Harnessing Curiosity + Creativity with Duncan Wardle of Disney

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Harnessing Curiosity - Untold Stories of Innovation

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“Take your audience on a walk. Bring them out from behind the table and walk with them from one storyboard to the next and listen to their feedback. Instead of being reductionist and shooting your ideas down, they will build on your work as you go because when you walk with someone, you turn your presentation into a conversation. People will think expansively with you. They will build on your work as you go.” —Duncan Wardle

From today’s episode you’ll learn:

Why do stories matter to the innovation process? What values can be instilled in innovators who share stories? How do innovation leaders inspire creators to tell and share their success and failure stories?

Our conversation with innovation consultant and keynote speaker, Duncan Wardle—the former V.P. of innovation and creativity at the Walt Disney Company—unpacked the importance of harnessing childlike curiosity and collaborating with customers and “naive experts” to break your rhythm of thinking. He details how to create an impactful pitch: invite people to build on your ideas and engage kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners.

Today's Guest:
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As a Keynote Speaker, Duncan has shared his strategies with companies such as McKinsey & Company, Disney, Apple, Forbes, NBA, Coca Cola, and more. Drawing on his experience as Head of Innovation & Creativity at the world’s most creative organization, the Walt Disney Company, Duncan now serves as an independent innovation and design thinking consultant, helping companies embed a culture of innovation and creativity across their organization.

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Podcast Transcript - Harnessing Curiosity

This episode, Harnessing Curiosity is powered by Wordsmith: An Online Writing Course for Busy Professionals. Professionals spend 40% of their workdays WRITING. Wordsmith empowers you to write more efficiently for greater impact and influence. With real-world case stories drawn from Untold’s work with innovative organizations around the globe and 25 downloadable cheat sheets that you can take with you to increase your confidence with writing and storytelling. Learn more at untoldcontent.com/writing-training-for-busy-professionals.

Katie [00:00:00] Our guest today is Duncan Wardle. He is the former V.P. of Innovation and Creativity at the Walt Disney Company. And he is now the founder of iD8 with the number eight and innov8 with the number eight. And he is an Innovation and Creativity Consultant and Keynote Speaker. Duncan, I’m thrilled to have you on the podcast today. 

Duncan [00:00:20] Thank you very much for having me.

Katie [00:00:22] So I’ve been dying to ask you this question. Your 30 years of work at the world’s most premier storytelling company leads me to be really excited to ask you. What role do you think storytelling plays in the art of innovation?

Duncan [00:00:41] Everything. So, caveman, right? So cavemen couldn’t speak, by the way. So they didn’t, you know, one cave man couldn’t go up to the next one as a “Hey, Fred, there’s a dinosaur coming.” So they actually spoke through intuition. They actually spoke through intuition. But after they could speak, we all got around the campfire. And so here is not just the ability to tell a story, it’s the ability to find a core consumer truth. And I’ll focus in on both, if I may. When you were a little girl. So when I grew up, I grew up in the 60s. Cowboys were heroes. Davy Crockett, the Lone Ranger. We all walked with the funny John Wayne Gacy.

Katie [00:01:15] Yeah, those were the days. 

Duncan [00:01:17] And then some dude called Neil Armstrong, came down the stairs, said one small step for man. And here’s the death of the Cowboys. And suddenly overnight, none of us wanted to be a cowboy. Cowboy hats were thrown out. The sheriff’s badges were in the trash can. And, hell, we were going to be astronauts. Well, Toy Story was written for me and my generation. And yet it’s also the beauty that it tells stories at two levels, one for adults and one for children. But so now we think back to when you were a little girl and you were in your bed at night. You were very young. Did you have a monster in the closet or under the bed?

Harnessing Curiosity

Katie [00:01:51] Oh, yeah, for sure.

Duncan [00:01:53] Like so clearly, Monsters Inc. was written for you. If you’ve seen the film Inside Out. Are you familiar with Inside Out?

Katie [00:02:00] Of course I’m familiar with everything Disney. It’s incredible.

Duncan [00:02:04] So it’s a story about a girl, a teenage girl, whose parents are moving and how her brain is, in fact, controlled by four little people who live inside her brain. Four emotions. There is joy, there’s anger, there is disgust, and there is, is it fear? I can’t remember. Anyway. So, here’s the thing. Here I am in Fort Myers. It’s sunny in Florida. Everywhere else, it’s cold. I’m full of joy. And yet somebody suddenly coops you up in the car and like you bastard. And so they just instantly switch from joy to anger in that total second. Or somebody next to me on the plane will bring on their cold pizza that they’ve had in their fridge for five days. And suddenly I will be full of disgust. And clearly, that film was written for me. It’s not just about the ability to tell a story. It’s about the ability to tap into a core consumer truth. Children are brilliant at getting to a core consumer truth. So do you have children?

Katie [00:02:59] Yes three. A five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a one year old.

Duncan [00:03:05] Oh, this is perfect. OK. So what’s the first one? So what questions are they asking?

Katie [00:03:09] Can we become Lightning McQueen?

Duncan [00:03:13] OK. So they’re very curious, very curious. Think of that one-word question that they constantly challenge you with.

Katie [00:03:20] Why!

Duncan [00:03:21] Yes. And the one after that? Why? And the one after that? Why? The one after that one?

Katie [00:03:26] That was a trick question. 

Duncan [00:03:27] Children know you lie. Children lie. They know you’ve lied on the first answer. And so they are seeking the core consumer. No, it’s true.

Katie [00:03:35] Yes, yeah.

Duncan [00:03:36] And so they’re seeking what I call the core consumer truth. So they will push and say why? Why, why? Because they are seeking the truth. We then go to school and we get a job and we’re told there’s only one right answer. So we stop asking the second why. But the fourth or fifth why may actually lead you to insights for innovation. So, for example, if you were to act childlike, not childish, and somebody said, well, why do you go to a Disney park? Well your data would tell you or if you stopped at the first answer, they said, well, I go for the ride. Well, that tells me.

Duncan [00:04:07] That’s a capital investment strategy. Could be a couple of hundred million dollars about a ride. I’d be all right. They will come. Why do we do that? It’s always worked that way. It’s worked that way since July 17, 1955, when Walt opened the doors to Disney Land, but if you paused for a second and asked why again and said, what? Well, why the rides? Well, I like actually quite a Small World. Why on earth do you like Small World? What? I remember the music. Why is that important? Well, I used to go with my mom. Well, why is that important? Well, I take my daughter now. What that person has just told you on the fifth why is the real answer to why they’re going to Disney. It has nothing to do with the capital investment strategy of two hundred billion dollars and everything to do with her personal memory and nostalgia. That’s a communication campaign, not a capital investment strategy. But we always stop at the first line. And yet by digging deeper as children do, by being curious. People are not curious, and that curiosity, Albert Einstein once said, I may not be clever, I’m just very curious. I will move back to storytelling, I promise, because I love it. But curiosity, so metaphorically. I want you to put your hands up. You’ll have to tell me if you put your hand up. Do you. Have you been? Or do you go to your favorite restaurant with your partner? Three or four times a year. And you look at the menu. You look at all the appetizers, the main course, the desserts, they were the same this time last year. You’re listening to the specials, but you’re not really listening, are you? Because you’re going to order the same thing you order every time.

Katie [00:05:38] Sure. Yeah. Hands up.

Duncan [00:05:39] OK. Do you or do you not get in the same side of the bed every night?

Katie [00:05:44] I do. And I just heard research that a majority of people do.

Duncan [00:05:49] Of course you do. Even when you’re in a hotel room myself. Yes, we do. Why? Have you ever commuted home? You go in a car, a bus, or however you get home, you look at the front door of your house or your apartment or the garage door. And there’s that split second when you think, oh, my God, how did I get here?

Katie [00:06:04] Yes. Well, you sort of black out as you’re moving through a habitual journey. Yeah.

Duncan [00:06:09] Here’s what happened on the way home, your brain physically shut down. It got bored. It knows where the florist is. It knows where the supermarket is. So shut down. No new stimulus in, no fresh ideas out. And people tend to be happy. So my advice to them would be one day a month. This is not a big ask. It’s about to be February, commute a different way to work and on the way back. One day a month. Have a brown bag breakfast where you sit around from 9 to 10 a.m. on the first Friday every month and invite your team to come and talk about things they thought were innovative or creative in the last 30 days. No PowerPoint presentations. God knows they’ve got enough work to do. You’ll be amazed at the amount of ideas you can tie back to that breakfast. The number one barrier to innovation in a survey of 5000 cast members at Lucas Films, Pixar, Marvel, Disney is “I don’t have time to think.” That if you were to look at your diary, bring it up on your iPhone 4 tomorrow. I know what it looks like. It’s a presentation. It’s a PowerPoint presentation. It’s a meeting. And scheduling it’s doing a talk. And we hear ourselves say, “I don’t have time to think.” And when we don’t have time to think, we can’t come up with big ideas. And so. So what is it? You know, if I were to ask you some most innovative companies in the world, Google would be in your top 10. What’s their secret sauce that they’ve got that you don’t? Well, guess what? There’s a company policy called 20 percent time. All of their engineers get 20 percent of their daytime to think. In return, they’d been given Gmail, Google Docs. Google Maps is a good Google Maps and self-driving cars. Playfulness. Another one that children are so good at and we’re terrible at.

Duncan [00:07:45] And people say, well, why should I be playful at work? Well, so let me ask you. Close your eyes for me. I’m going to ask you a question. This is a word association game. I do not want you to think about the answer. I just want you to say the first word that comes into your mind when I ask you the following question. Providing obviously something to share in public.

Katie [00:08:01] Okay, I’m ready.

Duncan [00:08:03] Where are you usually and what are you doing when you get your best ideas?

Katie [00:08:08] Moving–I’m usually walking or talking to other people and my team.

Duncan [00:08:15] Sure. I did it with 350 people. I got them all to write their answer down. You’re going to hear shower. Bathroom on the toilet. Waking up, falling asleep, commuting, driving, gardening, walking the dogs, jogging. Not one of them wrote down the following two words at work. Well, that’s a bummer, isn’t it? Because you’re paid to have big ideas to work. And now picture the last verbal argument you had with someone. As you can really picture. You don’t have to tell anybody about it. Just tell me when you can see it.

Katie [00:08:46] Okay. I can see it.

Duncan [00:08:49] OK so you can open your eyes. Your arguments over. You’re angry at Fred. You storm out of the office just so angry at Fred and you go across your local coffee shop. Perhaps get a cappuccino, you sit down. It’s five or ten minutes after the arguing is over now. What just popped into your head?

Katie [00:09:04] The perfect thing I should have said in the middle of the heat of the argument.

Duncan [00:09:10] The killer one line. The one line you wished you used earlier. Oh, if I had said that he had gone down. Oh, the perfect line. Have you ever come up with the perfect line during the argument?

Katie [00:09:20] Well, no, it takes that beat. That beat of reflection. 

Duncan [00:09:24] My wife can. It’s quite soul destroying. But for most people it’s five or ten minutes later. Why? Well, because here’s how your brain works. Most of us live in what I call busy beta during the day. The door or otherwise known as a particular activating system between your conscious and subconscious brain is firmly closed. That’s not good because 87 percent of the capacity of your brain is subconscious.

Duncan [00:09:48] Every bicycle ride you’ve ever been on, every meal you’ve ever eaten, innovation challenge you worked, industry you’ve ever worked in, every person you’ve ever kissed. Even the ones you choose to forget that freak you out on Facebook 10 years later want to be your friend again. It’s all back there as unrelated stimulus, but you can’t access it when the door between your conscious and subconscious brain is closed. However, by being playful and I run these things called energizes, they’re just one- or two-minute exercises. All I’m doing is listening for laughter. The moment I hear laughter, I know I’ve opened the door between your conscious and subconscious brain metaphorically. Place you back in the shower or just in the moment. You give yourself time to think. You have the shower. You walk the dog. You step away from the argument. You come up with the big idea or the killer one liner. [00:10:31]But we don’t give ourselves time to think and we’re not playful. And so playfulness at the right time can be really helpful in innovation. And now I will go back and answer your question. Storytelling. Why is it useful? I’ll give you the perfect example. We asked four architectural firms to come and pitch for a piece of business for downtown Disney. Downtown Disney was a retail, dining and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. And the winning bid obviously was going to win quite a lot of money. That’s putting it modestly. And so the first three firms that came in, I couldn’t tell you the amount of money they spent on their presentation. I know it was close to a quarter of a million dollars. Well, that’s a lot of money to spend on a business. They had created architectural renditions and full models of the future of what this retail, dining and entertainment complex could look like, the size of a ballroom right down to a little holographic old lady waving out of a window. They blew my mind and they were very slick. And then we went to the fourth presentation and we walked into the room and there was nothing there. Just a little old man and a rocking chair like Santa Claus. Twelve rocking chairs in a circle. He said, come on in. Close your eyes. I see I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for just a moment. Can you close your eyes for me?

Katie: I’m there.

Duncan [00:11:51] I’d like to tell you about a place called Disney Springs. Built on a natural spring in central Florida was a small town. Where a young man called Walt Disney, there was an animator at the Kansas City Star newspaper, met a young girl called Lillian. Can you see it?

Katie [00:12:13] Mmhm.

Duncan [00:12:13] Of course you can see it because [00:12:14]I ask you to close your eyes so your imagination will take you wherever in the story you choose to go. That’s why books, whenever you see a Harry Potter book and a Harry Potter movie, everybody goes “oh the books are always better.” Were they better? Because your imagination took you to what Hogwarts looked like, took you to what Harry Potter looks like. What concept did we go with? We went with this, by the way. We were crying by the time we finished telling a story. But the power of storytelling. He knew his audience. We were storytellers, but he got us to close our eyes and took us to a place that we couldn’t have got to otherwise. That is the power of storytelling. You also think about Walt when Walt sold the concept. Everybody thinks DisneyLand, you know, he had so much money. So, Walt was bankrupt in 1940. Walt was a genius. He had a film called Fantasia which told a story through music, but he wanted it to rain mist the theater during drip, drip, drip, rich labor hours. He wanted heat pumping during nights on a bear mountain. And the theater owners said no, Walt, too expensive. And Walt listed the rules. He calls it the what if talk. The rules are going to a theater is dark, it’s dirty. I must go to set time. I Walt can’t control the environment. And he said, Well, what if I could? That’s not provocative enough. The more provocative question, the further out of your river of thinking, your expertise you will get. And he said, well, what if I take my movies out of the theater?

Duncan [00:13:50] Well, if I take them out of the theater, they can’t be two dimensional because they fall over. Well, what if I’m making three dimensional? Well if I make three dimensional, I’d have to have people play the characters where if people play the characters, Cinderella couldn’t live next to Jack Sparrow or Davy Crockett because people wouldn’t be immersed in her story. Well, what if I create a land. Wait a minute. I call it Disneyland.

Duncan [00:14:08] And when he went to Bank of America because he was bankrupt after Fantasia because of a financial flop and he picks Walt Disney and Pixar today, all present their ideas through storyboards. Now, let me tell you why. I’m going to ask you a question. How many days are there in September?

Katie [00:14:30] Thirty.

Duncan [00:14:32] Thirty. How did you know?

Katie [00:14:34] Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I went back to grade school, I think in that second.

Duncan [00:14:40] Good. So keep your eyes closed. How did you learn it?

Katie [00:14:43] Thirty days past September. April, June, and November.

Duncan [00:14:46] Bingo. Bingo. Right. You are an auditory learner. I’ll say that you were at kindergarten five years ago. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt if I could get a few more years.

Duncan [00:14:54] But instantly, when I asked you the question how many days there were in September, you went to the rhyme because you learned by listening. Now there are other people in your class, and you may notice actually ask your children today. I bet you at least one of your child will put their fists together and start counting their knuckles, and they’ll go. January, February, March, April, May. Each knuckle has a 31. Each dip has 30. What does that tell me? That tells me that that person is a kinesthetic learner. They learn that in kindergarten. But when I ask them the question. Now the other people, here’s the other people, and they are usually the dominant force in the room. They all say, oh, I just closed my eyes and saw a picture on the calendar. They’re your visual learners. They dominate most audiences when you’re telling stories, when you’re pitching ideas. It is important to remember that two thirds of your audience do not share your preferred learning style. Therefore, you want to make your presentations kinesthetic. Obviously you talk. Visuals very strong. So, for example, if the first slide in your PowerPoint decks is the word data, I am dead.

Duncan [00:15:58] I don’t even care what’s on Slide 2. I’m just not going to pay attention. Why? I’m a visual learner. I need pretty pictures. I don’t care how compelling your data is. I’m gone. And so imagery and storyboards. So Pixar does it extremely well. They have something called a plus thing meeting when they’re pitching new storyboards at Pixar. What do you think they do an a plus thing meeting at Pixar if you were to hazard a guess?

Katie [00:16:20] You know, I’ve read a little bit about this. And the way I understand it is. I read this in a recent Harvard Business Review article, and they mentioned that practice. I believe that it’s adding to someone’s idea and not immediately jumping to criticism. Right.

Duncan [00:16:36] Exactly. And that’s exactly what it is. You can’t shoot the idea down. You just have to remind yourself, we’re all reductionist. The older we get, the more experience and expertise we get. The more reasons we know why the new idea won’t work. So we sought to know because. Frankly, I tell you what. Let’s try it. We’ll try an exercise. Now, more familiar with Harry Potter or Star Wars?

Katie [00:16:56] Harry Potter.

Duncan [00:16:58] OK, I’m going to come at you with some ideas for our Harry Potter party. We’ve got a hundred thousand dollars. I want you to start each response to my ideas with no, because and tell me why you think that’s not a good idea.

Katie [00:17:09] I love it. Let’s go.

Duncan [00:17:09] Let’s say. Oh, I know. Let’s do a Harry. But we can do Hogwarts dining room. Right. It’s going to be long. We’re going to be sorting it out to the entrance and all the good people get to go to the Gryffindor table and all the bad people get put in Slytherin.

Katie [00:17:22] Ah well, you know, I just think that’s going to be 1 a logistical nightmare. I mean, there’s only a long line going up to the sorting hat. And then won’t it feel terrible to be in the bad group and create some negative energy in the room? I don’t know.

Duncan [00:17:37] Okay. All right. So what if everybody was, in fact, Gryffindor?

Katie [00:17:43] Well, no, that wouldn’t really make sense either, there’s no real element of surprise or excitement to that.

Duncan [00:17:49] OK, so what if we did a magic potions room where everybody with Professor McGonagall could make their own alcoholic beverage?

Katie [00:17:56] Look, I can’t find a wrong, wrong problem with that.

Duncan [00:18:00] Stay with me.

Katie [00:18:00] OK, no. Because, I mean, we’re going to have drunk adults on our hands and children who wish they could drink the potion and they’re going to get jealous. I don’t think that’ll create good, good vibes.

Duncan [00:18:13] OK, what about a Dumbledore smoothie?

Katie [00:18:17] No. That’s disgusting. I mean, how would you sort of work in the beard concept to that? I think people would just be grossed up.

Duncan [00:18:24] OK, so pause for a second. Traditionally, that’s what happens when somebody comes to us with a new idea and we start with no because we know the reasons why it won’t work. And then if you do this exercise with the group of people and you ask the person who was getting the no, because how was that exercise, they’re going to say think. And I’m going to ask them did the idea get bigger or smaller and they’re going to say smaller. So here’s a different way of doing it when used at the right time that I think could change cultures. So we’re going to stay on Harry Potter. We still got 100 thousand dollars for tonight’s party. I’m going to throw out the first idea. The first two words out of your mouth with each response must be yes. And all right, then we’ll build the idea together. OK. All right. So we’re going to have the Hogwarts Hotel. We’re going to have a–we will have the sorting house and reception desk. And it gets to choose which house you get to stay in overnight in the party.

Katie [00:19:13] Yes. And how about we pick up on Bluetooth in order to ping guests to know which way to navigate inside the party? We could sort of have different rooms for each house.

Duncan [00:19:26] Oh, yes. And the Uber Eats drivers could come in on broomsticks.

Katie [00:19:31] Yeah. And we could kind of try to figure out a way to incorporate some kind of jingle or sound upon delivery of the food. And it would be sort of themed by house.

Duncan [00:19:44] Oh, yes. And through augmented reality. We can have those floating candles coming down.

Katie [00:19:50] I love that. Yes. And once the floating candles activate, I think that would be a good signal for everyone to sort of leave their respective homes or corridors and come into the great hall. And that would be their moment of gathering and celebration.

Duncan [00:20:05] Perfect. So here’s the thing. When you watch people do this exercise, you watch the energy room and the level go up 100 percent. You’re going to hear laughter. You’re going hear most people discover their hand for the first time in the day. Then when you ask them to the idea get bigger or smaller, they’ll say bigger. Now, let me ask you a second question. By the time we finish that second exercise. Whose idea was it?

Katie [00:20:25] Everyone’s.

Duncan [00:20:27] Ours. The moment you can transfer the power. Do not underestimate the power of two simple words from the world of improv called “yes and” to transfer the power of my idea to our idea.

Katie [00:20:39] Yes. You know it’s such a powerful exercise. And it relates back to what made the Disney Springs pitch so effective. Which is I am turning over the power and making this moment an act of creation and collaboration together. You know, instead of just delivering on this formal sense of here’s me alone. As this solo garage guru, genius, innovator, it’s more about what’s possible when we engage one another. And if your storytelling techniques of pitching your prototype or pitching your big idea are only about you being a genius and the perfect delivery of that, that is far less impactful. There’s far less energy that can get created inside that conversation. The buy in, I’m sure. Have you. So in terms of a question, you know, buy in. What do you see as being most effective for generating buy-in?

Duncan [00:21:36] I’ll tell you the least effective. You used to watch American Idol?

Katie [00:21:39] Sure.

Duncan [00:21:42] Randy, Paula and Simon, what did they sit behind?

Katie [00:21:43] A big desk with big rejection buttons. 

Duncan [00:21:49] Yeah. A table. And what was the role of Randy, Paula and Simon?

Katie [00:21:53] Well, one was the cheerleader. One was the nurturer and one was the motherfucker. 

Duncan [00:21:59] The asshole? But they were judges. The moment you put somebody on the other side of a physical object to you, they will think reductionist. They would judge your work. You’ve stood at the front. You’ve got your PowerPoint presentation out. You’re starting to click through. You’re telling them. It could be a client. It could be your boss. They’ve got more experience than you. They’ve got more expertise. They want to add value. You’re telling them I don’t want you to add value. This is a finished deck. It’s a big mistake to make. They will think reductionist. If you say I’m scheduling a presentation for Tuesday, a huge mistake. They will automatically think reductionist and they haven’t got in the room yet. When you get into the room and you’ve got the boardroom table, just ignore it, take your presentation and stick it up on the wall all the way around the border. And why? Well, because these people sat through 5000 digital presentations last year. God knows they don’t want to sit through another one. But it makes it visceral and real for the visual learners. But here’s the more important part. Take your audience on a walk. Bring them out from behind the table and walk with them from one storyboard to the next and listen to their feedback. Instead of being reductionist and shooting your ideas down, they will build on your work as you go, because when you walk with someone and this is the key point, you turn your presentation into a conversation. And the ability to turn a presentation into a conversation. People will think expansively with you. They will build on your work as you go. You may have to change the final recommendations. Result. Who cares? They just bought into it. Also, be careful of your choice of words. If you say, what do you think? People have a really annoying habit of telling you. What you’ve really just said. You’ve invited them to think reductionist. If you just rephrase your question. Say, Hey, could you help me think about this a different way? Could you help me build on this idea? They will think expansively and you’ll be amazed how much more approval you’ll get.

Katie [00:23:41] That I think it flips the board room on its head. It gives agency to the people who could be seen as passive listeners who, of course, are not passive listeners because they’re typically the decision makers and it invites them into the conversation. What impact do you see that having on the speed of innovation and the morale of the innovator?

Duncan [00:24:06] Well, if the senior leadership team’s first two words out of their mouth are no, because then the young people aren’t coming in again. Here’s the challenge. And it’s a unique one because it hasn’t happened before. We are at a tipping point and it’s a tipping point that scares people of my generation because for the last God knows how many decades the senior person has more experience and in part makes the right decision and impart their knowledge down to the junior person. Not anymore people. Guess what? The game is changing. Diversity is innovation. If somebody looks different to you, they think different to you, and they can help you think differently.

Duncan [00:24:44] So let me talk the importance of diversity and it could be age and we have as much to learn from the younger generation today as they have to learn from us, if not more. But we’re  too arrogant and frightened to say it. And the organizations that are run by the old white guys who are more worried about their retirement pension and bonuses than they are about taking a risk. They’re not in the company. That’s an issue. Well, let me just, if you don’t mind, harp on about diversity for just a moment.

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Katie [00:25:12] Please, yes.

Duncan [00:25:12] People don’t understand the power.

Katie [00:25:15] It’s critical.

Duncan [00:25:16] We put people in cupboards and we say, oh, you’re African American. You should work on the African American. Oh, I’m sorry, you’re Hispanic. Oh, look, here’s the Hispanic business. Well, that means that I should solely work on the old white man business. And that’s absurd, too. However, do you have a pen in the piece, paper to hand?

Katie [00:25:31] Yes, I do. You told me to bring a Sharpie and notepad and a good sense of humor, so I’m prepared.

Duncan [00:25:37] Outstanding. We were tasked with creating a new retail, dining and entertainment complex on Disneyland. I had in the room 12 white male American architects over 50. That’s called “group think”. I invited into the room my naive expert, a young Chinese chef. What is a naive  expert and how can they help you innovate? A naive expert is somebody who doesn’t work for you and doesn’t work in your industry. What does that give them permission to do that you can’t? They won’t solve the challenge for you. That is an unrealistic expectation. They can ask the silly question that you’re too embarrassed to ask in front of your peers. They can also, throughout your audacious idea, ungoverned by your politics, just turf, your hierarchy, your approval processes. And one of the questions or one of the silly things they’ll throw out will get you out of your rhythm of thinking. And it works every single time. So we were designing a new retail, dining and entertainment complex and I asked the architects to draw the following objects. I’m going to ask you to draw it now, and I’m going to give you seven seconds to draw it, please. Are you ready?

Katie [00:26:32] Okay.

Duncan [00:26:34] No pressure here. I would like you, please, to draw a house. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and down.

Katie [00:26:49] Alright. 

Duncan [00:26:51] So yes or no. Did you draw the door in the middle of the front?

Katie [00:26:53] Yes.

Duncan [00:26:55] Did you draw two windows and are you still so insecure you drew bars over them?

Katie [00:27:00] I didn’t get to the bars. But yeah, it looks like a face with eyes and a mouth.

Duncan [00:27:05] Okay. And I’m going to go on a wing and suggest to you that the roof just might be a triangle.

Katie [00:27:10] Yes, indeed it is.

Duncan [00:27:12] Shocker. Why? Because you’re so. I gave the architects the same amount of time as you, and they all drew what you did. Why? Because they’re “river thinking.” The area, their expertise and their experience has told them that’s what a house should look like. Well, at the same time, that young Chinese female chef drew in dim sum architecture, which, if you’ve never seen it before, was hysterical. It was a round bamboo dish with a prawn ball, a port born little Chinese lady doing some waving out the window. Everybody laughed when we picked up our pictures because we realized we’d all seen in our river of thinking what a house should look like. She gave us permission to get out of our river, thinking of things differently now and to consider audacious architecture. If any company in the world could consider audacious architecture, that would be the Walt Disney Company. On the way out the door, somebody happened to just stick a Post-it note over her dim sum architecture drawing. And it said this: “Distinctly Disney, authentically Chinese.” Seven years later, the strategic brand position for the Shanghai Disney Resort? Distinctly Disney, authentically Chinese. The native expert will not solve the challenge for you. Their role is to say something or ask the question that you wouldn’t, that you’re too embarrassed to ask. To stop you thinking the way you always do and to help you think differently. One of the most genius tools to help us stop thinking differently is this. So got a pen to paper?

Katie [00:28:28] I do.

Duncan [00:28:30] Excellent. You and I are going to go into business. Where do you live?

Katie [00:28:34] Cincinnati.

Duncan [00:28:36] Oh, God. I’m flying to Cincinnati today. I’ve never been.

Katie [00:28:40] What!

Duncan [00:28:40] I know nothing about it.

Katie [00:28:42] You could’ve come to the audio. Are you just crossing through?

Duncan [00:28:47] I’m coming from Fort Myers to Cincinnati. I’m doing a workshop there for a company. But anyway, looking forward to it. Although, you know, here I am in a T-shirt. I hope that I won’t be cold when I get off the plane.

Katie [00:28:58] It’s cold, but it’s not miserable. And if you have time, I would love to meet you.

Duncan [00:29:03] Oh, okay. Coffee.

Katie [00:29:07] That’s amazing.

Duncan [00:29:07] I’ve gone off script again. Where was I?

Katie [00:29:08] I was going to draw something.

Duncan [00:29:10] So you and I. We’re going to go into business in Cincinnati. You’re going to write this time. We’re going to go into business and you and I are going to open a car wash. I would like you to write down four essential ingredients that you know we should put in that car wash.

Katie [00:29:23] All right. Do you want me to say them out loud or can I just write them?

Duncan [00:29:27] Sure, yes. Say them as you write them.

Katie [00:29:29] Okay. Soap, scrub brushes. Friendly, friendly, folks. This is in list of  priority. And obviously water.

Duncan [00:29:44] Okay, great. Now, I’d like you to write down. Screw that idea. You and I are going to go into business together and we’re going to open an auto spa. Now, what could we put in our spa?

Katie [00:29:59] Music, ambiance, coffee.

Duncan [00:30:06] What else?

Katie [00:30:06] Tea?

Duncan [00:30:06] Right, a barista. So here’s the thing. In less than 10 seconds, I took you out of your river of thinking, thinking as you always do about a car wash: water, soap, brushes, vacuum wah wah. And got you to consider what we could put in an auto spa: masseuse, barristers. Which one would you rather visit?

Katie [00:30:21] Oh, definitely the second. Right.

Duncan [00:30:23] So here’s the thing. All I did was stop you thinking, as you always did. Walt was the genius with three weeks to go to the opening of Disneyland. The landscape artist came to Walt. Notice I said, landscape artist. I did not say gardener. And they said, “Walt, we’re out of time, money and resources. And two thirds of our flower beds are full of weeds. What should we do?” And he said, “Well, let’s go for a walk.” So they did. And he said, “Well, tell me something about weed in Latin.” “I don’t know.” He said, “We’ll look it up.” And they said, “Well.” He says, “I want you to tag each weed with a piece of card and a piece of string and put his Latin name on the card.” And they said, “Why?” He said, “Oh, that’s easy, because our guests will think they’re exotic.” And so on July 17, 1955, at 9:01 AM–look it up on Wikipedia–Disneyland opened its doors to the public with two thirds of its flower beds full of exotic plants yet to grow into fruition.

Katie [00:31:13] No way.

Duncan [00:31:13] It’s true. That’s a funny story. But it doesn’t count. With one simple re expression of a challenge. Walt created a level of hospitality and guest service that has never been replicated or duplicated, despite many attempts to follow. Walt said, “We will not have any customers in our park. We will only have guests.” With one simple re expression. Think about where you’re treated when you’re treated as the customer and think about crossing the threshold of your best friend’s apartment and how you’re treated. Not only that, he said, “We will not have any employees, we’ll only have cast members. They won’t be cast for a role in the show. They will wear a costume, not a uniform. They will work on stage or backstage.” And you may think that’s not important. Well, guess what? It bloody is. I worked there for 30 years and I couldn’t be more proud. And I protected Walt’s legacy the same as everybody else did. Why? Disney cast member. And I’m proud to be a cast member. And I started–my very first job, believe it or not, was the barman and Rosenbaum at Epcot. And that same day another gentleman joined the company. His name’s Hector Rodriguez. He’s from Puerto Rico. He’s now 53, is a jolly, rotund fellow. And he’s still driving the boat backwards and forwards across the lagoon in Epcot. 32 years later. And you might think that’s a mind-numbing job. Not to Hector. It’s not. He comes to the house, he comes bursting through the door, big smile on his face. First words out of his mouth: “You should see what I did for that guest today,” massive smile on his face. And he’ll tell you with enormous pride about the smallest thing he did for a guest. Why did he do it? Now, hold onto that because people think, “Oh, this is too theoretical. How can I apply this to my business?” In 2011, if we said how might we make more money, which is the question everybody asked themselves every day. By the way, if you continue to ask yourself that question, generations will put you out of it. And I’ll come back to purpose and innovation in just a minute. However, instead of saying, “How might we make more money,” we said, “How might we solve the biggest consumer pain points?” Now, have you been to a Disney park?

Duncan [00:33:18] Oh, yeah. Okay. What’s the biggest pain point?

Katie [00:33:20] Lines.

Duncan [00:33:23] Of course, right. Nobody wants to stand in line. So we said we didn’t know the answer we used the tool that Walt used to use. What if there were no lines? We don’t know how to solve for that. If you know how to solve for it, it’s iteration, not innovation. So we said, what if we eliminated the front desk in our 27 hotels? You didn’t have to check it, didn’t know how to do it. What if we eliminated the turnstile at the front to the four parks in Florida? Where you didn’t wait 20 minutes to get in the entrance. What if you didn’t stand in line for your favorite character, meet and greet or favorite attraction? What if you didn’t stay in line to pay for merchandise or food?

Duncan [00:33:57] Well, we looked around the world and guess what, RFID technology existed five years before we invested in it. Now, when you come to the Walt Disney World Resorts on holidays, then a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ve got a Disney magic band in the mail. What is it? A small plastic band that sits on your wrist with RFID enabled. It is your room key. You don’t wait to check in. It is your theme park ticket? There are no turnstiles at the entrance of the parks anymore. You just swipe to go. Your favorite character meet and greets or rides. They’re reserved. They’re on your RFID enabled Disney magic band. You swipe and go. I want some item of merchandise sent to my hotel? I touch it once. I want it sent to my house? I touch it twice. Think of the polar caps on that little sucker. Now there are security features in place to stop children going out and touching everything.

Katie [00:34:38] You know, it’s truly incredible too I think, you know, the parks are taking it so far beyond accessibility and movement. Now, let me give you a quick example. I was there a couple of months ago with my 5-year-old daughter. We got our first pass. We tapped into Expedition Everest, in animal kingdom, and we turned a corner through the queue. And there’s a digital screen with a yeti holding a sign that says welcome Clara to her first time on that roller coaster. So personalization, too. I’m so excited and impressed for how these technologies are getting leverage in the parks.

Duncan [00:35:15] Yeah. Not only that. I mean, here’s the thing. The average guest now has between 90 and 120 minutes of free time a day that they didn’t have four years ago. What does that result in? Record revenues. Record revenues of merchandise, record fees on food and beverage, and 25 million visits a year. Live crowdsourcing, the future design of every product and service Disney creates. Because you’re telling us every second of every day what you like about them.

Katie [00:35:40] Absolutely. So data is going to play an incredible role, you know. How do you think? Tell me more about that.

Duncan [00:35:50] But you cannot solely rely on it. So. So we had a project. We were asked to go make more money for Disneyland Paris. How might we get more people to come more often, spend more money? Our data told us who could afford a visit to Disneyland Paris, who had an affinity to the brand, who’d been shopping online and who was it 10 out of 10 of I’m coming this year for the last five years. Guess what? They hadn’t come. So our data was clearly missing something. So I said, “I put it to you that these people are the procrastinators or liars. Which is it? Let’s go find out.” So we went to live with 26 consumers for a day.

Duncan [00:36:22] Now you’re a young mom, but let’s see. There’s a photograph of your children somewhere in your house in a particular room. I want you to think about that photograph for just a second. And I want you to tell us which room it’s in.

Katie [00:36:38] Above my fireplace in our living room.

Duncan [00:36:40] OK. And is it on the mantelpiece or is it on the mantel?

Katie [00:36:46] Yeah, the mantel.

Duncan [00:36:46] OK. Is it in a frame?

Katie [00:36:47] Yes.

Duncan [00:36:49] What does the frame look like.

Katie [00:36:51] It’s actually a canvas wrap, it’s a little, you know, five inches by three inches.

Duncan [00:36:57] And tell us who’s in the photograph.

Katie [00:36:59] Well, it’s my tiniest one, Emma. She’s one years old. She’s got her hands up really high and it’s her first birthday. And my five-year-old Clara is kind of being a ham next to her and Bryce is  looking lovingly towards the camera.

Duncan [00:37:16] And tell me how old they were in that picture, please.

Katie [00:37:18] 5, 3 and 1.

Duncan [00:37:21] And how old are they today?

Katie [00:37:22] The same, that was just a few months ago.

Duncan [00:37:25] OK, so because you’re a young mom. But here’s what we found in the vast majority of households we went into. When we asked how old the children were in the photograph—I was in a house. I said, “how old are your children, four or five?” She goes no they’re 14 and 15. “Oh, OK.” You write it down. It’s one individual clue. How do we know that to be true? Because in the vast majority of houses we all have that picture of our children that is anywhere from five to 20 years old. And for you, a young mom, I guarantee you that if I walked into the living room of your parents, they still have that really dorky, awkward one of you on your high school graduation that you wish they’d got rid of years ago. How do I know that to be true? Because we all do. So we thought, this is weird. Do we not print new pictures of our children anymore? No, we do. So we thought there’s something here in our data that is missing. Let’s go and dig a little deeper. So we went to spend time with five of the moms. And here’s what we found. We want our children at first pass. If you ask parents what they want for their children, they will tell you we want them to go to kindergarten, junior school, middle school, high school, graduate and be happy, healthy and successful. That’s what we want for our children. No, you don’t. You’re lying. Here’s what we actually want them to be. Back in that little photo frame and we walk in the door at night, you’re still too young, but it goes so fast.

Katie [00:38:44] I already anticipate this. I already have those fantasies of walking back into the little playroom that we had in the house and wishing that she was, you know, toddling around.

Duncan [00:38:54] Yeah. Why do we love our grandchildren so much? Because they’re like back in the frame. And when we walk in the door, right now when you walk in the house. You are Wonder Woman. And they come and they grab your legs. Everybody giggles. Somebody falls over. Somebody farts. And you all lose it and giggle. These are the best times of your life. And yet when I walk in the door now, I am lucky if the dog notices?. And so we thought, hm. There is something here. Let us push a little deeper. And so we pushed a bit deeper. And here’s what we found.

Duncan [00:39:24] There are three bittersweet transitions that take place between the parents and the child. And I’m sorry to tell you these three because I’m about break your heart. But once you’ve crossed through that transition, you can’t go back. You both want to go back, but you can’t. It’s too late. Now going in, our hypotheses and our data told us if we build it, they will come. Why? Because we always do it that way. That’s the way we do it. But here’s what we found.

Duncan [00:39:50] I get these—parents will tell you about these three bittersweet transitions that take place between a parent—sorry, it’s going to get noisy for a second—and a child. And as you cross through that transition, you both instantly want to step back, but you can’t. I’ve got intuition. I’m a dad. And so here’s the stories the moms are telling me, but I’ll tell you mine. I know exactly where I was that day. It was Christmas Eve. I was with my son. He was 10.

Duncan [00:40:22] And he came around the door. He was wearing a Navy-blue shirt, little brown shorts. In his eyes. As your children do too. They come at you. Their eyes are half full of tears. They’re bubbling up. They’re just about to cry. And he pointed at me and said, “Papa.” I said, “What?” and he goes, “Are you Santa Claus?”

Duncan [00:40:39] And it felt like a bullet in my chest. I wasn’t prepared for it. And I was about to die. And he said, “Mommy set you up.” And in that one split second, we both knew imagination, creativity, Batman was alive. Spiderman was alive. Santa Claus was alive. And imagination, creativity had just vanished. But what hurt so much was what he had really said was daddy I’m not your little boy anymore.

Katie [00:41:02] That’s right.

Duncan [00:41:02] I’m growing up and that hurt like hell. Now you’re a girl. So you will not remember where you were that fateful day. But when you get off this call, do me a favor. Call your dad and ask him and he’ll ask you in point two—he will ask you in point two of seconds with incredible accuracy. You don’t even remember it happened. I know where I was and I still get upset about it. I was outside Panera in Kissimmee, Florida. It was a Tuesday morning. It was about ten thirty. And she was 13. And the day she dropped my left hand in public for the first time because she didn’t want to hold daddy’s hand in public anymore and it hurt like shit. And you won’t remember it. But you ask your dad when you get off this call and he will tell you exactly where he was, which hand it was you dropped. Because seminal moment between a father and a daughter and the last one, at least for us, was we used to drive her to college and back. And, you know, you unpack a third of the room pack and you unpack and you pack. And this time around, though, she got her job and we had to go to Manhattan and we had the driver. We flew her up to Manhattan. We drove up all her furniture. And she’s been gone a year. You know how many times I walked into her bedroom? Once. I can’t walk into her bedroom.

Duncan [00:42:19] We put her in her apartment. We packed her in and we cheered and we hugged. And then my wife and I got in an Uber cried our eyes out all the way to LaGuardia. Now, don’t forget, I’m going in hypotheses. And our data talk that if we build it, they will come. So by getting out of your data, because if you’ve got data, guess what? Your competitions also got it, right. So how will you find that insight for innovation? By looking somewhere where your competition isn’t looking. I would argue by spending a day with your consumer, what we learned was mum does not wake up every morning worrying about whether or not Disneyland Paris is going to have a new product this year. She wakes up every morning as you do worried about how quickly her children are growing up and how she wants to meet special memories for them while they still believe. While they still hold my hand. While they’re still here. That is a communication campaign, not a capital investment strategy. One that did not drive intent to visit 20 percent. It drove sales 20 percent and turned a very product centric. We build it. They will come. What we know best culture into a consumer centric culture where it is now mandatory for every Disney Park executive to spend two days a year working as a frontline staff member in the park one day every two years in the living room of one of us.

Katie [00:43:25] Wow.

Duncan [00:43:25] So yes, data is going to get better and better and better, but you cannot solely rely on it because intuition is remarkably powerful. And so I’ve covered curiosity, a covered intuition, just two other things. Question. When you were a little girl, you got the biggest Christmas present you ever got, came in a huge box. It took you ages to get the gift out of the box. What did you spend the rest of the day playing with?

Katie [00:43:50] That toy. Probably the box actually. Depending on how little.

Duncan [00:43:55] It was the box! And you played with that box for four or five days until it got a bit wrecked and mummy threw it out and you cried. But until then, it was your castle. It was your rocket ship, and it was your fort. And then you go to school and the teacher tells you it’s just a box and we, our creativity starts to collapse. I know you have an amazing imagination. I know you had that weird dream last week about David Beckham, Beyoncé, and a unicorn. We all have weird dreams that we don’t talk about. But here’s the thing. We were all born creative. You saw the castle in the box. We were all born with amazing imagination. We were all born with intuition. You have 100 billion neurons in your brain. You have 100 million neurons in your stomach. It’s called your second brain. Every decision you make. What the clothes that you’re wearing right now. What you ate for lunch. Every product and service you choose to engage with you. I went with my gut and we were all born curious. We used to ask why, why and why again. And then we were told to shut up. Now, guess what? And I’ve spoken to three A.I. experts and I’ve asked them, do you? [00:44:53]So we’ve talked about the editor of Wired magazine, stood up at Oracle World in San Francisco in October just before me, that said easily 20 percent of the jobs in North America will be gone by 2030. So I started to ask the AI experts. I said, do you believe we could program creativity? They said, no. I said, do you think we can program intuitions? They said, no. So the things you were born with, the four core traits you we all have curiosity, imagination, intuition and creativity. You can’t program them or will you be able to 50 years from now? Nobody knows. Will we be able to in the next 10? Hell, no. So the most employable skill sets are the ones you’ve been told to ignore for the past twenty years.

Katie [00:45:36] That’s right.

Duncan [00:45:37] And as you seek to employ other people. Because they can’t be programmed.

Katie [00:45:42] That’s right. Oh, my goodness. Duncan, I am so grateful for all of the insight that you’ve shared. I know the innovation community and the listeners are going to just have so many ideas that kind of come from every strategy and every anecdote that you’ve shared. I want to ask you one more question. Why did you… this might seem irrelevant, but I promised my 3-year-old son that I would ask you, why did you launch Buzz Lightyear into space?

Duncan [00:46:15] Aha. Because it was impossible. We were opening Toy Story. And now you’ve seen Toy Story. What was Buzz Lightyear’s dream?

Katie [00:46:23] To kill the evil emperor Zurg and bring back universal peace.

Duncan [00:46:29] Yes, that’s fair. But Buzz wanted to fly. Remember the thing on the-

Katie [00:46:42] Oh yes, at a functional level, sure. But yeah, you’re right.

Duncan [00:46:44] No yeah, come on. Buzz dreamt of flying. But he couldn’t. And I said, well, what if I could make Buzz Lightyear’s dream come true? And people said, well, how are you going to do that? I said, I’m going to send them into space. So I went up to pitch NASA on the idea of taking Buzz Lightyear into space on a space shuttle. And you could tell that half the room loved the idea, but nobody was going to stick their neck out. Half the room wanted to throw me out through the window without opening it. So they agreed. And six months later, I got a call from Johnson Space Center in Texas and they said, “Hey, we need Buzz Lightyear tomorrow by 4:00.”

Duncan [00:47:18] Because I said launches into six months, he said, “If you can’t get him here, the deal’s off.” “What the hell?” I said. “Why, out of curiosity?” He said, “Well, I think we need two Buzz Lightyear’s here tomorrow by five, of course, they need to be identical.” And he said, “Well, we’re going to take one Buzz Lightyear apart pretty much atom by atom, because if we find a molecule of an air pocket inside of plastic that can explode in  space and kill other astronauts.”

Duncan [00:47:44] And I was like, oh, yeah, totally. I knew that, of course.

Katie [00:47:46] Seems important.

Duncan [00:47:49] Here’s the irony. This was a theme park ride not a movie. We didn’t have merchandise out when we had theme park rides. Only movies get you merchandise. So I had 37 people who get sillier and silly. And 37 people in Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, Disney stores are trying to find Buzz Lightyear. Oh, my God. Don’t tell me this deal is going down because The Walt Disney Company can’t find- So we found one when the total panic is now 4:00 in the afternoon.

Duncan [00:48:15] This was 2005. Smartphones did not exist. I was still on my Motorola flip and I got a phone call. Couldn’t see who it was from. I’m in my car in a panic trying to find Buzz Lightyear because the FedEx deadline is coming up and all I hear on the end of the phone is “to infinity and beyond.”  It was my wife. She goes, “It’s me. It’s me, dear.” I said, “Well, where did you find it?” She goes, “Oh it’s been under James’  bed collecting dust for about five years.” I said, “Oh, bring it over. Get it. Get it over again.” So I wrote James. Andy wrote his name on Woody’s foot, I wrote James on Buzz’ foot. And I sent the two Buzz’ off to NASA and I said look, don’t destroy this Buzz. This is a real little boy’s Buzz Lightyear, take this one. So six months later, we went to the launch. And let me tell you, I was pathetically emotional.

Katie [00:48:59] I can’t even imagine, was James there?

Duncan [00:49:03] Oh, yes he was. Yes, he was. I started crying. I said we sent Buzz Lightyear into space. And so off goes Buzz Lightyear. And so we brought Woody down to wave goodbye. Anyway, so off goes Buzz. And then we start to see these amazing images of that NASA shot. You can look them up on YouTube just like Buzz Lightyear in space. Actually, if you got Toy Story 3 in the preview Buzz the cartoon character shows you exactly what he did is fake. And these amazing images of Buzz Lightyear flying in zero gravity. And it’s just like anyway. So then right there, then we’re opening another toy story attraction. And I thought, how the hell am I going to stop sending Buzz Lightyear to space? I know I’m going to bring him home. And people are OK. So I phoned NASA, my mate, and I said, “Hey, when you you bring Buzz back?” And all you have is total silence on the other end of the phone. He says, “Well, that was never part of the contract.” It was never part of the deal to which my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I said the following words: “Well, no man left behind, right.” And he says, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said, “You bring everything back, right?” I said, “What the hell do you do with it?” “Well, we just open the hatch and push it out. “I think you can’t.

Katie [00:50:25] No.

Duncan [00:50:25] Exactly. I said, “You can’t incinerate Buzz Lightyear in the Earth’s atmosphere. I’ll leak it to the world’s press that Nasa-” Anyway, God bless NASA. They agreed to bring Buzz back. So we went out to the landing site. The weather was miserable. So you’re probably too young. But it’s these wonderful images. When the space shuttle couldn’t land in Florida. It went over to the Edwards Air Force Base in the desert in California. And you would see this amazing image of a space shuttle sitting on the back of a 747-jumbo jet. The piggy backing its way back across the country. I mean, just stunning this technology anyway. I have the passenger manifest for that flight, the real passenger manifest. Seat one A congressman, blah, blah, blah. Seat one B senator, blah, blah, blah. Seat one C mission control, blah, blah, blah. Seat 14, an astronaut, blah, blah, blah. Seat 15, Buzz Lightyear. [Laughter]

Duncan [00:51:30] So we talked today and because we’ve got a call from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, we want Buzz Lightyear. I tell you, the other thing we did, we created a nationwide school’s competition because NASA, as you remember, you probably remember the Apollo 11 space patch. NASA does a space patch for every mission. So we ask the schoolchildren of the United States of America to create a space patch for Buzz’ mission. We got thousands of entries. NASA chose one. NASA created a real space patch, and we sent it off to space. As one does. So when it went around their space shuttle, by the way, goes around the planet Earth at least eight times a day. So they see eight sunrises a day. So this space patch has actually been into space with Buzz Lightyear. And so we talked to James. I said, how do you feel about giving Buzz to the Air and Space Museum? He was older by then. I’d be delighted to. So the next time you’re in Washington, D.C., I invite you to go to the Air Space Museum and you go into it. You’ll have to ask. He’s inside a locker, inside the space shuttle. And there then bronze platters, says Buzz Lightyear, gift of James Wardle?

Katie [00:52:45] Oh, my goodness, Duncan.

Duncan [00:52:48] Got an answer to a question?

Katie [00:52:50] I cannot wait to tell Bryce. I am so grateful for all the creativity that you’ve inspired in our conversation. And I hope we just continue to think beyond infinity. I know it’s cheesy.

Duncan [00:53:05] When is Bryce’s birthday?

Katie [00:53:08] March. It’s coming up.

Duncan [00:53:12] Good. Send me your address. They didn’t make one patch. No, they flew 50 and I may have a few.

Katie [00:53:16] You are kidding me. He is going to melt.

Duncan [00:53:19] Now on the spirit of to infinity and beyond. I am a great believer in Henry Ford’s quote: “Whether or not you think you  can or think you can’t. You’re probably right.” I was told by one of these recruitment consultants that I’d never work for the Walt Disney Company. I was told that I’d never live in the United States, America. And when I phoned the Walt Disney Company in London every day for 27 days until they got so fed up with taking my call, I got an interview and I became the cappuccino boy. I was that boy. I was the cappuccino boy. And I was very proud of being the cappuccino boy. Never give up. Winston Churchill, keep buggering on. Always. I say Henry Ford. Whether or not you think you can or you think you can’t. You’re probably right. The opposite of bravery is not cowardice. It’s conformity.

Katie [00:54:06] That’s right. Duncan, I’m speechless. Thank you.

Duncan [00:54:11] That’s all I got.

Katie [00:54:11] All right. I’ll see you in Cincinnati later.

Duncan [00:54:15] OK.

You can listen to more episodes of Untold Stories of Innovation Podcast.

*Interviews are not endorsements of individuals or businesses.

[00:54:06] That’s right. Duncan, I’m speechless. Thank you.

Duncan [00:54:11] That’s all I got.

Katie [00:54:11] All right. I’ll see you in Cincinnati later.Duncan [00:54:15] OK.

You can listen to more episodes of Untold Stories of Innovation Podcast.

*Interviews are not endorsements of individuals or businesses.

One Response

  1. This was wonderful – thanks for sharing! Two (of the many) ideas I took from this are:

    1.) Ask why, why, why, why… Reignite that childlike search for truth. Could it be that many beliefs I settle for are false (or limited at best)?

    2.) Try “Yes, and…” instead of “No, because…” when discussing ideas with others. (How great would it feel to be on the receiving end of this?)

    I shared this with my department. Keep up the great work!

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