Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
Hi! I’m Lisa Durante. I’m a storyteller, an advocate for women and parents at work, and a mom to two growing girls. For the last 10 years I’ve been leading JAck Communications - a content marketing agency that helps leaders and businesses harness the power of content to connect to their people, market their brands and grow their businesses. I’m also the chapter co-president of Ellevate Network in Toronto.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I’ve been a member of Ellevate for more than 6 or 7 years and I’ve plenty of good memories. Some of my favorites have come out of the Coffee Connections events we host in Toronto each month. We always have an amazing guest to guide our discussion and someone in our group always says something incredible that I have to write down in my notebook.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
I’m a marketing and communications expert that spends her days working with leaders and marketing teams to uncover and tell the stories of their business. This makes curiosity a big part of the job. Creativity is also key. There are never-ending ways to tell and format a story, if you’re creative enough. So, read everything and anything, study writers and writing for different channels. Lastly, deeplyl care for people is also important. When you care about the people you are trying to connect with, the more time you’ll take to make your content digestible and relatable.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
AI is definitely on my radar. I’m really curious how it will shape content marketing overall, and content development specifically. Part of me is worried that it may erode original thought, creativity and good writing. But, I’m also very excited to start leveraging it to shape and impact the work I’m doing with my clients.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
I’m lucky because my list is long. However, the one that comes to mind is the work I got to do while working for an insurance company in New York at the time of the financial crisis. Times were tough, and uncertainty was high no matter where you turned. The leader I worked with deeply cared about her employees and wanted to send a message to her teams (she was leading more than 1,500 people). Usually, I’d write an email and we’d be done with it. But, I knew the times required something much more personal. Our company had just started testing out a new video channel (this was circa 2009). Despite being very nervous, the leader agreed to record a video message. Her compassion for her team and her passion to do the next right thing was on full display. It helped ease some of the stress on the teams, and helped build trust in the leader.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I got my start in journalism, working in magazines in Toronto. Very quickly, however, I realized it wasn’t quite the right fit for me. As much as I love telling stories, I really love strategy. Pulling together loads of information, while considering stakeholder wants and needs, and adding in the practicalities of a leader’s vision or business goals - chef’s kiss! Internal Communications brought all of this together for me. So, when I moved to New York a year or two after university, I used it as an opportunity to pivot my career. My return to Toronto 10 years later I discovered internal communications wasn’t as strategic in Canada as it was in the US. So, I decided to step out on my own. I started Jack Communications in 2013 and in these last 10 years, I’ve evolved with the ever-changing field of marketing and communications. It’s been a fun ride. I’ve had some incredible work experiences as I’ve worked in different countries and worked with teams around the world, and got to work on projects and initiatives that continue to challenge and shape my work.
What is your morning ritual?
It starts with sweat. A ride on my Peloton, followed by strength training gets my body moving and clears the cobwebs. I rarely enjoy exercising in the moment, but I never regret taking the time to care for myself. Plus, I’m energized for the day and my mind is ready to focus on all that needs to get done.
What is your favorite social media site? Why?
LinkedIn. It’s a rich playground to learn about people and industries as well as emerging ideas and insights. It’s also a great place to engage in conversations.
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I really don’t like the idea of work-life balance. It’s a losing battle that we’ll never conquer. I’ll never be able to balance the hours I work, and the hours I spend with my family and personal pursuits. Work will always win that war because I work full-time, and my kids are at school and activities for about the same amount of time. Plus, we have to sleep. So, if I have a no-fail tactic is to change what and how you’re measuring. I don’t measure hours. Instead, I evaluate the quality of my time with my girls. And quality time can happen anywhere - while grocery shopping or on the drive to or from swim practice.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Best career advice came to me from a senior executive who I didn’t know too well. We were riding quietly in an elevator at the end of the workday. I was about 8 months pregnant with my first daughter and after saying our hellos, she said: “Do what works.” She went on to explain that advice will be plentiful once I become a mother. She suggested I ignore most of it and just do what works for me, my baby and my situation. I hear her voice in my head anytime I’m feeling pressure to keep up with others - which can happen often when I'm on social media.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?
I have a few that I come back to time and time again: 1. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I really believe that if you put your mind to something and apply your talents, and any and all available resources, you can find a way through whatever the challenge. 2. There’s more than one way to do something right. When I started my agency, I got a lot of well-intended advice, mostly from men, and none of it quite felt right. It took me some time, but I realized that I could build a business in a way that aligned with my values, and could work for me and my life. 3. Focus on what you know. Change is constant, but it always builds on something that came before it. If we can focus on what we know, we can adjust and adapt and keep moving forward with the times.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Founder and Managing Principal
Lisa Durante has spent her career helping companies and leaders connect with their people. From large-scale, global change programs to creating content that makes an impact, Lisa brings her more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications and content marketing to every project. Lisa is the founder and managing principal of Jack Communications. Formerly, she led internal communications for KPMG, MetLife and Deloitte in Toronto and New York. She holds a masters in strategic... Continue Reading