1. Newsletter

What’s Better Than Empathy?

Remember June, when school ended?

Remember March, when tens of millions of parents of schoolkids had to figure out how to adapt their schedules and experience to become educators?

Remember when we wondered when some kind of normalcy would resume?

Yeah, so much for that.

Instead of “Back to School,” which millennials like Paul Rudd may not know is a classic comedy starring the inimitable Rodney Dangerfield, the whole school season for every age should be renamed Dangerfield School.

It’s dangerous for everyone, and we can’t even process all the danger. It feels dangerous even if we have a choice to be fully remote or to send kids to school in-person.

It’s particularly dangerous for teachers, staffers, administrators, and everyone who’s spending time in these surroundings.

School isn’t just school though. New York City’s pre-pandemic population of 8.4 million included 1.1 million students. That’s 13% of the whole city. Add in parents and caretakers. Teachers. Custodians. Bus drivers. Babysitters. Mass transit operators. Restaurant and bodega operators near schools. Institutions hosting field trips. Lyft and Uber drivers. Police officers and security guards. Lunchroom chefs and monitors.

For most people, it’s not whether they’re affected by the schoolyear resuming. It’s how many ways they’re affected by it. Does it affect their families? Their businesses? Institutions they rely on? People they care about?

That’s the first degree.

When you get to the second degree, it’s everyone.


You might not have kids. You might not even know people who have kids. And yet you’re working for parents and caretakers, or hiring them, or collaborating with them.

This brings me to a theme that came up when Leslie Forde, founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, joined Serial Marketers for our weekly Salon video chat this week.

The word of the year that keeps coming up, beyond one like “pandemic,” is “empathy.” We need more empathy, but it isn’t enough.

Checking Google for a definition, it says empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

That’s beautiful.

We need something bigger and better than empathy though.

What’s a word for “the ability to accept that we can’t understand and share the feelings of another”?

Here’s what I propose:


It’s accepting what we can’t understand.

Humans have needed qualities like that throughout our history.

Now, however, we have the intellectual and moral tools to accompany our emotional controls. We have the capacity to know that Black Lives Matter and Love is Love and Jews Also Like Pizza (the anti-Semitism awareness campaign needs work).

Day to day, it’s not about ‘isms though. It’s about accepting that we don’t know what everyone else is going through.

We all have our own situations. We’re all going through a ton now. Even for those of us doing well, we’re stressed about the past or the future or because others we know aren’t doing as well as they should be.

Now, however, we can do better.

Consider the line in that brisk, chilling “Beauty and the Beast” song, “The Mob Song”: “We don’t like what we don’t understand — in fact, it scares us / And this monster is mysterious at least.”

We don’t have to like what we don’t understand. But we don’t have to instinctively dislike it either.

The fairytale has a lovely moral, but we don’t have to hook up with whoever or whatever scares us. If I followed that rationale in college, I’d have much better stories to write about in these newsletters.

So where was I?


Empathy isn’t enough.

Let’s practice omnipathy.

Omnipathy: the ability to accept that we can’t understand and share the feelings of another.

Who’s up for trying it?

What’s a good way to practice it?

And, as I always like to ask, what are you making of yourself?



Speaking of sharing… 

A special note of thanks goes to Chris Gorges, who set the all-time record for subscriber referrals and made me look up what the higher reward tiers are. He’s one of my favorite connectors whose involvement has made an outsized impact in Serial Marketers’ success. I’ve also been a client of his for a startup’s rebrand projects that remains some of the work I’m proudest of, all thanks to his team.

So, Chris, enjoy your forthcoming rewards. I’ll add an especially warm welcome to all the new readers who value your recommendation so highly. To such readers, you and I have at least one thing in common.

Thanks also to Rachel PasquaMatt WurstJaimee KniffenWilliam AlvarezWendy Weatherford MarksDavid KohlbergWilliam AlvarezDuc Luan DamGina Waldhorn, and Mike Marzano for spreading the word recently.


Please send over any events you’re hosting or attending, and I’ll add them to the list. All events below are virtual, and all times are EDT.

Tuesdays, 3pm
-9/22: Whose Job Is It Anyway? (Parsing Marketing vs. Sales Roles) with Jake Dunlap, CEO, Skaled Consulting
-9/29: Anna Bager, President & CEO of Out of Home Association of America (OAAA)
-10/6: Katie Perry, VP Marketing, Public.com
-10/13: Lindsay Stein, CEO, Today I’m Brave
Request access to RSVP: 

September 17, 4pm
Join the virtual 1:1 rapid-fire speed-meeting event to connect with fellow Serial Marketers, hosted by the Upstream app. Now it’s even on Android. If you can’t make the event itself but want to try it, join the group. This week, we take advantage of the new guest speaker feature to welcome Digiday Editor-in-Chief Brian Morrissey.

September 30-October 1
We’ve partnered with the Ascent Conference to help bring startups to the largest gathering of VC’s in 2020. Ascent is a 2-day fully virtual conference that provides founders from all sectors with access to the knowledge and connections needed to grow their companies and careers.
*General Registration
Register with code SERIALGENERAL to get in free. 

*Startup Registration
Register with the code SERIAL95 for 95% off (plus the other 5% is refunded after the event)


October 1, 1pm
Thanks to Michael Bendit for making this happen:
Are you looking for a new job or know someone who is? If so, please register for a free webinar on October 1st at 1pm ET on optimizing your LinkedIn profile for a successful job search, presented by David Alto of AltoAdvance. This event is co-sponsored by the Trusted Referral Network and Serial Marketers.

October 6-7
There are free passes, plus upgrades. “Everyone knows CMX Summit is the flagship event for the community industry. This year, we’re planning to bring together 10K community professionals from all over the world to participate in two days of facilitated discussions, powerful presentations, hands-on workshops, and interactive experiences.”

October 7, 6pm
First Wednesday keeps going strong. We have dozens of people RSVPing for this fun NYC tradition that is now open to anyone virtually. Len Bilello might even by you a drink.

October 7-9
I’m a big fan of NYCML, and this year’s event is free: “This year’s speaker line-up features some of the brightest minds in media and tech, including Tristan Harris, Andrew Yang, Nina Jankowicz, Cory Doctorow, and Jay Rosen. Through thought-provoking discussions, engaging workshops, and innovative demos, attendees will be at the forefront of change as we delve into the most pressing issues of this pivotal moment in history. Reserve your FREE tickets today! #BuildTheFuture2020”

October 19-23
This is an annual event series by Kite Hill PR that is going virtual, and they always get a terrific speaker lineup. Mark your calendar now, and follow this space for updates.

October 27-28
I’ll be speaking at this one and am excited about the roster they’ve put together: “Soft Land Expo: USA Edition (SLEUSA) is a bi-directional event that will connect both international companies seeking to enter the U.S. market and U.S. companies seeking to internationalize to global markets with key agencies, resources, and service providers to support their success.”

November 5 / November 12
This group is amazing. Check them out. “We have a trust problem in the marketing and advertising industry. Over the past 15 years, as new distribution mechanisms like social, disciplines like content marketing, or initiatives like diversity and inclusion emerged, we silo’d. We continue to silo, not integrate–while we watch the world innovate. This compromises brand experience, and, in turn, threatens brand trust. Big Yellow Think Tank seeks to advance collaboration across brand experience. By leveraging this abrupt shift in the world, we will reimagine the way we work and serve brands. Big Yellow Think Tank is ready to set a new standard and we need your voice. Our first initiative? A virtual hackfest.”

November 19
“Each year, CMI produces our signature LGBTQ Marketing & Advertising Symposium (now in our 13th year) for marketing/advertising/communications professionals. The event is held in collaboration with, and hosted by Google NYC.”

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