Jason Ogle proves that empathic design is not only possible, but essential in creating life-changing products and services. He enlightens us to our seldom talked about mirror neurons and the critical role they play in user testing. He shines a spotlight on incredibly powerful and moving examples of empathy in design. He also teaches us how empathy can not only be taught and learned, but practiced, because being great designer begins and ends with being a great human.
Jason Ogle is human, not dancer. He fails early and learns often. He’s a growth-minded, avid reader and listener whose vehicle is a rolling university, and a biz-minded, strategic designer who loves to make life better for his users. He’s a passionate user defender who fights for the users who are victims of bad design decisions. He’s an influential podcaster who uses the enchanting magic of audio to inspire and equip an audience of hungry and ambitious designers. He’s an evocative (often contrarian) writer who believeth in the power of the written word. He’s a self-aware and highly empathic servant-leader who believes that humans are so much more than resources. He’s also a loving husband, father of seven (one’s in heaven), and thankful believer who has a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Fun fact: He once had to get a manicure to be a hand-model for a tech ad, and he has a rare essay titled “Altars of Satan” given to him and signed by Eldridge Cleaver.
- Intro Story (00:24)
- What is Empathy? (5:04)
- Mirror Neurons (9:14)
- Still Face Experiment (11:17)
- Mirror Neurons and Movies (15:59)
- Inspiring Examples from IDEO (19:19)
- Doug Dietz’s Empathy for Terminally Ill Children (23:35)
- Margaret Hamilton’s Empathy for Apollo 11 (29:44)
- Can We Grow in Empathy? (34:07)
- Seth Godin Explaining Empathy (35:21)
- Put Your Oxygen Mask on First (36:10)
- Seth Godin on Faked Empathy (39:19)
- Seth Godin on Being Indispensable in an AI World (40:57)
- Empathy & Mindfulness (43:23)
- Rise to the Empathy Challenge (45:55)
Netflix Hates My Kids [ARTICLE]
IDEO’s human centered design process: How to make things people love [ARTICLE]
The Life-Changing Impact of Empathy in Design [ARTICLE]
Transforming healthcare for children and their families: Doug Dietz [TEDx VIDEO]
Radical Empathy with Seth Godin [PODCAST]
The iPhone Effect
Get the One Week to Strong Empathy Challenge brought to you by User Defenders: Podcast
Clips used in this video are from the following:
Brené Brown on Empathy
Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick
Mirror Neurons: Causing Change Within Others
The Mysterious Life Of UX Designers
Pittsburg Chidren’s Hospital Makes Visits Fun for Kids
Apollo 11’s “1202 Alarm” Explained
Jason Ogle: Picture yourself on a flight 30,000 feet above sea level. It’s a night flight, so the cabin lights are dimmed. Movie’s playing and you have a 1 ½ year old at your feet throwing the worst tantrum you’ve ever experienced. All of a sudden, your cortisol levels are already through the roof. All of the lights and the power in the aircraft immediately shut off. Imagine the sheer terror you feel in that moment of just thinking, “Oh my God, is this the end?” And then all of a sudden, to hear on the loudspeakers, the flight attendant, several moments later after the lights have actually returned, say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we apologize for that inconvenience. We lost ground power for a moment there. But never fear, everything’s okay now. Everything’s okay now.”
So imagine that, and this is a true story. This happened to my wife and I about 15 years ago. And the point of this story is to tell you that the lights immediately shutting off is not a design, is not by design. In fact, when you get in an airplane and you get to cruising altitude, if it’s a night flight, the system is designed, somebody, an empathic designer, had the sense to go, “Wow, if I were on an aircraft and the lights just immediately shut off, I’d be terrorized.” So, an empathic designer said, “This is not the right convention. Let’s make this better. Let’s design this with empathy for the passengers so that the lights will dim slowly, very slowly when you are getting to cruising altitude.”
That’s how I wanted to kick this monologue episode off. This is the second monologue episode and it’s all about the important topic and this is one of my favorite topics of “Empathy.” Specifically, empathy as a design superpower. You know, I believe that any life and world changing product or service was built because a designer had the empathy to build it. I just mentioned the aircraft analogy. That’s something that unless you’re really paying attention or unless you’ve really been in a situation like my wife and I were where our aircraft, the power literally shut off for a few moments. You know, it’s just one of those little details, those little big details that you don’t really notice. But I, I want to draw your attention to the fact that if you look around, if you really pay enough attention to any product or service that’s built genuinely for you, the user, the human on the other side of it. If it’s changing your life in some way, if it’s impacting your life in some positive way, I can guarantee you it’s because of designer had enough empathy for you to design it that way.
And maybe it’s because they themselves or someone close to them needed it. Right? There’s an expert out there who says that “Designers aren’t users.” I’m sorry, not sorry, but we are users. In fact, I think some of the greatest products have come from designers who needed it. So, there’s also an influencer who will tell you that they believe empathic design is impossible. And I tell you, you’re dead wrong. And my goal in this second monologue episode is to prove to you that empathic design is not only very possible, but it’s essential in creating impactful designs.
So, what is empathy? Well, Miriam Webster’s definition is, “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another, of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” In other words, it’s all but literally putting yourself in another shoes.
And I’m going to tell you what empathy is not. Empathy is not sympathy. And I’m going to let Brené Brown who is a wonderful author, Defenders, designers, UX’ers. If you haven’t followed Brené Brown’s work, definitely check it out. I feel like it’s required reading for any UX’er. She is so tapped into the power of empathy and vulnerability and authenticity and shame. And so highly recommend her work. She got a nice spotlight recently on Netflix, I think, with a documentary or something. I don’t have Netflix anymore because I think they hate my kids, but that’s another story for another day. But anyway, it’s neat to see her getting that exposure there. But I’m going to let her explain the difference between empathy and sympathy because I think nobody says it better than her. Check this out:
After hearing that explanation, amazing explanation from Brené Brown. I want to also talk about mirror neurons. You don’t hear about this as much, but mirror neurons are really, really fascinating. And these were discovered in the early nineties by an Italian scientist. What this scientist did was he placed electrodes on one specific monkey actually, and he did not give that monkey a banana, but he allowed another monkey to peel and open and eat a banana in front of that monkey with the electrodes. And it’s so funny, the monkey who did not have the banana had parts of his brain light up as if he was peeling and eating the banana.
And it’s so fascinating, actually, we just got chicks recently and it’s so funny to watch them when they’re super hungry and I’m filling up their feeder with, with some chicken feed. It’s so funny to watch them after I get it in there. They’re like eating it like they’ve never had a meal before or like it could be their last. And it’s just so funny to watch because there’s like 10 or 12 holes that they can stick their beaks in to get the feed out. But each one, it’s so funny to watch. And I shouldn’t probably video this and maybe try to share this, but they will actually, even though they have one perfectly good hole right there to get the feed out, they’ll kind of look at what the other chicks are doing and then they’ll be like, “Hey, maybe there’s something better in that hole that they have.” And then they’ll try to stick their beaks in their whole. It’s just, it’s really funny to watch.
But again, I realized that after I have kind of researching some of this. I realized this is mirror neurons at work. They’re actually feeling what the other is feeling. They’re trying to emulate that as tribal creatures as well. Or, a herd creature in this case. So, that was really interesting for me.
And there’s another experiment with the mirror neurons that is really fascinating and it’s actually quite sad to – it’s known as the “Still Face Experiment.” And this was done by Dr. Edward Tronick. I’m going to share a video of that and listeners, you’ll hear the audio, but I’m also making this a video, which will probably be me even be a more compelling experience because of some of the clips that are going to be in here. But it’s so interesting that babies even will feel empathy for other crying babies, and they’ll start crying because they are feeling that pain. So that again, that’s another example of a mirror neuron. But check out this video. It’s actually, it’s super sad. But it proves a really valid, important point here:
So, compelling, right. And also, kind of sad. It’s so sad to see the mother turn away from their baby and just kind of like, and then turn back with just a complete emotionless state on their face. And I also think about like some of the sociopath, some of the serial killers and such that have existed, and I will almost be willing to bet anything that they grew up in an environment that lacked empathy. Severely lack empathy and severely lacked the proper affection from a loving parent. I’m almost willing to bet anything that they did not have that. And so, they felt like their entire existence when they needed that nurturing and they needed that fostering, that they didn’t have it and there was just some sort of emotional breakdown that started occurring from a very early age. That’s why sociopath, I mean, they cannot feel empathy. It is impossible. I think there’s something to that.
But I also want to talk about movies, because why do we go to the movies? It’s the mirror neurons. We don’t think about this often, but we want to feel what the characters on the screen are feeling, right? And we can, we can experience that when we see them acting. And we know they’re acting but yet it feels so real when you get the camera angles and when you get really good actors and when you get the soundtracks behind it. And it’s really moving. Like, “Okay, you saw “End Game” right by now, I think most of you have seen “End Game.” If it didn’t get dusty in the room for you at the end, check your pulse, right? I mean that’s one of those things.
I want to share another clip from this TED talk that I thought was also super compelling that speaks to the power of mirror neurons. It kind of reinforces what I just said about the cinema.
It’s also why televised athletics are so effective, right. I’ve been watching the NBA Finals and I’m been really super fascinated by watching these teams play. And I start to feel like attached, you know, you get emotionally attached to a team. So, like if you are watching the” Golden State Warriors” win yet again, I’m actually almost getting sick of them winning every time, but they’re an incredible team. But, it’s why you feel like you’re part of the team, right? And when you watch that, you can rejoice with them when they win.
It’s why food commercials are so effective. It’s watching someone eat something delicious, especially when you’re hungry, it’s super effective on the mirror neurons. So, why am I talking about mirror neurons? What are mirror neurons have to do with empathy and with the superpower of empathy?
Here’s what it has to do with, user research. Why is it so important to observe a user using what you designed. Using your design, using a product? Why? Because you need to see their face so you can experience their pain, you can feel their pain and you can see it on their face. It’s why video camera access is a critical feature for a remote user testing as well. So that’s another really important point I want to hit home with. We must tap into our empathy superpower to build effective products. And nobody really has done it better than IDEO. I mean they are kind of the poster children, so to speak, of designing with empathy. And a couple of stories that I just love a talking about from IDEO. One of them is the nursing tablet.
So they were tasked with creating a tablet, like an iPad kind of device for nurses that could be used to record records to keep records, document what’s happening with patients. And originally the design was going to be operated with two hands and it was going to be just like a typical iPad kind of thing until they used their superpower of observation and observe these nurses in hospital rooms with expected mothers who were having C-sections maybe for their first one. And they notice something that changed everything for them. And it was again, the empathy and the observation that they had. The mirror neurons working here.
They notice that these mothers, they were so scared and nervous that during the procedure, they would reach for the nurse’s hand and the nurse would hold the hand of the mother who was about to deliver and that changed everything. They created a tablet that could be operated with one hand so that the nurse could have a free hand to comfort the mother. And that’s beautiful, right?
And then another example with IDEO is the kids’ toothbrush. I love this. So you know how if you have kids, you know how a lot of their toothbrushes, they, they aren’t like ours. They don’t like adult toothbrushes that have the thin kind of narrow plastic handles. Adults are very dexterous. We can kind of guide the brush and different angles and such, a lot more dexterous than kids. But with kids, what they noticed – and first of all, by the way. Can you imagine IDEO calling you if you have kids and saying, “Hey, we want to do some research on your kids. We want to come into your home at night while your kids are in their pajamas in and watch them brush their teeth in the bathroom.” Can you imagine that being a part of that research?
Thankfully there were enough parents that said “Yes” because what IDEO, what they notice when these kids were brushing their teeth was that they fist the thing, they hold it in their fist, that that’s how they do it. And next time you watch your kids brushing your teeth, you’ll see that. And so what did they do? They invented that fat handle toothbrush, that little cushy rubbery kind of fat handle toothbrush. That’s was a design decision based on empathy, right?
So, like that’s just another awesome example and I love the IDEO. They said that, there’s an article on usertesting.com where I got these stories from, I’ll be sure to link to it in the show notes. But the other thing that I took away from this story was the IDEO as an organization, they said, “We can build anything, we can design anything. We even a rocket.” They could design a rocket. As long as they have the ability to observe the users, as long as they have an ability to, to get to know their users really well so they can exercise their empathy superpower in designing for them. That’s it. That’s really inspiring. That should inspire all of us.
Another super inspiring story is by Doug Dietz. And it’s about Doug Dietz and he’s honestly my favorite. This is one of my favorite stories of design. If you’re listening to the show for any length of time, you know, I mentioned him, I’ve mentioned him several times, but it never gets old to me. So, I’ll just touch on it briefly. Doug Dietz is a designer. He designed the MRI, the large MRI scanners that we know today. That kind of look like a brick with a hole in them. Kind of like the ones that haunt your dreams. If you’ve ever had an MRI before. there’s a reason there’s a panic button in there because it’s scary as heck, right? I mean, I’ve had MRI’s and I’ve had to hit the panic button about five minutes shy of my 40 minutes or 45 minute scan. It’s terrifying, right? So, Doug Dietz works for GE, but he works in the children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. And he tells this story also on this TED talk that he did. And we should have a link to these things in the show notes.
He tells this story of observing the first – and in the children’s hospital in Pittsburgh, there’s a lot of terminally ill children. It’s super sad. And these kids have to get these scans all the time to see progress on – a lot of them have cancer and various other illnesses. And again, many of them terminally ill. So, he tells the story of the first time he unveiled, he was so proud of this design of his. But the first time he unveiled this MRI machine to a young patient, this little gal. And he observed her going into the room and the room was already kind of dimly lit and she was with her parents, but she was just terrified of this thing. She was just screaming and crying and it broke his heart. It broke his heart to where he said, this is not good enough.
And that’s what I love about design, right? Like we’re designers because we believe we can make things better. And so, Doug Dietz had the empathy. He used his mirror neurons. He used his empathy superpowers to observe this little girl in agony who was already suffering. And He came up with the GE MRI, a discovery series. It’s incredible. And basically, what he did was he and his team turned these sterile, scary environments into fun adventures like pirate ships and fun animated graphics all over the room and sounds. And it just, he completely revolutionized this experience for kids. And I think he brought the anesthesia rate, which is. You know, when you’re a parent you don’t want your kid to get Anesthetized, every time they go in to get an MRI, you do not want that. And so, he was able to bring the anesthesia rates down, I think from like 83% all the way down to like 23%, something around there.
Incredible, right? And also, it was so neat. Like he actually saw kids come out of this thing and ask their parents if they can come back tomorrow. I mean that if that doesn’t touch your heart, right. So, I want to share some snippets as well. Some video clips and an audio, if you’re listening on the podcast, I want to share this from him. I’ve never seen a designer cry or weep about what they’ve created, what they brought into the world until I saw this.
Another wonderful example is one, I also talk about a lot on the show. And that’s Margaret Hamilton. I’m not the one that plays the wicked witch in the wizard of Oz, but the one who led the Apollo missions programming team. And who designed this error 1201/1202. She and her team coded this thing. There’s pictures of her standing next to print outs of the code, all the code base to her and her team, the compiled during the missions and it’s so crazy to see. I’ll try to link to it in the show notes, but the stack is taller than her and she’s probably a good five foot seven. At least. The stack of papers of code is taller than her. It’s just incredible. But I love that Margaret Hamilton had the empathy to create these sub routines, knowing that these computers can only process a limited, very, very limited amount of code at one time. So, there’s a lot more scientific explanation between the era of the error 1201/1202. And in fact, I’ll let somebody else explain it better than me and check this out.
So, these phones in our pockets, these phones are millions and millions of times faster than the computers powering the rockets that sent men to the moon? That’s mind blowing right there, mind blowing. Hundreds of millions of times. And so, I just love that she had the empathy for these astronauts that if the computer should overload, that it would automatically let them know and it would automatically restart and save the data where they were at. I mean, that’s incredible. I mean, she’s an unsung hero for sure, of the space program, but I love that story of empathy right there, especially from a developer point of view. Because developers are designers too. That’s a reality. They’re designing code for users. So, it’s just another reminder, we all need to exercise our empathy superpower when we’re creating for other humans.
So, I want to talk about how do we grow in empathy? Because, you know, some may feel like, “Well, I just don’t have empathy. I’m just not a touchy freely kind of person or a woo kind of, you know, that’s too woo for me or whatever, you know. I don’t think I could grow in my empathy.” Yes you can. Yes you can. And I want to tell you how you can do it. It can be learned, it can be taught and you can grow in it. If you have a growth mindset, which I always say is critical, it’s critical for not just being a great designer, but being a great human. It is critical to have a growth mindset so you can grow and continue to learn.
But you know what? Empathy is a choice. I always say this. Empathy is a choice that becomes easier to make, the more we practice it. And you’ve got to begin by having empathy for yourself. You can’t give away what you don’t already have. And I love my episode with Seth Godin and I’m going to share some snippets of him. And his episode was all about empathy. In fact, it was called “Radical Empathy.” Highly recommend checking that out if you haven’t heard it. But here’s a few snippets of Seth explaining empathy. Here’s one right here:
Seth Godin: “It’s very hard to be a lifeguard if you’re wearing heavy boots. Because as soon as you jump in the water, you start sinking. And so, it’s really difficult for you to offer help to the person who’s drowning. That what it means to be a lifeguard is (A) You need to find someone who wants to get rescued. And (B) You have to have enough confidence in where you are that you can help them.”
Jason Ogle: So, I love that he said that. He says, “You know, if you’re a lifeguard, you can’t rescue somebody if you’re wearing heavy boots.” That’s a lifeguard that doesn’t have empathy for themselves. It’s not building themselves up, right? And what I always say is you can’t pour an empty vessel into another. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to fill your cup before you can actually pour into an empty one.
So, and I love the oxygen mask analogy to kind of bring another aviation analogy into this. When you’re on an aircraft, right. You’re getting ready to travel up into the air. What do the obligatory PSA, right? The flight attendants do, the obligatory PSA that only Southwest Airlines can make even remotely interesting. What do they say? They always say, “In case of loss of cabin pressure, these weird masks will fall from the ceiling and here’s what you do first, right?” And parents always kind of know they’re talking to parents. They say, “Before you help your child, what do you have to do? You put your oxygen mask on first. Why? Because you can’t help others. If you’re dead. You can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself first.” So, I really strongly believe that that has a lot to do with empathy, it has a lot to do with our personal growth journey.
And I’ll touch briefly, I started a personal growth journey in 2015 just before starting this show. In fact, this show is a result, a direct result from my personal growth journey. I started this show and it was really a result of me actually waking up one day and going, “I’m going to get better. It’s been 40 years and I’ve really lost track of putting my own oxygen mask on first. And as a result, I was a grumpy, just tired, irritable, bitter jerk. And I’m going to be honest with you. I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around. Ask my wife. No, but seriously though, I realized this and what I did was I started actually taking care of myself. I started waking up early for myself first, putting my oxygen mask on first. A lot of us, we wake up for other people. We wake up for employers, right? We wake up for our family. Nothing wrong with that.
But if– again, if you don’t have a full cup, you’re not going to have much to pour into others. You’re not going to be fit for service. I always think about the analogy. Like when I see somebody’s broken down on the side of the road and they got their hazards on and they’re like trying to move their car themselves, I will try to make sure I pull over somewhere and I get out and I help them push the car out of the way. And hopefully my son or some other strong folks will be with me to help out with that. But I’ll be honest with you, like there’s times and I live in the Rocky Mountains, so it’s 6,000 feet above sea level here. And the oxygen is thinner even though it’s fresher, it’s thinner. But there’s been times when I’ve helped push somebody’s car and I’ll be honest with you, I thought I was going to die after because my oxygen. So, that’s another analogy or reinforcement. It’s like we need to be fit for service that goes right into empathy. We need to be fit to serve others and that is everything.
So, again, personal growth, I highly, highly recommend Jim Rohn says “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal growth.” So, there’s something there too. And then Seth Godin, one other thing he said to is, he said – he kind of sits on a really eye opening to me. He said, “Faked empathy is just as good as real empathy.” And I say what? I said, “Can you explain that because that’s kind of perplexing to me?” And he explained it really well. Check this out.
Seth Godin: I don’t think you have to be in a wheelchair to design a hotel room that someone in a wheelchair can use. And that person who designed the hotel room may not care about you one bit. They might just be a professional. And to be a professional means to act as if the surgeon who took your appendix out didn’t show up and say, “Oh, I can’t do it. I’m not really in a good mood. I don’t really feel like doing surgery today.” No, you don’t care. You just want the surgeon to show up and do what she said she would do. That’s what a professional would do. You know, if we think about the absurdity of Major League Sports, the players act like they care about the team, but as soon as they get traded, suddenly they care about a different team because they’re professionals. And so, I’m not arguing that you need to actually wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats because you care so much about that human being you’re exerting emotional labor for, I’m arguing that if you’re a professional, it’s your job. The ditch diggers job is to dig a ditch and your job is to act as if. And if you can 100% fake the empathy. That’s as good as actually being empathetic as far as I’m concerned.
Jason Ogle: Another thing that Seth said was, when I asked him about being indispensable in this artificially intelligent world, empathy, gives us a really competitive edge in this ever increasingly artificially intelligent world. So, check it out. When I asked him about and being indispensable, which he wrote a book called “Linchpin” which is awesome about being indispensable in our work. And I asked him that, I said, how do you stay indispensable in this artificially intelligent world? And check out his answer.
Seth Godin: Well that’s a great question. You know, in 1917 I was on this podcast and they asked me about the jackhammer. And they said, “You know, the jackhammers coming, what will that do to the people have to dig up streets?” And I point out that most people who dig up streets are saying, well, they’ll just work harder digging up streets and they’re not worried about the jackhammer, which of course is absurd. Lots and lots of people with pick axes got put out of work over the course of decades because why would you hire a guy with a pickaxe if you could use a jackhammer? Well, if you’re a radiologist, you need to accept the fact that a computer can read an X-ray better than you now and multiply that times a thousand. If I can write down what you do, if I can write down the steps, I can get a computer to do it better than you. So, the only plan is to do a job where you can’t write down the steps. That’s it. You need to do jobs where you can’t write down the steps. And if you have a job where you do write down the steps, hire someone cheaper than you to do those steps. So, you can go back to doing a job where you can’t write down the steps,
Jason Ogle: Do work, where you can’t write down the steps. That sounds like a lot more soft skills, doesn’t it? Sounds like a lot more stepping out of the comfort zone in serving people as humans in a human way. If there are steps that can be written down, then if you do something where anybody can emulate it or do it, you might be out of a job in the next five, 10 years. You never know. Or you might be just doing something else that you really didn’t plan on doing. So, that’s just another kind of neat piece of advice there. So, I’m just going to conclude here. You know, I think I’ve made a pretty good case, strong case for empathy and why it’s an imperative superpower in designing products for other humans or services. It’s just a critical soft skill.
I mean, it’s UX as my friend Nick Fink says, former guests on the show, he says, “UX is not just confined to the four corners of the screen, right?” It’s not, I mean, we’re creating UX all the time or it’s on the freeway. I mean, right. You get these drivers and I mean, that can be the most unpleasant user experience ever right or traffic, right? Or on an airplane, there’s another aviation call. So, and you’ll know this when you see the parents who let their kids use their tablets without the headphones on, you know who you are. In line at the grocery store, Hey, what if we put our phones away and actually talk to the person behind us every once in a while. That’s one of my empathy, empathy challenges that I want to share with you all, I’ll get to that in a little bit, but there’s some really interesting interactions that can take place. And also, empathy building that takes place. When we actually put our phones away, our devices. There’s something called the iPhone effect. If you Google that, you’ll see. It’s even the presence, the visible presence of a phone, even if it’s upside down in a meeting, the visible presence of a phone has scientifically shown to decrease our levels of empathy. So, hey, you know, as hard as it, I love my phone, I love it and I’m addicted to it. But as hard as it is, I think we’re going to be better when we master it because technology is an incredible servant but a terrible master. So, you know, it’s really, again, I just want to reiterate that.
Here’s my, one of my bigger points here. If you don’t care or even want to try to feel the pain your users are feeling, please stop designing for humans immediately. And if you’re a designer and referring to the humans you’re designing for as users makes you feel less empathy for them. Also, please stop, stop designing for humanity immediately.
I might’ve just opened up a can of worms. Maybe that’s another monologue episode. I don’t know. You tell me. Let me know on Twitter at @UserDefenders and if there’s other subject matters you’d like me to tackle in a monologue format like this for season seven. I would love to hear about it. So, again, reiterating every life changing product or service that’s ever been built had radical empathy at the core of it.
So, before I sign off, I kind of touched on this a little bit, but I actually put something together, actually with Seth Godin’s release. I was able to launch this, and I had been working on this for nearly three years and these are all stories. These are things that I’ve done that I’ve tried, and it’s called The Empathy Challenge. And you can sign up for it. You go to userdefenders.com/empathy there’ll be a link in the show notes, but that’s pretty easy to remember. userdefenders.com/empathy you can get in there. And basically, you just sign up for it. It’s an email that will arrive in your inbox one every week for seven weeks. So, I originally designed these as being seven challenges in one week. And then I realized that’s way too much to ask of people to do because some of them do require being in the right context. So, I changed it to where you get one challenge every week. So, I can still not have to change the name of it. It’s one week. The One Week to Strong Empathy challenge.
But again, these are exercises. These are things that I’ve tried and that have proven that they’ve grown my empathy levels so much and I know they’ll do the same for you. If you complete each of these challenges. Check it out, it’s arrives conveniently into your inbox and I’d love to have you do that. Again, the reason I do this, the reason I’m doing this now, it’s, there’s kind of a selfish reason for it. I really see the lack of empathy that’s taking place in our culture with our young people. You know, the young people are growing up with these devices are growing up in the digital age. And I know I’m going to sound like an old curmudgeon and again, I’ve got no problem with them. I work in technology, I love my phone, but I honestly believe that these phones, especially social media is not helping us grow in our empathy. In fact, it’s actually taking away from our empathy for other humans. And it’s taking away our ability to effectively communicate with other human beings. So, that’s kind of my little soapbox apart from even just the design aspect. I just feel like we are just losing something here and I think we need to say enough is enough and start taking it back. So, that’s the reason. There’s a selfish reason here in me doing an episode like this and doing the empathy challenge. So, that’s it really.
And again, I always say that being a great designer begins and ends with being a great human. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks for checking this out. I’m so thrilled to be able to serve you in this way. And again, let me know what you thought of this on Twitter. I am @UserDefenders and check out the empathy challenge userdefenders.com/empathy and last but not least, just want to say, fight on my friends.
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