Christina Harbridge: Ever Send a Thank You Card to Your Collection Agency?

By far, the most popular story from my book The Empathy Edge is the story of Christina Harbridge and her magical collection agency. The story of how she created a culture of empathy that led to transforming a usually bleak work environment into a thriving culture, resulting in success rates 3X the industry average and whose clients would send thank you cards and wedding invitations! How did she do it? What is she doing now? Is the agency still around? These are all questions I get and ones Christina herself is here to talk us through today.

We also speak about how she accidentally stumbled on this business model – and how she now teaches leaders to do the same. She shares the biggest obstacles leaders face in transforming their cultures and breaking outdated models – and the financial success that comes from treating employees and customers with dignity, respect, and empathy. Finally, we talk about the important role of systems design in ensuring your company can actually live out it’s values day to day and make them more than a talking point.

Key Takeaways:

  • The goal of your first interaction should never be to complete a transaction or whatever your agenda is, but to gather trust and to find out the truth. 
  • Empathy is not a strategy. It is a feeling and a mindset. 
  • To have a strong team, you need to have people that work differently than you do. Empathy is required to be curious and open to understanding the needs of those teammates. 

“What we were doing was filling people’s basic need to feel understood, which is an underlying need. That drives commitment.” —  Christina Harbridge

Christina Harbridge, Mischief Executive Officer, Allegory

Christina Harbridge is a behaviorist who trains and coaches individuals, teams and large groups to understand and leverage their own personal operating system when dealing with others who may or may not be rational.

Christina’s early experience as founder and CEO of a debt collection agency that collected debt through unorthodox tactics (such as being nice) shaped her worldview on workplace communication. Employees focused their interactions on filling a person’s need to feel understood through emotionally literate tactics, rather than focusing on trying to collect a debt that may not even have been owed. This values-based tactic, reinforced by bonuses paid on thank-you notes received, reinvigorated the industry by resulting in collections three times higher than the industry average. The proof was in the wedding invitations.

Christina has co-authored software, built and sold a successful finance industry company, practiced acrobatic swing dancing, participated as a NASA test subject and collaborated to design and weld several large-scale metal sculptures. She has served her community on the founding boards of The Bay Lights and Emerge America. Her story is covered in more detail in Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why,” Mike Maddock’s “Plan D,” and Maria Ross’ “The Empathy Edge.”

She is the author of Swayed: How to Communicate for Impact, which reached number one on Amazon’s ‘Conflict’ category list.

Connect with Christina






Book: Swayed: How to Communicate for Impact

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