Empathy in Product: Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Assisting Others

ProductTank Twin Cities
ProductTank Twin Cities
Public group
Location image of event venue


As product managers, designers, and user experience professionals, we're expected to be experts in empathy. But where does empathy come from? Exciting research from such disparate fields such as nursing, law, and comedy tells us what we may have suspected: empathy relies on resiliency. If we're not secure in ourselves, we cannot be truly empathetic. What's worse, when we begin to experience burnout, we project our biases and insecurities onto our customers and users...and we don't know we're doing it. In other words, introspection is the key to extrospection.

In this workshop, we will learn three, quick practical introspection techniques honed in real professional settings that will help us understand others better by understanding ourselves better:

1. Training gratitude and refocusing our minds.
2. Uncovering biases through voir dire (aka jury selection).
3. Generating superior (live) feedback.

About our facilitator: Jason Voiovich

My arrival in marketing was doomed from birth. I was born into a family of artists, immigrants, and entrepreneurs. Frankly, it's lucky I didn't end up as a circus performer. I'm sure I would have fallen off the tightrope by now. My father was an advertising creative director. One grandfather manufactured the first disposable coffee filters in pre-Castro Cuba. Another grandfather invented the bazooka. Yet another invented Neapolitan ice cream (really!) I was destined to advertise the first disposable ice cream grenade launcher, but the ice cream just kept melting!

I took bizarre ideas like those into the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and MIT's Sloan School of Management. It should surprise no one that they are all embarrassed to have let me in.

These days, instead of trying to invent novelty snack dispensers, I have dedicated my career to finding marketing's north star, refocusing it on building healthy relationships between consumers and businesses, between patients and clinicians, and between citizens and organizations. That's a tall order in a data-driven world. But it's crucial, and here's why: As technology advances, it becomes ordinary and expected. As relationships and trust expand, they become stronger and more resilient. Our next great leaps forward are just as likely to come from advances in humanity as they are advances in technology.