#WFH Diaries: Josh Leutz of Carmichael Lynch
As coronavirus lockdowns persist around the globe, Muse chats with creative people to see how they’re faring. Below, we catch up with Josh Leutz of Minneapolis-based ad shop Carmichael Lynch.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm an executive creative director at Carmichael Lynch.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I live in Minneapolis with my wife Molly, Mae (7), Ruud (4), and a crazy old pug, Bluto.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
As an agency, I'm proud of the way we've stayed connected. Some things just take a bit longer when you're not able to be in the same space. Conversely, we're breaking land-speed records in terms of getting good work out the door. Then, there's a lot of time just checking in with people to see how they're doing – as human beings.
On a more personal level, we have a small house, so a part of every day is scurrying about looking for a quiet place to work. A lot of stuff happens in the wee hours of the morning, or at night.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Lots of texts and messaging and FaceTiming. Lots of emails. Even in more normal times, I've never been averse to picking up the phone. So, a lot of phone calls. I cringed when I got the first email for a Zoom happy hour, but I've been surprised by how much I now look forward to them.
How are you dealing with childcare?
We give our kids a bag of fish sticks and send them to the basement to watch TV all day. Kidding. Kind of. I've been lucky. My wife sometimes has a free hand to wrangle them during the working day, making sure they don't grow feral. She's been huge. I try to step away during “business hours” to help and hang out with them as much as I can. This is super hard on them – not being at school or being able to play with their friends.
What are you reading?
Even though I'm a writer by trade, I am embarrassed to say that I am an absolutely terrible reader. I'm picking through an oral history of Monty Python. And I have a lot of giant art books that I thumb through. Right now, one on Gerhard Richter and a retrospective on The Sea Ranch.
What are you watching?
Ozark (Season 3), Ugly Delicious (Season 2), Run, replays of old Ajax games (I miss soccer), and I’m re-watching Shangri-La, the Rick Rubin docuseries, for the third or fourth time. If you've not seen it, it's a really thoughtful meditation on the creative process. I love everything about it.
What are you listening to?
'90s hip-hop. The David Chang podcast. Pod Save America. Talking Heads. Always Talking Heads. The endless, non-stop questions of a four-year old boy. The usual stuff.
How are you staying fit?
I've been doing a lot of running. Short half-hour runs. Hour-plus ramblers. Sometimes late at night, like a raccoon. We're lucky to live in place where it's easy to go outside. We also bought some kettlebells. The kettlebell industry! Another unlikely beneficiary of these strange times. You can't find those things anywhere.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Ha. No, not really. It's not a new hobby but I have been spending more time drawing with my kids.
Any tips for getting necessities?
Nothing out of the ordinary. We try to do business with companies that are doing good by their people. And we try to do our part to help local restaurants by ordering take-out occasionally.
An awkward moment since all this started.
It's all been one big, sometimes painful, sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, awkward moment.
Best work email you got since all this started.
Early on, our CEO, Marcus, sent a really nice and thoughtful and heartfelt email to the agency. I won't go into the details, but that's one I'll hang onto for a while.
An a-ha! moment since all this started.
I think, like many people, I went into this with grand designs of keeping professional life separate from family life. Like, I'd work and then I'd punch out and hang out with the family and that would be that. I don't know if there was a specific moment – maybe seeing a client's kid wander into a video conference — but, early on, it became very apparent that wasn't how this was going to go down. We're all going through the same stuff, and you just have to embrace the messiness and the chaos.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I'm optimistic that we—the collective WE—can pull through this. My only hope is that we really learn something from it and find a better way forward.