GEL 2008: Day 2, Session 4 “Success”

[Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2 Session 1 “Connect”, Session 2 “Twist”, Session 3 “Make”]

Session 4: Success

Speakers: Nayla Al-Khaja, Marissa Mayer, Garrett Oliver, Bob Mankoff, Chip Conley

Nayla Al-Khaja, producer and director

  • Nayla is from Dubai, the first producer and director in the United Arab Emirates
  • 35 years ago UAE was a blank desert. Now it’s a big city. 30% of the world’s cranes are there currently
  • “My country is 32 years old. Oldest building is 20 years old. Now everything is becoming plastic. It’s like one big shot of Botox”
  • “We’re losing our culture and identity…80% of the people living there are expatriates. Most people speak more than 4 languages”
  • She wasn’t allowed to travel alone as a woman, so she paid a man to marry her so she could study film in Toronto
  • She was determined to create films about stories from her homeland. She succeeded. “You can move mountains with films…it’s mobile
  • She got a divorce (took 7 min, a lot easier in Dubai). Her dad and brother have disavowed her for being a professional woman, by her mom is supportive
  • Demonstrating traditional Arabic dress, how those who are less religious wear it vs those more religious
  • Her next film is about how Arab women go on their first date. Dating is a taboo, done in secret
  • She works with a team of only five people. She writes, but really needs screenwriters. Anyone interested?
  • There’s no film equipment in Dubai. She flies everything in
  • She’s 30 and has a 10:30 curfew. She can’t travel anywhere alone, basically ran away to be here

Doug Quin came on stage briefly to play recorded sounds from New Zealand, Alaska, the Amazon. What a cool guy

Marissa Mayer, VP Search and UX at Google

  • Marissa spoke at GEL in its first year. Google only had 1,000 ppl then. 20,000 now
  • “How to create emotional experiences on our website that let users connect with us”
  • Talking about iGoogle as a big stride towards that.
  • On May 21 “Doodle 4 Google” will display the chosen logo submitted by public school student
  • Google Health: put your health records online. Which vaccinations are you do for? When do you need to refill a prescription?
  • She pitched universal search to execs. She thought it would take 18 mos to implement but it took 5 yrs. Launched last May.

Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery

  • Garrett is also one of the founders of the Slow Food movement in the U.S.
  • Comparing himself to other speakers, all very successful: “We only have one office in one country…but I make beer. I win”
  • Drank beer in college: “We drank Budweiser when we had money.” Mickey’s Big Mouth otherwise
  • By the way, Garrett is wearing a t-shirt that says Black Chocolate Stout. And he’s black :)
  • About the crap in supermarkets: “A loaf of bread does not stay fresh in a bag for 2 weeks. The stuff in the bag is not bread”
  • Similarily, 90% of the beer offered at supermarkets is a “facsimile”
  • Fact: people moved from hunters and gathers to settlers so that they could grow enough grain to make beer
  • Buy Garrett Oliver’s book The Brewmaster’s Table; my beer teacher Marnie Old at French Culinary Institute recommended it too
  • Brooklyn is the only brewery in the U.S. to do bottle re-fermentation: beer is called Local 1
  • People may not have trained palates, but they have taste. Brooklyn doesn’t do focus groups; they brew what tastes good to them

Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker

  • 1,000 cartoons a week come in to the New Yorker
  • Four types of cartoons — Normal vs abnormal for caption and picture
  • Pupil size significantly expands at the moment that you get the joke
  • Arc of incongruity: Confusion, nonsense, absurdity, realistic humor, close to normal
  • Bob showed tons of New Yorker cartoons, wish I could have captured them all

See them all at the Cartoon Bank

Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality

  • Chip’s talk is about “Peak Experience”
  • Happiness: how to find it for yourself and your company
  • He created the Phoenix Hotel at 26 to allow rockers to stay, other hoteliers didn’t want them there
  • Wanted to embody “You are where you sleep.” Funky, hip, young-at-heart, irreverent, adventurous
  • Hotel Avante welcomes more Google guests than any other hotel even though 5 hotels are closer to their campus
  • His Hotel Vitale is for the BoBos (Bourgeois Bohemians) “Post W, pre Four Seasons” Urbane, enlightened, nurturing, modern, fresh
  • In 2001-2005, San Francisco’s hotel industry took the worst hit of anywhere in the country since World War II.
  • Chip went to the self-help section and found Maslow. Hierarchy of Needs pyramid made him realize Joie de Vivre = self-actualization
  • Employee Relationship Truth pyramid. Job at the bottom (money), Career in the middle (recognition), Calling at the top (meaning)
  • Peak experiences for the employee creates peak experiences for the customer
  • Customer Relationship Truth pyramid. Meets Expectations (satisfaction), Meets Desires (commitment), Meets Unrecognized Needs (evangelism)

What a fun day. Such a great variety of speakers. Enjoyed the Brooklyn beer and got the chance to chat with Garrett Oliver. So cool!

NOTE: You can see all my photos of the conference or check out the photos by professional photographer Gene Driskell.

[Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2 Session 1 “Connect”, Session 2 “Twist”, Session 3 “Make”]

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  1. says

    Thank you for the lessons on individuals who I am unaware about by fascinated by their stories. I used to work in documentary film so it is interesting to know the stories about others who work in the industry and why they are in the industry. So, Nayla’s story touched me as all the others!

    I am laughing at your comment on Garrett Oliver. Where you stated, “By the way, Garrett is wearing a t-shirt that says Black Chocolate Stout. And he’s black” I sometimes do comments like that at times if you look at my picture on twitter you will see why 8 P

  2. says

    Thanks Whitney for all the twitter notes turned into great posts – very user-friendly and a good overview of what GEL sessions are like. Great job!
    GEL is indeed different from DLD, TED Talks or the rest I have seen so far.
    As for iGoogle, I am not sure it will break through, and be a success within the next few years. Like Netvibes, it may only attract certain type of users.

    Jennifer, I also found Nayla’s story great. The best, in fact – at least based on Whitney’s summary.


  1. […] [Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2 Session 1 “Connect”, Session 3 “Make”, Session 4 “Success”] […]

  2. […] [Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2 Session 2 “Twist”, Session 3 “Make”, Session 4 “Success”] […]

  3. […] read about Nayla Al-Khaja on Whitney Hess’ blog Pleasure and Pain this morning.  She is an incredibly brave award winning film producer and director from Dubai.  […]

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