It has been about a month since shelter-in-place orders took effect, and we’re all adapting to the new normal.
The editors of D CEO reached out to area business and nonprofit executives to find out how they’ve been spending their time. They shared their best work-from-home strategies and pics from their home offices.
For the second segment in our series, click here.
Amber Venz Box, RewardStyle
TV/Movies: Unorthodox, Tiger King, and The Crown. (We need a new season!)
Music: Phil Whickham. I keep upbeat, hopeful music on in the kitchen all day.
Books: No Filter by Sarah Frier
Exercise: Chasing three kids around, and doing squats
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m working on the next expansion phases of The Local Chapter, our West Texas ranch, and vacation yurt rentals. I’m also cleaning out the kid’s closets for my United Way COVID Relief fundraiser.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Starbucks drive-thru is still open. 😁 Hopefully, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy the simple life and use it as an opportunity to build deeper relationships at home and with friends, family, and coworkers. Reflect on what of this social experience we want to keep in place after the shelter order is lifted. ❤️
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jamie O’Banion and Cynthia Marshall
Craig Hall, Hall Group
TV/Movies: I recently re-watched Robert Redford in The Natural at 2 a.m. It’s hard to sleep with so much going on.
Music: I loved listening to Andrea Bocelli on Easter. I can’t have enough of that.
Books: I’m actually reading less now than I normally do, as I am spending an enormous amount of time working.
Exercise: Using an elliptical machine during the day and taking afternoon walks near home.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I am spending a huge amount of time working on all of our different businesses and trying to figure out the impact of COVID-19 in the long run and short run. That said, this is different than anything I have seen in 51 years in business. It is worthy of a lot of time, thought, and attention.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Drinking HALL wines in the afternoon helps.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Any and all. It’s fun to know what people are doing.
Kit Sawers, Klyde Warren Park
TV/Movies: Our older daughter is home from college and has us watching all the Marvel movies in order. We just finished Iron Man 3.
Music: My kids tell me the songs I am listening to are TikTok songs. They seriously doubt it when I inform them some of this music was cool when I was young—and that I was also cool when I was young.
Books: I have walked down memory lane with the 29 (and counting) children’s books, read as part of Klyde Warren Park’s #StoryTimeChallenge partnership with Interabang Books.
Exercise: Walking our golden retriever Max, who thinks sheltering in place is the Best. Thing. Ever.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Snacking, and figuring out all the tops in my closet that go with sweatpants.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Support local restaurants, especially those with frozen margaritas to go!
Matt Alexander, Neighborhood Goods
TV/Moview: My wife and I have been making our way through a portion of our Netflix/Hulu/HBO backlog, but we have both been working a lot, so it’s not enormously different than our usual pace. At the moment, we’re making our way through Peaky Blinders. We’d never seen it but had it on the list for a while. Once we’re through with that, we’ll be starting Narcos. Maybe Better Call Saul, as well. But, honestly, we’ve not really had the time to really become Professional Content Consumers.
Podcasts: I’m catching up on Do Go On and Do By Friday, at the moment. Do Go On is a show featuring three Australian comedians. They take turns to report on a different historical event, person, or otherwise each week. Do By Friday, meanwhile, is a show with some fantastic personalities. They mostly chat about life and politics, but they also take turns to give the group a challenge to complete before the next Friday. As a bonus, one of the co-hosts of Do By Friday, Merlin Mann, has resurrected an all-time great podcast, You Look Nice Today. The new show is called California King. All are good fun.
Music: I haven’t been listening to much music. When I am, I’ve been shuffling through older songs in my Spotify library, for the most part.
Books: Generally, I don’t read business literature. Instead, I’ve just started Dune. There’s a (new) film adaptation out this year (maybe?) by a fantastic director, Dennis Villeneuve (The Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, etc.), so I felt I ought to try to read it before it comes out. But I’ve also been sleeping more heavily than usual. As a result, I’m only six pages in after about two weeks. So.
Exercise: I can’t decide if it should be classified as exercise or mania, but I’ve started going for 5- to 10-mile walks per day. I do calls throughout and, in between, check on friends and other founders out in the world. It’s a good cathartic thing, particularly before it gets too hot. Beyond that, I’ve been doing some Peloton and running. (“Some” being the keyword.)
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’ve been taking the opportunity to catch up on some things around the house. Again, it might be more mania than productivity, but I’ve rearranged my office, I’m installing a new kitchen faucet this weekend, I’ve been catching-up on organizing and fine-tuning my various devices, and so on. Otherwise, I very much miss football (soccer). I don’t play many video games at all, really, but I bought FIFA 20 and that’s been scratching that itch for the past month or so when I have a spare moment.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Routine is everything. I’ve got just as much work on my plate as would be typical—perhaps more. With the line between work and personal life being that much more blurred, it’s massively important to commit to small gestures to delineate between work and personal time. For me, I’ve got a lot of rules, regardless of social distancing, that remain intact (e.g., no email before breakfast, no email in bed at night, etc.). Those are now coupled with rules around getting a minimum of movement/exercise, in addition to ensuring I dress for work every day. For work, we do all calls as video calls. So, dressed for work and trying to stick to my usual routine, it feels fairly consistent with our normal universe, which is helpful.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jon Altschuler of Alt + Co., Nick Clark of Common Desk, Sheeba Philip of Akola, and Cassi Oesterling and Tiffany Zamora of Her HQ.
Jamie O’Banion, BeautyBio
TV/Movies: Almost finished watching The Crown on Netflix. I introduced my two little girls to Pride and Prejudice. They loved everything about Mrs. Darcy except the kiss at the end. 🤣
Podcasts: Glossy Podcast, Masters of Scale, How I Built This
Music: If I’m needing to crank out work late at night, I listen to Odesza playlist on Pandora. If I’m trying to relax, it’s their Calm station or a classic album like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue or Adele. With the kids, they’re into all of the trending Tik Tok songs, from Renegade to Beiber’s Intentions. So, naturally, I’ve got them all memorized, including T Swift’s last album.
Books: Pre-COVID when traveling I was reading Hyperfocus and That Will Never Work (by the founder of Netflix), but honestly I have not been able to carve out time right now juggling my roles as CEO, wife, mother, and homeschool teacher. I’m envying anyone who tells me they are bored right now because I imagine most working mothers are also feeling the very real struggle of back-to-back Zoom calls interspersed with managing their children’s classwork. I have massive respect for our teachers and all they do each day!
Exercise: Doing squats on conference calls and telling my kids we are doing gym class together for 10 minutes where we do a series of crunches, push-ups, and planks. My husband has set up a makeshift CrossFit gym in our garage, and I tried out the new rowing machine tonight. If I can’t move tomorrow, you’ll know why.
Other ways I’m passing the time: LOL. I can’t say that I have extra pockets of time but I am carving out time on the weekends and evenings to play board games with the kids, watch old family videos from vacations, have family dance parties, or pull out the crafting boxes to make pipe cleaner creatures. We’ve been doing a lot of baking on the weekend and recently whipped up my favorite family mac n’ cheese recipe which has been shared and reshared on social. It’s total comfort food and totally worth the calories.
My best shelter-in-place tip: First, create structure, with clear start and stop times. We have a 3-3:30 p.m. blackout period where no one can schedule a video call to take a screen time break. Second, stay connected. We have a mandatory video touch-base each department heads runs with his or her team every morning. It makes a big difference to visually connect with each other to avoid emotional distancing while we are social distancing. Third, keep perspective. It can be challenging to avoid feeling anxious when watching the news each day, but it’s critical to maintain perspective right now. We will get through this. This is a chapter—it’s not the novel. There will be a new normal for us all, but we must have confidence in the future. More here.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jennifer Sampson of United Way, Brittany Underwood of Akola, and my husband, Melbourne O’Banion, of Bestow. It would be hilarious to get his POV since we are both sheltering in place together yet both have to run our separate companies amidst the juggle. Whoever has the highest-priority external call (or if I’m broadcasting live for a QVC show) takes the backhouse. Otherwise, we swap taking calls inside with a merry go round of littles on our laps. It’s pretty comical right now!
Skip Howard, Spacee
TV/Movies: No time for binging, but we catch Westworld on Sunday nights and started Tales From the Loop.
Podcasts: Not much time for this, but I’m on an MIT track: Advanced AI in business.
Music: RED’s heavier stuff and some chill EDM.
Books: Remarkable Retail by Steve Dennis, a Dallas business sage.
Exercise: Long walks with the family and on the treadmill.
Other ways I’m passing the time: There is no extra time. We are so lucky to be in a position of strength. We do not have to do salary reduction and we are hiring engineers.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Force yourself to stop at 5 p.m. This is an opportunity to spend time with your family. It’s going to be over before you know it.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Ben Lamm of Hypergiant and Anurag Jain of Perot Jain
Debra von Storch, EY
TV/Movies: We actually pulled out old DVDs, plugged in the BlueRay, and watched A Few Good Men, Top Gun, Blind Side, Bucket List, Indiana Jones, and Molly’s Game. My husband recorded the 2018 A&M vs. LSU football game (that went into seven overtimes and lasted five hours). We’ve watched that game again, cheering for the Aggies. Our household is missing sports, tremendously.
Podcasts: I rarely listen to Podcasts—not my style of learning or relaxing. But, when I do, it’s generally a TEDx or TED Talk interview. Those done by Simon Sinek are motivating.
Music: The Highway on SiriusXM. I love this new country channel! It’s also what I listen to in my car (which I rarely drive anymore).
Books: Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker. I used to only sleep six hours a day; now I’m getting eight hours and feel much better. This book motivated me to lay my head down, turn off my brain, and truly sleep. Also reading The Motive by Patrick Lencioni. This was a gift from the Vari team and it’s a great leadership fable!
Exercise: I’m walking a lot—averaging 18,000 to 20,000 steps a day. Early in the morning as the sun rises, I walk to Starbucks (inside a grocery store) and get a latte. The round-trip walk is 5 miles and it gives me a chance to clear my brain and plan for the day ahead.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Getting organized. I set up my home office with new Varidesk products, cleaned out old files, and scanned stuff for retention. I’m also creating photo books (Picaboo and Shutterfly), and I’m writing. I’m looking in the rearview mirror and capturing memories in writing so I don’t forget. I’ve memorialized this pandemic, with snips of the news headlines, and with fun photos of Zoom meetings, and FB posts. I’ve also tried to capture a wide range of memories and stories of my 38-year career with EY, since my retirement (aka next chapter) is June 26, 2020.
My best shelter-in-place tips: Don’t listen to the news all day long. I glance at it in the morning, then again in the evening. Also, make phone calls. I had the joy of getting reconnected with an old friend yesterday and it was wonderful to have a real conversation, rather than a quick text or email.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jason McCann, Craig Storey or Dan Flaherty with Vari; Anurag Jain of Perot Jain, Ben Lamm of HyperGiant Industries), Beth Garvey of BG Staffing; Merrilee Kick of BuzzBallz, Teresa Mackintosh of Trintech, and Wendy Lopez of AECON.
Terrence Maiden, Russell Glen
TV/Movies: The Last Dance: Michael Jordan, old college football games on ESPN, and Tiger King
Podcasts: Raw Fitness Truth and History This Week
Music: Tasha Cobbs or Luther Vandross Station on Pandora
Books: Strong Towns by Charles L. Marohn Jr. and The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Exercise: Riding my Peloton, walking, and bike-riding in my neighborhood, and lifting weights
Other ways I’m passing the time: Quality family time with our newborn, now three months old. I couldn’t ask for a better gift than to cherish so many special moments with her and family. I have spent a considerable amount of time reorganizing my entire home and made several home improvements.
My best shelter-in-place tips: Spend time reflecting on personal mission and goals. This downtime has provided me with a well needed mental break from the clutter of life. For the first time probably since graduating from college, I have spent quality time evaluating and strategizing on which direction I want to go in both my career and life and better understanding my why.
Jennifer Sampson, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
TV/Movies: Little Fires Everywhere, Season three of Ozark, and a variety of cooking shows on The Food Network, as we now have the time to experiment in the kitchen.
Podcasts: I’ve enjoyed listening to Texas native Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, reflecting the universal experiences of being human, from the most brokenhearted moments to the bravest ones.
Music: Lucky for all of us, Treasured Dallas DJ Lucy Wrubel is publishing her playlists full of hopeful tunes on Spotify. My favorites are Pop’s Pandemic, Brunch After the Bunny, and Tax Day 2K. All are on constant rotation, and there is something for every mood!
Books: I’m loving books like Where the Crawdads Sing and Daisy Jones & The Six. Fiction is a welcomed respite right now.
Exercise: I’m taking long walks with our beloved black Labrador, Georgia.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m grateful to pass the time taking fun family bike rides and shooting baskets in the backyard with my son, Hilton.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Take time to reflect on the incredible generosity and resilience of our community. The spirit of unity in North Texas has never been more visible. It inspires and encourages me beyond measure each and every day.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Amber Venz-Box and Tish Cox. Both are good friends who are initiating incredibly innovative work to help our neighbors in need.
Jon Altschuler, ALT+CO
TV/Movies: The NFL All or Nothing series is outstanding. I also recommend both seasons of Succession and all of Billions. Can you imagine Logan Roy or Bobby Axelrod in quarantine?
Podcasts: Maybe I start those next week.
Music: Three songs on a continuous loop: Intentions, No Shame, and Blinding Lights. Man, what does that say about me?!
Books: The Glass Hotel and Becoming
Exercise: Riding my Peloton bike
Other ways I’m passing the time: Staying up late with my family
My best shelter-in-place tips: Schedule a regular call with small groups of people who can provide you with different looks into the world. On one call, I have two finance executives and a technology operator. On another, I get to hear how three hospitals are operating, how Topgolf is preparing for the end of the shelter order, and how the Charles restaurant is executing a fast-casual takeout menu. Hearing different perspectives will help generate ideas for your own business and life.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Craig Kessler of Topgolf, Matt Alexander of Neighborhood Goods, Katy Slade of Mintwood, and Trey Cox of Gibson Dunn
Charlene Lake, AT&T
TV/Movies: I’m watching The Wire.
Podcasts: Hidden Brain
Music: Shinyribs and Karen Souza
Books: I’m reading Everybody Lies.
Exercise: I take morning walks before sun-up.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I make meals for front-porch drop-offs.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Put a lock on the pantry door.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Anne Chow of AT&T
Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera
TV/Movies: A strange combination of learning (Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl), distraction (Tiger King), and laughter (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Music: With the recent Holy Week, it has been St. Matthew Passion, Parsifal, and Cavalleria Rusticana.
Books: I’m primarily reading The New York Times and the Dallas Morning News with every spare second, to stay current on the coronavirus pandemic.
Exercise: Taking walks.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m having no trouble passing the time; in fact, I’ve never been so busy! Cooking has always been a favorite hobby and still is.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Wear your mask around others, think twice before going any place where you might encounter others, and wash your hands!
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County Health and Human Services
Diane Butler, Butler Advisers
TV/Movies: Ozark, Schitt’s Creek (sad it’s over), and Ford vs. Ferrari
Podcasts: The Real Estate Council’s podcast and webinars about commercial real estate from numerous groups, including CREW Network, NMHC, Walker Dunlop
Music: Oldies, ’80s
Books: I’m currently reading Living Forward. I’m also reading research and real estate reports from numerous groups.
Exercise: Playing golf using an electric push-cart, and a lot of walking
Other ways I’m passing the time: Jigsaw puzzles
My best shelter-in-place tip: Use Zoom to stay connected to family, friends, and clients.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Rob Kaplan of the Dallas Fed
Brent Christopher, Children’s Medical Foundation
TV/Movies: The Crown. I’m a huge Anglophile, but somehow never watched any of the three seasons before now. They’ve completely lured me into the world of the modern British monarchy.
Music: Just before everything shut down in Dallas, I heard Harry Connick, Jr. and his band at the Winspear Opera House. So, now I’ve been enjoying a lot of his recordings, including the new one that celebrates the music of Cole Porter.
Books: Audible has won me over. I’m knee-deep into the third and final Hilary Mantel book about Thomas Cromwell and the craziness of the Tudor court under Henry VIII, The Mirror and the Light. It’s 38 hours long! They were dealing with the Plague and losing their heads, so it gives a little context to our current struggle.
Exercise: Cycling. I thought I loved the Peloton before. Now, it’s an absolute lifeline.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m exploring lots of new restaurants and old favorites through delivery apps to help keep them going; playing long-missed board game nights with my kids (ages 16 and 21); and still looking for great bow ties online to add to my collection, even if I’m not tying them much these days.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Create as much structure as possible. Routines are your friend. And, learn how to make your own nitro cold brew coffee—that has made all the difference.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Ken Hersh, George W. Bush Presidential Center
Linda McMahon, The Real Estate Council
TV/Movies: I’m watching a lot of movies.
Podcasts: TRECcast Podcasts, Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Conversations, and TED Talks
Music: I generally listen to a Spotify mix.
Books: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and cookbooks. I’m also re-reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.
Exercise: I’m doing more walking.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Cooking, puzzles, planning a landscape, and virtual happy hours with my family. I’m also trying to adopt a dog.
My best shelter-in-place tips: Keep in touch with your family and your team with virtual happy hours. Make time for your family. Be flexible with your team. Make sure to shut it off and enjoy the moment.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Bill Cawley, TREC’s chairman, and Mike Lafitte of CBRE
Jason Downing, Deloitte
TV/Movies: This is Us (with my wife), Westworld (with my oldest daughter), and The Morning Show (with the family).
Podcasts: Resilient (Deloitte), Business Wars (Wondery), and My Aryan Princess (DallasNews)
Music: Mostly ’80s country and ’70s rock
Books: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Exercise: Walking during endless conference calls.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Handling the many chores at our new lake house.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Set up an office outside to get fresh air and hopefully take in some great scenery.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Dan Berner of Deloitte, Jim Burke of Vistra, Brad Selner of JLL, Alex Holmes at MoneyGram, Fred Perpall at Beck, and Deb Gibbins of Mary Kay
Carol Roehrig, BKM Total Office of Texas
TV/Movies: No binge-watching for me. I am more of a reader.
Podcasts. Unlocking Us, Brene Brown. Lenten and Easter Podcasts from St. Michael and All Angels Dallas, and TED Talks.
Music: I listen to classical symphony music for a calm background while I am working.
Books. The Bible is a standard. During the shelter I am also going back to the classics; I’m now rereading The Brothers Karmakov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Exercise: I take a 90-minute to two-hour walk with my husband Fred around 6 a.m. It is a beautiful time of day to enjoy the birds and opening of the day.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Organizing things, journaling/writing, and knitting
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Retta Miller of Jackson Walker
Ran Holman, Cushman & Wakefield
TV/Movies: Ozark and Bosch. I also introduced Rambo to my teenagers.
Podcasts: Dennis Miller and Morgan Stanley’s Thoughts on the Market
Music: I’ve been hanging out on Yacht Rock lately. George Winston on Sunday mornings.
Books: Extreme Ownership
Exercise: Walking so much, my dog is hiding from me now.
Other ways I’m passing the time: watching sports reruns. Reading and writing.
My best shelter-in-place tips: Find contentment in the struggle. Have hope in the outcome, but don’t be too optimistic about what and how long it will be. You can’t change that; this has to play out. It’s important to stay focused on what you can control, which is your attitude and actions.
Kourtny Garrett, Downtown Dallas Inc.
TV/Movies: DDI is running many critical response and recovery programs, from the work of our Downtown Safety Patrol and Clean Team, to important business community collaborations and public policy work to support economic recovery with the City of Dallas. Between that and managing the home learning plans for my 8-year-old twins, there’s not much catching up on TV around the Garrett household!
Podcasts: Podcast time has turned into dedicated time for webinars to stay up-to-the-minute on crisis management strategies and recovery resources for our community, and creative thought for new DDI programs and recasting future priorities.
Music: My favorite upbeat, energy-infused running, and yoga playlists.
Books: Second-grade educational support materials!
Exercise: Running, keeping up with my at-home yoga practice, and family walks.
Other ways I’m passing the time: In this new-normal, the days pass quickly on their own.
My best shelter-in-place tips: Keeping a regular schedule has been a saving grace for me, as well as getting out for a run, family walk or bike ride at least a couple of times a day.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Our DDI board chair, Mattia Flabiano with Page.
Zenetta S. Drew, Dallas Black Dance Theatre
TV/Movies: I am binge-watching every news channel to get the latest information on COVID-19 regarding health and community gathering dictates, the safety of the public, potential reopening dates for the economy, daily stock market and business trends, and economic stimulus opportunities.
Music: I get up with Gospel, go to bed with Blues, and listen to Classical and Jazz in between.
Books: Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, and Giving It All Away—and Getting It All Back Again by David Green
Exercise: I have a walking app so I can walk a mile in my house using the Walk at Home 1 Mile video on YouTube.
Other ways I’m passing the time: When I get a free moment, I work on developing weekly lessons for my Sunday young women’s Bible school class. I am also an adjunct professor for MA/MBA students at SMU, and I must develop lessons for my weekly class on Strategic Planning in the Arts. Right now my hobby is spending every waking moment exploring infinite possible ideas of what might be next, because the entire arts industry is having to reinvent all aspects of live programming, online and digital programming, artist management, touring, outreach, educational services, audience development, and most certainly, fundraising.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Kim Noltemy, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Hinkley Kennington, Thirty-Four Commercial
TV/Movies: Ozark, Little Fires Everywhere, Tiger King, and the final season of Homeland
Podcasts: NPR’s How I Built This and Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
Music: I’m still 18 at heart! I listen to EDM, rap, hip hop, and pop. I love The Weekend’s Blinding Lights; it takes me back to the ’80s! It’s all about upbeat music right now—well, always.
Books: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, and I just finished Jessica Simpson’s Open Book for fun!
Exercise: We ordered a Peloton when the gyms closed. I spin a few days week, take WeYogis classes online, and meet my trainer for a touch-free, six-feet-away session at Kylde Warren Park. I’m also walking a lot; my goal is 12,000+ steps a day. My poor puppy is constantly tired now.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Homeschooling the kids, organizing the house, calls with friends, taking advantage of online sales, discovering new trails in DFW, and heading to the office daily. Luckily, I can still go in, but I’m all alone!
My best shelter-in-place tip: Enjoy it and stay positive! Take things day by day and know that this is temporary. You may miss the peace when this is all over.
Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Bill Cawley of Cawley Partners and Brooke Armstrong of JLL