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The Monday Media Diet with Michaella Solar-March
On placemaking, newsletters, and the case for Discord
Michaella Solar-March (MSM) was introduced to us by our good pal Justin Kalifowitz. She currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Tishman Speyer and has a background in music, culture, and community. She’s the type of multi-hyphenate person that we love profiling and also loving having as a reader. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
The professional Michaella is a storyteller and brand builder, and a strong believer in the combined power of creative culture and commerce. Someone asked me the other day what my superpower was, and I decided it was designing modern marketing platforms that inspire creativity, cultivate community and catalyze meaningful change. I moved to New York from Sydney, Australia 11 years ago to work at Beggars Group. It was my dream job and an amazing experience, but it wasn't the best fit for me at the time, so I ended up moving into the marketing agency world and consulting before making my way back in-house at Soho House where I oversaw programming and experience for the group globally, and now at Tishman Speyer as Chief Marketing Officer. In my current role, I oversee all branding, creative, marketing, brand experience, placemaking, and programming for a global portfolio that includes Rockefeller Center and other iconic new developments and legacy assets around the world. I have a big job but I like it that way. I want to do good things that help people and make them happy because that's what makes me happy at the end of the day.
The personal Michaella is a mom of two (Townes who is 4 and Roma who is turning 1 in May) and married to a total badass called Alex whose cooking abilities and political acumen is the perfect yin to my yang.
Describe your media diet.
On Weekdays I am lazy and rely on newsletters given there is so much I need to survey in any one day. I always read Seth Godin’s daily blog – it’s quick and easy and always provocative, which I appreciate. I also always read the Media and Music ReDEF newsletter each day. Vulture daily newsletter keeps me up to date on pop culture news (I am a reality TV junkie) and I love the Cassandra newsletter for random facts about things I’d not have otherwise thought about (eg. the luxury dog food market!). There are some daily briefings I read for work (Crain’s NY Business, The City, Dezeen, AD Daily, Quartz, Axios, Morning Brew) and I try to at least skim the front pages of Fast Co, Forbes, AdAge, and so on for any big news or brand announcements in the consumer world. I also listen to podcasts on my office commute which is between 20 and 30 min. My morning is typically that day's episode of The Daily, and then the evening commute is either Chris Hayes’ Why Is This Happening or The Ezra Klein Show (sometimes Adlandia, Radio Cherry Bombe, or How I Built This). I would also be terrible at my job if I didn’t use this opportunity to plug the incredible podcasts that record at The Newsstand Studios at Rockefeller Center. We’re open for business and inviting show submissions now.
Weekends are for print – namely NYMag, New Yorker, Architectural Digest, and NYT – and I squeeze in as many articles as I can in between kids naps and playtime.
What’s the last great book you read?
I feel like I am always recommending books but rarely have them recommended in return. Consider this an invitation! I recently read The Idiot by Elif Batuman which was a tender and amusing portrait of young adulthood and a great debut. It was pure escapism and I really enjoyed it. I am in the world’s best book club (despite my less-than-stellar attendance record) and we recently read Kill Switch by Adam Jentelson about the structure of the modern Senate. He was able to make quite dense concepts accessible, which was especially useful as a non-American, and I thought it was insightful and educational without being overbearing.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Heather Magee’s incredible exploration of race in America called The Sum of Us (it's everywhere and for good reason), Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, and a new anthology of poems by Mary Oliver that was gifted to me by a friend. Typically I’ll read one book or two a month and never more than one at a time, but I’ve been really struggling with focus since January so I’ve been switching between a few depending on my mood. This is why the poems are great for me right now; I can read one and not feel guilty that I haven't read anything that day.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
NYT on a Sunday. I wait for my daughter's morning nap (which is always the longest), make a cup of black coffee, spread the entire paper across the dining table, and let my son watch Saturday morning cartoons. Essentially my “do not disturb” hour.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
I loved Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and think it should be required reading for everyone living in America today. I also really love Patrick Radden Keefe (WITI MMD here) who is a staff writer at the New Yorker and whose approach to narrative journalism is quite masterful, and utterly compelling. I couldn’t put either of his books The Snakehead or Say Nothing down, and he has a new expose on the Sackler family due for release this month which I’ve already pre-ordered!
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Is Discord famous? I’m launching a Discord for female executives soon and I love the ease of use – it’s a less aggressive, more social version of Slack IMO. Also The Class – exercise is major self-care for me, and since Covid closed studios I’ve been so thrilled to have their workouts on-demand via their app (Natalie and Sophie are my go-to instructors).
Plane or train?
Plane. I really miss traveling for work, and also miss airports! I miss plastic cheese cubes and bad coffee from airport lounges, Hudson News, conversations with strangers with a shared destination … I can't wait to travel again. I also love train travel for work, but I don’t feel the same sense of adventure as I do when I'm getting on a plane!
What is one place everyone should visit?
Top of the Rock at sunset - for the best, most romantic, and most immersive view of New York. Still takes my breath away every time.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
I am quite obsessed with Pamela Shamshiri and her design studio, and I spent more time than I'd like to admit pouring over one of their recent projects in LA - it had custom green river projects seats, Christopher Farr custom rugs... dream home!! Also, for fellow interiors nerds: @Chair.Only which is an Instagram dedicated to daily posts of chairs. It's the best. (MSM)
Partner Post: WITI x Taika
WITI x Taika
Back when we first mentioned them, our WITI readership gave us a big thumbs up for the new DTC brand Taika. It’s a canned cold brew coffee with adaptogens that smooth out the jagged, jittery feeling into clean-burning energy. The flavor profile has been handcrafted by a world top 10 barista champion, and they used ethically sourced beans from Colombia and Ethiopia. We’ve consumed a few cases of this stuff and confirm the taste is amazing. Plus, there’s no added sugar and the drink fits nicely into a variety of healthy lifestyles (keto, paleo, etc). It’s also easier to procure! Previously only available by courier in NYC, LA, and SF, they just launched nationwide shipping. WITI readers get free shipping on all Taika products, via this link. Go buy some!
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Michaella (MSM)
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