TED brains (Bruno Giussani & Lara Stein) in Doha

*Before I begin, let me say that this is one entry you should take the time to read. The days that much of this unfolded almost looked like I watch TED Talks 48 hours back-to-back, yet I thirst for more.*

(Bruno Guissani)

Bruno Giussani (Curator of TEDGlobal and Director of TED European Operations) and Lara Stein (Director of TEDx Licensing) were in Doha on an invitation by the Doha Film Institute. I received an invite to attend a nice social dinner with them for June 16, 2011. That got me rocking with excitement. I met Lara Stein in October 2010 during TEDxDoha, so this would be my second. As for Bruno Giussani, I learned a lot about what he’s been planning for the inaugural Edinburgh chapter of TEDGlobal 2011 and following after. I had a red Moleskine notebook that I had exclusively reserved for my TED adventures in Scotland and beyond, but I realized that this was the best way to help kick-off by having them autograph it with their words. I thought of infusing that book with some of the TED aura, and I guess I know that I’ll look to those words to remind me of many things. 

(Lara Stein)

Bruno was the one who would just guide you to speak and interview other exciting people than himself. Just the conversation that flowed around almost made it seem that he prefers to bring forth those voices to the centrestage, while he helps to curate the entire show. He’s already planning for TEDGlobal 2012, and openly mentioned that he has 10+ speakers already confirmed. He even gave me the inside scoop that Malcolm Gladwell is coming back to TEDGlobal 2011. I thought I didn’t see his profile when they initially unveiled the speakers, but I noticed it when I returned home. After I saw his TED 2004 talk on spaghetti sauce, I’m wondering what other variations of spaghetti sauce will he dish out. 


It was great meeting Lara Stein again after TEDxDoha. It was even great sharing some details and insights from TEDxCMUQatar, as I could recall as much from it. In addition, I shared details about my TEDx event and even told her that I’ve already submitted my application much early for her approval. Here’s hoping I get that ‘YES’ so that my plans take action when I return. 

I also had the privilege of meeting Ms. Ronda Carnegie (Head of TED Global Partnerships), who is the very person who started the TED projects at TEDActive 2011 (Have a brief read from my previous post http://yassermk86.posterous.com/anticipation-for-scotland-is-boiling if you want to know more about the projects). When I talked about the 3 projects that I thought would have the greatest scope here, Lara immediately pointed me to her for more details. Getting into a deeper conversation with Ronda, she helped to clear out many of the doubts I had regarding the projects. That sparked something for my TEDx event, and I mentioned it to her about what I wanted to achieve for the community here as I would want my event to be indirectly carried forward by these projects that would culminate towards the next TEDx event where we would showcase and share the results with people.

 (L to R: Me, Bruno Guissani, and Bilal Randaree)

Talking with each one of them about TED and TEDx already ramped up the excitement for TEDGlobal. As a memento for their visit, I gave them TEDxCMUQatar badges. I’m not the only one who blogged about this, as my good friend Brian Wesolowski who works for ictQatar and also writes for Digital Qatar even put forth his perspective: http://www.digitalqatar.net/2011/06/20/ted-ideas-worth-spreading-in-doha/

The taste of TED didn’t stop right there…

Friday afternoon, I had the privilege of being their informative tour guide for Education City. I did promise Lara Stein a tour of this place. They came in after a nice relaxing safari, though I was amazed that they were able to tolerate the heat. Bruno wanted to have a cup of coffee but water came to his rescue. The tour started off from Weill Cornell’s administrative wing, accompanied by a staff member managing the med school. I jumped in at times to fill in the gaps and even enlighten them on the interesting tidbits of Education City. The moment we set foot into the lecture halls, it almost seemed that they had a TED idea brewing inside their head. Bruno wanted to have TED University in the setting – I think the college memories brought back some nostalgia even though they didn’t have such hi-tech advanced equipment in an academia setting.

Bruno, Lara and Ronda photographed as much of what they saw. From Weill Cornell to Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s massive atrium, it almost seems that something big is in the pipeline and it involves TEDx. Even a tour of Mathaf also piqued some new ideas. Bruno always took notes (I think he had a Moleskine notebook?) as we toured the places. Looks like something is cooking for either TED or TEDx related.

It was great seeing them in advance before the 750+ deluge of people that I’ll meet in Edinburgh come July 11. At least I lived up to my promise of showing Education City to Lara Stein when she last visited in October 2010. Already, I managed to come up with a bucketlist of things that I want to fulfill when I’m there:


Before I forget, TED has successfully celebrated 5 years and 500M+ views of their TEDTalks since their unveiling. Luckily, I managed to immortalise as much of it with my Storify: 

Only 8 more days till TEDGlobal 2011, though I’m 9 days away from flying out early to Edinburgh. Tune into my next entry that will kick-off this adventure.

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