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The Business Romantic Von


He thinks of himself as the Shakespeare of business – writing prose and sonnets for those star-crossed lovers who need to put more heart and soul into what they are doing whether for their corporation or their customers.

At first blush, Leberecht’s book The Business Romantic – Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Larger Than Yourself could be interpreted as a reference to a social entrepreneur hoping to save the world through commerce. It is not strictly about social entrepreneurship, yet it does take a leaf from that style of running an organisation: it is not just enough to have a meaningful mission that employees can relate to or work towards. There needs to be meaningful experiences, intimacy, vulnerability, delight and love.

According to Leberecht, business is divorced from the full expression of our humanity – a certain something is missing, and we need that something which is both essential and immeasurable to let us see the world with new eyes: romance.

From strategy to the workplace, from product innovation to branding, customer relationships, and sales, Leberecht presents ten “Rules of Enchantment”. He also focuses on case studies with seven global innovators or Business Romantics, with quirky categorisations including “The Lovers” (An Argentinean couple who re-designed shoelaces to reinvent the obvious) to “The Guardian” (none other than Berlin’s own Ansgar Oberholz, founder of one of Berlin’s co-working spaces, St. Oberholz). 

Leberecht, a German-born and bred native, was inspired to write about his experiences following the 1 million views of his popular TED talk with the title “3 Ways to Lose Control of Your Brand”. In addition, many of the theories in his book were inspired during his time as the chief marketing officer of NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm that helps organizations such as Amazon, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google amongst others and as the chief marketing officer of product design and strategy at Frog Design – acclaimed for its work with Apple.

But do we really need romance in business? Or specifically, do German businesses need more romance? Perhaps yes to both, when we consider that all businesses are under constant assault from technology and its distancing effects. Perhaps particularly in Germany, a culture that is renowned for its cold and efficient approach “to getting things done” sometimes at the expense of sensitivity and understanding, where there is not much time for staff-bonding in contrast to the Anglo-American work culture. It seems that more and more German businesses are adopting English as their lingua franca to conform to global expectations and perhaps they’re also adopting how to court and romance. 

Leberecht alludes to the potentially negative effects of the “quantified-self movement” (a theory that posits that we can live better lives through tracking and analysing data about ourselves on, for example, fitness, productivity, health, and even happiness) and how we need to “unquantify ourselves” and see the world from a new point of view. 

“The quest for a contented life does not conclude with a month’s or year’s worth of data and a series of impressive graphs. It requires paying heed to your humanity, and mine. It involves the labour of love, working with no certain outcome, the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen the next day at work”, writes Leberecht.

Time to get the candles and flowers out.

Link to English publisher. 

This article was written by guest author, Petra Zlatevska.

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