Jostein Solheim Of Ben & Jerry’s: Empathy Is Not Simply The Flavor Of The Month

Jostein Solheim is CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., one of the world’s most iconic ice creams and a company that is formally committed to growing its social impact even more than its profits. Jostein (pronounced ‘Yo-Stein’) joined Ben & Jerry’s six years ago from Unilever Ashoka’s Michael Zakaras recently sat down with him to discuss how business is changing and the skills – including empathy – that are needed to thrive in an interconnected world with customers demanding more of business each year…

I wasn’t thinking about empathy consciously at the time, but there’s no question that it was an implicit goal of the learning, and it grew from connecting with people across cultures, languages, perspectives. You know, it’s quite easy to empathize with those in your clique – in your immediate circles – but the key is practicing this outside that narrow group so you can really connect with others and absorb and appreciate their experiences and the way they see the world. It’s still a learning journey for me.