It’s 1:40 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2018, and I have been trying to sleep for the last hour. Despite the long day filled with lots of walking around on snow-covered roads, the first day in Davos, attending the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF), has been so overwhelming that it’s hard to put aside the excitement and fall asleep. So, I decided I would get my memories out of my head and onto paper. I hope you enjoy reading them.
My biggest takeaway after day one was that this would be one of the biggest learning experiences of my life. I met so many interesting people today, and had some engaging and deep conversations with strangers, ranging from WEF employees to CEOs of big, multinational firms.
Three things I learned:
- Be brave; start the conversation. I was meeting the CEO and founder of a large urban mining company. As part of my Accenture Strategy internship, I researched this company and its work in the circular economy. Through my research, I gained a sense of the effort the founder must have put forth to build this company from scratch, and I wanted to meet him and discuss his work. But, I honestly felt a bit nervous. I decided to be brave and just approach him. And I’m so glad I did. I was amazed by the excitement with which he listened to what I had to say. The expression, “Actions speak louder than words,” is really true. He handed me his business card, asked me to stay in touch, offered to take a picture with me and invited me to visit his company in China. He asked questions about my background, and when I asked if he has plans to expand his business in India, he said, “First we make friends, and then we do business.” I learned that I need to approach these conversations head-on in the future.
- Ups and downs are part of life. I know it sounds clichéd, but having a conversation with a VP of a multinational technology company made me think again. This person shared his experiences of innumerable knock-backs, and he is now the VP of a multinational company. What is even more amazing when you meet such people (business leaders), is that they don’t want to talk only about business—they want to talk about life. Not only did he ask about my life, but he shared his own personal stories. This is when you know that a person has a balance of both their work and personal priorities.
- Dream big. I know; I know; you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. A business leader I admire said to me today: “The worst thing that can happen to you now after your London Business School MBA is that you do a ‘normal’ job. You won’t know what could be the best thing for you unless you think beyond normal.” This made me think about how we focus on the present or the short term, and we often forget about the bigger picture.
I don’t know how these conversations will change me, but I know they’ve left an impact. I was asked the same question by three different people: “What is your dream?” I now ask this of you: What’s your dream? Think about it, and make it happen.
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