Human First. Vocation Second.

I’ve been working with a speaking coach these last few weeks— which has been such an incredible experience. She’s been helping me refine my message, my story, and helping me to connect with speaking opportunities. Side note: If you’re looking for any of these, boy do I have the lady for you!

During our call last week, she sent me a few links that talk about what I talk about— empathy within (or not) the design industry, and in our culture as a whole. One of the articles really struck me. It focuses on the lack of empathy but reveals a hurt point of view. 

It’s a reaction piece to a different article which states that marketers (and the population as a whole) exhibit less empathy than ideal. Well, yeah! Sigh. 

This other article though, the reaction piece, exposed such a root issue for me within the creative industry. Well, that’s not fair. It reveals a root issue for most industries. 

That issue? That those in any vocation are separate from “the populace”. 

Let me break this down. 

First you are a person. 

Then, you choose a vocation as that person. 

Ergo, you are a person first. You are the populace, regardless of the vocation you choose. 

Marketers are not different magical people. They are people with a specific set of skills (whoa there Liam Neeson), but it’s true! It’s true. 

Let’s break this down with a different vocation: police. When “Blue Lives Matter” came out, it was in direct response to “Black Lives Matter”, however there’s a glaring inconsistency in comparing these two as the same. Black people did not choose to be born a black person. They ARE a black person first. Thanks to our society, no matter what they choose to do, they will be a Black Person Chose To Do This Job.  

Police are simply humans that chose to become police. And furthermore, once they BECOME police, they then get to choose WHAT TYPE of police officer they will be. Blue Lives Matter because human lives matter, but Black lives are the ones that are routinely affected by the police choosing fear and aggression over understanding. Over empathy. 

Let’s go back to marketers. 

Marketers, no different from the police, get to choose the type of marketers they get to be. They get to choose how they market, who they market to, the tactics they use, the products they push, the methods they employ. 

When we start separating vocations from the humans who carry them out we lose the sight that we are all connected as humans first and we, as humans, get to choose which type of humans we get to be. 

Where I see no empathy, I actively work to create it with the skills I’ve been given. I do not list the types of empathy, I employ them. Don’t show me you know the words— show me you know how to use them. Show me how you will bring empathy into your marketing. 

As a designer, a sometimes-marketer, but always a human, I will choose to use my skills to build empathy and understanding across any person I work with or vocation I happen to find myself. 

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