Empathy: Create something


For entrepreneurs, empathy goes beyond just seeing things from other people’s perspective or understanding how they feel.

It means doing something about it.

It means developing a solution that remedies the situation.

But it starts with empathy, understanding the problem from the customer’s perspective.

Entrepreneurs are problems solvers. Business is about solving problems.

When everyone see problems, entrepreneurs sees opportunities for solutions.

The best way to complain, is to create something.

Creating something with empathy, something that makes our lives better, that connects, that eases the pain, that moves us forward, that makes the journey worthwhile.

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.



Empathy: You | Me | We


“Sorry” does not mean you caused the pain.

It merely means that you see it, that you have felt pain before in your life as well, that you are open to a connection.

Our ability to bring people along is critical because we are playing a long game, even an infinite one.

Back and forth, day by day, with many of the same people, we are in it for the long haul.

When you see someone else’s pain, when you understand what they are going through, you are able to empathise more.

One day, it will be reversed, and a classmate or co-worker or competitor will be the one that can listen and care about your pain. A pain that might feel very similar.

Gloating about your superior position or silence about their pain closes the door.

Empathy, on the other hand, and the action of speech, of moderation, of connection, can change everything, it opens the door.

And if it has not been present before, it can start right now.

“I see you. I’m sorry for what you are feeling. How can I help?”

It starts with empathy, with understanding, with asking “How can I help?” then it proceeds to designing a solution with understanding, with warmth, with care, with humility.”

It starts with you, and then me listening and understanding your position and then both of us designing solutions that works.

Empathy: Design vs. User Experience


From a Design Thinking principle, empathy is the first step to the problem solving process.

This is with good reason, if we are going to design a solution for a client, it is important that we understand what the client wants first.

Entrepreneurs often think that they know what customers want, without asking or putting themselves in their customer’s shoes.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Understanding what your customer feel is important because you can’t solve her problem, if you don’t understand how she feels. 

It is essential to find empathy for the people you hope to serve, to teach, to work with.

Without empathy, you cannot find the place your customers are stuck, as a result you can’t help them move in the direction they seek to go.

Empathy is about Batho Pele [People first].

Empathy is solving a problem that is valuable to customers, not you the entrepreneur.

Empathy is designing a product that customers want, not what you think they want.

But empathy goes beyond just what customers want but:

  • are you marketing to your customers the way they prefer?
  • are they transacting with you the way they prefer? and
  • are they using the product the way they want to use it?

At the centre of all this, is the customer.

As an entrepreneur are you humble and empathetic enough to listen to your customers.

When it comes to designing offerings for customers, listening is the new talking.

Listen more than you talk.


Low-key: Have less, do more


A simple life is a life of both less and more.

It is a life of less distraction, less consumption, and less of the inessential, to make room for more mindfulness, more intention, and more of what matters.

If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for contentment.

Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.

Living a simple life does not mean you lack ambition.

What it means is that you choose to keep things simple so that you can focus on more important.

When you have less distractions, you are able to focus more.

The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it is not simple.

People struggle to live a simple life. Being content with less is hard for many people.

We are born in a world of chasing. Chasing good grades, chasing a great career, chasing an awesome partner, chasing a deal and another one, chasing a big house, chasing more money, more friends, more clothes, more shoes, bags, books, followers, power etc.

This is an endless chase. We never arrive to the destination.

Stopping this chase and saying enough, what I have is enough and I don’t want more is something very rare.

Contentment is not reached by seeking more, but by enjoying less.



Low-key: You are enough


Living a low-key life does not mean you are not ambitious.

It does not mean you are aiming for an average life.

Living a low-key life does not mean you have a low self-esteem about yourself.

Living a low-key life means your measure of what is important in you is not the same as what society deems as important.

You can be low-key person and run a successful organisation.

Being low-key is as a result of recognizing that you are enough with yourself and that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone before you get enough.

Unfortunately, being low-key is not for the present pop culture.

Everyone is encouraged to consume more, self-promote more, and do things that makes them look successful and richer.

Looking successful and being successful are not the same.

You don’t have to prove a point.

You are enough

You may not be perfect, but you are good enough and that’s what matters.


Low-key: Seeking validation


When you paint a picture, perhaps no one will walk by, see your creation, and gaze upon it in awe.

Perhaps no one will tell you that it is beautiful, that they see the painstaking detail you took in bringing paint to canvas, that you should keep painting.

When you play a song, perhaps not a soul will stop to listen, or perhaps they will listen as they would listen to elevator music.

Perhaps they will hear it, but not hear it.

When you write a poem, perhaps people will not read it, and perhaps those who do read it will not get it.

Because people seek validation, we hide our art, poems, songs because we are afraid we will be rejected.

How many paintings are locked inside the artist, for fear of what happens (or what does not happen) after they are channeled through the fingers and brushes?

How many songs remain unsung and inside, for fear of being received by no audience?

How many poems are unwritten, for fear of being misunderstood?

When you keep a low profile and focus on your art, when you write that poem and that song, you will attract a niche group of people, what Seth Godin calls a tribe.

When you do your art not because you want to be popular, but because you care, you will attract people who care.

Even if no one reads my blog, I will continue to write.

Don’t do it for fame, don’t seek validation, don’t look for permission.

You are already famous to your family and circle of friends, your talent is validated by God and you have permission [not that you needed it in the first place].

Do what you love, without seeking validation.

You are not your likes, retweets, followerships or shares.

Actually you are more than that.

Start, do your best, you will find your way on the way.

Let your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.

PS: Yes get feedback, get critical and constructive feedback, work hard to improve, but don’t wait to be validated before you start, start and then get feedback from people you trust.

Low-key: Successful and not popular


Most people seek success and share the view that one of the things that makes you successful is when you are popular.

In an endeavor to be popular, they befriend popular people, want to date popular people, because this somehow will make them feel either popular by association or successful by association.

I have learned that the vast majority of successful people who ever lived are people you have never heard of.

If we are to drill down further and consider happy successful people, it is almost certain that we have not heard of them.

Only a very small number of stories and identities make their way into the history books or into legend, and by definition, those that sought fame and fortune beyond what any human could possibly enjoy, are often over-represented among them.

Everywhere you look, people seek more followers, more influential people in their circles, some brag about being connected to so and so powerful/popular person.

We seek to read books of and by popular people, we attend events of popular people, we want to wear clothes designed by popular people, we want to be in the same vicinity with popular people.

So why are some of the most successful people not popular, for two reasons:

Survivorship bias or survival bias

This is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.

The media and society has a selection bias towards certain people, either because they look a certain ideal way, they talk a certain ideal way, they hang in with other popular people.

Once the media likes you, they will make you famous.

This is where you find people who are popular for being popular. They are not known for certain specific things, they are just socialites.

Keeping a low-key life

Second reason is that the unknown/anonymous successful people consciously choose to be unknown/anonymous.

Those who don’t make the media/society cut, even though they are successful, remain unknown and anonymous.

They deliberately choose to shun the spotlight, to keep a low-key life.

They believe that a private life is a happy life.

What does this have to do with you?

Isn’t there someone whose status and success you envy? Someone who has gotten more recognition, who has sold more books or albums or stuff, who has won more awards or set more records?

And when we think of these people, we think, “Oh, they are the lucky ones. They got what I should have gotten.”

But is that really true?

Most people with a public persona tell you that the downsides outweigh the upsides.

When the Minister of Finance in South Africa, Minister Tito Mboweni was recently appointed, he jokingly said in an impromptu interview, that he will have to leave his private life at home from now on.

Off-course, it’s not all bad of course, but there are real problems that go along with fame and fortune. Less of private life, you become a target for those who don’t like you, you are constantly under surveillance, you can’t have a bad day, people want to befriend you for your position, not for who you really are, the pressure to keep up is high and this results in stress.

Maybe the lucky ones are the hidden figures.

When you find yourself pining for fame and recognition, stop and consider what it might actually feel like when you get it, why you think you will be the exception to the rule.

The motto of the philosopher Epicurus, which was taken up by the great essayist Montaigne as well, was lathe biōsas:

Live in obscurity. 

The French saying, Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés:

“In order to live happily, live hidden.

My people, Mapedi say: Moja sa gagwe wa iphihla, loosely meaning:

“He who is doing very well, don’t show.

You can be successful, you don’t need popularity to validate that.