3 Work-From-Home Essentials: Wisconsin, Showers and Turtles

Keeping a spark of joy in difficult times

Three bits of advice for staying creative while working from home: Wisconsin, showers, and turtles.


I was arriving back in the States after doing a talk at the Forward Festival in Munich, right before the travel ban from Europe and screenings started at airports. Before I left, my wife and I had decided months ago that it would be nice for her and our 2-year old daughter, Elle, to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Wisconsin while I was away. After my wife and Elle extended their stay in Wisconsin, I hunkered down at home in Brooklyn to work remotely with my amazing team. This is all to say that I would likely get way less accomplished and have way less creative brain space if Elle was here. It's impossible to resist playing with her. My wife normally works from home, and at times it seems nearly impossible for her. My first bit of advice is to send your family to Wisconsin. JK, of course. I miss them more than anything.


I don't know why, but I have a lot of clarity of mind when I'm in the shower. I come up with a lot of creative ideas when I'm in there. Sometimes it's a bit of a curse because it's hard to record good ideas when you're in the shower without runny pen ink and destroyed devices. Many of those shower ideas go down the drain, so to speak, BUT, now that I'm working from home, I can shower as much as I want and keep the ideas flowing. My second bit of advice is to shower a lot, but don't waste water obviously. That's bad.


It's hard to go from working with a team every day to being completely isolated. In my case, so much of the creative development happens in brainstorming sessions. It's stressful to be alone with a bunch of creative problems to solve. Fortunately, I got a pet turtle when I was 8 years old and I still have him today. While working from home, he sits right next to me while basking in his UV heat lamp. I listen to the gentle trickle of his filter and he makes me feel less lonely and more chill while I'm working. My third bit of advice is to get a turtle. Trust me, it's definitely easier than taking care of a dog.

Bonus: More than anything in this scary moment, we need to keep a sense of humor and joy in what we do. Things are going to get way worse before they get better. For SpecialGuest.co, we're still a tight team even while working remotely and we need the lightheartedness to keep our creativity up. I think we all know how to do the "remote thing," but I've never seen fear lead to great creativity. Fear leads to knee-jerk, basic-a**, lowest common denominator decisions. Despite being isolated, you can keep the spark of joy going while working remotely, and great ideas will come from that. Really bad, dark sh*t is happening, and the world is going to be looking for the creative spark of joy wherever they can find it. Keep it lit, so to speak.

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Aaron Duffy
Aaron Duffy is founder and executive creative director of SpecialGuest.co.

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