NEW YORK--()--The two-day New York Forum wrapped up on a high note, as founder Richard Attias noted that participants had generated solutions to pressing issues. “Our destiny is our ideas and many of the ideas from the Forum can be implemented by all of us,” he said.
“Don’t do anything in private that you can’t defend in public.”
The action items from the gathering of international business leaders will also be presented at the upcoming G20 summit.
In addition to the final session – a forward-looking panel that looked at transparency and hyper-connectivity -- other second-day highlights included a discussion about whether America had become “ordinary” and a look at the post-uprising Middle East.
Is America in Danger of Becoming Ordinary?
Describing himself as a “frustrated optimist,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman joined a diverse panel of business leaders, who agreed that America’s entrepreneurial spirit still shines but the country will have to work hard to stay competitive in a global economy.
The panel, “America the Ordinary?” identified a range of challenges, from a lack of coherent public policy on jobs, healthcare and infrastructure, to what Friedman called the “corrupt duopoly” – the broken two-party system – that he predicted would be “blown up” by the American people.
Whether country has lost its sense of adventure and exploration, as Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps suggested, or simply has to adjust to the rising power of other nations, the panelists were hopeful about solutions. Suggestions included a national bank for innovation; one big national project expertly executed; and a global outlook combined with a focus on job and wealth creation at home.
In addition to Friedman, panel participants included Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure Holdings; Jonathan Miller, CEO, NewsCorp Digital; Jeffrey Kindler, former Chairman and CEO, Pfizer; and Linda Rottenberg, CEO, Endeavor. The panel was moderated by CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo.
Hard Work of Building New Societies Follows Middle East Uprisings
The so-called Arab Spring was a movement borne of frustration and repression but building a more democratic region is a complex challenge, according to leaders from across the Middle East. The panel was moderated by Attias, who was born in Morocco, and included perspectives from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
Panelists noted that high unemployment, established power structures, corruption and youthful inexperience were significant issues. But they were hopeful that continued progress would prevent the gains from eroding. The goal of consolidating democracy can be achieved by building prosperity across the region.
Encouraging public-private partnerships; deploying venture capital; fostering entrepreneurship, particularly among young people; improving governance and engaging people in the political process were among the action items.
Panelists included Ahmed El Alfi, Chairman, Sawari Ventures, Egypt; Bassem Awadallah, CEO, Tomoh Advisory; former Minister of Finance, Jordan; Jaloul Ayed, Minister of Finance, Tunisia; Roger Cohen, Columnist, The New York Times; Brahim Fassi Fihri, President and Founder, Institut Amadeus, Morocco; Karim Hajji, CEO, Casablanca Stock Exchange, Morocco; Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief of Marketing and Competitiveness Initiatives, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia
Transparency and Hyper-Connectivity Redefine Relationships, Power and Privacy
In a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the promise and the dangers of hyper-connectivity and transparency, panelists debated privacy, morality, power, business uses for the Internet and the future. Among the highlights:
Power is no longer traditionally defined. In a connected world, power migrates to people who know how to touch others and make waves in the world. Power comes from capturing the imagination of people.
Privacy is disappearing fast, including the line between public and private behavior. One panelist suggested a solution: “Don’t do anything in private that you can’t defend in public.”
The openness of the Internet can be illusory. Based on our past browsing behavior, algorithms choose content for us, limiting our exposure to new ideas. Further, governments can track people’s behavior, which can be perilous in some places.
Legislation to protect privacy is still in its infancy.
Increasingly, what you say about yourself (or your company) is less important than what others say about you.
Panelists included Bonin Bough, Global Head of Digital, Pepsico; Steve Clemons, Washington Editor-At-Large, The Atlantic; Senior Fellow, New America Foundation; Nduka Obaigbena, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, THISDAY Newspapers Group; President, The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria; Chairman, Africa Media Leaders Forum; Dov Seidman, Chairman and CEO, LRN. The panel was moderated by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Chairman, The New York Times Company, and Publisher, The New York Times
Reflecting on the Forum's key themes, Attias noted the renewed sense of optimism among business leaders, embracing differences as a path to prosperity, supporting entrepreneurship, empowering women and “the ability to dream once again.”
About the New York Forum:
The New York Forum brings together business leaders, sovereign fund managers, policymakers and Nobel prize-winning economists to craft innovative ideas addressing current challenges facing the global economy.
CEOs, investors, and policy makers participate in intensive taskforces led by The Boston Consulting Group to explore the tangible challenges and opportunities associated with specific trends in the current environment.
The Forum aims to create an environment in which leaders from different sectors can collaborate with industry experts to begin the process of reinventing business and creating a new paradigm for growth.
About Richard Attias & Associates:
Richard Attias & Associates is a strategic communications firm that provides private consultancy, idea initiatives and live experiences. Our mission is to help leaders, corporations and nations build their global influence, catalyze innovation and lead the global exchange of ideas.
Richard Attias is the world’s top community builder for the “thinking elite”. Over the last two decades, he has built a matchless reputation for helping nations, organizations and corporations catalyze the global exchange of ideas.
This talent for anticipating the most pressing issues of our time, activating global networks of thought leaders, and inspiring innovation is based on his unique experience developing some of the most influential gatherings of global leaders in the last 20 years including the World Economic Forum in Davos; the Clinton Global Initiative; the Middle East Peace Summit in Jordan; the Dalian Economic Summit in China; and the signature of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Marrakech.
He is also the Chairman of Columbia University’s Center on Capitalism and Society; formed in 2002 to study the workings of well-functioning modern economies, understand how these economies got their dynamism, and how this dynamism impacts employment, among other topics.