The Future of Human Work? Empathy.
Not just “the future” — it‘s a competitive advantage now.
Robots and AI are increasingly encroaching on human work.
Millions of truckers will eventually be replaced by self-driving trucks. Millions more Uber/Lyft/Taxi drivers will be replaced by self-driving cars. The retail and food-service industries will automate and eliminate as many human workers as possible.
Even higher-paying jobs will be threatened by AI: Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, etc.
As solopreneurs and freelancers, how can we keep our jobs / the dignity of our work, and even retain a competitive advantage against the onslaught of automation?
Robots and Artificial Intelligence — by definition — can never truly understand what it’s like to literally be a human being.
Only we humans can truly empathize with each other.
And that is our real job… a higher purpose in our work.
I believe we are being called, in our careers, to become more caring and empathetic, and thereby create solutions and experiences from a place of deeply understanding our ideal clients.
I love this idea because it is aligned with what I believe to be the purpose of life: to grow in love and wisdom.
As a purpose-driven human being, it has never been enough for you to just do a mindless/heartless job day after day.
And increasingly, we won’t even have jobs or clients anymore, unless we bring our hearts into it — our human empathy. Everything else that is mindless or heartless will eventually be automated.
Whatever problems we wish to solve for our clients, whatever goals we are helping them achieve, whatever experience we want to facilitate for them, our deepest client work is to empathize with them. It is our greatest advantage.
Empathize means to know what it’s really like to be them. To know how they feel, to know what they are thinking.
Isn’t empathy simply a core part of good marketing anyway? Yes. It’s not just preparing for “the future”, it’s about becoming more effective now.
If your services aren’t selling, if people aren’t signing up for your programs, if your audience isn’t buying your products, then you only have 2 problems:
Empathy is much harder: it requires you to care enough to observe their behavior (as evidence of what they care about), to ask them questions (to learn more deeply about their problems/goals as related to your expertise), and in conversation with them, to listen more than you talk. It’s to find out what they are buying and why, and therefore how your business might fit into their mind, heart, and budget.
It’s not enough to just be a nice/supportive person, nor is it enough to be passionate about your own ideas, modality, or services.
To get enough clients, you will need to actually understand your audience so deeply that you can create what they want.
In my workshop Resonant Marketing, I advocate for the importance of doing “Fan Interviews”. I do one per week, consistently. Even though my business is thriving and I don’t need more clients, I still do a Fan Interview every week because there is never an end to having enough empathy for one’s audience.
Doing surveys of your audience are helpful, but not enough: you can’t hear their intonations or watch their expressions — which you can if you do Fan Interviews. You need to, as much as possible, really feel what it’s like for them. That’s what empathy is about.
The more empathy and true understanding you have for your audience, the more you will enable yourself to create services / programs / events / products, that deeply resonate with your audience, that get an easy YES from them.
This is the future of work, and it is the now of effective marketing.
As robots and AI continue to take over more human jobs, we humans are being called to ever higher and deeper levels of empathy and connected-creativity. Creativity not just for its own sake, not just from our own ideas and passion, but in connection to our understanding of, and caring for, our audience.
In short, we are being called to love more, to care about other humans more than machines ever can.