Get Big Things Done: Michelle Phan, Pharrell And Being An Empathetic Entrepreneur

Here are three work strategies that help the empathetic entrepreneur thrive.

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Photo: Erica Dhawan, CEO of Cotential; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Erica Dhawan, CEO of Cotential; Source: Courtesy Photo

In my new book “Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence“, my co-author Saj-nicole Joni and I talk about the central roles 10 different models of connectionally intelligent people play in cutting through the noise of our over-crowded digital world and using connection to accomplish remarkable results. In this excerpt, we describe one model, the Empathetic Entrepreneur, and discuss how this type of person can leverage their connectional intelligence to drive innovation and create amazing value for their communities, businesses and lives.


What makes someone an empathetic entrepreneur?

The traits that define them are passionate, tenacious, and adaptable. They aspire to be a creative visionary. This person wants to be his or her own boss, but also wants to fill a real need.

Empathetic entrepreneurs are creative and driven; they are authentic salespeople, not hustlers. They are those who stop and listen to connect with their customers and fans on an emotional level, putting themselves in service to others. They collect data before they make a big move, building the fuel needed to push past challenges that arise and bring something creative and new to the world.

Most importantly, empathetic entrepreneurs really listen, along the way, making sure the work they are doing is delivering something that people actually want.


Inside Empathetic Entrepreneurship

We’ve seen this in entrepreneurs we describe in the book like burqini creator Aheda Zanetti, lifestyle blogger and YouTube celebrity Michelle Phan (a digital pioneer, who trail-blazed her way in the world of fashion and beauty on YouTube. With a growing global community of over 7.5 million, Michelle’s videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times, making her one of the most watched talents in the digital space).

Another example is rapper-turned-change-agent Pharrell. Pharrell owns a non-profit organization called “From One Hand To AnOTHER” (FOHTA). FOHTA is an educational foundation that aims to modernize the community center concept by empowering kids to learn through new technologies, arts, media and motivation.



Here are three work strategies that help the empathetic entrepreneur thrive:


  1. Broaden the possibilities of who you serve.

    If you spend time talking to people and observing their needs, creative ideas start to appear, but often they can help more constituencies than you might imagine.

    For example, Aheda Zanetti’s move to Australia led her to create the world’s first two-piece burqini, made of lycra and with a hijab-style head covering, which allows Muslim women to be active on the beach. It also serves non-Muslim women who want to be fully covered for different reasons.

    In the same fashion, Michelle Phan deeply listens closely to her fans and has cultivated viewers from all around the world by discussing different styles from different cultures—from Korean celebrities to French teenagers.

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