#WFH Diaries: Whit and Christy Hiler of Cornett

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 Whit and Christy Hiler of Kentucky agency Cornett.

Give us one-line bios of yourselves.

My name is Whit Hiler and I'm an executive creative director and resident trouble maker at Cornett. 

My name is Christy Hiler and I'm the president of Cornett (and of our household). 

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

We are healthy at home in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, right now with our four rowdy kids and our kind of annoying, old-ass dog (he barks a lot). 

What's your work situation like at the moment, and how is it evolving?

Whit: I'm actually really digging working from home. I'm an extrovert so I'm definitely missing my co-workers, but the 700 Zoom meetings we're having a day have been filling that hole in my heart. The kids have been a little challenging, but I'm thankful for this time with them and thankful to be really busy right now both with Cornett and Kentucky for Kentucky. My work days have been longer—like 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.—but with a bunch of breaks throughout the day. I think that style of working really suits me because my mind and my productivity are typically all over the place. I also really like wearing sweatpants 24/7. That's been a great perk.

Christy: Wild, and wonderful. With no separation or end to the work, parenting, thinking, processing, emails, picking up … I kind of feel like the past nine weeks have been one very long day. But there are so many beautiful moments mixed in with the messy ones, I find myself grateful for the change. 

Describe your socializing strategy.

We have a small circle of friends and family members that we have been around from the beginning of quarantine. The circle hasn't gotten any bigger, or smaller. The kids have some other kiddos they get to hang with, and we've got some adults we get to hang with. That's been really nice.

How are you dealing with childcare?

Thankfully, we've had a little help with the kids. They've been going to their grandmother's every Friday, and we've got someone who comes to the house and helps with the home-schooling a few days during the week. It's really nice to have those days to really just focus on work. On the days when it's just us and the kids, we just try to balance it all out. Christy gets them going on their school work, and I'm in charge of the physical education—skateboarding, bike riding, soccer, etc. Some days they get a bunch of school work done, some days they watch eight consecutive hours of Harry Potter movies.

What are you reading?

Whit: Lots of news, ad pubs, tweets, Slack conversations, memes and texts from buddies.

Christy: I've taken my doctor's advice and limited myself to two doses of Covid news updates a day. I'm focusing my attention on the industries we serve. Each is so different. And while so much is unknown and unpredictable, there are a lot of great conversations being had and information being shared to help us all make thoughtful decisions.

What are you watching?

Whit: I've been watching Homeland, just started Billions, the new season of The Last Kingdom and a bunch of skateboarding videos with the boys. I also recently watched the new Beastie Boys Story. That was great.

Christy: Everyone and everything around me. I'm watching my kids learning so many things, and getting creative. Our team communicating better than ever and delivering incredibly thoughtful and meaningful work. The trees and flowers growing and blooming. The birds that come take a rest on the windowsill outside my makeshift stand-up desk that looks out into the yard. The dishes and laundry piling up behind me.

What are you listening to?

Whit: I've been listening to new Strokes album a good bit, and a few different ad podcasts. 

Christy: All the Zooms happening at the same time in my house. And a lot of great podcasts. 

How are you staying fit?

Whit: I try to walk a few miles each day and then do a few of these seven-minute workouts or some yoga. 

Christy: A good friend of mind launched an on-demand fitness site during this. My oldest daughter and I have been doing her classes together after the other kids have gone to bed.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Whit: Since the quarantine began, we've added a grind box, a launch ramp and a 3-by-8 mini ramp to the collection of toys at the Hiler house. With that said, I've kind of been dabbling as a personal trainer and videographer for the kids. 

Christy: I'm making all sorts of things. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, homeschool lesson plans, strategic brand plans, remote work policies, art, masks for my family members, and lots of coffee to keep us going.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay six feet back.

An awkward moment since all this started. 

There's definitely been some interesting moments in all of this. The other day we were both on client calls and all of the sudden the kids just started going crazy upstairs—laughing, gagging, yelling, etc. Our littlest guy (3) had taken a massive poop in his pull-up after nap and got it everywhere trying to take it off himself. A full-on poo-nado. Then our oldest daughter (12) who was helping to clean things up comes running down the stairs to take the dirty pull-up out to the trash and steps right on to a skateboard and busts her ass (like six feet from where I'm sitting). Poops goes all over her. They're hooting and hollering upstairs; she's crying downstairs, and there we are sitting on client calls. Fun stuff.

Best work email you got since all this started. 

Whit: The email asking me to participate in the #WFH Diaries was by far my favorite. I kind of invited myself to this party, but that's beside the point. There's been some other really great ones—we've recently won a few awards and have been asked to participate in a few different pitches. 

Christy: The email saying our PPP loan was approved.

An aha! moment since all of this started. 

Whit: There's a lot of opportunity out there. Opportunities to help others, to spread awareness, to do things that haven't been done, to get scrappy, get weird and to really flex the creativity. I love getting scrappy and weird. We're just digging in and making as much stuff as we can—for our clients, for Cornett, our community, etc. 

Christy: We are resilient. We can do unimaginable things, together and apart.  

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

Whit: I have no clue. It's really hard to say what the future holds for these "UNCERTAIN TIMES." I do know that sweatpants are my new normal, and when we go back to working in an office, I'll be wearing sweatpants to work every day—even to client meetings.

Christy: There is so much healing and rebuilding needed. It won't look the same, but my sincere hope is that it, and we, will be better because of it all. 

See our full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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