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COVID Chronicles Ep 1 is a fantastic podcast episode in which the host, Brian Dykstra, welcomes three guests, Steve Zalewski, Doug Close, and Dave Sciamarelli to discuss the future aspects of the COVID 19 pandemic. In this podcast, the question "How does the future look like?" is answered by each person based on their experiences in different industries. Steve is a CISO at Levi's, Doug is a senior vice president of a cybersecurity solutions firm, Dave is the Vice President at McKenzie commercial real estate, and the presenter, Brian, is the CEO of Atlantic Data Forensics.
In response to the aforementioned question, each individual was able to tell the tales that they've witnessed from their own perspectives. Dave saw a downturn from the real estate side as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that in 2019 and 2020, the real estate market was very active, but due to the pandemic, he only had a few tenants lined up. Steve turned the conversation around to mention how his company responded to the needs of the employees during the pandemic and provided his insight into what he predicts will happen in a couple of months. He emphasizes the importance of moral leadership throughout the episode and highlights that, if a company does not treat their employees right during a difficult time, talent will go elsewhere later on. Doug noted that hacker activity has increased during this period, and the incident response team has a lot of pending projects on hold. His goal is to stay dynamic and pass every hurdle during this period. Towards the episode, each individual was able to highlight some positives that came out of working from home, amidst everything that has occurred, and everyone accentuated a common point that working from home is better by giving their different perspectives, from both professional and personal views.
Brian: All right. Welcome to the first episode of the data forensics COVID Chronicles. Very happy to have three illustrious guests with me here today. And also good looking, I might want to put that in there. But, I will let each one of them introduce themselves, individually. Tell me who you are, where you're from, what you're up to. Steve, we'll start with you. Steve: Sure. So Steve Zalewski, deputy CISO of Levi Strauss. So, we make jeans for those that don't know. And I always say we make jeans. How hard can we make it? Yeah, we can make it pretty hard. Brian: All right, Doug, you're next. Doug: I'm Doug Close. I'm senior vice president of cyber security solutions at Sayers, based out of Chicago. We're a value added solution partner for cyber security products and infrastructure cloud products, as well as the tech refresh practice as well. I've been with Sayers for 18 years building out the practice. I'm here and it's been a great ride, to be in this very dynamic space of cyber security. Brian: All right. And Dave. Dave: Dave Sciamarelli, I worked with McKenzie commercial real estate. Vice-president, specialize in leasing and sales of office and industrial buildings in the Baltimore/Washington corridor area. And this is Hendrix. You'll probably see him in and out of the podcast as well. Brian: We're a dog-friendly podcast, so it's okay. That's awesome. I am Brian Dykstra. I'm the CEO of Atlantic Data Forensics, based here in Elk Ridge/Columbia, Maryland, right between Baltimore DC, providing computer forensics and incident response services to clients all over the world. It's weird, but I know all three of you individually. I work with all three of you individually, and none of you got to meet each other before, so this should be fun. All right. So first up, since I didn't want to make this all super depressing, I wanted to get people in from different industries and talk to you all about what's going on in your industry and I'm going to start backwards order just because it'll be more fun that way. So Dave you're in commercial real estate. I know you work the whole Baltimore DC, Northern Virginia corridor area. You sold me. I bought my office building from you. Tell me what's going on in the commercial real estate space in this, pandemic. Dave: Well right now, pretty much absolutely nothing is happening. But let me, I'll kind of say what was happening leading up to it and then what happened the day that COVID started and what we're seeing right now. So, leading up from 2019 into early 2020, the commercial real estate market was extremely hot, I would say. So I personally started in 2011 coming out of the last recession. So I really never saw a bad market. Every year it got better and we were seeing just phenomenal things happening. Rates were up, demand was up. I mostly represent tenants and you were seeing most of the tenants around here expanding, which is a great sign for the economy as well because it means business in general is doing extremely well. As soon as COVID really took effect in the United States, I probably had a dozen and a half deals lined up. Most of them went on pause. And since then they have either said, we're just going to stop until we figure out what's really happening, or we're going to wait to get a real better idea. As of right now, you know, very little activity in the market. I've had three tours in the last 45 days, which usually I do five or six tours a week, to give you just an idea as to how busy my personal schedule is with it. And a lot of it now I think is more advantageous, investors and buyers looking to find some real, advantageous deals for themselves. And anybody who's looking for office space is trying to really figure out what's the next commercial real estate situation is going to look like for tenants in this area and how it’s ultimately going to work with their businesses? Brian: Right. Doug, Steve, you guys both have substantial amounts of real estate, right? I've been talking to some of my clients, not specifically about real estate, but its topics come up with a few of my financial service clients, things like this, where they're talking about actually dumping on leases and reducing space because they've figured out over the last 45, 50 days, they didn't need all the office space. They thought they needed to get along with, with a fraction of it and potentially save themselves a lot of money. Doug: Yeah, we're definitely reassessing our position. We haven't made any decisions, but, we're definitely, taking a look at everything. I mean, we've been a very remote workforce anyway. We have folks all over the place. Very few people actually went into offices. But we still had a core group of folks that did visit the office, but we're definitely reassessing that now. Steve: So for Levi's, you realize we have a wholesale business, right? Selling into big companies, Sears, JCpenney, Macy's. We have a retail business so we have our own stores around the world, several thousand, and then we have our e-commerce infrastructure. When you ask about rents and space, right? The biggest opportunity for us obviously is what are we doing with all of our stores around the world. And we definitely have gone with the majority and are actively renegotiating leases around the world in order to be able to go right. Cash is king, as our CIO says, and we're meeting with definite success. I would say a lot of the strategic partnerships, this is where you find out who your strategic partners are versus who your mom and pops are, are guys that are just in it for themselves. And so it's been really telling for that, as far as around the world and it may result in some rationalization for stores. Cause again, then it comes back to how much money can we make, right? Because today, I mean, our stores are closed, right? So no revenue coming in, so we've gotta be able to do that. And then in looking at what it's going to look like for the rest of the year, then it comes back to, well then where do we want to chain stores? What do we want to do? So it's giving us almost an opportunity to pause on how our next round of growth wants to be re-rationalized given, for 90 days we're not selling anything. And then I'll say, and then when you look at traditional corporate like us well, in the course of two days everybody's working remote and so after the initial surge of “how do you do that?”, what I would say is we've now realized that can work and we've done things that we've never done before as a company around being able to introduce lines of goods, everything else. And so as it's a grand experiment and just how far transformational technology can take the company. It's really ending up with an awful lot of insightful analysis as to what this company wants to look like coming out of it because, granted we have to get our customers back and get them to buy, but the whole foundational business process, ways we've done business for 150 years have now had a chance to break through in some of those areas. Brian: Dave, what does that mean? They're not a minor office space holder, over there, Levi Strauss. Is that what the future's going to look like? Dave: I think it's a little too early to tell. So, you know, when you look at big national companies like Levi, I would assume that you're going to see a lot of contraction with them, because my guess is over time, and this I think happens in a lot of cycles, too, they figure out ways to add new programs to open up in different areas of the US and that happens for years and years over years, and then something happens and they start to reevaluate. Now they're realizing we've just done so much expansion that it's just inefficient and based on what you've been doing over the last years, you can contract it all and make a lot more efficient from an economic standpoint, as well as an operational standpoint. I think relating to COVID, I think it's a little too early to tell. Is that a cause and effect of just overexpansion from the last cycle of recession or is it something that's going to completely change because COVID is going to dictate to us that we don't need office space as abundantly anymore in general. Brian: Yeah, I wish I knew. I’d invest better. Doug, you're a big partner of ours. I'm sure your business has changed, but, at least in our work with you, we've seen an increase in opportunities. Why don't you tell us about what's going on there? Doug: Yeah. I mean, the business is very dynamic. There's definitely a shift, alll the things that you would think of, and as well as it's affecting our clients differently, depending on what line of business and what vertical they're in. So, our goal is to stay dynamic and be there for our clients. And like I said, I mean, certainly the work from home, some of the incident response activity has picked up unfortunately, or fortunately. But, a lot of projects have been just put on hold. There's just a lot of uncertainty and it's really client by client that we're seeing. There's definitely an overall trend of projects on hold and, and procurement getting involved with a lot of budget cutting and certainly people seeing concerns when you start cutting security too much and increasing your cyber security debt, is the biggest challenge that I'm seeing that's going to occur this year. And certainly the hacker activity has not declined by any means and we're definitely seeing an uptick in that. So, that's in general what we're seeing in the market, but my biggest concern is just I think we've already incurred enough security debt over the years and it just seems like it's going to continue, unfortunately. Brian: Yeah. We've seen a real increase in the number of incident response cases. Week over week, it's actually compounding and getting worse, and two new ransomware calls today and it just doesn't seem to be slowing down .I wouldn't have expected this, but who knows. Steve. What about you? Steve: I'm going to take your question in a slightly different way. Brian: Of course you are. Why wouldn't you? Steve: Why wouldn't I, right? Because a lot of the COVID conversations here are technical. For security, what does it mean to work from home? The company, or at least what we've been doing, is looking a lot at the concept of moral leadership, and it sounds boring, right? Moral leadership be out there. Company like ours being 150 years old. We take our principles seriously, Brian: But you're a brand company, right?I mean we've discussed that before. Levis Strauss is very much an international brand, belief, however you want to describe it. Steve: It's a lifestyle. When you look at Levi's, as not as a pair of jeans, but as you know, part of your history of growing up and everything else. Now that means we have strong social things, moral things. We care about a lot of things. We try to save the earth. It's important for us to understand who our stakeholders are to sell. Now, the interesting thing about moral leadership is doing the right thing. That's what it comes down to. Do you have the moral fortitude to do the right thing? Now from a security perspective, and like COVID-19, we've put everybody out in their own homes or we've had to furlough a lot of people. So beyond just the technical “what does our security perimeter look like”, we've thought about it from a security awareness perspective, which was what does moral leadership look like?What is it that we have to do to allow our workers to be productive, feel safe and secure? So what do you do with your security awareness program? Do you harp on new types of threats that are coming in with COVID or do you actually remind people that, although the threats are still there, let's talk about what it means to work from home? Where is the social connectivity that you've counted on in order to be able to feel safe and secure? Not necessarily from cyber. What does it mean as people start to go through this grieving process and are working lots and lots of hours or working in ways that they're uncomfortable with, where they may be more inclined to make mistakes that impact security? A lot of executives are not technically savvy, especially in a retail space. And so what's the right thing to do? It's been interesting to flavor the response and how we support the company, the value of cyber security around looking at that more leadership and making sure that we're understanding all of the facets of where we have a responsibility, rather than looking at it as simply, the technical security of the company. And it's had some really interesting impacts in our thinking, as we're doing this kind of pause and pivot. Brian: Good. I want to hit that one next, but you brought up a couple of things I want to ask just across the board. Steve mentioned furlough in there. I've been super fortunate. We haven't had to do that. We've actually seen a surge in business in certain sectors. Obviously our civil litigation and things like that have stopped. Courts are closed, but I'm wondering about has anybody to let people go, in what numbers, and how are you handling that? Doug: Well, I mean, it's been very limited. From our client's standpoint, we're definitely seeing some effects there and probably even a little bit more than I expected in IT. We're starting to see that fallout right now. Brian: Really. You have clients that have made IT cuts. Doug: Yes. Brian: Interesting. Okay. Most of my clients, IT departments are scrambling hard right now. They're barely keeping up, but all right. That's an interesting one. Dave. Dave: To my knowledge, we have not made any layoffs to this point, but I think we're also still within the timeframe of when the PPP doesn't allow businesses to lay off. I actually don't know if we, McKenzie, has applied to it. I would assume that they did. That's a little over pay scaled up. I think Steve, you guys are definitely too large, I would assume to have applied for the PPP though, correct? Steve: Yeah, we didn't apply for the PPP and all expand on this a little bit. When you think about this, cause again, this is a large company, right? We have very different perspectives on what our functions are. I don't want to monopolize, but I'm trying to answer the questions in ways that I think people want to understand beyond just the COVID-19, which is when we went public last year, a lot of things around retail is timing. Once we went public and the brand was doing really well and we're firing on all cylinders, like most companies are, and now you have something like this. The question becomes, while we happen to be in a great cash position, got about a billion dollars in the bank. So, we had this luxury of furloughing employees in the stores rather than laying them off. Paying them. To keep the health insurance benefits rolling. Cause again, Moral leadership. We want this opportunity to have our people continue to maintain and invest in Levi's, not just our customers. You want to be the best company in the business coming out of this. And that's where it gets Interesting. So that’s where you get furloughs versus lay-offs. You talk about, if you're sick, we will give you time off, paid time off, even if you don't have enough vacation time, we'll let you negative accrue. Why do the right thing in the end? It's cost us a little bit of money, but it's going to come out on the backside. It's really interesting. Same thing with layoffs. Our budgets across the board dramatically lowered. A lot. More than 30% across the board, including IP. Why? We have no dollars coming into the company, and so what do you do? You absolutely have to live in the moment because you don't know how long. So you do some really critical things there to be able to figure out what to stop and what to slow down and then when you're coming out of this, think about it. Let's assume you lose a quarter's worth of revenue. Then for the year, you're only gonna make three quarters of what you anticipated. How do you right-size the company coming out of this because as much as you want to keep everybody, the digital transformation, the change in work expectations somehow. You have to bring the company through this exercise to be stronger. But there are going to have to be layoffs coming as we're figuring this out. And yes, it's taking a little longer because of some of the federal things that have been done in the US or Europe or in Asia, or around the world. And so it's not a US centric thing. It's which of our markets do we believe are going to come out. China went in two months early on this and had to shut down. They're now opening, so we're trying to learn from China to see what this looks like to be able to forward that into our other regions. And so that's why when we talk about layoffs and furloughs and the moral leadership, then you look at cyber security. People got to work from home. So what's the right risk posture that you have to have? What do you do when you're going to have to lay people off? And they're all working from home now. So how do you get the equipment? How do you do normal transitions like that? And how do you do it in a way that is appropriate? That's why I'm kind of really responding to this moral leadership because when you look at all of these pieces beyond the technical, how does a company, all of us, come out better? Not necessarily bigger, but in a way that our people and our goals are going to survive this and be better for it. Brian: Clients of ours that they're whole non to people, even though it hurts the bottom line, because their point of view was that if they let them go at this point, they were never going to recover as a company. The best and brightest they had would find other opportunities if the company cares so little about them, that at the first sign of a speed bump, they toss everybody off the boat. I don't know how boats and speed bumps got together in my head, but we're going to roll with me on that one. Just assume that one made sense. All right. Let me get to my next question. I've heard a lot of really random things from a lot of my clients. We have a couple of hundred clients. About stuff that they experienced in the lead up to send everybody home for COVID-19 and then right after that was not anything like what they were expecting. Just completely didn't expect this to happen. It happened, and now it's a thing that we're dealing with. I was wondering, from each of your industries, what was that thing that you just never projected for, but it happened, and this is how you dealt with it. Dave, you want to hit it first? Dave: Start with someone else. I gotta think on that one. Brian: Doug, You're next. Doug: Well, I would say that definitely I don't miss the travel. I think we're actually more productive. Because we're not spending a lot of time just traveling around for travel sake. Obviously I think, especially in our business, the face to face interaction is truly missed, and it's really hard from a sales and marketing perspective to transition to this, being that we're a very relationship driven company. So, that's been a challenge, but I mean, overall productivity, I think people are invested more to make sure that we can get through this. I've definitely seen the people that are stepping up. We are an employee owned ESOP, so, the true colors are coming out for the people that are truly stepping up to make a difference, from a company standpoint. That's been great to see. Brian: No, I've actually spoken to some companies where they're concerned with employee burnout because they've seen such a surge in the number of hours that employees are putting in. They send everybody home with the expectation, they'd work less, and instead they're seeing a higher billable return of some of their hourly employees and things like this in this period of time. They are genuinely concerned that some of their folks are taking every call in every time zone all the time, working themselves a little too hard. Doug: Yeah. I mean, well, we had a lot of extremely hard working people to begin with. I'm not too concerned with that in our organization, but definitely in some of our clients, I'm seeing some people that are definitely being stretched, that's for sure. Brian: Yeah. Alright. Steve, what about you? Steve: So, huge efficiency gains in the short term. Especially like in the Bay area. Other areas where commutes are two and three hours are common, people just rolled in huge increases in efficiency and people figured it out. Brian: I love the 95 corridor right now. I get blown by at 80 miles an hour. It's ridiculous. I gotta be over in the right lane or else I'll just get crushed. Steve: Yup. Which is awesome. Second thing is, the company has been trying for years to get teams out, to get everybody to really understand how do you use all the collaboration tools and this allowed us or forced us to push it out globally, almost overnight. We've been working with it. Over the course of a week, all of the senior executives around the world, all now working from home, are all like “this stuff is awesome.” Then, IT try to fight uphill to get people to use collaboration tools. All of a sudden you got the leadership going “So this is what it means to work from home. Oh, these are how these tools work. This is really slick. We can do new things.” And so it has opened their eyes to how to run a company without worrying about all that middle management of “are people actually working” or “are they just taking naps and left logged in?” It completely blew all of that out of the water because everybody was doing it. Now the two funny stories I'll have to share with that is a lot of VPN connectivity, all of a sudden, as opposed to people working inside. Which means our firewalls, our VPN servers all started to max out and then we started to analyze the traffic because we can't lose it. And we, over the course of a couple of weeks, had some interesting observations around the amount in timing of the use of YouTube, Netflix, other movie streaming services where we're like, what the hell are they doing socking up my VPN bandwidth? Brian: You're not alone in that. I talked to a big global law firm that realized right away that their VPN infrastructure just wasn't designed for the whole company to be audited one time, and they basically had to reach out and they're say “look, if you're not an attorney we're still going to pay you just don't get on the VPN. We'll call you. We'll email you. We'll let you know what we need. Just don't log in.” Steve: And so over the course of, even now we still fight it, every day we watch this and we're throwing more and more of the stuff that was on the VPN out into the internet. So we're getting more efficient with it. But the other funny story was, so everybody had to work from home and all these people all of a sudden wanted to go back to work, to pick up stuff that they didn't take home when they left. So we were talking about this at corporate, a couple of weeks ago where we said, “look, we're going to have to do something. So we're going to have to let people come, but we can't let them into the building. Okay. We're going to have to meet them at the loading dock. You're gonna have to pull your car in, open your trunk, get back into your car, one of our people will take the stuff that you told us to get out of your office. It's in a box, put in your trunk, we'll close it. You drive away. Totally hands off. So the question became what are the types of things that people were asking for, or were trying to take away? And some of the funny things is somebody asked for their dirty running sneakers that were sitting in their office. Some people were asking for the mustard and mayonnaise that they left in the refrigerator, and then some people were trying to bring home some of their office furniture like their couches. Brian: That makes sense. I had an employee ask me if he could take his office chair home. He's like, I am sitting on this stool at home. He's like, it's been four weeks. I'm about to die. You gotta let me take my chair home. I was like, alright, come in and get your chair. Steve: Yup. Yeah. So that's what I'd be, you know, what people need to work from home because they haven't. And what’s the moral leadership? So what's the right thing to do? Do you allow them to come in and basically strip the corporate assets out, take their monitors, their laptops, their chairs, whatever it is to be able to just work from home? Or do you tell them to buy it themselves, or do you tell them no, leave it all there and we'll buy you monitors? What is the expectation? And so all of these traditional cost decisions. Now, what we're looking at is what's the right thing to do to spend money in the short term to accomplish it? And so it's that pause and pivot moment again to figure out what to do. Brian: All right. Dave, we gave you a chance to marinate on this. You better have a good story. Dave: Throughout the conversation, one thing I thought about is companies over the years have been trying to figure out is work from home a good thing. And if so, would it make me efficient or would it be a little bit less than efficient? From what's been happening, they'd been forced to discover it themselves and figure out if it is a good thing? Is it good for my employee morale or does it really just allow them to go home and do nothing and state that they're working? It's probably a little too early to tell for a lot of companies to figure out, is it really the best move from a long-term cultural aspect for the company, but I think a lot of groups are going to be able to figure out is this a good long-term plan for us to do? And another thing like, especially, where I live in the Baltimore Washington corridor, there's a huge fight for talent and a lot of times where that talent goes, dictates as to where the office is located and the amenities that are around the office. I think that if companies are going to be able to do a lot more remote working and figure out a way to make it efficient, it's going to open them up to a lot better talent that they're going to be able to recruit from the talent pool which is now literally the entire world if they can figure out a way to make it work. A lot of companies are probably going to figure out how to do this accidentally because of everything that's happened. Brian: Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. I have employees in New Zealand and Ecuador. They're in slightly different time zones, but it's just like having them here. That doesn't change anything for them. So that's a good one. All right. So, question number three on the big list, what did you discover as an advantage? Like, what was the thing that just turned out this was great about this pandemic, not that the pandemic is great, but the new thing that you learned, you picked up that the company did. I mean, Steve already alluded to this that senior management, all of a sudden went, Oh, hey, gee, remote working works. It makes the IT department look good. But, what's that unexpected discovery during the quarantine that this was a really good thing for us. Doug you're in the center of my screen. You get to go first. Doug: Well, like I mentioned before, travel, and I'm trying to think. Yeah, I think we kind of discussed those already in the last question. Brian: So I'll throw mine out there. I was actually in Tokyo with Steve, strangely enough. Two days later, I went to Singapore. While I was in Singapore, end of February where all this was coming down, my office, my director of operations actually just took the initiative and sent everybody home and said “COVID-19 we're not doing this. Everybody go home and start working”, implemented our plan for that. There was an IT plan, there was an instructor. This is how it's gonna work. This is the minimum, a rotation of people there. And it worked perfectly to the point that I didn't even realize it happened. I was on my way back from Singapore. Back in the States, actually taking the empty train, which was awesome. You ever ride an empty Amtrak train down the Eastern corridor? That's an amazing experience, whole car to myself. But, that was the first time I realized that they'd been working from home for over a week and a half without me. It's just nice to see, you know, your plans actually happen and work. Doug: Well, I guess I will add that we've done some virtual happy hours that actually have been very fun. Like I mentioned before, we're remote anyway. We've been used to doing a lot of work from home, but we've never really done those, it's usually just been on conference calls. We haven't really leveraged video before, let alone do more of a social thing virtually. So I guess that's been kind of fun to see people's pets and their houses and learn more about outside of just the day to day work. So I think that's been, that's definitely been a plus. Brian: Anybody have a situation where you actually didn't have enough computers for people? We had several clients that had people boxing up desktop computers and monitors and keyboards and stuff like this and sending them home with folks because they were just in an environment where not everybody had a laptop. They intended to keep the staff on, but there just wasn't enough equipment to go around. Doug: Yeah, we did a lot of leases for clients because we have a whole warehouse full of equipment and it's virtually all gone, but we definitely heard the horror stories of people just picking up their desktops out of their offices and monitors and taking them home just from a cyber-security perspective. Just to shake your head. Brian: I talked to some help desks that were just like these people got home, had no idea what to do with this big box of computer garbage they got handed to them, and so they'd call the help desk and they'd have to wire, the mouse, hook it to the back of the computer hook. The back of the, the other side. Yeah, all this craziness and trying to reconfigure software systems that were never meant to be taken home. Steve: I have one to share that was a kind of “aha” is when people are in the offices, you have basically two classes of people. The people that are social and the ones that are more introverted. Extrovert introvert. When you're in rooms, the extroverts tend to monopolize and your introverts are there. They do their job. They're quiet. Once we put everybody at home, the extroverts were all of a sudden the ones that were the ones out of their comfort zone because they didn't know technology, they weren't comfortable working by themselves, self-motivated, they needed other people, they had to talk, and so the introverts became much more visible and their value to the company became much more noticeable. Because it wasn't just they were the IT guys to go to, but they knew how to operate this way. They didn't need all of that social interaction, and so the extrovert has to learn from the introverts basically how to function and they were the ones now that had to go through this exercise and changing behavior. And all the introverts now were speaking up because they were comfortable with it. And so we had to realize there was this whole new feedback loop that was coming in as a result of this transference into working from home. That was a really interesting surprise that we're still working through to be able to understand how to best leverage that now that we see the difference. Brian: Yeah. COVID-19 is where my head of biz dev down. He can't stand it. He's such a social guy. He’s out there shaking hands, buying dinner and drinks for everybody and stuff like this. And he's clawing at the windows right now trying to get out. How about you Dave? Dave: So I'm going to talk more on a personal and not really a business perspective on this because a lot of people ask me something like this and I've really looked at it. I'm going to assume that I'm actually the youngest person on this panel here. I just turned 36 on Sunday. But I look back and I - Brian: Steve’s only 22. Dave: Never mind, I'm the second youngest on the panel. Steve: Minus 22 hex. Okay. So you got nothing to worry about. Dave: Not an IT guy. I really don't get that joke at all, but I'll laugh anyways. So I've been working pretty much nonstop since I was two weeks before my 14th birthday. And if you look at that, except for going into college, which really was a four year vacation, which I got educated all at the same time. I mean, I've been working nonstop for quite some time. So when all this stuff happened, I was like, you know, I'm really just going to try to take the best of this. I'm gonna use this as a little bit of a mental break, mental and physical break. I mean, me and the pop over here, we'd go for walks every day. I was playing tennis for as long as I could. The amount of work I could do is very limited and it was really just a way to kind of refresh because really when I graduated college, I looked at it as I'm really not going to have more than a couple of weeks off at a time for vacation again, until I retire, which I'm 36. It could be when I’m 75 years old. So, I mean, me personally, I've just been, trying to make the best of it, keeping in touch with friends that you need to, keep in touch with business colleagues, clients, and, you know, strategic partners and just trying to figure out how do you make the best of it and how do you come out of this on top, whether it's from a business standpoint or a personally mental, physical standpoint. Brian: All right. So I sort of mentioned this before. It is May 14th. Tomorrow's May 15th, which in Maryland means that they're opening up a whole bunch of the state. I believe they've got restaurants, barbershops, some bars, things like this, churches opening tomorrow. Things like this, all opening up. Virginia,II think it's doing a little bit different. I think DC might've pulled back. Some of the counties are still shifting around things like that. What does it look like for you guys? Short term, what's the plan, what are you guys doing and what's the long-term game for the company. I'll let anybody that wants to speak up first. Take that one. Doug: Well, we definitely have a good mix of employees that are doing different things that are actually in different states, just like Steve. And we've got folks that are already leveraging PPP that are going in, cause they're essential workers doing essential things. But still the majority of our company has worked from home. So there's no real rush to do anything other than understanding when we're going to be able to get back in front of our clients, if they want us to get in front of them and making those decisions on how to do that. It's pretty much state by state, at this point, how we're going to handle that, and just gather as much information as we can from the latest situation. But, I don't think anybody can predict what's going to happen here in three to six months. It's just crazy. Brian: Right. Are you going to start bringing employees back in? Doug: Well, they'll have the option to do that. Yes. If they feel comfortable, if the States allow them to do that, they will absolutely be able to come into office. We'll have PPE and go through the necessary operations to do that. But we're still leaving it up in employee by employee because we know every employee has a different situation, home situation. It's just not them personally. It's all the people around them. Brian: Yeah. So all those people that had to make to make to, so on. Steve: Well, since I'm in California, I jokingly say it'll be at least 2022 before California even lets us out of our house. Okay. So I have no idea if we'll ever be over down there. Brian: But there’s a difference down there, right? I mean, Southern California, Los Angeles, they're talking about tomorrow it's back to normal and up there around the bridge talking about not even considering it until what, July, August? Steve: Yeah. Well, who knows, right? Everybody's gotta be safe. That's why I joke and even if the state let’s us into the offices then just putting people into the office, that same kind of really conservative view of we don't want it to restart. So 10% of the population is allowed to go back on a day. I mean, they're trying to figure out how to do this, to allow people in, but not to really do the socialization. So I simply say the people are going to decide by themselves over time. Everybody's kind of getting tired of this, and a lot of the States are either independently or the people inside, like in Southern Cal are saying, okay, we've had enough. Okay. This is what we're going to support. And let's get back to business. I feel like that another month of this, we'll have a better clue because the general population of the United States is starting to speak their mind. And you're seeing a lot of this and then it's just, are the States being proactive to open it up or are they being reactive when people finally say like Tesla and Musk, I'm bringing my guys back in. I don't care. You want to arrest me, and I'm going to sue you because you've exceeded your authority. So it's a really interesting play. Brian: Dave, you got a dog in this one? Dave: No, I agree with Steve. I think time's going to tell there's too much inconsistency between jurisdictions in general. Somebody said to me a month and a half ago that the stay at home order is only going to last for as long as people allow it to last. And it was funny because about a week ago, he said to me, I think that time's about to expire now. And I think you're definitely starting to see it around just everywhere, talking to people and seeing how kind of fed up they are with everything and really just wanting to get back onto something that relates to normalcy. Steve: So, Brian, I have a question for you. Brian: Yeah. Steve: I happen to know you've got a new kitchen out of this COVID exercise. Brian: Yeah, Steve: I want to know what were you learning? How did you manage to renovate a kitchen when everybody had to work from home? Brian: You know, Steve, I have absolutely no idea because I have nothing to do with that renovation project. So as far as I know, I went to Singapore, my kitchen disappeared. When I returned home, there was no kitchen. There was just a hole. And, then magically one day there was a kitchen again. So, that's about the extent of what I know about that process. Yeah, I don't do anything on the home renovation side. It keeps me safe. But, all right, so, that aside, how long is it going to feel, how long is it going to be before any of you feel like standing in a room of 50 people again? Because I've been thinking about that personally going, you know, I'm not sure how long that is for me. I don't think that's going to be anytime soon. Dave: Before we want to. 45 days ago. Realistically, when would I feel comfortable doing it? Yeah, that's a good question. Like, you know, with a mask on, I don't really know because I don't really know how contractible this is, and I don't know if anybody really knows how contractible it is. So if everybody's wearing their mask and taking safety measures and we're all standing six feet apart, does that make you almost immune to it?My guess is no, but it's like, I don't really understand what the risk levels are with this. But, I think that it all depends on how much education we learned about how to really be in groups and make it so we're not putting ourselves open to health risks, and really understanding that before you figure out how comfortable you are getting into situations like that. Steve: I don't know. I have a practical view, which was “guys, this is a really bad flu and it's going to come back in the fall and we've had good and bad years for the flu”. So at some point I want to say common sense has to break out. Right. Which was you hear in the news, herd mentality, herd immunity. Whether we get 50 people or not is I think to a certain extent, from a social cultural thing, when are we going to realize we gotta get back to work, we got to do stuff, you know, time will go on. The flu will change. Right. And so some time has to go by because if you look at it in the larger picture, yes, it's a new strain, but it is a flu. And if you're over 70, or you've got some comorbidity associated with it, but the rest of it is, where's that middle ground? And I think that's what we're going to have to find. And you'll find it in different levels. The kids may be much more inclined to do it because they're younger. If they get it, they get it. And so that's what I'm waiting to see is once the news and everybody is done making this such a big deal and looking at it from a slightly more pragmatic business perspective, what's the moral?. Same thing, moral leadership. What are we doing to address people's concerns, but also trying to do the right thing for everybody? You know, that's where I'm hoping in two, three months, it's gotta be moderated. We got to come back more towards the middle. Doug: I would just, I mean, there's obviously a lot of different ways States are handling this and it's just we just have to wait for it to come out in the data. I mean, that's what it's going to come down to. I don't think there's any way you can guess right now. And, it's so unfortunate that it doesn't seem like they have a lot of data so far. But, I'm just all about the data. Brian: They almost have too much data, right? They have too many possible symptoms, too many different scenarios, and not enough real facts in there on some of that stuff. But, all right, well, that was everything I had, gentlemen. I appreciate your time. My personal thoughts are on this. I think we're going to see an uptick as we start to. The infection rates here in the DC Virginia area is still pretty high. I'm indicating that whatever it is, is still fairly contagious. I think we'll see a definite upturn in cases over the next few weeks. And, we'll make decisions based on that. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. But I think regionally it's going to be different also. Steve: Well, I think when scotch and cigars come back, I'm happy to be with 50 of my favorite people. Brian: I know. Right. And they canceled BlackHat and Defcon, which isn't until August in Vegas this year. So, you know, at least that organization is that far ahead on it. They're not willing to put that together. I'm actually looking forward to that. That's a couple of weeks from now, but I have some casino folks on. Dave wants to come back. Dave is the only person I actually know that goes to a casino and wins. Dave: Not every time, trust me Brian: Not every time, not every time, only ones he tells me about. But, anyway, I appreciate you all being here, especially the first episode. And next week we have what, Under Armor, US Military Academy at West point. And, I have a national plans and policy company on, so appreciate it guys. Thanks so much. And I look forward to seeing you all in person again.