The unprecedented COVID 19 Virus and subsequent Lock-down has had drastic and differing effects on people in South Africa. This series aims to explore that space, and document a bit of what life looks like during Lock-down in South Africa. All necessary health & safety precautions were maintained in the production of this article, and all persons involved had legal permits to work and travel.
The story is told and was photographed by Bernard Brand.
I’ve started this blog too many times with; “It’s been too long, or I haven’t written in a while”. Not today, even though those statements would be true.
Here’s the deal. Over the coming weeks I’m telling stories of people and organizations; documenting and interviewing people I know and some I don’t know and hearing how they are doing and how they are coping in these strange times we find ourselves in.
I don’t want to get into too much of an explanation or hamper on too long, but just so you know, I have a permit to tell these stories and to document what is happening. We are taking precautions to keep ourselves and one another safe.
My hope with this series is to shine a light on the artists, freelancers, small business and NPO’s trying to make things work and figure out how to move forward and take what we are learning now with us to be better and do better in the future and for you dear reader to hopefully also learn and engage and see some good in the world.
Thank you for your time and without further ado, I introduce to you, Kurt Schröder. The man behind Double Shift. A small, but badass Advertising and Marketing agency.
BB: What does a normal day look like BC (Before Covid) and now during the pandemic?
KS: In a lot of ways, very much the same. Wake-up, have coffee, train, breakfast, walk the dogs. Things have obviously slowed down and there has been a loss of clientele which is obviously difficult.
Otherwise I try and keep normal office hours; 8:30am – 4:00pm.
Double Shift did after all start after hours, coz I would literally get home from my day job and then work on my personal business. Hence the name, Double Shift.
BB: What has been the biggest change?
KS: Not working face to face with clients. Meetings over Skype and Zoom are great, but not having the face to face engagement and being able to read the room and body language and little inflections of the client is difficult.
I received an offer for Double Shift to be absorbed into another company right before all of this went down and the salary would’ve been nice, but I think it would’ve killed my hustle a little bit.
If I can stand in front of someone and present to them – people who know me, know I am not being arrogant – but I am convinced that if I can get in the room with a potential client I can convince them to work with us. I am a big believer in the value of content for marketing. Good stories told beautifully in copy and visuals.
KS: “We need to be healthy, we need to be hopeful, we need to be helpful.”
BB: How are you staying healthy? What are you doing mentally and physically?
KS: Going for a run and training. I have this loop that I do in our neighbourhood in the mornings. Training and discipline are for me impossible to separate. I use training to separate work and personal life. At the end of the day when I finish my work day I train hard from about 4:00pm – 5:30pm (when I could still go to a gym) come home and then I am a husband. The office is closed and I am too tired to think of work.
BB: What is keeping you hopeful during this time?
KS: I am a faith based organism, so I have it wired in me that God is for me and for my good. On a day to day basis it has been peoples response during this time. I see a lot of good happening. And something from my time studying – whether it was back in school days or finishing a big assignment – was that I always tried to focus on the feeling that I would have as soon as it was done. And I am trying to carry forth that same thing now. The feeling of how it will be when I get to have a beer with friends again or to hug someone I haven’t seen in months.
BB: What have you realized or learned about yourself, good or bad.
KS: “Good: I am satisfied when I can help people. If I can help people by using my skillset, to help improve their business, or idea I get a kick out of it.”
”Bad: I am not an amazing husband. And by that I mean I give a 110% from 8 until 4 or 5 and then I am burned out and my wife gets this ember of me. I emerge from my office and I am tired or I am still thinking of work.
I am not leaving enough for my wife and maybe that’s the problem. The thinking of I am not leaving enough. That means she is the afterthought. Those things are in great tension. I love my wife and I love helping people. It’s a difficult balance to strike.”
I mentioned to Kurt that a few years ago one morning whilst standing in the shower I had this thought that I am happy. And immediately that thought seemed invasive and wrong. How dare I be happy and content? People are starving, there are wars and atrocities happening everyday. Who are you to be “happy”? I’ve had to gag and bound that gremlin and it wriggles itself loose from its bindings every now and again to plant those seeds of doubt every so often. It’s an ongoing battle.
KS: “Most people have the voice that says, okay, you’re happy, but you could be happier.”
I really want to thank Kurt and his wife Olivia for their time and allowing me into their space and for not treating me like an alien. I think we all feel a little alien at the best of times and these aren’t necessarily the best of times, but there is a lot of good happening around us every day.
Thank you for reading,