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On Clients and Marketable Nuggets, an Entrepreneur Asks: What is Grok?

by Jill Foster on October 5, 2009

What is grok?
A techi geek word, to grok is a coinage of science-fiction writer R.A. Heinlein, meaning to understand something thoroughly by having empathy with it. Urban Dictionary also defines it as “to drink” (I’m definitely not referring to that meaning of grok in this post!).

(Image Points of View by RickyDavid, Creative Commons)

On design (and beyond)
Empathy is a willingness to learn, unflawed by accusation or judgment. In design, it is a complete acceptance and understanding of your end-user. It is a self-less approach that requires conscious effort and practice to completely put yourself in another person’s shoe and create a product that he or she will find useful and user-friendly.

Clients and that empathic first look
Often my empathic first look almost always leads to a number of interesting ideas to explore for clients and personal friends. At times I am accused of already having figured things out…the truth is ‘NOT!’ It’s just that often times people have simply given me a wealth of material to work with by sharing whatever is on their mind about an idea, product, career, etc.

Empathy gives me the insight to discover marketable nuggets in others capabilities, skills and ideas.

The rest is about making a life choice based on comfort levels and then taking action. Having an empathic look at life and those around you is a great way to learn and discover a world and point of view apart from your own. It is the source of my relentless energy as an entrepreneur.

Here’s an insightful article from Wired on empathy about Steve Jobs and his family’s decision-making around a dishwasher.

Do you have an empathetic mind…in and outside your business?

How has it helped your personal life, career and those around you?

I keep reminding myself that the next time an opportunity presents itself, do it with grok!

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