Rahaf Harfoush


Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture.

Rahaf Harfoush speaker, digital culture, bestselling author

Rahaf Harfoush is a Strategist, Digital Anthropologist, and Best-Selling Author who focuses on the intersections of emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture. Her research centres on the human impacts of artificial intelligence, algorithms, social networks, and big data.

Her latest book, entitled “Hustle & Float” (February 2019) reveals how the collision of disruptive technologies and centuries-old beliefs about work, is creating an untenable tension for workers in the idea economy, and what organizations need to do to help their creatives thrive.

Rahaf is the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, a think-tank and consultancy that focuses on helping organizations translate innovation trends into strategic opportunities. Her clients include UNESCO, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Bank of America, Facebook, Google, IBM, Ernst & Young, PwC, Airbus, Lenovo, Logitech, the OECD and more.


She teaches “Innovation & Emerging Business Models,” at SciencePo’s school of Management & Innovation in Paris. Rahaf is a member of France’s National Digital Council. She is also a Visiting Policy Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.


Rahaf Harfoush sits on the Steering Committee for the Peter Drucker Forum as well as the Peer Reviewing Committee for the Association of Internet Researchers. In 2014, Rahaf was named as a Rising Talent by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society and a Young Global Changer by the G20 Think Tank Summit. She was also selected as one of the Top 30 future thinkers by the prestigious Hay Literary Festival. Rahaf’s has been featured in TED, Harvard Business Review, Wired Magazine, MIT Technology Review, The Globe & Mail, The CBC, Bloomberg, Monocle, France24, The Guardian, The LA Times, Fast Company, Forbes, and more.

Formerly, Rahaf was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Programme at the World Economic Forum in Geneva. She was the Research Coordinator on Don Tapscott’s best-selling “Wikinomics: how Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.”

An engaging and passionate speaker, Rahaf has been sharing her insights on technology and innovation since 2006. 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. All sessions can be customized for audience, industry, and function and are available in both keynote and workshop (full day/half day) for clients.

The Creatives-Centric Culture: Mastering the Art of the Hustle & Float.

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 rigor 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 with 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)

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 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

Constantly Connected: The Hidden Forces Driving our Digital Behavior.

In a world where there seems 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 world views, 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 behaviors 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, C-Suite, Talent Managers, L&D

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 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 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

Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work.

Part big-idea book, part prescriptive guide, "Hustle and Float" explores the ideological tensions that lie at the heart of creative performance and traces the complicated, fascinating and messy relationship we have with work. Harfoush offers a compelling mix of actions and tools that professional creatives can use to begin working better within their own creative best interest.

Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work.

The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers -2014

oogle amazes us by generating answers before we've even finished asking a question. These companies know who we are and what we want. The key to their magic is Big Data. Personalizing the consumer experience with the collection and analysis of consumer data is widely recognized as one of the biggest business opportunities of the 21st century. But there is a flip side to this that has largely been missed. What if we were able to use data about employees to personalize and customize their experience - to increase their engagement, help them learn faster on the job, and figure out which teams they should be on? In this book, Leerom and his colleagues outline the six principles they've used to decode work and unlock the maximum potential of their talent, and share success stories from other organizations that have embraced this approach.

The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers -2014

Yes we did: An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand-2010

he Obama campaign is widely credited for its unprecedented use of New Media for everything from fundraising to volunteer coordination. After intensively researching the campaign, Rahaf Harfoush had the opportunity to witness the innovation firsthand when she joined the New Media team in Chicago for three months. This book takes a comprehensive look at the campaign’s use of technology leading up to election night and explores the strategic insights that organizations can apply to their own brand. Peppered with interviews, photos and anecdotes from key members of the New Media Team, this book reveals how the combination of an unwavering strategic vision and collaborative technologies including blogs, social networks, twitter and SMS messaging, empowered a formidable online community to elect the world’s first “digital” President.

Yes we did: An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand-2010