#Dadboss Interview with Blogger & Author Matt Coyne of Man Vs Baby
I’m a self-declared #mumboss as those who follow me here already know and it’s also the theme of my book Mumboss published by Piatkus/Little Brown next March where I hope to inspire fellow mums to make blogging and vlogging their job.
I’m bowled over by the messages and emails I receive from other women (and men) saying this blog and my accidental career has inspired them to follow suit working in a creative, flexible way which works around their families.
I refer to myself as a #mumboss because my business came about because of, and often in spite of my kids. I owe them a lot. There’s a huge wave of tech entrepreneurs in my sector, parents running online businesses on our own time and terms and it’s the most liberating, empowering career out there, in my opinion.
And it’s not just the mamas either.
My new monthly interview series #Dadboss will shine a light on the many men who’ve changed careers or launched new businesses since becoming dads and to kick things off I have #dadboss extraordinaire Matt Coyne of Man vs Baby fame in the hot seat…and he’s got a new and VERY BRILLIANT book hitting the shelves soon too titled, Dummy-The Comedy and Chaos of Real Life Parenting, you’re all going to LOVE (I’ve read the proof copy and nearly weed myself several times).
What was your background before starting up your FB page, and were you surprised that parenthood led to a different career path?
I’ve been a graphic designer for about the last fifteen years. Before that I was a poster boy for staying in full time education by doing a succession of genuinely crappy jobs. Variously, I have been a toilet roll packer, turnstile-operator, cardboard box folder and a sorter of coat-hangers for Burton Menswear. I’ve been sacked a lot.
I always wanted to write. In fact, in the week before I left school I told my careers teacher Mr Marren that I wanted to be a journalist and I remember he said “Well Coyne, I wanted to be Burt f *cking Reynolds”. He then handed me an application form to become an apprentice fitter of gas cookers.
So, yeah it’s amazing that becoming a parent has led to this completely new career. And I feel incredibly lucky that the best thing to ever happen in my personal life has led to the best thing to happen in my working one.
How has fatherhood made you more creative?
I suppose I was in a bit of a rut before Charlie came along. But there’s something about having a kid that wakes you up. You start to see things from a brand new human’s point of view. And babies see everything from a sunset to a wheelie bin with complete wonder. Its impossible not to feel more alive and creative when they’re around.
On a more practical level, being a parent is a job that needs creativity all the time. I’d say 85% of parenthood is working out ever more creative ideas to distract your child away from plug sockets and the oven.
What was the process from FB page to book and how have you found it?
3 months after Charlie was born I wrote a post on my personal facebook page. It was a post on what I’d learned about being a dad so far and it went viral.
Within a week of posting, this thing had been shared hundreds of thousands of times and all over the world.. by bloggers, vloggers, TV, Radio and even movie stars like Ashton Kutcher who described it as “the best description of fatherhood” he’d ever read, which was both ridiculous and very nice of him.
A couple of months after that I set up the Man vs Baby facebook page and I started to get messages to the page from literary agents asking if I’d thought about writing a book. So, I wrote a couple of chapters, my now agent Euan, took it to the publishers and a week or so later I was signing a book deal. It was an insane and exciting time.. right up until the point that I realised I had another 70,000 words to write.. then I sh*t myself.
How do you overcome self-doubt as a creative?
I’m not someone who goes in for that whole standing in front of a mirror and shouting that, ‘I’m a tiger!’. I’d feel like a bit of a div. I’m much more likely to stand in the mirror and ask, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I think it’s a good attitude to have.. it stops you second guessing yourself all the time. Also, I’ m really lucky. The messages and comments from Man vs Baby followers are so overwhelmingly positive that the best way to slay any self-doubt is just to read those.
What are your work goals moving forward?
I am still working part-time as a graphic designer, eventually I want to write full time but daren’t give up the day job just yet. I keep being told not to worry about the book selling but until it comes out on April 20th and people start buying it, I still have this overwhelming fear that I’ll end up with 50,000 copies of ‘Dummy’ in my garage and unemployed. I’ve had talks about doing some TV stuff, scripts and that sort of thing and I’d love to have a crack at that in the future. My main goal is to keep enjoying what I’m doing and make the most of the opportunities that come.. and not go back to packing toilet rolls.
Any (no doubt hilarious) words of wisdom for dads-to-be?
I’ve only ever provided one top tip for dads-to-be and it’s this:
‘Prepare for your new arrival by emptying your bank account, smearing vomit on your shoulders & yellow sh*t under your fingernails, and avoiding sleep until you think you might die’..
But if I had to offer any other advice I’d say, enjoy it. Having a kid is like having a hand grenade tossed into your life but it is life-affirming and funny and nuts and the single greatest and most important thing you will ever do. So, don’t f** it up.
Finally, what advice would you give fellow dadbosses?
It sounds obvious but I think you need to know what you want. Is it more time? More money? More recognition? More freedom? Do you want to land at your school reunion in a helicopter and stride in with a leopard on a diamante leash? Great. Me too. But unless you define it you’ll never know when you’ve taken a step towards its achievement.
And once defined.. enjoy the victories, give the middle finger to the defeats and crack on.
…Also, more importantly, don’t take advice from someone who writes comedy baby books and d***** around on the internet for a living.