“Focus on what you can do today and leave tomorrow for then.” With Penny Bauder & Morgan Bachemin

We don’t yet know when these shelter in place acts will change or when the number of cases will finally start to recede. Trying to focus on the next week or month can send your anxiety spiking. Focus on what you can do today and leave tomorrow for then. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly […]

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We don’t yet know when these shelter in place acts will change or when the number of cases will finally start to recede. Trying to focus on the next week or month can send your anxiety spiking. Focus on what you can do today and leave tomorrow for then.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Morgan Bachemin.

As the Director of Digital Advertising at Online Optimism, Morgan oversees all aspects of online search engine marketing campaigns for a variety of businesses. Morgan has led her full-service digital marketing agency, in becoming a Google Partner Agency, a designation that illustrates the excellence and size of the campaigns created, and the extensive education acquired when advertising with Google. Morgan has spoken for countless business leaders on the topic of Google AdWords and won Marketing Strategist of the Year from the New Orleans Advertising Club in 2018.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, 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?

Istarted at Online Optimism 6 years ago fresh out of college. Interestingly enough, I found the position from a Craigslist post and had no idea that answering that ad would be the best career move I could have made. I started as a copywriter but was given the option of teaching myself digital advertising so that I could help expand the agency’s service catalog. I did just that and 5 years later I am now the Director of the department.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

There have been a lot of really fun and interesting moments since I started at Online Optimism. However I think my favorite one to recall is when my agency started working with my high school. It was funny to return to my school but this time as a professional and help them reach their goals. I even got to show my coworkers my old locker!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, I am working on a large scale pivot for all my clients during this COVID-19 health crisis. Unlike many of the other agencies in the city, Online Optimism had steps in place in order to weather this unpredictable time, but as such we are working double time for our clients. We are making sure that all our clients’ messaging, branding and procedures are relevant to the current guidelines and recommendations as well as planning for the aftermath of this pandemic.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Someone that has helped me along the way is my friend Maggie Robert. We met through mutual friends early in our careers. We became fast friends in the New Orleans start-up field and leaned on each other for professional and personal support. In fact when we first met, we were friends for a few weeks before we even realized that we worked in the same building!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

Although I don’t yet have children of my own, I am still a woman in STEM that has a primary family. And the biggest challenge is the mental aspect of it, honestly. I am the only person in my family that is currently employed (thankfully) and that has left a lot of responsibility on myself to figure out my own bills and schedule while also making sure that everyone else is taken care of, both financially and emotionally.

Secondarily, just making sure that I am staying healthy so that I can work and provide for my family and myself has been the primary goal. This means following the guidelines set out by the CDC regarding social distancing and masks but also taking care of myself emotionally so that I don’t get burnt out with anxiety.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I think the best thing I’ve come up with is just staying really open and communicative with everyone in my nuclear and extended family. This kind of situation is completely unprecedented in at least a generation or two. Letting people vent when they need to, giving them encouragement when I can, those have been my main actions. Staying informed but away from social media. Make contingency plans for things like hospitals, insurance policies, bank accounts etc. I find that being prepared while understanding that none of this is predictable has been the best attitude for me. No one has the answer, and weirdly enough, that helps with my own stress.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

I don’t know if this is particular to women but I am someone that does not really thrive in a work from home atmosphere. I am someone that likes to keep work and home life separate so I can stay organized but also so I can enjoy each fully. It has been hard to have that comfort completely shifted. And although I am beyond grateful for my job, the pace has not lessened even a tad. It has been a bit surreal to be working the same amount and be expected to be producing at your usual rate with all of this anxiety and uncertainty in the background.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I don’t think I could understate the importance of having a dedicated workspace in your home. You need an area that is dedicated to your work in order to keep some minutiae of sanity. I’ve also been sure to focus on my physical health in terms of getting plenty of sleep, taking medications, eating a balanced diet and exercising so that my body and brain are at their best when dealing with germs or anxiety. Finally, I’ve definitely leaned on my support circle more than I normally would. The group of people in my professional and personal life that give me advice, tough love, a good laugh — I’m not afraid to lean on them and be vulnerable. It encourages them to do the same with me.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

My best advice on working from home would be to give yourself a routine and schedule. It has to be the same everyday no matter what. Not having a routine is indicative of chaos and chaos cannot be a part of anyone’s success map. There is enough chaos happening because of this pandemic, minimize what you can in your own sphere and you’ll be more prepared to deal with the external.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?

I take lots of walks, go running with my dog, and call my friends pretty regularly. Keep your space as clean and tidy as possible. It’s okay to say that you need your space, even to your family. It is okay if there are bad days where nothing gets done and everyone is in a terrible mood. But also take the moments that are available to enjoy the present if you can. Hopefully, we don’t get another opportunity like this but since it is here, enjoy the time with your family, help your neighbors and as Louisa May Alcott said, “while we wait we may all work, so that these hard days need not be wasted.”

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably 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.

  1. This will pass. This time is unpleasant for just about every person in the world right now. China and Italy — the epicenters of this crisis — are reporting fewer cases and deaths now. This will pass if we flatten the curve. I repeat this to myself as much as possible.
  2. Parents will learn the value of their educators. My sister is an educator and I feel that the parents of her students, now more than ever, understand the importance of what she does and how hard teachers work. They are underpaid and overworked and that should change after this time passes.
  3. We will better understand the limitations and needs of healthcare providers and the entire healthcare industry in America. America may be the land of plenty but we obviously have some gaping holes in the structure of healthcare and disaster response. In order to not have another situation that we are currently experiencing, we need to work together to fill these holes.
  4. We will learn to better respect each other by making sacrifices for the collective. The most wonderful part that I have seen during this pandemic is the sacrifices that people are willing to make for their neighbors and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 from getting groceries, donations, creating masks, even those that scold their friends for not practicing social distancing, it is all part of a collective effort to keep everyone safe. That has been great to see.
  5. We are learning to not take for granted such things as regular school days, the minimum wage, or visiting our loved ones. I don’t know if any of us will be able to go back to the way things were but maybe that can be a good thing! Now we better understand and are more grateful for commonplace things that we took for granted. I think that people will take this experience and stay cognizant and present with even the most trivial things — like giving a friend a hug.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Accept vacillation.

As I said earlier, there is no roadmap for the feelings that this pandemic has created within us as a society. Understand that just because someone in your family seems fine one day that they will stay that way. Be empathic and understanding.

No one’s problems are bigger than the others.

There are people that have lost their jobs, lost family members, lost their insurance, lost their livelihood. Some people are just scared because they don’t know what to do. Some are working overtime to meet the needs of the collective — no one’s problems are bigger than another’s. We all need to work together to get through this. Not argue over who has the most to complain about.

Focus on today. Let tomorrow come before you worry about it.

We don’t yet know when these shelter in place acts will change or when the number of cases will finally start to recede. Trying to focus on the next week or month can send your anxiety spiking. Focus on what you can do today and leave tomorrow for then.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One quote that I try to live by is actually one of the most important values at Online Optimism and that is “Be exceptionally helpful.” I think this is important in your professional and personal life. There have been so many times in my life that someone has gone out of their way to help me that I feel it is my duty to pass along that kindness. If everyone was a bit more willing to help their neighbor, how wonderful would this world be?

How can our readers follow you online?

You can see more about what I do and my agency by visiting OnlineOptimism.com or you can find my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/morganbachemin/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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