The Art of Empathy in Customer Marketing

Customer Marketing is focused on understanding customer needs. Who does your product need to talk to? This talk will address how to empathize with the customer, it will touch on how UX research, journalism, and psychology form the basis of Customer Marketing. You can expect concrete product examples, but also get ready to participate in the discussion.






DENISE: Has everyone had lunch? Yeah? Everyone is good? So I want to give you a friendly reminder that if you haven’t already done so, please pick up your tee shirts downstairs. So you don’t automatically get your tee shirts but they’re down here in the registration so if you haven’t done so already, get your tee shirts. My name is Denise VanDeCruze, and I’ll be your MC for the afternoon, and I’m sure you’re just going to be sitting here for the rest of the afternoon for all of the talks, because they’re all really fabulous. The talk we’re having now is the forgotten art of empathy and customer marketing from Nevena Tomovic.
Nevena is amazing and very humble. She can basically answer back in any language you throw at her, which is amazing. She works now for GoDaddy, originally trained as a simultaneous interpreter, which makes sense. So we’re very excited to have her here, to give her talk. One thing I’d like to mention right before she comes on, is I’d like to thank our sponsors. We have box sponsors, Timpani, Woo Commerce, Jetpack, we have style sponsors HeartInternet, SiteGround, WP Engine, GoDaddy, and also thanks to Dress Circle and Grand Circle sponsors, and they’re also exhibiting as well in the Rocket and Graduate Centre. And balcony and patron sponsors. Now if you have not discovered this, our sponsors, many of them are giving things away, and I’ve signed up for everything, and in my head I’m going to win everything, because there’s a Timpani is giving away a coffee machine, there’s a Nintendo something, iPad mini. So visit our sponsors, sign up for everything, and enjoy our talk from Nevena.
NEVENA: Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to record this. Sorry about that guys, I just promised I would screen record everything for the audio guys. Is that okay? Okay. Wicked. All right, so thank you very much for having me. I’d like to start my talk by telling you a little story. So, when I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me bedtime stories every single night. I would get really excited, I would run and put on my polkadot pyjamas, grab my cat, who was named Hermione after my favourite character, snuggle under the sheets and wait for the phone to ring, and it would ring every single night without a doubt. My dad would ring up and wait on the other end to tell me a story.
Now the best part of the stories is that I could actually co-create them. I could be a part of them. So my dad would say to me, pick anything you want, any object, and let’s do a story. So I’d pick things like a toothbrush, a sink and some soap, and my dad would create this huge story how the toothbrush was jealous of the soap because it was closer to the sink, and I got to know the characters. But was really important was I actually learnt how to understand and empathise with toothbrushes, which obviously later on helped me understand people. That’s actually one of the most important skills I use in my job today.
I ended up studying a bunch of languages, but the thing learned when I was 5 years old is something that really helps me every single day to be better at my job and understand people and connect with them. I’m going to share that with you and show you how you can actually get more clients and increase your client acquisition and retention by adding a tiny bit of empathy in your marketing.
Right, so before we do all of that, I want to talk about what is empathy? So there are a lot of definitions but I’ve broken it down into three things I think are understandable and digestible. So it is a sense of self-awareness, being able to distinguish your own feelings. A lot of us are not so comfortable with that, so it is really important you get to tell yourself and understand what you are feeling. It is taking another person’s perspective, so being able to sort of put yourself in someone else’s shoes and look at the world from their point of view, and thirdly, it is being able to regulate one’s own emotional response.
So I’m going to play a little game with you and I hope you guys, I know you’ve just eaten, but I hope you’ll be willing to participate. I want to show you how you can actually learn how to empathise, because it is important to know that it is a skill that all of us have, so every single person in this room can do it. It is like yoga. You just have to practice it. I’m going to ask you to practice it with me. One of the ways you can do that is by imitating someone else’s emotion. So for five seconds I’m going to smile at you, and I’m going to ask you all to smile really wide, smiles back at me. Can we do that? Yes. Okay. Right. You can I say ready? Is everyone ready? All right. Ready? Smile. You see them? Excellent. Amazing. A really good job. How is when feeling? A bit more positive? Yeah? A little bit? Okay. This a proven theory so it was actually first of all suggested by an American literally critic, and it was later on proven by two neuroscientists and one of them was French, and Philip L Jackson, and they basically say that by imitating someone else’s emotions we can boost our empathy skills so we can connect to people. This goes all the way back to the real explanation that empathy is something we all need to survive, so we all have it. It is hardwired in us and we just have to practice it.
So we, as people, are genuinely social animals. What does that mean? That means that everything we do, all of our thoughts and desires, we produce in response to someone else’s reactions or we direct them towards someone else.
So that ties in perfectly. But you can’t go around smiling at people to get them to buy your product, right? That would be a little bit creepy, if you said sign-up and smile, right? So how do you take empathy and with intent put that in marketing? How do you connect to people without scaring them away? We’re going to look at two ways. One of them is how you add it to your copy, so make it high converting copy, and the other way is how you do it through storytelling. Okay. Okay, let’s have a look at high converting copy … have a look at this one. Is it familiar? Sort of? Okay. So roses are red, violets are blue, donate to a teacher with the same name as you. This a campaign that did for their Valentine’s Day campaign and it was a really exciting and novel way to solicit more money to get teachers to have more money for their projects, and the way that it worked is that they were able to connect people with their names. I’m going to show you what the response was.
Jason French said, “Just received a donors choose to bring to the class, well played, done and done.”
So people literally just saw their name, and thought: I have to do something about this. I have to give them money. And because they’re talking to me, they’re not just talking to anyone out there, but they’re actually talking to me. They’re saying: “Hey you, I need you to give me money because we have something, we share a name.”
I know it sounds a little bit, you know, funny or silly even to just think that calling you out on your name you’re more likely to give them money, but this proved a huge spike in their donation. In fact, it is interesting because 60 per cent of sales are actually lost to inertia. So when you’re sat there thinking, and writing your copy, you’re not actually competing with other competitors; you’re competing with the fact that people can’t be bothered to do anything about it. So they will receive your e-mails, text messages, Twitter, they won’t take action, because they will look at it and think: nah, it is not for me, or this is not relevant.
And that’s natural because we as humans need to feel relevant. We seek lots of signs of relevance and this is because we want to connect to each other, which brings us back to empathy.
So simple tricks like this, when you stop being vague in all of your marketing and you start getting specific, really can bring in new clients, and can increase your brand awareness.
I want to show you a few more examples just so we can get them concrete, so you know exactly what I’m talking about. So this is an e-mail subject line: saying goodbye is never easy to do, so we thought we’d give you a chance to rethink things.
I mean, it is a little bit long. Who here thinks they would open this if they saw it? Put your hands up. Okay, not that many people. Okay. Interesting. I wouldn’t either. But look at what they said, what they’d do here. They said — they talk to me by my name, so they say “Nevena”, so I think okay, this is relevant to me.
“You haven’t been opening our e-mails in the past few months and the last thing we want to do is come across clingy. So if you still want to stay connected then just press ‘don’t let me go’ below and we promise we won’t let you. Otherwise we’ll take you off our list in three business days. No hard feelings.”
And the CTA “Don’t let me go”. So what’s interesting here is that they’re very specific, and they are very personable. So they are saying “We don’t want to be clingy”, that is something we’ve all heard or our friends say: oh, my boyfriend or friend is very clingy, it is very personable. It is something we use every single day and that’s what is so interesting about it. They’ve taken something from conversation day-to-day and put it in an e-mail us asking us not to unsubscribe with a very powerful CTA, “don’t let me go”, so they could have put something, “keep me posted” or “don’t unsubscribe me” or “yes or no”, but they’ve put that out there to get an emotion, to get our response.
I have another example that my colleague showed me last night, so I’m going to share it with you because it is excellent, and it is from Native Deodorant, it is an all natural deodorant and when you order they say this: “Heather, you rock.”
“It was just another mundane day at the office, when suddenly Jackie took a look at the computer and her eyes widened, “We did it” she exclaimed. “We got an order from Heather Dopson”. Laura jumped out of her chair and ran to Jackie’s desk. She didn’t even read the entire e-mail, she just saw “Heather” and started screaming in delight. OMG. Laura shouted “This is real. We have an order from Heather!” The entire office erupted in applause. “Party in the USA” blared from the speakers. Jackie is a huge Miley Cyrus fan as confetti rained down from the ceiling and champagne bottles were popped. The entire Native team is thrilled you’re a customer! Thank you so much for your support and for giving us a reason to cheer on another champion of health!
As soon as we’re done exchanging high fives, we’ll send you tracking information so you can track your package. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us.”
Now I need an honest hands up. Who has seen a better copy than this? Anyone? Yes? All right. So this is not a lot of people. I think this is one of the most fantastic copies when you order a product. Why? Because let’s break it down. So “Heather”. It is very specific, right? It is her, and she rocks, so we’re praising her, telling her she is cool because she has ordered our product. Then it goes into this huge story about what happens, how they’re so excited and there’s confetti and popping champagne and can’t wait for her to use their product. So it is very personable. Now Heather is in the audience, I’m going to ask her, Heather, do you still use native deodorant?
NEVENA: What does this mean? They rock. This means that it works. It really does. It is taking that extra time and thinking in your head, okay, what is going to make my customer feel so special? Well, making them feel special is showing them how excited we are that they’re part of our team, and the best way to do that is by telling a story. Getting specific, just calling someone out by their name is so important. Getting emotional really brings in the results, and being to the point. So a lot of people think that emotion and empathy means you have to write essays about how the leaves are falling and the tear dropped down someone’s — that’s not it. That’s a great novel, but this can be very emotional by just being personable, and you can do all of that in your copy and be to the point. It doesn’t have to be a long copy.
So, I said at the beginning that I would show you another way you can add empathy. So we’ve talked about how you can do it in your copy, how you can adjust all those things, but I want to show you another, I think a powerful way you can empathise with your customers, and that is by introducing storytelling. I told you a little story at the beginning on presentation about my dad reading to me, telling me stories. Does anyone here remember what my cat’s name was? Hermione, you remembered my cat’s name. I can promise you one thing: you can go home, six months will pass and you will remember my cat’s name, and that’s why stories are so great because you will remember them, you will no longer think of me like this, but as a chubby little girl in bed with her cat waiting for the phone to ring, because you can visualise what I used to do and what I felt.
There is a little bit of signs in storytelling, I want you to believe it, I want to get into why it is so important, because when we hear stories, two things happen. Our brain releases two important hormones, one of them is cortisol and what this does it grabs our attention so it alerts us. We suddenly start paying attention because it is a story, something we’re interested in. But the other one I really want to focus on is oxytocin. So yes, there is such a thing as a hormone which actually increases your empathy, it makes you emotional. I’m not sure if any of you have heard of Paul Zak, he’s a neuroscientist and did a fantastic talk about oxytocin, but he talks about different ways of releasing it and what the effect of it is on people.
So he says that oxytocin is actually a trust molecule. What does this mean? So we get a surge of oxytocin and we feel more connected to people, we want to help them. We are more inclined to do good things. He in fact calls it the moral hormone, which is really interesting, because when you listen to a story, you feel like you get to know the person and you then decide if you like them or you don’t, right? So if you like someone you’re more likely to help them. And this is exactly why it is so important.
Now, Paul Zak also talks about different ways of releasing oxytocin and he says he has got a great nickname, it is Dr Love. And he says that essentially, you can hug people, and by hugging someone eight times a day, they become a happier person. So if you haven’t hugged anyone today, please do. But again, it is very odd because you can’t, we’re already talking about it you can’t just smile at people and then go to hug them and get them to buy a product. That would be very scary if you just went up to people trying to hug them, so you’ve got to try to find a different way of getting that oxytocin flowing in someone’s body, and it is by storytelling, so I’m going to play you a little video which will show you exactly what it is like to tell a great story, at least in my opinion, so it is a good example of a story. So if you don’t identify with it, just listen to the storytelling.
“I suppose my story starts like anyone else’s. My parents wanted what was best for me and not to have to experience the struggles that they did, so I pursued a business degree, and then afterwards I planned to pursue law school. Then, when I was 21, my life changed. I found myself hanging upside down by my seat-belt, my family’s SUV had flipped over several times before coming to a stop. Both my parents were taken from me that day. My mum was killed instantly, and my dad died hours later in the hospital.
“I knew that saying goodbye to two people I loved would be hard, but what I wasn’t expecting was how hard the aftermath would be. Everyone was wondering what I would become in light of this tragedy, there is a lot of pressure, a lot of noise. I’ll never forget the last words my mother said to me. She was sitting in the passenger seat of the car and seconds before the accident happened she turned around and she said to me: “Where do you want to go?” The next moment was chaos and she never got to finish that sentence. But her voice, that question, where do you want to go, is forever frozen in my memory. I decided the best way to honour my parents is to find the answer that worked for me, for Jennifer Paige, not for anyone else. Soul Carrier is the manifestation of that, every handbag I design is created to serve as a daily reminder to ignite people to do what they’re meant to do. I don’t know where to be when someone asks you that question, where do you want to go, or if you will have to ask it of yourself. But when that day comes, I hope that soul Carrier can be a reminder to tune out the noise and choose the path you were meant for.”
What did you guys think? Did you think it was a good story? No? It was okay, it was okay. Did anyone identify with it? Yeah. Does anyone know what she was selling? Do we know? Handbags, but was it obvious? Was it clear straight away that she was selling handbags? No. Did she ever say what the handbags were made out of or what they cost? Okay. Any women in the room, would you buy that handbag? No?
FROM THE FLOOR: I’d consider it.
NEVENA: You’d consider it, okay. This was a release video. So what does this mean? This was the video that talks about the origin of the story, and they worked on the copy and it actually showed that after telling the actual story, it, the conversion rate was increased by 36 per cent, which is interesting. Why? Because she focuses on the feeling of the bag, she doesn’t actually sell you the bag, or show it to you from all angles or models and how you can wear it or what it goes with, but she tells you why it is important to her. It is important to her because she’s following her dream and she wants you to take the handbag, so every time you have it and look at it, and you say, you know what? I’m going to follow my dreams, and I bought this handbag. So she’s asking you to cancel out and take away all of the white noise and focus on what matters, and what is really effective about it here is that she sells the handbag through her own story.
Now, it is important to remember, it is not about the magnitude of the story. So yes, she has a tragic story but you don’t need that in order for her story to be effective. You need to be able to tell it, to have the skills to tell the story. So it could be anything. It could be like a toothbrush in a sink and a soap, right? So it could be anything. I am going to show you where you can find your story, whatever product you’re selling, whatever thing you want to sell, including WordPress management, which is what we do. So finding your story, one example is the one we’ve just seen is the birth of the idea, so the origin story.
So what was it that propelled you to do it? So for her, it was this tragic event, but it could be anything. It could be the fact you felt it was the right thing to do, that you wanted to do, and any type of birth story is very powerful if told well.
Transformations. So what is this? It is before, then comes your product, then it’s the after. So it is a case study. Talk to your clients, find out how their lives are different, how you’ve improved their lives and that’s a fantastic story.
Objections. So this is a slightly difficult one because it’s all the reasons that people have said to you: “No, we don’t want to use your product.” Go and talk to people. If they say “You know what? We don’t want to use your product because we don’t like your customer service”, find that, change it, and tell that story. Say why you’ve changed it, how have you changed that no to a yes? And it can be very effective.
Finally, what makes you different? There are so many products on the market today, and it is all — it is very hard to find a blank space, so you need to find what makes you different, what makes you unique. So when you’ve found your story, you need to be able to craft your story. How do you do that? You focus on one moment, or one person. So it is very easy when you look at an origin story, you think: oh yeah, there were ten of us and then one person came up with the idea and then we all sat in the pub and then this happened and that happened, but focus on one thing. It is that one moment that makes all the difference, or that one person. Don’t put too many people or moments in there.
Set the scene. So make sure you’re vivid. Make sure you use your language, use the emotions, take your opportunity to really describe what is happening, how you can really portray that story, bring it to life.
Okay, this is an obvious one, because we’ve been talking about emotions and empathy, so make sure you include them. It is so easy to allude to a story, to allude to something that is happening, and it is so much more difficult to really put the emotions and tell it, but make sure you do, because it will be that much more effective.
And finally, offer a directive. It is a CTA, basically. Make sure your story has a direction that people take action. So she ended her video, if you guys remember, with you know, the words on the video when she was telling you: every time you buy your bag and every time you look at it, I want you to remember, follow your dreams. So she is giving you a directive, but telling you to follow your dreams. It is very clever. So make sure you do the same thing.
Finally, this might be very obvious, but a lot of people forget to do this: tell your story. There are so many different ways you can tell a story. And they’re so beautiful. So you can do it with video. Again, we’ve just seen this example. You can do it on your website. I mean, really work on the “About” page, don’t put “Oh, this company was founded in this and this year, and this is who works here, and this is what we do”. Get behind it, tell the story. Who are you? Who are the people behind the company and why should customers come to you?
Testimonials. They are great. Talk to your clients, get them to give you a quote, what they think is the best thing about your company, include case studies. They’re a brilliant way of showing your product in a real life example.
Social media, Blogs, e-mails, tweets, Instagram. Any of those. I know that a lot of you are probably thinking oh, you know, social media is so overwhelming, I don’t want to Tweet all the time, but you can tell great stories.
And finally, presentation. I mean, presentations are a great way, because you are right there in front of the people and you can really change someone’s mind if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, about your product, who you are, you can stand there and change someone’s mind, and people take presentations for granted because there is so much material online. I mean you can watch Linda courses and YouTube videos but they’re so powerful because you’re right here, people can ask you questions and really understand you, so take every opportunity you have to go and present.
I mean, WordCamp is a great way of doing that because you get a great supportive community. So make sure that you take advantage of that.
So what I want to do is I really want to conclude by saying that, in essence, it is important to make sure you understand people. And one of the companies that have done such a good job at it is Airbnb. Who here has ever used an Airbnb? Put your hands up. Who here has seen it in stories? All right. So not a lot of people. But it is a new thing that they’re trying, and I promise in a year’s time you guys are going to be all reading these Airbnb stories. Why? Because they transform travel. No longer are you going to stay at someone’s apartment or staying in that city; you’re living that story.
You get to meet Michael, who actually — that’s a great one. I mean, if you’re going to pick one, read that one. He talks about his experience as a marathon runner, and you get to meet all these people, and it is no longer I’m just going to Berlin, or I’m just flying to Florida, but you’re going there and connecting and living with someone else there and experiencing what their life is in that city.
So that’s what is so important about it. It can transform your opinion.
So just to summarise, because I know I have given you a lot of information, but I’ve tried to give you as many concrete examples so you can really see the power of empathy. In essence, one of the most important things that we’re all born with, which is empathy, and that we all need to survive, we have completely forgotten in marketing. Technology has come, and we have all gone on to the technology island and are sending tweets and using lots of cool new stuff that’s helping us be more efficient and effective, but what it has done is cut down all of our interaction time with people, so if you bring it back a little bit and take a step back from all of that white noise, as Soul Carrier calls it, and you focus on what it is important, why you need to talk to people, why you need to connect with them. I promise you, you can do that very simply by reevaluating your copy and telling the story. And you will see an increase in customer acquisition and customer retention.
And if any of you want to try it, you can always think about the toothbrush in the sink, and the soap, and how they create one happy family. Thank you very much. [applause].
Are there any questions? Or do I …
DENISE: Thank you so much.
NEVENA: You’re welcome.
DENISE: Does anyone have any questions?
FROM THE FLOOR: I’ll just hold the microphone. In this kind of modern world that we live in that people are starting to call post-truth era, do you think there’s a kind of a risk that some of the robotic empathy that can come from these sorts of things can be seen a little bit simply, and what do you think is going to be the future for this sort of approach?
NEVENA: I think you’ve made a good point. I think it can easily get very cynical, especially when you call out things like just putting someone’s name, because you code that. So you can do that so people recognise what your name is, and they put the name down, so that’s what I mentioned earlier, being specific. I think you need to look at it a little bit more behind that, and that’s why I encourage people so much to focus on actual stories and to focus on the emotions, because everyone who started a company or works for a company, what makes them good is because they really believe in it and believe in the product, and that’s actually the most powerful thing that any company has, essentially, is people. It is the story behind it. And then everything else comes, because the people make the product, they do the customer service.
So I think there is definitely a little bit of a chance of that happening, and I really hope that — or I’m going to do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen and that we can really take it back a little bit, and go back to the 16th century and really just tell those stories with the candle and really make it work, so I hope that answers your question as well.
Any more? Anyone else?
DENISE: Anyone else?
FROM THE FLOOR: I suppose it is kind of related to that we’re kind of losing the professional register of speech, do you know what I mean? This dispassionate means of communicating on business, and that is just kind of slowly receding now into the past. And I wonder if that’s — if you can endorse that wholly as a good thing, because I find it exhausting, the fact that I’ve got, you know, 100 e-mails in my inbox and each one of them is trying to make me feel something in particular, and I mean wrenched from: ah, joy at this, despair at that. Ah, it is just so tiring. Is this something we need to use in moderation here? Is there a downside here?
NEVENA: Absolutely, yes. Totally, absolutely. It is exhausting because the lines are getting so blurred, right, like you said. Before, it was very — business was very professional and businesslike, and you would talk differently when you were at work and when you were at home. So I get that entirely. It can get too much and people do go overboard, but I still think we get way more e-mails that are just like sign-up, do this, do that, but just go into my spam that I don’t even look at. I still think I would pay more attention to something which a little bit sparked my interest. I think the problem there is, as well, that a lot of us get a lot of irrelevant e-mails that we don’t want. If someone e-mailed me something about planting a new flowerpot, I mean I’m terrible, every single plant I have dies. I only have a cactus. That wouldn’t interest me. They would sell me cactuses that were dancing and it wouldn’t interest me, so I think it is important to also be relevant, which is one of the difficulties, I guess, in marketing. So stay tuned, I’ll tell you what I do with that.
DENISE: And there was a question here?
FROM THE FLOOR: Hi. I was just wondering whether you have a different approach for men and women. Because I can see how some things are — women are, to me, seem kind of a little bit more empathetic than men are. So do you have a different approach, or do companies take a different approach?
NEVENA: Yes definitely. We were talking about this recently. So my colleague is laughing because he is very touchy-feely, but that’s really a good point, and you’re right. There is definitely a different approach. It is important to remember that you’re not your user and this is something that we talked about again recently, and you need to identify who your users are. A lot of the users — I write, and a lot of the users are developers, and I write for them. I’m not a developer. I’m not a guy. You just have to identify. So what I do is I get to interview a lot of them, I chat, I go to these events and talk to them and think: okay, let’s see what clicks, what are they interested in? What’s really fascinating to them? Then I try to introduce that. That’s the whole idea of trying to take somebody else’s perspective and putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. I think every good marketer needs to be able to do that. It is a really good. Thank you.
DENISE: Any other questions? I wanted to say that sometimes with the fresh eyes you tell a story really differently than a developer might themselves be able to tell it. Have you noticed that, when you approach a story, that the way you craft it and frame it is somewhat different than how other people may tell their own stories?
NEVENA: Yeah definitely. I think it is important to take both angles. Sometimes it is really good when the person himself or herself tell the stories, because it’s the personal touch but other times it is important to be able to tell it from someone else’s perspective, because there are a lot of eyes and everyone sees things differently, and maybe you’ll be able to relate to someone else. But both are really important to incorporate in your marketing.
DENISE: Do you feel sometimes that when empathy is invoked, coming back to the question over there, that there’s somewhat of a feeling of deception? Like: oh, I thought you were telling me a personal story, and now I see you are trying to sell me something. How do you avoid that in storytelling?
NEVENA: I think you do have to remember that when you do e-mails and blogs, and things like that, they can’t be for every single person specifically. So I think the Native Deodorant did a good job because they told this cool story and everyone gets excited in the office, but at the end it is like we are tracking. So there is a paragraph which says, “but remember we’re going to track all your progress, we’ve high-fived and we are going to track your product and send it to you.”
So there has to be a break. You have to go back to reality. A story is a story, but you have to remember it is for everyone.
It is the same thing with novels. We all read them and visualise them differently, so each person will interpret it in their own way, which makes it so special.
Yay. That makes sense?
DENISE: Any other questions? I just have one more comment. Sometimes, or a question for myself. Do people often feel reluctant to share of themselves? For example, with the Soul Carrier, this was a very personal story. Do people often feel like: wait a second, I don’t want people to maybe know so much about me personally? And how do they work around that?
NEVENA: The video I showed isn’t actually the one on YouTube, because this is the original that we worked on. So because the first time the video was told, exactly what you said: it was a little bit different. It wasn’t so personal. But I think it is important to explain to people that, especially in this case, that it is you that’s created it, so you were the best thing about that product. So it is difficult to open up, but once you take that first step, or break the ice, whatever you like, then it becomes much easier to tell your story. But it is a challenge, and I think it is very difficult to encourage people, but if you get someone very passionate, you’re more like to tell them your story, I hope. Yeah.
DENISE: Any other questions or comments?
NEVENA: You guys are really making me sweat. I like it.
FROM THE FLOOR: I was wondering what you thought about other people’s stories, you spoke about Airbnb, but those in my mind come to people who have bad experiences and being on the news, and the PR side of things.
NEVENA: That’s a really good point. I don’t know if any of you keep up with them, they did a whole campaign about diversify. Have you seen that? Because apparently a lot of hosts, there was some discrimination and so they did — they have great PR, and they did a great campaign talking about how they’re trying to diversify. I actually think this is the first thing Airbnb has done, because it is great, because it is coming from the people, because they’re the ones writing the story. It is not actually anyone behind Airbnb, but there is lots of stuff where people try to cover with stories and try and shape things differently. I mean, that’s always going to happen. People are always going to do that, you can’t avoid that you just hope you’re not one of those people and you’re doing the right thing and telling your story the right way, so to speak.
Any other questions? Last question, as I’m told. So if anyone has a last question, this is your chance. No?
DENISE: I do. I just wanted you to elaborate on that focus for a moment. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to — or companies trying to tell stories that were a bit too diffused, and you didn’t know where it was going. So could you elaborate on that focus on a moment?
NEVENA: Yeah. Just to keep it short, but basically I studied languages and literature, and I’m a bit of a bookworm, which I’m sure you guys have already guessed. So the key to having a very good story is people try and tell everything. You can’t tell everything in detail without it being, you know, thousands of pages, which some very famous people, very great writers, have done. But there’s a very small amount who can pull it off. So my advice to people who do, if you’re attempting to write a story, is focus on one thing. You can play around with it. You can take a banana and try and describe a banana and why it is so great, and the first time you tried banana. Anything. Really simple things, try and tell it, and you’ll get better at it. And then you’ll learn how to focus on that particular — on the banana and the first taste of it, for example. And you’ll get better at it.
It is just practice. I did say empathy is a bit like yoga. You do have to practice it for it to become sort of — become better at it. Yeah.
DENISE: Thank you so much. We all learned a lot. [applause].
Thank you for coming out, and remember, once again, we have extra tee shirts. So if you want to go collect one for your children, you can collect them now. Thanks.