Mike Connell

The Big Question: How Do you Motivate and Inspire Your Team?

By: Mike Connell | September 14, 2018 | 
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inspire your teamOne of our community members recently asked if anyone could recommend a book (we love us some #bookrecommendations here at Spin Sucks).

Specifically, a book to inspire a marketing team of young to highly-experienced team members.

Their goal? To get their team to read one book together as a group in the next couple of months to go into 2019 refreshed and innovative.

Is there a book that does that for you and your team?

Is there a community (ahem) that provides inspiration and insight?

A blog? Case studies?

Speakers/personalities/influencers?

Today’s Big Question asks:

What inspires you? Your team members?

What (re)invigorates your communication efforts, ensuring you bring your best and brightest ideas to the table?

Must Reads to Inspire Your Team

Jon Nastor found the answer in one book:

There is only one book I would recommend and it is It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden.

This book is perfect for a young marketing team—it will teach resilience, creativity, and copywriting, as well as marketing.

Eric Yohay is on the same page (well, you know what I mean. The same “page,” but in a different book. Get it?):

There is one book that jumps out and its called Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.

This book literally has changed the game for our company and we require every new person to read the book within their first 30 days.

As an added bonus we have everyone sign the back cover and write the date they finished it.

It’s a great team building tool and helps give at least one deep anchor across the board.

It really shows everyone how we think about the art of sales.

Katie Robbert provided a short list:

Inspire Your Team: AimClear

From Alistair Dodds:

Finding a book that both educates and inspires my team is always a huge bonus.

We based a great deal of our early Facebook brainstorming sessions and strategies on the book Killer Facebook Ads by AimClear’s Marty Weintraub.

It was an excellent read and got our team to really think about the possibilities of Facebook psychographic targeting way back in 2011.

A lot of the vernacular he used—like interest buckets—we still use to this day!

Marty’s company blog is always on our weekly reading list.

As is Yoast’s and Frank Kern’s blog.

A triangulation of those three is a great starting point for a lot of great ideas.

All of the above inspire. With Frank you have to put aside some of the big money boasts/social proof elements and really focus on the way he sells and communicates.

He is a master tactician and entertaining to boot.

Inspired by Passion

Marion Luxem and her teammates focus on passion, and she provided a list of things they do to facilitate that:

We live by the idea that your passion is our inspiration. The passion we see in our nonprofit clients inspires us every day.

Our president wrote a blog on being inspired by silence.

Whenever we need a little extra inspiration, we are encouraged to do whatever we need to do to get inspired—whether it’s getting outside and walking by the river or a long weekend away to channel our inner creativity.

As for books, we also recently posted about our favorite marketing and design books that inspire us.

Marion also listed the following resources:

Continuous Learning

Laura Cabrera is all about lifelong learning:

Continuous learning as a team is so important.

We’ve recently started a Slack channel titled learning where we share books, articles, and videos from around the web that have taught us something new.

I’m currently reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth and highly recommend it.

It helps you see success differently and motivates you to keep going when others may choose to quit.

The best part is that the author provides you with solid strategies to help strengthen your tenacity, which ultimately leads to success.

Inspire Your Team: Building and Bonding

When we posed this question in our Slack Community, the discussion evolved almost immediately to include how teams work best together and to focus on creating an atmosphere ripe for inspiration, rather than inspirational tactics themselves.

Christopher Penn noted that he and Katie Robbert had discussed the differences between team building and bonding at length:

Most of the things I’ve done in the past have been more about team building than bonding.

Going out for drinks is okay, but leveling up our skills together has always been more important to me.

Today, it’s vital—sharing what I know with people like Katie Robbert and Gini Dietrich is so much of the fun of the adventure, and having people who appreciate and celebrate wins together with makes it all worth it.

This creates the opposite problem, and one Gini Dietrich and Katie Robbert have warned me about repeatedly: when I have a focus like what I’m doing now, I go all-in to unhealthy extremes.

When I’m solving a problem or learning something new, a 16-hour day seems perfectly normal and okay, but sets a bad, unobtainable example for other people on my team.

Inspiration and passion can be all-consuming, Chris warns, noting that what works for one person, isn’t necessarily what’s going to work for you or your team.

Be Inspiring

Seán Stickle is all about trying to empower teams, rather than inspire them:

My focus is always on how to remove obstacles, make the mission clear, liberate the team members to make decisions, etc.

As my hero, Tom Peters has said:

Be Inspired By Others

From Tressa Robbins:

My inspiration comes from the many PR students (PRSSA) that I mentor, advise and network with.

I’m a firm believer in the benefit of what is commonly called “reverse mentoring,” but I prefer “reciprocal mentoring.”

For Shelby Ray, it’s about paying attention and being open to new ideas and inspiration:

It’s always important to keep your eyes and ears open when chatting with others in the office in order to find new ideas.

There have been many situations where I’m inspired with a new idea after talking with a coworker from a different team about our work, current projects and overall company happenings.

Just the other day I was casually talking with an account manager on our sales team after we had a meeting and the conversation inspired an idea to create a new tool for our sales team to use.

Inspirational Conclusion

As someone who works remotely/virtually, inspiration, bonding, and creative (re)invigoration can be difficult to come by.

I rely on books, blogs, conferences (I actually saw Marty Weintraub speak at a paid media summit here in Toronto a number of years ago, and fully agree with Alistair’s assessment: his blog, book, and speaking style are energizing), and the Spin Sucks community itself.

That’s actually how I started here. I was a solopreneur/independent contractor. I didn’t know I needed inspiration and guidance, but as soon as I joined the PR Dream Team, it was clear what had been missing: A like-minded, smart, and active community willing to share, critique, and console.

The opportunity to work with Spin Sucks came from that community, and it continues to provide a daily dose of inspiration.

That’s not a pitch. It’s a case study.

With that in mind, the last word goes back to Chris Penn:

One of my favorite quotes from Dewitt Jones (NatGeo photographer) is, when vision, passion, purpose, and creativity are present, motivation, discipline, and commitment take care of themselves.

Please share your thoughts, inspirational tips, and experiences in the comments!

Next time: Paid Media and Communications

Gini Dietrich recently wrote an article on how communicators can/should use paid media.

We also published a podcast (The Spin Sucks Podcast, Episode 16: Get the Most Out of Paid Media) on the same issue.

Many people have a Mad Men-like vision of what modern day advertising looks like, but the reality is that “paid” media tactics are about finding and reaching your desired audience, and driving results. Who wouldn’t want to focus on that?

That said, many communicators, whether they style themselves as PR practitioners, marketers, or content strategists, don’t consider the paid tactics in the PESO model as part of their practice.

They likely understand how important or impactful paid media can be, but it seems daunting and difficult to test.

Sound familiar?

Are paid tactics a part of your communications toolkit? Do you want them to be?

Next week’s Big Question digs into paid media a little deeper:

What’s standing in your way when it comes to paid media? What are you biggest paid media challenges? 

Alternatively, how have you embraced paid media in your communications practice, and what lessons would you share for others trying to test the waters?

You can answer here, in our free Spin Sucks Community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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