Tell us about your work…
“I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of Chili’s Grill and Bar based in Dallas, TX. I love getting to think about making people happy every day. My email subject lines often involve Margaritas and baby back ribs.”
What’s your context outside of work?
“I’m married to a corporate pilot and have two sons, 8 and 5, plus a dog, Bo, and a fish called Dory. We live in the ‘burbs outside Dallas. I love to cook, read, travel, plan parties, and binge watch TV with my husband (after the kids are in bed). We spend weekends (non-quarantine) at the pool, gym or ballpark. Our families live far away, so we count on our nanny to help us.”
What is your normal day-to-day life like?
“Usually, we get the two boys off to school (Shoes! Teeth! Backpack!) and traverse the one hour commute to the office. I talk (hands-free) on the drive to make the most of it. Usually meetings all day, back to back at the office including working lunch. I have about 8 hrs of meetings a day, varying from leadership team to agency recommendations/decisions to coaching and 1:1s. There are lots of decisions. The drive home is another hour. Then begins dinner, bath and bed – usually our nanny will have helped with homework and to straighten up the boys’ spaces.”
What is your day-to-day life like now currently during COVID-19?
“The morning routine is much more chill – my husband and I usually both have calls beginning around 8, so we take them while the boys are on devices and eating breakfast. Then we tag-team homeschool in between obligations as best we can. Truthfully, he does most of it. I still haven’t figured out how to access all the portals. Plus our 8-year old is dyslexic and has ADHD, so he needs lots of breaks.
All the usual routines are off as we are in survival mode (with me in restaurants, him in aviation). I have put in place daily video chats with my team to stay connected. I like having no commute though.”
How has it impacted you personally and professionally?
“Professionally we have been hit hard with restaurant dining rooms closed – that’s significant revenue loss. Same for corporate aviation which has ground to a halt. We’ve had a few ‘state of the union’ convos, refocussing on a new budget and new savings horizon.
Personally, it has been delightful to be with my children and husband more than usual though. We have been swimming and cooking almost every day, which fuels me up!”
What are you finding challenging?
“Managing fear and uncertainty for myself, especially in isolation. Being fuelled by interaction with other humans, it’s a big change to me to lead from afar. I also find leading others in fear and isolation a new challenge. I’m working on practicing transparency, vulnerability and community – which still works even now. The biggest one has got to be HOMESCHOOLING though!”
Where are you finding hope and optimism?
“It is encouraging to see how easily and quickly we come together in a dramatically new normal. It gives me hope that no matter how this ends up going, we’ll be changed for the better on the other side. Particularly, at the restaurants, there are millions of stories of the ‘helpers’ – teams helping guests, guests helping teams, and teams helping each other.”
What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?
“I actually miss going to the office – this life with no commute, time to cook and time with my kids has long been a fantasy of mine. But, man, it’s hard to get the sort of work done I need to without being in person with the team – it’s dozens of people and millions of dollars. Those cats are easier to herd in person. Also the gym. Which I usually dread.”
How are you getting through? What are your coping strategies? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you are finding particularly uplifting right now?
“Well, if I said a vodka drink at 5pm, would you judge me? Seriously though, my husband and I have been coping by getting those household tasks you always put off, done (my closet looks amazing) which is super satisfying. Music is helping too – whether peaceful Hawaiian to help everyone chill out, Edith Piaf for cooking, or loud pop hits for a kitchen dance party, there’s nothing like some tunes to shift the mindset. Oh, and all those built-in speakers are now functional thanks to coping tool #1.”
What is your mindset about how to use your time at home? (Hustle harder with newfound time, be still and soak up the gift of time, dive into unexplored creative pursuits?)
“A little bit of all three. The hustle was ON in the first couple weeks when we could barely break away from our phones as one blow after another hit restaurants and aviation. Now, we are feeling grateful every day for the gift of time – with each other, with the boys, with our home. In some ways, it is exactly the sort of full stop needed to kill the inertia of life’s obligations. Like a flood or a forest fire, life is now ALL about the important things like togetherness with your immediate people, creative nourishment, and quiet ways to care for yourself.”
Personally how are you managing your mind and wellbeing? and that of your family
“I’ve noticed a real difference in the way extroversion and introversion preferences show up right now. As an extrovert, I need social interaction for my wellbeing so I have been very proactive about reaching out, facetime happy hours, Zoom birthday songs, just checking-in texts. But I hear from my introverted friends that they are in heaven! “
Despite all the negatives and the brutality of the virus are there positives you feel are coming out of this – a silver lining?
“YES. A dramatic reprioritization of what matters and how to show up for others. Perhaps this ‘crisis like collaboration’ will help us find the muscles to accomplish other things together like environmental protection. It forms a case study for government in action (across all countries and states) that may open our eyes to previous rhetoric, bias and advocacy. And, for me, on a small scale, it is such a gift to have this much time with my boys at these ages. I feel like we are making memories we never would have made otherwise (in a good way).”