The Empathy Edge

In this week’s episode we have yet another wonderful guest bringing all her insanely valuable expertise to the table, Maria Ross, a Brand Strategist, Author, and TEDx speaker.  She is the owner of her brand consultancy, The Red Slice, where she advises entrepreneurs and fast-growth businesses on building irresistible brand stories and messaging to better connect with customers.  Maria joins Dia to discuss the transformation that takes place when empathy is recognized and rewarded in the workplace.  

Maria lets us in on how to create an empathetic culture within your place of work and she explains that if you want to continue to nurture this culture, you need to create opportunities for people to model.  Dia follows that up with how empathy can be used as a tool to become more visible in the workplace, in turn helping you get to your goals faster.  

Maria understands the power of empathy from both the brand and personal levels.  She is well aware of all the benefits empathy can bring whether you’re a leader, an aspiring leader, a business owner or some looking to advance in their career.  In this episode, she shares some of her wisdom with us.  

Maria Ross:

Find out about Maria’s brand consultancy business, Red Slice

Get Maria’s book and listen to her podcast at

Follow Maria on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

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In this week’s episode we have yet another wonderful guest bringing all her insanely valuable expertise to the table, Maria Ross, a Brand Strategist, Author, and TEDx speaker.  She is the owner of her brand consultancy, The Red Slice, where she advises entrepreneurs and fast-growth businesses on building irresistible brand stories and messaging to better connect with customers.  Maria joins Dia to discuss the transformation that takes place when empathy is recognized and rewarded in the workplace.  

Maria lets us in on how to create an empathetic culture within your place of work and she explains that if you want to continue to nurture this culture, you need to create opportunities for people to model.  Dia follows that up with how empathy can be used as a tool to become more visible in the workplace, in turn helping you get to your goals faster.  

Maria understands the power of empathy from both the brand and personal levels.  She is well aware of all the benefits empathy can bring whether you’re a leader, an aspiring leader, a business owner or some looking to advance in their career.  In this episode, she shares some of her wisdom with us.  

Maria Ross:

Find out about Maria’s brand consultancy business, Red Slice

Get Maria’s book and listen to her podcast at

Follow Maria on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

Learn more about Dia Bondi and what she’s been up to.

Follow the show on Instagram.


Maria Ross  00:02

If you are on teams where empathy is a, you know, is recognized and rewarded, how can you leverage this approach and use it to get the visibility that might be tied to the goals that you have? Exactly. And that's how you create that, that effect because again, even, you know, the whole reason I wrote the book is sort of like even if you're adopting this for selfish motives, it's going to transform you from the outside in.


Dia Bondi  00:47

Alright, hello, everyone. Welcome to the Dr. Bondi show a big podcast for folks with goals. I'm Dr. Bondi, and I'm on a mission to help you ask for more and get it resource your dreams and speak powerfully when it really matters that you can reach your goals faster. And I'm so happy to have with me, my on air producer, Arthur Leon Adams, the third. Hello, Arthur. Hey, dia, how's it going? I'm great. And today, actually, we're going to be joined by Maria Ross, who's a brand strategist, author, and she's gonna come talk to us about the empathy edge, a book that she recently wrote and what it means to have an empathy edge, and how that might matter to you the listener, but first, I have something to share. Oh, yeah. What is it so I write a monthly, I don't even know if it's a newsletter, I would call it more like reflections, monthly reflections. And for those of you on my list, you get it. For those of you who are not on my list, you can get it. And I'll tell you how in a little bit. What's interesting is like last week, I sent out one of my monthly reflections, they're very short, actually. And it always has links to the podcast as well. Although the content of what I'm talking about in each of the reflections may or may not be related to the the episode we're sharing in that in that letter. But this last week, I got like a lot of replies from folks who I haven't heard from for a while colleagues, you know, folks who were on my list folks who I recognize that I didn't know were on my list. It was very resonant for people. And so I thought, today, I would share with you all listening the content of that reflection, because it may be useful for you as well. Great. Let's hear it. All right, so I'm actually just gonna, it's a little bit of storytime, I'm just gonna read this for you all. Confidence is an outcome of action, not a prerequisite for action. I get this question a lot. How do I get the confidence I need to and then just fill in the blank. And my answer so often, is just get into action. Find one small or big action you can take. And when you take those actions, you can watch that confidence roll in, wash over you and fill your chest with a knowing you can do what's next. Getting into action requires you stop expecting confidence. First, it requires you look at the actions you can take and let yourself do them while you feel a little bit shaky. Forgive yourself for not having the impenetrable confidence you think you need let go of the expectation of having superhuman powers as a requirement. Let yourself be a little nervous. None of that is a signal that you're not actually ready to get into motion. If we wait for confidence, to take that bigger stage to step into the negotiation to write that book proposal will never actually do it. Here's what to look for. Instead, here are few questions you can ask to signal to you that you're ready to get into motion. Are you prepared? Do you know the plan? Do you have control over how you show up? Do you know what matters? And are you clear on your objective? These are the questions you can ask to evaluate. If you're ready to act, and then do it and trust the confidence will come.


Arthur  04:20

If you are into what we're doing here with the podcast, you can rate subscribe, review and share it with other people. And that will really really help the Deobandi show reach more people. You can also give us a call. Oh, we're gonna say some. Go ahead. You can also give us a call at 341-333-2997 If you have a question or you want to give some feedback or you just want to tell us how much you love us. And if receiving my monthly reflection is appealing to you, you can if you're on mobile right now and in the US, or Canada as well I guess you can just text the word impact i m p a c t


Dia Bondi  05:00

To the number 66866. And you'll end up on our mailing list where you can get announcements for this podcast as well as my monthly reflection. They're short, I design them to be useful prompts for you, as you go into the things that you will be doing, and the ways in which you will be showing up for the task at hand so that you can reach your goals faster. You can also go to and sign up for our mailing list right there. All right, yes. So we're having Maria Ross. today. We are we're having Maria Ross. She's a brand strategist, author and TEDx speaker, and the founder of a brand consultancy red slice, and she believes that cash flow creativity and compassion are not mutually exclusive. I love this about her. She and I have actually collaborated on a few projects and have shared clients and she's helped me a lot with my own brand story. Maria has authored multiple books, including Her most recent book, the empathy edge, which is what we're going to be talking about today, and she hosts a podcast of the same name, the empathy Ed podcast, Maria understands the power of empathy on brand and personal levels in 2008. Shortly after launching her business, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that almost killed her and ended up inspiring her memoir. Rebooting my brain, she has appeared in a bunch of media outlets, including MSNBC, NPR, and Forbes. She's spoken to audiences, ranging from TEDx to the New York Times, and Salesforce, and has written for numerous media outlets, including, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post. Now, I'm having Maria on the show today, for those of you who are building a product, either in house or on behalf of your own business, or growing a business and can use an edge. Maybe an empathy edge is the kind of edge that you need. Maybe you're doing everything right, but you just aren't getting that traction you want on an impact that you want to have, or your brand or business is a little bit misunderstood. This conversation will be for you. And for everyone else who maybe doesn't fit that profile, you'll want to hang in here because there will be something here for you to empathetic leadership may also be a lens that is resonant for you and will help you be the leader you want to be. So you can have the impact you want to have maybe on your team, maybe in your industry, maybe in a cohort of peers, where you have an opportunity to lead. Maria, hi. Hi, how are you? I'm so glad to have you on in this conversation and on the Deobandi show today. scribe. I'm psyched to be here. I love talking to you. You always fill me with energy. I have to say I almost wear a hat today. So for folks listening, we are actually on a video call. This is an audio only podcast, but I almost wore a hat today because you wear a lot of hats. Maria, not metaphorically let like actuator hats. Yeah, it tells you the days that I don't wash my hair, or I've worked out those are the days I'm usually wearing. Yeah, today. In fact, I was like, do I really want to wash my hair? Or do I just do it? Maria, I did for you today. Thank you, you look beautiful. Okay, um, so I have shared with everyone sort of why we're having you on the show. And I want to just sort of take it from the top and ask like, why did you write the book, the empathy edge? A few reasons. Number one is that as a brand strategist, I started to hear in my brand workshops with corporate clients. over the few years before I started writing this book, this desire to have their brand be seen as empathetic. And it was really interesting, because I work with a lot of tech companies, a lot of very left brain C level executives. And I just thought I took note of that, that it was really interesting that they were saying they didn't just want their brands to be seen as innovative or fast or cost savings or whatever, you know, the brand attribute detour is they wanted their company to be seen as empathetic. And I tried to dig into that a little bit with them. Like what what, you know, what do you mean by empathetic? And sort of like also, are you sure that's you like, I don't know that that's really authentically you guys.


Maria Ross  09:15

But um, but what it turned out to be was just this desire to keep up with where consumer needs are now both b2b and b2c in that people want to have a relationship with the companies that they do business with. And they want to know that those companies, yes, they know those companies are there to make money, but they want their companies, those companies that they partner with, to have their best interests at heart and to be open to their feedback and to their points of view and help them with their values and their goals and their aspirations. So that was one thread. The other thread was at the time, my son was about two and a half. And here I am reading all these books to him about collaboration and sharing and empathy. And meanwhile, when you look up in the news cycle, All you see are leaders that are exhibiting anything but that, and whether it's business leaders or political leaders. And it actually really made me lose heart because I thought if, if I'm teaching him all this, what's the point, if he's just going to grow up in a world where this the leadership standard is to not act in a collaborative, compassionate, empathetic way? Why bother? So I did what I do best and that I started researching this and started to see like, Well, is there something here that could show the business case for being an empathetic leader. And there was so much data and research that showed that empathy is not just good for society, it's actually really great for your business and your bottom line. And so I decided to write the business case for skeptics, instead of trying to make a moral argument that we should all be empathetic, because everyone thinks that's a good idea, in theory, but most people don't understand how to apply that every day, especially if they go to a workplace, or they're under a very high stress job. They don't really know how that factors into their work every day. So I wanted to give them a resource that said, here's the data and the research. And then by the way, here are some habits to help you build an empathetic team, an empathetic brand, and also to strengthen your own empathy as a leader. And I thought, it's my way of having some sort of antidote out there to, to what is currently out there in leadership circles. And the good news is, is I'm not the only one on this trend. This is something that's really happening, we've seen it accelerated with the pandemic, that we are realizing that we are human beings, and we don't park our humanity at the door when we go to work every day. So when when we set up the show today, I called out that, you know, our listeners are women with goals, you know, they're building small businesses, big businesses, they've got goals internally to build teams that have big impact to ascend in the corporate ranks, you know, they've got experiential goals. And so you know, we set up that, that this conversation is really aimed, if you're building a product, in house or out of house, if you're building a business, you know, you might need an edge and the edge of the edge might be the edge that you need. And even you're already talking about leadership and how we lead whether we were an ordained leader that also has authority over a particular team or domain, or we're just leading, you know, even in a flat organization, or in a flat system or in an industry and empathy, empathy edge could be the edge that you need. Yeah, absolutely. And to that point, we're all leaders, we all have a circle of influence, even if we're not the official titled leader in the group. And so how you operate is a model for other people. And if you can operate with empathy, and reap all the benefits, that that that comes with that in terms of better collaboration and better innovation, and, you know, better production, better morale, better sales, it's, you know, all of the data is there, people will look at you as a model and say, Oh, the way that you are running your business is really interesting to me. And I see that there's another way to do it, not what I've always been sold as the only way to run a business. Does this also matter for folks who might be making their first hires in their small business? Like when you think about talent acquisition, when you think about engaging with input, engaging with and then staying engaged with your talent base? Yeah, absolutely. Because the research shows that empathetic cultures have higher employee engagement. And what that means is you get less absenteeism, you get more productivity, you get better collaboration, you get better innovation. And externally, if you have a very empathetic culture within your team, however big or small, that translates externally to better customer ratings, and also more sales. So it was all goodness. I also want to add that for those of you listening, like it's really easy to put the world's you know, a business and brands in these like big, huge containers of recognizable household brands. But if you are running a small digital marketing agency, and you have a cluster of fantastic 1090 nines, you have a work culture, if you are owning a small consultancy, or you're a solopreneur, and you have one EA that you work with, or one virtual assistant you work with who is you know, in love with your business and is super engaged in what you're doing. You have a workplace culture. I mean, this is for everyone along every step of the growth of your business or your team, no matter what the shape of it is. Absolutely. It's like I always talk to companies about you, you have a brand, even if you're a business of one, because your brand is your reputation, right? So you have a culture even if you're a business of one because culture, according to my very good friend, Rebecca Freese, who wrote, The good culture is simply the way business the way work gets done. That's all culture is. It's not this big thing where you have to have 100 employees or more to have a culture or you have to have foosball tables and free lunch, like those are not those are artifacts of culture. That's not what actually makes a culture. What makes a culture is how you work and how you get work done. And that's based on your mission and on your values. So even if you are a business of one


Dia Bondi  15:00

Like you said, if you've got a bunch of 1090 nines, you know, what are what are you espousing? To them? How are you treating them? How does work get done between you, I always consider my tending 90 nines part of my virtual team, like whether they're their payroll, salaried employees or not, we are a team getting stuff done based on an aligned mission and actually being very clear about that mission is even more important when you're dealing with subcontractors. Because you have to know you know, they're not just coming to you for a quote unquote, paycheck and benefits. They can they can choose to drop you if they don't like how you're doing business. And really quickly for those of you who might be listening to this podcast outside of the US borders 1099 for us means independent contractor, somebody who's not you know, an employee, but somebody who engages with you on a on a project basis, maybe even ongoing but as an independent contractor, so there you go, just helping to bridge that gap right there because we like like baby a for example. Yeah. Yeah, no, really, very early life. It is the freelance the hustle life and also very good way to be empathetic to your listeners do great. Yeah, thank you. Give myself a pat on the back. So, you know, I love this definition of cultures, how we get work done, it made me think of and folks who have listened to this episode, or listen to this podcast before, I know that I have my bitch and wine group that I get together with, there's like five moms in our neighborhood that I get together with on Sundays. We also do backpacking trips and other things. You've heard me Maria, maybe talk about my bitch and wine crew. And you know, we have a little culture, you know, the way it's not maybe how we get work done, but it is how we be together and what our group is about, we kind of know, we almost have a published mission, you know, that is that is published verbally, but not documented, you know, what it's for, and, and, and a way to know if we're getting if we're actually living that thing. So yeah, culture is everywhere. So in the definition of culture, can you talk a little bit about like, when we talk about empathy, what is empathy? Is it a feeling is an action? Is it a perspective? What is it in your mind? Yeah, so there are a lot of different definitions of empathy out there. But the one that I chose to do the research and write the book around is something that is a little bit more tangible and more relevant in today's world, it's about perspective taking, it's about being able to see things from another person's point of view, and where appropriate, but not always necessary, feeling what they're feeling. And using that information to take action, whether that's how you communicate something or a decision that you have to make, or you know, negotiating a contract, whatever it is, you're doing. So with the input of another person's point of view and perspective, it doesn't mean you agree with them, it doesn't mean you are caving into their crazy demands, it also doesn't mean just being nice, I get that a lot where it's, oh, if we just work with a bunch of really nice people will have an empathetic culture. And you can be really nice, but not be able to see things from another person's point of view that requires a different skill set and a different muscle. And that's really where you get to finding common ground is being able to see things from another person's point of view, not just being nice and making really good cookies. So why do we miss this? Why do we miss it? Why do we skip it? I think we skip it, because we're we're humans, and we're trying to protect our turf, and also the command and control model of business. It's been ingrained in us as the only way to accomplish something as the only way to be a market leader as the only way to be competitive as the only way to succeed. And that's the whole point of this is to break that paradigm and say, Look, there's all these leaders and companies out there that are doing things in this new way. And they're succeeding. So there is another way, I always like to talk about the fact that the rules of business right of what we've what we've accepted as the way to get to business success is they're not laws of physics. They're things that we as humans created, which means we can uncreate them. And the the generations coming up in the workplace, millennials, Gen Z, they are actually demanding this new kind of culture and workplace, they're not putting up with the crap that we did, right? They're saying, This is ridiculous, I spend more than half my life at work. I want it to be a place where I feel seen, heard and understood. I want it to be a place where I can collaborate and innovate and bring my best self to work. That's really interesting. So we did an interview with Kat Gordon, the founder of 3% movement, who is now really turning her attention to the world of belonging in the workplace as a way to sort of get the best ideas in the world and drive innovation to drive great outcomes and to drive a more realistic narrative around so many things in advertising. And so I just it just keeps coming up in my mind as you're talking about this that empathy can also be a contributor to belonging I would imagine Absolutely. In when you when you think about teams and workplaces, yeah, and I think the more empathetic your workplace, the more diverse people can feel like they belong, because they don't have to feel like they have to fit into a mold. They can feel like they can grow bring their unique and diverse perspectives into the workplace and not fear that or not shrink from that. And by the way, you know, cat probably shared with you as well that the fact that organizations that are more diverse, make better business decisions, period, they don't get so myopic. So how do you I always like to say empathy is the fuel that makes diversity initiatives work. Because if you don't have empathy, and you try to put in all these programs around diversity, all you're going to end up with is a bunch of different people that are staring at each other not understanding each other around a table. Right? If you don't have empathy for saying, We want you here because of your diverse point of view, and we want to hear that point of view. Then you miss the boat on any DNI initiatives that you could put into place. Yeah, are there I'm totally thinking that already. There's like a little mini curation of this conversation with Maria also with rethink innovation with Karla Johnson and also with the cat Gordon conversation, like these are three episodes that are like a nice little playlist, because because we're talking about, you know it with Carla Johnson, we're talking about, you know, growing, how to produce the best ideas, the best and reliable ideas to solve business problems. And they require allowing for lots of different ideas and perspectives to make it onto the whiteboard. You know, Catan is talking about belonging so that people can actually courageously produce great ideas that push the business forward and not pull punches, as you said, and, and a contributing factor to both of those things is for us to step into the perspective of empathy as often as possible to allow those diversity of perspectives to exist. That's a great trilogy. It's a trilogy. It is a truly I love it. It's like Lord of the Rings. Oh, I know. And also, you know, the research shows that empathetic cultures and organizations breed more innovation. And it's exactly for that reason that you're talking about when you're able to harness diverse points of view. For creative purposes. When people feel like they can offer their own ideas without risk without reclamation, like they know recrimination, not reclamation, recrimination, they feel that they can, they can take those risks. And that leads to better innovation. If you've got a bunch of people that look like you and sound like you and think like you, you're not going to create a lot of innovation that way. But again, in order to make that environment work, that environment of diversity work, it requires empathy. So our listeners are women and folks with goals, right? They know what they want. And if you don't, by the way, listener, we do have a few episodes to help you with that, specifically the episode, How To goals if you don't have one, and also our episode with Lindsey Gordon on career alignment, side note. So one of the things, you know, our audiences I imagine are doing is navigating, you know, they know what they want. I want to be director in two years, I want to build a small business that impacts XY and Z, I want to build a product that does this, you know, they know what they want. I want to take a one year sabbatical and figure out a way to do that, you know, and travel around the world, whatever it is, how can they use empathy, to help them carve their pathway to that goal? Do you have any advice? Yeah, absolutely. I think from the perspective of wanting to build a business, or even build your career, it's about soliciting input from other people, and being empathetic about the groups that you serve, or your audience, you know, and brand speak, who is your audience. So many times we get caught in our own thinking of like, this is the business, I want to start. And I'm going to do this, and I'm going to say this, and this is going to be my messaging. And this is what my products are going to be. But we don't take the time to actually vet that with the people that we claim to be serving. And so what I always advise my clients to do, because empathy is such a strong part of customer insights. And you have to have those insights, you have to build a brand that appeals to the audience that you're trying to serve. So get out there and talk to them. And even if you don't have current customers, put together that ideal customer persona, and find people like that, don't ask like your nephew, don't ask your spouse, you have to ask people that actually are the people that are going to put down money for your products and services. And too often we get caught up in feedback from other people that while very well intentioned, it's irrelevant what they think about your logo or your offerings, or your pricing or your messaging. So you have to get out there and talk to them and not in a sales conversation. Just Hey, I'm doing some research on this. I want to find out what I hear that as like gathering their actual perspective. Mm, yeah, actually, and gathering their actual words that they use, I always talk about echoing back asking and echoing back. So if you want sales, messaging and email marketing, and all the things that people are delighted to read, you actually have to use the words that are the voices in their heads. And so you have to get out there and go, Well, how do you express this problem? How, what's what how do you describe this challenge? What is the benefit you seek from this thing that I'm going to offer and be willing to say? I might be wrong about how


Maria Ross  25:00

I'm thinking of positioning this or how I'm thinking of messaging This, again, if you get feedback from the right people, beautiful. So I did a fireside chat with


Dia Bondi  25:09

GAP brands this week, actually. And there was a woman that asked a question in the chat that was about, like, I got brought on in my onboarding, I was very transparent that I needed training in a certain area, my manager is refusing to give me the training in the format that I best learn, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, what was our advice, and one of the, you know, what came up for me, and maybe the point might be pointing to what you're what you're talking about here, even if you're not building a business, but you're navigating the pathway of your career to reach a certain career goal is never in the conversation, in answering that it just came up that she hadn't really considered what was going on for her manager. And why he he couldn't meet that need for her, and how she could use you know, his language to and step into his perspective just for a minute to go like what might be blocking this from happening. Outside of just being mad that it's not happening, you know, and doing a push, instead like shifting to say like, Okay, if I brought him more empathetic approach, let's step in his perspective for a second and go like, what's blocking him from giving this to me the thing I need in order to advance my goals, and see if there's something you can unlock there so that you can meet your need, as well as his to unlock the thing that you actually need for yourself. Is that is that circle talk? No, I think that's brilliant. Because that's, that's where empathy and action comes into play as, especially in those tense moments, those disagreements is it requires an empathetic mindset of having a conversation and not just, he's a jerk, because he won't give me what my what I want, it's actually going in with some humility and some curiosity, to say, this is something I expressed to you, I understand that you're thinking this is not possible. Help me understand what's blocking that for you help me understand your context. And asking questions, those magic words, tell me more, right, trying to get someone talking so that then you can latch on to something and go, Oh, okay, I see your context. Is this and your barriers? This? My need is to get this training? How about we do it this way? Or how about we do it that way, but you don't get to that unless you have the empathetic conversation. And the empathetic conversation requires you to check your ego and ask questions, and really be actively listening to try to find some common ground with I think the point that you you know, that that really important word of curiosity, I think is so important here. And in my, in my communications coaching practice, I have had to find language that lets people follow the curiosity with me because they don't, we can't assume all the time that the audience's that matter to our goals, actually know why they might be doing something or not doing something. So when we start with the word why, why are you not providing this, this training to me? Or in my case, my, for my clients? Why are you rushing through this part of your script? Like they might not even know that's, that's, and what it does, by default does is put folks on the defensive. So instead, the I'm reflecting on how I might use unconscious, you know, sort of, you know, implicitly or unconsciously empathy to get better outcomes with my clients is often use the word what's having you rush through this section? What's having what's what's making it difficult for us to you know, find the training opportunity for me. And so it's, it takes it off of Explain yourself to like, help me understand Yeah, why is a very interrogative way it like you said, it makes somebody have to explain themselves and and depending on your tone, which I'm horrible for hiding tone, you know, if I'm like, why are you doing it that way? You know, there's so much judgment and you really need to check discernment, when you're you really need to put on the hat of being like an investigator and distancing yourself from it. It's not personal, right? An investigator, what a beautiful, what a beautiful, like archetype to take on completely. And it's really just about instead of making all those assumptions about why this person is not giving you what you want, go in and ask, you know, what, what's coming up for you tell me more? Yeah, but let's, let's explore that a little more finding ways to ask the question without, why are you doing that? Yes. So it's one thing for us to practice empathy, you know, in our in, in how we might be designing product or creating content when we have our hands directly on the work. It's a different thing to build empathetic teams, like how do you actually spread this? How do you operationalize empathy? Yeah, well, what you don't do is just put a poster on the wall that says we value empathy here are one of our values is empathy. You actually have to put your money where your mouth is. And if you're going to say that you're building an empathetic culture, you have to create the structures that enable that culture to thrive. So policies, processes, habits, traditions, rituals, there are companies out there big and small. That will


Maria Ross  30:00

promote you or give you raises based on you exemplifying certain things that however they've defined it in their organization, show empathy, show service show compassion. So you have to be willing to say you are going to get promoted, you are going to get money bonuses, or you might get fired based on your ability to show or not show empathy in this organization. The other way is that you also create opportunities to model acknowledge and reward it in your culture. And that's another way you put your money where your mouth is. So one of the companies I profiled in the book and again, this is larger scale, but they have a, what they call is about service. And they actually have a peer nominated award that goes on throughout the entire year, everybody's in on it, they're excited about it, it's this whole thing, and the winner of this award, gets a trip for them in their family to anywhere in the world. I don't know what they've been doing in the pandemic, but you know, pre pandemic, so they were putting their money where their mouth was Airbnb, another example, they actually have in their performance evaluations, elements of exhibiting empathy. So it doesn't matter. If you just checked all the boxes, and you made your numbers and you hit your KPIs and your metrics, you actually have to show that you have created a sense of belonging on your team. So you can't just you can't just talk about it, you actually have to walk the talk, and be willing to hire fire promote, give recognition to based on this value being very important to you. Yeah, makes me think of I know, one company that does these, what they call cards, where if you and I are working on a project together, I could recognize a particular behavior tied to empathy, or tied to customer service or something. And I could actually issue a card on a digital platform that recognizes that thing. And folks who accumulate, you know, nominated by others, a certain set number of those cars end up getting featured in the, in the nationwide newsletter, and recognized by like, it actually creates visibility for their work across and outside of their teams. So it's very career enhancing, you know, for them to get something that is just a little digital card, but it creates an opportunity for visibility, which by the way, you know, for folks, you know, if you are on teams, where getting more visibility is really important. If you are on teams where empathy is a, you know, is recognized and rewarded. How can you leverage this approach, and you, I'm gonna say use it to get the visibility that might be tied to the goals that you have. Exactly. And that's how you create that that effect. Because again, even, you know, the whole reason I wrote the book is sort of like, even if you're adopting this for selfish motives, it's going to transform you from the outside in. And you've heard me say this too, before, it's kind of like being pregnant, it doesn't really matter how you got pregnant, you're a parent now. So it doesn't really matter what gets you to adopt an empathetic mindset, because once you adopt it, and the recipient benefits from it, and you benefit from it, you're there, it doesn't matter what caused you to be empathetic. And I've seen executives and leaders who have adopted empathy for what might be selfish motives or good optics, but they're transformed from the outside in, and they see the response they get, and they want to do more. And so I think that's a really important piece. Also, what you said earlier about, you know, the the company with the cards, what's so great about that, going back to what we said about culture, is that becomes the way things are done around here. And so that sends an unspoken message that this is important. And this is how we do things. This is what we value. Again, it's not just a poster on the wall, and it becomes something we can all get excited about. And that's why I asked the question like, how do we operationalize empathy. And it sounds like you've given us some really concrete examples. I know in the in the book, the amp of the edge, which I read, right at the very beginning, because we did our launch party, the launch party for the book together, you get a lot more examples of where this can get operationalized in ways that are actually quite simple and direct. Totally. I mean, even the way you run meetings can be empathetic, if you if you are prepared, if you provide people an agenda beforehand, if you take into account different modes of learning different modes of participation, if you follow up with people after a meeting to let them know, like, what are the outcomes? What are you know, where's all their input going? Those are all ways of showing empathy, because you're thinking about what will matter to people, like you're not thinking about, I'm having this meeting to accomplish my own agenda. And I've accomplished it. And now I'm done. And I can wash my hands of it. But if you actually think about running a meeting in an empathetic way, number one, we might have less meetings. And number two, there'll be richer experiences. So again, it doesn't matter if you're the leader. If you are leading a meeting, you can actually create a new tradition, a new mode of running that meeting to the point that people go I want to go to your meetings, because I like the way I feel when I'm in there. Yeah, that's right. Okay, so here's, here's my sort of last question.


Dia Bondi  35:00

I'm actually gonna ask for some coaching from you. Okay, cuz because I'm in a situation like so many of our listeners where I have some stuff I want to do, right? So let's take this podcast, for example, this podcast at this moment. This is episode 23. Actually, that we're recording right now. And, you know, of course, we want to grow the podcast, we want to have it have the impact that it wants to have, like, you know, we have sort of the mechanisms in place for producing regularly, we got the baseline done, right? So how would you coach someone like me on like, how do we use empathy in this podcast to design content with more impact to grow the show? And do what this podcast is meant to do? So how might how might something win? Yeah, there's the question. Yeah, no, it's a great question. And it's something I need to do more work on myself for my podcast. But it's this idea of, of creating the community around the podcast. So as you know, and maybe listeners don't know, you can't really see who your listeners are on Apple or the other podcast programs. So providing a mechanism for people to reach out to you and become a real human being, whether that's through your email list or through your social media platforms, finding a way where they can actually deliver feedback to you and constantly soliciting this, this is the mistake that a lot of people make is they ask once for feedback. And then months go by and they don't ask again. Like every newsletter, I do every podcast email I send out, I'm like, Who do you want to see on the show? What do you want to talk about? Let me know, every time I promote an episode, I'm trying to like ask people, so I'm constantly soliciting feedback. And then as I talk to guests as well, I'm trying to ask them, you know, what's, what worked about that? What didn't work? So it's, it's, I guess, it's what it is, is just making sure that you don't get complacent, right, I think at the beginning of any venture, and there's actually been studies about this, you know, founders of companies are very empathetic, they're constantly focused on the customer focused on needs, and, and market needs, and all this kind of stuff. And then eventually, they get successful, and they lose sight of the people that they're serving. And we can all fall victim to this. And so making sure you've got that sanity check for yourself constantly of getting feedback. And when you get the feedback, doing something with it, you don't have to react to every little piece of feedback, because there's always going to be haters out there, right. But, but when you start to see a trend of things is when you can actually implement that and then be very clear of like, I'm doing this, I'm changing this format, or I'm inviting this guest, because you let me know, this was what you wanted to hear about that. I think it creates that cycle of like, while she's listening, that's beautiful. i So a friend of mine, Craig Dalton, who was the founder of a company that has now gone called DODOcase, they were making very early cases for iPads, using antique book Making their hand built in San Francisco using antique book making machines bookbinding machines very, like very artists. And and they were sort of in the early days of customizable product. Like they they were early innovators in the space of letting folks online choose what color case they have what combination, they have, you know, a lot of customizable things. And they they did exactly what you're talking about, they opened they created a way for their customers to have a voice in a way that otherwise they would have been guessing what colors what sizes, what products that they would have wanted. But when they just asked, it made a huge difference and their community of buyers, their customer base felt part of something kind of special because they were seeing their feedback show up in the product lines. Yeah, actually one of the one of the habits in the book is about accepting effort, being an empathetic brand is accepting feedback as a gift, but you have to ask it the right way. So you know, earlier, I was on a podcast interview just this morning, and we were talking about the fact that sometimes people don't know what they want, or they don't know why they feel how they feel. So being able to ask it in different ways. And instead of just like what do you want, right? That's like so overwhelming. But you can ask in different ways, you can just talk about maybe you're not asking them what they want from you. But you know, what challenges are you facing in this area that we might be able to help with? Or being able to give them options? Yes to like giving them a limited? Like, here's three options for a course I'm thinking of rolling out, you know, what do you what do you think of these three options. So you want to ask very carefully, as well as not leave it so open ended that you overwhelm someone because as we learned from Steve Jobs, who while he was not necessarily the most empathetic boss, he was actually a very empathetic businessman in terms of wanting to understand his customers. And he would read through emails himself and user feedback himself, because he wanted to know who his users were, what their aspirations and their goals and their values were, so that he could create products that they didn't even know they wanted, or that they didn't even


Maria Ross  40:00

They couldn't even envision it right? Like, did you ever envision an iPod before it came out? Right? You were like, No, I'm fine with my Walkman. Like, why would I need anything else? Right? But it's, it's because maybe maybe she just said Walkman. Just saying I know, right? Cuz


Arthur  40:15

I have one. I mean, who does still to this day, but it's this idea


Maria Ross  40:18

of like, trying to understand your customer so well, that potentially you could put an option in front of them that they didn't even think to ask for, and absolutely delight them and blow them away?


Dia Bondi  40:30

Well, that goes back to what we were talking about earlier around. Don't assume your audiences have the answers, actually, to the questions and and and don't make them explain themselves go in with, you know, curiosity and questions that also help your audiences explore for themselves, what matters to them. But in a way that is that is a powerful and well directed question, but not so wide open, that they're that that they don't know which way to go right or left?



Absolutely, absolutely. And, and one thing I would love to tackle in this, given your audience is something that is very specific to women who have big goals and want to advance is that sometimes they are scared to be empathetic, because they feel it might be seen as a weakness. And the interesting thing is that very successful women, I spoke to someone for the book, Carol villone Mitchell, who has done lots of intensive studies on women leaders. And while she, she wasn't able to say like, women leaders are more empathetic, because depending on the study you look at, it might not be a gender thing. I know lots of men who are very empathetic leaders and lots of female leaders who are not very empathetic. So I don't think our gender has a lock on it. But that that many successful women leaders have cited empathy as one of the catalysts for their success. Because if we look at empathy, not again, as caving to crazy demands, or just being nice, but if we look at empathy as being more collaborative and inclusive, and being able to make better decisions, as a result of that, women with that skill, were able to advance as leaders because they were able to get people on board, they were able to get by in they were able to make things happen and collaborate. And so, you know, I think there's a hesitancy, especially you know, when you're coming up in the ranks, or you're just starting out is that, oh, I need to hide that aspect of myself, because then I'll be seen as a weak female leader, but you actually being empathetic can come from a place of strength, and confidence. And it has to, because it takes confidence to be able to take on someone else's point of view, without defensiveness or fear. And so what I often see sometimes is women trying to go the other end of the pendulum, the other swing of the pendulum, and be completely unresponsive to feedback or to like, collaboration, because they think it's gonna make them appear weak. And the the opposite is actually true. As long as you're being empathetic in what is truly meant as empathetic, and not just giving people what they want, all the time, you can have a very strict business policy, and stick to it. But you can do it in a way where you're not an asshole about it. Right, you can do it in a way that says, I know, you know, this was our policy. This is not the way I do business. But let's talk what's going on for you is there some way that we can we can work around this or make this right. So we need to we need to be able to embrace both parts of ourselves as as women and see our empathy as a strength and not as a weakness. So


Dia Bondi  43:30

I love that you're pointing I love I mean, this is feels like the stinger of the of the episode that you're talking about taking feedback and stepping into somebody else. Allowing somebody else's perspective, to be present in the face of your own is actually a very, is a very take strength



is confidence you cannot be you cannot lack confidence and be an empathetic leader. Because we all know bullies lack confidence, right? So you can try to pretend you're being hard charging, when really you're just scared. But if you actually have your own confidence, and you have your own firm foundation, when you hear another person's perspective, you don't have to react to it. You don't have to just automatically do it. You can take it on and realize they're not they're not attacking me. They're just sharing their perspective and I can choose what I want to do with that information.


Dia Bondi  44:17

I love that Maria it's been such a great joy having you here how do people find you? What can they do with you?



What can they do with me? Um, they can check me out at red dash they can follow me on instagram red slice Maria Twitter at Red slice, they can also go to the empathy and listen to the podcast where I feature leaders and thought leaders talking about all facets of empathy as a success lover. And for folks starting a business or an ambitious plan. I can work with them on their brand strategy story and messaging through my consultancy at Red slice,


Dia Bondi  44:50

love it. loved having you.


Maria Ross  44:51

Thank you


Dia Bondi  44:59

so good how Maria, yeah, she's great. It's really hard to talk about empathy in a way that feels really concrete and what is good about? You know, that's why I asked the question like, how do you operationalize this stuff and make it super concrete. And I think in her book, she has more and more examples of that. But that's a great prompt for everyone to take away. Maybe today is like, if I went, if I was going to build in empathy into a process, the way my team operates, how I serve a customer, like, Where might I do that?


Arthur  45:31

I think for me, a lot of times, I had to work on my empathy for clients. In the past, you know that well, not every client, but clients that were annoying, or that were making unreasonable demands, and just trying to think about from their perspective, yeah, why that was happening. Mm hmm. Yeah, it's helped me a lot.


Dia Bondi  45:49

You talk sometimes when you work on video projects, I hear you talk about like client education as like, oh, yeah, I think how I observe you operationalizing that is recognizing when client education is going to be necessary and building that into the process? Exactly. I've seen you do that we, you know, you've produced a few projects for me, and in which case, you asked me very clearly, like, how much how much client education are we going to need to do on this project? And that's, yeah, that was, uh, that kind of, that's a good example of how you've been able to, even though I know it helps you tolerate, you know, the irritations of, you know, the, the, we need to draft for this shoot, but we have no budget.


Arthur  46:30

And I just, I've just always, I've just tried to adopt, as I've gotten older, just a, a policy of, you know, giving the benefit of the doubt to everyone, at least for a little while.


Dia Bondi  46:44

Yep, really good. So I hope for folks listening, you got something today that you can action and your own career as you think about reaching your own career goals, whether it's about ascension inside of your organization, whether it's about working on the kinds of projects, or finding your way to the kind of projects that really light you up and using empathy as a way to kind of get the feedback and perspective that you need so, so that you can find that you can find that pathway to that goal or whether you're building a small business, medium sized business, large business or a team to help enable those things. I hope you got a few a perspective that will help you use empathy as an edge.


Arthur  47:21

All right. See you all next time.



This is a production of Dia Bondi communications scored, mixed and produced by BBA, you can like share, rate and subscribe at Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. If you'd like Deobandi to answer any questions about how to make your next big move. You can call into the show at 341-333-2997. Thanks for listening

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