The good thing about being a table host is that you can request certain guests to be assigned to your table. I requested that Bill Joy and Paul Saffo get assigned to my table so I would not be the only nerd at the table.
Every year, several associations in Japan host the "Japan Dinner" in Davos. Several years ago they changed the format from formal speeches, to a talk show sort of format where the extremely talented Professor Takeuchi would go around picking people out of the crowd to request comments. Since the format change, the dinner has become quite popular and this year there were over 200 people registered this year, the most ever.

I was chosen this year to be the moderator of the "talk show". I was VERY nervous. Takeuchi-san is by far the best at this sort of thing and I knew I would not be as good. Also, I don't know all of the people so it's hard for me to pick them out for questions. Anyway, I tried my best. I started out with a wrap up of the day's events and then went around and called an a variety of people to make comments. I asked Sadako Ogata, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one of the most impressive people I know. She wrapped up with with a very strong comment about Japan's role in the world. I wish everyone in Japan could hear her speak. She allowed us to end on a tone that made me proud to be Japanese.

Overall, I think my speech was OK. I think my choice of speakers was weak. I didn't choose enough non-Japanese and I wasn't able to manage people who were talking too long. I don't know if they will ask me to do this again next year, but if they do, I'll make sure and study the attendee list and know the backgrounds of everyone in the room in advance.

7 Comments

Ito-san

You write: «I wish everyone in Japan could hear her speak.»

This sentence made me very curious. I would like to hear or read it too. Is it possible for you to make a short resumee of what she was saying?

If this is possible, this would be great.

Anyway thank you very much for your reports from inside of Davos.

I'm sorry, the rules of the dinner state that the comments are off the record. I'll try to find something inspiring that she has said publicly. Her delivery style is also very impressive...

Ito-san
Kotae wo doumo arigatou.
So probably I just have to see her once in a while giving a speech (although my japanese is not that good either).
Thanks
Best
R

Roger, I can say she talked about how Japanese should think more about Japan's role in the world. I talked to her later and she said that Japan is not in nearly as bad a state as many other countries. She also said that I should take a more global stance when talking about things.

Ito-san

Doumo. She is certainly right. Have you maybe had/or will you have the chance to speak once with the new Brasilian president Lula?
Best
Roger

Joi- Chris Anderson of Wired blogged you & the Japan dinner at Davos on Slate.

Thanks Gen. Just blogged his blog.

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