Somi Arian is a prominent tech entrepreneur and thought leader in AI, Web3, Business and Marketing and the Future of Work. She founded InPeak, an innovative platform enabling creators and businesses to build and monetize communities using AI and blockchain functionalities. She’s a transition architect, bridging the gap between technology, society, and business, offering invaluable insights for the fast-evolving digital age.
In addition, Somi is an award-winning filmmaker, tech philosopher, and author whose work sits at the intersection of AI, blockchain, and the future of work. Her documentary, “The Millennial Disruption,” won several international awards and featured industry leaders from The Economist, Marie Claire, Bentley, JLR, and Steinway. She is a regular speaker at international tech conferences, has appeared on BBC5 Live, ran an Influencer campaign for the Times and Sunday Times and has given a TED talk.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Somi shared her professional journey, inspiration behind establishing InPeak, biggest stress relivers, success mantra, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Somi, please share with us your background, journey into technology, and what inspired you along the way?
From an early age, I was always drawn to the big questions of life. My academic background is rooted in the philosophy of science and technology. These fields allowed me to grapple with the complexities and potential of our relationship with technology. Over time, I began to perceive the patterns of how technology was rapidly evolving and shaping human behavior.
My dive into the tech world was quite organic. It wasn’t just about being fascinated by the latest gadgets or software but rather understanding the underpinnings of these innovations — the philosophical, social, and economic ramifications they brought along. It’s this blend of technology and philosophy that led me to coin the term “Tech Philosopher.”
Inspiration came in many forms. I was inspired by the disruptors, the thinkers, and the doers. I became a voracious consumer of knowledge, from AI research papers to Ted Talks. Alongside, my own projects — like my podcast — allowed me to connect with some of the brightest minds in the Web3 and AI spaces. Each interaction, be it with a tech entrepreneur or an AI ethicist, added a new dimension to my understanding.
My journey is still very much in progress. The more I learn, the more I realize how much there is yet to understand. The future of technology and its symbiotic relationship with humanity promises endless possibilities, and I’m eager to continue exploring them.
What was the inspiration behind establishing InPeak? Tell us about its mission and vision.
The inspiration for InPeak was born out of recognizing a gap in the professional learning, development, and strategic networking realm. In the age of information overload, there was a stark need for a more curated and focused space where meaningful connections could flourish, particularly in the frontier technology sector.
InPeak is designed as a Closed Social Network for professional learning and development, and strategic networking. Our platform isn’t just another networking site; it’s a meticulously curated ecosystem. By connecting startups in frontier technologies with their ideal audiences, such as VCs and other innovative founders, we are bridging gaps and fostering genuine collaborations.
With an extensive library of proprietary educational content, InPeak is more than just a platform—it’s a thriving community. We are dedicated to nurturing early adopters across both B2B and B2C landscapes, ensuring that they’re not only well-informed but also strategically connected.
The vision for InPeak is a world where professional learning and strategic networking aren’t just buzzwords but tangible values that drive growth and innovation. Our commitment remains strong: to create an environment where startups, VCs, and pioneers in frontier technologies can connect, collaborate, and flourish.
Your documentary, “The Millennial Disruption,” won several international awards and featured industry leaders from The Economist, Marie Claire, Bentley, JLR, and Steinway. Can you please brief us about the documentary?
“The Millennial Disruption” is a documentary that delves into the intricacies of consumer behaviour in our rapidly evolving digital age. It’s not just about observing shifts in purchasing patterns, but about understanding the driving forces behind these changes. Rooted in rigorous research, the documentary seeks to unpack how technological advancements, particularly the rise of digital platforms and social media, have reshaped the way millennials interact with brands and consume products. It also raises pertinent questions about what this means for businesses, especially established ones, in adapting their strategies to resonate with a more tech-savvy, value-driven generation.
The film’s unique approach to dissecting these changes has earned it notable acclaim. Featured on BBC5 Live, for its forward-thinking and innovative perspective. Its significance is further underscored by its 12 international award nominations, of which it secured three wins. Beyond the film festivals and media features, “The Millennial Disruption” has also been leveraged as a pivotal educational tool for senior leadership across a spectrum of iconic brands, facilitating deeper conversations about aligning business strategies with modern consumer behaviour.
Why do you think there are still so few females in the technology sector? How can we get more women into technology?
The underrepresentation of females in the technology sector is a multifaceted issue that stems from deeply ingrained societal norms, early educational biases, and workplace challenges. Historically, the tech industry has been predominantly male-driven, making it difficult for women to find relatable role models. The industry’s fast-paced nature, coupled with the pressures of a competitive environment, can sometimes deter women who might otherwise be interested.
However, initiatives and platforms are rising to address these challenges. At InPeak, we host a dedicated channel called FemPeak, aimed at directly addressing the educational and representational gaps. FemPeak focuses on education, networking, representation, and support for women, tailored to their unique experiences and challenges in the tech industry. By showcasing achievements and contributions, and connecting women with industry leaders and peers, FemPeak serves as a beacon for those looking to navigate the tech landscape.
To get more women into technology:
Education: We need to introduce technology-based subjects at an early age and ensure that girls feel as encouraged as boys to participate and excel.
Mentorship: Having a mentor in the field can guide, inspire, and open doors. With platforms like FemPeak, we aim to provide this mentorship and networking opportunity.
Representation: Seeing someone like you in a role you aspire to can be incredibly motivating. Highlighting success stories of women in tech can inspire a new generation.
Flexibility: As the industry evolves, workplaces need to offer more flexible working conditions to cater to everyone, especially women who often juggle multiple roles.
Ultimately, we need to challenge stereotypes at every level – from homes to schools to workplaces. This means highlighting the achievements of women in tech, celebrating their contributions, and providing platforms where they can learn, network, and grow.
What has been the driving force to get you where you are today?
Who has been your biggest advocate/mentor in the workplace and why?
Throughout my journey in the tech sector, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to cross paths with individuals who believed deeply in my potential and vision. These advocates, more than just mentors, not only imparted wisdom and guidance but also actively invested in InPeak, reinforcing their belief in its mission. Their backing, both in terms of wisdom and tangible support, has been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of the company and my personal journey within the industry. Their actions have underscored the immense power of genuine advocacy in driving innovation and fostering talent.
What is your biggest stress reliever?
My biggest stress reliever is an active blend of both physical and mental exercises. I’ve always believed in a “work-life blend” rather than balance, as the lines often blur in today’s digital age. To navigate this, I’ve incorporated habits that anchor me amidst the chaos.
Physical Activity: I engage in regular weight training sessions, which not only strengthens my body but also helps clear my mind. On days I can’t step out, my treadmill becomes my sanctuary. The rhythmic pace helps me process thoughts, while the physical movement alleviates stress.
Meditation: It’s a vital part of my daily routine. Even a few minutes of mindfulness can recalibrate my thoughts, providing clarity and calm.
Walks: There’s something therapeutic about walks. It connects me to nature, provides a change of scenery, and often sparks new perspectives or solutions to challenges.
All these practices combined ensure that I’m not just reacting to stressors, but actively cultivating a lifestyle that equips me to handle them. It’s about harmonizing the mental and physical aspects, allowing me to navigate both my professional and personal spheres effectively.
What job did you dream of when you were a kid – your Plan A career path?
First astronaut, and once I realized I didn’t have the math I decided to go for philosopher.
Which are the top 3 skills that every future-ready leader must possess?
Emotional Intelligence (EI): As machines continue to evolve, the one domain where humans distinctly hold an advantage is our intrinsic emotional complexity. Emotional Intelligence empowers us to understand, regulate, and channel emotions constructively, both within ourselves and in our interactions with others. In the dynamic landscape of leadership, having a profound EI ensures that we not only respond to challenges efficiently but also foster healthier, more productive relationships in our professional environments.
Critical Thinking: In an age inundated with information and rapid changes, the ability to think critically is paramount. Leaders should be adept at using both their instinctual ‘fast mode’ of thinking and the more rational ‘slow mode’ to assess situations and make informed decisions. This dual approach ensures quick reactions when needed, balanced with well-considered strategies stemming from an in-depth analysis.
Contextual Creativity: Beyond mere innovation, leaders of the future need to excel in ‘Contextual Creativity.’ It involves an interdisciplinary grasp, where one understands the nuances of various domains and can cohesively bring them together to devise solutions. This skill is pivotal in our interconnected world, where problems are multifaceted and require leaders to think outside the conventional box.
While these three stand out, it’s essential to acknowledge the foundational role of Mindfulness. By being present, fully engaged, and conscious of our environment, we can harness our human skills optimally, giving us a distinct edge in a world progressively merging with technology. This skill acts as the cornerstone, amplifying the effectiveness of EI, Critical Thinking, and Contextual Creativity.
Throughout your career, you have been a recipient of prestigious awards and accolades. What is your secret mantra for being successful?
Never be satisfied with second best.
What advice would you pass on to other women to help them progress in this industry?
Stay ahead in the tech industry by prioritizing continuous learning, given the ever-evolving nature of the landscape. Utilize platforms like InPeak, which are designed to empower women with relevant tools and resources. Cultivate resilience; setbacks are often stepping stones in disguise. And always value networking. Being active in events and online forums can open doors to countless opportunities. Your progress not only elevates your own career but also sets an important precedent for other aspiring women in tech.
Somi Arian is a prominent tech entrepreneur and thought leader in AI, Web3, Business and Marketing and the Future of Work. She founded InPeak, an innovative platform enabling creators and businesses to build and monetize communities using AI and blockchain functionalities. She’s a transition architect, bridging the gap between technology, society, and business, offering invaluable insights for the fast-evolving digital age. She is also an award-winning filmmaker, tech philosopher, and author whose work sits at the intersection of AI, blockchain, and the future of work. Her documentary, “The Millennial Disruption,” won several international awards and featured industry leaders from The Economist, Marie Claire, Bentley, JLR, and Steinway. She is a regular speaker at international tech conferences, has appeared on BBC5 Live, ran an Influencer campaign for the Times and Sunday Times and has given a TED talk.