Rahaf Harfoush

Strategist, Digital Anthropologist, & Best Selling Author
Speaker Rahaf Harfoush
  • Focuses on how emerging technologies, digital culture, and new social norms are impacting governments, businesses, and individuals — and what these changes mean for leaders
  • Rahaf’s research centers on the human impacts of artificial intelligence, algorithms, social networks, and big data
  • Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, a think-tank and consultancy that focuses on helping organizations translate innovation trends into strategic opportunities

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Rahaf Harfoush is a Strategist, Digital Anthropologist, and New York Times Best-Selling Author who focuses on the intersections between emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture.

She is the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture and teaches “Innovation & Emerging Business Models” at Sciences Politique’s school of Management and Innovation in Paris. She is currently working on her fourth book.

Rahaf is a member of France’s National Digital Council. In 2021 she joined The Oxford Internet Institute as a Visiting Policy Fellow.

Her third book, entitled “Hustle & Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work,” was released in 2019. She has been featured by Bloomberg, The CBC, CTV, and Forbes for her work on workplace culture. It has been translated into Chinese and French.

Formerly, Rahaf was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Program at the World Economic Forum in Geneva where she helped identify disruptive-startups that were improving the state of the world.

Rahaf is the co-author of “The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know your Customers”  It was published in early 2014 and was listed on both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists. It won a 2015 Gold Axiom Award for Best Business Technology Book. The Decoded Company explores how big data is providing an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to dramatically improve their decision making, increase their performance and, most importantly, intentionally create happy and vibrant work cultures.

Her first book, “Yes We Did: An Insider’s Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand,”chronicled her experiences as a member of Barack Obama’s digital media team during the 2008 Presidential elections and explored how social networking revolutionized political campaign strategy.

In 2019, the prestigious “Les Napoleons” named Rahaf as one of the most innovative women in France. She was listed as one of the top future thinkers to shape the world by the Hay Literary Festival in 2017. Rahaf was named as a Young Global Changer by the G20 Global Think Tank Summit.  Rahaf has also been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Shaper, and by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society as a Rising Talent for her thought leadership in the fields of digital culture and technology. In 2014, Rahaf was also named as a “Canadian Arab to Watch,” by the Canadian Arab Institute. She is a member of the German Marshall Network of Transatlantic Leaders.

Rahaf’s writing has been featured in HBR, Wired, The Globe and Mail, Fast Company, Monocle, The Financial Times, Techonomy, The Next Web and many more. She is a frequent commentator on France24 and the CBC. She has been speaking about Digital Culture and Technology since 2006. 

In her spare time, Rahaf enjoys instagramming too many pictures of her dog Pixel, learning how to play the ukulele and working on her first novel.

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How burnout makes us less creative | The Way We Work

Rahaf Harfoush, Keynote Speaker

  • Flipped Keynotes & Highly Engaging Q&As – Don’t force your team to sit through another 45-minute keynote online. Rahaf offers flipped keynotes: short (10-mins or less) pre-recorded custom videos designed to be shared ahead of time, so people can watch it when it most makes sense with their schedule. This is followed by an engaging and interactive Q&A to ensure your most relevant questions are addressed. Use of polls, chat, and other tools ensure continued engagement.
  • Workshops – Sometimes a keynote isn’t enough. Rahaf’s online workshops are designed to help teams foster connection and discuss insights even while working apart. Using a mix of breakout rooms, group discussions, and self-reflection, audiences will collaborate together to create a plan of action around creating an innovative-centric culture, ensuring clarity in digital communications, or understanding emerging trends.
  • Digital Safaris – It’s one thing to tell someone about a trend, but it’s another thing to have them experience it first hand. Are you curious about the Dark Web? Tiktok? Clubhouse? Niche Internet Communities? Join Rahaf on an interactive and custom virtual tour of the web. Explore up and coming influencers, see the latest trends taking over TikTok, decode viral memes and more.
  • Clubhouse – Have you heard of the invite-only social audio drop-in app that everyone’s buzzing about? Rahaf is offering moderated panels, Q&As and discussions. She has previously co-hosted Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Kim Scott, and led discussions with thousands of listeners in the audience.

The Creatives-Centric Culture: Mastering the Art of the Hustle & Float

Our modern day working life is in a state of crisis. As the global economy continues to shift towards knowledge work, the days of standardized tasks are long gone, replaced by the mounting pressure to come up with endless ideas to stay ahead of the competition. Companies are facing immediate challenges in recruiting and retaining highly skilled creatives, an essential part of thriving in today’s hyper competitive business landscape. In addition to the pressure of being connected 24/7, employees are struggling to be to be both constantly creative and constantly productive to keep up with the never-ending demands of their jobs – and it’s not working.

The dilemma is this: Where employers once prioritized productivity as the ideal employee trait, they now expect their workforce to be endlessly creative and innovative as well. The scramble to keep up with the expectation of a never-ending stream of creative output has resulted in a culture that is obsessed with hustling. In the rush to boost performance, we have become over-worked, over-scheduled and overwhelmed. We come to work armed with to-do lists, life-hacks and inbox-zero mentalities. We are trained to respond at a moment’s notice, manage competing priorities and rapidly jump from task to task. We focus on attaining maximum efficiency while trying to generate creative solutions with the same rigor as completing our tasks. And when it doesn’t work as planned we force ourselves to push through, to work longer and harder to chase down the ideas that seem to elude us.

What can companies do to cope?

Backed with extensive research and case studies, Rahaf pushes past common solutions to these problems to tackle the deeper cultural questions. From the dark side of the American Dream to the idolization of entrepreneurship culture in the media, audiences will uncover the hidden forces influencing our beliefs about work and learn practical tips to making impactful and long-lasting changes to their organizational culture and how to manage their own Hustle and Float.

Digital Culture

We’re now seeing the rise of the world’s first global digital culture—a place where ideas and cultures mix seamlessly, unrestricted by geography or borders. We now enjoy new ways of coming together, forming geo-agnostic communities united by an Internet connection and a common interest.

In customizable talks, Harfoush covers the full scope of digital culture. She speaks on innovative cities: how digital culture allows us to connect, report problems, and create real-life benefits for all citizens. She describes how digital culture shapes our behavior and responses during times of crisis. She explores how we might map intimacy and engagement across diverse digital communities. Moving from transparency and disruption in healthcare to digital leaks, cyber security, and social media activism in the world of politics, or from real-world risks and rewards of having an ‘e-identity’ to the potential for digital culture to revolutionize education, Harfoush is our plugged-in guide to how emerging technology is re-writing the rules of culture, and power.

Constantly Connected: The Hidden Forces Driving our Digital Behavior

In a world where there seems to be new gadgets, apps, and digital tools released daily (if not hourly), it’s easy to get lost in the flood of new technology and overlook how quickly, and profoundly our world is changing. In this unique talk, Rahaf explores how technology is weaving itself into the social fabric of our lives and influencing everything from how we make friends and date to how we work and parent. Welcome to the age of unprecedented technological intimacy.

Harfoush reveals how our educational system predisposes us to information overload, how the algorithms that control our social networks can impact our world views, and how the rise of first global digital culture is creating new alliances that threaten the status quo of business, politics, and our own daily lives. Packed with fascinating case studies, Rahaf will show you how new technologies are shaping our behaviors and creating a new cultural paradigm. With this talk, audiences will go beyond the trend to develop a deep, human-centric understanding of how technology is changing our relationship with the world, and will learn five key questions to ask when trying to make sense of our new constantly connected lives. 

AI, Algorithms & Automation: The Role of Humans in the Digital Revolution

Should we tax robots? What if my child’s best friend is a chat bot? What does an algorithm ethicist do? Do smart machines need therapy?

We are on the verge of one of the biggest technological disruptions our species has ever faced. As automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence continue to advance at an exponential rate, technology is rewriting the rules of our society that have served us for decades. In this talk, Rahaf explores what it means to be human in world where the features that differentiated us are now being replicated by machines. Google created an AI that started creating original works of art mere hours after it was programmed. A Japanese AI was a finalize in a prestigious literary competition. Financial companies are investing in algorithms that can do the work of teams of analyst in mere seconds. Work is only the beginning. New technologies are redefining traditional friendships, and relationships. Research suggests that by 2050 robot sex will be more popular than it’s human counterpart. What do all of these changes mean for our notions of intimacy, monogamy, parenting, dating, and social interaction?

In this keynote, Rahaf dives into some of the ethical, cultural, and social questions that surround these technological advancements showing both the promise and peril of living in a constantly connected society.

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