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Empathy: It’s The Bacon of Human Emotion (That’s Right I Said It)

Recently I served on a panel discussion on empathy, presented to healthcare marketing professionals. 

My fellow panelists waxed profoundly on empathy, and (if I say so myself) I had a few good things to throw in as well. Empathy isn’t something I’m used to speaking professionally about or even thinking about outside of the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Festivus season. 

But even after this panel, this idea of empathy continues to pop up for me on a daily basis—my friends; the students and professionals I speak to about suicide prevention and mental health; my loved one dealing with a grave (but curable) disease for who I’m caring; my neighbors. I can’t escape it

The official definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings with others. 

It’s a special ingredient that makes everything a little better like bacon—inside a chocolate chip cookie, or on a hamburger, or on… everything (cue the defibrillator paddles).

Empathy goes better with:
  • Your conversations with family, loved ones, and lovers—“Why in god’s name are they acting that way… and how can I help?”
  • Your marketing—“Who is my audience and how can my words make them feel better?”
  • Your sales meetings—“What kind of solution can I provide to his or her problem?”
But dammit, empathy is not always easy. You’re tired. You want what you want. You have needs too. 

Go easy on yourself. You’re human. Put your cape down for a few hours, take a breather, and come back to it later with a fresh mind and heart. 

Nurturing an Opportunity

You’ve heard the idiom, “Opportunity knocks but once.”

Some would even say “When opportunity knocks, you still have to get up and open the door.”

I’m going to take it a step further. When opportunity knocks, invite him in for his favorite cocktail, put on his favorite music, ask him what he needs most in the world, and then find a way to help him achieve it. 

That might sound like a huge feat, maybe even impossible, but the only way you’re going to get the opportunity you’re looking for is to provide opportunities for other people.  

When someone gives you an opportunity, it’s a rarity—like lightening striking or spotting the Lochness Monster. You can always put yourself in a better position to gain any number of opportunities but you can’t force someone to give it to you. 

Talent is not enough to get “picked” to take advantage of an opportunity. Punctuality, delivering in a timely manner, giving more than what the job requires of you, reliability, consistency and integrity are all components that put someone in a position to get picked for an opportunity. 

Make big promises and figure out how to keep them. Learn a new skill. If you can’t deliver on your promise in a timely manner, find someone who has your skill and outsource it. Become indispensable. 

Once you’ve kept your promise to the person who has given you your coveted opportunity, find a way to get them to provide you with additional opportunities. Reward them for rewarding you. Be creative. Provide them with a business referral. Make them dinner. Buy them coffee. Send them Christmas cookies. Continue to deliver on your promises. 

Nurture your opportunities—feed them with your magic elixir and they’ll come knocking so much you’ll need a new front door. 

Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley

"Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley." -Sun Tzu from The Art of War

Whether you’re building a career in the arts, raising money for a mental health non-profit, or selling insurance—if you want people to jump onboard with what you’re doing, you must treat them with genuine respect and love. Do this early and do it often. 

To achieve your goals you need to inspire those closest to you and then let them spread the word about the veracity and value of your efforts. Feed these people who support you, both literally and figuratively. They believe in you and trust you. That kind of support doesn’t come around every day. Reward that person for their belief in you. Find out what they need. Help them get it. 

Once you’ve gotten what you need, don’t forget about the person(s) who helped you get where you are. Soon enough, you might need them again and they might need you. 

Watering relationships like this can be a lot of work but it doesn’t have to be back-breaking labor intensive work if you’re genuine and give without keeping score. Your good deeds will be a lesson learned if you let them. And the abundance you create for others will spill over onto your own table. 

Keep giving and you will always have enough to eat. 
Keep giving and you will always have allies to fight alongside you in battle. 

Zig Ziglar said it well when he stated that, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”

It Won't Last Forever

That success you’re experiencing…
That string of failures that, right now, seems never ending. 

Good, bad, fatigue, pain, triumph...none of it lasts forever. However, we must arm ourselves in preparation for the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Failure to do so leads to misery, hardship, and in some cases extinction.

How do we prepare?


We must learn new skills to become well-rounded. 

  • Your long-time client needs more than your social media skills. They need a viral video. You learn how to edit on Final Cut Pro.
  • A long-running Broadway show requires that its actors are circus performers. You take flying trapeze classes.
  • Your significant other moves from the city to the suburbs. You learn to drive.

Yes, the examples given are basic but they’re also partially reactionary. With a good deal of thought and with specificity, one can set off in the direction they'd like to be going and then diversify (and preserve) along the way. In time, your Jedi skills will be unparalleled.

Planning and diversification is the way to insulate from the risks of a volatile market.