A few tips for Young Global Leaders attending their first WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.


Connecting Meaningfully

  • "You think you’re looking for an opportunity but you’re actually looking for a person." Think about your big vision for your organisation, and look for the people who may be able to help you make that happen.

  • Be Proactive, use Toplink to get in touch and set up time to speak. 

  • You can spend your time stalking celebrities for selfies and casual chats, or you can make something real happen. This is Davos, you can make life-changing connections. 

  • Make sure your Toplink profile is up to date.You will be scrutinised and you may get offers, these aren't random.

  • Don't feel obliged to accept all the meeting requests you get, you will be busy. Discernment is key. 


  • Make sure you get in early for the your sessions. Last year I regretfully missed President Xi Jinping’s opening address because I arrived on time rather than early

  • Never eat alone - the breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner sessions were most impactful for me. Table topics. Intimate and interactive. The dinner sessions in particular are well worth attending. 

  • Remember that every session you are invited to is a specially reserved place FOR you, don’t make bookings "just in case"

  • You will get a lot of invitations to private events. Some of the best events weren’t on the formal schedule but choose wisely. It’s very easy to stretch yourself too thinly. One of my favourites was an off-schedule morning event by an organiation I'd never heard of that was discussing a topic I care about deeply (apprentiships as an alternative to formal higher learning). I met some fantastic people there, all of whom were interested in the topic.

  • Don’t accept invitations lightly: if you accept, go or cancel in good time. Every single person is individually added to lists and is expected, space is limited everywhere. Not showing up is disrespectful and reflects poorly. 

Publicity for your Work and Cause

  • The media is at Davos looking for stories like yours. 

  • Find out which journalists from your country and industry are attending and set up time for an interview in advance. The media follows everything that happens in Davos


  • Pace yourself. Eat healthily. Get enough sleep.

  • I’d recommend getting into top shape before the meeting. Besides the walking, you'll need stamina for all the meetings! 

  • There is a Communities Lounge for YGLs, Shapers and Schwabies. This is your home base. You can use this as a place for meetings, or simply to decompress and manage your schedule (you'll likely be shuffling your schedule based on opportunities that arise).

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!


  • Davos is about the meetings you get to have with people you’d otherwise not be able to meet. Comb through the list and set up those one on ones and group meetings.

  • You will get a LOT of invitations. Only accept the ones where you have a direct interest.

  • Don’t accept meetings without an agenda. Investment banks and consultancies who set up meetings like a factory line. I thought there must be a special reason I was invited for meetings with two MDs of large banks, but in fact they’ve set up over 100 similar meetings of 15 mins each during Davos and for them if one in 10 comes through it’s worth it. In my case I wasn’t looking for investment so it was a waste of both our time.

    •  That said, if you are looking for investment, set up these meetings and come prepared with your pitch and financials. If you want to make a deal, it will happen MUCH faster if you get it done at Davos.

  • The bus rides are opportunities for serendipitous engagement. Don't waste them. Be brave enough to be first in connecting. 

  • The smaller and more intimate the venue the better. My best Davos meetings were at restaurants and coffee shops.

  • Track down the key people in your industry and don’t be shy about going to greet the. They’re there to meet people like you, and you will never find a more receptive audience with the movers and shakers in your industry than at Davos. Get into diaries well in advance if possible though.

  • Some people will say you should book yourself into sessions that don’t have anything to do with your field, I would advise the opposite. By targeting topics that you're interested in, you will meet the game-changers in that field and have the opportunity to deepen your network. 


Some of the best memories weren’t sessions but rather experiences

  • Refugee experience

  • Microsoft hololens

  • Meditating with Matheiu Ricard.

  • Analysing and visualising my brainwaves

  • Fourth industrial revolution center

  • Company demos. They roll it out for Davos. You can get some mindblowing experiences and memories, not to mention photos.

Lastly, it's important to prepare but not over-prepare. You will meet people that will introduce you to ideas and worlds you didn't know existed. Leave time and space for this ahead of time, and when something amazing arises for you at Davos you'll be able to make the most of it. 

Your own preparation

  • It goes without saying that you should have sufficient business cards

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!

  • Tip from John Dutton: Use about a third of your time to represent your organisation; use a third for learning and experiences - stretch yourself; Use a third for whitespace and serendipity. 


  •  Do: Organise a YGL meetup ahead of the main event with skiing, nightsledding and fondue.

  • It’s like the Harvard module: you will make friends for life among your YGL Davos cohort.

  • Participate as actively as possible in the YGL sessions. They are super special and memorable.


  • Use the maps and take walking and travel distance into account when planning your sessions. 

  • There’s more walking outside the congress center than I expected. Snow grips (crampons) are really convenient but for extra safety I’d recommend getting non-slip shoes, I slipped once when I was in a rush and was lucky not to injure myself more seriously. 
  • Take a picture of your cloakroom tag on your phone, in-case you lose it. 

  • Download and use the Toplink events app

  • Take a backup battery - the days are long!

  • Davos and Klosters is beautiful in January. If you can spend a bit of extra time there, do so!

Any questions or comments, let me know on Telegram.

AuthorDave Duarte

What if you could wake up every morning smarter and more informed about global affairs with news dream media? What if you could wake up with new skills installed in your brain? There are 6 - 8 hours of our daily lives that media tech moguls haven't yet been able to reach - the time we spend asleep. But that may be changing soon...

AuthorDave Duarte

One of the surest ways to gain in subjective wellbeing - AKA Happiness- is to practice your particular character strengths on a regular basis (Achor, 2010) . 

Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson developed a Character Strengths and Virtues framework that identifies six classes of virtue (i.e., "core virtues"), made up of twenty-four measurable "character strengths". A handy infographic below provides a good summary: 

You may know your own particular strengths, but I love taking self-assessment surveys, so  I just completed the renowned VIA Survey of Character Strengths on the University of Pennsylvania department of Psychology's Authentic Happiness website. The 240 questions, took me about an hour. The results are obviously worthwhile, but the test itself was also interesting, as it also revealed some not-so-strengths that I wasn't aware of. 

In-case you're interested (hi, Ma!), here are my results... 

Your Top Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Second Strength

Capacity to love and be loved

You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Strength #3

Humor and playfulness

You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Strength #4

Zest, enthusiasm, and energy

Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Strength #5

Love of learning

You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

I was initially surprised, but on reflection, these make SO much sense for me. 

Developing my Character

The thing about character is that it's not a fixed state. We are all predisposed to certain strengths, but with practice we shape and develop our character strengths. This has been my primary practice for 2016. 

Inspired by Tiffany Shlain's Science of Character short film and resources, I have been focusing on a particular character strength every week. Practices for this have included identifying the focus value for the week (for example, Integrity), and then keeping a daily journal about my success in practicing that value. 

I have found that a week's dedicated practice is more valuable than just having a list of things I value. Through the week I become increasingly mindful of the value, and I deepen my understanding of it as it applies to me and my world. 

So here's the take-out challenge, if you want to join me on this fulfilling journey of character development: 

  1. Choose a focus value for the coming week: Have a look at the 24 character strengths, and identify ONE for the coming week that you'd like to work on (if you want an easy feel-good week, do the character strengths survey, then maybe start with something you're already good at)
  2. Declare your intent to practice:  Post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your blog, wherever suits you. If you post on your social media, write #characterscience with your post, so you can find and encourage other people who are doing the experiment with us. 
  3. Practice! Start every day for the coming 7 days with a reflection on the practice of your value. You can journal about it (like I do), meditate on it, draw it, photograph it, paint it - whatever works for you. 
  4. Share the love. Lastly, if you enjoy and get value from this exercise, induct someone else into the #characterscience movement. 


AuthorDave Duarte