By THE GRIO AGENCY
We started this show because our vision at the grio agency is a world with more empathetic leaders, organizations and brands. And we hope that you will come along with us on this journey, and that together we can make the work a more empathetic place.
EMPATHY-LEDMay 30, 2023
THE POWER OF GRATITUDE TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Who comes to mind when you think of the people whose love, kindness, generosity or support shaped or even changed the entire trajectory of your life? The people who invested and in poured into you so you can become the best version of yourself. The ones who believed in you long before you believed in yourself. Those who showed you a love so powerful and so unconditional that it scared you at first because you didn’t know that such love existed or that you were worthy of it. Micheal knows firsthand the power of having someone in your corner who believes in you more than you believe in yourself. After a successful professional soccer career playing for Charleston Battery, then Seattle Sounders FC, Colorado Rapids Soccer Club, Montreal Impact, and Chicago Fire FC, Micheal founded the Azira Foundation in 2020 as a way to pay his debt of gratitude to his benefactor(s), whose love and support can only be repaid by paying it forward. The Azira Foundation is on a mission to give children in Uganda access to education, nutrition and character development. Their vision is to serve as a beacon of hope for the children and the community they serve, and as example to inspire us all to also find ways to practice the highest form of gratitude: PAYING IT FORWARD.
Lear more about Micheal Azira https://www.linkedin.com/in/azira-mic... Support the foundation https://azirafoundation.com/
THE MAKING OF A BRAND
The biggest lesson I've learned from Tony Hsieh, the late founder of Zappos, is that brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. Tony understood, better than most, that your brand is a cumulative expression of everything you say and do, and ultimately, it is defined by how you show up in the world. Without a culture to support, uphold and deliver on your company values and promises, you can't possibly build a great brand. Bill is one of those rare leaders that understand how to build a great brand. He's built an entire career crafting two amazing brands Focus Lab and Odi, and rebranding some of the most successful B2B companies in the world, including Adobe Marketo, Salesloft, Zuora, Braze, Outreach, LaunchDarkly, Twilio, Adobe, ASAPP, Luminate, Netflix, and Shopify, among others. In this episode, we talked about the kind of clarity, intentionality, and consistency required to build great brands. We talked about the opportunity that brands in the B2B space have to show up in the world with more humanity and empathy since those who do are so few and far between. I asked Bill a closing question about how he wanted to be described and remembered as a leader. His answer could be summarized with "caring".
Learn more about Focus Lab https://focuslab.agency/ Odi https://odibrand.agency/
THE POWER OF PURPOSE
Entrepreneurship, for me, has been a spiritual journey– a quest to find the truest expression of who I am and the contribution I want to make in the world. It’s a means to leverage my passions, gifts and talents to advance causes that I find meaningful and exciting. When I first met Julius, it quickly became obvious that he, too, treated entrepreneurship as a spiritual journey. And our connection was immediate. Julius is one of those entrepreneurs with whom I share the fundamental belief that the purpose of a company is to enhance the human experience. Products, services and companies are worthless, in and of themselves, because they only gain value in the context of people’s lives. So the challenge for every entrepreneur is to understand that context, then to design products, services and experiences that reflect that level of empathy for those they seek to serve. Creating more human and authentic experiences is the throughline that stitches together Julius’ work. At MUA, his latest venture, he explores the power of reflection, introspection and mindfulness to transform people’s relationship with their work and change companies’ cultures in the process. In our conversation, we talked about finding one’s purpose in life, and letting that purpose guide and inform how we choose to show up in this world and the kind of contribution we want to make.
To learn more about Julius https://www.juliusgeis.com/ To learn more about MUA https://www.wemua.com/
THE POWER OF STORIES
Given the immense power of art, fashion, music, film and advertising in pop culture, artists and marketers may have more power than lawmakers and politicians to change our world. However, they first have to accept the responsibility to tell diverse and authentic stories; uphold ideals of equity and fairness; fight for representation in every room and on every stage. As a spoken word poet, filmmaker, and adman, my guest Ndukwe Onuoha has certainly accepted this responsibility. In this episode, we talked about his various contributions to this important mission. We reflected on Africa’s place and being African in the context of the modern world. We discussed how to best raise the next generation of independent thinkers, leaders and change agents.
To learn more about him and his work https://ndukwe.co.uk/
CHAMPIONING HUMAN STORIES
Trust takes time to build. But when you're a qualitative researcher, like Susan (Rubenstein) Collin , you're not always afforded the luxury of time. You have to jumpstart and fast track the trust process with interviewees; people with whom you'll only have a fleeting relationship. Hers is one of those jobs where you constantly have to flex your empathy muscles to build connection fast; to understand others' world and, at times, even inhabit it; to escape your egocentric bias in order to hear others' truths and let the Truth emerge from your research. During our conversation Sue walked us through how she accomplishes this seemingly impossible feat and what she's learned about people in the process. Susan Collin, spends a lot of time thinking about people-- whether it's personal, business or the fleeting relationships she has with participants for qualitative research during in-depth interviews and focus groups. After many years doing quantitative research at her company RTi Research, she switched to the qualitative side and now serves as the Senior Vice President, Director of Qualitative Services. While most people either identify as left or right brain, she is highly analytical and fluent in people. It's a rare, and powerful, combination. Her left and right brain synergy was evident during our conversation.
To learn more about Susan Collin https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancollin/ To learn more about RTi Research https://rtiresearch.com/
TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE
In this episode with Jonny, we talked about life as a parent, partner and business owner, and the importance of looking after ourselves and protecting our energy. We talked how to build an empathetic culture; the kind they have at his company Seed, where they live by the mantra "Be useful. Be Kind" Finally, Jonny made a compelling case for how to solve one the greatest challenges of our time: climate change. Jonny believes that to get to Net Zero we need creativity. We need to understand and empathize with our audiences in order so to create campaigns and deliver content that have a better chance of motivating people to lead more sustainable lives.
Empathy Led S2 Episode 8
To learn more about Jonny https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonprest/ To learn more about Seed https://seedcreativity.co.uk/
GIVING VETERANS A HERO'S WELCOME HOME
In this episode with Curtis Drafton, we talked about life growing up as a Cuban African-American and how his roots and family values prepared him for a life of service.
After serving in the military, Curtis returned home to challenges that many veterans face, ultimately experiencing homelessness for a few months. After putting his life back together, he founded the US Veteran Hall Fame to help give his fellow veterans the hero’s homecoming and support they deserve.
My conversation with Curtis is full of shocking and heartbreaking insights into how challenging that transition can be for many veterans, as well as what we can do, as individuals and businesses, to serve those to whom we owe our freedom and privileges upon their return home.
To learn more about Curtis
To learn more about the Veterans Hall of Fame
THE POWER OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT
In this episode, our conversation with Ronnie Quillen took us across various topics, from psychology, neuroscience, storytelling, marketing, and advertising, to the unbreakable nature of the human spirit.
Ronnie is a master storyteller who is driven and fascinated by the seemingly unlimited power of the human spirit. Ronnie founded a media company, turned marketing agency, to tell stories of limit breakers-- those constantly pushing and redefining the boundaries to the human potential.
Through his company Limit Breaker Media Inc, Ronnie is on a mission to curate stories that celebrate the incredible power of the human spirit and inspire us to find and push past our own perceived limitations.
There are wonderful insights and practical nuggets in this episode about the power of empathy and storytelling to make us better entrepreneurs, marketers and leaders.
To learn more about Limit Break Media Inc
EMPATHY MAKES THE COMPLEX SIMPLE
In this episode with Marc Gibson, we talked about #technology: its fundamental purpose and incredible evolution over the years, as well as how it powers our lives and businesses today.
We talked about #entrepreneurship and how, fundamentally, business is about risk management– making the best of the opportunities others often can’t see or aren’t brave enough to seize, while also protecting ourselves from ruin by capping the downsize-- to borrow the finance term.
Finally, we talked about leadership, and the role of a leader to cast a clear vision and assemble a team willing to contribute their gifts, talents and passion in pursuit of that common goal. In the process, Marc highlighted the importance of remembering and understanding the humanity of those in our charge so we can best align their needs and aspirations with those of the business. That’s empathy-led.
To learn more about DTHREE TECHNOLOGIES
STILLNESS IS KEY TO EMPATHY
Stillness is key. In that space of heightened awareness lies our opportunity to choose what deserves our attention and to choose our response to external stimuli. In that space we also learn to be more empathetic and more creative because empathy and creativity both require that we suspend our judgment in order to seek understanding and truth. In this episode with Tim Elliott, we talked about his journey to finding stillness and how this new found skill bleeds in every aspect of his work and life. Tim is a facilitator, a speaker, Ultra and trail runner and a climate reality leader from Derby England. He spent the first 25 years of his career working with leaders and leadership teams in the creative services industry as a brand and marketing strategist. Today his work is still firmly embedded in the world of creativity but he now believes that it's not enough to use creativity to sell stuff, we have to use it to change stuff.
Learn more about Tim https://www.linkedin.com/in/timelliottuk/
Learn more about climate reality project https://www.climaterealityeurope.org/
Learn more about The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) https://www.thecalmzone.net/
LEAVE NO ABILITY BEHIND
In this episode, we sit down with Anessa Powell, a passionate advocate for people with disabilities in the workplace. Anessa has extensive experience working in the field of disability rights and has dedicated her career to creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces for people with disabilities.
She shares her personal story of overcoming barriers and discrimination, and offers valuable insights and strategies for employers and employees alike on how to create more inclusive and welcoming workplaces.
Whether you're an employer looking to diversify your workforce or an employee with a disability seeking to advance your career, this episode is a must-listen. Anessa provides actionable advice and a wealth of resources for anyone looking to promote greater inclusion and equity in the workplace.
Join us as we explore the important topic of disability rights and learn from one of the leading voices in the field.
To learn more about Anessa
To learn more about AllAbility Recruiting
FIVE STEPS TO EMPATHY
In this episode with Rob Volpe, we got very practical about how to become more empathetic.
Rob is an astute observer of life and a master storyteller who brings empathy and compassion to the human experience. As CEO of Ignite 360, he leads a team of insights, strategy, and creative professionals serving the world’s leading brands across a range of industries. He is the author of Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time, which I absolutely recommend to every human being I encounter.
As a thought leader in the role of empathy in marketing and the workplace, he is a contributor to Entrepreneur’s Leadership Network and frequently speaks on the topic at conferences, corporations, colleges, podcasts and with the media.
He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and lives in San Francisco with his husband and 3 cats.
Empathy is a skill that requires practice and Rob offered practical steps each of us can take in every encounter to become a little more empathetic.
1. Suspend your judgement
2. Listen actively
3. Ask great questions
4. Integrate knowledge through understanding
5. Use solution imagination
Listen to the episode and, most importantly, pick up a copy of the book to understand what each of these steps means.
To learn more about Rob
To order a copy of his book
To learn more about his company Ignite 360
THE MAKING OF A GREAT CITY
In this episode, Michael Smith, CEO of the Charlotte Center City Partners, shared with us the key ingredients required to build a great city. And he would know since his organization is largely responsible for turning Charlotte into the attractive, vibrant and dynamic city it has become over the past 20 years.
To build a city where people can live, grow and thrive while feeling like they belong, Michael says it's important to start with values and to not compromise on those values. He added that it requires empathy to understand people's needs, wants and aspirations so you can build a city where people can hear and see themselves represented.
More about Michael Smith
More about the Charlotte Center City Partners
THE POWER OF BUILDING COMMUNITY
In this episode, we had an amazing conversation with Jeni Bukolt, founder of Haven Creative where it's their mission to create community inside and around companies. Jeni talks about the power of empathy and storytelling to build great organizations and brands. She believes that all problems within organizations are communications problems and that once you get people talking, collaborating and working together, you're not only able to build high performing teams but also strong cultures.
To learn more about Haven Creative visit https://havencreativeagency.com/
Find Jeni on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenibukolt/
grio is a brand consultancy in Charlotte, North Carolina and we are on a mission to help companies find their souls– who they are and who they serve, why they exist and what distinguishes them. Whether your company is looking for market fit, growth, or reinvention, our empathy-led approach to branding and marketing will help you transition from one phase of your business to the next.
MAXIMIZE CUSTOMER PROFIT
Although maximizing business profit should be the same as increasing customer value, it only is in theory. In practice, maximizing business value often comes at the cost of customer value. However, that's often shortsighted. To scale and grow in a sustainable way, companies have to be intentional in aligning business and customer value. To that end, at grio, we challenge our clients to focus on maximizing customer profit.
THE POWER OF BELONGING
In this episode, we had a conversion with HR and diversity expert Kamella Emmanuel. From her years as a British diplomat traveling the world and as an executive coach, Kamella reveals that the highest aspirations for leaders should be to ensure that every employee feels a sense of belonging.
In this episode of Empathy-Led, Marisa Ciesluk, a leadership coach, talks about the importance of leading with empathy. She talks about the level of self-awareness and bravery required to lead people and help them be and perform at their best.
One of the biggest takeaways is the crucial change in belief leaders need to adopt in order to lead with empathy. They have to believe that, fundamentally, most people are always trying their best. It's the only way they can support employees instead of berating them when they fall short.
THE POWER OF RELATIONSHIPS
In this episode of Empathy-led, we asked David "Dae Lee" Arrington, like we do guest, how leaders can flex and strengthen their empathy muscles. His answer was, in short, to lean on the power of relationships to build bridges. David believes that seeking to build genuine and authentic relationships is key to connecting with those we seek to serve or influence.
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David is co-founder at Hue House, a creative agency connecting client goals to culturally competent stories via consulting, creativity and community. He is also the founder of Bridge Builder Consulting, an innovative consulting agency, developing bridge-building leaders and organizations that will change the world.
Hue House: https://www.itshuehouse.com/
Bridge Builder Consulting: https://www.webridgebuild.com/
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grio is a brand consultancy in Charlotte, North Carolina and we are on a mission to help companies find their souls– who they are and who they serve, why they exist and what distinguishes them. Whether your company is looking for market fit, growth, or reinvention, our empathy-led approach to branding and marketing will help you transition from one phase of your business to the next. Ultimately, grio helps companies find the truest expression of who they are and the contribution they want to make in the world
To learn more visit grioagency.com
Follow us on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/75760213/admin/
In this mini episode we talk image-perception gap-- a concept that is central to our empathy-led branding framework. There's a gap that exists between image (our internal understanding of our brands) and perception (how the brand is actually perceived externally). At grio, we believe that branding is the art and science of closing this image-perception gap.
First, we have to be clear about who are as a company because only then can we have a shot at shaping and influencing others' perception. Next, we have to deploy enough empathy to understand how people form their perception.
THE POWER OF HUMAN CONNECTION
At grio, we believe that success in business ultimately depends on our ability connect with the people we seek to serve-- both inside and outside our companies. And connecting with others requires empathy. In this episode, our guest Todd Buelow, co-founder of a Charlotte-based software company called Dualboot Partners, talks about the power of human connection to help build great software and great companies.
EMPATHY IS PRACTICAL IN BUSINESS
In this episode we explore a question we get asked all the time at grio: why empathy? Our answer is always that business is fundamentally about people. And success hinges on our ability to connect with various stakeholders-- inside and outside our companies. Through this lens, empathy is therefore very practical and fundamental to business.
HOW TO EARN LOYALTY
In this first episode, we had an amazing conversation with Christopher Sottile, the founder and owner of The Loyalist Market-- A cut-to-order cheese and charcuterie shop offering over 60 artisan cheeses and cured meats from the US and abroad, along with artisan food products from the best producers the South has to offer.
The Loyalist stands for loyal to organic/high quality food and local suppliers; loyal to customers, employees and the community at large.
Loyalty is one of marketing's most coveted prizes and Chris walked us through what he thinks are the secret ingredient of earning the loyalty of those you seek to serve.
1. Always put people first. Don't make it transactional. Make it about creating relationships
2. Be authentic: do what you said you would even when it's inconvenient. Be consistent with it.
3. Be transparent: to build community you need let people in. Building a business is a process of co-creation.
4. Be a force for good-- for employees, customers and the community
5. Focus on building a strong culture. Have a team approach. Find the right people, who understand and share the vision, mission and values. Culture builders.
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