TedXArabia: An Experience Worth Spreading (Part II)

Resuming my first post of my TEDxArabia experience and the presentations after the first beak, Thamer Shaker got it off on the right foot by bringing in lots of laughter to a really serious topic with the video below. In his presentation of "Elf & Giant", he urged the youth on choosing between being elves, small and insignificant, or giants, grand and visible.

Bassam AlKharashi's Innovation Process and Hani Khojah's Innovation and Collaboration were informational and educational but not much entertaining. The Innovation Process was too technical and directed to a corporate level audience that didn't have a heavy presence at that hall. Hani Khojah's presentation depicted an innovation model which was compromised of an overlap between vision, values, operations and support where he sweetly pointed out his family as his support system.

Following those was Mohamed Al Bakri with his "Mail Man" presentation; his Young Initiative Group is a real inspiration, a group of young guys and girls helping out the world, one initiative at a time. The true inspiration about it is that they all got to know each other on Facebook and decided to collaborate... Yet another successful case on social media for social change!

And for the truest part of ideas worth spreading, comes Joshua To. Invited all the way from USA to KAUST, it was a real pleasure having him speak at TEDxArabia. He immediately got us started on an exercise of making ideas a reality by letting the entire audience write one word on a piece of paper and share it with those sitting around them until each of us had a list of 3 words. With those 3 words, real brainstorming begins to connect them into an unusual idea. His example included an AC, a box, and a flower. The idea that generated was a box attached to an AC that normally sheds enough amount of water to bring to a life a flower planted in that box. That was just a simple idea that brings great benefit to our environment. His presentation was amongst the most vivid in the event.

A couple of presentations after that, AlBara Taibah shared with us one of the topics that I always failed at... time management; apparently, as his book and presentation are titled You Can not Manage Time, and oh boy was I glad to hear that. We all struggle with time, always having lots of things to do and no time to focus on any at all. Or maybe we want to do something we really love but can't find the time in our schedule to do it. AlBara suggests that it is the human that need to be managed, not time. Your activities define the value of your time & how fast/slow your time goes. You need to change your behavior and activities if you wan't to control time. Focus on the activities that add value to your time and eliminate those that has no value to you. On a side note, I really enjoyed the graphics of his presentation. Great job on the branding!

Now this one is a little personal to me and I got a preview of it a day before the event but it was still as good as I expected: Said Baaghil's The Power of Belonging presentation. Being a branding guru, he focused on his journey of branding himself in Saudi Arabia from the moment he got here about 5 years ago. That is a personal passion of mine as I'm a great believer in personal branding and the value you can derive from it. The first highlight of his presentation that got the audience cracking up was his picture with blond hair, the way he met CEOs shocking them with an unexpected look. What better way to leave an impression than to break all pre-perceived conceptions?! 

Though what really left the crowd puzzled was Said's question: 

What will happen to the Apple brand on perception after Steve Jobs? The personal brand of Steve Jobs is Apple and Apple as a brand is Steve jobs. 

Another marketing guru is Dr. Hani Al Manii, and his presentation on Marketing Innovation shared many insights on how to spread the word about your innovation. Most remarkably, he urged innovators to seek (brand) enthusiasts who are characterized of being mavens (really knowledgeable in your domain) and being well-connected. If these enthusiasts believe in your innovation, and spread it among their connections in a positive manner then word-of-mouth advertising taking its course will help you achieve your goal. As a last point, he also urged people to spread other people's innovations! That is an integral part of what Dr Haidy Al Askry suggested at her earlier presentation on being an enabler of innovations and innovative people.

One of my favorite presentations for the evening was Dr. Bader Al Shebani's "PR as a Marketing tool", with the powerful statement in the first slide "You = The Brand". As Said Baaghil pointed out earlier, the power of personal branding is undeniable. Being able to use your own image to leverage your business creates a strong connection between you, your target audience and your brand. He started the presentation by making us all stand while he sat down on the floor of the stage, it was a good move to get the audience lively after a long day of sitting there. Then he went on to talk about his business, Kai gym, and how he utilized PR and marketing himself to promote it. He used humor throughout the speech which made it as fun as it was useful. I'd definitely love to hear more from him.

Another amazing presentation was by Archie Lee, one of Joshua To's teammates, titled "The Office" where he showcased his team's idea on having "+Pool", a plus-shaped pool in the streets of USA to regenerate clean water. The Plus Pool is not only an efficient solution for supplying clean water, but it also looks very refreshing and cool that I can imagine people taking a dip after a busy day at work. Wow, imagine that kind of fun! Same as Joshua, Archie is part of the exercises running at KAUST, and what he came up with with his group of students was on a much larger scale than an AC and a flower in a box. His brainstorming session with the students ended up with a suggestion to use the footsteps of the millions of people who walk around the Kaabah all year round to generate energy which would help sustain the entire city and the regions around it! Imagine the public's reaction when an American who just came to Saudi Arabia on a visit can think of efficiently using the center of Islam for the good of the country in a way that locals who've been here for years never thought of it that way...

The highlight of TEDxArabia was indeed the big finish and Dr Naif AlMuttawa's "The 99". The essence of innovation is seeing what others can't see... and bringing it to reality so brilliantly! An idea that sprung to life from a brainstorming conversation with his sister in a taxi: Pokemon, animation, the West, image of Islam in the West, God, his 99 names... And then the idea grew into an entire production of The 99 comics and movie which we had the pleasure of watching a part of in the event. I'm telling you it felt really special being able to have a theater experience in KSA lol. You can catch the preview below.

And there you have it. I had to skip some parts and presentations and I know that I can talk about this for many posts to come but it will never fully communicate the excitement of being there and gaining lots of insights from so many great minds who are basically just regular people like everyone else but had an idea, and sought it through and now they're spreading it around!

If you were at TEDxArabia, let me know which was your favorite presentation. If you weren't there, and you've enjoyed this post then do your part and spread it around ;)

TEDxArabia: An Experience Worth Spreading (Part I)


If you were following my tweets on Thursday December 2nd you'd know that I was attending one of the most exciting entertaining and educational events that can take place in Saudi Arabia... TEDxArabia which sought to answer the question "What is Innovation" as well as many other questions under the same theme. I was invited as the Social Media Associate to bring the happenings of the event to the twittersphere (I knew my tweeting skills would pay off someday :P); and to spread the knowledge even further I write this post summarizing my experience at TEDxArabia. There were 20 speakers at the event so I won't be going into details for each and every one of them as to not make this lengthy but I will focus on the presentations that I felt were remarkable whether by being exceptionally good... or bad. The event was kicked off by a very enthusiastic and energetic host Aamer Trambu a pretty cool guy as I've come to know by catching up with him after the event. Aamer kept updating us with a series of articles in Saudi Gazette on the TEDxArabia speakers prior to the event and it was great to see his energy during the event too.


The first speech was by Muhannad Abu Diyah and his Thoughts of Gold presentation that invites brilliant Arab minds to pursue their path in innovation and invention. I knew that he previously spoke at TEDxDhahran and I'm glad I caught up with him at TEDxArabia. He showcased many new products by young Arab inventors as a proof that such talents didn't only exist in medieval Islam. He also had a good sense of humor that got the crowd giggling at many points. That was a good start to show the attendees that being smart & succeeding in life doesn't mean you need to be serious 24/7... It'd help more if you can face your challenges with a fun attitude. You'll understand what I mean by *challenges* from the picture of him below with the slide introducing his golden rules to marketing inventions: 1) Evaluate the invention 2) Make a business plan 3) Get a patent 4) Make a prototype 5) Start an enterprise 6) Look for the dream deal!

Jumping to AbdulMohsen AlAjmi's presentation on Social Change one of his memorable quotes was an advice on leveraging the power of social networks that provide free platforms for advertising and spreading the word when it comes to good causes rather than waiting on having the financial means to design and print a brochure or a profile or publish ads in the media. One of the reasons I'm passionate about Social Media is the ability to have your message properly reach your audience without the limitations of money or physical space. Malcolm Gladwell might be right in his opinion that social media might not be the cause of social change but it can certainly be a useful mean.

Next up was the first female speaker of the evening and a real inspiration Dr. Haidy Al Askry with her presentation on the "Challenges of Innovation". What struck so true in her presentation was her slide: "To be an innovator or an enabler... That is the question". She acknowledges that not everyone can be an innovator she admits herself to not being an innovator... But what she can be and what anyone else can choose to be is an enabler. If you can't innovate then help support someone else who does whether financially morally by spreading the word or the least by not being someone who discourages innovation!

For the last presentation before the first break came Ahmed Ghazi... That guy defines what TED is all about a young talent with an idea and an invention truly worth spreading: Goom. What I liked most about his talk other than the fact that his invention is practical smart and very helpful to all those who need a hand to stand up is that despite all those who tried to put him down (as he described them "depressing individuals") he and his team stood up and fought through till their dream came to life.

I felt that this notion prevailed in most of the presentations; all speakers urged innovators not to fall victims for the discouragements of others... It's such a shame that one of the major problems you might face in bringing your innovations to life is those who just want to bring you down. It makes you wonder what kind of society we live in and how far we would have come if more of us were enablers and motivators rather than philosophical envious critics. My thoughts on the other presentations will follow shortly at a later post.