Davos Meeting 2012 (4): Day Five - Networking on a Global Scale

I woke up past 7 a.m. I was waking up a little later every day. I could tell I was feeling slightly sluggish the moment I got out of bed. From 8 a.m., I was due to attend a session titled “Asian Brainstorming” at the main conference hall. It was an invitation-only meeting for a small group of people including Takeshi Niinami, the CEO of Lawson Inc. and an Indonesian minister.

The aim of this session was to brainstorm on themes that should be discussed at the East Asia Economic Summit scheduled to be held in Bangkok from late May to early June this year. I took the initiative in facilitating the discussion during groupwork and presented its outcome to the participants. The session format using flipcharts is very familiar to me, so I felt that I had to play an active role.

I attended another session titled “Jazz: A Catalyst for Creativity” from 9 a.m. It was truly a thought-provoking session with excerpts like, “Improvisation is born out of 100 times of practice”, “There is no such thing as a mistake. A mistake is in fact an opportunity that will open the door to a new world”, “True knowledge shows itself after you scraped off your knowledge”, “Art comes into being from a realm of simplification exemplified by haiku and Zen”.

From 10:30 a.m., I took part in a session on the global economic outlook. Motohisa Furukawa, the State Minister for National Policy, Economic and Fiscal Policy sat on a panel for this session, alongside Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, and Robert Zoellick, the President of the World Bank .

Other speakers on the panel included the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times moderated the discussion. It was a session that drew considerable attention.

The term probably most often used at Davos this year is “social inclusiveness”. I came across this word more frequently than the term “environment.” I wonder what would be a Japanese equivalent of this term. Minister Furukawa delivered a well balanced speech. I thought it was a good speech, with sufficient attention addressed to Japan’s fiscal problems.

At noon, I took part in an invitation-only Japan Lunch held at an open-air hotel site. Minister Furukawa and Yukio Edano, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry were welcomed by people such as Yasuchika Hasegawa, the Chairman of the Japan Association of Cooperate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), Yorihiko Kojima, the Chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation, Sadako Ogata, the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who served as the organizers of this luncheon. Other business leaders from Japan included Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, the President of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation and Toshiyuki Shiga, the COO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

After the Japan Lunch, I took a walk back to the main conference hall. Taking advantage of this spare time, I called home. I was instantly energized when my third son told me he had scored a hat trick in a football match. I feel my spirits lifted every time I talk with my kids. I walked into the main conference hall and attended a session titled “The Art and Science of Happiness.” The venue was standing room only. I sat on the floor and listened.

A speaker introduced research which reveals that relationships based on feelings such as love, passion, sympathy, and fellowship produce better results than financial incentives and actions driven by fear. I could certainly say that the rapid success of GLOBIS is based on good human relations among all its stakeholders.

At the end of this session, all participants stood up, sang, clapped their hands, and danced a little. I had a great time. The session made me happy. It was like an experiment on how to make happiness contagious. I felt happy right away because I’m a fairly straightforward person. I thought that I would always be able to build good relationships if I meet people with this state of mind.

After the session on happiness, I did some networking in the hall. A surprising number of people came up to me and said that they had read my “Emails from Japan”. “Thank you for making an effort to write the emails. It was thanks to you that I was able to get some insight into the situations in Japan. I think the activities of the KIBOW Project are outstanding.” Positive comments like this reminded me of the importance of email communications. I made up my mind to keep writing follow-ups on subsequent events.

I then spoke to interviewers from a South Korean newspaper and from the China Central Television (CCTV), a sign that GLOBIS is gradually becoming known worldwide.

I went back to my hotel for a short while. At a cafe there, I had tea with Nik Gowing of the BBC World News. It was like having a small talk with an old friend, as Nik and I had grown close since he came to Japan last year at my invitation. He seemed to be willing to return to the G1 Global Conference this year. His suggestions for the Conference were to adopt a unifying theme and to make the most of Twitter for session proceedings.

The Cultural Soiree began at 8 p.m. I attended this evening party program on Saturday for the first time since 2004, because it had been pretty much regular practice for me to fly out of Davos in the Saturday afternoon. In 2004, the Mariinsky Orchestra performed The Nutcracker under the baton of conductor Valery Gergiev at the Cultural Soiree. The theme chosen for this year was “Brazil”.

I spent three straight hours on my feet, meeting people at the Cultural Soiree. I was effectively networking with the world. One of my highlights for the evening was getting acquainted with a former foreign minister of Singapore.The party was still going on, but I felt exhausted and quietly left the venue. It was time for me to pack up and prepare for my last presentation tomorrow morning. It was my last night in Davos until next year.

The next day, which was the final day of this year’s Meeting, I was due to speak at a summary session on leadership from 9 a.m. and leave Davos shortly afterwards . My plan for the day was to attend the summary session scheduled to conclude at 10:15 a.m., head for the airport in a cab that would come to pick me up at 10:30 a.m., take a helicopter to Zurich, and leave there for Japan on a direct flight to Narita departing at 1 p.m. The end of the conference was in sight at long last.

February 1, 2012
Yoshito Hori
Written in my house in Ichibancho

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