Balancing the Grind with Marilyn Lopez, Partner at Cornerstone Content

Marilyn Lopez is a Partner at Cornerstone Content, a content marketing agency working with high-tech and tech-enabling companies.

Interested in talking about how you balance the grind? Get in touch with us here!

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

It was in Year 9 during an elective at a western suburbs high school in Melbourne that I came across Marketing. That is the year I chose my career. I was 14. I soon found out that it wasn’t going to be an easy path for me.

I remember it vividly, a 92 was written beside the ENTER score for RMIT University’s Bachelor of Business Marketing. My heart sank. I wondered – how on earth could I get that? I was at a public school, and didn’t have a tutor. 

But what I did have was a high school teacher who cheered me on, and worked back after hours to help me. And after two years of hard work, I achieved my goal. I had conquered what seemed like Mt Everest.

It taught me some huge life lessons, thankfully in my teens:

  1. That hard work with a goal in mind would likely reap results, even if it felt unachievable at the time 
  2. To believe more in myself and my capacity to learn and grow rather than be limited by the circumstances or my own view of myself
  3. To look out for and be loyal to those genuine humans who unselfishly cheer you on from the sidelines.

Fast forward 20 years and I am now a Certified Practicing Marketer. I am so pleased that I chose Marketing as my profession. I have purposely jumped around sectors (I have worked in government, nonprofit, corporate and small business marketing) and aimed for roles where I targeted different personas. I have always wanted to be challenged, grow and most importantly learn, learn and learn. And that I have.

I am now a partner at Cornerstone Content. We provide content marketing for high-tech and tech-enabling companies. So think Cloud, SaaS, AI, AR, mobile apps, and tech inspired businesses.

It is a unique, and ever-changing industry filled with passionate professionals. I love the culture that exists in many of our clients’ companies and their genuine support for each other as a close community. 

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

I start the day with an hour-long walk surrounded by nature. It grounds me and allows for some silence in my life. I like to support local cafes so I’ll grab a coffee on my way home.

Then its work-mode. I’ll write my top priorities for the day, share them on our team Slack channel and get going. My daily work varies. I may be preparing a strategy, writing a blog, interviewing for a case study, researching SEO keywords, preparing for a video shoot, creating an eBook, evaluating a creative campaign or meeting with a client to stay in lock step with their direction and goals.

I have a timer to remind me to move my body every hour, otherwise hours will go by without me standing as I get so engrossed in my work. I really enjoy content marketing, working with my team and with our tech clients so, as they say, ‘time flies by when you’re having fun’. 

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

Cornerstone Content is a virtual content marketing agency. We have people across Australia and even a team member in London.

As we service domestic and international brands, flexibility is a must. Plus, our founder Kayleigh lives and breathes flexibility. She is a working mum and, like me, values work-life balance, so this filters down to the rest of the team.

I love that I can work from anywhere. It fits perfectly into my life. Work is still an important, and fulfilling, part of my life. But the flexibility of Cornerstone Content means that I don’t need to neglect other important parts of my life such as my health, family, friends and spirituality. When I don’t neglect these things you are guaranteed to get the very best of me. 

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

We are all so different, so unique; what is right for one person isn’t for the other. But I know me. I know how much more productive and creative I can be if my brain has a day off during the week. So that’s what I do.

It is a day when I do other things I find important, such as my volunteer work and touching base with friends. My colleagues and clients know they can still reach me on those days if they need to. More often than not, though, things can often wait a day. It has never been an issue. 

I feel this conscious choice has kept me from burning out. I’ve been in marketing for 20 years and I still absolutely love it. I have no issues whatsoever getting up on my work days. Sure it’s a high pressure profession. Sure it’s ever evolving. Sure it’s complex. But those mid week ‘reset’ blocks are my battery chargers – they keep me going and going and going, year after year. 

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

I have started to listen to podcasts more often. I love learning (I could have easily spent my entire life just studying at university – ha!). Podcasts are an easy way to do this whilst I take care of other things like making dinner or doing housework.

People and society’s behaviour and preferences regularly change and new marketing tactics (and MarTech tools) are always appearing. To do my job well, I feel I must constantly learn. 

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

My must-listen-to podcasts are The Squiz (daily news headlines in 10 min) and The Numbers Game (candid chat about business, finance, investment). 

My books of choice are Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, Playing to Win by Lafley Martin and How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp.

My favourite print magazine is Frankie Magazine (I love the writing and design style). And my favourite newsletter is from the British Psychology Society (I find research on human behaviour fascinating).

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

I rate LinkedIn! It is my ‘unofficial’ go to place for my professional development. There are so many intelligent people who share gems on that platform. And I enjoy seeing the career journeys of my old colleagues or clients. 

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

Nick Muldoon and Dave Elkan from Easy Agile. They balance being Co-CEOs of a growing tech company, raising their young families and are also active in the local tech community, Siligong Valley in Wollongong. Their workplace culture is one that oozes work-life balance. 

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

Work-life balance isn’t necessarily about numbers. Someone could work 10 hours a week and have terrible work-life balance if those hours are filled with stress, drama, and if it’s all they can think about when you are not working! No harmony there. We are all individuals. My advice is: find what balance means to you and your family.

Also, learn to value the good in your life. It is easy to get swept away with all the challenges life throws at us. But there is so much good that happens every day.

The birds singing in the morning, the smell of fresh coffee beans, the smile of a family member, a funny video, your pet following you around. Life is full of many awesome and beautiful moments each day. Acknowledge, cherish and be thankful for these and you can’t fail to feel fulfilled, I think.

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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.