The Real Story at Davos

Davos Day 5

Surprisingly good weather at the Belvedere Pavilion

So has it been worth it? Absolutely. I realize that I have seen only a small sliver of Davos, the tip of the iceberg that is the open sessions and the official program. What the newspapers report is largely true: For many executives, the day at Davos is filled with private meetings with clients and business partners, and with “closed sessions” that are invitation only and that bring together the key people in an industry. For example, I just learned that Steve Ballmer is here in Davos, but he’s not a participant in the WEF (at least, he’s not a listed participant; perhaps there is a “secret participant” category?). Michael Dell, however, has been attending a lot of sessions (including the one I did on the Creative Workplace).

But it’s an exaggeration to say that the official program sessions mean nothing. As I said in my previous post, the WEF staff does a brilliant job of curating the sessions. And every session I attended had every seat filled. The participants are smart, successful, busy people, and believe me: if they thought these sessions were a waste of time they wouldn’t come. They would get up and leave after five minutes, in fact.

And I certainly don’t feel excluded, like some of the news coverage suggests is the case. These snarky articles (New York Times, I’m talking to you) compare WEF to high school, with everyone feeling insecure and jockeying for status. I have met many CEOs, and they have all been interested, open, and eager to talk.

I am supposedly here on “the faculty” but I am the one who has been learning this week. Kudos to the WEF for a successful conference!