Thought Leadership

Quarantine Q&A: How Di Nguyen is Adapting

April 24, 2020
By The Rubicon Project

Covid-19 has altered the way people in our company work, keeping us at arms-length even as Rubicon Project and Telaria employees continue integrating. We spoke with Di Nguyen, Director, Agency and Brand Partnerships at Telaria, to find out how he is doing, what’s keeping him sane, and what tips he has for getting through this trying time.  

What is your name? 

Di Nguyen

What do you do at Telaria? 

My official title is Director, Agency and Brand Partnerships, which is so ambiguous and fuzzy that I’ve had spam filters in place to block my own emails since day one. Don’t feel bad if you’ve been doing the same. 

My day job is to essentially support our agency and brand partners on the West Coast with anything that might help make their jobs easier, their campaigns more efficient, and their clients more successful. This could range from inventory recommendations, knowledge sharing of insights and best practices, partnering on supply path optimization (SPO) initiatives, or even hosting virtual happy hours to keep them sane.  

I’m essentially a programmatic concierge.

How are you doing with the quarantine? 

Other than my neighbor’s super yappy Shih Tzu, which uses a dog run next to my home office, I’m doing as well as can be expected. 

I worked remotely in LA from ’06 through ’14 for various Bay Area startups during a time when video conferencing wasn’t super commonplace. So while the familiarity with working in isolation has allowed me to adapt quickly, I think the experience of working for startups remotely has come in handy for collaborating with my 500+ new colleagues throughout the Telaria/Rubicon merger. 

What adjustments have you made to your work life? 

Like many families, we have two daughters who are still trying to maintain fairly rigorous homeschool curriculums. 

I’m super fortunate that my wife has taken on the roles of teacher and teacher’s assistant, in addition to her own work schedule. However, on days when the girls’ schedules are staggered, I’m responsible for entertaining my youngest and making sure we don’t have too much fun and distract my oldest. In addition, I’m overseeing P.E. and the occasional lunch prep.  

On those days, I’ve been trying to get better at completely unplugging during the hours I’m needed. All-in-all, I haven’t had to adjust my schedule too much, for which I have my wife to thank.

What gets you going in the morning?  

Two very rambunctious, loud, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed girls who apparently don’t come with snooze buttons. If they fail to get me up, my wife does this thing where she makes the bed up all around me.  

We’re talking perfectly shingled, fluffed, karate-chopped throw pillows, throw blankets at the foot of the bed perfect. Sometimes I’ll attempt to ride it out using the Han Solo in carbonite sleeping technique, but most times the guilt is too powerful.  

Do you have some productivity tips for working from home? 

As much as I enjoy seeing one of the campaigns that I’ve touched run on CTV, I’ve come to realize that every time I turn on the TV I end up on a news network. Coincidentally, this correlates with the days I’m super anxious and unproductive.  

So my tip for the next few weeks is to not have the news streaming all day long. I do, however, make an exception to always tune into one or both of the Cuomo brothers.  

What are the best things you’ve experienced during this situation? 

While the pandemic is a horrible situation and we all want to get back to some sort of normalcy, I’m extremely thankful to be able to spend so much time with my family and to experience the day-to-day life that I typically don’t get to partake in. With the LA commute, I usually get home after bedtime, so being able to interact with our daughters every day is pretty amazing.

How are you keeping in touch with friends and family? 

All of the usual methods, I imagine: FaceTime, Zoom, and the ever-elusive audio-only phone call. 

I’ve also been playing a lot of heads-up no-limit poker with a good buddy, who also happens to be a client at a large holding company. This means I can’t rake him over the coals too much in fear of being SPO’d.  It’s a delicate balance.   

In recent weeks I’ve started throwing out feelers to close friends offering up responsible, socially distanced BYOB (Bring Your Own BBQ) get-togethers with our close friends, but no takers so far. Probably for the best.

What is your favorite recipe you’ve concocted out of things lying around the house? 

I used to do a lot of sous vide cooking, which freaks out my wife when I let it run overnight. Especially when I leave it running while we’re all out of the house, which was the case for almost 3 days when I did a 63-hour braised short rib a couple of years back.  

Now that we are home all day every day, I’ve been trying new recipes with longer cooking times, as I work toward breaking the current record. For the recipes and dishes that don’t turn out edible, I’ve been making a weekly Kitchen Sink Soup. It consists of all of my mistakes and hideous ideas from the week, in addition to Napa cabbage, kale, and a mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery. This seems to mask all of my errors. 

What are you doing to stay occupied outside of work hours?  

Outside of spending time with my family, I’m starting to think through some larger projects around that house that we’ve been putting off, such as cleaning out the garage. 

I’m also exploring fun things like building a rock climbing wall for the girls, which is definitely my next project (instead of cleaning out the garage).  

How are you staying active during this situation? 

We live near the foothills, so we try to go on family walks when we can to explore different neighborhoods in the area. I also invested in a smart bike trainer that converts your real bike into a stationary bike. This allows you to ride in virtual worlds using various apps, and even to take virtual rides with friends and colleagues. 

What TV shows, movies, or books do you recommend?  

I’ve always been a prepper, so I recently started watching the Doomsday Preppers series again on Nat Geo. But more times than not, I’ll have Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives or Naked and Afraid (XL is the best) on when avoiding the news.  

What I enjoy watching most are stand-up comedy specials. Two recent must-sees include Tom Segura: Ball Hog and The Iliza Schlesinger Sketch Show. Make sure your kids are asleep for the former.  

When all this is over, how will you celebrate? 

I’ll sip a crisp glass of chardonnay while wearing a pink cashmere scarf anywhere other than my house.

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