More than a Mouthpiece

During the six years Steve Farber spent as vice president of the tompeterscompany (yes, that's how they spell it), part of his professional title was Official Mouthpiece. So it's not entirely surprising that Farber now spends his days giving leadership advice and inspiration to corporations across the country.

But, despite his pedigree, Farber's the first to say that he's no junior version of famed management guru and best-selling author Tom Peters. Where Peters talks about the big picture and broad issues, Farber trains his focus on the practical, everyday implementation of management theory. "You can talk about best practices, the future, technology, women in business, but ultimately those are acts of transformation that have to be carried out by somebody," says Farber. "Someone's got to stick their neck out and do something. And if you're going to carry that out, you need extreme leadership."

Farber underscores the difference between those who "throw themselves into leadership and those who simply pose as leaders." He says those in the first category are differentiated in large part by their ability to identify what they love about their work. "The idea of love in business is challenging," Farber says, "but it's a word that we have to get comfortable using in this context." Farber came to public speaking from a career in consulting and training, so he welcomes the chance to work in smaller settings where he can foster an interactive learning environment. "I love when I'm with people in smaller groups, where it's more hands-on," Farber says. "That's when we can kick it around, facilitate dialogue, give input, and really cover the whole spectrum."

Ultimately, Farber says, the biggest question that he poses involves what he calls audacity. "You've got to have a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints," he says. "You've got to ask not just 'How are we going to get this done on time and under budget?' but, 'By virtue of this, how are we going to change our industry?' "