Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Davos Flavor

I hope to share a little of the flavor of Davos as we get into what's going on. Davos is a little mountain town in a valley with ski slopes on both sides. There are basically two main drags around the town, an upper one and a lower one, that meet at the two ends of town and make a long winding oval. City buses and shuttle minivans circle around the town, mainly running around the racetrack (which is one-way in several areas). The Congress Center is in the middle, and that's where the big events happen. But many other events are scattered around the hotels of Davos, and it can take 25 or 30 minutes to walk between the most far flung ones.

Last night I went to the Blogger's nightcap at a hotel at the eastern end of Davos. I came out after midnight and found that there were no buses or shuttles running anymore, so I just walked back to my hotel's funicular. That's not a term I use frequently! It's a train that takes you from town level up 1000 feet to the Schatzalp hotel, which sits well above the valley. Like several hotels in Davos, it's a former TB clinic, and was featured in Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain." I hadn't eaten dinner, and so ended up getting food at the one bar I found open while walking more than half the length of the main drag! I ran into some fun Brazilian social entrepreneurs I hadn't met before (based in the Amazon) and we ended up drinking beers and swapping stories well into the night.

And, that's a key part of the Davos flavor. Yes, you are meeting people you want to meet or people you already know. But, the magic comes when you let serendipity lead you forward. Almost everyone here does something interesting, and you are more likely than not find a common interest with someone you would never would have a priori guessed would be passionate about human rights, or technology, or the political situation in Bangladesh, or environmental change, or...

And of course, the best place to meet people are in the six person minivans. Last year I jumped into one and sat across from George Soros. People are accessible and interested in knowing more about everybody, and it creates a real opportunity to accelerate three month's of new meetings into three or four days.

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