For many parents, the decision to take a “radical leap” in business can be difficult due to the responsibilities that come with raising a family. This is the same decision that bestselling author Steve Farber had to make. He became a father at 24 and gave up his dreams of music as a career to become a good provider for his family. One day as he walked the streets of the corporate districts of San Francisco, he looked up and asked what else he was supposed to do aside from being a good father. Steve shares his stories of competing dreams, developing business leaders and helping businesses grow.
DOING THIS for 10 Seconds Can Change Your Life! Click here to watch Adam’s Inspiring TEDx Talk!
Watch the Episode Here:
Listen to the Episode Here:
Read the Show Notes Here:
The Radical Leap, Closing The Gaps Of Leadership with Steve Farber
It’s a beautiful day. It’s a magnificent day for so many reasons. The most obvious of which, I’m not the sharpest tool in the box or whatever, to me to be alive and breathing in this moment, for us to collectively be breathing together. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I assume that you are breathing. That is a good, good sign. I woke up and put my feet on the floor. I really sat there feeling into what I was grateful for. It didn’t take me long to remember that as I was taking those breaths, as I was searching for what I was grateful for, it’s like something came out and then fell out of the sky and hit me in the head and said, “Just be grateful that you can be grateful. That you can even be thinking about or focusing on gratitude in this moment.” How many people are waking up at this very moment and they’re even not in gratitude or even more depressing is the number of people that did not wake up. They went to sleep and didn’t wake up or taking their last breath at the same moment that I was taking my first breath. One thing I know like I know my own name is that this moment is sacred, that this moment is holy even and it’s a blessing to be here. It’s a blessing to be with all of you. This day is a blessing.
It’s about to get even better, that’s the good news. It’s about to get so much better and that’s because I get to share something with you in the form of an incredible human being, incredible friend and colleague and somebody I have the deepest respect for and admiration for. I love what this man stands for. I love what he does in the world. I get to share him with all of you, which makes my life a joy in this moment to be of service, to be able to give in this way. For you all, it’s just an exciting time to be able to sit back or whatever it is you’re doing, maybe you’re sitting in a chair, maybe you’re riding in a car, maybe you’re riding a bike or running or whatever you’re doing. I just freaking love podcasts and it seems that is an ever growing population of people that are just digging this medium to learn things and get some education, get some entertainment even at times, take you out of the routines of the day, and even maybe the thoughts that you’re having are less than positive or less than empowering, to be able to push the pause button in your own inner thinking and maybe the critical voice inside your head. Allow yourself to unfold into a space of listening, curiosity, inquiry, all of that. This is a perfect time, an absolutely stellar time to get into that. I’m going to allow this gentleman to say some things about himself. I don’t do formal introductions. I always love it when our guests are in the moment, they’re present with us, and they can tell us what’s really important to them at this time in their life.
What I know of Steve Farber, who is our guest on The Conscious PIVOT Podcast, is that he is somebody that has taught and trained on the topic of leadership and other business topics. He’s taught all over the world. I have known him because we’re both members of this group called TLC. We get to retreat together a couple of times a year, which is really special with a lot of other people that are wanting and are actually doing amazing things to make the world a better place on so many levels, whether it’s in the personal growth area, in human potential area or in business development, etc. Steve has written some great books. In fact The Radical Leap was the first book I read of his. It was a radical bestseller. You can check that out radically. Then he wrote The Radical Edge. I may be getting the order of things wrong but I do believe that was the succession of things. It was The Radical Leap to The Radical Edge to then Greater Than Yourself, which is an impeccable life-changing book on mentorship and on business leadership. This guy is the bomb. He’s the shit as far as I’m concerned. You’re going to find that out for yourselves.
Without further ado, welcome to the podcast, Steve Farber.
It’s great to be here, Adam. I’ve been looking forward to this for reasons that will become clear.
Steve, could you share with our audience a little bit about yourself, your background, where you’re at, and what’s important to you these days?
My life’s work as it turns out was not what I anticipated it to be. If you were to ask me when I was in my early twenties, I would not have predicted this, which I know is true for a lot of people. My life’s work is around leadership development, which is a really broad term. I’ve been in the field for almost 30 years now. I’ve had some amazing mentors including Tom Peters who was arguably the most influential management thinker of the modern era. I was vice president of his company for a while. I started there in 1994 and left in 2000, and went out on my own. That’s when I started writing books and doing keynotes and helping people understand that leadership is a very personal thing and not a matter of your position or your title.
My exploration has really been around helping people to understand the influence that they have. So many of us have been conditioned to believe that leadership is a function of your position of authority, and it just does not automatically come with the territory. We can all think of examples that are obvious like that. People have positions of authority but are not necessarily great leaders. I see it in organizations all over the world. We see it in the political arena. We see it in the business arena, etc. What happens as a result of that is if I work for a company or I’m on my own or I’m a solopreneur, I’m an entrepreneur, I just feel like a cog in the machine at a corporation. Wherever I am on that spectrum, if I believe that leadership is somehow something that would be bestowed upon me or if I aspired to it I have to achieve a certain position, then I’m missing out on a huge opportunity to lead right now and to really make a significant difference in the world around me and to change it for the better. That’s really what leadership is.
I’m really intrigued by this dynamic that on the one hand we agree that leadership is important, but we don’t have a lot of agreement as to what that really means or what it looks like and how we can rise to a higher level of leadership ourselves. My work is really about closing the gap between what we aspire to in terms of leadership and what we actually do every day. That might sound a little abstract. My focus has been primarily in the corporate world. I’m doing more and more work with entrepreneurs. There’s a whole side of my work that’s really about creative expression as well. I didn’t start out thinking that someday I should be a leadership development person.
You didn’t aspire to that when you were eight years old?
I did not. When I was eight years old, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I went back and forth. I couldn’t decide between veterinarian and heart surgeon. I ended up as neither, although if you think about it metaphorically, perhaps I’m a heart surgeon. I wanted to be a musician. I’ve been playing guitar since I was thirteen years old. If you were to ask me in my early twenties what I was going to do, it was going to be play music, write songs and perform. I got married at a young age, married into my first child, my daughter, Angelica, who is now 40. I was 23. By the time I was 24, I had two kids. I discovered at that point in my life that this idea of being a musician and feeding people were mutually exclusive. Like a gunslinger hanging up his gun, I hung up my guitar and I started raising a family. That’s when I got into business. I had my own company. I was in the financial services industry, had my own small brokerage firm. I discovered I was an entrepreneur right from the very beginning.
We pivot from the day we were born. Once we’re out of our parents’ house and on our own as adults, the first significant conscious pivot was to hang up the guitar in favor of something else. Not that we want to get stuck in that spot very long, but just curious if anything’s come up for you about that?
It was extraordinarily painful not just because at the time, I felt like I was abandoning a dream because I also had a dream of having a family. It wasn’t like I was a prisoner but I did feel regret. I felt a level of grief in giving that up not only because I was giving up on a career path. I don’t know if you can call music a career, but for the lucky ones it becomes a career. In the very beginning, I wanted to at least give it a try. The other side of it is the music, from the time I was thirteen years old, was such a big part of my personality. It was a big part of the way I connected with people and the way I shared with others who I am. I still feel like people don’t really know me well until they’ve heard my songs. When I gave it up as a professional pursuit, it was so painful that I just shut it down all the way. I stopped playing. That part of me was put on the shelf for a while.
Part of your music was your identity. You had competing dreams because part of your dream was to be a father, to have a family. Part of your dream was to continue to do something that you loved which was to play music. In addition to it being in-love, a passion, all that kind of thing, it was very much a part of your identity at that time.
It was and remains a big part of my identity. The problem back then, part of it was a function of emotional defense mechanism and part of it was just immaturity. I was in my early twenties, I was still a kid. In order to deal with it, in order to pursue the family dream versus the music dream, I felt at the time that I needed to shut it all down. Otherwise, when I picked up a guitar, instead of feeling a sense of creative expression I was feeling an experience of what I’d just given up. It felt like I had abandoned a part of myself.
That was the word that just came up for me, abandonment; that idea that you abandoned a piece of yourself. Abandon is a strong word, Steve, but to leave a piece of yourself behind for a reason. You didn’t do it just because you wanted to. You did it because on some level you applied logic and reason. In the law, we call it the reasonable man standard. You were a reasonable man. You wanted to start a family.
There’s no such thing as pure logic or reason.
It’s what we know of it in the moment.
The decision was logical and reasonable and responsible. The experience was abandonment. If I had just given up that part of myself, that would have been tough. To turn my back on it, to abandon it, to shun it, to say, “That no longer serves my path as a family person,” that’s what it felt like. I had regret. I felt like I had given up a part of myself. I also felt a bit of resentment too that I had to do this somehow. At the same time, I love my family. I love my kids. I was having kids for the first time. There’s a sense of gratification in bringing home the paycheck the occasional times when that happened. The choice to go into business, that wasn’t like stepping on to a golden elevator.
[Tweet “People have positions of authority but are not necessarily great leaders. “]
This is where hindsight is so great, wisdom or whatever you want to call it. Life experience is so great because it informs us about reality into looking back in the rearview mirror. At the time, you looked at music as the wild ass risky thing to do and so you turned your back on it, you abandoned it. The good news here is that is not the end of the story. The story does not end in some sad fashion like, “I abandoned my dream or I abandoned my kids or something,” and there’s never been any reuniting. It’s interesting you chose business out of all things, entrepreneurship as the responsible path to take when that’s a harrowing experience all by itself.
I did not choose the entrepreneurial path immediately. I went to work for somebody who offered me a job in the commodities futures business, which I knew nothing about at the time. Still it was a straight commission thing so it was an entrepreneurial venture. It was feast or famine. It wasn’t like, “We will give you a salary plus commission and healthcare.” It wasn’t like that. It was like, “You can come work for me. Keep bringing some accounts, we’ll pay you some money.” I hadn’t really thought of it in these terms before. I really was an entrepreneur from the beginning because I did not go into a secure job. It was straight commission. What I discovered in that process was that I really was an entrepreneur. I had some semi-salary jobs that I’ve been involved into but I ended up with my own shop. That’s the real short version of the story. I started my own small commodities brokerage firm. I’ve gotten some experience in it. I realized that I had this mechanism in me that’s always thinking about what I can create and the sense of freedom that comes along, one would think, with having your own enterprise and all that. I ended up with a small brokerage firm. As an entrepreneurial venture, I was able to pay myself a salary but that salary came out of the revenues that the company had to create. That’s where I learned everything from the financial markets. From the entrepreneurial side, that’s where I learned about hiring people, about marketing, about what it is to actually try to make payroll and all these things that every entrepreneur has to learn. I learned it very quickly.
Ironically, the main thing that I learned was how much I hated that business. From the outside looking in, it looked pretty cool. I’ve got my own company, I’m my own boss, I’ve got kids, I’ve got a car, I’ve got a house, employees, and all that so-called American dream. The problem was I freaking hated it. I hated that industry. It’s a very speculative investment so clients lost their money left and right. I had a moral dilemma with my own business and I just hated it. To recap, in a very short span of time, I gave up the music which caused me grief, I got married and had kids which raised the stakes in terms of responsibility as a provider, and then I ended up getting into a business that I hated. There was no music. There was no joy in going to work. I’m actually sugarcoating it a little bit. Believe it or not, it was an intensely challenging time what ended up being my formative years. This was all before I was 30 years old. I got started really young. I’ll be 60, my oldest is 40. I started pretty young. I had to figure this shit out as I was going along. I guess I’m a slow learner because it took a while to figure this out.
Is this going to be the pivotal moment?
No. It just goes downhill from here. There was a pivotal moment and there was a series of them. They all happened in late ‘88, ‘89. We were living in the Midwest. I moved the family out to San Francisco. My business had gone down in flames. I knew I hated that business. I was given a job offer in San Francisco that’s why we moved out there to work for somebody who was just starting a commodities futures business. He offered me an opportunity to move the family to San Francisco and collect some paycheck, so we did it. I took advantage of it and I did it not because I was going to do more things in the industry that I hated, but because it facilitated a new chapter. I felt like a new chapter was coming.
Here’s the pivotal moment. I remember this very clearly. On my lunch break, walking around downtown San Francisco, which is really beautiful and I was still overwhelmed by, “What a great city and I can’t believe I’m here,” but at the same time, I was still miserable. I remember it was about as close as I’ve come to prayer in a very inadvertent way. I lived in a prayerful state but it was one of those moments where it was like, “I know there’s something I’m supposed to be doing on this planet. I know it in my bones and I have no freaking idea what it is. Please give me some hint what is it that I’m supposed to be doing. Tell me what I’m supposed to be doing and I will gladly do it because I had no idea.” That was the first pivotal moment where that came together where I just acknowledged that aching in my bones that says, “There is something I’m supposed to be doing.” I didn’t feel hopeless in the sense like, “I got nothing, there’s no contribution I can make.” It wasn’t like that. I knew there was something but I didn’t know what it was.
[Tweet “The choice to go into business, that wasn’t like stepping on to a golden elevator. “]
Step one, you had a real moment, a real conversation, a vulnerable on your knees and hands prayer?
Yeah, pretty close to it. Walking down the street in the financial district in San Francisco and looking up at the buildings and go, “There’s something I’m supposed to be doing here. Tell me what it is because it isn’t this.” I don’t remember exactly the time frame but it was very short. It might have been days, at the most weeks. After that, I was having a conversation with an old friend who I hadn’t talked to for a while. We were talking about our mutual friends. This person mentioned a mutual friend of ours whose name is Alexandra Leslie, still a friend of mine, a great person. He was telling me that Alexandra was teaching some workshops for companies. That was the level of detail that I got. There is no exaggeration in this. All of my lights went on. I said, “That’s it. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I have no idea what that is really but that’s it.” I started talking to people about that including my sister and close friends, “What do you know about this corporate training thing?” Lo and behold, there was a whole industry out there that did all kinds of things. Honestly, I had no idea there was such a thing as a corporate training and developing industry. I started to research it and find out who did what. It turns out there was a company right there in San Francisco that was looking for somebody.
In the meantime, I got hired by a small consulting company to do contract work to teach business writing workshops. I was a writer. I’d always been a writer from the time I was a kid. I was a pretty good writer. I learned how to teach their program and I started doing these little workshops in business writing for AT&T and I slapped that on my resume, professional trainer. I sent that resume to a company in San Francisco that was looking for somebody. They came out and watched me do my thing at AT&T, this little writing workshop. They brought me on as a contractor to do an entirely different program which was very customer service and culture-oriented. It was a two-day very performance-oriented show almost, and that’s where I got my chops. That’s where I learned my chops and started traveling around the world.
Once I jumped onto that train, I’m not going to say it was a straight trajectory to the top but it sure was the new trend. I fell in love with that work and being up in front of people and helping them make their places better and get along better and communicate better. After doing that for a few years, I got hired by Tom Peters in 1994. I learned more about leadership and started working with senior executive teams, and then developed my own point of view and started writing books and the whole thing. I hear this question a lot, Adam, as I’m sure you do. When you’re out speaking at an event and people come up to you and say, “I really want to do what you do. How did you get started?” I don’t recommend the path that I took. First, you have to go into a period of a very deep, dark pain.
You’re not making light of it, but I want to get serious about that. You talked about being in that place of prayerfulness or asking the question, “What am I supposed to be doing?” If you were going to categorize that question, would you categorize it as humility or would you categorize it as arrogance?
It definitely didn’t feel like arrogance. Humility is closer to it. Honestly, it was despair combined with knowingness that there was an answer to the question.
That’s how I look at you. When I think of that word humility or humbleness, it’s assuming there is an answer and also recognizing that you don’t have it.
Maybe we’re nitpicking a little bit in terms of semantics but it’s really important, I didn’t assume there was an answer. I knew there was an answer. I don’t know if that’s something that’s teachable or not. I would like to believe that everybody has that sense of knowingness in them, but for me it was very prevalent, it rose to the surface. There was that gap between, “I know there’s something I’m supposed to be doing and I know I don’t know what it is.” I wasn’t asking for riches to fall on my head. I was asking for an opportunity to discover what my purpose is and then to live it.
There’s a difference between believing and knowing. This is a really important point here because there are a lot of people out there right now that may be in a position in their life, whether they’re in the 20’s, 30’s, 50’s, 60’s, where they don’t know something that’s important like what is next for them in the doing area, in the career or work area, in the business area. They don’t know what that is. They may know that there is something for them to do, maybe they have that level of clarity that you had, and also at the same time knowing that they don’t know, which is whatever word you want to apply to that. For me the word will be humility. I have the humility to know or admit that I don’t know something and also to be able to ask for help. Not everybody’s going to pray. Not everybody’s going to ask spirit, god, source or whatever, to get an answer. You’ve got to ask someone or ask of something, inquire of something to get an answer to a question you have.
To me, the universal principle that’s at play here is that you cannot ask a question and not get an answer. The only thing that’s a variable, that’s uncertain is the timing. It’s a knowing, not a belief. I think belief is very much what we want and we suspect and what’s in place until we have more proof or evidence. A belief is a pretty good hunch, it’s a really strong hunch, and it could be based on the experiences we’ve had or people that have been close to us. A belief is a really strong suspicion and a knowing is something that you can count on. You went to prayer knowing three things; knowing what you were doing wasn’t what you wanted to be doing, knowing that there was something for you to do that would be what you’re supposed to be doing, and third, knowing that you didn’t have the answer to it but willing to be guided to it. It was a foregone conclusion that you get an answer. The only question is when would you get the answer?
To the principle that there is an answer to every question and you’ll get it, it just doesn’t happen necessarily in the way that we would prefer in the moment. In other words, it may not be an instantaneous answer or even if it is an instantaneous answer, it doesn’t mean that you actually hear it. I may not want to hear that or they may be too much noise. When I see how many clues I had along the way, I completely ignored it.
Steve, take us to today now because you had this pivotal time where you asked a question, cause and effect, got an answer. It’s not a linear thing. You’ve got an answer when the universe or however you want to call it, the answer was going to show up at some point and you actually heard it. In the moment that this answer showed up, you paid attention. You were ready to hear it. Clearly, you were ready and you were paying attention and then you took action because you had this knowing now. Not just belief but really a stronger feeling inside that this was what you were meant to be doing, and then you started down that path. Fast forward a bunch of years, you’ve been doing amazing things with that knowing. It’s not been a straight line, it’s not been without its pitfalls or its challenges or whatever, but you maintained that course ever since. Bring us up to speed to what you’re doing today. Did music ever reappear back in your life or is that the end of the tale of woe?
As far as the music goes, after a while I did start playing again just for myself. After we moved to San Francisco, I did start playing a little bit more. I even went out and played in a couple of open mics just to get that feeling and all that. It did take its place in my life again to at least a small degree. I hadn’t completely shut the door and left it closed. In terms of my career path, there were several pivotal moments. I got hired by the company that was actually based in Denmark and had an office in San Francisco. They were the ones that came to watch me at AT&T then offered me a contract position to do training for them. These were big training initiatives. One of our clients back in the day was US Airways, which is now United. It was an organization-wide program so we trained thousands of people over the course of several years, 120 people at a time cross-sectional. There were people from various levels of management across different functions. We got them together for two days in a room and it was all about culture and creating an environment of service where we treat each other as customers. It was very entertaining and presenter-driven and lots of skits and performances and lots of humor. I just loved it and I was really good at it. I was a contractor, so I got paid whenever they tap me on the shoulder to go teach some workshops. I was getting paid pretty well, $1,000 a day or something like that to do these things. I was finding my stride in that industry. It was waking up into it and say, “This is what I was built for,” and really digging it. Still, I was a contractor.
One of my colleagues there went to work for the aforementioned Tom Peters, which was right down the road in Palo Alto at the time. For your listeners who are unfamiliar with him, his original claim to fame was the book called In Search of Excellence that he co-wrote with Bob Waterman, which is one of the most, if not the most influential business book ever written. This guy was a celebrity and an amazing thought leader and all that. When my colleague went to work for them, she’s on the sales side. I said, “What about me? I want to go too.” She introduced me to Jim Kouzes who was the president of the Tom Peters Company at the time. We had a really nice conversation. My desire was that I wanted to be a contractor for them too. I had no interest in being an employee. They came back to me and they said, “We would like you to come work with us but we want you full-time. We want you to join the team as an employee of the company, not as a contractor.” That was a pivotal decision because they gave me two days to think about it, I went back and forth. I really struggled with the idea of being somebody’s employee. It was hard for me to say the word employee without gagging on it.
I decided, “Farber, if you go to work for these guys for a couple of years, then you’ve got Tom Peters Company on your resume and then go back and do your own thing later on.” That was the deciding factor. I said, “Sure.” Before I knew it, I started working for them. We started focusing on leadership. I started focusing on leadership because that was their focus. Within a few years, I became vice president of the company. I was helping to run the place. I had vested interest in the place. I fell in love with it. I love my colleagues, some of them are still my best friends today. That was really an incubation time for me. Making the decision to not be an entrepreneur, because it was the right place to go and I felt drawn to it, was really one of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made.
How do you define incubation in that context?
I was developing my point of view on leadership. I was getting such great experience working with all these senior executive teams, working with a body of work called the Leadership Challenge which was created by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, still the must-read in the leadership world. The Leadership Challenge is now on its fifth edition or something like that. If you have any interest in leadership at all, you should read that. I taught their workshop. I got really proficient at teaching somebody else’s body of work. This is what I’ve been doing in my career. What I came to understand, what I came to experience, is that when I taught the Leadership Challenge, I taught it in my own voice. I had my own perspective on it and that really worked. It felt great and people connected with it and resonated with it. After a time, I just started asking myself, “What do I think about all of this? After everything that I’ve learned and all the people I’ve worked with and this great learning from my mentors and from doing all this client work, if there was one thing or maybe a small handful of things that if I could flip some magic switch and have everybody in the business world understand, what would that be?” In trying to answer that question, my own body of work and point of view began to emerge. That’s what I mean by incubating. It was gathering the experience. It was honing my chops. It was getting really, really good at the craft and the art of educating and training and speaking and facilitating, and seeing how people apply it and helping people to apply what’s learned, in getting in the trenches and really learning about business.
I had exposure to so many different companies, to so many different industries, appreciating the differences but also seeing the universal truth from company to company. All of that stuff was what I mean by incubating. That was all going in. It came together on the question, “What do I think?” If you were to ask me, if you just let it all out, what is it? That’s where The Radical Leap framework came from. LEAP stands for Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. That’s been the core of my work ever since. I first started playing with that framework right around the time I was leaving the Tom Peters Company in 2000. It eventually became the framework that I wrote about in The Radical Leap which came out in 2004. What that came from was that magic switch, magic wand question, “What would I have everybody get?” We dance around it, we call it different things, we use the word sparingly, but the bottom line is great leadership is really about love, and that great business is really about love. I’d seen it over and over again in my career that far. The really great leaders, the people that work with them, for them and around them, they loved them. Respect and admiration and all that other stuff, that’s all part of it but they loved them. The reason they did was because the best leaders that I’d met made no bones about the fact that they love their team, they love their work, they love their clients and customers.
Therefore, because of that, they had much higher standards and expectations for themselves and for the people around them. They wouldn’t tolerate sub-par performance because love wouldn’t let them do that. These people generated tremendous energy in the way that they worked. They were audacious in their thinking. They weren’t small-minded. They were change the world minded. It was really critical to all these people that it wasn’t enough to talk a good game and say the right words. They proved that they meant what they said through their actions, through their results, through the specific, measurable, observable steps that they took every day; Love, energy, audacity and proof.
You mentioned that question. I want you to just go back to that and see if we can formulate what that magic wand question was because that was a pivotal question. It seems like what’s trending here, looking back at your life, are these powerful questions that arose at certain points. Those questions are not ordinary by any means and the answers to them changed everything. What was the question?
I’ve posed this question to other people as well that they should ask of themselves. If I had the power to have everybody in my industry get it, what would it be? What is it that people need to do differently? What do they need to know? How would they act? If I had that sway, what would I have people do? I think that’s a good question for any of us to ask about the industry and world that we live in. I think the answer is going to be much more powerful if you’ve taken the time to gather the experience. For example my experience with teenagers, to come full circle on the family side of things after two marriages, three kids and three step-kids now who range from 22 years old on the young and 40 on the old end. If you look at the span in between, I raised teenagers for 25 straight years so I know from where I speak about teenagers. Teenagers love to tell you, based on their vast experience, the way things should be, which is a wonderful impulse. For the most part, “Thank you very much for your opinion, I’ll take it under advisement.” What I’m saying is that question, “If I can have everybody get it, what would it be?” You’re going to get a better answer with deeper experience. I know it’s obvious to say but I was not ready to ask that question in the first part of my career. Even though I was out there teaching, as we all know, that’s the best way to learn. I was in the learning phase of my career. I still am. We always are. In terms of the foundational elements and understanding of leadership and business and how it all fits together, I wasn’t ready to ask the “What do I think about all this?” question in a way that was really going to be useful to anybody else other than myself.
There’s no question that the, “What do you want other people to get or what is it that you want people to understand?” is based on experience. Not to dilute the experience with teenagers, because in some context they may really get what it is that they want other people to get. That they’ve been bullied and they decide at eighteen years old that what they really want is for people to get that bullying is debilitating to our world. It’s counter-productive to everything that our society is moving toward or whatever that is. Whatever that is, they could get that early on. Clearly it’s based on some experience and often, my theory anyhow, is that experience is often a painful one. It’s not necessarily all roses and chocolates and stuff like that.
[Tweet “We constantly need to be expanding ourselves. “]
I’m not saying that teenagers have nothing of value to give. There could be nothing further from the truth. In fact, there’s a combination of experience and innocence at that age where it can actually give a greater degree of clarity to how the world should be. I think kids younger than teenagers and teenagers have a wonderful perspective on how the world should be. Their experience is very intense. The experience of being a kid is very intense. You can look around your environment at school and see somebody being bullied and have the presence of mind to stand up against that and say that’s wrong. That happens every day. It’s relative to the world that they’re living in.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t take a teenager who has incredibly valuable experience in that arena and necessarily put them in a board room with senior executives to talk about business strategy because they don’t have a context for it. It’s always relative to your insight. The bottom line on this very obvious point which is we constantly need to be expanding ourselves. We constantly need to be getting a deeper, wider, richer experience so that we can extract wisdom from that and share it with other people.
It’s the precursor to insight. The prerequisite to insight is experience of all kinds. I am loving where our conversation is taking us and would like to conclude by asking you what rituals you have to sustain that growth that you were just advocating.
I have to close the loop on the music thing and maybe that ties in with the rituals. I’m not really much of a ritual person other than I make bulletproof coffee every morning and bring it upstairs to my wife. That’s our big domestic ritual. That is my territory. That’s my role of service that I play. In terms of music, I have, over the past few years, been re-awakened in the musician side of my personality. I’ve played over the years but I’ve started writing again a little bit and I brought back actually some of the songs that I wrote 40 years ago that I’ve always played and brought them more to the forefront of who I am and what I do. I’ve even started playing music in some of my keynotes. Adam, you heard me do that once. I don’t get the opportunity to do that every time but when I can, I love to do that. I’ve been through this musical reawakening and as a result of that, I’m going into the studio to record with the Brothers Koren, Isaac and Thorald Koren, formerly known as The Kin who toured with Pink and opened for Coldplay. They’re just brilliant musicians. I’m going into the studio with them and recording six of my songs, which we will then release on Spotify and iTunes and all that.
I’m doing it just to give expression. I don’t have any designs on a hit single or anything. It’s just an amazing thing to be completely fully honoring that really important part of my personality and my being. This idea that we have to sacrifice one part of ourselves to nurture another is false. None of these things are mutually exclusive. I think our ideal state that some people have referred to as the radical edge, which is to be successful in our business ventures and prosper, to amplify personal joy and meaning in our lives, and change the world for the better all at the same time. These also are not mutually exclusive ideas. We don’t have to be a martyr in order to change the world. We don’t have to have a terrible job in order to live a life of joy on the weekends. It should all be moving at the same pace. That’s what we’re built to do in my opinion.
You read Pivot at a pretty pivotal point in your life. What was the one thing out of that that you either took away or still somehow are influenced by, if anything?
I think the prevailing wisdom seems to be an all or nothing point of view. I think you used this imagery in the book, this burn the bridges thing. If I’m going to pivot, if I’m going to move to a new direction, then I need to just do it, all or nothing, take the leap in the literal sense and burn the bridges behind me. I have done it that way before. Sometimes I think it’s needed. This idea that we can start right now with small things that add up to big things overtime, I’m not going to say that it was the most important thing in the book, but it seem to be the most immediate for me because we are pivoting with our business. We’re taking a new direction in the things that we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and we’re doing it incrementally and little by little. Sometimes I get frustrated that it’s not moving fast enough and I just remind myself that we’re starting at completely different trajectory and it’s better to get it right as much as we possibly can with the smaller steps.
How can people find out more about what you’re up to these days? What’s the best place to send them so that they can either discover who you are as an author, speaker or facilitator? Is there one place you’d like to say, “This is the website. Go here and all your dreams will be answered?”
All your dreams will be fulfilled at SteveFarber.com. There are lots of videos. There are some really good content. My blog lives there. There are some good white papers and you could see about my speaking stuff. We’re doing a lot of cultural change. We’re having some really great results with helping to change cultures. You won’t see a whole lot of about that on there as of yet. There’ll be a new website coming soon with some of the broader services that we do. For right now, SteveFarber.com is the place to be. There is a free audio series that’s available there, which I get really great feedback on and I invite you to partake in.
I know you’re doing online trainings as well. Is there information about your online course?
You could find the information on that there as well.
What a pleasure to have you join us, Steve. Thank you. For everybody, thank you for being with us, for giving us your most precious asset which is your time. To remind you that tomorrow, your first and only task to begin with is to wake up, literally wake up and figuratively wake up. Wake up a little bit more your consciousness, your awareness, your appreciation, your gratitude. In that moment, it’s pretty easy to realize that as you are waking up, as you’re taking that first breath, there will be people who’ll be taking their last. It’s a special moment. You don’t have to search far for where to be grateful in that moment. If you also feel inclined to do so, I do believe in rituals, which I have specific definition most of my listeners I think are aware of, which is not from a religious standpoint or some dogma but more like upscaling habits. How do you upscale a habit? Stephen Covey’s amazing book about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I look at habits as things we do unconsciously. Since I’m committed to raising consciousness, I look at rituals as something that we consciously choose to create over time. It takes practice. Not everybody loves their life in my experience. Not everybody is grateful as much of the day as they could be and maybe even want to be but somehow aren’t.
Conscious habits that become master habits or rituals are powerful. When I get my magic wand, this is what I would do with it. I wave my magic wand because the thing that I want the world to get, business owners, entrepreneurs and everybody who’s anything else however you categorize, the employee or otherwise, is that you love yourself. That’s the magic wand wish for me. You have to learn, and I believe it’s a learning. I believe it’s something that we are not necessarily shown how to do from the moment we’re born, all the evidence to the contrary around us, in our parents, in the world that we live in, what it’s like to not love yourself and accept yourself unconditionally. First things first, we wake up, we’re grateful, put your feet on the floor and declare if you will, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” Do that for a sufficient amount of time, 21 days is a start; 75, 100, 200, a year, two years, five years, ten years later, the universe has a way of helping you to see how easy it is and how intuitive it is to love yourself.
Join us at the Start My PIVOT Facebook Community. Stories like Steve’s, people who are sharing vulnerably what’s been going on in their world and where those pivot points have been, where are those inflection points and what they’ve learned just as importantly. There are lots of incredible resources and tools and support that are happening in that community. You can go to PivotFB.com. I love you all. I send you lots of love and I wish for you today and every day self-love. With that, I will say ciao. Steve, thanks so much for being here.
Thank you. It’s been a real pleasure.
- Steve Farber
- The Radical Leap
- The Radical Edge
- Greater Than Yourself
- Tom Peters
- In Search of Excellence
- Leadership Challenge
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Tom Peters Company
- The Leadership Challenge
- Steve’s blog
- Steve’s speaking engagement
- Steve’s Videos
- Steve’s online course
- Brothers Koren