#WFH Diaries: Ron Wessels of MCD Partners
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, we're checking in with folks in the creative industry to see how they're doing. Here's an update from Ron Wessels, creative director at MCD Partners.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
Creative director who grew up a copywriter. I even have a copyright tattoo on my elbow to prove it, and I thought it was so original until two weeks later I saw a PA on a photo shoot that had it. Southerner, still have a bit of the accent mixed with some solid Brooklyn dialect, but Manhattanite through and through. Sun and water lover (that's how I got stuck here in the Dominican Republic). Dog lover. I feel constant laughter is the only way to get through anything.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
Cabarete, Dominican Republic. A little town on the north coast of the D.R. Closest known town where cruise ships stop is Puerto Plata.
It's me, mi esposa (if you have a serious girlfriend here, they consider you married—kinda like common law in the South) and our dog Bodega (he happens to be Dominican; we got him from a rescue organization here earlier this year).
What's your work situation like at the moment?
So I just bought this place in the D.R. and was planning to do a little vacay and a little WFH (thanks, MCD) to move in and get furniture and electricity and stuff in place. I flew out just as the virus moved in and now I'm "stuck" here. We didn't get WiFi perfectly set up before the shutdown happened here, so I have to work close to the pool house, where the router is. The only problem is brownouts; the house has backup power, but the pool house does not. I'm basically working outside, poor me. Oh, and I have to go on mute for client calls, as it seems birds chirping have replaced NYC sirens on my calls and it's distracting.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Before all of this hit, our team already worked very closely between a couple of offices. For me, it was mostly between NYC and Chicago, so not too much has changed, really. Lots of Google Hangout chats, text and video, and GotoMeeting saves us $$$ on calls while I'm here, so I see everyone I normally do on a daily basis. My boss John Caruso also started a daily email series called MCD Cribs, where people show their apartment and current work setup, which I think is quite entertaining and brilliant.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
Well, I only have a dog so it's pretty easy. We grabbed a big bag of food (he's only 25 pounds), so we're set. Also, we volunteer with the rescue organization we got him from, called Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic, to feed the strays on the beach that normally get fed scraps from turistas at restaurants.
What are you reading?
What About Your Saucepans? by Lindsay De Feliz. It's a Dominican story by an expat from the U.K. It has a lot about the culture and how things work here. She married a Dominican and they started fighting corruption in politics (sounds kinda like home, yes?). Anyway, they had to go into hiding because they stirred the pot too much.
Videocracy: How YouTube Is Changing the World by Kevin Allocca. The author is YouTube's head of culture and trends. It's pretty cool because it explains and gives credit to the kinda silly, entertaining stuff we put in our ads—it's real clients! People want puppies—it's deeper than that, but you get the idea. It's also about the sharing economy and invites us to explore and challenge the common notions around copyright laws.
What are you watching?
Ozark Season 3 on Netflix—it's finally here. I'm also about to start the final season of Schitt's Creek. I'm sad that's it's over, so I've been putting off watching the last season, but I gotta do it sometime, so why not now? Also, using VPN so I can get my YouTube TV here. It's nice to stay local and see the crew from the Today show. But unfortunately, no Yankees this year.
What are you listening to?
In keeping with the area, a good deal of Bossa Nova. I also have "Saltwater" by Geowulf on constant repeat. It's the breezy, catchy tune from the Corona commercials. (I actually think they dropped it, then it came back. It's so good, I'm sure there was a backlash.) And lastly, I'm listening to the Knocks, an NYC band on the national scene (again, I guess I'm trying to feel at home). Also, for some reason, and maybe because my girl is from Seattle, I'm listening to old Macklemore.
How are you staying fit?
I picked this place for my vacation home because it is probably the most health-conscious place in the Caribbean, with healthy food, yoga everywhere and water sports of every kind. So, eating less than we do in America—people, in general, do that here ... but more European portions. I'm also walking, because just like in NYC, we don't have a car here. No gyms are open at the moment, so… Surf. SUP. Swim.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Working on my Spanish. Still muy malo. And helping those dogs and cats.
Any tips for getting necessities?
It's good to have an amigo with a car (same as NYC) to get into town from time to time. There are bigger supermarkets there and there's a place called Jumbo, which is very much like Target or Costco where you can get like anything.
An awkward moment since all this started.
A couple of pics where I forgot to wear pants, but my girl deletes them promptly for me.
Best work email you got since all this started.
MCD Cribs, hands down. It keeps me connected and it's fun to see my mates' places.
An aha! moment since all this started.
We really are a world economy AND community—good, bad or indifferent—we just are.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
Hmm, dunno if I'm equipped to answer this question. Don't want to be an alarmist or happy-go-lucky. But I guess it's all about sticking together. We've done it for some time in NYC. Can the country and world follow our lead and do it? I hope so.