Not Your Average Guru: Self-Help Entrepreneur Mark Manson on Love, Stress and Poop

mark-mansonSelf-help and advice columns are a dime a dozen. It’s a rarity to find anything penned by someone with a truly unique and insightful perspective. Mark Manson’s articles are the exception  (all of them — we swear!). Incredibly well thought out, Manson’s writing is consistently eye-opening, offering new ways to look at issues we all face, including love, success, stress and more. He has traveled the world speaking to thousands of people and is currently hard at work on a new book, when he is not penning articles for his site. We spoke with him about how it all got started and some of his best life advice.

theFashionSpot: Have you always been a writer?

Mark Manson: Not consciously. I never had aspirations to be a writer growing up. But I spent an inordinate amount of time on online forums and sites writing book-long posts and getting carried away with myself. So I suppose the desire was always there, I just never realized I could practically channel it.

tFS: What gave you the idea to start your website?

MM: My roommate after college urged me to. He had seen a number of my online diatribes and heard a bunch of my wilder stories. He had a blog and enjoyed it. So he encouraged me to start one. I eventually did. And here I am.

tFS: Favorite place you’ve traveled? Least favorite?

MM: Favorites, in some order: Brazil, Thailand, Colombia, Spain, Russia, Japan, Australia. Least favorites: India, Venezuela, Paris.

tFS: Getting attention in such a crowded space is nearly impossible. How did you build your following?

MM: Very gradually. I started out with a pretty small target audience. I was writing about my dating life in Boston. That slowly became popular with men in Boston. Then I slowly branched out to writing about men’s dating for men beyond Boston. Then, a few years later, I branched out and wrote about men’s self development in general. Then from there, I switched to simply writing about life in general. It was a seven-year process.

tFS: What’s been your most read article to date?

MM: This one, by far: 10 Life Lessons To Excel In Your 30s.

image: facebook.com/Markmansonnet

image: facebook.com/Markmansonnet

tFS: Any personal favorites you can highlight?

MM: It’s funny, my favorite articles are often not my most popular ones. They are just ones that were the most important to me or that I’m particularly proud of the writing. My favorites:

tFS: When it comes to love, can you single out one mistake you think is particularly prevalent?

MM: Overestimating it and assuming it can fix your problems. Love is great, but it generally causes as many problems as it solves.

tFS: When it comes to managing stress, can you single out a common mistake?

MM: Blaming oneself for it. Most people feel stress, then immediately get mad at themselves for feeling stress, thinking, “If I was smart, I’d never feel this way.” Well, guess what? That just creates even more stress!

tFS: How do you personally start your day on a positive note?

MM: I’m definitely not what one would refer to as a “morning person.” I need my caffeine.

tFS: How do you cope when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

MM: I sometimes go on long walks just to clear my head. Talk to my girlfriend, she’s good at calming me down. Alcohol can help, as long as it’s a moderate amount (my “getting sloshed” days are long behind me).

tFS: Any articles you’re working on now that you can tell us about?

MM: Most articles are written only a couple days before being posted. So I couldn’t even tell you what’s coming next. I am writing a new book though! It’s about the importance of our negative experiences and why we shouldn’t try to avoid them so much.

tFS: Any feedback that has been particularly meaningful?

MM: A couple years ago, a guy told me, “Before you post an article, try removing the first and last paragraph and see if it makes it better.” I’ve found that’s often been true.

tFS: Best advice you’ve ever received?

MM: My dad, who is a successful business owner and an extremely smart man, has given me a few nuggets that stay with me. One of them was that a lot of people learn to get good at finding golden eggs, but few people learn how to be the golden goose who lays the golden eggs.

tFS:  If there’s one thing you hope people take away from your articles, what would it be?

MM: Pretty much everything we think and know about ourselves or the world is likely wrong and that that’s actually a pretty liberating and healthy thing to accept. That and poop jokes.