Michelle Mekky: Mekky Media Founder

Michelle Mekky Highlights

Michelle Mekky Highlights

My Native Admission Statement: I have more than 20 years of experience as a broadcast journalist and PR executive, leading award-winning marketing and PR campaigns for some of the nation’s biggest brands and diverse businesses—from start-ups to global powerhouses. I think that after all these years in the industry, what I’ve learned about myself is that I know how to tell a good story. I can take a company or a person and right away identify what’s newsworthy about them and what will be of interest to the media. That’s a valuable service that I can offer in my business, and it’s an important skill to have for anyone who wants to to excel in the PR world. “Every day is a new day.” I like that I have the opportunity to start over again each morning. Of course there are times that I beat myself up, whether it’s business related or about my self-care, like eating unhealthy food or not sleeping enough. But I try to remember that tomorrow I can put forth my best effort once again. I usually meditate and get myself in the right frame of mind to start over. I’m grateful for every new day.

How did you get into the Industry?

My experience with the industry really it started in high school when my English teacher recommended I try for a position at the school newspaper. I had never tried journalism before and once I got into it I absolutely loved it. I eventually became editor-in-chief and set my sights on studying journalism in college. I ended up going to Northwestern University, because I lived close by, and it had the best journalism school in the country. The school had a television studio, and I had the opportunity to anchor news shows. That experience inspired me to purse a career in broadcast journalism. It was only after working at Fox for 12 years that I started to really think about PR. I had been pitched by so many publicists as a senior producer, and I felt that I had developed a knowledge of what it would take to be good at PR. So I decided to cross to the other side.

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Roy Schwartz: Axios President & Co-Founder


Bio: Roy Schwartz is a cofounder and president of Axios – a breakout startup news and information platform that helps people quickly and easily understand the most consequential topics in the world. Roy is the former chief revenue officer for POLITICO, the digital media company that upended and forever changed political and policy journalism in Washington, New York, and Europe. Prior to POLITICO, Roy was a Partner at Gallup’s management consulting practice in Washington, D.C. and California advising Fortune 500 companies on employee and customer engagement. Roy was featured in the 2015 FOLIO 100 as a “Corporate Catalyst” and by the Washington Business Journal in its 2015 “40 under 40.” An expert in digital media, business, and strategy, he is a frequent speaker at media conferences including SXSW, Min Folio, Digital East, Interactive Media Conference, etc. A proud Terrapin, Roy holds an MBA and bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. 

Axios is available online through axios.com, via one of our nearly 20 newsletters, through engaging Axios360 newsmaker events and much more – all meant to get you smarter faster on the news that matters. 

Twitter/Instagram: @Axios

How and why did you start Axios?

A few years ago, Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and I all left our cool, safe jobs to start a new company with this shared belief: Media is broken – stories are too long, too boring, and websites are a maddening mess of pop-up and banner ads.

Following a year-long listening tour, we founded Axios in 2017 with the mission of delivering the cleanest, smartest, most efficient and trustworthy experience for readers and advertisers alike. Our solution to the problems plaguing the media industry is Smart Brevity: the idea that news and information should be quick, smart and worthy of your time. Since launch, we have advanced our Smart Brevity format to adapt to newslettersevents, a podcastsocial medianews stream, and an HBO show, with more in the works. 

Any emerging industry trends? 

The need for companies to clearly share concise corporate social responsibility messaging has never been so important – consumers, employees and stockholders continue to prove again and again that they care about the initiatives and principles that a brand upholds. But the days of long-form native advertising are slipping away – media ad sales teams and advertisers need to help Brands find smart, efficient ways of sharing what they are doing that is good and amplifying that message.

What is your long-term vision for Axios?

We have been extremely fortunate over the last two years. We have grown from 3 to nearly 20 newsletters, hosted dozens of events across the country, aired an HBO series and broke hundreds of crucial news scoops, all in Smart Brevity. 

In the future we want to continue to expand the ways in which we can stretch our efficient format – both through editorial and advertising means. We are constantly trying new experiments and working to bring Axios into different spaces – from different coverage areas (education, smart cities, blockchain, space) to new platforms and beyond. My long-term vision for the company is to continue growing, building and innovating with Smart Brevity and our audience-first mentality.  

My Goal of the Day:

Before I start each day, I always take a moment to prioritize several goals that I can set out to accomplish – from helping Axios land a new client to getting our new New York City office up and running. Throughout the day I revisit these goals as a check on myself and my team. Only by keeping clear goals are you able to make real progress.

My Deed of the Day:

I care tremendously about the people I work with – their development, ideas, and wellbeing – so I try to connect with at least one person each day, to take the time to really listen and ask them how they are doing, and if they are happy.

My Tip of the Day:

Every work day is about winning, getting ahead and continuing to adapt because if you sit still, someone is going to eat your lunch. Be ferocious about optimizing each day and each meeting so you can accomplish your goals and keep moving forward.  

Favorite Breakfast meal & restaurant: 

My kitchen- coffee & and a mini bagel.  Or if I have the chance, The Greenhouse at the Jefferson in DC is a really cool restaurant. 

What are you doing at.. 

6:00 a.m. = Working out 

10:00 a.m. = In a meeting

12:00 p.m. & Favorite Lunch Spot:

Lunch as a meeting in the office (salad) 

7:00 p.m. = Playing with my kids! 

11:00 p.m. = Have been asleep for two hours. 

What drink do you need to get through the day?

One coffee first thing in the morning keeps me going throughout the day. 

Favorite App: Stand-up Comedy on Youtube

Instagram Account: @Axios, of course!  

What should everyone try at least once: 

A Startup – you’re either going to love it or hate it, but it’s going to change your life. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you can never go back. 

Where do you enjoy getting lost: 

On a racetrack – I love going go-karting with my kids! 

Ted Kallmyer: HealthyEater.com Founder

Ted Kallmyer Highlights

Ted Kallmyer Highlights

My Q&A Profile: The Native Influence

How did you get into the industry?

After finishing my career as a biology teacher, I decided to take a break and travel the world. I ended up in New Zealand where I began helping a friend with his diet and fitness blogs back in 2008. Given my professional interest in science and my personal interest in fitness and health, it was a perfect fit and this has allowed me to be able to redirect my love for education by being able to teach people how to live their healthiest lives.

My Career Advice?

I think the best advice that I can give others is to always let helping others be your primary motivation. As soon as the primary focus shifts to “making money” or “making a name for yourself” your business won’t survive. People want to be valued and if your customers feel like they are just a number, it won’t take long for you to start having fewer customers. Success happens after being diligent in helping your clients succeed.

Jennipher Walters: Fit Bottomed World CEO & Founder, Author, "The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet" & Editor-in-Chief at Fit Bottomed Girls, Fit Bottomed Mamas and Fit Bottomed Zen


Read The Native Influence Full Q&A

How did you get into the industry? I started teaching group exercise in 2000 after falling IN LOVE with taking classes at the University of Missouri Rec Center. It was so fun and high energy that I just had to be an instructor. After teaching for a few months, I decided to get even more education and became certified as a personal trainer. That’s really when my love for fitness started – but it wasn’t until 2007, before I got married that a lot of my own personal body image issues really came up and I learned more about body positivity, intuitive eating and mindful living. In 2008, I looked around at the magazines on the shelf and the sites on the internet for women’s health and saw a huge need for a message that wasn’t just “lose 10 pounds and get a perfect life.” I started FitBottomedGirls.com in 2008 to get a more powerful and meaningful message to women that they are more than the number on the scale and that the first step of being healthy is loving yourself.

Career Advice? Be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for your worth. Also? Fake it ‘til you make it – or at least fake it until you can learn it and make it. You’ve got this.C

Phillip B. Goldfine: Hollywood Media Bridge Founder


Read The Native Influence Full Q&A

How did you get into the industry? I was always in love with the idea of entertainment from a very early age. I remember watching television and just loving it. What 5-year-old kid doesn’t? Throughout high school and college—even though I was involved in other academia—the entertainment business remained a draw (as it still does today). My story is much like many others. I interned for various companies and worked my way up the ladder.

Industry Challenges: I think the challenge is going to be finding quality projects for the new streaming services and the VR technology that’s emerging. Five years from now, there will be an entirely new landscape in the entertainment space.

Stacy Adimando: Executive Editor, Saveur

My NativeAdVice:


Stacy Adimando is a food and travel journalist, cookbook author, recipe developer, and the Executive Editor at Saveur magazine. Stacy is the former Test Kitchen Director at Saveur, Food Editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray, and recipes editor at Food Network. She has written for a variety of food, travel and lifestyle publications including NPR, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Vogue, Forbes,

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Jonah Sandler: Founder & CEO, Scene75 Entertainment

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Jonah Sandler, CFA, is the founder and CEO of Scene75 Entertainment. Scene75 brands the largest indoor entertainment centers in the country and was named the Top Family Entertainment Center in North America  by IAAPA in 2016. With locations in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, and two additional locations under development in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Scene75 will attract more than 1,500,000

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Pelle Nilsson: Founder & CEO, BRF

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Pelle Nilsson is Founder and CEO of global production company BRF. Ever since opening the company’s doors in 1995, Pelle has been dedicated to pushing all kinds of filmmaking, whether it’s a commercial or a feature film, and has always been inspired by new ways of storytelling and trying new formats on behalf of clients. Nearly two decades later, this still rings true.

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Carolyn Kylstra: Editor in chief, Self Magazine

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Bio: Carolyn Kylstra was appointed Editor-in-Chief of SELF in December 2016. Prior to that she was Executive Digital Director for the brand. During her tenure, Carolyn launched SELF as the first health and wellness brand on the Snapchat Discover platform. Under her leadership, the site underwent a redesign, monthly visitors to SELF increased +145%,and total global video views increased +470%.

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Charu Sharma: Explorer, entrepreneur, & author

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Charu is a US-based Indian explorer, entrepreneur, and author. With 5 National Awards, expeditions to all 7 continents, over 600 stage shows, and three books in progress, this prodigy was enlisted as a "Power Woman alongside such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Gandhi, and Melinda Gates by Youth Incorporated magazine in March 2012.

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Mark Cronin: Producer/Writer/Creator of ‘Below Deck’

My NativeAdVice:


Mark Cronin is one of Hollywood’s most successful television series creators and producers. With over 25 years in the entertainment industry, Cronin is recognized for pioneering a new genre of unscripted programming  (celebreality) and is the creative force behind such hit shows as Comedy Central’s Beat the Geeks, VH1’s The Surreal Life, and Bravo’s Below Deck.

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