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A peek behind the sexy sign

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I'd tell you what happened last week at Leadership Communication Days, held last week in Silicon Valley, at the sexy Sunnyvale headquarters of Duarte, and hosted by Nancy Duarte and her improbable number of bright and good-humored people, known as Duartians.

But I'd have to kill you. Because what happens at Leadership Communication Days, stays.

But boy, there was some straight talk and good advice delivered with the backdrop of Duartians playing ping pong and gliding by on scooters between their quiet work sessions in their airy white space.

People received harsh career advice, a number Devil's advocates were in attendance and a couple of arguments erupted. Belly laughs were had. People were by turns stumped and amazed, more than occasionally disbelieving of what they were hearing.

In short, what they were hearing was the reality of some very complicated jobs.

"I'm not a very high-strung guy," one speechwriter said, listing one of his competencies, "so I guess I can handle the berating that comes with the job."

"For us," one leadership communicator admitted, "social media is just screaming into a crowded room."

Another participant, asked for his advice on how to get an executive with the program, offered two words: "public shaming."

"When you get pushback on your program," another participant was asked, "what business case do you make?"

"I do a lot of dancing," he replied.

Speechwriters speak in sound bites. Asked what makes him a special enough speechwriter to work for Google (and formerly, Vice President Biden) guest speaker Matt Teper said, "My wife would say, 'Nothing.' My mom would say, 'Everything.'"

And all that was in the sessions themselves. You should have been there for the drinks, the dinner, the nightcaps and the Friday afternoon bus ride back back to the hotel, when the driver surprised us with a cooler full of wine and beer. (Why yes, we thought we would.)

But you weren't there, and so I can't tell you what you missed, except to say: a lot.

Maybe next year?

That'd be good. —DM

Photo by Brian Akre.