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Rahaf Harfoush

Thriving in today’s digital economy requires identifying the hidden forces that are shaping our habits, behaviors, and beliefs.

New York Times Bestselling Co-author of The Decoded Company

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

Rahaf Harfoush is a Digital Anthropologist and bestselling author researching the impacts of emerging technologies on our society. She focuses on understanding the deep (and often hidden) behavioral shifts that are taking place within organizations and individuals as global digital infrastructures enable the unprecedented exchange of ideas, information, and opinions. She teaches “Innovation and Disruptive Business Models” at SciencePo’s Masters of Finance and Economics Program in Paris. Her third book, Hustle & Float: Reclaim Your Creativity in a World Obsessed with Work, will be released in February 2019. 

“It’s important for us to recognize that these tools we’re using have belief systems. Modern technology has become the manifestation of the things that we believe and the way that we view the world.”

— Rahaf Harfoush

Rahaf Harfoush is the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, where she leads a team of researchers in exploring the implications of the first global digital culture on how we live our lives. Harfoush is a member of the German Marshall Fund’s Young Transatlantic Network of Leader. She has been named a top future thinker by the Hay Literary Festival, and was named a Young Global Changer at the G20 Think Tank Summit. Previously, she was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Program at the World Economic Forum. 

 

Harfoush supports organizations in navigating our new constantly connected reality to strengthen their innovation, talent management, and foresight strategies as well as ensuring they are on top of the latest trends and best practices. Her clients include Starwood Capital Group, Baccarat, E&Y, Estée Lauder, L’Oreal, UNESCO, The OECD, Cross Knowledge, A1, ING Direct, EuroRSG and  more. Her other books include The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers, and Yes We Did: An Insider’s look at how Social Media Built the Obama Brand.

 

Speech Topics

Creativity
Creative-Centric Culture Mastering the Art of ‘Hustle and Float’

Our working lives are in a state of crisis. As the global economy continues to shift towards knowledge work, standardized tasks are long gone, replaced by mounting pressure to create endless ideas to stay ahead of the competition. Companies are facing tough challenges in recruiting and retaining highly-skilled creatives: an essential part of thriving in today’s business landscape. And while 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. 


With employers expecting their workforce to be endlessly innovative, the scramble to keep up with 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, armed with to-do lists, life-hacks, and inbox-zero mentalities. We’re trained to respond at a moment’s notice, manage competing priorities, and rapidly jump from task to task, trying to attain maximum efficiency while generating creative solutions with the same rigor. And when it doesn’t work as planned, we force ourselves to push through, working longer and harder to chase down the ideas that elude us. 


So what can companies do to cope? Backed with extensive research and case studies, Rahaf Harfoush 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 culture—in essence, how to manage their own ‘Hustle and Float.’

Technology
Constantly Connected The Hidden Forces Driving Our Digital Behavior

In a world of new gadgets, apps, and digital tools released on a daily, if not hourly basis, 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 Harfoush explores how technology is weaving itself into the social fabric of our lives and influencing everything we do—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 the 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, Harfoush will show you how new technologies are shaping our behaviors and creating a new cultural paradigm. With this talk, audiences will go beyond trends to develop a deep, human-centric understanding of how tech 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. 

Digital
AI, Algorithms and 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 exponentially, technology is rewriting the rules of our society. In this talk, Harfoush explores what it means to be human in a world where the features that differentiated us are now being replicated by machines. Google created AI that creates original works of art mere hours after being programmed. A Japanese AI was a finalist in a prestigious literary competition. Financial companies are investing in algorithms that can do the work of teams of analysts in mere seconds. And work is just the beginning. New technologies are redefining traditional friendships, and relationships. Research suggests that by 2050, robot sex will be more popular than its human counterpart. What do all of these changes mean for our notions of intimacy, monogamy, parenting, dating, and social interaction? 

 

In this keynote, Harfoush 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. 

Digital
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.