Episode 10: Deploying Empathy


Chances are, empathy is not the first thing you think about when you consider the ideal mix of skills and attributes of American soldiers. Yet the military is beginning to appreciate how their officers need to understand the interests, values, and experiences of people up and down the chain of command, and of their foreign partners as well. Justin Bokmeyer is a graduate of West Point Military Academy who, after serving in Iraq, returned to help the school develop the next generation of military leaders.

He summoned Michael Ventura, who was employing a concept of “applied empathy” to advise corporate clients and officials in the Obama administration. The two were a bit of an odd couple — the straight-laced former cadet and the long-haired creative agency executive. But together they saw an opportunity to educate military officers on how to deploy empathy on the battlefield.

Michael Ventura is the CEO of Sub Rosa, a strategy and design studio which he founded in 2009. He is the author of Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership.

Justin Bokmeyer works in elite talent development for the NBA. A former captain in the US Army, he previously worked in performance and innovation in the athletic department of the West Point Military Academy.

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Mark Hannah