If your past has failed to offer a clear path forward, Michael McBride’s story might bring some clarity. He’s a self-declared “professional dilettante” with a spirit as boisterous as it is contagious. He encourages people to transcend boundaries by getting curious. In a culture that likes to label and isolate, gaining new perspectives is productive rebellion.
Having changed college majors a handful of times, his knack for traversing conventional expectations is almost enviable. His creative genius is even more desirous. Some of Michael’s notable professional titles include journalist and producer. During our live conversation, he so casually mentioned producing the chilling “You & I (Nobody in the World)” music video for John Legend that we almost forgot to include it here. Upon review, he may or may not be a nonchalant extra appearing at 1:47 — we’ve yet to confirm. Michael undoubtedly earned accolades in the entertainment industry; what’s more, he chose road-tripping across the country, picking up hitchhikers over basking in the Los Angeles limelight.
Michael’s policy of “never saying no to a hitchhiker” resulted in numerous lasting friendships, which is not in the least surprising. From United States backroads to India, then London, Michael has never been one to sit still. When the pandemic confined him within the walls of a Seattle residence, his world shrunk. But as Michael would attest, creativity knows no bounds.
Michael decided to quit his job as a management consultant to pursue content creation full-time. Embracing his passion for history and natural ability to talk impressively fast, he shares bite-sized facts on social media with hundreds of thousands of followers. Most would rather drink pickle juice than learn about history, but Michael makes bizarre historical facts appetizing. The secret sauce? Passion. “I don’t come from a professional or academic background; I don’t get caught up in the minutia and the textbooks. I really just talk about it like a normal person,” says Michael. Michael’s slick storytelling skills have made room for curiosity in a time when people are suffocatingly constrained.
Unable to share exciting travel vlogs or behind the scenes content from exclusive events, social media suddenly looks like it took a break from botox. Michael’s storytelling savvy and passion resonate with people awakening to the thrill of authentic simplicity: “Millennial values traditionally have been experiences over things. Freedom over permanent assets. We scorned that white picket fence dream of our parents,’ thinking ‘I want to be a digital nomad and get paid to travel.’ All of the sudden, those values — by a single rocky event — flipped on their head.” Sit with that for a second.
Thankfully, many have taken to social media to practice empathy during COVID-19. People are speaking out about the honest pains of being human. New health trend: replace filler content with more fulfilling content.
Alongside short-form videos unpacking the inner-workings of air conditioners at record speed, Michael writes eloquently and more exhaustively about important matters like mental health, another global crisis. His intention isn’t to seduce viewers into loyal followership but to ignite curiosity, incite action, and inspire conversation around topics he can’t seem to stop talking about.
To engage in meaningful conversation, “We need to be willing to be proven wrong,” says Michael. Willingness is most easily achieved in a culture that accepts being wrong as a fundamental part of learning. Uncertainty underpins curiosity; those who are truly curious are courageous enough to admit they do not know and are willing to learn. They are ready for a conversation — Michael’s content is a catalyst for just that.