Putting Empathy Front and Centre

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January always brings the hopes, resolutions and commitments of a New Year.  And CES represents that for many in the marketing and business world.  Every year, 170,000 people and 3800 exhibitors from our world converge in Sin City, Las Vegas, to gorge at the four day, all-you-can-eat business, marketing and technology buffet.  The general feeling here is of a stock exchange where everyone is screaming “your future lies is at this booth”.  So, amidst all these potential marketing “futures”, how do we predict which ones are for real, which ones will fade away, which to invest in, or where to place one’s energy?  I think the answer may lie in the orientation of the successful vs. the very latest and specific technology.

Las Vegas itself is a shining example, and offers us some insight.  It’s a city with a unique understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly of the human condition without judgement.  In fact, it positively embraces it, and seeks to satisfy these things with passion, intensity and commitment.   This has made itself a city that is constantly reinventing itself for growth, a city trying to diversify its “offering”, a city where intelligence, creativity and technology drive the businesses, casino’s, entertainment, experiences, restaurants and hotels forward.  Cirque de Soleil, Zappo’s, Gucci, Celine Dion, Steve Wynn, Manny Pacquiao and countless Jacques, Mario’s, Jean-Georges, Joel, Wolfgang’s restaurants all thrive here because they double down on having a service mentality to the human condition.

The best of the show is no different.

You see it when Carnival Cruises debuted a smart-coin credit card enabled medallion, carried in your pocket, that automatically knows you’re coming and opens your room door, finds your traveling partners on the ship, and makes it seamless to book, buy, drink or experience the ship without interruption.  Or when Amazon’s Alexa’s intelligence and intuition tells us the origins of Pasta Carbonara, gives us 10 recipe options on how to make it, and concludes by ordering the ingredients for delivery.   Maybe the real spirit of what future success looks like is quite simple.  In a word EMPATHY.   And the ability to put oneself in our customer’s shoes are at the center of things.  And to be addicted to this, not just the latest shiny object.  Perhaps this is the silver bullet we all seek.

Harry Potter’s JK Rowling said it well, ‘The most transformative and revelatory capacity is the power that enables us to empathize with humans.” This isn’t purely an altruistic point of view but an effectiveness one, with a recent Review study showing earnings 50% bigger for companies that are strong in empathy.  And NY Times writer Daniel Goleman is right, “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts.  But when we focus on others, our world expands”.

Empathy needs to be front and centre. So, if “The Future” seems daunting and too big at times, just take a trip in your customer’s shoes and aim for expertise in helping human beings do more, be more, experience more, know more, share more, make more, and ultimately feel more. There’s a decent chance it will take you far.

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