Choosing the Right Relationship

Episode 1008: Choosing the Right Relationship, with David Nour

podcast photo thumbnail



View this episode on:

Choosing the right relationship—Learn the definition of “relationship economics” and why choosing the right relationship is important in modern businesses.

Choosing the right relationship — A senior leadership/board advisor, educator, executive coach, and bestselling 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 eleven books, including bestsellers Relationship Economics® (Wiley) and Co-Create (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the forthcoming Curve Benders (Wiley, 2021), 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 Thinkers 50 Radar Class of 2021 lists. A Forbes Leadership contributor on the Future of Work, and an Inc. contributor on Relationship Economics, Nours 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’s also the host of the popular Curve Benders podcast.

Born in Iran, Nour immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager with $100, limited family ties, and no fluency in English. He graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and went on to earn an Executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He resides in Atlanta, GA, with his family. Learn more at


What you’ll learn in this episode is about choosing the right relationship

  • How David immigrated to the United States from Iran, learned English, finished graduate school, and built an astonishing career as an executive coach, author and expert
  • How David defines “relationship economics”, and why prioritizing relationships with intentionality and being strategic in which relationships you invest in is crucial
  • How the global pandemic and the need for social distancing have impacted our in-person relationships, and why digital relationships need to be sustained with personal connections
  • Why focusing on fewer, more authentic relationships can be a powerful differentiating factor for your business as we emerge from the pandemic, and why choosing the right relationship is essential in modern businesses.
  • How David created and curates his own professional community that fosters respectful and civil discourse and authentic engagements
  • Why relationships require an investment of time, effort and resources, and why narrowing your focus allows you to build more authentic connections
  • How many of David’s clients have had their most successful year ever because they entered the pandemic with great maneuverability
  • Why you should “diversify your portfolio of relationships”, and how “hybrid relationships” can benefit you throughout your work and life
  • Why learning to ask better questions can be a powerful tactic for stronger relationships, and what skills you should focus on developing to master your relationships
  • Why following up on your conversations and relationships and looking for new ways to add value is vital


Additional Resources:



Choosing the Right Relationship: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner CEO of Predictive ROI, and your host for Onward Nation, where I interviewed today’s top business owners. So we can learn their recipe for success, how they built and how they scaled their business. So, Onward Nation, what if I were to ask you this question? What if I were to ask you once the most valuable asset in your business, what would you say? Would you say it’s your intellectual property? Maybe, would you say it’s your team? Maybe you’d say, it’s your skills, your knowledge, maybe you’d say, it’s your product or service. Maybe it’s world-class maybe you’d say it’s your real estate, or you have this really prime location and this amazing building. 


Well, without question, all of those are certainly important, and they’re definitely valuable assets, but I will argue they’re not your most valuable asset because you can’t get the most advantage from any one of your assets if you don’t make the right strategic investments into your relationships. Okay. So what does that mean? Does it mean that I’m asking you to get out there and network and meet a whole bunch more people? Does it mean that I’m saying, Hey, Onward Nation now is the time to double down on expanding our sphere of influence? Well, all good things, to be sure. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: David Nour’s Introduction


It’s so kind of close, but not quite on target. Instead, we all need a strategy and the actual strategy around all of that activity. And we need a strategy around how all of those relationships become core to our business. A strategy around those relationships is super important to that activity. You need an explicit connection between how all of that activity adds value to the relationships that you’re building and how all of it adds value back into your business, which is why I invited David Nore to be our guest today. David as an expert at relationship economics, which is also the title of one of his bestselling books, by the way. 


And his now on his third edition, David Nour is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation and lasting change. So Onward Nation relationship economics is going to be our focus today because it’s important to us. All of us, if we were looking to transform are most valuable business relationships and business success, because when you do not only will you come roaring out the other side of this recession, but you will also distance yourself from your competitors in the process. 


So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation. Oh my gosh. Are you kidding Stephen, just to be with you and Onward Nation, I just have one question. Can I take you on the road? Because with an introduction like that, I’m thinking of applying for the Oscars or some other better award show that I’m getting these days, The joke on the side, was fantastic. Very kind of you thanks for having me. Well, thank you for saying yes. My friend, I am grateful to have you here, so there’s much for us to discuss, but before we dive in, I wish what I’m sure is going to feel like a litany of questions that I send your way. Take us behind the curtain take us beyond the bio to tell us more about your path and journey. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: A Journey of the American Dream


And then we’ll dive in. So I am a poster child for the American dream, as you may remember, or you may know I’m a first-generation immigrant originally from Iran, who came to the US on May 23rd, 1981. As of the data of this episode, it’s been 40 years, and didn’t know anybody. He didn’t speak of word of English. We came with a hundred bucks in a suitcase. I came to Atlanta, literally a JFK that put a Badger on my neck, put this kid on an Eastern Airlines flight to Atlanta. I came in and lived with an aunt and uncle whom I hadn’t seen since birth spend a couple of years learning English. I finished high school here. 


I got my Eagle Scout here. The early part of my career was in technology sales, sales management, mid career was consulting. And after graduate school I became president or the company raised around the funding, Merz and sold that business spent several years in private equity. Well, we bought and sold 110 different companies. And interestingly enough, the last 19 years I’ve been on my own. And I’m an advisor. I’m a coach, I’m a speaker, as you know, based on the books. I also do a lot of executive education programs, including adjunct faculty at my Alma mater. That goes what a business school at Emory University on a completely personal side, Wendy and I just celebrated 25 years of marriage, cannot believe the woman has put up with me for this long. 


Our daughter just finished her first year at Georgia Tech. She was a chemistry major on the pre-med track. And I have a 5’10 to six foot, two 17-year-old son who works twice a day, and we can keep it food and the fridge, right. But I feel, I feel incredibly blessed. Mom and dad are still back in Iran at 42 first cousins, 36 of whom we still are back there. and this pandemic has put a damper on our ability to see each other, but we’re all excited about the other side of it. So that’s a little glimpse into, and to me and my background, where are you? 


His cousins. Okay. I thought I had a lot because I have 10 and I come from a big Greek family, second-generation Greek immigrants. And so we, we, you said 42 and I’m like, holy bananas. Yup. My dad’s side is like nine kids. Mom’s side as age kids, my poor wife, his American, and took her to Iran would be a 99 and a nine is right. 90 or 96. Oh. And, even 62 people came to the airport. She’s like, oh my God, these people. And I’m like, believe it or not, they’re all family. I’m pretty sure as shit with considering a moment. Right. And then because when she said I do it wasn’t any of those madness, but that woman has put up would be she’s out. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Unlocking Relationship Economics


Secrets to choosing the right relationship – There’s a reason, people of color St. Wendy. so it’s been an amazing journey. and as we talked about relationships, one of the things I deeply believe in, is I’ve never seen somebody whose got a dysfunctional family can be a perfect relationship builder at work or vice versa. So those are, we don’t have a worklife and a personal life. We have one life and it’s amazing how much of that stability and that love and that support bolsters all of our professional success and makes our personal lives that much richer. Oh my gosh. Very, very well said. Listen or stepping into relationship economics, nicely stepping into because it’s a big topic and it’s going to be super, super helpful for the business owners who are hearing you and listening to you right now. 


So let’s go high level first. So this is what you think of relationship economics. How do you find that it is the mindset, the skillset and the toolset to be more intentional, be more strategic and be more quantifiable in the relationships you choose to invest in Stephen?


When choosing the right relationship, what I figured out and 19 years, his number one, we keep calling it soft skill. Number one is not that soft or number two, it’s a lot tougher than most people realize, as we’ve all experienced in this global experiment of let’s send a hundred million people to suddenly go work from home and 19 years into this, I am bewildered that it’s still not taught in our schools. It is still not part of many organizations, new hire training programs. It certainly isn’t part of many leadership programs. That’s why I’m in business. And yet we somehow assume everybody from brand new college graduates, just senior executives is going to pick up relationship development, and best practices through osmosis. I’m not sure how that happens, but the premise is on any given day, there’s a ton of research that shows an average individual can proactively nurture about a hundred to 150 relationships. 


So, the million-dollar question becomes which ones and how do you know? And if you can invest in everybody equally or how will you then prioritize which relationships you invest that? So mindset lead with the relationship first and the outcome you’re after will come skill set. There are some fundamental skills in how to build and nurture and sustain and never use, but capitalize and relationships effectively, and efficiently. And then the tool set is how do I combine the promise and power of conversation and great questions and engagement with tools like LinkedIn, with tools like ZoomInfo with tools like the plethora that’s available to us. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Navigating Digital and In-Person Connections


So as you and I discussed, I’m talking, I’m thinking a lot about this idea of hybrid relationships that I think will be invaluable to every business owner, every business professional. Okay. There’s going to be so much just like the part here. Okay. So, let’s also define that as well. This is the podcast episode, one of the BMW segment two, and we’re turning this into a series. It’s the Netflix series. So, when you define hybrid relationships, let’s define that. And then we’re going to come full circle back to my set tool set Onward Nation. But when you define hybrid relationships, give us some context there. 


Choosing the right relationship? Yeah, no, it’s a great, great question. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and the last 14 months. So think about it: the relationships we had were predominantly in person. Okay. Because we’ve all had our wings clipped and been grounded, right? We’ve had to nurture digitally. So through these square boxes and zoom and team and write and you and for some of the younger audience I continuously, we use this antiquated, a device called a telephone. We actually hit the numbers and the person picks up, and you can see, right? So we had to nurture these, these in-person relationships digitally. Conversely, there’s probably been some relationships you’ve built, or you’ve interacted with predominantly digitally, and in the last 14 years, the 14 months that thank God, it hasn’t been 14 years, 14 months that you’ve, you’re going to have to reconnect with in person as human beings. 


We’re tactile. I recently had a socially distant in-person that’s the thing, not by the way, socially, this then in-person cup of coffee meeting with an executive. Aye. You know, for you can see or if you can show, I literally laminated my vaccine card and I carry this around with me. Oh, that’s cool. Right. And I, and I told the executive that I’ve been vaccinated. And I said, Greg, give me a hug because I full disclosure. I’m a hugger in a non-creepy way. Right. And I missed you. We all missed the handshakes. We all missed that connection. 


Choosing the right relationship, your digital relationships. You can not sustain them in the long term. You can not, I don’t believe or make them transformational if you don’t find opportunities to connect with them in person. So a very simple tip for your listeners is as you reconnect, as you re-engage, as we get vaccinated, still have masks as in the car. And then my sports coat jacket and right. I have around the house still safe, but at least begin to offer that as an option to your relationships, I’m happy to schedule a Zoom, but we’re both in town. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: The Power of Face-to-Face Interaction


Would you be okay with a cup of coffee? Cause I’d love to see you. Yeah. I’d love to reconnect. And I think you’ll find that increasingly more people are going to be receptive to that. As we get vaccinated, as we get more comfortable, the weather gets nicer. We want to get back together. I’m trying to tell you this, even for the most hardened introverts, there’s this pent-up demand of human interaction, which I believe, if you harness will serve you incredibly well as one of the few sustainable differentiators you can bring to the table because there’s always going to be cheaper products than I can find other services. 


And how many attorneys do you have? And I know how many accountants do we know how many, right? How many consultants do we know? But the ones that doubled down on fewer or more authentic, richer relationships or the ones that are going to set themselves apart from their competitive peers, a hundred percent, I taught an in-person workshop in January at Disney, alongside drew McLellan from agency management Institute and about 20 to 23 people in the room. And David, it was amazing to see the people who were there were craving exactly what you just describe the in-person interaction or the side conversations and break the opportunity to have dinner and be able to learn from other people who are in the same canoe as them and Drew. 


When choosing the right relationship, I would like to think that we share something of value, but I will tell you that they walked away from a sense of community and connectedness that they were absolutely, without a doubt, craving for the same reasons you just described. Very similarly, one of my clients owns 175 acre ranch, 90 minutes north of LA. He calls me last October, November. Bernie says I don’t know if I do. I’m sick of Zoom. I’m thinking of getting you CEOs together. Would you be interested in running the leadership program or even before he’s done explaining? And I’m like, yes. Right. and I never thought I’d say this. I miss traveling so in January, like you, I got on a plane, and by the way, my hometown airline Delta does an amazing job. 


I flew out and rented a Hertz car. There was a sticker on the car where you have to break the seal to know you, the last person, the first person and after the hotel rooms, all my Lord ate different people. No adults thanked me for staying there, the room service, God wanted the hug hug me, or I just talking about how the industry’s been decimated by the way 30 CEOs registered. I’m sure they wouldn’t even care what the topic was about. I just want her to come out and, exactly, as you said, be around other leaders and really compare their stories. And let me get out of my manufacturing world to go figure out what this other service company’s doing or get out of my service business to go find out what that retail retailer or the distributors do. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Building Deeper Connections


Then California has the five of the executive. It’s not some underlying health issues by 25 shored up this client, the stool. We had a paramedic onside that the quick covert test, okay. We all had individual cabins and, the gourmet chef, apologized cause they usually serve it in fine China and silverware. and here’s your gourmet meal and a to-go box, but by the end of the weekend, and was an outdoor venue and tents and heater’s and our own desks, and it was fabulous. And, so enriching is the best req and describe it ’cause we had a chance to reconnect and that’s exactly what hybrid relationships will do. 


His refill, our cup, that he ran dry for the last 14 months. ’cause we went from all kinds of get-togethers and meetings and conferences and events and training and being around our colleagues to now, right? So isolated that there’s just this pent-up, I believe, need to reconnect and reengage influence in an authentic way. What a great way to describe it. Soul enriching. That’s such a perfect way to describe it. So, before we go back to mindset, skillset tool set, actually I want to, because this question came up, his, you and I, we were talking about it in our pre-interview chat I and one of our Q and A’s last week, this going smaller and S you mentioned a hundred, 250 relationships and so forth. 


Choosing the right relationship? And then you talked about the private community that you’re building and how you really are doubling down on this connectedness and really going deeper with those relationships. I think this is the super important strategy, and the reason why I say that and why I would love to get your point of view on this topic for our audience is because I think we’ve been sort of ingrained or whatever the right word is that we need to have a list of 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 or 50,000 people. We’re on the email list of hundreds of thousands. And if we don’t have half a million subscribers on YouTube, then, then we are, and then we’re not making an impact. And I’ve always thought that that was not the, that the more far more sake is silly. And so I would love for you to share your point of view and also talk about this community because you take, you’re going completely 180 degrees and the other direction, if I understood it correctly. 


Yeah. So, thanks for bringing that up. I wrote about this in one of my recent books and the title of it, his co-creator, and I call it the Jerry McGuire business model. For a number of years, I’ve been concerned that our vibration with Ford motion was confusing. And this is now regrettably just becoming a cottage industry where these influencers are right. Had a mast massive following, and God wasn’t there. Or they’re monetizing that with brands that want access to their followers. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Nurturing Meaningful Relationships in a Digital Age


So my 17-year-old is asking Dad if I can be on YouTube. Or when I’m, you know, can I skip college and be a YouTuber at the answers equivocally? No, because I would submit that if everybody wants more. Yeah. Right. One more context: more customers. We want more. My question keeps coming back to you at what costs, because if you ask, and this is the category of hashtags, crazy talk, write if you focus on fewer, but you make them deeper, you make them more impactful. So, let’s just take clients for a second, right? So I don’t want 10,000 clients. 


I want 10, I actually want five, but I want to become so invaluable to those five clients that they genuinely feel not through my marketing, not through my ads, not through, they genuinely feel that they are better off because, within a relationship together, that’s my litmus test. When a client, when an executive, when P and L leader, and one of my global clients, whether it’s Samsung or Humana or Disney or Siemens, and Crop or Cipla, any of the ones I’m by Delta Airlines, I’m blessed to work with, or an executive says we’re better off because we’re working with nor that’s my good housekeeping seal. 


Choosing the right relationship, that’s my blue ribbon. That’s what I care about respectfully, not 15,000, or 20,000 followers on some social media platform, because those are all transactional as best, by the way, Onward Nation. You want proof. I asked to even export your LinkedIn. Let’s just say, professionally, LinkedIn, as we are, most of our professional contexts are exporting your LinkedIn contacts. It, the system of the platform actually allows you to do this and to a spreadsheet and ask yourself one question. Do I know any of these people? Right? Because garbage in garbage stays very similar to all of those business cards. 


We collect it and the pre-pandemic world, again for our younger listeners’ business cards or these cardboard things that were yay big, and we would collect them, and they would stare at you from your desk like you haven’t called me. You haven’t followed up. Right. So we would collect these business cards right with it, the same thing with LinkedIn contacts. Yeah. And yet I would submit to you if you export that list if you look at that spreadsheet. I’m actually on a pruning exercise because this isn’t a judgment call. And here’s my, again, me looking in the mirror, if I haven’t added value to you, if I haven’t materially impacted your life, your work, I’m removing that connection because I want to focus on fewer, but more authentic, more real, more impactful relationships. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Nurturing Relationships in the North Forum


So, very quickly on your kind comment about our community, it’s called the North Forum. It is a private online community we’ve developed. And I tell people it’s free. But the professionals that I’m inviting are like-minded professionals passionate about strategic relationships, visual storytelling, and this idea of personal re-invention. And we’re about, we’re about 1500 strong. And I’d tell him this is where you build. You put up a headshot and build a BYO and I’m con I’m there every day. And I’m introducing very different parts of my world. 


And I’m blessed that it’s a global community, and we have 20-some-odd groups and it’s a really rich, healthy debate. This is not a political statement, but I grew up in the Reagan and Tip O’Neill days. We practice civil discourse like you and I may not agree, but that doesn’t make you or me evil. That is not right. So this black or white I think, is dangerous. so figuring out how can we work together, figuring out how can we move ideas forward? And I’ve always believed a certain dose of respectful pushback is healthy for every relationship. 


So what I’m trying to do with no more forums is what I’ve seen is people don’t want to have these conversations on Facebook or LinkedIn. And I certainly don’t want those environments telling me what I can and can do with my relationships. So if I build a private community, whether by the way, there’s just, there’s, there’s a community. Decorum is the set of rules and expectations of being nice. Life is too short to be around jerks; be nice. And I have no problem, respectfully, if you come to my house and you’re rude. I’m out to politely ask you to leave. You’ll come to my community and do the same. I’m going to, I’m going to do the same thing, right? So, these are just examples of practicing what I deeply believe in. 


These are aligned with, with kind of my values and the things that I want, the relationships I want to invest in and nurture. I love you and this because not only did you introduce us to it, but you also framed up the strategy behind it, the result or outcome, and what you’re trying to create. Also, you are the curator, and you’re providing content and doing a lot of match-making and introductions. The members themselves are also very participatory in making the strength of that community, the strength. So that’s really amazing. I love how you mentioned about 100 to 150 relationships and our human capacity as, and referring back to my notes here, human capacity, a hundred to 150 relationships. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Quality Over Quantity


Cause when we sit down in chat with business owners about having, let’s call it a dream list of 25 prospects, we oftentimes get pushed back of, oh gosh, there’s gonna be more, what if we had a list of a thousand? Well, what if you did have a list of a thousand, then it’s not. That’s not truly adhering to relationship economics really, right? You’re playing the numbers game, and that may work, and in a slot machine or a Vegas I don’t want to play roulette my relationships, right? This is a game. This is the investment of time and effort, resources. And again, think about this pandemic. So, I like what I call the elevator ride for the audience. 


I think the theoretical construct is important, but at some point, we better talk about application case studies and examples. Sure. And the implementation, right? What does that mean to me? How do I apply this? So, at the onset of this pandemic, one of the first things I did was make a list of my top 100 business relationships. And I started picking up the phone, and I called them not to sell them anything but just ask, how are you doing? And what are you seeing what are you hearing, and what are you doing differently? And tell me about your daily huddles. And that’s interesting. So you’re telling me the supply shock just became a demand shock. And wait, the last time I checked, I didn’t know of an organization that can cut its way to growth. 


So beyond the defensive posture, tell me about your prudent offensive Batts and wait. So you’re the second largest wine producer in us, and your restaurant business has been decimated, but your retail is up 36%. I know I contributed to half of your annual revenues last year with all the wine that I drank. Where’s that coming from? Right? So if you have a diverse portfolio of relationships, yeah. You get very different perspectives on that exact same scenario. And you start to see the delineation between those who proactively invested in their relationships. 


Those that maneuver right maneuverability. Oh My Lord. Maneuverability became a superpower through this pandemic. By the way, a lot easier for you to maneuver if you have a strong balance sheet. So, how prepared were you? None of us can predict any of this. So, how prepared were you in advance? Number two labor flex. We hired Susan to be our events manager. Nobody’s having events. Let’s upskill and redeploy as shoes to support our customer success area. And by the way, our value was previously delivered through physical proximity. We’re not going to get together anytime soon. So, let’s maneuver that capability to a digital one. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: The Impact of Strategic Investments


And now you suddenly have, I have clients that beyond the lives and the livelihoods that this pandemic impacted, they some of the best years, this past year, revenue’s up expenses down, right? We’re not one client in a six-story. The building has not been renewed, did not renew five, have the six stories ’cause we figured out. Instead, we reinvested that into reconfiguring our current office, outfitting everybody with great technology and let’s not have them commute in for an hour and a half. Let’s not have them, right? 


So, the maneuverability became really impactful. Those investments, those offensive investments, those prudent bets became really impactful. Not only they had a great 2020, some of them have had a great first and leading up to a great second quarter of 21. Yes, they’re coming back roaring. ’cause the relationship investments they made both pre and during this pandemic, they made progress in decisions. What I love about the 100 calls that you made, I keep using the word love. That’s not intentional. It just gets, you want to say bromance going, I get it. I get it’s the mutual admiration society. 


There we go. That’s a good way to say it. A mutual admiration, the picking up the phone and calling. So not only are you demonstrating care and investing in the relationship and being helpful, but you are also collecting a lot of great data and right. So after a phone call one, two, three, four, five, you’re even more smarter, more smarter, more smart in the trenches. So on calls 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, you can add another level of value because of the calls that you just made. And so each of those experiences gets richer and deeper and more helpful to both you and the person on the other end. Would you agree? 


Yes. And when you do build on that idea, I’ve always said that the more diverse your portfolio has relationships, the broader, your influence and impact footprint. Let me say it again, more diverse. Your portfolio has relationships, the more diverse the buckets. So I’m still in touch with people that went to undergrad and grad school with, and I’ve got clients that, or manufacturing and professional services and retail. And so if you can diversify your portfolio of relationships in these different buckets, the broader, both your influence and impact potential possibilities. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: The Power of Hybrid Relationships


So, one of the incredible benefits of hybrid relationships is that heighten your intellectual curiosity. So I heard from one executive who happens to me, the manufacturing space that they figured out that they literally completely eliminated their lobby and they put UV lighting. And now everybody passes through gets kind of checked fantastic, and right, they get sanitized then, right? They go in, and they’ve hired. This is fascinating to me. They’ve hired a physician and nurse and the physician’s practitioner the whole time. And they’re putting a clinic on their own facility. 


Wow. And they used to have 2000 people come into this building. Every day I was talking to the CEO. He said, during the height of the pandemic, I’m looking at a parking lot. I can see about 10 cars. Realistically. I don’t envision more than 600 people, 800 people because you can’t virtually do manufacturing, right? So six to 800 people are going to keep coming in. So the insights I’ve gathered exactly what you said, the insights I’m gathering from that conversation. Right? Heightened my curiosity of, huh? I wonder what these other client and professional services that had teams going out all over the country to their client offices are doing? 


Right. So it sharpens the questions that I ask. And I’ve always believed if you want richer relationships have better conversations. If you want better conversations, ask better questions. Absolutely. The questions you asked, the quality, and the questions you ask often convey your credibility, and they demonstrate not just intellectual horsepower but also exactly what you said. Real empathy is needed because your relationships need to feel a vested interest in their success in not just a transaction but also their well-being in their success and in their long-term viability. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: The Art of Asking Great Questions


And again, when you demonstrate that this cannot be told in a tweet, this is not a LinkedIn post. They have to feel the investment of time, effort, resources, questions, and conversations by you and them. And the only, when they recognize that value, that investment, well, you have benefited from that relationship currency deposit. And this is what I believe again, will set many professionals apart from their peers. So, asking great questions and having conversations, let’s think about that. 


Let’s go back to the skillset. When you mentioned mindset and skillset tool set, would you put questions in conversation? Like, is that the skillset buckets unequivocal? Yes. And equivocally. Yes. By the way, the older we get, the more seasoned we get, the more we know, the more we have this compelling need to tell people, not just by I just, my teenager was, let me tell you how this should be done. Brilliant curve, a brilliant strategic relationship in my own life gave me this advice years ago. Hmm. Do you remember Columbia? I’ve been dating myself for Onward Nation. 


I’m dating myself. If you remember Colombo, oh, by the seventies, that’s right. Seventies, detective series, by the way, for the rest of you, you can also still look on YouTube, right? He was in the sharpest tool and the shed. But before I go, I just have one more question and he’s always got his man or a good litigation attorney, never ask questions. They don’t have the answers. Two, you want better answers. If you want better conversations, ask better questions. And I pride myself and my coaching. I was talking to an executive at 10 o’clock last night. And it says my text above, by the way, this is an example of real, hopefully meaningful relationships. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: The Art of Listening and Asking


Right. I do a lot of executive coaching and I got a text message of a problem. Can you talk either tonight or tomorrow? I’m like, absolutely. And it was around dinner time say, show what time’s good for you tonight. And because I also believe in immediacy, right? Don’t wait till tomorrow when he can solve that today, write. So I said what’s and you want to talk, w we ended up talking at 10 o’clock last night and he’s got a talent issue, which increasingly is becoming more prevalent in the world all around us. And it describes the scenario. And it would be very easy for me to just tell them what to do. And I love asking that’s interesting. And that scenario, what do you believe would be the prudent course of action? 


And you just be quiet and it’s amazing. He knew what the answer was. He knew what you should do. He knew what the next step should be. And my role becomes that of a sharper. He wants to go to Everest. He knows whatever it is. He knows how to climb. He’s got the equipment, but the reason people hire Sherpas is that I know the best path, I know where the oxygen should be stored. I know when not to ascend, when to descend and you have a significantly better chance of getting to the summit with my help than without me. 


So that’s the mindset you need to embrace with your relationships. How can I ensure they’re better off because of one of the relationship together, and if you believe in that supposition, your best path forward is typically the quality of the questions you ask that enrich a conversation. And that is super helpful. If questions and conversation or part of the skill set, what else is in that category? Listen louder. Okay. Take the initiative, and bring digital growth and digital and an entrepreneurial set of skills to the table. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: From Obstacles to Opportunities


Again, I wrote in the most recent book, 15 Forces that I believe will continue to disrupt the way we work, the way we live, the way we play and the way we give to others. And one of those, his grit and Duckworth in his seminal work wrote the book, talks about perseverance meets passion. And in my research, I learned about guy named Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe, if you never heard of him was a 1912 Olympian. One of the most you can look them up and Google, if you just search or Jim Thorpe. I looked for the images. One of the most famous pictures of him, or it looks like he’s wearing two different colored socks. 


And if you read the story of the day, in some of his Olympic races, his track shoes or stolen, and he digs through garbage and finds two of them or different size shoes, and to run his race, he wears an extra pair of socks and he won two gold Olympic medals that day. Wow. Well, how many people do you and I meet who use PowerPoint as a crutch, by the way, those who heavily rely on PowerPoint neither? So do you let obstacles get in your way, or do you find you create opportunities? 


Do you take that initiative to you? Right. That’s a skill set that your relationships will materially benefit from follow through instead of following follow through is a process follow up as a transaction. I read some frightening statistics that less than 40% of our you sitting down or sales professionals never follow you. And so follow up his leave. And did you get that? Okay, great. Thanks. Highly transactional. Follow through. Did you get it? Did you have a chance to look at it? What is it that you’re looking for? How else can I add value to Dad? You had requested that item from me, right? 


Because nobody asks for anything and they’re bored. They’re trying to solve a problem. And if you do you get beyond that PDF or get beyond that email or get beyond that transactional event and really dig into not just what they’re trying to do, but why they’re doing it. Now, you are embracing this idea of following through, which is a process all or to the end result, the outcome, which thereafter would you argue that? Or maybe you agree that the 40%, which is a staggering number by the way, is because the typical salesperson is focused on 1,002, 3000 whatever number it is, as opposed to the 100 or less and deeper relations on equivocally. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Rethinking High Potential Programs


Yes, I got it. I’m baffled. I had a conversation with the CEO of the day. We have identified 135 individuals as their high performers and high potentials. Prospect’s internal inside the car, or, oh, okay. These are the important, yes. Okay. My next generation of leaders, right? 135, hold on. It gets better. It gets, by the way, this is the NASDAQ traded publicly traded multi-massive company. Right. We have identified 135 as their high potential for this next generation or emerging leader program. Wow. I asked the simple question of how you define high potential. 


Oh no. According to that definition, I came up with 35 max, but it’s one example of exactly what you said for whatever reason, whether it’s the sales professional or the management ranks are executives. We are enamored with bigger numbers. Yeah. And we care more about how many versus how well, so you’re exactly right. A big reason, not just as sales professionals, but most people don’t follow through with their relationships is I’m too busy. You know what that says? That relationship is not important enough because if my wife tells me that I have to be out of the kid’s school this afternoon at three o’clock guess where I am this afternoon at three o’clock, or we make time for things that are important. 


And if you’ve got too many, you’ve got too much on your plate again, hashtag crazy talk. This might be a good opportunity to prune. This has been such a great conversation, David. 


I’m very grateful for one, you saying yes. In to your generosity a while you are here. And I know that we’re quickly running out of time. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.


Choosing the Right Relationship: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with David


Before we go before we close out and say goodbye, I know we covered a lot, but any final advice that you’d like to share, and then please do tell Onward Nation business owners is the best way to connect with you. 


Sure. So I would submit beyond your educational foundation, beyond your professional pedigree, I’m going to circle this back to the way you were kind enough to open this conversation. 


Your biggest asset is your portfolio of relationships. And I would submit in the face of constant and continuous disruption. All of our research shows we will get more disruption in the next decade than we’ve ever seen. Stephen for your audience. I recently saw a demonstration of an AI ML engine. That’s scanned and analyzed 10,000 sheets of documents in eight seconds. Oh my God. And that’s not Jetsons that he’s here now happening. So, in the face of constant disruption, the quality of diversity and the depth of relevance of the relationships you build will absolutely set you apart. 


So I’d love to get to know your audience best way to find me is just out of our website, I’m over the moon to re-release my 11th book called Curve Benders. And I often say relationship economics, cocreate and curve benders, or my Star Wars trilogy. So excited about this brand new book over four years of research is at the intersection of the future of work or strategic relationships and this idea of personal reinvention. So, there’s a blog on his podcast is –- or north forum community come join us, come join our movement com continue the conversation as amazing. 


Oh, okay. Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often do you go back and relisten to David’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do the key is you have to take what he so generously shared with you, take it and apply it and be better for it. And you will accelerate your results. And David, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And I am grateful again, that you said yes to come on to the show and to be our mentor and our guide to help us move our businesses Onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. Thanks for having me. 


This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more food. If you and your ambition continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


Elevate your insights into why choosing the right relationship is essential in today’s business.

Fill Your Sales Pipeline Q&A

LIVE Wednesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern / 12 Noon Central

Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

Follow Us