Balancing the Grind with Misty Dykema, Principal & Owner of Simantel

Misty Dykema is the Principal & Owner of Simantel, a marketing firm in based Peoria, IL. She also hosts a podcast, Marketing Sweats, focused on hardworking professionals in marketing, technology and customer experience.

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

I am a Principal and Owner of Simantel, a marketing communications firm based out of Peoria, IL. We focus our work on B2B Industrial Consumer Experiences, which means we bring customer experience to life for hardworking, heavy-industry and manufacturing brands.

I’ve spent 16 years with the organization, beginning my career in client service, migrating to strategy and business development, and finally overseeing many aspects of our emerging digital service lines, including paid media, development, analytics and marketing automation.

Today, I continue to focus on growing our organization through industry outreach, a podcast I host, called Marketing Sweats, and championing strategy planning sessions for our clients and employees.

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

Even before the era of Covid, my days were filled with many meetings. Whether it be consulting with clients, helping a team get started on an initiative or working with my two business partners on day-to-day operations, the days are always varied – and I’m always learning something new.

My favorite days are those where I’m working with a diverse group of creative and strategic thinkers (agency and clients included), planning and debating a future direction. I love pulling ideas out of other’s minds and facilitating conversation.

These days, I try to block some time in the morning to write, read or think about the future of the company. I believe in the mantra my coach Rebecca Olson taught me: “There’s no more you can DO for your business. There’s only more you can THINK.” 

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

Yes! In fact, I’m sitting on my back porch right now. Simantel has employees in many states across the US, so remote working has become part of our culture.

I love the days I work from home, as the pace of business just seems a little slower. I can also make time to get my two little girls into their routine for the day, without the hustle and bustle that travel time to and from work requires.

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

I believe in the idea of work-life integration. Meaning, we may never be fully “in balance” in terms of time spent on various activities in our life. There will always be days or weeks where work requires more of us, or alternatively – when our family obligations or self-care needs to take the lead.

However, I believe that when we are able to integrate all aspects of our lives and make conscious choices about where we need to be (and also like our reasons for making these choices!), we will feel as though we are not divided – but rather integrated – in all the things we love to be and do throughout our days.

While challenging at first, I believe the requirement to work from home throughout the pandemic has made work-life integration even more possible for some. Simantel has chosen to offer employees a very flexible work schedule.

So they can be with their families and children when they need to and get their work done when it is convenient for them. I’m proud to say that after only a few weeks, almost all employees seemed to “figure it out” – and many report feeling more engaged because of this integration.

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

The biggest change for me in the past 12 months has been the hiring of two executive coaches. One helping me manage balance as a working mom and the other helping me achieve a life-long dream – to write a book. 

I find that taking time out to get others’ perspective helps me immensely in terms of managing the work I’m doing to become a better leader. Twice a month, I intentionally take time out to reflect on where I’m headed and assess how my goals are manifesting in my day-to-day mindset and behaviors.

I find that I am a completely different leader when I make time for this reflection and self-discovery. And, I’d encourage anyone who has the ability to find a mentor or coach to do so.

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

Gosh, too many to name! I’m a big Brene Brown fan, so her podcast Unlocking Us and books on shame and vulnerability have resonated with me deeply.

My spirituality and connection to God help get me through my very busy days, so I also spend my time listening to many spiritual leaders, such as Rob Bell (RobCast) and Nadia Bolz-Webber (The Confessional). 

Finally – I’m a huge Enneagram nerd. So, The Road Back to You by Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile has also been a favorite – both the book and the podcast.

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

You know – for living in tech land during my work days – I’m not much of a techie in real-life. Of course, like most, I am attached to my phone and computer morning, noon and night. 

But as a mom to a 2-year-old and 7-year-old, I often find my gadgets and app-life is more geared toward the kiddos! YouTube and TikTok rule at our house. Says something to all of us marketers to get in line!

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

I’m actually more and more impressed with Gary Vaynerchuk. His “tell it like it is” persona intrigues me. 

Throughout COVID, he’s made a point to deliver timely content by accepting questions and offering advice to others. All while running his multi-million dollar empire.

I’ve read his work entails long workdays, but he balances that through long weekends away with his family. I find that my attempts at balance look similar. Our best family time is when we can get away and ensure we’re “all-in” together. 

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

More and more, I’m coming to believe that our happiness and impact on the world has more to do with our thoughts than any external factors. Typically, if I’m feeling out of balance, it has something to do with the thoughts in my brain!

Taking time out to reassess when I’m thinking, and then assess if my thoughts are impacting how I’m feeling – essentially allows me to take the right action to get back in alignment.

Having clarity on where I’m at in my own head and then simply deciding to make changes if I need to do so has made all the difference! I’m a much kinder human when I use this logical approach to managing myself, rather than relying on my calendar to manage me!

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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.