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Creatively Working Through COVID Part 10

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Thanks for the challenge, Mike, and congratulations on closing your first deal at Appian with a top 20 Financial Services company! It was great to see the work you did to help the organization return their employees back to work safely when they re-opened their NYC offices in mid-June. Nice job!

Tell us about the quirks of your new co-workers

We live in Westport, CT which is close to NYC, giving us easy access to the beach and great restaurants. Pre-COVID, our claim to fame was that F. Scott Fitzgerald spent a summer here and the town may have influenced The Great Gatsby. More recently, we made the National News as the place where the local police bought drones to take people’s temperatures and to enforce social distancing; however, they didn’t run it by the town first. Oops.

Enjoying our local beach in Westport, CT

The Ferrara household is quite hectic these days with my 3.5 year old son Hudson running around pretending to be a monster truck. He’s big into construction and most days can be found “fixing” our house so that the big bad wolf can’t blow our house down.

Everly at about 6 months old

My daughter Everly is 7 months old and is working hard to try and chase her big brother; she’s already starting to crawl and move herself across the floor. They’ve become fast best friends, so it’s been fun to watch them interact with each other. And then there’s our 5 year old dog Jax (an adopted mutt) in the middle of everything; he loves the attention and likes to remind us that he was our first baby.

My wife Melissa works full time for PWC. Together, we’re doing the new juggling act of work and kids. Melissa is a Super Mom and is the glue that keeps everything together, ensuring that everyone is happy, learning and well fed — all while balancing a demanding job.

Lunch time in the Ferrara household — a rare time when everyone is sitting in one place.

Meals are a fun time in our house and a great way for me to put my sales negotiation skills to the test. We don’t keep score but I believe Hudson is winning by a landslide at this point. Everly is still in the honeymoon stage where she’ll gladly eat an avocado, berries, and beans all in one sitting and still ask for more. I guess she’s taken on the role of that person in your office that brings in the weird stinky lunch.

Describe your new normal

Pre-COVID I used to wake up early and go for a workout at F45. My local F45 studio was awesome; they made you feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger, even if you were curling 10 pounders. I definitely miss the in-person energy of going to a studio, but like many people, we recently bought a Peloton bike and have really enjoyed it. I was signed up to do the Chicago Marathon after running the NYC Marathon the past 2 years, but they cancelled it for 2020 (secretly I think I was ok with not having to train in the humidity).

I previously traveled a lot for customer meetings and to HQ a couple times a month, so it’s weird to not be in airports. I never thought I would say this, but I might actually miss LGA or JFK (probably because of ShakeShack). I’ve enjoyed being home these past few months as I’ve watched Everly grow in front of my eyes. The growth from birth to 7 months old is amazing, and I’ve been lucky enough to be home to watch her eat solids for the first time as well as start to crawl.

Each morning with Hudson is hilarious, he’s at the age where he retains all sorts of information that he’ll randomly work into all types of conversations. As I’m typing this, he just reminded me how much I love carrots, and that his Uncle Kevin is getting a new dog called Murphy this week. He also knows all the different types of vehicles on a construction site and will correct you if you confuse an excavator for a front loader.

As for work, each day is completely different. There will inevitably be a mix of calls and meetings with customers, prospects and Appian employees. I work with a team of 7 Account Executives; we call ourselves Team Gotham and we work with Financial Services companies based in New York and New Jersey. My team rocks, and we’ve done a great job of navigating the new normal, staying connected by hosting virtual happy hours, meetings, and lunches.

On the weekends, we like to go to the beach or play in the backyard. Like many, we also started a Quarantine Garden which has yet to yield a tomato for us, but has fed the many animals that inhabit our backyard.

What do you miss about the office?

Definitely the people. We have a great group of employees based out of the NYC office which we call HQ2. It’s a cross sample of the different types of roles at Appian with Sales, Engineering, Solution Consultants, Customer Success and others all together in one space. It’s a great environment and I miss the random conversations about the best pizza in NYC, TV shows, Low Code, and of course the debate when Max Block (Account Executive) said he could run a 7 min mile (we’re still waiting for him to prove it).

Team Gotham at Sales Kickoff 2020 — pre-COVID of course.

Watching or reading anything new?

A couple years back, I bought a set of golf clubs, so I’ve dusted them off and have spent the quarantine downtime watching instructional videos, and working on my golf swing. I’ve enjoyed the learning process, but golf is truly a humbling sport. In general, I’m a huge sports fan, so I’m excited for baseball and hockey to start soon and will invariably be rooting for my Mets and Islanders. I also just finished Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix which was interesting (and that intro song still gives me the chills).

When I’m not reading Curious George or the Berenstain Bears for the 100th time, I like to keep up with current events by reading the WSJ, NY Times, Business Insider, and if I want to turn my brain off, the NY Post. I’m currently a part of the Appian MBA program, which is an awesome leadership development program focused on helping Front Line Leaders across the company. I just started reading Radical Candor for the MBA and before that, we read Shackleton’s Way, which is an exciting book about an explorer who journeyed to Antarctica and his leadership lessons.

Next up — I am challenging Area Vice President, Jen Doyle who runs our Central team out of Dallas, Texas, to see how she’s managing balancing everything 4 months into the quarantine.