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The Experience @ World Business Forum

by C:F Team on 10th October, 2012 at 11:46 AM CEST

In Manhattan, New York City, Andreja Kodrin, President and Founder of Challenge:Future, interviewed a young Polish educational researcher Magdalena Slowinska - one of the “GO to New York” competition winners. After the winner of the competition, Michael, announced that he was not able to travel to New York, Magdalena grabbed the chance to attend the World Business Forum(WBF) in New York, 2-3 October 2012 with a possibility to meet the greatest political and business leaders such as Richard Branson, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Fareed Zakaria, Ursula Burns - CEO of a Fortune 500 company Xerox, Jack Welch and many more. 

photo: (left to right) Nena Pergar, c:f advisory board, Andreja Kodrin, c:f founder and president, Magdalena Slowinska, winner of "Go to NY" challenge

Andreja: Dear Magdalena, how did you feel when you found out that you are going to visit New York and attend the World Business Forum at the Radio City Music Hall?

Magdalena: My first thought was: “Wow, what a wonderful opportunity..!” I felt very honored that C:F community and judges appreciated and valued my entry concept. I just asked myself how can I benefit from going to WBF so that I could make the most of it and share inspiration and insights about innovation, sustainability, education, leadership, technology, social media and the most pressing issues of the current century and the future with other people and especially the Challenge Future community. Immediately I booked a flight and applied for a business visa which was processed in 2 weeks only. 

Andreja: What was the most useful experience for you during the World Business Forum and why?

Magdalena: Simply being there and absorbing the knowledge and inspiration was extraordinary. Being there in person seemed so different from watching such events through an online streaming. Everything was more real and powerful, every word had more meaning, and being able to interact and network with the speakers and audience was very stimulating. Also, being able to listen to the most successful businessmen and women was very energizing and insightful. I value the thoughts, views, forecasts, gifts and experience these leaders and CEOs shared at the World Business Forum and it was amazing to hear how much they appreciate certain qualities in business and everyday life, qualities such as honesty, confidence, sense of humour, hard work, generosity, creativity, respect for self, others and the environment...But as I already mentioned, the most interesting thing during the WBF was simply being part of it. It was advertised as “a transformative experience dedicated to building better businesses, better people, a better world...A platform to expand, connect, unite, distribute and multiply ideas” and it was like that. WBF experience opened my eyes so that I feel much more confident about who I am and what can I do to be more useful to others and about setting up my own social enterprise. 

photo: World Business Forum, New York, 2012

Andreja: Over four thousand managers, 20 top thinkers, speakers and CEOs...Who is the most inspiring and why?

Magdalena: I agree with Marcus Buckingham who said that “there is no perfect profile of leadership, only perfect practices”. And of course, people and leaders vary, however according to Buckingham there is a common pattern that great leaders share and it is breaking all the rules and being innovative. I was very impressed by all the speakers, but Richard Branson and Ursula Burns were the people who inspired me in much greater way than others did. Both of them are quite unique and both of them have been working hard for their success. Branson’s uniqueness is mainly linked to his authenticity, friendly and celebrity-like personality and way of being and making business differently. His creative, brave and expanding approach towards business is full of wit and positive energy and that excites people. I do value Richard for his amazing entrepreneurial skills and humanitarian work. He puts people first and he spends 80% of his time on not-for-profit ventures. My second most inspiring leader is Ursula Burns and she is the first African-American woman CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company. She is one of the most highly motivated and intelligent women I’ve ever met and she deserves respect for being strong, confident, hardworking, disciplined, consistent, innovative, environmentally concerned, honest and transparent. These traits make Ursula a truly remarkable and change making leader and parent. 

Andreja: What thoughts you heard in the last few days that you would like to share with C:F?

Magdalena: All the speakers were amazing and some of the insights they shared unforgettable. Sherry Turkle - MIT Psychology Professor - asked us to reconnect and start really talking to each other without overusing technology and without feeling uncomfortable about real human contact. She said that “we need conversation to have self reflection” and asked to “imagine leadership without highly developed self reflection skills.” Michael Porter said that “there can be no good society without business and we have to understand how to play a better role, a more constructive role in society.” And Jack Welch’s advice to young students was: “Over Deliver!” We should also reflect on Marcus Buckingham’s words “take what is unique about you and make it useful.”

photo: Richard Branson at World Business Forum, New York, 2012

Andreja: What kind of near and long-term vision of the future was described during the WBF?

Magdalena: WBF speakers, apart from Sherry Turkle, were mostly optimistic about the future. Sherry, the author of “The Second Self, Life on the Screen”, and “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other” was presenting on the growing impact of technology on human relations and her vision was indeed quite distressing. The results of many years of her researches and case studies have shown that “we expect more from technology and less from each other” and that "everyone would rather text than talk." She highlighted the importance of improving and training our communication skills and finding a healthy balance between real life relationships and technology. Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s foreign affairs show and Editor-at-Large of TIME magazine, talked about preparing for the future by understaning the now. He highlighted that United States are losing the position of being economical world super leader and he talked about a shift of power to the Middle East countries and others like Russia, India, China, Brazil and so on. He called it a 'post-American' world and the "rise of the rest" asking a question: “What does it mean to live in a truly global era?”

Andreja: Thank you, Magdalena for representing challenge:future at this renowned business event and moreover, for sharing this inspiring thoughts with our community!

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Bistra Kumbaroska

Bistra Kumbaroska

Wonderful article, Magdalena, you are amazing. You selection of quotes and important notes is great food for thought and offers brief but precise outlook of what today's leaders think! Thank you for this interview, Andreja! :)

11th October, 2012 @ 5:04 PM CEST

Jovana Djurkovic

Jovana Djurkovic | Action team | CF Chapters

Wow.. I can almost imagine how great time you had there. :) So many great speakers, and so many great messages. Thank you Magdalina and Andreja for sharing it with us. :))

11th October, 2012 @ 7:08 PM CEST



A very great experience that can never be forgotten.

11th October, 2012 @ 9:28 PM CEST

Damla Aktan

Damla Aktan | Action team | CF Chapters

“a transformative experience dedicated to building better businesses, better people, a better world...A platform to expand, connect, unite, distribute and multiply ideas”... Magdalena congratulations for expressing every sentence, every feeling, and all the details in such a good way... I felt like I was there and shared the feelings too...I am so glad that you could feel the spirit of such great events and you now feel much more confident about who you am and what you can do... and "reconnecting"...thi s is the part that affected me most from what you have mentioned, the words of Psychology professor... I am sure that now you will be more sure about how to take your own steps to reconnect people around you for a better future and Welcome also to our great CF Community! I would love to work with you also for the Chapters!

12th October, 2012 @ 12:53 PM CEST

Syed Mehmood Kazmi

Syed Mehmood Kazmi | Action team

Congratulations Magdalena and Whole C:F community for representation of Challenge Future in World Business Forum.
Very Interesting peace of writing!! Can feel the great experience of yours from words!!!

12th October, 2012 @ 4:12 PM CEST

Samuel Duru

Samuel Duru | Action team

Well-presented Magda! I could get a real feeling of how amazing it was at WBF from your responses to Andreja’s questions. You’ve made yourself and all of proud! Thanks for representing the C:F global youth think-DO-tank community and sharing these great insights from the crème de la crème of leadership and business you had met at the WBF with us. I totally concur with Marcus Buckingham’s view “there is no perfect profile of leadership, only perfect practices”. Wow! You won’t believe how inspired I am reading this interview. Big ups!
An invaluable sharing I must say!

13th October, 2012 @ 7:49 PM CEST

Rifat Sagor

Rifat Sagor | CF Chapters

Mag , I can sense quite nicely what an wonderful experience you had at WBF!!!

...The urge to reconnect and start talking to each other without overusing technology and without feeling uncomfortable about real human contact....awesome !!

14th October, 2012 @ 2:36 PM CEST

Ivan Repenko

Ivan Repenko | Action team | CF Chapters

My congratulations, Magdalena! Indeed, amazing experience)

15th October, 2012 @ 2:26 AM CEST

Jude Christoper  Roxas

Jude Christoper Roxas | Action team | CF Chapters

We love you Magda! And im sure that there'll be more fun stuffs coming in your way. :) Congratulations once again <3

15th October, 2012 @ 2:21 PM CEST

Dan Croitoru

Dan Croitoru

Magda, I can say that I pictured myself at WBF while reading the interview. Great snapshots of ideas, people, feelings. And what an amazing experience you've had. Thanks for sharing.

16th October, 2012 @ 10:10 AM CEST

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