In Peoria, Illinois, as most great stories do. Although both of my parents’ families lived in California, my dad was working for Caterpillar at the time. Years later, I was interviewing a guy, and he used Peoria as an example of a random city, but in a derogatory way. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. Just kidding, he did, but I never let him forget it.
After six years at Apple, I made the decision to leave. It was an incredible run and one that I continue to be grateful for, but I felt as though I had veered too off course from where I wanted to go with my career. I wanted to reconnect with my creative strengths, so I took a year-long writing sabbatical. Getting to do that was a luxury, obviously, but one that allowed me to move into the next phase of my career—one centered around writing.
Joy Howard. She was CMO at Sonos when I joined in 2017. A few months in, she found out that I was a writer, plucked me out of my partner marketing role and put me onto the creative team. It was a drastic move, but one that I continue to be grateful for to this day. I love the writing I get to do for Sonos, and I have her vision to thank for that. Side note: I knew Joy was going to have a significant impact on my life on my very first day. When my manager sent out an email introducing me to the team, he mentioned how much I love Stevie Nicks. Joy responded to me with a one-sentence email: “Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.”
“Make it entertaining. Always.” I know, I know—sounds like that should be a pretty popular opinion right? Wait for the follow up: “If you can’t find a way to make it entertaining, then find another communication method for the information.” I feel very protective of our audience. I want them to trust that if they’re reading or watching content from Sonos, there’s going to be a spark to it. Or heart. Or some sort of deeper experience beyond just reading communication that a brand wants them to know. I’m willing to go to the mat to keep our content channels engaging.
Tell great stories, bring joy to your interactions with colleagues whenever possible, and allow for occasional run-on sentences (provided that you use an Oxford comma).
Steven is a writer and brand strategist, currently leading global editorial at Sonos. He specializes in crafting communications that enable brands to connect with their audience through powerful storytelling. His career spans tech (Apple), entertainment (DreamWorks), lifestyle (Sonos), and philanthropy (Metropolitan Group). When he’s not writing, he can be found reading, surfing, meditating, quoting Auntie Mame, or hiking in a forest.