Remote work / Workplace culture

How I Work: Gabriel Marketing Group CEO Leah Nurik on ‘focus time’ and the power of music

The CEO of the tech-focused Tysons PR firm talks about finding the right task management tool, and what's helping to navigate the pandemic.

Leah Nurik is CEO of Gabriel Marketing Group. (Courtesy photo)

This is’s How I Work series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region’s founders and technologists use to get through the day. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us:

The D.C. area’s tech community has been making more noise in recent years, and Leah Nurik is of the entrepreneurs working to elevate the conversation.

Nurik founded Tysons, Virginia-based Gabriel Marketing Group (GMG) in 2011 with a goal to unite changemakers and innovative technology, and truly become a strategic partner for how clients grow and communicate their vision. The public relations and digital marketing agency offers PR and analyst relations, as well as market strategy consulting, digital marketing, advertising, SEO, marketing automation and content development. Along with Tysons, it has team members in Boston and Tokyo, and is part of the Eurocom Worldwide PR network.

“I’m proud to say that we’ve grown organically since our founding in 2011 — we’ve never accepted outside funding, but instead have grown and expanded our base of clients thanks to a lot of hard work, hustle and focus on delivering exceptional client service,” Nurik said. “We’ve also been energized by being a woman-owned business, breaking the traditional mold in all the work that we do.”

This is how she works.


What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any tech-related work?

I start every day by making myself a cup of coffee with cream and sugar — it’s a classic or a “regulah” as they say up in Boston. Then I typically kick-start my day by going to a high-intensity boot camp workout before I finally get my kids ready and off to school.

How often do you check your email, and do you use any program to get to Inbox Zero?

In today’s day and age, it pretty near impossible to get to Inbox Zero. I receive hundreds of inbound inquiries in my inbox daily. To make it easier to sift through them all, our IT providers set up spam filters in my Outlook in addition to focused “trusted sender” filters so that I respond to relevant items as quickly as possible. Additionally, our agency uses Slack to reduce dependencies on email. Lastly, with our international clients, we use WhatsApp and enable push notifications on our desktops and mobile devices to stay in constant communication.

For ongoing projects, how do you keep track of your progress?

We looked far and wide for a good project management tool at GMG until we finally made the change to Wrike last year. We use Wrike and Dropbox for Business internally, which have been great tools for collaboration and time reporting for our team. Personally, I also come in and make a to-do list on my laptop using OneNote, which I essentially use as a virtual notebook. As an agency, we also use Basecamp for client communication and deliverables.

When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?

When I need a break, I go for a walk and listen to music. Music for me is therapeutic. I’m not really someone who’s capable of being meditative, so I like to think that I do active meditation by listening to music and taking brisk active walks to manage my stress.

When I’m really stressed — like during this coronavirus pandemic when I have to stay home and take care of my kids while conducting business — I put on opera or Broadway tunes. I love musical theater and I’m often singing and jazz-handing my way through the kitchen, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of my kids. I also play the flute — albeit, terribly, but it helps me destress.

Even during this recent insanity and worrying about things I can’t control, I try to think back to the beauty in life, and music is such an amazing way to remind yourself of that — through people with passion and talent. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Lumineers, Guns N’ Roses and Vance Joy lately.

What’s your gear?

Some of my favorite gear is my iPhone, Fitbit and my heart monitor that I wear for workouts that syncs to my phone. I also can’t live without my Tile finder device because I’m always losing my keys.

What’s currently getting me and my family through the coronavirus right now is the Wii gaming console. We’ve been doing a lot of Just Dance when its cold or rainy!

What’s one time-saving tip you have?

I find that life is so much faster and simpler when you utilize the right technology. From a work standpoint, I recommend taking advantage of cloud integrations for workforce management — it makes a huge difference in team collaboration and reducing version control issues. From a personal perspective, I try to set aside a few hours each day to get as much work done as possible. It’s hard to think when you’re constantly being interrupted and can’t think in complex patterns. I put “focus time” on my calendar with no meetings scheduled and turn off notifications to strategically accomplish client work.

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