Dev Patnaik: Obama is America’s Chief Empathy Officer

Question: What can companies learn from the Obama administration?

Dev Patnaik: When I wrote the book [“Wired to Care”], I was primarily focused on the business situation because I was looking at how companies can grow and prosper. And it seemed that empathy was the biggest differentiator. But what I’ve been most surprised about is how much empathy has become a larger trend, something that is being focused on at the highest levels of government even.

Barack Obama has become our chief empathy officer for the country. It’s just been amazing to see. When he was at the Saddleback Ranch last year and Rick Warren asked him, “Why do you want to be president?” The number one reason he gave was because his grandmother had taught him the value of empathy and he felt that that needed to be brought back to government and to America.

And when he was asked to choose a Supreme Court nominee, Obama said that he was looking for someone who first and foremost had a sense of empathy--and this is a big deal.

People flipped out on both sides of the aisle. What does he mean by empathy? Is empathy a good thing? Is it a bad thing?

You hear people on the right saying that, “Oh, by empathy he means we want someone who’s a push over.” And, that’s the sign of what’s wrong with this country. It seems like empathy has gotten a bad rap over the past 50 years in America. We’ve confused it with being touchy, feely or soft minded.

What it really means is just the intuitive ability to connect with other people, and Barack gets that. I think he’s leading us to a different place.

It’s a sign of Obama’s ability to connect with people that we don’t call him President Obama. We call him Barack. The people I know refer to him by his first name like he’s one of us.

 

Conducted on: June 24, 2009.

Companies that want to be prosperous can learn from the President’s intuitive ability to connect with people.

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Life is hard: Jordan Peterson and the nature of suffering

The Canadian professor's old-school message is why many started listening to him.

Jordan Peterson addresses students at The Cambridge Union on November 02, 2018 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. (Photo by Chris Williamson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth
  • The simplicity of Peterson's message on suffering echoes Buddha and Rabbi Hillel.
  • By bearing your suffering, you learn how to become a better person.
  • Our suffering is often the result of our own actions, so learn to pinpoint the reasons behind it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less