. And I’m like, and then he like, puts me back on the ground. And the next thing you know, he’s like, dragging me by the ankles like wet and naked across the tile. And at this point, my editor in chief scream, run out of what I call left me here by myself. Like, I don’t know if it’s better or worse, that she left me there by myself, because like, it was infinitely more uncomfortable. But I’m like, what else is going to happen during this ticket treatment. And then like, I don’t know that we end up like, the guy takes me at this point. I’m just like, naked, wet, and befuddled. And he ends up like shampooing my hair with like oils, and even like squeezed in orange on top of me. And I was just like, okay, like, I don’t know. And he just, like, led me naked back to my little room. And I was like, and afterwards, so I put up this post. And now there’s an article on my story on this story on my website. Oh, the people you mean. And by the time I got back to the conference, I had sent this story as a text to a friend of the conference. And there was like some event that night, by the time I got to that event that night. It had been forwarded on to everyone at the conference. And I was like, oh, my God, and like, you know, my editor in chief is like, still there, right? Yeah. Like, I mean, like, 900 people that night, probably came up to me, and they’re like, Oh, my God, you’re the ticket girl. And I’m like, Oh, no, what? Oh, my God, how did this get out there? And so I finally, I mean, I’ve literally years later, then at a conference in London, and someone from India came up to me and was like, I have to tell you, like, I’ve always loved that story. And I was like, how do you want, you know, that story? And I’m like, Oh, my God, like, so it’s kind of like, one of those things I’ll never live down and I’m just like, okay, whatever.
Brett Thornton: That is so awesome. I had it. I, it’s so funny, because it reminds me, I was part of a crew. We shot a documentary film about the genocide that was happening inside of Burma, which flashboard it’s happening again. But this is back in the mid-2000s. And so, we go into Thailand first and then we sneak in and out of Burma to shoot the film. And so, when we were on our way out, we had been there for six weeks. And so, we had to fly to Bangkok. So, we were in northern Thailand. And so, we spent two days down in Phuket before we flew out after this, like hello six weeks of you know, sneaking out of the country and not eating in this whole nine yards. We were like, let’s do like is the day or two and who can like relax. And so, one of the guys that was with us had never been out of the country. He had never even drunk he’d never had an alcohol and everybody’s very conservative kid not like the other three though. went on the trip. And so it was like our last night and we were like, oh let’s we were eating at this restaurant. And this lady was walking around and she’s like, Oh, you know, best time massages ever, you know? And we’re like, yeah, at the time of style, you and I had been to Thailand, like four times getting ready for the film. And he had never been. And so, he didn’t know like, so first of all, we follow this lady. And at first, we’re following her and then all sudden, she gets into this building, and it looks like a nice building. And then she takes us through these back stairs, and all of a sudden, it’s looking more shady and more shady as we go up. And we end up in this kind of, like you said, this top floor, no windows, like kind of just curtain separators very grimy. But you know, it’s Thailand. It’s time massage, you know.
Michaela Guzy: And so probably cost $7.
Brett Thornton: Oh, for all of us. Yeah. Maybe five for everybody. And so, and it was funny, because he’s also never had a massage. So, he never been known. So, she didn’t know, you know, oh, yeah. Well, you know, you take your clothes off, you know, you put towel like, whatever. So it’s all curtain separating us. So you can hear anybody. And he’s going Wait, what is the lady trying to communicate with him with English? And we’re like, good, you. Yeah, you’re going to take your clothes off. But we didn’t tell him that in a Thai massage like this, you kind of got to tell him like, hey, just massage only, you know, like, you got to say, and he doesn’t know. And he’s like this, like I said, most innocent dude, like, of all time at that point in his life. And so, the massage is going on. It’s like 30 minutes in. And all of a sudden, I hear him going like, Wait, what? Oh, hold on. Now, and we start dying, because I know what it is, like, over and obviously, like, she tried to whatever. And it was he just grabbed his clothes and ran out. And we were laughing for so long. You know, we were like, dude, you got to like just say, you know, no, thanks for whatever it was. But you know, yeah,
Michaela Guzy: But audit, if you don’t know, like, that can be very alarming shocked, for sure. But I mean, the funny thing about that story, and with all, things I think travel is, you know, it does open people’s eyes, minds and hearts and like the people you’re traveling with you connect with and like you remember that story all these years later. But it’s just this like, point of connection that you might not have otherwise had and these experiences that you might not have otherwise had or known about. And now I get people from around the world, like still all these years later sending me their own versions of the ticket treatment, or the Thai massage. I mean, maybe one day I’ll publish short essays if people’s
Brett Thornton: Just the culture.
[ Inaudible (32:38)]
Brett Thornton: So let me let me change gears a little bit. I love that story. Obviously, having your own company, you know, have been in the publishing world, you know, you know, becoming an executive, but then breaking off and doing your own thing. I’m sure you’ve had moments or probably plenty of moments where, you know, you failed, or you had a very difficult time, you know, and I’d love to hear a story around, you know, something or some time in your career, that was very difficult and kind of how you got through it?
Michaela Guzy: Sure, well, I mean, by the standard, you know, dictionary definition of failure, I failed daily, I think it’s about learning that it’s what you do with the failure. That actually, I think truly dictates whether or not it was actually a failure or an opportunity to recreate. So I try to always think and like the positive and the affirming doesn’t mean that I don’t have like bad days. But I’m actually most of my big failures were the opportunity to pivot into something else. And failures can come in many forms, right? So, failure could be mean, you could look at it and be like, I was technically supposed to publish my show, Michaelas map and early March of 2020. Wow. Like the pandemic was starting to rage. Like, people like was going out, we were in a Jeep, this whole thing, but I parentally knew that it was not, it would be lost, it would have been lost. And it would have, it would have felt blind to what was going on in the world that would have been insensitive. And actually, these messages are so inspiring and important. And these stories need to be told and now they will, and they’ll be distributed on bigger platforms because of the pandemic. And also like, as a person that creates content mostly about like traveling human connection, I had to do a hard look and march like not only overwhelmed by the news, what was going on and all the negativity and like the fear. But I had to look at like, Okay, well, I can’t do things the way that I used to not now, and probably not ever truly the same way again, like, it’s going to be an evolution, right? So, I always think failure is an opportunity to learn and to grow. And likely to pivot, it’s a message from wherever to tell you like, here’s, here’s the next thing that’s coming. And so, I started the pandemic with one show, and I’ve emerged with it with three and you know, to the new ones inspiration station and sleeping around again safely. Were just totally born out of like, what were my gifts that I could give what were my assets, my ability to communicate my global community that I already had, who I knew were already. Everybody was struggling, everybody needed human connection in that moment. And, you know, May was women’s Mental Health Month, and I think all of our mental health, like how could it not be affected by this like, thing that you couldn’t see locking us all down and shutting down the very way that we live in so many of us, myself included, being negatively financially impacted. And like, I also threw in a breakup and a move out, and like my whole industry was decimated? And I was like, Okay, well, my immediate gift is going to be to like, connect people from all over the worlds. And I’m Manish I’m so lucky to know so many inspiring people. But also like, I didn’t know DJ D nice at the beginning of the pandemic. And like, I didn’t know Mark groves. But it became familiar with their work because they are people that were also giving back my yoga studio moto I’ve had several of my instructors on. And so, the way that I formulate like who I’m going to have on the show is that they must inherently be inspiring, that they must be doing work bigger than themselves. And that can take many forms, right? So, DJ D nice started club quarantine in the early days, the pandemic and gave the gift of free music and community of people tuning in to live events. Mark groves has a free podcast, which is insanely informative and awesome. And he also gives free content on relationship advice on Instagram. And it’s like, I joked around with him during my interview. It’s like, he kind of like have two totally different personality. It’s not it’s like, if I had met you on Instagram, instead of your podcast, I might have been a little like, whoa. But because I fell in love with your vulnerability on your podcast and the subject matter, you cover, I could then tune into your Instagram and receive those messages. He was like, Oh, that’s so funny. Like I hear that all the time. And then, I mean, I just had the head of innovation for American Airlines on and you’re like, Okay, well, what’s inspiring about what he does? Well, he’s very inspiring. He’s getting the world literally moving again and safely. And he’s dude, he’s developing like all these systems for touchless travels so that people not only feel safe but are in fact more safe by the work that he is doing to make that happen. And I can imagine it’s taken millions, if not billions of dollars of research and funding to do the type of work that he is doing. So I really just tried to use inspiration station as a platform. And like, in the early days of COVID, my subject matter I had everyone from my accountant on who was talking about how small businesses could get PPP like, what would this mean for our taxes like it like giving accounting advice, which almost every single episode like I’m asking all these questions, because I’m actually truly interested in like the subject matter of what that freedom like let me wait. Yeah, all this insight. And Sure. So yeah, like it’s been nice because it allowed me to dip outside of my traditional industry of travel and dig into wellbeing and wellness. And I mean, just talented in awesome people that are doing amazing things. And there’s so many other stories. And now as the world is reopening and reemerging. I’m having more and more of my travel so back on, that are doing great and inspiring things not only to get people to travel, which I think is ultimately inspiring for most of us when we get out into the world, but people that are also like really supporting their communities are bringing back a number of jobs. And I don’t think a lot of people realize like sustainable travels always been a very big thing for us to know the people you meet. And it was before the pandemic, and it most certainly is now, but part of sustainability is supporting local community. And I think we all got a little taste of local community during COVID, and the small businesses that surround us and what people don’t realize is like cruise lines, employing millions of people around the world, and like, travel, the travel industry is one in 10 jobs across the planet. And so, when people weren’t traveling, like New York City, like Do you know how much of that city’s revenue is based on hotel tax? Like, it’s really impacting people at the very bottom, and oh, my God, Norwegian Cruise Lines launch, this series called to embark and it’s on our YouTube channel, I started crying. I’m a total sucker, but for a good story. But there, they had, you know, all these different people from on their ships, and like sharing their experiences during COVID. And there was like this bartender, and he started crying during his interview, and he is like, it’s really my life. I can’t wait to welcome travelers back around the globe. He’s like, I missed meeting them and like sharing their stories. And I’m like, oh, why am I getting choked up now? Hey, yeah, no, they’re actually like, really, they’re real. And they’re beautiful. And so, you can say whatever you want about cruises, but some people really like those trips. And there’s a lot of people that are employed that their whole families rely on them having that job.
Brett Thornton: Oh, 100%. And I love what you said, because normally asked for a third story on success, but you kind of did it you know, you talked about not being on launch your show. And then obviously now that pivoted into launching two polling new shows, and then you’re still going to get to do your third one, which is awesome. And I think the message that’s so important to tell and the reason I love that you brought that up about pivoting is that I’ve seen so many amazing examples during the pandemic of successful people, entrepreneurs, business owners, individual people who have taking on something that is the first lesson in my lifetime, the first kind of, you know, worldwide thing we’re all going through together. And yet you see that successful people that have a solution mindset, and just focus on what’s within their control have pivoted in the most amazing ways. You know, and I’ve seen these stories. You know, I have a colleague who runs these amazing sushi restaurants you know, and he teaches sushi ology one on one. So, every week he has his class that night and pack it’s always sold out for so far dance because it’s super fun. It’s competition style. So, you learn how to do rolls and then you’re scared. And he you know, you charge for it. And then you go home with a knife thing. It’s like this amazing thing. So obviously pandemic hits, you know, restaurants doing takeout only. It’s, now he can’t do his classes. And he, but here he is. He’s like, okay, wait, people love the class. What if I prepare the sushi and the rice and make travel bags? And then people come by and pick them up? Or Uber deliver them Uber delivered to their house? And then I’ll teach online, maybe someone will do it? Well, here he is. He’s a class normally of 18 people, Max. Now he’s doing five nights a week with two to 300 people at the same time. You know, what I mean? Like, you know, so now he has his own business, right, like, and that’s an idea he had, you know, I mean, we man and my organization, it was incredible. We launched VX, which is our virtual retail experience. So we have mock showrooms in different warehouses in abandoned buildings. Now that look like beautiful showrooms, but they’re just in the middle of a warehouse in downtown LA, were you on your phone, and you’re just doing the entire sales process, you know, and I had to get people back to work and now it’s like this huge business, but it’s all about that pivot, you know? And so, I love that you brought that up. And let me ask you this.
Michaela Guzy: Oh, I was going to ask, how do you define success though, because I think, that I that’s one of the reasons I get stuck when someone says failure success, because, again, it you can make your biggest failure, your greatest success and I think it’s all in how you define the word success because as, you know, like, Are things easy right now, like I don’t, I hate always like painting the rosy picture that like, you know, this looks like pretty great and fabulous. But also like, now I’m like helping out friends and I’m doing my job and like, Whatever. I’m just a crazy entrepreneur and I love being a major, so it works for me. But I definitely had like a bunch of like very hard moments like through the pandemic, but I think keeping a positive attitude and being open to what success looks like. And you know, I had never taken an investor, but then someone did invest. And if he hadn’t invested, like, would we have made it over that particular hump? I don’t know. But he really believed in, like, what we’re doing, and also all the guests that come on, and like believe in, like, what we’re doing, and all the viewers are starting to get, like, now those things probably will lead to future success as in more money. But, you know, it’s like, my whole industry is recovering. And like, some of them aren’t even sailing yet. And like, some hotels aren’t even open yet. Like, you know, so it’s doing a whole lot more with less, but like, being like, super positive and like doing the work and like the inspiration and like tuning in to positivity versus negativity and like, just trusting that it’s going to, like, come back. And I know it is like it’s coming back in dribs and drabs. But like, I see the exciting iceberg on the horizon, the ones that I’m going to sail around and take pictures of the penguins instead of crashing into.
Brett Thornton : Absolutely. Well, I think that you’re going to catch, you know, you’re, especially with the sustainability Travelport part of it, you know, I think you are going to catch the biggest upswing in history, because you know, sustainability, organics, how you’re doing things where you’re doing them, who you’re doing them with, how you’re producing your products, like how you travel, all of that couldn’t be more on trend than ever is right now. And then I think you’re going to couple that with the entire world being like, I got to get out of the house and travel, you know, and so I think you have those two balances, you know, like, it happens to be what I do for a living. So, I’m seeing it now already does take off, you know, was sustainable. But that’s going to parlay into a lot of different genres, you know.
Michaela Guzy: But in a good way, like, I think, because so many people are talking about it, like, everybody actually has to do something to show for it. And so, to me, I don’t ever like to shame people, I like to acknowledge, even like, the smallest thing, because even if one person doesn’t use a plastic straw, like the poor straw industry, like that actually, like, does make a difference. And it also has made that person more conscious to like their actions. And so, as those things started happening on, like, bigger levels, and like cruise line started eliminating single use plastics, and like, you know, I met a hotel that’s power powered by solar panels. And so, you know, like, in wind, farming, all these things like start to really like change and make shape. And what I wanted to tie into this was like, the entrepreneurial aspect of things and like, just because you’ve done something once doesn’t mean it’s done or played out. Like maybe there’s an evolution for it. And so I wrote an article called launcher, sustainable travel IQ, and it was a quiz. And I did this, I don’t know, four years ago, and I was asked by a travel conference, to come and create a workshop about what’s your sustainable travel IQ based on that quiz. And the quiz also used, like five videos that I had created about everything from like human trafficking, to poaching to being a sustainable swimmer, slash snorkelers, scuba diver, whatever you want to call it. But I had these five individual case studies, five videos as a quiz on my website. And then here I’m being flown to Rwanda to give it as the workshop. And then I was going to another conference, which is a travel journalist conference and also gave it as a workshop. And then this Earth Day, I was like, I don’t know I feel like there’s something that we got to do with the quiz. And so we ended up making it into like a quiz video and like publishing it on all are social channels on Earth Day. And so, it’s just, it keeps taking on all these new and great and different life forms. And I feel like, here’s my biggest thing, the things that I regret the most in my personal life and my career are the things that I didn’t try. And so, this is where I’m like, I don’t really believe in the word failure, because the failure is you didn’t try to do it, even if it didn’t work, like or work in the way that you wanted to. There was a lesson there. And so, to me, that’s the success story.
Brett Thornton: No, absolutely I love that. Yeah, I did, at one of the, I think lowest, I would say, you know, points in my life as an adult, when I was going through a lot of stuff I used to, there’s a guy. Have you heard of Les miles Brett Thornton, or les Brown’s motivational Brett Thornton, so, and I listen to him every day, and when I had this long commute, because he was just so motivated, and I was going through a tough time. And he’s always say, you know, if you’re going to fall down, you know, fall forward, you know, because if you can look up, you can get up, you know, and like, just keep rolling. Because I’ve seen every really successful person in my life, I’ve seen fail. And the one common denominator is that, to your point, they don’t look at it like a failure. They’re like, okay, well, you know, that didn’t work. But I learned this. And now I’m better for, you know, things I’ve learned. And now I won’t do that again. Now, I’m going to try this, you know. And so I think it’s just so crucial, you know, and so I know, I’ve had you at the time, I said, but I didn’t want to ask you one last question, which is, you know, this season is really focusing on having these female executives and you’ve, you know, come up in the publishing world, and obviously, and then had your own company, you know, and so I would just say, you know, what do you say to all the young, aspiring, you know, females in different industries that are kind of underrepresented when it comes to leadership? You know, like, advice would you give them just having done it yourself?
Michaela Guzy: Thank you for the question. I actually had the honor to ask one of my heroes, Dr. Jane Goodall, almost the same question, during an interview. And I loved her version of the answer. And she was just like, we have to all rise together. And so that you’re a girl, a guy, or whatever you may associate does, to me, it’s always about inclusivity. And collaboration. You know, the example we were talking about happened to be animal conservation. And so, she was like, animal conservation can’t happen if the surrounding local community don’t have the resources or see the positive impacts of the inbound tourism dollars that are coming in. And so, this tool will ultimately fall over if it’s not evenly weighted. And so, I think for young women, you have more resources than have a more attention and support and to becoming whatever you want to be. And I was very lucky to have parents that were very forward thinking in regards to having, you know, for young women, they sent us to an all-girls school. And it was all about we are our, our mascot. And I was a marker. And I was like, what, like everybody else had an animal or some sort of, which made sense, because everybody else had them. And we had a marker, and it was we leave our mark of excellence everywhere I go. And so, I’ve just, I’ve always been so lucky to have people tell me like, well, if you want to do it, just like my grandparents were massively supportive. And I have to say, there’s to not get discouraged when people say no, and so to, again, Larry, David’s full circle, because I love those story arcs and all of his episodes, but the No, I like was a musical theater like dance geek cue like vocalist. And the reality is, it’s super competitive. And so I was told no, like 95 plus percent of the time, but my mom taught me to start asking why, like, why is it now and you know, through that, asking of why I started to understand well, I look like Sandra Dee, but I sound like Rizzo. So maybe I’m just not a good fit for that part. And there’s nothing that I can really do about that. Maybe you can do some wigs and stuff but like there’s other things that you can you maybe you could have worked harder for the practice harder. Like, you know, maybe I fudged the interview but like I always believe and like that heart, I’m a hard Midwestern working woman. Like we have good work ethic. And that was distill from both of my parents and I believe in loyalty and how you treat people, there’s, yes, you all of us were told, like treat others how you want to be treated. We’ll actually, if you really look at that, it seems simple, but it’s actually so real, like, who want whoever makes positive and lasting change, because they were like, yelled, that they were shamed into doing something like you want to educate, you want to empower, you want to inspire like, you want to show someone, like, Hey, you know, they think about it in the terms of riding a bicycle. Once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you don’t forget. And it’s the same for whatever the mode of thinking might be the positive benefits of meditation, or how to be a more sustainable business, how to bring people through a workplace in a collaborative environment, like how to work remotely like whatever, whatever you’re trying to achieve, like, arm people with information and like, show them the positive benefits of like the collaboration and the working together and the treating people how you want to be treated. And then like, people are still going to make mistakes, but it’s also how you handle the making of that mistake. And like, I had a boss once when I made a very big mistake at Conde Nast come in and just say, you know, this is hard, we’re going to get through this together. But it was really great that you came and told us that you made this mistake. And I said that power of vulnerability but knowing that you’re in a safe space to make mistakes and innovate. And I would actually say, Preston, from American Airlines did a lot of talking in our inspiration station interview about supportiveness of leaders and failure and mistakes that I would highly encourage people to check out.
Brett Thornton: Nice, we will. And that’s actually a perfect segue. Because way over time, and you’ve been so amazing, but just, you know, for people that want to listen to the shows, especially all three now what’s the best way that they can find everything that you produce?
Michaela Guzy: Sure, I have a website or the people you meet, and I am most active on Instagram, and my YouTube channel and those are both Michaela Guzy and oh the people you meet also has a presence on Instagram otpym where we feature a lot of our contributors and their work as well.
Brett Thornton: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Michaela, this was a blast. I told you like a half an hour and 45 minutes and that’s been my car. So, but I love the stories and the inspiration. So, thank you so much for coming on. Enjoy to loom. I really appreciate it.
Michaela Guzy: No, thank you Brett. I really appreciate it. It’s been such an honor.
Brett Thornton: Awesome. Later
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