Commute difficulty on a scale of one to 10

Difficult? I love my commute! After 25 years in New York City, I still love getting on the subway. It’s a truly democratic, diverse space that looks like America, with all its small kindnesses and cruelties on display.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office

I don’t have an office; none of us at Heartbeat do. I’m always moving, from open desk to open desk, conversation to conversation. Even in this WFH era, I move around my apartment, resetting each new space and breathing freely. But one thing is always consistent: a clean, minimalist layout of everything I need. Call it organization or call it compulsion, I feel free to think and create when my space is clear.

Biggest career lesson

Nothing exists in a vacuum. Understanding the context for your actions and the actions of your partners, clients and friends is hugely important to good decision-making and true empathy. So I try to ask as many questions as I can and I remind myself to be curious, even when I don’t feel like it.

If I wasn’t working in healthcare marketing, I’d be…

Behind a camera. It’s how I started down the creative path and likely how I will finish.

How do you explain what you do in layman’s terms?

I imagine ways to bring people and healthcare professionals into informed conversations with one another. And I believe that those conversations will make all of us healthier.

Weekday wakeup time

I like a long, slow morning, so while I wake at 6:20 am, I don’t get to the office until 9:30 am. In those three hours are the rituals of workouts, email-filtering, day-planning and — most importantly — the fresh grind French press that is my first cup of coffee. 

What book are you reading?

I’m re-reading Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (again). It just felt like the right time for it.

Favorite TV guilty pleasure

I’ve been streaming old seasons of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and just reveling in the no-boundary, off-color humor. There isn’t a line they won’t cross or a bar that’s too low to sink to. Amazing.

Favorite podcast

There are so many I love that I have to listen to my regular political & NBA subscriptions at 1.75x speed. Then I slow down for the headier stuff: I love the personal relationship between Alex & PJ, the hosts of “Reply All,” the practical, emotional wisdom of Esther Perel in “Where Should We Begin” and Roman Mars’ design curiosity on “99% Invisible.”

Most notable tech you’ve bought that didn’t pan out

Does an electric skateboard count? When I jumped onboard the first generation One Wheel, I naively thought I’d be off-roading like the pros in the sell videos. A couple of weeks, a bit of blood, and countless road burns later, I had to fess up: I’m too old for this!

Best tip for adjusting to working remotely

Make room for serendipity. It’s so easy to go head-down all day when you’re alone at home and have 4-5 communication channels open. So I make myself see new perspectives in order to stay fresh. I change where I sit, step outside for a quick breath of air, or randomly touch base with a fellow Heartbeater. I’m not sure how productive that is, but I suspect it’s healthy.

Prediction: 2020 will be the year of…

Connection. It feels strange to write that as so many friends and citizens face fear and illness and even fatality. But I believe we will turn the corner to find each other in new ways and on new platforms. I mean, we can’t get further apart… can we?

James Talerico is president and executive creative director at Heartbeat.

Interested in participating in MM&M’s monthly At Work With column? Reach out to Carrie Gavit at [email protected]