Ali Mahlodji

Ali Mahlodji

Co-Founder of Whatchado, Storyteller

Speaker biography

Lead The Future – Keynote Speaker Ali Mahlodji: From Worst to First. The Story of the refugee Ali Mahlodji.

Ali Mahlodji was born in Tehran in 1981, arrived in Austria as a refugee at the age of two and dropped out of school at the age of 18. Today he is in his late 30s and can look back on a succession of more than 40 jobs – from construction worker to pharmacist’s assistant to management consultant.

He is a multiple award-winning co-founder of an internationally acclaimed start-up company with his WHATCHADO internet platform, which is going from strength to strength as a „manual“ for life stories which brings together professions and vocations.

In 2013, the European Union appointed Ali as a Youth Ambassador for life.

Ali Mahlodji: Storytelling and the power of stories

Experiences gleaned from more than 4000 life stories, or: „how to go your own way in life“.

Ali Mahlodji is the founder of the video storytelling platform WHATCHADO. In 2012, he acted on a childhood idea to launch a manual of life stories. In the meantime, his project has collected thousands of life stories from more than 100 countries and is a source of inspiration for millions of people.

Based on a variety of individuals from presidents, top managers and Hollywood actors through Nobel Peace Prize laureates and elite sportspeople to the regular person next door and thousands of people from hundreds of organizations worldwide – Ali Mahlodji has researched why and how the power of stories motivates us all. He explains what companies, brands and executives can learn from this, particularly in the age of digitization, and what they should avoid at all costs.

Ali Mahlodji also tells his own life story, which began as a child refugee, and his career, which he successfully launched after dropping out of school to take on more than 40 jobs – among others as a cleaner, international management consultant, teacher etc. – before realizing his dream with WHATCHADO and building it into an internationally active company.

In 2015, Ali Mahlodji was appointed European Ambassador „for the new narrative“ by EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. In this capacity, he is helping define and deliver the narrative of the EU throughout Europe.

What does the audience takes home?

INSPIRATION: from the story of Ali Mahlodji and 4000 others.
CONFIDENCE: in their own strengths and the path that lies ahead.
GUIDANCE: on how to discover their own story and tell it authentically.

Try, fail, innovate, kick ass & kill the boss

Innovation through disruption and focus. How is it possible to transform – within the space of three years – a childhood idea into an international start-up with staff from more than 15 countries and hundreds of clients, totally shake up the Human Resources sector and receive multiple awards from the UN, the EU and European organizations?

Ali Mahlodji tells how he launched an international success story after dropping out of school and taking more than 40 different jobs in succession. He explains how he managed to put the established players in the ‘hot seat’ and what the companies of the „old economy“ can learn from an innovative start-up approach.

What does the audience take away?

TRY & FAIL: Why eating dirt, falling on your face a thousand times and getting up again once more than you fall down is an essential survival factor.
INNOVATE: Which approaches can render existing markets obsolete?
KICK ASS: How to take on the market leaders and shake up those markets.
KILL THE BOSS: Why employees need coaches rather than leaders, and why the new generation of leaders should strive to make themselves replaceable.

Simplicity kills leaders – leading a new generation….

…and why focus has never been more important. Established corporations and monopolists are shaking in their shoes, because they know they are being targeted and overtaken at lightning speed by start-ups and new change makers. The „old economy“ is trapped between lack of innovation and choking overheads as it fights for survival against the „new kids on the block“, i.e. companies that have just appeared on the scene. Speed and agility are the key essentials for survival and a winning strategy in today’s markets.

Why do some companies carry these key essentials in their DNA while others choke on their own inertia? With a simple idea and the right ingredients, Ali Mahlodji has launched an international company from his own living room in just three years. This company is challenging the status quo of the HR sector, counts among the leading European start-ups, employs staff from 15 nations and has received multiple awards. He advises companies and executives on innovation and leadership transformation in the digital age while also working as a business angel and mentor.

What does the audience take away?

SAY NO & INNOVATE: How to get established players shaking in their shoes.
LEADING FUTURE GENERATIONS: How to lead future generations with their ostensibly different rules and values.
FOCUS ON YOUR DNA: How you can protect yourself from attacks by new market players.
CHANGING THE REAL WORLD: Cases of transformations that can overthrow established industries.

Remember your inner child

What leaders can learn from children, and what we all forgot long ago. Why is it that curiosity is a child’s daily companion, while in the corporate world, we are more interested in employing people who do not wish to actively shape the company’s destiny? How can it be that children are accustomed to falling over and getting up again, whereas managers complain that their employees lack a „culture of error“? How can we explain why we are all born without prejudice, whereas prejudice is a daily companion and influence on us as adults in the workplace?

In 2013, Ali Mahlodji was appointed European Youth Ambassador for life by EU Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. In this capacity, he established the whatchaSKOOL international career focus programme, which has visited thousands of children and helped them take their future into their own hands. At the same time, he and his team have interviewed thousands of people from a hundred countries about their own professions and career paths and discovered paradoxical contradictions which are representative for the stumbling blocks in our society today, and show what bosses can do to unlock their employees’ potential.

What does the audience take away?

CURIOSITY THROUGH „WHY“: Curiosity is the motor of an innovative society. Why aren’t employees curious enough, despite having possessed curiosity in spades in childhood?
LEARN TO FAIL: What we can learn from a child’s willingness to fail.
LEAD THROUGH REFOCUSING: How can people who lack a „culture of error“ and innovation at work be encouraged to strive for peak performance?

The fuel for innovation in a non-linear world

How zigzag career paths and an abundance of competitive advantage are driving digital transformation. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, one of the most valuable stock exchange-listed corporations, names diversity as the No. 1 driver of his company in terms of innovation and success. During the last three years, Ali Mahlodji and his team have interviewed thousands of people from a hundred countries and 300 organizations about their professions and career paths and gleaned insights into transnational cultures and work models, learning why diverse teams stand for more innovation and why – in an age of globalization – locking out diversity is a death sentence for a Business.

Mahlodji is not talking about CSR measures, CSR delegates and similar solutions, which are mostly merely window dressing. He talks about diversity as a rock-solid business aspect and explains why discussing diversity is essentially a joke.

Ali Mahlodji arrived in Europe as a refugee, worked at more than 40 jobs after dropping out of school and has received multiple international awards for his inspirational platform WHATCHADO. He advises companies and executives on innovation and leadership transformation in the digital age. He has also been advising the European Union on youth and the labour market since 2013 and on communications with respect to the EU’s public image since 2015.

What does the audience take away?

INNOVATE LIKE A PRO: Diversity as a driver of business innovation.
ZIGZAG CAREER PATHS: Why atypical career paths are better for business.
LEAD THE FUTURE: How to lead diverse teams and drive their innovation efforts.



Sparkling Input by Ali Mahlodji - 6th NOW Conference
Ali Mahlodji, an Error in the System :: ALI.DO
Ali Mahlodji, an Error in the System :: ALI.DO
Why planning your life is ridiculous | Ali Mahlodji | TEDxSanFrancisco
Why planning your life is ridiculous | Ali Mahlodji | TEDxSanFrancisc


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