Empathy for Entrepreneurial Success: a Lecture by Chris Schembra
On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed Chris Schembra, Founder and Chief Question Asker of the 7:47 Club, a company whose aim is to awaken empathy in people and organizations.
An award-winning theater producer, sought-after keynote speaker, marketer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Chris Schembra considers a dinner party his greatest accomplishment. The idea for the 7:47 Club came to Schembra on July 15, 2015, when he hosted a dinner party for 15 of his friends. In addition to liking the meal (which featured a pasta sauce Schembra personally prepared), his friends said they particularly enjoyed the way he delegated tasks for the organization of the dinner in order to facilitate connection and communal discussion. Since that day, Schembra has organized more than 100 meals, serving over 2500 people and helping create over 200,000 relationships over dinner.
“Since its inception, the dinner has kept the same format: 6:30 pm cocktails, 8:00 pm dinner, but at 7:47 pm, we delegate 11 specific tasks empowering the 15 attendees to be part of the setup process. At 8:30 pm I tell a joke, and at 8:35 pm I open up the discussion on a specific topic,” Schembra said.
7:47 Club’s mission is “facilitating profound human connection in a deeply disconnected world.” Schembra asks his guests not to share what they do, or how, but rather why (in keeping with the ideas of Simon Sinek’s famous “How great leaders inspire action” TED Talk, the third most watched of all time).
Schembra discussed the role of empathy in entrepreneurial success. He used a system he named “C-Con-C,” which stands for Conductor, Connector, and Community. The Conductor is the one facilitating the conversation, while the Connectors are the people who s/he connects to, who at the same time also connect to each other. Finally, all the people reached by the connectors and the relationships between them form the community. Such a system applied to business entails “connecting deeper with the real needs of their clients and partners, planting seeds and building long-term relationships, generating new leads, and increasing sales.”
Schembra concluded by observing that a new trend in society is the shift from materialism and consumerism to experiences and minimalism. His aim is to speed up this change, especially within the business world. “We live in the age of introspection. We need to transition into the age of ‘outrospection,’” Schembra said.