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The 10 weirdest things that happened to me at Davos this year

Here is my personal pick of the top 10 weirdest things that happened to me at Davos this year

By Lynda Gratton 01 February 2012

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It’s a surreal place. Picture 2000 people in a mountain resort packed into a conference centre for five days. Weird things are going to happen… and they do. Here is my personal pick of the top 10 weirdest things that happened to me at Davos this year:


  1. Sitting in a group of five people building a new society from scratch. I had UK labour leader Ed Milliband on my right and Buddhist priest Matthieu Ricard on my left. You could not make this stuff up!
  2. Getting into an elevator only to see that the only other occupier was Bill Gates. “Hi Bill”
  3. Getting out of the bus from the airport late at night with my dear friend and colleague at London Business School – Professor Francesca Cornelli. She is wearing 5-inch high heels, and as she steps out of the bus she turns to me and says in her gorgeous thick Italian accent ‘ Is there snow at Davos?’ We had six feet of the stuff– but Francesca assured me that her heels acted as fantastic crampons.
  4. Walking down an icy road with the FT’s Mrs Moneypenny at 1.00am en route between parties. Sadly she slipped and broke her wrist – the beginning of a night spent in hospital. No doubt more of this in next Saturday’s FT.
  5. Meeting Drew Huston, the guy who invented my most favourite ever piece of technology – Dropbox (actually just before Mrs MP broke her wrist). He is 27 years old and the business has been valued at 4 billion. I even got a photo of us together – he is real hero of our research team.
  6. Walking past IMF leader Madam Christine Lagarde twice – and both times she smiled and said ‘Bonjour’ – how cool is that!
  7. Keeping on missing Mick Jagger – there were various sighting – but not by me. No Bono to be seen.
  8. Meeting numerous CEO’s – there are whole herds of them. The ones that really caught my eye where Rick Goings of Tupperware (yes, there really is a Tupperware party every 2 minutes around the world) who is excited and interested in a ton of areas; and the surgeon Toby Cosgrove who is President of the Cleveland Clinic and a fantastic leader; plus Ernesto Zedillo, the past President of Mexico. On my first panel on leadership his opening remarks were ‘ I am sceptical about leadership’ – and that’s just the sort of debate we need.
  9. Plus vast faculties of professors. I moderated the Wharton Innovation Lab on Jobs and the Skill Gap - which was really interesting and scary at the same time.
  10. And finally… getting home to London on Sunday night and cooking supper for the family. What, no Tony Blair, no CEO’s, no Professors – now that’s the weirdest thing about Davos… the withdrawal symptoms. But perhaps if I go into my drawing room I might just find Bill sitting and talking to Mick!

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