Michelle Barnes is a bit of an adventure addict. Travel, along with decaf coffee, are two things she couldn’t live without. Michelle’s visited somewhere around 60 countries, give or take. Almost a third of the countries in the world. She’s done the Europe thing. The Himalayan backpacking-in-Bhutan thing (the only country that tracks Gross National Happiness) The Chile thing. And oh yeah, she went to Burning Man the year she turned 50.  “I went because I could.” she says with a shrug. “I loved the focus on self-reliance and inclusion. And, the lack of cell phones. Everyone was in the moment and nowhere else.” She’s even explored the Python caves of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Which is where she picked up a little thing called Marburg disease. You’ve probably never heard of it. But it’s related to Ebola. Yes, I said Ebola.  She is, in fact, the only person in North America to have ever contracted this disease. Talk about bad luck. But this was back in 2008. And following a lengthy, but full recovery, Michelle’s spirit and body are now stronger than ever. Michelle had a happy Midwest rearing in Sioux City, Iowa, amidst six brothers and sisters. Encouraged as a child to “follow her own path”, she ventured east for college, studying economics at William and Mary in Southern Virginia. A few years later, she went the other way, attending UCLA, where she met her husband and received her MBA. A heck of a deal. Then in 1989, she landed in Silicon Valley. Full of drama and energy during the dot-com boom, life there was about start-ups, Survivor parties, venture capitalists and acquisitions. Michelle spent three years in Amsterdam, helping Tandem (eventually acquired by HP) expand in Europe. It was there, she says, that her cultural assumptions were tested and challenged. She hated the rain in Holland, but the hours spent in coffee shops struck a comfortable chord in her ambitious psyche. She realized the downtime was good for her. Even healthy.   After more work in California, in 2002, they moved to Golden, Colorado. “I love the mountains and there’s something about Colorado; you either feel like its home or you don’t. We knew immediately that this was our space and these were our people.” In 2008, she started Interim Leadership Solutions, which provides transitional leadership for nonprofits and social enterprises. Over the years, she’s worked with Campfire USA, Oceanic Preservation Society, Outward Bound Colorado, Center for ReSource Conservation and many more. “With so many great opportunities in high tech marketing, I felt a higher calling. I wanted to give back.” These days, she spends a lot of time with her 18 nieces and nephews, and enjoys hiking Golden Gate State Park with her husband and two dogs Chewy, a Chesapeake lab mix, and Blue, an orange Australian cattle dog. Michelle has been a TED talk fan for years, and listens to a new one every morning while she gets ready for work. Her favorite? The Habits of Happiness  by Matthieu Ricard. With a long and successful career and the world as her playground, Michelle’s greatest lesson is about goodwill. “I will never stop believing there’s great potential for connection and positive outcomes if people sit down with each other and get real.” She gets real with TEDxMileHigh in two days. Don’t miss her extraordinary story and call to action.