Spawn Book Club: Thanks for the Feedback

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At Spawn, we’re always exploring new ways to be the smartest, most creative team in the advertising biz. And one of our sources for inspiration is the Spawn Book Club, a totally voluntary activity that regularly draws nearly half of the Spawn staff to its biweekly meetings.

Our current read is: Thanks for the Feedback, by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

We asked Accounts Director Julie Hirt to tell us a little about how the Spawn Book Club came to be, and what we do with what we read.

How long has Spawn had a book club?

We’ve had a few attempts at starting one over the past year or two. In the past, we’ve tackled Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Digital Context 2.0 by David Norton.

How does the Spawn book club operate?

This time, we mixed up the format. Instead of the traditional book-club-way — read the whole book, then discuss – we’re taking Thanks for the Feedback and breaking it down into sections.

We read a section every two weeks and then meet for 30 minutes. Sometimes, we take more than one session to review a section. This way, we can hear from everyone.

The meetings are structured with questions to ask the group, but the task is for everyone to share how they’ve deployed the book in professional or personal life. (We allow for the personal because, oddly enough, sometimes that is easier to talk about than how they used the book to talk about an interaction with a friend or family member than a colleague in the room.)

I make sure that everyone in the room speaks. Not only do we want everyone who has something to say to have a chance to speak, but we also don’t want people to attend and not have read the book. We really want everyone to contribute so everyone can share and learn from each other.

Why did you choose Thanks for the Feedback?

I’m not sure how this became the selection—it seems to have been magically chosen. Many of us have been trained on how to give feedback at work. But what training is out there to help people RECEIVE it?

What’s the book club’s verdict on the book?

We all really like it. It gives practical, actionable advice to LISTEN to the feedback and find ways to hear the truth in what is being said. Additionally, the authors have a lot of video content online that we’ve incorporated in the conversations to really bring the book to life for those of us in the club that prefer visual learning.

We get feedback every day, all day, and this book really helps us open up to client feedback, internal feedback, feedback to creative from account service, etc. It’s helping us really strengthen and flex that “listening” muscle.

AND we’re learning that talking to one another INSTEAD of via chat, email, text, etc. is super important. Human contact – who would have thought?!

How will you choose the next book?

That is a great question…. I’m curious to see how this will continue!

What have you learned from having the Spawn having a book club?

When we can take, even 30 minutes every other week, and have a conversation that promotes sharing, we come together as a stronger team.

Tell us what we should read next! Think there’s a great book we should tackle? Send an email to and let us know!

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