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The Corona Diaries: Optimism and Will

By Alexander Shunnarah

We’ve been very fortunate. All in all we have about 300 folks at the law firm, and not one has come down with COVID. So that’s a blessing.

We are an essential business and we stayed open as a firm. But I have to give credit to my managing attorney, Sara. She saw this coming. Around the first week of March she came up to me and said hey we need to talk. “All the lawyers have remote access. We have to get all the staff able to work remotely, too.”

It is all about timing. About March 10, they had it all in place and it wasn’t but a few days more when they told everybody to go home. We didn’t open back up until May 11. So we were down for about two months. I mean I went in some, but there was nobody there.  Logistically it was pretty difficult, but we still operated. We just made it work.

My resilience comes from the fact that I understand the mind is the strongest thing we have. It controls our bodies and our thoughts, obviously. But I truly believe what you see in your mind, you become. I think we live in a time when we have it easy. We have more than we ever had and we’ve been given more than we’ve ever been given.

The mind and the body are connected and I think we are as weak minded as we have ever been. It is like we can’t handle anything and adversity scares everybody. Before COVID-19, we were living in the best economic time in the history of the world.

I learned growing up that you have to have a warrior mentality and be strong minded. All the cliches are so true. One guy sees a glass half empty; the other one sees it half full. It is about optimism and will. But you have to act on it, too. You can’t just hope that things are going to turn out okay. But luck and opportunity go hand in hand. What is luck? Being at the right place at the right time. Meeting the right person. Unless you put yourself in that position, you are not going to get that luck.

We wanted to figure out ways to give back to the community, which is very important to us. The firm began this initiative to give back to the unsung heroes in our communities in Alabama that are making a difference and keeping our communities moving forward during the corona virus pandemic. “Unsung Heroes” are our community’s essential workers who deserve recognition for their everyday bravery in keeping this country moving. They are still delivering our mail, providing our groceries, and protecting our streets. Unsung Heroes could be mail carriers, firefighters, police officers, waste collectors, bank tellers, delivery drivers, grocery store clerks, gas station employees, cooks, and many others. There are so many individuals out there that deserve to be recognized, honored, and shown deep gratitude for all they are doing day after day for others during this unforeseen time. The firm asked people on social media to nominate people via a Google form so that the process was completely anonymous. The firm picked 40 of the submissions and sent them a $50 VISA gift card to say thank you for everything they’re doing.

Then we did this pizza challenge which grew out of this relationship I have with a group of lawyers who get together a few times a year in different cities. We get involved in community outreach and charitable work, as a group. I was challenged by a Louisiana law firm to join in the 777 pizza challenge. The challenge plays off of the 7th amendment and challenges law firms to purchase 777 pizzas from local pizzerias to donate to local healthcare heroes for their efforts during the corona virus pandemic. So we donated pizzas purchased from Slice Pizza and Brewhouse and Pizzeria GM to UAB Hospital and St. Vincent’s. The pizzas were delivered in mid-May.

One other thing we decided to do was develop a program to help business owners through this time. I do understand money, finance and business. I bet I had a hundred different attorneys reach out to me. It was amazing to me how all of their psyches were different and how everyone interpreted COVID in a different way. It was just all across the board. The one thing they all had in common was that they wanted their business to continue to grow.

So I wanted to help business owners in Alabama who are struggling through the pandemic. Our world is facing a “new normal” in terms of how we interact with each other in public and especially how we do business. Businesses across our country will need to pivot and really get creative in terms of new ways to interact with their customers and new ways in which to provide their goods and services.

I selected ten small business owners to win a 30-minute business strategy session via Zoom video chat. During these video calls, I worked with business owners, listened to their concerns and brainstormed ideas with them on how to move forward with their business in our new normal. Regardless of the business, I am going to help, encourage, and share.
–Alexander Shunnarah

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