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Debra, what, if anything, are you doing differently?

I’m working on physically distancing but not socially distancing – I think that’s an important distinction. I’d already moved to “work at home” last year, when I left Hager Sharp after 19 years to form my own consultancy. But the COVID-induced absence of social events and in-person interactions is especially tough. It is ironic that our physical isolation is perhaps the most universally shared state of being we all have now. It’s also added a new touch of humanity to our business transactions. The cat that jumps in front of someone’s computer camera. The headgear people are wearing to make up for COVID coifs. The Zoom interrupted by children, chirping birds, food deliveries. We have new windows into our colleagues’ lives.

Are you staying creatively active?

I’m organizing virtual learning opportunities and conversations with the organizations I love. I pulled together a panel of educators to discuss whether and how schools can open in the fall for the National Press Club, because children need education and socialization. I’m working on a diversity and inclusion event. I did virtual mentoring for the Girl Scouts. With WWPR, I’ve done two virtual breakfast conversations for senior PR professionals on leading in this challenging time and racism. I’ve had the honor, along with my producer husband, to assist a friend, Karen Gray Houston, whose important new book Daughter of the Boycott, was just released. It opens with a case of police brutality and racism from the 1950s. When will we learn? These activities are creative for me, and critical issues for our profession and our society.

How are you sparking yourself creatively?

I learned how to cut men’s hair. My husband is pretty happy about that. I’ve cut our environmental footprint a bit – remember cleaning with cloth, not paper? I have more time to do something I’m good at: cooking and creating recipes. My ginger-lime halibut is amazing!

I really want our small and independent restaurants to survive. Their creativity and the space they create for social interaction is sorely needed.

 

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