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Balancing the Grind with Stephen Duke, Director of Marketing & Growth at Wayflyer

Stephen Duke is the Director of Marketing & Growth at Wayflyer, a company providing flexible funding and actionable insights to the world’s fastest-growing eCommerce businesses

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

Surprisingly, I originally started out as an engineer. In university, I was a maths and physics nerd who spent four years studying mechanical engineering at both University College Dublin and the University of New South Wales. Since then, I’ve been on a bit of a journey, following what interested me most at each turn. 

Upon finishing university, I worked as a Management Consultant at McKinsey – a tough gig, but one of the best things I’ve ever done. Whilst with the company, I learned a ridiculous amount in a short space of time, and it gave me an incredibly strong foundation for my career.

I had always been interested in start-ups and entrepreneurship and so in 2018, I joined LetsGetChecked, a direct-to-consumer health-tech company, where I led the marketing team and drove powerful growth for the company, from Seed to Series B.

I then moved to Sydney and started my journey with Wayflyer. When I first joined, I was employee number 15 (we’re now at 280) and was tasked with growing our company in Australia and other markets around the world.

Fast forward to today, where I’m running Marketing and Growth at Wayflyer and am responsible for growing our brand and bringing our products and services to eCommerce businesses all around the world.

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

The morning is pretty sacred for me. First thing, I like to get out for a quick walk and grab a coffee, and then get in at least two to three hours of focussed work. This is the uninterrupted time I get each day to tackle the biggest things on my plate – the ones that really need my brain power! 

At lunchtime, I’ll workout at a group fitness class, which is one of the best habits that I’ve recently taken up in the afternoon. I’ll often have some meetings and will prepare for evening calls with folks from our overseas offices.

At around 6, I’ll try to go for a surf or a swim and then have dinner with my girlfriend. In the evenings, I’ll usually have a couple of hours of calls before finishing up around ten or eleven and then will head to bed soon after.

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

Totally. One of the best things about my role at Wayflyer is the flexibility. I split my time between home and our office in Alexandria and enjoy being able to spend an hour working from a cafe every now and again.

I just spent four weeks visiting our Irish and US offices and was able to work throughout this trip, which was great. Having the flexibility of when and where I can work is a huge deal for me because when motivation hits, I can put my head down and get lots done wherever I am.

But if I need a break, or to go to the gym in the middle of the day to blow off some steam, I also have the flexibility to do that too.

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

I try not to see work as a separate part of my life. I used to try to completely compartmentalise my work life from my personal life but found that it never really worked for me.

I find it difficult to switch off my work brain on a Friday evening and switch on my personal life brain and vice versa on a Sunday night.

Sometimes, I’ll spend a lot of time working, which might put pressure on personal commitments, but the worst thing I can do is to start to judge myself for that and tell myself I should be spending more time on personal things.

In general, I aim to just be present in whatever I’m doing. If I’m working, then I’m working. If I’m chilling with friends, then I’m chilling with friends. The moments when I have felt most stressed is when I haven’t been present in what I’m doing.

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

For sure. I try to limit my alcohol intake now – I found that it really messed up my sleep and mental health. I have also become a huge fan of mid-day workouts. They give me a great break during the day and huge amounts of energy to keep me going.

Spending time on social media tends to not make me feel good so I’ve also deleted my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok accounts, which has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Another one of my best decisions has been going to a therapist every few weeks. Having someone I can work with over a long period of time to help me feel good each day and keep me balanced has been a real game-changer!

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

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey is a must read. When I read it, it made me want to go out and adventure, to take risks and be authentic. It’s a great book and I’d definitely recommend the audiobook version! 

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

I used to be a total nerd with gadgets, tracking everything from my sleep to my steps and everything in between. But I found they were usually causing me more stress than good. Now, I’m pretty low-tech. 

I love my journal, my noise cancelling headphones and use a tool called Roam Research for note taking – which I am a massive fan of.

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

Brian Chesky. He has a “desk job” with a huge amount of responsibility – but from the outside-in, looks like he achieves a lot of balance in his life. I’d love to hear if this is true and how he does it.

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

OK, it sounds cheesy, but I believe work-life balance means something different for everyone. And that’s OK. For me, I really enjoy my work and I want to work hard. I used to put pressure on myself to stay under a 40-hour work week but found that that didn’t make me feel good.

I always had the energy to do more but was trying to stop myself from working what was believed to be ‘too long’. I finally realised that I enjoy working hard and get a lot of fulfilment from doing a good job – that’s the balance that works for me right now. 

So, I say find the balance that feels good for you and don’t worry about what everyone else is thinking.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.