Business Leaders, Bold Thinkers, and the Brand of the Future

The future is unfolding in real-time, all the time, but most retail brands are in a state of constant catch-up – just being at par before another innovation appears. This is partly a result of fast-moving times, but it’s also the result of an industry that’s been somewhat lackadaisical about innovation.

To really become a brand of the future, today’s guest sees audacious leadership as essential. Nancy Giordano is a strategic futurist, speaker, consultant, and author of Leadering, a book aimed at challenging leaders to be bolder in shaping the future – not only of their companies but of the world.


Melinda: Hi, I’m Melinda, and you’re listening to Think Retail.

The future is unfolding in real-time, all the time, but most retail brands are in a state of constant catch-up – just being at par before another innovation appears. This is partly a result of fast-moving times, but it’s also the result of an industry that’s been somewhat lackadaisical about innovation.

To really become a brand of the future, today’s guest sees audacious leadership as essential. Nancy Giordano is a strategic futurist, speaker, consultant, and author of Leadering, a book aimed at challenging leaders to be bolder in shaping the future – not only of their companies but of the world.

Hi, Nancy. How are you?

Nancy: Hi, it’s so good to see you.

Melinda: Can you just start us off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Nancy: Yeah, I mean, I really describe myself as a practicing strategist, especially after my involvement with Mega Dice. I’m here to build the solutions that we think that the future needs and wants from us. And what I found in doing that is that it’s not as straightforward as I’d like for it to be. I think that there’s a lot of resistance about what that path is. And so I spend a lot of my time now not just on the strategic side of it but also on the education side of it, or the inspiration side of it, or bringing examples, trying to make this future that I see more tangible for others so that we can build more quickly what it is I think we need.

Melinda: Maybe you could give us… I always like to hear people’s rant about why companies need to look further ahead than they currently do. Because sometimes that kind of passion can get people excited. What’s your rant?

Nancy: Yeah, you know, I think it’s sort of clear. But the way I have been studying and framing this over so much time is the fact that there was a 20th-century approach to things that worked really, really well for that era, right? It built big, huge brands, and it scaled them all over the world, and it lifted people out of poverty, and if you look at all the really great things that happened during the industrial era – but also through tremendous breakdowns or externalities that we’re just now really trying to really wrap our arms around. So it’s environmental, or ecological, or sort of even physical, or emotional, or societal, like, there’s a whole bunch of problems that we chose not to pay attention to that are now coming due.

And so then you start to look to the 21st century and say, “Okay, we’re going to have more power at our fingertips. We have more technology. We have more opportunities to go and build really extraordinary things that, again, are exponential, and they can reach billions of people. Why would we want to bring a mindset that caused so much damage, if you will, into the 21st century?” I think we really desperately have to change the way that we approach what we do and how we do it to ensure a safe and thriving future that we can all look back on and be proud of, right, and feel as though we did what we were supposed to do well.

And there is a moment in time right now where we have a choice about which way we want that future to go. And so there’s a real sense of urgency around that. So, it’s very easy to get the passion stirred. I really feel like it’s important that we pay attention and that we’re really, really privileged to be in the moment that we’re in. It’s an extraordinary moment of possibility and responsibility.

Melinda: I love the positivity because a lot of time thinking about the future can be intimidating. And I think leaders want to think about the future. But, arguably, with all of these things happening and happening quickly, it’s a pretty challenging proposition. How do you make this overwhelming task feel achievable?

Nancy: Well, again, I think that when we started out this conversation about sort of what is my work right now, but I think that there was a way in which we approach things. And, again, I get back to the 20th century, this idea of “leadership” as a noun. And it was very…it was an approach that was very intentionally designed to be static and closed and hierarchical so that we could root out all variability and not in any way put ourselves in any kind of risk. Incrementality was a big part of that. And it was designed to have consistent growth and profitability, right, through long R&D cycles so we could have short-term constant profitability, and easy scalability was all designed for efficiency. Like, those were all things that were sort of designed a certain way and to get people out of that mindset because that is actually the exact opposite of everything that we need now, right?

We need to be much more dynamic. We need to be much more inclusive. We need to be much more diverse. We need to think about R&D. And then R&D goes away. It’s really about constant iteration, experimentation, and learning in order then to have a long-term sustainable value creation, right? We’re really flipping that narrative or flipping that approach. And so getting people out of that old mindset is really the hardest part. I think if we could get people to think differently, then we can get to start to build the things that we want to build. And then it doesn’t become so scary.

It’s actually not at all scary in my world. It’s full of possibility and full of extraordinary things. But it means that we build, again, ecosystems of support, we incentivize curiosity, and we do a lot of things differently than we did in this leadership era. So that’s why I describe it as a verb, right, which you’re moving from leadership (the noun) to leadering (the verb) to allow us to be able to sense and respond more effectively.

Melinda: I love what you’re talking about with this idea of efficiencies, because I think efficiencies has been like this…it’s almost like a mantra that people have lived by for so long, and yet innovation is by its very nature inefficient. And so it really does require you to think in a completely different way. What’s the consequences of not making this leap?

Nancy: Already seeing it. You know, there’s a BCG study that came out at the beginning of 2020, about thriving in the 2020s, which I was thinking, gosh, if they only knew it was right around the corner as they released this study. But there are two key facts that I talk a lot about when I do my keynotes. One of which was a fact that, you know, you cease to exist. They had, like, one out of three public companies would cease to exist in its current form over the next five years. And I said, “Hold that thought for a second,” right? And the key factors in there were public companies, because public companies have so much more scrutiny and less ability to be able to navigate and to shift because the mandate is to transform. In its current form, it would cease to exist. But if they’re able to transform and able to think about how to ensure their relevance and meet the needs that people have as we move forward, then they get to stick around. So that’s number one, right? Do you want to still be here in five years?

And then the second is the profitability gap continues to expand between those in the top quartile and those at the bottom quartile. And so we’re seeing again the biggest gap I think it was in 30 or 40 years. So what we’re seeing is fun… And a few will think, “Wow, there’s something happening here, and I want to go capitalize on that. I understand these new technologies and how I can be.” First, it was an internet-first company, or then it was a mobile-social-first company, now it will be an AI-first company, right? And the advantage of that versus those who continue to believe that this is either a fad or at some point the killer app will be visible, and then they can jump on that train.

What’s interesting about the moment in time that we’re in is that there’s really a Peloton effect, those who are at the front end will move that much faster ahead than those at the end. And so my work is really focused on trying to close that gap, still ensure that all are able to be part of this and that those who are at the front end running with such fast, you know, fervor are doing it responsibly, are really thinking about the decisions that we make to ensure that they can have long-term viability, not just short-term profitability.

Melinda: Right, so your book “Leadering” is inspirational, but it also doesn’t let leaders off the hook. If audacious leadership is the only way to get through this shift, what does that look like?

Nancy: Well, this goes back to, again, when I think a lot about what we have built in the past, we’ve built a certain…it’s about how we hold risk. And I would argue, though, many of the things that we thought kept us safe back in the day, back in the 20th century are now the things that create vulnerability moving ahead. And part of that is how we think about risk or think about small change versus big change, right? We thought that incremental improvement was the thing that would keep us vital and relevant and around. And what we’re actually seeing is it’s big, huge leaps. It’s like taking a big bold step is actually what will protect us more. And the cost of not doing that is the thing that creates our demise.

Again, in the book, I talk a lot about Nokia, right? I remember being in the back of a car heading to the airport reading the paper version of The Wall Street Journal that talked about the fact that Nokia had lost a billion dollars’ worth of shareholder value and had to lay off 10,000 people because they were afraid of moving more boldly into a more mobile future with a different kind of smart technology. And they knew all the same things that Apple did. They had all the same vendors come and talk to them about chip technology and screen technology. And so it wasn’t that they didn’t know, it’s that they were too afraid to actually take the big leap and cannibalize current products and sales in order to build to the bigger future.

So, what we see are the companies that are able to cross what I call the liminal gap, the space between old systems breaking down and new systems yet to be created. There is this gap in between, and particularly in retail, we can map all the ones that didn’t make it through that gap, right, and who are sitting sometimes, and that’s based in between right now like Sears has been or RadioShack has been or many others have been in that sort of place where they just sort of can’t seem to be able to move to the other side. And then you see Walmart or you see others that have at least for now been able to figure out how to get through that gap and build the capacities and the processes that allow them to stay relevant as the future shifts and changes and conditions change.

Melinda: Right. You talked about things leaders have to think about. Can you give us the short Coles Notes version of that?

Nancy: If we’re talking about the same list, right, it’s around incentivizing curiosity. Curiosity is really, like, the number one thing. You talk to anyone who’s building the future, any leader, that’s what we want. But it’s not so much only individual curiosity, which we should certainly also cultivate, but it’s also, inside our organizations, how do we incentivize constant learning and trying new things. It’s not just about taking a class or going to a conference, which are also important. I’ve had many leaders, you know, say no to people who want to do, which makes me crazy. But it’s also, if I want to try something out in, you know, any kind of process inside the organization and often maybe be told no, that this isn’t the right time, or that’s a crazy idea, or that will never work, as opposed to building, again, capacity to try some of these things and figure out, you know, where the learning or the opportunity is. And accepting that if that one didn’t work, to your point before, it’s a little messier when you experiment, not seeing that as failure or wasted resources or something that, you know, took the company down but instead was something now that we can build more with.

I’ve been interviewing a lot of people, both before the book and after the book, around this concept. And, again, universally, we’ll say this idea that you need to have senior management that really believes in the fact that we’ve got room to experiment and to learn. And so I think that becomes a really key one. So that was the one, sorry, that was a long one.

Melinda: And curiosity.

Nancy: I really do think that it all sort of centers there. And then about thinking about partnerships, right, building outside of East Coast systems of support, both inside organizations, which is starting to get really, really siloed, and strictly, again, was this tactic designed to keep us safe back in the day that no longer works now moving forward, but also outside of organizations that we start to build different kinds of partnerships that are around learning, they’re around building, they’re around investing together. So there are different ways in which we do lots of learning to be more dependent upon one another.

And some of those partnerships can look very surprising, really uncommon partnerships. And often they can also be without…historically we would describe as competitors. So I think a lot about that. We can be like a retail competitor but an innovation collaborator and how we think about that, again, differently, and there’s many more examples that continue to grow around that. One is really about thinking about taking responsibility and thinking a lot more about contribution versus just extraction, right? Again, we’ve built these business models, but how can I hold everything and keep it just for me, and whether that was resources, or attention, or time? And what we’re recognizing now is that how do we flip that in a way so that we can make sure that we are actually building things that people really need and wanting, contributing and creating value with every decision that we make. There’s a whole thing about how the role of business will shift in a changing society. I’m trying to remember what I was so passionate about. Those are the three biggies, right?

Melinda: Yeah, yeah. And those are…I see that all the time as well working with retail brands in that, yes, they’re siloed, yes, there’s a lack of curiosity within the culture of the organization where there may be individuals who are very passionate and very excited about something. But the structure and the system that they are working in doesn’t enable that and, in fact, can inhibit it.

You know, you’ve got all these processes of approval. And I think sometimes, especially when you look at small local companies that are suddenly having such success, by looking at a category like food service, you know, they can have a new menu item on the menu in a day. They don’t need to wait for this complicated approval process, which can take years in, you know, a large organization. And so, of course, they’re leaping and bounding ahead of all of these big chains because they’re nimble, and they can quickly say, oh, that didn’t work, throw that in the garbage, try something else.

Nancy: And, again, maybe to test them, so compassion actually is on my list too. I’ve been talking a lot about that. Because I think it’s also understanding that, again, those smaller ones are, you know, able to sense and respond very, very effectively in that way. But they have less complex supply chains because they’re not serving as many people. They have less regulatory overview when you talk about certain other kinds of industries where the biggest players have a lot of regulatory or, you know, sort of governance oversight around that. And so the question is, how do we ensure that those processes, again, that were designed to keep us safe are actually keeping up with the pace of it? We can talk about that in law. We can talk about that in medicine. We can talk about that in finance. We can talk about that almost everywhere. There are these, like, you know, structures that were designed to kind of make sure everything was done safely that we have to figure out are they still really serving us well or not? So I do…you know, I hear a lot from the big incumbent organizations the frustration when they see the small, nimble ones able to skirt some of the rules that they don’t feel as though they have the same permission to be able to go do.

Melinda: Yeah, and, I mean, I think that there’s definitely…there’s factors when you’re trying to deliver something at a certain capacity where, you know, simply the amount of people that you’re serving is going to slow you down. But I think that, within organizations, there’s much more room for them to be more flexible than they realize.

Nancy: 100 percent.

Melinda: And a lot of the time it is getting people on board and singing from the same song sheet where you’re all in one voice as opposed to you’ve got some people are really addicted to this wave because it’s all they know, and especially if you’ve been doing it for 40 years, it’s going to be harder.

Nancy: When we talk about retail, there’s also the sense of being, like, right in the moment, but the reality is, there is this longer-term view that we need to take and the sense of, I get your point, what gets us all on the same song sheet is a sense of shared purpose, and shared mission, and hopefully shared outlook over a course of time. So, you now have had this conversation around, like, what kind of time horizon makes the most sense. And the example I gave is that, you know, rather than looking at a quarterly return, or even an annual plan, IKEA thinks about 400 years into the future. And, yeah, as I was thinking about that, I was actually just on their website earlier this morning looking at their financial performance for 2020, and they rocked it. Now, they did an extraordinary job of pivoting in a moment. So you can have a company of tremendous scale, of a billion customers and still figure out – apparently 75 percent of their stores were closed for at least 7 weeks if not more during the pandemic, and they still were able to achieve 96 percent of the sales that they had the year prior.

Melinda: That’s amazing.

Nancy: And a big shift of that was that they went online, right? They had to figure out the whole online source. So their e-commerce went from 10 percent to 16 percent in a year, a company with that much scale, and you can think what they sell, right? They’re not just selling spatulas, right? They’re selling couches and chairs, and really big, heavy things. And interestingly, they found that the assortment of the way that people shopped was really different, that people didn’t just come and browse like in stores, they came in, they were really pointed with what they wanted, they did less impulse shopping, they bought less small stuff, they bought more big stuff. Like, they were just able to respond and see that information and gear towards it.

So I do think that’s why you need to have an organization that’s really focused on the bigger goal, understands their contribution to it individually and as a team to be able to get to that, to be able to pivot that quickly to what it is that they were able to do, right? That is the value of that kind of thinking.

Melinda: I can hear the naysayers in my mind over here saying, “400 years, that’s crazy. You know, we can’t even plan for five years.” Talk to me a little bit more about that aspect of IKEA’s approach about that 400-year plan and why that’s so important and why it isn’t unrealistic?

Nancy: Well, I think the question is, how is this paying off? It’s paying off that they’re a very, very successful company that’s grown to have that much. I mean, they earned like 39 billion euros in sales, I think, last year. So it’s not like it isn’t working for them to think that way, right? They’re able still to deliver in real time what it is that they need to deliver. That’s why I was giving that example that they were able to pivot so quickly in this past year and still achieve so many of the goals that they need to achieve. Even with that sort of long-term view, it doesn’t get in the way. What I think it does is it orients people toward the bigger goal and helps them also make investments that make people feel really good about working for that company and really putting it all in. So they do a lot of work in sustainability. They do a lot of work in trying to, like, again, address the gaps of affordability so that everyone can have a high-quality lifestyle but not doing it in a way that’s so disposable.

So when you start to see them make investments that are about long-term viability for both the planet and for people, I think that’s part of what gives you then inspiration to go and, like, put the longer hour in in any given day or to talk to your colleague because you know you have a sense of shared values in which it is that you’re bringing your best to the work. So, I do think it becomes less transactional and more motivating to go do that work, which then puts you in a place where you can you take more risk.

Melinda: Absolutely. And as we’re seeing, I know you’re having the same issue in the U.S. as we’re having here – there’s a labor shortage that is looming and that companies like this that have giving you a real reason to show up to work that you believe in is going to be so essential going forward. You’re going to be able to attract top talent. You’re going to be able to keep them there. They’re going to deliver a better experience when you’re in the store.

Nancy: Yes, and all of that, right? And I think there’s two components to it. One is “my values are aligned.” And we saw there has been pushback with people at Amazon where they felt like the company didn’t think about sustainability or didn’t think about worker well-being and welfare as much as they should have. So, there’s definitely much more of an awareness of that and, you know, an outcry against that. So they think that’s one, right, is you want to make sure you’re attacking the really great people. But they also feel as though they’re putting their energy into something that they feel good about.

But then there’s also…there’s a social contract when we start getting into more technology that will replace some of the workers that we currently have, how will that be handled? And how do we do that in a way, again, that is compassionate and thoughtful? Unilever is a great example of thinking a lot about the future of working and how that will impact your organization as your manufacturing changes quite dramatically over the next few years, and their delivery changes and involving talent in those conversations, as opposed to imagining if something just happens to people, they’re actually evolving, and building, and also are very sensitive. There’s a great white paper around it that was written by some folks at Harvard, which talks about the sensitivity between how they would do it in China versus how they do it in Brazil versus how they do it in the U.S. because there are different economic conditions that exist in each of those markets very differently and different social mores around it.

This goes back to thinking further than a quarter ahead, this will happen over the next 5 to 10 years, if not sooner. And we need to start thinking about that and preparing for that in much more effective ways than what we are currently doing, otherwise we’re going to be stuck very short-sighted. And, again, the talent who doesn’t think that “you’ve got my best interests” are never going to come and join you because they’re afraid you’re going to just dump them.

Melinda: Yeah, absolutely. And this leads into the next thing I want to sort of go back to you talking about compassion and human-focused approach. When companies are especially right now coming…we’re still sort of in the pandemic, towards the end of it, hopefully, but it’s still going on. We’re still trying to just adjust to e-commerce and supply chains, asking leaders to be human-centered and compassionate. Sometimes I feel like everyone’s just so tired and so exhausted with everything that’s gone on. On top of that, asking them to take that step, talk to me about why it’s possible and why it’s so important.

Nancy: I don’t know that there’s any other way through to be quite honest. Like, I think for every reason you just mentioned is exactly why we need to think about this. So there’s, like, again, the immediate, like how do we ensure that we don’t push people so hard or that we’re sensitive to burnout, we’re sensitive to fatigue, we’re sensitive to, again, the complexities of people’s real lives because I think we got to see them all a lot more this past year, recognize that there are many responsibilities that people are juggling and how do we help hold that better and build systems and policies that actually address that much better, particularly for families and for women, particularly as we saw a very big gap happening there.

So I think part of it is that, so we just end up getting the work done. Because if you have no talent, everyone’s burnt out, everyone’s decided to give up, then you’re not going to go very far. But I think, also, it’s just the bigger picture, which is that we can build again with more courage if we’re building with more perspective on how we’re taking care of each other and the world, right? The idea of sustainability is no longer a segment of the population that cares about that, literally everyone cares about that. And, certainly, if you look at anybody under 25, it is the existential threat of their lifetime. And they want to know that we’re making responsible choices and stewarding our resources toward that. And so I do think that having compassion for that fear, having compassion for each other in the moment, we’re all trying to learn. I mean, think about learning and leading simultaneously. It’s a really hard thing. And it’s not something that any of us were necessarily groomed to do. That wasn’t the way our school systems work. That isn’t often the way our families work or society works. And so we’re asking everyone to rethink how we show up in a place of confidence and care at the same time that we’re trying to take on all these responsibilities. And so I think the only way to get through that is to have compassion for yourself, compassion for your teammates, compassion for your customers.

You know, I just had a retail experience, an online retail experience that went really, really poorly, and I got really frustrated. But partly I was frustrated because we also had all this issue with, you know, other things that were going on in our world today. And so sometimes we transfer, you know, this overwhelming sense of life into the experience that we’re having with a retail person and the fact that they can just hold that for us and just realize that we’re all kind of going through it and just be kinder to each other as we go through it. So I do think, anyway, there’s everything from a policy piece to just a frontline piece where I think that we need to bring a more human-centered, more heart-centered, again, more compassionate, empathetic perspective. There’s no other way through it. This is not a transactional experience that we’re going through that we can just, like, kind of tough it out and, you know, just get more efficient at doing.

Melinda: I think that if you do it well, then you will have more loyal consumers.

Nancy: 100 percent. And it shows through. My children have actually become quite savvy at being able to go into any kind of environment and go, “That person who loves her job, that person who doesn’t love their job.” And they can see it at any, like, any frontline person that they interact with, the person who really is engaged and person who feels well held, feels as though the organization is taking good care of them. And so they’re bringing their best work to that organization. It is a total symbiotic experience.

And so, you know, I get the privilege of talking to, I wouldn’t say hundreds, but dozens and dozens of companies every year. I do at least 30 keynote, if not 40 keynote talks, and every one of these people are briefing me on what’s going on inside their organization. And people come up to me after those talks and tell me what’s really happening for their industry. And so you hear the same things over and over again. And so I think that the only way to build bravely and to build audaciously, get back to what we talked about at the beginning, is to think about doing in service of each other.

Melinda: Yeah, and I think there’s also, you know, you touched on it with kids under 25 feeling an existential threat of climate change. I think there is a lot of pessimism and fear about the future. And, you know, you think about a series like Black Mirror, it’s the perfect example of everyone’s worst nightmare of how all of these new technologies and climate change, how it could all play out. And it’s a lot to grapple with. Yet you’re very optimistic and excited about the future. So what is it that you’re so excited about?

Nancy: I just gave a TEDx Talk specifically to college students around this topic to say, first of all, pay attention to where that narrative is coming from. It’s coming from people who are incentivized to scare us. So, it’s the news industry, or the social media industry, or politics. They’re all incentivized to make us really feel scared so that we make a choice that sort of behooves them, as well as incumbent organizations, incumbent industries that want to scare us about whatever the new thing is, whether it’s renewable energy, whether it’s the 5G cell tower, whether it’s, you know, plant-based proteins, whatever, if it’s electric cars. There are many innovations that are coming in that incumbents want to scare us away from that.

So one of the things, I think, that we need to do is pay more attention to what is really the story. Is that really the story? And then someone argue, A, there’s a lot more positivity that isn’t told than negativity, which is a continuously in an echo chamber. And then the second is to recognize we’re in the moment where we get to decide what we want the future to look like. It will transform, and we’re moving out of an industrial era to what I’ve described as a productivity era. There’ll be a lot of new questions that come up with that, a lot of new opportunities that come with that, a new way of thinking about how we distribute, not just create productivity, but also distribute productivity. And we get to decide that right now. This is our time. Like, I just think it’s such an extraordinary privilege to be in this moment in time and be gifted with this amount of impact. You know, we’re going to rethink, and reshape, and redesign every single industry, and even societal construct to be quite honest as well.

So being prepared for that, being excited about that, thinking about the possibility of that and not just the demise, that things will break down, we are going to destroy. You know, there will be value destruction in certain arenas that have not been able to keep up. And there’ll be a tremendous amount of value creation for the people who can see the opportunity. I just want us to make sure that we do it in a way that holds people well. This goes back to why you need to put people at the center instead of just a short-term profit motive at the center. Because if we can do that, then we are actually going to build this future that we really want. And then, again, I want kids to realize that they have a real role in shaping and building, right? The future is not happening out there. It is us, we are it, and this our time. Let’s do it.

Melinda: Oh, that’s exciting. I love that.

Nancy: I know, right? It is really exciting. And you see a lot of other futurists that are also starting to, like, go into the same thing, so I’m not the only one who is talking about this. You’re going to hear more and more, hopefully around the good story, and around the potential that exists, and around, again, this huge invitation that we have right in front of us right now that I really hope that we can shift our mind to embrace.

Melinda: If you could give leaders three action items, sort of three big areas that they could attack to put this into motion and start the journey to becoming a better, not just a better company but to help us build a better world, what would those three things be?

Nancy: Yeah, it’s funny because I probably would take attack out because I do think that we’re probably moving away also from this sort of, like, war narrative, or this competitive narrative, or this, like, winning at all costs narrative, like, if I win, you know, then you don’t. I talk a lot about moving from winning to caring, and the fact that, again, that companies that do that, Costco can be at the top of the list of a company that’s seen as somebody who actually cares a lot about people, I’m not sure much about their planetary thing, but as a result, then have a greater profitability. So I would argue really putting caring at the top of our agenda and realizing that that is actually the business mandate moving forward, as opposed to a nice to have or something for a few of those, you know, kinds of companies over there.

I’ll go back to, again, to curiosity. I really do think that that is a really, really critical part to this. And I think it’s about building capacity to sense and respond. We want to be able to stay relevant. So these things that we’re doing are not because they’re scary, and they’re not because they’re risky, they’re because they allow us to continue to sense and respond in real time to the way in which we can continue to serve people. People are still going to have needs for things, right, but how they feel about those needs and how they serve those needs are going to continue to shift and to change. And so to make sure that we don’t just keep going back to what worked in the past. So, let’s continue moving this way in the future.

There’s, again, radical, radical shift happening in all of this, so to be more aware of it and to be excited about it, as opposed to scared of it. And, again, there’s the million small little things you can do, there’s a bunch of micro-actions, there are policy things, and then there are big, huge ways we could do it. So, I think to just be a lot more open to the fact that there’s a better way of doing it in order to build a better next.

Melinda: If people want to connect with you or find your book, where can they go?

Nancy: LinkedIn is really the most consistent place. We just talked about social media, and I have my own relationship with it, which is, like, I, you know, spend a little bit of time in Instagram but for the most part really don’t. But LinkedIn is a brand I trust and a community that I love being a part of. That’s the easiest way to get to me directly.

And then my book is available in all the places you would buy books, and, actually, we’re going to create our own e-commerce platform in the fall in which we’ll be able to sell bulk orders much more effectively. Because let me tell you ­– book distribution, really broken, and we’re out to fix it. So, by fall, we will have a solution where in any form you want to buy it and whatever quantity you want to buy it, we’re going to be able to solve that problem anywhere in the world that you want to buy it because those are all the breakdowns right now that exist. And that’s why you’re going to see it’s a spirit of innovation. When we see a breakdown, it’s an opportunity to go fix it, right? If we see something we’re frustrated by, we can build a solution. There’s something we’re frightened by, we can go in and intervene and blunt it. So that’s really everything.

Maybe the thing I would add to that list that you just asked me about is agency. Have agency to go do it, right? Create the thing you think is missing. Fix the thing that needs to be broken. Solve the problem that you’re frustrated by. This is the opportunity right now.

Melinda: Great. I will also link to your LinkedIn in the podcast description, so people have an easy way to get to. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

Nancy: Thank you so much. It’s been fun.

Melinda: We have the opportunity to rethink the way we approach business strategy, and the future of entire industries, the planet, and our well-being as humans depends on it. Before those companies who are already charging audaciously into the future get so far ahead you can’t catch up, it’s time to be bold.

Nancy’s book Leadering offers a deeper dive into the conversation we had today and provides both inspiration and strategies to become bolder leaders. We’ll link to it in our podcast transcript if you want to take that dive.

Thanks for listening to Think Retail.


Nancy Giordano is a strategic futurist, speaker, consultant, and author. She helps enterprise organizations and visionary leaders transform to meet the escalating expectations ahead.

Think Retail is a podcast where top designers, strategists, thought leaders and business people discuss what’s coming next. For more information, email