Do not take a single day for granted. Life is fleeting — enjoy each moment. My manager died of COVID-19 and the last time I walked out of his office I never imagined it would be the last — appreciate those in your life.
Aspart of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Rechler. Lindsay is a Managing Director at a global Investment Bank where she has worked for 13 years. She began working in finance in 2007 immediately upon graduating from Cornell University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. While working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, she wrote the book “Good Morning Zoom.” While initially written as a story to teach her two young children about COVID-19 and the impact it was having on their everyday lives, she decided to self-publish the book to share with children around the world and raise money for COVID-19 relief. All proceeds from the book will benefit three COVID-19 charitable organizations. While working from home, Rechler continues to manage her duties as an employee at an Investment Bank and like all parents has also become a chef, baker, coach, teacher, musical director, and now author with her first book, “Good Morning Zoom”. She resides in Manhattan with her husband Zack, 4 year old son Jack and 2.5 year old daughter Kenzie.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Lindsay! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
While I have always enjoyed creative writing, I never thought I would become an author. As March came along and my family and I began quarantining, a successful day entailed some tears, some attempts at Zoom preschool class, mediating board games and sharing, while maintaining my rigorous work schedule. One afternoon in late March I was watching my kids paint, an art project I had pulled together with old egg cartons, and I was thinking how strange it was that they hadn’t seen their friends, family and teachers in weeks. We never told them why in-person school ended and weekend visits were no longer permitted– we just began staying home. I kept thinking of the book Goodnight Moon, a Rechler family favorite, and repeating in my head “in the great green room” and the correlation of the entire book taking place in one room. I thought — I should write a story about “our own living room.” Whether it was painting, daily Zoom sessions, Candyland, pillow forts or screen time, it felt like we hadn’t left our living room in weeks. That’s how I got the inspiration to write a parody of Goodnight Moon, with the intention of finally explaining to my young children why their world was now vastly different.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
When I first wrote and published the book, I was hopeful that my friends and family would enjoy it and be able to use the story to help their own children understand what was happening in the world. If I could raise money for COVID-19 relief on top of that then it would be hugely successful and gratifying. Then I had a teacher reach out to me through social media and asked if I could read the book on Zoom to her Pre-K class. Watching how she ran her virtual classroom, made me see how much she truly cared about her students. She wanted them to learn, to understand, to ask questions and to gain comfort from reading the book. Watching my children see themselves and our book on the news was also very exciting.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned
The biggest mistake I initially made was doubting whether I should publish. I thought, “I am too busy and people won’t want to read a children’s book about COVID-19, but this will be a nice keepsake for my kids — or maybe I’ll make some copies for their school next year.” I held off on taking that next step and now, given the success and impact the book has now had on so many lives, I’ve learned that it is important to never doubt yourself. You may not always succeed, but there is no downside to working hard and following through.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
The money raised from the sale of Good Morning Zoom will benefit three charities that are all wonderful organizations and specifically impactful in this time of need. The three organizations are No Kid Hungry, Project CURE and STRIVE.
About No Kid Hungry: No child should go hungry in America. But 1 in 7 kids will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty. Join us at NoKidHungry.org
About Project C.U.R.E: Project C.U.R.E. identifies, solicits, collects, sorts and distributes medical supplies and services according to the imperative needs of the world. Learn more at www.projectcure.org
About the STRIVE: STRIVE is the nation’s leading solution for people facing the biggest barriers to employment — including intergenerational poverty, housing and food insecurity, and those in need of a second chance after incarceration. Our proven model propels students into careers that lead to upward mobility and define the promise of the American Dream. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, our graduates are Hidden Heroes of the frontline, working in industries that keep our communities moving. STRIVE champions economic opportunity in 12 US cities and celebrates 75,000 graduates since 1984. We serve a talented, determined student population, 92% of which come from communities of color. Learn more at www.strive.org
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Children all around the country have been positively impacted by Good Morning Zoom. My goal was to express the emotions that young children might be feeling during the global pandemic as their reality has become isolating. Many of their parents are still working from home and they are now only seeing loved ones through the barrier of the screen. It’s hard to explain to your children, especially young children, that you are temporarily replacing school and hugs with technology. I have heard first hand from many parents that this book gave them a forum for discussion. Since the original book, Goodnight Moon is familiar, they were able to introduce this new story and although the topic of COVID-19 is difficult, the familiarity provides comfort. A parent reached out and said, “This book not only gives my children hope, but it gives us hope — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.” I think that’s the best way to summarize the book’s impact. Furthermore, the book will have a wider impact as all proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry, Project CURE and STRIVE.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Unfortunately I can’t, and the book won’t, solve this global pandemic, but if people wear masks, socially distance and follow scientific guidelines, I am hopeful that our wonderful doctors, nurses and scientists will get us through this.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I manage a large team of young professionals, mostly women, in my non-author career. Leadership is being the best version of yourself — to be a person that others respect and want to learn from. Leaders care — they want others to succeed and will provide training and guidance. You are only as good as your team and if one person falls then you fall as well. I have always led by example — in the office and at home with my family. I am proud of what I have accomplished — and as a true leader, they are proud of me too.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I am going to answer this question as “5 things I wish someone told me pre-COVID-19”.
- If you are fortunate to have grandparents, see them as often as possible. I miss mine.
- Children are very resilient. I used to worry about the most trivial things and after spending an extraordinary amount of time with my children under stressful circumstances, I’ve learned that they don’t sweat the small stuff so you shouldn’t either.
- Appreciate your colleagues — they are your friends, mentors, mentees and sometimes your therapists.
- Invest in Zoom — it’s awesome!
- Do not take a single day for granted. Life is fleeting — enjoy each moment. My manager died of COVID-19 and the last time I walked out of his office I never imagined it would be the last — appreciate those in your life.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
In the book I mention “And a world not quite right.” Although this is a children’s book, I thought it was important to acknowledge this. I’ll say this — we have a lot of work to do.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? “Someday you’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.” It’s not your standard “life lesson” quote, but it’s lyrics from a Springsteen song that I come back to often. I am hard on myself — always feeling the pressure to execute perfectly. In the moment a mistake can seem life altering but life has taught me that one day I will look back and feel differently (maybe not always funny, but less upsetting) and that is an important lesson for me. As far as COVID-19 and what we are going through today — we will never look back at any of this and think it was funny. The lives lost continues to be devastating. I do hope we are able to look back at this time and remember those days we were able to spend 12 hours of awake time with our children — I have to say I won’t forget the 6 straight weeks of potty training my daughter!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
This is easy — Bruce Springsteen. I have seen him in concert over 70 times. I grew up listening to Bruce and his music has had such a great impact on my life. I can think of specific songs and lyrics that have helped get me through hard times and other music of his that has been the background to the best moments in my life — like walking down the aisle at my wedding. Fortunately, my 4 year old son Jack is an avid Springsteen fan. He’s learning how to play the guitar and can recite every word of “Dancing in the Dark,” “Fire,” “Growing Up,” and most recently he actually taught me a song that I had only heard maybe once or twice called “Without You.” It’s our family quarantine jam.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Please follow @goodmorningzoom or @lindsayrechler on Instagram!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!