The Workplace Part III – of Empathy and Pandemics

As I stared deep into my coffee this morning, I debated writing this – but I relented as something in my spirit demanded that I must.

The pandemic has forced so many of us… within.

Indoors and inside the confines of ourselves… to face uncomfortable truths.

Many of us have been broken down a number of levels… I had harbored notions of believing that I had tasted humility before and accordingly I have always tried to use that as a medium to inform my humanity.


Being still is a segue to healing.

It seems that I have a level yet to be opened.

What the pandemic has taught me… or more accurately, what it has reaffirmed.

Is that history repeats and human beings are really bad at being… human.

We begrudge the growing incivility in society, but in reality… I’m starting to wonder if “goodness” and humanity is an oxymoron.

That said, I would like to make the argument that our pandemically infused job market is representative of this incivility in some respects… a revolving door of souls looking for an opportunity to prove their worth while adding value to an organization’s bottom line.

Professionally speaking – I would be an attractive candidate (pre-Pandemic), but while in the midst of one it seems that I am unemployable.

I have a degree in journalism and a MBA with a specialization in Marketing – I read for fun, especially biographies, history and science… I am just a sponge for information… that I am able to digest and distill for it for diverse audiences… I love words with a passion, best demonstrated by the two books that I’ve written, self published and marketed globally, including one during the pandemic (by way of my consulting firm)

Shameless plug…

See below, simply shameless…

If the cat has got your tongue… there is only one place to call!

EditCat Consulting (shameless plug)

But… Anyhoooo.

My history in a host of Sales, Communications, Operations and Business Development roles has been a winding one – and it has been my journalism background and proclivity for words that has made it easier for me to get in front of people in the C-suite.

I’ve worked at Fortune 500 companies… including one where I was promoted 9 times. I’ve won sales awards, accolades, trips, trophies and the like…

The ingredient in my success?

Photo Inset: I earned a trip to the “Run the Warehouse Event” in 2013… I figured out how to leverage Cloud data storage solutions when nobody gave two squats about “this nebulous cloud thingy” and I smashed my quota in my first month in the role… I familiarized myself with the technology and told a story to my clients about the benefits.


Are you serious?

Allow me to explain.

Storytelling is an essential part of the human experience:

“When we embrace this connectedness, life becomes more about people than things. We look after the interests of others in non-manipulative ways. This is authentic connection …”

Taken from Inside Out Leadership.

Because of my ability to tell a story that others can’t, I am often considered a secret weapon of sorts… my leadership would deputize me with a simple mandate to find the humanity in the business processes.

“We need the big guns, send in Shun and he’ll tell them a story that they won’t be able to resist.”

Check my recommendations page on LinkedInpeople have stories about me walking the walk.

My clients would often quote something that I mentioned in passing…

For example, I remember closing a 5 figure software deal with a customer – because he wanted to finish a side conversation we had about the Teapot Dome affair and the Harding Administration over beverages during a conference – and I was more than happy to oblige… Telling me later, they figured signing the contract was a good reason to continue our dialogue about the intricacies of history…

Oh, I am a student of history, it makes for a good conversation starter in business environments.

Believe it or not people like me, because I genuinely liked them, interestingly enough I always found that the exchange of stories can be a binding one.

Another component in outreach efforts… branding is essential.

A key takeaway to effectiveness of my efforts? If they couldn’t recall my name… I would always be remembered as the gentleman whose glasses matched his tie… or the person behind the engaging prose in the emails…

Some snapshots of my corporate travels…

Disclaimer… I’ve broken bread with Mayors, Governors, Presidential candidates and the like… Never becoming enamored of their stature, until I met the soul legend Maysa Leak at City Hall in Baltimore (I am a jazz aficionado) and I am unclear if I passed out that day.

Snapshots from rubbing elbows with the inspirational in corporate settings.

There isn’t a magic wand that I use… I simply listen to comprehend, rather than to respond… and it is through the process of literary osmosis – that I am able to craft a narrative with a resolution for the respective bottleneck in their business process, whether is a software, hardware or collaboration with subject matter experts… it was always the personal element that separated me from my competition, I would channel the emotion of the problem, echoing back what they told me… to ask the elusive open ended question:

“How would it feel to have _______ off of your plate? How would that make you feel? How would that impact your productivity?

This is a question seldom asked… a standard journalism skill that I keep close to my heart.

And then… I just listen… emotion gets people to vent. Given that we spend more time in the workplace than we do at home (pre-pandemic), by listening with purpose and providing a solution to their pain points. I become more than a person… just trying to sell them stuff. I’ve done something greater, adding value. It is what makes me a partner in the process… going forward.

Knowing how to marry resources is critical…

But today… it doesn’t seem that there is value in this anymore.

Being human… is overrated, it seems that we are a step above commodities.

Which probably explains why…

Over a span of nearly 10 months… I have applied for over 600+ jobs and counting on Linkedin alone, not counting Indeed and other entities – I was laid off… 2 days before my birthday via a Zoom conference call… Ouch!

While on the corporate stroll – I have gotten to the final step several times… and each time, I got the proverbial middle finger, whenever I asked for feedback for my own edification. In one instance, I had 5 interviews with an organization who prided themselves on the human experience… I was told to stand by for some good news, only to receive the “unfortunately” email two days later… in my junk folder (see my collage below).

A collage of automated rejections… Maybe I should become an artist?

When I circled back for feedback on their reasoning behind the decision… I got the driest retort:

“No particular reason…”

Translated as fuck you… in the corporate lexicon.

And I couldn’t help but to wonder… A month spent out of my life and somehow I wasn’t worthy enough to be accorded some semblance of decency?

Maybe the problem is deeper than that – perhaps I’m guilty of expecting humanness, a small measure of empathy out of my fellow man…. something that seems to be a product of a bygone era.

Copyright © 2021 ShunPwrites. All Rights Reserved.


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