Balancing the Grind with Marina Beldi, Associate Creative Director at Grey Group

Marina Beldi is a New York-based Associate Creative Director at global advertising agency Grey Group. Prior, she has spent time working in New Zealand, Hong Kong and more.

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

Before advertising, my journey started as an entrepreneur at the age of 11, when I started investing in stocks in the Brazilian market. At the age of 13, I imported a German brand called NICI to Brazil to begin selling at my family’s gym store.

Since an early age, I loved to create branding for my own business or to my brother and mother business that when the time to choose a career came, I decided to follow the creative path and went to Industrial & Graphic Design University.

I did part of my university years in Brazil and in Japan, but when I graduated I decided to pursue the surface design career and went for a Master in Finland.

When I came back to Brazil, I found myself in trouble finding a decent job in the field because the surface design market was very small and not well recognized and every job I got an offer from the offer was extremely low.

A friend from college talked to me about Miami Ad School and how advertising would fit me so well since I had the entrepreneurial instincts with a creative background, so I told myself to give a try and see if I liked that field.

Once I started Miami Ad School, I moved to Miami and realized I didn’t know anything about advertising, and that is what triggered me to fall in love with it because I’m inquisitive to learn and master things I don’t know.

So once I was in Miami Ad School, I went to live and work in Hong Kong and New York, where I got my first job in ad agencies. When I graduated in my Course, I faced the working visa problem.

I wanted to stay in the USA, so at my first job as a mid-level art director after graduating was at McGarryBowen, they offer to pay me a visa, J1 visa, but that visa wouldn’t give me as much freedom as I wanted so I started persuading the O1 visa, the visa known as the alien with extraordinary abilities.

The time of my temporary visa was about to be done, so McGarryBowen told me to let them know once I got my other visa approved, so I left to Europe to look for jobs in Barcelona and London which I got an offer from Ogilvy London.

While I was there looking for jobs I got an opportunity to go work for Ogilvy New Zealand, and again curiosity struck me, and I moved to New Zealand since I always knew NZ had great agencies and opportunities to build my portfolio.

Once I was in New Zealand I was also working to build my visa case to go back to the USA, and once it was done I moved back to New York where I started working for McGarryBowen as a senior art director right away.

From there I moved to McCann, later Wunderman. My former partner invited me to work with her at Verizon in-house, and together we moved to BBH as ACDs where I stayed for almost two years.

When my team members and partner left I started looking to go freelance for a while until I found the next right opportunity, so I freelance for a few months at FCB New York until I found the opportunity to work with this amazing team lead by the Brazilian creative, Renan Molin at Grey New York, where I’m currently at as an ACD since March this year.

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

During the day I’m an ACD at Grey, and a couple nights a week I’m teaching ad classes at Miami Ad School and Denver Ad School.

In my free time I’m working on my photography journal Pangea Roads or helping my partner Jessica Lomasson at Make Ads With Me. We have been creating panels with creatives in the industry to discuss different topics, the last one was about working visa in the USA.

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

I started at Grey two days before the lockdown in New York started, so my routine has been working from home, and what I realized is that WFH makes you work way more and longer hours than in the office but gives me more quality and flexibility.

I have been eating better and being able to do more things that before I wasn’t. The time we waste commuting to work or the time we usually procrastinate at the office, now I can make that time useful Because every break I have, I’m able to do something, work on my side projects, do yoga classes, therapy sessions, etc.

But the cons are that there is never a time to stop working, the late nights have been more consecutively. I teach a few nights a week from 7-10 PM, and almost every time I need to log in to catch up with the work, I stopped at 7 PM to teach the class.

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

As I mentioned before, I believe since the COVID-19 situation started, we have been working at least 30% more hours, but these hours have been with more quality.

My days usually are 16-18 hours long, but I’ve been able to do so much more than I haven’t done in the past four years almost. I’ve done much more, and I’ve been cooking, exercising, reading, organizing my house, things that before my routine never allowed because of the exhaustion of the day and the time from leaving home to the time I came back.

The world knows we are working in more flexible hours so people can do everything without having to leave their houses.

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

I started exercising again, which has improved my sleep a lot. I always had trouble sleeping. I tried pretty much everything, from sleeping pills, breathing exercising, glasses to avoid blue light and nothing helped.

I used to run my day with 4-6 hours of sleep max but never a deep sleep, and now that I started yoga again, I’ve been sleeping so deeply and being able to truly rest.

Another good habit, I realized I’m consuming alcohol way less. I love wine and beer, so I do drink that at home, but in the advertising world, drinking is socializing, and you realize you’re socializing every day pretty much.

Everything you do in New York, you catch yourself drinking at least a couple of drinks when you go out, which is at least four times a week. I used to have bowling leagues, volleyball leagues, coworkers happy hour, friends dinner every week!

The bad habit I have now is the number of hours I spend watching TV series! Since I was 14 I was living and different countries and going to boarding schools so watching TV was very rare. I always loved going to the movies.

Still, I wasn’t the kind of person who spent hours or days binging laying on the sofa, I was always hyperactive, so I never would stay still and now I’m watching TV shows, documentaries all day long, even if it is only on the background while I work.

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

I’ve been reading more now. Before, I used to read only during my commute. I love books that talk about people’s behaviour and mainly mental health and history books, so a good book I read these days was the Pale Rider.

It’s a book that tells about the Spanish flu and how the world changed and adapted after that. It’s fascinating to read that book now and how relatable it is to what is going on with the world.

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

My everyday app is WhatsApp since its what keeps me connected with my family, dog, and friends on the other side of the world.

I’m on Google Maps all the time, I used to travel a lot, so every long weekend or time off I had I had some cool exotic trip planned. Now with the world on lockdown, I miss traveling the most, I had to cancel many trips.

Amazon is the everyday supplier, and my Kindle is always around for reading time and my iPad since I’ve been trying to practice my drawing skills lately.

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

Anselmo Ramos. I would love to hear how he is dealing with his life balance at this time. He is the founder of Gut agency and one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs.

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

Take advantage of this world situation to figure out what you genuinely love to do. That works even for your current job if you are not passionate about, starting to rethink what you truly should be doing.

Working from home gives us the change to explore new passions and fields we never had the time or courage to explore before.

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.