Anne Mandler and Nancy Duarte on Illuminate | ANNE Magazine
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Anne Mandler and Nancy Duarte on Illuminate

Anne Mandler and Nancy Duarte on Illuminate

Anne Mandler interviews Nancy Duarte on Illuminate for the Spring/Summer 2016 No. 2 of ANNE


ANNE: I’m super excited today to be talking with Nancy Duarte of Duarte, Inc. Nancy, welcome.

NANCY: Thanks for having me.

ANNE: Thanks for being here. Our agency also helps entrepreneurs and businesses create messaging. What I’d love to chat with you about today is about your message and story, as well as your new book.

I’ll take a moment to introduce you here. Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who’s been featured in several publications including Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company. Her firm, Duarte, Inc., has created thousands of presentations for the world’s top institutions including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, GE, Google, and the World Bank as well as TED. She’s also the author of Resonate, Slide:ology, The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, and the co-author of Illuminate, Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols. Nancy, this is so awesome!

NANCY: Thank you!

ANNE: Thank you for writing this book. I really feel like you are the person to write it; you and [your co-author] Patti Sanchez is wonderful, too. It was really needed, and it was time, I think. You give some examples in the book with both companies that you’ve worked for and other companies that just have it, and have been successful telling their story and lighting that story. You talk about big brands from companies like Rackspace to Starbucks and leaders such as Steve Jobs and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For people who don’t have the book in their hands yet, can you given an example as to why some of these cases or one in particular, is particularly illuminating their cause?

NANCY: What we try to do is identify leaders who have driven a movement. For years people would call and say, “Hey, I need my next talk”, and then about three years ago they’re saying, “This is bigger than a talk”. We’re trying to drive a movement, and a movement is when a leader needs to move people en masse. Whether it’s three people or a million people you’re trying to move people somewhere.

It took a long time for us to find people that had actually done that at scale, where you could attribute it to the way the leader communicated. It was a blast to put together. The examples in the book are anything from, [you mentioned] Rackspace, of which you would think a CEO of a great and energetic company wanting to move into a new building wouldn’t be that big of a movement or transformation or even an initiative, and yet when he picked a dilapidated mall in a relatively dangerous part of town, he was faced with a revolt on his hands. Nobody wanted to do it. How he communicated and navigated through that and ultimately did wind up moving into the mall is actually very, very interesting.

We picked anything from moving into a building to the turnaround of Starbucks to how Steve Jobs migrated the developers from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS 10.

So, it’s really about moving from and moving to, which is a lot about the body of work but also doing it from a place of empathy and really understanding your audience and understanding what this new future that you’re trying to get them to. What’s the impact on them of the ask that you’re making of them?

There are models in there for empathy.

One of my favorite things is that we’re starting to get feedback now because people have had time to finish reading it. We’re getting feedback such as, “Wow, I feel like scales fell off my eyes because I’ve never seen things from this perspective before”. This is the perspective of the very people that they’re trying to move, and so it’s been fun. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the book. We enjoyed writing it.

ANNE: It’s great because I feel like your message applies whether you’re a huge corporation or you’re a company trying to shift perspective, and whether that’s product or internally as well as a tiny startup or an individual entrepreneur. I feel like it has that breadth to it, and it can be applied across. Do you feel like that way?

NANCY: Yes, that’s how we feel. When we were putting it together, we struggled with what to call these people you’re trying to move that’s a neutral term. We didn’t want to say “teams” because they might not be on your team. They might be your patients in a hospital. It’s not your team. That makes it sound like it’s internal organizational change. It could be your consumers. It could be your family. It could be anybody, and that’s why we chose the term, ultimately, your “travelers”.

Who are the ones that are going to be going on this journey with you? It could be anybody. I’m thrilled you picked that up because I know the editor at the publisher kept saying, “We’ll call it ’employees’.

This is not what this is. It’s anybody. It could be your customer. It could be a sales call. One of the interesting things to me is how quickly people will self-select out and say, “Well, I’m not a leader”. You know, you do lead. Everybody leads or has the opportunity to lead, and we felt like “travelers” sounds more like, Frodo going along on a journey and a trip; so that’s why we picked that.

ANNE: Absolutely, because I think that everybody is. I mean that’s ultimately what we’re doing these days.

NANCY: We’re all travelers in this life, right?

ANNE: Yes, we really are. I love hearing about that. Before we go, do you have a complimentary resource that you would like to share with our audience?

NANCY: Thanks. Yes. We have a visual executive summary of the book up online at duarte.com/illuminate. I also connect to everyone who connects to me. I’m @nancyduarte on Twitter and we also have @duarte, which is the corporate account.


Nancy DuarteNancy Duarte is a communication expert who has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Huffington Post, LA Times ,and on CNN. She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., and her firm is the global leader behind some of the most influential presentations in business and culture, and has created more than a quarter of a million presentations. Nancy has spoken at numerous conferences including TEDx, South by Southwest, Inbound, and World Domination Summit. She speaks at business schools and lectures at Stanford University several times a year.

She is the author of three award-winning books: Slide:ology, Resonate, The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, and co-author of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols.

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