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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

The Power of an Empathic Brand

Maria Ross, founder of Red Slice, author, speaker, podcast host and empathy advocate, demonstrates how empathy powers success in leadership and branding. In our conversation, we discuss Empathy Habits and tips for creating an empathetic brand. Maria emphasizes empathy's pivotal role in fostering genuine connections not only within the organization but with customers.

Notes from the Show

Maria Ross, the founder of Red Slice, is a Speaker, Author, Facilitator, Wave Maker, and Strategic Brand Advisor, with a core focus on empathy advocacy. Her mission is to foster growth and impact through the power of empathy. With books like "Empathy Edge," "Rebooting My Brain," and the forthcoming "Empathy Dilemma," she serves as a bridge to empathy for skeptics.

Maria explains the multitude of data demonstrating the profound link between empathy and various aspects of success, from performance and engagement to cultivating winning cultures and fruitful collaborations. She emphasizes that brand and culture are inseparable, advocating that fostering empathy begins with leadership, and will span out throughout an organization as it is strengthened.

Strengthening Habits - Empathy is an attitude and a practice

  1. Practice presence - silence the "monkey mind" and make space for another person's perspective. 

  2. Be curious - ask questions instead of voicing your own opinion; use the magic words “tell me more”.

  3. Actively listen - be in the room without distractions but also reflect back to your communication partner, ensuring no one goes away with a misunderstanding.

Creating an Empathetic Brand - Elevating the truth of your story

  • Listen to AND echo your customers

  • Be clear and concise in communicating connection

  • Except feedback as a gift

Along with the tips from today’s episode, you can learn more from Maria by checking out her website, LinkedIn, joining her email list, taking a masterclass, and reading her books.

What's Inside:

  • How empathy drives growth and impact across various roles.

  • Empathy's role in organizational success.

  • Strengthening habits to embed empathy into your organizaition.

  • How to create an empathetic brand, authentically.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:38

Hello, everybody, welcome back to stop the noise. My guest today is Maria Ross, who is a speaker, facilitator, author and empathy advocate. And Maria has spent decades helping forward thinking leaders and teams connect and engaged through empathy to accelerate growth and impact. Maria has authored multiple books, the Empathy Edge is the one that that I'm most familiar with. She has a new one that's coming out in September called the empathy dilemma. And she's a TED speaker. She's written for every magazine under the sun that this stuff going. Interesting story about Maria, she really understands the power of empathy, because in 2008, soon after she started her own business, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that almost killed her, and that'll certainly open your eyes. And so I really, I, she explores that she's got a book called rebooting my brain where she, she looks at the critical importance of empathy and healing and overcoming adversity. And I'm just thrilled to have you here, Maria,

Maria Ross 1:44

thank you for having me. I'm glad to have the conversation.

Susan Tatum 1:47

You know, I was thinking about when we first met, I went and I looked, and it was May of 2020. When boy, everything was falling apart.

Maria Ross 1:57

Totally, totally.

Susan Tatum 1:58

And, you know, I think one of these things that, that we did a little bit of work together. And one of the things that we saw eye to eye on besides the, in addition to the importance of empathy was we got to talk to people. Yeah, we just got to get out there and have conversations.

Maria Ross 2:15

Yeah. And you were instrumental in helping me start conversations with people as I was launching my new podcast at the time, the empathy edge, which is still going strong, almost four years later

Susan Tatum 2:25

Forgot about that part

Maria Ross 2:28

I know, oh, and you were helping me find good guests and connect with people that could be guests, but also could potentially be clients. And you really helped me open up that that conversation. So it wasn't a sales conversation, quote, unquote, it was really just a conversation about mutual benefit, which was the reason that the podcast is so successful now. So thank you.

Susan Tatum 2:50

Oh, for the listeners, I did not ask her to say that. So um, I think there's probably nobody on earth that knows more about empathy than you are. So maybe you you do so maybe you can answer a question for me. And that is what is empathy?

Maria Ross 3:06

Yeah, I love this question. Because when I was researching the empathy edge, there was about a billion, you know, give or take definitions of empathy out there. The definition has changed over time, as we've learned more about the brain and psychology, the definition of empathy was different in the 1700s than today, it actually meant something. The word sympathy actually meant empathy back then. So language evolves, and, but where I landed on for the purpose of the book, and the purpose of the work that I do now around leadership, training, and applying empathy to cultures and brands, is really that empathy is the ability to see, hear and understand another person's perspective. And where appropriate, feel it, but you don't always have to feel it, and use that information to act with compassion. So compassion is really empathy, in action. But I think the important thing there is to remember that that empathy is both a cognitive exercise, there's something called cognitive empathy, where we imagine what somebody's worldview is or perspective or experience, we use our brain. Then there's emotional empathy or affective empathy, which is where we relate and connect with the emotions. I like to liken emotional empathy to like if a husband feels labour pains as his wife is in labour, right? You're really feeling that whether you've had that experience or something similar to that experience that evokes those emotions. That's where you're really connecting based on emotion, you're using those mirror neurons in our brains. And they might be crying, you might be crying, they might be telling you a really scary story, you start to sweat and you're really scared. So you're you're connecting with those emotions, but you don't have to. Both of those things can lead to compassion, but really cognitive empathy is enough to to leverage in the workplace, for example, and be able to see another person's point of view and act appropriately.

Susan Tatum 4:58

The obvious thing that reason we would want to be empathetic so that we're not jerks and think that ours is the only way.

Maria Ross 5:06

I love that. Yeah.

Susan Tatum 5:08

but it really Yeah, I mean, I think it feels good to be allowing you to connect with somebody on a different level. Tell us about why related to business then of why is it so important?

Maria Ross 5:24

Yeah, I mean, what I love about what I tried to do with the empathy edge was to build the business case for empathy for sceptics, who thought, Oh, this isn't important, this has no place in our business model. We don't need to waste money training people on empathy. There are a host of data and research out there that shows the link between empathy and performance, engagement, collaboration, winning cultures, high performing teams, and then from the external point of view, customer connections, customer loyalty, in some cases, increased customer revenue. And so there really are a lot of vectors around which having an empathetic leader or an empathetic culture or an empathetic brand actually benefits the business from an ROI perspective. And that's what I set out to do with the empathy edge.

Susan Tatum 6:11

So should we go into that now? Or should we talk about how to strengthen your your ability to be empathetic? Which ..

Maria Ross 6:20

Yeah, I think I think it's all interrelated. Because really, you know, when I, as a brand strategist, I look at brand and culture as two sides of the same coin. And you can't just pretend to have an empathetic brand. And meanwhile, behind the curtain, your your culture and your employee engagement is falling apart, it's just not possible. It's just not sustainable to create a genuine brand that connects with your customers. And so you really have to start at the leadership level at the individual level, which is strengthening the empathy of your leaders. And then that expands out into creating a culture and environment that fosters and rewards and celebrates empathy. And then you can have a brand in the market that actually makes a promise and a connection and a commitment to customers. So building your own strength, your own empathy, and flexing that muscle is the first step in ensuring that the organisation can be empathetic. And so you know, one thing I want to mention is that empathy is innate, innate to us as humans, barring certain outlying disorders, we're born with it, it just for some of us, the muscle might atrophy. And so the excuse of people to say, Well, I'm just not very empathetic is actually kind of lame. That's like saying, I'm never going to be in shape, because I never go to the gym. Right? Yeah, so what

Susan Tatum 7:39

it's an attitude

Maria Ross 7:40

it's an attitude. And it's also a practice. And you have to make, you know, what we try to do with young children is foster that natural empathy. So they don't have to think about it as hard. But as an adult, you can very much make a decision to say I am going to be empathetic. So there's three tips that I love to talk about in terms of the the strengthening habits, the the reps at the gym, if you will, to strengthen your empathy. And the first one is actually about you not about other people. It's practising presence, it's making sure that you ground yourself, and you silence the monkey mind. And you make space in your brain for another person's point of view. So that means you have to deal with your own insecurities, your own triggers your own mood, and you have to really be grounded. So you are present in the conversation that you're having. So that you can allow that space and allow that other perspective to be voiced without you meeting it with fear or defensiveness. So that's really the first step. And presence can be, you know, I always joke, it doesn't have to be seven days at an ashram in India, you can take 10 minutes a day, and you can read or sip coffee without a screen in front of you, or go for a jog or knit or pray or do yoga or meditation, if that's your jam. So it's finding whatever that mindfulness practice is for you to settle your mind. And if you think about it, when are we the most frantic? And in self preservation mode? It's when we're going going going, right? We don't want to we don't want anyone to insert their opinion, or their perspective, or their How about this idea when we're in that frame of mind. So we've got to settle ourselves and practice presence. That's, that's the first step

Susan Tatum 9:22

so you know, we're busy. And we're going going going with don't get in my way, because I already have the answer to this.

Maria Ross 9:29


Susan Tatum 9:30

There it will also when you something happens in a conversation and you get defensive, you would be the same way, wouldn't it?

Maria Ross 9:37

Yeah, exactly. And that's why one of the other tips is to get is to be curious. So the more that I and I've kind of trained myself on this, the more I bristle at something someone might say or feel that resistance go up to an idea that someone has I have trained myself to ask a question instead of voicing an opinion. So get curious about why do you think that way? What is your perspective on that? What is your goal here? And just keep asking questions tell me more are the three magic words in any conversation, whether you're just connecting, you know, socially or casually or whether it's a tense situation, it's training yourself to just continually ask questions and get the other person talking. So that you don't have to guess what their perspective is. They'll tell you,

Susan Tatum 10:21

I have this overwhelming urge to say, Tell me more.

Maria Ross 10:26

I know it's addictive. Yeah.

Susan Tatum 10:29

Okay, so we've got presence. We've got curiosity.

Maria Ross 10:33

Yes, there. I do have a third one, which is the the counterpoint to curiosity is when you ask questions, you want to make sure you're actively listening to the answers. And not just speaking to, you know, not just waiting to wait your turn to speak, right? So. So how can you actively listen, that is about again, if you're practising presence, you can be in the room without distractions, you can be focusing on what they're saying, what they're not saying, body language, where their eyes light up all of those cues that we get. But also active listening is about reflecting back what the person has said to you so that you can make sure you're having the same conversation. I, you know, unscientifically, nine times out of 10, a lot of our communication problems happen, because we think the person said something they didn't say, or we think something was implied that wasn't implied. And so it really helps to, without judgement, to just be able to say so, you know, Susan, what I hear you saying is, you don't think this is the best idea to take my business in this direction, because these might be the issues I might be facing. Did I hear that right? And then you have the opportunity to say yes, and feel heard? Or you have the opportunity to course correct and say no, that's that's actually not what I meant, what I meant was this, so that no one goes away misunderstanding, what's what's happening in the conversation. So that's a really useful tool to just say, let me let me just take a moment and reflect back what I thought I heard you say, before I respond, that is just a really great way to make sure that you are actually connecting, and you were actually really understanding the other person's point of view.

Susan Tatum 12:01

And you know, and I think that comes in, it's important in any kind of a conversation, I think the examples that we're using almost almost skew towards something that's a little bit of a conflict. And to not get defensive, which is very important. But I think it's also when you're having a conversation, I mean, let's say you're talking to a new client or a new prospect to really be sure you understand what they're saying, and not make assumptions, which is easy to do. Well, I heard these words, but if you if you feed it back to them, like you're suggesting, then you can avoid a lot of misunderstanding down the path. Yeah, okay.

Maria Ross 12:40

Yeah, I don't I don't have in front of me. But there's studies that have been done at USC, and that were published in the Harvard Business Review around what makes a successful salesperson. And it was not very low on the list was understood their product, very low on the list was, you know, kept to a pitch, what was number one, and number two, in equal parts was curiosity and ambition, empathy, sorry, empathy, and ambition. So empathy combined with ambition enables you to have a conversation versus a sales pitch. And so that's why it's really important, even if it's, you know, you're both there because you want to be there. You're not having an argument about anything. But are you actually listening to what the prospect or the customers communicating their needs actually are? And can you be in a position where you may have to say, actually, I don't, I don't think you need our solution, I think you need something else can you get in that consultative place. Now, there's also an opportunity to listen to their needs, and then address how your product, your solution you're offering can help them with that. And so you, you're tailoring the conversation to what you're actually hearing in the moment, versus I've got this script, and I've got these slides. And I don't know about you, but I have sat through, you know, sales pitches where they want to show me the demo and show me all the drop down menus. And I'm like, No, what I want to see is like, can we take this scenario, and you show me how that gets done in your solution? And some of them lose their minds? Like they can't, they're like, no, no, but I need to show you these things. First. That's not an empathetic sales conversation.

Susan Tatum 14:11

I think that's one of the problems with scripts.

Maria Ross 14:15


Susan Tatum 14:16

and so you know, conventional sales methodology would have some people using scripts, the salesperson is just got out, be listening to what the prospect is saying, because then they just go to the next question.

Maria Ross 14:28

Right. I think, you know, as someone who had used to have to put together those scripts for enterprise sales use, I think they have their place in terms of when that comes up. You have an answer at the ready, right. But what we're not teaching salespeople enough is how to tap into their empathy and be able to have the conversation in the moment on the fly and understand how they can adapt the benefits and the features or the the offerings that they have to bring to bear to what the customer is saying that they need or want because the customer may not know they need that widget that you have in your software as an example. And they don't actually care that you have that widget. But if you can say, Oh, I hear your problem is this, and we have a solution to that. It's this widget that does this thing that speaks directly to the issue that you're having. So we're not we're not helping them think on the fly. And I don't know that we're you know, as someone who's worked with enterprise sales teams, I've seen that the cream of the crop, and I've seen folks that just flounder and fail. And most of the ones that flounder and fail are the ones that don't know how to have an ad hoc conversation, where they're actually reading and probing and asking questions and adapting to the answers they get back. And that is a skill you can build. And it starts with empathy.

Susan Tatum 15:43

Yeah. And active listening right?

Maria Ross 15:45

and active listening. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Susan Tatum 15:49

Alright, so you're, most of your business has been around brand, empathetic brands. So let's talk about that for a bit. Because I know the listeners here are many of them are building their own brands for the first time. And so obviously, they should have an empathetic brand. What does that involve?

Maria Ross 16:14

Yeah, so I, you know, when I do my brand strategy projects, which are fewer and farther between now, but you know, I've worked with solopreneurs, who are consultants that are maybe leaving corporate and hanging up their own shingle, or I've worked with companies that have like a management team with very diverse points of view that we have to wrangle those points of view into a cohesive story. And the process is really the same. You're asking the same questions, you're offering the same prompts. It's just how you synthesise the information and bring people along, it's a lot easier when you have one person making the decision about their own consulting practice, and what they're comfortable talking about, but, but there are a few tips around how to build an empathetic brand. And I want to just say, I know that there are people that are sometimes uncomfortable with the notion of building an empathetic brand. It sounds very disingenuous, right? Like they're putting this empathy veneer on their business. That's not what we're talking about, we're talking about, and you and I see marketing very much the same way that it's about elevating the truth of your story. It's not about lying to people. So when we're talking about building an empathetic brand, we're just applying some of these practices to how we determine what we're going to talk about what we're going to offer, how we're going to price it, how we're going to position it, and how we're going to talk about the benefits that we offer and the problems that we solve. And so one of the first tips is really to listen to your customers have conversations with prospects with customers, not necessarily to sell, but to get information. Again, empathy is about information gathering, right? And understanding someone's context. So instead of building your, your marketing messaging, or your positioning, or your brand story in a vacuum, go out and talk to people from the perspective of what are your goals? What are your values? What are your fears? What keeps you up at night? That's what I love to ask when I'm doing client or customer interviews, and write down their actual words that they're using now are they describing the problem? How are they describing the solutions that they need? Because the second tip is to first ask and then echo back. So in your sales materials on your website, in your elevator pitch, you're not saying what you want to say you are saying it how people are describing the problem or describing the solution they seek in their words. And that's when you get someone saying, oh my gosh, it's like you read my mind? Yeah.

Susan Tatum 18:38

Yes. I have a question for you there. One of the things that I like to do, if possible, when I'm talking with a client or a prospect, and then we're at the, you know, input is to record the conversation, if they're comfortable doing that for one thing, I take lousy notes. And I can't read them when even when it's hard. I think it's hard to listen actively, if you're having to take notes, and just emphasise the importance of what you are saying about in their own words, talking about their, their challenges and problems and opportunities and feelings, in their own words is really, really critical. But what do you find? Do? Is it weird to ask to record a conversation?

Maria Ross 19:27

It's only weird if you make it weird. So what I often do, because I do those sometimes as part of my brand engagements, especially for corporate is they will identify a few ideal customers they already have. And I will go talk to them about you know, why did you select this product? What problem were you trying to solve? How do you describe what the company does? I don't care what the company is saying on their website, or what they're saying for the analysts or the press. How do you actually describe the problem? And I tell them upfront, I'm recording this. It's confidential. We're just using it as input to help us better improve how we connect and engage with our customers. And, you know, people are not necessarily divulging deep, dark secrets. So they're usually fine with that. And I've actually had some that I've recorded where they were pretty critical of the company that I was actually working on behalf of. So they felt pretty comfortable. But as long as we just position it as I, and also I want to record this so that I can focus on what you're saying, like to your point, so I, you know, I'm not going to be able to take notes fast enough, is it okay with you, if I record this and transcribe this? I promise this will not go anywhere, or be you know, used publicly, and I have honestly knock on wood, I've never met a customer or a client or a prospect that was unwilling to do that.

Susan Tatum 20:36

I've had one or two.

Maria Ross 20:37

Tell me tell me

Susan Tatum 20:40

Well, it's all traced back to they were in corporate, and it's traced back to some legal department, communications. You know, something like that, their concern they're gonna say, the wrong thing.

Maria Ross 20:54

right. And I think in that situation, if I was hit with that situation, you just have to take notes. Like, it might not be great, but but you'll just have to be able to take notes. And that's where reflecting back can be really valuable of like, you know, can you hang on a second, can you can I make sure that I got that right, the point you were making, so you're still gonna glean some useful nuggets out of that, it might not be as accurate as if you were able to record it and then be able to review the transcript. But it's possible.

Susan Tatum 21:20

Yeah, yeah. Okay. So I distracted you about your the brand. We're two steps down, right.

Maria Ross 21:20


Susan Tatum 21:21

Listen to a customer. And then

Maria Ross 21:31

yeah, I mean, they're really kind of the same things is really asking, getting out there and talking with your customers and your prospects and doing sort of informational not are you interested in buying our product or purchasing our solution, but just we were talking to people like you, so that we can offer a better service to the market? Do you mind spending a half hour with us just telling us a little bit about your challenges, the kinds of solutions, you're seeking what keeps you up at night, all those great things and really understanding the customer's values. Because the other aspect of building an empathetic brand is that your mission and vision and values align with the customers that you seek. So you need to understand what they value. What they what they think is important, because those elements of your brand, your mission, your vision, your values are not just for internal use only, this is the thing I drive home with my clients all the time, those can actually be a lead attraction component. Because if you publicly state what those are, and they're not just like bullet points that don't mean anything, but you actually create a narrative around each of those then I as a prospect can go to your website, and not just see what you offer, but I can see what you're about. And I can see how your how you work. And if you word them and articulate them in a way where I understand why you having that value benefits me, as a prospective customer, I am more likely to make the call have the meeting, say Okay, I like the way you think. So as an example, so many companies talk about all the things they do, right? You go to their website I sell I provide I offer, which there is a place for that you need to explain what you do. But we also need to explain what the customer gets from all that great stuff that we do. What is the benefit from their point of view? And how do they benefit from why we do what we do? How do they benefit from our years of expertise? How do they benefit from our extensive network, you just need to flip the articulation of those things that said to you what that means that why that matters to you is because you get not just I offer but you get, and I spend a lot of my time flipping sentences for clients and helping them them think about it that way. And they go well, of course, they should know that if we say we've won all these awards, that means that we're trustworthy, and we're vetted, and we're credible. I'm like, No, you need to connect the dots for you to say, why does that award matter? And not some, like humble brag thing, but just, you know, we've been recognised three years in a row as the top provider of x. That means that you know that we have proven success behind us so that you can be confident that your project is going to go well, things like that. I mean, that was kind of articulately said, but you know what I'm saying.

Susan Tatum 24:20

That's pretty good. But that goes back to the asking so what? remember the benefits

Maria Ross 24:24

Yeah my favourite game. So what? Why does it matter? I do that, you know, and eventually what's what's really funny, Susan is that when I'm in when I'm in brand workshops with either like my solo clients or my corporate clients, I get really annoying about the so what game because they will list a laundry list of what I call features, not benefits. We do this, we offer this we have this technology. Great, great, great. So I play the sowhat game which is okay, so what why does that matter? And then they'll say they'll respond and I'll say so what why does that matter? Until finally they get to the point where they're angry at me. And they will yell something out like well because the customer gets blah And I'm like, there it is, you just went from saying we offer to the customer gets, and I had to make you angry to get you to do it. But I think we just think things are so obvious because we see how the dots connect. But we also have to remember how many marketing messages do people see a day, they don't have time to figure out the connection, we need to be very clear and concise in communicating it to them. Yep.

Susan Tatum 25:25

All right, what's next.

Maria Ross 25:26

So what next is, I always advise my brand clients, because you know, you're going to be having these customer conversations, potentially, or prospect conversations. And you want to be able to whether it's online on like a Yelp review, or you know, an NPS comment or whatever, you need to accept the feedback as a gift, you need to look at feedback, not as they're all trolls, because they're not some of them are just people that are really pissed off and want to be heard. And they're taking the time to let you know that something's not working for them. So think of it as free market research that you didn't have to pay for. And how you respond to that feedback is going to either build your brand up or ruin it for other people. So do you need to comment. Let's say there are online reviews? Do you need to comment every negative review? If it's valid? Yeah, you do. Because you're not just commenting back to that one person. Everyone else who sees that review is seeing how you show up and how you accept feedback as a gift. And when you are truly empathetic, you look at feedback with curiosity, not with defensiveness, you look at it as wow, I never thought of it that way. Tell me more about what that experience was like for you that was so bad. What can we learn from it, you meet it with humility, and humility is a part of empathy, because it helps you understand that your way may not be the right way, your perspective might not be the only perspective. So being able to accept that feedback as a gift is huge. And whether you're having one on one conversations and getting feedback, or whether it's in the public domain, and it's in it's on a public website, or you get you know, the flame email from a customer, take a breath, take a beat, and get curious and try to see is this something that maybe this person is saying something that many other people just never communicated? And then just stopped being a customer of ours? Or you know, there are every now and then yes, they might be a troll? Me to not meet it with that initially, right.

Susan Tatum 27:29

I remember, I don't remember if I learned it in school, or I learned it in the world. But to somebody who takes the time to complain, you've got a better chance of making a really good client or customer, out of that person, because they took the time and you how you react to it will affect, and you said, everybody that reads the review.

Maria Ross 27:50


Susan Tatum 27:51

But also, yeah, the the future with that person.

Maria Ross 27:53

There's a there's a great book, and I interviewed him for the empathy edge. Jay Baer is a marketing is a relationship expert. And he wrote a fabulous book called Hug Your Haters, which I highly recommend, which was about how to respond to negative feedback. And he gives some great examples of companies that were able to elevate their brand, by responding appropriately, to a really scathing negative review, because they did it in front of other people. And other people thought, wow, that's really great that that company responded in that way. And not just a simple, you know, oh, we're sorry, you're upset, here's 10 extra dollars to you know, but actually looking at it and going, Yeah, you're right, we should reassess our processes about this, we're going to take a look at this and make sure that this doesn't happen again. And so I love his work. And I love that book, which I highly recommend to anyone who does deal with getting public reviews on their work.

Susan Tatum 28:48

Okay, cool question that comes up to me is, what about dealing with positive feedback? I mean, is there because I know some people will say, I do it myself. I mean, when when somebody says something like, you know, I like great shirt, and then you say, Well, I've had this for, you know, 100 years, or I got this on sale or some stupid thing. What is that? What is that actually doing?

Maria Ross 29:11

Well, you don't want to negate or disincentivize people from giving positive feedback, right? Because especially if you've got customer service reps, if you've got a team of people, they're hearing complaints a lot. So being able to elevate the positive feedback that you get and communicating that out to the rest of the organisation and celebrating it and saying, you know, this is a big deal. This was like two lines and an email that someone said, Oh my gosh, Sara saved me today with what she did. Being able to create that culture of celebration magnifies everyone's desire to deliver that level of service to deliver that kind of customer experience. Because we know now we see oh, wow, people notice that the leaders notice that they celebrate that we have like a whole Slack channel about it. Whatever you do within your organisation to recognise and celebrate that when people see that done publicly, it does two things. One, it actually, like I said, it incentivizes them to do more and to raise the bar, but two they get an understanding of the culture. And they say, Oh, when I work here, this is how success happens. This is what is celebrated and rewarded here. And that will do more for your culture and engagement than you putting a pretty poster on the wall saying that, you know, customer service is our most important priority.

Susan Tatum 30:30

Excellent point. I this is this has been really enlightening and very, very good. And I want to leave a few minutes to talk about what you're up to. And your tell us about the new book that's coming out.

Maria Ross 30:45

So the new book is coming out. It's called the empathy dilemma how successful leaders balanced performance people and personal boundaries, which is really a direct outcropping from the work that I've been doing the last five years what people said they needed, they said, Okay, we're on board, we understand the ROI of empathy. We want to be people centred leaders and create people centred brands. And here's where we're getting stuck. Here's where we're having some challenges. Here's where we're burning out. And so the book is based on five pillars that leaders can shore up to make sure that they're not just empathetic, but they're effective. Because I believe that empathy and high performance can coexist. And we shouldn't have to choose either or it's a both and situation.

Susan Tatum 31:28

Okay. And it's going to be available in September, you said,

Maria Ross 31:31

it's going to be available in September in all the places people can order it for pre sale now and there keep the receipt because there will be some pre sale goodies and bonuses coming but yeah, it's available. Now. I think the pages are up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but it'll be available on request at local bookstores. And if folks join my email list at I have special offers going out as the launch gets closer, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Susan Tatum 31:57

you should be proud. I mean, that's, that's hard work.

Maria Ross 32:01

It's hard. It's hard to write a book.

Susan Tatum 32:04

And then you also have a course right?

Maria Ross 32:07

I do. I do. So I have a brand story breakthrough course. And it's for solopreneurs, coaches, consultants, marketers, freelancers, to help them build a brand story that connects and engages their right fit clients, not just any client, but their right fit clients. And I have a free masterclass, that kind of unveils a four step framework for building your brand story. That will be available at And so that's a free masterclass. It's chock full of value and information, people can take tonnes of notes and get a little sneak peek of what they might find in the course there as well

Susan Tatum 32:50

Awesome. Is that on demand? Or will it be yours?

Maria Ross 32:53

Yeah, they basically you basically can schedule when you when you're able to watch the webinar.

Susan Tatum 32:59

Oh, okay. Yeah. All right. We'll put that in the show notes.

Maria Ross 33:03

that would be great.

Susan Tatum 33:04

And then how do they get in touch with you, Maria?

Maria Ross 33:05

Well, they can go to my hub, which is And I highly recommend joining the email list. I have a newsletter that goes out every month with insights and inspiration. I have a podcast roundup because I have my podcasts, the empathy edge that I hope people tune into, and then I'm on LinkedIn as well. So I'm Maria J. Ross there and if you decide to connect with me, just tell me in a in a customise the note, personalise the note and make sure that I know that you heard me here. Right.

Susan Tatum 33:33

Well, thank you so much for stopping by this morning. Thank you. I really appreciate it. And we'll do this again.

Maria Ross 33:41

We will, it was so nice chatting with you. Have a great day.



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