about Mandy

"Mandy Antoniacci is the girl who lifts us up!" - BuzzFeed

 

I'm so happy you're here.

You probably landed here because you read something I wrote.  Perhaps you heard me speak. Or maybe you discovered upps and wanted to learn about the gal behind the hidden smile and puppy shenanigans.  

Whatever the reason, I'm so grateful you made it. 

Let me start by doing what I do best.  Let me

tell you a story...

my story.

But this time, I wanted to tell mine. 

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Now, I’ll admit, my mission only became clear once I was knocked against the ropes by the first worthy adversary I’ve ever encountered. And it happened in 2017…

 

I set out to run the LA marathon without training.  I was a storyteller with an exciting theory to test. I believed that running a marathon was 90% mental, and that I could get through it without training, on mental fortitude alone. At mile-19, I hit a wall. In that moment, I was failing. I had my head down and was just barely powering through. When I finally looked up in desperation, I saw a little boy standing on the sidelines with a sign that said “free high fives.” I reached out and slapped his hand with mine... 

 

Smack!  Suddenly, I was back in the race. It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t witchcraft. It was the stimuli that sparked me to tune in, and ultimately to cross the finish line.

 

I was beginning to see that this experience actually had greater cultural implications. Looking up had been such a game-changer for me, I wondered what if, when struggling with the things that bring us down like depression, loneliness, anxiety, and a lack of overall mindfulness, we made the conscious choice to do one, simple thing: 

Sure, the accidental social scientist in me, may have discovered the power in being forced to look up. 

 

But the optimist since birth in me, would choose to see it no other way :)

- mandy

Want to know more?  Head here for my full bio.

follow Mandy's story.

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I've been told my entire life that I'm really good at happy.

It all started within the walls of my childhood home, where, despite being the youngest, and the only girl in a family of boys, I was the endorphin booster. I've always approached life seeing the silver lining first, later observing the cloud with curiosity. ​ I love to learn, and developed the equivalent of a PhD in overthinking by the time I was twelve––I was the kid who watched the same movie, listened to the same album, and read the same book ten times until I knew it by heart and fully understood every word, note and verse.  I guess you can say that at a very early age, I became an accidental social scientist.  

This level of inquisition, combined with my unwavering positivity, allows me to approach life without fear, looking at any challenge as something that can be overcome. 

 

In my younger years, this played a big part in my love of sports, which gave me an outlet where I could test my own limits and push the boundaries of what my body could do. I earned full rides to school, and eventually became a collegiate athlete who broke records on a national scale.  At the same time, as a means of optimizing my body for peak performance, I developed a disciplined practice of mental and physical wellness before I even really knew what they were.  

I didn’t eat meat, didn’t drink a drop of alcohol, and remained super positive at all times––even in chaotic situations, where I maintained an unusual sense of calm. 

Off the field, I became a student of communications and psychology, which sparked my deep love of storytelling. I spent some time in advertising, working for two of the largest communications holding company in the world—Omnicom and Publicis—and grew to become one of the youngest executives working for their flagship shops in NYC.  

 

Sitting at the intersection of storytelling and social science, this was the perfect space for me to explore how art can change people’s behavior. I fine-tuned my craft, creating campaigns for elite clients across 12 countries, 4 continents in 8 languages. I teamed up with some of the most talented humans on the planet and developed a well-worn passport. We won some awards at Cannes. I was even hand-selected to attend the graduate program at Harvard Business School and Babson College, where I was dubbed a “future global leader and visionary.” But most importantly, I helped birth stories that moved people. And I wanted to keep doing it.  But this time...  

I wanted to tell mine. 

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Now, I’ll admit, my mission only became clear once I was knocked against the ropes by the first worthy adversary I’ve ever encountered. And it happened in 2017…

 

I set out to run the LA marathon without training.  I was a storyteller with an exciting theory to test. I believed that running a marathon was 90% mental, and that I could get through it without training, on mental fortitude alone. At mile-19, I hit a wall. In that moment, I was failing. I had my head down and was just barely powering through. When I finally looked up in desperation, I saw a little boy standing on the sidelines with a sign that said “free high fives.” I reached out and slapped his hand with mine... 

 

Smack!  Suddenly, I was back in the race. It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t witchcraft. It was the stimuli that sparked me to tune in, and ultimately to cross the finish line.

 

I was beginning to see that this experience actually had greater cultural implications. Looking up had been such a game-changer for me, I wondered what if, when struggling with the things that bring us down like depression, loneliness, anxiety, and a lack of overall mindfulness, we made the conscious choice to do one, simple thing: 

look up.

I was hooked. I started building my company, calling it upps™ all with one simple goal in mind—become the pick me upp to the world. I was starting to sketch out ideas for the company, solidify offerings, and build the plan for our core mission.

 

Then, my developing ideas were put on hold.  

12-weeks after I ran the LA marathon, I experienced paralysis in my hand, my arm, then eventually my entire right side. There was no inciting injury, no accident, only questions. My life quickly became a revolving door of doctor and hospital visits. I was diagnosed with a random, genetic anomaly that prompted emergency spinal surgery causing 50% loss of mobility, and left me bed-ridden for 10-weeks, in a hard brace, sleeping upright at a 90-degree angle.   

I lost my ability to look down ever again.

 

As someone who had already developed a passion for looking up, I was suddenly thrust into the greatest social experiment of my life. I was no longer capable of conforming to social norms that would have otherwise kept my head down and kept me powering through life. 

 

I was forced to look up.  And it. Was. Awesome.

 

I shared what my experience taught me in a TED Talk, here. And people all over the world started to see themselves in the narrative and share their stories.  Turns out that I had catalyzed a conversation on a global scale. The world was craving the mental and physical effects of looking up, and I had found a simple, straightforward way to deliver.

I was on top of the world.

Then on the eve of my one-year anniversary of my surgery, at what should have been one of my final follow-up visits, the normally stone-faced surgeon looked at my test results, then at me, dumbfounded, saying only, “Your bones have rejected the fusions. We have to repeat the surgery.” 

 

I had fallen into a tiny,1% margin of error and subsequently would be forced to relive the greatest trauma of my life. The cutting of my skin, the fusing of my spine, being put back together, the time in a hard brace, the confinement, the isolation—I’d have to do it all again. 

 

As much as I dreaded the repeat trauma, I refused to let the sting of the setback knock me to the mat. This entire time I thought I was really good at happy.  Turns out, 

 

I’m just really bad at sad.

 

I continued developing upps™ and started writing my first book—Up: How Keeping Your Head in the Clouds Can Change Your Life, from my recovery bed, using a voice journaling app and some assistance from Alexa and Siri. And this is what I learned:

every, single, one of us is healing from something—whether it’s something we can see, or something we can’t... 

But if we turn our eyes skyward and take it all in, we see.  We feel.  We heal.  We create community.  And in turn, we naturally begin to 

lift one another up.

Sure, the accidental social scientist in me, may have discovered the power in being forced to look up. 

 

But the optimist since birth in me, would choose to see it no other way :)

- mandy

In case you want the box score version, head here for my full bio.

 
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© 2020 by upps™.

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