• Oli Shawyer

Lots of words, plenty of learning...

Updated: Jul 28

Whilst the days are mostly filled with work, I have used the 'Great Pause' to get back into the habit of reading. In the last few weeks I've picked up some incredible books. Some that albeit have nothing to do with sport on the cover, have everything to do with it. Oozing huge amounts of insight and learnings from other industries and points in time, I figured I'd share a summary of each, hopefully emphasising why it's worth your time in picking up.


1. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy - The Difference And Why It Matters

Richard Rumelt


This may well be one of the more important books I've read in many years. For those in leadership positions, or wanting to be, the book provides an incredible guide to what makes good strategy, and importantly, what is bad strategy and how it comes about. And quite prudently, just how prevalent within business it is (to the point where it's the norm). There's so much within that my copy is now a rainbow of sticky tabs and marginal notes. Specific topics worth mentioning for those working in sport include: confusing goals with strategy; what the foundations of good strategy are - diagnosis, guiding policy and set of actions; the need to make choices; what competitive advantage is and how to leverage it; and hypotheses testing and the need to approach it like a science.


2. Stop Listening To The Customer - Try Hearing Your Brand Instead

Adam Ferrier


I've been a fan of Adam's for a long time. And lucky enough to catch up with him a few times. I'm a big admirer of his new agency, Thinkerbell, which is working to fuse the worlds of measurement and magic. Building out of his agency's way of working, the book challenges the idea that the customer is always 'right' and aims itself at marketers' current obsession of feeling that we need to measure everything (and that if it can't be measured it doesn't work), revealing that by in fact listening to them (too much) and pivoting everything around what we think they want, we kill brands by eliminating value and commoditising them. Thought provoking, challenging and a reminder of magic's power, which often cannot be measured.


3. How Brand Grow - Part 2

Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp


The first edition of How Brands Grow is now part of marketing folklore - probably the most important book any marketer could pick up. Building on the theory presented in Part 1, Part 2 further builds on the key marketing science fundamentals and laws, somewhat completing the recipe for managing and pursuing growth. Having presented with Byron and Professor Heath McDonald on how these laws are as applicable and prevalent in sport as any other category, it's a vital resource. Specific topics worth mentioning for those working in sport include: just how important 'casual' fans are (light buyers); the role of being available (and how mental is as important as physical); building and using your distinctive brand assets; and what proper brand research looks like.


4. Alchemy - The Surprising Power Of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

Rory Sutherland


Obsessed with wanting to understand human behaviour and decision making that was unearthed when working in agency-land, this book is a well crafted blend of cutting-edge behavioural science, marketing stories and a touch of branding magic that beautifully challenges the assumption that we as humans are logical, elevating the fact that reason has a very small role to play when making decisions. Within, a number of really interesting questions are posed and answered, from why Red Bull is so popular when everyone hates the taste of it, to why we prefer stripy toothpaste. For those working in sports, it's a truly detailed reminder that the best ideas often don't make sense - they make us feel more than they make us think.


5. Delusions of Brandeur

Ryan Wallman


No autocorrect, I did not want to write 'Delusions of Grandeur'. A wonderfully written, beautifully designed book by the one and only DrDraper (aka Ryan Wallman) that I can genuinely say you won't put down. Less because of size and more because of its entertainment value. A doctor in his former life, the now globally recognised copywriter and creative director presents a no-holds-barred commentary of the state of modern marketing today that is most definitely not for Gary V or Simon Sinek worshippers. Whilst very witty and definitely antagonistic, in disguise, this collection of satire and 'assorted miscellany' is actually a wonderful guide of what good marketing is when properly understood, managed, supported and invested in. In jokes lie truth - and this is that.


If you do, or have previously picked any of these up and read, get in contact and let me know what you think and what stood out the most. Would love to chat!

Want to chat?

Whether you know what you need help with, or have absolutely no idea, shoot me an email and let's chat. If in doing so we find a mutual opportunity to work together, brilliant. If not, meeting new people is always a win!

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