Rahaf Harfoush on CultureLab

 

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

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In this episode we explore how technology and digitisation impact our culture: the way we live, learn, work, travel create, and fall in love. Best-selling author, strategist, and digital anthropologist, Rahaf Harfoush, challenges our view of technology, work, and our belief systems surrounding how to achieve fulfilment and happiness in our lives. 

Rahaf works at the intersection between emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture. She is currently working on her third book entitled “Hustle & Float,” about our contemporary work culture and the realities of a post-work society. 

We talk about what led Rahaf to focus on culture and technology, about the potential of technology to become a tool in creating workplaces that are healthy, stimulating and engaging, and the need to strike a balance in how we “hustle and float” - alternating periods of intense activity with “going with the flow.”

Despite her fascination with technology, Rahaf reminds us: 

TECHNOLOGY IS NOT A MAGIC BULLET. IT’S JUST A MIRROR THAT REFLECTS EVERYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE RIGHT BACK AT YOU. AND WHETHER IT BECOMES A FORCE FOR GOOD OR EVIL DEPENDS ON HOW YOU USE IT.

 

Along with reexamining our view of technology, she challenges us to reexamine our relationship with work, saying: 

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE’VE MADE WORK A CENTRAL TENET OF OUR SOCIETY: 
IT DEFINES OUR IDENTITY, OUR SELF-WORTH, OUR STATUS, OUR SELF-ESTEEM.

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We idolise people like Elon Musk or Beyonce who are known to sleep very little and work around the clock. We are surrounded with stories of huge sacrifices that people make in the name of work. Seeing others go to such extremes has an impact on our belief system, normalising behaviours that, ironically, lead to limited productivity, lack of creativity and burn-out.

Rahaf says: “Our beliefs are our collective operating systems and yet we never stop and ask: ‘Where did they come from? Do they still serve us? Are they healthy?’”

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All of these questions challenge us to consider more fully the impact that technology has on our lives, along with reminders to just be, not just to do.  

 

Episode highlights

  • What Rahaf learned while on Barack Obama’s digital media team
  • How companies like KlickHealth use data to improve their employee experience, effectiveness, development and engagement 
  • Rahaf’s forecast regarding the ways technology could shape organisational culture in the future (it’s not what you think!)
  • What “work-devotion” is all about and why we should be concerned about the grip it has on us in view of the post-work society

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More about Rahaf Harfoush

Rahaf Harfoush is a Strategist, Digital Anthropologist, and Best-Selling Author who focuses on the intersections between emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture. She is the founder of Red Thread Inc., a Think Tank and special projects agency specializing in Digital Culture. She teaches “Innovation & Emerging Business Models” at Sciences Po’s MBA program in Paris.

She is currently working on her third book, entitled “Hustle and Float: Balancing Execution and Inspiration in World of Constant Connection.” Formerly, Rahaf was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Programme at the World Economic Forum in Geneva where she helped identify disruptive-startups that were improving the state of the world. 

Rahaf is the co-author of “The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know your Customers”.  

You can find more about Rahaf at: rahafharfoush.com

Links and books mentioned on this episode

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Don Tapscott, Growing Up Digital

Don Tapscott, Grown up Digital

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