There IS crying in Innovation: Why Entrepreneurs Get Emotional

“Stop Crying.” “Pull yourself together.” “Don’t take it personally!”

 Sound familiar? We are often told to leave our emotions at the door, especially when it comes to work. What if I told you that emotion leads to breathtaking innovation? This is an expert from Think Sideways: game-changing playbook to disruptive thinking.

PS – it’s ok if you get a little misty-eyed while you read!

Get Emotional

We work so hard to leave our emotional sides at home when we step out into the work world. Somewhere along the way we were told that being emotional is immature and childish and serves no purpose in business.

“Never apologize for showing feel­ing. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” Benjamin Disraeli

What if I told you that, in your emotions, you’ll find empa­thy and creativity? It is said that Steve Jobs cried when he watched the breakthrough Apple ad from the 1984 Super Bowl. We are emo­tional creatures living in emotional times. In Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead Trade, 2006), he talks about the fact that we’ve shifted from an information age built on sequential logic and informa­tion to a conceptual age built on empathy and emotion. People are naturally emotional. We seek to connect on an emotional level; we make decisions based on emotion. Think about the last time you bought something—your shampoo, a cell phone, some workout gear. I bet you’ll find that emotions drive a lot of your purchasing decisions (jump to Write a Manifesto). I know they do mine.


Do a little test. Write down your three favorite brands, then write down why you buy them. If you ask me about my fa­vorites—Tough Mudder, Apple, LuLuLemon—I would say I like things that are innovative, sleek, funky, and clever. I could wear any sweatshirt I have but I choose to wear my Tough Mudder one most often. I could buy any mobile device, but I never will. I could order athletic wear from any expensive store but I go out of my way to shop at LuLu. It’s not that I’m overly brand loyal. In fact, there is nothing I love more than trying new prod­ucts. But these brands do a fantastic job of connecting with me on an emotional level.

In a keynote speech “The Science of Emotion,” Antonio R. Damasio, M.D., Ph.D, M.W. Van Allen Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, and adjunct professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, said:

“Emotion is an adaptive response, part of the vital process of normal reasoning and decision making. It is one of the highest levels of bio-regulation for the human organism and has an enormous influence on the maintenance of our homeostatic balance and thus of our well-being. Last but not least, emotion is critical to learning and memory.”

Don’t be afraid to get emotional. It’s how we operate, so why would we avoid it in our work? 

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