Dr. Katy Cook, The Social Psychologist making Emotional Intelligence in Business the Norm

Dr Katy Cook emotional intelligence psychologist
Dr. Katy Cook

Hi! Tell us about yourself...

My name’s Katy. I’m a social psychologist, author of The Psychology of Silicon Valley, and founder of a small consultancy. I spent a good amount of my life collecting degrees in the US and UK (along with a fair bit of student debt) and having lots of adventures along the way. These days I spend most of my time coaching and consulting organizations and founders – on everything from building emotionally intelligent leadership teams, to fostering resilience and healthy communication. In my downtime, I love to collage, spend time with my quaranteam (partner, cat, mom), and am currently binging Dawson’s Creek. Pre- and post-pandemic, you’d find me traveling to warm beaches, seeing friends, and doing interviews for my next book.

If you could have one positive social impact on the world, what would you do?

I would add emotional intelligence training and education to every school, job description, and Learning and Development strategy in the world. I think emotional intelligence – empathy in particular – will save the world.

As you know, community is everything to us at Diem... how have your communities helped you personally & professionally?

I would not be here without the people in my life and the communities I belong to. From friends to colleagues, and acquaintances to professional networks, I’m so grateful for every group I’m a part of. Professionally, I don’t think I would have the skillset I’ve developed without a network of women to draw inspiration and learning from – particularly therapists, psychologists, and other consultants. Personally, I can’t imagine a life without my (geographically scattered but) amazing social circles. Even though I’m a massive introvert, I believe we’re at our best when we collaborate and share, and I’m so thankful to have communities with which to do that.

How do we all work to improve our emotional intelligence? What impact does EQ have on our experiences in the workplace?

There are a lot of specific tools and tricks that can help build emotional intelligence. But at the heart of our EQ is a mentality around openness and growth. We have to want to do the work of being more aware, empathetic, and connected to others and ourselves – and this starts when we see the benefit in our own lives. For example, if you feel anxious or worry a lot, or struggle with confidence, or relationships or certain social situations, you probably don’t want to live the rest of your life in those spaces. Knowing there are emotions at the core of those challenges – and that emotions are just information letting us know something is up – is the first step to building our EQ. The better we’re acquainted with our emotions, the better we can manage them when they come up – which saves us a lot of wasted energy, headaches, and worry we really don’t need.

Advice for women who are looking to start their own businesses?

Starting my own business felt like one of the biggest and scariest decisions I’ve ever made. I always think of a fancy esthetician I met in London, who had quit her high-powered job in banking to start a brow salon in the City. I remember asking her if she had been scared, and she looked at me as if I was crazy: “Of course.” That stuck with me for some reason; because of course it’s going to be scary. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. Recognizing your fear and going towards it rather than away from it is my best advice. (This goes for the goals you set and the things you do once you’ve started your business as well.)

What's been your biggest lesson learned since starting your own business?

I’ve learned that everything that challenges is me has an emotional or psychological root. For example, confidence and speaking up are two things that have historically been really hard for me. But doing this work has taught me how fun it can be to challenge my own notion of who I am and grow into another version of myself.

One of the biggest things I had to learn was how to ask for help, which has been invaluable to figuring out pieces of my business that would have taken me ages to sort through on my own. I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve approached, all of whom are delightful and intelligent in really fun, different ways. I still struggle from time to time to reach out (I prefer to be quietly in the background), but I know that’s been a huge area of growth for me and a big takeaway from running my own company.

You’re launching a community Space in Diem... what can people expect from it?

I think the best spaces are authentic and fun, and also really safe. I want my community members to feel respected and secure so we’re able to be inquisitive and vulnerable. Which is really important because mental health and psychology-related topics can be difficult, confusing, and even triggering sometimes. I want my community members to know no topics or questions are off-limits, because everything that’s on our minds or that we’re feeling is important.

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