Illuminate: How to Lead Change with Patti Sanchez

Ep #124: Illuminate: How to Lead Change with Patti Sanchez

When was the last time your business dealt with growing pains? Or experienced the discomfort of reinvention that often accompanies a breakthrough? Change is difficult, and it’s natural for people to resist.

This week’s guest shares how leaders can guide their organizations through these tricky situations, which are always full of opportunity.

Patti Sanchez is an expert communicator, marketer, and author who has lent her skills to dozens of global brands. Patti has studied those leaders that could effectively lead people through major changes in their organizations. To share the insights she gained, Patti and Nancy Duarte (her boss and past Brainfluence Podcast guest) wrote Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols

In Illuminate, Patti and Nancy break down the tools great leaders can use to inspire action in their team and fuel a movement in their organization. Patti Sanchez

In this conversation, Patti discusses how writing Illuminate helped she and Nancy experiment with their own organizational transformation at Duarte. She dissects the five essential parts of any journey, and how a good leader can guide and grow with their team throughout. We also discuss the role of empathy when dealing with those resistant to change, and how the difference between a vision flopping or flourishing is in its communication.

Patti Sanchez is a communicator with 25 years of experience in leading transformative marketing initiatives for brands including Adobe, HP, Nike, and GE. She is also the Chief Strategy Officer for Duarte, Inc., where she leads a team of writers and consultants in providing counsel to clients for the conception and implementation of creative, compelling presentations to lead their organizational shifts.

Patti’s passion truly lies in helping communicators and leaders create genuine connections with their audiences and teams. She has led hundreds of communication workshops for marketing and sales leaders throughout the industry, spreading her communication tools throughout the country.

Patti has also used her training as a communicator to benefit several community services organizations, including a foster care organization called Future Families, Facing History and Ourselves, and teaching apprenticeships for inner-city kids at Citizen Schools.

Great communicators are always looking to improve — so listen in and pick up some new tools for your communication arsenal.

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are still feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • How you can use storytelling techniques to start a movement.
  • Why people might resist your movement, and how to listen to them and bring them on board.
  • The step leaders commonly skip when communicating their vision.
  • What constitutes a ceremony and how they can cement change in your organization.
  • How symbols can remind your team of the overarching vision and keep them motivated.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:         Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. Today we’re going to be speaking with an expert communicator. Patti Sanchez isn’t just a good communicator herself, she helps executives, leaders, and others create authentic connections with their audiences. A lot of Patti’s strategies are based on her understanding of how our minds work.

Patti’s gift for communication was demonstrated before she even finished college. She won a national scholarship for her essay on the benefits of riding the bus. That sounds like one of those debate tournaments where you have to argue for a position that most people would find untenable.

Patti has a new book, Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols. She coauthored the book with Nancy Duarte, a past guest on the Brainfluence Podcast. Welcome to the show, Patti.

Patti Sanchez:          Thanks so much, Roger. Glad to be here.

Roger Dooley:         Great, are you still riding the bus?

Patti Sanchez:          Sadly, no. Nobody wants that job, including even me.

Roger Dooley:         I’ll start by asking what it was like to coauthor a book with your boss. It seems like writing as a team would be challenging to begin with. I guess well I haven’t done it, so it seems challenging to me, even without the dynamic of being at the same company with important work to do. How did that come to be and how did it work out?

Patti Sanchez:          It was a great experience. I had been warned by many people and so had Nancy that it was like a bad business partnership for a lot of people. There always ends up being a falling out. At least that was other people’s experience, but it wasn’t mine. I think some of that has to do with just the personality of my coauthor and dear friend, Nancy. She is a great encourager. I found that actually to be really helpful because the process of writing a book is actually fairly lonely, as you probably know.

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, it can be.

Patti Sanchez:          And sometimes you get stuck, right? You hit a wall. You’re not sure where to go next. So I think having a coauthor is a great safety net because that person can encourage you when you get stuck and vice versa. So I actually would recommend it if you choose the right person, but Nancy is not available to all of you. Sorry about that.

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, you’ve got her locked up, huh?

Patti Sanchez:          Little bit.

Roger Dooley:         What was the origin of Illuminate? I guess you sort of describe why you wanted to write it together. Maybe you could just go into the origin of the book.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, definitely. In my role here at Duarte, I also head up the strategy and communication practice. I have a lot of conversations with clients who are largely leaders in big and small companies who are trying to figure out how to persuade people to do something. Historically, a long time ago, they would come to Duarte when they needed help at one particular moment. They’d say, “I’ve got this big talk and it really has to go well so I need your help.” But they started asking for more help than we were accustomed to.

We had leaders come in and say to me, “I have a really big idea and I don’t want to just influence people in the moment. I want to create a movement.” That perked up my ears. I thought, movement, what does that mean? When I started talking with Nancy about that, we realized that there is a bigger question that people wanted to have answered, which is how do you create a movement? How do you use storytelling principles to do that? That was effectively the quest we went on in writing Illuminate.

Roger Dooley:         You actually as either part of this or simultaneously, you ended up using these ideas to in some ways reorganize Duarte itself, right?

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, absolutely. It was sort of accidental but perfect timing because it gave us a great laboratory to test out these ideas on ourselves. The fundamental premise of the book is why does a movement even need to happen? Well because every organization has to reinvent itself so it can continue to thrive.

We found ourselves in that exact same spot, reaching that critical size for a small business of over 100 employees and things started to break a little bit. We realized that we needed to step back and look at how can we change our processes and a lot of the things about the way that we work so that we can be more effective at a larger scale. It turned out that that’s not as easy as you might think.

It took a lot of persuading to get other employees to see that that was a problem and also to enlist their help in solving the problem. That’s where these principles came in.

Roger Dooley:         So you really had to eat your own dog food to make this happen. Did this also result in expansion of the services that you’re offering? That would have to be a change for many people if you’re accustomed to basically doing nice slideshows for folks to suddenly start thinking about all these other aspects.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, absolutely. It’s happened naturally every time Duarte writes a book, it launches a new practice, oftentimes a training course or something. But I got that kind of firsthand experience at how hard it is to motivate people to do something really new and big because this led us into a bigger territory than what we were accustomed to and I didn’t expect people to be scared by it.

I expected them to be excited about having all this new white space to play in. I had to reference this book myself and try and figure out why are they resisting? What is it that’s frightening about this new thing? And use my own communication tools to get people over that fear and to start feeling hope about it.

Roger Dooley:         I think change is fundamentally frightening for most people, not necessarily—it’s not always super scary, but people are not comfortable with change, particularly when it comes to their job, their company. That element of uncertainty I think just the, “I thought I knew what was going on here and I knew what I was doing but now I’m not so sure.” That can be a source of anxiety certainly.

Patti Sanchez:          Absolutely. I think you’re exactly right that the uncertainty is what can paralyze people. I’ve seen research about the seize or freeze instinct. That’s kind of a basic phenomenon for how people respond to uncertainty. Some people rush toward an answer. They seize that first piece of information that they find that gives them a direction to go and they stop looking for different answers. They just run with the one they found.

Some people freeze entirely. They go into analysis paralysis, they’re not sure what direction to take. To me, it’s the role of a leader to remove that uncertainty. You know that some people in your population are going to be so anxious about taking action that they’re going to jump on the first piece of information that they see and you need to be the source of that information.

I work with a lot of leaders who I think have a tendency to hold back and under communicate in that time of uncertainty because they want to make sure they’re exactly right. That’s the worst thing you can do because then in the vacuum people are seizing the stories they’re hearing from other people and not necessarily what you want them to hear.

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, the reaction I was thinking of I think was flight or fight, where some when presented with change some folks are going to want just to get out of the way and perhaps leave. The others are going to push back against it too.

Who is the audience for Illuminate? You certainly have some great examples of visionary CEOs and so on but who all should be reading Illuminate?

Patti Sanchez:          We say our target is leaders. I think when I say that sometimes people self-select out because they think, “I’m not the CEO. I’m not the originator of the idea. I’m executing an idea somebody else came up with. So that doesn’t make me a leader.” I say anybody who is in a position of creating something new, even if it is a process to support the big vision that somebody else came up with, is a leader too. I think we all have a responsibility to guide other people through that process of change from whatever seat we’re sitting in.

That’s really the audience for this book is anybody who’s in a position to if not lead, then to influence the direction that a company or an organization wants to take. You probably are touching some piece of that change. Like I said, even if it’s just one initiative that’s part of the larger change or one process or one department that’s influenced or affected by the change, then you have a role to play in motivating other people to embrace this idea and make it happen.

Roger Dooley:         You talk about the torch bearer. What you’re saying is that the CEO may be the chief torch bearer, that there may be other torch bearing roles throughout any organization.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah. I think that’s exactly right. You may not see yourself as that ultimate torch bearer today but the better you are at motivating and aligning people to get things done, the more likely you can move up into that torch bearer role someday.

Roger Dooley:         Right. One thing that you do is turn what seems like perhaps a dry business plan into a Homeric epic. Talk about the five stages that you recommend leaders follow.

Patti Sanchez:          I love that you said Homeric epic. Those are the kinds of stories that always fascinated me going all the way back to my childhood. I loved Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I loved the Clash of the Titans movies.

Roger Dooley:         I’ve still got a copy of that.

Patti Sanchez:          Right? Isn’t it amazing? Those are like the purest forms of stories and they still move us today because they work on such a deep level. So anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by stories like that.

When Nancy and I started out to research this book and figure out what makes movements work, we studied the shape of movements, kind of the progression of them in business and society. We found that they all follow this common structure which is made up of five stages, but even more simply it actually follows a story structure.

A great story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, the hero of the story is sort of thrust on an adventure, something happens that pushes them out of their normal world into a new world. In the middle of that story, they encounter all kinds of obstacles and they have to overcome them. In the end, they return home somehow transformed.

Oddly, real life actually mirrors that. That’s why we tell stories like that because that’s actually what we experience, even if we don’t recognize it as a story unfolding in the present time. When we look back on our lives and on the initiatives that our businesses have gone through, we can actually see that same pattern unfolding.

The five stages are these: In the beginning are the dream and leap stages as we call them. The dream stage is when the leader articulates the vision, the call. This is where we want to go. This is what we want to accomplish. But immediately the people that that leader is guiding have to make a choice to commit or resist. To say yes to that vision or no. We believe fundamentally that communication plays a role in tipping them over into action. The better you communicate your vision and the reasons why it’s good for people, the more likely they’re going to sign on to help you make it a reality.

A lot of times leaders think that’s where the story ends. I communicated it and they’re just going to go off and make it happen. But the reality is the journey to make that vision a reality is very hard. The travelers as we call them, the people who are joining you on this journey, as soon as they leap in, they’re in the middle of the story where they have to what we call fight and climb. Those are the third and fourth stages, which is again what happens in a great story too.

The hero encounters all kinds of obstacles. In the case of a change initiative or any effort you undertake in your organization, they might be meeting resistance from inside. People who say, “That’s a stupid idea” or “Why should we do anything different than the way we’ve always done it.” Or it might be resistance from outside, competitors, customers, people basically saying, “I don’t want to do this.”

So your travelers, the people that you’re trying to persuade to help you make this idea a reality, have to fight those obstacles. Every time they overcome an obstacle, they climb a little closer to the goal which is really that kind of phase of accomplishing things, of small wins, making steady progress toward the goal.

The final stage, the fifth stage, is what we call arrive. That’s when you somehow arrive at your goal. Oftentimes because life isn’t like Hollywood, that might not always be a happy ending. It could be that you had this grand vision but you only accomplished half of it. Then what you have to do is look back and say, “What did we accomplish? Let’s celebrate that, but also what did we fail at and let’s learn those lessons so that we can all be smarter before we head off on the next adventure, which is inevitable.

This is a never-ending journey. As soon as you accomplish one objective, you need to cast a new vision for the next place you need to go and lead the journey again.

Roger Dooley:         Our listeners think that you’ve got a lot of Greek mythology in the book. One thing that I really liked was that you used the Lord of the Rings as an example in different parts of the book. In today’s fragmented culture, there aren’t that many touchstones that a lot of people can identify with and that’s probably one of the few epic stories that most people have been exposed to either in book form or in the movie form.

The example that I really liked was your using Gollum as an example, particularly to illustrate how people may resist change. What people do is have two emotions, they’ll have fear and suspicion on the one hand, but maybe they’ll have some excitement about the objective too. Gollum is sort of the ultimate example of a character with two minds because they actually play out on his face and in his dialogue as the evil, crafty Gollum fights with the better intentioned Sméagol.

How do you deal with people’s conflicts? I think that is an ongoing theme. Rarely are people universally against you or totally onboard with you. There is normally going to be that conflict of emotions.

Patti Sanchez:          Right. It starts with empathy. That’s one of the core pillars of our philosophy, of my philosophy, and of the methodology in the book is that you have to see things from the perspective of the people that you’re trying to win over. Like you said, people are rarely all bad. They’re rarely all good. We have both of us in us. I think a lot of times leaders get frustrated.

Nancy herself was frustrated during our own change journey at Duarte. We would play these scenarios out as we were writing the book and she’d say, “Why is so-and-so so entrenched against this?” I said, “Well let’s talk about so-and-so and what they value and why might they be afraid or angry? What do they stand to lose in this situation?” We can come up with a list of things they stand to lose and pretty soon it starts to make sense that they would rise up against that idea. The same is true of what do they stand to gain?

When you do that exercise, walking in the shoes of the person you’re trying to persuade, you get a more nuanced view of who they are. You also learn what you need to say and do to win them over. I think that people respond better to communication when they feel like they’re really understood. If you as a communicator, when you’re getting up and talking to people and saying, “Hey, look, this is a great idea but I know some of you are probably asking why are we doing it this way. Some of you even told me or I’ll bet you’re imagining that this is a stupid idea and a waste of time just like that last thing we did.”

Anytime you acknowledge the negative responses people might have to the idea, you’re showing that you actually understand what they’re feeling. You win a little more trust from them. They might be willing to listen a little longer with more of an open mind to what you really have to say. If you don’t do that, they’re just going to reject your ideas out of hand.

Roger Dooley:         If they’re not getting on board, ultimately you can just push them into a volcano.

Patti Sanchez:          [Laughter] Not advocating that. Just put them in a cage for a while.

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, that’s in the appendix I think. “Advanced techniques.”

Patti Sanchez:          Exactly.

Roger Dooley:         You advocate throughout the book using stories. That’s something that most of our listeners are familiar with, both the neuroscience of stories and how effective it is for holding attention and so on, but maybe less familiar is the concept of using ceremonies. What do you mean by ceremonies and what are some examples of how you would use a ceremony to sort of reinforce your change process?

Patti Sanchez:          Like stories, ceremonies are all about change. They’re actually a language that humans understand because they’re older than stories. Archeologists have found artifacts in ancient civilizations that were used in some form of ritual or they have burn marks on them or cut marks on them or something like that. That tells us that humans understand the language of ritual and that’s really what ceremonies are.

The oldest forms of ceremonies are rites of passage. They’re used to mark transitions in our lives—weddings, baptisms, graduations, are all basically like a play where we act out a story of change. People may say, “That has no place in business. That would be dorky in my business setting.” But actually, great leaders do use forms of ritual and ceremony in their business communication. It might be things like the obvious ones are when you have celebrations, a party to mark a milestone, a beer bus kind of thing. Those are the positive motivating kinds of ceremonies.

There are also what we call warning ceremonies, more helping people let go of things that they’re attached to, like a mock funeral. So we experience funerals in our real lives and they’re a way to say goodbye to somebody that we love, but we can also use funerals to let go of ideas or even products that we loved.

An example of this we talk about in the book is Steve Jobs, who is like everybody’s communicator crush. And darn it if he didn’t do ceremonies well too. When he was trying to get developers of applications to embrace the next version of the Mac operating system, OS X, he realized that they were all deeply attached to OS 9. There were a lot of good reasons for that and he had to improve the new operating system by changing the features and stuff. That’s all about product strategy.

What he also did was at a worldwide developer conference, he knew he needed to show them that it was time to move on to the next operating system. He wanted to do that in kind of a humorous way. He held a mock funeral for Mac OS 9. He stood on the stage, behind him was an actual size coffin with an oversized box Mac OS 9 inside the coffin. He put the lid down. He put a rose on top. He eulogized Mac OS 9 in kind of a funny way. You can look up the video on YouTube. It was a brilliant way to symbolically help developers say goodbye to this product they actually really loved so that they could say hello to the next product.

Roger Dooley:         Interesting. Really what you’re saying, and this is something that I didn’t make the connection from the book, when you talk about the history of ceremony, or the prehistory even of ceremony, evolutionary psychologists talk about our brains being hardwired to pay attention to stories. There is all sorts of evidence of that from fMRI machines that shows if you’re listening to a story your motor areas of your brain light up as if you were performing those actions and various other evidence like that.

I’m wondering if there is also some sort of hardwiring if you will, which is probably a phrase that would make most neuroscientists cringe, but for ceremony as well since there’s such a long and rich history of it through just about every stage of human evolution.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, I think a piece of evidence about that is just the modes of learning that people have. Kinesthetic learning is triggered by ceremonies as well because there’s sort of like a physical act that engages the motor cortex. It’s another way of processing information.

For instance, another kind of ceremony in the book is signing a commitment wall as Howard Schultz asked leaders to do when he needed their help to turn Starbucks around. That physical act of making a commitment in public, Robert Cialdini talks about this in his work on influence too, is a way of kind of rehearsing and cementing that new behavior in your mind.

There’s also evidence that the kind of experiences that we have when we’re in a group of people can be deeply memorable. I’ve seen some research by Viacom about the experiences that people have that are shared. When you’re in a room with other people watching something at an event versus sitting alone at home on a couch, you actually are more likely to remember what you experience when other people are around because it’s also engaging more of your senses.

So it’s not just you watching and hearing whatever it is you’re seeing on television, but you’re now, you’re experiencing the mood of the crowd, the noises that the crowd is making. All of those things again engage more parts of your brain and also create an experience that’s more vivid. That vividness increases recall. It’s like the flash bulb goes off in your brain. So the more senses you engage, the more vivid and memorable the experience is and ceremonies do that by, like I said, engaging not just the auditory, the visual, but also the motor cortex too.

Roger Dooley:         How do you prevent ceremony from seeming fake and artificial? I’ll relate a story that I was an observer of at least, if not a major participant. I was at a press event years ago for a launch of a new window product. Not Windows the operating system, but the kind that you look through and maybe open up in your house to let air in.

The company making this introduction felt that it was a really important product for them and wanted to make it as memorable as possible. A couple of executives gave it this huge build up about its revolutionary technology and by the time they were done, you expected it to do everything except cure global hunger. Then they actually had a percussionist in the corner and they cued a drumroll for the unveiling. This guy’s one task for this gig was a single drumroll, which I guess is good work if you can get it. All he had to do was carry in a snare drum and his performance is about ten seconds long.

They were trying to create this drama as they unveiled the window. It ended up coming off really seeming kind of ridiculous. You know, what they expected to be dramatic ended up being kind of funny. It got even worse too because then after that the executive who was demonstrating how the window worked was actually unable to open it.

Patti Sanchez:          Oh no.

Roger Dooley:         He had to ask for help. So this is like the worst press event ever for them. Some PR person’s head ended up on a platter after that one.

Patti Sanchez:          Number one rule of live demos: have plan B. Make sure the thing works, right?

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, you mention a J.C. Penney pep rally where they had cheerleaders come in and whatnot. To me, that seems like that’s one of those things that could go either way. If everybody is on board, it could be really cool. If not, if people are sitting there looking at these cheerleaders, “What on earth?” How do you keep it going in the right direction?

Patti Sanchez:          Penney’s pep rally is a great example of what I’m about to say, which is that you’re better off pulling a ceremony or a symbol or a story from the culture itself. You have to listen. You have to observe the people that you are trying to communicate to and find something that has meaning for them already. Then you amplify that by turning it into a ceremony or a story.

For instance, in the case of the J.C. Penney pep rally, that was actually a practice that was very old in the J.C. Penney culture. It had been going on for decades but it was stopped when the new CEO came in. They were trying to drive this culture change and all of those things so the pep rallies stopped. What happened was that when that didn’t quite work out and the previous CEO was reinstated, he reinstated the pep rallies again. That’s why people were so fired up because it was like a return to this ritual that they loved and they missed and they needed back in their culture again to reenergize them.

That’s the best place to start is to say, “Is there already a ritual that’s used by these people?” Or is there a symbol that has meaning for them that you can incorporate into that ceremony so that it doesn’t feel forced and it’s actually something they have real affection for.

We do that at Duarte too. We have a ceremony, kind of like an award-giving ceremony, that we do at our all staff meetings where people honor somebody else who’s done a really great job. What they call it is we call it a giraffirmation, instead of an affirmation, because you’re handing a giraffe statue to somebody that you want to recognize.

The giraffe is a symbol that has had meaning here at Duarte for 20-some years of our years in business. So people automatically recognize it as the symbol of our culture and our values. It is more meaningful when somebody gives you a giraffe because it’s like saying, “You’re a really good Duartion. Thank you.”

Roger Dooley:         That makes a lot of sense because in both of those cases you’re building on something that evolved organically over time. Whereas if you brought in cheerleaders to your next event it might seem kind of bizarre. Or if some other company decided to hand out a giraffe, that would be kind of incongruous perhaps without that organic history behind it.

Patti Sanchez:          Right, exactly. I think it starts by listening to what is important to people and then using what you learn and incorporating it into how you communicate. The other way to get at it is to allow the space for it to organically evolve. If you’re planning for instance an off-site for a leadership team and you know that there’s a need for ceremony at some point but you’re not quite sure, maybe it’s a new team, you don’t have norms that exist yet. Maybe create some space at the end of the first day or the end of the second day and call on people. Create that opening for people to say or do something that has meaning for them. It might actually evolve into a ceremony that lives on beyond that moment.

Roger Dooley:         I guess you would call symbol, which is another word in the title of Illuminate, symbols are kind of related to ceremonies. I suppose for instance the giraffe could be a symbol as well.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah. A symbol is basically an artifact that has some kind of emotional charge to it because it was used or it represents some ceremony that’s already happened, or even a story. A lot of times if you’re telling somebody a story about a particularly challenging time in the business’ history or your own personal history, there might be an object that signifies that event.

In this case, one of the stories we tell in the book is about a leader who was trying to motivate his team. He was a new leader to that team of developers who wanted to motivate them to pay attention to details and show them that details mattered. He told a story about a mountain climbing thing he did one time where he nearly fell off the mountain because the piton wasn’t pounded all the way into the mountain. He held up while he was telling that story the piton and a carabiner and used those as a symbol of paying attention to details. If you don’t do it, you might suffer some peril.

So again, you can think about stories that you tell or stories that represent what your company or your organization, your team, has gone through in the past. There might be an object that will remind people of that time and that becomes a symbol.

Roger Dooley:         Yeah, I think having something tangible just makes that story more memorable. Obviously, the mountain climbing story would have worked without the physical symbol, but that probably made it more impactful. Sometimes I talk to entrepreneurs and talk about challenges that I faced. At one point many years ago, I had a dark period where my commercial bank decided they didn’t want to be my commercial bank anymore and sent me a demand letter saying, “Hey, we need you to bring 1.5 million dollars to our office by tomorrow personally.” Of course, I didn’t at the time have that. So this was a really scary moment when you get that sort of communication.

As my symbol for that, I’ve actually got a copy of that letter on my office wall. I keep there it as a reminder, even though I’m really sort of an author and solopreneur at most right now, I don’t really have an organization around me, but I keep that there as a reminder of, okay, think you’re having a bad day? Well maybe it’s not the worst day ever.

Patti Sanchez:          [Laughter] Wow. It’s a great example too of a principle that I think is really important for leaders who want to motivate people is also to not ignore those bad times. There’s so much learning in those dark moments that we all have. There’s no getting away from them. If you don’t tell those stories, other entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, don’t have the opportunity to learn from that failure. That letter has meaning to you but that story might be helpful to other entrepreneurs themselves to remember that it’s possible to come back from the brink and still succeed.

Roger Dooley:         Right. It was a dark moment but we worked through the problem and ended up with a happy ending. It’s really a good reminder I think and it’s a great story when you’re talking to other people who may be facing their own challenges.

How long does it take for this evolution to play out? I know that quite a few of the examples in the book, and you’ve got some great case studies in there that detail different organizations and how they went through this change and reinvention process, many of them played out over quite a few years. Is there a typical range that you saw, like in looking for examples on the short end and long end of things?

Patti Sanchez:          It can be any length of time. It depends really on how big and ambitious that dream is. As you alluded to, some of the case studies in the book are corporate wide change efforts like the one of Interface, the carpet company, which was really the CEO at the time cast a vision for becoming a sustainable business in 1994. 20 years on, they’re still working toward that goal. They’ve reimagined it a couple of times. Every time it keeps getting bigger but they’re still on that journey. So that’s decades long.

There’s another example in the book of a company called Rackspace, a cloud hosting company in San Antonio.

Roger Dooley:         Just down the road from us here in Austin.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, that’s right. Awesome company, great leader, Graham Weston. The journey that he took his company on was maybe two years, if that. It was all about moving into a new building which god help us if that takes two decades. Let’s hope not. So that was a fairly contained effort.

Even in the course of some events that we’ve done ourselves in this Duarte change journey, we’ve seen that in the course of a two-day off-site, we traversed the whole five stages, even within a day. I think there’s sort of like a micro level journey that can be very fast and there’s a macro level journey that can take a long time. The same principles apply.

Roger Dooley:         It makes a lot of sense. One last question, of the five phases, where’s Duarte right now, Patti?

Patti Sanchez:          I would say we’re in the climb, approaching arrive, in accomplishing that first vision that we had to get ourselves ready to handle growth. We’re now at that moment of starting to redream which is the time to think big again and get ready to motivate everybody to make more change. It’s not easy. But I feel more confident now that I have these new tools.

Roger Dooley:         Time to start working on the next book.

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, actually we are.

Roger Dooley:         Uh-oh. We won’t tell anyone. Let me remind our listeners that today’s guest is Patti Sanchez, coauthor of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols. Patti, how can our listeners find you online? I think you’ve got some content that they can access too?

Patti Sanchez:          Yeah, absolutely. You can look up information about the book Illuminate on our website There’s some information about the book, a little bit of videos, and you can also download an executive summary of the key concepts and give you Roger a link for your page on another little goodie that folks can download.

Roger Dooley:         Great. Okay, we will link to all of those places, the new book of course, as well as my previous conversation with Patti’s coauthor, Nancy, and any other resources we talked about on the show notes page at We’ll have a text version of our conversation there as well. Patti, thanks for being on the show. I’m ready to start incorporating some of your ideas into my own speeches.

Patti Sanchez:     Brilliant. Glad I can help.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


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