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SIMPLE brand #62: Rob Volpe - Solving the Empathy Crisis


In this week’s episode of the SIMPLE brand podcast,
 I talk with Rob Volpe, author of Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time! 


I found a couple of interesting stats recently and they relate to empathy.


In 2010, the University of Michigan Institute For Social Research published findings from a study where they observed a 40% decline in the ability of students to see the point of view of their classmates over the past twenty years.


And just last year, a study from Ignite 360 found that nearly one-third of American adults had no strong feelings toward, or even disagreed with the statement: “It’s easy for me to see the point of view in others.”


So we’re clearly seeing a measured decline in empathy.


And this decline in empathy is really exemplified in today's society. When you recognize how polarized we are, it feels like no one understands others who think differently than them. And not only that, they don’t want to understand them.


At the same time, empathy is key for your business. Whether it’s your customer experience or your employee experience - empathy is going to help you thrive in the long run. You have to be able to understand your people and deliver experiences that show you understand their needs


So if we establish that empathy is super valuable for business and especially valuable for a strong society but empathy has declined considerably over the past twenty years then we’re currently experiencing an empathy crisis.


I’ve been bought into the value of empathy for over five years now. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that “Empathizing with your customers” is one of the key behaviors I’ve defined that go into delivering SIMPLE experiences. So to say I’m a big fan of empathy is an understatement.

That’s why I had such a fun time talking with Rob Volpe this week.


Rob’s the CEO of Ignite 360, a brand insights and strategy firm that's helped a lot of major consumer brands better understand their customers. And Ignite 360 provides their signature Empathy Camp where they help professionals and leaders strengthen their empathy skills for better problem solving, decision making and understanding their consumers and colleagues.


In addition to leading Ignite 360, Rob speaks at a number of marketing conferences, and he’s been featured in publications like Advertising Week, Mashable and HuffPost.


And now Rob is officially a published author. His first book is out this week! - Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time.


Rob and I talk about his lessons from Tell Me More About That including how empathy has declined over the past twenty years and why empathy is so important today. But beyond just talking about the necessity and value of empathy, Rob shares a simple 5-step framework that he’s developed to help you build your empathy muscle. It’s descriptively named - 5 Steps to Empathy.

Some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How we arrived at what many refer to as an empathy crisis today
  • The difference between emotional empathy and cognitive empathy
  • How empathy can transform your leadership approach
  • Henry Ford’s 100-year old lesson on using empathy as the secret to business success
  • A five-step framework to build your empathy muscle
  • How to be a better active listener with anyone
  • The value of observing others in addition to listening to them
  • How to incorporate empathy into designing your customer experience








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