Healthcare workers are getting the praise and recognition they deserve. It’s been heartwarming to see the nightly clap-outs in cities across the world for the doctors and nurses battling this pandemic.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva.
Bill joined Conviva as Chief Executive Officer in 2018 with a demonstrated track record for building high-performance teams and successfully launching disruptive technologies. Prior to Conviva, he was CEO at Shopkick and before that CEO at Turn, building the only global, natively integrated real-time digital advertising hub for audience planning, media execution and real-time analytics. Bill has also served in executive roles at Yahoo!, Overture and Microsoft. Bill has been recognized by Goldman Sachs as one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs (2014) and by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist (2012 and 2013). He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and degrees in computer science and organizational behavior & management from Brown University.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s in New York, I had early exposure to the computer industry through my Dad’s job in IT at a national retail chain. I would see his excitement working with punch cards and tape reels in a big, cold data center in NYC, understanding how computing was making people’s jobs easier and how it was giving them the information they needed to run the company better.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris is a book that sticks with me to this day. The book covers Roosevelt’s life until he became President. His life is a classic case of the truth being stranger than fiction. Roosevelt had to overcome so much, highlighted by both his mother and first wife dying on the same day. He charted his own path and lived life to the fullest. The biography provides an intimate view of his life, flows beautifully and is the gold standard in biographies.
Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Acts of Kindness are flourishing. From people grabbing groceries and necessities for their neighbors to kids taking the time to video chat with their isolated grandparents, the time away from the rush of everyday life has created an environment in which people are more aware and thoughtful of others.
- Scientific progress is continuing. If nothing else, this virus has taught us to look analytically at data and more wholeheartedly support advancements in science that will not only protect the public health now but also prevent future pandemics
- Healthcare workers are getting the praise and recognition they deserve. It’s been heartwarming to see the nightly clap-outs in cities across the world for the doctors and nurses battling this pandemic.
- The environment is healthier. The air quality in cities across the country is better than it has been in years and people are consuming less energy through a reduction in travel.
- We are much more unified instead of letting differences divide us.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I’ll do this by way of quote. It all starts with ourselves and our mindset. We need to get that right before we can help others.
- “How does it help to make troubles heavier by bemoaning them?” — Seneca. Try to have those struggling with anxiety avoid watching too much press coverage of COVID-19. Help them get the info they need quickly, then encourage them to focus on other things.
- “Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.” — Epictetus. This too shall pass. Show them how to focus the day on things they can control whether it is around the virus — washing hands, social distancing, etc. — or the rest of life that has nothing to do with it.
- “Kindness is the virtue that the deaf can hear and the blind can see” — Mark Twain. Don’t overly focus on yourself. Encourage people who are struggling to help others who are in need. It’ll make them feel good and get their mind off the current situation. Being kind to others is empowering
- “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” — Anais Nin. Ask them what their reaction to this pandemic says about them? How is this an opportunity for growth?
- “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” — Dhammapada. Have a conversation with those struggling about strengthening and changing their mindset.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
I would more simply encourage people who are struggling with anxiety around this to read A Guide to the Good Life by William Irving. The book demonstrates how through using Stoic philosophical techniques one can achieve serenity, stay focused on the present and achieve the good life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca. I truly understand that we are in arguably the worst crisis in our lifetimes that is resulting in untold deaths and economic upheaval. Yet the vast majority of people are perfectly healthy and safe. We need to be smart — wash hands, socially distance, wear mask and gloves if we need to go out — but we also need to keep a positive attitude. In the early 1900s a flu pandemic killed 50 million people and took place during World War 1 where millions more died. Five percent of the world died. We’re not fighting wars or at such high risk for death.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I have always been a proponent of the “Think Time” movement. Whether you sit quietly for five minutes, take a walk, or let your mind wander while doing a repetitive task, giving yourself permission to take these quiet moments alone with your thoughts is crucial. Everything in life is how we frame problems, opportunities, and challenges. When you allow yourself to rise above the stress of the day, emotions, your calendar, and your to-do list, it’s easier to truly analyze and objectively assess what’s important. From this place of clarity and focus come the lightbulb moments that can define your purpose and change the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
The best way to follow me online is through Twitter at @billdemas