Davos Notebook

Shared norms, soccer pundits and dealing with the ‘New Reality’

– Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. The opinions expressed are his own. –

And so the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is underway once again. The theme this year is Shared Norms for the New Reality, which according to the WEF is: “…reflecting the fact that we live in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected but also experiencing an erosion of common values and principles.”

I think that means life is moving faster so we need to step back and review some basic principles, because some are struggling to keep up. At least that’s what I understand it to mean.

But, disregarding the headline purpose of the conference, the really interesting story I am noticing as the WEF gets underway is that partners – or sponsors in more direct language – have been asked to bring at least one woman in their delegation. In 2010, just 16% of attendees in Davos were women and the WEF wants to see that figure going up.

But this is a club for presidents and company executives and fewer than 3 percent of the Fortune Global 500 chief executives are women and less than 20 of the world’s presidents or prime ministers are female. It’s no wonder that Davos is overrun with men in unimaginative dark suits sheltering from the cold.

How to feed a hungry Davos CEO

lunchFood is one of the key highlights of the World Economic Forum and Wednesday’s lunch brought taste from around the world to serve hungry CEOs, heads of states and policymakers who spend the morning discussing the outlook for the global economy and corporate profits.

From Russia, there were rolled mini-blinis filled with salmon tartar and chive cream and Solyanka pork stew. Assorted sushi and salmon sashimi represented taste of Japan (in this landlocked Switzerland).

Participants queued for crispy couscous balls with aubergine cavier and kibbeh saijeh — beef meatballs with pistachios and potato croquettes from Lebanon. They also enjoyed banana bread with avocado mash and fried bean balls in Ghana.

Be part of Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland headshotReuters has added an exciting new dimension to its Davos coverage this year. As well as Insider TV’s regular Davos Today morning show (streamed live on this website every morning at 7 a.m. CET during the annual meeting), there is now also an afternoon show to be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. on 26, 27 and 28 January.

Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland will feature many of the biggest names at Davos in discussion with Reuter’s Global Editor-at-Large. Topics range from China, India and the U.S. to Trust in Institutions, the Future of Finance and Failed States.

The guest list includes Larry Summers, Harvard professor and former U.S. Secretary, Bob Zoellick, President of the World Bank and Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University.

Me, Myself, I

How do I trust myself? Let me count the ways…

Global PR group Edelman told the World Economic Forum about its Trust Barometer and said that “Trust” in general had stabilised.

But that’s where the good news for me ended.

My industry, media, had a Trust tumble in the US and UK to small levels of trust never seen before – “How much do you trust media to do what is right?” The US is down to 27% and the UK 22%. Maybe I should try my hand at fiction instead!

There was a big Trust rise for media in China and Brazil but India had a big decline. Fascinating data but having spent many years pouring over Chinese newspapers a bit of a surprise to me.

Hudson pilot tells business leaders to look beyond short-term

USA/The U.S. pilot who safely landed a plane carrying 155 passengers on the Hudson River urged political and business leaders in Davos to look beyond short-term results to deliver long-term benefits.

Chesley Sullenberger III, former U.S. Airways pilot, is speaking at the World Economic Forum, as chief executive of Safety Reliability Methods. His sessions “Leadership under Pressure” and “Exploring the Extremes” are both fully subscribed.

Sullenberger told Reuters on the sidelines of the Forum that leaders must be prepared personally and professionally and have integrity.

Making workplace wellness work

MikeMcCallisterBy Michael B. McCallister, chairman and CEO of Humana, and chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Workplace Wellness Alliance.

The World Economic Forum meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, will explore ways to improve our citizenry’s health.

Increasingly, WEF participants are focusing on workplace wellbeing. Several major corporations, including Humana have created the Workplace Wellness Alliance to better understand the link between employee wellness and productivity. Healthy work environments are essential to a business’s bottom line.

Davos fails to grab the attention of angry protesters

The days when anti-capitalist protesters could rampage through Switzerland’s financial capital Zurich in rage at the Davos talkfest 100 miles (150 km) to the east are long gone.

A couple of hundred anti-globalisation activists managed to rally in the nearby town of St. Gallen on Saturday against the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opening this week. Braving a vicious north-east wind, they assembled near the station then marched peacefully through the centre of town, barely disrupting the good burghers as they went about their weekend shopping. At the front of the demo a large red banner proclaimed: “Take the future from the capitalists – Smash the WEF”.

The mostly young demonstrators pulled a cart festooned with anti-capitalist slogans, and beat drums and lit crackers to keep time. The march went off peacefully.

The new Medicis and a new medieval world

HUNGARY/I spoke with Parag Khanna, author of “How to Run the World” and a young global leader of the World Economic Forum, about global imbalances and creating better corporate citizens. The following are some excerpts of our conversation:

KH: Parag, what’s the key issue for you this year at Davos?
PK: The key question is this: whether the WEF can succeed in repositioning itself as an organization about risk issues.

KH: What would the WEF need to do in order to reposition itself?
PK: They can start by looking at their prescriptions for what to do about the risks – do they have awareness networks and early warning systems for serious global issues like food security and access to water.

What’s threatening the world?

Ian Bremmer discusses the World Economic Forum’s global risk report:

What has Davos done for us?

DAVOS/For more than four decades, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has pitched its annual shindig in Davos as a chance for powerful leaders in business, politics, media and academia to convene in one spot to trade ideas on how to solve the pressing global problems of the day.

And for about as long, critics have dismissed the invitation-only event as nothing more than a glorified networking get-together for elites, or, as U2 singer Bono once called it, a meeting of “fat cats in the snow”.

But are critics right to so quickly trash the Davos meeting? Haven’t there been at least a few tangible achievements along the way?