Michael Tyler: Essential Invisible

A few years ago now, I was at my first bat mitzvah. It was actually last week’s guest, Ron Lieber’s, daughter, Talia. We were in Brooklyn. I was in my gray suit, feeling sort of stiff and socially awkward. We were queuing for tables, milling about as a New Orleans style marching band stomped through as I recall – very Ron Lieber.

And I saw this couple that was – and there’s just no other way to put this – they were stylin. They were clearly not New Yorkers, you could tell right away: they wore, like, bright white and orange and green. These two stood out! They were originals. They were fierce. And they were having a great time, chatting and laughing amongst themselves.

So I took a deep breath, shot my hand out in front of me and introduced myself to Alicia Bassuk, and her partner, today’s guest, Michael Tyler. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, and grabbed coffee – ok, it was gelato in the Instagram offices – the next day.

Michael is the author of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award-winning children’s book, The Skin You Live In, and half of Ubica Advisors, a leadership and strategy advisory firm.

When we spoke a few weeks ago, a thunderstorm was rolling across the Sierra de Guadarrama, echoing through streets of Madrid, where Michael and Alicia were starting their new year. 

In our wide ranging Friends & Neighbors discussion, Michael talks about the positive influences that helped him navigate Chicago’s South Side, the difference between change and transformation, and imperative to create.

We also stumble on one of Michael’s favorite quotes which, you probably can guess, was one of Fred Rogers’ guiding principles: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” 

The Sint-Exupery quote was Fred’s favorite quote. It hung in his Pittsburgh office for decades. 

“It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls,” Fred said. “It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff.”

What’s essential about you that’s invisible to the eyes?

Take ten seconds; I’ll watch the time.

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