In the midst of headlines about layoffs and shutdowns, L.A. business leaders seem to be ramping up. Many are working remotely but embracing technology to stay connected with employees and clients via video meetings or the still-important personal phone call. A shared entrepreneurial spirit has them turning a crisis into a learning experience. These Type-A personalities are also rediscovering there’s more to life than work and are more than willing to share their tips for using at-home time as opportunity for introspection and self improvement in anticipation of the next chapter.
2020 Women on Boards
When Covid-19 took hold Berkhemer went remote with her work for both the 2020 Women on Boards nonprofit, dedicated to increasing the number of women serving on public company boards nationwide, and her responsibilities as CEO of downtown executive search firm Berkhemer Clayton Inc. She said the 2020 pandemic is not hampering 2020’s progress.
UP TO SPEED: “We have not slowed down; in fact things have picked up. Women with crisis management experience, having come through the pandemic (are in demand). The general makeup of a company’s board, in order to be in a good light with investors, all that doesn’t change.”
VIRTUAL VALUE: “We transferred our Get on Board education workshops to virtual. We have had women from all over the country and internationally (who) never would have been able to attend our in-person workshops.”
MONTHLY CHALLENGE: “Gently and with humor, sort of tongue-in-cheek, we (ask our) our very large database to send a note that simply says to the (chosen) company, we notice that you don’t have any women on your board. This month, it was Nathan’s Famous (Inc.) hot dogs. (We send) an email saying, ‘We notice you have no women on your board, yet women are more than half your customers, so please get with the program.’”
As its name implies, record shopping was always a touchy subject at vinyl-forward Fingerprints. The pandemic forced closure for four months, but the store is now open with safety protocols in place. Since the beginning of the shutdown, Foster, who was inspired to go into the business by a one-off chance to hang out with AC/DC after a concert as a teen, has found workarounds to make sure customers stay in touch with music.
CURBSIDE CONNECTION: “We got very creative with our social media and found ways to take our product to our customers. And then we did curbside pickup … they would sit in the car and say: ‘Which Doors records do you have?’ And we would literally run out to their van.”
PANDEMIC PREFERENCES: “When this whole thing started (music) was kind of a comfort food. (People) wanted to listen to Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. … For a lot people, it was a touchstone back to a little more carefree time. As we got closer to opening, I was seeing a lot of people picking up things that wouldn’t have done well for us in the past. I got the feeling it was things they were finding from picking up podcasts or recommendations from NPR.”
Hodges serves as CEO of Nederlander Concerts, the live music unit of New York-based Nederlander Organization Inc. The division has offices at the Nederlander-owned Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Though Broadway theater is not his area of oversight, Hodges was in the building on March 12, the day the new L.A. production of “Hamilton” was to open. It didn’t. After several pandemic postponements, “Hamilton” is now slated to open at the Pantages in April 2021.
SCHEDULE SHUFFLE: Hodges turned to reinventing his own area, live concerts, on the same date “Hamilton” was postponed. “We moved 150 shows, booked another 100 new shows, moved them at least two times, and maybe three times.”
OUTDOOR ENGAGEMENT: In June, Nederlander Concerts kicked off Drive-In OC concerts at City National Grove of Anaheim and has booked other drive-in concerts at venues across the country. “It’s not the same economic (return), but boy it’s been energizing. It felt good to get approval.”
“TWILIGHT ZONE:” Hodges describes pandemic life in his Westwood neighborhood as a bit surreal, but he enjoys bike rides and 3-mile walks — his dog Lucky gets a backpack ride when the stroll is too long for short legs.
Founder and Managing Partner
Reddock Law Group
Reddock Law Group is a boutique dispute resolution and investigations firm focused on employment and labor law. Reddock-Wright said moving her practice from conference rooms to Zoom “rooms” has been an easy transition, but it still presents challenges when it comes to building trust between attorney and client.
LOVE THAT PAINTING: “My practice doesn’t involve going to court anymore because I don’t represent clients. I’m what’s considered a neutral, whether I’m working as a mediator, arbitrator or investigator. My initial concern was whether I would be able to build that trust and rapport and also credibility in some instances through a computer screen. It gives me a chance to connect with (clients) in a different way, like (asking about) a painting on the wall or their dog or cat or child. I love it when impromptu things happen because it’s another way to connect.”
NEWS DESK: “I do a lot of media commentary on employment law on local and national news. My husband (former Los Angeles Department of Transportation Sergeant Steven Wright) designed me a home headset and microphone. (It) also allows me to perform my work in an effective way. We are in the middle of construction on our house, and it’s all set up. Everything else is in chaos.”
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