“Knowing which doors to open and which doors to close. It’s wisdom that is earned over time.”- this is how Mark Schaefer, attributes his success.
Mark Schaefer – the man with multiple expertise – as the globally recognized Keynote Speaker, Marketing Strategist, University Educator, and Bestselling Author of “Marketing Rebellion,” and “Cumulative Advantage“. He has built his career helping companies and leaders stand out in a world of overwhelming information density.
Mark Schaefer shares his views on success strategies, managing business, strategizing development, and motivation with Business Upside in this interview. Edited excerpts from the interview:
Edited Excerpts from the Interview
Business Upside [BU]: What influenced you to become an author?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I have always enjoyed writing but honestly never dreamed of writing a book. When I started my business in 2008, I began to blog and my posts caught on. I earned the attention of some publishers and that led to a book contract. I decided to write a book for the experience of it and discovered that I was pretty good at it!
Business Upside [BU]: What is more satisfying to you – delivering a lecture, strategizing business development, or writing a book?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I love all of those things. I guess writing a book means a little more because it is permanent. I doubt any speech or strategy will become part of my legacy.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you manage your work schedule while writing a book along with your coaching, workshops, developing business strategies, and delivering lectures?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I have to block out a significant amount of time to write a book. When compiling a 70,000-word narrative, it’s difficult to start and stop. So I usually time my writing to coincide with the winter holidays when business and teaching slow to a halt.
Business Upside [BU]: What qualities make a successful writer?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I think the most important thing a business writer can do is deliver insight, not just information. Insight leads to a special book. It also takes a tremendous amount of courage to put yourself out there in a permanent way, and persistence to stick with a project like this over a long period.
Business Upside [BU]: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: Both, in equal measure. When I know I’m creating something bold and beautiful, I imagine how much fun the reader will have with my book. But I put such an extreme amount of time into my books that are an exhausting process. It affects me mentally and even physically.
Business Upside [BU]: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: If you want to write a book to make money, you need to re-think your strategy! There are many good reasons to write a book like fulfilling a dream or building your brand but you will not make money on a business book.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I hope that if I’m helpful and original, that is exactly what the reader wants.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: Each book stands on its own, however, there is an undeniable trajectory to my work. My books reveal my evolving thought process and insights. Over the last 10 years, my theme is finding a way to stand out against this overwhelming wall of noise we face each day. At the heart of every person and every business, we want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to be discovered — and that’s what I write about.
Business Upside [BU]: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: My first books were a little stiff because I was nervous about the process and showing myself to the world. I think that I was writing to please an editor, not a reader. As my confidence grew, you could detect my voice coming through more powerfully. Today many people tell me they feel like I am talking right to them through my books because they are so honest and fun.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I don’t make any demands of the reader. I honor the reader and respect them. I simply show them new paths on their map.
Business Upside [BU]: What’s the best way to market your books?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: That’s a difficult question. It’s perilous spending marketing money on a book because the margins are generally pretty thin. My focus is getting early readers excited about the book so they will advocate it with their friends and audiences. Organic advocacy is the key to nearly all marketing success today.
Business Upside [BU]: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I usually spend between nine and 12 months researching a book. I’ll create an outline of what I think the book will be, and then I watch my world for ideas, quotes, statistics, and research that can fit within those chapters. I guess you could call it “organic research.” I will also do very deep dives on a particular topic until I become an expert on that subject.
Business Upside [BU]: How many hours a day do you write?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: During non-book periods, I probably average an hour a day on my blog. When I am in the process of actually writing a book, I might be spending 8 to 12 hours on the process.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I do read the reviews because it’s good feedback. Thankfully I do not get many bad reviews but I don’t dwell on them. I think I have the right temperament to be a writer!
Business Upside [BU]: Do you believe in writer’s block?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I think this is a pretty common problem but I don’t personally experience it. I have struggled with writing sometimes but the stress comes from finding the right format or structure for a book, not necessarily coming up with the ideas.
Business Upside [BU]: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I just launched my new book “Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business, and Life Against All Odds.” So I am taking time to enjoy the reception to this book. It’s already won some awards and is being used as an assigned text in some university classes. I like to watch my baby go into the world. I will probably get serious about a new book next year.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you use social media as an author?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I don’t use social media as an author, but I use it as a human! I’m fairly active across the channels as a way to connect with new people and engage with them.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you believe in giving free advice?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I get a TON of requests from people who want to “pick my brain.” I can’t possibly handle all those requests so I have a place on my site where anybody can buy an hour of my time for a little money. That keeps it under control but still keeps me accessible. I almost always say yes to requests from students.
Business Upside [BU]: To what do you attribute your success?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: Knowing which doors to open and which doors to close. It’s wisdom that is earned over time.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you market your business, and which method has been most successful?
Mark Schaefer [MS]: I have many different sources of income including marketing consulting, workshops, speaking at conferences, and of course the books, to name a few. Each channel requires a different approach. However, I would say the overarching strategy is to build authority through my forward-thinking content. You can find my blog, podcast, and books at www.businessesGROW.com