May 19, 2009
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Greater Than Yourself
Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership by Steve Farber, Doubleday, 170 pages, $19.95, Hardcover, March 2009, ISBN 9780385522618
Steve Farber is a master storyteller, and he uses this skill to teach us about business through his well-crafted tales. It's not uncommon these days to see business novels, fables or allegories, but what sets Farber's books apart from the rest are the vibrant characters he creates. I gravitated to a character named Edg in Farber's outstanding Radical Leap; you'll be just as drawn to Big Jeff, Plumeria Maple and Sucky Chucky (a high school nickname) in this new book, Greater Than Yourself.
Greater Than Yourself (GTY) is a simple idea, as many of the best ideas are. If we focus on helping people to become greater than ourselves, Farber teaches, we all receive rewards. The three core principles of GTY are: Expand Yourself, Give Yourself, and Replicate Yourself. These three seemingly simple concepts help lead us toward a reexamination of our relationships which, in turn, maximizes our own potential. Since stepping down as president of our company, I have taken on the title of Chief Mentor. This isn't just some title to have on my business cards. Instead, it reflects my philosophy that it is now my job to share what I've learned about the business of business books over the past 25 years. So I was particularly drawn to Give Yourself, which is about "philanthropizing" your life, creating and giving to a GTY project and investing in that relationship.
In Greater Than Yourself, Steve Farber (he is his own main character) buys a used guitar and, finding a charming note in the guitar case, he embarks on a journey to find the original owner of the guitar. Along the way, he learns about GTY through a chorus of interesting characters. For example, the author of the note is a woman named Cat, and she is a brilliant, well-respected leader of a fast-growing company—and also a heck of a guitar player in her spare time. She explains to Steve that:
GTY is really just a form of very personal, one-on-one philanthropy. It comes from the same deep impulse, except that you don't have to be rich to undertake it ... The rest of us can give our talents, time, knowledge, contacts—whatever resources we have—to other worthy people in our lives at work and at home.
As you take this GTY journey with Steve, you too will learn the value of being Greater Than Yourself. Greater Than Yourself is one of my favorite books of this year: it is about a subject I strongly believe in and the presentation is perfect. As you take this GTY journey with Steve, you too will learn the value of being Greater Than Yourself.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.