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Balancing the Grind With Steven Duran, Platform Director – Saint Joseph Communications at 5 Stones 

Steven Duran is the Platform Director for Saint Joseph Communications, an eCommerce and distribution initiative at Catholic agency 5 Stones.

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

When I started my career, the goal was to work my way into law school. That all changed when I took a job around content development for a non-profit media company in the greater Chicagoland area because I “had to go see about a girl.”

From the content development position, I pivoted to become a digital marketer within the organization. So after starting this new role I quickly realized that I had a gift for communicating messages in a digital environment.

My first “big win” was adding over 500,000 Facebook followers to our company’s page in less than twenty-four months.

While my love for marketing remains strong, I wanted to expand my skills to include product management and eCommerce growth so I took on a new role at a non-profit, Catholic agency called 5 Stones.

Currently I serve as the Platform Director for an eCommerce and distribution initiative that they own called Saint Joseph Communications.

In the past five years, I grew my own personal consulting business for companies that need marketing support or assistance with organizational strategy.

I had the privilege to work with some incredible clients along the way including Best Version Media, Dekalb County United, and others. I have a passion for helping SMB companies find better ways to serve and communicate with their customers.

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

I tend to have the most mental clarity in the morning, so I make sure to utilize that time for strategy and planning. Before I jump into my emails, I spend time reflecting on the goals that I set in place for the month, week, and day.

Then I plan out my calendar and block off the necessary gaps of time needed to accomplish the tasks that bring me closer to the goals set forth. I make a list of the top three priorities of the day and off I go!

As a platform director (or product manager), I am responsible for working with cross-departmental teams. I am frequently jumping in between marketing, accounting, customer service, and warehousing projects.

I am constantly bouncing between Gmail, Trello, Mailchimp, Google Analytics, and our accounting package. Today, I ran a bi-weekly accounts meeting where I met with key stakeholders of our departments and went through a rundown of everything that would be happening for the next two weeks.

At the end of the day, I always go back through my top three priorities and see where I was successful and where I need to improve for the next day.

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

I am occasionally able to work remotely. Most of my work is cloud-based, so it is not difficult to access the necessary software. In light of current events, I am exclusively working remotely.

Once I was able to develop a routine and set clear boundaries with my kids around where and when I’m working, the workflow fell into place.

It is definitely helpful to be able to work remotely when I’m traveling for conferences or meeting on-site with clients. I find it really helpful to keep my routine for daily preparation as much as possible, even when traveling. This helps me stay focused and on task, regardless of the environment.

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

In my mind, work-life balance means that your career is at the service of your personal wellness and your family and not the other way around.

With that said, when I am at work, I make sure that I am pouring myself into the task at hand so that when I’m off the clock, I am fully present to my family. My preference is to make the most of the time that I have in the office so that I can accomplish as much as possible during work hours.

It is important to me that I spend time refueling myself through spending time with my wife and playing with my kids. I find that the more that I allow my marriage, parenthood, and prayer life to fill me up, the more I am able to pour into my work when I am in the office.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

The most important routine that I have developed over the last two years has been the implementation of the Monk Manual created by Steve Lawson. This daily system for being and doing has revolutionized my professional life and personal well-being.

By using the same techniques of intentionality that Monks have used for centuries, I am able to improve nearly every aspect of my personal, spiritual, and professional life.

Seriously, if you are not familiar with the Monk Manual, you’ve got to check it out!

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

  • The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  • Leading by Sir Alex Furguson
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiosaki

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Building in a routine of prayer and meditation before the work day begins and then closing the work day with prayer and meditation after it ends is paramount in my day. I spend 10 mins at the beginning and 10 mins at the end of the day to set me up for success.

Meditation at the beginning allows me to separate my personal identity from my work while also giving me the ability to pour everything I have into the work day.

Prayer at the close of the work day enables me to transition from my role(s) at work and into my role(s) at home as a Husband, Father, and Friend.

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

Jose Mourinho is my first choice. “The Special One” has so many quirks to his management style when it comes to running big soccer clubs, so it would be a fascinating interview to get an inside look at how he navigates the pressures of being the Manager of Tottenham Football Club in the English Premier League.

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

In my experience, the key to being an effective professional is the ability to navigate priorities that come with the position. This is true also in the relationship between personal life and work life.

When priorities are written down and the tasks at hand line-up with those priorities, then I believe you will be able to have fulfillment in your work-life balance that you need and deserve.

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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.