Shaun Weston is Editor-In-Chief of BankNXT and Senior Editor of Backbase. He has worked with large and small businesses that focus on editorial strategy for online or print, consumer or B2B. Work includes The Economist, SAS, Oracle, Future Publishing, FoodBev.com and BankNXT.com.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I used to work for a top five UK publishing company. I could feel the water receding in terms of the potential for digital publishing, and wanted to be a part of what I could sense on the horizon. I felt like I had some inside knowledge of digital trends, working for magazines that published digital lifestyle articles, coding tutorials, and website creation. Sadly, my employer wasn’t as clued up about the opportunities ahead. I jumped early and committed to leaving paper behind.
I’ve been an online editor for 10 years, and have worked in the publishing industry for more than 20 years, so I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I remember sitting alone in the ‘computer room’ at the university. I was fascinated with this new thing called the world wide web and pushed buttons and links all over the place to see what happened. One thing led to another, and soon I was using Microsoft Publisher to build my own websites – the first being film reviews.
When I was a boy, one of the many things I wanted to be was a writer. What I didn’t know at the time was how vast an arena the world of writing is, and how varied its opportunities. I’ve answered this question in reverse, I suppose, but hopefully, it reveals the path I took to becoming immersed in digital media. I could write all day about its potential as a sharing medium, and only wish there were much more people my age as excited about it as I am.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
It’s usually a busy one, interrupted by a good cappuccino and a biscuit. I work remotely for Backbase, and I work across a few time zones, so the day isn’t necessarily nine to five. I take care of BankNXT as editor-in-chief, which takes up the bulk of my time. Juggling many contributions – some exclusive, some syndicated – editing, rewriting, publishing, sharing, and so on, takes a lot of time and effort, and it’s rewarding beyond measure. I also produce and host a podcast for BankNXT.
For Backbase itself, I may find myself interviewing a client via Skype and writing a case study, or editing/proofreading work across different departments. I am in the process of improving the blog side of Backbase.com, which means digging into the CMS to make it work better for us and working with talented colleagues to ensure we maximise its potential.
Sometimes, I’ll take myself to Starbucks for the morning and work among the students. They often look so focused and determined, which I find inspiring.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
My world revolves around a huge iMac, with a Blue microphone in front and a USB fan from John Lewis! I can do a lot of work using my iPad too, which is handy for travelling. I love that my employer is a strong advocate for the cloud, which means working across multiple devices is easy. I use Google Docs, Dropbox, Canva, Garageband, Slack, Skype, WordPress, and much, much more. I’m always looking for new ways to make working life more efficient and pleasurable and to keep my skills sharp and relevant. If I’m not learning, I’m not growing.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
I try to do something creative every day. It’s so easy to become bogged down by proofreading white papers or large technical documents, so I make time to write something different, or create a piece of artwork. Even a creative tweet is better than nothing! If a day goes by without having stretched my imagination, it’s a wasted day.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. I used to take this quote literally, believing greatness to be something loud and significant to others. I’ve learned that greatness can be a sense of self-worth, and you can be enthused and rewarded without anyone else necessarily noticing.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
I’m resisting the urge to do more. The problem is that there are so many directions you can take with new plans and ideas, but they have the potential to consume the oxygen around you. It’s not enough to say, ‘let’s make time to explore the ideas” because I know they will eat into personal time, which I would rather spend with my partner. If I was single, I would be a workaholic.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR, TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
I have to come back to the cloud for this answer. If you’re a digital media specialist and not yet working in the cloud, you should make a start. This is where your future clients are operating, some of them at great scale, and knowledge of the cloud and its potential for the creative/editorial community will be compulsory.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Be curious about everything. Curiosity will lead to exploring and discovering so many wonderful things in life, as in work. As a digital professional, curiosity will help you manage the breakneck pace of developments in technology, and will help you feel more rewarded for the work you produce. Good luck!