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Dec 07, 2022 • By Katie Goldberg

Good Work Leads to a Good Life

How does someone with a master’s in journalism end up as the head of sales and client services at a web development agency? For Grant Abston, the path wasn’t exactly linear. But looking back on it, somehow it just makes sense.

Before it became a trend, he was letting the balance he desired shape his career. “What is the job that can foster the life that I want to live? Flexibility and freedom have been really important to me, and every job has reinforced that.”

His innate curiosity and desire to grow has kept him open to new opportunities and allowed him to carefully choose roles where he worked with the right people in the right environment.

All Roads Led to ACU

Grant never really thought too much about where he would go to college. His entire family went to Abilene Christian University (ACU), making the choice as easy as picking Charles Barkley for a game of pickup basketball.

It was a good choice. He met his wife there, and his roommate owns the company he now works for (more on that later). ACU was a formative time that he cherished, and he wanted to offer that same experience to others.

After finishing graduate school at The University of Texas, he was primed for an entry-level sports information position. But as he looked for a job, he started with his network – the people he would want to work alongside. It opened the door to a job in admissions at ACU.

As Grant describes it, “I wasn’t necessarily passionate about admissions. But I was passionate about ACU and I loved the thought of passing along my experience to others.”

The experience there was formative in shaping his view on work, and understanding just how important being in a positive, collaborative environment was to him.

After 3 years of “selling” prospective students on a college experience in Abilene, Grant took those skills to a formal sales role. He moved 2 hours west and spent a season at Industrial Outfitters selling oil and gas supplies.

Another opportunity arose, combining Grant’s experience in admissions with his athletics background and education. ACU had completed the transition to a Division I school, and they were looking to fill a newly created position of Assistant Director of Athletics for Recruiting. And just like that, he was back in Abilene.

His wife, Shealynn, also works at ACU as part of the clinical faculty team for speech pathology. With ties this strong, you’d think Grant would never leave. But sometimes, you don’t choose a career - it chooses you.

Finding More Good People

Grant and Garrett were college roommates, which meant that Grant had a front-row seat for every stage of the Good Work journey. He was going through the journalism program, seemingly unrelated to the computer science courses his good friend was taking.

In a sense, Grant has been invested in the company from day one. But not everyone can work with one of their closest friends. And even fewer people can work for one of their closest friends. Let’s be honest, the same things that bond people over spontaneous road trips or late-night pizza while “studying” don’t always translate to the workplace.

But then again, not everyone has the ease in their relationship that Grant and Garrett do. Garrett approached Grant to join the team and hit on all the things Grant wanted from a job. Work with people you enjoy. Be in a family-focused, laid-back atmosphere, but do really good work.

Sure the industry was very different from where he had been. But Grant leaned on the skills that would easily transfer. “I knew that I could form relationships and talk with people, and do it in an environment that I enjoy. It’s been 3 years and I haven’t looked back.”

Grant’s days are focused on business development at Good Work, which can mean a lot of things at a small business. Essentially, he is tasked with developing relationships with other agencies and maintaining relationships with current partners. He fields all incoming leads and helps to define each project as estimates are created.

“I’m very goal-oriented and am always looking for new ways to get Good Work in front of the right people. Whether it’s a process to improve or problem to solve, I love to see if I can figure it out. Sometimes the answer is yes, but sometimes the answer is no. Either way, my curiosity pushes me to dig.”

Living the Good Life

Grant’s curiosity and ability to dig deep serve him outside of work, as well. He and Shealynn have three kids ranging from 1st grade to celebrating a 1st birthday. In other words, they’re on the go a lot.

And with three little ones running around, a live-in DIY renovation isn’t something he would recommend, but is figuring out how to survive. Grant’s best advice if you find yourself in a situation like this? “Until you’re an expert on something, don’t make any promises on the timeline of projects. Every time I’ve told Shealynn ‘this will be done by June 1st’ or ‘I think I need about 2 more hours’ – I’m always wrong.”

Having played nearly every sport growing up, Grant still enjoys having a physical outlet. He’s working on his golf game when he can, but the more consistent activity starts at home. As of 2022, Grant is now part of the Peleton cult community. You can find him on a 90s country or alternative rock ride most days of the week.

“At this point, I couldn’t ask for much more. I’m working at a job that is fulfilling with people I both respect and enjoy. We have a great culture that encourages balance. My wife and I are raising our kids in a city that means a lot to us. There’s nothing flashy about it, but this is the good life.”

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Further Reading

Feb 28, 2022 • By Garrett Winder

Creating a Culture of Balance

“I believe if you do good, quality work, communicate well and invest in an environment that people want to be a part of, all the rest will fall into place.” That’s the last sentence in “An introduction to Good Work”, a blog post I wrote about eight years ago, only a few months after making the jump to full-time self-employment. At that po…

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