5 “snow day” questions with Ali Ghafour

Here in Toronto, where I live, we are experiencing an historical event.  For   the first time in over 10 years the Toronto District School Board has cancelled all classes for the entire day.  But as you’ve come to expect, we don’t take a day off because of weather at thirdocean.  And if it’s a Wednesday you can always count on another edition of 5 Questions.

Ali Ghafour, of viafoura, is an Internet veteran with over 12 years of web development and design experience.  A University of Toronto grad with a computer science degree coupled with an incontestable understanding of the web has proven to be an absolute asset to the company and its clients trying to navigate the social space.

Ali was on the Canadian National Taekwondo team for five years and competed at three World Championships, as well as the 2007 Pan Am Games. He finished in the Top 4 to be chosen to compete at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.  On his own time, he coaches students who want to become future Olympic champions, teaching them both the physical and mental aspects of sport and how to implement these skills into everyday practices.

What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?

Solving a real problem is what motivates me. Working day in and day out on tools that increase user engagement for websites fits in that optimal zone of “challenge vs skill” for me. There are times when your self motivation becomes a little low, but hearing validation and strong interest from the people we present to, recharges the batteries.

If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?
Put aside 3 hours one day. In these 3 hours write down 3 things that you remember in the past that made you happy. For me, it was building a toy car with electric motors, drawing from time to time, and sports. It will seem like a bunch of unrelated items, but think hard and find common themes. These will translate to skills that you naturally possess or needs you need fulfilled. For me, it was building things, working on intuitive UI designs, and having a health body and mind.  Whatever you do next in life, make sure that these skills/needs are being fulfilled and success will somehow find its way to you.

In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?
The ease of use of video on mobile devices. It is easier to record, speak or show something on a mobile device than it is to type it out. This will create a shift in the way we communicate to others. It will happen slowly at first, by people recording their cats, but this will turn into people recording themselves speaking, or recording events playing infront of them. This was not easy to do before because we never had our cameras ready, but we always have our mobile devices ready.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?
Anything that promotes net neutrality (technology or political policy). Having an open communication channel is the only way for truth to proliferate, and it is only through the truth which we can be free, and continue innovations.

Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?
Anyone who gets bought by Google had to of been doing something right, so BumpTop comes to mind, but I have not met any of the founders.