Living in the bush I sometimes missed connecting with exciting and diverse people that comes when you live in a city.
That is when visiting guests played a huge role.
One special guest who blasted in with dynamic energy was the fearless, generous hearted and charismatic Michaela Guzy of OhThePeopleYouMeet. Now here is a lady who was fearlessly herself and I loved her from the moment I met her.
I hope you enjoy her story!
Firstly a little background on Michaela
Michaela Guzy is the founder of the content company, OhThePeopleYouMeet focusing on people, places + purposes. In her award-winning series, “Michaela's Map”, she curates the local hosts you are supposed to meet when traveling -- from local chefs and artists, to her award winning film featuring Dr. Jane Goodall.
In response to COVID-19 she launched a trending IGTV show called InspirationStation: connecting viewers with an inspiring person they ought to meet.
And in her own words she answers some of my favourite questions below...
What inspired you to bravely do what you do?
Nine years ago I saw 2 giant holes in the way people were communicating around travel..
#1) no one was creating the type of content that inspired me to travel…
#2) nobody had a digital/video/social media solution to tell stories that I believed in
So I made the unorthodox decision to depart my corporate job to create OhThePeopleYouMeet, an editorial content company focused on people, places + purposes that focused on storytelling on the digital/social media platforms. I set off for sub-Saharan Africa solo on a one-way ticket to document sustainable travel companies across 7 countries.
What I didn’t anticipate was how transformative this trip would be in the way I lived my life from that moment forward. On that first night, under the African sky, a Kenyan designer named Anna Trzbenski held my gaze and shared what would become more or less my motto for the positive impact that travel can have in opening our eyes, minds + hearts to the world around us: “Travelers may originally come to Africa for the animals, they fall in love with the landscapes, but they return for the people.”
And it’s so true, everywhere I visit, I leave a little piece of my heart with the people I meet. Our global community at OhThePeopleYouMeet continues to organically grow with people who are so excited to welcome you to their home.
What is the funniest moment you have experienced doing this job?
In creating OhThePeopleYouMeet, I came across an email dated November 15, 2009, addressed to my close friends and family…let’s just say it continues to circulate. It’s one of my funniest memories from abroad, that required a large glass wine (or perhaps several) afterwards.
Subject Line: “Oh sweet Jeezus”:
I just had the most hilarious and mortifying experience of my entire life. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so hard. To set the stage: I’m in Marrakech, Morocco for a conference with my very formal, prestigious and well-respected senior colleague. She’s about 60. Can I re-emphasize very formal? So I’m honored when she tells me that she has arranged for a spa treatment for me with her at this private palace. We arrive and there is the standard Moroccan chaos taking place and let’s remember no one speaks English. I follow her into the changing room. They instruct us to get naked via hand gestures. Ok, so you think, this is the worst of it. Hell I’m in Northern Africa- why not?
Ever heard of a hammam treatment? Well this was even more outrageous. I say goodbye to my colleague and am lead into a room by a fully clothed Moroccan – MAN. Right…I’m instructed to sit in a room with nothing more than a drain on the floor, a faucet and a bucket. He disappears. About 5 minutes later he re-enters in what we in America would refer to as see through boxers and escorts my colleague in (she was wrapped in a towel by the way- I was not given the honor). My heart is in my stomach. He gestures for one of us to come up and of course she nudges me. He then gesticulates that I am to lay on the floor face up! He proceeds to rub every (and I really mean every) square inch of my body for 20 odd minutes. He spreads my legs, puts my right leg over his shoulder…it’s really just making me blush even typing this. He then takes out the equivalent of a loofah and scrubs me down. Then it’s her turn and she decides she would prefer a massage and leaves!
So I think, ok, I’m done. But no! Back on the floor I go all slimy with soap. He literally grabs me by the feet and pulls my wet body over the floor until he has me just where he wants me. I thought it couldn’t possibly get any more insane. Ha! Let’s just say it was yoga, naked and slimy with a non-English speaking Arab man throwing my legs over my head, apart, and three times in a row he lifted me over him (envision the game “airplane” you used to play as a kid). Did I mention he made little kissy noises each time he spread my legs? I mean I was seriously crying I was laughing so hard. I couldn’t breath. Then he threw a bucket of steaming hot water at me. A sign I took as the completion of the treatment, but once again, my cultural barometer was off…
He proceeds to peel an orange and it squeeze above my head. Rubs oil in my hair. Pushes me into a pool of freezing water and then gave me a shower. The best part is, I paid to be man handled and was even expected to leave a tip. Oh well…I’ll chalk it up to one of my most memorable life experiences. Hope you are all well.
Xxoo from Marrakech,
It should be noted that this email was sent to a few of my close friends and family. By that evening when I walked into an official event at the trade conference in Morocco, I was fairly famous. People were coming up to me laughing, apparently, my email went viral. It was then that I realized, it may take me some time to live this one down. My Dad also asked to be removed from future “culturally enlightening” emails!
What advice would you give people wanting to pursue their passions and make a positive impact?
If you don’t have a map, chart your own course.
If it doesn't exist, build it - they will come.
Always tell your own story, don't let someone take your words away.
Stand in your power, even when it feels lonely - you are actually the beacon of light in the darkness allowing others to see.
Define failure, each of my "mistakes" actually turned into the future way of doing things for my business.
I’ve learned a lot during the global pandemic... now is the time to try new things, that we have more access than ever before because of our social connectivity to people across the planet.
To quote Brene Brown, “You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your own worthiness.”
And why do you enjoy Mulberry Mongoose?
Beyond the design and reminding me of this magical moment I spent with my mum during her first trip to Africa, I love the story and people behind Mulberry Mongoose.
For me it's always about the people I meet, so I wear them with me + they are conversation starters. Each of my pieces tells a story of a land I love, wildlife that's been saved + women employed.
Pack a bag + journey on with @MichaelaGuzy
To see the live interview with Kate and Michaela check out this link! Kate: https://www.facebook.com/100003573283591/videos/1242430762552688/