Ali Tarraf


I lead data & decision science at Mindsets - a strategy and decision advisory company. I founded Imagineer to explore how to accelerate innovation at scale. Imagineer is leading two projects: Tidai a decentralized collaboration network to ideate, build, and fund projects; and Rogue Inventions a design and prototyping studio to turn ideas into reality. In my spare time, I enjoy ideating for a better world on @tidaiapp and discussing business and technology at Rogue AI, a local meetup group I founded with the community.

I grew up speaking French in Kinshasa-Congo and then moved to Beirut-Lebanon for my education where I learned Arabic and English. Then I worked in manufacturing in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and found the courage to start a plastics recycling factory Ghana. After that I moved to the USA where I lived in Hoosiers Indiana for my graduate studies and then enjoyed the cheese curds of Wisconsin while improving electric motors & generators efficiencies with Regal Beloit. My wife and I finally settled in the beautiful Rogue Valley of Oregon enjoying the magnificent outdoors.

I love hiking outdoors (check my hikes), reading books (check what I am reading), making cool videos(check my youtube), deep intellectual discussions, watching movies and building things. I am a big fan of the maker and Do It Yourself (DIY) movement. If you can dream it, I can build it. Oh, I am also an aspiring private pilot and a Steve Whittman W10 Tailwind builder.

I got my MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 2017 after doing research in combustion, and earned my BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut in 2009.

Book a call with me to explore common interests.

A list of talks,community and industry events I have participated in:


Sayings that resonated with me.

Victor Papanek

Design is a conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order. Design is both the underlying matrix of order and the tool that creates it.

Daniel Kahneman

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.

Rene Daumal

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.

Rene Daumal

I am dead because I lack desire, I lack desire because I think I possess, I think I possess because I do not try to give, In trying to give, you see that you have nothing, Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself, Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing, Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become, In desiring to become, you begin to live.

Skeksis from The Dark Crystal:Age of Resistance

Life is my paint, death is my canvas.

Max Levchin

We had six different business plan changes. The last one was PayPal.

Peter Thiel

If you have invented something new but you haven’t invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business – no matter how good the product.

Steve Jobs

The first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.

George B. Leonard

No environment can strongly affect a person unless it is strongly interactive. To be interactive, the environment must be responsive, that is, must provide relevant feedback to the learner. For the feedback to be relevant, it must meet the learner _where he is_, then program (that is, change in appropriate steps at appropriate times) as he changes. The learner changes (that is, is educated) through his responses to his environment.

Marcus Aurelius

Perfection of character: to live your last day, every day, without frenzy, or sloth, or pretense.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.

Alma from Undone

Try, not try; be like the sky.

Au-delà Du Brouillard, Damien Saez

Quand on est au sommet On ne peut que descendre Ou apprendre à voler

Carl Friedrich Gauss

It is not knowledge, but the act of learning which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again.

W. H. Auden

The sense of danger must not disappear: The way is certainly both short and steep, However gradual it looks from here; Look if you like, but you will have to leap.


Every business transaction has three parts: customer, product, supplier; to be successful you have to control at least 2 of the three.

Charles Bukowski

We work too hard. We try too hard. Don't try. Don't work. It's there. Looking right at us, aching to kick out of the closed womb.

From the Pursuit of Wonder on YT

If you have to try to try, if you have to try to care about something or have to try to want something, perhaps you don't care about it, and perhaps you don't want it. If the thought of not doing the thing hurts more than the thought of potentially suffering through the process, if the thought of a life without it or never having tried it at all terrifies you, if it comes to you, through you, out of you, almost as if you're not trying, perhaps Bukowski might say here, try, and 'if you're going to try, go all the way'.


Only add as much structure as needed to solve your problem. Create structure and constraints on demand in response to a real need.

R. Buckminster Fuller

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest.The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

David Brin

Criticism is the most effective antidote to error.

Lao Tse

The wheel's hub holds thirty spokes Utility depends on the hole through the hub. The potter's clay forms a vessel. It is the space within that serves. A house is built with solid walls The nothingness of window and door alone renders it usable, That which exists may be transformed What is non-existent has boundless uses.

Paulo Coelho

A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.

Andre Gide

What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it, written as well as you, do not write it.

Piet Hein

Err and err and err again but less and less and less.


The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the thing we have made and the things we have made of ourselves on the other.

Purdue University

I am a maker. I think work should be about making things work. Better. Faster. Smaller. Smarter. So I build bridges between what’s known and what’s not. I tinker. I toil. I write poetically in an abundance of languages (including code). I hack. I dissect. I have an insatiable desire to un-complicate the complicated. I am easily inspired. I believe that just because it hasn’t been thought of doesn’t mean it won’t be. Potential is my thrill ride. Imagination is my most-used tool. I am a maker, and I am what moves the world forward.

William James

The union of the mathematician with the poet, Fervor with measure, Passion with correctness, That surely is the ideal.

Casey Neistat

What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it's not how much time you spend doing what you love. It's how little time you spend doing what you hate.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.

Linus Torvalds

Nobody should start to undertake a large project. You start with a small trivial project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you'll just over design and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision. So start small, and think about the details. Don't think about some big picture and fancy design. If it doesn't solve some fairly immediate need, it's almost certainly over-designed. And don't expect people to jump in and help you. That's not how these things work. You need to get something half-way useful first, and then others will say "hey, that almost works for me", and they'll get involved in the project.

Kevin Jorgeson

When ambition exceeds ability, you are going to experience hardship. We have the choice to fear it or embrace it.