2013 PAAIA NexGen Leadership Conference: We wove a Persian rug.

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.

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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:

  1. “There are many models of leadership. Find the one that is authentic to you” Ali Rowghani, COO of Twitter
  2. “In any decision, optimize for one thing: Trust” Ali Rowghani
  3. “Significant change is highly conservative. Humans are only 1% different in their DNA than a chimp.” (Really?!) Ronald Heifetz, Harvard Kennedy School
  4. “People aren’t resistant to change. They love change, if they know its good.” Ronald Heifetz
  5. “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:

  1. 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.
  2. The number of the attendees at this conference that traveled from other states all around the country. NYC, DC, LA, Texas, Florida, etc.
  3. The fact that there was almost no two people that had the same career. Amazing insight.
  4. How excited and driven I am to become involved in this organization and conference in some capacity, from only a 2 day event.
  5. (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)

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