After spending months at home in quarantine, people are proving anxious to return to social pastimes and visit old favorite restaurants. Undoubtedly, everyone is emerging a little differently than they went in — consumers and industry leaders alike. While there has been much consternation over how to begin, and sustain, best practices during the coronavirus pandemic, “to-do lists” seemed right for many with consumers who checked off projects to elevate homes.
As some states begin to ease restrictions and others put plans into place, individuals are looking ahead to life after a crisis. Here’s what some executive leaders had to say about their plans, personal and professional, and how this time has altered priorities.
Greg Portell, lead partner in the global consumer practice at Kearney
“Things have become much more personal. The opportunity to interact with people in their homes has brought a sense of humanity to the dialogue of business that wasn’t there before. That connectivity reshuffles how we think of business. [After quarantine, I will] continue the practice of regularly connecting personally with people, join teams in a physical work space where we can riff together on ideas ad hoc and find creative solutions, and find the joy in retail, again.
“[On my personal to-do list is] a splurge spa vacation (Blackberry Farms is high on the list of potential venues), returning to the fabulous New York theater and restaurant scenes, and fly-fishing in the Colorado mountains.”
Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotions at Supima
“While we are not physically working from our office in Manhattan, our team has been in constant communication about upcoming brand events and milestones. I would say that my three priorities right now are staying connected to Supima’s brand partners by supporting them and helping them navigate these challenging times, keeping Supima’s brand message relevant by creating initiatives to align with the cultural conversation and help communities in need, and finally looking forward to future events including our annual Supima Design Competition and Harvest Celebration and how we can best execute them either live, virtually or both.
“At the top of my [personal to-do list post-quarantine] are reconnecting in person with my now virtual friends, getting a haircut (or not and embracing a new hairstyle, like the man bun!) and continuing to connect with my family and friends. Taking a step back, it has been so special to have this time at home with my wife and three daughters. Working remotely and helping my children distance learn all under one roof has been a challenge. At the same time, it has been a real gift to have this quality time with all of them as they are growing up so fast and will soon embark on their own paths.”
Joel Bines, global coleader of the retail practice at AlixPartners LLP
“People who know me know that I tend to be, for better or worse, an all-in sort of person. I would not say that my priorities have changed professionally, but I have had to be creative about how I manifest my personality in a remote world. For instance, I’ve done a few things to let my full personality show through on video calls, mostly to try to loosen things up in these challenging times. I’ve tried to be more open about things I normally wouldn’t share — my health, the health of my family, etc. Among other things, I’ve found that being proactive on that front can help others, who might otherwise be hesitant, to open up as well, if they need to.
“On the professional level, my top two priorities are to remember that no matter how stressful a situation might be, to never forget that there is a human being on the other side of the interaction; and to be best servant-leader I can be — to always put the other person first, to always lead by example and to always speak not just with candor but also compassion.
“Beyond saying a big thank you to all my colleagues at AlixPartners for going above and beyond the call of duty in these troubled times, one of the first things I plan to do is to visit my parents. My family lives in Texas and my parents live in New Hampshire, and we typically see them at least four to five times a year. But I haven’t seen them since February and I don’t know how long it will be until I can — but that’s at the very top of my list.
“I am seeking out every maker of cool and interesting masks I can find so I can have some fun with a rotating assortment of designs. I think masks may well become the new pocket square.”
Jens Grede, cofounder and creative director of Frame
“I just miss having my team around me. Zoom is incredible, but the energy of the room is sorely missing. Ideas and business are best explored together with my incredible partners at Frame. I also want to visit our stores to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who comes in to shop with us. Our clients makes our business. We don’t take a minute of their time for granted.
“We built this company to make beautiful clothes and accessories to serve the women and men who surround us. I am still inspired by our community. We want to make things for her and him that they love. That’s why we are in the fashion business, and that has not changed. I think we have to be very mindful of our customers’ new perspective, however, and ensure we make clothes that suits their new lifestyle. Frame is in the middle of a sustainable revolution internally. We believe a company should match the values of its people. [And that] is more important than ever that we continue to drive forward into a kinder future.
“Like most of us I am sure, I miss seeing my family and friends. I can’t wait to have our extended family come over from Europe to see us. My kids miss their grandmas and their cousins. Lastly, I just miss going to a great restaurant. I will be banging down the door at Wally’s in Beverly Hills, I can’t wait to sit at my regular table with a great bottle of Bordeaux that Matt Turner, their unbelievable sommelier, has picked out for us.”
Erik Torstensson, cofounder and creative director of Frame
“[My top priorities now are] to stay creative, focused, and brave. As challenging as this period has been we have seen an unprecedented change in consumer behavior and this presents an opportunity for us to change along with the consumer. We can make sure we are focused to make hard decisions when it matters, and brave enough to take some creative and strategic risks, to come out on top. If this is a story and we are in the first chapter, we slowed down, took in the information, and developed new strategies. Now it’s time to double down and come out of this stronger, which is what we are already doing.
“I like to look at the glass half-full and the myriad ways we have been able to communicate with our teams and our customers during this period have actually given birth to a new set of creative ways to execute projects and I have really enjoyed this aspect. I think we have managed to use this time to break some old bad habits and instill some new and better ones and have learned to get closer to our community and our customers.”
Silvija Martincevic, chief commercial officer at Affirm
“We and all of our retail partners have been challenged in unexpected ways during this time and for many of our retail partners, their priorities have shifted. Because of that, our product priorities have changed. We’re more focused than ever on supporting our retail partners’ transition to online — for many, their e-commerce and m-commerce (mobile) strategies have accelerated. We also want to ensure we’re able to support retailers’ omnichannel strategies once shelter-in-place restrictions begin to lift.
“As we transition back into the office, it’s important that we make the reintroduction to in-office work as seamless as possible, especially for parents. In the meantime, we are keeping the lines of communication open and finding new, intimate ways to connect virtually. This includes getting dressed up for “Fancy Friday” and seeing everyone’s attire of choice during “Virtual Wine Down,” a chance to look back on and celebrate the week’s accomplishments.
“[On my personal to-do list] I can’t wait to give my closest friends a big hug and toast the end of quarantine with a glass of champagne. I grew up in Croatia and every summer, we spend a few weeks there visiting my family. I’m really looking forward to going back as soon as we’re able to travel. During shelter-in-place, challenging co-workers through Peloton’s app has become a favorite daily activity. But I miss riding with the SoulCycle community. I can’t wait to be in the studio again.”
Dax Dasilva, founder and chief executive officer of Lightspeed
“My professional priorities have shifted to account for the new normal, but fundamentally my focus remains the same. At Lightspeed, our customers are always our number one priority, and we work daily to bring them the tools and support they need to truly be successful. Additionally, as a leader, it’s essential to create a culture that welcomes diversity and inclusivity and to make sure our employees feel safe and empowered to do their best work.
“[The top three things on my post quarantine to-do list are] to continue to equip our SMBs with omnichannel tools they need to be successful, adhering to the guidelines from public health authorities in regions around the world, and to continue to nurture a company culture of diversity, trust, and acceptance. I firmly believe these values lead to further productivity and innovation.
“While it’s been great to have technology that allows us to connect virtually, I’m really looking forward to face-to-face time with the executive leadership team and the Lightspeed team at large once we welcome everyone safely back to the office. Of course, also very much looking forward to visiting my favorite Montreal restaurants and local shops once everyone can open their doors again!”
Kendra Scott, founder and ceo of Kendra Scott
“The first priority that changed was our timeline. When COVID-19 started to threaten our business, we worked quickly to fast-track initiatives and programs that we hadn’t planned to roll out for months — or even years! I am so proud of my team for their creative thinking and quick action to best serve our customers and our employees in these unprecedented times.
“My top priority right now is protecting the health and safety of our customers, employees and our communities. Giving back has always been at the core of who we are, but now more than ever my team and I are making philanthropy a priority, providing support and comfort for our local communities where they need us the most.
“First on my [personal] list is definitely seeing my family and friends. While right now it is so important to be mindful of the social distancing regulations, I’ve always been a hugger. Of course, I love all the virtual happy hours and long phone calls, but I just cannot wait for the day when I can give my family and dearest friends the biggest hug.”
Taylor Frankel, cofounder of Nudestix
“As a leadership team, our priorities have shifted towards digital. I have been focused on bringing offline opportunities, online. For example, we have launched an Instagram live series called “Masterclass Live” where we feature a makeup artist once a week to educate and entertain our Nudestix community. Also, due to the current climate, we’ve shifted our priorities from a product development perspective. Our first priority is to develop a very strong social and digital strategy to drive our customers to nudestix.com and our online retail partners.
“The top three things on my personal to-do list post quarantine are to enjoy time with my friends and family, travel to Korea (a longtime bucket list item of mine), and to enjoy live music again!”
Matt Katz, managing partner at SSA & Co.
“[My top three priorities right now are to] get our team through this, prepare our business for the pent-up demand that is coming, and remind our team that their next client assignment will be critical to the industry and will be that ceo’s most important item on the agenda — ‘deliver the wow.’
“I want to meet my clients’ dogs — I feel like we are family at this point. Our team has grown closer and more focused on the little things that mean so much in professional development. I am excited to see how this continues and grows. [On my personal to-do list is] putting my phone down, sharing in my daughters’ joy as they go to college and enjoy life, and walking NYC and feeling the energy.”
Becky Hansen, chief operating officer at Nisolo
“My professional priorities changed drastically starting in mid-March when we started seeing sales drop as much as 85 percent each day. At that point, our CEO, Patrick Woodyard, and I pivoted immediately into crisis management to keep the business afloat. With so much uncertainty globally, we are focused on creatively and efficiently optimizing our supply chain and merchandising efforts while keeping people safe. It’s a complex but energizing problem and I have the benefit of getting to tackle these hard topics with brilliant and passionate colleagues and partners. On a professional basis, visiting our factory in Peru and our partner factories in Mexico, once it is safe to travel again, is a major priority.
“On a personal basis, I work to be intentional about balancing efforts for my kids, my marriage, and myself. For my kids, we will be resuming our regular weekend visits to the Nashville Zoo. For my marriage, we will kick back off our Saturday dinner date nights with a trip to our favorite sushi and sake restaurant! For myself, I’m looking forward to starting my 5 a.m. workouts at Orange Theory back up.”
Ryan Willette, vice president, global account management at Acquia
“My top two professional priorities have long been and will continue to be our existing and prospective customers’ success, and that my team members are empowered to be successful. Of course, the means by which we do that right now have changed. [On my post-quarantine professional to-do list is to] travel to see customers on their turf. Zoom is a necessary solution right now, but there’s something about being in-person with a customer that can’t be replicated in a virtual setting. And to enjoy a meal in an actual restaurant with my colleagues across the globe to thank them for all their hard work during this period.
“[On my personal list is to] see our extended family, take a family vacation somewhere warm, and go to a Boston Red Sox or Bruins game. My wife and I are expecting our second child in a few weeks, so we’d like to see our family and friends and introduce them to our newest addition.”
Cara Sabin, ceo of Sundial Brands
“Actually, our priorities have not changed, in fact, we’ve become even more focused and intentional about what our company stands for and for whom we serve. Like our parent company Unilever, with its United for America initiative, SheaMoisture is committed to the most vulnerable during these times. The COVID-19 crisis is exposing not only the health inequities among communities of color but also the wealth inequities, particularly for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“[Professionally I plan to] revisit strategic plans through a post-quarantine consumer reality, lead my team to relentlessly prioritize initiatives which will grow our business, deepen the impact we can make on our community, and give my home office a makeover. [And personally, I want to] visit my parents out of state, patronize my favorite, local Black-owned businesses, and get a haircut by Anthony Dickey at Hair Rules Salon.”
Michael Ball, founder of Ultracor
“With time to reflect on everything that’s important to Ultracor, I believe seeing what the shut-down has done to the economy is difficult to witness. However, looking at it from an optimistic point of view, you can see the benefits of fewer carbon emissions in the atmosphere and how our planet can potentially regenerate. That’s not to say there aren’t long term effects of fossil fuels, but this is a positive result from COVID-19 and for Ultracor as a company, we have always been conscious of our use of our raw materials. We will continue with that and we see more potential for a sustainable lifestyle and business practices.
“My first priority is to make sure that my family and friends are safe and secure. Next is to find ways to sustain that safety and security. And my third priority is to see things from a different perspective as our community changes, and incorporate that in a safe way into everything we do as a family.”
Katie Rosen Kitchens, cofounder of FabFitFun
“Our mission at FabFitFun is to deliver happiness and well-being to everyone, everywhere and there’s never been a time when I’ve felt the world needed that more. From a business standpoint, we’ve prioritized essential products and things you can use at home in our online sales. As people become a little more budget-conscious right now, we think the value that we deliver is more important than ever. My personal professional priority, and one of the most important, has been to make sure that the hundreds of employees working at FabFitFun, in our operational warehouse and headquarters, feel safe and informed throughout this unprecedented time.
“[On my personal to-do list is to] hug my best friend. Her mom just passed away from COVID-19 and it’s been incredibly awful because they had to stay separated while she was in the hospital. Also to spend an afternoon with my parents. While we have continued to talk daily through quarantine, we are ready for some real, in-person family time. Lastly, to travel when it’s safe. I feel the most inspired when traveling and there’s no better reset after something stressful than exploring a new part of the world. My next trip will ideally be someplace with a beach and good food.”
Deborah Weinswig, founder and ceo of Coresight Research
“[Professionally, I am prioritizing] connecting on a more personal level daily with my entire team and having a Coresight in Quarantine call once a week to discuss a movie we all watched, exercise together, cook together, learn about where everyone lives, how they live, what they are cooking, and whom they live with. [We are also prioritizing] sourcing PPE through RetailersUnited for frontline workers in the medical and retail fields.
“My post-quarantine to-do list will be to have more coffee (and French Fries) with colleagues and clients, ditch the flip-flops and wear the highest heels available to every meeting I attend, and collaborate on the reopening of the economy and facilitating relationships between retailers and landlords.
“After quarantine, I plan to have a ‘beginning of the world’ party, have a birthday party, and see all of my old friends and new friends. Lastly, I have been culture-starved, so I’ll plan to go to the Met Museum and the Met Opera, on the same day!”
Beth Bugdaycay, cofounder and creative director of Foundrae and Murat Bugdaycay, cofounder and ceo of Foundrae
“We’ve pivoted our attention to our on-hand inventory that is rapidly depleting. We are fortunate to have a carefully curated production flow with our bench workers that are able to work from home. We are prioritizing new technology to efficiently operate remotely with our team, who has been able to successfully share materials from afar. Working to better utilize existing imagery and have been recycling or reinventing collateral for new content.
Most importantly, we are checking in with our team, family, and friends. We know it’s a challenging time for everyone and want them to know we are here for them. Our focus post-quarantine is to further improve our web site, implement a new inventory system, and organize a photo shoot for our latest collection. We are looking forward to reconnecting with our team and friends, take Neo, our Alaskan Klee Kai, to the dog-run, and most of all host a sleepover for our daughter and a party for our son.”
Fayez Mohamood, ceo and cofounder of Bluecore
“With most global brick-and-mortar locations closed during COVID-19, retailers have to accelerate their investments in the most efficient and profitable ways to grow. The only way to scale is to drive long-term customer lifetime value through personalization and automation. I’m focusing the majority of Bluecore, as well as my time and resources, to empower retailer leadership teams to make this transformation without increasing workload on their team.
“Our priorities are working with our customers (retailers) to drive revenue through the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for recovery, empowering our Bluecore leaders to motivate their teams and embrace agility through uncertain times, and doing what we can to contribute to the community. Bluecore recently participated in a drive to provide one million masks to NYC hospitals.
“On my personal to-do list I’m looking forward to visiting my parents and siblings on the West Coast, I’d love to go on a long run by the Brooklyn Bridge promenade and enjoy the city again, and I can’t wait to be able to eat at Lucali — my favorite pizza restaurant!”
Michelle Marsh, brand director at Ética
“This is a great opportunity to reconsider our product offering and phase out some styles and categories that may not be needed when the smoke clears. Being vertical, were able to slim down our offering for fall ’20, and I’m really pleased with the pieces that made the cut. We have never been a promotional brand and we pride ourselves on wasting nothing and producing only what the customer wants. I’ll be keeping this lens handy when creating sku and class plans for future seasons.
Also, integrating the medical supply category into our business model. In March, we transitioned our factory into a sterile facility producing FDA Approved masks and PPE. Our next challenge will be in planning these new categories as a permanent part of our offering, and how can we apply what we have learned from this?
“While large gatherings might be some ways off, I am looking forward to more intimate get-togethers, and I am dying for a road trip with my three best girlfriends. We’ve been good about connecting virtually, but I can’t wait to see their faces in person. I will be supporting small and local businesses with much more intention than before. This pandemic is going to have devastating effects on some special restaurants, brands, boutiques, and services that I truly want to see succeed. It’s a great time to re-examine spending habits in general and make sure we are supporting the things that matter most to us.”
Elizabeth Locke, founder and designer of Elizabeth Locke
“I am by nature a constructive pessimist. That means that I constantly assume that the worst-case scenario will play out and I must have Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D in place to deal with the daily catastrophes. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what is currently happening on the economic front, so I feel helpless because I had no plans in place. My one and only priority at this moment is to stay afloat until the pandemic has played itself out. We haven’t furloughed any of our employees and I will do anything possible to keep everyone working here in Virginia and in Bangkok.
“When quarantine ends I plan to take my wonderful, patient employees out for a fabulous dinner to celebrate the end of the quarantine, go to New York to get my new 2020-21 collection photographed and a look book designed, which should have happened in March, and schedule trunk shows for whenever life returns to seminormal.
“Personally, I will try to see as many friends as possible in person with no distancing — this could involve a big, raucous dinner party! [I want to] get on an airplane anywhere without an ominous feeling and go to New York to get my hair dealt with.”
Brian Fenty, ceo and cofounder of TodayTix
“The live events industry was the first to be shut down by the government and will likely be one of the last to open. It’s also been entirely excluded from any stimulus aid. So my time is spent almost entirely on ensuring that our team and the best talent is working productively, and has positive mental health regimens. I’ve been trying to really think through the benefits and challenges of working remotely, and I’m excited to merge those worlds together. We currently have teams in New York, London, and Australia, and each office will come back online on different schedules. I’d like to refit the offices to be much more focused on space awareness, meetings, and teleconferencing so that we can be a leader in the new flexible work model.
“My wife tells me the first item on any post quarantine list has to involve a stop to our local barbershop in the West Village for a cut and shave. Apparently, the “windblown” look loses its appeal after a few months! But most of all, I’m craving culture, and am ready to imbibe whatever the creative community puts out as they recover. Live events are probably going to tip-toe back into post-recovery life, and I want to support every possible performance, gallery show, and concert available. It’s going to be amazing to share emotions and creative experiences with people again.”
Fiona Stewart, founder of Slip
“[My priorities have changed during the COVID-19 crisis], I will never put anything off until tomorrow that can be done today, as no one knows what is around the corner. I can’t wait to have our amazing team back in our Australian head office and get back to working hard and laughing all day together – I have always been very grateful to have such a close team and now more than ever I realize how lucky we are to have each other. Right now I am prioritizing making sure our 2 young sons are doing well in this crazy time in their lives and having as much fun with them as we can, keeping the business on track, making good long-term decisions and focusing on the future and better days ahead, and staying mentally and physically well and focused so I have a lot of time and energy to give everyone around me.
“My post-quarantine to-do list is to share a meal with my family and friends, swim in the ocean, and stay at the coolest hotel in Australia, The Calile. Hanging out with our kids by the pool and eating the incredible Greek food from Hellenika is a dream day.”
Catharine Dockery, founding partner of Vice Ventures
“My top-line priorities remain unchanged, producing returns for my investors, easing stigmas in the space, and working with ethical, creative and resourceful founders. In the background, however, what that means has changed dramatically during the crisis. I’ve spent much more time working with portfolio companies on coping with supply, demand, personnel, and funding changes. I’d expect that to ease as quarantine goes away.
“Professionally, my to-do list includes meeting my interns in person, taking them to meetings, help my companies prepare for a potential return to quarantine in the fall, and catch up with investors/companies who I have to this point only met digitally. [Personally, I want to] see my dad in person, go to the beach, and travel — either to Guadeloupe or Paris.”
Lauren Steinberg, founder of Queen V
“In the beginning, I was so focused on keeping things normal and making sure that everything was getting done on time. With COVID-19, I’ve learned that work doesn’t come first. Self-care comes first. Making sure everyone on my team is okay and making sure everyone who works on Queen V from manufacturers to retail partners is what is important to me. I used to prioritize making everything we post look perfect. Now, I don’t care so much. Obviously, our content has to look good but it doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to resonate with our consumers.
“My top priorities now are the health and safety and happiness of myself, my team and my friends and family, being authentic to what is going on in the world and making sure our consumers see the human side of us and continuing to make effective, affordable and accessible products for everyone.
“On my personal, post-COVID to-do list, I plan to go to a bar with my best friends, hug my family, and get a facial.”
Autumn Calabrese, celebrity trainer and founder of 21 Day Fix
“This disease has shown us the importance of taking care of our health on a regular basis. Having to social distance and quarantine has made the need for at-home workouts that much more important. Believe it or not, I’m working more than ever right now. My business is at home workouts so promoting that and being there to support people during this time has been amazing. I take my job seriously, I know people look to me for motivation and support [on social media] so being there for them, showing them it’s ok to have good days and hard days, keeping it real but positive are all things that are important to me, especially right now.
“[Post-quarantine], I’m going to have a big house warming party. I moved in the middle of quarantine, not easy but I got it done. I can’t wait to see all of my family and friends and have everyone over to enjoy the new house.”
Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice
“I’m inspired by the ROI of my focus being turned inward. It’s made an impact on the whole team, spending this time really focusing on us has been fruitful! Post-quarantine, we will be prioritizing sustainability initiatives for packaging, wrapping up some RD on topicals and ingestibles, and bringing our shops back to their full glory. On my personal to-do list is to go deep into forest trails near my home that have been closed, acupuncture, and a hair trim and brow tint!”
Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma
“In my role as chief people officer, employee health and safety has taken on a whole new meaning. We are thinking through physical, mental, and emotional safety for our employees in completely new ways. Everything starts with ‘are people okay’ – which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a shift from assuming people are okay. I cannot wait to have more sporadic meetings with my team. So much is scheduled as we all shift to working from home, and I really miss the ‘hey, I have an idea, let’s get together right now and brainstorm’ meetings.
“[On my personal to-do list is] visiting my parents who live on the East Coast. I’ve been so worried about them, and I really look forward to seeing them. [Also] traveling. My family usually takes a trip or two a month for fun, and we really miss being able to explore new places.”
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