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Devin: What do you see as your superpower?
Michael: I believe that I have a lot of empathy towards people, and I think that's a good way of just getting to know people and being able to understand what people are going through.
Michael VanZetta is the CEO of PiZetta Media. He hosts a show on YouTube that, like Superpowers for Good, hosts changemakers and people driving social impact. In addition, he focuses on mental health, often targeting people in the military community and first responders. He’s found empathy to be an essential part of his work. He recently hosted me on his show, too.
In 2023, we both had General Gregg Martin on our shows (Michael’s episode, Devin’s episode). Michael’s interview felt personal and relevant in a unique way. “I don’t talk to a lot of people that also have bipolar disorder,” Michael says of their shared diagnosis. “So just hearing his story and in my head, I'm like, ‘That was me.’”
“I know it will help others,” Michael says of the episode.
As a veteran of television, Michael was able to reconnect with and host famous TV host Montel Williams, who he notes “does a lot for the military.”
Despite his connections to fame and influence, Michael says, “The best people I feel like I talk to are the people on these smaller nonprofits just trying to spread their message and how much they want this to succeed.”
Michael has produced over 250 episodes of his show since he launched a year ago. He likes to attend conferences and conducts interviews there. “It makes me feel good that I am helping people.”
Michael’s wife and father-in-law are veterans, inspiring some of the focus on the military community. “What I've noticed when people talk to me, they talk about how the transition to civilian life is challenging. I love telling those stories because there are a lot of people who feel alone once they leave the military. Having these stories and having people talk about this, I think, helps a lot.”
Michael identifies empathy as a superpower that enables him to be effective in both life and work.
AI Episode Summary
1. Devin Thorpe, the host of the "Superpowers for Good" show, introduces his guest, Michael VanZetta of PiZetta Media, who has a background in TV broadcasting and focuses on people and their stories, particularly in relation to social impact and mental health.
2. Michael shares that after working in local TV and seeing the focus on negative events rather than people, he started his own platform to tell stories of non-profits and individuals, especially those on mental health journeys, as he personally lives with bipolar disorder.
3. They discuss the importance of focusing on people rather than events in news stories, as personal stories can provide ongoing interest and emotional impact compared to transient news events.
4. Both hosts have had General Gregg Martin on their shows, a person with a bipolar disorder diagnosis who has transitioned from a military career to helping others, demonstrating how personal challenges can resonate and connect with others going through similar experiences.
5. Michael mentions interviewing various guests, including famous personalities like Montel Williams and individuals from smaller non-profits, emphasizing that talking to people involved in meaningful causes is what he enjoys most.
6. Michael has been running his show for about a year, with over 250 episodes produced, and he highlights his focus on military and veteran stories, expressing empathy for the challenges they face transitioning to civilian life.
7. Asked about his superpower, Michael identifies with having a lot of empathy, which he feels is key to understanding and listening to others, both in his professional work and personal life.
8. Michael advocates for building trust as a means to foster empathy, emphasizing that by trusting in people's inherent goodness, one can be more open to listen to and understand others.
9. To connect with Michael and his show, he directs viewers to his YouTube channel at PiZetta Media, with over 43,000 subscribers, to his LinkedIn profile (Michael Vanzetta and PiZetta Media), Facebook at PiZetta Media, and his website at PizettaMedia.com, even offering his phone number for direct contact.
10. Devin concludes by commending Michael's work on mental health and social impact, wishing him continued success in his endeavors to make a positive difference in the world.
How to Develop Empathy As a Superpower
Michael shared a powerful example of using empathy early in his career in a way that helped him hone his ability to connect with people:
I remember when I was 19, 20, I was working at a Walmart and just talking to older people and just being a good listener and understanding what they were going through meant a lot to them. So that's a big thing. You don't have to fix anything. Just listen and understand what people are going through.
His suggestion that empathy is about listening more than fixing is helpful.
He adds a surprising insight to thinking about empathy:
You’ve got to trust other people are good because if you think someone's just trying to pull one over you, you're not going to listen. You have to trust and learn about another person.
With all my interviews, I do heavy research so I'm prepared and I know as much as I can. You could do that in daily life. Just talk to someone, ask them about their lives. Then you could trust them a little bit more. They're good people. They just want to be listened to or helped.
People can do that if they just let their guard down just a little bit.
This is a potent insight about empathy. The act of listening alone isn’t empathy–even though it is an essential part. Trusting in the inherent value and goodness of the person you are connecting with enables your heart and mind to engage in empathy and compassion.
If you follow Michael’s example and advice, you can strengthen your ability to empathize with others. With practice, you can make it a superpower that enables you to change the world.
Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!
Michael VanZetta (he/him):
CEO, PiZetta Media
About PiZetta Media: PiZetta Media is a beacon of compassionate storytelling, founded by CEO Michael VanZetta and his wife, Jennifer. This media platform distinguishes itself by shifting the spotlight from events to people, presenting authentic video narratives that explore the lives of individuals on the frontlines, nonprofit organizations, and those navigating mental health journeys. Michael's journey with Bipolar Disorder 2 adds a deeply empathetic touch to PiZetta Media's mission, aiming to bridge the gap of understanding and offer solace to those facing similar challenges. With over two decades of broadcasting experience, Michael's vision, coupled with Jennifer's creative contributions, has propelled PiZetta Media to become a powerful force for destigmatizing mental health, fostering connections, and bringing hope to a diverse audience of 40,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel. PiZetta Media stands at the intersection of empathy and media through compelling storytelling and a commitment to community impact, illustrating the transformative power of sharing authentic human experiences.
Company Facebook Page: fb.com/PiZettaonfb
Other URL: youtube.com/@pizettamedia
Biographical Information: Michael VanZetta, a seasoned and accomplished media professional, serves as the visionary CEO of PiZetta Media, a platform dedicated to authentic storytelling with a profound social impact. With a rich background spanning over 20 years in broadcasting, Michael has held significant roles at esteemed organizations such as WJLA ABC7 and WUSA9. However, it was his realization that traditional media often focused more on events than on the people behind the stories that fueled his passion for creating PiZetta Media alongside his wife, Jennifer. Michael's commitment to shifting the narrative and emphasizing the human aspect of stories has culminated in the platform's success, capturing the attention of a diverse audience.
What sets Michael apart is not just his professional expertise but also his deeply personal connection to the cause. Living with Bipolar Disorder 2, Michael's journey inspired the creation of PiZetta Media as a means to provide relatable content for those navigating mental health challenges. Through his leadership, PiZetta Media has become a catalyst for destigmatizing mental health, fostering empathy, and building a supportive community. Michael's dedication to making a positive impact through storytelling showcases the transformative potential of media when driven by authenticity and empathy.
X/Twitter Handle: @MichaelVanZetta
Personal Facebook Profile: fb.com/michael.vanzetta
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