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The Most Valuable Thing They Teach at Harvard Business School

It all comes down to one word: empathy. At Harvard Business School, renowned professor Clay Christensen helps his students see that the role of a business is to solve someone’s problem -– and therefore, by their very nature, all businesses are an exercise in empathy. James Allworth, a fellow at Harvard Business School’s Forum for [Keep Reading…]

The Purpose of a Business is to Create a Customer

A customer is defined as a person who pays a business for goods and services. If a person does not pay, they are not a customer. The nebulous term of “user” is assigned when a person is accessing goods and services without directly paying for them. Call them a visitor, a prospect, a constituent, whatever you want. Until they pay you, they’re no customer of yours — and you have not fulfilled upon your purpose as a business.

User Research War Stories: “Taking empathy to a whole new level”

My friend Steve Portigal, an esteemed customer research consultant in the Bay Area, has a series on his blog titled “War Stories” — anecdotes from ethnographic researchers about the craziest things that have happened to them in the field. One entry from Priya Sohoni is particularly striking. Titled “Taking empathy to a whole new level,” [Keep Reading…]

Whitney Hess is raising $30K for Farm Aid for her 30th birthday

There is only one thing I want for my 30th birthday: to save America’s farms. That’s why I’m raising $30K for Farm Aid. Something that many people may not know about me is that I’m a locavore – the vast majority of the food that I eat is locally grown and produced. This means I [Keep Reading…]

Hugs in the workplace lead to greater empathy

How often do you get hugged at work? How often do you give them? Paul Zak, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA, is conducting a study that shows that Oxytocin, the chemical released by hugs and many other positive interpersonal interactions, increases [Keep Reading…]

If Seth Godin were me…

Is Seth Godin reading my blog? His piece last week titled “If I were you…” is a booming echo of my mantra “The user is not like me“: “If I were you…” But of course, you’re not. And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer. Godin has written a [Keep Reading…]

The User Is Not Like Me

The user is not like me. August 25, 2003. It was the first day of my senior year at Carnegie Mellon University. It was the day I learned the mantra that would shape my career. The user is not like me. Words uttered by Bonnie John, my professor of 05-410 Introduction to HCI Methods (now [Keep Reading…]