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Inside the World Business Forum - Day 2

Day two of HSM's World Business Forum offered an exciting lineup. Highlighted by Al Gore and James Cameron, the event certainly lived up to the first day's billing. Broken down into topics and major speakers, here's the recap:

Steve Levitt and Joseph Stiglitz started off the day by focusing on economic trends and insights. Steve Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, stood on the stage and spoke to the audience in his midwestern, folksy way. More Garrison Keillor than corporate and economics visionary, Levitt spun personal stories about failure, striving for success and the importance of originality in a competitive market. Candidly, he shared his experiences of tremendous failings and how they pushed him to deviate from his more successful economist colleagues to focus on novel topics and studies. A truly talented storyteller, Levitt highlighted the value of inquiry and open-mindedness. In contrast, Stiglitz took the stage with a message and presentation that was much more traditional than Levitt. Referencing economic history, theory and esteemed colleagues, Stiglitz suggests that the United States is in a critical time, and efforts need to be made to stimulate the economy, provide jobs and partner academics with business experts to generate new ideas for progress.

Al Gore
Al Gore announced early that, "I'm going to talk today about sustainable capitalism and the climate crisis." His discussion was pointed and flowing, and focused on critical issues related to climate concerns. Specifically, Gore centered much of his attention on the successes that we've had in stabilizing the population, worries related to the use of outdated technologies, and our dated thinking about capitalism and democracy. Beyond the argument that has come to define Gore's current work, he appealed to the audience to lead courageously through the climate crisis. He cautioned against "short-termism," stating that, "We assign importance to short-term results, and it is hurting the U.S. economy." Gore gets excited and draws you into this idea that we are at a historical crossroads and the United States is in need of leaders who will stand up and strive to positively impact the challenge facing our environment, climate and future. As Gore passionately states, "Make no mistake, this is the overriding challenge of our time."

Curiosity and creativity
A. G. Lafley, former CEO and chairman of the board at P&G, started off the afternoon with a challenge that he first accepted for himself, "I'm going to get curious about an area that I haven't been curious about," he began, "and I'm going to start exploring that area." In encouraging everyone to get curious, he set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Renée Mauborgne flooded the audience with insights and models that spoke to the importance of creativity in envisioning and capturing a market space, and Vijay Govindarajan continued by encouraging everyone to selectively forget the past while working to create the future. Govindarajan handed the baton to Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro, to discuss Hasbro's efforts to creatively advance. Goldner outlined the evolution of Hasbro, the trajectory from Mr. Potato Head to their "2 to 82" marketing effort. He spoke about Hasbro's efforts to re-imagine, re-invent and re-ignite, and showed a promotional video for Hasbro's new multimedia network, the hub, confirming that the organization has come a long way from potato accessories. In all cases, creativity and curiosity were paramount to success.

Nando Parrado
"Life was the best success," Parrado said of his survival at 14,000 feet in the Andes. When speaking of the Uruguayan rugby team he played for, the plane crash that inspired the movie Alive and his fight for survival, his lessons are emotional, poignant and human. Parrado lost his teammates and friends, his mother and sister in that crash, yet the lessons he's pulled from the experience speak to the value of luck, persistence and courage. With temperatures at 35 degrees below zero, no water, no food, the survivors concluded, "We had to eat to survive, and the only thing we had were the dead bodies of our friends." Parrado spoke of his fear and depleted morale, and concluded, "Let's fight until we stop breathing." Courageously, Parrado recalled his compulsion to keep moving forward, climb out of the mountains and find help for rest of his 14 friends. In time, he came to realize that through his journey, his survival, he "learned the meaning of that simple word love," concluding, "Don't lose your connections, kiss the ones around you . . .because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow."

James Cameron
Cameron is an intriguing and interesting individual who rounded out the event beautifully. He spoke of the 15-year struggle to see Avatar from conception to creation, the vision he had to sell to investors and the studio, and his journey as a leader. In Avatar, he "applied these learned leadership skills that are not innate," and worked to be a permissive leader, less of a dictator. Using surfing as a metaphor, Cameron discussed the importance of waiting for the right wave and using the energy of upcoming trends and technologies to drive the ride. Specifically, he spoke of the rise of 3-D and his prediction that within only several years, 3-D will be mainstream. Additionally, Cameron reflected on his interests in science, his love of nature, and his contributions to social and naturalistic causes. Perhaps the best takeaway from his presentation: "You set your goals ridiculously high and then when you fail, you're failing at a level above everyone else's success."

Once again, the event was an outstanding opportunity to hear a variety of intriguing perspectives and creative views. The World Business Forum offered tremendous insights, and hopefully you enjoyed some of those outlined here. As always, get in touch if you're interested in any follow-ups to these individuals and topics, or if you have any burning thoughts or comments.

Have idea for what we should write about next? Be in touch at info@menoconsulting.com or visit us at Meno Consulting.

By Joe Frontiera  |  October 12, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Inside the World Business Forum Day 1 - Second Half | Next: Don't get fooled again: The Baby Boomers' leadership failure


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Out of the stories above the one i found most interesting and inspiring would be the tale of Nando Parrado. Such a small percent of people will ever really understand what a situation like that entails, so I feel his words must be taken with great respect. Being in a situation where all of your friends are dead and your only way to survive is to eat there remains, must truly be horrific, but demonstrates the human survival instinct. Surprisingly what Al Gore had to say made great sense to me. I agree that this is a time where i think our nation needs great leaders to stand up and take us out of these darker times. As for James Cameron I am least interested in what he has to say, I find him to be very cocky. In my eyes he is not a accurate representation of a great leader.

Posted by: M28R | October 19, 2010 3:26 PM

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