Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
#travel #culture #documentary #entrepreneur
Maya Tsocli, full of talents and creative interests, is a person defined by curiosity and a great desire to live. However, her success in everything she does is a result of her many different abilities, the peculiar perfectionism that doesn’t deprive her of the imaginative approach of things, the particularly sensitive look towards people and the original approach to reality. Fashion, documentaries, travel, beer production, but also politics cover a wide range of things that usually cannot be done in a lifetime; unless you are Maya Tsocli.
- Everyone knows you through the trips you have made and presented on the TV. Looking back, what helped you achieve all these?
First of all, thank you for the tenderness of the question. I think many things contributed a lot; the essential love for travel but also for television, the style of the director Chronis Pechlivanidis, the era, the choice of destinations, my experiences and many more. If I was looking for personal defining characteristics I would mention innate curiosity, sense of responsibility and perfectionism.
The show "Traveling" (Taksidevontas) was never just a show; it was a way of life. It was a discovery, it was my desire to extend through many different experiences the time given to me and to share it with my companions, my audience. It was a need to show that the world is not limited to our own microcosm. The immediacy and frankness in the TV that I have and that’s actually a gift because it can’t be learned, contributed greatly to my success.
- Do you study a lot for your travels? How do you prepare yourself?
In order to be able to convey complex information in a simple way, you must have the information very well embedded. When I prepare a show, I study as much as I can by breaking down as many different sources as I can. I believe that my education in France and this torturous approach to text analysis and development also contribute to study, writing and preparing a text.
- Did you choose the destinations?
We chose them along with the director of "Traveling", Chronis Pechlivanidis. The trips came after my ten-year experience in the clothing and fashion industry. Fashion today may have been connected more with socio-political issues, but in the '80s it was more selfish, more elitist. We lived in our own luxury world. So traveling around the world was essentially a great change, an attempt to "understand" the different truths around us that were so much more important than consumer trends. I find it tremendous to know what is happening right now in a village in Mexico, in a city in Mali or in the Yemen desert.
This is how the world grows inside you, this is how you set healthier priorities, this is how you break down borders, this is how you wake up. So we chose the destinations based on our own interests, based on current events, based on the issues that were tormenting humanity at that time. In these destinations and through the show "Traveling" I met my actual self and recognised it and I felt useful. It is important for the human soul to feel useful…
- For a while we lost you from the TV…
I adopted my son, something I generally avoid talking about because it concerns another person's personal life and I had a brief and particularly painful contact with politics as a Member of Parliament during the difficult time of the memorandum. At the same time came my acquaintance with my beloved, Alexandros Kouris who gave me the opportunity to live a different life, that of entrepreneurship. We made our vision come true as we launched our beer, NISSOS, that is produced in Tinos island. It is magical to have an idea and at some point this idea becomes a product with many fans and you can find it on the best menus in the country and receive international awards! That’s from another world, from another life! This anguish of mine to multiply my life I think have determined me.
I constantly chase to renew interests, professions and experiences, to have as many different roles as possible; traveler, journalist, mother, partner, daughter, entrepreneur, patient. As long as I can stand all these and as much as I can, I like to do them all. And traveling has that role. If you think about it, it’s the ideal way to prolong your life by creating more memories, because memories are the ones that shape the consciousness of time in your mind.
- Have you ever been scared on a trip or are they always safe?
When you are there you have no sense of fear. You just live. For example, a week after our trip to Bamyan, Afghanistan, we learned that on the very same road we were on, a car similar to ours was attacked - something bad could have happened to us. Maybe we were just naive and lucky. But you cannot live with fear.
Another story from Afghanistan is unforgettable for me. At one point we were staying at the house of Michalis Maniatis, right next to the American embassy. At one o'clock in the morning, a CIA agent knocks on the door to tell us that they have been informed that a terrorist with a rocket has entered from Pakistan and they are expecting him to hit the American embassy. But because Pakistani terrorists usually don’t achieve their goal, they informed us that the rocket could hit our house. "Be careful," he told us, and left. We were looking for every possible place to hide in the house, until, exhausted early at dawn, we were informed by the same agent that the danger had passed.
- You have traveled so much and in so many different places. Are we, as humans on earth, the same or are we very different from each other?
The first thing I know for sure is that a simple smile can take you far. I have also seen that the Greeks, precisely because we are with one foot in the East and with the other in the West, speak our own Esperanto. We can instinctively communicate with everyone. Differences between peoples are not natural; they are cultural.
- Tell us about your new project, the documentary series "In the streets of the Greeks" (Stous Dromous Ton Ellinon) that concerns the Greek Diaspora.
The diaspora is the one that expands the borders of our country. Greece is a small and at the same time a big country. There are Greeks everywhere and despite the intense frustrations they have experienced from their motherland, they still love it. The only thing Greece can do to draw them close to the country is to give them reasons to be proud of it and to inspire confidence in them. When Greece is doing well through its international image, it embraces them.
When we did "Traveling", it was always very charming to meet expatriates with novel lives. So now we are starting a new series of documentaries for ERT, called "In the streets of the Greeks", and it is exclusively dedicated to them. We have great collaborators like the historian Alexandros Kitroev and journalist Ioanna Fotiadi. The first season of 13 episodes meets the Greeks of America, from one end of the continent to the other. First, second, third to fourth generation, scientists and teachers, artists, entrepreneurs and politicians. We meet the Greek community "what is visible and what is not visible", as a friend says. At the same time, we organize with my partner Dimitris Xanthoulis and the Himalayan travel agency, natural trips to charming destinations through my website www.travelsbytravelers.com. It is very interesting and extremely fresh with innovative concepts.
- Among other things, you are the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the municipal institution "Kostas Tsoclis Museum" in Tinos. Your father is undoubtedly one of the most important Greeks in history, as well as a great painter. How did you experience all this as a child?
The most difficult thing for children is to believe that they can do valuable things on their own and without the help of their famous parents. My father is one of those people who were born with charisma. Think of a 12-year-old child, very poor, educated in the post-war elementary school, who has just started working in the cinema decor, in Almaliotis's workshop next to the then young Vakirtzis. At some point someone talks about Cavafy, someone refers to a poem of his but my father doesn’t remember it well. In elementary school, my little father with the 7 brothers who didn’t have money to buy food at home, begins to recite poems of the Alexandrian poet, leaving everyone speechless. That’s one of the many examples of his charisma.
Tsoclis is not only a great painter, he is also a very bright personality as a whole with multiple artistic talents. He could be a director, he could be a writer. He has always been a keen reader. Today he still reads with passion and when I go to visit him, instead of telling him news, he tells me about something new he read, about the universe, about the future, about the sciences or religions. Today he is 92 years old and he still wakes up early in the morning, recites the poetry he loves and starts working!
Living with a charismatic man is cruel and unjust. Permanent comparison is exhausting especially for those with low self-esteem. All the children of famous and great people are always looking for a place of their own to flourish and are constantly fighting for acceptance until they become adults and escape from the weight of the name that their parents bare.
- How was your relationship with your mother?
My biological mother, Fania, died of an aneurysm when I was five and a half years old. I do not remember her at all. Then my father married Eleni, who raised me. I have been afraid of her for some time, but she is a woman with great love and tremendous patience. She also had a very interesting career, she was in the team of teachers who contributed to the uniqueness of the Moraitis School. Then she studied child psychology at the Sorbonne and created pioneering shows on ERT for vocational education and guidance. Nevertheless, at some point she left her career to dedicate herself to my father. I think she is the person who believed more in me, who supported me and who identified my talents from the beginning. Girls are tough though, no matter how great their mum is, they always want their dad!