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 declaration of the necessity of empathy in business.

It’s a topic I’ve been obsessed with lately, and though he probably doesn’t actually read my blog (though he should!), it’s encouraging to see that this philosophy is starting to get traction in different corners of the industry.

We’re at a tipping point where business-as-usual is no longer good enough, and emotional intelligence is becoming a key factor in success. Recognizing that the mindset of the customer is distinct from the mindset of the executive team is becoming all the more pervasive. And now that they’re finally admitting they have a problem, we can do the real work to narrow the gap between the two.

You don’t have to wear panty hose to be a great brand manager at L’eggs, nor do you need to be unemployed to work on a task force on getting people back to work. What is required, though, is a persistent effort to understand how other people see the world, and to care about it.

Read Seth Godin’s “If I were you…

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  1. says

    Hey Whitney!

    Do you think that empathy can be trained or taught – to an individual? to an organization?

    I think the Lean style business overlaps here – the whole ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ thing is really about becoming empathic to your users. It’s easier for start ups because they don’t have so much invested in preserving the status quo.

    Great interpretation of Seth’s post!

  2. says

    I haven’t been by here in a long while (Whitney’s blog and weekly UX chats were early Twitter-led discoveries for me, circa 2009) but it’s always interesting to read these posts.
    As an architect I’m interested in how other design fields deal with client (user) issues. We sometimes impose stylistic choices, but (hopefully) not at the expense of functionality and livability.
    Whitney and Seth have given me something to think about.

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