Editor’s Note: I am pleased to feature this interview with Shane Mac as part of the Winning Edits Expert Interview Series.
Mac is the author of Stop With The BS, a collection of 75 funny, real, raw thoughts and occasional rants about starting a career, doing work that matters, and making a difference.
He’s also the Director of Product at Zaarly and the founder of Hello There. Previously, he spearheaded marketing for Seattle-based Gist, which sold to BlackBerry for millions. Mac is also an author, professional musician voted best wedding band in 2009 and has been featured on the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, CNN and the USA Today.
Matt Gartland: You wrote Stop With The BS to share what you’ve learned about careers and creativity with the pretext that you’re still learning. What have you learned about the writing/publishing process specifically or creativity generally through this experience? And what do you anticipate learning in the coming year?
Shane Mac: You can’t do it alone. There’s so many pieces that go into publishing a book, it’s important to find what you love and you are good at and get others to help with the rest. If you love layout and design, do that. If you’re a writer, find someone else to do the design. Someone to set up the distribution.
MG: You believe in the power of questions; that they “are everything.” What burning questions drive your curiosity in art, both as a musician and writer? For writers specifically, what questions should be asked by all?
SM: Am I doing something that matters? I ask myself this daily.
MG: You write that “boredom kills careers,” not people and companies. How have you combatted this force in your own professional career? And given the instant gratification dynamics of our society, do you sense that boredom is a growing problem?
SM: Most of us need to feel progress, feedback and completion. The simple things matter. People need know where they are going, feel challenged in their work and know how to succeed to the next level. If you don’t have a clear path, people become content and bored. That’s when the work stops.
MG: How do you score yourself against your stated goal of not wanting to write “just another book?” And what should writers of all stripes learn from those scores?
SM: I think this might be one of the biggest learnings from this book. I’ve literally had hundreds of emails and letters about the book and most of them talk about the things that we did different. I truly believe that being creative and coming up with one or two things that everyone will say in common about the book really helps the word of mouth spread. That’s why I have a playlist for the entire book, a photo out the window, my real time thoughts and the concept of the train.
I think some people like the concept more than the content.
MG: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received or been privy to?
SM: Write drunk, edit sober.