TEDGlobal Day 2: Professors wrap up and speakers take stage

Day 2 kicked off in full throttle at 7:30AM , as a bunch of TEDx organizers convened in the social spaces 2 levels below in the EICC. As part of our schedule, all of the TEDx team along with the attending TEDx organizers will be convening to meet for brainstorming sessions  with respect to each of the official TEDx events that have been announced: TEDxYouth, TEDxWomen, TEDxChange, and last but not the least TEDxWWW.


First up was brainstorming for TEDxWWW. Plenty of people were bitten by the early bird bug, as TEDx organizers and the TEDx team were present at Club TEDx. Bruno Giussani was on hand for a while before he had to head up to prepare for the conference opening with Chris Anderson. As the meeting began, plenty of questions were thrown around regarding how TEDxWWW will be structured as it will be taking place in Qatar on April 2012. Confusion did ensue from one question to another, but it was clear that this is a TEDx event for TEDx organizers. Amanda Palmer helped to dispel any misconceptions revolving around TEDxWWW. Topics regarding content, curation, and more were being thrown around by other TEDx organizers. One thing to highlight is that the attendees have a good amount of input towards TEDxDoha – this will be happening on the very next day when TEDxWWW ends. TED is even getting involved with the workshop, and playing a smaller role in TEDxDoha as they see the community taking the lead towards helping to curate the talks.
Some even claimed that the whole purpose of TEDxWWW was miscommunicated, and still confused many people. Even the TEDx team have taken it upon themselves to workout as much as possible before registration begins in October 2011.


TEDGlobal Day 1: Swollen numbers, tours, and insights

On Day 0, we were an amazing 110 that had an intimate and insightful gathering where we brainstormed and discussed many TED and TEDx-related things. It almost felt like I was already getting comfortable with the people I was meeting at my first ever TED conference. The sheer power of the TEDx community was brimming with enthusiasm, determination and passion to create change. I didn’t realize that looming far over the horizon, things would drastically change.

Day 1 begins at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre as 100s more of attendees flock in for their registration checkin. I realized that I had my voucher to pick up my TED Gift bag, but I’m saving that for later. Attendees who had registered for tours were waiting for their respective shuttles. I decided to venture around capture as much as I can. That also surprised someone else. Dr. Bob Monroe (Associate Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar) was also attending, but he didn’t know that I was. I caught him by surprise as I was just passing by the registration queue when I spotted him and then he spotted me. An exchange of greetings and brief chatter before he was up next to pick up his goodie bags.


I was trying to work on my Day 0 entry as much as I can, while witnessing many more new attendees also flocking in from the entrance. I signed up to a tour that revolved around ‘holistic sustainability’ and seeing a dockyard (Will save the juicy details for later). It was a coincide that when I boarded the bus for my tour, guess who else joined me? None other than Bob. Even met a Georgetown D.C campus graduate who is working in Dubai, and also happens to know about the Doha campus. Around 9:30, we were off to our tour with the Scotsoun House by Arup being our first stop. Parallel to the tours, TED was having the TED Fellows speak at the Lyceum Theatre across 2 different sessions. Many things overlapped, but the tour was worth it.


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TEDGlobal torrential TEDx downpour

Though TEDGlobal 2011 runs from July 11 – 15, you could say that by following simple math that July 10 would be Day 0. What a day it turned out to be!


Beinging a confirmed TEDx licensee (You’ll have to wait longer to hear more about it!), I had signed up to a TEDx workshop taking place for the whole day at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. Over 100 TEDx organizers from all over the world were attending in person, and it was great to see this amazing community come together. The entire TEDx team was on hand, as the TEDx community went through their check-in registration a day ahead before 700+ more attendees flock in. The staff were all easily identifiable, but one thing caught my eye was the different colors of the badges (I’m hoping to find out more about them later!). Along with my registration check-in, I received my named envelop that has my amazing badge, vouchers to the TED gift bag and the Google event I signed up, and maps for the conference and around Edinburgh. Adding to that, I also got one big and sturdy TEDx gift bag reserved for TEDx organizers that had its share of goodies inside of it and an interesting tag TEDxWWW (I know what this means, and it ties to Bruno Giussani’s and Lara Stein’s visit to Doha in June!) on the outside.


Regarding TEDx organizers, I had the opportunity to meet Yahay from TEDxBaghdad, Ramzi from TEDxRamallah, and Anwar from TEDxKhartoum (plus, he’s one active TED translator as he’s translated over 600+ TEDTalks into Arabic – thank him for that!). A great bunch of individuals, and there are many more to be listed


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Charting the Road to TEDGlobal 2011

*Dedicating this entry to 5 special people – which means you should read the whole entry to learn more about them*
By the time this post is published, it would be either of the following: I’m a day away before I board my flight to Edinburgh, or I’m already enroute to TEDGlobal 2011 with no net access. Before that, I’d like to share some good news with you. If you read my previous post, you may have seen a Storify link/embed view about my story on TEDTalks 5 years celebration (Catch it here). Well, here’s the surprise: 


it was featured on the home page of Storify (Photo taken on June 30, 2011).
I thought I’d end up doing something like sightseeing around the outer city area on the Sunday before the conference program begins, but looks like I’ll be spending the day with at least 110 TEDx organizers. That will be a great time for me to learn more from others and for pointers on what I should be incorporating into my TEDx event. In addition, even planning out as to how I’ll be able to blog each day is kind of becoming a physics problem, but I decided to take preemptive action and have certain posts pre-typed with each day’s program in mind. That way, when I note down things as they unfold, I’m in the best position to arrange and type them up before being published. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare will be my auxiliary sources that augment & supplement my accounts on my trusty Moleskine notebook.

Just to give you some scope, I’m already imagining it to be back-to-back roller-coaster rides with the 24-style adrenaline-pumping cinematic induced action. Sounds magnanimous, but that shouldn’t deter my readers from keeping up with live updates. Meeting Bruno Guissani, Lara Stein, and Ronda Carnegie in person has fueled me up for one amazing adventure. Program schedule, pre-conference tour with Arup Tour on Hollistic Sustainability and dockyard building with a supercrane ‘Goliath’, TED workshops, movie screening + workshop with Google, and more that combines with my bucketlist (http://yasserk86.tumblr.com/post/6687990650/the-tedglobal-bucketlist). I guess I’m all set for the adventure. 

However, I’m taking this moment to thank a few people who have helped to make this journey a reality. When my acceptance came, it came at a time when I couldn’t come up with the necessary support and my window of opportunity was during the holidays when people were out of the country. I reached out to few friends whom I believe would contribute and support me in this endeavor, as I believe in them. It overlaps with Carnegie Mellon and LeaderShape, so these people have made it worthwhile. Continue reading

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… Continue reading

Next step

Recently, I’ve been noticing the amount of visibility that I’ve been getting with the way I’ve been using social media. Not only Facebook and Twitter, but also Foursquare and many more.

I thought it best that I’d use my experience and start a new blog that I proudly call ‘The Social Philanthropist’. Why? I believe that I can provide and open and free resource for young people to use when they entre the professional world. I believe that personal branding supplements the generations old practice of screening via resumes & CV. In the Middle East, though the job market is highly favoring the nationals and any possible full-time opportunities for fresh university graduates exclusively reserved for them, it’s best that prospective applicants learn to carve out their own niche in this competitive and globalized world. Don’t forget that there are unofficial quotas of nationals and expats that companies tend to fill. There would be favoritism for hiring anyone with citizenships out of the 33 visa waiver nations, but there is one harsh reality that they will not deny let alone publicly acknowledge – they need people from the Subcontinent and South-East Asia to help the company run.

Even when you have parents who have gone out of their way to give you a better education at a prestigious college but you’re still judged by the pasport you hold, do not let that be a deterrent to finding a job. I realized that there is a big wide gap for personal branding, and companies don’t even pay attention to it because they feel that their way will always be the right way. They don’t feel like investing the time to learn more about a prospective candidate through various other outlets. It’s an investment of corporate resources when you hire someone new, only to become more expensive when you see the real picture. In a world where social media is now made many things transparent, we can no longer restrict the flow of information. There is a difference between resumes and CV, but the Middle East uses them interchangeably. I want to quell much of this and help educate the youth masses in the GCC. Though the GCC has the money to pull of things, it will always be lagging behind other nations in every other societal aspect.

This blog will remain online for your perusal, but it may not be frequently updated as often as what I have planned for The Social Philanthropist (http://socialphilanthropist.wordpress.com). Make sure to check it out after Tuesday when I’ll be outing my introductory post.

Above, beyond and equal to TED

Since getting my UK visa, it’s been very quiet. A nice way to focus on what needs to take place in the coming weeks. I have been tirelessly counting down the days for myself, just so that I get away from the humid heat of Doha and to the very chilly and monsoon-ish downpour that I would witness in Edinburgh come July. With that wait, I guess I could confess that quite a good number of things have unfolded.

Knowing that weeks are shrinking by the day leading up to the week of the event, there’s one thing I may have overlooked – my TED badge. Luckily, the TED team sent out an email to have it ‘designed’ (No visual nor artistic flair; just your creative conversation opening topics and a nice photo). Security does play a role at TED, especially when it has hosted Former Prime Minister of UK Gordon Brown and even Wikileaks Julian Assange. When you have such high-profile people coming in, you know that you don’t want strangers to wander in and cause a ruckus. So, I thought that I’d reflect on my TED public profile (Surprisingly, it shows up on Google search results and helps to put me out there) and see what 3 conversational openers I could think. It didn’t have to be catchy and only one word, but I had30 characters for good amount of flexibility. So what did I come up with? Well, I didn’t want to have any flamboyant and fancy terminology, but chose to keep it simple yet also catches the eye of other attendees and even the TED organizers.

After putting in some work into fruitful conversaion openers, along with a suitable photo, the result ends up as: 
That’s not the only interesting thing, as I managed to snag another TED-related opportunity. Continue reading