Ep.15 Steve Farber-How Love is Good for Business

Are love and business mutually exclusive concepts? Is love only reserved for customers who love your products or can you love the people you work with and for?  Tune in to hear Steve Farber author of Love is Just Damn Good Business, as he shares stories from his clients who have incorporated love as a foundational value in their organizations.  He shares stories about the power of love in increasing organizational success, joy, inspiration and passion. 

Transcript

Gissele:  Welcome to another episode of The Love and Compassion podcast with Gissele.

If you’re listening to us on audio, don’t forget to write a review. And if you’re watching us on YouTube, subscribe to our channel for more exciting content. Today, we’re going to be chatting about love and business. If you’re a leader is organizational culture is struggling.

Or if you’re working right now in an environment that could use greater compassion, then this podcast is for you. Our guest is the president of extreme leadership, Inc. And the founder of the extreme leadership Institute. Organizations devoted to the cultivation and the development of extreme leaders in the business community, non-profits and education.

His books have been featured in the wall street journal and USA today, bestseller.  His book, the radical leap, a personal lesson in extreme leadership is already considered a classic in the leadership field. It received fast company magazine’s reader’s choice award and was recently named one of the hundred best business books of all time.

His new book. Love is just damn good. Business was listed by book authority as one of the top business strategy books for 2020. Join me in welcoming Steve Farber. Hi Steve.

Steve: It’s great to be here with you. Thank you. You finish the intro just as I was taking a sip of coffee. So.

Gissele: Sorry about that.

Steve:  Have you noticed in the days of zoom, how many times throughout the day you, or, or somebody else?

You’re with in a zoom meeting says these words you’re on mute. You’re on mute.

Gissele: Absolutely. That’s like the word that was a word of 2020. You’re on mute. You’re on mute.

Steve: Yeah. But it’s great to be here with you un-muted.

Gissele: Thank you so much. What got you interested in love and business? Can I ask?

Steve: Well, sure it’s, it’s really just because I’ve noticed over the 30 years that I’ve been doing this work now that, to borrow words from myself, That love is just damn good business. In other words, you know, I’ve spent, three decades working in all kinds of industries with all kinds of companies working with all kinds of leaders.

I’ve had incredible mentors. And as I, as I got clearer on and more conscious of, of my observations, and this is 20 years ago about what it is that made the great leaders great. The people that I met. In the so-called trenches love was the thing.  Even though it wasn’t the word that was most commonly used, at least not in a public format behind the scenes.

I heard it a lot. I love working for her. I love working for him. I love our product. I love our company or I love, Oh, man, I love that brand. I, we use the word all the time. We just don’t give a lot of thought to what the why, and, and therefore to is, is it really something or is it just language that we use?

So it just became really obvious to me that it wasn’t simply just the choice of words was really describing a very, um, powerful, universal human experience. So I figure well as a business person, well, what if we did that consciously and intentionally? What if we, if we tried to have our customers love us, instead of it being just a happy accident, what if we, what if we tried to create.

Environments and cultures that people loved working in, would they show up differently? And the answer of course, as it turns out is yes.

Gissele: That was one of the things that attracted me to your book is the fact that you used the word love in the title. There’s not many business books that actually have the word love upfront.

Which is what I have. There are,

Steve: there are a few, there are a few, it’s funny because my evolution with this, as you know, my first book was the radical leap, which came out in its first edition in 2004, which was by my calculations a long time ago, leap stands for love, energy, audacity, and proof.

So I’ve been teaching this for quite some time in the context of that, you know, I call it the extreme leadership framework, cultivate love, generate energy, inspire audacity, provide proof and love being at the foundation of it. But you’re right. It wasn’t on the book cover. And if you went to my website in those days, and even now it doesn’t say.

The love guy, Steve Farber, the love guy. It’s a little more obvious now because it’s, you know, it’s the title of the book and you see the book on the website, but I, but even to this day, I don’t promote myself as the love guy. I’m the extreme leadership Institute. So there was a moment of reckoning, I guess I had where I finally said, look, I’m just going to put it on the cover and see what happens.

And it’s not the only book that’s ever, you know, connected love with business in its title, but there certainly aren’t many of them.

Gissele: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what I found that there aren’t many of them, because I think we have such a stigma to the word love and especially love in the workplace. One of the things I struggled with is that, in my business, it’s about helping people be more loving and compassionate towards themselves.

And when I was putting the business together, I really struggled in being a for profit because I didn’t want to be a not-for-profit because they’re always, you never have any money. They’re like, you know, begging for money and so on. And so I really struggled and what I loved about your book. Was that it, it made it okay that I was helping people and making money.

And if you don’t mind, I’ll just pull this quote from your book, which is the totally unapologetic for earning money, experiencing joy, and for the impact you’re making in the world. And I thought, wow, like, Yeah, because there are so many spiritual people. There’s so many people that are doing so many good things.

And the thing that they have to give their stuff always for free, or it can’t be very costly. Whereas a lot of people are making a lot of money doing maybe some not so loving things. Why do you think there’s so many misconceptions about getting paid for, you know, helping individuals.

Steve: I, I don’t really know where the origin of it is so that I could, I could guess, but I think your, your observation is right on.

And the, the struggle that you went through is not uncommon because there’s some, there’s some cultural conditioning and by cultural, I mean, primarily, certainly in, in the American culture, but I think in, you know, you, you experience it in Canada. And, and I think it’s the business culture, no matter where you are in the world, there is this idea, somehow that making money being happy or joyful or fulfilled and having a positive impact on the world are mutually exclusive ideas that you have to do.

You have to choose one or the other. So if you’re really focused on making money, that means that you have to sacrifice something in yourself. Right. You’ve got to have a less than fulfilling family life or, you know, you just do what it takes, even though you’re miserable. Cause you got to make the big bucks.

And certainly, you’re not going to have an impact on the world because you know, you don’t have time for that because you’re too busy making money, but then you flip it around to the, the classic.  Don’t want to call it the non-profit attitude, but it, but it is. It is rather prevalent in, in some mission-driven nonprofit organizations.

And that is if I’m trying to have an impact on the world that I, I, I really can’t make money doing that. That that’s just not right. Somehow I have to fully devote myself to that. And there’s a bit of a, a bit of a martyrdom kind of mentality in that somehow. And then, and then there’s that one in the middle of my personal, joy.

Well, I want to be happy. So the money’s not important then if I can have it make a difference in the world, that’s cool. But really I’m just going to focus on my own happiness. And that whole attitude is, is one of those has to happen at the expense of the others. But the fact of the matter is 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. Why not do all three? Why not? Where there’s no universal law that I know of that says these things must be mutually exclusive.

Gissele:  Yeah.

Steve:  The happiest people that I know are the ones that do all three they’re wealthy or they’re, or they’re building their business.

They’re becoming wealthy, they’re becoming more prosperous. They’re remarkably happy, and they’re having a positive impact on the world. All wrapped into one. So that is what I think we should all aspire to. I mean, if, or at least we shouldn’t feel there’s something wrong with us or feel guilty somehow in aspiring to that, it doesn’t mean that everybody should want to make money.

Some people don’t. That’s cool too. You know, there’s, there’s no judgment on any of this, as far as I’m concerned.

Gissele: As you were talking, I was thinking about my experience with not-for-profits and there’s a real resistance to anything business-like when you would want to bring any sort of business ideas forwards in the not-for-profit they’re like, well, we’re not a business.

And therefore, there was a real resistance. And I think that what you said was spot on that there is that. Uh, moral high ground in terms of like businesses bad and we’re good.

Steve: Right. 

Gissele: But what I’ve noticed in the not-for-profit world is that a times there’s not a lot of love or a lot of compassion within those systems.

Steve: Deeply ironic when you think about it.  So first of all, in terms of, Oh, well, we’re not, we’re not a business, so we shouldn’t look at business ideas again, it comes from that conditioning that some people have that, that business by its nature is an evil thing. It’s a, it’s a bad thing. And just like anything else, there are bad businesses.

There are businesses that, that damage the environment. There are businesses that damage their own people in sacrifice to the, to the proverbial bottom line. But that doesn’t mean that that is what business is. Business is. In its purest form. It’s a collection of human beings, creating value for other human beings, for which they will get paid and profit.

That’s really what it is. There’s nothing inherently bad in that. Just like anything else we could screw it up. So in the nonprofit world, that at one element of what you said is this, if there’s resistance to business ideas, you really need to take another look at that. Because great business ideas serve the mission of the organization.

So a great business idea can make a nonprofit much more effective in fulfilling its mission.

Gissele: Mmhmm.

Steve: Great business ideas have to do with, value and efficiency and innovation. You don’t want any of that in your in your non-profit that’s, that’s absurd to the other point, isn’t it ironic that many organizations who are, whose mission is to improve the quality of life of their constituents, don’t get that they need to make that experience of working there or with them, as rich as well in terms of the experience. So if there’s ever a place for love in an organizational setting, it would be in a non-profit. I know there are, there are certain challenges about working with nonprofits , because oftentimes nonprofits have it as a you know, a big part of their, of their sphere, volunteer workers.

If volunteer, volunteer, people are they’re by definition, uh, not getting paid. Right. So, so how do you, how do you. Order, you know, order volunteers around, how do you get them to do stuff that you’re not paying them to do? And I always thought that was a pretty funny question because leadership real leadership is about engendering, a commitment in people that they do things.

They do great things because they want to not because they have to, whether you’re paying them or not.  it’s the same dynamic. In, in a business, a for-profit businesses and nonprofit business. I want to create the kind of relationship where people are, are, are driven to do that great things, because they believe in, in what we’re doing together.

And you could argue it’s even more true in a nonprofit. And then of course, add to that, that nonprofits live or die typically based upon the, the fundraising that they’re able to do in other words, having people that so believe in and so loved the mission that they’re willing to give you money. They want to give you money.

That’s not love. I love you so much. I’m going to, I’m going to put you in my will. I love you so much. I’m going to make a commitment to paying, you know, to, to sending you X number of dollars a month for the rest of my life. Why don’t we call it what it is.

Gissele: Yeah.

Steve: If we do so if you’re, you know, generic, nonprofit organization, X, if we were to begin saying, look, how do we not the usual question, which is how do we raise more money? But, but asking the question, what can we do to better show our supporters that we love them?

It’s going to generate a different kind of an idea. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to raise more money. Right. That’s why love is just damn good business, nonprofit or otherwise.

Gissele: Yeah. I think the challenge in the not-for-profits I’ve worked in there was also not a lot of fundraising. We were a ministry supported or funded.

And so there’s a limited amount of money. And usually that depends on what the ministry is allotting for the year. And what I’ve seen really as a competition between in some of these tend to be unionized workplaces as well, is that competition between the union. And there tend to be a lot of financial incentives, which means you get a salary raise, you get benefits.

But I think where at times are lacking is that relationship piece you were talking about in your beautiful podcast, in your conversation with the trailer bridge people.

Steve:  Right.

Gissele: Which was talking about there’s the monetary incentives, which are absolutely helpful, but there’s that relationship piece that I think some of these organizations are really lacking.

Can you talk a little bit about that?

Steve: Sure. Um, let’s acknowledge that, uh, that the vast majority of us, need to work for a living, right.  Which means that that money is important. And the more money we have for people who are motivated that way, the more freedom we have. So there’s nothing wrong with, with money and therefore we want to compensate people at least fairly and ideally generously.

But that’s not, it’s not the whole story. I can pay you so well that you will stay here and be miserable in the process. It happens, it happens all the time, but from leadership and from a business standpoint, the question is how do we, how do we get people to bring themselves fully to work? And it’s not simply by paying them it’s that, and it’s creating those relationships and the connection between people and showing the, the gratitude that we have for them and making the environment more conducive to their, to their happiness,

 and that’s not at the expense of, of high expectations. In fact, that creates higher. It creates higher expectations because if I, if I really love this place and you’re my coworker and you’re slacking off, I’m not going to tolerate that. Love actually creates a higher standard of performance and expectations.

So, yeah, money’s important, but it’s not the whole story. And there’s, I can’t cite the research off the top of my head, but there’s been a lot of research over the years that tends to suggest that that actually the other stuff, the human stuff, the connection stuff is, is more important than money.  When given the choice between making a few extra bucks down the road and being miserable, making some, you know, a few, a few less dollars over here where I love the people I work with and I’m doing great work.

I’ll stay. The vast majority of people will stay. So what does that mean? Does that mean that money is, is more important? Probably not. On the other hand, if I’m just barely getting by, and those, those few extra bucks a week are gonna make a huge difference for my family. I might bite the bullet and do that.

But the people who hired me are not going to get the best out of me. That’s for sure.

Gissele: Absolutely. Absolutely. In your book, you talk about that it’s not difficult to put love into action in the workplace and that the formula is if I got this right. Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. I was wondering if you could explain those different aspects.

Steve: Yeah. If you, if you’re watching this on video, you see that those words are on the wall, on the wall behind me. Um, yeah, that that phrase is kind of the essence of this whole love practice. So let me, let me break it down for you.

Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. Three distinct categories. So doing what you love is the foundation for this whole thing. It’s the, it’s your connection of your heart to your work? Because if we don’t, if we just do a, a surface analysis of this love thing, you could come to the wrong conclusion, which is.

That’s all I got to do. If I just, if I’m doing what I love, then that’s pretty much the whole thing, man. I mean, everything else takes care of itself and then life is blissful and fantastic, but that’s not necessarily true. I could be doing what I love. And that thing that I love can be hurtful to you.

That’s possible. I mean, one could argue that criminals are doing what they love to, but that’s obviously not the whole story. So in the, in the purest sense of all I’m concerned with is doing what I love. And everybody else be damned. That’s just another way of saying narcissism, isn’t it. So I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

It’s not only do what you love, but it is the foundation of it. So it’s do what you love in the service of people. So yes, I’m doing what I love connection to my heart, to my work, but I’m using that to give great value to others. In the service of people, that’s the, we’ve called it so many things over the years had servant leadership, for example, right?

Yes. I’m doing what I love. I’m using all the power, all the inspiration that comes from that. To give great value to you to serve you. And so in the service of people, those people could be your constituents. It could be your customers, it could be your colleagues, it could be your family, it could be your community, but I want to serve you through my heart and not just to do that because I feel I’m obliged to, but to serve you in such a, a significant and profound way that

the response is reciprocity that you, you love me in return. So when we have customers that raise their hand to say, Oh man, I love what you guys do for me. I’m never gone anywhere else. Well, that’s, that’s our ideal customer, isn’t it. So we want more of those and, and, you know, there’s, there’s that old 80 20 rule, right?

That 80% of your business, 80% of your productivity will come from 20% of the people, 20% of your customers, whatever.  So it’s, it’s a little bit of a play on that because when, even if it’s 20% of the people that say, I love you, if I focus my attention on them, the people who love what I do, I’m going to attract and create more customers like that.

And ideally, that’s the world that I want to live in. Where, where, you know, it’s a love Fest, man. I love my work. I love what I do for you. You love me in return. What could be better than that. So I feel that it’s something we should all aspire to now achieving it, you know  on, on all cylinders every day is I’m not saying it’s not possible. But it’s, it’s certainly challenging and this is not easy stuff. It’s not easy.

Gissele: No, no. And I think that’s the belief that love is soft and fluffy. And then you were just kind of. You know, you’re just accepting behavior that you shouldn’t be accepting, but like you said love sets a higher standard of, huh, quality.

Steve: Yeah. That’s love, in its most , uh, I don’t know if this is the word confectionary. Treatment like a candy it’s sweet. You know, it’s, it’s love as a, as a sentiment. I’m talking about love as a practice and a discipline. That’s a title, an entirely different animal. So really the question that we have to answer is what should love look like in the way that we do business?

And that’s what the book. Is really all about right it’s case after case example, after example of here’s, what it looks like here is what it looks like there. You mentioned the folks at trailer bridge, who I interviewed on the podcast there also a case study in the book, you know, not, not a particularly sexy industry they’re in shipping and logistics.

And in a nutshell, they turned that company around from a bankrupt company into best place to work. You know, four years in, in Jacksonville, Florida, most profitable years in the history of the company. And, and no virtually no turnover, they’re expanding like crazy winning all kinds of awards. And this is a company that used to be toxic and terrible and, and they turned it around with love by, by putting it into practice.

Not by just walking around saying, I love you man, but, but proving it. In the way that everything from the kind of people they hire and how they hire them to the way they set up physical environment to their policies and procedures, when it comes to customers, it’s, it’s all about translating it into observable behavior.

That’s the challenge for all of us.

Gissele: And since you mentioned those folks, I know one of the things that they had done was actually asked their staff what they were hoping for them to get from the company. And they expressed a lot of interest in the lives of the people. And so, loving your staff is going to translate into loving love for your customers.

Can you talk a little bit about kind of some of the ways that they

Steve: turned it around? Sure. So, so let me put it in an, in the context. First of all the business case for this is really simple. Excuse me. Like I said before the ideal scenario is we want, we want our customers to love us. We want our customers to love our product, our service to love the experience of doing business with us.

So let’s all acknowledge that as business people. And I haven’t found anybody that disagrees with that, but, but it usually that’s where we leave it. So let’s back it up one more step. The way to make that happen for customers in a meaningful and sustainable way over time is to create an environment or a culture that people love working in.

If I don’t love working here, it’s going to be very difficult for me to create an experience. For my customers that they’re going to love or to do the quality of work that’s going to end up in an experience or a product or service that they’re going to love. And if we back it up one more step, I can’t really create or contribute to that kind of a culture as a leader, unless I love it myself first.

So it all gets very personal very quickly. So at trailer bridge, it started, it started with Mitch Luciano. Who’s now the CEO of the company. He was a student of, my first three books, the radical leap to radical edge and greater than yourself. So when, when it was his turn to be the CEO, because they had been through four CEOs in three years or two years or something like that.

And they said, okay, Mitch, your turn. He said all right now is my chance to really be what, you know what I like to call an extreme leader and put love into practice. So they did, they did a number of things, for example, they lowered the height of the cubicles in the office because what he, what he found was that people were working side by side years and never knew each other because they were hiding in cubicle land.

So he said we needed to get to know each other. Why don’t we have friends at work? What would that be? Great. So he got rid of the name tags, everybody at the time, the company was like 120 people. They all walk around wearing name tags. So he thought, why do we need name tags? We should at least know each other’s names.

So he banished name tags. Now you can say, well, that’s not, it’s not exactly business process re-engineering but it was very symbolic. And it was a demonstration that said, Now you got to learn each other’s names, which was started with him. He had to learn everybody’s names.  so they did, they did things like that.

You know, change the physical environment. They brought in like a foosball table, ping pong, table, popcorn machine in the break area. So people would hang out together and sure enough, people started to make friends at work and have, have a more enjoyable experience looking forward to going to work instead of dreading it.

And then he asked the question that you just mentioned, you went to the folks at trailer bridge and he said, what do you need from us? How’s that for a question, how often do we hear that one as employees? You know, I mean, we might have the, the, the old cliched suggestion box, which has been around.

Yeah. Yeah. The suggestion box has been around forever. Right. But this is very different because it was more personal. What do you need? So, One of the things that people said was, well, we would like a lot of people said they wanted two computer screens on their desk, so he said, okay, hahaha I mean, what’s the downside. They’re not asking it so they could play solitaire on one screen and do their work on the other. They’re asking it because it was, it was going to make their work more efficient. So he said, that’s your problem. And then, and then this one is, was not quite as linear, in, in the traditional way of thinking about business.

People said we would really like to have an ice machine in the break room. So he said, okay, Ice machine in the break room. You’re a wishes granted. But then what happened was nobody ordered the ice machine. So Mitch said, sure, you can have an ice machine. Nobody ordered it. So that was brought to his attention.

Hey Mitch, you know, what’s happening with that ice machine? This is the CEO of the company. Right. And he said, Oh, nobody ordered it. Okay. I’ll do it. So he personally did the research order, the ice machine. And what do you think happened? It became part of the folklore at the company. So this was years ago, they still talk about the damn ice machine.

Gissele: Hahaha!

Steve: As, you know, as, as, as an example of how, how, how caring a leader Mitch’s, it’s so simple, so it can be challenging, but, but to start with, with the really simple questions, like what do you need and kind of, and by the way, that doesn’t mean, they say yes to everything. Like they, they said no to beer pong Fridays.

I thought that might be a bit of an HR issue, you know?  And they, and they’ve had, you know, it’s not perfect. It’s, it’s not, nothing is ever, you know, a straight up trajectory they’ve had their fits and starts and, and advantages and disadvantages, you know, he did, he did say that, you know , there, there have been instances where.

Where people have taken this idea of friendship and love a little bit too far. And, some people, you know, violate some HR rules along the way. And, and of course that was used as an opportunity to say, no, that’s not what we mean.

Gissele: It’s a good teaching moment.

Steve: A good teaching moment. It’s, it’s what happens, but, but it’s all in the, in the service of making the place better. And. You know, there are a great case study. I talk about them a lot nowadays. I’m so proud of them for one thing, but you know, it just shows all the way down to the bottom line and, you know, I’ve had the opportunity to, I’ve only been able to visit their own person once, you know, I haven’t gotten to know lots of folks at the company and it was a, it was just a blast.

You know, they bring in a food truck, I think it’s every Thursday and they feed the whole company. So people can have lunch together. So I was there on food truck day and uh, I spent the entire day there and I said goodbye to Mitch. At the end of the day, I was walking out through the main area the main floor on the, the. Where most of the, kind of the team operation is. So this was the cubicle, you know, the shortened cubicles that I mentioned earlier.

So I’m walking through and I had spoken to the entire company earlier in the day. So they all knew who I was and I was waived kind of waving goodbye to people. And all of a sudden, all these people popped up out of their cubicles with, with, with Nerf guns and started shooting at me. I ducked and ran for cover and apparently that’s one of their traditions. When somebody is walking through, they, they, they just stop what they’re doing and they, they fire Nerf balls at because they’re just having a blast. They’re having fun and it didn’t hurt at all.

Gissele: That’s good to know.

Steve: Yeah, there was no actual, there was no actual damage inflict. It was just really funny. That’s really funny.

Gissele:  It’s so great that they have incorporated a culture of joy, because I think joy is such an important thing it also kind of helps you with creativity and so on. But there, there seems to be kind of, depending on the business, a real hesitation to bring those kinds of enjoyments or silliness into Business.

Has that been your experience?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah, I think so less and less. I think, I think it’s people are becoming less resistant to that idea. You know, I I’m on another, another one of, of my podcast. I interviewed Jim Cusez. So Jim is one of my mentors coauthor with Barry Posner of the leadership challenge, which is some of the most significant research on leadership on the planet.

And. I was talking to him about this very thing. And I said, you know, Jim, I tell people all the time that people misinterpret what it means to have a love-based environment, the way they interpret it is. People are walking around with big, goofy grins on their faces all the time and nobody ever argues.

And every so often you, you stop the action and have a big group hug in the hallway and, you know, and everything is, is just joyful and chipper and happy all the time. And that’s, and, and frankly, you know, that sounds nauseatingly to me because a place that’s, but a place that that’s really. Characterized by love tends to be there’s more debate.

Sometimes you have, you have more conflict sometimes, but for the right reasons, because we hold each other to that higher standard that we were talking about before, it can be much livelier, much more debate, much, much more, challenging for a lot of people. So I laid out that whole scenario for Jim and, you know, who’s my mentor and I kind of bow down to him.

Right. I mean, he’s, he’s the guy that first got me even paying attention to love in leadership, you know, in the early nineties. He says, well, yeah, I get it. He said, but I don’t see what’s wrong with people walking around with big grins on their faces all the time. What’s wrong with that. What’s wrong with that. And I thought, damn, you know, that’s, that’s right! What’s a, too much, too much joy. Can’t have can’t stand for that.

Gissele: We reached the maximum joy for today? Stop smiling now.

Steve: That’s right. All smiles will. Stop. It doesn’t make any sense when you think about it that way.

Right? Because again, I think people confused, confuse joy and love and happiness. They conflate it with laziness that off, I’m just concerned about being joyful. I’m not going to get my work done. You know, who cares? It doesn’t matter if you get it done or not. That is not the point. It’s it’s that those.

Beautiful characteristics of our human experience. Bring us more fully to our work. I’m sounding like a broken record, more fully to our work. We do more creative work. We’re more efficient, we’re more productive. We help each other more. We come up with better ideas for all the right reasons. That’s, what we have to what we have to gain as business people and putting these.

These kinds of priorities on basic human happiness, et cetera.

Gissele: In my experience has been that, when people love what they do and they there’s just a commitment to do it better, there’s just when they love their team, when they want to do the very best. And, and they bring it in, they’re excited about what they’re, they’re creative.

They, they find different ways. There’s none of that. At least I, if I’m with my teams, There wasn’t that? Well, I don’t want to do that. That’s not really my job. It’s more like hands in. And so to me that was that really exemplified that people really invested in what we were doing.

Steve: It’s true. It’s true. And, and still, even, even still, it’s always say a journey of learning and discovery.

So for example, I’m coaching a leader at a big U.S. government agency, and she loves her team and her team loves her. And I know this because I heard her describe how she feels about her team. I heard her theorize about how she feels her team feels about her, but then I had a meeting with her team.

And I said, you know, describe her to me. What do you think? And they love her. No question about it, but here’s the problem when the conversation turned to, well, what can she do to be a better leader for you? What they said was she could accept our help more.

Gissele: Mmm.

Steve: So here’s what was happening. She loves your team so much.

She knows they’re already working really hard. So she, she doesn’t like to pile other things up on her plate. So she ends up doing them herself and they end up seeing communications from her logged in at three o’clock in the morning. They see her burning out because she loves them so much. She does didn’t want to give them more work because they love her so much.

They want her to give them more work right now. That is a wonderful problem to solve. It really is versus the alternative, which is. You know, they, they hate each other so much that any, any little, any little thing gets interpreted as, as an attack. So now really it’s simply a matter of saying, are you hearing what they’re saying?

Are you willing to, you know, it’s not, they don’t want to be burned out either, but you can give them more. They’re asking you to give them more and it’s going to make you a better leader because you’re going to have more energy and you’re not going to, you know, so that is a love-based problem. But absolutely in my opinion, you know, it’s never going to be problem-free so I’d much rather deal with problems like that.

Gissele: Yeah.

I was thinking about the fact that sometimes we, we love people in the way that we think they would want us to love them rather than what they need or what they say, how they want that expression of love. In that case, she was, you know, burning herself out thinking, Oh my team’s way to overwhelm, but not really bringing the team into and saying.This is a situation where can we do as a team?

Steve: So, well she does, but the thing is she does that in, in everything. And that’s one of the reasons they love her. I mean, she’s, she, she, she’s constantly coming to them and saying, what should we do about this? And it’s very collaborative, but when it comes to the things that she feels she can do, she can take on herself without burdening her team.

That’s where, that’s where the opportunity lies for them.

Gissele: But is she loving herself? Like, is she being loving to herself?

Steve: Not as much as she could be, which is the other thing that they’re saying is we want you to take better care of yourself because we don’t want you to burn out.

Yeah. It’s, and, and, you know, the love of self, which is, I know something that you focus a lot on, you know, love of self-compassion for self really is, is, is at the core of all of this. It’s, it’s very difficult. If not impossible for me to, to, to fully express that for people and create that for people, unless I have it within myself first within and for myself first and ironically that’s there’s, there’s a lot of ironies in this conversation, but, but, you know, ironically, that’s the hardest thing for most people to do.

Gissele: It’s true.

Steve:  You look yourself in, look at yourself in the mirror and say, I love you. And mean, it is like, ah, I can’t, but it’s really easy to practice when, when nobody’s around, you know?

Gissele: Yeah. For sure. I try to do that practice with my kids and when they were littler it was easier for them.

But as they get older, as they go through, it’s much, much harder for them to look at themselves in the mirror.

Steve: Yeah. But you know what, in this, in this age of zoom, It’s easier to do, because if you’re in zoom meetings all the time, you can look at yourself pretty much all day long.

Gissele: True, Mmhmm.

Steve: It’s like looking into a mirror all day long and like right now I’ve got us on gallery view.

So I see you. And I see me and, and, and, and, you know, I’m seeing myself. Peripherally. Right. But, but I can see me and I’ve been using zoom for years, but not to the degree that we all are now. And, you know, way back when in the, in the early days of the COVID, you know, back in the COVID even many moons ago.

Yeah. Year ago almost. I was after being on zoom countless hours every day, I was starting to have dreams. In zoom. I mean, I was having zoom, zoom dreams.

Gissele: Zoom based Dreams, wow! 

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, my dream was in zoom, you know, I was having a bunch of those, but, but I also noticed I was having dreams where I found myself, I was having nightmares where I was, I was trying to remember it.

It was a long time ago, but, but I woke up feeling like, oh, I had this dream that, that I, that I was a complete fraud. Ohhh That I was, I was a phony that I was a charlatan.

Gissele: it’s called imposter syndrome. Yeah. Yeah. Is it. Absolutely. There’s lots of people struggle with. Yeah. Right.

Steve: But, but I, I have not struggled with that.

This was, this was a new thing. I mean, I certainly haven’t, I, haven’t not that I haven’t had moments of doubt and questioning like we all do, but I certainly haven’t struggled with it. And, and I realized that that, it was because I was looking at myself all day long. Oh, I was looking, it was like looking at it.

Was I looking in a mirror all day long and it was creating, it was creating a self-inquiry kind of a loop, and yeah, so they didn’t last long, but, but it was really, it was a great illustration of how important it is for us to pay attention to our own internal environment and, you know, one of, one of the things that, uh, That you will hear about me from people that know me is that this is, this is who I am.

I mean, there’s, there is no, there is no facade. There’s no act. There’s no you know, people read my books and then they meet me and they say, wow, you’re just like you are in your book. Cause I, I narrate all my books. I was like, yeah or they see me on stage and then we have a conversation afterwards and it’s like, Oh, you’re the same person in the islands.

Yeah, that’s right. And that’s important for any of us, but particularly for a guy who is in the business. Of teaching people that love is good business. I better be ambulating that. So for me to have a dream that said, you’re a fraud, it was like, I had to take what the hell is going on here. So I did, I, I, and I constantly do a lot of internal reflection and challenging myself.

And I do not. I’m the first to say, I do not fully, and completely live up to everything that I teach 24 hours a day. I don’t, but I can tell you that I aspire to, I aspire to

Gissele: I think it’s all we can do, right? Like we have to choose. We have to choose every day to love ourselves a little bit more, to be more compassionate with others, especially those that frustrate us and what I find in my journey is that the more that I love myself is sort of filling up my own bucket. When I fill up my bucket, I can give others to people from my overflow, not from my reserves, but when I’m not full, when I’m trying to love those people or I’m trying to give to them, it’s a real challenge.

Steve: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And you know, again, it’s, it’s pretty universal. We all have to work on it, but there are so many people that th the thought, you know, the experience of looking at yourself in the mirror, I mean, eye to eye and, and having a conversation with yourself that says, You know, it’s like, that was that old Saturday night live skit. Al Franklin used to do it.

Gissele: Something like, I like me.

Steve: It’s it’s, it’s kind of reminiscent of that which was hilarious. Yes, but there is an element of that. That’s that’s really true and really powerful. The thing is that is not enough. It’s not enough to be able to look at myself and say. Daw gone it. People like me.

Gissele: Yeah.

Steve: That’s that’s, that’s not enough. Then you have to do the action. You have to do, you have to do the work. Yeah, but it does start with that for sure.

Gissele: Mmhmm, yeah and especially like looking at our own flaws and being able to deal with emotions such as shame anger or frustration or feeling not enough. And then I find that the more I’m able to do that for myself, the more I’m able to do that for others.

Steve: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Gissele: Going back to the, the concept of love in the workplace. I know that some of my listeners are probably going to say, yeah, this is all great, but how do I love so-and-so, who’s super annoying at work.

And, you know, she’s always, messing things up or not doing such a great job. How can we help those individuals become, you know, a little bit more loving or understanding why it’s important to kind of, bring that to work.

Steve: Yeah, yeah it’s a great question. So again, I’ll tell you my personal bias on this.

Gissele: Sure.

Steve: My personal biases to like people.

So there, there are very few people in my, in my life that I, and in my working sphere that I don’t like, but there have been some, there have been some people that I have chosen not to hang out with. So in a work environment where, you know, yeah, I get this love thing, but. You don’t know this person. So first of all, well, let’s, let’s take that to the, to the extreme.

Let’s say you’re the boss. You’re trying to love your team, but there’s this person that’s just not cutting it. And you’ve had lots of conversations it’s just not working. It’s just not working. Let’s understand, there is such a thing as tough love, and I can love you and not like you very much.

I can love and appreciate who you are as human being and not want to hang out with you. I can love you and fire you in the extreme. I’ve done that before and so let’s, let’s acknowledge that again. This is not about some kind of Pollyanna vision of, of everybody. Liking everybody and wanting to hang out and being best friends with the entire world.

Gissele: Mmhmm.

Steve: Although some people I think do have that capability. I, I don’t, I don’t think I’m one of them, but, you know but here’s the other thing. I can always be kind. I can really not like you and be very kind to you and not in a, fake smile sort of a way, but there’s never an excuse for being anything other than kind.

And kindness is very closely aligned with love. So if I, if I’m having trouble tapping into that bet loved thing, can I at least. Hold myself to a standard of kindness. And you know, one of the ways that I I’d describe love at work in, in the book is kindness plus high standards. So I can, I can be kind and hold you accountable.

I can be kind and disagree with you. I can be kind and fire you. I can be, there’s never any reason to not be kind. Other than I just had a completely ridiculously bad day and I screwed up and I yelled at somebody or whatever. And then that’s where the, the genuine sincere apology comes into play.

Having said that, you know, you can’t use that as a fallback. Mechanism too often. I’m sorry. Oh, I’m sorry again. Oh, sorry. Sorry. After awhile. It’s like, yeah, you are sorry. That’s for sure, so kindness is the, is the solution in any scenario? In my opinion,

Gissele: that’s beautiful. Thank you. And thank you for mentioning terminations, because one of the questions I wanted to ask you was because I believe that you can do terminations in a loving and compassionate way, I’ve had previous roles in HR.

And one of the things I saw was like the ghosting of people. How they were there like one day, then the next day they weren’t. And then that’s what we used to call the no cake email. So nobody’s said goodbye to you. He just kind of disappeared off the face of the earth and nobody talked about it. And I get that, that the reasoning was like the confidentiality piece that, you know, minutes of settlement and so on, but it actually terrified people.

It actually had the impact of making people really, really afraid of when they were going to be just kind of. Ghosted, I guess. how can we do terminations in a, in a loving way.

Steve: I think any, any good HR person should be able to answer that question for you and still doing it in a way that’s that doesn’t, that doesn’t open us up for any kind of liability, but this idea of, you know, escorting people to their desk and watching them empty their desk out, and then escorting them out of the building, taking their badge in and everything you can’t get out.

I suppose there are scenarios where you want to do that. If, if it’s. I mean, it depends on the particulars of that particular, the particulars of the particular scenario. But, but I think it’s really, again, it comes down to kindness, right? It’s if I’ve got to let you go, because I’ve got to let people go, we’re not we’re w we can’t afford to keep everybody that’s very different from, I have to let you go because you stole money from us,

Gissele: Mmhmm.

Steve: Right.

Gissele: Yeah.

Steve:  So it’s got to be a different scenario, but it can always be kind. I have to let you go because I have to let you go. Here’s why these are the reasons why and where for, and he’d do all the HR speak. Do you want, and then what about, you know, writing, writing letters of reference? What about inviting, ex-employees to come to company events?

What about, you know, staying in touch on social media, what about. Putting them in contact with other people that might be good, you know, potential hires for them. There’s lots, lots of things that we can do, but this idea that, that, because they’re, they’re, you know, what, what have you described as like they’re dead to me?

Gissele: Ghosted!

Steve: You are dead to me. You’re a ghost. Have a ghost you back, for no good reason. Does exactly what you described. It creates paranoia within, within the ranks. What’s going to happen to me when I, when I’m gone or when I quit.

Gissele: Yeah. The thing is people can’t be privy to the reason though, because let’s say suppose that the person stole something, which that’s a different scenario.

That’s a different scenario for sure, but the issue is like, or if a person had a performance issue in their getting terminated because of the performance issue, the people on the other end. Don’t have a right to be privy to that. But I think what happens is that because they don’t have a right to be privy to that, and we want to keep the confidentiality of the person.

Becomes like a ghosting. And so people don’t know what happened, they just see this person disappear and I think that’s where the struggle is for people in terms of that was a person that some of those people loved regardless of what happened. Right, and the other piece for me, as well as there’s a whole issue of forgiveness, but we won’t that’s a different podcast.

Steve: Yeah. Right. Sure. Sure. But, but I think it’s, again, this is where HR people get, get their reputation from.

Gissele: Yeah.

Steve: And that doesn’t mean that all HR people have reputation. I don’t want to apply that, but, but the, the HR people who have a negative reputation, this is where they get it from.

That’s a better way of saying it.

Gissele: Yeah.

Steve:  Um, by the way, I’m married to a former HR manager. So, so the, the idea that you want to protect. The company from liability is a totally noble and good aspiration, but we also acknowledge that transparency is a positive thing. That’s why it’s become a buzzword over the last decade or so a couple of decades.

So what is it that I can say that’s not going to violate. Any, you know, anything that’s gonna bring us any kind of, you know, negative consequences. That’s still going to acknowledge what people are feeling. So do you use the scenario that you just said Gissele. I know a lot of, I know a lot of people here loved her, love, her present tense.

You’re really disappointed to see her go. You’re wondering why. And all I could tell you is that. We had; we feel we had good reason for it. And there are things that I can’t say, so I’ll leave it to your inference and it’s not, it’s not important why, but just know that there’s a reason and, and that’s it, as opposed to pretending it never happened.

Right. Avoid avoidance is, is never a good thing. So just say what you say, what you can say and people are there, people aren’t stupid. They know it’s like, Oh, okay. I guess now I maybe more curious and, and all that. And, and but that’s human nature.

Gissele: Mm. Yeah. Um, I did want to ask if there was anything you wanted to share with the audience around what you’re working on.

Steve: Yeah. Um, uh, I’m working on a lot of things. Most of it nowadays in the days of the COVID, you know, involve sitting in this, in this very chair in this same position. All day long. Cause it’s all, it’s all virtual of course. We’re, we’re just putting together our next, we certify people to teach the extreme leadership workshop.

So we’re, we’re just now putting together an ex virtual certification program so, you know, people can reach out to me @ stevefarber.com. I’m happy to give you the information. We don’t may have the registration page set up yet. So we’re working on that.

I’m working on my new book is coming out in I think, I believe the pub date is publication date is August 3rd. It’s a collaboration. It’s a writing, I’ve written a book with my friend, JJ, French, who was the the founder of manager foreign guitarist for the rock and roll band twisted sister. Oh, very cool.

Yeah. So it’s his, it’s his story. It’s called twisted business and by JJ French and Steve Farber, but it is his story told in his voice. I just helped him make it work on the page. So that’s going to be a lot of fun promoting that. It’s both as both a memoir. And the business book, because he is JJ is he’s the business guy.

He does. He owns the brand, he manages the band, he does the licensing deals and all that stuff. And they are one of the most licensed bands in rock and roll history with their songs. “we’re not going to take it”. I want to rock. Yeah. So JJ is, you know, he’s the business guy behind all of that. So it’s a business book and a memoir.

He likes to call it a bizoir. Yeah.

Gissele: Hahahah.

Steve: And it’s, it, it really turned out great. It’s a, it’s a lot of fun. So that’s, that’s a big project, the promotion of that and all that is coming up here pretty soon and yeah, we got a lot of stuff cooking. So Stevefarber.com, extremeleadership.com. And then of course you mentioned the podcast that Love is just Damn Good.

Business podcasts. Yeah. I miss spending a good amount of time on that as well. It’s been a lot of fun.

Gissele: Well, thank you so much, Steve, for being a guest today, check out Steve’s website, extremeleadership.com and thank you. And please join in for another episode of the Love and Compassion podcast, which is Oh, thank you. Bye bye.

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