#WFH Diaries: Mike and Connie Ozan of Twist

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 Mike and Connie Ozan, the chief creative officer and chief design officer of Twist in Cleveland.

Give us a one-line bio of yourselves.

We're co-founders of Twist.

Connie: I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, artist, designer and business owner trying to make the best of this right now. I get excited about the details—that's what makes me happy. I express that in tending to our family, our work and our home.

Mike: I live for the big idea, seeing clients and our staff find success, and for my family, who give my challenges both reason and purpose. And I write copy.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

Our home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with our two quarantine mates, teenagers (Monte, 15, and Sophia, 17), and our labradoodle (emotional support dog) Champ.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

We're both taking one day at a time. The day starts with our 8:30 a.m. team meeting via GoToMeeting, where we can hear everyone's energetic voices and the day ends the same. Not only is our team creative, but they are resilient, determined and loyal. No one has missed a beat. We're proud and grateful for that. The two of us work from a shared office, which has been fun and nostalgic because we started together in a room about the same size. Our work situation? Improving, slowly, maybe.

Describe your socializing strategy.

We've been doing a lot of driveway visits and meeting new neighbors, at a distance, while walking our dog Champ. With both of us celebrating milestone birthdays, we've also done a lot of FaceTime with friends and family. 

How are you dealing with childcare?

Our children are teens, so they are self-reliant, which is good. We just need to make sure they don't sleep in too long and are doing their virtual homework. 

What are you reading?

Connie: With the extra time, I've had the chance to dive into a collection of design and inspiration books that have been sitting in our office for years. Not so much reading but "ogling" the imagery from design heroes like: Hella Jongerius I Don't Have a Favourite Colour and Athena Calderone's new book Live Beautiful.

Mike: I've been listening to a ton of audiobooks, typically biographies and autobiographies of leaders, writers and thinkers. Elon Musk to Steve Martin—hearing how successful people persevere through tough times. I've also been devouring MasterClass's content—with the favorite being Doris Kearns Goodwin instructing on presidential leadership in times of crisis.

What are you watching?

We sped through Ozark Season 3 on Netflix and are enjoying watching The Plot Against America on HBO together, as well as Honey Boy on Amazon.

What are you listening to?

'70s yacht rock in the office and by the fire pit.

How are you staying fit?

We have a nice exercise setup in the basement that is much appreciated now.

Connie: My gym is hosting virtual Zoom classes every day where I can see gym friends while doing an insane amount of burpees and bodyweight exercises. 

Mike: I have my early morning '80s-style push-up bar routine, which is multiple sets of a variety of push-up types to failure. 

Have you taken up a hobby?

Connie: Watercolor painting again (it's been over 20 years) and hanging art and photos around the house. Together we are always working on the house or dreaming or planning our next project. 

Mike: Cleaning the cars or riding my motorcycle. 

Any tips for getting necessities?

Wear your mask and be patient when running out to the store. Forgive those who are reluctant to follow the rules, but stay away from them. Mike actually brought a work chair home from the office to be able to work more comfortably, encouraging our team to do the same, if needed. 

An awkward moment since all this started.

Every moment since this started! Working remotely is OK, but it is full of awkwardness, especially when trying to make small talk at the beginning of client meetings. Also, when Connie's parents stopped over for the 50th birthday and Easter and we had to wave from a distance. That made us sad. 

Best work email you got since this all started.

You've been approved for PPP. Low bar, but it's all relative. 

An aha! moment since all this started.

We have two.

This information needs a campaign, so we created one just focused on our city (Cleveland) to make sure localized information was being served. Every disaster is full of opportunity because it creates an urgent need. How can we help? We can try and spread the word faster than the virus.

We both turned 50 during Covid-19. We couldn't believe how creative our friends and family were in celebrating. Mike threw Connie a parade—20-plus cars drove by our house (a great idea that spread like wildfire). Connie collected 50 letters from family and friends for Mike—they were heartfelt, hilarious and a nice keepsake for him.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

The greater the disaster, the greater the opportunity. I feel that this is not just a tragic event, but it is a landmark event for us as 21st century residents of Earth. I believe that everything has a natural balance and when that balance is disturbed, like a pendulum it will eventually rest at the center again but it will take patience and perseverance. We will adapt in ways we never thought possible, and from the innovations that adaptation necessitates we will discover that we can work, learn and connect in new ways. It's not the end of the world, but I think this is all close enough to provide the kick in the ass we need to remind us that the engine of democracy is compromise.

On a more personal note, I think we will all realize how important human interaction is and the relationships we hold close to our hearts will not be taken for granted.  

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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