Shane Snow: Author, Explorer, Storyteller

Born: 1984 in Logan, Utah
MBTI: I get something different every time, but I’m generally a little introverted.
Educational BackgroundUndergrad in business, then went to journalism school for a master’s at Columbia.
Current Computer/Mobile Device: MacBook Pro/Samsung Galaxy S8

Shane Snow's Samsung Galaxy S8 home screen | The Sunday Share
Shane’s Samsung Galaxy S8 home screen

When was the last time you tried something new? What was it?

I tried Adderall for the first time a week ago. I wish I would have known about this in college!

What do you do for a living?

I explore things and write about them—and then I get paid to speak about it all in front of big scary crowds.

What do you love most about your work?

The thing I love most about my work is getting to tell stories and seeing people light up or change as a result!

What are your favorite apps/tools that help you do what you do?

Evernote is the best. I organize everything with it. I also use Rev.com and Tableau a lot.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

My for-real spirit animal is a coyote.

What was your childhood dream?

I wanted to be a writer! I thought it would be fiction, though.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a while? If so, what is it and why haven’t you?

Yeah. I want to make a television show. I’ve had a lot going on, but I’m working on it…

Is it too soon or can you tell us what to expect from your show?

A little early for it, sorry!

What inspires you?

Awesome stories. That’s what it’s all about. 🙂

For what are you most grateful?

That I’ve had amazing people around me to build me up, pick me up and push me to be my better self. Left to my own devices, I would be a slobbery mess.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

Right now it’s my best girl friend, Jess. But also for some reason, Post Malone came to mind when you asked me that. I think I’ve been listening to him way too much lately.

What is a song, album or playlist that everyone should hear?

Life in Cartoon Motion by Mika is guaranteed to turn any frown into a smile, no matter how grouchy you are that day.

In conversation do you tend to talk or listen more?

Depends who I’m with. If it’s a one on one, usually I talk a lot. Sorry, everyone. I get excited.

What are you looking for when you have a conversation with someone? What topics do you want to discuss?

I LOVE good stories. So that’s usually my No. 1 happy outcome of a conversation. I also really love people, so personal stories of who you are and what drives you are really fascinating to me. If I’ve got my journalism hat on, my goal is to get people comfortable enough to tell me the uncomfortable truth.

If you were guaranteed honest answers to two questions, what would you ask and to whom?

I’d ask the Joint Chiefs, “Are aliens real?” and I’d probably ask Donald Trump for his tax returns. In either case, I come out a hero.

What scares you most?

Lack of control. So… being stuck in an elevator; floating away into space; airplane turbulence. Man, the list actually gets kinda long now that I think about it…

Where is your favorite place?

An abandoned rooftop in the summer when the stars are vivid.

Do you have a favorite restaurant? If so, what is it?

Empanada Mama in New York City. Best Colombian food outside of Colombia. One of them burnt down a little bit ago, which was devastating. But I imagine how amazing that fire smelled…

What is your favorite comfort food?

Pizza. Pineapple and onion. I know that’s an uncommon combo.

What is your favorite food to prepare?

I can make a mean flourless chocolate cake in a mug in the microwave. Extra chocolate chips, please! 

If you could take a one month trip anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you do?

I’ve not really spent time in southeast Asia. And I hear you can literally become a Cambodian pop star for $30,000. So I would go there and do that.

When you make sacrifices for your work, do you tell people or keep it to yourself?

I tell people if that sacrifice involves me not having time for them. I hate doing that.

How do you keep track of what you’ve done?

I don’t really…

What do you feel your impact is on those around you? What would you like it to be?

I’m told that I’m good at making people feel comfortable and like they can be themselves. I’m pretty happy about that. 🙂

What is happiness to you?

It’s sitting on that abandoned roof under those vivid stars, with someone I care about.

What piece of literature has influenced you the most?

The Collected Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because these stories made me want to be a writer. But in recent years, Kafka on the Shore, mostly because it jacked me up.

What are you currently reading or is the last book you read?

I’m working my way through The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. Classic, chilling, and fascinating.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve read online recently?

I read about this adorable lesbian couple in Arizona who invented rat birth control and how they might actually solve New York City’s rat problem. Now THAT’S exciting. The article is a couple of years old, but I just discovered it recently.

When is the last time you cried and why?

I actually wrote about this a few months ago.

Who is your favorite person to follow on social media?

Kumail Nanjiani. Dude is hilarious.

What do you do to recharge yourself?

Pull-ups, long walks, or runs. And if I really need it, photos of baby otters on Google Images.

Do you have a mantra or quote that guides your life?

Bruce Lee: “If you love life, don’t waste time. For time is what life is made up of.”

What things make you lose track of time?

I know this is gonna sound redundant, but the biggest timewarp for me is when I sit down with a latte in a cafe I’ve never been to and just type and type until I’m the last person there.

What is your most significant accomplishment? Is there anything you hope to do even greater?

I’m really proud of my latest book, Dream Teams. It was a lot of work and covers topics that I think can meaningfully affect the world.

If you could do just one thing to improve the planet right now, what would it be?

If everyone could take the Intellectual Humility quiz and then work on improving the five factors in it. If we could all get a little better at respecting other viewpoints and revising our own, can you imagine how much better the planet would be?

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

My dad always taught us kids, “People are more important than stuff.” This lesson came in handy every time my mom backed the van over something big and crunchy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

People can handle being disappointed. Do what you know you want or need to do, and let them worry about what they’re going to do.

What has been your biggest disappointment in life, and how did you handle it?

I got married young and divorced at 29. Aside from the heartbreak, it felt like a huge failure. How did I handle it? Poorly. But I found wisdom in it eventually. And it’s part of my story now, which makes it somehow fine these days.

What do you wish you spent more time doing 10 years ago?

Writing about important things instead of frivolous or fleeting things.

What would you regret not fully being, doing or having in your life?

I would regret not exploring, not looking outside my own bubble or world.

What is the most desirable trait another person can possess?

Kindness.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who saw a little further, and helped others to do that, too.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual? If so, what is it?

I generally jump right out of bed and go!

How do you define success?

Doing what you set out to do. 🙂

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

I would love to do a lateral thinking course!

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

My best friend group in the world formed when a bunch of random people at my startup who were in the office on a Sunday booked flights to Miami. We bonded over such a ridiculous whim of a trip, and I learned every word to Macklemore’s “And We Danced” that weekend.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I kinda love this question. 21.

If your life was a novel, what would be its title and how would it end?

It would be called There, and it would end with two people holding hands standing at the edge of a jungle cliff overlooking the Lost City just as it disappears into the light. Was the adventure in our heads this whole time? Does it matter?

Who would you like to answer these questions?

For some reason, the answer that jumps to mind is Keanu Reeves. Keanu FTW!


Connect with Shane Snow

Visit Shane Snow’s website

Purchase his latest book, Dream Teams