Interview by Hannah Sprouse
Taking businesses and ideas to the next level through travel and social media can be tough, but Mikaela Hunt is planning for a future full of adventure. Since moving to Columbus in 2007, the businesswoman, journalist, and radio host has found multiple projects to keep her busy as a professional by diving deep into the cultures of companies and giving audiences authentic stories to enjoy. Despite the hectic schedule, she still manages to make time for herself and her family. She believes there is no such thing as “work-life balance,” but instead each person must learn to live in the moment.
Name: Mikaela Hunt
Company and Job Title: Mikaela Media, President & Brand Journalist; Host of the Cbuzz podcast through the Columbus Chamber of Commerce; and Host of What Matters with Mindy & Mikaela on iHeart Radio/WTVN
Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Are you originally from Columbus? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you here? I am a total transplant who has no desire to leave! In 2007 I came here for a job in TV news, the usual journey reporters and anchors make around the country via resume tape landed my husband and I in Columbus, and I had no clue my family would end up staying here. I feel like my family is growing with the city ~ it’s been a really exciting eleven years.
Give us a snapshot of your career path, including past employers and positions: TV journalist for 17 years. NBC4 Today Morning Co-Anchor/Reporter before starting my own business. Prior to that worked in TV news in Columbia/Jefferson City, Missouri and Champaign/Decatur/Springfield, Illinois as an anchor, reporter, and producer.
Tell us about your current job role: I get to help companies and individual business owners tell their most authentic story online through social media and video. There’s something about diving deep into a culture of a company and the amazing reflection I can help them share with their audience. I think only the heart and eye of journalist can make that happen.
What advice has helped guide you in your career? Pick five things that would make your day great. Then make sure you have a job that reflects those ideals. If not, you’re not going to enjoy work and you’re not going to enjoy life.
What is your plan for the future? I’d like to take my work beyond Columbus, I think so many organizations could benefit from working with a brand journalist. I’ve started working on that goal with a trip to Houston this fall where I’ll share some of my tactics with a large professional organization. I’m also going back home (Illinois) to help produce a series of videos for a large healthcare system. There is also a lot of potential for this radio show that I’m involved with that’s completely focused on families and what matters in their lives. No one else is filling that niche in local broadcast right now. I can’t wait to see what (and where!) the next few years takes my business and the storytelling that I’m doing within it!
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success with what you do: Work-life balance doesn’t exist, and I think it’s important that we realize it and accept it. It’s more about work-life unification, integration… whatever you want to call it… for your best possible experience while you’re walking around on this earth. I’ve been subscribing to “Present Over Perfect” lately. When work or personal life distinctly calls my name and begs for my attention, I am present in the moment- doing everything I can and giving everything I can to create a meaningful experience. That could sound like a client, or a kid, or getting my hair done! And sometimes, let’s be frank, that means putting down the phone. I recently installed the Moment app on my iPhone and that is super helpful in keeping me present. We have to start making that choice responsibly, otherwise someone else or some crazy scrolling rabbit hole is going to make it for us. Don’t get me wrong- I tell stories on social media and create conversations there. But there is a time to learn, be inspired, and be entertained. And there is also a time to focus on yourself and your family and friends.
What gets you up in the morning? And what keeps you going through the work week? Having an hour to myself for meditation/reflection, prayer & devotion, and planning the day ahead through my Panda Planner and Cultivate What Matters planner. (P.S. Check out Cultivate Columbus on Facebook and Instagram – we’re living intentionally and getting up every morning that way!)
What do you do or where do you go to unwind? I just put a hammock chair in the apple tree in my backyard. It’s beautiful at night in the country with the stars out and a glass of wine in hand. I’ve also started to kayak and that just feels like an moment to reflect & explore on the water, which is the perfect place for me.
Who or what inspires you? Other women who are open, fearless, and fierce! And Gigi, my grandmother Paulina. At 93- she’s lived quite a life and gives the best, simple advice.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I was a county fair queen and I traveled as a leadership consultant for a national fraternal organization. The things that happen before TV news…
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? Journalist. (I’m serious!)
If you could have a superpower, which would you choose? Flight.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? The Turquoise Table, Keepin’ It Real with Keys, Elevation Church, and The Good Life Project
What would your autobiography be called? Tell Your Story
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus: Bicentennial Park Fountains, Replenish Spa and Yoga Carriage House, Fox in The Snow Café, Bridge Park Dublin/Vaso, and the downtown Columbus Metropolitan Library
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now? The downtown. It is absolutely coming alive. My office is down there and I cannot get over all of the construction and neat things happening in a place that used to be pretty quiet when I first moved here.
What are three things that you think Columbus needs (or wish Columbus had)? A big amusement park right outside the city (and I think that’s happening!), a really nice marina where we can rent boats and jet skis in the summer and dine out on the water, a couple of rooftop bars and dance clubs in the heart of downtown.
Which organization(s) are you involved with around the community? NAWBO, RMHC, and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. I’m on the NAWBO Board of Directors with an extremely interesting and important job. I help create Roundtables, small groups where women business owners can unwind and be honest about their obstacles, their accomplishments, and seek advice.
Tell us about an upcoming initiative that you’re passionate about: I’m super passionate about the Cultivate Your Content workshop I’ve created and hope to grow in the next few months. When you see small business owners and solopreneurs have the “light go on” about storytelling and social media, it just feels amazing!
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? Partnership in the biggest small town you’ll ever come across. Without a doubt.