Thought Leadership

Quarantine Q&A Part 11: How Vanessa Farrar & Coleman Lee Are Adapting

June 12, 2020
By Rubicon Project

While Telaria and Rubicon Project continue to integrate after our merger, we’re checking in with our colleagues from around the world to see how they are doing during quarantine.  

We spoke with Vanessa Farrar on the seller accounts team at Rubicon Project and Coleman Lee on the demand operations team at Telaria, to find out how they are doing, what’s keeping them sane, and to discover any tips they have for getting through this challenging time.  

Vanessa Farrar

What is your name? 

Vanessa Farrar

What do you do at Rubicon Project?

I am a Director on the Seller Accounts team, helping manage a number of Rubicon Project’s video-first premium publishers.

How are you doing with the quarantine?

It’s been an adjustment but I am doing surprisingly well! This experience has been incredibly surreal in my opinion. Control is a very powerful part of life, and when you lose that control you must make decisions that are in the best interest of your family, mental stability and most importantly to keep balance in your life. 

What adjustments have you made to your work life?

Let’s not sugarcoat it, everything has been an adjustment! I am a big believer in routine and having an 11-month-old daughter, it is incredibly important to instill a healthy daily schedule. Being quarantined has changed our lives in a way that has forced us to reset on that daily routine. How we start our day sets the tone for my work day, and blocking off time slots to balance work and family has been something I have also instilled. My daughter, Elle, has made quite a few guest appearances on client calls, and I must say, she’s more popular then I am! 

What gets you going in the morning?

A good night’s sleep! Oh, and Disney songs. Ha! We are a household of music lovers. Music lets us start our day feeling jazzed up and happy. I mean, who doesn’t love to sing ‘Let it Go’ or ‘Hakuna Matata’ first thing in the morning? 

Do you have some productivity tips for working from home?

Slow down, prioritize and keep your calendar balanced. Juggling work with a baby is not easy, so it’s important to step back when feeling overwhelmed, to reset on what needs to be done immediately versus what can wait. Self-awareness is everything and, while I know I can’t do it all, at times I feel like I have become a multitasking wizard. But in all seriousness, I prioritize email responses and work tasks accordingly. By slowing down and taking time to reflect on emails responses, I find that it limits the back and forth, which ultimately makes things more productive. I also block off time on my calendar for Elle so that we can cook up a delicious meal or go for a walk.  

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

Watching my daughter grow has been the silver lining in this situation. She took her first steps a few weeks ago while I was on a client call, and I nearly screamed out loud with excitement! 

How are you keeping in touch with friends and family?

The virtual world has become the norm, so of course we Facetime daily with family and friends. Funny enough though, I have gotten back into the snail mail world. I love to send letters and pictures of Elle to family and friends. There really is nothing better than getting a card in the mail! 

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

Food is life and I feel like we have all become master chefs! Having the creative freedom to make fun recipes has been something we all look forward to. I finally took my food processor out to make pizza dough by scratch. We experiment with different toppings and it’s been a blast. One bite, everyone knows the rules! 

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

While I would love to say that I have picked up different hobbies. Unfortunately I just don’t have the time! The truth is, the days go by so fast. By the time I shut my computer down, we are ready for a glass of wine and to start dinner. We put on some toons, have a dance party and eat. 

How are you staying active during this situation? Are there any exercise videos or tips you recommend?

Rubicon Project has been incredibly supportive throughout this pandemic with yoga classes and meditation classes – that’s been so nice! I also block off an hour every day to go for a walk or run with my husband and Elle. Elle is getting bigger and let me tell you, holding her is a work out in itself! 

When all this is over, how will you celebrate?

Travel! Oh, and hug everyone I love. 

Coleman Lee

What is your name?

Coleman Lee

What do you do at Telaria?

I work on the PMP deals desk as part of the Demand Operations team.

How are you doing with the quarantine?

Quarantine is tough, but making it through as best as I can! At first, I was alright with quarantine – I’m pretty introverted and enjoy time and space to myself – but, holy cow, quarantine has made me realize that I am way more of an extrovert than I thought.

What adjustments have you made to your work life?

I’m working from my folk’s place down in San Diego where there’s a bit more space than a flat in downtown San Francisco. I’m fortunate enough to have a dedicated work space with an extra monitor and a door that locks from the inside.

What gets you going in the morning?

I love to surf – I’ve been waking up early most mornings before starting up the day to run down to the beach. It’s a great way to work out and try to get out of the house without just walking around the neighborhood (again).

Do you have some productivity tips for working from home?

I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated space where I can place my laptop, have an extra monitor, and be generally undisturbed during the day. I think keeping a morning ritual and having a dedicated space is huge for productivity. But, everyone works a little differently  

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

During the quarantine I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with family, who I really only get to see during holidays and vacation. Both of my sisters are college-age; Helen just graduated from UC Berkeley, and Sadie is a junior at Northeastern University in Boston. It’s been really nice to be able to spend some time with them day-to-day without feeling overwhelmed with other responsibilities that I usually have when I’m in my hometown.

How are you keeping in touch with friends and family?

I like to think that I’m the guy that’s not constantly on his phone all the time – but, during quarantine, all contact is good contact. I think I have a dozen group chats active and weekly zoom calls with friends just for happy hour purposes.

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

If you have some lemons and basic baking ingredients, you will do you and your quarantine team a favor and bake Melissa Clark’s Lemon Pound Cake.

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

I’m taking some computer science and data analysis classes through Coursera. Right now I’m in a Python for Data Science course through the University of Michigan and a Business Statistics course through Rice University. I love using Coursera because of the professional certificates they provide, the user experience and flexibility of the courses to your schedule. No, I’m not a shareholder.

How are you staying active during this situation? Are there any exercise videos or tips you recommend?

My folks are really into kettlebells, so they set up a small workout studio in one of the bays our garage. I hate those things so so much. 

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

I’m in the middle of a Michael Chabon phase right now. I just finished The Yiddish Policeman’s Union and I have The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Clay on deck. Fantastic books, and I can’t believe that I’ve waited so long to read them. I’m also rewatching my favorite tv show of all time – 30 Rock. To the joy of Chris Signore, our VP of publisher partnerships, I’ve cancelled my ad-free version of Hulu, switched to the ad platform, and am winding my way through for the third time in two years. You’re welcome Signore. Also, watch The Newsroom on HBO if you’re an Aaron Sorkin fan.

When all this is over, how will you celebrate?

I think I’ll need to take the girlfriend on a pretty darn nice dinner date. I haven’t overpaid for a bottle of wine in a long time!

To learn more about life at The Rubicon Project, email us: contact@rubiconproject.com


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