Thanks to the pandemic, the world of work is changing – and it looks very different depending on where you’re based. In The Drum’s new series, Today’s Office, we ask individuals from adland to share what these new normal routines look like. This week Kate Higgins, chief growth officer of San Francisco-based, independent ad agency Erich & Kallman, tells how she’s staying sane by, literally, keeping moving.
In February 2020 I came back to Erich & Kallman as our chief growth officer. I had all these plans for how I was going to help introduce us to new opportunities, but most importantly to new people. I love meeting people. I am that person who strikes up a conversation with everyone I meet, and that probably has something to do with me having this job.
Those plans included traveling. Conferences. Popping into a city to casually meet someone. So. Much. Traveling.
Covid-19 shrank my world, all our worlds. No travel. No leaving my zip code. And I was happy to do it, truly. I leaned hard into video, probably because that’s just what I do. Go hard at whatever is right in front of me. For years I thought sitting on a plane was horrible for my body but guess what? Zoom calls all day every damn day is way worse.
My mom joked that the day I learned to walk was the day I stopped sitting. I love to be on the go! Advertising has been great in part because there is always so much going on and literally a plane to catch. For decades it’s been that way for me, and probably many of you. Flying to meet my clients, flying for production, just going. And that’s just my work life. I live in Boulder, Colorado, for a reason. I’m my best self when I’m working hard and having adventures in the mountains.
So how does an active person stay sane? I think we’re all learning what we really need to keep our shit together in this absolutely crazy time. Me? I’m obsessed with wheels. Wheels are keeping me sane.
My wife and I did a crazy thing three years ago and bought a camper van. We call her Jane Jetson because she’s a bit fancy. Fun fact. She’s a mobile home. A Coronavirus-free bubble that we can load up and easily take anywhere, for 10 days without needing to stop anywhere but a gas station. Going in I thought Jane would help me escape work, to have adventure. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She’s helping us escape Covid-19. My job just needs a cell connection and Wi-Fi. If it’s a pitch day I need great Wi-Fi, but there are many days when just decent Wi-Fi will do. I feel beyond lucky to be in Colorado and in possession of a camper van that allows me to find my sanity.
I get to take my other favorite wheels along, too. My mountain bike in summer/fall and my fat bike in winter, if I’m brave enough to drive an almost 10,000-pound van with dually wheels into the wintery mountains. Instead of lunch hour at the gym I hop on my mountain bike for a quick spin on a gorgeous single track. That hour in nature not only shakes off my ‘Zoom neck,’ but grounds me to what really matters for me. Making each day the best it can be given the circumstances is a huge part of keeping my sanity.
Since this way of life seems to be sticking around, I finally broke down this week and bought a 25-foot, cell boosting antenna. I hear the Grand Canyon calling. I’ve never been because it’s often so hard to get away from work. Now, I’ll just be working from somewhere nearby and enjoying the journey. I’ll see you along the way for a six-foot distanced happy hour. And I’ll bring the Wi-Fi.