We are naked together

I was on the phone with the CEO of a large Silicon Valley Tech firm when I heard crying on his side of the line. The tears were not his.

His son had caught his finger in a door. We paused the conversation as the CEO comforted his son.

We’re in the thick of this pandemic and it’s taking a terrible toll on our health, the economy, and so much else. Each person has their own unique story of struggle at this time.

But it is not only struggle. There is a beauty – a collateral beauty – in the midst of the suffering.

This CEO is not just a CEO. He is a father and a sweet, compassionate man. A human being who needs to interrupt calls to comfort his young son. Now that we are all working from our homes, I am seeing this humanness all over the place.

Thought leaders, who usually posture for the sake of their brand, now asking for help as their businesses falter. Broadway actors, usually on stage adorned in costumes and fanfare, singing in t-shirts on youtube from their bedrooms. And CEOs, usually defined by their titles and surrounded by an entourage, at home comforting their children.

This world – the real world – is not a show. People are not their roles. We are no longer simply characters in whatever theater we happen to play in.

We are all human beings.

There is a way in which we are becoming naked together and seeing each other in less filtered ways. People as people. Drinking coffee. Making mistakes. Struggling with procrastination, with relationships, with technology.

That is the collateral beauty. The permission to be real, to be imperfect, to be human.

Do you have examples of that in your own life? I would love to hear them in the comments section below. Let’s be people together.


  1. Vanessa Gottlieb says:

    Thanks Peter. Been thinking about this a lot because we don’t have our image and our masks. Who are we without these things. Well we’re us.

    Side note, I wanted to share on LinkedIn because there isn’t a share button. You should add!

  2. Wills Green says:

    Hi Peter,
    I am a hotelier and is married to my wife Felicia for over 35 years. She also is an hotelier. I worked all over the USA and the wider Caribbean and i have met my wife Felicia in Hilton Head Island, SC. Felicia is from Indiana and we have two children and is currently resides in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

    Over the past year or so we have been very active in our church as a family and has become even more active in the past Christmas season.

    The Corina Virus has disrupted million of lives and has forced many of us into roles we normally never expected to play or think could ever happened to us.

    There are some church family members finding themselves in a position where they cannot feed themselves and have to humble accept the support and assistance of others. My family and has been involved in a hands-on way in getting food and financial help for others,

    It is extremely hard and difficult for a person that work hard all their lives and suddenly finding themselves completely helpless. The honest truth is if you don’t have the capacity or related experience to interact with these people effectively it can be a night mare.

    My Corona Virus experience has further enlightened me on the importance on humility and human understanding.

    Recognizing that you are a management consultant, I have attached copy of an overview report on the hotels and resorts industry in the USA. It should give you an idea on how i think on management.

    Currently, I am involved with an extraordinary undertaking. It is a “Refine Estates & Spa Homes” concept that very elegant, refine and tastefully conceived.

  3. Lil LeBlanc says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks so much for sharing this important perspective. One of the bright spots in the pandemic is the way the situation is humanizing everyone. Your story of the CEO is a beautiful example. Right now, there are really no boundaries between personal and professional lives and that’s OK. It will be wonderful if this new level of acceptance and appreciation of everyone as a whole human permeates the way we all do business.

  4. Yogasharan says:

    Thanks for the sharing. We here in Chennai south of India feel that this is the time for us to recognise the mammoth work that is being done by our Cleanliness workers who brave the virus to help us stay clean. They are so happy doing their work staying away from families..This is the time to learn to be humane, compassionate ,contended and align with nature.

  5. Sonia Uttamchandani says:

    Once upon a time in Mumbai ….

    A large part of my 3 decade career has been spent in commuting to my workplace. The longest and the last stint specifically took a high toll on my health. Spending 1.45 hours in going and 1.30 hours in returning was a no mean task for my body and nervous system, unaware that I was about its long term effects and the handling needed.
    A good start would have been getting some sorely missed empathy from both ends of office and home, but the practical minds believed it as a non-existant need; for “everyone” in maximum city spends a good 3 hours to commute for a “good job”.
    You may be wondering, why am I sharing woes of a world that has clearly shifted or no longer applies, since I chose to work as a free lancer to look after my body and soul than continue the grind.
    Here’s why :
    Last week, in a call, someone who is working in a similar well-paid job with a MNC shared now that she is forced to work from home, she is sorely missing her commute ! I was like your city is worse than Mumbai about the commute difficulties, what makes you miss it ?
    She said I realised that the commute was my buffer between the two worlds of office and home, the transit time allowed me to breathe, make a conscious shift. Now I am saddled with wake up, think of and face child, spouse, in-house-help, in laws, boss, challenging team mates, my to-do lists for home, office, self, lock-down growth project, all glaring at me as big eyed monsters. And much as my Buddhist suport group encourages me to pause, slow down, meditate, the lack of a window of separation makes even those tiny intakes of support and nourishment difficult.
    I would do everything to have some commute time to myself, to sift gears and face a limited number of facets at one time.
    To me, this sounds like
    a. a yearning to find a commune time with one’s own self
    b. to imagine how different a perspective can be in a smilar world ?

    As we moved thru the call, helping coachee find her own strategy which turned out ot be way different from what I imagined, I came in touch with how much diversity exists amongst us of thoughts, feelings, needs, perceptions and emotional capacity.

    And my guess, while writing this, is that this is window of opportunity for us as a world to reimagine : in every aspect of life, things are not the same, there is diversity and how we begin to recognize, respect and honour this in one another’s is the pathway to a better, newer world, we all yearn for.

    I am sure, there are scores of such instances and stories that are unfolding in our homes right now and wish and pray that we begin to see all the colours and shades they begin appearing in front of us, we pay attention to self “and” another, shifting from “either-or”.

  6. Lekha Ravi says:

    Dear Peter
    This note of yours really synthesized a number of thoughts scattered across my mind of how this lock-down has changed lives, some of them permanently….. yes I completely agree with you on the surfacing of surplus of humaneness in the ‘work from home’ shift and the acceptance of the imperfect work arrangement.
    I live in India, here I also see the stress levels of many women rise and hit a saturation point as their work morphs into a double shift with add on duties . I see many kids delighted to have their parents home all day and pets super happy. I am a mother of a grown up son who lives an hours drive away and though I am a working professional with a demanding career, missed him often. Since lock-down he is with us and I cant describe how gratifying it is to have him work from home. I have no cook at home now and I am back to cooking dads and sons favourite stuff. Cant express how much joy that gives me…. Am sure there are lots of moms and dads out there who are silently reveling in their children’s presence at home…..
    I also see lots of people reaching out graciously to poorer sections who are left with no work and no wages…… There is such a disparity across the world in how this pandemic has changed us!

  7. Sunil Gamage says:

    Thanks Peter, daily life in a family pretty much same for families in many ways to many parts of the world these days due to Covid-19. As you were doing pausing, meditating is quite helpful to focus mindfulness, and to develop humor.

  8. my location says:

    The story you shared is a powerful reminder of the human side of people we often see in professional roles. It’s heartwarming to witness individuals embracing their vulnerability and authenticity, especially during challenging times. This “collateral beauty” is evident in everyday acts of kindness, empathy, and genuine connection. In my own life, I’ve experienced this through colleagues offering support, friends sharing their struggles openly, and witnessing acts of compassion in unexpected places. It’s a beautiful reminder that we are all human and that our shared experiences unite us in meaningful ways. Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking story.

  9. Thank you, Bregman Partners, for this insightful piece that encourages us all to strip away pretenses and connect on a more authentic level. It’s a reminder that our shared vulnerability is, in fact, a source of strength and connection.

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