Being Likeable, leadership, customer and employee engagement – Interview with Dave Kerpen

Success  is ours!! :-)

Today’s interview is with Dave Kerpen, the cofounder and CEO of Likeable, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm which includes Likeable Media, Likeable Community College, and Likeable Local – a provider of social media solutions for small business using proprietary software.

He is also a New York Times bestselling author and today he joins us to talk about his recent book Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver, which was released in October of last year.

This interview follows on the back of last week’s interview: Doing more to help creative business start ups grow and succeed – Interview with Doug Richard and is number fifty-three in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Dave:


  • The principles of Likeable Social Media applies to general business and leadership.
  • Likeable Business is built on eleven simple concepts to become a better leader.
  • The principles are: Listening, Storytelling, Authenticity, Transparency, Team-Playing, Responsiveness, Adaptability, Passion, Surprise & Delight, Simplicity, and Gratefulness.
  • Dave’s favourites are Listening and Gratefulness as any great relationship whether business or otherwise have and are built on these elements.
  • Authenticity and transparency are also hugely important in this social media rich world, where there is no where to keep secrets or be duplicitous now.
  • The principles are organised in a pyramid starting with the easiest on the bottom (see below)
  • Likeable Business Pyramid

  • Too much strategy is taught in business schools and not enough culture. Culture does, indeed, eat strategy for breakfast.
  • Your culture more than your strategy will define what your relationships are like with your customers and your employees.
  • Dave’s top three tips for becoming more Likeable: 1. Listening (Dave talks about measuring your listening and setting KPIs around measuring your listening in the book and the interview); 2. Gratefulness – use handwritten thank you notes on a regular basis (Dave sends three every morning to help build a culture of gratefulness); and 3. Authenticity – be yourself and don’t try and be anyone else otherwise you’ll get found out.
  • Understanding who you really are is a key factor in being more likeable.
  • Building a Likeable culture starts with listening and transparency. Likeable Media has their business plan and financials all up on the wall in the office for everyone to see as it creates a sense of openness and understanding that we’re all in this together.
  • The book is packed with case studies and actionable tips. He cites a couple of examples:
  • When it comes to listening, he uses the example of Maxine Clark the CEO of Build a Bear who visits stores every week to talk to employees and to find out how things are going and what they need. She also has an advisory board of children who tell her what they would like to see in the products that Build a Bear offers.
  • When it comes to authenticity, he use the example of Sheldon Yellon, the CEO of BELFOR, a construction company, who will not ask anyone in his company to do something that he is not willing to do and is happy to get down and dirty with his staff.
  • Responsiveness is one of Dave’s core values so do get in touch with any questions that you have (his contact details are below).
  • You can grab a copy of Dave’s book here: Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver and do check out the Likeable Books site too.

About Dave (taken from the Likeable Books website)

Dave Kerpen

Dave is the cofounder and CEO of Likeable, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm comprised of Likeable Media, Likeable Community College, and Likeable Local. Dave and his wife Carrie lead a team of 50 in working with brands, small businesses, and individuals to better leverage social media. Likeable was named to both the 2011 and 2012 Inc 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States.

Dave’s first book, a New York Times bestseller, was Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks). His second book, Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver, was released in October of last year. Dave is a frequent keynote speaker an contributing writer for Mashable, Inc, The Huffington Post, Forbes, and The Washington Post. His work has been featured on CNBC’s “On the Money,” ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, BBC World News, and the New York Times.

Dave is proud of his Likeable business accomplishments but prouder of his other joint venture with Carrie, Charlotte and Kate, their two daughters at home in Port Washington, New York.

Here’s how you can connect with Dave:


Note: I take an unashamedly DIY approach to my podcasts with no intro and outro, unlike many other podcasts. So, what you get is just conversation less a few ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ that I’ve been able to edit out to make everyone sound slightly more eloquent. If you like the podcast be sure to subscribe to it via iTunes. If you do then please take the time to rate the podcast on iTunes too. Thanks.

Photo Credit: seeveeaar via Compfight cc

7 comments On Being Likeable, leadership, customer and employee engagement – Interview with Dave Kerpen

  • Its like what Jack Welch said, “hire attitude and train skills”. I think there is too much focus on college attended and skills gained. My view is that is someone has the right attitude, they can be trained up in anything.

  • I read a great story about the CEO of a US business (whose name unfortunately escapes me)

    By training he was a barber, so for two hours every day he would set up his barbers chair and give his staff free haircuts whilst he listened to what they had to say.

    Listening may only be on the bottom rung of the likeability triangle but it is a great start.


    • Hi James,
      I like that story. The other crucial part that he got right as well was making the time to listen. Many people count themselves as good listeners but they or the people around them don’t give themselves time to listen. Would you agree?


  • Hello Adrian
    What can I say, I have read and re-read this post. Each time I am struck both by its simplicity and its beauty. It shows up for me as wisdom. Why wisdom? Because Dave gets human beings as human beings! In my experience that is a rare quality in business.


    • Hi Maz,
      I am so glad that you enjoyed what Dave has to say. And, as you point out, Dave boils it down to its simplest human form which takes insight and effort. A great read and a really enjoyable interview.

      Thanks for your support,


  • This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.
    Also, I have shared your web site in my social

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