Skip to Content
Coronavirus Updates

Podcast

Silver Linings in a Season of Thanks

November 17, 2020

In Episode 13, we take a look back at 2020 and ahead to commerce-related developments for Q4 and 2021 in our final episode of Season 1 of Boom! Chris Kane joins Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., and Todd Murphy, President of the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce, for a recap of the past year, looking at the bright side as well as challenges we overcame. From the opening of New Orleans’ new airport to the ways COVID-19 changed our lives beginning this spring, to the impact on schools, music, and sports, we revisit topics that shaped the business world throughout the past year. As the pandemic threatens to hang around for a bit longer, we talk with our guests about what’s on their wish lists for the next set of COVID-19-related legislation, and whether the technology boom is here to stay.

Listen online and find us wherever you subscribe to podcasts on Anchor.fm

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Transcript and Show Notes

Christopher Kane: Welcome to the season finale of Boom! A podcast sponsored by Adams and Reese. I'm your host Chris Kane, and today we have two great excellent guests. Actually, it's kind of our all-star edition. From season one, we've got Todd Murphy, the President of Jefferson Chamber, and Michael Hecht, the CEO and President of Greater New Orleans Inc. Gentlemen, thank you all for joining us today.

 

What we're going to talk about really is kind of a year in review and some of the topics that we went over through the year. Of course, Michael, you were our first guest, and when we started the program, the concept was to really talk about and highlight all the good commerce stories and the trends and to be kind of cutting edge as it relates to the Southeast boom that we were seeing in terms of major projects and mega-development. And it literally, the first show we did was right when the New Orleans Airport opened. I think you were either coming from or just gotten completed with that press conference. I mean, obviously, things have changed drastically.

 

Todd, you were our first guest in the COVID world, and you, along with two other gentlemen Chamber representatives from Nashville and from Columbia. And so perspective wise, in that little tight timeframe, a couple of months, a lot changed, and now we are looking at the world through a completely different lens and trying to figure out how we return back to hopefully talking about good strong economic progress and opportunities. So I want to start off with really just asking you guys, Michael, I'll start with you, a year ago, it was December 2019. We didn't even know what coronavirus was. We'd never heard of COVID-19. And we were really, really excited about a lot of good things going on, particularly in the New Orleans market. Then we're sitting here today. How is your perspective and looking back through the year as we move kind into hopefully 2021 as quickly as we can get there?

 

Michael Hecht: It seems like many years ago that we were having the conversation. 2019 was a record-breaking year for us in many ways. The airport had just opened. The British Airways flight that we had worked on together was going so well. We had landed DXC Technology, the biggest win in Louisiana history. Industrials were booming. Imports and exports were at record levels. At our annual meeting, shortly thereafter, we gave out sunglasses because we were saying the future looked so bright, which is basically a lesson in karma.

 

But let me just sum it up by saying, here we are a year later, and there's three things that are overriding impressions. One is just gratitude. When you have situations like this, it certainly makes you appreciate even more what you have professionally and personally. The second is that I think that despite the immense challenges to hospitality and the energy industry, the economy of this region has actually endured better than I would have expected. We've had 18 weeks of declining unemployment now. And a lot of our companies have been able to pivot to not only help manage acute symptoms of the crisis but to sustain their operations.

 

The third is that coming out of this, and this might sound like me making the Kool-Aid, selling the Kool-Aid, drinking the Kool-Aid, and I am, and I do. But it doesn't mean it's not right. Our region is actually better positioned coming out of COVID than we were going into it. And the trends that are happening in manufacturing and technology with them coming back to the States, with logistics being the dominant force in retail and in healthcare and even in demographics, actually favor the New Orleans market in a way that didn't exist a year ago.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, it's incredible from my perspective, what I've seen is innovation particularly and how quickly we all pivoted in a variety of industries. Not just the legal profession, but in every industry, every single client. And we're going to talk about some of those. But technology and kind of forced technology and we saw this huge spike. Now, of course, we've heard about a very promising report as it relates to the vaccine, which is exciting and some therapeutics. And now you're starting to see a little trend off in the tech sector. I think it's a little early to do that, and I also think that there's going to be a huge shift in terms of how people operate. Because we've learned lessons, we can do things differently, more efficiently.

 

Todd, from the Chamber's perspective, when we last visited, you were really trying to grapple with reopening and how Columbia was doing it, and Nashville and the Jefferson Parish of Greater New Orleans Region trying to work together to come up with a safe strategy and to open where we were not just letting the healthcare crisis drive the whole issue. We had other ancillary major issues in terms of our economy and people having related but indirect health issues as it resulted from that. And you really have been kind of a voice and a leader, particularly in Jefferson Parish on that. How do you see, when we visited, I think it was in April, to now and how are things progressing in that regard?

 

Todd Murphy: Chris, it's been a very slow-moving process. Michael and I both represent business. And when you continually hear only about the public health piece of this and really not a whole lot about the economic health, at times I think, and Michael would agree, it got very discouraging going through this process. I think now what we're seeing is we're seeing people that are eager to get out more. And so maybe this whole idea that people want to get back to work, they want to get their businesses open, is sort of having some positive influence on our elected leaders. Really not only here, but across the country to say, let's figure out how we balance public health and economic health.

 

Obviously, COVID is not going anywhere. I think our governor said recently, "I realize everyone is sick and tired of COVID. But it's not sick and tired of us yet." And so we have to balance that. At the same time, we have seen both our organizations and people all over this state and I'm sure this country, we have seen people struggling with mental health. Struggling with bankruptcy. Finances, marriage issues. I mean, I have never received calls from people saying, can you refer me to a broker to sell my business? Can you refer me to a bankruptcy lawyer, a marriage counselor, a divorce lawyer?

 

And these are real calls that we get on just a basis that I've never even dreamed that we would think of as someone running a Chamber of Commerce. So now I think as we've been through this and Michael mentioned the sunglasses at his annual meeting, I can remember a year ago in December of 2019, I mean, my biggest challenge was figuring out how can I get tickets to the LSU championship game? And talk about karma, what did we pay? That was a hell of a price to pay, right?

 

Christopher Kane: That was LSU last year.

 

Todd Murphy: Yes, right. Good point. So — but this has all just been a wash. And so I think what we're looking at now is how do we continue to look at diversifying our economy and our businesses? And how do we react to this maybe a little bit differently as the largest parish or county in our region? What resources do we have to attract new people in, so that we can create new jobs and get businesses up and running?

 

It's been a really slow process, and as I said, at some points, it was very, very frustrating. But I think now we're starting to see some of that turn the corner, especially when you hear about the possible vaccine and the political season is now over. And so hopefully we can — well, it's almost over; hopefully, we can move forward and get things back on track.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, we were talking Michael with some GNO, Inc. board members last week. And I made a comment, we've got ten and a half million COVID cases in the United States. We're averaging now over 115,000, 120,000 cases a day. And at the same time, we at that moment had some election uncertainty. That seemed to have started to firm up. But yet the stock market went off and went through the roof. And it told me what I was waiting for, which is, there's some certainty coming around the corner.

 

Now it's not going to be pretty necessarily. It's going to be a lot of hard work ahead of us, and there's going to be some tough issues we're going to have to deal with. But the market likes certainty. So whether or not you like this president or that president or this Congress or that Congress, they like to know who they're dealing with. And that's coming into light, although it looks like we'll have to wait until January 5th for the Senate as those races play out. But comfortable enough for the market to move forward. And now we're getting some better news on the health front. And it just, it amazed me because you saw almost a 10% increase post-election market now, a week and a half after the election.

 

Michael Hecht: Well, and some of it, too, Chris, I think we've talked about data a lot through all of this. And I tend to think that sophisticated, especially sophisticated business leaders are looking at the data. And if you remember, this whole shutdown was about not overwhelming the hospitals. Not taking up all the hospital beds in the ICU. Usage of ventilators, et cetera. And so while we are seeing a spike in cases currently, especially here in our region, it's a much milder case than what we were having.

 

Now some doctors think maybe it's a milder strain of the virus. But I think the truth of it, and many doctors here locally will tell you, that we have learned how to treat patients better. And so when someone comes in that's 65 with diabetes, we know how to treat that person, versus the person that's 80 with hypertension. And so they've learned through all this process. So we see people going to the hospital a day or two and they're leaving. And that's from all of our local hospital execs that are pushing that back.

 

So if that in fact is happening around the country, employers are seeing this as well. And that's got to give them some confidence that we don't have this issue that we had in April and in May.

 

Christopher Kane: It looks different, yeah. Well, look, I want to focus some time and talk about a couple of different sectors and how you guys see us coming through the next — in the short-term, next few months and then through 2021. We are actually recording today at Bar Marilou and there's a reason for that. We want to support where we can the industry that I think has been probably the most impacted in terms of employees, in terms of direct revenue. It's been very, very hard for the hospitality industry, bars, restaurants, hotels. And we're seeing unfortunately devastating numbers throughout our footprint.

 

We've got, in our footprint, we've got some really excellent destinations where people go to visit. Of course, we're in New Orleans. But Nashville, the whole state of Florida is a visitor's community throughout. I mean, there's a lot of really great places. And you talk to locals in each of those markets, and they're experiencing what we're experiencing here. Maybe a little different levels. And this is usually our robust time, right, between Labor Day and, well, really when we get out of the height of hurricane season. Although eight cones of uncertainty for New Orleans this year and the whole Gulf Coast has been dealing with it. But usually when we get to the back end of hurricane season, through the more tolerable months, is our boon time.

 

Michael Hecht: San Diego weather without the San Diego culture.

 

Christopher Kane: Right.

 

Michael Hecht: You don't have any offices in San Diego, do you?

 

Christopher Kane: We do not have any offices. We love the people in San Diego.

 

Todd Murphy: We love San Diego, especially their biotech businesses. Excellent businesses.

 

Christopher Kane: And we're happy to keep San Diego classy. But we — but Michael, in all seriousness, legislatively there's some things that are being talked about. But we don't know when the help may come and what that looks like. How do you see — what do you think we need to do or what the exit strategy is for hospitality in general? I know it's a big question. But it's an important one. I'd like your insight.

 

Michael Hecht: Based on the news we got about vaccines and what folks are saying, we can possibly have a strong second half of next year. But that's still six, eight months away. So getting to there, hospitality and related businesses like travel are going to need help. And so things like the Restaurant Act up in DC need to get passed so we can get relief. The airlines might need a little bit more support. Our institutions, like our zoos nationally, because the tigers don't stop eating, need help.

 

Here locally, institutions like City Park need assistance. If we can get to the other side, there's going to be a lot of pent-up demand. I think it's going to be a roaring '20s type situation. Hopefully without the hangover. But we need to help our hospitality institutions get there. I know I'm actually a recovering restaurateur. And so I understand what this is like. And it's been unfortunate that there's not been more direct assistance forthcoming to this point. But maybe now that we're through the election we can get it through DC during the lame-duck period.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, I feel — this is just anecdotal on my end, but I feel like recently we've gotten to a point where people are feeling safe at taking the right precautions to be able to go out and that personal responsibility. Not in all cases. I mean, we see instances and flashpoints. But it was so much fun this weekend. My wife and I got to go to Commander's Palace for brunch. Now the jazz music wasn't inside. The jazz music was outside waiting for us to walk in. But the turtle soup was the same, and the…

 

Michael Hecht: San Diego weather with New Orleans food. Yeah, you're right.

 

Christopher Kane: That's right. But that mixed with some of these other developments you're seeing, Disney likes the vaccine, right. And they're bullish right now, and I think that's — put your thumb up and figure out which way things are going. I think Las Vegas and other big tourist cities are going to feel that. Our cruise industry has really taken it on the chin, and hopefully will have a nice rebound.

 

Michael Hecht: Right, what's interesting to think that on the other side, what's not going to come back the same? And so I think restaurants are going to come back the same. Hotels are going to come back the same for leisure. I think there's some questions around business travel. When you talk to the airlines, they're thinking about how the front of the plane's going to have to be populated with premium leisure and not business as much anymore. Convention business is a question. Are we going to get the 30,000-person type of events?

 

And the cruise industry, my gut is that it's going to come back, but it's going to take the consumer longer to get comfortable. And they're going to have to kind of change the way they do business to make the consumer feel comfortable. But for us it's important. We're now the sixth biggest cruising port in the country.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, it is big. Well, you mentioned workforce and Todd, from your perspective, I'd be interested to get your thoughts on, how do you see our workplace coming back, and what is that going to look like? There was a period of time where we all were home. And then there was return to work, and then it was, well, if you don't need to come to work and you can be just as efficient at home, there's a lot of complexity to that. Because we're sitting here in downtown New Orleans and if one — well, excuse me, Hancock Whitney building, formally known as One Shell Square, is not full. That means the coffee shop's not getting — it means the restaurants.

 

The travel issue that Michael mentioned, I have not traveled since March 17th when I returned from the TPC Sawgrass that we could not go to, because that was the first golf tournament shut down. We had a real big event that we had planned to host. I am traveling this weekend for officiating a friend's wedding and going from there on my first work trip. And I'm kind of excited about it. It's kind of a weird feeling, like a little kid going back to school.

 

Michael Hecht: Mm, mini bars.

 

Christopher Kane: Minibars, yeah, and just seeing the experience. But the workplace is going to change. What are you hearing, and how do you envision it?

 

Todd Murphy: I think it's a mixed bag, okay. So I have a small office, but my office worked from home until the middle of May. And really, I had a little bit of pushback in getting people back to the office, because we're in a high-rise building. Well, we still have to use the elevator. We still have to use the common restrooms and that sort of thing. But once we got back in and of course, you know, our mission dictated we needed to come back. I mean, I said to my team, and I know Michael said the same, how do you lead economic recovery from home?

 

But a big piece of it is the culture. And I say that, I have one employee that her husband got a promotion and a move. And she's now working remotely from Denver, Colorado. I've got the rest of my team in Metairie. But it's almost a daily occurrence where there's a Zoom with that employee. And on the special events and occasions where we need her back, she'll be back in New Orleans.

 

But I think you're going to see a mixed bag, because I think a lot of it is about the culture of the firm, and how do you keep that, and how do you keep the communication open when everybody's from home? Now I know that there's people that will argue the other side of that. But I don't think we're going to see so much of a downshift that you hear people thinking of. Now again, I represent the largest parish in the region, which is the suburban parish. And so what we're seeing, actually, is an uptick. We're seeing people come in saying, we need some new office space. We want some — we want more offices. We want more hotels. We want — so we're seeing demand for more, more, more.

 

Michael Hecht: More cowbell.

 

Todd Murphy: More housing, more everything. So I guess I'm looking at it from that perspective. But I think even globally throughout the United States, I think that we're going to see — you're not going to see so much of a dwindling of office space. Because if anything, I think we're going to pick up some businesses from overseas and from some other areas. We've already seen that in Jefferson Parish with a call center, yeah, with SCI that came in with over 100 jobs, pulled in from another country. Because in that particular country, when they said, hey, let's go work from home, well, there was no infrastructure. There was no Internet.

 

So that's not even possible. So you might be on one hand thinking, well, I'm saving money on labor, taxes, what have you. But for the efficiency of your company, nothing works better than the United States.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, the other real component that actually impacts the workplace and what that looks like is the importance and the role that schools play. We had the superintendent of Mobile County, Superintendent Threadgill in the middle of summertime as he was preparing his plan to reopen Mobile County. And some of the points that he raised were just, they were critical. At the time, their positivity rate was kind of like where we were trending early in this thing, in March. And he was torn because he put together this food program where he was delivering food to kids at home. Because he knew that the meals that kids were getting at school were not going to be replaced. It was an important part of their dietary program and health and well-being.

 

But the issues he raised were eye-opening to me. The fact that a lot of times teachers are the first to identify at-home issues, mental health issues, a litany of things that we kind of take for granted and just assume are there and when we have a normal operating school system. I've been very pleased with my own experience. My daughter returned to school in early mid-August, knock on wood. I'm probably jinxing the school right now and will get hate mail for it. But we haven't had a send home — a class or send home a wing of the school type deal. We've had a couple of things pop up, and I think, importantly, we've got guidelines and we have plans in place that identify and trace and keep people safe. And testing has been improved and at least available, relatively reliable.

 

But school, the importance of it, both of you, I'll start with you Michael, we all have kids in various degrees of the system as well as being involved as leaders in the community in terms of how we return to school and how it looks. But what's your take, and how do you see things continuing as we kind of come into a winter where cases may not go down in the near term?

 

Michael Hecht: I think that when we do the analysis of this crisis five years from now, we're going to see that children are the ones who suffered the most. I think we're going to see the most long-term impacts from the kids who were not able to go back to school last year or in August of this year. Because there are cognitive and social and emotional benefits, and as you said, even health benefits of being in school that they're not getting at home.

 

We have to keep the pressure up to get kids to school in a safe way. As far as I'm aware, there are very few examples, particularly in younger children, of there being challenges in schools, as long as basic safety protocols are being followed. Even our universities frankly are doing awfully well here in Greater New Orleans, Tulane, Loyola. And so I think it's a combination of pushing for the vaccine but also getting the kids back in school and recognizing that a lot of the issues that COVID highlighted, again, disparities by race and by class are going to get exacerbated in a way that will never be overcome by having young children out of school.

 

And we want to protect the vulnerable, and if there are people at home or teachers that have underlying conditions or are older, we have to keep them safe. But the children matter too. And getting them back into school has to be a top priority for us.

 

Christopher Kane: Aside from just the younger kids in school and how that's operated fairly well, to your point, I applaud the kids at Loyola, at Tulane, UNO, because they've acted very well by all accounts. Now the day before Thanksgiving is the biggest going out night of the year, and maybe we're going to screw all that up in a few weeks. But my point being is that was a critical part of what you're seeing in a lot of other regions within our footprint, candidly, of our firm that's not going as well. Todd, your daughter's at LSU, is that right?

 

Todd Murphy: No, she's at Loyola Law School.

 

Christopher Kane: Loyola Law School, that's right. That's my alma mater. I knew that. I forgot it. But how are you experiencing it, both from a personal level, but also from your experience with your members and what you're hearing about the education?

 

Todd Murphy: Sure. Michael mentioned when we analyze this five years out, we're going to really look back and I agree, I think school's going to be a big focus. In a lot of ways, this pandemic is very similar to what we saw in Katrina. We don't bring our economy back without schools. It's just that simple. And so what I'm hearing from my members is they want their kids back in school. And I think on the grade school level, and there was an excellent article in the New York Times about a week and a half ago that said, "School children seem unlikely to fuel coronavirus surges." And that was based on interviews with scientists and looking at school systems around the country.

 

What I'm hearing in our community is people want their kids back in, for all of those reasons that we mentioned. And they feel like they're missing out on the virtual. Now my daughter at law school, part of her classes are in person. Part are virtual. I mean, can you imagine that? I mean, I don't know how she does it. But they're in class. They're on Zoom. The teacher calls on them, and you better be alert and answer the question.

 

Christopher Kane: Well, the Socratic method would be pretty interesting by Zoom. But sitting in some of Michael's EC meetings, all of a sudden, you get called on. It's kind of the same thing.

 

Todd Murphy: But I will tell you, our school superintendent here locally, and we have the largest school system in the state of Louisiana with about 51,000 kids. We're number 90 in the country in terms of size. He is very eager to get all of the kids back in. We have about 18,000 of those 51,000 learning virtually or trying to learn virtually, assuming that they have Internet access at home and computers and parents that care enough to make them do it and all of those factors.

 

And so he is very eager to get everybody back. The issue is, with the social distancing, you can only put so many kids in a class. And you can't just add extra classes because you can't necessarily add extra teachers. And so it's a real challenge. But I will tell you, the vast majority of the educators in our parish or county want the kids back in the class. And they know it's just that important to get them back in.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah. Well, not as critical perhaps to our day in and day out economy, but I think critical to returning to a quality of life and having an outlet and a resource to be part of a community, which we all have a loss of, is sports and entertainment. And New Orleans is known for both, right. And in our footprint, we're very, very heavy in terms of, particularly, entertainment. Earlier this year, a couple of months ago, we had Chuck Ainlay and Jeff Balding on — they're both award-winning recording engineers — in the Nashville area.

 

And their take on it was, middle of 2021, maybe we'll see concerts come back. We've seen now in the sports realm, we've had a World Series. We've had an NBA championship. Both of them looked really weird and different. It didn't feel like I was watching a fanatic sport event.

 

Michael Hecht: No, felt like Madden Football, kind of, or similar to.

 

Christopher Kane: Right, I do feel a little different about the NFL. I feel like when I watch the NFL, it feels like a good to watch product. But it was like that before COVID very much so, too, had an edge. And we're starting to see some fans getting to go back to stadiums at varying degrees. College football, we've seen the LSU, Alabama game gets canceled, right, or rescheduled. And we've seen that throughout college. And we've seen Clemson starting quarterback couldn't play against Notre Dame. That's outcomes of games, right.

 

For us as a community and throughout our footprint, sports and entertainment play a really big role. And I'd be interested in your take on when do you think we get any kind of normalcy back? Which I don't know what that means. If that means 30,000 people in a Superdome. That didn't feel normal in the early '90s when we were booing, right.

 

Michael Hecht: That's like a Tulane game in the Superdome.

 

Todd Murphy: We're actually trying to move the Superdome to Jefferson Parish.

 

Christopher Kane: Add Mardi Gras into that discussion, guys, because we're being told that Mardi Gras will happen. Well, it's kind of like, well, Christmas is going to happen, but are we going to be able to get presents, you know what I mean? Okay, so Mardi Gras is going to happen, but it's going to look different. What that means exactly we don't know yet. But I would be interested, because it is an important fabric of our society and what we do.

 

Michael Hecht: We're going to get it back when we get the vaccine that is broadly effective. And so let's just — if we hypothetically say that this one that currently Pfizer has, it does work at 90% — 90% efficacy is off the charts. The flu shot is not close to that. So that would be far good enough. It's going to take how many months to get that out? It's going to first go to the elderly, people with type two diabetes, other underlying comorbidities.

 

And so again, it kind of feels like under a best-case scenario, we're at second quarter, third quarter of next year before we start getting back. And what that means is that we have an abnormal Mardi Gras but a normal football season next year. And so the question is, really, just how you keep the torch lit through that time. Is it better to have a faux Gras? Or just to call it off completely? My sense is that you want to kind of do things to keep people in the habit of the seasons and of the events. And that calling off things completely is not wise, right. And let people know that this is kind of just a temporary pause. But I think it's going to take getting to that vaccine and having enough people take it and do well on it for us to get back.

 

Christopher Kane: Well, so, you know, as a practicing Catholic, I had this theory, why don't we just do a double Lent in the first quarter of 2021? Knock it out for two years, and then we could party really hard once all this stuff is over. But I don't think I'm going to get the archbishop or the pope to change the Catholic calendar.

 

Michael Hecht: That's interesting. I like that idea though, yeah. We could talk about that.

 

Christopher Kane: Todd, what do you — how do you see it?

 

Todd Murphy: Well, I agree. I think we have to do something.

 

Michael Hecht: Don't you love it when people suggest we change the day of Mardi Gras? You're, like, you don't exactly understand.

 

Todd Murphy: Can't do that, no, no, no. But I think we have to do something because I think people want something. I mean, all this being trapped up for months at home and not being able to get out and be social, I mean, that's not healthy either. And speaking for my organization and look, I run a Chamber of Commerce. We're funded by membership dues and golf tournaments and crawfish bowls. And it's a terrible model, right. But it is what it is.

 

And so we had a golf tournament recently, it was sold out, at the TPC golf course. We had our Tour de Jefferson bike ride, which is more of a quality of life event, but it's also a fundraiser. Last year we had 274 people ride their bike. This year we had almost 600.

 

Michael Hecht: You're not charging enough.

 

Todd Murphy: We're not charging enough. And so people want to get out. Now those are outdoor events, I get it. But so is Mardi Gras. And so if there's a way that we can do this safely, I think we just need to give people some hope that hey, we're going to get back to normal. And you've got to start pushing the envelope on some of these things. Again, and you mentioned it earlier, some of this comes back to self-responsibility and choice. You set it up. You set it up safely.

 

But you know what? If you're my parents and you're 83 years of age and you're very susceptible and that's what this virus is looking for, you ought to stay home. You shouldn't be there. But I think you got to set it up safely and then let people make their own choices.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, well look guys, we — like I mentioned earlier, we are at Bar Marilou on the streetcar line. So if our listeners heard some rattling in the background, that's the authenticity of New Orleans and our streetcar. We're also, for the first time on the podcast, having cocktails while we do this. And the reason for that is I want to do a quasi-toast. Now what we made a mistake of is, we poured our drinks at the beginning of the podcast. We BS'd a little bit before and finished half of our drinks. Now we're kind of light on our cocktails. But the theory was, we were going to talk about what in 2020 we could be thankful for.

 

We spend so much time focusing on — the litany of grievances for 2020 are incredible. I mean, it's been crazy. If I hear "phase" anything again, I might vomit. It's just — it's insane. But I want to spend a moment and ask you guys really two questions. The first one is, whether it's positive or negative, how has COVID changed or impacted your life, your day-to-day life? And then number two, what is something you could point to, to be thankful for? Todd, I'll start with you.

 

Todd Murphy: Yeah, well, I think certainly when — I think when all of us look at what our day-to-day looks like, maybe we don't sweat the little things as much. I mean, I think we're all grateful for so many of the things that we have that in ordinary times might have been just a huge big deal. And right now what we're seeing, again, I use the likeness of after Katrina, is a big inconvenience. But we're still here talking, and we're having a cocktail. And we've been through, what are we on now, eight storms, hurricanes in addition to — or threats of hurricanes.

 

Had one come through here a week and a half ago. And we're not having massive deaths. I think we had one person unfortunately electrocuted. But by and large, we're okay. We have our homes. We have our jobs. I think we have a lot to be thankful for. And I think that that impacts my psyche. I know day-to-day is, man, don't get so excited about those little things because in the whole scheme of things, people have gotten really sick over this and died. And the hurricanes have destroyed homes and livelihoods. A huge silver lining for me as I look back, and I'm always going to look back, I think any time somebody says, well, I was a high school senior in 2020. Or, graduated from law school and didn't have to take the Bar in 2020. I think all of those things are going to be thought of, either positively or negatively, right. But I had a grandson born in 2020. And so that will always be his birthday, and it was a wonderful thing for our family.

 

Michael Hecht: And he didn't have to take the Bar.

 

Todd Murphy: And he didn't have to take the Bar. Yeah, so it's wonderful.

 

Michael Hecht: I can't add much to what Todd said. I think that there's just an overwhelming sense of gratitude. And I think that a lot of people are going to, at least for the near term, come out of this with a better sense of work/life balance, a better sense of what's important to them. A better sense of how precious and fragile things are. And that will fade and we'll get caught back up in the workday grind. But I think that there is a natural wisdom to the way things happen, and people have been receptive to it. And you talk to a lot of people and the overwhelming word used to describe what they're feeling coming through this is "gratitude."

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, for me, I got to live in the life and the time of a nine-year-old that I wouldn't have. Because I travel so much for work and I'm out and about. This experience really paused all of that for me. And whether it be working from home sometimes or a lot of times, I got to experience a lot more.

 

So that's what's really impacted my life. And that's also what I've been thankful for because this stuff flies by. The three of us and many of our listeners, we've lived through some really incredible experiences that I would prefer not to have. But when you come out on the other side, you think about 9/11 in terms of our country and you think about Hurricane Katrina. You think about the BP oil spill. You think about now COVID, many other things too.

 

But those — any one of those is enough for one person. You used the word earlier, gratitude, and very lucky that we've got a good group of people who can work together to try to figure out how to solve these problems and do it in a way that we may not always agree. And we may be pulling teeth here and there, but at the end of the day, we know we're going to get there. And it's been a really weird year but incredible experience. I don't know if that makes any sense.

 

Michael Hecht: I think for the first time in my life, I feel like I've been living in history instead of reading about it. That's been 2020.

 

Christopher Kane: Yeah, well, there was a joke that — I forget how exactly it went, but in high school, kids are going to be studying about 2019 and it's going to go to 2021. And they're going to say, well, what happened to 2020?

 

Michael Hecht: It was a Mulligan.

 

Christopher Kane: Not going to talk about it.

 

Todd Murphy: Mulligan, there you go.

 

Christopher Kane: Well, look, guys, thank you all very much for joining us. As I mentioned, this is our season finale for our first season in putting a lawyer on a podcast. I can't believe it took 12 episodes to get a cocktail in my hand. That's pretty impressive. I'm impressed with myself, Michael.

 

Michael Hecht: Well, we untied you. We had to take the gag out of your mouth so you could talk. But we had to untie you finally for the cocktail.

 

Christopher Kane: Right. But look, I want to — just very briefly, I want to thank Sandra Claudio and Whitney Hymel who have helped put this program together and a number of other people behind the scenes. We look forward to coming back. In our next season, we're going to be a little more interactive, and hopefully, you guys will enjoy the topics and the issues we try to tackle. So with that, thank you and signing off.

 

Michael Hecht: Thank you.

 

Todd Murphy: Thank you.