When Sally meets Nancy(中文版)

周末要在北京和Nancy Duarte见上一面是早就安排好了的,对于有想要在她所从事的Presentation设计领域多做了解和学习的我而言,希望这次可以不仅从职业(professional)方面,也从个人(personal)方面,来了解这位硅谷Presentation创意公司女老大的故事。

老大果然是老大,首都机场国际到达厅,只见她一人拎着俩,还推着俩,总共四个箱子就朝我奔来了。我知道她在来北京前已经奔波了好几个地方,刚从台湾转机过来,在哪个时区,怕是她自己都不太清楚了,但神采奕奕却是不假的。

我常常会陷入这样的怪圈,觉得是个老外来中国都会异常兴奋,可能是因为自己对中国太了解,才会以为老外们一定觉得中国是另一个世界。但事实上,就好像我现在看三藩,不过是一个离家远一点的城市罢了,文化和地域性的差异现在是越来越小。至少在一路开回北京市里的过程中,不管我多么数次把话题引到路边和美国不一样的景致上,Nancy一直是一副”原来中国跟美国这么像,比印度好多了”的态度。的确,从首都高速出来的一路上,两侧都有很宽的绿化带,要不就是远远可以望见的十几二十层的商品房。既然这样,我也懒得纠正了。

车入二环,绕着紫禁城稍稍一转,我们就到后海了。可能现在北京新晋的年轻人们已经不玩这儿了吧,但对于我这个北京“老大学生”而言,记忆好像还留在这儿。找了家后海边叫“岳麓山屋”的湘菜馆,就带着Nancy开吃了。路上司机有告诉我们这里有道名菜,叫”红烧小王八“。作为长沙人,我自然是知道这不过是为了迎合四面八方游客的噱头菜,与传统湘菜已经相去甚远,但Nancy一听到baby turtle(小乌龟)的中文解释就顿时很high,强烈要求我点。那姐当然也不是吃素的,点就点呗。菜上了之后,姐还现场表演了一回“猛女徒手吃迷你小王八“的好戏… (也不晓得该视频是不是已经被youtube了…)Nancy问道,are all Chinese girls like you?(中国的女孩儿都像你这样吗)她的言下之意应该是,“好像没从你身上看到什么文静贤淑来”。想起Renee以前说过的,因为独生子女的缘故,对子女有期待的父母,男生是当男生养,女生也是当男生养,这样长大,自然少些顾忌(其实是不知道应该顾忌什么)。

至于Nancy自己,则是在一个支离破碎的家庭中长大(父母都是酗酒之徒,离异又复婚超过4次,她无人管教并被施虐)。现在越来越觉得内心坚强是一件重要的事情,要从心底对自己信任,对生活有自己的观点和理解,也尊重别人和他们的生活方式。一个人内心的素质,和智商,性别,职业甚至是社会地位,其实并无太多关系,但却是成为一个对外(社会)和对内(家庭和自身)都有价值的人的先决条件。被生活的残酷所迫的人,大多数被压垮,少数人被迫锻炼出坚强的内心素质,走出来。Nancy很努力,也很幸运,成为了后者。


从第一次遇到Nancy和她的Duarte Design开始,所听到的名号和宣传都是,这是一家做Presentation Design(演示设计)近20年的设计咨询公司。我其实很好奇,20年前到底有没有Presentation这个东西…

掀去那些公关的说辞,Nancy自己的故事是,20年前,她和她老公开的不过是一家普通的desktop publishing(在个人电脑未被普及的当时,这跟当年用金山WPS做做报刊书籍排版的技术含量差不多)的二人家庭作坊,她负责做视觉方面的草图,老公用些基本的photoshop来排排版,专门为加州这边的企业提供平面印刷品。他们的主要客户之一是当时还没像今天这么大红大紫的苹果。接下来的十年里,湾区乃至全美国快步伐的进入了个人电脑时代,办公软件风行,原先被用来发布内部消息的企业平面印刷品,也被电子版的PPT所代替,所以Duarte的设计生意也从纸面做到了屏幕上。

因为收益好,他们当时有能力多雇佣了一些设计师。这些设计师大多是不愿意做幻灯片设计的,他们觉得这配不上他们的能力和审美,Nancy得在面试时用尽全力,才能招来一些他们满意的人才。但有意思的是,一旦当这些设计师真正接触到Presentation设计这个领域,他们就马上收声,不再抱怨,好像只有做过这类设计的人才能体会到个中奥妙和趣味。

到2000年,硅谷的互联网泡沫破裂的时候,Duarte的财务进账也跟着大幅萎缩。Nancy特别提到,当年在湾区存活下来的设计咨询公司不过三所,Duarte能被保全,多亏她和她老公多年来在财务上一直持保守态度;当时的情况是恶劣到,每个月都是paycheck to paycheck(所有当月的盈利都用发当月的员工工资),迫不得已,公司也有裁员。当回忆这段经历时,她说道,“我一直觉得裁员是件太残酷的事情,话说不出口,但有一天醒过来,突然想通了,这是一件对公司其他员工不负责也是不公平的事情,于是我做了该做的事,直到现在我也不后悔当初的决定。很多事情就像这样,你觉得永远都迈不过去的坎,但某一天醒过来,你就会想通,并且有了做决定的勇气。” 在现在热火朝天的创投氛围下,太多人只看到成立公司,做自己事业的自由和风光,但打拼事业需要怎样的内心和艰辛,却少有人提及。能听到Nancy亲口讲这些艰辛往事,或许比多看几遍那些光环更有益处。

出乎Duarte公司意料的是,在硅谷经济最不景气的时候,要求做平面和产品设计的公司少了,要求做PPT设计的客户却不减反增(the phone’s keep ringing for presentations)。Presentation,不论主题,风格,形式,本旨其实都在于”推销“二字,推销想法,推销产品,推销个人。而在经济低迷期,需要赢得生意,脱颖而出显得格外重要,所以作为一种重要”推销“手段的presentation也为Duarte公司赢得了一线生机。Nancy决定果断的给公司转型,专攻presentation。从2000年往后,伴随着Duarte公司接下苹果的内部展示设计,戈尔的《不可忽视的真相》的讲演设计等大单之后,Nancy和她的团队也在这个细分设计领域也走出了自己的一条路。现在,总部在加州山景城(Mountain View, CA)的Duarte Design已然是一家有50+员工的湾区标志性设计企业,而这距离当年互联网泡沫破裂才不过短短十年。至于之后著书立说,以及做相关培训,这对于Nancy,一个连“本科”(college)都没毕业的人而言,工作上积累的作用,应该要远远大于今天大多数年轻人所依赖并骄傲的课堂知识吧。

由于她的第二本书更加注重的是语言的结构和讲演的逻辑,她希望将公司从“设计”往“说服力”方面转型,这对于一家传统是由视觉设计师支撑起来的公司,又是一个重新创造自己(reinvent itself)的坎。她直言不讳公司的设计师们对她所期待的转型并不买账(they are frightened about it)。我自己也感觉这并非一件易事,没有美术功底的人,可以去外面买一幅画回来挂着,被人称赞艺术品味好;但跑调的人,是不可能被老师教会一首歌,然后有客人来家里就能表演出来。这当然不是最恰当的比方,但教会客户讲演技巧比帮客户设计slides要难多了。

这样的故事听下来,与其说是她选择了事业,不如说是她以自己的能力和眼光,在顺应市场的过程中,所自然获得的结果。之前也听过类似的故事和理论,有优秀品质的人其实不管从事哪个行业,都大致能做到行业内的一定水准;至于如果一定要以世俗的眼光来评判孰高孰低,那就只能看”入的是哪行“了。

当然,她谈得最兴奋的其实不是她的公司和事业,而是她已经开始当老师的女儿,和现在在纽约学钢琴和作曲的儿子。她19岁结婚,20岁出头就成为两个孩子的母亲,她的女儿也是高中毕业不久就嫁为人妇。她一再说到,在年轻的时候就(在爱情,事业,生活里)知道自己想要的是什么,这不是一件容易的事,所以她觉得她和她的家人都很幸福,在短时间内就锁定了自己的目标,有很长的时间来在对的路上奋斗和享受。对于美国人而言,他们最大的问题可能是“什么是自己想要的”,而对于中国人而言,在美国人的问题之前好像还有一个更重要的问题是,“原来这个世界上居然还有自己想要的东西这么一说”。现今中国教育的同质化,以及大到社会环境,小到家庭内部对独立思维的打压,既和谐了社会,也和谐了个性和创新。

聊天之前,以为Nancy是有才华;聊完之后,觉得她和她的公司本质是平凡的,不过有在幸运中勤奋。在人生里,要做到有成就的门槛其实不高,因为大多数人自己就放弃了,能克服自己弱点的人很少。好像我还没有年纪很大,就开始觉出这种人生观,会不会太悲观了点。


P.S.: 我觉得菜应该是点辣了,在我都还没有吃到半饱的时候,Nancy就已经放下筷子了。我想了想,下午还得带她逛后海,晚上还要跟两年都没见的数媒小班同学神聊,要进行这么有深度的对话,大脑没有卡路里烧怎么行;况且“岳麓山屋”占着后海的地脚儿,一小碟菜都卖这么贵,不吃太亏了,于是就若无其事的消灭了红烧小王八,芋头米饭和剁椒鱼头,还不断叫服务员加水,一直把蜂蜜柚子茶兑水兑到喝不出蜂蜜柚子味为止… 然后才结账走人…

12 thoughts on “When Sally meets Nancy(中文版)

  1. qiu

    深度对话,肯定非常inspiring 赞!

    btw, 我已经在LA这边一个小studio找了个实习的活儿先做着了,没准儿以后再过个小半年儿再往北加撒网找full time的

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  2. 王震岳

    This experience is really interesting. How do you get the chance to meet Nancy? for some business connection? btw, what do you do right now?

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