Are you relevant?

Book Review

Relevance: Matter More

Phil Styrlund, Tom Hayes, Marian Deegan, 2014


“In a world where we are drowning in information but starving for wisdom, relevance is not a matter of what we know; it is a matter of how what we know matters to someone else.”[1]

There are hundreds of books on leadership, and every once in a while a book comes along that provides a perspective different to the status quo. This is one such book. It is full of wonderful stories and great insights.

The authors draw on years of leadership experience in sales, marketing, and advertising, and have worked for some of the world’s top companies. Styrlund, Hayes and Deegan argue that in a competitive global market glutted with information and products, there is something that matters more when trying to achieve a position that is unique and distinctive: Relevance.

They argue that ‘relevance’ even matters more than intelligence![2] Obviously, this is quite a claim, and they do an excellent job describing how they arrived at such an incredible insight.

The three dimensions of mattering more: success, significance, and relevance, are worth every leader exploring deeply.

One thing that stood out was their belief that “commoditization is the enemy of meaning.”[3] In our attempts to capture the market, the authors argue that sometimes there is the risk of commoditizing our products and services in such a way that they lose their relevance—their authenticity. For all good intents and purposes, they have become ‘our’ products, and yet for our customers they have lost meaning and relevance.

To help address this, the authors have created a framework for people and companies to become more relevant in their lives and marketplace.[4] It centers on four dynamics of relevance, which they have also put into a formula:

(Au+M2+E) x (Ac) = R

 Au = Authenticity; M = Mastery; E = Empathy; Au = Action; and R = Relevance.

 There is a wealth of wisdom shared in this book that will not disappoint. “Nothing limits you like not knowing your limitations[5]; Mastery—when we speed to our goal, we run the risk of reacting to surface symptoms and miss underlying information, patterns, and issues[6]; Pitfalls of perfection[7]; The consistency of clarity[8]; The danger of having a sense of entitlement[9]; The rise of narcissism and the fall of empathy[10]; The more you think of yourself, the less you matter.[11]

Sustainable success does not happen with ad hoc relevance.

What one thing would make you more relevant? (Leave a comment below)


[1] Phil Styrlund, Tom Hayes and Marian Deegan, Relevance: Matter More (Minneapolis, MN: Mary Mae & Sons, 2014). Kindle Edition, Location: 117.

[2] Ibid., Loc. 39.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 140.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 164.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 321.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 989.

[7] Ibid., Loc. 1081.

[8] Ibid., Loc. 1093.

[9] Ibid., Loc. 1105.

[10] Ibid., Loc. 1298.

[11] Ibid., Loc. 1309.

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