Arrival at Davos

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A guest post from business author Don Tapscott:

Davos – After my wife Ana and I unpacked in our modest 3-star ski hotel we headed off to the new Davos convention center with some trepidation. The center is a maze and a big part one’s success here is logistical – just showing up at the right place at the right time.  The Davos complex has just been completely rebuilt, and we’re anxious to figure out some key issues like where is the best entrance, coat check, and how to find the dozens of venues where events occur.

The new setting is spectacular by Swiss mountain standards and, duly oriented, we head to the atrium for the familiar welcome-to-Davos cocktail reception.

However there is a simple surprise. The Forum has taken the “eat local” theme seriously and there is a delightful spread of interesting foods made from local ingredients.

We stumbled on a 10-meter cheese buffet hosted by a young man whose family has been making cheese for generations.  He personally introduced us to a dozen spectacular cheeses ranging from 5-day-old raw cheese made from raw milk to five-year-old cheese half eaten by cheese mites. Who knew that was desirable?  But don’t wait for 6 years because the mites will finish it all off.

We can’t remember a more spectacular assortment of artisan cheeses. Several of the cheeses had no names because they were experimental and “we haven’t named them yet.”

Our cheese host is thirty-years-old, proud, engaging and knowledgeable.  He sounds like he has a graduate degree from an agricultural program, but we learn that he’s “Just a cheese maker who’s carrying on our family’s tradition.”  Each of his brothers has vertical responsibilities – in charge of hard cheeses, blue cheeses, or fresh cheese.

We head out to a very serious corporate dinner to prepare for a session in the morning, and after that stop by the Piano Bar at the Europe Hotel on the way home.  It’s an eclectic collection of skiers, boarders, CEOs, government leaders and NGO executives happily drinking wine and singing to the rock and roll sounds of  Canadian pianist and impresario Barry Colson.  As a musician I’ve played with him at the bar before, and it turns out that we haven’t lost a beat.  Our rendition of Honky Tonk Woman rocks the place. We conspire to do a session with Randi Zuckerberg (Mark’s sister) who is an amazing rock singer, for later in the week.

We leave the hotel and walk into a beautiful snowy Davos night, bumping into Randi and enlisting her for our musical event.

The snowflakes are so big that their shadows look a million small animals dancing around on the road beneath our feet.  We stop for a few minutes to watch the winter show.

It’s midnight now and I sit down in the lobby (the only place with Internet) to write this article, saying hello to various luminaries who have become friends over the years.  Across the table is Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed Flight 1549 safely on the Hudson river.  He’s checking his email and preparing for his session about Leadership Under Pressure.  I’m reminded that the pressures of my life are quite modest.

As I write this I’m cognizant that I need to get some sleep.  I’m doing a private session for Manpower with about a hundred CEOs of large companies in the morning.  The topic: How is talent changing in the global economy? Contemplating I’ll get 5 hours sleep, I’m reminded that the one part of Davos that is not pleasurable is sleep deprivation.

Don Tapscott (@dtapscott on Twitter) recently co-authored “Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World.”

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