LEAP stands for Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. It’s the mantra Steve Farber has had for years. He’s the author of The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge and Greater Than Yourself. Learn why you need to make the radical LEAP in your business……It will make your business much, much more sustainable.
Steve will be doing a certification program for those who want to become Extreme Leader facilitators. If after you’ve listened to this podcast and you’re interested about learning more about his program, click here.
I was introduced to Steve by my dentist. Steve tells me that I’m the only person who’s ever bought his book because of a dentist recommendation. That just tells you the type of person my dentist is and the sense of humor Steve has.
Today we’re going to be talking with Steve about taking a radical LEAP and how you can and should integrate love, energy, audacity and proof into your life and business.
I personally believe that we don’t talk about love nearly enough in the business context. After all, I truly hope you love your work, have tons of energy about what you do, will step outside of your comfort zone at least once in a while and always go for proof that what you’re doing works.
In today’s podcast we’re going to cover:
- What a radical leap is and why you should care.
- Why extreme leadership is called for in today’s business environment.
- How love becomes a hard core business principle.
- Learn how core values are a major part of your business, whether you know what they are or not.
- A challenge to you to become more audacious in how you run your business.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business podcast.
Today, you’re in for a real treat. Today, we have Steve Farber who is the president and founder of the Extreme Leadership Institute. He is on Inc’s ranking of the top 50 leadership and management experts in the world. He is a best‑selling author of three books. And if we have time, we’ll be talking about all three today. And before he went off on his own, he used to work for Tom Peters who is another international bestseller and started the Tom Peters Group and wrote a little book called In Search of Excellence which is probably one of the all‑time bestsellers of any business book. Working with Tom was, I’m sure, an interesting experience and we may even get around to talking about that. So, instead of listening to me talk about Steve, why don’t we let Steve come in and talk himself?
Hey Steve, how are you today?
Steve: I’m doing great, Josh. How are you?
Josh: I’m well. Thanks so much for joining us.
Steve: Yeah, thanks for having me on.
Josh: My pleasure. So, let’s start off. Your first book, the Radical LEAP, which kind of a funny way to come across a book – my best friend who happens to be my dentist said, “You’ve got to read this book” a long time ago. I read it and I’ve loved it. I’ve been to a bunch of your programs and happy I did so. But what is a Radical LEAP?
Steve: It’s amazing how many books I’ve sold through dentists.
Josh: It is.
Steve: I think it’s one, actually.
The Radical LEAP was my first book. It came out in its original edition in 2004. We’ve got a couple of other editions of it including the 10th anniversary edition.
But LEAP itself is a framework. L-E-A-P is a framework for what I call extreme leadership. The extreme leader is somebody who cultivates love, generates energy, inspires audacity and provides proof. So, Love – Energy –Audacity – and Proof is LEAP. And it’s something that is open and available to anybody, regardless of their position or title. So, this is not leadership in the way that we traditionally think of it as, you know, leadership that has to be done by the boss, but it’s for anybody that’s really passionate about changing their piece of the world for the better.
Josh: Cool. So, if I was going to take a look at four things of love, energy, audacity, and proof, where would I start and why?
Steve: Well, I think, actually the best place to start is with the L-word. Love is not a word that we are accustomed to saying in the same sentence as business. However, it’s really the foundation of what a great leadership is. And this is foundation of any great thriving and competitive business.
So, we put love as a hard core business principle. So, a great place to start is by asking ourselves a very personal, fundamental question which is essentially “Why do I love this business? Or what do I love about this business? Or why do I love my customers? Why do I love my employees?” Start with that because that’s the raw material for everything else. That’s what gives us our drive, our motivation, the impetus, the instinct to really build the best possible business we can build.
Josh: So, there might be a flip side to that question which is, what don’t I love? Or, is there stuff I don’t love that I should love? Does that make any sense?
Steve: Oh, of course it does. In fact, Josh, there’s probably a thousand ways to ask the question. You know, “Why do I love this business?” They’re not magic words.
So, yeah, you could start with that negative side of it. “Is there something in this business that makes me miserable? Am I doing something that, yeah it’s making me money, it’s paying the bills but I really find that I’m living my life on the spare hours or the weekends where I’m not thinking about work.”
There’s a problem there. Can you prosper? Can you make money and not love your work?
Yes. We’ve all known people who have been absolutely miserable for 25 to 30 years in their business. But I don’t think that’s the ideal state of existence, you know. But if we’re talking about leadership, about our ability to influence the people around us to really engage and do phenomenal things, then the love has to be there. Otherwise, we’re really not going to be particularly inspiring to people.
Josh: So, most of the people who listen to this podcast own businesses. And if one of our listeners was to come up to you and say, “You know, Steve, I hear what you’re saying but I don’t love my business. I don’t love what I’m doing in my business.” What would you recommend to him?
Steve: Well, first of all, you have to ask yourself if that’s okay for yourself, right? “Am I okay, owning a business that I really don’t love? Am I okay with the effect that that has on the rest of my life?” If the answer to that is “yes” then there’s nothing I’m going to do or say that’s going to change that.
But the other way of looking at it is, if you really want to lead your employees —whether you have 50 employees, or 100 employees, or whatever, they’re looking to you for leadership. Whether you like it or not, that’s what’s happening. And your ability to keep them engaged, to help them feel good about what they’re doing, to do the best they can for your customers which is ultimately what we’re after as business people, then if your heart’s not in it, they’re going to know that, and anything that you say in order to “motivate them” is going to sound like BS, right?
So, a good place to start is to ask yourself “Is there something in your business and in your work that does kind of stoke the fires of your heart a bit?” to speak poetically. In other words, “Is there an aspect about your work that you love? Is it that you love your employees? Is it that you love the impact that your product or service has on your customers?” Start there. Find some place. Put your attention on that and see if you can throw a little bit of fuel on that fire, in a positive way.
You know, a lot of times, because I’m an entrepreneur as well, we start businesses with these big expectations and lots of fire and energy and huge audacious goals and plans. And then, you know, we’re successful to a certain degree or not. You know, there’s that whole spectrum. But along the way, we find ourselves running out of steam because we just lose our energy. And I think it’s really important for us to give ourselves the opportunity to re-kindle the fire – the love that was there when we started this thing, right? So if you started your business 15 to 20 years ago, and you do a little bit of a rewind and ask yourself, “How did you feel when you came to work every day?” and none of that feeling is there anymore, this is the opportunity to get it back. It could be that you just haven’t been paying attention to it or you started taking it for granted. I mean, there are a lot of ways to rekindle that fire but I think it’s really important to do that.
Josh: So, what are the things we spend a lot of time on when we work with private business owners especially on creating a sustainable businesses is the concept of core values.
Josh: Would you think that love – would it have to be a core value for the creative business that’s truly sustainable and will last past you?
Steve: Well, you know, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell anybody else what their core value should be. But, I will say that “you need to love what your core values are.” So, does that make love a value in and of itself? I don’t know, maybe that’s a semantic argument. But I think it’s really important to identify your core values, your operating principles et cetera. And those things really need to move you. That’s how you know they’re your core values. You believe in them. You stand for them. Your heart is in it.
So, there are some organizations that have used LEAP as a framework through which to look at their own values, right? So, it’s not necessarily about adopting it as a value set in and of itself but it is one of the ways that you can evaluate if you’re articulated values are what they should be and are set in the right way. Do they inspire that love in your heart when you think about them?
Josh: So, let’s move on to one of your other words – audacity. You recently sent out an e-mail saying, “Gee, audacity seems to be something a lot of people have trouble with.
Josh: I mean, I kind of get why people don’t want to be audacious. But what gets people in the way and what does audacious actually mean as far as running a sustainable business?
Steve: Audacity is a really interesting and problematic word which is one of the reasons I love it. It’s provocative because it could be positive or negative, right? In the way that we use the words like, “The audacity. Oh, the audacity, what a terrible thing?” But on the other hand, there’s this big, hairy, audacious goals as Jim Collins calls them. So, it could be positive or negative.
So, I define it like this, in the positive sense, audacity is a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints in order to change the world for the better. That’s audacity.
So, a number of years ago—maybe two years ago, now, I conducted a survey over quite a long period of time – an informal survey, not a scientific thing, just it’s out of curiosity, and I asked people, “Out of those four elements of LEAP –love, energy, audacity and proof, what do you need the most help with?” And audacity came out on top by a factor of 3:1. And I think it’s because it’s something particularly—
And I think this is true all over the world, anywhere you’re an entrepreneur, it’s true that audacity is something we aspire to. But here in the U.S., in particular, audacity and the so-called American Dream, the American entrepreneurial spirit and all that stuff that we take so much pride in, it’s part of our culture. We look up to people who are audacious. But then when we ask ourselves to take that leap of faith, to take that risk, to try something new, to challenge the status quo, to take a stand on something that’s unpopular, et cetera, it scares the hell out of us.
And, you know, I think it’s a really good question. Why is it—why is it that it’s so difficult for so many people? And for other people it’s like, “Oh, it’s just the way I am.” Great, but for the rest of us, what I’m trying to do is really learn the particulars. So, for people that are audacious or know others who are audacious and look up to them and say to themselves, “Gee, I wish I could be like that.” What I’m doing now is I’m in the early stages of some research on interviewing as many audacious people as possible so I can kind of source out from that, what is it that they do, so that the rest of us can learn from it. And not only what they do but what’s their perspective on what do they think about and how do they get themselves to do those things that the rest of us consider to be so audacious. So I think that there’s a lot we can learn from it.
But for right now, I would say this, the biggest thing that holds us back is our interpretation of fear. In other words, we interpret fear as a bad thing. We don’t want to take a risk because it scares us and that fear is bad, so we avoid fear.
Now, often times fear is bad. Maybe most of the time, fear is bad or we don’t like it because it’s telling us that something is bad, right? So, if you keep the fear out of it then nothing bad is happening. That’s the way that we interpret it.
In the right context, however, fear is actually a good thing. It’s an indicator that we’re doing something, that we’re stepping out but yet we interpret it as a bad thing. So, some of this is just kind of a re-framing or re-interpretation of our own experience that if I’m about to do something and I think it’s going to be great and I’ve done the research and I’ve never done this thing before, there’s no guarantees it’s going to work but I’ve done the research on it. I’ve talked to the right people. I’m convinced it’s going to be a good thing but I still haven’t done it. And if I ask myself at that juncture, “Why haven’t I done it?” And the honest answer that I give myself is, “Because I’m scared to.” Then that’s the reason to do it. So, to say it in another way, if the only reason you can think of to not do something is because the idea scares you, then that’s the reason to do it. That is audacity.
Josh: Well, that is a good thing.
So, here’s a thought I just had – or a question I want to ask around audacity, “Where do mistakes fit in with this?” I mean, it seems that, you know, again, we’re going back to fear but boy we don’t like to make mistakes in this country, and the rest of the world is far worse than we are. So, if you’re not willing to make a mistake, are you ever going to be willing to be audacious?
Steve: Well, the simply answer is “no” because it comes back to this fear of being judged and fear of failure and all that.
Now, listen, let’s acknowledge it, none of us wants to fail. We all want to be successful on everything we do. Unfortunately, that is an entirely irresponsible and unrealistic expectation we put on ourselves because if we’re being really honest, we screw up in every day in something. And here’s the great thing about that, so does everybody else, right? It’s part of being human. So, yes we don’t like failing. We don’t like making mistakes. Yet, it’s necessary.
So I think, a truly audacious person understands that and they’re willing to make the right kind of mistakes. What we don’t want to do is make the same mistake over and over again. We don’t want to make stupid mistakes. We don’t want to make mistakes that are just irresponsible, right? Oh, you know, I’ve made a mistake. When I robbed the grocery store, that was a mistake. It’s not a mistake. That’s robbing a grocery store.
You know, I’m talking about the mistakes that occur in the act of trying to be innovative, in the act of trying to change things for the better, in the act of trying to improve relationships, in the act of trying to make our businesses better. We’re going to make mistakes. We don’t like it but we’re going to.
So, therefore, the question needs to be, when I made that mistake, what did I learn from it so that I won’t make that same mistake again and it’s going to lead me onto something better and I would raise the stakes on this a little bit – the mistake stakes, by saying, “Are you willing to share the mistakes that you’ve made and what you learned from it with the people around you?” Are you willing to say, “Hey, listen, here’s what I tried. It didn’t work. I screwed it up. Here’s what I learned from it. I’m sharing that with you so you can get the benefit of my experience and you won’t go out to make the same mistake I did. And in fact, you can build on what I’ve learned to make things better out here. So, it’s about approaching mistakes differently. And even though we just need to come to terms with the fact that we’re never going to really like it but we can really love the outcome of doing it, you know, for the right reasons and learning the right lessons from the mistakes that you make.
Josh: Cool. So your last book that you wrote was Better Than Yourself and I love that concept. Can you talk about the concept as it would relate to an owner of a privately held business? Why would they want to make somebody better than themselves? Aren’t they the best already?
Steve: Yeah, yeah. Well, no.
So, the title of the book is Greater Than Yourself although Better Than Yourself is good, thank you.
Josh: Oh, sorry about that.
Steve: But Greater Than Yourself, it has a better ring to it.
Josh: It does, it does and I get things wrong like that all the time.
Steve: So, you see, you’ve made a mistake. Don’t you feel terrible?
Josh: No, actually I celebrate my mistakes. I’m an expert at making mistakes.
Steve: That’s great. Me, too. I’ve made a lot of them.
So, Greater Than Yourself, the concept, first of all, is this – it’s really very simple. The greatest leaders become the greatest leaders by making others greater than themselves. It’s a bit of a paradox but it’s true. The greatest leaders that I’ve met in my 25-plus years of doing this kind of work, they don’t shine the spotlight on themselves. They don’t take credit for other people’s work. They relish the experience of training other people into superstars. They relish the experience of seeing the people that they’ve worked with, go on to accomplish things greater than they’ve been able to accomplish themselves.
And we see this in context it seems to be perfectly reasonable. It’s like, for example, a teacher—let’s say an eighth-grade teacher. There is no greater accomplishment for an eighth-grade teacher than seeing one of their students go on to win the Nobel Prize one day, for example, right? They’re still teaching eighth grade and they can point to that and say, “Look, what I helped happen – what I helped create.” There’s no greater accomplishment for a parent – a healthy parent, anyway, than to see their kids go on to live lives that are more fulfilling and prosperous et cetera than their own.
It’s the context of work that screws us up. Then we go to work and we say, “Ah, here it doesn’t apply because now this is a zero-sum game, right? For every success, there’s a failure. Therefore, I need to be the successful one. Therefore, you need to fail. That my success is somehow predicated on your not being as good as this or as accomplished as I am. Or maybe even my success is predicated on your failure.” And we have been conditioned to believe that this is the truth. And it’s just a crock. It doesn’t make any sense, really, because the way that you gain credibility as a leader – the way that you gain a track record as a leader is by showing–it’s by demonstrating that your influence makes other people better.
So the concept of Greater Than Yourself, the book, is that very simple concept and it throws down the challenge that each of us should take on what I call GTY—so that’s Greater Than Yourself for short, GTY projects. So people that we can take on to invest ourselves in for the purpose of lifting them up above ourselves. So, you can think of it as, you know, mentoring on steroids, if you like. They are extreme mentoring. It resonates with a lot of people who already have an instinct and have been conditioned to believe that somehow they’re really not supposed to do that.
By the way, I’m really excited that Penguin Random House is the publisher of that book and they’re going to re-release it. It came out originally in 2009. We’re going to do a re-release in the beginning of 2017 so I’m really excited about that because, frankly, I think the book came out before its time and I think the time is really right for it now.
Josh: Cool. Well, Steve, we’re almost out of time, and I know that you have a certification program which seems to be pretty interesting. Can you take a minute or two and tell us about it and what people might get?
Steve: Yeah, absolutely.
So, the best place to see all this is at stevefarber.com. We have a workshop called the Extreme Leadership Workshop and I license and certify people that teach that workshop. So, the certification that we run here in San Diego – the next one is coming up August 17 of this year, 2016, is designed to take people to the experience of the workshop, learn how to facilitate it, and then get some practice doing so. And then we finish the whole thing up at the end of the four days with a barbecue celebration at my home here in San Diego.
There are people that come to this, some are professional facilitators, some are coming from the companies that they work for – sending them. A lot of people that come to this are leaders. They’re entrepreneurs. They have their own business. They have their own practice and they just want to learn about extreme leadership and apply it more deeply to their own life and to their own business, so you don’t have to be a professional facilitator.
We use the workshop as a method to really go deep into LEAP. It’s important to rhyme whenever it’s possible. So, it’s a phenomenal experience, Josh. I mean, it really is amazing. It’s transformational for a lot of people. It’s a great deal of fun. And it’s something that, you know, I conduct personally along with one of my master facilitators, Dianne Kenny. I would highly recommend it to anybody who has even the slightest instinct that they want to develop themselves as leaders. It’s a really a great, great thing.
Josh: I will say that I’m sure it’s a fabulous program, having been to a couple of your other programs. I can’t believe this would even be even better. So, if you want more information, how would they get that again, Steve?
Steve: Yeah, so you can go to stevefarber.com. And for certification in particular, it’s just stevefarber.com/certification. All the information is there.
And by the way, on my website, I offer a free audio series. You could sign up for that there. And I get a lot of really great feedback on that. So, I think you’ll really enjoy that. There’s lots of good resources for you there.
I invite you to reach out to me through stevefarber.com.
Josh: Unfortunately, Steve, we are out of time. I would like to go longer. Maybe, we’ll have you back again sometime soon? That would be wonderful.
Steve: Happy to do it, Josh. Anytime.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.