Rahaf Harfoush speaker

Rahaf Harfoush

A strategist, digital anthropologist, and best-selling author who focuses on the intersections of emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture.

An engaging and passionate speaker, Rahaf has been sharing her insights on technology and innovation since 2006, and has spoken at over 70 keynotes worldwide. She excels at making trends and research easy to understand and uses case studies, stories and anecdotes to deliver presentations that are entertaining, informative and funny. Rahaf also has extensive experience moderating panels and MC’ing events.

Videos of Rahaf Harfoush

Micro Influence, Entrepreneurship & The Future of Protest: TEDxWallStreet
Hustle and Float
Key Takeaways from Leading through Emerging Technology & Digital Culture

Speaker Profile

About Rahaf Harfoush

Rahaf speaks about talent from several angles.

In her New York Times best-selling book, “The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers,” Rahaf explored how big data and predictive analytics can be used proactively to improve recruitment, learning and development, and organizational culture. Using examples from companies like Google, UPS, and Bank of America (to name a few) she explains how “Evidence-Based Leadership” means that data has become an important leadership priority.

In her most recent book, “Hustle and Float” Rahaf shifts her focus to the societal implications of our contemporary work culture and explores the pressures being faced by knowledge workers as market conditions demand an increasingly innovative and agile workforce. She examines the history of our notions or productivity and creativity (how we worship these contradictory ideologies), and reveals how our beliefs about work can get in the way of our performance. She focuses on the tips needed to create innovation-centric cultures, and looks at organizations who are experimenting with unconventional ways to get the best our of their workers without sacrificing their health or happiness.

Finally, as a Digital Anthropologist and the executive director for the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, Rahaf explores how technology and being constantly connected is impacting our ability to consume and process information, and what this means for workforces. Consider that 63% of employees in a recent Manpower survey indicated they regularly “don’t read everything completely”. Rahaf looks at the strategies needed to fine-tune our digital behaviour in order to ensure that the platforms we use are serving us, instead of draining our attention and energy. She explores concepts like the implications of filter bubbles, our evolving relationship with information consumption, the dangers of algorithms and more. This is a thought-provoking analysis of the way we engage with the information around us.

  • Can help organizations translate innovation trends into strategic opportunities.
  • Teaches “Innovation & Emerging Business Models” at Sciences Po’s MBA program in Paris.
  • Co-author of “The Decoded Company: What if we understood our talent better than we understand our customers?” It was listed on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
  • Member of Barack Obama’s digital media team during the 2008 presidential elections and saw first hand how social networking revolutionized political campaign strategy.
  • Named in the Hay 30, is listed in the top 30 young thinkers who will shape the world in the next 30 years.
  • Selected out of 1300 people to be one of 100 to represent Canada and France at the G20 think tank summit to present her ideas to policymakers and government leaders.

Speaking Topics

Forget Digital Transformation - why Digital Evolution is the way of the future.

A keynote about how organizations can thrive in a constantly changing world and what are the practical implications for leadership, recruiting, marketing, and, most importantly culture. It’s a Hustle and Float off shoot that focuses on the cultural changes that need to happen in order for leaders to fully take advantage of this era of unprecedented technological opportunities.

The Creatives-Centric Culture: Mastering the Art of the Hustle & Float (Future of work, Innovation, Leadership, Creativity)

Our modern day working life is in a state of crisis. As the global economy continues to shift towards knowledge work, the days of standardized tasks are long gone, replaced by the mounting pressure to come up with endless ideas to stay ahead of the competition. Companies are facing immediate challenges in recruiting and retaining highly skilled creatives, an essential part of thriving in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape. In addition to the pressure of 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.

The dilemma is this: Where employers once prioritized productivity as the ideal employee trait, they now expect their workforce to be endlessly creative and innovative as well. The scramble to keep up with the expectation of 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. We come to work armed with to-do lists, life-hacks and inbox-zero mentalities. We are trained to respond at a moment’s notice, manage competing priorities and rapidly jump from task to task. We focus on attaining maximum efficiency while trying to generate creative solutions with the same rigour as completing our tasks. And when it doesn’t work as planned we force ourselves to push through, to work longer and harder to chase down the ideas that seem to elude us.

What can companies do to cope? Backed by extensive research and case studies, Rahaf 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 organizational culture and how to manage their own Hustle and Float.

Ideal Audiences: Strategy, Management. Marketing, Creatives, Students, HR, Recruiting, Leadership. (Can be customized)

Constantly Connected: The Hidden Forces Driving our Digital Behavior

In a world where there seem to be new gadgets, apps, and digital tools released daily (if not hourly), 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 explores how technology is weaving itself into the social fabric of our lives and influencing everything 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 worldviews, and how the rise of 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, Rahaf will show you how new technologies are shaping our behaviours and creating a new cultural paradigm. With this talk, audiences will go beyond the trend to develop a deep, human-centric understanding of how technology 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.

Best for: CIO’s, Technology, Analytics, Big Data

AI, Algorithms & 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 at an exponential rate, technology is rewriting the rules of our society that have served us for decades. In this talk, Rahaf explores what it means to be human in a world where the features that differentiated us are now being replicated by machines. Google created an AI that started creating original works of art mere hours after it was programmed. A Japanese AI was a finalize in a prestigious literary competition. Financial companies are investing in algorithms that can do the work of teams of an analyst in mere seconds. Work is only the beginning. New technologies are redefining traditional friendships and relationships. Research suggests that by 2050 robot sex will be more popular than it’s human counterpart. What do all of these changes mean for our notions of intimacy, monogamy, parenting, dating, and social interaction.

In this keynote, Rahaf 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 Culture

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 in 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 behaviour 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, cybersecurity, 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.


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Books By Rahaf Harfoush

  • The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers with Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman 2014
  • Yes We Did! An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand 2009

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