Leadership pioneer, strategist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author on extreme leadership Steve Farber says there’s a big difference between calling oneself a leader and actually leading. If you are really leading and not just wearing the label, the experience is extreme. It’s a combination of love for the game, love for the cause, love for the principles that you stand for and, at the same time, a fear that comes with doing something new, stretching the boundaries, being innovative, and challenging the status quo. Karyn Schoenbart, CEO at The NPD Group, Inc. says she always had a strong work ethic which was instilled in her by her parents. She’s wrote Mom.B.A:. Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next as a practical guide on everything, from effective first impressions and workplace politics to relationship development, skill-building, and priority-setting. One of her big tips to people early in their careers is to step up and work hard, and good things happen when you work hard, step up, and volunteer. That is what helps propel your career and get you noticed.
We have Steve Farber and Karyn Schoenbart. Steve has been a Global Top 50 Leadership and Management expert and a bestselling author of multiple books. Karyn has been the CEO of NPD Group and the author of Mom.B.A. We’re going to talk to both of them because they both have some amazing books and some interesting work they’re doing.
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Extreme Leadership with Steve Farber
I am here with Steve Farber, who’s listed as one of Inc. Global Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts. He is a leadership pioneer, strategist, keynote speaker and bestselling author on extreme leadership. His expertise is in creating organizational cultures where leadership is not just an opportunity and an obligation for those in authority but for everyone on all levels. Steve is the President of Extreme Leadership Inc. and the Founder of the Extreme Leadership Institute, organizations devoted to the cultivation and development of extreme leaders around the world. His third book, Greater Than Yourself, was a Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge, was hailed as a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit. His first book, The Radical Leap, is already considered a classic in the leadership field. He received Fast Company Magazine’s Readers Choice Award and was recently named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. It’s so nice to have you here, Steve.
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
I’m very excited to talk to you. I went through a lot of your videos. I was watching some of the stuff that you’ve done and I was really fascinated by what you were talking about, extreme leadership. What is extreme leadership? Other than the name of your company and what you’ve written about, is there something that we should know what extreme leadership really means?
It’s a snappy marketing phrase. It is, but that’s not the point of it. Extreme leadership was really just my way of saying real leadership. I’ve been doing leadership development in one form or another for 30 years now and one of the things that I noticed early on, and I’m certainly not the first person to notice this, is that there’s a big difference between calling oneself a leader and actually leading, to say the least. When you really look into it, if you are really leading and not just wearing the label, the experience is extreme. It feels extreme. It’s this really interesting combination of love for the game, love for the cause, love for the principles that you stand for. At the same time, this fear that comes with the territory of doing something new and stretching the boundaries and being innovative and challenging the status quo. It’s extreme. By its nature, leadership is an extreme act if you’re really doing it and not just using the phrase. Extreme leadership is my way of trying to get people to understand that unless they’re feeling it like that, they’re probably not really doing it.
That’s so fascinating because I’m writing about curiosity right now and what holds people back and a lot of it is fear and different things. What you’re talking about reminded me when I had Keith Krach, the Chairman of a DocuSign, on my show. At the time when he was considering taking over at DocuSign. He told his wife he’ll probably be in the fetal position under his desk at least once a month because of the stress that goes along with it, getting you ready for that. I think that leaders naturally have a level of curiosity. That’s how they got to that level. I think what’s fascinating to me is you try to develop that in other people and that could be really challenging. How do you get people to embrace that fear?
Curiosity is certainly a big part of it because if you’re not fundamentally curious, then you don’t really care about changing things for the better. Part of curiosity is, “How could we improve this? How could we the world? What are other people doing? What can I learn from you?” It’s taking in, it’s being curious so that I can gather new information and new ideas. When you start acting on it, the curiosity leads to a new idea and a new direction and you’ve got to take action. That’s where the fear comes in. To answer your question, I think the simplest way to begin to do that is to understand. It is the intellectual understanding that fear in the right context is actually a good thing. This is something that I refer to in my work as the OS!M that stands for the, “Oh Shit!” Moment.
I loved your roller coaster story. I was listening to you talking about getting on the roller coaster of hell.
It’s a great little metaphor. The short version of the story is when you’re on a rollercoaster, you’re experiencing the OS!M in a very significant way. Intellectually, you know that you’re safe. You know that you’re not going to go flying off of this thing for the most part. There’s a risk in everything of course. First of all, elevating up to the point where you’re leaving the earth’s gravitational pull and then crossing the top of that first hill on the roller coaster, then being dropped heads first down into the abyss from the top of the mountain. That’s what you hear. You hear your voice, you hear yourself screaming, “Oh shit!”That’s the natural thing. I used that as a metaphor because it’s exactly the same thing that happens every day when you’re trying to lead or you’re trying to do something new or you’re acting on the curiosity. Whenever you’re trying to do something new, significant, stretching the boundaries outside of your proverbial comfort zone, the OS!M will be there. We need to understand is that that’s a natural thing. In the right context when you have the OS!M, instead of going, “I’m scared,” or “I shouldn’t be scared,” we get afraid of being afraid then it compounds. Instead you say, “There it is. There’s the OS!M.” That must mean I’m actually doing something. Part of it is reframing how we interpret the experience.
That’s so important and I love it on your video how you said you became gravity’s love slave as you were plummeting down and that’s a great way of looking at it. It is reframing how we look at it and I think a lot of it when I was doing my research on curiosity. I found that a lot of it is not just fear, but it’s assumptions that we make. It’s the environment of people around us, what they’ve steered us away from and not intentionally maybe but family, friends, social media. You’ve got technology doing things for you. To really reframe what we tell ourselves, how do we do that?
There’s another part of it too because I tend to look at everything through a leadership lens. The success of an organization really comes down to the quality of leadership one way or the other. That’s why my focus over the years was more and more lasered in on leadership. There is a difference between a leadership position and actually being a leader, just having the position doesn’t automatically make you a leader, it brings the expectation of leadership, but not necessarily in the practice of leadership. Once you achieve that position, I think what a lot of people feel is that “Now that I’m in that position of authority, I should have it all figured out. People expect that I have it all figured out. I’m the person with all the answers and I’m invincible and I had no wall. Therefore, if I expressed curiosity, it’s actually a sign of weakness.”
That’s crap as we know. I think there’s some cultural conditioning that affects a lot of people, certainly, not everybody. Of course, the opposite is true. The best leaders are curious. Not only are they curious about what’s going on in the marketplace and in the world, but they’re genuinely curious about the people that they work with, the people on their team. They want to know who they are. They want to know what their aspirations are. They want to know their humanity. They want to know about their families and their life story and their dreams, and that’s all curiosity. For me, where that comes from and this is another really significant, probably the most significant foundation of my work is that fundamentally, that’s an act of love. A great leadership is about love, and great leaders cultivate love for the team, for the organization, for the values that you stand for, and for the customers that you serve. This is another part of our conditioning that says, “Love has no place in business,” which is just a crock.
Love is Just Damn Good Business, which is the title of the new book that I have coming out. It will be coming out in 2019. I’m really excited about that. Thank you. Love is Just Damn Good Business, if I do say so myself, it’s a damn good title. Listen, if I love you, I’m going to be curious about you. I want to know more about you. If I love my customers, which is the platitude that every organization claims to subscribe to, we print buttons and banners about how much we love our customers, is that really true? If it were really true, I’d be so deeply curious about you, my customer. I want to know your challenges. I want to know your business. I want to know what you’re facing so that I can help you solve your challenges. This is at core of consultative selling as well. The people that do this really well, it’s a natural thing because they’re coming from the heart.
How does that tie into the conscious capitalism type of thinking? Can you still be super successful and still care and still be making money? Is it the same kind of thinking?
Yeah of course. No pun intended, it gets to the heart of the dilemma. The question comes from some cultural expectation that those two things, prosperity, success, money, love, care, and humanity, are mutually exclusive. That you have to choose one over the other. The fact of the matter is that they are intimately connected. There is this edge that we need to hit, I believe. We’re stoking our business. We’re being successful in our business. We’re amplifying our own personal joy and meaning and we’re changing the world all at the same time. This is what we’re after. We want to do all of them. It might sound like an overwhelming aspiration, but I don’t believe it is. I don’t believe that you have to be a martyr to change the world. I don’t believe that you have to sacrifice your family and your relationships in order to make money. There are people that do it that way, but that doesn’t mean that that’s the way.
I teach a lot of business courses at hand. We deal with Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership and different aspects in. This brings up some of that in my mind. How do you differentiate what you’re writing about based on what we’ve heard about servant leadership? How does this tie in when you talk about change the world and then all millennials want to change the world so much and make an impact? How are you addressing that?
I don’t really make much of a distinction. If you look on Amazon and just do a subject search for servant leadership, there’s tens of thousands of books on the subject. It would be vastly egotistical of me to believe that I’m bringing something entirely new. It’s just I’m not.
I don’t know if anybody brings in something entirely new. Everybody has their own spin.
I think what distinguishes my body of work a little bit is the overt emphasis on love as a hardcore business principle. The changing the world aspect of it is absolutely critical because if as leaders, if we’re not at least attempting to change the world for the better, then we’re wasting space. I think what stops a lot of people in their tracks is the word world. We tend to interpret it as capital Whole Wide World, the fabric of human existence, the broadest possible definition. I would say that if you can do that, if you can change the whole wide world as we used to call it when we are kids through the work that you’re doing, then fantastic, but it’s not the only option we have. What I ask people to do is to focus on the small w, world. Changing the world of your organization, changing the world of your clients, changing the world of your team, changing the world with your family, these things are no less noble. They do add up. It’s not a cliché to say that these things add up. Our capital W, world is made up of a lot of small w worlds. That’s it. Focus there. It’s not just an aspiration open to the great historical leaders of history; it’s open to you and me as well. How am I going to change the world of my company now is a way to get us and keep us on track.
You’ve definitely kept a lot of companies on track. I was looking at some of the companies you’ve worked with. You’ve worked with Merck. I worked for AstraZeneca for nearly twenty years and co-marketed a product with Merck and you’ve worked with Merck and Cisco. My brother worked for Cisco, Intel. Looking at the companies of which you’ve had some business in, you’re really done a lot of amazing work. I’m interested in now you’re rereleasing one of your books, a new edition coming up?
Yes, Greater Than Yourself.
What is different about this edition? Have you added or changed anything or is it just the latest printing?
It’s not a simple question. I’ll give you my efficient answer to it. The books that I’ve written so far, The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge and Greater Than Yourself are all novels. They fall in that genre of business parable or whatever you want to call it. Although mine tend to be a little bit edgier and there are no fuzzy animals as main characters. For the new edition of Greater Than Yourself, I didn’t change the story per se. Although there’s no law against doing it, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. We have new foreword and a new afterword by a professor at UC San Diego and his colleague, injecting a little bit of the network science into the principle of Greater Than Yourself. The idea behind Greater Than Yourself is it’s another application of love as a principal. The premise, I call it GTY for short, the premise of GTY is that the greatest leaders become the greatest leaders by making others greater than themselves. A little bit of a paradox. Think of it as mentoring on steroids almost.
It originally came out in 2009when the world was melting down, including the publishing industry. People were losing their pensions. They were losing their homes or afraid of that. They’re afraid of losing their homes. People were in a very much of a survival mentality. I came out with a book that said, “You should help people.” The timing wasn’t all that great. Random House who is the publisher of the book, went through twenty or 30 reorganizations during the time the book was launching. It never really got a fair platform, although it still did pretty well. My editor at Penguin Random House, the currency imprint there, he loves the book. He said, “Let’s push this out there again and give it the attention that it deserves.” That’s the motivation behind it. This was a timely message. I think it was a little bit ahead of its time.
That’s awesome. I’m thinking of your messages and it reminds me a little of the Zig Ziglar’s, “Give enough people what they want to get what you want,” type of thing. Did you have mentors that influence you? Who has had the biggest influence on you do you think?
I’ve really been blessed with some phenomenal mentors. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are the co-authors of The Leadership Challenge, which is probably the most significant body of research on leadership on the planet. Jim was a very significant mentor for me. He saw my talent early on and gave me great encouragement and actually hired me at the company that he was running at the time as the president. That company was owned by my other significant mentor, Tom Peters. Tom is probably the most significant management thinker of our day. I put him right up there with Peter Drucker, if not beyond. He co-wrote In Search of Excellence. He’s got a new book out that just came out about a month ago. I was Vice President of the Tom Peters Company. Jim was the President, Jim Kouzes. Those were two of my mentors wrapped up in one place where I worked and it completely changed the trajectory of my professional life and career. My work is very deeply informed by theirs. I’ve been fortunate but really I think that our biggest opportunity is to be a significant mentor, advocate, sponsor, to be that for somebody else and to find somebody that you work with, that you’re around. Somebody that you really believe in, somebody that you love, somebody that you believe that your talents can help, and approach that relationship with the expressed intent of raising that person up above yourself.
That’s so important. It makes me think of how your book was hailed as a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit. Do you think we are capable of doing that? How do we do that?
I know we’re capable of doing that. I see it over and over again. I see it in individual leaders and I see it in companies. We have a couple of great case studies which I’ll tell you about some other time when we have a little bit more time. Companies that have taken the principle of love, the principle of greater than yourself and a few other things that are connected with that and really woven those things into their culture, into the way that they do business, into everything from how they hire people, to how they reward people, to how they run meetings, to how they make decisions. We’ve got the number two best places to work in the State of Washington, the number one best place to work in Jacksonville, Florida, number one best place to work in the country of Australia, these are all people that have essentially operationalized love as a business principle. I see evidence of our ability to lift other people up and harness the power of the human spirit. I see it every day in individuals and I see it in companies and it is hard work. There’s no question that it’s hard work, but it’s the greatest kind of work that we can do.
Is everybody lovable?
No. It’s probably fair to say that everybody’s lovable than somebody. I can love different people for different reasons. I want to be really clear about this. An environment that’s characterized by love is not the stereotype that comes to mind for a lot of people, which is something like this. Everybody walks around with big, goofy grins on their faces and nobody ever argues, and then every so often you stop the action and have a big group hug in the hallway. That sounds nauseating to me. If we really love this place, if we love what we’re trying to do, we love the customers who are trying to serve, if you’re my colleague, if I can’t honestly say that I love you, I can still care about you. I could still treat you with kindness and respect. If I love this place and what we’re trying to do, I’m going to hold you accountable to our standards and I expect you to do the same for me. A place that’s really characterized by love has higher standards. There tend to be more debates and more arguments because almost paradoxically there’s a lower tolerance level for substandard behavior and performance. If we really love this place, we’re not going to put up with people just slacking off. We do that for each other. It’s not a club that’s hammered down on us from above. It’s a contract that we have with each other.
When you were saying all that, it brought to mind the Love Guru. Did you ever see that movie? Mike Myers. He is saying Mariska Hargitay instead of Namasté. There is the over the top obviously and then there’s what you’re saying as a real thing. I think that’s really important that you brought that out. I’m really glad that you said that because I think some people will be going, “Yeah, yeah.” What you’re saying is really important and I appreciate your honesty as far as who is and who isn’t capable or lovable in this situation. I think you got to have some of these hard conversations and realize that this culture has to come from the top. I think all the work you’re doing is amazing and I’m so excited that your book’s coming out again the next year. How can people find your work now? Are there sites you want to share?
I pretty much live at SteveFarber.com. If you just remember Steve Farber, you’ll find me everywhere. It’s Facebook.com/SteveFarber, LinkedIn is Steve Farber, Twitter’s @SteveFarber. I’m fairly active on social media.
It’s really been fun looking at some of your videos and some of the work you do. You have some great short videos on YouTube. I hope people check those out too because you have some good content there. It was so much fun having you on the show, Steve. Thank you.
Thank you, Diane. It’s my great pleasure.
How To Get Noticed with Karyn Schoenbart
I am with Karyn Schoenbart who is the CEO at the NPD Group, Inc. and the author of Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next, which is a practical guide on everything from effective first impressions and work politics to relationship development, skill building, and priority setting. NPD is a top market research company based in the US and operates globally. Karyn is the recipient of multiple industry awards and serves on multiple Board of Directors groups. It’s so nice to have you here, Karyn.
Thanks so much for having me, Diane. I’m delighted.
This is going to be fun. I looked at all the stuff that you do. I was watching some of your videos and when I first saw your picture, you look like we could be related.
I’ll take that as a compliment, Diane.
Maybe I’m being too easy on me because it’s just that we have the same appeal. I was watching some of your videos you showed in a conference of the old Farrah hair from the ‘70s. I was laughing at what you were saying because I did the same. I still do the same thing though, unfortunately. I’m stuck to my old ways. It’s fun to see going through all the different generational changes in the business world and some of the stuff you’ve done. You were talking about somebody wanting you to be a girl Friday night and I had been a Cali girl. Just some of the things you were talking about I could totally relate to. I was looking forward to our chat.
Me too, Diane.
You are really impressive as the CEO and author and all the things that you’ve done. I wrote a book with my daughter and so I was interested in how you wanted to focus on one generation to the next with your Mom.B.A. Why did you write the book? I’m curious. The meaning of the title would be interesting to me as well?
When my daughter Danielle started working in an advertising agency, she realized that she knew things that her peers didn’t know. All of a sudden these friends and colleagues were coming up to her and asking her for her advice on dealing with their boss, with their clients or a difficult situation and here she is right out of college, doling out advice to people. She said to me, “Mom, I don’t understand why I know things that they don’t know.” She realized that it was because she grew up having me as a live in mentor her whole life. I’ll give you a quick funny example. When she was six years old and she wanted to have a sleepover, I made her put together a presentation on why she has to have a sleepover.
Is it on PowerPoint?
No. I think this was pre-PowerPoint. We would drive in the car and I would want to practice my interviewing skills. We would do an interview game and I would say things like, “Danielle, tell me for what things have you been criticized?” The point is that she started the workforce knowing these things and she said, “I feel like I got a Mom BA.” Then she said, “You really should write a book to help other people who didn’t necessarily have a mother or a father who was in business growing up. Like an insider’s guide to everything that you wanted to know about business but were afraid to ask or didn’t even know to ask.” That’s how the book got started.
My parents really had no business experience or anything like that. What were your parents did? Did you get a lot of exposure to that from them?
Absolutely not. My mom was stay-at-home mom, very active, very involved, and my father owned a small sewing machine and vacuum cleaner store in New York City. The only role models I really had growing up were you could be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. My goal was to be a second grade teacher and when I graduated from college, there just weren’t teaching jobs. I fell into this gig in market research and ended up having this amazing career. In the book Mom.B.A, I talked about just the things that happened, the things that I did, and the lessons I learned to go from being somebody who had never taken a business course in their life to becoming a CEO. It’s been an amazing journey. I really just wanted to share with the potential readers how that worked for me and how the same thing could really happen to anybody.
I was listening to you talk about how they saw something in you though. They promoted you. They almost saw more in you than you saw in yourself. It’s came across in the way you were giving your talked. Do you think that you always had that natural fantasy? You just didn’t realize that it was there? Were you always a curious person? Was that something that you developed as you grew up?
I always had a very strong work ethic. That was something that my parents instilled in me. When I started working or even when I started interviewing, I always brought my A-game. I always gave it my all. I always wanted to get an A in school and I think that’s served me well. One of my big tips to people early in their careers is step up. Work hard. Good things happen when you work hard, and then step up and volunteer. I was always the first one with my hands up to volunteer to be on a committee, to be an involved in the task force, and to take up an assignment that was above and beyond my day job. I really do think that is what helped propel my career and get me noticed.
I think that it’s really important. I always do the same thing because I’m thinking, “How hard could it be? I want to know and I’ll learn something. It’ll open doors.” I think a lot of people tell themselves, “It’s going to be too hard. I can’t do it. I don’t know.” No one knows. You just jump in.
I think that unfortunately, although men have it too, women in particular have what’s called the imposter syndrome where you just feel like you’re going to be found out to be a fraud. There’s a lot written about how men will apply for a job if they have 40% to 60% of the criteria and women won’t apply for job unless they have 100% of the criteria. That’s something we just have to change. People just need to go for it and most of the time they are more capable than they give themselves credit for.
I totally agree with that. I think it’s very challenging for people because that’s just the way things used to be and we’re trying to change that for everyone out there as far as just how we come across. I’ve had a lot of women on here talk about how we need to come across in a less apologetic way and different things like that. Some of it is how we come across in our first time that people meet us. Don’t you think first impressions are really important?
In Mom.B.A, I have a whole chapter on first impressions. My daughter who’s a feminist said she really hates to have the conversation about dress and what people should wear. It should really be about what you bring to the table. She too acknowledges that how you show up, what you wear and how you present yourself certainly matters. You only really get one chance to make a good first impression. My advice on dressing is dress the way that matters to the people who matter. If you’re coming for a job interview with me, I expect you to be in business attire. If you’re going on a job interview to a heavily sports-oriented culture or a real startup that’s in a warehouse, then maybe jeans and a t-shirt is appropriate. When in doubt, find out.
Is it better to be too dressy than not dressy enough?
Generally if you really don’t know, it’s better to overdress. It’s not that hard to find out. If you’re interviewing, somebody is there to help guide you through the process. You can certainly call up and find out what’s the appropriate dress code or you can go online. There are a lot of things you can do to try to figure it out. If in doubt, definitely go a little bit more formal. The same thing is true when you’re employed at a company. The whole thing about emulating the people that you want to be like, if the executives in a company dress a certain way and you aspire to be an executive, then maybe take it up a notch.
I have worked for a lot of companies where they do the business casual thing and I’ve said before that it drives me crazy because it’s easier for men to dress business casual than women. We end up having to be just as uncomfortable, but it’s really important to fit in with whatever it is, like you said. You give a lot of advice in your book and you talked about how to work with different people and different things. I think it’s really challenging to work with certain people. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and it’s just so interesting to me. The type of bosses, some of them have low emotional intelligence skills. You give some advice, what’s the best way to work with a boss that maybe drives you crazy?
First of all, Diane, when you think about good bosses versus bad bosses, when you look back on a long career like I’ve had, it’s not actually always clear who was the good boss and who was the bad boss. I’ll give a quick example. My first boss was perfect for what I needed at that time. Super nurturing, thought I was wonderful, complimented me all the time, giving me tons of feedback, and it was perfect. My second boss was completely opposite. He was very aloof and very unfriendly. Not mean, just completely different. When I look back, I realized that at that point in my career, that forced me to step up. It forced me to become more confident in my own work. It’s forced me to figure out how to assess my own skills and the job that I had done without waiting for all that feedback, and I grew actually a lot more in that situation than I would’ve if I stayed with a super nurturing, hand-holding kind of boss. I think I’ll take look in the long run at who’s good and who’s bad.
The other thing that’s interesting is there was something that I put in the book, that a bad boss all the time is actually better than somebody who’s good and bad some of other time. We have to say bad boss all the time, whatever that means. If they’re just a fighter, they’re nasty or whatever you define as bad, at least every day you know what you’re getting. It’s the one who you never know when you walk in the door who you’re getting, that’s actually much more stressful for people. Having said all of that, like I’ve told my daughter, working with challenging people or a challenging boss, abuse side, that’s a whole separate subject but a challenging boss is a notch on your belt. Either you learn different skills to figure out how to navigate and how to work with people that don’t necessarily think exactly the way that you do. It helps develop your own emotional intelligence and your skills in dealing with difficult situations. Obviously you don’t want to be miserable and you don’t want to stay in that situation too long, but I think putting some of this in perspective as they do in a whole chapter in Mom.B.A, it helps you work your way through it when you’re living in the moment.
I’ve had some really good bosses who were really hard and I know what you’re saying. You don’t want them to be all over the board because that’s really frustrating. You don’t know who’s going to show up that day. I think some of the bosses I’ve seen were good examples of the Peter Principle where they were great in sales or something, and then they became sales managers and then they weren’t so great. How do you tell somebody whether they’re ready to move into management positions? Do you give advice for that? I’d like to hear what you have to say about that.
That was actually one of the hardest transitions I had to make in my career. It was moving from an individual sales contributor where your whole life is based on your personal success, your personal drive, what you can do, what you can sell to being a sales manager. All of a sudden, it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about my team. Not everybody wants to make that transition or should make that transition. The first thing to do is accept that there are people who might be better as being an individual contributor.
If somebody is committed to management, then they need some help. They need some training. I actually went to training on how to be a better manager. I had to really learn to step away from my desk and to have it now be about the other person and about the team’s success and not my own success. That’s not something you’re necessarily born knowing. There are things that you can learn and there’s plenty of good courses and things online and books you can read to become a better manager. It starts with the person really wanting to do that. If somebody is motivated, this is will and skill. If somebody’s got the will and the intellect, then let’s teach them the skills.
It’s really challenging. It’s so interesting because I have run an MBA program and I’ve taught a thousand plus courses in business. When I was in the business world in the ‘70s, we were talking only management and then now we’re talking leadership and management and differentiating between the two. Some people are really good at managing and some people aren’t. They’re more strategic. They are better at leading and they’re not as tactical. Don’t you find it interesting how it’s changed? Maybe you don’t see it that way, but I’ve seen it change quite a bit for how we categorize people, let’s say.
Being a manager was really what it was all about and you’re right. A manager is a good leader and not every leader is necessarily good at managing things.
It’s interesting to see some of the ones who have been successful in leadership positions. Steve Jobs had lot issues. You don’t know what kind of personality he is going to show up with. He was pretty cranky most of the time so you knew what to expect. When you have a leader like that, how do you get noticed and promoted if they value something different than maybe what you would value?
That’s a tough question. You can change your job, you can change your boss, you can change your tasks typically in a company. One thing you can’t change though is the culture of a company. If you really don’t feel that you fit in the culture, if Steve Jobs is the boss and it’s all about innovation and creativity and you feel that that’s not really your sweet spot or whatever about a company, culture is something that is almost impossible to change. Even as a CEO, I’m trying to tweak our culture, not even change it, just tweak it and it’s not easy. It takes time. I think you have to look at yourself and what values you have and what motivates you and makes sure that you are a fit with the company culture. If you’re fit with the company culture, then everything else over time can usually change. Your day-to-day job, your boss and the role you’re in, a lot of those things can change over time if you’re really happy in the company that you’re in.
You talk about culture a lot in different things in your book. You discuss as a manager, you’re dealing with planning culture, developing people, organizing and metrics and culture is something that’s brought up a lot on this show. I think that there’s so much focus on engagement right now and the lack of engagement in so many organizations. I think so many people try to discuss culture, but if the CEO doesn’t buy in to the need for culture changes, do you think it’s possible to change the culture?
Probably not. Culture is hard enough to change. For me, for example, right now, I’m just trying to tweak it. I want us to be more outside in thinking because we tend to be a little bit internally oriented. I want us to be faster. Every CEO I talk to is focusing on speed. I’ve been quoting Jeff Bezos who says, “You have to make a decision with 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, you’re too slow.” Then the third one is accountability. Really trying to get people to step up more, step up instead of look up. These are tweaks that have to start at the top and then you’ve got to communicate what you want to change. This is what leadership’s about, communicating a vision, why it matters, how each person fits in, and then getting everybody on board to make those changes. I don’t think that could happen without buy in or without inspiration from the top, even.
I definitely think so. I think that there are so many challenges with getting people motivated and more engaged. I’m writing my latest books on curiosity because I think that with engagement, people lack engagement maybe because they don’t even know that much about them in some companies, what they might really like to do, what they’re interested in doing and maybe they haven’t even explored their natural levels of curiosity. I think that a lot of people are not really engaged because they’re not getting the feedback they need or they don’t know how their job ties into the overall objectives. All the things you just said were important. I don’t know that all company leaders are doing some of those things and I think that if we could improve people’s curiosity and work on that, it’s almost like my work with emotional intelligence. Once we see certain things are important, if we can look at what’s holding people back, we can work on ways to improve. I’m curious, do you think that you can make somebody more curious? Do you think it has to come naturally? What kind of things do you do to develop people’s natural sense of curiosity and creativity?
All sorts of things come naturally more to some people than others, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop skills and enhance your skills, whether they be leadership or they be even just public speaking. I know plenty of introverts who learn how to public speak and become quite good at it. Curiosity, I would put there, there’s probably some people who are naturally more curious than others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate curiosity. I would say that one of the things that might hold people back from being curious is fear of failure and fear of risk taking and putting yourself out there. That’s what curiosity sometimes leads to, some ideas and thoughts. I think that it’s important to try to create a culture of fail fast. I have a motto called, “Go, learn, iterate,” to help encourage people to go fast, learn, and iterate. That implies that we’re going to make mistakes along the way because if you get it right the first time, you don’t have to learn or iterate. I think that creating a culture where people can feel that there’s not as much risk for being creative and trying things, that will help enhance creativity, at least in the business world the way I might see it.
I’ve seen so much more focused on how they look at failure when I’m at these summits. I noticed a lot of CMOs at the Forbes Summit were up on stage saying, “We don’t freak out over failure. We look at it as a learning event. We don’t encourage it, don’t go out to fail but if you do, we look at what we can learn from it.” It wasn’t like that years ago. You just didn’t want to do it. Do you think that the boomers and the Gen-Xers are more afraid of failure than younger generations or do you think it just is across the board?
I really don’t know. I haven’t thought about it generationally, although I do know that the world has changed and if you want to go fast, we’re going to have to make more mistakes and iterate. There used to be an expression, Diane. I’m sure you remember, “Measure twice, cut once.” I think that is sound advice. However, the way I look at it nowadays, if you cut it wrong, there’s a lot of ways you can put it back together. You can glue it, you can tape it but you can sew it. I’m not as concerned about measuring twice, cut once all the time. I think sometimes we don’t have time to measure twice and we have to just go for it as long as you’re not making a bad company decision or something that’s going to cause irreparable damage. I think risk-taking is more encouraged nowadays in general because of the speed that everyone needs to start to work. I don’t know if it’s generational as much as it is technology and the world that we’re living in.
I agree. There are a lot more options and everybody can share so much information now where you couldn’t in the past. You get to see more of what your competitors are doing. You get to do a lot more of repair out there because you just have access to social media and different things. It’s such a different world. It’s so interesting to me to see how things have changed just since I’ve been in the working world at least. That’s why I was really fascinated just the title of your book is cute, Mom.B.A, but I think my kids would agree. I did the same thing with them. I was always like, “How much do you put away from your salary?” We always had little learning lessons. I think that that’s great that you did this for your kids and I think that not only is this important for people in the working world, but I hope more parents do the type of thing that you did with your daughter. I love her name’s Danielle. That’s my middle name and my daughter’s middle name. We have some more things we have in common. I think that there’s a lot of use for a book like this for so many people use. Is this book more aimed for the working adult? Who’s your target audience?
I do have a son, Eric and I had him read it, too to make sure that it works for guys as well. He thought it absolutely did. It was originally designed for young people entering the workforce. Although I have to tell you, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback and the feedback is that it really doesn’t have to be just for young people. It has chapters in it about international, about leadership, and about work-life balance that I think could be appropriate or that I’ve been told are helpful to all sorts of people regardless of where they are in their career and regardless of what kind of profession they’re in. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the appeal is broader than I had originally thought.
I could see that it would be really useful. I wrote a book with my daughter for the younger generations and found that it appealed to a lot of other generations as well because I think that there is some information that you think that people would have learned or known naturally, but a lot of it is just because we have experienced it, it doesn’t mean everybody else has. I can see that this would have a lot of value to all different groups and I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how your booked does because I think it’s really a fascinating piece of literature. I hope a lot of people take some time to look at it. I was wondering if you wanted to share how people could get it and find out more about you as well.
Thanks, Diane. It’s available on Amazon.com or any of the Barnes &Noble or any of the sites. Amazon’s probably the most popular and it’s called Mom.B.A. I also have a website, KarynSchoenbart.com and the website’s got all sorts of other things about me and my life and my career and the book and so on. I’m looking forward to reading your books.
Thanks. Mine won’t be out until next year probably, but I really appreciate that. Are you going to write anymore? Being a CEO, I don’t know how you even wrote one.
It wasn’t so easy. My husband wasn’t too happy because we spent a lot of times on vacation with me being up at 6:00 in the morning writing. Once I started writing, it became a labor of love. It just started pouring out of me and I couldn’t stop. The book is not academically written. It’s like talking to me. It’s like having a conversation with me and sharing my tips and tricks and stories and lessons and failures so that hopefully other people can benefit from it. It was a lot of fun to do. I don’t know if I have another one in me. Certainly not while I’m working as hard as I’m working right now but maybe someday.
I totally get it. Thank you so much for being on the show, Karyn. It was so nice to have you on.
It was a total pleasure, Diane. Thanks for having me.
You’re welcome. Thank you so much to Steve and Karyn. What a great show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com/blog, you can go right to the blog or you can go right directly to the radio show by DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. If you missed any past episodes, please check them out there and please join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
About Steve Farber
Steve Farber is listed as one of Inc’s global Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts. He is a Leadership Pioneer, Strategist, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author on Extreme Leadership. His expertise is in creating organizational cultures where leadership is not just an opportunity and obligation for those in authority, but for everyone at all levels. Steve is the President of Extreme Leadership, Inc, and the founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, organizations devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders around the world. His third book, Greater Than Yourself, was a Wall Street Journal® and USA Today® bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge, was hailed as “a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit.” And his first book, The Radical Leap, is already considered a classic in the leadership field. It received Fast Company magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award and was recently named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
About Karyn Schoenbart
Karyn Schoenbart is the CEO at The NPD Group, Inc. and the author of Mom.B.A. Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next, which is a practical guide on everything from effective first impressions and workplace politics to relationship development, skill-building, and priority-setting. NPD is a top market research company, based in the U.S. and operates globally. Karyn is the recipient of multiple industry awards and serves on multiple board of directors groups., Steve Farber is listed as one of Inc’s global Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts. He is a Leadership Pioneer, Strategist, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author on Extreme Leadership. His expertise is in creating organizational cultures where leadership is not just an opportunity and obligation for those in authority, but for everyone at all levels. Steve is the President of Extreme Leadership, Inc, and the founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, organizations devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders around the world. His third book, Greater Than Yourself, was a Wall Street Journal® and USA Today® bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge, was hailed as “a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit.” And his first book, The Radical Leap, is already considered a classic in the leadership field. It received Fast Company magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award and was recently named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Karyn Schoenbart is the CEO at The NPD Group, Inc. and the author of Mom.B.A. Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next, which is a practical guide on everything from effective first impressions and workplace politics to relationship development, skill-building, and priority-setting. NPD is a top market research company, based in the U.S. and operates globally. Karyn is the recipient of multiple industry awards and serves on multiple board of directors groups.
- Steve Farber
- Extreme Leadership Inc
- Extreme Leadership Institute
- Greater Than Yourself
- The Radical Edge,
- The Radical Leap
- Keith Krach – previous episode
- The Leadership Challenge
- Peter Drucker
- In Search of Excellence
- Tom Peters Company
- Jim Kouzes
- Steve Farber – LinkedIn
- @SteveFarber – Twitter
- Steve Farber’s YouTube channel
- Karyn Schoenbart
- NPD Group, Inc
- Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next
- Barnes & Noble