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Kryss Shane: “Who Are You?”

Who Are You? -If you don’t know who you are, you can’t possibly contribute your best to the world… heck, it may be that your process to answering that question becomes what you write about! As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had […]

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Who Are You? -If you don’t know who you are, you can’t possibly contribute your best to the world… heck, it may be that your process to answering that question becomes what you write about!


As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kryss Shane.

With over 25 years of experience guiding the world’s top leaders in business, education and community via individual, small group and full-staff trainings, Kryss Shane MS, MSW, LSW,

LMSW (she/her) has been featured as America’s go-to Leading LGBT+ Expert in The New York Times, ABC News, Yahoo!, and CNN. Her writing has also appeared in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, Huffington Post, International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership, The New Social Worker Magazine, and many more.

She is the author of Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders, which provides best practices and professional guidance for creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, including creating safer working environments, updating company policies, enhancing continuing education and training, and better supporting LGBT+ people in the workplace training and other tangible ways to support LGBT+ people in the workplace. She is also the author of The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion, the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

I’m so thrilled to join you! I’ve been a writer since (pauses to think) goodness, it’s sort of like trying to remember how long I’ve been a breather or a blinker! (laughs) I’ve been a journaler for most of my life, finding it the best way not only to get feelings out of my body but also to make sense of myself. I’ve found that, when I put pen to page or keys to keyboard, what pours out is often surprising to my conscious mind, but helps me to better understand myself, my surroundings, and my experiences. Though I long loved the idea of being an author, I imagined it to be an Elizabethan poet or a lady of leisure experience (neither of which are who I am). However, little by little, unpaid opportunities came to be. Simultaneously, my life and professional experience grew. Between those and school assignments and journaling, I think I’ve written every day since I was about 4 years old. It allowed me to hone my skills. All of that combined prepared me for beginning to get asked for paid writing work and columnist work, which later led to book writing, and here I am!

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I always hope that the most interesting story is the one yet to come! That said, I’ve been told more than once that something I wrote helped someone heal and I’ve been told that something I wrote was gifted to another in order to educate them. Those two compliments are pretty much EVERYTHING to an author!

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

I think the thing no one told me was how scary it is after the work is done. I’d long heard about the work itself and toiling over just the right words, etc. but I hadn’t thought about the part after the piece or the book comes out. Remember those nightmares most people have about being naked in school? It’s like that, except it’s real life. (laughs) Seriously! It’s this strange experience of being vulnerable to the world and hoping that people like you and what you said and that anyone will notice at all. Very scary!

I don’t think there’s a way to overcome exactly, except to do one’s best to avoid reading reviews… which is something I shouldn’t advise as I’m still working on this one. It’s so tough not to want to know what people think but it’s crushing if they dislike it and, as the internet can be known to do, the mean people are really really mean. I WILL say though that one of the best things I ever did was choose the first two people to read my first book; my incredible friend and teacher Rachel Porcellio and my amazing friend and mentor Andrea Shorter. Rachel read as I wrote, one chapter at a time. Andrea read when it was finished. Both are readers, both are honest in their critiques, and both love me. It meant that I got to hear truthful feedback from people who were also kind before the internet had a chance to have a go at me. It doesn’t make the mean words less mean, but I can always go back to the words of my first readers, which is a beloved memory, and which always makes me feel better!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think my funniest mistake was trying to be a fancy formal writer. Remember how I said I pictured writers as Elizabethan? Well when I started to write, I felt like I should be in proper attire and with a proper writing location and with proper writing instruments. I lasted one very frustrating hour this way! However, once I gave up the notion of what I should appear to be, I settled onto the couch, in my tie dye caftan, writing at my computer. As soon as I stepped back into what makes me feel like me, my voice came through my work much clearer than it did while I was trying to channel Emily Dickinson!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am just releasing my second book, Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders, which provides best practices and professional guidance for creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, including creating safer working environments, updating company policies, enhancing continuing education and training, and better supporting LGBT+ people in the workplace training and other tangible ways to support LGBT+ people in the workplace.

After putting so much into my first book, The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion, the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive, I was getting so much feedback begging me to write a book for business leaders. I am beyond excited to answer that request with my new book!

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I’d love to, but the publisher would not be very happy with me and I am hoping to have a long relationship with them! What I CAN tell you is that the new book includes about 15 exclusive interviews with some of the world’s top business leaders and I cannot wait for them to get the accolades and recognition they deserve for being the inclusive and incredible leaders they are!

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

Inclusion seems tough for some and seems like a very expensive undertaking which harms or undermines what is currently working at the company, but in reality, most of the inclusion work requires very little effort or cost. Sometimes it’s just knowing the correct terminology and approach, which costs nothing at all and can make all the difference in the world!

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

For me, it’s about answering 5 questions:

Who Are You? -If you don’t know who you are, you can’t possibly contribute your best to the world… heck, it may be that your process to answering that question becomes what you write about!

What Are You Doing? -Write about what you are already doing and share your experience. If you’re not there in your career yet, consider talking with people who are further along than you are who may be willing to share their stories. Just remember to give them proper credit and to elevate them rather than taking from them for your own benefit.

Why Are You Doing It? -If you don’t care, why would a reader care? When you care enough about something to spend enough hours to write and edit and publish a book, there must be a reason. Articulate that and make it your guide through your process and your goals with the book.

What Happens Next? -Don’t just give someone information, help them to learn what to do with it once you give it to them. A recipe is not just a list of ingredients, there are specific actionable steps. Don’t forget that your readers need you to guide them.

Who Are You (Now)? -After you’ve written the book, it goes out into the world and it leaves your control. Knowing who you are now, as an author with a book out there, is vital. Prepare yourself for both the backlash and the celebration of your work without letting it change who you are, what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you will do next.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I’ve already mentioned this but I write every day. It doesn’t matter what; a school assignment, journaling, a descriptive grocery list, a summary of a tv episode that a friend missed, a detailed product review on a sales site, any of it, as long as you’re writing. I am nowhere near a gym buff but it’s my understanding that people get in better shape and maintain better form the more time they devote to working out. It’s the same with writing; the more you do it, the more you devote to it, the more you prioritize it, the more you will strengthen your skillset. Then, when you feel all rock solid, find a writer’s group (in person or virtual) and get used to being critiqued. It will make you better in the craft and better at being willing to argue for your work when needed!

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I love pieces that have a clear voice. Think about it; The West Wing or Gilmore Girls, one episode and you can hear the writers’ cadence in the work. You can tell Shakespeare’s sonnets from Dolly Parton’s lyrics as they are fundamentally different but both can be heartbreaking. I also look closer to my own life. Three of my friends, Kurt Broz, Bryant Horowitz, and Daniel J. Watts are poets. Since they are friends, I get to hear the goings on in their lives and then I get to read the poetry that comes from those experiences. The way they capture the details or the rhyme scheme or the mood or the essence can gut me or invigorate me… and these are people I know! That said, when I read or hear the work of so many, when I feel heard or understood through their work, I don’t have to have those writers’ numbers in my phone to feel as if we are friends too. That’s the power of writing and something I always strive for in my own work!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I hope that those of us who are writing these “movement books” continue to grow in support of one another. Rising tides raise all boats. For example, Fredrick Joseph posted his excitement about my book to his social media channels. He is also released his first book, “The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person.” It doesn’t at all need my praise to join the chorus but good heavens is it good! We all have different ways but we all have the same goal of improving the world through education and acceptance of one another. When we come together to celebrate and boost each other, everyone is safer, everyone is better, and everyone wins!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My website: ThisIsKryss.com

Twitter: @itsKryss

Instagram: @ThisIsKryss

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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