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Empathy

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The Heart Of A Technologist

The heart of a technologist is in serving – service without need of reciprocation.

Do you subscribe to this belief? After all, that is a tough, thankless life to live. I see so many who seem to be on a quest for self-glory or the latest discovery, much like Ponce de Leon’s search for the infamous Fountain of Youth.

Some may serve through discovery or creation, while some offer their service in the form of repair or maintenance. When at our best, we operate behind the scenes, unnoticed and under cover of dark, weaving our magic webs of security and five-nine’s availability.

All too often, the insecure turn to scoff at those less intellectual or computer-savvy as themselves lording their minutia of power in order to over-compensate for a failed childhood social life  like Superman’s arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor.

Or perhaps it is something less sinister; perhaps we have forgotten how it feels not to be the domain admin or root level admin?

Do we seek to minimize another’s anguish over loosing that spreadsheet they worked all weekend on? Do we so quickly seek to belittle someone’s lack of understanding at just why they cannot login to the corporate VPN?

Micah (Learn to Duck), offers this advice:

Every day, I try to do something where I give something (time, money, expertise, humor, whatever) with no expectation of something in return. The reactions are interesting. Some people don’t believe it. Others don’t trust it. Most people appreciate what I have to give. But, for me, its somewhat of a selfish act. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel good.

Did we check this at the door somewhere along our career path, or did Corporate America’s bylaws drill this fanciful notion out of our brain like some Chinese water torture?

In either case, we stand in the shadows on this one, folks. Empathy is at the heart of success and maintaining a heart of service is the call to which we should rally.

Image credit to Vincent van Wylick

Empathy: The Bridge Connecting People

Empathy - The Bridge Connecting PeopleI have grown up around technology, and have a love for all things that have electrons flowing through them. I do not, however, understand them by 1’s and 0’s, rather I see them as abstract concepts – puzzle pieces that fit together seeking to fulfill a purpose.

So it is that I have spent my life in pursuit of ways to connect people with technology and found that sometimes you have to get the technology out of the way and understand the person and their need in order to successfully apply technology to make their issue ‘better’.

Empathy is what brings our endeavors humanity and sets us apart from those machines we so love to throw at our problems. It reminds us we are individuals in a sea of other individuals – in need of an outstretched hand.

For instance, the promise of social media is in the hope to touch lives we otherwise would not have met – to break through geographical boundaries. Or perhaps it is to reach across the fence in our backyard to a neighbor we might not have otherwise acknowledged with anything other than a nod or a waive of the hand.

Technology is a tool, like any other, to be used or abused. However, it is empathy that helps us connect; empathy is bridge connecting people – not technology.

This post was inspired by David Armano’s post When Marketing Feels Shallow, Go Deep. His blog, Logic & Emotion, is a wonderful read.

Photo credit to Dayaran.


Ken Stewart’s blog, ChangeForge.com, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology. Ken is also the Director of Technology at Kearns Business Solutions.


Learning to Connect

Experience = LearningI’ve been thinking a lot lately. The specifics aren’t relevant to this conversation, but I would venture a guess that if you reading this you 1) Think a lot, and 2) want to think a lot because you like being exposed to new ideas.

I’ve been trying to get better about two things:

  1. Telling stories to interact with the other person(s)
  2. Being empathetic and seeking empathy from the other person(s)

In telling stories, I am finding it easier to connect with people – which is the point of empathy. But you know what I found? To be empathetic to my audience, I have to seek commonality.

This doesn’t mean I have to imitate them, far from it. What is does indicate is that I have to be able to share experiences with people in order to relate. This translates into me living: I must live to have experiences from which I can empathize.

So in order to empathize, I always have to be learning new things. Wow, what a great way to connect to people – through learning!

Image courtesy of Becky Carroll


Ken Stewart’s blog, ChangeForge.com, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology. Ken is also the Director of Technology at Kearns Business Solutions.