#WFH Diaries: Milton Correa and Jones Krahl of Deloitte Digital's Heat
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. Below, we chat with Milton Correa and Jones Krahl, executive creative directors at Deloitte Digital's Heat.
Give us one-line bio of yourselves.
Milton: I'm Milton Correa, an executive creative director at Deloitte Digital's Heat, Brazilian born and seasoned New Yorker, who gave up on waiting for a barber and is patiently growing his hair out.
Jones: I'm Jones Krahl, an executive creative director at Deloitte Digital's Heat, a karaoke enthusiast and one-time Latin Grammy nominee (long story). Born in Brazil but also a proud American citizen.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
Milton: I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with my wife Flavia, my 6-year-old son Nolan and my 1-year-old daughter Ella.
Jones: I live in Brooklyn, New York, with my 6-year old son (and world-class Pokémon trainer) Nico and my Finnish-Italian girlfriend Christine. I can see my partner Milton's balcony from my window, so apparently not even a pandemic can get him out of my sight.
What's your work situation like at the moment, and how is it evolving?
Milton: It's been busy, it's been a learning curve but overall a positive one. It's not perfect but eventually you find a cadence and concerns like "How we'll keep our creative culture alive" give way to new experiences like a major fully remote shoot. Besides the initial uncertainties of this very different setup, you quickly learn it can be very successful even when clients, directors and creatives are all scattered around time zones. You also learn after three overnight shoot days that shooting in Slovenia while in New York gets you more jetlagged than if you had actually flown to Slovenia.
Bottom line, we're all realizing you can change the logistics of how you work without changing the principles behind your work. This adaptability without sacrificing creative quality sounds promising to me.
Jones: Honestly, we have been busier than ever with multiple productions in the works, and a personal pro-bono project on the side. We just finished a remote shoot where we ended up staying up three nights in a row running on Red Bull, coffee and way too many dad jokes.
My workspace at home reminds me of a crowded movie theater. If I don't get to "the good seat" by the window view early enough, I'm stuck working by the kitchen counter.
When you do you expect to return to the office?
Milton: I do miss the office energy, the antics, the Kombucha on tap, but honestly don't see that setup resuming any time soon.
Jones: I miss the office, to be honest—the people, the energy, the bottomless bowls of M&Ms. But I know I will miss staying more at home and hanging with my kid when (if) things get back to normal. Actually, I'm not sure I can go back to working in an office eight hours a day, every day. I guess a lot of us are realizing that a hybrid environment can be much more beneficial and productive.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Milton: Pretty much video-chat since I haven't been congregating in person, but this situation sparked a strong proximity with geographically distant friends. Though I can literally see Jones' building from my apartment's window, right now he's as far away as any of my childhood friends back in Brazil. This experience with the location-agnostic work-life opened an unexpected perspective in how we see video-chat technology as a way to have meaningful interactions and be close to people. What started with a "How are things in NY? Are you OK?" became full-on hanging out with old buddies that I used to see once a year tops.
Jones: I'm still being very cautious and limiting socializing to a handful of people we trust. But I have to say that my virtual social skills have improved tremendously. Just the other day I spent six hours on a Zoom call playing guitar with a bunch of my childhood friends back in Brazil. It made us all think why the heck haven't we done that even before the pandemic.
How are you dealing with childcare?
Milton: My wife has been a trooper and taken the lead on that front all along. She's solely responsible for the airtight security on my endless Zoom meetings with a spotless record of zero infant breaches.
Jones: My son stays with me for half of every week, so workwise it's easier for me than other full-time parents. But kudos to summer vacation because I don't need to start shift number two with homework after a full day on Zoom. I'm terrible at homework.
What are you reading?
Milton: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. It was originally published in 1985 but is eerily relevant and prescient of the times we're living.
Jones: The Paul Simon biography. I want to get to the bottom of those backing vocals with Garfunkel. True story: My older brother saw this old man singing and playing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in a tiny rural town in Brazil and thought the guy wasn't half bad at it. The guy turned out to be Paul Simon himself, who was visiting a local medium. He found out the next morning.
What are you watching?
Milton: I'm thankful sports are back so I can get a fix on my soccer and F1 addiction. In the early days of the pandemic, I voraciously consumed all my favorite TV series. Now I'm hanging in there waiting for Narcos, Barry, Mindhunter, Ozark, Curb, etc., to come back eventually. Also have been revisiting movies I love. I recently watched Free Solo again. The story of how Alex Honnold could achieve the impossible is always so inspiring and such a powerful benchmark to relativize our daily challenges.
Jones: The U.K. Office, rewatching Curb Your Enthusiasm, Indian Matchmaking (yep), SpongeBob SquarePants (more specifically, Season 5 now—right, son?) and literally any soccer game that's on.
What are you listening to?
Milton: Spike Jonze's Beastie Boys Story put me on nostalgia mode, a throwback into my '90s indie/punk rock roots. The genre took over my Spotify lately.
Jones: The New York Times' Daily podcast, Supergrass, the Beatles (probably nonstop since I was 8) and myself playing guitar. Ah, also K-Ci & Jojo and Air Supply on repeat for months due to a client project.
How are you staying fit?
Milton: Peloton bike + set of dumbbells = a 22-week streak (and counting) of working out every single day. I can say I'm fitter right now than when I was in my early 30s.
Jones: Working out with a trainer either outdoors or remotely via Zoom a (very) few times a week. Running after a 6-year-old on a scooter is also great cardio.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Milton: Watching my kids grow up. If I wasn't working from home, I wouldn't have witnessed Ella's first steps, or flex my thumb muscles on the Nintendo Switch with Nolan, building our island on Animal Crossing or just watching him play Zelda: Breath of The Wild and crush it. And I literally mean just watch because I can't keep up with his pro skills on Master mode. The kid could be easily streaming his gameplay if he wasn't just 6 years old.
Jones: Yes. Not taking the L train.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Milton: The last six months have been one big awkward moment.
Jones: Compared to what I've seen other people do on Zoom calls (the other day there was a guy changing his clothes in an official government call in Brazil), I can't think of anything worth sharing.
An aha! moment since all this started.
Milton: When you figure out the proper workspace and establish structure with the new routine, you finally start "working from home" and stop "living at work."
Jones: My son popping up on a Zoom meeting to show his new Pokémon cards and calling out "uncle" Milton, as his son is friends with mine.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
Milton: Hopefully we won't go back to "the normal" (before the pandemic) once a vaccine is widely available. I don't see us returning to the five-day work week at the office routine, as this moment in history is proving that we can rethink how to operate in different ways and still get great creative work out the door. The world has changed, society has changed, and we've changed as individuals. Our industry shouldn't waste this opportunity to create a healthier and more sustainable work culture.
Jones: I believe advertising will go "back to brand." The fight for consumer dollars is fiercer than ever. That coupled with big tech pushing to kill invasive targeting and growing calls for consumer privacy means your creative and brand is the only way to differentiate and drive preference.
Or not. What do I know?