Keeping Up with Today's Fast-Changing World

It was my privilege to attend the 2012 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the fourth time I have had the opportunity to see, listen to and occasionally rub elbows with many of the world's intellectual, business, governmental, arts, cultural and social giants. There was a lot going on at 260 sessions, with topics ranging from the "Secrets of the Universe" to "Fixing Capitalism" and such varied speakers as Tom Friedman of The New York Times, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom and former South African President Desmond Tutu.

Here are a few of the many points I took away from Davos:

  • Reinvention and corporate social responsibility are increasingly essential to take full advantage of the millions of new consumers in emerging nations. By the way, CSR is a potent weapon in the competition for global talent.
  • Leaders are under growing pressure to respond to contextual ambiguities, fast changing environments, technological advances and constant crises. Successful leaders thrive under pressure, maintain a long-term perspective, excel at multitasking and remain open and available.
  • Social networks have huge potential, but it is not yet clear whether their undoubted power to exert influence is matched by their ability to overcome their limitations as tools for positive change.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, noted that one reason senior management remains dominated by men is that women suffer from an "ambition gap." "They are trained from an early age to hold back," she said, "while boys are encouraged to be assertive." She encouraged women to take responsibility for their careers and not blame men for holding them back.

You can read more about the WEF by logging on to Go the Home page and click on sessions and interviews. If you cannot find it, use their search box.

"It is the brain's astonishing power to learn and unlearn, to adjust and change, to carry with it the inscriptions of our experiences, that allows us to throw off the shackles of biological materialism, for it is the life we lead that creates the brain we have." - Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz

"As . . . your cortex starts working, the brain begins to create 'software' for your desired change, actually laying down new nerve pathways and building new habits. Soon, your resistance to change begins to weaken." - Robert Maurer, Ph.D.

"It's not unlike regular visits to the gym except that participants are exercising their brains rather than their heart and muscles." - Vicki Tashjian