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Soph Reads Stuff – Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration 

“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was working from home, curled up on the sofa with a book and my partner. 

“It’s stupid, and you’re going to laugh at me.” I sniffled. 

“Is it the book?”

I nodded disconsolately. 

“Wait, isn’t that a work book? Why are you crying at a work book? Aren’t they about, like, marketing?”

It was several minutes before they were able to coax the answer out of me. 

I was crying because Steve Jobs is dead. 

That wasn’t new information either. 

I was reading the afterword in Creativity. Inc, the latest in the line of books I’m reviewing. The entire book is wholesome, nostalgic and insightful, but the afterword is something else. It’s a moving account of ‘the Steve they knew’ at Pixar, and it had me bawling harder than I did the first time I saw Nemo’s mum die. It’s a fitting end to a book whose dedication page simply reads “For Steve”. 

I was culturally aware of Steve Jobs’ passing years ago, but I can’t say it ever moved me. I’d never been a fan of Apple products, and when you consider his portrayal as an egotistical and difficult man throughout much of the media, you can see why I’d never taken an interest in his life and work before. Reading this though, Steve became a man whose obstinate genius and brusque affection reminded me of my late grandad. It was a completely unexpected side effect of what can only be described as a truly brilliant book. 

What’s inside?

Creativity, Inc. is an autobiographical leadership manual by Ed Catmull, the former President of Pixar and Disney Animations, which is co-written by a journalist called Amy Wallace. They’ve woven Ed’s hard-earned leadership lessons into a beautiful book that feels like being hugged by all your favourite characters from when you were five. 

Although I’ve never met Ed, or even heard of him before Will lent me his book, Creativity, Inc. makes him feel like an old friend. The writing style is warm, natural and engaging, with flawless copy and a delightful array of anecdotes that are so well-written that they read like a conversation with Ed himself. I know that’s the point, but it’s lovely. 

The body of the book takes you from Ed’s early life through academia and into the workforce, underpinned by the narrative of his first dream; making the first computer-animated feature film. Once Toy Story was released in cinemas, Ed found himself with a new dream; to find a way to keep Pixar alive and thriving for as long as he could. Leadership gave him a new purpose and propelled him into a series of choices that would lead to the whimsical culture that is so important to Pixar’s success. 

The biographic narrative is compelling, providing a rich history of what was happening at the time and a wealth of context for readers who, like myself, hadn’t been born yet and struggle to conceive of a world without the internet. 

Ed comes across as a genuinely humble, collaborative and creative person throughout the book. Even as he guided his company to the heights of success, he constantly talks about his own limitations. There is an anecdote about finding the right table for meetings, which acknowledges both his position as a leader and his own shortcomings as a result. It’s lovely to hear from a leader who is totally motivated by collaboration, and who is open about owning his own mistakes. 

I love Ed’s takes on creativity and culture too. He seems driven by a fundamental belief that people should be happy and free, which is a beautiful worldview. The collaborative environment that Ed talks about throughout the book is evidently something he has adopted very personally. Creativity, Inc. is full of accounts of other people’s thoughts, opinions and input. It’s a beautiful tapestry of all the best creative minds that have passed through Pixar during Ed’s tenure. Together they provide the pieces for well-rounded leadership lessons that anyone could apply to their own company. 

Ed also discusses a fundamental commitment to Pixar’s company values. He took steps such as refusing allocated parking for anyone in the company, giving employees the right to self-expression at their desks and prioritising communal celebration as a company. Values are an essential part of any company, and it was fascinating to learn about what drives the company that produced so many of the films I was raised on. Values are also what interested me when I applied to Search Stack. It was the creative-first approach that they talked about on their website that made me instinctively feel that I would be at home here.

Towards the end of Creativity, Inc. Ed talks about taking over management of Disney Animation during their acquisition, and there’s a sense that he’s proving his leadership ideas in the process. He didn’t just build a company and afford its success to his own ideas. He’s actually got demonstrated experience of taking over a floundering company and making it better with his own methods. Ed’s first success with his model of working at Disney was Tangled, which has been my all-time favourite Disney film ever since it came out. Knowing that Pixar’s leadership team had a hand in making it makes absolute sense to me, and gives it a special something. 

My recommendation:

By now I’ve rambled on for nearly 900 words, so I think it’s time I gave you my verdict. Creativity, Inc. has earned a full five stars, and I don’t have a single bit of criticism for it. I loved every single page, and I’ve never been so moved by a leadership book in my life. While I’m not in a leadership position at present, I’ll be taking everything I learned from this book into any future role and recommending Creativity, Inc. to every manager I meet. 

This book gives you the inside scoop on the films that characterised my earliest childhood memories, from Monsters Inc. to Finding Nemo. Having Ed’s insights set against such a familiar backdrop makes Creativity, Inc. feel like a cosy retreat, which is not what I expected from a leadership book, but everything I would expect from Pixar. 

Rating: 💜💜💜💜💜 (I’d give it more if I could tbh)


This is the best book I’ve read on Soph Reads Stuff so far, and I can’t see it being replaced for a very long time. It’s a beautiful autobiography with helpful anecdotes, gorgeous writing and impactful lessons. Everybody should read this. 

Want to chat about books? Find me on LinkedIn –> Sophie Colclough 🥰

Measuring ROI in Recruitment Marketing

How do you know if your marketing is working? 

Measuring your return on investment (ROI) is the most effective way to find out if your marketing efforts are performing properly. 

But how do you do that? 

On Episode 15 of The Skill Point Podcast we spoke to Matt Comber, the CEO at SourceFlow, to find out more about measuring your ROI in marketing. We took a deep dive into why ROI is important, why you need a strategy and what metrics you should be tracking. 

Read on to learn all about measuring ROI in recruitment marketing!

Start with a Strategy

Measuring stuff is useless if you don’t have a plan for what to do with all that information. Setting goals is the first step to measuring your ROI. Matt said that ‘whether it’s retention, views or revenue, you’ve got to always start with the goal.’ It’s helpful to benchmark where you are now and set tangible targets for where you want to end up. That’s what enables you to see whether your marketing is successful or not. 

Matt also said that ‘measuring the ROI takes a lot of the emotion out of the decision making process. A lot of applications does not equal lots of revenue. Let’s find out why.’ This granular level of analysis shows which areas of your marketing are succeeding and which are draining your time, money and resources. It also gives you concrete evidence of how your marketing is performing, which is invaluable in meetings with senior stakeholders. 

Assess your Sources

The second thing to consider when you’re measuring your ROI is your sources. Tools like Google Analytics can be used to see where your clients and candidates are coming from, such as social media, organic search or paid ads. 

If you’ve got the capabilities on your website, it’s also helpful to track which pages people are spending time on before converting. Matt recommended taking primary sources like social media into account as well as secondary sources such as your website during your conversion funnel. That allows you to see which channels are working and which ones need to be adjusted to encourage conversions. 

‘You should be able to show me the return on investment from an event that we ran,’ said Matt. ‘It comes down to knowing where you want to be, where you are, and which tools you need to have in place to pull the right data out to get you there.’ That data allows you to visualise how effective your marketing is by measuring the conversion rates of each campaign, touchpoint or event.

Consider Self-Reported Attribution 

One way to make sure you’re accurately assessing where your leads are coming from is through a self-reported attribution form. This is a simple field at the end of your sign-up form that asks ‘How did you hear about us?’. You can use drop-down menus or text boxes to make the process easier for leads, but this is one of the most fail-safe ways of tracking when people first become aware of your company. You can then use that data to see how you’re performing. 

Track your Conversions 

In the recruitment industry it’s easy to focus on tracking successful applicant conversions. However, an often overlooked metric is your rate of client onboarding. Marketing often plays a key role in gaining new clients, by producing collateral such as visual branding, written content and practical salary guides. Businesses need to look at a holistic view of their company and ask ‘What’s my best candidate source, what’s my best client source and what’s our best piece of content for demand and lead generation?’, then use those points to measure conversions. 

Measure your ROI

Whatever your goals are, once you’ve set up a system to track and report your conversion rate, you can measure your ROI. For example, you can divide the amount of money you’ve made from new contracts by the amount you spent on the marketing campaign that your client passed through before converting. A standard formula for calculating ROI is this: 

A more marketing specific formula is: 

This should be calculated on a regular basis, such as once a month, to ensure that your marketing is still effective. 

Want to know more? 

Listen to Episode 15 of The Skill Point Podcast here. 

How to Use Marketing for Business Development in Recruitment 

What’s the point of marketing? 

Whether you’re advertising your products and services or building brand awareness, the aim of marketing is to get your company in front of more people. Ultimately, it’s to grow your business. 

On Episode 14 of The Skill Point Podcast we spoke to Claire Stapley about how we can use marketing as a business development tool in recruitment. Claire is a freelance marketing strategist who specialises in the recruitment industry, with over 7 years in the industry. Read on to find out what insights she shared. 

The Benefits of Marketing in Recruitment 

There has been an overall change in mindset over the last few years within the recruitment industry when it comes to marketing. While it used to be seen as unnecessary, there has been a shift towards seeing marketing as a valuable tool for supporting consultants’ efforts in the field. 

Claire shared that “A lot of pressure has come from new consultants who are asking, ‘Why haven’t I got LinkedIn Recruiter, which is a simple piece of collateral that I can take to a meeting?’ It’s important to them because the competition is so high.”

Marketing makes you stand out in your market. With the number of recruitment firms out there, it’s important that you can make a meaningful impression with your audience. A marketer will be able to take your expertise and translate it into engaging content that brings people into your business. Gone are the days of pray-and-spray cold calls. Targeted marketing creates valuable inbound leads and saves your consultants time. 

Get Your Team On-Board 

To get the most out of your marketing, it’s important to get buy-in from important people in the business. If your management team is leading by example, persuading your consultants to put effort into their personal brands will be a lot easier. Always start with your C-suite. 

Claire also advises “talking in numbers”. If you can back up your strategies with hard figures, you’re going to gain the trust of your consultants. “Fluff stuff doesn’t resonate with a recruiter,” said Claire. “They want to know what’s in it for them.” Pitch your ideas in terms of how it’ll build their candidate base, the results they’ll get from it and the potential for growth or promotion that will come off the back of it. 

It’s also important to use your team’s feedback in your marketing. When your marketing team works closely with your consultants and sales teams, they can create collateral that helps the rest of the company do their job. Producing branded eBooks, email footers and LinkedIn banners is a great way to create brand awareness online, while personal branding creates meaningful connections with clients and candidates in your niche. Effective marketing will ultimately make it easier to sell your services, and a synergistic relationship between marketing and consultants is the best way to make your marketing meaningful. 

Creating a Marketing Compass

Your compass should always be aligned with your North Star. Figure out what your goals are as a company (such as improving gender diversity in the tech sector), then build a strategy that speaks to them. That could look like completing a salary survey that looks at the wage gap in your sector. and using it to engage candidates who are interested in moving into the space. Whatever your North Star is, always follow it if you want to create a strong brand. 

From there you can start to build your marketing strategy. Review what marketing collateral you already have, and try to keep what you can. If it’s fit for purpose, there’s no point in getting rid of something just because it doesn’t have your shiny new branding on it. Build from your existing baseline to fill out any weaker areas and create a unified company message. 

Talk to your team to figure out what their problems are too. Maybe they’re struggling to get candidates on board because nobody’s heard of them before. Then it’s time to work on your brand awareness through personal branding or advertising. If they need to build credibility in order to win over clients, whitepapers or testimonials would be a useful resource. Case studies and salary surveys can be used to engage different groups as well. Your marketing should always meet a need in your business. 

Final Advice

Claire’s last piece of advice is to be patient. She said that “You’re gonna get a lot of pushback when you introduce marketing. If you can work through that and build some great internal relationships, you’ll have a harmonious marketing team and a bought-in sales team, and it’ll feel like cloud nine.” 

To hear more from Claire, tune into The Skill Point Podcast here.

If you’d like to learn more about creating an airtight marketing strategy for your recruitment business, you can also get in touch with us at Search Stack for a free consultation. 

Email us on now!