Founders / Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Marco Marandiz, Co-founder & Head of Marketing at Elliot

Marco Marandiz is the Co-founder and Head of Marketing at commerce platform Elliot, helping brands build their eCommerce experiences. He is also a strategist for high-potential DTC brands.

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

My path to get to where I am in my career has been a lot of following what interests me, and not thinking too hard about if I’m doing “the right thing”. At 17, I moved to LA to pursue music as a career.

I play a bunch of instruments and sing, so I went there to be a producer. That didn’t work out as well as I had hoped – I didn’t really have the talent and hadn’t developed the perseverance at that point in my life to break through.

A few years in, my friends we’re starting their Master’s programs in computer science and told me I should check it out, which led me to finishing my computer science undergrad in 2.5 years, because I wasn’t going to college to party – just to get out of there with some knowledge.

From there I went into software development in bio-med, then into finance at Capital One, where I was exposed to product management. After that, I took a product role at Expedia the next year.

After two years of leading mobile and international product, I got tired of the slow pace of corporate life and moved onto consulting, which gave me an avenue to build my following in DTC, as I was able to provide insights from my domain expertise to companies that don’t have as much experience there. And all of that that led me to meeting Sergio Villaseñor and joining Elliot.

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

I generally wake up without an alarm between 7 and 8 am. I sit up and either read a few pages or a chapter of a book, or when I have less self control, scroll twitter for a few minutes.

Then I get up, let the dog out in the backyard, feed him and grab a bowl of cereal for myself if I’m feeling hungry. Honestly half of the time I don’t eat until noon. I start work around 8:30 – sync with my team, plan my day, and get going. I try to take lunch around 1pm, and schedule all my phone calls for the afternoon after I’ve used up all my clear thinking power.

I try to wrap up by 6 and cook dinner. Inevitably, I’ll answer some emails in the evening because I like getting to inbox zero, and email is the simplest job I have. Then I relax with my wife for the evening and go to bed around midnight.

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

Our team has been remote since COVID-19 really picked up. We were originally based in Brooklyn, but once things started popping off, the whole team went remote. It hasn’t been a problem for me at all – I actually quite enjoy it. I’ve been working at least partially remote for 5 years, and when I was full-time consulting in 2019, I was completely remote with all my clients.

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

I’m not a big fan of the common work life balance narrative, for a few reasons. I don’t view what I do as “work” per se. I could be doing anything, but I’m choosing to do this. I’m excited about what I get to do everyday, so the hours fly by.

Of course, I make time for my family and friends, but it’s always a question of “how much should you prioritize work over other things?” My work is not my life, but I’m not working in vain. I have goals and outcomes I’m seeking to accomplish.

Sometimes I have to put my social life or fun times aside to be prepared for what’s coming up next. One thing that I do is weekly check-ins with my wife. Every Sunday for an hour we sit down and discuss how our week went, tweaks and improvements we can make, plan out our finances and upcoming events, etc.

This forces me to be intentional with my time and block my calendar accordingly. It’s kind of boring scheduling large chunks of your day, but it keeps me sane. I reflect on whether I’m balancing my work and my life well through a monthly or quarterly lens – on too short of a time scale everything is out of balance.

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

Honestly, I’ve stopped so many things due to COVID-19. I used to play basketball twice a week (and dominate), and now I shoot around alone once a week.

I used to go to the local rock climbing gym twice a week in the mornings to lift weights, climb, shower, and get to work in the coworking space by 830. I used to be in much better shape, but this new situation, although I’ve adapted well, has shifted where I spend my mental and emotional energy.

Now I’m basically just aiming to get through what I need to do for work, stay in decent shape, eat healthy, and, while these times last, enjoy some normalized anti-social behavior.

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

Books are fleeting for me, and I rarely recommend them publicly because it has to hit the right person at the right time. I’ve read the same book multiple times in different phases of my life, and either they hit hard the first time and fall flat on the re-read, or they’re wack twice over before I enjoy them the third time.

The only newsletter I read religiously, top to bottom, is Fanhood – longform content about basketball. Two podcasts that I really enjoy are Akimbo (Seth Godin) and Freakonomics. I also like Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.

I just need podcasts to like entertainment, even if I’m learning. If the subject matter is too dense, I get bored and anxious because I’m not immediately taking action on the learnings.

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

“Nope – you could live on an island.” – Mrs. Marandiz

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

Barack Obama’s daily routine. I’m sure that’s not original, but he’s someone who has reached the pinnacle of success and impact on society while maintaining and espousing solid moral principles, ethics, and raised a family of independent thinkers with his equally impressive wife.

To be quite honest, I don’t want to read anything from people that don’t have bold visions for a better future, and take action towards those visions.

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

Balance is best viewed over a long window of time, and can only be measured by the outcomes achieved during that time. A man who focuses on his life feeling balanced in any given moment may never achieve anything meaningful.

Enjoying your life without any meaningful outcomes is imbalance, in my opinion. I’d rather be imbalanced towards action and outcomes, seeing my life as somewhat sacrificial for a noble purpose outside of my own satisfaction.

Before you go…

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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.