While the New York Charity Tour is still on hiatus, here’s how some philanthropists and society figures are spending their time and resources.
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, Author
Favorite Charities: First responders first, pandemic of love
Where were you housed?
Normally I live in SoHo. But during the pandemic, I moved to Los Angeles, to our family home in Brentwood, with my daughters and sister. I look at the garden and its white roses. Everything in the garden is white.
Has your daily routine changed significantly?
It has been such a gift to achieve all that I can do without getting on a plane. I have cultivated all healthy habits. It’s so much easier when you don’t have to navigate different time zones.
Because I have an addictive personality, I decided to use the extra time for good. Instead of binge-watching shows from my couch, I only watch them on my treadmill. There were times when I would spend two and a half hours on my treadmill watching episodes of “The Crown”.
After leaving HuffPost, you founded Thrive Global, a wellness company that works with leading companies. How has the pandemic oriented your work?
I became aware of the link between well-being and performance. The forced hiatus from the pandemic caused many of us to look at what in our lives was not working and commit to leaving those things behind.
You wrote that we work more, but that we do less. Is our conception of productivity changing?
We had a misconception that productivity meant being ‘active’ 24/7. But data and science categorically show that there are diminishing returns when we are always active. We now have the opportunity to recognize that cycles of peak performance must alternate with cycles of recovery.
You often cite science. Is it compatible with well-being?
We work with some of the most skeptical executives and find that they really resonate with science. Some of them realize that these are not warm, fuzzy opinions, that they are based on data. Athletes like Tom Brady, who says he couldn’t have made it into the Super Bowl without nine hours of sleep, are also moving the needle.
What moves the needle for you?
I had time to clean my garage. I found a lot of newspapers from my 20s. What I found interesting was that in my twenties, I felt a lot of things that I now know to be true: that life is shaped from the inside out, that being unfazed and practicing gratitude are the keys. keys to how our lives unfold. For me, a foolproof rule over the past few months is to be grateful for the smallest things.
What was your safe harbor?
I was in New York at my apartment on Park Avenue. I have a full office here. The first thing I did after the lockdown was to get a computer. I wake up in the morning, have a little coffee and write to people. My savior was this computer.
I understand that this year has been particularly difficult for you.
It has been three months since my husband died. There were two of us from the moment we first met, together for 49 years. He was my boyfriend and my lover. We have built a life. But the pandemic has taken its toll.
He had had Parkinson’s disease for several years. He was a human person and the lockdown meant he couldn’t see his friends or walk to his office. I wanted him to live, but for the past five months he wanted to die. I struggled to resolve his death. I ordered a memorial to honor him, a website, DonaldToberForever.com.
Have you found other sources of comfort?
Last night I had dinner with five friends at the Mark. I am vaccinated, but I am careful on the streets. Still, I like the idea of going back to as much normal as possible. The computer was an excellent stopgap. Learning to use it gave me the world.
You were a writer for Brides magazine for 30 years. What societal changes have taken place during this period?
I arrived in the 1960s. Customs were changing. You can write your own vows, plan your own wedding. We asked, “Why do people have to go bankrupt to get married?” The people, the older ones, wanted to be in charge. Instead of a big honeymoon, some have chosen to buy a house. They were making smarter decisions. We promoted it.
Do you see a bright future for print magazines?
Town & Country is getting thinner and thinner. Vogue is getting thinner and thinner. What doesn’t get thinner is The Chronicle of the Horse. If you have a trade magazine this will work well.
ArtTable, a non-profit organization that advances the leadership of women in the arts, honored you this month at its Virtual Gala. What made the arts flourish during this period?
The pandemic has contributed more to a desire to do things. Maybe you embroider, maybe you embellish. Whatever you do, you build.
Favorite charity: Guild hall
Where were you housed?
We have a house near Millbrook, NY. Our two oldest sons have returned from Los Angeles. The wonderful thing is having our children at home. One room on the ground floor is a library. I can close the door, look out the window and see the little pond with the ducks or a woodpecker
You’ve renovated Guild Hall in East Hampton. How will you facilitate the transition to the 21st century?
I want to distill it, bring it back to what it was when Aymar Embury designed it in the 1930s, without spoiling its intimate scale. I don’t want to do anything to make it seem more important.
So, a discreet facelift?
People will come in and feel like they’ve been transformed without really knowing how. It’s about giving him the impression of opening up. On my first visit I was like, “How can they even get the paintings in and out?”
You returned to your office. What is that?
We have been back, 10 or 12 of 45, since August. We had social distancing happy hours, handing out individual bags of chips. We gave a recital with Ashley Park, a violinist, with a limit of 10 people. It was the first time in 12 months that she had received a check.
Has your team been more connected to the virtual world?
We were ahead of digital visualization, building rooms in a virtual space. A customer can put on a headset and look around a room. The challenge is, once you’ve designed this room, you have to fill it out. We have started a virtual library model. The sad part was that all the shelves were empty. It costs $ 127 to buy a virtual book.
The streets of New York are swarming. Does this suit you?
The outdoor dining area is fantastic. There is a sort of theatrical aspect, especially in fancy restaurants. Recently in La Goulue, I saw a man walk by with a cute dog on a leash. He made three passes in front of the restaurant. It was obvious he was trying to meet women. Ordinarily he would have gone to the bar, but now that is not possible. You have to improvise.
The interviews have been edited.