Michaela Guzy is dressed in accessories from around the world: a scarf from Kenyan designer Anna Trzebinski, a dusty blue Israeli leather tote, and kitten-heeled sandals from Nice.
When she’s not on safari in Zimbabwe or touring with local vintners and chefs in Australia, the animated blonde can be found at her WeWork Meatpacking office. It might seem like the jet-setting lifestyle portrayed in reality shows. But the real reality is it’s not all about glamour.
Her aptly named site, OhThePeopleYouMeet, is for travelers, foodies, and philanthropists who seek authentic local connections. Michaela’s Map, her original web video series, takes her through urban hubs like Shanghai and Bangkok and to off-the-beaten path adventures through Panama and to Burning Man.
And the perks are more unique than you’d think.
“I ran my first marathon last year in Jerusalem, Israel,” she says. “I have never run one before, but when you’re invited to holy land, you train and you just do it!”
As she grows her website, video series, and other parts of her business, Guzy says that her biggest challenge is “retaining talented people and keeping them happy on a shoestring budget.” This helps keep her small and nimble crew motivated during long, hot hours shooting in the deserts of Namibia and cool coasts and wine country of Australia.
Guzy says the secret is to listen and to understand what motivates a person to want to be part of her team. She also strives to make sure that everyone feels like they’re part of the journey.
Prior to starting her own website, Guzy was vice president of global travel and strategic development at American Express Publishing, a position that took her around the world, but from a business-only perspective and lacking meaningful local connections. Her “a-ha moment” was a three-month solo excursion through Africa, where she embraced the local culture beyond hotels and conferences.
What’s it like being an entrepreneur versus working the corporate life?
“You can experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows all in the span of five minutes,” she says. “There is no corporate job that I’ve ever had that has been as rewarding as doing what I love each and every day from every corner of this great globe.”
So what’s next for her website?
“We just did a huge site redesign and are getting exciting and encouraging feedback,” she says. “We’re bringing on new contributors on a regular basis. I’m so grateful to have something people want to be involved in.”
But what she’s most excited about is moving into new services.
“We’re partnering with clients like Windstar Cruises and African Bush Camps who hire us to produce marketing video for them,” she says.
Working with inspiring people from around the world and doing what she loves has inspired Guzy to branch out from editorial to helping these companies express their message and what they’re all about. It’s bringing not just her own story to life, but the stories of others.
Photographs by OTPYM