Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Arne Dietrich

Session 3 of TEDxBeirut: Any follow-up session to wrap it up?

Note: You may read detailed info on 8 speakers on this post https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/mostly-a-hoax-from-limitation-to-inspiration-slogan-of-tedxbeirut/

You would assume that the third session, after lunch and no siesta, is usually doomed to be more on the dosing side, regardless of how inspirational a speaker is.  Sort of the speaker must learn clowning to attracting attention first… The auditorium was still packed and buzzing.

Najat Rizk spoke at 2:50.  (Read link for further details) The story is how Najat turned from “Bent el Ashrafyye” (Christian East Beirut) to an open-minded person and investigated the Moslem Shia of Dahieh, headquarter of Hezbollah. She entered the lion’s den and had the guts to visit all regions and cultures by breaking through stereotypes and delving into the other side fo the fence.


Halim Madi took the stage at 3 pm. Halim examines the internet to feel what are the needs and wants of the world community and discover trends.  We are into web 3.0 where you start searching internet for medical information before you visit a physician.  We have more confidence in the internet “intelligence pieces” and what it disseminate in knowledge than textbook materials…Halim explained the process of how the Flying Spaghetti Monster God got so popular.  A single  person has now the power to trigger changes.

Hala Fadel spoke at 3:13.  (Read link for further details).  In order to have a successful enterprise, she commended: “Work like a slave, lead like a king, and create like a god”.

Andrew Bossone appeared at 3:30.  He said that a wolf trust his companion in the group, and thus, he has no fear, and can howl to the moon as long and as hard he wishes.  He participated with the Egyptian mass upheaval on Jan. 23 in Tahrir Square.  Andrew gave the butterfly example for drastic transformation: At its second stage before turning to a butterfly, it just dangle from a branch and is an easy prey to all kinds of danger.

Andrew likes to predispose friends to noticing changes in their life.  For example, he tells a person: “Expect to see a butterfly soon”.  Obviously, butterflies are everywhere, but we fail to see them, unless we are forwarned to expect their existence soon in our life… 

Hassan Aziz spoke at 3:43.  Let us not take shadows for granted: We used to be fascinated by shadows in our early years.  I failed to note down this speech: I was outside for an urgent need.

Arne Dietrich expounded on the theory that what people claim as “higher level consciousness” is in fact a far reduced level of consciousness.  In a transcendental phase, the brain fails to compute properly and differentiate your body from the environment.  This state of merging with the surrounding and becoming ONE with the universe is a state of brain failure. The world is happening in your own mind, an onion of different layers of consciousness..

Ziad AbiChaker spoke at 4:08.  (Read link for details). He shared his enthusiastic hate-love story with waste and garbage. That guy is the recycling monster in Lebanon, and I’m not quite done with him. Stay tuned for updates from his side as well..

The event practically was wrapped up at 4:23.  Tania Saleh was slotted to sing, but she could not deliver at last-minute invitation.

William Choukeir and Patricia Zoghaib took the stage and introduced the volunteers, and the speakers joined to a round of applause.  Huge thanks and appreciation to TEDxBeirut team from a grateful audience to this monster organization that required 9 months in preparation.

I met with speaker Ziad AbiChaker and I learned that the Hariri clan, monopolizing the waste disposal contracts in the last 20 years, has tried to buy him out for $5 million. I also learned that, in order to getting rid of small insects and flies in the composted waste, all you have to do is using the water of diluted Mexican hot pepper…

We were supposed to have cocktail drinks to celebrate the big event: It never happened!

All TED talks will be posted online!

Note 1: In the first session, TEDx displayed the speech of Kankwamba in one of TED events.  This African young guy from a remote and poor village put together a functional windmill from whatever material he could gather around the village.  This installation generated enough electricity to transfer water, and for the neighbors to recharge their cellular phone…I guess words of cell calls led Kankwamba to being selected a TED speaker.  Sort of TED company needed to diversify the range of limitations and exotism…? Most probably, TEDxBeirut realized that the slogan “From Limitation…” was to be desired and speakers’ limitations were lacking in the selection process. Consequently, TEDxBeirut was implicitly extending apology? 

Note 2: Miscellaneous posted on Sept. 25, underTEDxBeirut was yesterday and it was amazing

(With slight editing to abridge the post) “In the days leading to the event, I had wondered if the event would be worth an entire day. I walked into the theater thinking that I was one of the first to walk in after all the ushers were saying that people should start going in. Boy was I wrong!  The theater was packed up and I barely found a place in the first session (in later sessions I opted for a seat on the stairs for it felt more natural). 685 people were sitting there waiting for the event.

The stage looked amazing: Simply decoration of various luminescent boxes (in the form of file boxes?) in an elegant testimonial to what was about to begin. Our host Sara was well rehearsed and so were all of our speakers.  The talks alone were not the cause for success. The success came from the well-timed breaks, allowing people to mingle and to bring forth discussions, to linger in conversation, as speaker Mahomoud Natout had so hoped.

And to my surprise and happiness those discussions during the breaks were not about people selling their products or their companies, it was about knowing other individuals in such a short span.  But the greatest testimonial for the event’s spirit and success came from the audience.

During the sessions, you would be hard pressed to hear side conversations taking place. People were listening, and dare I say reflecting. More importantly, after lunch, I came back to a theater that was still packed. You might not grasp the significance of this immediately, but in Lebanon (or elsewhere) I have yet to see a little less than 700 people stay the whole day for conference.

Yes, yesterday’s TEDxBeirut event was well worth the day and much more. It was worth it thanks to the hard work invested by the TEDxBeirut team who volunteered to make such a great event, and to the speakers who volunteered their stories. To both of you a great thank you for the wonderful even you did. As for me, I think speaker ‘Arne Dietrich’ put it best when he said that “It was the most fun he had in a single day in Beirut”. Do visite TEDxBeirut“.

Mostly a Hoax: “From Limitation to Inspiration” slogan of TEDxBeirut

The slogan or motto of TEDxBeirut was “From Limitation to Inspiration”.  At first, this slogan didn’t inspire me much, in the sense I felt I have read that slogan before, or that is essentially the theme of TED in the first place.  When you read that slogan what comes first in your mind? What does it mean to you?

I interpreted the motto as: “Your are an individual with huge limitations (physical, mental, financial, connections, unstable family, poor country with no institutions, a disintegrating social structure with no community cohesion and support…) and yet, you managed to struggle and be a “success story” that can be “inspirational” and benefit society and people connected to you…”

You may send me the alternative interpretations to inspire me further, but my article will be based on my interpretation of the slogan.  From the 19 speakers, I could barely isolate four who actually fit my understanding of the slogan, and will demonstrate my case shortly.

I am convinced that the slogan was meant to catalyze the basic two organizers of this huge undertaking, and to inspire the other members and support network to surmount the difficult obstacles and limitations in Lebanon for coordinating the event.  William Choukeir and Patricia Zoghaib overcame many real limitations and inspired thousands for a “big cultural and reflecting events, which connect engaged youth and set them to communicating pragmatically, can take place in Lebanon!”

My impression is that the organizers failed to take advantage of opportunities in order to define what is “limitation” and the wide range of limitations in the Lebanese society, and gather categories and define what could be “inspirational”.  If they invested the time to meeting individually all who submitted a one-minute video and had a talk with potential candidate, they would have been far more inspired and would have an excellent background to establishing meaningful criteria for the selection process.

Mind you that the first six months were kind of trial and error journey, and meeting the potential candidate would have aided in what “From Limitation to Inspiration” means to them, instead of the common biased understanding that “success means establishing an enterprise that generates profit or acceding to a CEO position her and there…”

For example, is it impossible to find handicapped or autistic people who could be considered “success stories”?  Should all speakers be very much ambulatory and looking “presentable” so that the event doesn’t give the impression of a gathering of “retarded” Lebanese?

For this article, I will selected sample speakers from each of the three sessions who do not fit the slogan, and the speakers who do fit.  It is very likely that I will re-edit this post and be as exhaustive as possible to proving my case.

Group one: Speakers who do not fit the “limitation” criterion.

Speaker Ali Jaber was born in Lebanon in 1961 (he looks much older). Ali was correspondent of New York Times, chief correspondent for the German Press Agency (DPA), founded and managed Future TV and Zen TV. In 2004, Ali  was hired as consultant to head Dubai Media Incorporated…He is currently General Director of the MBC Group TV.  He founded the Mohammad Bin Rashed  School for communication at the American Univ. in Dubai and working on a PhD degree at Cambridge Univ. on Arab satellite TV… What was the story of Ali at the TEDxBeirut?  Ali Jaber wanted to link the University via internet to other universities (ultimately, hooking with 148 university in the US). Selim Edde told Ali to shoot for 100 Mbite.  Ali made a few phone calls to higher-ups in Dubai government and got the funding and facilitation…70% of the students receive scholarships…

What kinds of limitations did Ali Jaber had to surmount? He had the connections, the money, the position…Does this case applies to the slogan? Good work Ali Jaber: Inspirational talk.

Speaker Hala Fadel is chair of MIT Entreprise Forum of the Pan-Arab region.  She has been organizing the MIT Business Competition for the last 5 years: Over 3,000 participate from 17 Arab States.  Hala manages $13 billion at Comgest…She is married with 3 children. What’s the story?

Hala was 21 and happily married. One evening, her husband (currently a deputy in the Parliament) asked her: “Hala, are you happy”.  That set Hala into deciding to continue her education and on the path of success.  What kinds of limitations Hala was confronted to?  She had the support, the money, the brain… Does Hala fit the slogan?  Great job Hala: I enjoyed your speech.

Speaker Ziad Abi Chaker is CEO of Cedar Environmental.  The enterprise specializes in building Municipal Recycling Facilities on the communal level, contrasting with central Mega recycling plants. The three-way deal is for banks to extend soft loan to build the local plant, and the municipality to paying only the services of recycling/composting in monthly installments, not exceeding $5 per household per month.  Ziad told me that the Hariri clan, having monopoly of the wast disposal for the last 20 years, offered him $5 million to get out-of-the-way… Ziad studied industrial engineering at Rutgers Univ. (New Jersey).  How limiting was Ziad situation?  He has the brain, the energy, the family support (rich and into import business…) and the connection…Does Ziad fit into the slogan?  Cudo Ziad: Great idea, great project and highly sustainable, and wonderful presentation.

Speaker Arne Dietrich teaches psychology at the American Univ. of Beirut.  He surfs the “stream of consciousness” and his favorite topics are daydreaming and the “transient hypofrontality” induced state, generated by swimming, biking, and hiking for miles on end… What’s the story?  His “objective” research on what is called “higher level of consciousness” experienced by yogi and … are in fact in the lowest level of consciousness of our primitive brain…

What were limiting Arne? Maybe the case of Arne is a moot one: the biography stated that he was diagnosed with incurable curiosity and spent time in an “educational” institution…and what of going globe-trotting for years?  If Arne was from my hometown, he would be elected “Town certified idiot“. If Arne was from my hometown, I would rank him top in “limitations” among the speakers who managed to “inspire” against all odds! Informative talk, and “inspirational to me”, though many were dozing after lunch…

Group 2: Speakers who fit both the limitation and inspiration criteria:

Katia Saleh is founder of Batoota Films and producer of “Shankaboot”, winner of the 2011 International Emmy Award… Katia produced and directed award-winning documentaries “Beirut: All Flight Cancelled” (2006), “Iraq: Womens’s Stories” (2006), “Return to Basra” (2003), “Inside Saddam’s Iraq” (2003), the documentary “Ashura: Blood and Beauty” (2005)…

What’s the story?  Katia is from Kfarshouba, Lebanon,(on the border with Israel) and the town of her mother is Nabatieh.  She worked as usher in London while pursuing her study. A British asked her where she was from. He had no idea where Palestine was and she said: “Jesus is my neighbor”.  When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, an Israeli soldier asked her mother for her ID papers and she replied: “It is up to you to show me your papers”.  This incident was very inspiring to Katia. She received many threats on YouTube.  Any limiting handicaps with Katia? What about chasing danger for shooting documentaries that are worth recounting?

Speaker Yorgui Teyrouz is currently a pharmacy student at Lebanese American Univ. He is founder of “Donner Sang Compter” (Give blood selflessly).  The on-line group on Facebook saved 12,000 lives since 2007.  What’s the story? Yorgui was very young, 19?, when he overrun and killed someone in a car accident.  He was sentenced in Roumieh prison, one of the worst overcrowded prisons in Lebanon.  How a young man surmounted the indignity and humiliation of being incarcerated, and went ahead to coming to the rescue of people in need of blood? Very inspirational.

Najat Rizk is CEO of Firehorse Films and was acclaimed the second most successful CEO in Lebanon by Harvard Univ. Firehorse tagline “Making Television Worth Watching” is a commitment to producing knowledge-base and innovative media that engages audience.  Samples of her documentaries are “The Great Trade-off” on prisoners swapping between Hezbollah and Israel; “From Herat to Baghdad” “The living martyr: Hezbollah unveiled”…

What’s the story.  Najat lived in isolated Ashrafieh section of East Beirut during the civil war; her mother is from the town of Ghosta in Kesruwan.  She decided to make a documentary on Hezbollah.  Najat was so persistent that she got an interview with media director of Hezbollah.  She ended up living an entire year in Dahieh and changing her guard-robe…and was finally adopted as one of them. And her journey started filming the ceremony of Ashoura, going to Jordan and filming a Qaeda base in Salt, meeting the Dalai Lama

Just this guts to taking vile myths by the horns and taking the plunge; it is inspiration enough to breaking taboos instituted by ignorant communities…

Speaker Joanna Choukeir Hojeili is doing her PhD at the University of the Arts London.  She is exploring “how communication design methods and interventions” can contribute to social integration. She is using four design methods. For example, “Exploration” method is an innovative cultural probes toolkit.  “Connection” refers to a new perspective in networking method. “Expression Corner” is designed as a diary room for virtual interviews.  “Imagination Clinic” is intended as co-creation workshop.

The four methods aim to inform the development of communication design interventions for social integration among youth from different social groups and communities in Lebanon. Lebanon is a society heavily segregated along religious, political, geographic, linguistic, and cultural lines. The design package is transferable across other socially segregated communities worldwide.  What’s the story?

Charbel (18 year-old) from the district of Bshare has never visited south Lebanon, and barely stepped out of his restricted district.  Sahar (19 year-old) from Tyr didn’t visit much of tiny Lebanon.  Charbel and Sahar are curious to meet other youth of different religious, cultural, and geographical locations.  Many are plain apathetic in mixing with other people.

On October 1st, the first pilot workshop “Imagination Studio” will be held, inviting 25 of those who participated in the virtual interview so that they agree on a practical program that they will implement as a group.  This pilot workshop is sort of co-creation process: Every member will combine “what he knows” in expertise.  Outside experts will participate to put in shape a feasible program for application.

Joanna got a job pretty quickly: She was first of her class.  Two years later, Joanna realized there was no prospects for fulfilling her life dreams.  Short on money, she applied relentlessly to different overseas universities for scholarship.  Finally, she set her target on University of the Arts London and took the dive, working in London on several jobs and continuing her higher education.

Group 3: Speakers who do not fit the “inspiration” criterion.  For example, they failed to “inspire me” in any shape or form. I will refrain from expanding on this group, at least, not in this post.

Let’s consider a few limitations to inspiration in this modern society.  Do you think not being able to own a computer a serious limitation? How about not getting connected to the internet? What if you cannot afford the expenses of a cellular phone? You have no transportation means, and you have got to walk 2 miles to the nearest library to getting connected to internet in order to publish, rain or shine, hot or cold, and the library has no English books and you have got to translate…

If within 4 years you managed to publish 2,400 articles on wordpress.com in 50 categories…On a scale of one to 10 (highest inspirational case study), how would you rate inspiration within the above limitations? Does the extra piece of intelligence that the person is over 60 years make a difference?  How about this person does not enjoy any family or community support, like someone exhibiting self-autonomous behavior, and is starting to be viewed as one of the idiots of the town with “mild autistic” syndrome?

I say: “What has been done and properly executed is the best at the moment.”  I suggest the next program will have the same slogan to demonstrate the versatility of this powerful slogan.

Note: The sketch or cartoon is from David Habchi who covered the TEDxBeirut conference


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2021
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