As Danish Dhamani said in his TED Talk, “Go out and face your fears. Don’t bury them deep inside. If you have a problem, look for a solution. If nothing exists, create that solution.”
This quote set the tone for YPC Networking + Niche PHL at the Comcast Technology Center on September 18, 2019. Young professionals from both initiatives mingled in the building’s new Town Hall event space and admired the breathtaking city views from 19 stories up. After some networking, attendees made their way into the presentation area to listen to Danish’s journey from fear to confidence.
Danish was born in Pakistan and raised in Tanzania and his high aspirations and dreams brought him to America to attend Drexel University. Despite his high ambition and confidence in his abilities, he had one fear that stuck with him throughout his journey: public speaking. Danish recognized that public speaking is a crucial business skill, regardless of one’s line of work. So, he Googled tips online, practiced in the mirror, and attended meetings with the public speaking club Toastmasters. Over time, he says he “literally felt the glass ceiling over my head go away.” Knowing that a big part of overcoming his fear was by utilizing technology, he then wondered if there was an easy way technology could help others overcome their own public speaking stress. This is where the app he created, Orai, comes in.
The name Orai is derived from the phrase “Oral Artificial Intelligence,” which is exactly what Orai is. Users record themselves in the app giving a presentation or speech and artificial intelligence provides real-time feedback on key communication metrics such as pace, filler words, facial expressions, and more. Orai users can track their progress over time, and their artificial intelligence “coach” can assist them with specific trouble areas to help them gain confidence in their public speaking abilities. The app also has separate interactive lessons that are customized based on users’ goals and needs.
Many young people have ideas and say, “I should make an app for that.” Danish notes that ideas are small; it is all about the execution. Of course, with deliberate commitment to executing the idea came with great responsibility. It took about eight months for the app to come to life after the idea was born and after three years of its existence, Danish says that the app is “always evolving.” When faced with challenges throughout the process, he states the importance of external motivators: friends and peer groups such as Philadelphia Startup Leaders (PSL) helped him to keep pushing and find success.
Danish promised the room of young professionals that Orai will “help you feel more confident no matter the situation.” Danish ended his presentation by providing a few of his own tips, which can help with large-scale presentations or even smaller-scale networking:
- Be mindful of your stance: approach a person or room full of people head-on. Try not to lean on one hip, rock back and forth or cross your legs. Present yourself as confident and strong.
- Speak with volume: the stronger and more unwavering your voice is, the more well-received your message will be.
- Put on a “20% smile”: just enough to be approachable and enthusiastic, but not too much that it looks forced. The 20% smile will help you appear knowledgeable and engaged with your audience.
— Tori Demarco, Membership and Special Events Coordinator, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
YPC Connect for Community Impact: A Volunteer Fair & Networking Event
Thursday, October 3, 2019
On October 3, 2019, the Young Professionals Council (YPC) had the pleasure of hosting over 20 nonprofits and close to 200 members and guests for the YPC Connect for Community Impact Event. This was the first joint effort with the Volunteer Committee and Events Committee to connect, collaborate, and bring the community together. Overall, it was a fabulous evening and allowed many Philadelphia nonprofits and community members to meet and learn about volunteer opportunities, board, and hear about impactful roles that are available within the community. I started the event off by introducing Michael McGuire of Johnson, Kendall, and Johnson. Michael spoke about his volunteerism experiences from being on multiple nonprofit boards. His main sentiment was that we should each take the time to learn about what the responsibilities are to be part of a nonprofit board. Although it might seem to be a lot, in many cases it is much less than many people think and the effect it has can be extraordinary. Before breaking out to network within the room, Tommy Butler, Director, Programs & Operations, Arts + Business Council spoke briefly about some opportunities within the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Arts + Business Council. Special thanks to our hosts at WeWork for allowing us to use the space for the event. We hope that everyone that attended was able to connect with some new organizations within the area.
— Ian Perler, Sales Manager and Sales Agent, Star Real Estate Group; Member, YPC Advisory Board; and Co-Chair, YPC Volunteer Committee