My Hot Mess: Brad Marley

In a series called My Hot Mess, inspired by the Wall Street Journal, we’ll speak to communicators around the globe about the things they’re doing right now to get through this hot mess we call life.

Today we talk to Brad Marley about how he’s coping during a pandemic. Check back every Friday to learn about a new victim communicator and how they’re coping during this crazy time.

Wednesday, March 11 is the last day I sent my kids to school.

I kept them out of school that Thursday and Friday. It wasn’t because I’m some sort of predictor of global pandemics (I’m not) but, rather, I was taking them on a quick getaway Up North (in Michigan). 

The trip took place, but there was an eerie pall cast over us the whole time, like everyone was holding their breath waiting for the virus to hit our state and force everyone into lockdown.

(Our governor ordered all schools closed on Friday, March 13.)

We got home from the trip on Sunday, March 15, and we’ve been at our house ever since.

Learning How to Single Dad During a Global Pandemic

If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the year that I would have to learn how to be a single dad during a global pandemic, I would’ve asked you where you were getting the really good drugs.

I lost my wife to breast cancer on January 28 of this year. 

Less than two months later, we were forced to shelter-at-home.

What was going to be a particularly tough year has only gotten harder, especially because grief does not care one bit for your overall well-being.

Virus or not, we are dealing with things we never thought we would have to deal with, and learning how to cope as we go.

To be honest: it sucks. Real bad. But thanks to an enormous support group of friends and family, we will get through it.

But to say I want a do-over for 2020 is a severe understatement.

I’m a Part-Time Math Teacher Now

Because of COVID-19, not only am I trying to run a marketing & PR business, I’m also a part-time math teacher!

Let me say this: math is not my strong suit.

There have been tears. There has been screaming. Papers and pencils have been flung into the far recesses of the kitchen. And then when I finally sit down with my daughter to teach her long division, the whole process begins again.

I think it was Shonda Rhimes on Twitter who said teachers should be paid something like eleventy billion dollars a year to teach our kids.

I think fifty billion gazillion is more appropriate.

Luckily, my brother is a math teacher, so I can lean on him when times were tough, which is always.

No Excuse to Not Workout

The gym I go to has been updating members with workouts we can do at home during the pandemic since the gym has been closed since mid-March.

Some days, these workouts are the only thing keeping me going. 

Whereas before I could make the excuse that I didn’t want to get in my car and drive the 10 minutes to the gym, it’s real hard to make the excuse that I don’t want to walk down the stairs to the basement to put in 45 minutes of exercise.

Thus, I work out most days, and it keeps me sane.

I highly suggest weaving fitness into your pandemic routine.

Now that the weather is (finally) warming up, there are more options available.

Trying to Run a Business

How do you market your services during a global pandemic?

That’s a question I never thought I would ask myself, but here we are.

My business partner and I have been brainstorming on a regular basis as to how to position ourselves to come out of this stronger, working under the assumption that smaller, more nimble agencies (like ours) will be more attractive to companies who want their stories told. 

I’m sure somebody once said that out of crisis comes opportunity, so I’m living by that mantra right now.

It beats the alternative, which is to look at this with a glass-half-empty mindset and retreat into a cocoon of fear until we can emerge.

Not Making Sourdough Starter

Seems everyone on social media has made their sourdough starter by now.

I imagine decades from now, families will gather around their kitchen tables to break bread and regale each other with stories of how grandma started this sourdough in her tiny kitchen during the global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Even though I bill myself as a storyteller, my kids won’t be telling their kids about our sourdough starter, because I’m not making any bread.

Pop tarts in the air fryer is as far as I’m willing to go.

They’re easy to make, totally unhealthy, and delicious, which is how everything cooking during a pandemic should be.

As of this writing, it’s been 70 days since my kids became full-time members of the household, but who’s counting?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich