WEF Annual Meeting 2010 in Davos- Part 3: A Scene surrounded by Wine

I woke up early the next morning, so I replied to some e-mails. Because of the time difference, I had already received a lot of e-mails, even though it was still early in the morning. After I had written a number of replies, I went for a swim.

Nobody was in the pool that day. I warmed my body in the sauna, took a shower and entered the pool.

When I was checking out of the hotel, I decided to ask a brave question: "The pool on the ground floor - what is the correct way to use it, naked or wearing a swimsuit?"

The beautiful female clerk with translucent white skin answered, "Either way is fine." Not satisfied with her answer, I asked, "What would you do?"

She responded with the obvious answer, "I would have used the sauna naked but wear a swimsuit in a pool," which still wasn't a satisfactory answer, so I asked, "What would you do in the pool on the ground floor of this hotel?" She laughed and replied, "I'm not allowed to swim at this hotel, so I don't know." I didn't know whether I had found out the answer or not, but I supposed that it was okay either way after all. I felt that it would be correct for men to do the same thing as women. Behaving in a way that the people around you deem acceptable is probably what is correct.

From the hotel lobby, I watched the dark waters of the Rhine flowing calmly under a cloudy sky amidst a panorama of white snow. Just as a cargo ship on the river had enticed me to take a stroll outside, I saw the driver from the business school, who had come to pick me up. Since he was driving a French car rather than a local German one, I asked him about it as we headed toward the school. The area was a wine-producing region, and I could see vineyards everywhere. The driver said, "France has better red wine than Germany, but we have better tasting white wines than France, particularly our Riesling." I was just agreeing with him when we arrived at the business school.

At the school, I attended a lecture on the state of business schools in Germany, visited the campus, and discussed how the school could team up with Globis University. The campus is located among vineyards, and the Rhine flows in front of it. It is a beautiful setting.

Just after noon, I left the campus and headed to Zurich Airport. The weather had cleared without my realizing, and sunlight was reflected off the snow across the vineyards. Our Volkswagen sped along the autobahn at around 150km/h. As my flight's departure was delayed, I read articles in the Financial Times(FT) and Forbes and studied the Davos Conference materials.

I arrived at Zurich Airport in the evening. The hotel hosting the pre-Davos Conference was inside the airport, so it was very convenient. I checked in, booted up my PC, sent replies to e-mails, and immediately headed to the wine tasting venue. Jancis Robinson, a charismatic sommelier who writes for the FT, was participating in this wine tasting event. I love her wine column in the weekend FT, which contains a photograph of her holding a glass of wine in her hand, and I have read it often.

This wine event was called Wine Forum, and this particular session was its maiden event, launched by a venture capitalist in California who loved wine. According to one of the founders, the event had begun as a result of the following circumstances.

"We had held wine tasting events featuring Jancis at the Davos Conference since around 2006. Although they were very well received, we couldn't hold one last year after we received a letter advising that we should refrain from holding such elaborate events, probably due to the global economic crisis.

So this year, we decided to do it here in Zurich immediately before Davos, as a gathering of wine lovers with the same values."

According to Jancis, "This is a lot better than going to cold, security-strict, inconvenient Davos. You don't have to wear snow boots, it's right there as soon as you get off the plane, and we have been able to secure a spacious venue as well."

Inside the conference room venue were about eight round tables. Six to seven people sat at each table, and in front of each place was a total of eleven glasses lined up close together in the small space. The wine list contained the following wines:

(I) Krug Grande Cuvee
(II) Y de Chateau d'Yquem, 2006
(III) Petit Cheval, 2000
(IV) Chateau Cheval Blanc, 2005
(V) Chateau Cheval Blanc, 2001
(VI) Chateau Cheval Blanc, 1998
(VII) Chateau Cheval Blanc, 1989
(VIII) Chateau d'Yquem, 2005
(IX) Chateau d'Yquem, 1998
(X) Chateau d'Yquem, 1990
(XI) Chateau d'Yquem, 1959

The Wine Forum proceeded as follows. We chatted with the participants as we enjoyed some Krug champagne. After we had taken our seats, Oliver Krug (of Krug) spoke about Krug champagne.

After he was seated, we all enjoyed the Chateau d'Yquem, the highest class of noble rot wine, and then the Bordeaux Chateau Cheval Blanc. Jancis, the charismatic sommelier, sat at the podium, and next to her was Pierre Lurton, the president and producer of the captivating Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Cheval Blanc. They chatted as they explained the wines.

What luxury. Not only were we able to drink wine that was worth anywhere from 10,000 yen to 100,000 yen per bottle, but we were also provided with explanations by the head of Chateau and Jancis. Beside me was a noted wine buyer from New York who tasted the wines with a serious expression on his face and spat each one out into a plastic cup. The wines all tasted very good, and I was hesitant to waste them, so I drank them all to the last drop. Before I knew it, I was quite inebriated. The Wine Forum adjourned after the scheduled time of 8:30p.m. It is scheduled to hold its next session in June in Bordeaux, and then in Napa Valley.

The pre-Davos Conference reception was held at the venue next door in the same hotel. As the joint chairperson, I was required to attend. Taking care not to show my inebriation, I went to the venue, located an acquaintance, and took part in his conversation. I also spoke with the former prime minister of Finland, who is now a senior vice president of Nokia.

I exchanged greetings with some of the key members, and then returned to my hotel room. After preparing myself for sleep, I slipped into bed, slightly drunk.

January 27, 2010 
From a hotel in Zurich, 
Yoshito Hori

 

Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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