Virtually Everything Sucks






This week we celebrated our sixth month on lockdown with a virtual happy hour. You know what a virtual happy hour is, don’t you? It’s people drinking by themselves, staring aimlessly into their webcams or at their phones, while on a Zoom call with other sad-faced friends or colleagues. The first time you do this, you think, “Cool. I’m glad we were all able to get together.” The 37th time you do this, you think, “Crap. It’s another virtual happy hour. Maybe I’ll make an excuse about how I have to go pick up the kids?” Either way, you can be 100% certain that someone will say, “Gosh, it’s a shame we can’t all be there in person.”


Virtual meetings. Virtual classrooms. Virtual weddings. Virtual concerts. Virtual 5Ks and virtual bike rides. I’ll let you in on a little secret…virtual sucks. 


In real life, there is accountability. If you show up late to a meeting, you have to make the walk of shame over to your seat and it’s customary to apologize to everyone for your tardiness. In a virtual meeting, no one cares if you’re late and most people don’t apologize for being late, because nobody recognized that you were late in the first place. Virtual meetings limit collaboration. In a real meeting, you can see reactions and you can hear others — taking visual and audible clues from people allows you to tailor the language you use and move the creative problem-solving process further. In a Zoom meeting, everyone is encouraged to mute themselves and practically no one nods, gives a thumbs up, or any other visual cues to show approval.


And finally, even though a virtual event allows us to use video, many people turn off their cameras, which is the one technological wonder that makes a virtual meeting worth having. Otherwise, it’s just a stupid conference call. “Shall we start? Is Jim on the line? (clears throat of phlegm) Can everyone hear me? OK, let’s start.” 


In the last couple of weeks, I’ve attended some events in person — Rotary meetings, Council of CEOs, Labor Day cookouts, Compass Entertainment Complex’s Grand Opening, and I even drove down to The Bay to go boat shopping. And it didn’t suck. 


Speaking of virtual events, you are all invited to Madison+Main’s Virtual Media Mixer on Wednesday, October 7. It’s BYOB and we’ll do our best not to suck. #sorry








Monday, September 7 — The Fruits Of Our Labor



On Labor Day, the Madison+Main-iacs were able to take the day off and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Even though the first weekend in September usually represents the unofficial end of summer, I was happy to be able to give them a Labor Day gift and announce that M+M’s Summer Hours — which allow employees to work a half-day Friday — would continue through the fall. I renamed Summer Hours, COVID Hours but nobody likes the name I came up with. #fcovid19






Tuesday, September 8 — Back To School…On The Couch



On Tuesday students from all over Central Virginia, with the exception of Hanover County, returned to online learning. Apparently, Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) had problems when 63,000+ students and teachers tried to log on to their website at the exact same time. Proof that virtual learning sucks is here.


As you know by now, JMU suddenly canceled classes last week, and I was fearful that my two DukesJack, 1st year and Hattie, 5th year — would be coming back to my place and occupying my couch for online learning. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I’m glad that they are both staying in Harrisonburg. I am also happy that they are not bringing their germs home and infecting me with COVID. #justkidding




Wednesday, September 9 — Zhuzh It Up



Creative Director Art Webb is on vacation this week but Art’s quirky lingo remains. When talking with clients about “polishing” or “improving” a design, he says, “I will zhuzh this up for you.” This week, the creative team zhuzhed up a new brochure for All American Mobility and lots of other projects in his absence. Director of Business & Marketing Leanne Ferry researched the spelling and the origins of this weird word. As it turns out, zhuzh can be spelled zhuszh or zhoosh as well. No matter how you spell it, it’s not as fun as when Art says it with air quotes. And remember, zhuzhing should be done in person rather than virtually.




Thursday, September 10 — A Smoother Trip



On Thursday we hopped on Facebook Live for Episode 12 of Convos with Clients featuring Pocahontas Parkway CFO William Muse. William did a great job explaining the public-private partnership between Pocahontas Parkway’s partner company Globalvia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’ve already received some positive comments back from M+M Facebook fans who travel the “Shortcut over the James River” on a daily basis. Even though Thursday’s Facebook Live was virtual, you should check it out anyway.








Friday, September 11 — Never Forget




Today, we remember the almost 3,000 Americans who lost their lives 19 years ago. At the time, we promised that we would never forget. That gets a little harder every year with the passage of time, but I hope you will take a moment to pause and reflect on that day and how different our world is almost two decades later. Perhaps I can offer you some solace with this; we should continue to be thankful for our first responders and brave men and women in uniform. After all, it’s been 19 years and they have kept us safe since.









A Few of Our Favorite Events


1800 Lakeside Avenue | Richmond, VA
September 17, 2020 | 5-9 p.m.
Relax on Thursday evenings throughout the summer at Flowers After 5. Stroll through the gardens; enjoy live music, wine and beer, dining and shopping. Tickets will be limited and online only (no walk-ups)! The event is rain or shine; no refunds. Cost is $14 for adults; $11 for senior citizens (65+); $8 for children ages 3-12; and free for children under 3.


Go Forward Team Ride

4308 Hermitage Road | Richmond, VA

October 24, 2020 | TBD


Our good friend, Bobby Kelland from Aflac, is gearing up for his second non-profit bike ride this year on behalf of Andrea Starr and the Forward Foundation. This time, it’s a 50-mile ride from Bryan Park to Ashland and back. The ride will raise money to support single mothers and provide them financial assistance for quality childcare, as well as educational workshops. Donate today online or text “Donate” and the amount to 804-352-2820 (ex: Donate $5) to help him reach his $15,000 goal by October 24.


Master Distiller’s Dinner at A. Smith Bowman Distillery

1 Bowman Drive | Fredericksburg, VA

November 14, 2020 | 6-9 p.m.


Smith Bowman Distillery and Earth Apple LLC have partnered to bring you a unique bourbon experience! Master Distiller Brian Prewitt will start the evening off with a guided tasting of rare Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Whiskies, accompanied by delectable small bites specially selected by Chef Jessica Wilkins. Following the tasting, Chef Jessica will treat guests to a 3-course dinner served with carefully crafted bourbon cocktails. Tickets will cost $125 per person and go on sale October 14 at 10 a.m. via Eventbrite.


Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!




A picture does a great job, but it’s not nearly like being there.

Neil Armstrong