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This is the age of commoditization. In the race to the bottom, people, products, brands, and companies are becoming interchangeable. So all that matters is their price. And in an interchangeable world, the lower the better. Now people and companies are asking some very fundamental questions, “Am I relevant? Or am I simply replaceable? Is there a way to matter more in this world?” This book is dedicated to achieving relevance so that we might make a difference for ourselves and others.

Through thoughtful observations, investigations, and deliberations, the authors have identified the four dynamics that allow people, organizations, and products to become truly relevant in this world. This lively book brings together the best thinking of today with the best thinking ever to help anyone who truly wants to matter more.



Like our DNA, our unique self creates a singular relevance that is the ultimate vaccine against commoditization.

This is where relevance begins. Without authenticity, we are only a poor imitation of someone else. The key to being authentic is to map our inner self to our outer self. Consider, are the gifts that are within us being translated to the gifts that we are bringing to others? Without first understanding our authentic self, the next two steps on the journey to relevance will be impossible.

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When it comes to being relevant, being good may not be good enough. You need to be masterful.

Mastery is the ultimate expression of greatness. It implies a command over the elements around us and a foreknowledge of what will happen based on a reverence for the lessons of the past. Those who have a mastery of the great outdoors know every plant, birdcall, insect, and animal. Because their mastery is built on authenticity, they know their limits as well as their strengths. While their mastery won’t change the weather, their tent will be pitched just right when bad weather comes.

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This ability to understand people’s needs allows us to bring them the right thing at the right time.

So we’re authentic and we have mastery. How do we make these skills relevant to others? Empathy. Empathy is the docking station of relevance. It allows us to connect what we do with those who need it. While there are a myriad of definitions for empathy, we love the clear expression of empathy by Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

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Without action, authenticity, mastery, and empathy are tools sitting idly in a toolbox.

Action is the engine of relevance. While our ability to achieve authenticity, gain mastery, and develop empathy can be limited by ability and fate, we do have control over action. The first rule of paddling a canoe down river is that in order to steer our canoe, we must be going faster than the river—and the only way to go faster than the river is to paddle hard. In the same way, if we are just going with the flow, we will never be able to choose where we go in this world. Ultimately, there is no relevance without action.

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As CEO of The Summit Group, Phil is a recognized thought leader on sales transformation and development as part of the go-to-market strategies of some of the world’s premier organizations in the public and private sectors, including Cisco, Xerox, General Mills, Marriott, 3M, Medtronic, Pfizer, Abbott, and U.S. federal government agencies. In addition to keynotes and training programs delivered in more than 45 countries, Phil serves as a coach, mentor, consultant, and advisor to top leaders across a range of industries. Phil recently initiated a doctoral program at Middlesex University in London.


Tom Hayes is the founder and owner of Riley Hayes. Tom put the principles of Relevance: Matter More to use throughout his business, applying them to agency evaluations, creative briefs, and strategic planning. As a result, Riley Hayes is recognized for work that helps client brands and products matter more to their customers. The agency serves some of America’s most prestigious clients, including Delta Air Lines, U.S. Bank, Walgreens, 3M, Allen Edmonds, Alerus Financial, Tradition Capital Bank, Korn Ferry, Scholarship America, and Dunn Bros Coffee. Tom takes pride in the ways Riley Hayes has been able to help clients, large and small, enjoy sustainable success.


As the founder of Fortuni, Marian writes for business and health care innovators. Her work is grounded in more than 20 years of national advertising experience and is informed by multidisciplinary credentials in law, philosophy, and the arts. Marian understands the subtle intangibles that bring the facts to life in her profiles of CEOs, surgeons, and community leaders. She is a contributing writer and editor for the Immunization Action Coalition and MD News-Minnesota, and a lecturer and consultant on business writing. Marian is committed to client collaborations that support thoughtful, healthy, and inspired communities.


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Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. | Founder and CEO, PEAK Learning® | 07.13.14

Relevance: Matter More is that one book that deserves the coveted perch at the very top of the reading stack for anyone striving to make who they are, the work they do, and what they offer to others really matter. This wisdom-laden book is emotionally profound and immensely practical. It's an automatic classic.

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Gail Roddy | Co-Founder, Osiris Organization | 09.03.14

The delight of Relevance: Matter More lies in discovering the profound stories scattered through the text. I can’t get enough of tales of women like Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter. Imagine a woman of the Victorian era studying Euclid on her own! Ada's story was outstanding, and prompted deep reflection on my own early journey: refusing many expected "opportunities" as a young African-American woman, and seizing other opportunities considered scandalous at the time. Ada is an inspiration to every woman who claims her authenticity and refuses to be derailed from her professional path—even when it flies in the face of social convention. Phil’s reflections on a “sane view of self” also hit home for me. We have to be willing to make mistakes and listen to what they teach us, without feeling shame for taking risks. And for me, the most important message in Relevance was the story of Phil and Kelly and the Platinum Rule. Who hasn’t made the mistake of assuming that someone “should” desire something because "everyone wants that kind of recognition"? Relevance is filled with moving stories and insightful messages. Brava!

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John Busacker | Author of do less, be more: The Life-Changing Power of Focus, Founder of Life-Worth, LLC | 08.14.14

Relevance: Matter More models the four essential principles the authors present. This wonderful book is authentic, masterful, empathetic, and chock-full of action—a must read for anyone longing to rise above the cacophony of commoditization in today’s world.

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Jen Dalton | CEO, BrandMirror | 09.03.14

Every day we all face mounting distractions. We are either fighting to break through the noise, or doing our best to focus and make a difference. As a personal brand strategist, the book Relevance: Matter More could not be more timely. Styrlund and Hayes do a masterful job of creating a simple, yet powerful, formula to increase each individual’s and/or company's relevance. The book focuses on each part of the formula in an easy-to-read and informative manner that makes for an insightful and thought provoking few hours. I appreciated the stories along the way of individuals like Roosevelt, Lincoln, and others, showing us their journey to relevance. While we may not all be a Lincoln, or an Ada Lovelace, we can all be relevant.

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David B. Pyle | Senior Vice President of Dealer Media Sales, AutoTrader Group | 07.27.14

Relevance: Matter More is an incredible story about how “success” in the future will be defined as “relevance.” As the authors so profoundly state, “It’s not what we know that matters, it’s how what we know matters to someone else.” In a world where everyone strives to be “unique” and “individual,” these terms can lose their meaning, making no one unique or individual. Relevance paints a portrait of the power of humility, self-understanding, deep concern for others, and focused, committed action to redefine our own significance and make a positive impact on the world. The principles explored in Relevance encourage us to become the truly unique individuals we are all meant to be.

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Susan Thurston-Hamerski | Author and Landscape Arboretum Manager of Adult Education, University of Minnesota | 09.04.14

There are countless 'see you at the top' guides found on the book shelves for business and self-improvement, but I would wager that none of them offer the solid-core difference you'll find in Relevance: Matter More. Whether you are in business, education, the creative arts, or industries around and between, you will gain insights into how to lead your life—and how to lead—that will guarantee renewed vigor for your work and revived appreciation for what your life can mean. Yes, there's a formula for success within these covers. But I challenge you to find one that is as much of a breathtaking delight to read. You'll be moved by the stories of the authors and the stories of those who inspired them to lead lives that matter more and create a legacy that is relevant and important in these challenging and too-often soul-weary age.

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Nick Vedros | Photographer, Speaker, and Founder, Vedros & Associates | 09.15.14

Bravo! Relevance nails it! This book helped me define more clearly the innate instincts that led me along my life and career path. Wish I had the book before I began this long journey. I come away with increased clarity and a renewed purpose.

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Beth Frost-Johnson | President, Frost-Johnson Medical Marketing | 09.24.14

Every generation has a book that serves as a guide for the way business is approached. In my generation, that book was Tom Peter's In Search of Excellence. Relevance: Matter More is a phenomenal book that will be this generation's guide not only for business, but for life. There is integrity in both the concepts and the words. It's one of those books that you read, then lay on the table next to your chair to really think about your life and your business, and how you can make both truly matter. The application of the Relevance formula is up to each of us as leaders and individuals.

The unexpected joy in Relevance is that it's really engaging to read, from the anecdotal stories whose words conjure pictures and feelings that make the salient points hit home to the eloquent writing style. I'll be watching this one climb the charts.

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Carter Averbeck | CEO, Omforme | 10.02.14

I've put this book next to my coveted copy of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Why? Because this book gets to the root of the matter better than any other book on business success that I've ever read. That "matter" is people, and what happens when atmospheres are created that promote the welfare of others. While other books on success deal with current issues of the day, Relevance reaches beyond current trends and teaches us how to embrace a life of authenticity through an enjoyable jaunt through the life experiences of Styrlund and Hayes. Historical notes are mixed with comedic stories and notable teachings, making this a hard book to put down and one to truly learn from. Styrlund and Hayes are masterful storytellers, while Deegan adds the finesse through smartly written text. This should be a staple in every library for those interested in how to "matter more."

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Jo Gorissen | Columnist for, Founder, Coaching Con Brio | 10.02.14

I believe Relevance: Matter More is worth reading for anyone beyond middle school age. The authors believe that we all yearn to matter more. They wanted alternatives for people who feel like interchangeable commodities, and they determined that relevance was the most desired way out of uncertainty. Carefully gathered evidence led them to write about lifelong relevance to those we serve, based on our personal gifts and talents.

Relevance is the result of mindful interweaving of four dynamics: authenticity, mastery, empathy and action. We've heard these words many times before. For me, though, they remained somewhat like stray pieces of a jigsaw puzzle until they were fitted together here with the focus on being relevant in the world. The authors build a convincing list of benefits of mattering, of being relevant in our personal and professional lives. I thought several times during my reading of this book, of course we want to matter! Who wants to be that guy, you know, that guy who always wears a navy suit. No one wants to just fill a slot. We probably all want to matter more than we do this very second.

Relevance: Matter More is an intelligent and lively read with a depth I appreciate. I think you will find it of significant help as you take the steps to matter more for yourselves and for others.

Please take a moment to review Relevance: Matter More. We'd love to hear how it has helped you matter more in your work or life.

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