Ali Mahlodji – from bug in the system to successful speaker

26. April 2016 – Katharina Schlangenotto

His story could hardly be more topical.

Ali Mahlodji came to Vienna in the 80’s as a child refugee from Iran and felt long as a stranger, somehow between worlds. He wished for someone who thought just like him, a soulmate. It was in these times when his business idea for WHATCHADO arose: to develop a “manual of life stories” so that everyone would have the chance to find a soulmate. He describes himself as a refugee and school dropout and actually as an error in the system. However, he has never seen himself like that. He has taken on about 40 jobs in his young life, from cleaning lady to manager, teacher, founder and CEO, Chief Visionary and Chief Storyteller at WHATCHADO, EU Youth Ambassador and since 2015, EU Ambassador for the new narrative. In between he suffered from burnout and was faced with the big questions about the meaning of life. And, last bust not least , he keeps trying to save the world – again and again. He is serious when saying it. The task of saving seven billion people at once, he admits, even seems too big for him. But everyone could start small and anyone who could give another person a perspective would already save a piece of the world.

Today his company WHATCHADO interviews 130 to 140 people around the world – per month. They speak about their careers, people like you and me, no top-models or superstars. He has discovered something interesting: most interviewees keep their own life story for not worth mentioning and say something like: ” Me ? But I am not interesting, am I? “One’s own stories don’t seem to be of much value, a phenomenon he has observed no matter where in the world. Ali Mahlodji raises the question of why we actually see it that way. After his experience as a teacher he believes that it has to do with the way we are brought up. In school the latest, we would be reduced to errors instead of the things we do well. It should be exactly the other way round. In his opinion, everyone’s life would be a heroic story as such. Everyone who got up again in the morning, no matter what life would bring and sometimes put in the way, is a hero. In his lectures, he talks about success and failure and how to deal with it, about innovation, focus, market challenges and managers as employee coaches.

He talks about his own heroic story and, with his nice Viennese accent, tells the secret of how to form an up and running business in just 3 years: from a childhood idea to an international StartUp with employees from 15 nations and hundreds of customers around the globe which has revamped the market and has been recognized by the UN, the EU and at European level on several occasions. He stopped stuttering due to a sweet little lie, by the way. One of his teachers took him aside in school one day and admitted to him that he had also stuttered as a child. Someone had explained to him then that there was simply too much energy inside of him and his brain and Body would fail to work so quickly. He should be patient with himself and eventually, brain and body would adopt. What a beautiful story – with a very happy and successful ending for Ali Mahlodji. If you want Ali Mahlodji to be part of your next event, please contact us for further information at:

Ali Mahlodji

Co-Founder of Whatchado, Storyteller