Over the past couple of months, we’ve talked with more than 80 local CEOs and other top execs to find out how they’ve made working from home … work. Along with sharing some great strategy ideas and binge-watching tips, they’ve taken us all into their home offices.
The series ends with this fourth installment. If you missed the first three posts, you can read them by clicking here, here, and here. And if you want to see how D CEO editors are making magazines from home, click here.
CHERYL CAMIN MURRAY, Katten
TV/Movies: Super Why!, Wild Kratts, and Paw Patrol—I’m outvoted by the 4-year-old triplets. However, my husband and I have been able to get through two seasons of Jack Ryan and are starting The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, which is a lovely break from our house that has a broken dishwasher door kept closed with a hockey stick.
Music: A playlist of classical music while working and a variety of current pop and rock songs during free time. In addition, the kids’ Wheels on the Bus and Baby Shark are sprinkled into the mix.
Books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Pajama Time, and a nice variety of Dr. Seuss literature—again, the triplets rule the roost.
Exercise: Riding the Peloton.
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m trying to redecorate the house, clean out old items, and update my display of family pictures.
My best remote-working tips: In addition to scheduling work calls and Zoom or WebEx meetings, schedule date nights, calls with family members, relaxation time, and workouts. Also, get a really big computer monitor—it’s amazing!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned: Quality time with your family is precious unless you are presenting on a live webinar.
CASEY ROBERTSON, Sadiant Health
TV/Movies: Without sports, I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV. We recently watched all of the Star Wars movies chronologically as a family. My daughters, ages 11 and 9, had never seen any of them.
Podcasts: Against the Rules by Michael Lewis about the roles of coaches in our lives; Winds of Change about how the CIA may have actually written this song during the Cold War; Infamous America about the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth; The Outside Podcast.
Music: Kanye’s older music on Pandora
Books: Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose about Lewis and Clark expedition (fun); Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson (work)
Exercise: Running and cycling outside
Other ways I’m passing the time: I began my own sourdough starter and have been baking bread. I’ve been able to spend more time working on my vegetable garden and flower beds, both of which look better than they ever have.
My best remote-working tips: Enjoy the time with your kids. My wife and I are doing a study on Genesis with our daughters, and we’ve had some great discussions as a family.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: I spent the majority of my career in a hospital, so working from home was a huge change for me. I’ve found that I get substantially more work done without distractions, but I do miss being around people. After leaving my hospital role, my first day with Sadiant Health also coincided with the first day of homeschooling. In the beginning, we had pretty strict rules about “dad’s office” but as the weeks have passed, the rules have gotten laxer, and that has led to some interesting moments. I’ve learned that everyone’s kids are sometimes too loud, and we are all in the same boat, so it’s better to embrace having them as part of the workday and not sweat it.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD, Akola
TV/Movies: I have three children under 5-years-old in lockdown… I have not watched a movie that is not a kid flick in months.
Podcasts: How I Built This
Music: Music for the heart: Young Oceans.
Books: For work, Remarkable Retail by Steve Dennis. For the soul, Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
Exercise: long walks with my husband and kids
Other ways I’m passing the time: I started a concept called Her Story: The Small Bizz Box to support women-founded small businesses during the time of Covid-19: supportherstory.com
My best remote-working tips: Taking calls while on a walk helps you stay healthy and is a great way to get away from kids screaming in the background.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: Don’t give up—on your family or your business.
THOMAS LAUGHLIN, Kirkland and Ellis
TV/Movies: I’ve been re-watching West Wing (in connection with listening to the West Wing Weekly Podcast. I also enjoyed ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, and, like seemingly most everyone I know, made it through Tiger King very quickly.
Podcasts: I’m not usually a big podcast listener, but I did pick up the West Wing Weekly based on strong reviews.
Music: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s new album Reunions.
Books: The Only Rule is it Has to Work (Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller) and When the Wolves Bite (Scott Wapner)
Exercise: I am enjoying riding the Peloton, but even more fun has been the bike trailer I got for my birthday. My kids have loved riding to Curtis Park to feed the ducks.
Other ways I’m passing the time: The biggest bright spot to being away from the office has been all of the extra time I have gotten to spend with my wife and children that normally gets soaked up by driving to and from the office and to meetings with clients and prospective clients.
My best remote-working tips: Find the best place to get things done. Before quarantining, my home office was in a space downstairs shared by both the garage entry and door to the yard, which was great when most of my working from home was at nights when my family was sleeping or on weekends when they were occupied. It didn’t work so great once I started working from home on weekdays, particularly with the kids trying to do schoolwork and/or running in and out of the house playing. So, I went to Ikea and picked up a desk and stool curbside and turned the guest room into a makeshift home office, which has been great!
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: People are remarkable at adjusting to their surroundings. I think it’s premature to feel confident about how this experience will change the workplace going forward, but it’s clearer than ever that dedicated and talented people like we have at Kirkland can do most parts of their job from basically anywhere. It’s been truly amazing to see how quickly my colleagues at Kirkland adapted to working from home and delivering excellent client service seamlessly. While there are plenty of things we are missing by not being in the office, another benefit of being forced to adapt is that physical distance has required senior lawyers to be very intentional about creating training and mentoring opportunities for our colleagues.
JULIA HARMAN, Truist
TV/Movies: I just finished Schitt’s Creek and am sad it’s over! About to start the next season of Billions.
Podcasts: When I can’t sleep at night, I often turn to The Happiness Lab, about the science of well-being from Yale professor Laurie Santos. I’d highly recommend it. I’m also fully caught up through Season 5 of Ear Hustle, a really fascinating and eye-opening podcast from inside the walls of the criminal justice system.
Music: I’ve been on a constant stream of some good steady standbys…a lot of Dave Matthews Band, The Lumineers, Kings of Leon, Chris Stapleton, and OAR Today I listened to the newly released Jimmy Buffett album because I was always a huge Parrothead growing up, but I think he is running out of lyrics.
Books: I’m currently reading The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, as a follow up to one of my recent favorite reads by the same author called The Culture Code. The Culture Code is a must-read business book that studies what makes successful groups successful…from Navy Seals to improv comedy troupes.
Exercise: A lot of walking! I spend so much of my day on the phone, so I’ve taken to walking the streets of my neighborhood for hours at a time, just walking and talking. You run into a surprising amount of people you know in your neighborhood, and those small social interactions throughout the day have continued to energize me throughout the past few months.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Well, I’ve never met a 1,000-piece puzzle I didn’t love. It totally brings me down to a quiet mental focus and causes me to sit in the moment. There have been plenty of them sprawled across my dining room table during COVID-19. I also do a lot of patio sitting with my family, and tennis ball throwing with my Goldendoodle, Bear. Being able to work from home has created less rush in my morning, and sitting for a cup of coffee on my patio every morning with my family is a great way to start my day. I’ve loved spending more time with them. And Bear is pretty happy with the new family-at-home arrangement.
My best remote-working tips: I move around to different rooms to work every couple of days. It keeps it interesting! This includes getting outside. Also, have a secret hand signal that you can give off during a video that tells your kids not to interrupt you under any circumstances! If I had a dollar for every time, I was on the phone while sending a stern do-not-interrupt-me-in-this-moment look.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: Communication is key, and as leaders, we have to go out of our way in the current environment to ensure our teammates and our clients stay engaged with us. And to never underestimate our flexibility and adaptability. I was so incredibly proud of our teams in April and May as they worked around the clock and through weekends to facilitate the Paycheck Protection Program for our clients. All while separated from each other, dealing with other demands from home, and with the added complexity of being in the midst of a merger and not all on the same technology platforms. It was the most unbelievable thing to witness to see the teams come together and get it done!
Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
TV/Movies: My wife and I just finished Outer Banks. It’s kind of an East Coast version of The O.C., and it made me nostalgic for the region where I grew up. The barrier islands off of Virginia and North Carolina are a special space, and the series captured the look and feel well. The movie I keep re-watching is Magnolia by P.T. Anderson. It’s just a tour de force of powerful emotions; I’ve never seen a film that has moved me quite the same way. And the soundtrack by Amy Mann is brilliant. I try to see her whenever she performs in Dallas.
Podcasts: I’m listening to fewer podcasts now because my routine has been to play them on my commute to work. Since the pandemic started, I’ve been listening to podcasts by the author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), who I learned about from homeschooling my kids with his Crash Course educational series on YouTube.
Music: My wife and I had a baby girl on May 8, so there have been a lot of lullabies. Her name is Maggie so I’ve also been putting together iTunes playlists for her: Maggie May, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and other classics. We have eight in our household now, which makes sheltering-in-place more than a little crazy, but we have fun.
Books: With five kids and a business to run, I’ve become an audiobook guy. My colleague, John Lacy, has turned me on to some great leadership books, like Crucial Conversations and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I’m also a fan of the app Blinkist, where you can get 15-minute summaries of the latest nonfiction bestsellers. Then I can listen to the full audiobook of the ones that are most interesting to me.
Exercise: We are fortunate to live next to a lake, so I like to walk and run there as well as on some of the walking paths in the neighborhood. I’ve actually had to step it up lately because I enjoy cooking for the family and have put on a few pounds as a result.
Other ways I’m passing the time: My 11-year-old son Benjamin loves basketball, so I let him beat me at HORSE sometimes. And I enjoy cooking with my 12-year-old daughter, Juliet.
My best shelter-in-place tip: Embrace shelter-in-place and all the other changes we are going through right now. Be willing to change yourself. This is an opportunity to rethink so many of our assumptions—which is where creativity in business and in life comes from. It’s going to be, change or die for a lot of companies. Treat this time as a blessing in disguise and it can be that for you.
ERIC POINTER, Credit Union of Texas
TV/Movies: I just finished The Last Dance. I loved the ongoing message that even Michael Jordan couldn’t win championships alone. He was part of a cohesive team that worked hard for each other to make sure they got the job done as one. I’ve also recently binged Selling Sunset on Netflix. Nothing makes me appreciate Dallas more than watching real estate agents in LA.
Podcasts: How I Built This. Learning how well-known CEOs used unconventional methods of entrepreneurship and leadership to grow companies from startups into global brands inspires me to continue to promote innovation within my own company.
Music: Classic country, classic rock, and of course, the Alexander Hamilton soundtrack.
Books: Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World. This book offers a unique approach to management by encouraging an organizational structure which eliminates titles and encourages all employees to become leaders.
Exercise: Riding on my Peloton and taking daily walks with my beautiful wife.
Other ways I’m passing the time: The quarantine has allowed me to spend more quality time with my three boys, learn how to play the guitar, and practice my grilling skills.
My best remote-working tips: Adhere to a daily routine. On days I do not go into the office, I still wake up at the same time, exercise, meditate at least 45 minutes, and follow a schedule. Keeping a healthy mind, body, and spirit are important now more than ever to maintain a positive outlook during these challenging times.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: I have learned that CUTX is more resilient than I could have imagined. Despite our physical distance, I have never felt more connected to my CUTX family.
WENDY LOPEZ, AECOM
TV/Movies: Blacklist. I love this show! I try to watch at least one episode per day, more on the weekends, especially when it rains.
Music: Smooth Jazz, Watercolors and R&B, The Groove
Books: The Confederacy of Dunces makes me laugh out loud, which I need for my soul!
Exercise: Riding my bicycle, both on the road and on the trainer.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Working a lot but trying to find time to get some outside sunshine and social gathering safely. I have a group text running with a couple of my friends, and we keep close tabs on each other and, if nothing else, entertain each other!
My best remote-working tips: Make wise use of the severely reduced commute time by taking breaks to exercise and clear the mind. Set your computer at the right level for video meetings. I had never considered the importance of the laptop camera before.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: I learned that I really enjoy being with people. I miss my peeps.
MALCOLM HOLLAND, Veritex
Music: Zach Williams
Exercise: Daily workouts and walks
Other ways I’m passing the time: Golf
My best remote-working tips: Keep your electronics charged
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: This is not about me, serving others should be my first priority.
SHEEBA PHILIP, Akola
TV/Movies: Dark Waters. I found it to be very thought-provoking. I grew up in Delaware, and DuPont was such a big influence in the state. So, I had to see it. Let’s just say I will never use Teflon-coated frying pans ever again. If you don’t know what I mean, watch the movie! I’ve also just started watching Blacklist on Netflix. An older show, but a good one.
Podcasts: TD Jakes- Potter’s Touch. We all need to be encouraged during this time. My faith in God fuels everything I do and is what is getting me through this season. I find Pastor TD Jake’s teaching to be convicting, inspiring, and just what I need to give me a new perspective on the circumstances and challenges that I face. His live stream Sunday service is fantastic and speaks to exactly what we are all going through right now.
Music: Hillsong music is my go-to each morning. I love starting the day with a cup of coffee and listening to uplifting music. Also, I admit, Justin Bieber’s Changes was on repeat for a while.
Books: There are six books on my nightstand that are waiting to be read. Now, I just need to read them. One that’s on the top of the list is Educated by Tara Westover. I love the premise and story centered around a woman who beat tremendous odds to gain an education and pursue her dreams. This is why I believe in the work and mission of Akola. Akola is not just a jewelry brand, but a brand on a mission to empower women who lack a voice.
Exercise: Running marathons; just kidding. I wish. I’m doing my own HIT and strength workouts in my backyard using a site called DailyBurn. The site and app curate a range of instructor-led workouts across different genres (Barre, HIT, Tabata, etc.).
Other ways I’m passing the time: Having a House Party with my nieces, Ella, 9, and Grace, 6. I talk to them almost every day after work—they crack me up! We get on the House Party app and share about our days, and I try to beat them at Quick Draw!
My best remote-working tips: Have a routine! I can’t emphasize this enough. Go to bed on the early side and try to wake up around the same time each morning. Make your bed, prepare for the day by actually wearing normal clothes. Clothes that you would wear outside and would pass the “I would wear this in front of others” test. Make sure there are boundaries, and that work doesn’t bleed into personal time and end up consuming your day and evening. Create boundaries; make evening plans to FaceTime someone or get in a workout.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: I’m not perfect, so failure is to be expected. I don’t have it all together. I don’t know all the answers. Everything I touch does not turn to gold. When you understand the frailty of your humanity, you can give yourself grace when you fail or make mistakes. You have the guts to take bigger risks in your career and life because failure is not scary and doesn’t define you. Embracing how imperfect I am is teaching me how to extend grace to others. I wish it was easy, but it isn’t. I’m trying to do it a little bit better each day.
JEREMY BIGHAM, 3MA Extraction Co.
TV/Movies: Hannibal (yes all three seasons on Amazon, guilty pleasure). I never believed anyone could out-Hannibal Lecter Anthony Hopkins, however, Mads Mikkelsen crafts his performance masterfully.
Music: I’ve enjoyed some new artists, and some old, Paolo Nutini and Led Zeppelin have been the right combination of the two
Books: I just finished Start with Why, what an amazing book, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Exercise: I purchased a Peloton and have enjoyed it, but I’m also riding and hiking a lot outdoors on local trails around North Texas.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Surprisingly enough, I’ve been cooking more. It’s been a joy and not something I would regularly find fun, but it has been a fun journey, or maybe the wine I drink while cooking is helping.
My best remote-working tips: Use technology to your advantage, push your teams to collaborate and communicate often, understand the vision, execute the mission, and measure the progress. Course correct as needed!
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: The “why” in everything we do must be understood and well defined… You must discover your purpose to maximize your potential, and there have been many minutes, hours, and days to focus on this alone as of late.
CASSI OESTERLING, Her HQ
TV/Movies: Hulu’s Normal People and Explained on Netflix
Podcasts: The goop
Music: Kacey Musgraves. Spotify knows me well, so I rely on their personalized Discover Weekly mixes. I also enjoy instrumental jazz and bossa nova by artists like Dorothy Ashby, Astrud Gilberto, and Stan Getz to unwind at the end of the day.
Books: I just finished The Glittering Hour for our Her. HQ Book Club and we had a fascinating chat with the author last week! Now, I’m on to Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I like to have a few books in rotation, which helps me move through my reading list quicker.
Exercise: My digital membership to Melissa Wood Health Method. I love all her workouts but currently working through her prenatal series. I’m also taking long weekend walks with my husband and two mini Aussies.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Our Her. HQ digital workshops/Instagram Lives have kept me engaged and connected. I cook a lot, and guilty of baking every type of bread over the past two months (my husband blames me for his quarantine 15). We’ve also been renovating a townhome, which has taken most of my free time.
My best remote-working tips: I force myself to step outside a few times throughout the day – 5 mins of fresh air and sunshine is the best pick-me-up. Also, hydrate!
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: It’s easy to get down and distracted with current events – stay focused on your long-term goals. Each season brings its own set of challenges for a reason.
DAVE BROWN, American Airlines Center
TV/Movies: Any live sports I can find. I was so excited to watch The Match with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and now watching Bundesliga soccer matches. NBA and NHL play can’t start up again soon enough.
Podcasts: Jalen and Jacoby, especially their 30 for 30 after shows.
Music: Many genres. Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz, but classic rock is my go-to – Eagles, U2, Pearl Jam.
Books: Just finished Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, starting Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Exercise: I’m an avid cyclist and now spending a lot of time in the saddle riding the loop at White Rock Lake. It’s my urban escape. My wife Tamara and I started Zoom based yoga lessons.
Other ways I’m passing the time: Honing my culinary skills. I’ve always wanted to become a better cook and have taken many classes, but this has been my chance for lots of reps, which has really helped.
My best remote-working tip: Have great IT support. Our AAC IT team has been terrific to keep us connected with the latest remote technologies and meeting apps.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: Just when you think you’ve seen it all in life and business, there’s something you haven’t that can be life-changing.
Margarita Acosta, Stone Boutique
TV/Movies: I absolutely loved the series Versailles! Some other favorites are The Spy and Succession the series.
Podcasts: Unlocking Us by Brene Brown
Music: Listening to Luis Miguel to start my day makes me so happy! Once I start working it’s classical piano.
Books: Revisiting classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Alchemist. I’m also reading Golf Flow and tons of articles featuring our local and national business leaders who are sharing their insights on today’s new work environment.
Exercise: Taking early morning walks, at-home yoga and practicing the Wim Hof Method via his app! A little bit of golf too although I am having withdrawals!
Other ways I’m passing the time: Learning to cook! Mastering my Banana Bread recipe (my husband’s favorite) and connecting with family and friends via phone and video calls!
My best remote-working tip: Find and cultivate gratitude, like noticing the beauty in the small things. We have to take it one day at a time, this is new for everyone!
Tools I can’t live without: Our online inventory system and one-of-a-kind rendering technology has been vital in keeping projects moving along and deadlines met. Of course, I also can’t live without my other essentials like my laptop, video calls and my Nespresso machine!
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: This time has reminded me how important it is to be flexible and adaptable and be unafraid to reinvent things. I have also learned to not take things for granted like time with family or important relationships.
BOB BEAUDINE, Eastman & Beaudine
TV/Movies: The Chosen; it’s a crowdfunded, streaming series about the life of Jesus.
Podcasts: The EntreLeadership Podcast that Dave Ramsey’s network puts out. I’ve gotten to know Dave, Ken Coleman, and others there over the years and enjoy what this podcast geared towards small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Music: A lot of Lauren Daigle, we had just gone to her concert before the pandemic.
Books: Two great friends of mine just released books. Tom Ziglar (son of Zig Ziglar) wrote Choose to Win, which is terrific, and Jay Young wrote The Upside of Oil and Gas Investing, which I’m just getting into and is great so far.
Exercise: Peloton—glad I bought one!
Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m in the midst of writing a third book, which will be a sequel to my book, The Power of WHO! Tentatively it is called WHO-Dimensional.
My best remote-working tips: People are time-multipliers! Focus on empowering people, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly important things can get done.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: I can control more of what I can’t see than what I can. I can’t control shutdowns, not going to the office, people getting sick, or the many ways we saw life change. But I can control my outlook, my energy, my attitude, my patience, my kindness, my love, and my ability to focus on people.
BRAD CHEVES, Southern Methodist University
TV/Movies: Ozark and Homeland
Podcasts: American Elections: Wicked Game
Music: my Spotify playlist is jazz classics and country music classics from 1949-1979.
Books: One Hundred Years on the Hilltop by Darwin Payne
Exercise: Running in the neighborhood and on trails and cycling around White Rock Lake and Dallas parks trail system
Other ways I’m passing the time: Going on walks through the neighborhood with my wife; also, more quiet time and prayer.
My best remote-working tips: Remember, it is temporary.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned: Being in the physical presence of colleagues is essential and inspiring.