#WFH Diaries: Mike Wallen of Omelet
As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Omelet chief creative officer Mike Wallen.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
CCO of the best creative agency in the world, according to me.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I'm at home in L.A. with my amazing wife Hadas, our three human kiddos, Lily (10), Izzy (6) and Mia (3), and our pup-child, Boo (14).
What's your work situation like at the moment?
It's pretty incredible, actually. We're very blessed to be busy and active. A few virtual productions and a few new pitches. We have an incredible group of people who decided they'd be damned if they'd let a little distance stop them from being excellent. The work has been as good as ever, and the intangibles that always made Omelet special have shown up in ways we couldn't have predicted. Virtual tea times, weekly all-agency calls, daily sketch contests, pro-bono creative, engaging the kids of Omelet to make content.
Describe your socializing strategy.
"Trying." As parents to three, our social life had already become centered around them and their activities, so I don't think anyone has noticed us missing yet. But we're definitely Zooming and FaceTiming regularly with friends and family. Probably talked to or checked in with more friends in the past month than I have in the past year. So that's been a welcome silver lining.
How are you dealing with childcare?
My wife is the David Copperfield of managing our children's simultaneous obligations. I'm in awe of her patience and sorcery. Each morning, she somehow manages three different Zoom classrooms, and a variety of weekly enrichment activities like dance and musical theater. I have endless respect for her. And she's a school psychologist, so on top of running three classrooms every day, she's been our rock in terms of guiding the kids (and me) through the emotional toll this is having.
What are you reading?
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. One of our daily Omelet sketch prompts was "favorite book on your shelf," to which I sketched the cover of Breakfast of Champions. I've read a handful of Vonnegut's novels but didn't realize (until now) I had never read one of his most iconic.
What are you watching?
The Outsider, Better Call Saul, The Hunters, Succession, Dave, Love Is Blind (judge me). Also have become semi-addicted to playing Farming Simulator on Google Stadia.
What are you listening to?
Pretty much nonstop music going in every corner of our house (hi, Sonos!). Lately it's been anything that calms us. Bonnie Prince Billy, Fleet Foxes, Helado Negro, Ludovico Einaudi, Joao Gilberto, Nick Drake. But also listening nonstop to Native American Flute songs, because anxiety.
How are you staying fit?
Peloton. I no longer have a reason to not use it (often). Probably still not using it as often as I should. I'm terribly disappointed in myself. Next question. :)
Have you taken up a hobby?
I would say I have resumed a few old hobbies (see @stayponyla on IG for the glimpse into my sketch collection you never asked for). The Omelet WFH Sketch Project got me back into drawing and painting for fun. And my kids are super into it as well. My 10-year-old wakes up in the a.m. asking, "What's the prompt today!?" and we now draw something together every day.
We also resumed our vegetable and fruit garden. On day 2 of sheltering at home, I read a New York Times article about growing your own food. So, anxiety + boredom = new home garden! How's it going so far, you ask? Threw my back out on day 1 of preparing soil (shrug emoji).
Any tips for getting necessities?
Walmart.com, otherstuffweneed.coms. We don't really want to leave the house right now, so mostly get stuff that ships. And we subscribed to a weekly "farm-to-your-door" fruits/veggies/dairy service, which is great. It's forced us (in a good way) to be really resourceful with just the essentials.
An awkward moment since all this started.
My three daughters made support cards to send to senior citizens at a nearby Jewish home for the aging. In one, my 10-year-old wrote, "You're going to make it, Joyce." Joyce wasn't sick.
Best work email you got since all this started.
That we have new business coming in.
An aha! moment since all this started.
Realizing I have saved 50 hours just this month not having to drive to work. When this all ends, we should explore how some of these new behaviors can be adopted long-term. What if everyone worked from home one day a week? Could you imagine the impact on our quality of life and our environment? We now know how to do it, without really skipping a beat.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
It is going to be painful for many people. The loss we're experiencing—personally, professionally, financially—is obviously profound and will take a long time to recover from. I'm hopeful we recognize this as arguably the most remarkable moment of our entire lives. We shouldn't rush back to our previous "normal" because some of those behaviors, in part, led to this. I believe this will prompt fundamental change. All of this loss and sacrifice will not be for nothing. We needed something remarkable to unify us. And I hope the promises that we're making to our kids at night—that things will get better—end up being fulfilled.