Imagine having a tool at your disposal that could help spark innovation and that this magical tool didn’t require capital investment. Now imagine that we are all capable of possessing this tool, if only we were able to open ourselves up to the vulnerability that makes it possible. What am I talking about? I’m glad you asked. I’m talking about empathy.

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This deep understanding of how other people feel can be honed to fuel both new product ideas as well as innovations to make existing products more useful. April Bell, today’s guest, knows this well and describes how we can further develop our own empathy so that it fuels inspiration, and I couldn’t have been more excited to speak with her about that.


April loves to solve problems. She has conducted more than 11,000 hours of empathy research through her boutique research agency, April Bell Research Group, working with many of the world’s giant brands such as PepsiCo, P&G, Hewlett Packard, and Pfizer to name a few.

She’s observed the impact of empathy, not only on user experiences but also on personal and organizational transformation. These experiences inspired April to write her first book, The Fire Starter: Igniting Innovation with Empathy.


  • How April got into the insights business and how she uncovered how important empathy is to her work.
  • Where the idea for The Fire Starter came from.
  • What she learned about herself during the writing process.
  • The distinction between empathy and sympathy, and why so many people confuse the two.


  • Ask for help. The Fire Starter is April’s first book and, while she was inspired to write it, she had a difficult time maintaining focus. Working with an author coach will help with the process of crafting your book so that it is structured well and well-paced from start to finish.
  • Empathy is not easy. It takes vulnerability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their feelings as if they are your own. While there’s always a risk associated with doing this, it pays off in the form of having a deeper understanding of what other people are going through. In this way, it is fuel for innovation.
  • Gateway to empathizing. Being in tune with your senses can help you be more empathetic.
  • Innovation is key. New products and processes will always be needed to meet our every changing needs as a society. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but empathy is required to help craft the right inventions.


“But if you thought about emotion differently, that emotion is actually a gift to give you information in order to create something new and use it as that, it actually does solve really big problems. I mean, you and I know that it when we’re innovating products, the way to the key to the kingdom is to find the emotional attachment associated with whatever is wanting to be created, because that gives a purpose or a point for it. But when we allow like our bodily sensations and our emotional sensations and our mental sensations to kind of come together, the sixth, seventh and eighth sense, then we can actually create, you know, a more holistic way of thinking or solving a problem. And so I think, you know, again, you know, empathy is kind of a gateway to doing that.”




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