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Living in the Age of Coronavirus

In Her Own Words: WFH with 5 kids, Mindi Zissman turns to LinkedIn

As published on The Business Journals 12/7/20

Every family needs a slogan to live by.

Numerous mishaps on family road trips claimed ours years ago: “Improvise, adapt and overcome.” It’s an old Marine’s slogan. And, boy, has it come in handy this year.

With five kids suddenly stuck at home with various types of remote learning expectations and full-time working parents, it’s been tight. And suffocating.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. Pockets of time will have to do. As a writer for risk and insurance companies, I’m the voice of my client’s businesses. That requires significant thought and a solid chunk of writing time during daily article production. My biggest client scaled up my output as the pandemic raged. Work is cut into small chunks. What doesn’t get finished is pushed into the wee hours of the morning after everyone retreats to bed.
  2. Me time is a must. Like the airlines instructs you to put your mask on first in an emergency, I re-arranged my workouts to 6 a.m. for the remainder of 2020 — or no one in this house is going to make it out alive. Spoiler alert: Some days I sleep in. That’s normal, too.
  3. Go social. Ironically, I took the leap to invest in my business by hiring a LinkedIn coach April 1, 2020. As soon as the pandemic was upon us, though, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sustain her and the time commitment necessary for success. Would my clients keep me on? Gratefully, the coaching had the effect I hoped for and today, I can say it had the single biggest impact on my business in the last 16 years. It helped me niche down to focus on the right prospects, and grew my social media following organically throughout the pandemic, something critical for a freelance marketer today.
  4. Being comfortable showing all of me. As a consultant, I usually play chameleon. I’m wearing whatever hat you want me to wear while I’m working on your project. That is no longer an option with video conferencing. I “see” my clients more now than ever before. That means my life is in full view — and so is theirs. When civil unrest hit Chicago, and the 2020 presidential election was in full swing, more real conversations with my clients were born. What they care about and value personally, and revealing where we’re all vulnerable, created more glue between us than I could have ever predicted.
  5. Listen to others. As a runner, I value my daily time alone listening to music. Since the pandemic began, though, podcasts facilitate another connection to the outside world. I am able to regularly hear from LinkedIn contacts I might have met at a conference. In many ways, this new sphere of influence has cast of a wider net for me than if travel was in play.

“Improvise, adapt and overcome” has served us well in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s not yet time to retire the phrase. And that’s really ok because we are moving into the next decade more resilient and knowledgeable about ourselves and others than ever before.”

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