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The GSG QuaranTEAM: Jeff Plaut & Maryanne Forsythe

Jeff Plaut

Founding Partner  

Isolating in Montclair, NJ  

What has been the biggest challenge, surprise, or learning since changing to a remote work environment?

I have been commuting from Montclair, NJ to Port Authority, NYC nearly every day for 20 years. When I did the back of the envelope math, that comes out to 420 full days (over a year) of my life on a Decamp Bus commuting, most of it sleeping. I’m amazed – for the time being at least – how much I can do from home. 

How has your client management changed, if at all?

Well, I’ve always prided myself on being able to take a few facts and tell a bigger story. I’m very impressed with Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, for example, which was only 272 words. 

Since the pandemic began, I find myself going for the big idea with my advice to clients – it’s oddly liberating. So far, its mostly prose, but perhaps the poetry will come.

From a public affairs perspective, what/who has impressed you most in their coronavirus management?

My colleague Philip Bolton has moved me deeply. To see and hear how he has taken the pain of this moment and decided to respond in an authentic way without apology really means a lot to me. It’s hard – and risky – to speak up and act up. A lot of my GSG colleagues are doing that right now, and I’m thankful. It makes me better and it makes us better.

Have any of your strongest professional skills been tested or broken?

I like to laugh, I really do. And, I like to use humor to try to engage serious things. 

This is a hard time for comedy or joking. I listened to Dave Chapelle’s “8:46” the other night with my son Abe. At the end of it, I was crying.  

How do you differentiate your “work” vs “personal” time?

It’s always been a blend for me so not that much different now. I’ve been very lucky – Amy and all my kids are home. We have a long dinner every night with a lot of outrageous story telling (much of it from my daughter Sophie). When the food hits the table, it’s full contact family time.

Which remote working adjustments do you hope will translate back to the office?

I am on Slack for the first time. I love it. And I’m seeing more of the sausage making of our work on Slack – that gives me an even greater appreciation for our terrific team. 

What is the first thing you plan to do post-isolation?

Would love to see friends, go to the beach and hear live music. Amy and I missed the Newport Folk Festival this summer for the first time in a decade. 

What is your favorite coronavirus meme or internet creation?

My internet life is mostly following Nick Gourevitch on Twitter and connecting with friends and family on Facebook!

What is the last show you binge watched or guilty pleasure movie of choice?

Derry Girls on a rec from Nicole Jaconetty. 

I’m much more of a book guy. Just finished Sapiens by Yuval Harari and Oreo by Fran Ross. Both excellent in very different ways.

Most fun discovery about your new “coworkers”? (partners, children, pets, etc.)

My dog Benji and I have a deepened relationship since I’ve been home. He now follows me around the house which is really flattering though when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (OK TMI), he’s come to expect a small cup of water for his troubles!

What meal have you made the most often?

I don’t know how to cook, really. I clear the table and wash dishes. Amy is a great cook. Her chicken shwarma is excellent.

Have you discovered any hidden talents or taken up any new hobbies?

On Angie Kuefler’s recommendation, I got a treadmill. My son Jacob built it for me. I’ve enjoyed listening to Janis Joplin and lumbering along on it.

Maryanne Forsythe

Executive Assistant to Jefrey Pollock and Nick Gourevitch; General Kitten Wrangler    

Isolating in Astoria, NY!

What has been the biggest challenge, surprise, or learning since changing to a remote work environment?

The change and waves of my workload has been both a challenge and learning. I was prepared for a heavy travel season, only for there to be none to plan. But that has also allowed me to relearn the importance of taking a break during the work day, to focus on a meal or walk outside, to clear my head and reset. As I’m sure many of us know, it is all too easy to fall into the habit of taking breaks from the go-go-go only if the momentum allows, but being remote has forced me to reevaluate my time management to make sure that both my work and myself are given top consideration.

Have any of your strongest professional skills been tested or broken?

My ability to focus has definitely been tested and most days I lose. I’m someone who doodles and/or needs ancillary noises to block out in order to concentrate, and my attempts to recreate that have not been successful.

Which remote working adjustments do you hope will translate back to the office?

I hope to see simple kindnesses continue. Though mostly due to COVID vs simply being remote, no one is experiencing having to deal with a global pandemic in the same way; the few minutes taken to check on someone can really make a difference.

Personally, it might be a day that I wake up, spin the wheel of emotions, and then wish me luck. But small moments with my colleagues, friends, building neighbors, and clients I’ve never met face to face—whether its planned or forced—can make all the difference btwn me working in joggers or putting on real pants.

What is the first thing you plan to do post-isolation?

Hug my friends for a little too long. Visit my sisters and their fams and my friends in the Philadelphia area. Reschedule my cancelled trip to Paris. Make up obscene amounts of missed time in Target and TJ Maxx.

What is your favorite coronavirus meme or internet creation?

Old shout out to Some Good News with John Krasinszki, which was guaranteed to make me cry (note: I cry at everything), and Leslie Jordan coming to Instagram.

Most fun discovery about your new “coworkers”? (partners, children, pets, etc.)

My plants are surprisingly needy, but its been fun to watch them grow in real time vs. only when I’m home. And I had a foster dog for one week and it was the best week ever.

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