It was early 2020 and I looked outside — cars were driving, birds were chirping and life seemed perfect. I traveled to Chicago for a business trip and Boston for Willie’s basketball tournament. On March 3rd, I rode the 2–3 subway uptown to the Hudson Yards while everyone awkwardly stared at a man wearing a face mask and surgical gloves. At the time, COVID-19 was no more worrisome than the common cold. As information about COVID grew, so did the massive uncertainty and panic underlying the severity of the disease.
As days passed, the fear of COVID started to radiate through the city’s nerves creating tension, fear and uncertainty. With approximately 2 million people squished like sardines in the little island of Manhattan it makes finding space impossible. On March 12, I left work to stop at grocery store to find the store shelves empty. I said to myself, “When Campbell’s soup was sold out it was a sign there was a problem.”
Everyone was leaving NYC…So did we…
On March 18 we chose to leave New York City. We packed two weeks worth of clothes and drove to upstate New York to stay at my parents house while they were in Florida. The two week plan quickly stretched into over two months as COVID-19 worsened in NYC. May rolled around and our lease was ending prompting our return to NYC to figure out our next move. It was the busiest time for moving companies, but most moving were people leaving NYC. Lindsay and I resisted the NYC exit and moved from FiDi to the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.
It has been 3 years since moving to NYC from Miami Beach. Below is my assessment of the past year living through the global pandemic COVID-19.
The severity of COVID-19 impacted the way everyone worked. Many pivoted from work at home, many were laid off and others lost jobs with unemployment reaching levels unseen in the recent past. My circumstances were different. I was fortunate for two things:
- Business continued to grow during COVID-19. My company serviced clients in the Consumer Package Goods (CPG) and Healthcare/Pharmaceutical sector — two essential businesses that helped the company grow during the pandemic. In fact, our business continued to hit our pre-COVID growth expectations.
- I could work from home. Despite no office and no in-person client meetings, I was able to fully operate and function from working at home. Others found working at home a disadvantage but for me I actually found it as an opportunity to stay focused.
This past year…
Even during a pandemic, my appetite for growth has not budged causing as shift in my role over the past year. To make more money I had to deliver more value and the single best way to deliver value was bring in more money. Servicing clients has always been important, but building the book CPG business has become a key area of focus. Heading up the CPG side of the business and leading a small team within a larger business has been rewarding endeavor…Some key learnings and take aways were…
- Leading a team is not easy, but when done properly it has a multiplying effect on productivity.
- Developed expertise in key business areas: Consumer Packaged Goods, Wine & Spirits, Retail.
- Added new accounts: Campbells, Conagra, Summer Classics, and Nestle.
“You are still young,” my good friend Michael constantly reminds me as I constantly battle with expectations to grow quicker and be patient with the process. Although this past year has increased my responsibilities and taught me a lot about management, leading others and business growth, I realized I have lot more room for growth myself in different ways. Living in New York City continually inspires me to harness that everyday.
2. The Wedding Forecast.
Since Lindsay and I got engaged in February of 2019 we looked forward to our March 6th wedding date. The countdown until wedding day was real. So was counting coronavirus cases. I tracked the New York Times COVID-19 rates, watching the cases creep upwards like the temperature during the summer. I remained optimistic that the wedding would take place – what goes up must come down right? As time inched closer, the conditions in Los Angeles worsened. But we still were determined for having our March 6th wedding date…
Wedding Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D
We explored having a significantly reduced wedding in Lindsay’s beautiful backyard. But the spiking COVID-19 cases and subsequent lockdowns crumbled that idea. We pivoted to a remote, family-only, wedding in very nostalgic island of Maui, where Lindsay had dreamed as a child getting married. The month of January and February 2021 was led by excitement as Maui miraculously defied most of the wrath of COVID-19 leaving their economy operating close towards normal. However, that sharply changed leaving a dead end with a Maui wedding. Although we wanted a March 6th wedding we realized we could not bring people close together. We ultimately decided to move wedding date back four months.
July 31, 2021 – A new date and new countdown!
It’s always hard to push back a wedding, but being patient is a key virtue of our commitment. Like many, COVID-19 has challenged our bond but has also strengthened our connection for one another in the process. In the history book of relationships, few couples get to experience a pandemic together but I see so many benefits that brought us closer together through working together, spending time with family, and even traveling. I am beyond excited for our official wedding celebration in July 2021 that will be well worth the wait.
The COVID-19 pandemic displaced working from offices, shut down shopping, eliminated exercise, and restricted most forms of human interactions. Running was not one of them. The ability to sacred space during COVID-19 has been my running. Whether in upstate NY, New York City or Los Angeles, the open air and serenity from running was the sanity during stressful times. Although it was devastating to have the major legacy marathons — Boston, NYC, Berlin, Chicago cancelled for the first time in decades, it created a moment to reflect and appreciate running for what its worth and value is in my life.
Consistency is the name of the game. But how do you stay consistent with no goal, no marathon in sight?
Running without a marathon in sight is like drive without a GPS its easy to get lost. Despite the pandemic shuttering all the races, I maintained my miles and am on track for the upcoming 2021 fall faces. Now with a major marathon on my mind and goal time to hit makes running and training far more rewarding. Looking forward to two iconic races this year:
- BERLIN Marathon. Looking to break 2:45
- NYC Marathon. Running with Bill and Willie.
Years get summarizes by stories and events. 2020 gets summarized by one event — coronavirus. In 20 years, I will look back and remember the year defined by face masks, social distancing, and work from home. When major life events happen such as COVID-19, it forced me to analyze what’s important in your life. For me that was clear. I am greatly looking forward to getting married to my amazing fiancé, continue building our beautiful life in NYC, to pursuing a path of challenge and growth, and to crushing some new records with running.
Despite the New York City being the epicenter of the coronavirus devastation I still am optimistic and excited about being the most resilient city in the world and look forward to building back better than ever.