About Steve Farber

Steve Farber is the president of Extreme Leadership, Incorporated, and the founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, organizations devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders in the business community, non-profits and education. Connect with him at SteveFarber.com.

Investing in Love

You might be wondering if love really adds value to a business.” Warren Buffett sure thinks it does. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s done pretty well financially by making a few wise investments in companies. Indeed, he’s generally regarded the best ever at making savvy investments. One day I came across a video interview with him on The Motley Fool website. They asked him a question I’m sure he’s heard a million times about how he determines whether a company is worth buying. And he gave the answer you’d expect. He talked about analyzing the numbers (for which he has a legendary, uncanny ability) and reviewing the competitive landscape and doing his due diligence on the management team. But if all of that comes up good, he still has one more step. He sits down with the CEO and looks for the love. “I look into their eyes, and I try to figure out whether they love the money or they love the business,” Buffett said. “Everybody likes money. If they don’t love the business, I can’t put that into them.” If they do love it, he said, then he buys the company and it becomes his job “to make sure that I don’t do anything that in effect kills that love of the business.” It’s not hard science, I know, but if you analyze Buffett’s 15-second answer, he uses the word love four times. Buffett knows love matters, because we, as human beings, do all we can to nurture and grow the things we love. If he sees dollar signs in the CEO’s eyes instead of love, then Buffett knows that the only thing this person is interested in is his exit strategy. [...]

3 Signs Your Advertising Agency Culture Is Starting to Stink

If your advertising agency culture sits on either end of two extremes, you don’t need an engagement survey or a high-priced consultant to confirm your reality. You can feel the energy when things are amazing, and you can smell the stench when things are rotting away in your business. But what if things are somewhere in between? What if you’re unsure if things are heading in the right direction? Or what if you’re confident they’re really good, but you want a heads-up before you suddenly realize you’re whiffing six-day old cod? You might need that engagement survey, and you may need that consultant. In the meantime, here are three danger signs that will tell you if your advertising agency culture is in trouble: YOU’RE EXPERIENCING "MEGO" A journalist friend once had an editor who routinely rejected poorly written copy because it produced what he called MEGO – My Eyes Glaze Over. In other words, it was boring. Are your organization’s vision, mission, and values creating MEGO? When you read the statements to employees, do they say, “Yes! That describes us so well!”? Or do they roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, right. That’d be nice.”? It’s great to have statements that set the bar high, but most employees have a pretty sophisticated BS meter. If you acknowledge the gaps between where your advertising agency culture is and where you and others want to take it, most employees will help you make it happen. If you’re trying to prop up your culture with $10 words, however, you’ll lose respect and trust. YOU’RE BEGGING FOR RECRUITS When your culture is strong, healthy, and vibrant, your employees become your best recruiters. They sing the company’s praises every chance [...]

Are You Rewarding Agency Employees the Right Way?

Pause for a few seconds and make a mental note of the five-to-ten most recent examples of how you are rewarding agency employees within your organization. In other words, who got a raise, a bonus, a promotion, an award or some other form of recognition for a job well done? In many organizations, perhaps even most, those honors go to people who achieved some tangible, measurable result. They hit their sales goals, signed a new client, or found some way to save the organization a few buckets of money. That’s all good, but it might not always connect in a positive way back to the organization’s stated values. When rewarding agency employees doesn't factor in the means that lead to the ends, they actually can become culture killers rather than culture builders. Tae Hea Hahm, the managing director of the venture capital firm Storm Ventures, once pointed out that “real culture” is defined by “compensation, promotions and terminations. Basically, people seeing who succeeds and fails in the company defines culture. The people who succeed become role models for what is valued in the organization, and that defines culture.” Performance is vital to success and growth, but values are foundational to organizational health. So, the challenge for Extreme Leaders is to increase the real value of things that are critical but hard to measure. Here are a few tips for doing that: ALIGN ON YOUR VALUES People often define their values based on their personal experiences and expectations. Your definition sustainability, for instance, might not be the same as someone else’s definition. So, it’s not enough to publish a list of things that are important to your leadership and your culture. Go a step further and [...]

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