Updated: Feb 21, 2022
Stories connect us, they inspire us, they communicate our values to the world. Stories allow us to empathize with thoughts and actions different from our own. Stories allow us to learn from one another, helping us understand how and why others feel the way they do, broadening our own perspectives in the process.
And while storytelling is an age-old tradition, storytelling with impact isn’t easy. The most powerful storytellers (both inherently gifted storytellers, as well as those who’ve studied and practiced) understand story structure, how to anchor their story on a problem, use descriptive language to convey emotion, and hand pick the right facts to guide the audience from the first word to their final destination. Storytellers are sculptors: they carve away the excess to create something beautiful.
One of my personal favourite storytelling platforms is Humans of New York. This hugely popular blog-turned-publishing venture features portraits of strangers who share intimate stories of strength, addiction, redemption, regret, and love.
I believe that creator, Brandon Stanton, does an incredible job of telling others’ stories in a focused, meaningful way that evokes such vulnerability and raw emotion that you can’t help but feel moved and connected to the people in them.
In an interview with The Profile, Brandon said this: “The way I describe it is that 99% of life being lived has nothing to do with politics or crime, yet that's all we read about in the media. If you stop people one-on-one and ask them: "What are you thinking about all day long?" There's very similar themes in those answers. We're mostly worried about our families — our son's drug addiction, our father's illness, our wife's struggles with alcohol. On the flip side, there's our daughter's graduation, the person we met and are wildly in love with — these are the stories that represent the life being lived.”
I share the brilliance of Humans of New York in a class I co-teach about Interdisciplinary Innovation and, in fact, this storytelling platform is the inspiration for a powerful assignment my students undertake to tell their own stories of transformation, practicing vulnerability and trust with virtual classmates they’ve just met.
And it’s in this class in Fall 2020 where I met today’s guest, Micha.
Micha Powell is a 27-year-old Olympian, public speaker, model, and producer. The Montreal native earned her bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland where she was captain of the track and field team and still holds four school records. Micha recently earned her master's at Ryerson University in Digital Media and is expanding her skillset as Partnerships Manager for the start-up company B-Line analytics. Micha has always been an active child and you could say it’s in her genes having two Olympic parents. She hopes to follow in her parent's footsteps and cement her place in track and field history.
Micha is a true gem who is kind and genuine and radiates positivity. She is a storyteller and a creative soul, as well as a powerhouse of an athlete and I’m so excited for you to hear our conversation focused on the practice of storytelling and athletics.
In our conversation and through the power of story, Micha helps us understand the emotional rollercoaster of elite-level competition as a track and field athlete. You’ll also hear about Micha’s podcast, People Behind the Performance, and why she felt compelled to create it. You’ll hear Micha talk about her incredible Mom, her thoughts on the link between creativity and athletics, and… you’ll hear Diana cry (in the best way possible).
Micha's proudest People Behind the Performance episode with Moh Ahmed: In our final episode of the season, Olympian Moh Ahmed gets candid about his immigrant roots, the lessons he's learned through life and racing, and setting a North American 5000m record during the global pandemic.
About Our Guest:
The Montreal native earned her bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland where she was captain of the track and field team and still holds four school records. Micha recently earned her master's at Ryerson University in Digital Media and is expanding her skillset as Partnerships Manager for the start-up company B-Line analytics.
Micha has always been an active child and you could say it’s in her genes having two Olympic parents. She hopes to follow in her parent's footsteps and cement her place in track and field history.
Music (public domain via Free Music Archive): Jahzzar - Lift Off
Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle