Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting Edgy at the Swiss Economic Forum

Every 10th household in Switzerland is worth a million or more, and plenty of those households were represented in the audience of the Swiss Economic Forum in Interlaken. Still on camera from the SRF interview the day before, I headed out on stage to be greeted by a large army of men in suits. Women were in very short supply, although one woman had fantastic pink hair and had clearly decided that if she was going to be in the minority she’d make sure of it!

I wasn’t in Switzerland to compliment the country on its mountains, grass, cows and clean water but to encourage the Swiss to fail more. Only by embracing the possibility of failure do the big advances come, and it’s time for the Swiss to make some new brave leaps into the future. Bring, Edge philosophy to the center of Europe. Fire up decision-making with creative leadership. Let emotion back to the table, bring the game breakers of passion and inspiration onto the balance sheet. The time is now, rust never sleeps and cracks are appearing in the seams of the Swiss system – unsustainable banking practices, unequal wealth patterns, and huge exclusion in the encircling countries. Most importantly – eliminate Swiss island syndrome.

What surprised me was how responsive the audience was. Maybe I hit a chord. Neckties may well have been loosened, and I hope the messages hit home. Congratulations to Stefan and Peter for putting on such a great conference. I’ll be back and I’m hoping for a change of dress code, a better gender balance, and a celebration of the Swiss who’ve acted for change, not just talked about it. You can see the speech here.