As a child, my mother would always tell me, “Billy, things happen for a reason,” and she was right. The way we have all quickly adapted to alternate ways of working and connecting shows the power — not only of technology — but also the resilience of the human spirit.
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 William Mandara Jr., AIA.
As CEO of Mancini Duffy, a tech-first design firm specializing in architecture, planning, and interior design, William Mandara Jr., AIA brings over 25 years of experience in architectural design to the team. He has contributed his design abilities on a variety of project types including corporate offices, residential housing, retail facilities, industrial facilities, and educational facilities. He is active in all aspects of project development and management from initial design through to construction and project closeout. He has previous experience in the construction field which has afforded him the opportunity to gain extensive experience and understanding of many aspects of construction.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?
Both my father and grandfather were general contractors, so I grew up in the business. The journey to my career path started with tagging along with them on days off from school, and I would keep myself busy in the trailer by looking at blueprints and envisioning what the hole in the ground would become. Then later, I worked my way up from the goofy kid who got the coffees and cleaned up masonry debris to the kid who drives to the lumber yard and dug plumbing trenches. I always loved that I would get in dad’s car and drive around while he would point out various buildings that he built.
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?
Yes, The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday made a significant impact on me. I saw Ryan speak at an event after reading his book Ego Is the Enemy (which is also tremendous). He gave a presentation on this book which relates various historical instances where people were dealing with extreme adversity and they used that as an opportunity to do something extraordinary. While this message really hit home for me during an ordinary time, it is more relevant now than ever.
Ok, thank you for all that. 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.
- As a child, my mother would always tell me, “Billy, things happen for a reason,” and she was right. The way we have all quickly adapted to alternate ways of working and connecting shows the power — not only of technology — but also the resilience of the human spirit.
- Living in the NYC/NJ metro area, we tend to be a bit detached by nature. The appreciation that people are now starting to have for the people we rely on who do not have the luxury of working from a home office — healthcare workers, truckers, food service and grocery workers, the friendly people who deliver our Amazon packages, etc. — is wonderful and long overdue. My hope is that they all remain safe and our appreciation continues.
- Given the lack of things to watch on TV (no NHL or PGA especially for me) people have taken to the streets in my neighborhood. Over the last few weeks, while walking my dog or with family members I’ve said hello and had conversations with neighbors whom I never even knew.
- I’m also hopeful because there are companies that have pulled their resources to fight this disease rather than focus on their primary businesses and people are recovering from this disease every day. Being born smack in the middle of GenX, I’m part of a group that grew up with the omnipresent threat of nuclear war in the ’80s, countless recessions, 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. Challenging times occur, however things always get better.
- Our dogs are having the time of their life. Our family dog, Roxy, has never spent this much quality time with us. She’s been getting more walks than ever, and from what I see so are everyone else’s four-legged family members.
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?
- Stay together. Now more than ever with everyone in your personal and professional lives, it’s important to keep as much personal contact as possible, even if it’s just a FaceTime/Zoom
- Keep it light. At Mancini, we have been hosting virtual get-togethers that don’t focus on business, including virtual happy hours. Some of our teams have been having show and tells, including talking about everyone’s toilet paper supply. Distractions are important.
- Appreciate the time with your family. At no point have I ever had the opportunity to spend this much time with my wife and two sons. While a lot of it is with my back to them staring at a monitor or my MacBook, I am truly grateful for the moments we are sharing during this time, from the mundane to the hilarious moments.
- Shut off the news. While it’s obviously important to stay informed, at some point the 24-hour news cycle stops being informative. Putting on a comedy or other type of mindless entertainment is a good escape.
- Spend some time speaking with your parents, aunts, uncles, etc. A lot of us are fortunate enough to live with others, some of them are not. It can also be comforting to speak with people who have lived through things you haven’t, because it helps put some perspective on things.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Find a distraction. I keep a guitar next to my desk and when I have breaks, I’ll pick it up — even if for a few seconds — and play a part of a song I like or work on some riffs that have been in my head. I’ve been a drummer since the fifth grade, I picked up the guitar later in life. It’s very satisfying to be able to express the music in my head.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
This too shall come to pass and be replaced by something else — I learned that from my dad and it’s never been more true. Whenever I’m in a situation that is a challenge, I think back to past challenges, how I reacted, how I learned, what I could have done better, and if I truly utilized it as an opportunity to do something special. I know for certain that there will be a time when we look back at this and while we will mourn what we’ve lost, we will also be appreciative of what we accomplished.
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. 🙂
Like the song goes…Always look on the bright side of life!
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!