Steve Farber photo

When I First Met Pops

In anticipation of the release of the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Radical Leap, here’s another entry from my hand-written notes on the original manuscript. (Read the previous post here).

This became the scene where I first meet the character, Pops Maritime, and he lectures me on the importance of Love as a business principle. And since these are my original notes, it’s not only the scene where I first met him, it’s when I actually first met him–in the world of my imagination, that is.

Said another way, this really is my first encounter with Pops (a character many readers have told me is their favorite).

I’ve typed the text, along with the image of my notebook pages, because even though you can click the jpg below to enlarge it, I don’t expect you to be able to read my chicken scratch.




We have to get more comfortable talking about love in the context of our businesses.

Edg: “This is not some California touchy-feeley whoo ha garbage. Saying that love has no place at work is just like saying human beings have no place at work. It’s absurd. The Extreme Leader will bring her heart to work and try to express it in everything she does. You already bring your heart to work. It’s not like you arrive at your office, pluck your heart out of your chest, and leave it throbbing on the sidewalk awaiting your return. So use it, dude. If you’re only using your heart to perform its anatomical function, you are wasting one mighty fine organ.”

Pops: “If you’re not careful, you’re going to miss the chance to let people know how much you care for them. The irony is that we often take for granted the very people that mean the most to us. It’s like the old story of the couple that had been married for 30 years. They’re sitting around the breakfast table, yet another morning, she with her coffee and he hidden away behind his newspaper. She says to him ‘Honey, how come you never tell me you love me anymore?’ And he, from behind his paper, says, ‘What do you mean? I told you I loved you when we got married. If anything changes I’ll let you know.’”




I chuckled–not only at the story, but at Pops’ ability to tell it. He had great delivery.

“That’s the way it is at work, too.” Pops continued. “When someone does great work we may give a pat on the back and say, ‘nice job,’ but we don’t take the time to stop, focus, and tell them how much we appreciate them. Then we wonder why they leave or run out of steam. There’s a very simple way to avoid the tragedy of a missed opportunity to express gratitude: do it now, right now, don’t wait another minute, because you never know when that next minute will be your last. Someday it will.”

“So make sure you give timely and sincere recognition to the people you work with,” I said. “With all due respect, Pops,” (I was still having trouble calling him that), “that’s the oldest management technique in the book.”

He looked at me, and I got an immediate hit of the man’s power. That gaze just about blew the back of my head out and I realized that I was being lulled into thinking that W H Macintosh was just garden-loving, water-sipping, trailer-living, mellow and retiring Pops. He wasn’t. He was an empire builder. And you don’t build empires by doing a bunch of namby-pamby management techniques.

He pushed his chair back and stood over me, never once taking his eyes off of mine.

“Once again, Mr. Farber,” said W H Macintosh, Empire Builder, “you have missed the point.”

He turned away and disappeared into the trailer.

“What just happened there?”  I asked Edg.

“He’ll be back.”

“Did I piss him off?”

“Just pushed a proverbial button, I think.”

He smiled, and I felt a little better – but not by much.  We sat and sipped our water in silence and a few minutes later, Pops stepped into the garden carrying a pad of paper and a book whose title I couldn’t quite make out.

Band of Brothers,” said Pops as he settled back into his chair. “I want to read you something.” He leafed through the book.

“This is a letter written by Sgt. Floyd Talbert to his Major, Dick Winters, in 1945. Talbert had been wounded in the front lines of the war with Germany and was confined to his hospital bed when he wrote, ‘Dick, you are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you or I should say with you because that is the way you lead… I would follow you into hell.’

“Now I want you to tell me, Steve,” he locked his eyes back on mine, “if that sounds like a ‘management technique’?”

“Well, no. But…”

“Let’s be clear about this. When Talbert said I would follow you into hell, he was not speaking metaphorically. He had already followed Winters into hell. Literally. And he would do it again. ”

He stopped, and the silence rushed in around us.

“By writing this letter, was he practicing a ‘technique’ to get in good with his boss? Was he trying to kiss up, to manipulate the situation to his own future benefit? Is that what he was doing, Steve?”


Looking Back to Look Forward

The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership was first published in 2004 and has become the cornerstone of my body of work. In preparing for the launch of the 10th Anniversary edition (coming in September!), I found myself looking back through my original notes and scratchings from twelve years ago, when I was first giving birth to this thing.

As an avid reader, I always find it fascinating when I can get a glimpse into the creative process of writers I admire, but I’ve never shared my own process with anyone else.

Until now.

In celebration of the impending release of the new edition, it’s my pleasure to open up my notebooks to you with you a series of revealing–and sometimes awkward, sometimes inane–snippets from my personal archive of handwritten scrawls.

Maybe it’ll help you get some insight into your own creative process. At the very least, you can have yourself a chuckle at mine.

Here now, is an entry from my notebook on November 19, 2002.  (I’ve transcribed it into a text that you can actually read, too):

Farber Notebook 11 19 02

I feel stuck. Is the story moving in a way that makes the essential points of Extreme Leadership? The Extreme Leader’s journey is extremely personal – maybe the essence is to bring one’s self fully into work – show who you are with boldness.  Make Janice more guarded to begin with. Make my character more despairing to begin with. Character/leadership development is a process of self-discovery and self-revelation (i.e.: reveal yourself publicly) and focus that powerful intent on an audacious mission (change the world).

Cultivate Love, Generate Energy by understanding/discovering/re-connecting with your deepest motivation, individually and collectively; Inspire Audacity by expanding your intent beyond the “normal constraints”; Provide Proof through bold, consistent, loving, urgent action (What can I do today to prove I mean it?)

Cultivate Love by desiring to do so; finding the lovable in people, products, company; lowering your gratitude threshold; expressing your appreciation; putting your attention on the good in people; building relationships.

A New Standard for Public Service?

John Morgan, the founder of The Chinook Institute for Civic Leadership, is, at his core, a civil servant. An urban planner, to be precise.

Given the stereotypes that many attribute to government workers, you may think that “love” and “urban planning” would be words that you’d never find in the same sentence.

Think again.

John recently received the Planner of the Year award from the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association, and his acceptance speech is a primer for Extreme Leadership in service of the public.

What if John’s words are a harbinger of a future model of the stereotypical public servant?

Imagine the implications.

Here is an excerpt from his remarks:

“I can think of no better reason for me to accept this award than to understand the work I do is focused on the concepts expressed in this adage from The Radical Leapdo what you love in the service of people who love what you do.

“The phrase has three distinct parts. The first, do what you love, is at the core of our profession for we all made the conscience choice to seek an education and pursue a career in urban planning, not because of the high pay, the easy riches, the ease of the task, the fun of the work; far from it.

“We did it for the love. We did it, and do it, because we love what we do. It gives us meaning, purpose, optimism, hope, and perhaps, a sense of noble cause. We stick with it even in times of great chaos and angst and strife because we love something much bigger than us.

“We love a hope of a better future for our communities, our society, even our world. We are doing what we love.

“The third part I’ll discuss next, of people who love what you do. We must never interpret these words as accolades for our processes or products. We must never think a person loves what we do as they might love the sculpture a fine artist creates. Rather, they love us because of what we do to allow them to create something they love.

“We are but a vehicle, a catalyst, a teacher, a facilitator, a builder of frameworks, an enabler. We are totally focused on helping people perceive, define, and create a future they love. We do not do it for them. We help them do it themselves -creating something they love.

“We help create courage to change, create, transform, fight if necessary, and to believe. Those who love what we do, are really loving what they do themselves, and they acknowledge through love that, but for us, it could not have come to pass.

“We come last to the middle part of the phrase, in the service. We must always remember that none of this is about us. It is about those we serve.

“It is about the communities of purpose and place who entrust us to help guide them in creating the future. It is about the individuals, the families, the teams we serve with our professional work, lives, and love.

“It is not about us; it is about them and always will be. Being rooted in that service to others is the foundation not only of our work, but of any nobility we earn.

“I try every day to be purposefully mindful of doing what I love in the service of people who love what I do.  Perhaps it took many years to understand that purpose and calling in life. Perhaps that created the environment in which my work was recognized by this award for which I am extremely grateful.

“I do know that I have faced a myriad of excruciating challenges along this path, but courage to face them is always rooted in my gratitude for being able to work in this noble cause, and in my love for what I do, for what we do, and for what we are about.”

A Declaration for Your Wall

A declaration is a powerful thing. By making a declaration, you not only announce something, you proclaim it to be a true and accurate representation of who you are and what you believe in. You make a vow to anyone who reads or listens that you … Read the full article→

4 Steps to Tracking Your Commitments

In response to the challenge in my previous post, Bob "Batch" Batcheler launched himself on a personal Do What You Say You Will Do campaign. He shared his experience in the comments: "One of the things that I am trying to do is to write down EVERY … Read the full article→

A 7 Word Sequence that Changes Everything

I'm 56 years old and I'm embarrassed to say that it's taken me so long to figure this out: People who consistently follow through on their words are exceedingly rare. Unfortunately, most of us, no matter how well-intentioned we may be, let our … Read the full article→

Summit Press Release

Press Release: Fortune 500 Executive Leadership Coach and Best-Selling Author to Share Stage with Mega-Rockstar at 2nd Annual Extreme Leadership Summit in Chicago this April 11-13 Jay Jay French of Twister Sister to deliver a keynote address at … Read the full article→

Caught On Video: A Rock Star’s Lesson for the Rest of Us

It's not every day you get to sit down and chat with a rock star, is it? Jay Jay French is the founder, manager, and guitarist for the iconic rock 'n roll band, Twisted Sister. And after performing over 9000 shows in front of millions of … Read the full article→

How to Master Your Master Mind

The term  "Master Mind" has been part of our modern day lexicon since  Napoleon Hill wrote about its power in Think And Grow Rich, which was originally published in 1937. And for good reason. There are few things more powerful than being a part … Read the full article→

What’s Your Radical Leap?

I shot this while I was down under for my friends at Harcourts. And now...straight from Surfer's Paradise, Australia...   … Read the full article→