156: Michelle McLean (Africa’s Finest Safaris)

Michelle McLean on Innovation City

“I think that’s what it’s really about, for innovators, entrepreneurs: Utilize the opportunities that you’re given. Don’t sit there and complain about, ‘Oh, I didn’t get this enough…’” – Michelle McLean

Welcome to Season 3 of Innovation City, a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Michelle McLean, Founder and President at Africa’s Finest Safaris. Africa’s Finest Safaris is a tourism marketing company offering bespoke sales, marketing and representation services to African tourism partners. Michelle, a philanthropist, business owner, and former Miss Universe, is “the ultimate renaissance woman.” In this episode, Michelle sits down with the team to discuss the importance of shifting narratives and changing perspectives, her advice on dealing with stress, her experiences with Nelson Mandela, the characteristics of a strong leader, and much more!

They discuss:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on travel and specifically with America’s Finest Safaris
  • Background on Michelle’s home country of Namibia
    • Gained independence in 1991
    • ⅔ of the country is desert
    • One of the most sparsely populated African countries
    • One of the only countries in the world to designate conservation in its constitution
  • Shifting narratives and changing perspectives
    • Social media is vitally important
    • Media allows you to share and celebrate similarities between cultures
  • The differences and similarities between American and Namibian youth
  • Advice for dealing with pressure, responsibility and stress
    • Utilize the opportunities that you’re given
    • Find a way to have a platform
    • Never compare yourself to others
    • Use Michelle’s 5 principles
      • Gratitude
      • Reframe situations
      • Always be healthy
      • The words that you choose to use
      • Teamwork
    • Focus on what you want and stay in your lane
  • Her experiences meeting and serving with Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu
    • Meeting Mandela was one of the most profound moments of her life
    • “I can’t believe I lived in those times. I saw the shift happen, from darkness moving into light. And it was very much because of Nelson Mandela.”
    • Growing up with the guilt of living with apartheid
  • Characteristics of a leader
    • Being able to listen
    • Not having a preconceived idea of a situation
    • Having patience
  • Reach Michelle online at AfricasFinestSafaris.com or michellemclean.io; on Instagram @MichelleMcLeanOfficial, @AfricasFinestSafaris1; on Facebook @MichelleMcLeanBailey; and on LinkedIn Michelle McLean

Lightning Round:

  1. What makes you feel loved?
    • My family
  2. What can you do now that you could not do a year ago?
    • Meditate
  3. What is one of the kindest things someone has ever done for you?
    • Give me their seat on a plane, to be able to get home to my baby
  4. What would you do if you were not afraid?
    • Sing
  5. What challenge do you want to overcome?
    • Procrastination