Stop With The Bull Shit: Calling BS On “Corporate,” Life, Relationships, Careers.

I met Shane Mac two years ago via Twitter, when serendipitously we both remarked on the strange olfactory sensations of shopping malls (we commented wryly about the stench pouring from Abercrombie and Fitch stores)--and followed it up with a beer (maybe several beers, in fact) in San Francisco. He was one of my first twitter-to-real-life friends, and I've followed his work at Gist, Zaarly and other places with admiration and respect. Along the way, we've become advocates for each other's work and when I came across his manuscript, Stop With The BS, I asked him if he wouldn't think about publishing it beyond a PDF E-book.

Nah, he said, I just had to put it up there.

"I believe in shipping things, and I wanted to make this and ship it."

I'm so glad he did--it's how I stumbled across the book. But I thought it could be a little bit more. And over the last year, I convinced him that we should design the book and get it "really published," (whatever that means in today's publishing world).  And so, as a side project, I designed one of my first print books--learning more about layout, typography, and e-books than I ever thought possible. We're finally launching the book today, and as part of the book launch, I'm sharing a couple of excerpts from the book, as well as a sneak preview into the layout. More importantly, as the designer of this book, I have a completely-biased recommendation to offer you:

"I think you'll love this book." - Sarah Peck

Stop With The BS: The Story.

Sometimes the corporate world drives me nuts. The hours, the schedule, the expectations, the posturing, the need for perfectly-crafted resumes. It's enough to make someone--many people, in fact--scream. Where did this culture come from? What can we do about it? Why do people march along for 20 or 30 years and then wake up so unhappy? What are we missing?

On Friday, March 5th, 2010, Shane Mac got onto a train from Seattle, Washington and took it down the West Coast to San Francisco, California with one goal: to write down all of his thoughts and ideas recorded in his notebook and business, careers, work, and life. What results is a collection of 75 different essays, thoughts and rants about how people work, the problems of corporate culture, and how to make your own path--or business--by being different.

Or, in other words: Stop With The BS.

Design and Layout Preview:

This project was fun for a number of reasons--one of which was because I got to design a layout for a book that I loved. Here are a few snapshots of the book layout that we created. It features a map documenting the travels on the train, cover design by Mike Rohde, a font created with the cover sketches, and images taken on each stop along the train ride. There's even a spotify playlist capturing the (cheesy to country to amazing) songs that were playing at the time of the book's writing. Here are a couple of previews of the print book: 

 

We published the book through Amazon's CreateSpace with both a Kindle and Print version (I'm biased: the print version is the most fun to read), as well as a PDF and an iBooks version.

Ten Thoughts From Shane Mac

I asked Shane to talk about some of the themes of the book--and here are just some of the nuggets contained within. (If you want to share it, I've made each one a tweet, too.) What does it mean to "Stop With The BS?"

  1. Work is Life. How you work, where you work, what you do each day? This is your life.
  2. Don't Settle. If you're not happy, work harder to get where you want to go.
  3. Learn, Learn, Learn. Never Stop Learning. 
  4. Corporate should become "Community." We need to regain a sense of community. Let's do this.
  5. Politics is Recess.
  6. Suits, Ties, and Lies = Fake.
  7. Never Say Never. You just don't know. 
  8. Smile At Strangers. Say Hi. Start a conversation.
  9. Shortcuts Don't Work.
  10. Respect. Above All Else. 

Launch Week Love: How You Can Help

So, with all the goodness above, and as your designer-publisher extraordinaire, nothing would make me happier than if you wanted to pick up a copy of the book! Some of our goals this week and next--and how you can help--include helping us share the book, reviewing the book on Amazon and writing a review or a post about it. A book only goes so far as your network, so I'd love all of your help: the success of this book (and my publishing ventures, I suppose!) will be as successful as your participation. So, in advance: Thank You!

We're also looking to have at least 100 people review the book this week (audacious, huh?), so if you want to help us out on Amazon after you've read it,that would be AMAZING. (There's a ton of advice in the publishing world that says once the book reaches a certain number of reviews, it is then featured in more marketplaces and has the potential to reach more distribution channels than just this blog alone. There's a tipping point that happens once enough people share--but we have to reach that critical tipping point first). The publishing world is undergoing massive disruption and we're bombarded with self-publishing ventures, tips on publishing, and "The Tim Ferriss Effect." While there's lots to be said about the publishing world, suffice it to say: we would love your help. 

If you know someone who would like to review the book and share it (or if you would like to review it), please send me a note and help get the word out!

And of course this goes without saying: Review it honestly. If you hate it, let us know. If there are ways that it can be better, tell us. We only get better with feedback, and that includes your honest review. (And not so secretly, I hope you love it!)

I'm crossing my fingers because our early reviews look fantastic. If you want to share any of the following, please do:

"Shane has some stuff figured out that lots of people never get. What he wrote on this train ride, you'll be thinking about for much longer." -- Julien Smith, NYT Best-selling Author of Trust Agents

"This book is a swift kick in the ass. It makes you want to get up and go make things happen. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this book today." -- Neil Patel, Co-founder of 2 Internet Companies: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.
 
"This book is something that everyone needs to read the day they graduate college. Anyone looking for a career change or who needs a quick dose of inspiration and motivation. The way the book is written, on a train, in real-time makes you feel like you're right there along for the ride." -- Scott Gerber, Founder YEC and Best-selling Author, Never Get a "Real" Job

And A GiveAway Special!

As with almost all of my November Posts, I'm giving away a free things for the month-long gratitude experiment. Naturally, I'll be giving away a copy of the book "Stop With The BS" in this giveaway. To win a copy of the book, answer one of the following questions in the comments before 9 AM PST on Thursday, November 15th. I'll pick a lucky winner then!
  • What do you think should change about the corporate world? 
  • What's one thing that surprised you about the corporate world, and how did you manage, overcome, or change this? 
  • What areas of work, careers, life, or corporate America need to be disrupted? What will your role be in this disruption? 


BIG SALE next week. It's my birthday, so I'm giving lots of stuff away. ALL my stuff will be on sale. Sign up here to find out when it all begins.


13 Responses to Stop With The Bull Shit: Calling BS On “Corporate,” Life, Relationships, Careers.

  1. BigBags says:

    Love the idea behind this book! I’m so excited to read it. It’s time for a new generation of writers to start examining the false traditions and establishment that our culture calls “work.”

    “What do you think should change about the corporate world?”

    I would eradicate the sacred cow known as “tenure.” The amount of time spent working for a company should not be the major factor in the promotion of managers. Work experience does not a good manager make. Too many teams suffer under the poor leadership of a manager who has their own personal agenda (not a company-first mentality), doesn’t understand the emotional currency of their team, or have the respect of those with whom they work.

    These “managers” were rewarded with their role because they’ve been around long enough to chum it up with senior leadership, or because they’ve been around since the good ‘ole days.

    What if, instead of making management decisions based heavily on tenure, we began promoting people with the mentality of a manager. Someone who understands the vision of the company. Someone who can inspire and defend team members instead of throwing them under the bus. Someone who knows how to set the right goals, and act as an enabler, and gain the trust of both senior leadership, and their employees.

  2. Adam says:

    I’m looking forward to the book! Awesome title, concept, graphics :)

    What’s one thing that surprised you about the corporate world, and how did you manage, overcome, or change this?

    I’ve been surprised by how quickly people are willing to compromise their core beliefs and values just to: make a profit, keep a customer, get the job. In school, you tend to idealize a “career” as something that’s the culmination and fulfillment of years of study, passion, and determination. But, almost from the start, I watched people around me (managers, co-workers, clients) cut corners or ignored their supposed business purpose, as long as it was good for the bottom line. I think that the corporate culture, driven by stock prices and earnings reports, actually tends to reward this type of behavior.

    I was able to leave two larger companies and join a smaller, more people-centered firm, but the most rewarding thing for me has been to seek out business guidance from people who have demonstrated, through their work and personal life, that integrity is the real bottom line.

  3. Hey Sarah,

    I love the design work! Great job.

  4. Becca says:

    The idea that work happens in cubicles between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 with two weeks per year off for good behavior is an idea that needs to be disrupted. Though I believe in many sectors (inlcuding the US Government) telecommuting or some flexibility in hours, I don’t find this to be common in many “traditional” corporations. I currently work for a company that is very reluctant to consider alternative work situations, but I am pushing hard for this to change, to the extent that I will leave my position if I cannot negotiate change.

  5. Mary Bast says:

    What a great idea! I love personal essays; I hope to break into that field myself someday. :) (Got a few ideas up my sleeve…:)) I think it’s wonderful you pushed him to “really” publish this; hopefully this pushes his potential publishing platform even further! I can’t wait to delve into this book. It’s going to be my treat to myself during Thanksgiving break, and I might get a copy for my boyfriend as well. He loves this sort of stuff. :)

    Now, to the question: “What’s one thing that surprised you about the corporate world, and how did you manage, overcome, or change this?”

    I was stunned by the isolation. Earlier this year, I did some invoice and accounting work for an electric company. It was a temp position; I held it for just under five months, but I can count on one hand the days I felt truly engaged with my work and coworkers. I took the job for college tuition income, but I was also extremely eager to learn new skills that I normally wouldn’t give a second glance. And let me tell you–I learned how to file manila folders at record speed, and I can punch numbers into an invoice form with the best of them. After the initial “excitement” of new surroundings wore off, though, I felt…useless. I know terms like “the corporate machine” and “robotic” are vastly overused in describing the 9-5 world, but, hey–cliches are cliches for a reason.

    And it was true. I felt like my coworkers and I were hunched-up half-humans, clawing away at the interminable number-crunching like so many deformed birds. It was rare to see a laugh, a smile. On particularly busy days as I walked in, I would say, “Hi everyone!” to open air and clacking keys. I felt like an actress monologuing to an empty stage. Everyone was so absorbed in their neverending “busy” tasks, that I felt there might as well have been floor to ceiling walls separating all of our desks. And the stress from this isolation–I know sometimes even I got caught up in the, “God, I HAVE to finish this form, becauseifIdon’ttheworldwillendohmyGod” mentality. After a five hour shift, I would go home, lie down on my bed, shut the door, and simply listen to my heartbeat. “Just a few more months,” I’d tell myself, “just a few more months of this, and then you’re free.” (I was quitting in May because of plans to spend the summer in Ireland with my boyfriend.) I not only craved silence; I needed it.

    There was just so much more to life.

    I think what troubled me most was knowing that this “stress” and seeming isolation was not only useless, but so easily remedied. How about looking excited about the job? How about greeting your stress with a can-do attitude? Workplace gossip seemed to be everyone’s release from the “stress” of the job. How about helping one another, instead of bitching about how this or that person didn’t contribute enough so you could go home early? It all seemed so very fifth grade to me.

    Now, if there’s one thing I can do well, it’s putting a smile on people’s faces. Since I felt creatively stifled, I decided to channel this frustration into an effort to turn the workplace aura around. I kept saying hi, even when people didn’t reply back. I asked about their lives, their feelings, and tried to provide a listening ear, even to problems I thought ridiculous. I took my shoes off and laughed loudly. Basically, I decided I was going to be happy even if I was stressed, just in case it could turn around someone else’s day.

    So, what did I learn? I learned that it’s simple things that bond us. A smile can get a conversation going, a well-timed joke can make work play, and simply changing your perspective to remembering how lucky you are to have a job in this economy can make a world of difference.

    Perhaps Gandhi said it best: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    And hey, at least I got a few smiles out of it. :)

  6. Ian says:

    What areas of work, careers, life, or corporate America need to be disrupted? What will your role be in this disruption?

    I come at this from the world of academia and only know the corporate world from the outside, but I imagine there are parallels. At least as many people feel stuck in academia as do in the corporate world.

    What areas need to be disrupted? The culture of perfectionism that appears to exist has to change. In a quest to be perfect, very few chances end up getting taken. If an employee feels like making any error is grounds for ending a career, progress, innovation and change are slowed down- note that that doesn’t mean not putting out the best work possible, but good is not equivalent to perfect. I’ve looked a little bit at getting into the private sector, but feel I’m not a ‘perfect’ candidate for any company anywhere…it appears from where I am that if you are not *exactly* what they are looking for, they’re not interested (I don’t know about anyone else, but I am certain I am not perfect).

    I’d also like to see introversion more accepted…it does seem that the loudest, most extroverted people are rewarded. I like people, but have a quiet way about me, prefer email to talking on the phone/in person, etc. and need my time to myself to think, concentrate and only then get into a room to ‘brain storm’. Open concept offices (and labs!)…blech! Introversion + perfectionism in that environment are a productivity and self image killer (hard to get work done when there’s colleagues who always seem to be looking at you (even if they aren’t) and you’re trying to be perfect.

    How will I help change things? I speak up about my introversion and how best to interact with those of us who can only take so much interaction. I tell anyone I can about the pitfalls of perfectionistic thinking too; get good at what you do, but I think Gretchen Rubin’s line is good here; ‘don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’.

    • Betsy says:

      As a fellow introvert, I completely agree with you. If you haven’t read it you should read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The book was incredibly helpful for me because for once I realized that I am not weird or crazy and that introverts actually play a really powerful role in the world when they are able to be themselves and not be overlooked by the extroverted majority. (not that I don’t love extroverts,I really do)

  7. Ben Nesvig says:

    This book looks great.

    “What do you think should change about the corporate world?”

    Corporations need to start questioning the purpose of everything instead of going by “this is the way we’ve always done things.”

    – Why do most employees work 8-5?
    – Why do most people have to commute when they don’t need to be present at work to actually work?
    – Why do most corporations care about years of experience over depth of experience?
    – Why demand creativity without doing anything to foster that creativity?
    – Why treat employees like commodities and expect them to be artists?
    – Why fight inevitable changes instead of adapting and becoming better? (speaking of publishing/Tim Ferriss being banned by B&N)

    I’d love for corporations to start asking “What makes the most sense for our company, employees, and customers?” and “What’s the purpose of ____?” instead of just keeping the status quo.

    Ben

  8. The corporate world needs to let go of its antiquated 9-5, “work means sitting at a desk with a supervisor over your shoulder” system. So many people have become pros at hacking that system to make it look like they’re diligent, hardworking employees, when really they’re spending half their desk-time playing Facebook games. It’s time for corporate America to finally start catching up with trends like remote work and the ROWE movement. Treat employees like adults, letting them get their work done as they see fit, and you’ll get good employees. Treat them like children who need to be constantly supervised, managed, overseen, and red-taped, and you’ll get a huge suck on your company’s time and resources.

  9. Dan says:

    Well, missed the book giveaway, but I’ll still comment because this is really cool. Congrats on your first book design Sarah! I’ll definitely pick up a copy once I I get through a few books waiting in the “cue” for me. I’ve been thinking about publishing something in the future through Amazon’s createspace… is it as good as advertised? Thanks!

  10. [...] is Shane Mac from his book Stop With the BS: All these apps, gadgets, buildings—everything for that matter—they don’t make me smile and [...]

  11. [...] there will be LOTS of giveaways). In the last post, I gave away a copy of Shane Mac’s book, “Stop With The BS,” and today I’ll be giving away TWO free seats to Molly Mahar’s “Holiday [...]

  12. [...] the name of experimentation. In this world, the only constant is change, so we might as well stop with the BS and stop “working harder” and start working better. Some thoughts from various essays [...]