Reciprocal Altruism – the importance of empathy

Dev Patnaik with Peter Mortensen explored how organisations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power each of us has: empathy, the ability to connect with other people. Their book’s called ‘Wired to Care’ and it’s something I often come back to as a reference source.

They cite an example from 1893 when more than 200 leaders from over 40 countries came together for a Parliament of World Religions. The goal was to see if they shared any common ground. Imagine that happening today and how long it would take! Anyway, the leaders all had different religious beliefs but did find one thing they all shared as a unifying belief, The Golden Rule. Their declaration was ‘The Ethic of Reciprocity’, a belief that human’s have the capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, which is the root of moral behaviour.

Wired to Care goes on to explore great examples of brands that work to The Golden Rule, something which is a natural human behaviour and inherent in the human brain.

They highlight that when we become disconnected from other people, we can’t behave in a consistently moral way as we ‘simply have nothing to calibrate our behaviour by.’ A challenge they set in the Golden Rule is to ‘treat people even better than they might expect to be treated.’

This year we’re looking forward to celebrating people who are #kindaware, brands and testing ourselves with how we treat people through different Kindaware campaigns.

Pay it forward – the search to find the homeless man Ronald Davies

Chicago Redditors have managed to track down Ronald Davies, the homeless man who’s helping change perceptions about homeleness. Ronald featured in a video in 2012, as part of a series called Big Questions tackling challenging social issues like poverty and inmate rehabilitation. The video has recently re-emerged via Reddit and has since been watched 2million times, shared 117, 237 and has 67, 597 likes.

A Reddit user Gawker saw the video and made a plea to the community:

‘The guy doesn’t need money, he needs an opportunity. As a restaurant manager myself with a homeless shelter only a block away, I know my establishment has given plenty of people opportunities as a dishwasher and they’ve completely turned their lives around.

Sure, some of them turn out to be crackheads that disappear after the first paycheck, but that’s far and away the exception. Many of them have become model employees and even trainers for my staff. And besides, it’s not like you’re investing any significant amount of money on training or education if the guy doesn’t pan out.’


Meet Naoko Takano a happiness engineer

Happiness A few months ago I decided to move my blog over to self hosting. Easy peasy I thought but it was a bit of a pain and my blog was ‘down’ for a while.

Since starting my blog I’ve discovered and met some amazing people. I suddenly felt pretty stressed this ‘portal’ wasn’t there and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I somehow stumbled across the amazing Naoko Takano through her blog. It stated she was a happiness engineer for WordPress so I sent a cry for help!

With her help and Alon from Go Daddy (who kindly called me from the US to chat through stuff) I got it all sorted. Both went out of their way and it felt above and beyond their jobs.

I asked Naoko a few questions about her role with the nice name and here’s what she had to say:

You’re a Happiness Engineer, what does your role entail?
Happiness Engineer’s goal is to make users happy and we do whatever it takes. Support, documentation, testing are the main things but sometimes it goes beyond any defined tasks.
I am currently focusing on translation (coordinating with volunteer & professional translators). I also speak at WordPress events in Japan from time to time.
If you are curious about the details, check out this link. I love the fact one of requirement is “patience and grace”

Who came up with the name ‘Happiness Engineer’?
Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress and Automattic).

What inspires you or is the key to life?
The fact that anything is possible if I spend time and work hard.

What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone? Or someone has done for you?
The kindest thing I have done probably is patiently listening to a friend who was going through a very hard time.
The host family who let me live with them during my 2 year in high school in the U.S. were the kindest people I’ve met in my life and they certainly changed my life.

Thanks Naoko. I guess the host family left a lasting impression and your job title suits you.

How do we have empathy & how does culture start?

I started my blog in March and @theg has been a great supporter, thank you Guillaume!

He kindly shared this TedTalk with me and it blew my mind. It explains a lot of things: the ‘true social nature of the brain‘, how we have empathy, how culture spreads so quickly and why autism occurs. Further reading re-emphasised why companies customer service is so key and it’s good to see when brands put so much focus on their customers (and empathy towards them).

I’m not going to say much more but check out this video on mirror, otherwise known as Ghandi neurons.

Would love to hear any thoughts.

Here are a few great tips for improving empathy.