Natasha Garoosi brings humanity to media with a channel to connect authentic beings across industries.
I met Natasha Garoosi at a place where I meet many of the people I want to engage with: The Shine New York. Natasha was there to support her friend, waste activist Lauren Singer. Through the course of the evening, I found out that Natasha was the founder of the buzzy video blog, High Quality Human Beings, which highlights influential people across cultures and industries who "are courageous enough to recognize their vulnerabilities as strengths to empower others."
As a happiness researcher and entrepreneur, I couldn't wait to pick Natasha's brain about the her goals for this fast-growing digital platform, the inspiration behind it, and what, in her opinion, we should all be doing to make ourselves higher-quality human beings. So, we agreed to meet up for an interview over tamarind juice at Naturopatica on West 26th Street. Here's what happened.
WJ: Your website states: "HQHB remind us what it means to be human again by interviewing real people across all industries to engage in conversations that unite us." What types of conversation are those?
NG: A lot of the media is statistical and black and white, and it doesn’t spark much in us. The conversations that unite us as humans are the ones that resonate with our emotions.
WJ: Which emotions?
NG: People we’ve interviewed start off talking about their vulnerabilities: the problems they face or used to be scared of, embarrassed or sad about, problems they’ve used as fuel to grow and find their happiness.
WJ: I normally tie what I write to one of five conduits or "muscles" for happiness described in The Happiness Animal. One of those five is curiosity (or wonder). Is that muscle your key strength?
NG: When you're in your dark moments, you gain this curiosity [because] you're searching for this light: "Why am I here and what do I want to do?" Trees are meant to grow, give us oxygen, fruit, flowers. We also want to know what [fruit we're meant to bear]. That curiosity is ingrained in us. When we [become] curious, we start finding our purpose.
WJ: When you [use] that curiosity to find interviews and stories, what do you look for?
NG: I look for people who truly own their emotions and their story. People are disconnected when they are fulfilling their egos rather than their soul. There are certain things that nourish ego and certain things that nourish soul, so it’s about choosing the right ones.
WJ: The video you created with model/activist, Ebonee Davis was an ode to transparency—the unspoken conversations within us. It took courage for Ebonee to speak her truth to a subway car full of strangers [and almost made me cry].
NG: I met Ebonee at a friend’s art show. She was stuffing rosemary into a quail. Later on, I found out she had a really cool story. With Ebonee, it’s about being true to yourself rather than posting on Instagram what you're eating, how you're dressing, or the people you’re with.
WJ: When did you decide to start HQHB?
NG: I studied advertising. On the last day of class, the teacher showed us a video of this rocket launching into space. He told us everyone all over the world was watching and all of a sudden the rocket blew up. "Oh, shit"' I started to think about media for the first time in depth. If people know that media can be so impactful, why are they using it in ways to make you feel unwelcome or fearful?
I started interviewing conscious creatives in the food, wellness, and fashion industries. That became HQHB because I wanted to eliminate these categories and understand what it is to be human again. Media is being used to disconnect people. It could be used to connect us and remind us what humanity is.
WJ: There's a message on your website: "Take control over your life, or someone or something else will." Tell me about that.
NG: I grew up with a strict dad. Every time I wanted to do something, I used to think, "Will Dad let me?" When I got older I started running. I felt empowered because I was alone with my body feeling really clean. I became addicted to this feeling of myself at 100 percent, cutting out the shit that made me feel like crap.
With my dad, every time I held myself back from something I was giving him control. I made excuses for him because he was Muslim Irani and he was raised that way. I eventually began to push back—to tell him I needed to be myself. That’s when I got control.
As much as people say, "I don’t care what anyone thinks," acceptance and community are such strengths when it comes to your humanity.
WJ: Born in NYC with a Chinese mother born in Colombia and a Persian father raised in Italy, you embody diversity.
NG: I have aunts who are Chinese and uncles who speak Spanish. I have Iranian aunts and uncles who speak Italian. One Chinese aunt married a black Dominican.
When my family does reunions, sometimes they don’t know how to speak to each other because of all the languages. but we’re still laughing together, eating together, and there’s just a lot of being human and pointing.
If there was only one flower, the world would suck. If there was only one fruit, it’d be so boring. But the earth doesn’t need to talk about it all day: "Oh, look, we have mangoes and apples, chrysanthemums and roses." Let’s just enjoy it.
WJ: What's next for you, Natasha?
NG: I really want to do a cross-industry activation event. If you go to foodie events, it’s foodie bloggers and foodies only; if you go to wellness events, it’s just people in wellness. It’s still like high school—it's the movie Mean Girls.
WJ: Wellness events can be quite cliquey, but you've realized exclusiveness is a disconnector. How do we find the HQHB in all of us?
NG: Accept that you need to own whatever emotions you feel: A lot of us are embarrassed by our vulnerabilities. We only want to talk when we are happy or about the good things happening in our lives. Otherwise, we complain and blame. Happiness is maintenance. Being a HQHB is maintenance.