I was recently interviewed by Fast Company Expert Blogger Seth Kahan. The following is his post…

FC Expert Blog

Middle East Leadership Lessons

BY FC Expert Blogger Seth Kahan Today

This blog is written by a member of our expert blogging community and expresses that expert’s views alone.

Social media plays a powerful role in the ongoing Middle East transformation. Wednesday I flew to Atlanta to discuss this with business relationship and social media expert, David Nour. He is Iranian born and the global thought leader in the field of Relationship Economics.

David welcomed me into his home office and spoke candidly about the situation, sharing unique insights stemming from both his ethnic background and expertise in social media and it’s capacity to influence and accelerate change. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

David, what is really going on here? What do Americans need to understand to put the turmoil and action in context?

If you think about any revolution, there are often three unique forces at play:

1. Any revolution tends to be more of a transformation (a marathon) vs. a transaction (a sprint). The uprisings and a sequence of continuous unrest may have dominated our front page headlines and evening news stories, but Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Libya and Iran to name a few are far from resolved. What most Americans don’t understand, given our relatively nascent history is the millenniums of secular, cultural, and socioeconomic conflict. These regions are the cultural versions of the Iceland volcanic ash exploding to garner worldwide attention.

2. Any revolution percolates in three distinct phases: the Spark (the Tahrir Square uprising), a Flame (Egyptian military refusing to fire on its citizens), and the Fuel (Mubarak resigning) for real impact.

Social media played a critical role as an enabler of communication, interaction, broad-base information dissemination, and organization of people, a strategy, and real-time content sharing (videos, images, etc.)

The other key point is once the Egyptian government turned off access to the internet and thus various social networks, it signaled it’s dictatorship both to its citizens (further fueling the flame and fanning the fire) as well as to the international community, which has become a symbol for human rights violations, atrocities, and a dictatorship regime.

3. As the old cliche goes, you’d rather deal with a devil you know, vs. the devil you don’t know. The third and often the most crucial force in the accelerated transition to re-instituted stability is the presence of a native leader. Any revolt needs leadership – willing to listen, engage, influence and ultimately lead dissent into a cohesive, focused transition plan and thus lasting transformation. The new leader must be willing to pay the ultimate price to demonstrate he / she is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to bridge the past wrongs to the future hopes and aspirations.

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