Davos Day 3
Because it is my first time at the WEF, I look to experienced regulars for advice: the so-called “Davos Man.” (And increasingly, Davos Woman…the WEF mandates that for each delegation of five participants, one must be a woman.) And a lot of the advice has to do with what happens outside of the sessions in the Congress Center: in particular, the parties. Wednesday night, the Burda party; Thursday night, the McKinsey party; Friday night, the Google party.
It’s true that Davos is about bringing people together, about what you might call “densifying the social network”. It’s easy to make fun of the rich and powerful hanging out at parties, but what I’ve seen is a serious and meaningful attempt to make connections. And I’ve been surprised at the openness and inquisitiveness of everyone I meet. When I used to live in Manhattan, there were plenty of parties where if you weren’t in the same industry, and you couldn’t help someone’s career, they wouldn’t talk to you. And I have seen no evidence of a status hierarchy: as in, no attention to who arrived in a private jet or who has their own driver (car passes are not easy to come by).
Here, I’ve been in conversations with politicians, government advisors, mining CEOs, and financial services, in various combinations and talking about a surprising range of topics. If you ever question the value of a broad liberal arts education, you should listen in on one of these conversations. Being narrow and specialized clearly doesn’t make a good leader.
Creativity results from breadth, diversity, cross-disciplinary connections, and conversation. I’m seeing a lot of that at Davos.