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My photo in front of the Genghis Khan statue in Sukhbaatar Square

I always present my experience with Mongolia to anyone who still dismisses social media as an effective way to build, expand and enrich your professional network. Early in the last decade, a marketer named Саруулхан Лео — one of the first people in Mongolia to join Facebook — followed me on some of my digital channels, and, I immediately followed him back.

It was great being connected to someone from Mongolia, a country I always wanted to visit. We kept in touch, communicating a few times. So when he and the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce offered to bring me to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital, I jumped at the opportunity. They invited me to keynote the Internet Marketing Conference, one of Mongolia’s premier events. Indeed, Porter Gale’s popular phrase “your network is your net-worth” applies here: it is about the people who bring substance and resourcefulness to your digital real estate, and, clearly, Саруулхан Лео had been doing that for me, year after year. …


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My photo of the Bosphorus Bridge

When you venture through the streets of Istanbul, you can see why it was named a European Capital of Culture in 2010 by the European Union. The architecture is primarily Byzantine and Ottoman, but you will also find Roman and Genoese structures as well. Blended in are the modern buildings that complement their surroundings and tell a story of their own.

With a population of almost 15 million, it is the largest city in Europe, and the world’s best-known example of a transcontinental city. The boutiques, cafes, art galleries, live music and restaurants provide a consistent, irresistible charm. …


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My photo of the Batu Caves, with the world’s tallest statue of Muragan, a Hindu deity

Visiting Malaysia was like a dream. One step off the plane, and you notice that the air is thick with humidity and heat — something you would expect in an equatorial country. Moving through Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I noticed a stunning blend of advertisements that showcased traditions with products from multinational brands. But before I exited, I saw a rain forest. Yes. In the airport. Amaaaaaaazing. Colorful, lush, and brilliantly cared for. It felt like walking into my mom’s old collection of National Geographic magazines from the 70s and 80s.

As I moved deeper into Kuala Lumpur, I was wowed by its panoramic view of minarets and contemporary buildings touching the sky. Overall, the city’s dynamic architecture is a blend of old colonial designs, Malay Islamic influences, Asian styles, and the combination of modern and post modern looks. The Petronis Towers leave an indelible mark on the city’s invigorating skyline, and are the worlds tallest twin towers. Their design — by architect Cesar Pelli — was inspired by the Five Pillars of Islam. …


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My shot, from a hillside cafe, of one of the oldest parts of Amman, Jordan

When you see Amman, Jordan, the first thing that comes to mind are the historic districts you always hear about — districts that are complemented with the striking, contemporary architecture dotting the beautiful skyline. The hills are simply spectacular. Every single one. Taking a panoramic view from atop the city’s highest points is much more than an experience though. It’s an awakening.

And the food! Wow. I tasted the popular appetizer Hummus, as well as mansaf, a traditional Jordanian dish and national symbol of generosity. But when you eat in Amman, you are tasting the very best of what the entire region has to offer. …


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My photo of the Ministry of Agriculture’s building, near the Kazan Kremlin

On the plane ride to Kazan, Russia, I read Brendon Burchard’s masterpiece, The Motivation Manifesto. While the book does not have a travel or tourism focus, I read something in it that is quite instructive for globetrotters and world trekkers. His point about “absorbing more details about surroundings” proved to be important for me as I explored Kazan, and will likely stay with me whenever I move from place to place in the future. He writes:

We should take note of the color, texture, and placement of objects around us. We can notice the way the tree branch sways rhythmically with the wind as we gaze out the window…We can watch the cloud formations as they make lazy shapes in the sky. We can see how artfully food is arranged on a plate, with the vibrant greens and oranges of each ingredient. This effort is not a race. Scanning our surroundings like beasts on the run is not what we are after. Our aim is to drink in the moment, and so we should pause and truly see what is in front of us. …


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My photo of one of the many art pieces at New Delhi’s Airport.

India has long played an important part in the lives of so many people around the world. As is well-known, Steve Jobs visited India in 1974 in search of spiritual enlightenment. That experience profoundly impacted his life, professionally and personally. In fact, George Harrison, lead guitarist for the Beatles, was so deeply moved by Indian mysticism that he made sure The Beatles added Indian instrumentation in their music. Harrison’s 1966 seflie at the Taj Mahal is one of my all-time favorite photos.

And, we know (from the writings of Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt) that when religious leader Howard Thurman traveled to India in 1935 to meet with the great Mahatma Gandhi, it inspired him to embrace to Gandhi’s philosophy of satyagraha, or, “soul force”. So through Thurman, Gandhi’s empowering ideas would influence an entire generation of American civil rights leaders, including Dr. …


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My photo of Friedrichshafen, Germany

I have always been fascinated by stories about the legends of international aviation: the Wright Brothers, who achieved the first controlled, powered and sustained airplane flight; Amelia Mary Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean; and the Tuskegee Airmen, the celebrated group of military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. But I also learned about Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who pioneered rigid airship development around the turn of the 20th Century.

So when the World Communication Forum invited me and other members of the press to Friedrichshafen, Germany for the one day Zepplelin View, I enthusiastically accepted. In 1900, Ferdinand von Zepplelin’s LZ 1 — the first truly successful experimental rigid airship — flew over Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen. I am an aviation geek to the core, so I knew this historical fact. …


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IMAGE CREDIT: Towards Data Science

The term artificial intelligence was first coined by John McCarthy in the mid 1950s when he held the first academic conference on the subject. Since then, there have been some important artificial intelligence, or AI, milestones. From the first chatbot in 1964 to the use of neural networks to steer a self driving vehicle in 1989, to the 2002 debut of the Roomba, an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner.

But this decade saw the combination of human’s losing to AI on a television show and to a very popular but difficult board game. This has helped to create a permanent conversation around AI and its potential long-term impact on society. …


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I have been in social media for a long time, and I have never seen anything quite like the global phenomenon known as Instagram. Though it is one of my favorites, I was quite late to the party. My first Instagram post was on May 27th, 2014, about going to speak at a conference in New York City.

Since that post, I have used the site to talk about going to other conferences, meeting heads of state, taking part in influencer marketing campaigns, and more. …


I am always asked about staying relevant in social media: “How can one do it after years of so much constant change in the online space?” they say. I simply tell folks that it is not easy, but that it does require consistent work, and a commitment to being a life long learner. So, I created this World Communication Forum infographic to explain my main points.

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Sean Gardner is a board member and V.P. of Social Media with the World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is also a global keynote speaker, business creative and digital producer who lives in the Seattle area. He currently conducts workshops and social media training for small business, nonprofits, celebrities and multinational corporations. …

About

Sean Gardner

World Traveler, Executive Board Member @FreeNPTech; Global Keynote Speaker, #GivingTuesday Ambassador; producing a film with Hollywood actor @RashaGoel.

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