I was truly impressed. Throughout my life and after many, many, MANY different Iranian events that I have attended, this was the first that I left with new learning, true enjoyment and most importantly a true personal connection. Sure, all the persian parties with loud music and dancing and beshkans, (and too much cologne), are also fun. But the connection and enjoyment that I experienced this past weekend at the 2013 PAAIA NexGen Leadership Conference, goes beyond this and is much deeper.
I am a 1st generation Iranian, born here in America, with parents who immigrated here from Iran. There have been many times in my life that I have asked myself “Am I more Iranian?” or “Am I more American?”. I never felt I was 100% either. And this conference, reassured me even more, that I don’t have to choose or debate this. I am Iranian-American.
Instead of running through what the whole event included (you can just look on the website for that!) I will share with you my takeaways on two different levels: professionally and personally.
Professionally, I remember these quotes:
- “There are many models of leadership. Find the one that is authentic to you” Ali Rowghani, COO of Twitter
- “In any decision, optimize for one thing: Trust” Ali Rowghani
- “Significant change is highly conservative. Humans are only 1% different in their DNA than a chimp.” (Really?!) Ronald Heifetz, Harvard Kennedy School
- “People aren’t resistant to change. They love change, if they know its good.” Ronald Heifetz
- “One of the most crucial things I had in any major set back in my career was my network of people.” Pardis Sabeti, Sabeti Labs, Harvard University
Personally, I was surprised by:
- The diversity of opinion and thought from those around you that you assume to be very similar to you. We were all unique in thoughts and experiences.
- The number of the attendees at this conference that traveled from other states all around the country. NYC, DC, LA, Texas, Florida, etc.
- The fact that there was almost no two people that had the same career. Amazing insight.
- How excited and driven I am to become involved in this organization and conference in some capacity, from only a 2 day event.
- (This did NOT surprise me) How fun, kind, energetic, loud ;), and intelligent this group was! So amazing!
A true persian rug was woven at this conference. (A metaphor used by Alen Takhsh, Co-Chair of PAAIA)
Some of us were born in Iran, some of us were born in America with Iranian parents, some of us were 50% Iranian and 50% American, some of us were Armenian but raised in Iran. Whatever the mix was, we all came together, and put together pieces of our story and in the end, we had a cohesive bond.
A big thank you to all of the organizers of this event! I can sincerely say, I can’t wait for the next event!
Hope you enjoy some of the moments here: (Click on first picture to expand the gallery)