Giving thanks: An open letter to Jennifer Aaker

Nancy Duarte

Written by

Nancy Duarte

Dear Jennifer,

I keep watching your life to see if you’re for real. In addition to passionately teaching about happiness at Stanford GSB, and writing for Good Magazine, you had the energy to write a world-changing book The Dragonfly Effect and create a community of some of the coolest people on the planet. But that’s not what impresses me the most.

I’ve never met anyone more genuine, transparent, and authentic. I keep waiting for your facade to drop, but you’re the real deal. You made incredible sacrifice to write The Dragonfly Effect with your husband Andy Smith. It’s no easy feat to work with your husband (I know) and I love how your eyes light up when you look at him, even as you promote your book Dragon Fly Effect Part 1, and Dragon Fly Effect Part 2.

The book itself is an expression of your lovely, selfless heart. After one of your students started a national campaign to find a bone marrow match for his ill friend, his ability to harness social media for social good became the foundation for your book. But, YOU really live what you preach. Even at your book launch presentation, you wept over unwarranted loss of Asian lives because there were so few Asian bone marrow registrants.

Jennifer Aaker and her husband Andy Smith speaking

At your book party, you had a cheek swab station (photo courtesy of Beth Kanter) so people attending the party could be added to the registry.

Cheek swab station set up at a book party

And in December, you’re sacrificing your precious family holiday time to kick off yet another registry in India and launch it at the INK Conference. This book isn’t a gimick, it’s an extension of your compassionate heart. You are asking people to make a small change that will have far-reaching impact. The book’s namesake is from the only insect that is able to move in any direction. When the four wings of your model are working together it creates change. It also plays off “The Butterfly Effect,” which implies that even small changes can have a ripple effect.

Dragonfly symbol meant to represent the Dragonfly Effect

Yet the image of you that is burned in my mind, that I’ll treasure the most, is this one:

Family clapping their hands and smiling

You look so radiantly happy holding your kids, sitting on the grass at your own book launch party because you gave your own stage away for someone else to share about bone marrow registry.

You seem to have it all, Jennifer; including happiness and the ability to change the world. I’m thankful for you and your work.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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