#WFH Diaries: Blair Brady of the WITH/agency
As the pandemic continues with no end in sight, and with most folks still working from home, we're checking in with industry pros to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Blair Brady, CEO and co-founder of the WITH/agency.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
Recovering ballerina, current CEO and co-founder of the WITH/agency, wife, mother/lion-tamer of three young children, and relentless believer we can and will all do better.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I live in Atlanta (FILA) with my husband Art, 6-year-old daughter, 5-year-old son, almost 1-year-old son, and giant black lab, Tubs.
What's your work situation like at the moment, and how is it evolving?
My situation is ever-evolving, but moving at a glacial pace ... just like everyone. Currently, I'm working partially from home, partially in our office (just for a change of scenery). Until very recently, I was 100 percent WFH. As an agency, we are operating at full capacity, but semi-remotely. We're back in live production. We actually have had two broadcast shoots in the last month. It really felt good to see the team working like that again.
When you do you expect to return to the office?
I personally have been working from the office on a limited basis, but most staff is not. We are in a unique space that allows for limited exposure—we have our own door to the outside, so no shared hallways or elevators for us. Honestly, it is a little depressing being in the office with no one else around—it is completely devoid of the pulsing energy and spirit our staff brings. It gets really pathetic when the lights go off because no one has set off the motion sensor and I have to walk around the office flapping my arms to turn it back on.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Ha!! I wouldn't call it a strategy. Its somewhere in the purgatory of things-we-would-never-do-before-2020, like:
Virtual happy hours.
Yard drinks, 2020's latest craze. This is when we gather with our neighbors in the corners of our yards with our baby monitors after our children go to bed.
Standing in the middle of our street supervising our kids riding bikes.
As far as the agency goes, we stay connected by morning standup video calls every day to set the tone and see each other's faces to start the day.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
Very applicable. Very frustrating. Very eye-opening to a greater issue in our society.
For us, our childcare situation has been an evolution. When we started, we gratefully still had our college-aged nanny quarantined with us. Then, when she left, it was a game of schedule Tetris for coverage between my husband and me. Currently, all three kids are back in supervised schooling, mostly full time. Our oldest is at a virtual learning center—a term that eats at my soul every time I say it because she should be in a real-life 1st grade classroom, but I know she has it much better than so many children her age.
What are you reading?
Confession: I don't read. Seriously. Its my New Year's resolution every year.
What are you watching?
Documentaries are my love language. Particularly the ones on social advocacy. I live in—and love—Atlanta, so I gravitate toward civil rights docs, and also love music docs.
What are you listening to?
I'm a music nerd, so I'm always listening to music. I most recently re-listened to Beyoncé's Lemonade album, which is outside my go-to set of genres, but I respect her immensely. It was interesting listening to the album through the filter of 2020.
How are you staying fit?
Peloton. BEST. COVID. PURCHASE. EVER. The addiction is real.
Have you taken up a hobby?
I picked the guitar back up. We recently inherited a piano, though no one in our house knows how to play it.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Actually, I have one every week. (Whether they like it or not), I started sending the agency a self-recorded video message each week called the Sunday Night Sitdown, where I talk about whatever is on my mind and reflect on the week. Then hit some song for a musical outtro and awkwardly dance and lip sync until the awkwardness level is almost unbearable. We're on episode 20-something of the Sitdown now, so the awkward moments are really stacking up.
An aha! moment since all this started.
I think everyone has had several aha moments in 2020—big and small. For me, I realized how much waste we produce as a family. Before this year, I would've considered us a fairly Earth-conscious crew. No single-use plastics, avid recyclers, etc. I even transferred this to the agency in January by challenging us to eliminate all single-use plastics from the office. But being home with three young children, cooking and cleaning up after all of their meals and messes (!!!) for an extended period of time, really opened my eyes to how much trash we really make. When it's concentrated all together in one place like that—with no distractions or other places or breaks from it all—it's astounding. So, we've made some changes at the Brady house. No more paper towels (unless absolutely necessary)—we use reusable/washable "unpaper" towels and cloth napkins for meals now. For cleaning supplies, we've moved to Blueland. I also realized how much superfluous money and waste were caused by coffees, lunches, meals, etc., out. With everyone home for every meal, you really start to see stuff like that. Not that I don't love someone to make me a latte or a nice lunch out every now and then, but the amount of meaningless trips and meals were well beyond intentional.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I have zero theories. Personally, I just want to learn and grow. But one thing I am excited about is the hours of content that will come out of this year on various topics. It's a documentary junkie's dream come true.