Nelson Mandela Foundation

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About the project

The first in an ongoing series of interviews with inspiring individuals from around the world, the project is a collaboration between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its long-time creative partners, Blackwell & Ruth. Released in 2020 as a series of books, and is the basis for Live to Lead, a Netflix documentary series created and directed by Geoff Blackwell.

With a history of creating projects focussed on equality, humanity and the environment, Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday proposed creating the series while working on a book of Nelson Mandela’s prison letters with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “This started in response to the relentless news cycle that we are all confronted with; the climate crisis, mass shootings, human suffering, and certain political leaders using tactics of divide and conquer and spreading misinformation to serve their own interests,” says Geoff Blackwell. “Against that backdrop, we were working on a book about Nelson Mandela and his prison letters, and feeling inspired by the sacrifices he made, and the commitment to service that defined his leadership.”

Inspired by these qualities, Blackwell & Ruth and the team at the Nelson Mandela Foundation have developed a project founded on a series of interviews with men and women from around the world who demonstrate the same commitment to selflessness, kindness and the service of others. “We wanted to ask them what really matters to them; to ask them to tell us their truth,” Blackwell explains. “We were looking for, as Greta Thunberg says in her interview, ‘people who care’, people who want to make a difference. Contemporary leaders who, as Gloria Steinem describes, ‘lead by example because, we do what we see, much more often than we do what we’re told.’”

I Know This to Be True launched with eight small books founded on original and authorised interviews with Albie Sachs, Bryan Stevenson, Gloria Steinem, Greta Thunberg, Jacinda Ardern, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Curry and Waleed Aly. This was followed by titles founded on original and authorized interviews with René Redzepi, Simone Biles and Ayesha Curry. Each individual is asked fundamental questions about their values, daily disciplines and thoughts on the world. Alongside these, a unique title, Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles by Sello Hatang and Head of Leadership & Knowledge Development, Verne Harris, explores the lessons that Mandela’s incomparable leadership offers.

Across the series, messages of courage, compassion, humility, hope and generosity aim to motivate a new generation of leaders ready to create meaningful change. I Know This to Be True was first published in 2020 and more titles will follow, together with the documentary series which premiered on Netflix on 31 December 2022.

The contributors

Greta Thunberg Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Bryan Stevenson Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Jacinda Ardern Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1

Greta Thunberg

Bryan Stevenson

Jacinda Ardern

Stephen Curry Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Waleed Aly Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1

Stephen Curry

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Waleed Aly

Gloria Steinem Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Rene Redzepi Copyright© Geoff Blackwell 1
Simone Biles Copyright© Geoff Blackwell 1

Gloria Steinem

Rene Redzepi

Simone Biles

Albie Sachs Copyright © Geoff Blackwell 1
Ayesha Curry Copyright© Geoff Blackwell 1
Nelson Mandela
(Image: © Nelson Mandela)

Albie Sachs

Ayesha Curry

Nelson Mandela

How to buy the books

Visit for further details about the project and how to purchase.

Watch the documentary series

Extraordinary leaders reflect on their legacies and share messages of courage, compassion, humility, hope and generosity. Inspired by the iconic legacy of Nelson Mandela, Live to Lead highlights the fundamental values, daily disciplines and guiding principles that leaders employ to motivate others and create meaningful change.

 Visit to watch

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Images copyright © Geoff Blackwell, Nelson Mandela images by Andrew Zuckerman, copyright © Nelson R. Mandela
Nelson Mandela, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation logo are registered trademarks of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

Also available: Nelson Mandela Guiding Principles