Data Gurus


Tell Me More About That | Ep. 166

Welcome to another informative and inspiring episode of the Data Gurus Podcast! Sima is excited to have Rob Volpe joining her today. Rob is the CEO of the insights and strategy consultancy, Ignite 360.

In this episode, Rob talks about his career path and shares what he did to get to where he is today. He also talks about his book, Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time, and he explains what empathy is all about.

Rob’s career path

Rob went to Syracuse University. He wanted to be a television network programming executive, so he moved to LA. He found a job as a legal secretary and then moved into business affairs. He enjoyed looking at marketing campaigns for movies, which led him to explore the world of marketing. So he took a marketing class at UCLA Extension and got into marketing in 1995. He did not know that market research existed then, so he started working for a PR firm, doing PR and event marketing. After that, he did various other jobs until someone he met said she was looking to hire someone with his experience. So he went for the necessary training, and a month later, he started his career in insights. He worked with his friend for several years until eleven years ago, when he decided to go out on his own and start Ignite 360.


In the years before he started Ignite 360, many clues directed Rob toward that path he needed to follow. It took several years, but he finally got there!


Empathy has always been Rob’s superpower. When a study came out, showing that the university students starting in 2001 had 40% less empathy than students between 1979 and the end of the 1990s, Rob knew that our society was in trouble. He recognized that empathy was common to qualitative researchers. So when he started Ignite 360, he played up the empathetic connection and made sure that his clients understood and connected with who their consumers were. Through that, he learned about the barriers to empathy and began identifying ways to overcome them.


Rob is intrigued with intuition and people’s ability to ignore it. He found in work situations that people have way more successful outcomes when they tie their gut into the numbers.


In 2016, Rob did a presentation to university students. He wanted them to become aware of empathy and reconnect with it, so he spoke about empathy and told stories to give examples of what he meant. The audience was rapt and loved his stories! Then Rob realized that was what he needed to write about, and he started writing his book.

Rob’s book, Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time

In his book, Rob uses stories to help people understand empathy. He did that so that people could bring empathy in whenever they needed to, either in their personal lives or professionally.

Writing a book

He points out to anyone considering writing a book that his first draft looked nothing like the finished book. So, if you want to write a book, just start and keep on going, even when you stumble.

The difference between cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and sympathy

Sympathy is about feeling for someone, and empathy is about feeling with someone.

We are all born with the ability to empathize, and there are distinct types of empathy. Studies have shown that different types of empathy light up different parts of the brain. Feeling the feelings of others is known as emotional empathy, and seeing other peoples’ points of view is cognitive empathy.

Sympathy often tends to link into judgment or pity, and it could create a power dynamic.

The 5 steps Rob uses to coach his clients

  1. Dismantle your judgment
  2. Ask good (broad, open, and exploratory) questions
  3. Active listening (It often involves using your intuition)
  4. Integrate into understanding (Making sense of when things are different)
  5. Using solution imagination



Email me your thoughts!



Ignite 360

Rob Volpe on LinkedIn