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American Program Bureau Speaking to the world for over 50 years

Soraya Darabi

Futurist & Digital Strategist
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Biography

As a renowned digital entrepreneur and pioneer in the social media landscape, Soraya is a leading authority on digital commerce and ways to apply new technologies to help foster efficiency, visibility and growth.

Most recently, Soraya is the co-founder of Zady.com, which is among the first online retailers to seamlessly integrate commerce, rich media content and social media, providing customers with a truly dynamic shopping experience. Zady.com empowers customers to learn about the conscious consumer movement and purchase beautifully-constructed goods that are created with craftsmanship and artisanship – qualities that have been sacrificed in a world of cheap prices and fast production. In 2014, Zady was named by Fast Company as one of the top ten most innovative retail companies in the world as part of their annual Most Innovative Companies issue.

Soraya began her career as Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at The New York Times, where she quickly established herself as a leading thought leader on today's ever-changing digital landscape. While at The New York Times, Soraya positioned the global news leader on networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, partnered with startups large and small, and established award-winning campaigns. She was also tasked with teaching journalists and chief executives alike how to best use and leverage social media. Renowned Times columnist Nicholas Kristof credits Darabi as being "the only reason why he has [millions] of followers on Twitter."

Following her tenure at the Times, Soraya served as Product Lead for drop.io, a real-time online sharing, collaboration, and presentation service (acquired by Facebook). She then went on to co-found the popular mobile application Foodspotting, named by Apple and Wired Magazine as an “app of the year” before being acquired by Open Table.

Recently featured on the cover of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” issue, and Brandweek’s “Hot Digital” issue, Soraya also was named one of Inc. Magazine's "30 Under 30," and included in AdAge’s “25 People in Media to Follow on Twitter.” In 2014, she received the honor of joining the World Economic Forum’s "Young Global Leaders." Her experience and success in identifying and leveraging the latest digital technologies make Soraya an ideal speaker for organizations of all sizes which are looking for ways to help build sustainable growth in our new digital world.

Soraya received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Georgetown University. Darabi can speak with Zady co-founder Maxine Bédat on their shared topics, including insights on participatory commerce, sustainability and building an omni-channel brand.

Topics

Emerging Media: What’s Next

Why does knowing “what’s next” in emerging media greatly impact your business? Whether your company already has stable loyal followers or you're just starting to build your base, an engaged community is the calling card of any successful brand. In this presentation, futurist and digital strategist Soraya Darabi shows you how to leverage new trends in emerging media across social networks and mobile technology. You will learn what questions to ask in order to stay ahead-of-the-curve, enhance your brand presence, create an online identity that accurately represents both you and your organization and most importantly, understand how to create a culture of innovation inside of your company. Ultimately, Darabi will help you sift through the hype, maintain customer loyalty and find social platforms that will bring the most ROI to your brand or organization.

Future of Conscious Business

More than previous generations, millennnials want social responsibility and transparency from the brands they buy. In the history of business, there have been few companies as successful as McDonald’s. In its heyday, 2,000 new “Golden Arches” opened each year — an average of one every five hours. But, today, there are several new kids on the block: Chipotle, Pret a Manger, to name just a couple. These companies share two things in common. They’re stealing large chunks of market share from legacy brands like McDonald’s - in part because of their emphasis on clean food and healthy living. And, critically, they have embraced transparency at the core of their operations and marketing. Today, after a long stretch of outperforming other food chains, McDonald’s is struggling, in part, because they are losing relevance with today’s consumers. Millennials — who in the US alone already account for an estimated $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending and influence consumer attitudes among Gen-Xers and even baby boomers — have come to expect greater transparency about the food that goes into their bodies and they’re now starting to expect that same transparency in the clothing they put on their bodies.

Will your business be affected by the “NEW consumer?”

In this speech, Soraya Darabi will discuss the future of Conscious Business in America, and why embracing Social Impact as part of your core mission is as important now as it ever will be.

The 5 Things That You Will Need To Know To Start A Successful New Venture

In this speech, Soraya Darabi will teach audiences the 5 essentials steps to become a successful entrepreneur, based on her own experiences. These include:

1. Pick a cause you’re truly committed to.
Darabi’s commitment to global human rights issues — a lesson handed down by her “Baby-Boomer” parents — informed her desire to elevate products crafted by people who are treated well, and who work in safe conditions.

2. Do your homework.
Seriously, do as much research as you can. It took Darabi a long time to hone the idea for Zady. She researched the sustainable fashion landscape for ages to learn what’s working, what’s not and to find out where the needs are. Take your time, talk to authorities in your field and figure out how you can create something fresh and original before drawing up a formal business plan.

3. Choose your co-founder wisely.
When you’re going into business with someone, it’s nice to share a common background, but trusting and respecting your partner is also vital. What makes Darabi and Maxine Bédat’s partnership work is their complementary skills, real-world experience and shared vision for Zady.

4. Pick your core team just as wisely as your co-founder.
Investors, advisors, early team members: It’s really crucial you don’t just work with the first people you find. Zady has a lean staff, and they work hard. Four are full-time and everyone basically has three job titles. It’s not uncommon for them to pull all-nighters. But Darabi calls them all family. They genuinely like each other, and that makes going to work fun.

5. Be brave—and believe.
In the beginning of his career, Whole Foods founder John Mackey was turned down by several Silicon Valley investors. Now, his company is valued upwards of 13 billion dollars. Come up with a clear mission, build a team that will stick by you and then, as a staff, live your core values. You’ve got to believe to succeed.

How to Become an Entrepreneur within Your Organization: The Case for “Intrepreneurship”

In an era where Entrepreneurs have become “the new Hollywood” and are popping up more readily than ever, companies are posed with a challenge: how do they attract the best talent while also preserving that talent in-house? How do they keep up with the joneses of young, nimble startups and create a culture of ‘intrepreneurship’ in-house? In this keynote speech for companies, Soraya Darabi will address her time as an intrepreneur for The New York Times and later ABC News/Disney, while describing best practices for companies looking to become more innovative, attract the best talent and create a culture of innovation in-house.

The Beta Approach to Business Success

See something new… Test it, play with it, find out how it works… Imagine its use for your company… Find something else new… Repeat. This is the beta approach to business success. As a leadership philosophy, it is driving growth in the most talked-about companies in the world. Building a beta culture in your organization will rip loose hundreds, even thousands, of innovators whose innate curiosity in experimenting with new technologies, new products, new services and new ideas will drive your company’s competitive engine quicker and with more agility.

Those who “play with” new tech advancements first, from e-commerce to social media to cloud-computing and beyond, had a crucial leg up on their competitors. They were the first to reap the huge rewards in cost savings, operational efficiencies and building meaningful connections to customers.

In this speech, Soraya Darabi explores the beta approach to growth, and the advantages of being “first to market” which has made her one of the leading business advisors and new media experts in the world. Companies she has worked or consulted for include GE, The New York Times, Time Inc., Disney, a multi-national bank and many others. This could be one of the most important speeches your organization will hear in some time.

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