The following is a conversation between pioneering media executive, Nusrat Durrani, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.
Denver: I have the great pleasure to bring you change makers each week who strive to create social good around issues such as poverty, gender equity, hunger, education, and disease. Tonight, you’ll meet someone who looks at these issues from a slightly different and very interesting perspective. He is Nusrat Durrani, a pioneering media executive, creator of some of MTV’s most iconic programs, and champion of radical change for social impact. Good evening, Nusrat, and welcome to The Business of Giving.
Nusrat: Thank you so much, Denver. I’m delighted to be here.
Denver: Let’s start with MTV because it is so central to what has become your life’s work, and because your journey there was so unusual and interesting. How did it come to pass?
Nusrat: I’ve been a fan of music all my life, in fact, and I grew up listening to rock & roll in India. But actually, we never had MTV in India when I was growing up, and I encountered MTV in, of all places, Dubai in the Middle East in the ‘90s when they had just launched a feed for that region. The moment I watched the channel on television, I was hypnotized. That’s where my fascination for the brand began.
Denver: So much so that you actually came to New York looking for work.
Nusrat: Exactly. I had this fantasy that I would walk into the MTV office, and they would instantly hire me, and then the rest would be history. But of course, I was rejected and heartbroken. They very politely declined my offer to work for them. I had to go back.
Denver: They declined again.
Nusrat: Indeed. I kept at it. Indeed, I actually got on a flight from Dubai and came to New York, and decided that I won’t actually give up until I was hired. I had no Plan B. Eventually, they did hire me. As an intern. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve actually ever made in my life. To be at that point in my career which was: I 35 years old, and I’d had a full-fledged, had a really interesting career up to that point in the automobile business. Then, there I am starting as an intern for MTV. It was just bizarre.
What disappointed me about the company was that they were incredibly American-centric in their programming. Even though we were an international brand, it was really American culture being pumped into all these other countries.
On MTV in the US, there wasn’t a whole lot of the world… the world of global pop music on that channel, and that was always disappointing. It was also disappointing to know that somebody like me who came from the outside wasn’t expected to know anything, to know about American pop music.
Denver: Well, you did a good job there. They eventually hired you. I think if there was a pivotal moment in your career, it was when you were at a meeting in 1997, and you spoke up. Tell us about that and what occurred.
Nusrat: For me, MTV was a culture shock, as was New York City, to be honest. I had a fairly sophisticated idea of the US, of New York, and of MTV because I had read everything about it before I even set foot inside their offices. What disappointed me about the company was that they were incredibly American-centric in their programming. Even though we were an international brand, it was really American culture being pumped into all these other countries.
On MTV in the US, there wasn’t a whole lot of the world… the world of global pop music on that channel, and that was always disappointing. It was also disappointing to know that somebody like me who came from the outside wasn’t expected to know anything to know about American pop music. That to me was a revelation. I didn’t say a word. Also because my personality was very reticent and very reserved.
Obviously, media in New York City is dominated by type A, really aggressive personalities. There I was, this guy who had been trained in a very Japanese environment, just politely listening to the discourse and never saying anything. Until there came a point, this point that you were talking about, that we were in a meeting, brainstorming movies that rock. The subject of Bob Dylan films came up.
Denver: One of your twin gods, along with David Bowie.
Nusrat: Dylan is an icon to me and still is. I thought I knew everything about him. When it came to questions about Dylan movies, I couldn’t resist. I just had to speak up and propose a film. As soon as I did that, there was this pin-drop silence in the room, like there was a chill that came over the room. I couldn’t understand what I said wrong. But the fact is, I realized later on was that it wasn’t that I said anything wrong. It was that I said anything at all. I wasn’t supposed to know anything about Bob Dylan. I thought that that was a pivotal moment in my career, but also in my journey as a US citizen. If you’re from India, you’re not supposed to know anything about American pop music, and nothing could be more ridiculous.
I think it’s tragic on many levels. I think it’s tragic because there is a lot to be learned from the rest of the world, obviously. We have exported our ideas, our technologies, our philosophies, our pop culture to the rest of the world. And we had the opportunity to bring some of that back from the countries that we were engaging with, and we’ve done a pretty bad job of that. I view that as a very imperialistic approach to engaging with the world… So, we are really the losers in that.
Denver: That’s certainly the case.
Let’s get back a little bit to that and also what you said about coming to MTV. This limited knowledge that Americans have of the rest of the world; I know that you were both surprised by it and also probably a little disappointed in it– to the extent that what does exist is very one-dimensional. It’s what we see on CNN or MSNBC, and we paint these countries with one brush. What do you think about the impact of that on a society?
Nusrat: I think it’s tragic on many levels. I think it’s tragic because there is a lot to be learned from the rest of the world, obviously. We have exported our ideas, our technologies, our philosophies, our pop culture to the rest of the world. And we had the opportunity to bring some of that back from the countries that we were engaging with, and we’ve done a pretty bad job of that. I view that as a very imperialistic approach to engaging with the world. It’s no different from when we were invading these countries and plundering them. I think that we’ve been doing that with our pop culture, never really creating a two-way conversation and bringing culture back, bringing ideas back into this country. So, we are really the losers in that.
If we had done a better job of that, I think we may have found the world to be a less turbulent place because we had a better understanding of it. We would understand China differently. We would understand India, the Middle East very differently. We would understand Latin America very differently. We have no idea about really what happens in these countries. To some extent actually, it’s beneficial in a very evil way to not give Americans a more sophisticated understanding of these countries. For instance, Yemen is a tragic place these days, right, partly because we are engaged.
We are responsible for a lot of the violence, a lot of innocent people dying there. If the average American was actually given to understand what is happening there and why it’s happening, and on a human level, you got to know the young Yemeni children that are dying of hunger, starvation, and disease…. You got to know the teenagers that are frustrated…. You got to know parents who are losing their children… I think we would be less supportive about what is happening there. Same thing with Afghanistan. Same thing with any of these countries that in the abstract, it’s okay for us to bomb and to do whatever we want to them because we don’t see them as human. We don’t see them.
When human beings start getting involved in stories, that’s when it becomes harder to be ignorant about the tragedies that we bestow upon them. A lot of my work at MTV has actually been about demystifying and making human many of the countries that are in turbulence.
Denver: Some of this calculus is crazy. You take Khashoggi. The focus we have on Khashoggi compared to, let’s say, the bus of boys that was blown up in Yemen is completely out of proportion. And then, what we’re thinking about doing because of what happened to Khashoggi, is stop supporting the bombing of Yemen. Who can follow this logic?
Nusrat: It’s mind-boggling. Actually the Khashoggi example is a really good one. The reason I think that that story has so much traction is because it’s a story about an individual that we know something about. We can relate to that story. This is a man who used to work in DC. He’s a journalist. He’s trying to get married to somebody. He is going to the Saudi Embassy to get his papers, and all that. It’s a human story. When human beings start getting involved in stories, that’s when it becomes harder to be ignorant about the tragedies that we bestow upon them. A lot of my work at MTV has actually been about demystifying and making human many of the countries that are in turbulence.
We have actually reduced entire countries, entire cultures to one stereotypical explanation. Iran is the axis of evil. Nothing could be further than the truth. Iran is not the axis of evil.
Denver: I think you’re absolutely right. If a million people are starving from famine, we don’t really relate to that the way we can relate to one person who was doing that, and that’s just the way our brain works.
These are the other voices that you’re talking about, and you have really been a champion of those other voices from other countries, particularly the youth who are fighting oppression and injustice, but also have joys and dreams of their own. And an enterprise that you are a big advocate for and launched at MTV– with a little bit of sweat equity to get it done from the executives there– was something called Rebel Music. Tell us about Rebel Music.
Nusrat: Rebel Music to me was born out of my observation and also my research with the US audiences and obviously being engaged in media, my observation about mainstream media in the US. What an appalling and pathetic job we do of explaining the world to Americans. If you ask the average person, “What do you think of Afghanistan? What is Afghanistan?” “It’s Taliban, it’s misogyny, it’s violence. Our troops are there. Are they with us or not with us?” That kind of stuff. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, like any other country, is no different from ours in some regards. It has a relatively young population. These young people have dreams and ambitions, and they like music, and they like food, and they ride motorcycles, and they have very bad Death Metal bands and stuff like that. There are human beings living in Afghanistan. You take any country that is turbulent and in the news, whether it’s Egypt or Iran or Turkey or Yemen. Argentina; same thing.
Denver: One soundbite, and that’s it.
Nusrat: That’s right. We have actually reduced entire countries, entire cultures to one stereotypical explanation. Iran is the axis of evil. Nothing could be further than the truth. Iran is not the axis of evil.
Denver: One of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
Nusrat: Amazing culture. Maybe we don’t like their politics, but that’s a handful of people. It does not constitute the entire civilization. The point of Rebel Music was to present young musicians and activists in those countries and really showcase the oppression and injustices that they themselves are fighting and really re-cast those countries in a completely new light. I was told by a lot of folks within MTV and elsewhere, that it’s a complete disaster. This is never going to work. Nobody cares. Young people in the US don’t care about what’s happening in Afghanistan or Iran, and I found that nothing could be further from the truth than that.
It’s all about how we present those stories and what we say about those countries. Case in point is Rebel Music Native America which is about our country. By the way, it was very hard for me to produce that authentically because the Native American people are so sick and tired of being stereotyped and dismissed in this country; they were very reluctant to work with us because they thought, “Here comes MTV! They’re just going to do as poor a job as everyone else in telling our stories.” And it was only after I was able to convince them that, “No, You will be telling your own stories. We’re here just to be bring our platform to you.” Then they agreed. And of course, we got amazing stories.
Denver: Amazing response as well. You just broke the charts on that one.
Let me ask you a little bit about collaboration because that was a tough collaboration. It took you about a year and half. Any secrets on collaboration? How did you bring that together?
Nusrat: It took a long time. We tried many things. We created an advisory council of only native people– the elders, the young people, lots of people from across the community. I actually had to beg them: “ I beg you to help me with this because I’m trying to do the right thing. I am trying to have America take a look at what young native people are.” It’s only after I assured them that I would not mess with the stories that they said: “Okay. We’ll open up the community.” Once they did that, we were exposed to incredible artists. We let the artists basically tell their stories, and their stories are amazing. It’s like as Frank Waln, who is a hip-hop act from South Dakota says, “We shouldn’t be waiting for the world to come and tell our stories. We’re going to do that ourselves.” They are changing their narrative. It’s very empowering.
Denver: Building trust takes some time. You can’t rush it. That’s exactly what you did.
Another side of this, another side of giving voice to the voiceless is to broaden our understanding and appreciation of areas that go beyond the way they are depicted in the media. As you have said for example, fashion is essentially a thin, white girl. That’s it. That would also be true with the portrayal of love. Speak to that and your work in that area.
Nusrat: As you said, I think in any segment of pop culture or in the world of relationships, I think that there’s a continuum of realities. There isn’t only the one thing. The thin, white girl that you’re talking about, it’s a western construct. In fact, where I grew up, voluptuous women were the standard of beauty because our goddess system, based upon the female body, is very different. It’s only a western construct. If you take Africa, what Africans think is beautiful, whether it be men or women, very different. I think in general, the idea here is that we have allowed the western ideals; by the way, these ideals are often architected or constructed by a handful of people. Conde Nast decides… or whichever group… what is considered beautiful, and I think that is completely and totally unfair.
It’s the truth. I think it’s completely and totally unfair because there are many, many ways to view beauty, and I think that that in the same way that, as you were talking about– love– there is more than one love story. I think that what I’ve tried to do in some of my work is to really expand and to widen our aperture of love itself and not regurgitate the same story again and again.
I made a film called Madly, which is an anthology of short films about relatively unusual love stories, if you will, from different parts of the world. It’s almost like a state of union of love at that point. We had a story about an older woman in love with a younger man. We had a story about a love gone wrong between an older man and a younger woman. We had a story about a woman’s very almost like apprehensive and tender and uncertain love for a newborn baby. Things like that. It turned out to be quite interesting. The film won the Best Actress Award at Tribeca. It really was a mosaic of love stories from around the world. That’s not a project that you would see every day.
Denver: You do some daring stuff.
After 20 or so years, you left MTV. Once you had described it as the best job in the world, but you continue on your mission to give voice to the voiceless. To that end, you flew to Lebanon at a Syrian refugee camp to hear from a group of people we never hear from in relation to this crisis, the Syrian refugees themselves. What did you hear? What did you witness which was at odds with the prevalent narrative?
Nusrat: Basically, everything. The narrative here… this isn’t a narrative I necessarily believed. Certainly I was reading it and hearing it every single day before I went to meet the refugee community itself. The narrative is, even today, is that some of these people are terrorists. They are really out to just emigrate to the US. They want to take our jobs, things like that. It’s just this really negative poetry around what are some of the most unfortunate people in the world who really had nothing to do with the crisis that they’re living in. The Syrian refugees are not responsible for what’s happening in their country. In fact, everything they have ever had has been taken away, and they are suffering, and they have had to take these perilous journeys to actually be refugees.
Everything that I had ever heard about them is wrong: They’re bitter, angry, hostile, desperate, desperate to come to the US or to other western countries, desperate to take our jobs. All of these… absolutely untrue. We have met two or three hundred refugees; met, meaning spoken to, apart from seeing thousands of them. I didn’t meet a single refugee that said to me, “Can you please organize a way for me to go to the US?” I think if you polled the refugee community, 90% or whatever, a very high number, would say, “Please simply take us back home,” as most of us would. So, I think the narrative around refugees is really an unfortunate one, I think.
Denver: A lot of them you also found to be happy and joyous and resilient. They were not just these broken people that we sometimes believe from what we read.
Nusrat: I would argue that I think many refugees that I met were some of the most gracious, brave, hardy people that I have ever met. If I had gone through the trauma that most of them had been through, I would not have dealt with it with so much strength and grace. That’s for sure.
Denver: I think that’s very true. I have a friend in disaster relief, and he went down to Haiti, and he says, “My goodness, if what happened in Haiti happened in this country, it would be night and day. These people just roll with it. They just get themselves up in the morning and just continue on. Sometimes, we don’t have that. We’re a little softer here based on it.
How did your time there change you?
Nusrat: I have to say that, I probably… I feel a little guilty about this actually because I think that I learned more and gained more from being in the Syrian refugee camp and working with that NGO that had graciously hosted me. I think I took from them much, much more than I gave. I think that makes me feel a little bit guilty, to be honest, because they transformed me. It’s really probably one of the most important experiences of my life. If anything, if there is a way that I can equalize that, that give and take, it is to rededicate myself to doing exactly the work that I’m doing which is to be a representative, almost a voice for people you don’t hear from, and to represent their side in places where no one is representing them.
Denver: Up at the PopTech conference in Maine we were both at recently, I was very moved by a short video you showed entitled Stories I Told My Mother. Your mom is a hero to you. Tell us about her, this film, and some of the exceptional women you have encountered in your travels across the globe.
Nusrat: My mother, you’re right, my mother is my hero. Often we associate heroic people with people who’ve climbed Mount Everest or done some extraordinary things. My mother actually has done a lot of extraordinary things. In her life, she has broken the rules. She was not supposed to become the woman that she became. If not for her being so daring and so courageous, I wouldn’t be here with you. I would still be in India in Lucknow doing what most kids in Lucknow would do. Not a bad life necessarily, but not a life of adventure. Not a life of making a difference.
So, she has challenged the status quo numerous times. She has been a man and a woman also in our family. She has been probably the most selfless person that I know. She never did anything for herself. Her entire life was her family and the poor. She learned to become a doctor in her 50s. She started the first nursing home in my city. Very focused on giving subsidized care to the poor, particularly to poor women who were not in the position to have abortions or to deliver their kids or whatever. She was a pioneer in all of this.
Now, she has Alzheimer’s. She now is unfortunately in the situation that she most dreaded, which was to be entirely at the mercy of others. I think to me, that’s a very poignant and very heartbreaking fact. For me, there is nothing more holy than to do whatever I can for my mom. I do that. My elder sister really takes care of her. She is really the one bearing the brunt, the biggest responsibility of being her caretaker. But I do go and spend time with her, and I talk to her. I tell her stories which I’m not sure she is comprehending or understanding or imagining. But I am traveling a lot, and I am trying to bring to her stories that I encounter of women like herself who are incredibly courageous and brave.
So, that short film that you referenced, Denver, is a film that I made. The CEO of PopTech, Leetha, who is a friend of mine, “Hey, I want you to do something which is very authentic from your recent experience.” I really put that film together– just a very raw state of mind, and it really is a compilation of some of the more interesting stories about brave women that I’ve either met or heard of in my recent travels. It takes us from the Syrian refugee girls that I met who are joyous, beautiful creatures–really the most uplifting girls I have actually ever met. They have transformed me. Some of them have seen incredible hardship. They have seen their parents get blown up, and yet they smile. They dance, they laugh. They’re incredible.
It goes from there to a lady called Sue Austin I met in England, who is a wheelchair-bound artist. She has done this underwater ballet that you’ve got to see to believe. It’s marvelous. It’s very incredibly hard, and I met her, and Sue was just… she transformed me from what she does. She does this incredible art. If she can do what she does, I should be able to walk to the moon, literally. So empowering. There are really a lot of examples, and some… incredibly inspiring.
There’s a story of Nadia Murad, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. She survived being a sex slave for ISIS in Northern Iraq, and she lived to tell her story. Her story is one of incredible grit and determination and courage. Then it brings it to our own country where you have these women prisoners and fighting fires in California for under $2 an hour, risking their lives.
Amongst us are all these incredible women doing absolutely unbelievable things, and these are heroic and inspiring stories, and I think that we must focus more on this kind of storytelling. It’s so uplifting, and our national discourse is so depressing sometimes. Yet amongst us, we’ve got all these powerful people. So the film is really about that, and it’s told in a very stream of consciousness manner because I always try to imagine how, if at all, my mom is receiving this information and processing it, how she must imagine it. So, that’s why it’s a little abstract. It’s a little stream of consciousness.
I think one of things… first of all, to be a nonprofit is in itself an act of courage. It’s very competitive. It’s incredibly difficult. So, to be burdening them with a storytelling piece of it is also…”it’s hard enough to do fundraising and to do the work we do.”
If there is any advice, I would say that I think they need to open a different folder in the brains of the people, of the audience that they’re trying to communicate with. The thing is, most of the NGOs, nonprofits, these people doing good work, are actually trying to open the folder of compassion, the folder of empathy, the folder of mercy. There happens to be sadly an empathy fatigue. I think that we are besieged by so much fundraising, so many pleas for money, for time, for whatever, that we tend to tune out messages that are going into that folder.
Denver: I liked it. I liked the rawness of it. Let me ask you this. What advice would you have for those people leading the communication efforts of nonprofit organizations to make their work and cause more relevant and more engaging?
Nusrat: I’ve thought about this many times. I think one of the things… first of all, to be a nonprofit is in itself an act of courage. It’s very competitive. It’s incredibly difficult. So, to be burdening them with a storytelling piece of it is also: Hey, thanks for the advice, but it’s hard enough to do our fundraising and to do the work we do.
If there is any advice, I would say that I think they need to open a different folder in the brains of the people, of the audience that they’re trying to communicate with. The thing is, most of the NGOs, nonprofits, these people doing good work are actually trying to open the folder of compassion, the folder of empathy, the folder of mercy. There happens to be sadly an empathy fatigue. I think that we are besieged by so much fundraising, so many pleas for money, for time, for whatever, that we tend to tune out messages that are going into that folder.
Denver: We’re a little numbed.
Nusrat: We’re numb. There’s no question. We have only that much capacity to give. Although having said that, I will say the American people, I think, are very, very generous in general. I think most people are really good. They want to do good. But our approach has to be different. There is a formula that you will see in these fundraising videos and these messages that is quite trite. I think that we need to be really doing a lot more storytelling around individuals and not for just: “ Hey, this person has been through so much bad stuff that you should take pity on them and get some money to us.”
Rather than that, I think we should tell the human story of this person and show them in the best possible light that: Look, despite what has happened to this person or these people, look what they’ve done. Be inspired! These are not just stories of tragedy. These are stories of empowerment and inspiration! In the same way that a lot of the stories I actually talked about it in a story that I told my mother are really: I’m not asking anyone to write a check in any of those stories, but more people have actually called me and emailed me and said, “How do I actually help the Yazidi community because of what I saw?” And you didn’t see a single message about, “Hey, help this or that.” I’m just really telling a human story there. My point in short is that I think we need to approach fundraising and NGO and nonprofit work in the same way that we approach a series for Netflix, for HBO. Powerful storytelling. Elevated storytelling. Good scripts. Good cinematography. And let’s do away with the formula.
Denver: To your point and not to be crass, people want to fund winners. So, show us some winners of people who’ve come out the other end …and that is what your money will do. Not somebody who is downtrodden, and we have to help this person. Let me back a winner.
Nusrat: Absolutely. I could not agree more. We cannot relate to that being that one-dimensional, trite story.
There’s never actually been a better time for pop culture because social media, because an artist, can now really get their stuff out bypassing the traditional methodology, all of that stuff. But unfortunately, the taste makers, the big players have not, I think, expanded their toolkit, if you will. They have not diversified the playbook. In the US, you still see, for instance, the same kind of music being regurgitated time and time and time again, and it’s appalling! I think that the lack of risk taking… You simply haven’t widened the aperture, and I think that’s terrifying…
Denver: Many people, yourself included I would imagine, believe that pop culture can indeed change the world. How do you think pop culture has to change to make it more profound and meaningful for the people on the planet?
Nusrat: I think pop culture, it’s very conflicting because on the one hand, you have the numerous platforms now for pop culture. There’s never actually been a better time for pop culture because social media, because an artist can now really get their stuff out bypassing the traditional methodology, all of that stuff. But unfortunately, the taste makers, the big players have not I think expanded their toolkit, if you will. They have not diversified the playbook. In the US, you still see for instance the same kind of music being regurgitated time and time and time again, and it’s appalling! I think that the lack of risk taking…. You simply haven’t widened the aperture, and I think that’s terrifying, to me at least.
In fact, we are inspired by cultures, and we borrow from cultures without even giving credit to them. We’re big on African culture, for example. We borrow from Africa without ever bringing the artist on stage with us, without even sometimes crediting the artist whose music we’re stealing or being inspired by. I think that’s unfair. Going back to your point, I think that pop culture is profoundly important. But I think pop culture needs to be more collaborative. It needs to be open. It needs to be wide. I think most importantly, we need to stop thinking of American pop culture as being the pop culture of the world. If there was one insight I’ve gained in my more than 20 years at MTV, it’s that. That pop culture of the world is not American pop culture. It’s more than that. Each country has its own pop culture, and we should no longer by default think that our music, our artists, our genres of music or whatever should be the default for the rest of the world.
Denver: We might even enjoy a little variety. Who knows? You keep on moving. What are you currently working on now?
Nusrat: I’m working on several things. One of the things I’m working on is really bringing the focus for me back to the US, which is, I think we’re in a time and place in the US where a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror might not be a bad idea. Without revealing more detail, one of the projects I’m working on is really to articulate and tell stories of Americans that you never really hear from. Our national discourse, our storytelling is very often focused on New York, LA, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and the big cities. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is where most Americans live. Not only is the rest of the country very beautiful and very diverse, it’s also full of amazing stories– stories that are inspiring, heartbreaking, moving, tragic, uplifting; all of that. I think that it’s time to really reflect, and mine, and tell those stories. Most of my projects right now are focused on that.
Denver: That’s really great. I had Jean Case of the Case Foundation in the other day. Just to draw a little parallel to what you’re saying: In the venture capital world, 78% of venture capital goes to New York, Boston, and California, which means we have 47 states fighting over the other 22%. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense, and it’s also reflected, as you say, in the way we communicate culture and stories.
Nusrat: Absolutely. I think that when we talk about inequity, we usually talk about inequity in terms of distribution of wealth, income, access to healthcare, education… things like that. I think there is another inequity that exists in the world and the US, and that is the inequity of voice. Most of the 47 states you’re talking about simply don’t have the voice and the national discourse that they should. I think that’s terrible. It’s terrible.
People make the changes… not technology, not platforms, not algorithms. It’s intent, and intent is usually housed in a person or a set of people, and I think that we need to change our mindset, and we have to start thinking radically…
Execution is a very important thing. You could have as many thoughts as possible that are amazing and gorgeous, but if you don’t execute on them, nothing happens. I think it’s about having radical thinking that is married to beautiful execution. And I think that’s how change happens.
Denver: Let me close with this Nusrat. You have said, I think others have observed that as well, is that the pace of change in the world is happening so fast, that we need radical and not incremental change. Do you see that happening? And what do you think it’s going to take?
Nusrat: First of all, it takes people. People make the changes… not technology, not platforms, not algorithms. It’s intent, and intent is usually housed in a person or a set of people, and I think that we need to change our mindset, and we have to start thinking radically. I actually completely agree with you. But it also will require risk-taking. It will require us to be able to withstand pain because with radical change comes a lot of pain. I don’t think that you’ll ever see change occur without pain occurring. That pain is not physical pain. It’s also just discomfort. It’s a change in the way that we do things. I think most people are very uncomfortable with that kind of change. I think it has to be housed in individuals who have big, epic ideas… that are viewing the world in a very divergent manner from most other people, and then executing on these things.
Execution is a very important thing. You could have as many thoughts as possible that are amazing and gorgeous, but if you don’t execute on them, nothing happens. I think it’s about having radical thinking that is married to beautiful execution, and I think that’s how change happens.
Denver: Absolutely. Nusrat Durrani, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. Where can listeners learn more about your work or maybe even view some of it for themselves?
Nusrat: Most of my MTV work is actually available on YouTube. But also, it’s available on nusratdurrani.com, which is my website. I would be very happy if you checked it out and actually gave me feedback on it.
Denver: We’ll certainly do that. It was a real pleasure to have you on the show.
Nusrat: Thank you so much, Denver. My pleasure.
Denver: I’ll be back with more of The Business of Giving right after this.
The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter, @bizofgive on Instagram and at www.facebook.com/BusinessOfGiving