Qai Qai (The Doll) and Zoe are Total Boss Ladies

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL – Do you know Qai Qai?

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Have you not heard of this sweet, innocent, inspiring motivational Instagram poster?

Oh, I forgot to add that she is no pushover as well. She is the ultimate boss lady! She is like the miniature version of Anna Wintour. I imagine when you see her coming to your office, you don’t know if you should hide under the desk or talk about how nice your weekend was.

Right now, she has beef (a disagreement) with her brothers, the puppies. Since she doesn’t want to lose her role as the best friend to the CEO of her company, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. and the founders of the Williams-Ohanian Inc, she is making sure to show them who Qai Qai is!

For real, this girl is not messing around. You can see it on her Instagram feed.

Outside the family drama, Qai Qai is the doll I wished I had growing up as a black girl. Zoe, Quai Quai’s creator, was in kindergarten when she was teased because of her natural, kinky hair. This inspired her to help prevent other kids from being ashamed of their natural hair or skin color, which differed from the majority of popular dolls at the time. This led to the creation of Qai Qai and other dolls. Zoe’s goal was to empower the proud Mamas of these dolls, like Olympia, to love their skin in hopes they wouldn’t have to deal with the same issues she had in Kindergarten.

I was a big fan of Barbie but in the ’80s and ’90s. I envied her perfect, silky hair, which was so different from my own. Barbie was usually a princess or a bikini-clad beach bum without any real substance. This changed in the 2000s and I am so proud of Mattel for giving a more realistic, inspiring image to this classic doll.

In comparison, Qai Qai has this larger than life personality. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone. She reminds herself to be strong and confident. She enjoys her tutus and crazy expressions, and although she is sometimes afraid of being replaced by one of the dogs in Olympia’s heart, she maintains her confidence in talking about her feelings (I think hihi).

She is also really funny!

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Maybe, if dolls like Qai Qai were an option for me in my youth, I would have been more comfortable with my hair and playing with different styles for my type of hair, than wishing I had bouncy Caucasian locks.

We must be grateful to Wlliams-Ohanian Inc. for creating fabulous dolls, Zoe’s dolls. Oh, by the way, Zoe is only 12 years old! Not even a teen and she has already created a non-profit company.

That’s a boss lady right there!

On top of all this, Zoe has a heart of gold. She is collecting unwrapped dolls and donating them to girls in need, in Haiti for example.

Zoe

Qai Qai was created by a kind, thoughtful, and special little girl.

I may be 35, going 36 – a grown woman, but I still have the heart of a child. I will buy Zoe’s doll (and hug her) before I give it to my one-year-old cousin (I think I will buy 2, since her big sister may steal the doll). My hope is that they can feel proud of the skin they were born with and have Zoe and Qai Qai as role models.

Thank you Zoe, and thank you Qai Qai, for making me see there is still some kind of wonderful in this world.

https://www.instagram.com/realqaiqai/

Oh, please check out this video and don’t tell about it to Allstate Insurance…

Qai Qai and Olympia fight and reconciliation video

 

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The Queens of Hip-Hop

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL – On this really cold Wednesday morning, I must listen to a playlist that will make me forget about the harsh, cold days we have had for a couple of weeks now. This so-called “winter wonderland”.

While browsing my playlists on my iPhone, I decided to start this week with my Queens of Hip-Hop’s playlist. On this list, you won’t find any Cardi B (who’s that?!?) and no Nicky Minaj (who’s that?!?). Seriously, with all the legendary ladies we have in Hip-Hop, I just don’t get how come those two singers (and I’m being really nice here) are so popular. They are mediocre, at best. Even my grandma Sue (sorry grandma) would be a better rapper than those ladies. My grandma would have dropped some words of knowledge with a big attitude.

Anyhow, my playlist is an ode to the icons of Hip-Hop music. The first track was the perfect one to start this kick-ass, goddess of a playlist.

Let me present you with Queen Latifah classic’s Unity.

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They don’t make these kinds of anthems anymore, but this oldie is a classic.

The children of the 70s, 80s and even early 90s were so lucky for witnessing so many classics hits during those decades.

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Back to the main topic.

The next song on my playlist was Doo Wop (That Thing) from Ms. Lauren Hill. The debut solo album of this “The Fugees’ family” alumnus, The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, was until now, one of the greatest albums of all time.

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So far, this playlist is on fire!

Of course, the playlist includes some Salt’N’Pepa too. In the 80s, there were two bands with strong women that I was a die-hard fan of. Salt’N’Pepa and Bananarama (I’m a Venus, I’m a Venus, your desire … oh damn! I was five and singing those lyrics).

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Salt’N’Pepa was the first female rappers I saw. For a second, as a young girl, I wanted to be a rapper. My big brother told me I really didn’t know how to rap though (damn you, big brother).

There is no Queens of Hip-Hop playlist without some MC Lyte. Like, it’s impossible!

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Not putting a Ruffneck track on this list would probably get me disowned by my brother, haha. She is one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop artists and truly, I hope one day that she will be inducted into the Rock N’Roll Hall of Fame.

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Of course, I got some Missy Elliott and Erika Badu as well. When I listen to Missy’s hit The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), omg, I have a beautiful throwback party in my brain! I remember the first time I heard this song and how mesmerized I was by the creativity of Missy Elliott. I never took drugs in my life, but from that moment, I was so hooked on every piece of music Missy Elliott created like it was cocaine.

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I may write an even longer post about this fabulous playlist, but I will spare you reading a full chapter of my reminiscing about the good old times of music history.

Can we steal Marty McFly’s car from Back To The Future and return to the ’90s, please?

I’m pretty sure we have some magnificent, talented women who are creating fabulous music, but for some dumb reason, clueless and insignificant songs are being made by a stripper and a woman whose persona I don’t even understand the purpose of keep playing everywhere! There is nothing intelligent being said in those songs and foremost, nothing empowering are being communicated to the next generation of young, impressionable human beings.

I’m too damn mad, so I better listen to my playlist and get empowered by my Queens of Hip-Hop……

queensofhip-hop

http://www.missy-elliott.com

http://www.mclytenow.com

https://www.saltnpepa.com

https://twitter.com/iamqueenlatifah

 

The Myth of Being a Nice Girl with Fran Hauser

MONTREAL – Being a nice person is not a sign of weakness in the workplace. Not anymore.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to have a nice chat with one of the coolest woman in the world. No, I’m not exaggerating.

Fran Hauser is a long-time media executive (dream goal of mine), a startup investor and a best-selling author (second dream goal of mine haha) of my bible The Myth of The Nice Girl. Yep, she is preaching us that it is okay to be a nice and strong person at the same time.

During her career, she navigated in some of the biggest senior positions at some of the world’s largest digital media companies such as PEOPLE,  In Style (omg), Entertainment Weekly and AOL.

Here’s my interview with the fabulous Fran Hauser coming at you:

Fran Hauser

 

Thank you for my Fairy Media Godmother for being an inspiration!

The Myth of a Nice Girl Book on Amazon – Fran Hauser

http://www.franhauser.com

Talking Diabetes and Taking Care of Ourselves with Charlotte Summers

MONTREAL –  During the Web Summit, I met Charlotte Summers who is someone that will change our world for the better.

Charlotte Summers

How come?

Charlotte Summers is a published clinical author and expert in digital health interventions and behavioral change/psychology. She is also Chief Operating Officer and the driving force behind Diabetes Digital Media Ltd based in the heart of England at the University of Warwick Science Park.

Cool! I know!

Charlotte’s focus lies in creating and delivering digital education programs with proven health outcomes and cost savings. Her passion lies in creating offline accountability and behavioral change in a digital age.

In 2015, she was responsible for the launch of the Low Carb Program. So far over 375,000 people have downloaded the program which shows people how to lose weight, reduce their HbA1c, become active and in some cases put type 2 diabetes in remission. Charlotte continuously drives this project forward, saving the NHS millions of pounds by reduced requirements for medication and the prevention of diabetes-related complications which can lead to hospital admissions, amputation etc.

So here my interview with Charlotte Summers during the Web Summit 2018. We had so much fun talking about diabetes, healthy lifestyle, music and her hope for the future.

She is truly someone I enjoy having a nice chat. I would like to apologize for my very early morning French Canadian accent.

Here we go:

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/contributors/charlotte-summers/

https://www.diabetes.co.uk

https://twitter.com/CharlieSummers_

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart… Oups. Last WebSummit, I gave you my heart!

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL – When I woke up in the morning of the last day of the greatest tech summit of all time ( I know, you’ve must be annoyed that I keep writing that sentence but it is so true), I got this song stuck in my head of Phil Collins Another Day in Paradise (Oh, think twice dalalala) as I prepare myself to conquer the world at the Web Summit for one last time in 2018. I grab a big glass of orange juice and I gave a big kiss to Grace, the dog of Ana and Bruno my hosts during the week, on my way out to the Web Summit (please don’t tell Bily Whisky, my Maltese, that I did kiss a girl and I like it …).

When I arrive at the Media Village, I was so ready for my one of one interview with a fascinating woman. Her name is Charlotte Summers and she is the COO of Diabetes Digital Media.

You will hear really soon our nice conversation at the Web Summit. I learn some many things about Low Carbs diet and I saw in Charlotte, a warrior for the diabetes patients to have a better health and a better lifestyle. In my book, Charlotte’s rock! All the Charlottes I know are so cool.

Welcome to my Charlotte’s Club Charlotte Summers.

There were so many interesting conferences like the Do We Need a Declaration of Digital Human Rights with Brett Solomon of Access Now, Peggy Hicks UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and Adrian Lovett of World Wide Web Foundation. The moderator was Belinda Goldsmith of Thomson Reuters Foundation. Good and hard questions were asked about digital human rights. We are witnessing, especially right now, all the bullying that we are happening online from private citizens and some public figures like a certain person that is in charge of the United States of America. We do have a chart of human rights but do we need a chart of digital rights in this social media era? Yes, the chart of human rights should be enough but with everything that is going on, I do wonder if we need digital rights big time. The panel did debate on this question and of the 4, 1 of them did agree that we should maybe be considered to have a digital rights chart. I think we will still have this conversation in 2019.

In the afternoon, I met Marko Bitenc of GenePlanet for a small chat that you will have the chance to hear it really soon on The Chronicle.

Marko Bitenc is the CEO of GenePlanet. GenePlanet is an innovative healthcare and lifestyle solutions based on preventive genetic testing. Their goal is with preventive guidelines, they will help individuals to live a more fulfilling and healthy lifestyle. We may have to know someone that dies of a genetic predisposition and probably didn’t know at all he got those genes. I find it fascinating and it does give me a little bit more hope about the innovation of science to make our life a little bit healthier.

After my chat with Marko, I ran at the other side of the Pavillon (they got 3 big tents at the Web Summit) to see Lucas Di Grassi on stage.

Last time I saw Lucas was two years ago in Montreal.

Actually, Lucas was my next interview on my Thursday schedule right after his talks. But we did have to reschedule it. So be ready for two interviews (one in person and one in writing) with Lucas!

Back at Luca’s talk at the Auto/Tech and Talk Robot stage, Lucas talks about the human-machine race for the future.

The kid in me was super-excited. Lucas is the CEO of Roborace, the world’s first competition for human and machine teams, using self-driving and manually-controlled cars. Where do I sign to be a pilot?

Oh, I can hear my hubby saying you a pilot, haha, you must be kidding me.

Ok back to the topic. I saw it with my own eyes a driverless car (Lucas did show us a cool video) speeding up during a test drive and let me tell, human racers have some deep competitions coming really soon. Lucas is a passionate person and so smart.

I couldn’t see a better CEO than him for Roborace.

Paddy Cosgrave, the Web Summit Founder, gave a nice closing speech and before I forget to mention, during the Summit I think it was Wednesday late afternoon, all the women in tech were invited to go on stage for a big photo and a big applause from the public.

Wow, I’m so happy for every woman in the tech world to have this recognition.

As I prepare myself to fly home to my little family and to my Canadian weather and shinanigan, my heart was being nostalgic with all the conferences, the new friends like Paolo, Bruno, Grace and Ana and the partners I met at the Web Summit.

I had a little moment of happy tears but I didn’t cry a river because I couldn’t believe all the things I witnessed.

But I was so proud to be part of it. And then, a big smile came upon my face.

Why?

Collision 2019 will be in Toronto. The North-American version of the Web Summit will be in the Tdot! And then, I realize, Toronto will be my playground in May 2019.

Guess who will be back in the Tdot?

https://geneplanet.com

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/contributors/charlotte-summers/

https://roborace.com

Felt like a Rockstar at day 2 of the Web Summit

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL – The feeling I had when I woke up last Wednesday was super happy and confident. I suddenly felt like a rockstar! Before I left for the summit, I grabbed a big glass of orange juice and my dear friend for the week, Grace, a beautiful dog whose home I was staying at, along with amazing hosts: Ana, Bruno, and Paola. Grace was looking at me with those big beautiful eyes and this look: “Oh no you are leaving…” I told her that today (Wednesday) would be a fabulous day at the summit and I would be back that night to tell her all about it.

Yes, I do have conversations with dogs. They are such good listeners… I think.

On my metro ride to the Summit, a young lady introduced herself. She saw my media bracelet and she asked me if I was going to the Summit.

I was happy to tell her yes. Her name wasDiana. She is a young, smart journalist for the Youth Association of Journalists in Lisbon (I hope I got the name right). Diana was a dear companion during the rest of the summit. We met every now and then and I truly cherished our new friendship.

One highlight of the day before I forgot to write about was walking through the Alexis Ohanion Sr interview for CNN. I kept my cool and I tried to listen. At the end of his interview, as I was on my way out and without any expectation, I told him to go see a talk on the main stage that I will tweet a picture of. I heard him say “oh ok cool”.

As I promised, I tweeted the picture I took. I didn’t expect that in the next 5 minutes, he would have liked the picture and retweeted it. Boom!!!

Only at the Web Summit things like this happen, or maybe in the subway.

Back to Day 2. I was sitting in the main auditorium during the early afternoon (around2 pm) to see the amazing Dr. Ben Goertzel of Hanson Robotics, a company creating expressive, life-like robots with friendly personalities. Dr. Goertzel wasn’t on stage by himself, Sophia and Hunt were rocking the stage with him.

Who are Sophia?

Here is Sophia:

Interview with Sophia

It’s so amazing to see them and to have to privilege to be invited to the press conference given by Dr. Goertzel and Sophie The Robot. Good questions were asked.

The Internet wasn’t at it’s best, so Sophia was under the weather, unfortunately. We did witness all the beautiful work that the Hanson Robotics Family has been building. The future looks promising for all of us.

Thirty minutes later, I went to another press conference. This time, it was with the brilliant artist, Imogen Heap. She is such a multi-talented musician, producer, engineer, philanthropist, and a kick-ass woman (yes, kick ass).

Mycelia is a research and development hub for music makers (Hallelujah!).

I even got the opportunity to ask her a quick question!

After this beautiful day, I went back to the place I was calling home for the week I was in Lisbon. Grace (the dog) and I hung out and she listened (again) to all the adventures I had during that fabulous day.

The next thing you knew, I was dreaming about the next day, the last day of the Summit with dear Grace next to me.

https://www.reddit.com

http://myceliaformusic.org

http://www.hansonrobotics.com

The beat goes on at the Web Summit Day One!

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL –  It took me two days to get my groove back from flying home after this year Web Summit in Lisbon. More importantly, to get back to Earth after having the time of my life at the best tech conference in the world and reliving the pleasure of discovering a city I first visit six years ago.
If you don’t believe me, please have a look at a few home videos of myself (my cameraman aka The Educated Fool is not with me). I apologize for the quality of the video, but it does capture the emotion.
 
You know what, here is a better video from The Web Summit family. Ah, much better!
Last Tuesday was Day One of the Web Summit, and what a day it was! I met some inspiring startups like Newsadoo; a News version of Spotify. I have met so many friendly people who genuinely want to change the world through their startup ventures. During Carlos Moedas’ press conference, he is The European Commissioner of Innovation and Research, I took a big breath and had a little talk with myself. I said, “Go Sab, it will be alright.” I asked this question. Check out the video and I’m sorry for my French-speaking accent :
 
I have had the pleasure of speaking with João Andrade of Chromatikborn.  Chromatikborn’s goal is to change the way fashion retail is organized. I’m a fashion lover and so for me, it’s a no-brainer to be excited about his startup.
During the afternoon, I saw Stephanie Mc Mahon on stage twice! She is one of the architects of the WWE Evolution. She talks about the evolution of women in male-dominated sports entertainment, specifically wrestling.
She also talks about where she wants to see the WWE in ten years. She wants it to be as big or even bigger than Disney. With everything Stephanie has accomplished, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen.
After a day of stars in my eyes and going weak in the knees (Thank God for my Adidas Superstars and no, this is not product placement… Hmm Adidas, call me!), I went to have dinner near the place I’m staying all alone.
Walking the streets of Lisbon during the night is mystical and magical. It’s my second time visiting this beautiful city. I will almost call it my third home away from home.
I’m falling in love with Lisbon all over again.
I went to a local restaurant (Chu Chu). I just wanted to eat, to relax and to enjoy memories of the day.
I ordered a half bottle of Vinho Verde and watched the sports network on their TV. By the time I finished my dinner, a friendly man had come to sit right next to me. Next thing you knew, we were having a really interesting conversation! We started talking about where I’m from, The Chronicle, and The Web Summit. Later, we spoke of his moving to Lisbon from France, yesterday’s mid-term election, and iconic French actors as we drank Porto.
When I finally put my head to my pillow last night, I couldn’t believe the day I had. 
I fell asleep and woke up with a desire to repeat the same day I had yesterday.
Guess what?
Wednesday was as fun and magical as Tuesday!