Member Spotlight: Home During a Global Pandemic
It’s been just over two months since New York’s stay at home orders went into effect, and the Camp David team, well, misses Camp David! Not just the daily routines and physical workspace, but normal day-to-day interactions with our members that make our community special.
We reached out to several members to see how they’ve been fairing these past few months while at home. Whether it’s balancing careers and family-time, staying connected with a completely digital social life, or adapting to the “new normal” of conducting business in the midst of a global pandemic. Read on to hear from:
- Holly Howard, Business Consultant Ask Holly How ,
- Kensuke Okabayashi, Illustrator Kensuke Art ,
- Stephan Tracy, Founder Keap Candles
- Gordon Meyer, Founder EngineBloc
Since having to adapt to running your business from home, have you figured out an optimal routine to stay productive? Despite the obvious limitations, have you discovered any positive takeaways from this self-quarantine experience?
Holly: Yes it’s been truly positive even in light of the tragedy. It has forced me to rework everything about my business and my life. I had a friend pass away in the midst of this that really drove home the notion that you have to live your truest life and build a business from that space as well. I’m taking much more time for myself and investing in my health and relationships over work. It’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of NY even if you are disciplined. I have put more boundaries around my time and restructured my services.
Kensuke: Working from home has been challenging on all fronts. Fortunately, I have a small home studio in our apartment where I can continue my freelance illustration projects and work on my graphic novel, The Foreigner. That being said, it is challenging to establish a routine with my two children home from school and the ongoing activity in our home. My wife and I trade off between meeting our business commitments and taking on the role of teachers for our kids. Balancing our roles as freelancers, parents and now educators in the midst of the additional concerns of keeping our family safe and healthy has proved much more challenging than we could have anticipated. On a personal note, however, there have been rewarding moments as a family, bonding with our kids and getting to know more about their academic side of life.
Stephen: Even at the best of times, I think working from home holds false promise. The dream is more time to yourself, but the reality can be a work day with no clear beginning and end.
So I was careful to put in place some new habits to help create balance in my day. Every day at noon I take my dog for a long walk, then at 3 or 4pm I step away and do something active — I’ve been doing some of Gotham Gym’s instagram classes, as well as discovering the surprising uses of giant elastic bands. Then at 7pm my husband and I join the wonderful cheering that echoes around the streets of the West Village, and that’s my signal to pause my work for the day.
I’ve actually enjoyed breaking my normal rhythms as it has highlighted the things I miss, as well as giving me new inspiration for changes I’d like to make — in particular, I hope we can all return to a “normal” work world that moves a bit more slowly and peacefully.
Gordon: My optimal routine always requires leaving home. There’s something about changing location, as with travel in general that helps shift my perspective and invites inspiration. Just like when the students jumped up on their desks in “Dead Poets Society” we all need to find a new perspective now and again. The fact of the matter is, I do not and never have “run my business” from home – I just can’t get any real work done there.
I really think the term is wrong… “Working from Home” has horrible branding. It sounds lazy. It sounds like pajamas and a 5’oclock shadow. We as a society should really start thinking about working from ANYWHERE …. And “anywhere” is wherever I choose that is most inspiring with as few distractions to my inspiration as possible.
That’s where I work. Wherever I’m inspired.
How has working remotely impacted your particular industry? How are you and your employees managing these challenges?
Holly: I’m a business consultant that works across a lot of industries all of which have been impacted.
Kensuke: I work as a storyboard illustrator in the advertising industry, which has been greatly affected by COVID-19. Prior to the shut down, about half my clients required me to work onsite due to strict NDA policies. In addition, based on what the agency that represents me has told the entire team of artists, many projects have been placed on hold. That being said, this past month has been a great opportunity to really focus on my personal Kickstarter funded graphic novel project.
Stephen: People are actually using more candles than before the crisis. To me this seems obvious: we’re looking for ways to make home cozy, as well as items that are comforting and reassuring. There is something about a candle that speaks to something primal and spiritual in us. I have been lighting a tealight candle each evening on my windowsill as a form of hope against the current crisis, watching it flicker as I drift off to sleep.
Since we pour our candles here in Brooklyn, we haven’t been quite so lucky. We’ve been shut since March 22nd, when Gov. Cuomo announced a statewide shutdown on non-essential businesses. That said, our wonderful customers are still placing orders on our website in anticipation of us reopening. We’ve even had a number of people tell us they’re buying from us just to ensure we make it through this crisis okay. This unexpected kindness has really allowed us to stay optimistic and calm in the midst of this all.
Gordon: I work in innovation and sci-fi tech. Of all the new ideas I’ve helped propel, it’s certainly time to welcome Augmented Reality, AI and Digital Currency. The prospect of being digitally connected while staying physically present in our daily lives is upon us. The “Warby Parker” moment when our eyewear becomes a computer is here and we will all be sampling that in the next couple years. Before Covid I would work at Camp David with my AR glasses on, and once we all come back, more will be doing the same.
The “aha moment” caused by working remotely has also hit digital currency, whose decentralized nature was born from a healthy distrust of authority. There is a massive influx of new crypto wallets being opened now and people are beginning to participate in the crypto marketplace every minute. Since crypto is moving differently than the stock market, it’s become a hedge for many people, a safe haven if you will in times of strife. It’s also digital money that is germ free and accessible anywhere at all times. It’s money that moves at the speed that our 24/7 work from anywhere culture wants.
Besides staying on top of work and staying healthy, what dreams and aspirations do you have during all of this newly acquired time spent at home? Any new skill sets, languages or projects you’re looking to learn or tackle?
Holly: I started pilates and became a runner – 5 miles a day. I also started cooking and baking more (so did everyone!) and I got back to work writing my book.
Kensuke: One of my new goals is to create more content for my KensukeArt YouTube channel. I’m also using this time to complete The Foreigner, my graphic novel. I’ve also been using some of this down time this week to brush up my knowledge of my drawing software so that I can improve my creative workflow. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but didn’t have the time until now.
Stephen: I made yoghurt. Does that count? I had some freeze dried cultures in my cupboard for years. As with so many things, I never found the right time to use them. That has been the nice thing — finally having time to do these little things that bring a lot of joy.
In terms of larger dreams, I have wanted to find personal peace during this crisis. So I have been spending time meditating and paying closer attention to the world around me and outside my window. Calling it an aspiration is a bit of an oxymoron, as I’m learning it’s all about letting go of the future in order to be fully present.
Gordon: It’s hard not to start asking the big questions now and reevaluate everything. From who you spend your time with to where you live, it’s all up in the air. I lived through this during 9/11 though I think the things we promised to do back in 2001 and yet ignored are now due to really become priorities post-covid. It’s completely cliche but I’ve been taking long walks on the beach and spending time with family. Both of these have helped me relax and when it’s time to open up the laptop again or grab my tablet, I’m ready to be deeply productive.
What are you playing in the background? Music, Podcasts, TV.
Holly: First we binged Ozark – all three seasons and now I have the Michael Jordan documentary and soundtrack (The Last Dance) on repeat. I grew up in Chicago and came of age in the 90s and come from a big basketball family so Michael Jordan is like a god. It also reminds me of better times when the world seemed a bit less chaotic.
Kensuke: One of my guilty pleasures has been streaming seasons of MONK. I normally look forward to listening to baseball on my MLB app. But since games are now cancelled, I’ve started to play live drawing sessions by other artists on YouTube while working. It’s a far cry from being surrounded by a live community, but it at least helps me zone into my work.
Stephen: Right now as I type this I am listening to Nils Frahm. I’d describe it as minimal classical meets electronic music. It’s quite peaceful, and allows me to get into a state of flow.
Otherwise, our wonderful business coach Holly Howard just recommended this podcast about overcoming fear. If Holly recommends something, I do it, so that’s next!
Gordon: I am a massive fan of the Endel and Mubert apps for the iPhone. The sounds are generated in real time based on various inputs such as one’s location, time, weather, cadence, heart-rate, etc. It’s sonic wallpaper but the variation keeps my brain occupied just enough to allow deeper inspiration to come to the surface. I find myself reaching for generative music more than traditional songs more and more often these days.
For Television, Devs on HULU was amazing. I just finished the last episode and it’s staying with me. Created, written, and directed by Alex Garland The series explores themes related to free will and determinism. He wrote and directed Ex Machina which I also loved and he’s been called “a key voice of Generation X” – maybe that’s why I gravitate to his work.
What do you miss most about working at Camp David?
Holly: The staff, duh! I miss you guys so much, you were always so helpful, kind, funny, and a true joy to have as stewards of a space. I also miss the beauty of the physical space.
Kensuke: I miss interacting with the community members and staff. I also miss attending the special events and happy hours. Having that clear separation between family life and work life definitely helps me with my productivity. I also miss the convenience of having a gym right across the hallway. I really can’t wait to be back
Stephen: Oh! That’s so easy, but will sound over the top: at Camp David everything is perfect — the air temperature, the sound level, the ambience, the wifi, even the coffee. From the big to the small, it is such a conducive space to work.
Right now in my apartment, I am drinking mediocre coffee and the wifi has been spotty all morning. These things would never happen at Camp David!! haha
Gordon: Camp David is an inspiring place by design. It’s in its DNA and it’s palpable. That aura is infectious. At a time when “Infection” is a bad word, I still miss the things that rub off on you in a good way. A sense of optimism, craft, of elevating the everyday to something special. Camp David is about breaking free from rote bland routines and being our best selves. Of course that’s a life choice, and it’s not the furniture that makes us become better people, but there’s a definite sense of community among the members whether spoken or not that provides a gust of wind in your sails to keep going. Today we’re forced to speak and write those words that otherwise are radiated to each other via proximity. Tomorrow, I hope, we’ll be back in the building and radiating that electricity and mixing it up with each other over pint with Peter at the bar.
Lastly, send us a picture of your current home office (open to interpretation) or of an item that has helped keep you motivated during this time!