Steve Farber is the founder and CEO of The Extreme Leadership Institute, an organization devoted to working with individuals, teams, and organizations to develop build award-winning cultures and deliver radical results in business, non-profits, and education.
Coaching and inspiring Extreme Leadership at all organizational levels is Steve’s passion, and he does so with a style that is part strategist, part social commentator and all energy.
In today’s episode you will learn:
- How to close the gap between what you love and what you do?
- Why love is damn good business?
- How to put love into practice?
- How a company can use love to skyrocket from bankruptcy?
- What can we do differently to show our customers that we love them?
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. We’re in for a unbelievable and I mean, unbelievable treat today. We have my friend Steve Farber with us. Steve is an accomplished author. He has written like nine zillion books. He tells me he hasn’t written a book in 10 years.
Steve: Yeah, nine zillion or four, I think it’s closer to four, than nine zillion. It feels like nine zillion, just this one book feels like nine zillion.
Josh: But more importantly, this is Steve Farber, who’s talking with us. We’re on Facebook Live. Steve is like one of the nicest human beings in the whole world. He has written three books. He’s got a fourth book coming out it’s called Love is Just Damn Good Business. That’s the topic of today’s conversation. We’re going to talk about why love is damn good business and why people won’t use that word and tell others they love each other in business, because we all do.
Let’s bring Steve on. Hey, Steve, how are you today?
Steve: I’m doing great, Josh, thank you. It’s a great pleasure to be here with you. Love is not a word that we use in the same sentence as business, most of us. I think that’s tragic, actually because we’ve been conditioned to believe for whatever reason that love is some kind of soft squishy, or as I like to say, California touchy feely who hot crap. I can say that because I live in California.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I mean, love is not— first of all, it’s not soft. It’s hard, man. It’s challenging. First of all, I always have trouble picking it first of all. And first of all, it is just damn good business because that is quite literally where our competitive advantage comes from. When our clients love doing business with us, they will spend more money and do more business with us.
When our employees love working here, they’ll stick around longer. They’ll work harder. They’ll do better work. They’ll recruit other great people to come and work here. Me as an individual, as the generic leader, as it were, if I don’t love my business, the people I’m working with and the people that were working for otherwise known as our customers, my effectiveness is going to drop precipitously because I just kind of have to power through and worst fake it.
Josh: So Steve, I got pushed back just a little bit because in my experience, we all use the word love in business all the time. We don’t use it purposefully or mindfully. We use it as a throwaway word.
Steve: Absolutely right. We do just like I love ice cream.
Steve: What does that mean? I remember— I just flashback is when my daughter Angelica, who’s now 42 when she was like five or six years old. I’d say like, “Oh, I love pizza.” She goes, “Why don’t you marry it?” I used to think that was like, “Well, let me explain that to you because I don’t really love it the same way I love you.” Not that I would marry her either, but anyway, my point is your point, Josh. It’s a word that we toss around. We use it lightly. We don’t really consider the meaning of it.
Then, yet, we understand how important so what do companies do? They say things like, “We love our customers.” Quite literally, they say that. I think virtually every dry cleaner on the planet when you get your clothes back, there’s something on the hanger that says we heart our customers, right? I mean, we see the words everywhere, they print the buttons, and the banners and we love our—of course, they’re going to say that. What else are they going to say? Our customers are stupid. We wish they would get out of our way so we can get our jobs done around here.
Josh: Yeah, but that’s what most businesses actually think.
Steve: Exactly, exactly. Even worse, that’s how they act.
Steve: So this is not about just using the language. It’s about putting it into practice. It’s about operationalize love as a discipline in a way of doing business, not as a throwaway, not as something to be treated lightly. I do think it’s interesting that we tend to go to that one word easily because we really do understand that that’s important. We understand the feeling level of all of this.
Josh: If I actually decided to start thinking about loving a mindful manner around my business, and I actually say, “Gee, I really do want people to love my business, I want them to love being here. I want them to love doing business with us.” How does that actually change what happens in the business?
Steve: Well, I think quite significantly, and there are thousands of ways that it could. I’ll give you an example or two. First of all, I do think that by actually using the word love, in the pursuit of how we do business, we generate ideas that we wouldn’t have otherwise, because actually what we’re doing is raising the standards.
For example, if I’m brainstorming with my team, and we know that we want to increase our customer service response numbers. However we measure those whether it’s net promoter score or something else. We’re sitting down. We’re having a brainstorm session, how can we—and the question typically is, how can we improve our customer service? Good question.
That’s going to lead to some ideas, I’m sure. But if instead, we asked the question, what can we do differently to show our customers that we love them?
Josh: Woo I like that.
Steve: So just the question just using the language. Again, language is important. It’s not the only thing, but it does set a different expectation, and it’s going to create a different response, right? Improving customer service is nice, but showing them we love them, damn. Well, how do we do that? I’ll give you an example. There’s a company that I talked about a lot, they’re one of my favorite case studies. I have written about them in “Love Is Just Damn Good Business”. I’ve gotten to know them really well. They’ve become friends over the years. I really keep a close eye on these guys. It’s called Trailer Bridge. Trailer Bridge is shipping and Logistics Company in Jacksonville, Florida. They’ve been through a really significant operationalizing love effort at that company for several years now.
The short version of the story is they emerged from bankruptcy burned through four CEOs in three years. The place was toxic. The customer service numbers were terrible. They were in dire need of a turnaround. Mitch Luciano who’s now the President and CEO of the company, brought love in to the way they do business and lots of different ways, including how they handle their customers.
The story was this. Primarily they ship containers from the mainland to Puerto Rico. You can imagine your client of theirs, and you want to ship a car to Puerto Rico, to your family in Puerto Rico. You paid for it. You deliver the car to the dock. They loaded on the content, whatever it is, whatever their process is and you’re expecting it to arrive at such and such a date. You’ve told your family, and then you hear from the company, “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re not shipping as scheduled, because we are not yet 75% full in the container.” That was their policy. We don’t ship until the container is at least 75% full. Now, why do they have that policy because if they shifted anything under that they would lose money on that ship. So where does the customer fit into that scenario? Nowhere.
Steve: Right. So they asked the question, if we loved our customers, what would we do? The answer is really obvious when you ask it that way. We ship anyway because that’s what we said we would do. That’s the commitment that we made. That’s what they started doing. They shipped regardless, now that in addition to empowering their employees, is that the classic stuff, right? Empower the employee to make decisions to show the customer that you love them. Their employees have gone out of their way to— they’ve done things like rescue a customer from the highway because this one person’s truck broke down. They went out and jumped in and rescued him from my way. There’s nowhere in their job description that says they had to do that, but that’s what you do when you love somebody.
This was one of the things they did. We’re going to ship anyway. Well, now fast forward, here’s where they are. The last two years of this company, their financial performance has out done the previous 25 years of the company combined. They have been rated number one and number two best place to work in the city of Jacksonville. They keep getting industry awards. Their customers love them back. They rarely ship at less than 95, 96% full, because they’re always full because they always ship because they take care of their customers.
Don’t tell me that love is no place in business, man. I mean, this comes right down to the bottom line. It starts with setting that very high expectation of how do we show people, customers, employees, stakeholders that we love them. By the way, they’re showing the board, they love them too because the value of this company is skyrocketing. They’re expanding all over the country. It’s a phenomenal thing. Now it’s very hard work.
This isn’t about showing up one day and saying, “Okay, now we all love everybody, let’s big hug, group hug in the hallway.”
It’s a lot of work, because you have to start to look at. If we really operated our business, from love, how does that affect everything that we do from the kinds of people that we hire, to the way that we hire them to the way that we make decisions, to our HR policies, to our physical environment. We have to look at all of that, but when you start to look at it through that lens, it really opens up much bigger possibilities.
This kind of reluctance to bring love into work, I think is rooted in a very deep misconception that love is somehow about low standards. If I love you, I’m not going to challenge you, I’m just going to kind of leave you alone and say, “Oh, it’s okay, no matter.” That’s not what it is. Love involves extraordinarily high standards. It’s about maintaining kindness in the way that we work with people at the same time, raising the standards and expectations of what we demand of each other in serving our customers. Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.
Josh: No, you wouldn’t feel strongly about this at all.
Steve: Just kind of something to consider.
Josh: Not at all. No, no, your first book was a book called Radical Leap. Love is the first word in there, but the other three words I think, are really derivative of love, energy, audacity and proof. If you really love what you do, don’t you have more energy to do it?
Steve: Is that rhetorical question or—?
Josh: I have to ask a question. I mean—
Josh: I would like to spend a little time about that because love is just damn good business. There’s no question about that. Why is it damn good business on the fact that customers are coming back over and over and over? They’ll spend more money with you. They’ll probably even pay more for your product than a competitor’s product. The Apple Computer, but when you really love what you’re doing, at least I get energized.
Steve: Absolutely. No, you’re right on Josh. That’s the entire point. Just to back up a little bit for people that—for the uninitiated among us. The Radical Leap, as you said, was my first book which came out in its original edition in 2004. These ideas have been out there for 15 years. Even though love wasn’t there on the cover of that book, it is the foundation for the whole model, which is leap, love, energy, audacity and proof so quick definition.
Love is what we’re talking about here directly. Energy, we have lots of synonyms for it— enthusiasm, engagement, juice. We all know what energy is. We know when we haven’t. We know when we don’t.
Energy is something that we have to bring into the work that we do and how we lead. Audacity, I define as a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints in order to change things for the better to change the world for the better. That’s Audacity. It’s that giant thinking and proof is everything from the results that we produce to the congruence between our words and our actions. We have to prove that we mean what we say, versus just talking a good game.
To your point, love is the blood that runs through that whole system, right? Love generates energy. Love inspires audacity and love requires proof. That’s the way we kind of tie it together. In the new book, which as you mentioned, is called Love is Just Damn Good Business. We bring in the leap framework several times throughout, because that’s a significant way that we see how love is gets operationalize and how it translates into the way that we work.
Here’s one way to think about it, whatever it is that you’re trying to do with your company, or in your project, or in your nonprofit, or in your school district, or even in your in your family for that matter. Although I tend to focus on the business arena, this is pretty universal stuff, whatever it is that you’re trying to do whatever objective you’re trying to meet, if you can cultivate love for that, and therefore generate the energy and everybody that’s necessary to make whatever that is reality to execute on that. Inspire people to be audacious in their pursuit of but to think in that really big, creative, innovative way to the big, hairy, audacious goals, as Jim Collins called them, and prove that you’re making progress along the way. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, you have a much better chance of doing it.
It’s a framework, can I cultivate the love for this generate the energy around it inspire people to be audacious in its pursuit, and prove that we’re making progress. I don’t care what it is, man. If it’s increasing test scores in the classroom, or growing by a certain percentage in your business, or increasing your customer numbers or your employee engagement, whatever it is, that framework is going to help us get there. It’s all driven by love for this thing, this place and these people.
Josh: Makes absolutely perfect sense to me. So Steve, besides Love is Just Damn Good Business, what are the takeaways from your book?
Steve: So the book is structured, actually in three sections and it’s also the subtitle of the book, do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.
Josh: By the way, that is one of my favorite statements in the whole world.
Steve: Thank you. Of all the things that I’ve written this, the one that has been quoted most often and I think provokes people in a positive way, which is why it’s continued to grow and significance over the last 15 years. Now it’s taken its front and center in this book. Let me break it down real quickly, how that fits together, do what you love is part one, doing what you love is important, but it’s not the whole story. I mean, that’s our connection, right? If I’m doing what I love, lots of good things happen. But it’s not just about me, right? If all I was doing was what I loved, I didn’t really care about anybody else.
As long as it fed my love for what I’m interested in, then that’s just another way of saying, narcissism. The second part of this is in the service of people. That’s both the moral and ethical context, but it’s also the business context. Yes, I’m doing what I love, but I’m using that to give phenomenal service to you. It’s the servant leader element of it, it’s the customer service element of it. It’s the change the world element of it. I’m doing what I love in the service of you, my customer, my team, my colleagues, my family, whatever, but I’m serving you not just because I think it’s a good thing. It feels intuitively right, although that’s all important, but because I want to serve you in such a significant way that the response is reciprocity.
Do you love me in return? This is the response that we want from our customers and that we want from our employees, when they raise their hand and say, “Thank you, I love this, I love you, I love your product. I love your service. I love your culture. I love how you respond to my needs. I love how you solve my problems.” That’s what we’re all after, as business people and human beings in general.
We structured the book around those three elements. It’s really about coming up with ideas. How do you determine what it is that you love? For one thing, for some people, it’s obvious for others, it’s not. What does it look like in a service context? Then really examining, we use the term ROI, like a lot of people do, but in the book, I’m talking about reciprocity, on our investment, versus return on investment.
It’s really about creating that response back. There are lots of ideas, lots of examples. I hope that the book is inspiring. I hear that it is. It’s also very, very practical. My other books, I mean, you know this Josh, they’re all parables. The first three are parables. They’re novels. This book is not this is really a how to. It really is kind of inspirational and how to approach to things so lots of very good concrete examples on ideas.
Josh: Cool. So when’s the book come out?
Steve: The publication date of the book is September 6, which at the time that we’re recording this actually is about a week or so week and a half away. It’s an exciting thing. It’s a bit nerve wracking, but it’s exciting.
Josh: I assume it’s being sold at all the usual places,
Steve: Wherever fine books are sold, wherever that is, if you can find a bookstore. That’s awesome.
Josh: There’s one in your computer, usually.
Steve: There’s definitely one of your computer. Yes, of course, it’s on Amazon and everywhere else online. I’m just getting a little bit nostalgic as we’re having this conversation because when the radical leap came out 15 years ago, it was all about bookstores. I mean, Amazon existed, but it was still about bookstores. I used to wander into my local, what’s the word? Borders, borders, borders.
Josh: You mean the one that’s no longer here?
Steve: Exactly right into my local borders, or Barnes and Noble and just wander around and just kind of taken the vibe of printed wisdom, the books on the shelves, everybody got great inspiration from that. I will never forget the first time I saw the Radical Leap on an actual bookshelf at an actual bookstore. I hope to have that experience. Again, if I can find a bookstore, I’m going to go look to see if it’s in there.
Josh: Is the audio book going to be available when the print is released or that’d be later?
Steve: I don’t know the answer to that is recorded. I know the audiobook is recorded because I recorded it. I had the opportunity to read my book out loud, the abstract listener, but it’s up to McGraw Hill. McGraw Hill is the publisher so I’m sure they will get it up there as soon as they can. Hopefully, it’ll correspond with the release of the printed version, but if not, it will be soon or after.
Josh: So Steve, before we let you go, you also have a certification program. You have one of those coming up in the near future.
Steve: I do, so we have this wonderful workshop called the Extreme Leadership Workshop, which is designed as a one day very interactive, very dialogue based exploration into the understanding and application of love energy, audacity and proof. By the end of the day, you walk out of there with an action plan as to how you’re going to apply these things to whatever it is that you’re working on right now whether it’s running a business, or a project or a team or whatever. Then we do a three day, deep dive and certification where we licensed and certify folks to facilitate that workshop.
It’s four days total, one day for the workshop three days for the certification piece. We keep it it’s a small group. We put a cap on it, and about 20 people. Our next one is coming up here in San Diego, September 25, through the 28th right downtown San Diego. We are at last count, I think at around 17 or 18 people. There’s only a couple spots left as we’re talking about this, but yes, we’d love to have if this sounds compelling to you join us, at the very least for the one day workshop. You can come just for the one day.
Josh: Where would they go to sign up for that?
Steve: I think you can just go to www.extremeleadershipworkshop.com, and it will point you exactly where you need to go. Visit https://www.stevefarber.com/ anyway, because there’s lots of good stuff on there.
Josh: Okay, I also have an offer for you. I have this little tool I finally put together. I’ve been doing this on a yellow pad for about a zillion years. It’s called the Four Boxes of Financial Independence. What it’s designed to do is to help you figure out if you’re the owner of a privately held business. Are you on the way to reaching cash flow freedom from your business or do you have work to do? Most of us still have work to do and this will prove it to you why you have work to do. To do this is really easy. It’s going to tell you all have seven minutes to do it. You just go to thecashflowcode.com and you click the orange button that says get started—
Steve: That down because I need I need this.
Josh: Then you click to get started and you put in some basic financial information. You’re going to find out whether you’re on the road to reaching cash flow freedom for your business or not. This is Josh Patrick. We’ve been with Steve Farber. You’re at the sustainable business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
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 a hundred 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 email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.