Friday, April 19, 2024 Apr 19, 2024
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How Cynt Marshall, Carter Tolleson, Suzy Batiz, Anne Chow, and Other Execs Are Working From Home

In part two of our CEOs At Home series, area execs share what they’re watching and listening to—and how they’re juggling family responsibilities.

As most continue to work from home, the editors of D CEO are talking with business and nonprofit leaders to find out how they’re getting along. In addition to their binge-watching and podcast tips, they’re sharing the most significant lessons they’ve learned in the past two months—including perspectives from one exec who battled COVID-19.

We’ll continue to share insights from additional leaders in the coming weeks. If you missed the first post in our series, featuring Amber Venz Box, Craig Hall, Matt Alexander, and about 20 other execs, click here.

Cynt Marshall, on-brand at home
Cynt Marshall, Dallas Mavericks

TV/Movies: I haven’t had much time to binge watch tv shows, but I am catching up on the 2011 Championship Rewind on FOX Sports Southwest. I was living in North Carolina in 2011, going through cancer treatment, and had no clue who was in the playoffs at the time. So, it has been an absolute blast watching Dirk, Jason, Shawn, JET, and the rest of the crew during the best season in Mavs history.

Podcasts: Boss Files with Poppy Harlow

Music: I’m still listening to the same playlist I’d listen to at work. My all-time favorites were featured on Jody Dean’s Dusty Attics program. (Check it out here.) I’ve added two more favorites to my morning routine to start my day in the right state of mind: Before the Day by NewSong and Above All by Lenny LeBlanc. Also, my husband and I just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary, so I had to break out some Luther Vandross and Jeff Osborne.

Books: I read a lot. Lately, I’ve been keeping up with the news and reading You Can’t Go Wrong Doing Right by Bob Brown, Don’t Miss the Moment by Sheryl Brady, and Unscripted by Ernie Johnson Jr. I hope to soon start Evicted by Matthew Desmond.

Marshall has been known to leave signs in her neighbors’ yards.

Exercise: Working out every day on my treadmill and elliptical. I’m still trying to come up with names for them. I’m also walking around the neighborhood with my husband Kenny, and waving to my sweet neighbors while leaving behind a few Mavs yard signs that thank our healthcare workers and first responders.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Restoring the beauty of my backyard now that King Louie (daughter’s dog) is no longer using it as his kingdom. Helping out with virtual commencements and supporting and encouraging high school and college seniors.

My best shelter-in-place tip: It is important to keep up with your physical, mental, and spiritual health. All three are equally important. Take time out of each day to check in on each one.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Coach Jenny Boucek, Anne Chow, Dale Petroskey, and Dave Brown.

Patrick Brandt has mastered the art of juggling.
Patrick Brandt, Shiftsmart and Get Shift Done

TV/Movies: I’ve been watching the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, in an attempt to educate my 13-year-old son on the greatest basket player of all time.

Podcasts: I was just on my first podcast, and I’m thrilled about that. It was for the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s series, The Strategerist.

Music: I’m toggling between ’80s hair bands, Chris Stapleton, and Eminem.

Exercise: I’m getting exercise, by mandate from my son, who makes me do 30 minutes on the Peloton and push-ups every day. I’ve also enjoyed biking with my son and my 11-year-old daughter.

Other ways I’m passing the time: My time has been quickly passing going from one Zoom meeting to Webex, back to Zoom, then to Teams, Hangout meetings, GoToMeeting, and, of course, back to Zoom. Virtual meeting after virtual meeting.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Don’t take granted the opportunity to enjoy the quiet time with your kids. My 11-year-old daughter keeps a smile on my face, no matter what.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: I would rather like to ask others how we can provide more hunger relief and how can we get more people working.

Heather Capps with her off-roading global expedition vehicle, Liberty Blue.
Heather Capps, HCK2 Partners

TV/Movies: I’m watching Ozark on Netflix—love it!

Podcasts: Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill, incredible investigative reporting.

Music: Been on the road traveling around the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico, so you’d think my country playlists would be in circulation, but for some reason, Def Leppard and all my ’80s hairband favorites seem to be jamming in the RV.

Books: Circe by Madeline Miller.

Exercise: Hiking around national forests and national grasslands (where you can still disperse camp) and taking my pups on two-a-day walks.


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Enjoying time at Cedar Hill State Park while we still can!Freedom should never be taken for granted! #globalexpeditionvehicles

A post shared by Liberty Blue GXV (@livingfreeoverland) on

Other ways I’m passing the time: I built an off-roading global expedition vehicle last year that we named Liberty Blue. My husband and I and our two dogs, Angus and Elsa, are working from the road and taking a little time off while we wait for the world to get back to business. Check out our beautiful views on the Instagram account we created to document our journey: @livingfreeoverland

My best shelter-in-place tip: Find time to meditate every day and remind yourself to be grateful for what you have, especially during uncertain times.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jeremy Bigham of 3MA Extraction Co.

John Carlo has mastered the art of video calls.
Dr. John Carlo, Prism Health North Texas

TV/Movies: We’ve been watching a mix of favorite sci-fi, action, and comedies. Star Wars (Mandalorian), old and new Bond films, and Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman. We are not big binge-watchers, so we are way behind with every HBO, Netflix, and Amazon show that everyone else tends to talk about. We make boring dinner guests for that reason.

Music: Just about everything, but I’ve been putting on during the day a lot more old-time Jazz like Sidney Bechet, later stuff like Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson, and more modern specialists like Roy Hargrove and Nicolas Payton.

Podcasts: I’m not a podcast person.

Books: I just finished The Pioneers by David McCullough and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Both have interesting connections to pandemics and personal hardships.

Exercise: In probably what was our best decision ever, we gave up our gym memberships three years ago and converted an unused sunroom into a home gym. Boy, that has been handy, and it paid for itself. Not traveling also makes it easier to keep a constant running schedule, and I try to do White Rock Lake early before the rest of Dallas gets there.

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m working more than normal right now keeping up issues we at Prism Health North Texas are facing caring for patients, as well as constant connections with physicians from the Dallas County Medical Society, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. The great part about working from home is how quickly and easily you can connect with people. No one is out of town, and everyone is reachable!

My best shelter-in-place tip: Be nice to your husband! Learning to cook (and enjoying it) has helped immensely. Also, take the time to set up your “mission control” center for video calls. It took me a few weeks to get the lighting and background right, and I still have to reset my modem weekly right now for some reason.

Brooke Armstrong appreciates the simplicity of the moment.
Brooke Armstrong, JLL

TV/Movies: I’m definitely enjoying every minute of the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. I love his competitive spirit, and in this sports drought, it’s a lot of fun to watch Jordan flying through the air.

Music: Classic country and ’70s rock. It’s meshing well with the amazing weather and a lot of time on our front patio watching walkers and joggers go by.

Books: I can’t say there is much time for that, between working full time and home-schooling two small kids.

Exercise: Thank goodness for Peloton. We’ve started a weekly national JLL ride, which is a ton of fun to still feel connected to our team. We had riders from San Francisco to New Jersey riding together. The outdoor classes are really fun, too.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Puzzles, Heads Up, board games with the kids, home projects, and enjoying the time with the family, away from our usual over-scheduled lives.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Write a letter to yourself or make a mental list of all the things you are going to miss about this time when things are back to normal. I feel the stress of being a teacher, housekeeper, cook, full-time real estate professional, etc., but I do think I’ll miss the simplicity of this time. Cooking a meal together rather than hurried take out on the way to a kids sporting event—there are peace and gratitude in these moments.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Julia Harman of Truist and Thomas Laughlin at Kirkland and Ellis.

Carter Tolleson makes it a point to stay current on the news.
Carter Tolleson, Tolleson Wealth Management

TV/Movies: Sadly, I binged the Tiger King. I’m not proud.

Podcasts: I like TED Radio Hour and just started Work Life with Adam Grant, who I like.

Music: I’m staying pretty current with just about everything new that comes out.

Books: Sadly, the coronavirus killed this habit for now.

Exercise: I’m taking a lot of walks and doing push-ups. My son and I have a daily push-up challenge.

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m working a lot, but also making sure to take some quality family time.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Pick one new thing you want to learn and practice a little every day.

What Anne Chow misses most: going to the boxing gym
Anne Chow, AT&T

TV/Movies: With two daughters, a third-year college student, and a high school senior, the silver lining of this pandemic is the unexpected gift of time with them. We’re currently watching the Marvel movies in chronological order.

Music: My taste in music is pretty broad. As a former classical musician, if I’m writing something which requires intense focus, I prefer classical piano. As a Gen Xer, I skew to 80s, 90s, 00s compilations ranging from acoustic songs by the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette to classics from Queen, Bon Jovi, Journey, Boston, and The Cure. If you haven’t seen it yet, the Times Like These (by the Foo Fighters) video collaboration presented by BBC Radio’s Stay Home Live Lounge is fantastic—and is the best musical collaboration piece I’ve seen since the pandemic began.

Podcasts: This American Life is a current favorite; Ira Glass does an amazing job with storytelling and thoughtful perspectives on an endlessly diverse range of compelling topics. Also, FranklinCovey On Leadership with Scott Miller. Scott hosts a broad range of leaders from Elizabeth Smart and General Stanley McChrystal and Nick Vujicic. I had the opportunity to contribute to two episodes (No. 30 and No. 86) of this podcast.

Books: The 10 Laws of Trust by Joel Peterson.

Exercise: One of the things I miss most as we shelter in place are my boxing gyms. I’m making do by taking boxing classes through my TITLE Boxing Club on-demand app. There’s nothing like hitting the heavy bag for eight rounds! (And yes, I have my own bag.)

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m spending time with my family as much as possible (and cleaning up and getting organized in spurts). Having spent the past several decades as a road warrior, I’m doing my best to utilize my time at home in ways that I couldn’t before.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Reach out and connect with someone. Since we can’t do that physically, use technology to stay connected. Mix it up—video, texts, emails, and good ol’ live voice conversations. If you’re thinking about someone, tell them. If you see something funny and you’re wondering if you should share it—do it.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: This global crisis has shone a light on the power of our humanity, especially when we act as one—whether it’s as a family, local community, team, organization, company, and more. Our world has been affected by this pandemic, and as a result, we have been anchored on our common denominator—that we are all part of the human race—embracing our flaws, our strengths, our skills, our experiences, and learnings. Importantly, we’re aligned in our mission to move through crisis into recovery, return, and ultimately, renewal.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Mandy Ginsberg and Jennifer Sampson.

Use the same tools at home as you do at work, advises Jason McCann.
Jason McCann, Vari

TV/Movies: I’ve been watching Ozark and Better Call Saul, and I’m about to start Inside Bill’s Brain—Decoding Bill Gates on Netflix.

Podcasts: I’m not a big podcast listener, but I make time every day to stay on top of the news. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are my must-reads.

Music: I love my Spotify playlist, with all the great hits from the’ 70s—James Taylor, The Eagles, plus a little Bob Marley sprinkled in. My kids call it the Chillin’ with Dad playlist.

Books: Audible walks are a great way for me to get into a good book and get some exercise at the same time. I’m a big fan of business books, and other books that help me grow, but rarely have the time to sit down with a physical book. I’ve recently listened to a few: Disney CEO BobIger’s The Ride of a Lifetime, The Five Love Languages, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by General Jim Mattis and Bing West, and Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.

Exercise: My favorite is doing Zoom Yoga twice a week with my team at Vari. I’m also staying active at home with kettlebell workouts and long walks (or short runs!).

Other ways I’m passing the time: Painting has a been a fun way for me to relax and exercise my creative side, I’m also doing more cooking. Last weekend, I attempted Chicken Tikka Masala with a recipe sent to me by someone from on my team; it was worth taking the time to do right.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Enjoy the moment. For me, that’s playing basketball with my two boys, dancing with daughter Kennedy, taking walks with my wife, and family ping-pong tournaments.

Best work-from-home tool: Use the same tools you have at the office; be seamless.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: Some principles seem simple but make a huge difference when you live them.  The first is to remain grateful. The second is to persevere.  This too shall pass; you are stronger than you think you are. And the third is to truly lead by example.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Craig Hall of HALL Group, Teresa Mackintosh of Trintech, Rogers Healy, and Jeff Lamb, COO at Vari.

Jeff Fehlis takes a break from a Zoom call to take a quick pic.
Jeff Fehlis, American Cancer Society

TV/Movies: Just finished The Crown and All-American; started season three of Ozark; and, yes, peeked in on Tiger King. I wish I could binge Michael Jordan, The Last Dance.

Music: Always Chesney or Buffett (bummed both concerts here in DFW have been deferred), and many of the classics from the ’60s and ’70s.

Podcasts: Our own Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Len Lichtenfeld on COVID-19 impact on cancer patients—ACSNews; cancer doesn’t stop, neither can we. And, of course, all things The Ticket.

Books: I’m re-reading the greatness of my friend and “who” Bob Beaudine’s Power of Who with my son, who is graduating from SMU. I just finished Twelve Years of Turbulence by former American Airlines colleague Gary Kennedy and Terry Maxon about the 12 years we spent following 9/11 at American.

Exercise: Walking and running as often as I can; walking for golf has been great as well.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Golf, now that we can play again, walking is an added benefit. I’ve also been watching the University of Kentucky basketball replays and the Mavs championship run, cooking with my wife and mastering the breakfast sandwich in unique ways for my daughter.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Enjoy the moment, the time spent with family and loved ones. We have two seniors—daughter in High School and a son in college—can’t imagine what they are going through but sure do appreciate the precious additional time we get to spend with them. And then there is the surprise and delight of drone deliveries to your neighbors. I’m still mastering the delivery system—it’s a work in progress.

Other leaders I’d like to complete this Q&A: Bob Beaudine, Brad Cheves, and Robin Robinson.

Suzy Batiz has been working from LA since shelter-in-place rules took effect.
Suzy Batiz, Poo-Pouri

TV/Movies: I don’t watch or stream a lot of TV, so I’ve only watched a few shows—The Morning Show and The Matrix movies. I refrain from most programming as I am a creative and need my time to create.

Podcasts: I don’t listen to podcasts and instead fill my space with writing. It’s less input and more output these days.

Music: I’m lucky enough to have a musician on my quaranteam, so I’ve been listening to a lot of his music live! @Dustinthomasxo

Books: I just read the new book from my mentor Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline, Conscious Luck.

Exercise: I’m continuing Zoom workouts with my trainers in Dallas. I do a mix of HIIT, yoga, and movement practice by The Movement Standard.

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m making sure that I’m taking the time to be creative. I’ve been writing a lot.

My best shelter-in-place tip: I recognize there are some big struggles that people are dealing with, but try to think of this pause as an opportunity. Rarely do we have the time to reset;  the time to think about what we have been prioritizing and what we want to emphasize going forward. This has been a hard time but also has allowed each of us the space to figure out what each of us wants the new normal to look like.

Best work-from-home tools: Zoom, Slack, and Facetime

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: I’ve been reminded of so many things during this time. It has allowed me the opportunity to remember that my (and my team’s) superpower is our ability to pivot—and to pivot quickly. We do things that other people will tell you cannot be done. Also, I was surprised to learn that we don’t have to be in a physical office to be productive. Who knew?

Brad Selner makes sure to stick to a routine.
Brad Selner, JLL

TV/Movies: CNBC is always running in the background, from dawn to dusk. Jack Ryan, on Netflix, is a family favorite.

Music: Spotify Coffee House Mix. It sets a fun and relaxed tone in the house. Who doesn’t need that?

Exercise: Routine is everything: Morning run, elliptical, and/or weights, then walking dog to Drip Coffee on Lovers, every morning.

Other ways I’m passing the time: My wife gave me a guitar for my 40th birthday. Ten years later and working from home, I have started to learn how to play. Wow, it is tough—so much respect for those that can play.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Get outdoors! My family has been eating outside every chance we can. The great weather has been a blessing to us all.

Change breeds creativity, says Kim Noltemy.
Kim Noltemy, Dallas Symphony

TV/Movies: Homeland, seasons one through eight

Podcasts: True Spies by Spyscape

Music: Brahms Symphonies and solo cello music

Books: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Exercise: Running, walking, and erg (rowing)

Other ways I’m passing the time: Visiting local nature preserves.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Roll your back regularly.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: Change breeds creativity.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Trish Perl of UT Southwestern.

Organize your workspace to be ergonomically efficient, advises Rogge Dunn.
Rogge Dunn, Rogge Dunn Group

TV/Movies: I made the family watch The Last Man on Earth. This sci-fi classic stars one of the greatest horror movie actors of all time, Vincent Price. The movie explores the U.S. government’s and people’s actions as the earth’s population is slowly wiped out by a pandemic emanating overseas. Check it out!

Podcasts: I’m devouring podcasts and webinars on a myriad of COVID-19 issues, ranging from employer’s do’s and don’ts to force majeure contractual disputes and business interruption insurance coverage disputes.

Music: Van Morrison, the Doors, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson

Books: Monroe’s Principles of Speech. Monroe was the first psychologist to understand persuasive techniques due to the Reptilian Brain phenomenon. The only better book on persuasive techniques is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Exercise: Using the Skiers Edge machine and pretending I’m making the spring skiing turns I missed.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Browsing the internet looking for huge discounts on art and other bargains.

Work-from-home tool: Zoom video conferencing, and knowing all the special things that come with it.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Organize your workspace to be ergonomically efficient and decorate it in bright colors, so it’s an inviting workspace.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: Don’t take life for granted. Both my wife and I contracted COVID-19 and now have the antibodies. My wife survived ICU and eight days in the hospital. Life on earth is short, fragile, and precious. So, enjoy and cherish every moment with your loved ones.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Eric Pointer of Credit Union of Texas.

A tip from Valerie Freeman: virtual cocktails with friends.
Valerie Freeman, Imprimis

TV/Movies: Amazon Prime—Making the Cut and old movies like Annie Hall.

Podcasts: Anything on NPR

Music: Classical for relaxing; rock for energy.

Books: No books, but great content in magazines like Inc., Harvard Business Review, and The Atlantic

Exercise: Going for neighborhood walks and up and down the stairs.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Yard work.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Connect with friends over virtual cocktails.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Carol Roehrig, BKM Total Office of Texas.

Anarug Jain
Anurag Jain, Access Healthcare and Get Shift Done

TV/Movies: We have been re-watching the Harry Potter series, but my kids would tell you that I fall asleep and wake up intermittently, saying, “Oh, this is one of my favorite scenes.”

Podcasts: I have a long list of recommendations from friends, but have not found the time.

Music: Throwback to my college days: Eagles, Dire Straits, and some Hindi music classics.

Books: I enjoy reading, but it’s a pursuit of mine when I have more routine in my life. This period has been the antithesis of routine for me.

Exercise: I carve out time between meetings for yoga and evening walks.

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’m spending 70 percent of my time on my nonprofit work involving food banks (fundraising, governance, supply chain, distribution, and coordination). I managed to weave a new startup into that mix with Get Shift Done, an app that deploys furloughed foodservice employees back to work by providing their expertise to food banks. We have grown from one market—North Texas Food Bank—to eight cities across the U.S. in just the past six weeks. This work is in addition to my day job at the helm of three companies.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Meditate for short periods several times per day. For me, there is nothing better to calm, settle, and refresh your mind.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Patrick Brandt of Get Shift Done, Peter Altabef of Unisys, Nicole Small of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, and LH Capital.

Katy Slade likes to work in the great outdoors.
Katy Slade, Mintwood

TV/Movies: Unorthodox, and re-watching Breaking Bad

Podcasts: WorkLife with Adam Grant; Marketplace; Masters of Scale Rapid Response; Leading Voices in Real Estate

Music: DJ Lucy Wrubel playlists on Spotify

Books: Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui, and Little Women by Louise May Alcott (which I read aloud with my daughter).

Exercise: Long runs and walks to clear my head; Peloton racing groups to fulfill my competitive spirit.

Other ways I’m passing the time: Home-schooling the kids, cleaning, cooking, training my newly adopted DFW Lab Rescue dogs, and managing my new business have left me with little downtime, but any spare time we have is either spent outside or handling home projects.

My best shelter-in-place tip: I am attempting to live by these mantras: Practice gratitude. Be OK with just being OK. Set a schedule with the family to coordinate who is in charge of parenting, work calls, and work output—and be gracious when it’s not met.

Other leaders I’d like to complete this Q&A: Artie Starrs of Pizza Hut, Katie Mullen of Neiman Marcus.

It helps to focus on accomplishing things, says Bill Cawley.
Bill Cawley, Cawley Partners

TV/Movies: I am currently watching the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance and Jack Ryan.

Podcasts: Love Joe Rogan podcasts; I just listened to him interview Elon Musk. It’s a great podcast!

Music: Van Morrison, Phillip Phillips

Books: The Bible

Exercise: Weight training, yoga, and long walks with my wife, Keely.

Other ways I’m passing the time: I’ve been doing jobs around the house, and have been surprised at my ability to do things I have never tried before—fixed landscape lighting, power-washed the entire neighborhood, planted tomatoes, and cleaned out closets. I also have been playing a little golf recently.

My best shelter-in-place tip: Try to keep accomplishing something, it always feels better to accomplish something.

Best work-from-home tool: Zoom

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: This is so much easier when you love spending time with your spouse. It has been great to get so much quality time with Keely and the kids.

Other leaders I’d like to see answer this Q&A: Jody Thornton, Malcolm Holland, and Mike Dardick.

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