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Mark Maina; Jack of All Trades, Master of One

Mark at Nation Fm Studios

Whereas many would rush to grab a star while it is shinning up there in the sky, I see a ‘starlet’, chase it across the clouds and glorify with it when it finally hit the high skies, blazing like a northern star. So ‘Persons of Interest’ is a new category in my blog that will be seeking this ‘little’ known folks and sharing their stories. It’s a place I want to use to get into the hearts and souls of these people and just share their dreams, inspirations and endeavors.  Once in a while I will bring in notable figures. Persons whose passion had led them to conquer their fears and secure their place in society. Inspiring stuff.

The first gentleman to grace this category is one young man you probably have come across in the wide web, or if you are a radio listener, on radio. A bunch of budding writers hold camp in a Whatsapp group we named ‘Creative Lounge’ We meet here often and above all the craze and fun we share our arts of story telling here. It’s an intriguing lot of extremely divergent folks but whose hearts beat in a singular symphony. It’s here that I met this guy. He later invited me, along side my favorite woman, on a radio show on Nation FM. My first time to voice my rather erratic opinions on a national radio.

 

Folks, meet Mark Maina.

 

1.So who is Mark Maish? Most of what we know of you is what we read in your blogs. So who is Mark?

Mark Maish is one young man with dreams of changing the mindset of fellow Africans, vanquish average living mentality and inspire youth to go after the wildest dreams. As for what I do, I’m a marketer to a media company called Africa InSight, a radio producer & host on Nation FM 96.3, a lifestyle blogger, graduate civil engineer and entrepreneur.

2.What inspired your writing? When was the first time you felt that urge to write? When did you feel you had it in you?

My first article was titled, Is University Education Really Worth It? The article was more of a letter to my parents and relatives explaining to them why I had to discontinue my studies. Basically, I quit college for a while since I felt Campus education is a waste of time. Nonetheless I went back to college for my parents and graduated top in my class.

3.Early in life, most writers are influenced to a great extent by their environment. Was it the same case with you? How was it when you were growing up? Any particular books that informed your writing? Any early models?

As a child, my father would ask me to stand on the coffee table every evening and read out aloud a story from my favorite book, Ali Baba and Forty Other Stories. I believe that’s when I fell in love with words. I developed an appetite for books. I used to keep a list of books I read, by the time I cleared high school I had read about 120 huge novels & more than 200 smaller story books.

Growing up I used to read Oyunga Pala’s Mantalk column on Saturday Magazine, Daily Nation. He was my role model & now he is my mentor. I believe Pala’s writing greatly influenced my style thus becoming a lifestyle blogger.

 

4.I have been following your blog closely and I am most impressed by the depth of your articles. What informs your choice of topic? Do you do research into your work before writing or you sit before your gadjets and summon your creative and imagination?

Thank you Eric, I’m greatly humbled. 90 % of my writing is influenced by personal experiences. When I go through an ordeal that touches my emotions, I write about it. First I write down all the key points on my notebook then a day later start the actual writing. By the way I have a writing ritual. I wake up very early in the morning, don’t talk to anyone, eat or shower sit at my desk with just boxers own and start banging on the keys. I write the first draft using my heart then edit it using my head until every word gives the desired effect.

5. Your writing ritual is something I can relate with, only in my case I prefer going hard on keys commando (Hehe) Django unleashed!

Some of your articles went viral few hours after you clicked that ‘publish’ button. In particular I will refer to that article ‘The Kenyan Middle Class Nightmare’ which virtually ‘shattered’ the internet, garnering almost 20k shares. Tell me something we don’t know about that piece, the mind behind it, and the feeling following the response it fetched.

What people don’t know about that piece is that I wrote it during my lowest point in life. I had applied for three Graduate trainee programs, they all sent me regret mail on the same week. A contractor invited me to a project site in Kwale County. I went there with hopes rekindled only to have him make me the crappiest proposal I have ever had. He wanted me to manage the Ksh 98 Million contract and pay me Ksh 400 bob a day!  Can you believe that guy?

Out of anger and frustrations I drove to Shimbahills National Reserve, which was a short distance from the site. Since it was 2WD I got stuck in sand about 4-5 times and had to use my bare hands to dig out the tires. By the time I got to a camp in the park my hand were bruised. I opened my laptop and began writing seated at the car boot with elephants roaming a few meters from where I was.

To be honest I didn’t expect the article to go viral garnering over 200,000 hits, 20K+ shares, I even did a documentary of the same.

6.As a writer I can feel the environment surrounding the writing of that article. It was pure heart on paper, and the consequence was most satisfying. So with such a crazy traffic, I don’t see adds on your site. Are you making money from your writing? What is the big plan?

The reason I haven’t been flooding the website with Ads is because my readers are more than just statistics to be auctioned to corporates for marketing, these are men and women who are very busy with their lives yet spare some time to check out my blog. My main reason for writing is to inspire that one person who checks out www.markmaish.com.  Whenever I meet someone or receive emails from a reader telling me how inspired they are after reading my blog that’s enough incentive for me. Nonetheless, I will soon put one or two Ads so as to pay off my website hosting costs and improvement.

The blog is what gave me the jobs I currently hold, other money generating projects. It has also got me great friends & business partners. Guess what? The coolest thing about being a blogger is that no one will ever ask you for a CV or job application letter and you get preferential treatment in most places you visit.

7.Whats your general view of blogging and entrepreneurship in Kenya?

Blogging in Kenya has come of age, I know a good number of people who make a living purely by blogging. However, its time Kenyan bloggers start writing stuff that people in Ethiopia, Nigeria or South Africa can relate to if they want to go continental and make big cash out of their art. In the next 5 years Kenyan bloggers should be able to make $100, 000 a month from their writing!

8.You are on currently radio. Tell us how that started. Tell us what you do and how you learnt to do what you do.

maish

Mark (Third from left) and colleagues at an event photoshoot

Yes, I produce the Nation Drive (4-8pm, Mon-Fri) on Nation FM hosted by the legendary Chris Okinda. I also produce Vocal Nation (8-11pm, Mon-Fri) and co-host the same show with DJ Bigmyk and two campus presenters who switch every fortnight.

The General Manager NMG-Radio stumble upon one of my blogs, which he must have really liked since he sent out one of his juniors to look for me and set up a meet at his office. That was in July last year. After the meeting he asked me to produce content for an hour of the Nation Drive a week. In whatever I do I always do it to the very best of my ability. Three months later I was producing 7 hours of radio a day and since I have a great voice (or what I think of it) I began co-hosting the night show.

Radio is dynamic so every day I learn from the likes of Jimmy Gathu, Chris Okinda and my fellow co-hosts.

9.Is media something you envisioned to do, say three years back when you were in campus?

I didn’t have the slightest clue I would get into media industry till 7 months ago. What I knew was that I had to work in a place where I get to interact with lots of people. I work at Africa InSight, an amazing creative company 8am to 5pm then go to Nation FM studios to midnight so most days I get home at 12:30am and I’m up by 6:30am. In addition on weekends I go out of town for Vocal Nation Campus Tours. It’s very interesting but certainly not easy!

10.From some of your work you bring out the themes of entrepreneurship with a candid interest. Tell us something about that. What else in this regard do you do other than radio and writing?

Well, I was lucky enough to have my parents introduce me to entrepreneurship at the age 10. Since then I was taught on how to manage finances, save and invest. When I went to campus I was shocked to learn most of my collegemates didn’t have a clue on how to manage their finances, they would spend most of their HELB partying so I promised myself to educate them all on financial literacy thus numerous blogs on entrepreneurship.

Yes I’m own a stake at a construction firm and currently setting up a new company that will seek to help out corporates & individuals on all their writing needs from speeches, press release to virgin website content.

11.I checked the statistics of your followers and majority seem to be ladies. Uhm, anything you can tell these lasses? You dating? Can a sister get lack?

Maish Adve

Maish daring life in deep sea

(Chuckles) I appreciate the lasses. The thing with ladies is that they easily comment and share my articles though my readership is almost split in half between the ladies and men. Too bad I’m already seeing someone.

12.What are the pressure and challenges you meet in a)Blogging b)Media c)The intermix of the two

The greatest challenge I face in the two fields is how there is so much to do in a short time. Like I haven’t had a weekend off for the past 4 weeks, I’ve been working 15 /7 a week and hardly have any social life. My bosses also expect nothing short of world class services and most time I’m expected to do magic so I’m constantly under pressure to deliver,which at times overwhelms me.

13. Crazy schedule that is! Who inspires you most in life. Your favorite writer both in Kenya and beyond?

I’m inspired by Dr Manu Chandaria the greatest entrepreneur & philanthropist in East Africa. I would also like to have a similar impact on people. My favorite writers in Kenya are Dr. Wale Akinyemi and Oyunga Pala. Internationally my favorite is Paulo Coelho, Robert Kiyosaki and Sidney Sheldon.

14.What does Mark do when he is not behind his gadgets. What gives you the ‘kick’, the adrenaline rush?

When I am free I just pack my travelling bag and go to a new place and have fun without prior planning.  Like last week I went to Dar es Salaam for a few days without an idea on where I would stay or do.  Were it not for a complete stranger who later turned to a friend my stay there would have been tougher.

15.Who is Mark Maish in the next 10 years? What’s is your big dream? Your final comments? What will you like to tell young fellas out there?

To be honest I have no idea of where I will be in the next 10 years. My life goals have remained the same since I was a kid but where that takes me nobody knows. In retrospect, I believe the best way to predict the future is to live it now.

As of this moment I have inspired a million plus through both radio and my blog, I would like to grow this number and inspire 1.16 billion people in Africa to rise up and make their societies the heaven they would like to go to. I believe change should come from the bottom and go all the way up to the top leadership.

My advice to young fellas is to go after your passions even when your parents, relatives, friends or mentors think you are insane.  See most people are comfortable leading an average/middle class life and try to feed everyone else the lie that its amazing. Never settle, never stay in one position for long. Always strive to be a better version of you  because you only live once.

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That is Mark for you. Quite a deep fellow for his age, you wager. Do you know of a young man out there daring passion and making an impact in his community? Contact this writer and let’s share his life with our readers. No one is too small to make a change in his community.

 

 

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