Rahaf Harfoush

Is the pursuit of productivity consuming us? Are we losing sight of what we set out to do?

New York Times Bestselling Co-author of The Decoded Company

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Rahaf Harfoush | New York Times Bestselling Co-author of The Decoded Company
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Rahaf Harfoush is a Digital Innovation & Foresight Strategist who has a deep passion for exploring how technology is affecting the way we communicate, work, and play. The co-author of New York Times bestseller The Decoded Company—the first book on big data in the workplace—she connects business leaders to the latest global foresight trends and offers a unique approach to digital strategy, ideation, and innovation. 

Rahaf Harfoush is the co-founder of Red Thread Inc, a consulting agency that provides clients with out-of-the-box thinking to tackle strategic challenges. Formerly, she was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Programme at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland where she researched and identified start-ups that were using technology to improve the state of the world. Harfoush was responsible for managing the Web & IT category of the programme and in integrating the companies within her portfolio into the Forum's global network, various initiatives and regional events, such as Davos, the Annual Meeting in Switzerland, and the Annual Meeting of New Champions in China. As a highly sought-after keynote speaker, Harfoush has delivered presentations across the globe. She is also an in-demand moderator and Master of Ceremonies for panels and events.


Harfoush is a Global Ambassador for the Sandbox Network, a community of exceptional entrepreneurs under the age of 30. She is on the Board of Directors of Taking IT Global, a non-profit that enables the world's largest community of youth to create positive changes in their cities. She is also on the Advisory Board of OneLeap.to, a site that helps connect young people to business leaders. 


“The Obama 2008 campaign is the best marketing campaign I have seen globally in over 25 years. Rahaf gives a fresh and informed insider’s view of what really made it such a spectacular success.”

— Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman & CEO OgilvyOne Worldwide, on Yes We Did!

In August 2008, she joined Barack Obama's New Media Team at the Chicago headquarters as a full-time volunteer during the Presidential election campaign. In 2009, she published a book about her experiences titled Yes We Did! An Insider’s Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand. She is also the co-author of New York Times bestseller and Gold Axiom Business Book Award winner The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers, which explores how big data can increase employee success and satisfaction, and encourage corporate growth. The Decoded Company was also the winner of a 2015 Axiom Business Book Award in the Business Technology category, tied with Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators. She is currently working on her third book, entitled ArchiTechs: How to Live, Work & Govern in a HyperConnected World


Harfoush was also the Research Coordinator for the best-selling Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (Tapscott 2006), and contributor to both Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World (Tapscott 2008) and Everything I Needed to Know About Business I Learned from a Canadian (Brody 2008). 

Speech Topics

Innovation & Creativity
Hustle & Float Productivity and Creativity in a Constantly Connected World

Our culture has become obsessed with hustling—with productivity. But while it’s lionized by executives, celebrities, consultants, and glossy magazines, is it actually a worthwhile goal? Or has endless productivity meant we’ve lost sight of the product? Meanwhile, as creativity continues to become just as valuable as productivity, we’re forced to do both at once, in equal measure: we must be constantly creative and constantly productive. Enter the to-do list, the life-hack, the zero-inbox mentality. And enter the endless workweek, the burn-out, and the mental breakdown.

In this timely keynote, based on her upcoming book Hustle and Float, Rahaf Harfoush reminds us that we have forgotten how to ‘float’—how to find that delicate balance between inspiration and execution. For too long, creativity and productivity have been considered essential, but unconnected. This talk helps us realize the new and unsustainable connection between these two concepts—and how large-scale work-culture and personal wellness are both jeopardized by it. It’s an essential talk to help us recharge, rebuild, and re-imagine—in both our private and professional lives.

Big Data
Big Data & Leadership Creating Meaningful Experiences with Analytics and Information

As we transition from a period of data scarcity to data abundance, the availability of nearly unlimited information is having a profound impact on how we behave as consumers and citizens. In this talk, Rahaf Harfoush explores how big data and analytics are creating new opportunities and challenges for institutions, corporations, governments, and more.

Harfoush investigates how big data has evolved into a major leadership issue: how data-abundance, hyper-personalizations, and global talent shortages have forced companies to apply data to improve performance and profitability and create happy work cultures. She shows how we can avoid information overload, and instead use data with intelligence to communicate, build our brands, and strengthen customer relationships. She demonstrates how data can be human-centric—how we can merge data with storytelling to create meaningful experiences that meet deep human desires. And she takes us beyond technology to see how ‘ArchiTechs’ are using digital tools to rebuild the world around them. Filled with practical tools and case studies, Harfoush’s talks focus on making data accessible to everyone—regardless of industry, size, technical literacy, or budget.

Digital Culture New Ways of Sharing, Learning, Healing, Ruling, and Creating Identity

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.

Business Strategy
Master Class Workshops to Transform Organizations and Unleash Potential

Delving deeper into the content of her keynotes, Rahaf Harfoush’s workshops and master classes further explore how to apply data to your organization. She outlines tangible and strategic ways to decode the real story embedded in the data trail that follows every person and every project we work on. Rather than treating your employees as interchangeable resources, you’ll learn how to apply a combination of self-reported and ambient data to develop a ‘sixth sense’ about your people.

In classes like “Elements for a Great Digital Strategy,” “Digital Reputation in Today’s Connected World,” “Personal Branding and Careers, 2.0,” and “The Decoded Company Workshop,” participants will gain a succinct understanding of how to:

- Customize a data-driven culture,
- Apply real time insights into training and development,
- Increase agility and speed with evidence-based decision making,
- Gain a competitive advantage over those companies using outdated management tools, and
- Maximize the potential of data in the organization.