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Dispatch From Davos: Leverage

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Davos, Switzerland is not an easy place to get to and the weather conditions are pretty extreme this time of year (we saw more snow in Davos this week than they have in 42 years!). The political leaders, corporate CEOs, media and citizens of our world who participate in the World Economic Forum clearly want to be there. And once there, it is also clear that all want to maximize their time. If participants chose, they could be busy with meetings, sessions, receptions, dinners and after-dinner gatherings nearly 24 hours a day. Having this incredible opportunity, courtesy of the Schwab Foundation, I was one of the many participants eager to optimize every moment; I learned quickly that I would need to be thoughtful about how to use my time.

Before arriving at Davos, I was intentional and strategic about how I could make the best and most use of the week. I reached out well in advance to attending CEOs of companies with which KaBOOM! has an existing partnership, or ones we hope to develop partnerships, and requested individual meetings. I am happy to report that I was able to set up several early morning meetings with some important CEOs.

But then I got to Davos, where the larger opportunity took center stage.

Session after session in Davos is focused on the future of our world, the economy and some of our biggest political and social challenges. The Davos themes were about collective impact and shared values. The shared value discussions emphasized that we cannot assume that we all care about the same things. Before being able to have collective impact, we must first be in partnerships with shared values and there is work entailed in moving to that place. The Davos discussions suggested that public private partnerships not be based in philanthropy, but that the most powerful and impactful are the strategic partnerships.

In many of my meetings with CEOs, we were able to carry through this thread of what was being discussed at the Forum. We didn't get caught up in conversations about how many playgrounds we could build together, but, instead, contemplated how we could leverage a partnership to better reach customers, and how, ultimately we can get those customers to care about what we care about. We talked about taking the shared value between the business and KaBOOM! and creating shared value with the customer, then moving to collective action so that we can ultimately have the desired collective impact. In our case, that collective impact is healthier and happier children who are encouraged to use their creativity and imaginations.

If even a small percentage of what was discussed comes to be, than the outlook for children and play and the well-being of communities looks much brighter. Now the real work begins as my team works with me to follow up and follow through not only on the CEO conversations, but also the 50-plus other conversations from my week at the World Economic Forum.

In a more macro way, coming out of Davos I have thoughts about scaling what works -- there is an impressive array of proof of concept of what works. It will be interesting to see what ideas might get the scaling deserved.