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Empathy and Entrepreneurship with Nick Shewring

Updated: Apr 22

Episode 19 - The Empathy Podcast

Empathy and Entrepreneurship with Nick Shewring

Listen on Podomatic (part 1 and part 2) or on your favourite podcast platform (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google).


On this instalment of The Empathy Podcast, Leanne welcomes Nick Shewring, a New Zealand born entrepreneur and former co-founder of start-up Bizdojo. In this episode, Leanne and Nick discuss empathy and mental health in entrepreneurship, how entrepreneurship has a “unique sense of burnout”, and the inherent fear of failure that all entrepreneurs experience. Leanne and Nick also discuss the importance of maintaining physical and mental health throughout the phases of running a business. In this enlightening episode, Nick shares his experience as an entrepreneur and how empathy is an underlying staple to being successful as an entrepreneur.

Watch full episode here:

Timestamps and Highlights:

[0:55] After Leanne gives the guest a warm welcome to the show, Nick introduces himself to the audience, talks about his experience as a start-up founder and professional, and how this resulted in his current endeavours with GHD Group.

[6:20] Nick expresses to Leanne the struggles of being a co-founder of a growing business (Bizdojo), his experience through a difficult acquisition process, and how the lack of empathy experienced in this period took a toll on his mental health.

[14:39] Leanne discusses with Nick entrepreneurship and its “unique sense of burnout”, the pressures that comes with monetary success, and the fear of failure.

[26:00] Nick shares with Leanne his experience after leaving Bizdojo, planning for the future, and the philosophy surrounding the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’.

[33:50] Nick shares with Leanne how he learned what makes him happy, what gives him purpose in life, and how this led to his endeavours at WaterStart.

[36:55] Leanne discusses with Nick how identity plays a part in entrepreneurship, and how there’s a strong necessity for a separation between the brand and identity of the founder and the start-up.

[41:28] Leanne and Nick openly talk about how to manage your own worth when being perceived as a “sell out” as an entrepreneur.

[48:28] Nick talks to Leanne about the value of relationships (i.e., customers, personal relationships, and employees), especially in the beginning of a start-up. Nick iterates those relationships are the ‘believers’ of the idea, which ultimately aids the company in the long run.

[1:01:00] Leanne and Nick share their final thoughts, emphasising that personal health (both physical and mental) should be invested in, just like your personal business.


  • “Entrepreneurship is not 9 to 5”. Leanne, B.

  • “Try not to let yourself get bogged down in the bullshit [that comes with] running a business. There is so much stuff about running a business that is not about the customer”. Nick, S.

  • “If more founders truly took some time and elevated up a little bit from the excitement of the idea and the product they’re trying to build…then all the tools and all the mechanisms [they’ve learned will get them to the end goal]” Nick, S.

  • “You can’t be everything for everybody” Nick, S.

Key Points Discussed:

  • How can we bring light to mental health and entrepreneurship?

  • Does fear stop us from asking the important questions? Are we inherently afraid of not meeting the end goal?

  • How does identity play a part in entrepreneurship?

  • When do you call it quits? And what will people think?

  • How important are your employees in the beginning of a start-up?

  • Do you think there is a growing need for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs in big organisations?

Connect with Nick Shewring:

Connect with Leanne Butterworth and Empathy First.

About Nick Shewring

Nick's Values: Generous, Curious, Lighthearted, Honest & Passionate

Entrepreneurship and innovation are in Nick’s blood. His experience includes co-founding BizDojo, New Zealand's leading chain of startup hubs, where he became a trusted mentor and advisor for many of New Zealand’s fastest growing tech companies.

Nick has also led mobile product innovation at Air New Zealand and is now Strategy & Innovation Lead for D-Lab at GHD Digital. Nick has coached and mentored hundreds of startup teams and has a significant network in the local and international startup ecosystem. His specialty is bringing people together to achieve impressive things.

Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Speaker and Educator, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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