From Shannon in Florida: Finding a new Perspective on “Why”

Well another week has passed and Covid-19 still hasn’t caught the hint that nobody likes it. This virus is like people that drop by, and then hang around, somehow end up having dinner, and then won’t get the hint despite all the yawning and “oh man it’s getting late”. If you’ve been in that situation you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, then you’ve been that guest that overstays their welcome. 

All jokes aside, not much has changed in the past week. Protests are still going, Atlanta is on fire because police officers shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in a Wendys parking lot after he resisted arrest and started running away from cops.  The Wendys since has gone up in flames, the mayor has asked for the officer to be terminated, and it’s only added fuel to the fire. 8 officers in Atlanta have resigned since the events transpired. The sad thing to consider is this isn’t coincidence that another black  man we unnecessarily killed, but rather we are hearing about it now vs. before we were not. In Oklahoma two black teenagers (~13 years old) were arrested for “Jaywalking”, on a street where there was no sidewalk. It showed yet again the targeting of black males in America. 

Say what you will about how people are becoming too dependent on phones, but these phones have allowed for continuous documentation of what is happening. They are providing evidence about how events happen, avoiding this “he said she said” that can stand in the way of justice. 

One of my friends posted a insightful quote on social media last week:

What is 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw –  that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather the most important year of them all. 

Leslie Dwight

Maybe if we can all change our perspective to see the importance of this, we can grow together and become better. 

PS. happy pride month to all, and congratulations on the Supreme Court finally ruling LGBTQ workers to be protected from job discrimination! Finally a glimmer of hope almost the virus ridden fires. 

From Shannon in Florida: 14 days of Protests

It’s been 14 days of protesting, and 14 days on not hearing too much about COVID-19 but instead America facing it’s hidden shame, systematic racial injustice. It’s been incredibly encouraging to see people band together and say this is unacceptable. There have been talks about what Trump is doing wrong (almost everything), and videos of continued police brutality and anger. There have also been glimmers of hope amongst the darkness. All 4 police officers who were there during George Floyds murder are facing charges, government officials are speaking out, and cops are quitting to show they will have nothing to do with the brutality being shown by their co-workers. It’s amazing to see people refusing to let this be another incident that is spoken about briefly and then quickly lost in the sea of similar incidents. 

As I have mentioned in the past, as a consultant you work with clients from different companies during projects. This client in particular I have had direct contact with and been intertwined with other employees in his organization and I am able to see what is happening behind the scenes. I have always been impressed with the transparency, diversity, and drive shown by him and his employees, but on Friday I saw something much bigger. At the beginning of the week the client mentioned in the monthly team call he wanted to go over some “business as usual” agenda items, but he also wanted to take time to have a hard conversation. In order to drive the conversation he asked me to put together a number of surgery questions that went from big picture “how are you feeling about current events” and evolved to “how can I, and this team do better”. It’s not necessarily new to see these types of questions be introduced. As a first draft I decided to tread lightly and respect that as the head of 9 teams with hundreds of employees under him, he may not want to ask too sensitive a questions. As we reviewed it the day before the meeting he emphasized to me he did not want to say “how do you feel about ongoing events?” Because he felt that was insulting to the reality of events. He wanted the question to say “How do you feel about the ongoing events surrounding the systematic racial abuse and the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, amongst many others”. I was a little concerned that this may turn into a bit of an HR nightmare, and asked him if he wanted to be as on the nose with it. Thats when he stopped and asked me, if I’d rather have someone beat around the bush or call it what it is. 

It took me a minute to decide if I wanted to be a professional in this moment and consult him (what I was hired to do) to dial it back, or if I wanted to be a person who stands up for what I believe is the right thing. We talked about it and agreed that he wants to have people working with him that will have the hard conversations, and are willing to do what they think is right, and express their thoughts. We updated the surgery to be reflective of what we thought was right and forgot about the possibility of making someone uncomfortable and focused on the importance of transparency within his organization. 

He started the meeting as planned, speaking about who did what and what was coming up, and then he switched gears. As we went through the survey we spent time reading responses (they had been made anonymous to allow people more comfort in sharing their true opinions). I have never been as impressed with a group of leaders as I was in that hour. There was open and honest conversation. People spoke up, and didn’t hold back. Through it all we all turned back to the client to say, thank you for having this conversation in a work environment, because usually nobody wants to do this. Ideas were shared, and I think we all felt depleted for what was happening, but hopeful to be surrounded by such a diverse group of people who were able to say “this is wrong and we HAVE to do something about it”. With 9 minutes left, the manager said he wanted to honor George Floyd by having 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence and black screens. His voice shook and he said, “because that’s the same amount of time it took this cop to put his knee on his f****** neck and murder someone in cold blood because of the color of their skin.”

This will not go away. Americans are the first to voice opinions and shout about being the land of freedom and equality. Black people have no freedom and are far from being treated equally. America needs to continue to speak up, and the world has to stand behind and agree. 

Thank you to my client for showing me he is not scared to have this conversation, and that it needs to be talked about in all environments. Have the conversations, back those conversations up with action, and don’t stop.

Black Lives Matter.

From Shannon in Florida: America is on Fire

2020 has been nothing short of a crapshoot, where it seems nothing can go right. First, Australia is on fire and it seems like it may last forever, then a helicopter crash kills 7 people, including Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter Gigi.  All of this seemed bad enough for the first few months of the year (if only we would have known). After that Covid-19 hit. What seemed like it was happening in Asia spread to Europe and quickly was happening around the world. Countries went into mass lockdown, people in Paris weren’t allowed to leave their homes for more than an hour or two per week, and needed to have documentation on them that they were allowed to. Trump kept saying, “we have this under control, this “Chinese virus” won’t effect us.” Obviously he was massively mistaken. 

Florida never really took it seriously, it still really has not. For about a week people were supposed to. “Shelter in place” and wear masks when they went out. The week after they lifted the ban, and you saw thousands on tv headed to the beach. I saw people on social media having quarantine parties and saying things such as “if I get it, I get it” as if it was acceptable. Events stopped, hospitals are over flowing, people are dying and many. Have lost their jobs. From every angle you can look at 2020 as a travesty and yet somehow the current administration is saying ‘we’re handing this great, and doing a tremendous job”. If you don’t know, those are some big buzz words they like to use to describe themselves. 

If we would have closed the chapter on 2020 there it would have been widely seen as a terrible year, however it just seems to get worse. Anyone who watched the news knows that police brutality is a grave issue which effects the United States. Let me be more specific, police brutality towards the African American community is a grave issue caused by some horrendous individuals in the United States. I will be honest and say I cannot name the amount of victims who have been killed by the police because there have simply been too many.

Amadu Diallo was unarmed and not committing any crime when he was shot 41 times by 4 undercover cops in 1999, they were all acquitted and walked free.  In 2014 the police shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and his killer also walked free. Three days ago George Floyd was arrested, and one officer knelt on his neck, while he was handcuffed for 9 minutes. The last minutes of George’s life, he was humiliated, and begging for his life while 3 other cops stood and let it happen. 

There are three examples spanning over 20 years, and countless others that are not included showing the racial discrimination and brutality used against African American men. People are protesting, and those protests are turning to riots because it seems like nobody listens. Atlanta was set on fire, DC was set on fire, and Trump was taken to the bunker as the protest neared the White House. This is an awful time for everyone in 2020, but it seems like it has and will continue to be an awful time for those targeted by police. I will say I do believe that 95% of officers are good and are as disgusted by this as the rest, but 95% is too little for the amount of power they have. Of course people are mad and it seems like peaceful protests have never gone anywhere. 

This is the first time that Corona is not the headline news. Everyone has to stand up to injustice, demand George Floyd’s killer be convicted of murder, and not stop fighting for equality. This is 2020, we should not have to be fighting that everyone regardless of skin color, belief, gender, or sexual orientation deserves to be treated equally. 

The virus has gone on the backburner, because awareness and justice is necessary, and 6-feet apart is not good enough to stop people from protesting and showing they refuse to accept this. 

Black lives matter.

From Shannon in Florida – Another “New Normal”

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a consultant, and as a consultant there are some things that make this pandemic not too bad, and other’s that make it a struggle. The part that makes it “not too bad” is the fact that I actually have a job, so I would actually call that the overwhelming positive. Beyond that, we are used to working remotely with our teams and clients a few times per month, which made switching to a fully remote job not as big of a shock as for some others. However, the “struggle” is our projects start and end, and with each new project comes a steep learning curve to become familiar with new people, new materials, and new expectations. 

This week I started on a new project with another financial institution. In the past year I have worked with Tech and Finance institutions, so for that it is somewhat familiar. However, now I am coming to cope with the expectations of a client, and the new workload. I very much feel like a fish out of water, or like a Dalmatian stuck in a cow pasture. At quick glance all looks good, but then you look again and I am not 100% fitting it just yet. 

This client is fast paced, gives little direction, and expects a lot. I don’t mind that so much, it’s more that I know nothing and feel somewhat useless for the moment. The new pace, or hours, need some getting used to. Unfortunately this client is very up with trends, and therefore we use video conferences all the time. Now, don’t get me wrong, as someone who has dated a professional athlete who is rarely around for the past 4+, I am abundantly grateful for technologies like FaceTime. But, there is a difference between seeing someone you like when you want to, and seeing your client and other members of the organization at any given time during the day. Suddenly I have to think about what I look like, have a jacket that looks decent, and have my hair not look like I rolled out of bed (which most of the time is what just happened). So all of this is taking some getting used to.

Wish me luck as I get used to the new normal, within the new normal!

From Shannon in Florida : Happy Mother’s Day!

First things first, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! Today was Mother’s Day in the U.S but unfortunately my mom, being a nurse, had to go into work at the hospital today. My mom is a labor and delivery nurse at the “Disney” hospital down here in a town called Celebration. Already being a nurse is a stressful job, where you are dealing with peoples health, and in her case, their soon to be born babies health, but now with Covid-19, it’s only become more stressful and intense are there is one extra thing to worry about. The U.S made it so that no visitors were allowed access to hospitals in order to minimize exposure, however Labor and Delivery, the department my mother works in, still allows one visitor to come in at a time. While this is understandable as it is a beautiful and life changing experience that no one should have to go through alone, I hear my mothers concerns given current circumstances. There is minimal monitoring of who is coming in and out, where they are going, if they are healthy or have had any experience with the virus. In one case my mother had a patient say the had not been exposed to anyone with the virus, only to find out through the medical charts in the hospital system, that she had been diagnosed with the virus 2 weeks prior. Upon confrontation the patient simply said “You asked if I had been exposed to someone who had it, not if I had it”. Now, I can have sympathy for the patient being scared she may be turned away or what the consequences of her answer may be, but the selfishness and irresponsibility of putting others in danger is beyond comprehension. 

Unfortunately the health care system in the U.S is not prepared, Doctors and Nurses are expected to put themselves in jeoprady to help the patient without being able to take the proper safety precautions for themselves or their families. It is a horrible battle to be fighting. I cannot say that I understand as I am not someone going into a building and interacting with people who may have the virus, but I can empathize with all the healthcare workers who are. I think it is a horrible situation to be stuck in, they decided to pursue carriers in healthcare because they want to help people, but now they are being asked to help people at their own expense. Originally the hospitals barely had any of the proper equipment for staff to take precautions, to the point that we were butting bids on eBay, spending our own money, to ensure my mother could go into work and be protected. Things only get more complicated when some of the people she work with do not take it seriously, claiming “This is all a hoax to make the president look bad”, and proceed to take days off at the beach, potentially exposing them to the virus. 

Bottom line is, things are very difficult for everyone, but especially the workers who are casting their own self interest aside in order to help others. For me, one of those workers is my mother who has only ever put herself aside to help others. I hope people can look beyond what they want today, and think about what is best for the world, and stay inside. The more we respect this now, the quicker we can start getting things back to normal. 

To all the Mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day. We love you. 

And especially to my mom, I love you.

From Shannon in Florida – Work and Dogs

It’s been a very busy past 10 days or so from my end. As I have previously mentioned, being a consultant I am lucky enough to have job which allows me to continue to work through these complicated times. However, anyone who has done remote work can attest to the fact that things simply don’t get done, and time is constantly being wasted. You have to set time on the calendar to have a team meeting, which would be done casually throughout the day if you were in a room. Emails get mixed up, people work off old version, time zone changes, and life at home. Things are different and it takes some getting used to (granted it’s been two months). Truth is you will never be able to work as functionally from home as in a room with the project team. All of that to say, it’s been a busy week trying to meet deadlines that were set prior to the world being turned upside down. 

We have two dogs at home. Hermes is a golden retriever who is now 4 years old and has been the family dog since my junior year of college. She’s very playful, quite stubborn, loves people, and likes to do what she wants to do. Hund is my doberman, who is about a year and a half years old. While he is big (43kg big), lean, and the most athletic/photogenic dog, he is the biggest sweetest softy. They have been what I have  focused my energy on outside of work. Hund was neutered two weeks ago, and today went off to two weeks of board and train. What does “board and train” mean you ask? Well exactly what it sounds like, he stays with a trainer for two weeks to get some intense training, kind of like an educational camp for dogs. I went to drop him off before the work day started today, and I will say I was sad to leave him with a stranger and 5 other large dogs, but hoping the results are worth it. Stay tuned as this seems to be the only thing I talk about…