If you believe talking heads on TV, empathy is a bad thing for a Supreme Court justice to have.
It’s a must-have to be good in advertising:
In advertising agencies, empathy–in this case, the ability to understand an audience–is a skill, just like Photoshop prowess. It needs to be learned and honed for effective marketing. And yes, it should be an advantage for someone in advertising, at hiring time and on the job, if they come from a different background or upbringing than the majority of their co-workers. If creative people are judged by their unique talent, a unique background should be held in positive regard as well.
And let’s face it, ad people are a fairly homogenous lot: College-educated, white-collar, urban dwelling, working behind computers in well-lit, clean offices. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how many people in the world don’t fit that description. If you want a more accurate cross-section of humanity, go to the DMV or the security line at the airport. Might not be pretty, but it’s our audience.
It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.