Read “The Business Romantic” and Fall in Love With Work – Again


An inspiring treatise on the hold that work has over us -- and our ability to re-frame the world of work in a way that keeps us engaged and energized.

The Business Romantic

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Do you remember your first job? Think back on that day. What comes to mind? For me, it’s working at the Penn State computer lab where I was responsible for keeping the computers running and installing reams and reams of green bar printer paper.

How about you?

No matter what the job, Tim Lebrecht, the author of The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself, says that there is a lot more romance behind our work than we allow ourselves. (And he’s not talking about extra-marital affairs, either.)

If we just took the time to get in touch with that more emotional side of work, he says, we just might find that we will become more engaged.  We will become happier and more successful, as well.

Tom Lebrecht (@timleberecht) is the chief marketing officer of NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm. The firm helps organizations like Amazon, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Google, Samsung, Starbucks and others create meaningful experiences.  He was the CMO of product design and strategy firm Frog Design.

I received a review copy of The Business Romantic recently and chose to review it because reading the book left me feeling sort of in-between slightly unsettled but inspired.

Engagement = Happiness = Love = Profits

Bringing love into the business realm isn’t a new idea. Countless business owners, probably you, have intuitively brought some element of “love” into your business and business relationships. Most business people scoffed at openly talking about love and romance inside the context of business. It was just too fluffy, too emotional … and there’s no room for that in the world of business.

Then, when Tim Sanders wrote Love is the Killer App, everyone got on board the “love your customer” train.  Suddenly, it was permissible, even cool, to talk about love.

And yet, when Gallup ran their most recent engagement survey, they found that only about 13 percent of global employees are fully engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs. Even worse, 24 percent are “actively disengaged” from their jobs.

In other words, most people are just plain unhappy and “doing time” in their jobs.

And it’s no wonder people are disengaged. A recent study showed that Americans are working about 8 weeks longer today than they were in 1969.

That means two things. First, we’re spending more time working. Second, we’re spending less time living.

Since we’re not expecting less work on the horizon, it’s high time we started enjoying ourselves in our work.

Who Says Every Minute of Our Lives has to be BLISSFUL?

As I read through The Business Romantic, I found myself both cheering and jeering at some of the content:


  • In Chapter 5, “Be a Stranger”, Lebrecht shares how he reframed a conference that he was not eager to attend from a “function” to a “magical encounter with fascinating strangers” and this completely changed the outcome of the event.
  • The story of how Groupon’s CEO, Andrew Mason, left the company in 2013. I have to share this quote — it’s fantastic:

“People of Groupon: After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just Kidding – I was fired today.”

This little anecdote comes from the “Break Up” chapter and it’s a great illustration of the kind of straight talk that today’s audiences want and expect.


  • “Many of us feel like we are giving more and more for less and less in return.” (Page 5.) When I read this, I interpreted it to come from a place of complaining and “it shouldn’t be this way.” That just seemed self-defeating to me.
  • “Against the backdrop of confusion, Millennials are looking for a greater sense of meaning and community through work. “ While I understand what the author is getting at, I’m a firm believer that if you want something – you need to create it. Don’t expect it to come to you.

And this is where I think Lebrecht really comes through. It’s clear that he has a commitment to businesses and people to create a work and life experience that fulfills their deepest desires.

The Business Romantic Isn’t for Everyone

You’ll have to read it to see for yourself … but to me, this isn’t so much a business book as it is a philosophical treatise on the new world of work.

Lebrecht offers up examples and anecdotes to show the reader what’s possible when you open up your head and your heart to the possibility of experiencing some level of “romance” in your professional life.

After all, what are your alternatives?  To go through your work as if it were a funeral dirge?  Or to dance your way through each day experiencing the level changes at work not as good or bad, but as bits and pieces of a deeply satisfying experience?

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."