Reflecting on 15 years: Cultivating the culture of Martin Waymire


Fifteen years ago, I woke up with a song in my head.

It was Steve Earle’s “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied.”

I had heard that song for quite a few months. When I worked out. When I went to work. When I drafted and refined and redrafted a business plan for the new PR firm Roger and I were contemplating starting.

The refrain expressed a simple message that reminded me why we wanted to take the leap and form Martin Waymire. Fifteen years later, our little company has grown to a staff of 15. We’ll be celebrating this milestone birthday on Oct. 10 with our now-annual Rocktoberfest, this year at the Lansing Brewing Company.

It will be a big blowout and a lot of fun. Our all-star team will be joined by former staff members, some of whom have become major players with other companies in the region, state and nation. Rocktoberfest gives us a chance to celebrate and thank our clients ― the reason we do what we do. And as with almost everything Roger and I organize together, there will be music, with Roger leading the band on guitar.

But we still ain’t ever satisfied. And it’s funny how those little sayings can motivate and deliver a powerful message. Our Martin Waymire teammates are used to hearing them, and they help express a culture and create a company philosophy more effectively than long speeches or the kind of rah-rah rants that usually end in eye rolls. So here are a few that you might hear in our office from time to time.

Not too high, not too low:  We win a lot of awards at Martin Waymire, including two Silver Anvils, the Oscars of PR. We win for our clients, and for our state ― helping Voters Not Politicians successfully end partisan gerrymandering, and boosting vaccination rates with the I Vaccinate campaign, and helping MITA keep the Legislature focused on Fixing the Damn Roads (the governor IS focused) for instance. But there are down times too. Keeping an even keel helps you focus on the future, and not worry if things go wrong temporarily.

Be like a shark: Sharks move forward. Never backward. We don’t like to spend time thinking about the past ― keep moving forward.

You aren’t working for me, you’re working for you! We don’t want our team to see our company as a top-down exercise. Every day, they take action that makes them better or benefits clients in ways that earn them the recognition they deserve.

Don’t confuse action with progress: Sometimes you find yourself going through a routine without thinking through whether we’re really making a difference. Find the strategy that moves you forward, and doesn’t just splash the water.

Action begets action: When others see you are creating change, they start to engage. When you see letters to the editor from people you never met using your messages, you’ve multiplied your forces in a smart way.

Get your work done and go home: You can work smart, hard or long. We like it when our teammates work smart and hard ― and then go home.

There’s no profit in peace: We attribute this one to longtime lobbyist Tom Hoisington. It’s the Lansing version of “run to fire.” When there’s a battle going on in Lansing, we want to be in it.

No sins of commission; just sins of omission: Our version of “ask for forgiveness.” We want our team to step out and take action when they think they know what a client needs, not wait for permission.

Look it up yourself: When you have old guys like Roger and me around, it’s easy for young teammates to visit us in our office or online to ask a question that they can answer on their own. We urge folks to check a couple places before coming to our offices on these kinds of matters ― for their benefit and ours.

Passionately argued, lightly held: At Martin Waymire, we highly value input from all of our team members. We want each decision to be made after deliberation and thoughtful review of various points of view. But when the decision is made, we expect everyone to jump on board, taking action as a team.

Start with “I want”: Nothing undermines teamwork like passive aggression. We want our team to be aggressive in clearly stating what they want. They may not get it – but at least we won’t be left guessing as decisions are made.

Rock ‘n roll: Let’s get going.

I’m sure the rest of the team has heard us come up with others. But one thing we know: We still ain’t satisfied.

So, rock ‘n roll with us on Oct. 10. We hope to see you there.

Dave Waymire, Partner

Get your free tickets to Rocktoberfest HERE.