Executive Insights


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 an opportunity for introspection and self-improvement in anticipation of the next chapter. 


Samantha Cutler

Chief Executive 
Petite ‘n Pretty 
Beverly Hills 

Cutler founded Petite ‘n Pretty, providing age-appropriate cosmetics for kids, “to inspire, empower and encourage creativity throughout their beauty journey from the start.” During the pandemic, the company pivoted to a virtual sales strategy with two digital makeup camps, Beauty Boss Bootcamp and Camp Glow Getter. The company reports a 30% increase in sales during the pandemic. 

CHILD’S VIEW: “Petite ‘n Pretty started with my first makeup memory of my mom freshening up her lipstick. I felt so pretty when she dusted a hint of blush across my cheeks.”

'SPARKLE SQUAD': “I’m a mom, and moms were so in need for things to do in the summer. So many people were doing digital camps, we said, ‘We totally have to do a digital camp.’ We get (communications) from our Sparkle Squad, young creatives who are fans of the brand who want to experience the brand. We were able to bring it to life for them. One (camp) was on how to create your own beauty brand. One day was social media focus. One day was how to you create your own logo. All the moms and aunts and grandmas who signed them up said it was literally the highlight of their summer, and they kept working on their brands even after the camp.”


Kristina 'Z' Holly

Board Member 
River LA 

River LA Board Member Holly also serves as SoCal venture partner at Good Growth Capital, an early stage venture capital firm headquartered in South Carolina. Remote work has always been part of the program. During the Covid-19 pandemic she said company Zoom conferences have extended the reach of her virtual network: “I must have met 300 people that I’d never met before,” she said. Finding ways for River LA, an advocacy organization, to support the Los Angeles River and promote its community connections during pandemic shutdowns has presented a different kind of challenge.

CREATIVE FUNDRAISING: River LA has taken advantage of the outdoor safety provided by the Los Angeles River’s environs to launch experiences that weave together the physical and the digital. The six-week Rio Records event, part of the Rio Reveals program, runs through Jan. 17 and provides a collaborative online adventure for the general public with virtual guests exploring the river’s history. “It’s not only a fundraiser; it’s a way to get people involved.”

BUSINESS BUMP: “We are also giving opportunities for L.A. businesses to connect with and support the L.A. River.”


Steve Soboroff

Los Angeles Police Commission 

Soboroff collects vintage typewriters, including this one previously owned by John Lennon, as a reminder not to lose the human touch. Covid-19 has heightened his commitment to putting people before profit.

LISTENING EAR: “My life these days is as a police commissioner for the LAPD, certainly as a businessperson, as a parent and grandparent, as a husband, as someone who is 72 years old. I would say all of those things have been affected by Covid. As a result I have more time, and I use that time in all parts of my life to listen more. I don’t use the word ‘I’ a lot. I don’t talk about myself a lot. I want to understand what other people are thinking, feeling, where they are coming from.”

THE SAME BOAT: “I think Covid has created problems for everybody. I think it’s forced us to reflect on our own mortality.”

NEW ROI: “When I speak with groups … (I say) I am here to talk about how to broaden thinking beyond IRR and ROI, the idea of thinking about social ramifications. If we follow those goals, money will come in. If we consider those things as the cost of doing business, we’ll continue to fail.”


Thor Steingraber

Executive Director 
Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts 
Cal State Northridge 

The Soraya has been closed for live performances due to Covid-19 restrictions, but in late October performers got a chance to go back to the stage for the filming of “A Tribute to Linda Ronstadt at the Soraya” for KCET and PBS SoCal’s “Southland Sessions” series.

PROTOCOL MASHUP: Steingraber said live theater venues seem to be last in line for reopening but “in our case the only way was to navigate another set of protocols — filming protocols for a media television station, statewide filming protocols for SAG and AFTRA (performers), and (allowances) because we’re a campus. We took all three protocols and put them together in mashup, adhering to all of them.”

COMMUTING 2.0: “Word on the street is we’re not going to return to brick-and-mortar offices — we will have hybrid work models — and if that persists post-Covid, that’s a game changer for Los Angeles. My hope is that works in our favor for live entertainment.”

“(Videoconferencing) can make artists more accessible. People will buy tickets to things they are familiar with. (It could) proliferate a golden age of concerts.” 

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