Strategic Relationships: Driving Exponential Growth From Meeting Curve Benders With David Nour

Curve benders, as David Nour explains, are these incredible relationships that go beyond helping us with short-term performance. David is the CEO of The Nour Group, Inc., a relationship economics advisor, and best-selling author of Curve Benders. He joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to tell us about building strategic relationships and meeting curve benders that help with our exponential growth. He says that curve benders are people that, with who they are, dramatically change our growth trajectory – giving us more potential to stretch our capabilities that would eventually lead us to success. Discover the ways you can find your curve bender and be well on your way to success.

TTL 841 | Curve Benders


I’m glad you joined us because we have David Nour here. He is the CEO of The Nour Group. He is an international speaker and a best-selling author with a new book that I’m excited to talk to him about it. We are going to find out about Curve Benders.

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Strategic Relationships: Driving Exponential Growth From Meeting Curve Benders With David Nour

I am with David Nour, who is the CEO of The Nour Group. He is an innovation advisor, international speaker, best-selling author, you name it. He has been listed as a top 30 Leadership Guru. He made the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2021. You can’t miss his work. He’s got a new book. I’m excited about Curve Benders. It’s nice to have you here, David.

Dr. Diane, good to be with you.

It is nice to connect again. We have connected a couple of times before this. I’m excited to hear more about your new book and everything you are working on. I want to get a backstory on you for people who have not had a chance to learn about your story of what led you to this point. Can you give us your story?

Originally, I’m from Iran. I came to the US, May 23, 1981. May of 2021 marks the 40 years that I have been in this country. I came here to finish school and got my Eagle Scout. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. Mom and dad are still back in Iran. My career is three phases. Phase one was with a lot of technologies, IBM, Silicon Graphics, BusinessObjects, sales, sales management, product and marketing roles. I went to the consulting route. After an executive MBA from Emory, I spent some years on the private equity side. We bought and sold 110 companies.

The genesis of some of my early work was seeing incredibly functional teams take mediocre ideas to new heights. Conversely, you saw dysfunctional teams take amazing ideas off a cliff. Over the years, I have gone out on my own. You are kind enough to mention Curve Benders. It is book number eleven. My passion is this idea that relationships should be more intentional, be more strategic and can be more quantifiable. Through my books, I speak, consult, coach and put on executive education programs.

I know you do so much. I know you are part of the group I met with Marshall Goldsmith. All the work that you have done has got attention from Thinkers50 is all impressive. It takes a lot of research and a lot of work to write eleven books. I love that you deal with relationships because that is such a huge part of success in the workplace. We know people are hired for their knowledge and fired for their behaviors. All these things affect relationships. My work was on perception. I’m interested in how that ties into all the stuff that I found out. I want to know what you mean by a curve bender because your book is titled Curve Benders. Is that similar to pivoting or is it something different?

As people hear Curve Benders, they somehow think this was my COVID moment. In reality, I started working on this in 2017 with extensive research of over 100 Executive interviews. To understand this concept of Curve Benders, there are these incredible relationships beyond helping us with short-term performance or execution of results, they leave an indelible imprint on shaping the manager, the leader, the executive that we have become. To understand that concept, it’s important to take a step back.

My first book was called Relationship Economics. In it, I talked a lot about how to turn everyday context through this exchange of value, through intentional interactions, through a relational cadence into relationships. Most of your readers understand that relationships are important. In my experience, a few understand their significance in accelerating change, in accelerating results, in making any real innovation last.

[bctt tweet=”What will the next version of you look like?” via=”no”]

In Co-Create, I talked about how to take some of those relationships where two or more parties come together and co-create something that none of them could do by themselves and making them a strategic relationship. Profound in what we do, how we do it, how we go to market and how we delineate ourselves from others. Curve benders is a notch higher than that. A couple of good examples for you and your readers is to think of that old professor you had that demonstrated a vested interest in you. Through who they were, not necessarily even the course they taught, shaped your academic journey.

Think of people you and I know like Marshall Goldsmith. Who they are and how they show up dramatically change our growth trajectory. Some of the people you and I have met through Thinkers50. The caliber of individuals, the fact that they care and how they show up in our lives, our research shows they change both our direction and destination. Hence, I call them in essence, trajectory curve benders.

I’ve got off at Thinkers50. Paul Michelman was discussing something at one of their events. It was impactful to me to listen to what you get from one person that could set you in a direction, perhaps you are looking to get published or whatever it is. He was helpful through his insights. In my last book, I dedicated it to my junior high teacher, who impacted me for my interest in Algebra, which also made me interested in other things. It opened up my perceptions and my curiosity. We will be seeing a lot of discussion about relationships and specifically mentorships. How do mentorships fit into this curve bending? I would love to have that relationship.

If you think of great bosses, great coaches, great mentors we have all had in our lives, they helped us. They either introduced a new skill, elevate our knowledge from the application of that skill. In the case of what you and I do and what Marshall does, it’s focused on changing behaviors. A lot of times, our interactions with these coaches or mentors tend to still be a sliver in our lives. What we found is we may either revert or we made incremental, stairstep progress. That is admirable. I don’t want to take anything away from great coaches, mentors, and bosses. They certainly shaped our journey. What we found is, over time, that journey tends to be a linear growth. Think of that 45-degree truck ramp. That’s still an upward slope but it’s that linear growth.

Given the incredibly dynamic market we all function in as evidence by this global pandemic, our research shows that will no longer suffice. If you think of that 45-degree linear growth, a good example would be you and I getting a four-year degree from a university. You learn. At some point, you will apply it. I don’t know when was the last time you used differential calculus but it has been a while. It was such an important part of that part of our life.

Conversely, what curve benders bring are these microlearning, micro growth opportunities that fuel a reinvention. What you get instead of that 45-degree angle, you get the hockey stick. You get not just incremental growth that a great coach, a mentor or a great boss may bring in a stairstep part of your life, you get exponential growth. That exponential growth, that hockey stick that a curve bender or potential curve bender brings, that’s not just what keeps us relevant, it helps us maintain our relevance moving forward.

TTL 841 | Curve Benders
Curve Benders: How Strategic Relationships Can Power Your Non-linear Growth in the Future of Work

I was thinking about Keith Krach. I have had a great relationship with him. He was the CEO and Chairman of DocuSign. The board I served on there are an amazing group of people. Surrounding yourself with people who have more to offer and different things to offer is important. I see a lot of people who want to be the smartest person in the room. That’s such a huge mistake. When we talk about who we interact with, how do we find these people who are going to give us this exponential growth?

I describe curve benders as people that can profoundly change your direction and change your destination. That’s exactly the question everybody wants to know is, “Who are they? Where are these magical and mystical creatures? By the way, can I meet you this afternoon because I’ve got an important meeting tomorrow?” In the Matrix movie vernacular, there’s no blue or red pill. I haven’t found a way for you to know that person is a curve bender. If none of us have a crystal ball, all we can do is a plan. That’s the genesis of the book. The focus of the book is how do you plan a series of steps?

I specifically identified seven steps to meeting potential curve benders. It starts with growth entrepreneurial on a digital mindset. That lends itself to an exceptional commitment to being not just good enough but truly exceptional at what you choose to do that professional commitment. That often leads to what we described as this phase called a catalyst. It is something that triggers. It’s an awareness of either something’s missing or you aspire to reach a different level. You aspire to not just accomplish more but get to a different level.

That often leads to something we call, step four, immersive inquiry where you jump in and you immerse yourself in that topic, field and area. It then creates this gravity or a pull towards your watering hole, towards others that are like-minded professionals, that are thinking about these ideas and that have researched them. It’s a big focal point of their efforts once they see and once that potential curve bender invests in you.

I want you to think of someone like Marshall that you and I have in common. What’s important for them to see is you listened. You don’t have to agree but you listened and you internalize those ideas and you synthesize them. As you execute with agility and with that clarity of intent toward that next level of personal, professional growth, then they are willing to give more. That’s when you build this connection cadence. That’s how you begin to start changing that trajectory from a linear to a non-linear personal reinvention.

You brought up many great things in that. I’m glad you brought up Marshall because I know he gives back quite a bit. A lot of people are looking for mentors. They were looking for someone to help them and do different things. A lot of people are throwing a lot of money at things. They were looking at masterminds. They were looking at different ways to get to that next level. A lot of people are getting taken advantage of because of that. Not everybody is able to join a group like Marshall’s for free or do different things for free. How do you avoid losing a lot of money and still spend your money in the right way to get the right things?

I feel incredibly blessed not just with Marshall but also to be around the Thinkers50 community. In our research, we found that true curve benders don’t have a financial incentive. If you think of that great professor, early boss or manager that took you under their wings and didn’t just teach you the job but taught you how to be an empathetic leader, a compassionate leader and listen more intently and put the well-being of others ahead of yourself, they don’t lead with that financial incentive or financial offering.

[bctt tweet=”Quality people like to associate with other like-minded quality people. ” via=”no”]

Am I a big believer in investing in one’s portion of professional growth? Unequivocally, yes. Those investments are opportunities to learn, grow and immerse yourself in the topics you are interested in. In some ways, you have to let potential curve benders find you and you find them organically. You find fascinating people. Do you have to invest? Yes. I have been to the Renaissance Weekend. In one weekend, you meet some amazing people. I have been to Aspen Institute. I have been to Milken Institute. You have to put yourself in environments to meet like-minded professionals. They don’t all have to be financially motivated and driven. Marshall’s never asked any of us for anything. That’s the other thing, these individuals not only deeply care but they are incredibly giving. They want to create significance in their lives and not just success.

It’s hard to find a meaningful experience like that. I was supposed to be at Renaissance Weekend before it closed. I was looking forward to that. There are some things I tend to invest in and some things where you go, “This sounds a little financially driven and more than what it’s supposed to be.” It’s important for people to find the things that work for them. A lot of people may be reading this wanting to be a curve bender. They might be reading to this looking for something to bend their curve. If you wanted to be the mentor inside of that equation, how do you know? Is it the same thing, you happen to find people who you think need it? Is there a place that they should be looking to go to for help? For example, events for new entrepreneurs or that type of thing?

We discussed the seven steps. I’m often reminded of why the airline safety videos tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help somebody else. You have to start with a healthy self. You have to start with understanding your journey from now to the next. Where are you now? What is the best version of you look like? What capabilities? What competencies? What skills? What knowledge? What behavior? Do you believe and have you done your research to figure out what that next best version of you looks like?

If you understand that gap between your now and next, you can immerse yourself in understanding who’s writing about this. Who’s talking about this? Who’s the expert in that area? Develop some expertise in that area and immerse yourself in that. A lot of times, they speak at events and there’s public, free available content you can consume. If there’s an opportunity. If they create a community, a lot of that is virtual because of this pandemic. I’m optimistic that we are going to get on the other side of this and we will gather again. That gathering would be a good place for you to invest in. Go with your due diligence. Go with having done your inquiry and exploration into that growth.

In terms of becoming a curve bender in the lives of others, that’s a profound question that I stumbled on, there are some key attributes that amazing curve benders have in common. As I have said earlier, number one, they deeply care. Number two, they don’t just say it, they demonstrate a vested interest in you through their actions, sage advice, their counsel and through the conversations you have. Number three, quality people like to associate with other like-minded quality people. If you demonstrate authenticity and a genuine interest in learning and growth, it’s amazing how often they will suggest or recommend. If they don’t, you need to start asking, “Where can I go learn more about this? Do you, others that are thinking about this topic or thinking about this area that I would love to meet and get to know and learn from?”

As you were saying all that, I was thinking about how much COVID has impacted you. You mentioned it’s harder to connect. There are a lot of people who are looking for potential curve benders to speak, to do things and do a lot of stuff for free because nobody is paying for anything. I have seen a lot of people who normally would go to these events and do things that feel burned out. They feel people are taking advantage of them to some extent. These speakers and consultants have to live too. How is COVID impacting our ability to connect with these people who can impact our lives? What do you see as the future of that?

TTL 841 | Curve Benders
Curve Benders: The biggest disruption to many organizations is business model innovation.


We have all had to maneuver in many ways. Maneuvering is a lot easier if you’ve got a strong balance sheet. If you weren’t a speaker before this pandemic, you have a dramatically better chance of maneuvering other capabilities. I’m an advisor first. Speaking tends to be one of the things that I do. A data point for your readers, in 2019, I was on the road for 208 days. In 2020, I was on the road for 22 days. Interestingly enough, 2020 was a better year financially. I finished a book. We create some interesting work because you learn to maneuver. You maneuver your capabilities. Your maneuver what I call your labor flex.

I used to go and speak at conferences. I used to go get on a plane and go see a client to coach or advise. How can I maneuver that capability, that skill and that competency to meet them where they are if nobody is traveling? I doubled down on digital. I invested in a high-end camera, lighting, and monitors. I took my practice and my value online. Clients who still had the need engaged that value in a different format and a different medium the fascinating thing is I have long believed you can cut your way to growth.

A lot of global clients and global providers cut back on marketing and travel and all that. I’ve got excited because around May and June 2020, you saw some prudent but forward-thinking offensive bets and offensive strategies to say, “We still have a business to run.” You saw those organizations, those individuals, those capabilities, not only have a great year but set themselves apart from everybody else. I’m at a point where I can’t imagine getting back on the road 200 days a year again. You figured out how to deliver that value differently.

You and I are not in the ice cream business. I have always believed that if you give people a taste, those who get it, value it, and benefit from it are going to want more. If you have ever tried pushing a rope, it doesn’t work. If you create a market gravity, market pull, none of us need all of that. What we need are the right relationships. What we need is the right profile of leaders that we want to work with and help. Those people will seek you out.

You discussed something between work-life balance and work-life blending. Is that what you are talking about there? Can you differentiate between them?

For years, while I’m working, I’m thinking I need a vacation. While I’m on vacation, I’m thinking all the work is piling up. For most of us, there’s this love-hate relationship between our work life and personal life. It’s a struggle. I honestly believe work-life balance is a fallacy because it’s friction between the two. One of my curve benders, Alan Weiss, drove into me that, “You don’t have a work-life. None of us do. A personal life, you have one life.”

This is sickening. I would fly in, do my thing, get on a red-eye flight and fly home. The wear and tear on your body and mental health are not worth it. What I started doing was integrating my professional obligations with my aspirations. If I’m going to go do a leadership program for a client in San Francisco on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Friday by noon, we are done. Everybody flies home. I would stay. I fly my family in and we spend the weekend in the Bay Area. We spend the weekend playing as a family.

[bctt tweet=”Work-life balance is a fallacy because there’s such friction between the two. ” via=”no”]

I was blessed to do a leadership program in Amman, Jordan, Cairo and Jerusalem. At that time, my kids were in school and the teachers knew what I did for a living. They said, “You could read about those places in books. Since your dad does what he does, go.” I took my family with me on this two-week trip where dad had to work three days. For the rest of the time, we spent being tourists. We all had amazing experiences. That’s an example of figure out ways to integrate, blend your professional and your personal life.

Some people are better travelers than others. I remember talking to Marshall at the Thinkers50 about how much he was traveling. I said, “When do you sleep?” We are at a black-tie event. He points at  and he goes, “I could sleep right here, right now.” I wish I had that quality but I don’t. It’s interesting to see how people can adjust based on their abilities. Sometimes we try to be someone else. I will never be Marshall Goldsmith and be able to sleep on the floor. I have to be sane and work my schedule so I can sleep. Everybody has to do what it is that it takes to get them to be at their optimal performance.

When you are talking about all this and what we can expect and how we can have mentors and different things for these curve benders and where we are going, I noticed that you had a chapter about the future of the workplace. One of my first talks I gave was for Forbes about the future of the workplace. You talk about the organization of the future. How does that look in your mind? How are they going to evolve? How are they going to remain relevant? That ties into why I researched curiosity because I believe that curiosity is a spark, innovation, engagement and all the things that they were trying to improve in the future. I want your input there.

I’m blessed to work with some incredible brands. If you think of mature organizations and mature industries like Humana, Schneider Electric or Cipla, which is India’s biggest pharmaceutical company. Over the years, Siemens, Disney, and KPMG all have a core business. They all are fundamentally good at what they do in the core business. That fundamental strength in the market has come from building a set of predictable, repeatable processes and tools, individuals and org structures.

For our readers, the modern-day organizational structure came from World War I. It’s about command and control. I’m pretty sure there are no other parts of our lives we are using from World War I days. What I talk about are innovation and disruption. A lot of these terms are interesting, sexy and cool to talk about. What people don’t realize is how incredibly difficult they are. In most of these organizations, if you say innovation, somebody is thinking, “That’s more work for me. No, thank you.”

It’s difficult for these mature industries to innovate, not innovation theater. I’m not talking about innovative products or services. The biggest disruption to many organizations is business model innovation. A good example for the readers is I have worked with Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels. None of them saw Airbnb coming. They didn’t take twenty-some-year-olds who wanted to rent out a mattress in their apartment seriously. They have created a new category, a new market that’s incredibly disruptive to that industry.

What I wrote about in Curve Benders is this idea of staying focused on the core business because it pays that executive salary and my fees. Unless you create something I call a sandbox engine, which is separate physically, structurally, governance-wise, separate from that core. Let the CEO run the core business. By the way, this isn’t theoretical. I’m helping a couple of clients do this exactly. Have a chief entrepreneurial role run the sandbox engine with a board innovation committee that governs its stewardship. The intent is, “Let’s figure out how to disrupt ourselves before somebody else does.”

TTL 841 | Curve Benders
Curve Benders: If you understand that gap between your now and next, then you can really immerse yourself in understanding “Who’s writing about this? Who’s talking about this?” and discover the expert in that area.


By definition, because none of us have a crystal ball and can predict which business model is going to succeed and which one isn’t, the sandbox engine is all about creating a set of exploration capabilities and competencies. You are going to make it similar to venture capital or private equity firm. You are going to make ten bets knowing that eight will go nowhere. The two that hit are going to be the future of our business. Let’s build an operating system, an environment and let’s build both our ideas but also as we invest in the ideas of others to go after a business model innovation that can stand alone and that can scale. If it’s not our cup of tea, we are going to divest. You need that ecosystem or platform environment to think differently about your business and the challenges and opportunities in your industry.

You bring up another point in your book that is important about accelerating our relevance, what it takes in setting timelines and critical steps and all the things that are required to do that. That was a term that I deal with a lot because I work with consultants and with HR professionals. I work with them to help them be more relevant in the types of things that they are teaching and helping leaders do. I’m curious about those timelines and critical steps. What did you touch on in that final chapter?

One of our mutual friends, Whitney Johnson, has done a lot of work around your S-curve. For your readers that may not be as familiar, S-curve is this reinvention. Whitney talks a lot about you’ve got to disrupt yourself. You’ve got to think about that reinvention journey. What I did is I built on that. Not only there’s a third dimension to that S-curve but if you think about that S-curve, there’s an initial investment where you invest in your personal-professional growth. You are going to take a little bit of a dip in your productivity and your functionality. After that, you will start to excel at it. You will figure out what to do and how to do it. You hit a stride where you are on the upper part of that curve and you are focused. You are developing an incredible amount of competency and capability. Unfortunately, you reach a plateau. That’s that upper end of the S.

At the top of it, I identified a point where I call a refraction point. I’m going to take you and your readers back to one of your first physics classes. If you ever shone a light through that glass of water or that prism, you saw the light bend and it became a rainbow. It gives you options. Curve benders do the same thing for us if we can identify the arc of any job, which is about 3 to 5 years. Early on, you are trying to figure out where the coffee is. In about 3 to 5 years, you would figure out how to do that job. If we can figure out the arc of that job or that role, we can identify those refraction points where we are candidly bored. We know how to do it. The job is on autopilot. We are showing up.

At that refraction point, you have three options. You are either going to flatline where somebody better jolt some energy and excitement into what you are doing. You are going to fall off and decline and everybody’s going to see that because it shows up in the quality of your work and how you show up. You can accelerate your relevance. Accelerate the next phase, the next stage of your growth. That’s exactly what the right curve bender relationships can help you do.

What I point out with research is this pandemic is 1 of 15 forces we have identified that are going to continue to create incredible disruption in our future not just remain relevant at any point in time. To accelerate that relevance, you need to understand this personal reinvention, this S-curve. They are going to happen quickly. They are going to be shorter timelines. You are going to have to daisy chain these together and that’s how you remain relevant. A simple example would be if you think of how many organizations or individuals were not a video culture before this pandemic. We all figured out overnight how to use Zoom and Teams to a point that we all have Zoom fatigue. One example of a technology that we had to quickly embrace to remain relevant.

Let’s be honest, those technologies are kludgy. I don’t believe they are going to go away. How we show up digital, how we engage and interact with others digitally is going to continue to be a big asset for those that choose to embrace it. I’m constantly learning how to use these new technologies, how to connect, how to engage, how to maneuver my capabilities, meet the consumers of that value at the time of their choosing, on the device of their choice and in unique and innovative ways.

I’m glad you brought up Whitney because she did such amazing research. I would love to have her on the show. Being part of the Thinkers50 group with her and the whole group has been amazing. We have touched on them a little bit and Marshall’s MG 100 group that you are in. I want to know what do you think those groups have done for you? Are those the things that people should strive to be part of?

[bctt tweet=”Integrate your professional obligations with your personal aspirations. ” via=”no”]

Unequivocally, Yes. You’ve got to know how you are wired. You have to know what lights you up. You have to know what gives you energy and fuels your passion and what candidly sucks the life out of it. I am energized by intellectual minds, curiosity, interesting, unique perspectives that are different than mine. That’s exactly what I’ve got from friends in the MG 100. That is unequivocally what I’m getting from Thinker50. I can recommend not just those two organizations but similar organizations that are relevant to your world.

I know for a fact that there’s a thought and practice leadership group for general counsels in the Manhattan area. I know that there’s a community for innovation and manufacturing. Regardless of what industry you are in, finding those that are going to challenge your assumptions, push your thinking, elevate your perspective, help you learn and grow beyond your own perceived limitations. I can’t help but believe the incredible growth that’s going to come from any and every one of those. My Litmus test is straightforward. If I can learn one new thing or if I can meet one interesting person from that community, I’m playing with the house money. I’m in a better position than I was before I’ve got there.

You brought up challenging your assumptions because in my research for curiosity, I found the four things that inhibit curiosity are fear, assumptions, technology and environment. Our assumptions can be a thing that holds us back because that’s that voice in your head telling you, “I’m not going to like this. I’m not smart enough. This is too hard.” Those things can limit people. That’s an important thing to hit on. As we have talked, we have mentioned the impact of COVID and how things have changed. I remember when I interviewed people from Zoom before, we had no idea that this was going to be the world that we are in. What do you think of the post-pandemic world? Are we going to have a post-pandemic world? Is it always going to be a little bit different? What are you looking forward to?

One of the things that this pandemic has brought front and center is how incredibly adept we are at changing and adapting and figuring out how we move forward. I am cautiously optimistic about the post-pandemic world. My biggest fear is that we don’t learn anything from this. Language matters. If you think of some of the vernacular that’s in our world, a lot of people talk about getting back to.  Number one, I don’t believe there’s any going back to anything. We have to find ways to move forward.

Getting back to the office, at the moment, is a transactional conversation. Should we come back 2 days or 3 days versus how do we reimagine work? How do we rethink work? This grand experiment of sending 100 million people to work from home for fourteen plus months has worked surprisingly well. Why would I want to jump into that hour and a half commute each way again? I don’t have a reason to. I can be perfectly productive working in a much more me-centric way.

Number two, I’m concerned about what many believed to be the K-shaped recovery. I wrote about this in the book. If you think of most economic recoveries, there’s the checkmark, the V that’s pretty quick and we all come back. There’s the U, which is the elongated, long recovery. The other one is the K-shape, which is the knowledge workers. You, me and a lot of your readers, will be fine. We have learned how to adapt. We will get back to traveling and doing all the stuff we are doing.

What about those individuals, the have nots, that didn’t have access to the internet, didn’t learn, grow or didn’t have the chance to elevate their skills, knowledge, behaviors and relationships? What happens to them? What happens to those whose lives and livelihoods were predicated on physical proximity? How long before we are all comfortable getting back together again? I keep thinking of everybody from the parking attendants, waitstaff, meetings and events in the hospitality industry and travel industry. There are a lot of industries that are going to continue to struggle. I am optimistic about reinvention, reimagining and real innovation that is going to come from beyond the incredible lives and livelihoods that we have lost. This could be an incredible renaissance period like the roaring ‘20s were.

I had many Hall of Fame speakers and different people on my show who, maybe not like us, had all their eggs in one basket. Like you, I consult, I teach and I write. We have different outlets. A lot of people were heavy duty into speaking or things that were live in-person events. Do you see those things coming back? If not, what advice would you have for those people?

David Burkus, another friend of ours, often talks about this. I am similarly bullish on trends that the pandemic accelerated. If you think of digital, remote access and working from anywhere, those are all trends that were around for a while. The pandemic brought them front and center. Think of Telemedicine. It accelerated a lot of those types of technologies. I am bearish on fundamental human needs that this pandemic is trying to change. We’re tapped out. As human beings, we need the touch. Full disclosure, I’m a hugger. I love hugging male, female friends appropriately. I miss those interactions. Will we get back together again? Unequivocally, yes. We need that as human beings.

I’m starting to have more coffee meetings. I don’t know if you know or your readers know, in-person is a thing now. I’m having in-person coffee meetings and lunch meetings. I show up and I tell them, “I have been vaccinated twice.” They say, “Me too.” I’m like, “Great, give me a hug.” We need that. I’m also optimistic because I have started booking in-person keynotes and leadership and board retreats. I’m headed to Denver in June 2021. I’m headed to Chicago in August 2021 and September 2021. I am headed to Lake Tahoe in October 2021. I bought tickets to go to Thinkers50 and Global Drucker Forum in London and Vienna in November 2021 even though they announced it as virtual so far.

TTL 841 | Curve Benders
Curve Benders: Investing in one’s professional growth is great because those are opportunities to learn and immerse yourself in the topics you’re interested in.


We are planning family vacations. There’s a pent-up demand for getting back together again. Small groups getting back together and larger groups. As long as we do it responsibly, we are safe and people get vaccinated, those will come back. They probably will look different. The days of talking heads on a stage are gone. You are going to have to create more of an interactive, immersive experience. You are going to have to create more of a hybrid presence.

I’m doing this for a client where I’m physically going to them. There’s going to be a camera crew and I’m taking a production crew with me. Yet, there are a lot of their attendees that are still uncomfortable attending an event in person. We are also going to transpose me on a digital stage and they will consume my content virtually. You are going to have to get creative and come up with other ways for people to benefit from the two concepts. I have always believed people gather for, which is content. What can I learn? How can I grow? The other is community. Who else would be there? Who else can I need? How do I deepen my relationships?

I am always wondering what’s going to happen. As you are talking about that, I was thinking of my quest for the Oculus device. Wherever you are, when you put it on, it’s 3D that you feel similar to Star Trek’s Holodeck. I’m wondering if speakers and that type of thing we will do more of that. People can feel you are right next to them. Zoom is great but they don’t have that sensation of being right next to you in the room. I’m curious if you think we will see more of that technology for speaking.

I have seen some interesting demos. I’m going to date myself for you and the readers. When the web first came out, we all put brochures on a website. It was brochure wear and that’s all we knew. That’s all that the technology was capable of. I saw a demonstration of a YouTube video where you could click on the sweater the person in the video is wearing. It’s a shopping click and can go right through it and can buy that.

The technology accelerates in times of need and interest. You have to believe that a lot of the technology we are using, Zoom, Teams and Skype, any or all of these things are still in their infancy stages. They will evolve. They will develop. Cameras and a lot of that technology are getting better. This virtual stage thing we are doing looks like I’m right there in front of you and I could be thousands of miles away. Increasingly, technology is going to get better. The adaption is going to increase. More and more are going to demand a better, richer and more immersive experience. If you think of the Oculus, now you are seeing HoloLens and AR -VR come into field service and field support. A lot of that technology will come into the speaking, presentation and audience engagement space that is going to dramatically transform what you and I do, how we do it and how we engage people from different parts of the world.

To give you a data point, I’m facilitating the senior leadership board retreat. We are talking about timing-wise and when can we do it? Some of the biggest hurdles are the international participants that cannot physically travel and get to what we are trying to get to. How do you not leave them out? You don’t want to do Zoom because it won’t be nearly as experiential and immersive for them. We are exploring. We are trying to figure out how would you do that? How can they go into a local studio? Can they do something else to feel more that they are part of this physical gathering but in a hybrid environment that we are trying to put on?

I remember them doing the audio version of that at Thinkers50 in 2020 to bring people in from Asian countries and different things to be able to hear even though they were there, the transcriptions if you hear it in your language. I have had Anurupa Ganguly on my show who is the Founder and CEO of Prisms VR. They are going to use Oculus and those devices to reinvent how education is being delivered. It was inspiring to me. I hope that we see more of that.

Instead of teaching them math equations, they were in a room of seeing how COVID spread from touching and to look at this different relationship of growth. We are talking about exponential growth to visualize it. I love the thought of doing all that. This all ties into all your past work. I have watched your success with Relationship Economics, Co-Create and Curve Benders. Is there a twelfth book? What’s next?

I have about 6, 7 additional books in my head in various stages. Through your work, this doesn’t happen overnight. It took me about 40 years for the ideas to percolate and for the research to get fine-tuned. You have gone through this. I know a number of your past guests that have done this successfully. At some point, we read, talk, research and consult enough around the idea that you feel like you have some to say. I’m thinking about the next book as I finish the other one.

[bctt tweet=”If you give people a taste of something, those who get it, those who value it, those who benefit from it, are going to want more. ” via=”no”]

At the moment, I’m curious about that whole idea of accelerated relevance. What does that look like? I’m also working with several clients in not just helping their business but help understand their customers’ customers. I’m thinking a lot about that see-to-see experience. How does that look? What does that look like? How do you extend your reach not just to your customers but your customers’ customers? There are a couple of them that I’m thinking a lot about. In some ways, I’m not writing Harry Potter. I’m never going to get wealthy writing books. Books become fabulous platforms for you and me to share ideas, perspectives and create conversations.

A lot of people can gain so much from your books and the information you have come up with on your site. I was looking through your site, great information there. Is there someplace that you would like to share your site or other social media or anything?

I would encourage your readers to go to If you go to, that’s the landing page for Curve Benders. There are resources. There are a couple of assessments. There are downloadable chapters. There are good videos there. You can look around the site. I’m proud of the content we put up. We’ve also got a great community, That’s a private community that we have stood up to. It’s for like-minded folks. It got about 2,000 people that are there with us. I’m there every day, sharing ideas and perspectives. Those are probably a couple of good places for you and your readers to come to join us.

I am happy you shared all that. I was looking at your book. I have done some work with groups out of Wiley. I know Wiley is the publisher of your book and I love your cover. I like blue, first of all. I love the exponential steps in the way it comes across. Whoever designed that did a nice job. This has been such a great conversation. I was looking forward to this. I’m grateful for you to be on the show. I admire everything that you have been working on. Thank you so much, David.

Diane, you are kind. For the readers, Lin Wilson is our Creative Director. He also did all the illustrations inside the book. Thank you for your kind comments. Thank you for having me. I can’t wait to see you again.

Let’s hope that this event in November 2021 ends up not being virtual because I have tickets, too. Hopefully, we will connect again.

Sounds great.

I would like to thank David for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show. If you have missed any past episodes, you can find them at On the site, you can drop down the blog to read the shows because we transcribe them. I hope you enjoyed the episode. I hope you would join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.

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About David Nour

TTL 841 | Curve Benders

A senior leadership/board advisor, researcher, executive educator, and best-selling author, David Nour is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation, and lasting change.

The author of ten books, including best-sellers Relationship Economics® (Wiley) and Co-Create (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the forthcoming Curve Benders (Wiley), Nour serves as a trusted advisor to global clients and coaches corporate leaders. He is an adjunct professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and was named to the Global Gurus Top 30 Leadership Professionals and the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2021 lists.

A Forbes Leadership contributor on the Future of Work and an Inc. contributor on Relationship Economics, Nour’s unique insights have been featured in various prominent publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company, Huffington Post Business, Entrepreneur, and Knowledge@Wharton. He is also the host of the popular Curve Benders podcast.

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