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Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
In college I studied 19th and 20th Century Irish Literature and there’s a line from Adam’s Curse where W.B. Yeats wrote: “A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, Our stitching and unstitching has been naught”. I love poetry and what Yeats’ writes about resonates because it’s not far off from what we do as brand builders and storytellers. Everything is intentional. Every word, decision, direction, but it must seem effortless for it to land and be impactful.
Most recently, the last two books I read and can’t stop thinking about are The Candy House by Jennifer Egan and Tomorrow and, Tomorrow and, Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin. Both offer exquisite reflections on modern life and the role of technology as part of our cultural fabric. At Spool we have a book swap where we bring in and share meaningful books with one another. I’ve also given Spool’s leadership team a copy of Phil Jackson’s 1996 Sacred Hoops, which is one of the best leadership books I’ve read.
How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
If the adage is true that “culture eats strategy for lunch” then a company’s values are the ingredients for whatever that lunch is. Without having clear, loud, meaningful values, a company’s going to struggle to achieve bigger sights and goals. Two years ago Spool spent six months going through our laying out of vision, mission and values and I 100% believe it’s the reason we’ve been successful and seen so much growth. We put our people first and we do that through our values. That means we fire toxic clients. That means if people don’t log off and live full lives outside of work, they’re in conflict with our values (whereas other agencies would call it a badge of honor). That means we are crystal clear with what is ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ in how we live our values each day. Culture exists in a company.
How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
I’m very proud that our newly launched startup arm, Spindle, is constructed to put DE&I at the forefront when we work with new clients. Only 2% of institutional VC investment goes to female-founded companies (and that percentage shrinks to less than 1% if founded by BIPOC women) which means these companies and innovations often don’t get a fair shot to succeed because of the bias and inequity in how VC has been deployed. Spool’s response to that is to work with startups at a reduced bill rate and even possibly invest in them. So that’s one way our industry can approach it: not just within the four walls of the organization and who’s being hired (though of course that’s a big part of it!) but also through the lens of which clients and opportunities we’re taking on and what the impact that can lend may be.
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