A few tips for Young Global Leaders attending their first WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

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Connecting Meaningfully

  • "You think you’re looking for an opportunity but you’re actually looking for a person." Think about your big vision for your organisation, and look for the people who may be able to help you make that happen.

  • Be Proactive, use Toplink to get in touch and set up time to speak. 

  • You can spend your time stalking celebrities for selfies and casual chats, or you can make something real happen. This is Davos, you can make life-changing connections. 

  • Make sure your Toplink profile is up to date.You will be scrutinised and you may get offers, these aren't random.

  • Don't feel obliged to accept all the meeting requests you get, you will be busy. Discernment is key. 

Sessions

  • Make sure you get in early for the your sessions. Last year I regretfully missed President Xi Jinping’s opening address because I arrived on time rather than early

  • Never eat alone - the breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner sessions were most impactful for me. Table topics. Intimate and interactive. The dinner sessions in particular are well worth attending. 

  • Remember that every session you are invited to is a specially reserved place FOR you, don’t make bookings "just in case"

  • You will get a lot of invitations to private events. Some of the best events weren’t on the formal schedule but choose wisely. It’s very easy to stretch yourself too thinly. One of my favourites was an off-schedule morning event by an organiation I'd never heard of that was discussing a topic I care about deeply (apprentiships as an alternative to formal higher learning). I met some fantastic people there, all of whom were interested in the topic.

  • Don’t accept invitations lightly: if you accept, go or cancel in good time. Every single person is individually added to lists and is expected, space is limited everywhere. Not showing up is disrespectful and reflects poorly. 

Publicity for your Work and Cause

  • The media is at Davos looking for stories like yours. 

  • Find out which journalists from your country and industry are attending and set up time for an interview in advance. The media follows everything that happens in Davos

Energy

  • Pace yourself. Eat healthily. Get enough sleep.

  • I’d recommend getting into top shape before the meeting. Besides the walking, you'll need stamina for all the meetings! 

  • There is a Communities Lounge for YGLs, Shapers and Schwabies. This is your home base. You can use this as a place for meetings, or simply to decompress and manage your schedule (you'll likely be shuffling your schedule based on opportunities that arise).

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!

Meetings

  • Davos is about the meetings you get to have with people you’d otherwise not be able to meet. Comb through the list and set up those one on ones and group meetings.

  • You will get a LOT of invitations. Only accept the ones where you have a direct interest.

  • Don’t accept meetings without an agenda. Investment banks and consultancies who set up meetings like a factory line. I thought there must be a special reason I was invited for meetings with two MDs of large banks, but in fact they’ve set up over 100 similar meetings of 15 mins each during Davos and for them if one in 10 comes through it’s worth it. In my case I wasn’t looking for investment so it was a waste of both our time.

    •  That said, if you are looking for investment, set up these meetings and come prepared with your pitch and financials. If you want to make a deal, it will happen MUCH faster if you get it done at Davos.

  • The bus rides are opportunities for serendipitous engagement. Don't waste them. Be brave enough to be first in connecting. 

  • The smaller and more intimate the venue the better. My best Davos meetings were at restaurants and coffee shops.

  • Track down the key people in your industry and don’t be shy about going to greet the. They’re there to meet people like you, and you will never find a more receptive audience with the movers and shakers in your industry than at Davos. Get into diaries well in advance if possible though.

  • Some people will say you should book yourself into sessions that don’t have anything to do with your field, I would advise the opposite. By targeting topics that you're interested in, you will meet the game-changers in that field and have the opportunity to deepen your network. 

Experiences

Some of the best memories weren’t sessions but rather experiences

  • Refugee experience

  • Microsoft hololens

  • Meditating with Matheiu Ricard.

  • Analysing and visualising my brainwaves

  • Fourth industrial revolution center

  • Company demos. They roll it out for Davos. You can get some mindblowing experiences and memories, not to mention photos.

Lastly, it's important to prepare but not over-prepare. You will meet people that will introduce you to ideas and worlds you didn't know existed. Leave time and space for this ahead of time, and when something amazing arises for you at Davos you'll be able to make the most of it. 

Your own preparation

  • It goes without saying that you should have sufficient business cards

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!

  • Tip from John Dutton: Use about a third of your time to represent your organisation; use a third for learning and experiences - stretch yourself; Use a third for whitespace and serendipity. 

YGLs

  •  Do: Organise a YGL meetup ahead of the main event with skiing, nightsledding and fondue.

  • It’s like the Harvard module: you will make friends for life among your YGL Davos cohort.

  • Participate as actively as possible in the YGL sessions. They are super special and memorable.

Logistics

  • Use the maps and take walking and travel distance into account when planning your sessions. 

  • There’s more walking outside the congress center than I expected. Snow grips (crampons) are really convenient but for extra safety I’d recommend getting non-slip shoes, I slipped once when I was in a rush and was lucky not to injure myself more seriously. 
  • Take a picture of your cloakroom tag on your phone, in-case you lose it. 

  • Download and use the Toplink events app

  • Take a backup battery - the days are long!

  • Davos and Klosters is beautiful in January. If you can spend a bit of extra time there, do so!

Any questions or comments, let me know on Telegram.

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AuthorDave Duarte

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AuthorDave Duarte

We don’t know what this coming year will bring, but the one thing we can do is to develop our ability to face the inevitable challenges and not let our values crumble when things get hard. “Character,” says Dr Henry Cloud, “is our ability to meet the demands of reality." This year I’m challenging myself to be more mindful of my values and more deliberate in developing my character. If you’d like to join me, read on!

“Positive Psychology” is an academically grounded field based on understanding the human psyche in terms of our potential not our pathology. One of the most important findings to emerge from this field is that we are happiest when we’re playing to our character strengths.

So the first step towards developing your character is to take an inventory of yourself. You may have a good sense of your character strengths already. Perhaps you’re naturally Curious, or Prudent, Enthusiastic, or Kind. If, like me, you would like some kind of external measurement you can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths on the University of Pennsylvania department of Psychology's Authentic Happiness website. The 240 questions took me about an hour.

Developed by two of the pioneers of positive psychology, Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, the Character Strengths and Virtues framework is like a table of elements for the human character. You can have a look at the table below to get a sense of the system.

Developing Your Character

The thing about character is that it's not a fixed state. We can develop our strengths through deliberate practice.

Inspired by Tiffany Shlain's Science of Character short film and resources, I have been focusing on a particular character strength every week for the past three months. Practices for this have included identifying the focus value for the week (for example, Integrity), and then keeping a daily journal about how well I’ve faired in practicing that value. 

 I have found this tremendously enlightening and inspiring. It’s something I’d like to continue, and to share with others. If you would like to join me, here’s the process.

  1. Identify: Take the character strengths survey to identify your strengths

  2. Commit: Pick one of your key strengths that you’d like to work on for a week.

  3. Practice! Start every day for the coming 7 days with a reflection on the practice of your value. You can journal about it (like I do), meditate on it, draw it, photograph it, paint it - whatever works for you.

  4. Share the love. If you enjoy and get value from this exercise, induct someone else into the #characterscience movement. You’re welcome to forward them this post:)

Oh, and here’s a bonus resource. I actually printed this out and had it laminated for easy reference 🤓

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AuthorDave Duarte