I just finished reading Satya Nadella’s book “Hit Refresh”. It was an easy read with lots of stories about his journey from India to CEO of Microsoft, his evolution as a leader and the impact of his life experience on how he is driving change at Microsoft. If there was one word that I think would sum up the purpose of the book, it is ‘empathy’. And how empathy can transform how we work so that our best work is driven by our need to help and serve. It’s a word I’m hearing more and more.
I’m in the midst (or more accurately lagging behind) Seth Godin’s Marketing seminar, where he spends almost half the course talking about empathy. Seth mentions empathy, then reminds us of the importance of empathy and follows up with why empathy is key all within a 5 to 10 min video.
The impact of which is that when I look at an ad or watch a video, I wonder who the marketing person had in mind when they created it. Most of the time, I let ads and banners wash over me, almost oblivious to their presence but now I’m looking at them more critically and considering what I and others put out there.
I’m also hopeful that this may be a turning point in how we do business. You can’t create with empathy and still chase more and more at the cost of the environment, communities and people. I mean you can but you’d be a bit of a jerk, and also I don’t know how authentic your marketing can be if your empathy stops at the ad, or the brief.
Although, maybe you can take empathy too far. This ad from Timberland may accurately reflect what people are fearing but it’s not exactly offering a solution.