I Get By With A Little Help From My New Friends

Some of My Favorite Facebook Live Interviews

You never know when a new project will become a passion. I started doing Facebook Live videos as a way to stay connected to people during the shelter in place order. This quickly evolved into a series of fun, insightful, and informative conversations with people in our community. I was even able to turn these videos into a fundraiser for ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, which I covered in last month’s newsletter. Thank you again to everyone who donated to ASK during the fundraiser. Your support helped make a difference to families in our community. Though things are starting to open up again, I plan to continue my Facebook Live interviews. They’re fun to do, and they’re a great way to highlight cool people in our community. If you haven’t checked out these videos yet, here are some highlights from a few of my favorites.

Do we all need to be wearing masks? — Doctor Jon Tells the Truth

One of my earliest interviews was with Dr. Jonathan Schaaf. This is also my most viewed interview to date. Dr. Schaaf is an internal medicine specialist here in Richmond. He’s worn many different hats, working in hospital medicine, family medicine, and concierge practice. For the last four years, Dr. Schaaf has been focused on battling the opioid epidemic by working in medication-assisted therapy for the treatment of opioid addicts. More recently, Dr. Schaaf has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I sat down with Dr. Schaaf on April 9, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was really ramping up. There was still a lot of confusion and questions about the virus and how it is spread. A lot of folks with knowledge about the virus also had some political agenda. People wanted straight answers, which is why I asked Dr. Schaaf to do a video with me. He answered my questions in plain language, without medical jargon or an agenda. Just the facts.

We talked about everything, including different kinds of testing, how the virus spreads on surfaces, and contact tracing. In that very first video, we also talked about whether or not everyone should be wearing masks, which is still a hot topic all these months later. Once Dr. Schaaf clarified that wearing an N95 mask outside the hospital setting was “overkill,” he addressed the role of surgical and homemade cloth masks.

“These masks don’t necessarily filter out the viral particles,” Dr. Schaaf explained. “People get caught up on that and think that wearing any mask will magically keep them from inhaling the virus. The main reason people should be wearing masks at this point is to help contain their respiratory secretions. That’s the goal. When you go out and wear a mask, the mask is not meant to protect you. It’s meant to protect others … When you cough or sneeze, that’s when the respiratory droplets are coming out.”

Basically, if we see someone wearing a mask in public, we should thank them because they’re protecting everyone else around them.

The first interview with Dr. Schaaf was so well received, I brought him back a few weeks later for another round of questions. Find our first interview here and the second interview here.

Would you ever want to be president? — My Interview With Chris Saxman

In April, I interviewed politician Chris Saxman. Chris is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, who represented the 20th District from 2002 until his retirement in 2010. We covered many topics, ranging from the pandemic and wearing masks at the bank to whether he would ever want to be president. I challenged Chris on several topics, and to his credit, he didn’t dodge any of them.

Some of the questions we tackled included:

  • How will the pandemic affect future elections?
  • How did politicians come up with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) amount? (And why it wasn’t enough.)
  • Why was the whole state shut down when there were counties with no cases?
  • How long will changes to the alcohol laws remain?
  • How will contact-tracing data be managed? Who will control it?

We covered a lot of ground during our interview, but one thing Chris said really stuck out to me when we were discussing the possibility of “pandemic laws.” I asked if restaurants could require diners to prove they had been tested for COVID-19 before they would allow them to come into the building.

“Sure,” Chris said, matter-of-factly. “In Virginia we have open carry laws. But if you’re carrying a sidearm and you walk into someone’s restaurant, that restaurant can say, ‘No thank you. We don’t want that in here.’ If you walk into a restaurant and you’re barefoot, they don’t let you in, right? I think what you’re going to see is an absolute sea change in the manner in which we go out in public to assure others that we are relatively safe.”

As a business owner, I really enjoyed getting to talk to Chris. He had great insights into the decisions made around the pandemic. If you’re a business owner — and especially if you’re a business owner who took out a PPP loan — then you’re going to want to hear what Chris had to say.

You can find the full interview here or head over to my Facebook page.

What’s your opinion on competition? — Live Interview With Mark Smith

Of all the Facebook Live interviews I’ve done, this was by far my favorite. I was really glad that Mark Smith took the time to sit down with me. It took us about half an hour to work out the technology kinks before the interview, but it was worth it. I touched on this interview briefly in my last newsletter, but I wanted to elaborate on why I enjoyed this conversation so much.

Mark is a well-respected member of the community. He runs four Midas locations in the Richmond area, but he’s more than just a car guy who changes oil and aligns tires. His business is more like a company that finds ways to give while fixing cars on the side. Mark continuously hosts blood drives (even during the pandemic) to help keep the blood bank full. Recently, he has given free car maintenance to local health care workers and grocery store employees.

A lot of people want to give back. Over these last few difficult months, we’ve seen so many people step up to give back to others. I asked Mark how businesses and entrepreneurs can give back and make a positive impact in their communities.

“Learn the ropes first,” Mark advises. “Understand the impact you want to make and understand what the economics of that impact are. You’re talking about money that comes out of your bottom line… Every year my CPA and I negotiate a number for the giveaway column. I ask for a lot, he pushes back, and we negotiate until we reach a number. Once that number is settled on, I go over it. That’s the game we play. There’s some thought that goes into it, but not a lot of rigorous planning. At this point, we’ve done it long enough to know where we’re going to land.”

Mark’s a genuine world-class guy, and our community is lucky to have him. I encourage everyone to check out his interview here. It’s a great reminder of how one person really can make a difference.

Thank you again to everyone who donated during our fundraiser for ASK and to all of my guests who have been part of these videos. It’s been a great experience, and I look forward to doing more interviews in the future.
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