Proud to support TEDxKakuma Camp, the first TEDx event in a refugee camp, on June 9th 2018. The Kakuma Camp in Northern Kenya is home to 185.000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Ethiopia, and other countries. Honored to be joining forces and working with Melissa Fleming - UNHCR, co-curator and co-organizer of the event, and talented people like Michael Weitz, Abigail Tenembaum and Nassim Assefi, among others. There will be a live streaming, please join us and help shape the narrative of refugees in the world today.
Last year I wrote a post about the TED talk Melissa Fleming, the UNHCR spokesperson, I worked on. Her talk reached millions of people through the TED platform and is one of the strongest narratives on refugees today.
I am happy to report that Melissa's book entitled "A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea", which is based on this story, became a NYT bestseller and will now be adapted into the big screen by Steven Spielberg and J.J.Abrams.
The ripple effect of a powerful narrative continues.
A couple of months ago I was invited by The Factory as a guest to one of their Coffee Talk series, where I talked about my work with TED and inspirational speakers from around the world. The interview was in front of a live audience and you may listen to it here. Thank you Caleb for being a great host :)
There are some excerpts from books or movies that stay with us forever. Quotes that are a constant reference in our lives; truths and statements we identify with.
A few years ago I read this in A.A.Gill's book "A.A.Gill is Away":
Travel makes for intense companionship. These are people I will probably never meet again, many of whose names I can't remember, but they live with me and I'm constantly reminded of their parallel lives stumbling alongside mine, somewhere out there over the horizon. Travel lead us to the realization that what connects us is far more astonishing and precious than what separates us. We are further apart than we think and closer than we imagine.
Recently I started reading "The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Watts. He writes:
This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not "come into" this world; we come "out" of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves", the universe "peoples". Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.
At first I did not connect the two. I just knew that both resonate with me a lot and kept on bringing those two up in conversations.
They both boil down to the same thing: interconnectedness.
Oneness in all things. We are indeed closer than we imagine. And we are all expressions of the whole realm of nature.
*Trivia: first book was suggested by a good friend years ago. The second recently by my sister. They both have the same birthday. Interconnectedness? Maybe :P
These last 8 months have been pretty eventful: two TEDGlobal events (TEDGlobal>London and TEDGlobal>Geneva), one TED event in Vancouver, four TEDx events in various cities around the world, one YPOLab event in Dubai, many executive coaching events, over one hundred speakers all over the world and a baby boy baking.
Just a few days before I embark on my maternity leave, I feel grateful to have been working with and learning from so many wonderful people. Strong minds, visionaries, change makers, explorers, innovators, people who strive to make a difference in their communities and the global community we all live in. From scientists and social activists to billionaire entrepreneurs and the first Syrian refugee on a TEDx stage (more on that as soon as the talk is released), there is nothing more satisfying than seeing these speakers rock on stage.
Preparing their talks is a collaborative process; one that requires commitment and making sure that what comes out on stage will be the most impactful version of their story. Speakers allow me to become a part of that story and deep dive in their fields of interest. And every single time I feel more fulfilled as a person. The bond formed is a strong one, and very often results to friendships that last much more than the standing ovations they receive.
Before I immerse myself into the new story of motherhood, I wanted to say a big heartfelt THANK YOU to all the amazing people that trusted me with their stories and their talks these past months.
See you after the summer!
The power of a strong narrative and its ripple effect can be overwhelming...
Back in October 2014, while working at TEDGlobal in Rio, I suggested to TED speaker Melissa Fleming, the UNHCR Head of Communications, to give a talk on refugees and the Mediterranean in Greece. Back then the flow of refugees from Turkey to Greece via boats was already a reality, but nothing compared to the thousands of people fleeing in these so called "death boats" in the following months.
Melissa and I worked on her talk for the TEDxThessaloniki event in May 2015. In this journey our co-traveller was my trusted colleague and good friend Elena Papadopoulou, TEDxThessaloniki Curator. By then, seven months after Rio, the situation in the Aegean Sea was reaching its peak and media attention was on the largest refugee crisis since WWII. In Thessaloniki, Melissa told the heartbreaking story of Doaa, a young Syrian woman who saved a little girl's life and became a hero, while being aboard an overload ship carrying more than 500 refugees.
In November 2015 her talk was released on TED.com, reaching 1.2 million views as I'm writing this post. One of the strongest narratives on refugees so far, Melissa is now writing a book based on this talk that will be released sometime during fall 2016. You can also hear her latest interview at the TED hour on NPR.
While it's unfortunate that the refugee situation continues to get worse, it's satisfying to be part of a process that increases awareness on such important world events.
It's a small contribution to trying to make this world a better place.
Last May I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Nikkos J. Frangos on the stage of TEDxThessaloniki. An incurable visionary, Nikkos is an entrepreneur, investor and producer of films and documentaries. With investment activities ranging from the fields of renewable energy and the shipping industry to IT, he has founded and funded numerous companies all over the world. Working for a couple of months with Nikkos prior to the TEDxThessaloniki event, I was amazed by his passion for life, his notion of "living on the edge of existence", his love for new ideas and his unconventional approach into doing business.
"What you're looking for is the essence of a problem. Reasoning can take you only so far, but it's your character and willingness to cultivate and allow intuition to be your guide. Your courage and faith –that's what will take you to the rest of the way."
In June I was invited by the Gates Cambridge Scholars to give a workshop on "How to deliver an impactful talk". I hadn't been in Cambridge for a couple of years; yet every time is emotional, every time I go back to my careless student days in Trinity Hall.
Organising a workshop for twenty bright Gates Scholars was a fantastic experience. My aim was to help them present their ideas effectively in short 5 minutes presentations. With topics ranging from architecture to bone tissue regeneration and from education to climate change, what was common in all scholars was their passion. And being passionate -and authentic- is the perfect basis for a good talk.
One of the participants, Rebekah Scheuerle, wrote a beautiful article on The Huffington Post summarising the key points of the workshop.
After months of preparation for TEDGlobal>London, we opened our doors to about 400 attendees. It was a one-day event, held on June 16 at the Faraday Lecture Theatre at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. You may find a great recap of the day and a short summary of all talks at the TEDBlog. You may see some of the talks on TED.com, like the one from Yuval Noah Harari, trying to explain the rise of humans (I really love this talk).
What you cannot see is that inside the theatre, we decided to do a little experiment, banning the use of smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras –all electronic devices. It was hard for the ones who enjoy live tweeting and sharing, but at the end everyone said they loved it. You may read about it in this interesting article that Bruno Giussani wrote in The Guardian.
It's not the TED talk format or the TEDx talk format, or the whole buzz around 18 minute talks. It's the inspiration I get from working all these months with HIV activists, with the people who take humanitarian action behind the news we're served, with the gay HIV advocate of Nigeria, the one of the Lost Boys of South Sudan, the lovely Afghani artist from Kabul working with street kids (street kid himself), the activist from Lagos fighting for meningitis vaccines (who almost died by meningitis).
Thank you for bringing inspiration in my life.
Thank you for reminding me our world is small, we're small - but we may do "big" good if it's from the heart and soul. I haven't got enough words to express my daily gratitude for working with these amazing people and helping them tell their stories.
The man working at the furniture store wrote this as my full name on the down plan he prepared. Love it :)
January is the month of resolutions and suggestions on how to be more happy, less stressed, more productive, and how to lose holiday weight. So, when I stumbled upon the NYT article "Your 2014 resolution: Drinking Adventurously" I simply loved its title and resolution. To be more exact, I got the mouth watering sensation of a sip of red dry wine in my mouth.
For those of you who know me, you know my love for wine. A glass per day along with my main meal is part of my daily diet. It may be white or red, depending on the food, although I go more for crispy cold whites in the summertime and dry reds in the winter. I rarely go for rosé, but if I do, it's only when a dry sparkly Akakies is available.
The love for a glass of wine per day runs in the family. And I have documents to prove it! Not a coincidence given that my family is from Naoussa, one of the two regions in Greece that produce the fine red Xinomavro wine, meaning "sour black" and read "ksinomavro".
My grandfather used to say that "wine makes the old man feel young again" and he had a glass per day, living a healthy happy life up to the age of 92. Actually, the importance of wine in our family goes back to my great-grand father. In a 1944 transfer of land document, between my grandfather and his siblings, their father's well being was linked to the provision of wine. In dividing the land, while some brothers were given vineyards, my grandfather's land had apple trees. So, if their aged father decided to spend the rest of his life with my grandfather, his brothers were obliged to provide two barrels of wine per year for their father. Funny condition for a contract, no?
Last year, during a road trip in the Napa Valley wineries in California, I was astonished by the amazing comments of wine connoisseurs on the Xinomavro grapes. They knew all about the history of excellence of this wine, as in the 19th century the wines of Naoussa were considered to be the finest red wines of the Ottoman Empire. As the empire had incorporated the entire north of Greece by that time, Naoussa wines were served from the palaces of Istanbul to Vienna, Russia, and Egypt. Until recently, the promotional activities for Xinomavro had been rather limited, especially in the USA. However, xinomavro is quietly taking over the hearts of California's wine connoisseurs.
After a long period of relative inertia, these prestigious vineyards are back in the spotlight due to a new generation of open minded young winemakers. Only a month ago, a three day event was organised in Naoussa called "Naoussa, the Wine City". The event was a joint effort by local vineyards to promote the Xinomavro wine, with the collaboration of locals restaurants and bars. Among these extrovert young vintners is my uncle, owner of the Karyda Estate, one of the most well known vineyards in Naoussa. An excellent Xinomavro wine, which I happily found in the prestigious wine list of the twice Michelin star awarded Dio Deka restaurant in San Francisco.
Hey, I had to brag about the other side of the family too!
You may find Greek wines in stores that import and sell a variety of wines from all over the world, as well as in specific restaurants. They're easier to find if you are located in Europe or in some places in the States, than other places. But trust me. They're worth a try!
My top ten Greek wines, red and white, in random order:
- Assyrtiko by Domaine Sigalas, Santorini, Aegean Islands [white]
- Assyrtiko by Argyros Estate, Santorini, Aegean Islands [white]
- Magic Mountain Red by Nico Lazaridi, Drama, Northern Greece [red]
- Ovilos White Biblia Chora by Domaine Biblia Chora, Kavala, Northern Greece [white]
- Uranos by Thymiopoulos Vineyards, Naoussa, Northern Greece [red]
- Prekniariko by Chrysochoou, Chrysochoou Estate, Naoussa, Northern Greece [white]
- Alpha Estate Red by Alpha Estate, Florina, NW Greece [red]
- Paliokalias by Dalamaras Estate, Naoussa, Northern Greece [red]
- White Domaine Karydas, Naoussa [white]
- Gerovassiliou White by Domaine Gerovassiliou, Thessaloniki, Northern Greece [white]
Welcome to my new little home on the web! A website that will be connecting my various points of presence on the web. For the past years I've been sharing stories and photos on my Soleil Blanco photoblog. In 2013, I started being biliouriful, a newsletter that I have been enjoying writing a lot. And of course I have been tweeting and posting on FB, and more rarely on +google. And on top of all that happening, my Flickr became a little stale. No wonder!
Not only was this scattered presence tiring, I found I was not happy any longer with some of these platforms. My photoblog on Blogspot -although directly linked to my gmail account- was kind of outdated and I needed a change of layout, more options and available tools. Using TinyLetter for my first newsletters was fun; however I found the platform a bit limiting when it came to uploading photos and embedding videos. So, the fact that Squarespace may be directly linked to a MailChimp newsletter was a strong enough reason for me to move my being biliouriful newsletter to a "new house".
All the signs pointed towards the same direction: a new little hub on the net.
Hope you enjoy!