(Replay) Visionary Leaders Play Bigger with Nancy Giordano

Listen the episode right here.

Nancy built a formidable career at several of the most influential ad agencies in NY, Chicago, and LA and for more than a decade has been the Founder/CEO of Play Big Inc., a strategic inspiration company. Her current work dives deeply into the emerging intersection of tech, business and society.

Nancy has a rich history of advising and learning with some of the top companies in the world, including Nestle, Brinker International, The Coca Cola Company, Sprint and Acumen. More recently, she has helped build the team for an artificial intelligence start-up, produced a conference on the seven most disruptive technologies for enterprise, is board member for a non-profit trade organization focused on the future of retail, and is working with a leading fintech/martech provider to ensure the survival of community banks and credit unions nationwide. 

She is also helping usher in the world of distributed applications and computing by championing emergent cryptographic technologies Holochain + Holo.

Podcast Highlights

Who is Nancy Giordano? 

Nancy gets asked the question “what is a strategic futurist?” Her answer is that she is insatiably curious and hates to be blindsided. She started out in advertising and watched that industry be transformed by the emergence of the internet and then by social and mobile. She moved into consulting where she noticed how hard it was for organizations to adapt to new shifts in technology and that was when she realized how unprepared we all really are.


Nancy recently wrote a book composed of case studies and visionary stories of how visionary leaders play bigger. She is confident that the industrial mindset is not going to be enough for an exponential 21st century future. According to the technologists, scientists, engineers, and visionary leaders, we are only 1% into the transformative new era. That means there is a lot of rethinking and rebuilding to do and we will need a new mindset to get it done.

Nancy’s innate curiosity naturally led her to be where she is today. She believes that we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility in front of us. The artificial intelligence community is a powerful tool for change, but we also need to build it in a way that keeps ethics and privacy in mind.

The book is mainly focused on learning while you lead with something that is so dynamic and changing so quickly.

Artificial Intelligence

The complexity of things starts off with the amount of data that’s being created. 80% of all the data ever created was created in the last 18 months. The other insight that we need to recognize is how interrelated and connected everything is. We have to look at our organizational structures and belief systems that used to keep us safe and reassess what strategies we need to move forward.

We need to be able to navigate through the emerging complexity of the world and artificial intelligence is a powerful tool for that.

The World Isn’t Simple Anymore

Nancy’s mission is to ensure a safe and thriving future for everyone. There are ecological and environmental issues to deal with, alongside physical, emotional, and mental issues, and part of solving those problems is recognizing that we need a new way of thinking that allows us to thrive in a more dynamic world.

Data is not discrete, it’s contextual. This adds a whole new dimension to it, but also allows us to solve different problems than before. We need to trust our ability to handle this new level of complexity.

Fear The Future?

Transparency in business and organizations is coming whether we like it or not. People often fear transparency, as well as the change that technology brings, but that originates from an old way of thinking.

We’ve been taught that information is power, but the reality is that it’s not scarce. If we are able to share it, we are able to grow it. The mindset we need to adapt is that we all win when we all thrive, as opposed to trying to win in isolation. 

Nancy is trying to encourage incumbents that have been sitting on their old ways of thinking to shift to the new way of doing things. Rather than trying to shut down and prevent change, we can see organizations become part of the acceleration.

We often assume that what we have is enough, but conditions are changing regardless so we don’t really get to decide whether we get to change or not. We don’t have a map for the future, but we do have a compass. The compass is these two questions: “What does the future need and expect?” and “What unique position are you in to create and contribute to that?” If we can use those to guide us, there is a tremendous opportunity in front of us.

We have set up our corporate thinking to focus on the past and the next 90 days. The visionaries who play bigger think on a much longer time scale. Ikea thinks about the next 400 years and works backwards from there. Inside organizations, we often pay lip service to collaboration, but the environments and incentive structures still reward individual action.

The Problem With GDP

GDP is a measure of productivity that originates in the 20th century and it now longer really serves the purpose. We need to encourage the growth of healthy social metrics instead of solely focusing on GDP and job growth. Nancy is working with a team to use a Social Wealth Index that focuses on the leading measures of a healthy society. 

What traits do leaders of the future need?

It starts with curiosity. Self awareness is also important. You need to develop your own understanding of your blind spots and your confidence to create value, so that when someone challenges you or the circumstances change around you you can still move forward. The last trait is compassion and empathy. Technology is not the problem, the issue is how it’s deployed. If we take new technology and orient it to compassion and how we can create value for as many people as possible we can build incredible things.