Jeffrey Shaw: Empathy
The fantastic Jeffrey Shaw shares his insight into the word “Empathy”. Listen in on our conversation and enjoy learning from being a fly on the wall to our discussion.
The full transcript
Phil Jones: So here we are today for another episode of Words with Friends where I talk about a word with one of my friends. Today, we have the legend that is Jeffrey Shaw.
Jeffrey, welcome to the show.
Jeffrey Shaw: Hey Phil, it’s great to have some time with you. I love what you’re doing here. I think it’s a great concept, by the way.
Phil Jones: Well, it’s huge fun, right? Just to talk about one word. And so that anybody isn’t wondering what it is we’re talking about today, we are talking about the word of “empathy”, and in your world, you’re a business a coach, a consultant, a recovering photographer, perhaps even that thing too. Where does “empathy” fit into your world?
Jeffrey Shaw: It’s everything. Like to me, it’s the way to be in business today, right. I could it’s probably . . . there’s two ways to look at this, Phil, as you know. I’ve got such a business brain.
Well, even the tag line on my podcast, Creative Warriors, the tag is business with a soul. I can do the woo-woo dance with anyone, but at the same time, I’ve got a really good business brain, so I love to talk about empathy and the soft side of it and how it’s the right way to be in the world, but you know what, Phil? It’s also, I believe, one of your best leverage points in business today. I like it is the marketing tool in business today.That’s what I love about it. I love the fact that it’s both soulful, and it’s effective, and that, to me, is the secret of success. I don’t think it’s an either . . . I don’t think success is an either or. I don’t think we either have to choose to succeed . . . I don’t think we have to choose to be financially successful and a jerk or be really soulful but being a starving artist. I don’t think we have to choose, and I think a word like “empathy” kind of fits squarely in between and let us be both.
Phil Jones: Okay. So for this fear of not wanting to be woo-woo, using your words, help us understand what is meant by the word “empathy”, or what does it mean to you?
Jeffrey Shaw: So, to me, it’s pretty aligned with the clinical definition, if you will, is that empathy is the ability to identify with someone else’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes. It’s the ability to identify. Very different than sympathy. I have to say, some people collapse those two. They’re entirely different. Sympathy is to have sorrow for someone else where empathy is to identify . . . it was what stood out to me when looking at the clinical definition of empathy, the word identify was used, and I like that. I would say it’s even share.
So it’s one thing to identify, but true empathy, to me, is to some degree to share the similar feelings, attitudes of someone else, but that’s not to say you have to adopt them, and I think that’s important too.
Phil Jones: Okay, so where are there some examples in day-to-day life where you observe or witness other people maybe getting empathy wrong, maybe not having empathy?
Jeffrey Shaw: Gosh, I’m challenged to say that I think a lot of people get it wrong.
Phil Jones: Okay.
Jeffrey Shaw: Again, my world is in business, and we’re speaking in the middle of my work day, so my brain is in full business gear, and I think this is a huge problem in business. I think most businesses don’t have empathy for their . . . they’re out to execute. They’re out to execute an action plan or to execute their product or service that they’re offering, and not having empathy, and my point is if they had empathy, I believe they would gain greater devotion and retention amongst their clients, their customers.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of customers . . . . Let’s talk about one specific brand. TD Bank. I was absolutely intrigued by TD . . . is it okay to like pick on a brand here?
Phil Jones: Yeah, let’s do it. We’re just two friends talking about empathy, right?
Jeffrey Shaw: I don’t want to get sued or have all my accounts shut down at TD Bank, because I am a customer.
I had such respect for their initial ad campaign. I thought they were so cool. I thought they had a different perspective. They were all about not having the velvet rope lines that you stand behind. They made fun of the pens that were chained down. They had hours that were realistic, like they made fun of banks closing at 5:00 when it’s exactly when their ideal customer, entrepreneurs, and small business . . . that’s when they actually finishing working at best, and then would go to the bank.
They made fun of everything traditional we knew about banking. I thought they were spot on. I loved it. I became a customer because I wanted to support their mission, and now I’m a customer, and they don’t live up to the promise. Their technology is so behind in so many ways. They actually don’t have empathy, and it drives me crazy. I feel like their marketing team did a really good job . . . . Maybe their marketing team had empathy, but at best, I think they had cleverness because when you actually get into the business, I don’t think they did the work to really walk in my shoes as a customer because they have . . . their technology’s behind, and they have some really weird policies.
I went recently . . . my mom was redoing her will, and I just needed something notarized, and they couldn’t notarize something that was associated with a will, but I was able to walk down to Chase Bank, down the street, and they were able to do it.
Like, I’m a customer of this bank, and you can’t notarize this because it’s in some way attached to a will, and that’s a policy in their business.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of business either not put the effort into empathy, or they talk a good talk, but they don’t walk their talk.
Phil Jones: And I agree with you there. There’s dozens of examples where people say they do something but then don’t necessarily follow through with that belief, and it’s not just in the world of business, right? It happens with people. I guess in any given time, somebody who’d give themselves a fine reputation to live up to, but then don’t follow through on those kind of promises, and you and I both speak for a living. We hear a lot of times people comment of they’re one thing on the stage, but not necessarily the same when they’re off the stage.
Jeffrey Shaw: And look at the work you do, as I know you do to get the perspective, which to me, empathy and knowing one’s perspective are so closely related.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: You go through great effort to understand the perspective, which, to me, is an act of empathy. To understand the perspective of the audience you’re going to be speaking in front of. I know that you and all awesome speakers take that extra step to do that so that you can adapt your keynote with empathy to share the perspective.
And I think it’s important also, Phil, as I noted a minute ago, sharing or identifying in an empathetic way does not mean you have to adapt, or adopt is a better way to say it . . . adopt that attitude. It’s not agreement. We see this in our personal relationships. Hey, you’re married. I’ve been in and out of a few relationships, but you know, what’s important is that important in an intimate relationship, as it is in business, to have empathy, have an understanding of someone else’s perspective. There’s no way in any relationship you’re always going to agree or adopt that attitude, but man, if you want that relationship to last, you better, at least, have an empathetic understanding of that person’s perspective.
Phil Jones: And by empathy in that scenario, I guess you mean genuinely being able to see it from the other person’s point of view?
Jeffrey Shaw: Correct. See it. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but the empathetic act is to say, “I can see how you’re seeing it that way.”
Phil Jones: Okay.
Jeffrey Shaw: Start with that.
Phil Jones: And not even necessarily disagree with it, it’s just to accept that that’s the way you’re seeing it, and you see the world differently to what I see.
Jeffrey Shaw: I would guess that . . . this is totally my guess and experiential feeling on this that I think what blocks a lot of people is assumptions and judgments.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: Give a little context here. So, as you know, as a photographer for 30 years, I ended up photographing the wealthiest people in the United States. I carved out that space for myself. I was a family photographer for very wealthy families.
Now, I grew up lower-middle class at best and heard every stereotype about rich people you can imagine. The kids are raised by nannies. They have all the money in the world, but they’re not really happy.
Phil Jones: Yep.
Jeffrey Shaw: I remember my mom saying once something about, “Well, there’s a lot of rich people that actually stand in lines at soup kitchens, but they go to the backdoor because they don’t want anybody to know.” Like, where did she get this information?
So, that stuff can greatly alter your perspective and your ability to be empathetic for people you don’t know.
Thankfully, for whatever reason, I think, for me, it made me insanely curious and nonjudgmental. So when I started working with this clientele . . . . by the way, all those stereotypes I found out to be wrong, what could easily be a block, would be if you’re coming into your relationship building with someone, and you have assumptions, or you’re making judgments about them. That, to me, is the block of the ability to be empathetic.
Phil Jones: Okay. So this nonjudgmental attitude is the thing that I’m hearing coming through on so much of this is that we can have more empathy if we stop trying to put people in boxes, or we stop trying to say that all of those people are like all of that thing.
Jeffrey Shaw: Right.
Phil Jones: It’s actually truly taking the time or the curiosity, to use your words, to kind of peel back some layers and find out what’s really true.
Jeffrey Shaw: Well, look what’s going on now with me\millennials. I mean, it’s amazing to me when I read the content put online and the conversations I hear about people, but just broadcasting broad statements about millennials.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: And I’ve got three, and I think that they’re a fascinating generation, but the one that kills me is all millennials are entitled. I’m like, really? To me, they’re the first generation to have the balls to not settle.
Phil Jones: And I think even in all of those comments, though, is when we talk empathy, I was having a conversation in a line waiting for a plane. I do that a little bit too often, and the person in the line was having their rant about millennials, and this same entitled thing came out, etc. And in that very moment, I said, “You do realize my date of birth puts me at the very extremity of being a millennial, so am I entitled?”
Jeffrey Shaw: Yeah. Again, you can only . . . that perspective of millennials are entitled, I believe are coming from the perspective of the baby boomers, and I’m the last year of the baby boomer generation, 1964, so I’m also in the extremity of the generation, and I believe that attitude that millennials are entitled is coming from this older person’s perspective, this baby boomer’s perspective. I think there’s a little jealousy in there, right? I actually think there’s a little because, again, like I said, I think the millennial generation is the first generation to have the audacity to not settle.
Our parent’s generation settled on everything, and God bless them. Very noble generation. They stayed in jobs that made them miserable, but it brought a paycheck. They stayed in relationships because divorce wasn’t accepted.
Our generation . . . I refer to my generation anyway, kind of the later baby boomers, I kind of call us the sandwich generation because we were initially raised with the values of the generation before us, but we got halfway through our lives, and we’re like, “This isn’t panning out for me. I want more out of life than this.” And the millennials, I think, are the first generation, the whole YOLO thing, like, “Hey, we only live once, we might as well make it awesome.”
Phil Jones: Surely there’s risks involved here too of even talking about groups of people and then suggesting that everybody that falls into that group of people behaves in a certain way because my belief would be that in every generation, there are people that are entitled, people that are hardworking, people that are go-getters, people that are prepared to work hard, people that have love and compassion in their hearts. And age or date of birth has zero impact or effect on where those things are, so how do we get to be more empathetic in our lives? How do we get to have more empathy?
If I’m listening to this right now, and I’m thinking, “Hey, I’d like to have more empathy. I do care. I say that I care, but perhaps there are too many examples in my mind where I have that level of judgment. How do I make moves to find more empathy in my life?
Jeffrey Shaw: You know, I would say gain as many perspectives as you can in your life which means, to me, live as diversified a life as you can. It’s hard to have empathy for the other if you only know a small sliver of existence.
Before I wrote my book, somebody offered me a really confrontational question, but thankfully I didn’t take it as confrontational, but I was in a mastermind, and another member of the mastermind said, “What gives you the authority to write this book?”
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: And I loved the question actually because at first, it did hit me a little confrontational because I immediately collapsed under my own insecurities that I don’t have a PhD. I don’t have a college . . . I don’t have a degree. As soon as you hear authority, I’m thinking, “What does give me the authority?”
And actually, my real quick response was, “I’ve lived on the opposite sides of many fences.” I grew up lower-middle class and served the wealthiest people. I suffered terrible, paralyzing shyness until my mid 20s, and now, the bigger the stage, the better. I was straight. I was a straight man up to the age of 44, came out as a gay man at 44. That gives you . . . believe me, all those changes in life give you the ability to have empathy for others because you’ve walked in a lot of other people’s shoes, so I think the best thing you can do is live a diversified life.
I live in Miami Beach which is predominately Latin, and it’s one of the things I love about being here because I’m the minority, middle aged white man, like I’m so the minority down here. I love the fact . . . and I don’t speak Spanish. I love the fact that I’m the odd one out because I love putting myself in situations, continually putting myself in situations where there is diversity because that enables you to have empathy, and I think it’s one of the . . . it’s causing our world a whole lot problems right now to not allow more diversity.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: The whole idea of shutting down borders scares the daylights out of me because it’s like we want to get to know people unlike ourselves to expand our ability to have empathy.
Phil Jones: So we’re talking about like a quest for understanding? Is that what empathy is? Is it like this relentless ability to say, “No, no, no, let me understand your point of view. Let me understand where you’re coming from?” Is that the . . .
Jeffrey Shaw: Again, what I love about your whole concept here is you and I, and I can think of probably a lot of people, we could take apart one word at a time. The word “understanding” has me a little hung up in that because, again, I don’t want to understand someone else’s point of view. I don’t want that to collapse into agreement.
Phil Jones: Ah.
Jeffrey Shaw: To say you understand someone’s point of view does not mean you have to agree with it, but it is having empathy. If you were they, standing in their shoes, could you at least come to a level of understanding as to how they formed their opinion or where they’re coming from?
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: It’s a transference almost.
Phil Jones: Okay. And I guess in like as a polarized a world as we currently live in, the ability to have more of this could be kind of useful, right? Where might this help?
Jeffrey Shaw: I think . . . looking at the feuding between religions. You could break it down in so many ways. It really is rooted, to me, in a lack of understanding how they formed that opinion. As extreme as an opinion might be, can we take the time to understand the formation of that? The historical accumulation of information that led to that perspective because if you could at least empathize . . . again, you may not agree. I may not agree, and I certainly don’t agree with the way some people express their beliefs, but man, it’s valuable to at least have an understanding, and I think there’s a whole . . . I don’t want to be too global about it, but I think there could be a hope for world peace if we had more empathy for one another. More like, “Hey, I accept your point of view. I may not agree with it. I don’t like the way you execute it, but I get it.”
Phil Jones: Okay.
Jeffrey Shaw: I believe that’s valuable.
Phil Jones: And the strange thing is the word itself, it doesn’t get used very often. It doesn’t get talked about it. It isn’t something that’s like a hot topic buzz word like “innovation” or “influence” or these words that get thrown around at every conference we attend. There isn’t, “Our theme this year is ‘empathy’.” Why is empathy not sexy?
Jeffrey Shaw: Well let’s bring it back to being sexy, and that’s what you’re doing. That’s the point of your show.
You know, I’m always amazed how often, when I talk about empathy, people somehow collapse it into sympathy, and yet they’re worlds apart in meaning, really. So I think it’s just because of a lack of conversation around empathy, which I do think is increasing.
On my podcast, I’ve had a couple of guests that, in one way or another, have brought up the topic of empathy. Even, actually one of my own coaching clients, it’s through my digging in and trying to get to her core perspective and her core message, I came up with the terminology empathetic intelligence.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: And I quickly Googled it and found that’s not hardly used, which to me, is a good thing. It’s not like it doesn’t exist. I didn’t know if empathetic intelligence would even exist as a term, and what I found is it does exist. So that excites me because this way, my client, my coaching client, can kind of jump on the bandwagon of something that already exists as opposed to breaking new ground.
We have emotional intelligence. We talked about emotional intelligence. We talk about smart, book intelligence, but we don’t talk about empathetic intelligence. So, I actually think this is a new thing, and this is where I’m guiding my coaching clients. I think there’s a whole model around bringing the idea of empathetic intelligence to light because I think while many of us can . . . by the way, I just want to side bar here, I just said, “I think.” I’m trying so hard to change that in my life, one word at a time. I want to say I believe ’cause this has more commitment to it, so I believe empathetic intelligence can be and should be a much bigger part of our conversation in moving forward.
I think we . . . I believe we may come into the world at different levels of empathy, but it’s a learned skill as well. We can learn to be more empathetic.
Phil Jones: Okay. Now, we live in a world right now where people are almost challenged, pushed, pressured to hustle, to grind, to achieve, to be a big self-achiever, to win, to be a winner, etc. In some ways, doesn’t that create a conflict to empathy when winning might, in some ways, create a position of isolation or selfishness?
Jeffrey Shaw: Great question. First of all, I don’t think it’s an either/or. I’m pretty sure that, although it’s very preliminary in thought, I’m pretty sure my next book is going to be about paradoxes. I love paradoxes. I’m fascinated by them. We live in such a black and white world.
I used to use a quote on a previous blog of mine that went something like, “Clarity is the fearless union of conflicting ideas.”
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: I didn’t know I was talking about paradox when I wrote that all those years ago, but that’s exactly it. It’s like what’s the sweet spot in between because, yes, if . . . there’s a way of being in the world and being in business, in a way that lacks empathy that might get you to where you want to go for a while. Right?
We see plenty of companies brought down by the eventual exposure of their lack of empathy, right? To me, that was what happened at Uber. Former CEO came out with a very strong political stance against immigration, and not having empathy for the fact that a good percentage of Uber drivers are immigrants. So it was such a break in empathy that millions of people couldn’t tolerate, and abandoned the app, and I was certainly one of the first in line to like, that’s out of alignment for me and my values, and what I think the values of the company, how it’s aligned with its drivers, so I stopped using them. They did. They lost millions of subscribers. They’re doing okay, but they lost a lot of brand loyalty in that event.
Phil Jones: One of the reasons I picked you to talk about this word is when I stumbled across this, your book, Lingo, which is fundamentally a business book, and its subtitle is to discover the ideal customer’s . . . your idea customer’s secret language and make your business irresistible.
And it sounds like a typical kind of business book, and I was reading through it, getting some great ideas and some great strategies for me and for some of my clients, but the one underlying feeling that I could get through it was this: you have to care about what the people you care about care about. And then that very thought reminded me of being in the audience of another great speaker, a guy called Jon Acuff, and Jon Acuff gave the definition of empathy as, “Well, what empathy is, is caring about what the people you care about, care about.”
Now that sounds like super fluffy, right? It sounds like yeah, but . . . like take your Uber scenario right now, what we’re looking at it is we’re looking at saying, “Well actually, you should care about all of your stakeholders, drivers, customers, consumers, potential future customers, in fact, everybody who could be one, therefore any level of discrimination or failing to care about what those people may go on to care about could result in adverse effects.”
In your book here, though, you’re saying that one of the things we have to have an understanding of in life if we want to discover our ideal customer’s secret language, we got to get inside their head. How do we do that? How do we think more like our consumers as opposed to just say that we think? Because I read on websites every day like, “We pride ourselves on our customer service.” And other nonsensical sets of words.
How do we physically do this? Because I think, when pushed, if we ask somebody like, “Do you have empathy?” The answer is, “Well, yes, of course.” And, “Do you see yourself as empathetic?” “Well, yes, of course I do.” Yet, we’re still seeing a huge shortage of it being demonstrated in the real world.
So how do I go about having more of this? What might be some steps I could take even in a business context that would allow me to go out and impart my empathy as such?
Jeffrey Shaw: Cool. It’s for the very reason of writing the book that the word “empathy” really became important to me because, just of the subtitle, “discover your ideal customer’s secret language”. As soon as I started referring to it as a “secret language”, which was my experience when I kind of unearthed this fantastic marketing strategy 30 years ago, and I refer to it as a “secret language”. By the mere fact it was called the “secret language”, my concern in writing the book is that people were going to see this as manipulative.
So my editor, in her wonderful wisdom, had said to me, she wanted me to make . . . before I wrote the book, I made a list of objections. What are all the things somebody could object to in the reading of this book, before I wrote it, so I could address those potential objections, and the number one fear for me is that people were going to interpret this marketing and branding book as being clever, as being manipulative because you’re getting into psychographics. You’re getting into somebody’s mindset and their head space, and I was afraid that I would be interpreted as somebody that supported that type of manipulation.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: So I had to answer for myself . . . I had to answer how that was not the case, and what I realized is it’s coming from a place of empathy. It’s not coming from a place of being clever or manipulative. It’s coming from a true effort of empathy, so one of the things . . . there are five strategic steps I offer in the book that I refer to as “the five steps of developing the secret language”.
Number one is perspective. Just me, you just can’t move past go until you have literally stood in the shoes of your ideal customer. What’s so important about this is it’s probably not who you are today. Most business are serving people with a product or a service, their ideal customer is not necessarily who they are today.
For example, they may be solving a problem that they’ve grown away from, and they created something that solves that problem, so they’re no longer the person with the problem, but can you have empathy for the person who’s still experiencing that problem for which you have a solution.
So we’re always, I believe, as creators and entrepreneurs, we’re always typically a shift away from those we’re serving. Just like we were talking about millennials. You might be creating something to serve the millennials, but you’re not longer a millennial yourself. So you’re just a shift away, so it’s imperative you understand their perspective in a nonjudgmental, without assumption sort of way.
Another specific example, which I think is extremely powerful, I talk about it in the book, is understanding the deeper need of your ideal customer. This, to me, is the most empathetic act because the deeper need is knowing what your ideal customer wants that they don’t know to ask for.
Now think about this in your personal relationships. I know you’re a married guy. Is it not true that when you do something for your wife that makes a big impression on her that she didn’t even know to ask for, but you were a step ahead of her, is that not the biggest home run in a relationship?
Phil Jones: It’s like the greatest of wins.
Jeffrey Shaw: Absolutely, and to know what that is. And by the way, I tie this in for those that are familiar with the book, The Five Love Languages, I honor the book, Five Love Languages, in my book because that was foundational to me as a parent in the early 90s when I read that book, because I had three kids . . . I still have three kids . . . I had three kids at the time, and each of them had a different love language, and I realized I was trying to parent them all with one language, the language that was comfortable for me, but they were three different languages. After reading that book, I realized that I needed to speak to each of them of little differently in order to make them feel loved.
In business, we’re sort of talking about that. That to me, is what empathy is. Empathy is a love language where you are stepping up and in finding out what the deeper need of your customers that they don’t know to ask for, but touches them deeply when you accomplish something for them a step ahead of their even asking for it.
Phil Jones: I love that though. Empathy is a love language. What a cool way of looking at it, and looking for a deeper need. So we’re you’re talking perspective, it isn’t just what does it look like from their point of view, it’s what does it feel like?
Jeffrey Shaw: Feel like.
Phil Jones: From their point of view.
Jeffrey Shaw: Can I give you a specific example in my own business?
Phil Jones: Yeah.
Jeffrey Shaw: So as a photographer, right? So I separate the two by the acknowledged need and deeper need. So there’s an acknowledged need. People have an acknowledged need when they reach out to a photographer. They want photographs to hang on their wall. They want holiday cards. There’s a specific acknowledged need.
I always brush that . . . I listen to people’s acknowledged need. I’m like, that’s . . . there was a joke in my business. I had a staff of like four or five in a back room, and I would often go in the backroom. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to give them . . . .” How did I say it? It was . . . I would say, “I’m going to ignore what they think they want, and I’m going to give them what I want to give them.” Right?
And it sounds obnoxious, but the fact of the matter is, I was so committed to giving their deeper need, I almost brushed off their acknowledged need. “Yeah, I want photographs of my family.” Yeah, that’s what they want. I wanted to stop them in their tracks every time they walked down the hallway and brought tears to their eyes.
Nobody ever contacted me and said, “Jeff, I’d like you to make me cry when I look at photographs of my children five years from now.” They just wanted something in that moment. I had a deeper need for them, and I stayed committed to that.
I also came to understand with this affluent clientele that I served that their deeper need that no one would ever know to ask for, my role to them was to help them be responsible parents because when you . . . here’s what I had to learn when I understood their perspective. When you have money, money is no longer an excuse, right?
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: So, they can’t ivy league two of their kids and send the third one to community college. It’s not an excuse. You can’t, with regards to being a photographer, there was no excuse to them to have tons of photographs of the first child and nothing of the second and third child, right?
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: So I upheld the standard to help my clients be incredibly responsible in their lives. I made sure that all their kids were photographed at the same time in their lives, that each child had the same number of photographs on display, so no child would ever have to say, “Hey, how come there more photographs of my older brother than me?”
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: Because, at their heart, I felt their deepest need was to show up in the world and be able to turn to their kids and feel like they were the most responsible parents they could be. That was their highest value.
Phil Jones: And the example of this deeper need exist in dozens of other areas, right? So even Steve Jobs, right? Steve Jobs was famous for saying, “It’s not my customer’s responsibility . . . .” I’m getting an echo back here right now. Are you getting an echo?
Jeffrey Shaw: No, I’m not. No.
Phil Jones: Okay, we’re going to run on regardless. So, he would say that, “It’s not my customer’s responsibility to know what they want.” And Henry Ford was famous to say, “That if I listened to my customers, I’d have tried to make a faster horse.”
Jeffrey Shaw: Exactly.
Phil Jones: And I think sometimes the empathy can be all about the heart, but sometimes it’s about the head, right? Is that what we’re getting to here as well? Is there’s some logic here, and there’s some emotion, but it’s the blending of the two.
Jeffrey Shaw: Right. I think it kind of goes hand in hand. Right? There’s a feeling of their emotions, and there’s a commitment to doing what you know is best for them. But that’s where the head comes in. There’s a level of commitment.
Phil Jones: A while ago, you talked about this is a marketing strategy, and the very challenge of marketing strategy, as a set of words, would suggest that this is for your benefit. And there’s an irony attached to that, right?
Jeffrey Shaw: Yeah. Well, let’s just say, you can get twisted. I am so particular about words in my business. I don’t allow the terminology of marketing funnel in my business. We don’t talk about marketing to customers. We refer … In our business, we refer to it as how to we invite and enroll people into our world.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: And I don’t use a model of marketing funnel. I use a model of concentric circles because I want to take people from the outer rings of those circles and continually bring them a circle closer until, where do they end up? At the core. They end up in the center, or you can just say the center of the heart. It just visually . . . so any sales, what one would normally call sales funnel, marketing funnel, online sequences . . . if you were to see, and my office is decorated with a lot of hand-drawn charts all over the walls, they’re all circular. Because I want to embrace the overall feeling of what it means to bring people closer to me, not squeezing them through a small hole, which is what a funnel represents.
So, I’m very picky about the usage of words. So yeah, you can get kind of twisted, but again, I think the . . . if your act of empathy is clean, I actually think . . . I wrote an article years ago for Huffington Post on whether you show up salesy or committed. I think you have a tremendous amount of latitude when your empathy is clean, when your desire to understand someone from an empathetic point of view, when it’s clean. I think you actually gain latitude to show up pretty aggressively committed, and it will feel committed to their betterment, than salesy.
Phil Jones: Right. I like that.
Jeffrey Shaw: You are the sales guy. You know how that feels, right? There’s a big difference. Like somebody can show up salesy and feel really salesy. Somebody can show up aggressively selling themselves in a way, but it feels completely committed to your wellbeing and energetically feels entirely different.
Phil Jones: Because it’s committed to purpose, because it’s laced in care.
Jeffrey Shaw: Correct. It’s laced in empathy.
Phil Jones: And you could say the empathy is to show that you care. You could say that it’s to say that you care, but it’s probably to do nothing more than to just care, right? It’s about being a decent human.
Jeffrey Shaw: And as you said a moment ago, as you set up this question, that why did I say in the beginning I think this is the most important marketing leveraging tool we have today is because the conversation in marketing for years now has been buyer personas and avatars and demographics and behavior. All great. I’m grateful those things got us to where we are. I just don’t think it’s enough. I think people are going to, in the future are going to require more than you knowing their stats or even their behaviors, and for that matter, even a general profile.
At the end of the day, and I say this repeatedly in my book, Lingo, I say repeatedly what people need to feel, which comes from, I believe, a place of empathy. They need to feel like you get them. When people feel like, “Man, this business, this brand, gets me.” You can charge a premium price because people will almost throw their criteria of expense out the window for the value of feeling like this person gets me.
Phil Jones: You get me. Got it.
And we come back around to something I do with all my speeches which is to . . . well genuinely, my goal in the first 90 seconds of any speech I get is that every audience member can say in their mind’s eye, “He gets me.”
Jeffrey Shaw: Yes.
Phil Jones: So my goal is to achieve the “show me you know me” criteria. That’s what I’m looking for.
Jeffrey Shaw: Love that.
Phil Jones: Is to get them from unfolded to open is, “He gets me.” That’s the goal we’re looking for. I guess, as I’m scribbling notes here listening to you right now is the most beautiful thing about putting effort into empathy is you don’t need another strategy. You don’t need to have to make up a new one next month. It’s not about having the next thing.
And neither do you need to look over your shoulder and think, “Well, what did I do? What do I need to repeat?” You can’t mess it up, really. And even when do, people let you off.
Jeffrey Shaw: Yeah. And that’s the crazy thing. That’s what I’m saying. The whole goal . . . I shouldn’t say the whole goal, but certainly, the big goal of my writing Lingo was I want businesses to work with their ideal customers because I have determined, in my opinion, it is the fastest route to a successful and fulfilling life.
Like to not clutter up your life by just taking whatever work can come along, but to really do the work, the empathetic work of understanding the perspective and lifestyle of your ideal customer, and then build a business that speaks to that, right?
The result of that is, as you had just said, it is amazing how easy business becomes. As humans, we seem to be wired for hard.
Phil Jones: Right?
Jeffrey Shaw: And if you take the time to have an empathetic understanding of your ideal customers, you speak their secret language, you build a brand that communicates that. It is amazing how easy it is for people to show up, and they show up aligned heart-to-heart with your value system, with what you believe, and again, another reason why this is such an important tool is, together, you create value greater than the expectation of either party because when you put two huge forces coming together, you and your customers, those two forces come together with a foundation of empathy and a desire to create exceptional value, you’re going to raise the bar.
Phil Jones: Gotcha.
Jeffrey Shaw: As you know, I just recently gave a TEDx talk, and that’s how my TEDx talk actually ties into this is because we can only achieve the levels of greatness in our own lives to the degree of the boundaries, if you will, of our own predetermined expectations.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: Right? The way for us to raise higher levels is to surround ourselves with people who see more in us than we see in ourselves, and when you have empathy for your ideal customers, your ideal customers show up in your world. They see more in you than you might see in yourself. Next thing you know, everybody’s rising up. It’s a beautiful thing, Phil. It’s like life made easy.
Phil Jones: It’s life made easy, and I think that’s where I kind of want to try and wrap this back around for people listening. There is nothing that we’ve talked about today that I don’t think people won’t have agreement on. If they’re listening in on our conversation, they’d be like, “Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.”
Yet, it’s still so overwhelming, so I’m going to throw you a challenge with absolutely no preparation. This is “Words with Friends”. There’s no script here. I want you to come up with, or let’s see what we can do together, some form of affirmation or mantra or something people can perhaps look to memorize, think about, stick it on a fridge magnet, write it on their wall, stick it in the diary, that helps them live life with a touch more empathy. What could that be? A handful of words.
Jeffrey Shaw: Well, okay, let me see if this works for you because this is my morning affirmation, and by the way, the last third of Lingo is kind of a self-help book. The last part of it is about daily practices and mindsets, and one of the things I speak about are affirmations, which, hey, we talk about a lot in the world of affirmations, but people don’t stick to them.
People stick with affirmations like they stick to antibiotics. The doctors tell you, you’ve got to see the bottle of antibiotics through to the end, or you’re going to get the virus. Well, affirmations are the same thing. People with it to a degree, and then when it starts working, they stop doing them.
So my affirmation, which I think, I never thought about it having an empathetic flavor to it, but my morning affirmation, currently, which has been for several months now . . . this is actually really personal. I can’t believe I’m sharing this. It’s my own affirmation in my head, but I repeat this as I’m walking my dogs for 45 minutes in the morning. In the back of my mind, I am saying to myself, “I am loved and acknowledged by a world that I love and acknowledge.”
Phil Jones: I’m loved and acknowledged by a world that I love and acknowledge.
Jeffrey Shaw: Right. I am the first one to say that my biggest hangup in my own success is feeling invisible, and boy we could have a whole therapy session as to why that is, and I do understand why, but I feel like I can work really hard, wave my hands in the air loud and high, and I just seem to be invisible. That’s my hangup in life.
And what I realize is I need this affirmation, but it’s not a one-way street. I can’t just say, “I want to be loved and acknowledged.” Of course I do. I want to be loved. I want to be acknowledged for the work I do. I do, but it’s not a one-way street. It only comes in return for me having love and acknowledge for the world around me, and I realize that was, I believe, the hold up because I’m at my essence, a pretty shy person, and you know, you can’t go through life not loving the people around you, having empathy for them. You can’t go through life without acknowledging the beautiful day and the people around you and expect to be acknowledged in return.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jeffrey Shaw: So, to me, it ties into . . . that is my mantra for empathy because the act of acknowledging and loving others and having empathy, allows me to believe and trust that I will get all that I need and fulfill my life and heart in return.
Phil Jones: That’s beautiful. Jeff, I have a question for you really before we get into my final question. I’m guessing we’ve piqued some curiosity about the world of Jeffrey Shaw, and I’m guessing people that have been a fly on the wall to our conversation are probably thinking, “How do I find out more about you? What do I get towards this book? Where do people find out more? What other kind of things are you involved in? How might you be able to talk into their lives in some way? What’s Jeffrey Shaw about?
Jeffrey Shaw: So, jeffreyshaw.com is probably the best place to start. You’ll find everything there. My podcast, “Creative Warriors”. I am . . . as you are, I’m pretty constant in what I believe and what I stand on, which one can call a platform, which by the way, speaking of words, we could do a whole show on the word platform. I love the duality of the meaning of platform. It’s what we stand on as speakers, but it’s also our platform of values. I love the word platform.
That jeffreyshaw.com is a representation of my platform, as well as all my social media links because I’m pretty active there, so that’s the best place to find me.
Phil Jones: Awesome. And I highly recommend the book. It’s a great read for anybody that’s in business looking to try and get more business and do it from a position of heart.
Jeffrey, I have a final question I ask everybody on the show, and it’s what’s your favorite word and why?
Jeffrey Shaw: My favorite word is “unleashed”, and it is surprising how long . . . I actually did some work with Evan Carmichael? You know Evan?
Phil Jones: I don’t know Evan, no.
Jeffrey Shaw: Oh my gosh. I’m looking over there because I have book here. It’s Your One Word is his book. How could you not know each other, considering your messages. It just occurred me. Evan Carmichael, Your One Word. You have to reach out to him.
And it was actually after reading his book and then interviewing him on my podcast, I realized my one word is “unleashed” and it’s because that truly is what I … I want to unleash people from their judgments and assumptions that keep them from being empathetic for others. I want to unleash creative entrepreneurs from feeling they have to do business in a typical way. I want them to do businesses in a way that are aligned to their hearts and souls and their creative selves. So, yeah, “unleashed” is my one word.
Phil Jones: Awesome. Awesome. Well fingers crossed as a result listening in to us today that people are going to go out and unleash more empathy on the world. So, Jeffrey Shaw, it’s a been a privilege. Look forward to catching up with some more drinks and bump into you down in Miami Beach. If not, somewhere on the road.
Jeffrey Shaw: I hope so.
Phil Jones: Jeff, thanks for joining in.
Jeffrey Shaw: Thanks Phil. Bye.