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  • Writer's pictureSabatigo Disruption Guides

Dr. Natalie Nixon is the C-Suite's Creativity Whisperer. On Sabatigo, She'll Be Yours.

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

There may be a stage big enough to honor the grace and power of Dr. Natalie Nixon, but we haven't found it. The TEDx theaters have given it a go. Forbes' prestigious Editorial Council has, too. So have the Ivy League lecture halls and celebrated keynotes where she gut-punches students and clients alike with that most special of all discourses: a stream of innate genius pure enough to bottle and provocative enough to launch books and articles read and citied around the world. Her role as Sabatigo Disruptor gives Natalie a chance to do a powerful and new version of the travel and high-impact leadership she has always loved:

I've lived in five countries, worked in dozens and taught leadership and design-thinking all over Europe with top MBA students. So my excitement to help Sabatigoers get disrupted is enormous. To use the streets, museums and gardens of Paris and Berlin to achieve high-impact change and growth for our clients will be like a dream for the professor in me. And for our lucky Sabatigoers? The two weeks with this team and our cities will be utterly life changing and mind bending.

At a moment when the 'silo-thinking" is being decried everywhere, what's so special about Natalie is that her brilliance cannot be easily categorized. Nor can her palpable warmth be missed by anyone who meets her. Sabatigoers and her fellow Disruptors will relish Natalie's rare intellect and glowing compassion during the two weeks of our Journey together. Because like the great jazz masters she loves so well, this best-selling author and celebrity speaker believes with her whole heart that what her audience is about to say matters more than whatever she just did.


Insatiable curiosity has driven Natalie from childhood. Nurtured to question the world around her by loving parents, she was brought into communion with innovation and instinct in myriad ways. But perhaps what marked her most from a young age were the stacks of old jazz records her father dug through with great intentionality during evenings at home. So that his daughter might learn what trusting in improvisational power and instinct sounded like. Dancing in a dining room with the jazz greats to drive her feet and whirl her thoughts out of the way, Natalie found her delicate footing in the sacred space of awe. And as her incredible new book The Creativity Leap shows, she is dancing like never before in the wide world of wonder.


Natalie's foundational values were laid from a quarry of hard work, keen attention to discipline and a clear-eyed understanding that only tedious and deep practice allowed the contours of perfection to take shape. She did the work. Vassar College stoked her fire to study Anthropology and engage intellectually with her identity as a black woman. Thomas Jefferson University was her springboard into the world of fashion, global business and marketing. And then London called: the University of Westminster became her intellectual hub as she mastered the science of design thinking there, earning her Ph.D.

The Leap

Life-long learners are usually natural teachers. Natalie dove into her academic career with gusto, founding the Strategic Design MBA at Thomas Jefferson University and overseeing its amazing success for five years. During her cherished time as a professor and scholar, she relished many opportunities to teach her students abroad, while also producing a huge amount of important research that leading business magazines all over the world followed with keen interest. All the while holding prestigious fellowships in Paris and London, and also teaching for a stint at Penn.

And then the moment Natalie talks to clients about happened for her. The change moment. The one that happens when things are comfortable and stable and even very exciting. The one you're met with when you look ahead in five or 10-year increments and assess how your professional life is on a safe trajectory to unfold. Do you embrace what you've built and nestle into the comfort you deserve? Or do you leap?

Figure 8

Natalie pulled the. rip cord, left the Ivory Tower and founded her juggernaut consulting company, Figure 8 Thinking LLC. And without missing a beat, she was everywhere. On LinkedIn, her voice is supportive and constant as an expert on hybrid strategy. and every aspect of top-talent leadership. Her podcast guest-appearances are just as constant and garner thousands of rapt listeners. Her books lead sales on Amazon. Her articles for INC. and Forbes are shared many thousands of times by business leaders everywhere. And her coaching practice is beyond a full-time job on its own, as C-suite leaders gravitate to the power of how she drives innovation:

I never sugar coat the hard work that has to go into greatness. The power of brilliance in its natural state is a glorious thing. The power of brilliance when it's harnessed to intention is totally different. It takes practice and confidence to toggle between wonder and rigor for any innovator. But from that purposeful back-and-forth comes the transformation and growth that drives entrepreneurship and makes greatness truly sustainable.


Wonder-Walking with Natalie is going to engage and even amaze our lucky Sabatigoers. Will she take them to the finest houses of couture in Paris to explore the power of design thinking? Maybe: because of all our Disruptors. she is the only one who spent time in her early career working as a hat designer. Will her eloquence on rigor reach perfect flow in the sacred hallways of the the Paris design school where she herself was a Fellow just 4 years ago? Probably. Then will she literally lead a leadership session under ground, in the tiny Left Bank jazz-club-in-a-cave, where all of her father's idols had their storied debuts on European soil? Absolutely, because there she can deliver the goods on improvisation with her whole heart, and channel the energy of everyone she admires who has already owned this special stage.

Meanwhile in Berlin, Natalie and Sabatigo Disruptor Doug Mackaman will team-up to Wonder-Walk through the city's horrible Nazi past, examining how business, fashion, design and art were all totally implicated in how Hitler came to power and what he did when he had it. Questions will fly on this special exploration: What became of ethics and integrity? What happened to conviction and humanity? How are our own times marked by challenges around race and power that we need to stand up for?

When I imagine how it will be for our clients to walk in these places and see what business leaders failed to stop, I have no words. When I think of us being together in the exact conference room where the go-ahead was given to launch the Holocaust, I believe we will achieve indelible impact. Many assumption held by our Sabatigoers will be disrupted. Their own purposefulness, intentionality and commitment to ethics will gain a forever girding. Full stop.

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