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The Business Romantic - Tim Leberecht

Give Everything, Quantify Nothing and Create Something Greater Than Yourself

chief marketing officer of NBBJ and author Tim Leberecht, interviewed by Peter Clayton, TotalPicture Radio Tim Leberecht

"I believe that romance is the ultimate differentiator in a world of optimizers and maximizers." Tim Leberecht

I admit, when I received a review copy of Tim Leberecht's new book The Business Romantic, (Harper Business) I said, "huh?" and put it on a growing stack of new business books I've received lately. I guess publishers of non-fiction business and career books like January!

Then I watched this video clip of Tim talking about his book and became intrigued.

Video: Tim Leberecht TotalPicture Radio interivew with Peter Clayton:

Tim Leberecht is the chief marketing officer of NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm, which helps organizations like Amazon, Boeing, Google, Samsung, Starbucks, and Tencent create meaningful experiences. Previously, Leberecht was CMO of product design and strategy firm Frog Design. His writing has appeared in Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune and Wired, among other publications.

He has spoken at such venues as TED Global, The Economist Big Rethink, DLD, and the Silicon Valley CEO Summit. His TED Talk "3 Ways to (Usefully) Lose Control of Your Brand" has been viewed by more than 700,000 people to date.

Leberecht is the co-founder of the 15 Toasts dinner series and an advisor to The Human Agency, a collective of social change-makers. He serves on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Values and on the board of Jump Associates, a strategy and innovation consultancy.

Questions Peter Clayton asks Tim Leberecht in this interview:

In prepping this interview, Tim, I watched your TED Talk, Three Ways to Usefully Lose Control of Your Reputation and I have some questions I would like you to unpack. First, "Companies have more control over the loss of control than ever before - Please expand on this.

And then there's this - When everything is open, nothing is open. What do you mean? One example you gave in your TED talk was Patagonia's "Don't buy this jacket" campaign. Can you explain the concept to the audience, and why you chose to feature it?

So the Business Romantic, Tim. What was your inspiration for writing this book?

A recurring theme throughout your book talks about creating relationships and getting past the transactional nature that's prevalent in so many business. This is certainly a focus of many HR and talent acquisition leaders I've talked with recently- using talent communities and affinity groups to attract and engage potential job candidates. Can you give us some examples within your experience of building successful relationships with a specific audience?

You have a wonderful quote in your introduction from David Whyte, a poet and business consultant: "Work is difficulty and drama, a high-stakes game in which our identity, our self-esteem, and our ability to provide are mixed inside us in volatile, sometimes explosive ways...Work is where we can make ourselves; work is where we can break ourselves." And I would add for the past decade or so, work has become an increasingly stressful, highly-competitive - bottom-line focused "you better make your quota, fill those reques, make your numbers, transactional environment that has zero to do with romanticism.

I think it has become quite obvious to most companies that employees and job candidate today are looking for more than a paycheck - corporate social responsibility is important to especially Gen X and Gen Y cohorts - the concepts of purpose, meaning and happiness are discussed at most of the conferences I attend - so how does romance relate - or connect with these ideals - or does it?

Quoting from your book."The faster we move from automated production to automated decision-making, the more human agency we risk giving up." I just did a podcast with Bill Kutik talking about Predictive Analytics and how that is the hot topic in HR tech this year. Can you delve into this thought for us?

I'm going to ask you a question you posed in your book; "what are your first memories of work?"

You profile a number of archetypes The Lovers, The Business Travelers, The Outsider, The Voice, and several others - was there any one romantic quality they all share? (Lionel)

You posted a job on Craigslist with the following title: Seeking Business Romantic to Join our Team. With a lengthy description including responsibilities like "going on regular hikes with the CFO" - so what happened.

The second part of Tim's book covers what he calls Rules of Enchantment, with chapters like Find the Big in the Small, Be a Stranger, Keep the Mystique, and Give More than you Take.  In Part 3 "Into the Fire" you'll explore Measures of success, The New Romantic Age and a Business Romantic Starter Kit.

Tim, I feel like we could continue this conversation for 2 or 3 more hours at least, but I want the listeners of TotalPicture Radio experience the magic, surprise and inspiration in the Business Romantic themselves. So thank you for sharing this gift with us.


Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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