From Sponsored Wedding To Sponsored Content: How One Man Uses Likability To Get What He Wants

Being a great leader isn't something that comes naturally to many of us. But the King of Likability Dave Kerpen knows a good place to start.

Anyone who gets married in a $100,000 sponsored wedding with 7,500 spectators in a stadium doesn't think small.

Meet big thinker Dave Kerpen, a salesman, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and New York Times best-selling author, who at age 37 is founder and CEO of Likeable Local, a social media company for small businesses, and co-founder of Likeable Media, a word of mouth and social media company.

Eight years ago Kerpen wanted a big wedding, and lacking the money to pay for it proved no obstacle. Kerpen and his wife, Carrie, persuaded 1800Flowers.com, Entenmann’s, and other companies to fork over much of the cost in return for sponsorship.

The wedding venture’s success led the Kerpens to start an event company, which quickly morphed into Likeable Media, and 1800Flowers.com and Entenmann’s followed right along as clients.

Like other successful leaders, Kerpen has extra sensitive antennae that helped him recognize early on the impact of social media. Unlike the dime-a-dozen social media companies, Likeable Media and Likeable Local differentiate themselves with the concept of likeability.

To say his concept has resonated with people is like saying Facebook has a lot of users. To date more than 2.6 people have viewed his LinkedIn article outlining his likable leadership principles, making it one of the most read articles on LinkedIn.

His principles, as Kerpen himself admits, are “very obvious and not rocket science, but the issue is that people don’t think about them or integrate them into their lives as much as they should.” Some of his 11 principles include listening, storytelling, authenticity, and gratefulness.

“People are hungry to become better leaders and eager for greater self-awareness and self-improvement,” Kerpen explains.

Meanwhile, as someone who practices what he preaches, Kerpen has learned a lot along the way in terms of being an effective--or likable--leader. Here are four of his central leadership tips:

1. As the leader goes, so goes the company

"Everything I say and do is magnified as a leader," says Kerpen. That means bad behavior as well as good. "If you swear or show up late to work, others do the same. If you’re in a bad mood, it brings down the energy of the company."

2. Hire slow, fire fast

"I've definitely fallen in love with the wrong people and hired too quickly." That has proven disastrous, Kerpen says. "It's easier to hire than to fire someone. As soon as you realize someone is not a good fit, let them go."

3. Listen to learn

You can learn something from everyone, especially customers. The key is to truly listen. "I talked to a customer who said your platform needs to be readily available in mobile phones. I knew that was the case, but as soon as the customer said that it hit me and we developed tools for mobile phones. And of course staff people have ideas all the time."

4. Give people something to believe in

"Core values and mission aren't just something you write down and forget about. They have to be something everyone lives and breathes every day. We've literally written the core values down on our walls, and recite our values and mission at each weekly team meeting. It's all about finding and keeping people with the values the company cares about."

What principles do you follow to be a good leader? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.

[Image: Flickr user 古 天熱]

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  • Leaders must be genuine in their actions. They must not listen to just appear as good listeners but must be sincere in their efforts. They must accept when they 'genuinely' don't know something instead of trying to prove that they know it all.

    Also, leaders should be humble and affectionate. Nothing touches people more than good behavior.