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What Entrepreneurship and Parenthood Taught Me About Empathy

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Empathy -- the ability to understand and be sensitive to others’ thoughts and lived experiences -- is one of the most important elements of any business. To illustrate, think about the top reasons great workers leave their jobs. Employees might not see a future for themselves at the company they’re leaving. They might also feel overloaded with work compared to their compensation level and benefits. And management might not even be listening to them.

These reasons, particularly the ones directly related to manager-employee relationships, all tie back to empathy. Consider that a 2018 survey from Businessolver found that 60 percent of employees polled said they would actually accept lower pay for the chance to work at an empathetic company.

This makes sense. Leaders who prioritize empathy are truly able to connect with their employees, clients and customers. Workers should feel heard and want to know that their experiences matter. Empathy helps leaders cultivate this environment -- and empathetic organizations deliver products and services that get to the heart of what their audiences want.

Related: Does Empathy Have a Place in Your Workplace?

I believe so strongly in the power of empathy that it also became an integral part of my parenting philosophy. My wife, MJ, and I decided early on to raise our son and daughter with a founder’s mindset. We wanted them to grow up feeling capable and knew they would need a strong sense of empathy to connect with the people they wanted to serve.

There was some evidence for our parenting strategy. Children can start to feel empathy as early as 2 years old, according to an article in Parents magazine. An example would be a toddler noticing her classmate's distress and giving that unhappy child a hug.

So, MJ and I took........

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