Balloons and beyond

Welcome to Quarantine 15: a spot of joy in your inbox on work, life, and navigating the start of 2021. In case we haven’t met, I’m Nikki Gusz, a co-founder of Lloyd, a career GPS for young professionals. You can follow me on Twitter @nkgusz or subscribe to this email newsletter here.

Today, around here you’ll find:

(1) A little reflection on the week

(2) A collection

(3) A pandemic party

(4) A treat from me

(1) A little reflection on the week

This past week was International Women’s Day, and March is Women’s Month. I always have mixed feelings “celebrating” these times. Why can’t each day be all about women being awesome? Anyway, I’m taking the opportunity to step back, honor progress, and also recognize the distance we still need to travel for equity, equality, and more. Along these lines, I’ll share a collection of a few recent findings regarding amazing women and the distances we still need to travel. I will also be waxing on a few of my favorite pandemic parties to date so you can honor your favorite woman.

(2) A collection

$0.81 / $1.00 and what to do about it

The frustrating fact remains that women earn about $0.81 for every dollar that men earn. These ratios are even more inequitable for underrepresented minorities. If you’re educating yourself on the wage gap, negotiation, or other pay related topics, 81 Cents has a free resource library on a variety of topics related to such subjects. What I love about this library is that it can meet you where you’re at on these topics, but typically you’ll find something you hadn’t thought about previously. After browsing the library, you’ll leave empowered with more awareness.

Girlhood: It’s Complicated

If you’re like me and you’ve been missing museums during the pandemic, you might enjoy the Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit on Girlhood: It’s Complicated. The exhibit dives into a variety of topics and time periods about what it is like to be a girl, from wellness to work. As the exhibit says, “Not all girls had a childhood because they had to work.” The span of the exhibit is thought provoking. I personally loved the entry on prom and a powerful prom dress from Isabella Aiukli Cornell, a Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma citizen. 

Whitney Houston forever

Any child of the ‘80s or ‘90s thankfully has Whitney Houston in their ears forevermore (don’t you want to dance with somebody right now just reading this?). As a way to understand the gravity of someone’s impact, it can be great to go really deep on one situation. That is why I loved the specificity of the It's Been a Minute podcast on Whitney Houston's 1991 Super Bowl national anthem. It’s the detail of the analysis of these few moments that allows us to then step back and just begin to understand the impact of powerful woman like Houston.

Imposter no more

More frequently than I’d like to admit, I’ve been involved in conversations about imposter syndrome. If I’m being honest, I struggle to think of when these conversations have been with men. That is why this article on why we need to end telling women they have imposter syndrome stuck with me. The authors bring up compelling historical and cultural roots for imposter syndrome. As the authors say, “Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”

(3) A pandemic party

I know the last year has included times of hardship and heartache for many. Here at Q15, we’re all about how to find sparks of joy during these unusual days, and we know there have been many birthdays, new jobs, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, babies, and new homes, and more to celebrate. Here are two of our personal favorites to date to celebrate you or your people. We’d love to hear your ideas!

Surprise via mail party

Why not use the unpredictability of the USPS to your advantage? The setup of this party is somewhat analogous to a wedding invitation and return RSVP card, but with a fun surprise twist.

Supplies: larger invitation to party, smaller card to write a message, 2 envelopes (suggested one large for invitation, one small for the card), stamps, addresses, etc. 


  1. Create a paper invitation for your invitees, sharing that you are throwing a surprise via mail party (note: this could be done digitally if preferred). Instruct invitees to share a short message, toast, picture, etc., on the smaller card for the surprise recipient.

  2. Stuff the smaller card into the small envelope, but don’t seal it. Address the small envelope to the surprise recipient, and stamp it for easy sending.

  3. Stuff the small envelope / card into the larger envelope, along with the larger invitation. Stamp and address the large envelope to the invitee.

  4. Send to your invitees! Suggestion is to send these out ~1 month in advance of the desired “surprise” date to allow the invitees to receive the invitation and send the smaller card along.

  5. Hear from the surprise recipient about all the unexpected messages they are receiving in the mail.

A party on feet (or wheels)

Drive through parties were quite the hit in the early days of the pandemic, and this flips the idea to bring the party to your favorite family and friends. This is a bit easier to execute as we’re heading into warmer days where travel / outside gatherings are more pleasant!

Supplies: mode of transport (ranging from feet to cars), items for safe pandemic gathering, and balloons


  1. Pick your party route! Determine this by identifying ~5-10 friends or family you would like to visit for your celebration. Ideally, they are located within a fairly close distance to enable walking or short travels via wheels, a.k.a., scooter, bike, car, etc. Plan for travel time between each stop.

  2. Inform the stops on your party route the approximate day / time you’ll be at their location. Plan for safe COVID gathering practices. Plan to spend ~15-20 minutes at each spot.

  3. Day of, tie balloons to your mode of transit to let everyone know you’re the party people.

  4. Start your party route and enjoy!

(4) A treat from me

Interested in habits and high performance? We’ve launched a 15 minute show on Thursdays on Clubhouse in collaboration with partners. Anyone can join, follow Dan for more information. If you need a Clubhouse invite, feel free to email me, I still have a few left.