Our general communication has increased as clients need more service. We send out regular “Constant Contacts” on everything going on—regular reflections on issues besides money. We have also tried to make sure that clients eligible for Payment Protection Program loans have them lined up, and that other clients are making the appropriate Roth conversions. After 2008 and 2009, I know they will remember if you were there for them when they needed you the most.

The pandemic has also given us opportunities to be creative in letting clients know we are thinking about them. I sent a new autobiography written by the Minnesota Twins’ baseball announcer to some of our die-hard fans with a note that even if we can’t watch baseball, we can at least still read about it. One of my partners bought lawn signs to plant in people’s yards thanking frontline workers. I have more time to write more notes to people as I think of them.

But there are some things that we still have to figure out. Performance management over Zoom is not easy. We have to let people know how they are doing and what we need from them. My colleagues all have different personal situations with their partners and family who need more or less of them. It may be particularly challenging for some to work while minding children. Others may have spouses with different expectations about what it means to be home. Our extroverts are feeling especially troubled by their lack of direct social interaction. While we stress to everyone that they need to help us understand what their situations are and where they need help, people are sometimes uncomfortable asking for help or admitting they need it.

We have put hiring on hold because we haven’t figured out how to bring someone remotely into the firm. Our training process is involved, and new hires are asked to spend time with everyone in the firm so we can inculcate our culture. We are challenged to attempt this in this new format.

Zoom itself is not perfect. Since the camera is someplace other than the middle of our screens, we are never looking directly at the people we’re talking to, which makes it more difficult to pick up social cues or discomfort. That makes it easy to be less fully engaged because the party to whom you are speaking can’t tell if you are checking your e-mails or something else. Business casual has taken on a whole new meaning.

While we have brought in new clients, it is not as easy to create virtual relationships. We have done it with out-of-town clients before, but it is different when people meet with you in person and experience the warmth and energy of your environment and the people in it.

Let’s not forget that this pandemic has made all of us vulnerable. We are experiencing some level of scarcity, whether it be social, physical, financial or spiritual. Scarcity makes us focus on the things we want but don’t have. Just ask anyone on a diet if they ever think about food. This focus can be good in some ways, but it also gives us tunnel vision and we ignore other important aspects of our lives.

We are also directly confronting uncertainty, and have lost the illusion that we have as much control over circumstances as we’d like. Those who feel the need for more control can make poor decisions about everything from market timing to house purchases. Trying to manage yourself in periods of uncertainty is difficult—managing clients and staff can feel overwhelming.

There’s no need for false bravado right now. You can be open with people about what’s going on and what you don’t know. Our feelings are OK. I like to say that we know how this started (with the virus) and we know how it ends (with economic recovery). We just don’t know what is going to happen in between those two things.

So how’s it going? It’s a challenging and exciting time, sometimes depressing yet often meaningful, a huge test for me as well as a growth opportunity. Thanks for asking.