I’m a graphic designer; that’s what is in my heart. But when I came to the US, I soon had to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit to dab into finance, technology, production, development, and many different enterprises that don’t fall into graphic design. These amazing experiences led me to this road I’ve been building as I walk on it and lead me to discover and shape my whole approach as an entrepreneur, fueled by creativity and empathy.
Creativity, for me, is having a unique vision of reality. The creative eye sees the formula to open new doors where others see walls. It’s not only a tool for creation but also one to solve everyday problems. The problems you face when trying to make ideas come to life.
I don’t know if creativity has been the key to building my business, but I know that creativity has made me have fun building what I’m most passionate about.
That’s why I have embraced a fundamental premise in my life: Problems are valuable information.
As creative entrepreneurs, we must live our reality by paying attention to the signs we find along the way. Instead of panicking in the face of an obstacle, we should consider the nature of that problem as a significant source of information. In other words, creativity not only connects with the imagination but also with reality itself. And do you know what you develop when you live connected to reality? Empathy.
In the corporate and business worlds, much has been said recently about “empathy,” commonly thought of as the ability to identify with someone and share their feelings. Enterprises are increasingly abandoning the “cutthroat” corporate world mentality and adopting a much more human approach, and I love it.
No entrepreneur is unfamiliar with the experience of empathy, as most of us have experienced it at different times, whether by offering comfort to a colleague who did not get a good deal with a supplier or distributor or simply helping a colleague overcome stress. These are empathic actions. We may have experienced something similar, so we understand how the other person would feel and what we need to do to help them.
All the things I experienced as an immigrant, meeting many people with different backgrounds and life stories, soon connected me with this “feeling of identification with the other”. Something that I had already experienced very early in life, way before I became an entrepreneur.
I soon discovered amazing bonds formed when you try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, and it helped me create lifelong relationships. I had never imagined how much this would shape me as an entrepreneur.
In our roles as entrepreneurs, customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders must know that their interests are a priority and their voice is essential. We must demonstrate that the company is not just for personal benefit but for the advantage of all.
Empathy towards others is so important, but you know what they say: kindness starts at home, so it’s just as important to be empathic with ourselves. The day I allowed myself to be empathetic, I gained a grand vision of my goals, challenges, and how I wanted to go about my day-to-day life. It made me understand the responsibility of impacting others positively. It may sound cliché, but connecting with yourself will help you connect better with others. I believe in balance, not only in being present in the lives of my three amazing kids, going on dates with my great wife, leading a dream team, and developing new businesses but in giving the best to those around you.
That’s why, as my mentor, Gary Vee likes to say, I always encourage young entrepreneurs to develop empathy and connect meaningfully and authentically. That’s the greatest way to identify unmet needs, create new products, services, and change organizations. It has become popular in the design of “human” businesses, i.e., those centered on people: knowing what they need is the most critical starting point, rather than feasibility or viability, which have been, until now, the common starting points in business schools.
Here’s another secret ingredient I’ve learned and love to share with starting entrepreneurs: use your branding to infuse your teams. Creating distinctive company culture is essential to long-term success. As an empathic entrepreneur, one of the key ways of doing this has been through internalizing Positive Reinforcement in my companies.
Many companies use “punishments” and “sanctions” as motivation but showing appreciation through benefits, coaching and training, incentives, and genuine rewards sends a powerful message about how much the entrepreneur cares about the people connected to them. Words of encouragement
In short, being an empathic and creative entrepreneur involves developing our active listening and ability to connect with others. We must be positive and know that it is always possible to find a way to adapt an idea to reality, especially in the digital world, which is constantly and exponentially growing and changing. More importantly, we must look for ways to make our team believe that. As leaders, we must strive to go deeper, look beyond what meets the eye, and embrace diversity and each unique lived experience. The fantastic thing is that with this attitude, you’ll be able to discover great talent and motivate them. One of my most incredible goals is to create and encourage future leaders.
This has been the road taken for me, and I haven’t looked back.