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3 books that got my business direction back on track

January has been a big month of reflectin’ over here at Stairway HQ. From our brand, to our marketing goals, to — honestly — our entire business direction. We’ve laid it all on the table. 

And in true word nerd fashion, I can tell you that three books (all of which I read in the last 12 months) are underpinning our business goals, our marketing goals, and our brand development in 2022.

*queue the suspenseful music* 

So, which three are they?

1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Just quietly, this was my favourite read of 2021 (and this gal reads A LOT), so if you ain’t read it yet, fire up your Audible account that you somehow always forget to cancel and purchase this lil gem, pronto.

Without spoiling it for you, this book explores the green lights that guided McConaughey’s career and life more broadly. 

Let me tell you a story about how this has shaped (and is continuing to shape) Stairway Marketing’s business direction this year.

Rewind back to June 2021 and you’ll see me, Sam,  workin’ 12+ hour days and lookin’ stressed beyond belief (spoiler alert, I was!).

In the extremely limited time I allowed my brain to think about something other than client work, I thought about hiring someone. But the thought absolutely terrified me. 

I remember thinking:

  • “I can’t be responsible for someone’s wages.”
  • “You’re being lazy, you don’t really need help.”
  • “No one could do the work you need help with, anyway.” 

Thankfully, the universe stepped in to save this lil fool (me) from herself.

In a Facebook Group, someone shared that they’d recently had an intern, who had a knack for copywriting, and was finishing up. They proceeded to give her a GLOWING endorsement and said if anyone was in need of an intern they should contact her.

‍Hello, green light. 

After six months of watching her flare for copywriting continue to bloom, Morgan was finishing up her Master of Writing and ready to find full-time employment. 

Hello, green light #2. 

As of January 2022, Morgan is a full-time employee at Stairway Marketing. Six months ago? This is something I couldn’t even think about without crumbling into an anxious mess on my office floor.

So, what’s the lesson I’m taking into 2022? To roll with the green lights. The universe usually knows best.

“I have a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make me happy.”
― Matthew McConaughey, 

2. I’m Afraid Debbie from Marketing Has Left for the Day by Morten Münster

When I made the decision to hire Morgan as Stairway’s first full-time employee, it dawned on me very quickly that a few things would have to change. 

Everything couldn’t live in my head anymore. It had to be documented and shared so the team (which was no longer just me!) could access it.

But the biggest thing I realised was that she needed to understand Stairway Marketing as I did — our purpose as a brand, as well as our brand values and how we embody them. 

Thanks to the creative and strategic genius of HR specialists, Davvy Partners, I’ve been able to articulate Stairway’s brand purpose and brand values in a way I never dreamed was possible. 

But I’ve worked in enough corporate jobs in past life to know that brand manifestos, mission statements, and even brand values? They are oh-so-often absolutely meaningless to the wider business.

And Mr Münster has the research to back this up. Read up on Elizabeth Newton’s “Tappers and Listeners” experiment if you want to know more.

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It DOES mean you need to translate your brand purpose and brand values into specific actions and concrete examples. 

And this is a big area of focus for Stairway Marketing in 2022. Our new Stairway Marketing book club is a prime example!

“This book pursues an obvious, yet liberating idea: If you want to change behaviour, all you need to know is the kind of behaviour you would like to create.”
― Morten Münster, I’m Afraid Debbie from Marketing Has Left for the Day

3. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

Because would it really be a list of motivational business books if Simon Sinek wasn’t on it? *lol*

All jokes aside, this book struck a deep chord with me. 

It encapsulates how I want us to approach our business direction, our brand development, our marketing strategies, marketing goals, and so much more. 

The objective isn’t to win. It’s to keep playing. 

So, as we’ve reflected on Stairway’s place in the world, the brand we want to create and the marketing strategies we need to put in place to support this, it has 1000% been with this approach at the core. 

We’re not about being number one, being the best, or beating the competition. Because what does that even mean? Who determines the winner? Or the time frame of the competition? It just doesn’t make sense. 

Rather, we’re focusing on making Stairway a better business than it was yesterday, serving our clients in a better way than we did yesterday, and building an increasingly driven, talented and trusting team.

“Better” suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our talents and energies to make progress in that journey. “Better,” in the Infinite Game, is better than “best.”
― Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game

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