Babak Rafati

FIFA-Referee, Author
Babak Rafati - To Hell with Death!

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Babak Rafati is a consultant and keynote speaker who works in the private sector, at leadership conventions and major events. His topics include burnout prevention, stress and conflict management as well as ‘positive psychology’ by attaining mental resilience.

Babak Rafati is the first high-profile athlete and ‘leading hands-on expert’ to come out into the open to address issues such as pressure to perform, (workplace) bullying, burnout and depression. This makes him a sought-after consultant in the corporate world, and the audience’s response at stress-management seminars is overwhelming. Among his European peers, Rafati’s work attracts adjectives such as ‘sensational!’ and ‘excellent!’

Distinguished medical professionals and Bundesliga managers are full of praise for his mission: "It is hugely important and commendable that Babak Rafati uses his fame to put issues surrounding burnout in the public eye. By doing this, he speaks from his own experience to everyone involved in top-level sports and the workplace and alerts them to the dangers." Babak Rafati talks openly about a topic that is still a social taboo. As a result, he is a highly in demand and popular regular guest at numerous television appearances in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

His key topics include pressure to perform, bullying and burnout – problems that do not just arise in the world of top-level sports but have become a social phenomenon in everyday working life. It affects us all, and, according to the World Health Organization WHO, the tendency is rising. Healthy companies need healthy employees if society wants to avoid exploding costs for health insurance providers and employers! In the first part of his deeply authentic and captivating lectures, Babak Rafati describes in graphic detail his descent into the abyss of the most widespread disease of all – depression. He gives his audience a chronological, profound and stark insight into his own thought patterns at the time. It becomes frighteningly clear that burnout can happen to anyone. Even executives and so-called ‘strong personalities’ are becoming increasingly susceptive to this invisible disease.
In the second part of his lecture, Rafati vividly and comprehensibly portrays his journey back to health, explaining how self-reflection in therapy helped him reclaim his life and find a harmonious work-life balance. It becomes clear that self-determination and personal responsibility are the keys to success. Babak Rafati says: "You are your own wall, only you can climb over it!"  He goes on to introduce strategies for stress and conflict management and burnout prevention. "A healthy response to unhealthy circumstances!" Through resilience, the individual learns to develop and live in a positive mental state.

This lecture provides everyone with the decisive impetus and strategies for personal and professional challenges. Babak Rafati has the knack of moving and reaching out to people, and his vision is as unequivocal as it is clear: "I want to raise awareness and at the same time urgently warn people to act in a preventive manner against this dangerous dramaturgy of "moving away from oneself". What happened to me was deeply disturbing and abhorrent, and I don’t want something like this to happen to anyone ever again!" Distinguished medical professionals and Bundesliga managers praise his media-oriented, awareness-raising approach and mission.

One phenomenon of his lectures is the impressive success rate and therefore high number of participants who really get to grips with the issues, rethink and act to achieve a sustainable and appropriate conflict management strategy and prevention measures against burnout.

•Prevention – strategies against burnout
•Stress and conflict management
•For all occupational and professional groups, as well as entrepreneurs, managers and executives
•Duration: 30 to 90 minute sessions by arrangement – one-day seminars available

1. The road to depression (taboo topic)
•The complexity of the conflict through interaction 
•A ‘classic’: Systematic workplace bullying + pressure to perform = depression and suicide attempt
•Not just a problem in top-level sports, but even more frequently a social phenomenon in the workplace
•A dramaturgy of "moving away from oneself" and an unsparing glimpse at the former wounds of the soul
•Weakness and boundaries/male ideals 
•The illness creeps up gradually and is invisible
•Characteristics of the disease based on practical examples 

2. The way out of depression
•Unmasking - Shame - Coward
•A brief look at therapy
•The process of finding oneself through self-reflection and equilibrium
•Returning to life and the healthy way back into society
•Self-determination and self-responsibility
•A question of guilt? "An indictment!"

3. Prevention – strategies against burnout
•Conflict management: a healthy reaction to unhealthy circumstances
•Self-determination instead of handing my face over to society… 
•Impulses for professional challenges
•Positive psychology through mental resistance 
•Mindfulness, letting go, radical acceptance, perfectionism
•"Men are allowed to cry too"
•Health management
•Skills for change / job change or self-check?  
•When it’s too late: "Plan B"
•Consolidation: a crisis as an opportunity to embrace new challenges
•Innovation: the strength in weakness!

4. Subsequent Q&A and Bundesliga anecdotes on request

•Burn instead of burn out – for executive and entrepreneurs too! 
•Answers and strategies for anyone affected by extreme pressure to perform, bullying and/or exhaustion
•You can learn from my mistakes, mirror your own experiences and find the courage to leave everything that makes you ill behind
•It’s not always the boss’ and colleagues’ fault. You are your own wall; climb over it!

Mental coach
In his capacity as a mental coach, Babak Rafati conveys his experiences and strategies learned from therapy in the largest and most distinguished private clinic in Europe. He supports personalities and people in the public eye – such as professional footballers and managers – who are suffering from stress, performance anxiety and exhaustion and wish to regain their equilibrium and performance levels. Requests have already been submitted by many professional therapists as well as the Robert Enke Foundation.

Babak Rafati works in an executive role at a bank. He was a football referee for 25 years, of which he spent 15 years in professional football in the top German Football Association divisions, with more than 200 matches in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga and the DFB Cup under his belt. He also appeared on the international stage as a FIFA referee between 2008 and 2011, officiating games between teams from over 50 (more than a quarter of the world’s) countries.
During his professional career, he accompanied superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Neymar, Manuel Neuer and many other world-famous footballers.

Suicide attempt
In the wake of the tragic suicide of German national goalkeeper Robert Enke in 2009, Babak Rafati’s suicide attempt just before a top-flight German league match on 19 November 2011 left both the wider public and the Bundesliga in a state of utter shock. This act of desperation was the result of depression, a disease triggered by pressure to perform and bullying. As a consequence, he ended his career in 2012, returned to health and wrote about his experiences. The subsequent bestseller, Ich pfeife auf den Tod caused a stir when it was published in March 2013. The title is a German wordplay on death and the referee’s whistle, which translates roughly as "To hell with death".

2015 Documentary
A 2015 documentary film about Babak Rafati is set to become a catalyst and milestone towards freeing the illness of depression of its taboo status. He is ready for new challenges and takes his social responsibility extremely seriously. Details cannot yet be disclosed for contractual reasons. Numerous producers from German and Swiss television stations have shown great interest in the revelations of the former FIFA and Bundesliga referee. Rafati has been won over for the cause, and as an ambassador aims to revolutionise the way we approach the ubiquitous topics of pressure to perform, workplace bullying and burnout. Now his story is being filmed and will be shown by a national public broadcaster.

It’s a matter of life and death!

  • Bild Ich pfeife auf den Tod.
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Video & Audio
  • Babak Rafati - Vortrag BurnOut & Stressmanagement
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