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Ways We Work

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Mark DiCristina

Marketing Director at MailChimp

Mark studied philosophy in college and went back to school for business when he realized he couldn’t get a real job with a liberal arts degree. While he was in school, he managed production for Paste Magazine and then moved to MailChimp, where he’s been doing marketing for the past six years.

What do you do?

I’m MailChimp’s Director of Marketing. I lead a team of 23 marketers, writers, designers, and developers who tell the world about our awesome products and the company we’re building.

What do you find most rewarding about your role? Most challenging?

There’s a tremendous amount of independence and permission to experiment that we have at MailChimp, and that’s really special. I love finding opportunities to promote MailChimp that are outside the scope of a traditional marketing plan. Our partnership with California Sunday Magazine is one of my favorite current examples of that.

The most challenging thing about it is that I’ve never done it before and I’m learning as I go. On most days, that’s incredibly exciting but sometimes it’s daunting, too. Thankfully, I have a great team around me and lots of support.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

I’ve always been more interested in setting trends than keeping up with them. I pay close attention, I never stop reading, and I take what I can learn, but I’m always thinking about what’s next and how I can set MailChimp up to be in the best position tomorrow. Google has some great resources for marketers, but I also find that the best inspiration always comes from outside the field I’m working in.

What are your top five applications or programs?

I love email. Am I allowed to admit that? Mailbox was a revelation when it came out, though lately I’ve preferred Google Inbox. I’m still an RSS junkie, and I can’t live without Reeder. Fantastical for calendars, Overcast for podcasts, and Two Dots. I am OBSESSED with Two Dots. I’ve been playing it for a year, and I can’t stop. Every time I see updates available on my phone, I pray that one of them is a Two Dots level expansion.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Create some structure around when you check it, and triage by messages that don’t require responses, messages that require quick responses, and messages that require more time. And admit that there’s no such thing as being on top of it.

What is your best time­-saving trick?

Do the thing you want to avoid first.

What does your workspace look like?

I have a couple workspaces—an office where I have meetings and a desk in an open environment with my team. Both are very simple and clean. I have a hard time getting anything done when my workspace isn’t tidy.

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

I have three kids, and they keep me pretty structured. I usually get up around 5 and exercise before anyone wakes up. Then I get my kids ready for school and head to work around 8:30. Depending on the day of the week, I could be in 3­-5 hours of meetings, but I try to stack them up so I can protect some big blocks of time to work on projects. I get home around 6 in the evening, spend time with my family, and then head to bed to do it all over again. I’m a creature of habit—my schedule is super consistent and boring and I love it.

Why do you do what you do, what motivates you and makes everything worth it?

MailChimp is such an empowering place to work. I love the products, I love the people, and I love the work. My team and I have accomplished some amazing things together, and I’m proud that I get to work alongside them every day.

What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

My dad used to drive me to school every morning, from when I was a small child through early high school. And every day as I was getting out of the car, he would say, “Remember who you are, and use what you’ve been given.” I’m sure I rolled my eyes about it back then, but as an adult, I think about it all the time. It’s always stuck with me.

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Aaron and Julia Robbs. Aaron used to work with me at MailChimp (he’s a designer at Dropbox now), and Julia is a photographer. They’re the best.