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Covid Reflections from Liz



By Liz Neumark, CEO & Founder, Great Performances

The shutdown coincided with the multi-million dollar commitment my company made to its new facility. The notion of zero revenue was unfathomable and more terrifying than the health threat, which at first felt distant and overblown. I remember being out for dinner on March 12th with two colleagues, in a state of complete naivete. It would be my last in-restaurant meal for a long time. 

We prepared for a three-month maximum hiatus. Before we could go off-line, the company began to participate in emergency food relief efforts. It was salvation on every level. The lights stayed on, daily heroes stood out leading the unimaginable work effort of preparing and delivering tens of thousands of meals door-to-door, and the need to be proactive and productive was fulfilled many times over.  

There are three audio memories I will never forget. The sound of beautiful city birdsong at 4 am each morning; the sound of my sneakered footsteps along the city streets late at night; and the constant sound of ambulance sirens racing past my apartment building, heading to Mt. Sinai Hospital. 

Two of my three adult children, previously living independently, were home with us for several months. The third was in the Middle East. Being with my kids was a silver lining and we shared more in-person time than I had previously as a working mother, or at least it felt that way. It was a gift. The evening cocktail hour initiated by my son always struck me as remarkable. I walked across the park most mornings to visit my 92-year old father in his apartment. We counted our blessings. A cross-country zoom Passover Seder; who would ever have imagined that? Good health, easy access to the internet/food/entertainment, shared time with family – so many things that were a struggle for others.  

The events of the past two years, as the business continued the endless pivots and rode the waves of change up and down, have been challenging. (If I never hear the word ‘pivot’ again, it wouldn’t be too soon.) The political climate, supply chain upheavals, labor disruption, are matched by new opportunity for us at work; hearty customer demand for our services, the growth of internal smart, creative leaders and a powerful espirit des corps. Optimism is a powerful force.

The reality is that the pandemic has made us feel more vulnerable, more inter-connected and alert.  This is why the look back is so important to me.  There are powerful lessons we have all learned the hard way, let’s keep them alive and use them to grow, be better/do better.  I am working on keeping my list of lessons learned right where I can see them.