Doing business with love is something that you shouldn’t be ignoring or neglecting because in the long run, it could just be hurting you. Business without love is dry, a repetitive set of actions that will continue to claw at you until you’re beaten and broken. Steve Farber invites you into a world where doing business with love is everything. Steve talks about the ways in which love and business intersect, and illuminates the pitfalls of going about your business without love. Infuse all the love you can muster into your business today!
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Love Is Just Damn Good Business
Welcome to episode number one, the inaugural episode for this show. Thank you so much for joining me. Like many people nowadays, I have been looking forward to doing this for a long time, which is what everybody says, “I am going to do a podcast.” It’s the new version of, “I’m going to write a book. I have an idea for a book for years.” I’ve written four books now but for years, people would come up to me and say, “I’m thinking about writing a book. What’s the best way to get started? How should I do that?” My sage advice has always been, “You sit down and you write.” You have to at least get started with that.
I’ve done the same thing with this podcasting idea for it seems like eons now, even though we all know that podcasts have not been around for eons. Nonetheless, here we are and I’m so thrilled that you’re joining me. I’ve got some great things planned for this show. It’s going to be a mixture of phenomenal interviews with great business leaders. It’s going to be a series of videos and outtakes from videos and audio from videos at our events called the Extreme Leadership Experience. I’ll share some of that with you, as well as some musings of my own based on what I’m thinking about and articles that I’ve written and so forth. You and I are going to get to know each other through this process, and I’m very much looking forward to that. If we’re new to each other or if I’m new to you, let me give you a little background of myself.
I’ve been at work with leadership development now for many years. I’ve had the opportunity to work with about every kind of organization you can imagine, oftentimes from top to bottom to create cultures of leadership. I’ve been involved in the study of leadership, the practice of leadership. I’ve been coaching leaders and writing about leadership for many years. I am the first to admit I don’t have it all figured out. If you’re coming to me, coming to this show for all the answers, you will be gravely disappointed because I don’t have them, neither do you and neither does anybody else that I’ve met so far.
I’m a student of the subject as much as I am a teacher of the subject. I’m looking forward to learning from our guests as we go along. In my wanderings over the past decades, just about every industry and company that you can imagine, even though I haven’t figured it all out, I have learned a few things that I believe are significant. After four books, The Radical Leap, which originally came out in 2004, The Radical Edge, which originally came out in 2006, Greater Than Yourself came out in 2009, then a couple of other additions of those books. My new book, Love is Just Damn Good Business, the namesake of this podcast came out in September of 2018.Love is not a sentiment. It's a practice of discipline. Click To Tweet
Even after all of these books and all of these ideas, I have noticed that some of them tend to hit home with people because I didn’t make them up. They’re based on my observation of what great leaders and great businesses do. The primary conclusion that I came to, if that’s the right way to say it, is that when you get down to the essence of what great leadership and a great business is, it comes down to the L-word. Not only is love not inappropriate in the context of business, but love is also at the very foundation of what great business is. It’s at the very foundation of what great leadership is. This notion somehow that love and business are anathemas to each other, that love has no place in business is crazy. It’s something that we made up. It makes some people squirm, I understand that.
Sometimes people go directly to some touchy-feely Kumbaya, California hoo-hah crap definition of what love is. That is not what I mean. Love is not a sentiment, it’s a practice on a discipline. When applied in business, it yields a very powerful competitive advantage. It enables us to accomplish all that we set out to do even more. I’m not making this up. I didn’t invent love and I certainly didn’t invent love in the context of business. I stand on the shoulders of giants in this arena. My mentors, Tom Peters, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner of The Leadership Challenge and Fame and the late, great, Terry Pierce, who was one of the finest executive coaches on the planet. These are all people whose work deeply informs my own and helped me to see very clearly that love, in fact, is damn good business. That is what we are here to explore together over the years to come, God willing.
For our inaugural episode, I have something special that I would like to share with you. Not that the other episodes won’t be special, but to get us kicked off in the right way, I want to take you back to 2019 at our second Annual Extreme Leadership Experience, which took place in San Diego, California where I live, where I’m coming to you from. The Extreme Leadership Experience is our annual event. That’s why that was the second annual. We bring together people who are well versed in this idea that that love is just damn good business and other elements of the extreme leadership framework called the Radical LEAP, which you’ll hear a lot about throughout the course of these episodes. LEAP stands for Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. Love is the foundation. Energy is the juice that we bring to bear on everything that we do every day. Audacity is not thinking outside the box, it’s more like what box. It’s the audacity to change the world for the better. It’s that the audacity to boldly and blatantly disregard constraints that are thrown in our way so we could accomplish something extraordinary together. That’s A in LEAP.
Finally, the proof is about showing not only the results but proving that we mean what we say by making sure that our actions line up with our own words. Love, energy, audacity, and proof is our operating system, it’s our framework and at the foundation of that is love. Another way to think about it is love generates energy, love inspires audacity and love requires proof. At the Extreme Leadership Experience in 2019, my new book, Love is Just Damn Good Business had not yet been published but I did have the manuscript, I shared with the audience the preface to the book which is my story and my point of view on why I feel this subject is important. I’d like to share that with you. Let’s hop into the time machine. Go back to 2019 to the Extreme Leadership Experience. I’m going to invite you to sit in the audience as I read to you from the preface to Love is Just Damn Good Business. Enjoy.
The more you can get the word out about this book and get a couple of copies for yourself, you can look at it on the list and say, “I helped make that happen.” Wouldn’t that feel gratifying? I’m going to read to you the very beginning of this book and it will set us up for the rest of the day. You’ve been hearing a lot of personal stories of how people on this stage got to where they are to share their stories with us. There’s a little bit of that and here as well. Love is Just Damn Good Business with subtitle, Do What you Love in the Service of People Who Love What You Do, a theme you might recognize. There was a time in my adulthood where I didn’t do what I loved. Like all too many people on this planet and I spent years floundering through life with no particular sense of direction or purpose or at least not one that would enable me to support a family.
When I was a younger man, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’d been playing guitar since I was thirteen. If you had asked me in my late teens and early twenties what I was going to do with my life, my answer would have been obvious: play music, write songs and perform. I got married at 23 and that marriage came with a huge bonus: my first child, Angelica. By the time I was 24, my son, Saul, had joined the clan and at that point, I discovered that being a musician and feeding people were mutually exclusive ideas. Like a gunslinger hanging up this revolver, I hung up my guitar and I started trying to provide for and raise a family.
That’s when I got into the business and came to discover that I was an entrepreneur. Giving up the music, however, was extraordinarily painful. I felt like I was grieving the death of a dream. Music had been such a huge part of my personality. It was part of the way I had connected with people and shared who I was. It was what I loved to do. Giving it up as a professional pursuit was so painful that I stopped playing altogether. At the same time, however, I began to pursue a new, deeply fulfilling dream: fatherhood. I love my family, I love my kids and I got deep gratification and bringing home the paycheck on the all two occasional times when that happened.
My first real job was in the commodities futures business. It was a straight commission gig, so it was feast or famine and that taught me a lot about entrepreneurship because it was up to me to keep my boat afloat. A lesson that has served me well ever since. Discovering and growing into my natural entrepreneurial inclinations, I soon opened my own brokerage shop which meant I paid myself a salary, but only if the company created the income to allow it. That was my baptism of fire into the world of business. It’s where I learned about hiring people and motivating them to be productive about marketing, about the stress and pressure of having to make payroll when other people are depending on you for the money to feed their families and all of the various and sundry things every entrepreneur has to learn. I learned very quickly and painfully.Even though you love the game of business, you actually hate business. Click To Tweet
Ironically, the main thing I learned was that even though I loved the game of business, I hated that business. From the outside, it looked pretty cool. It’s the classic American dream. I had my own company and great employees. I was my own boss. I had kids, a house, a car, a dog and all the middle-class trappings anyone could hope for. The problem was that the commodity future is a very speculative investment so our clients lost their money left and right. This led me to have a moral dilemma with my own business and I flat-out hated it. It’s one thing to have your own business, it’s quite another thing to despise it.
To recap, in a very short period of time, I got married, had kids who raised the stakes in terms of responsibility as a provider. I gave up music, which caused me grief and I got into a business that I hated. There was no music, no joy in going to work and this was all before I was 30 years old. Came a series of pivotal moments in late 1988 in early 1989, my growing family and I were still living in the Midwest. By then, my younger son Jeremy had arrived so I had three kids. My business partner had welched on a $25,000 funding commitment and consequently, my business went down in flames. I was offered and accepted a job across the country in exciting San Francisco, but it was in the same industry, which of course I still hated. This was someone else’s company however, so the task of making payroll fell on his shoulders, not mine. For me, it was a new chapter in a new setting and a chance to start over.
On my lunch break one day, I found myself walking around the financial district of beautiful downtown San Francisco. Even though I felt the excitement and promise of the place and the opportunities it represented, I was still totally, utterly, unequivocally miserable and the grueling soulless work that I was continuing to grind out every week. I knew two things with equal crystal clarity. One, I had no doubt that there was something I was supposed to be doing on this planet and two, I had absolutely no blasted idea what it was. Although, I have a strong affinity for the spiritual, I’m not a particularly religious person, but while walking down the street on that blustery San Francisco day in 1989 feeling the woeful churn of a sailor lost at sea, I looked up to the sky and whispered through clenched teeth, “Come on, tell me what I’m supposed to be doing and I will gladly do it.” That was in retrospect, a pivotal moment.
I acknowledged that longing voice in my heart that says I have a purpose. It might have been days, at most a few weeks later, but soon found myself having a conversation with an old friend whom I hadn’t talked to in a while. He mentioned that a mutual friend of ours was teaching some workshops for corporations. It was all he said, no more detail, no explanation and right then, at that moment, after hearing those few ambiguous words, all of my lights went on. That’s it. I said, “That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” I had no idea what it was, but I knew it was for me. I started talking to people about this corporate training thing and soon discovered that there was a whole industry out there.
Training And Development
I had no idea there was such a thing as training and development. I dove headlong into the research to learn who did that line of work. I realized it would give me the opportunity to combine my business experience with my love for working with people and also allow me to make use of performance skills that I’d learned on stage. I asked everyone for leads into the industry. I created a resume that made the case for why inexperienced as I was, I would make a great trainer. I was hired by a small consulting company to do contract work, teaching business writing workshops. After I conducted my first session, I slapped a professional trainer on my resume and I was soon brought on board by an international training and consulting company which gave me broad experience working with a wide variety of businesses and industries in various parts of the world parenthetically where I met Dianne Kenny.
A few years later in 1994 at the ripe, old age of 36, I was hired by famed management guru, Tom Peters, and I met my mentors, Jim Kouzes and Terry Pierce. As a Vice President in Tom’s company, I learned about leadership at a very deep level and worked with senior executive teams across the business spectrum. I loved this work. I’d found my purpose. Over the years of my time at Tom Peter’s company, my experiences in the trenches with clients as well as my immersion into the collective bodies of work of Tom, Jim and Terry helped me develop my own point of view, my own leadership voice. There was one strong, unwavering, unrelenting conclusion that I came back to again and again.
My personal quest to find meaningful work that I love to do was not unique nor was it arbitrary. It was, in fact, a crucial universal principle. Love is the core of great leadership and I set the foundation of any thriving competitive business. I left the Tom Peters company in 2000. I published my first book, Radical Leap in 2004. Leap was followed by the Radical Edge and then Greater Than Yourself. Here in my early 60s, having traveled the globe to work with and speak to tens of thousands of people over the years, I can wholeheartedly say that I’m doing what I love in the service of people who love what I do. The insidious idea that we have to sacrifice one part of ourselves to nurture another is false.
Our ideal state is to be successful in our business ventures, to amplify personal joy and meaning in our lives and change the world for the better all at the same time. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. You don’t have to be a jerk to make money. You don’t have to sacrifice money for joy and you don’t have to be a martyr to change the world. Love it all. That’s where your success as a human being will come from. My advice to you is this, be totally unapologetic for the money you’re earning. Be unapologetic for the joy you’re experiencing. Be unapologetic for the impact you’re making on the world for the better, but aspire to do them all. That’s what we’re built to do, in my opinion. That’s at the very heart of why I believe love is damn good business because love is the secret sauce that makes it all possible.You don't have to sacrifice money for joy, and you don't have to be a martyr to change the world Click To Tweet
I wrote this book and offered this experience so we could all explore that together in a way that’s different from my previous books. The other ones, the previous were works of fiction, business parables based on my experiences. This one is nonfiction. It’s filled with stories from my personal experience, case studies, illustrations based on research and interviews and practical advice from all sorts of leaders and their organizations. They paint a picture of why love is damn good business and how to make it damn good for your business. Here’s what I suggest. As you join me on this journey, ask the questions that matter to you. Listen for the answers and then do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. I hope this book will serve you well in that endeavor.
There you have it. Not only was that a pretty good introduction to the book, but it’s a good introduction to our show as well. We’re going to explore these ideas in depth and my hope is that by virtue of you tuning in to these podcasts, you’re going to learn very specific ideas, strategies, tools, techniques and perspectives to help you operationalize love as a business practice and as a leadership practice. We can all get better at this. There are thousands of ways to apply this. Don’t expect this to be a prescription that you’d take out your little pad and I tell you exactly what to do. We’re going to be discovering these ideas and techniques together, but it’ll be practical and something that you can put into practice immediately is my hope. The other thing that I’d like you to keep in mind and perhaps I should have said this upfront but I can’t say it enough and it doesn’t matter what order this idea comes in. It’s always true. Leadership fundamentally has nothing to do with your position or title.
The relevance of this podcast has nothing to do with your position or title. If you’re the CEO of a company, great. If you work for the CEO of a company, fantastic. If you work in a big corporation, awesome. If you are an entrepreneur, that’s great. You’re starting your own company. If you’re a solopreneur, you’re out there on your own doing your thing, that’s fantastic. If you’re an educator, terrific. It doesn’t matter. These are universal principles that you can apply in any situation. It just so happens that my playground for a long time has been the world of business, but these ideas apply in all aspects of business and of course beyond into your personal life. Anywhere there are human beings involved, love comes into play. The question of, “What does it look like? What should it look like? How can we put it into practice?” is irrelevant and an increasingly important question for all of us. That my friends are the question that we will endeavor to answer together episode after episode. Thanks for tuning in. I’ll see you next time.
- Extreme Leadership Experience
- The Radical Leap
- The Radical Edge
- Greater Than Yourself
- Love is Just Damn Good Business
- The Leadership Challenge