Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Hunter Sunrise, Head of Marketing at Instapage

Hunter Sunrise is the Head of Marketing at Instapage, the world’s leading solution for digital advertising conversions.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve had quite a diverse career with work centering first around entrepreneurship—previously founding a lifestyle brand, an independent publishing company, a restaurant, an heirloom cider bar, a pet care business (across 14 markets) and a software company.

I found my way into entrepreneurship because I was a star-shaped peg in a square world and didn’t know where I fit. So I identified opportunities and created places myself and others could thrive at work. 

Parallel to my entrepreneurial journey, I became fascinated by storytelling and strategy in advertising and marketing. I pursued that direction in various ways over the past 20 years, working to locate where my unique perspective could lend its magic to business initiatives.

I spent time in marketing departments of Fortune 500s, at ad agencies large and small, at consultancies leading digital transformation initiatives, and at the helm of startups looking to transform and disrupt the way people think about things like access to education, wealth, healthcare and technology.

Today, I lead the global marketing team for Instapage, a thriving SaaS technology company in the martech space where I get to apply my varied experience to growth-minded business initiatives for a company excels at supporting top-line revenue for customers from SMB through enterprise—while creating a culture of kindness, inclusion, and growth in the workplace. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As the Head of Global Marketing, I’m responsible for leading a talented team that creates and delivers on every aspect of our marketing and strategy including brand development, go-to-market, integrated campaigns, demand generation, product marketing, and all the things that go in-between (operations, building out tech stack, research and more).

Building early-stage companies and initiatives allows for varied tasks and responsibilities as the venture develops. For example, I might start with a focus on product market fit, audience personas and brand development at the beginning of a venture, then switch to a focus on demand generation and channel optimization, then as the team grows focus on sharpening my leadership style and focusing energy on enabling employees.

I spend the first 30 minutes of my day drinking matcha while reading through the messages/emails that dropped overnight and creating a prioritized task list which I input in my calendar to keep things moving.

Then I bounce between strategy sessions, 1:1s, recording a webinar or podcast, planning campaigns (or reviewing the results of them), executive strategic projects and roadmap development, and consulting with other people and teams as needed.  

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Instapage offers fully-remote and hybrid options. They also offer coworking and office rental opportunities through Gable. Every day I see the undeniably positive impact normalizing and supporting remote work has on my team and the organization as a whole. 

The pandemic forced all of us to find new ways to grow, learn, and approach the way we work. I’ve gained so much from my community, been able to hire people that previously would have been geographically out-of-bounds, and have evolved my leadership skills and management style to translate to both in-person and virtual environments.

I am more deeply entrenched with my community at work thanks to Slack communications—from daily team check-ins to sharing recipes and film recommendations with teams from around the globe—and have more time with family and friends since I’m no longer commuting.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It’s important to remember that work does not always represent “bad” and life doesn’t always represent “good.” Balance looks different for everyone—that’s one thing I think the pandemic and the new remote and hybrid approaches to work have illuminated.

Connecting for a virtual happy hour with a close colleague, co-working with a colleague in the same city (or while traveling for a conference), and cooking with my wife, or doing laundry, or gardening with my son are all part of this balance in my life. 

I try to regularly remind my team (and myself) that you can prioritize family and friends, personal well-being, and other responsibilities and still be a wonderful colleague and employee. And that we can all be remotely connected from different settings, cities, and places—a typical month may see me working from 3 or 4 cities. I love to travel. 

Working from home reduced the stress and time many of us spent commuting, or feeling guilty about long days in the office and less time doing things that bring us joy—but more than that it triggered a reprioritization of work-life balance.

On the flip side, working from home can also mean that it’s difficult to be “off” work in the evenings or on weekends—especially with global teams or clients in different time zones.

Knowing what balance feels like, and developing ways to bring elements of that into most days—in big and small ways—is more doable for many of us than an hour of meditation each morning.

For me, balance isn’t a typical 9-5, that’s just not realistic, but having the flexibility to do school pick-ups, be my mom’s tech help desk, or kickstarting creative thinking with a change of scenery to a tea house all contribute to a focused and balanced mindset throughout the day.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

With the shift away from a driving commute, I’ve begun reading the news again every morning—Crunchbase, NY Times, Washington Post, Wired, Esquire, The Hustle—and pulling thought starters together for myself, and team, to consider as we tackle marketing challenges in our highly-competitive industry. Cultural conditions and prospect mindset are essential to success both within and outside one’s specific industry.

On a more personal note, I’ve taken up gardening (veggies, fruit, flowers, and medicinals), tackled an end-to-end remodeled of a (now) gorgeous 1910 farmhouse, resumed collecting and creating art, picked back up cycling, and have completed the writing process on two book manuscripts to be published late 2022 and early 2023.

That sounds like a lot, and it is. But by removing 2 hours a day of commute time, reducing overall stress, less time in front of TV screens trying to “unwind” or “numbout” from my workday, I’ve found that there is, in fact, ample time to connect, create, collaborate, and find joy in the day to day. Vision boarding and goal setting helps here. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Book: 12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next by Jeanette Winterson—an incredible collection of essays on the history of technology and the future implications of AI in our lives. Written by one of the most profound thinkers living and writing today.

Podcasts: On Purpose, Dare to Lead, We Can Do The Hard Things are all exceptional for learning to reflect on being human and the skills that truly matter.

New York Times Cooking << all day every day inspiration

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • Pro-Ject turntable and Sonos speakers: Music is life. Getting exceptional sound quality from LPs with the modern benefit of room by room control is a game changer.
  • Henckels knives and my Weber Genesis gas grill: I say I love you with cooking. And growing food in the garden and making a chopped-kitchen-style-harvest-fresh-meal is my therapy. Best of both worlds. Most days you can find me with an album on the turntable, blasting music on the kitchen sonos, whipping up a new recipe with an open bottle of wine from the cellar. Nothing better. 
  • Loom: After the initial discomfort of seeing my face on video, I’ve grown to both adore, and rely heavily, on Loom. As a global leader with employees and colleagues across time zones, finding a time that works for everyone is nearly impossible. Being able to record a quick loom to go over a deck, ask questions, or provide feedback allows me to work asynchronously with the team while also making more time for deep work.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

All the people leading from behind, underneath, in the shadows, and unseen. The servers, housekeepers, line workers, single parents, farmers, and teachers. The people who keep our world, and the worlds of their families and communities going—with nary the recognition they deserve. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Consider the big picture when it comes to your schedule. Certain weeks of the month or quarter will be heavily loaded with calls, meetings, planning, execution, and deep work. Getting to the end of that phase can be exhausting.

With that in mind, plan time ahead to relax at the end of these weeks. Don’t be afraid to take a long weekend, turn-off your phone, and truly recharge. Hustle culture seems attractive and is splashed all over LinkedIn, but if you’re burned out you’re not going to be able to hustle in the end. Oh hey—and remember to stay humble, express gratitude regularly, and kindness always. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.