Transcript of Building a Business Your Team and Customers Love

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John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape marketing agency Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing agency.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape marketing agency podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Steve Farber. He is the founder and CEO of the Extreme Leadership Institute. And he’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Love is Just Damn Good Business: Do What You Love in the Service of People Who Love What You Do. So Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Farber: Thanks, John. It’s great to be here with you.

John Jantsch: So there’s been a lot written over the years about this idea of do what you love. And actually I think one of the great distinctions that you have added to this is in the service of people who love what you do. And I think a lot of people get that equation wrong.

Steve Farber: Yeah, I think you’re right. Do what you love is, it’s a nice to have, right? And we all aspire to that, I would guess. I don’t think there’s many human beings that would say, “Nah, I’m really not interested in that.” But this whole notion of that’s all it takes, that’s the end of the story, if you can reach that everything is taken care of, is really not accurate. So for example, if all I’m doing is what I love, right? That’s it. And I don’t care about the impact of what that is on anybody else, as long as I’m doing what I love. That’s just another way of saying narcissism. So you know, doing what you love is important, but for what purpose and toward what end. So do what you love in the service of people who love what you do, I believe really creates the full context for that. So yes, I’m doing what I love, but I’m using that, I’m tapping into that, I’m harnessing that in order to give great value to you. To you, my colleague, to you, my employee, to you, my customer. So yes, I’m doing what I love, but I’m using that to give great value to you. And if I do that to its fullest, what’s going to happen is you’re going to reciprocate, you’re going to love me in return. And that’s where our great customers come from, among other things.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I can think of half a dozen things that I love to do that no one would pay me for. But one of the things that I think is missed, and I think maybe I want to pull this out of you a little bit because over the years what I’ve experienced is that it’s almost cyclical. You’re going to love your… If you’re doing something for people who love what you do, it’s going to increase you’re loving what you do. And think that a lot of people… You know, I tell people all the time that are looking for, how do I find that thing I love? I tell people all the time, “Get good at something and I bet you love it.” And I think it’s the same way here. Get good at serving some ideal client delivering tons of value and it’s actually going to increase how you love your business.

Steve Farber: Yeah, I think it’s a really important point. You know, we like to kind of sort things out and to make them into a nice, neat, linear kind of a formula or a process and it’s very organic, right? So, like you said, if I’m doing work that I’m not particularly fond of, right? But I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve gotten really good at it. And then I start to notice that, well, you know, I really enjoy being good at this and I like the impact that it’s having on people. And maybe I’ve made some great relationships at work and maybe I get letters from my customers or clients telling me what kind of difference I’ve made in their lives. And then pretty soon as it starts to dawn on me, you know what? I really do… At first, maybe it’s, I’m rather fond of this. And over time it can become more of a passion, right?

John Jantsch: So I’m sure you have to defend this all the time, if you’re going to put love in the title of a business book that you know loves this kind of soft thing. I’ve actually experienced it to be really hard, but I don’t think you’re talking about the greeting card kind of love are you?

Steve Farber: No, I’m not talking about love as a sentiment, but more like love as a practice in a discipline, right? So saying the words is easy, writing the card is nice and it makes people feel good to get to get a nice card, and I think that’s something we should all do. But in business it’s not simply about going through gestures like that. It’s about really, I like to call it, operationalizing love as a business practice. So what we have to answer is what does that look like? What does love look like in our business? Or what should it look like? If I want to create an environment, for example, that people love working in because I understand that people that love working here are going to do better work and they’re going to attract other people like them. They’re going to be my best recruiters.

Steve Farber: And I’m going to attract and retain the best possible talent, right? If I want to create that kind of environment that I believe we all should, then I’ve got to ask the question, what do I need to do differently to show the people that work with me, for me and around me, that I love them? And that I appreciate they’re working here and that I value their contribution. What do I have to do in terms of how I engage them in making decisions and the physical environment and our policies and procedures. It filters into all of that. So you’re right, love is not soft, it is hard and it takes discipline and it takes practice. And yeah, I suppose there’s a bit of a risk in slapping it right there on the front cover of a book. But, you know, that’s the… I’ve been doing this for 30 years, John, this is the conclusion that I’ve come to, it’s inescapable. It’s inescapable. So why not just put it out there and sound the trumpets, et cetera.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I’m on board, I’ve been saying it for 30 years as well. However, probably like you, I remember it was till about 15 years ago that you didn’t get a lot of eye rolls still, even with business people, hardcore business people that thought, you know, show me the money, show me the numbers on this kind of stuff. But I’m finding more and more people and maybe it’s a symptom of the fact that there seems to be no division between work and play and family. And it’s like, it’s all kind of run together today. And do you feel like that dynamic has actually made it easier for people to accept this idea of something that maybe was seen as, “Oh no, I love my family and I love my church and my…” That kind of stuff that was over there. But now I cross over the door into the business and I’m a different person and it seems like that’s gone away a little, hasn’t it?

Steve Farber: Yeah, I think it has. I think we’re progressing along those lines. And having said that, for your more mature listeners who may remember Tom Peters, and I wish that everybody would, but the younger generation doesn’t know him as well. I was vice president of Tom’s company back in the ’90s, from ’94 to 2000. So Tom Peter’s is arguably one of the greatest management thinkers of our day. And we were talking about this stuff back then in the early and the mid-’90s. That people want to do meaningful work and they want to love their work and we should create an environment that people can really do incredible things. And so the concept is nothing new but then using the word love overtly out front as a challenge to people, that’s still a little bit new.

Steve Farber: So what I’ve found is what is… I think you and I have experienced the same thing. There is very little eye-rolling that happens in response to this when it’s put in the right context, all right? I mean if I were to come out on stage in one of my keynotes and say, “Listen man, you know, the solution is all you need is love. Just, just love everybody and let’s, let’s all be happy all the time.” It would empty the room, but that’s not what this is. So, the argument, if that’s the right word, is our competitive advantage comes from having our customers and clients love what we do for them. That’s it. I mean, we should all know that by now. Anything short of that, there’s no loyalty. Right?

Steve Farber: So then let’s back it up one more step. The only way to really create that kind of experience for customers in a meaningful and sustainable way over time is to create a culture or an environment or a team or a company that people love working in. And I can’t do that. As a leader, as an entrepreneur, as a business person, as a colleague, I can’t create or contribute to that kind of culture that people love working in, unless I love this, the team, the company, the values we stand for, the customers that we’re serving, myself first.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And like so many things related to love. I mean it’s pretty hard to fake it. You know, you’ve got some great case studies of companies that have shown ROI, shown proven results from taking this point of view. But I’m sure you’ve also worked with or talked with organizations that are, “Yeah, we’re on board. You’re right. This makes sense. Everybody’s going to love our company now.” So how do you actually do that? As opposed to just having a meeting about it once a quarter.

Steve Farber: Yeah. So that’s the thing. It is about doing it, not having done it or having talked about it at a meeting and checking it off of your list. That’s what I mean when I say it’s a discipline and a practice. Right? So really what it starts with though, I believe it does start with laying the expectation out there, right? We get to say to your team, we want to create an experience that our customers are going to love, is a very different challenge from saying we want to improve customer service, right? So, if you’re on my team or brainstorming together and I say to the team, Hey, how can we better show our customers that we love them? We’re going to get a different quality of idea then if we say, how do we improve customer service?

Steve Farber: So the languaging is important, but it’s just the start, right? So then the question is, well, if that’s really what we want… So if you want to create an environment that people love working in, for all the reasons we just talked about, then what should that look like in the way that we do business, in the way that we contribute to this culture, in all of the nuts and bolts and the very fabric of the way that we do business. And that’s something that we need to work on consistently over time. It’s not something that you’ll slap the copy of love is just damn good business on everybody’s desk and say, read it and voila. You know, we’re all a bunch of a… You know, now we’re all driving around in Volkswagen bugs and beetles and you know… That is not what this is, it takes practice and discipline over time. And when I find really interesting about this, John, is that our collective expectation as business people, and I’ve seen this in in North America, I’ve seen it around the world, our expectation is that people see that love has no place at work.

Steve Farber: Yet. And I can’t prove this scientifically, but anecdotally I will tell you that most people that I talk to and work with, they already get this. They already knew this. They just thought that maybe something was wrong with them, right? They already had this impulse and this idea and this kind of tendency, but they’ve been conditioned to believe that it has no place at work. So we’ve got this weird kind of dynamic going on that everybody thinks that everybody’s going to be resistant to this idea, but really very few people are. I mean there are certainly are some and there are always going to be some people that say, “You know what? This is not going to happen in our business. I pay people and they do their job and that’s it.” And that’s cool. That’s cool, I’m just not going to end up working with those people most likely. I’m not in the business of convincing anybody of anything.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I think it’s going to be people who love what you do, right?

Steve Farber: Yeah, I think. So really, I’m not in the business of convincing anybody, but I am in the business of confirming what a lot of people already know and just haven’t known what to do with it.

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John Jantsch: So you have a bit of a model that you call LEAP, as kind of the pillars of this. And maybe briefly you could, L-E-A-P, tell us what those stand for. But then I’d like you to kind of come back and say, okay, if I’ve got a successful remodeling business, for example, a local business, how do I bring LEAP into play now? So first unpack LEAP and then let’s go into kind of how that would work in a real business.

Steve Farber: Sure. And by the way, you know this whole model is built on observations of real business. So, this was not created in an ivory tower, saying, well what sounds nice and that people would buy, right? This is observation, trying to encapsulate what I’ve learned in 30 years of doing this work. But LEAP, it’s the roadmap or the framework, it stands for love, that’s the first foundational element to this, energy, audacity and proof. Love, energy, audacity and proof. I first wrote about this model in my first book called The Radical Leap, which came out in its first edition way back in 2004. So this model has been out there for quite some time, lots of companies and individuals have been using it to great success in their business. So there’s an action element to all this.

Steve Farber: So if I take love, energy, audacity, and proof and put it into an action phrase, it’s cultivate love, generate energy, inspire audacity, and provide proof. So love is what we’ve been talking about here so far. It’s really the foundation for this whole thing. Energy is the juice, the enthusiasm, the engagement that we bring to bear on everything that we do. Audacity is a pretty highly charged word and I define it as a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints in order to change things for the better. So it’s not think outside the box, it’s more like what box? Right? And then finally, proof is everything from the results that we get… So, you know, as business people, our proof is largely in the bottom line, certainly. But proof also has a personal element to it, am I proving that I mean what I say and I’m not just saying it. I mean what I say and I prove that through the consistency and congruency between my words and my actions. I say something, you see me do it. It’s the old walk your talk, practice what you preach, lead by example, kind of a thing, right?

Steve Farber: So love, energy, audacity, and proof. So in a business like a remodeling business or any professional services company or any fortune 100 company for that matter. The question is whatever it is that you are working on, so if it’s the business as a whole or a particular project, can I cultivate the love for this project, idea, business, et cetera? Can I generate if… Let me think of it this way, if I can cultivate the love for it, generate the energy necessary in order to get that done, inspire myself and others to be audacious in this pursuit with generating big ideas and taking bold action, and provide proof along the way that I’m making progress, whatever it is that I’m trying to do, I have a better chance of succeeding in it. Right?

John Jantsch: Absolutely. I will tell you by observation, I’ve worked with thousands of businesses and increasingly this idea of love and energy and even proof, I think make a lot of sense to anybody who’s trying to run a business this way. The one that really struck me is I see very little people thinking, at least proactively, about the potential impact their business is having on the world. In some, occasionally after the fact, “Wow, we didn’t mean to, but we sure helped a lot of people.” You know? It seems like. And I think that… Well, again, this is just personal bias, I think that idea for a lot of existing businesses probably has more potential than any component of this because I think it’s so radically different than how most operate.

Steve Farber: Yeah. So I think that varies from company to company for sure. But just to give you a little confirmation of your instinct there, John, I did a survey… This has been maybe at least five years ago now. I just went out to my list and most folks are at least relatively familiar with that LEAP framework. And I said of these four, love, energy, audacity, and proof, what do you feel you need the most help with? And audacity came out number one, by a factor of like three to one. And I think… So there’s a lot to, as we like to say nowadays, unpack there, but audacity involves risk, right? It’s challenging the norms, it’s going beyond the status quo. And risk by definition is a scary thing. If it didn’t feel scary, we wouldn’t feel like we’re taking a risk.

Steve Farber: I mean, a risk means there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome and that scares us. Right? And the only way to really have a huge impact and be innovative and be a market leader is to take risks. Again, we know it intellectually, every business book that’s ever been written tells us that we need to do that. But there’s a difference between the intellectual understanding and the actual experience of it, right? So the connection there is, if I really love this idea, I’m much more likely to take a risk in order to carry it out. So there’s a very strong connection. You know, love and fear are kind of two sides of the same coin here, love is the motivation that gets me to step up and the fear associated with audacity is what the experience feels like and kind of some of the things that I need to do.

Steve Farber: So if you expand that to its fullest, the most audacious thing that we can do, as business people and as individuals, is to strive to change the world for the better. To have that impact that you were just talking about. And a lot of companies don’t… If I’m going to remodel somebody’s kitchen, for example, I’m not thinking about changing the world. I’m thinking about all the stuff that I’ve got to get done, hopefully, on time and within the budget. Right? And if we could do that, man, that’s really something.

John Jantsch: Well, that’s proof. That’s what I mean. Yeah. That’s proof that we do [crosstalk 00:20:05]-

Steve Farber: And very important. Right? But here’s the thing with a little bit of added perspective, okay? So listen, if I remodel this person’s kitchen, am I changing the world? Well, maybe not world with a capital-W but I’m damn well changing the world of their family and I’m having an impact by doing phenomenal work for them. And if I do phenomenal work for them and their family feels that for decades to come, are you going to tell me that that’s not going to impact my business in terms of my reputation and the word of mouth and referrals and all that stuff? Of course it is, but we just think… We limit ourselves. So we limit our own view of our capability to change at least our piece of the world for the better and those small-w worlds, as I like to refer to them, they add up and we are having an impact. So you don’t have to be Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa change the world. You could be Bob or Jane, the interior designer, that changes the world of their customers. And that’s a phenomenal thing.

John Jantsch: Well, I do marketing agency consulting, and over the years, my best clients are ones that I started actually looking for them as a behavior, were the ones that were trying to change their industry. They were trying to raise it up, they participated in it, they were on committees, they were in their association. And I think that that’s not much of a leap to have a pretty significant impact on your industry. But I think it’s more of the point of view of that’s one of our goals rather than just getting through the day.

Steve Farber: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, I think just like anything else, people get involved in causes and associations for any number of reasons. And there are those people that will do that for networking, they want to make the connections. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but you can always tell the difference. For somebody who’s involved in… Let’s just say an association for example, involved in an association because they want to make contacts that will help their business and those that want to really leverage the collection of people there to do something phenomenal. You could tell the difference. And I think the more we tap into that part of ourselves or culture that part of ourselves, the more possibilities it opens up for us in business and in our communities and beyond.

John Jantsch: Speaking with Steve Farber, he is the author of Love is Just Damn Good Business. So Steve, why don’t you tell people where they can find the book and of course find more about your work.

Steve Farber: Sure. Well, the book of course is available wherever fine books are sold, including, of course, Amazon, et cetera. And you can find me at stevefarber.com and if you can remember my name, you can find me pretty much anywhere. So on Twitter it’s @stevefarber and Instagram is Steve Farber and LinkedIn is Steve Farber and Facebook of Steve Harvey. You get the picture. So yeah, I’m very easy to find. And on the website at stevefarber.com we’ve got a lot of great resources, video and audios, and the blog lives there and I’ve got digital learning experience and lots of really great stuff. So I invite you to come and check it out.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well thanks Steve for joining us and hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Steve Farber: Thank you, John.

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