Conversation is what drives Lily Clayton Hansen.

Conversation is what drives author, speaker, and professional interviewer Lily Clayton Hansen. One of the basics in life is communication, and in a digital age, Lily believes we need to reprioritize this. Since collecting hundreds of interviews, with subjects from celebrities to CEOs, Hansen has created a series of tips and tricks for having more authentic conversations. Oftentimes referred to as the “people whisperer,” (one who lowers people’s walls and coaxes invaluable wisdom out of them) she finds nuggets of wisdom people didn’t even know they had.

To encourage others to become more skilled conversationalists, Lily has developed a lecture and live-interview series entitled “Face-to-Face.” In her live interviews, the subjects (who oftentimes are meeting for the first time) have intimate and enlightening discussions in which they share different points of view on the same topic. Lily’s goal is to remind people that by keeping an open mind we can foster genuine connection.

At age 25, with five years of professional writing experience under her belt, Lily relocated to Nashville, TN. It was a rather serendipitous time to be in Music City. In 2013, Hansen began compiling interviews and portrait photography for her first book, Word of Mouth: Nashville Conversations. The coffee table book, praised locally and regionally upon its 2015 release, has since garnered press, endorsements by brands such as Madewell, and partnerships with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Vanderbilt University and Nashville Airport. In 2017, Hansen and her Word of Mouth team had a key slot at the Southern Festival of Books, and the author spoke about her project at arts organizations and universities across the country. Word of Mouth also inspired yearlong art installations at the Vanderbilt Curb Center and Nashville Airport featuring photography, sculpture and drawings related to the book. Hansen will release her follow-up, Word of Mouth: More Conversations, in August 2017, and is currently developing her third project in the UK.

Whether on the stage or in the written form, Hansen is praised for her straight-shooting interview style, and ability to uncork her subjects upon arrival. Much like her idol Oprah, her curious nature and genuine interest affords her the ability to ask the hard questions—in the kindest way possible. She truly wants to get to know others for who they are, and level the playing field between widely recognized leaders and “regular” folks doing amazing work. She has been described as “an artist in all sense of the word”— it just so happens that Hansen’s favorite medium is the art of conversation.