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Up Close with Donn Maeda
As editor of TransWorld Motocross, what are some of your key responsibilities?
Let’s see … I shoot photos, write features, shoot video, edit video and publish features to our website. Perhaps a better question would be “What key responsibilities do you avoid?” To answer that, I hate meetings, expense reports and doing employee reviews!
What are some of the top items on your “to do” list for 2010?
In addition to trying to keep TransWorld Motocross on top, I’d say that taking TransWorldMX.com to a similar position within our market is my biggest goal. I also think we are moving forward with Kickstart 2, the sequel to the movie I made last summer.
What have you enjoyed the most about working for the magazine?
Well, motocross is my hobby, my passion, and just about the only thing I am any good at. Being the editor of TransWorld Motocross allows me to wake up every morning with a smile on my face. Unless it’s one of those days with a mandatory meeting.
How did you get your start? Tell us what you did in the early part of your career.
In 1991, I was on academic probation at Cal State Long Beach and I got the call from Cycle News, a weekly national motorcycle newspaper, to join its teams as an assistant editor. At the time I was a contributor to the local race-report section of the paper, and I suppose they liked my work. I dropped out of college to see where the opportunity would take me, and lo and behold: Here I am!
How would you describe your leadership style?
During my stint at Dirt Rider magazine, I worked for a terrible editor who held himself in high regard and loved to abuse his power as boss. After years of taking boxes down to his truck for him and listening to him tell all of us how much better he could have done our work, I decided that I never wanted to be a leader who was hated by his staff. I treat all of my staff as equal parts of a team, and I never ask any of them to do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. I am a firm believer in leading by example.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I don’t have a favorite part, per se. I enjoy everything about being the editor of TransWorld Motocross. Well, except for mandatory meetings and expense reports.
What do you do when you are not on the job?
Think about work.
What’s the most interesting aspect of you or your life that your colleagues don’t know?
That in addition to collecting art from the Ming Dynasty, I am an accomplished synchronized swimmer and can play the clarinet with the best of them. Just kidding. I have no secrets.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your job responsibilities?
Thanks to the Internet, we’ve had to change to keep up with the times. It used to be that our customers were largely lazy and didn’t want to read long features as much as they wanted to look at pretty pictures. Nowadays, clicking through photos is too much to ask for, and everyone wants to watch videos! In the past 18 months, I’ve learned how to shoot and edit video, and I have had a blast. I guess that trying to keep up with the times has added a whole new dimension to my job that has kept the day-to-day grind exciting and new.
Donn Maeda (#48) at A Day In The Dirt Motocross Grand Prix
Tell us about your family.
I’ve managed to stay married for 16 years this July, which is amazing since part of my job involves working with bikini-clad models. That in itself is a testament to what an amazing woman my wife is. We have two daughters (divine punishment for my college years) ages 12 and 15, and they never cease to make me proud. My eldest just got a 4.5 GPA on her first high-school report card. How rad is that?
We have a little sissy dog Maltese named Rocky, and a ferret named Phil that I bought in Philadelphia and smuggled onto the plane in my pocket.
Someone you admire and why?
I admire my big brother, Ross. In addition to being the guy who got me into motocross in the first place, he is also the person who introduced me to photography, way back when. A few months ago, Ross crashed and suffered paralyzing injuries. These days, being the editor of TransWorld Motocross is more like my side job, and making sure that Ross has everything he needs is my main gig. The way I see it is that he’s been my hero forever, and now it’s my turn to try to be his. Check out rossiproject.com!
Playboy. I buy it for the articles.
Last book read?
After Dark, by Haruki Murakami. His books are always so bizarre, with mad detail about the most insignificant details. Perhaps it’s because his works are translated from Japanese.
Lost in Translation.
Favorite TV program?
CSI: Miami. I can’t get enough of Horatio’s cheesy one-liners!
Favorite music performer/group?
I will listen to just about anything except country.
Favorite type of music?
Root for any sports teams?
The Corona Eagles, Corona United and the Santiago High School Sharks. Both of my daughters are soccer players.
Who has time for a hobby?