Davos Agenda

Influencers meet the influential: what were these YouTubers doing in Davos?

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The inclusion of YouTubers at this year's Annual Meeting underscores the power of social media voices in global discussions. Image: Unsplash/Evangeline Shaw

Simon Torkington
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Davos Agenda

  • YouTubers Jacob Beautemps, Adanna Steinacker, and Gohar Khan came to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
  • They updated their followers on key topics from scientific innovation and women's health to education's future and AI's role.
  • Their experiences, shared on the Radio Davos podcast, underscore the power of social media voices in global discussions.

More than 50 years after its inception, the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos now opens its doors to a new kind of delegate: the social media influencer.

In January 2024, three YouTubers, each with a massive online following, were invited to Davos to share their unique perspectives with the millions of people who follow their social media channels.

Davos is renowned for gathering leaders from all sectors, including politics, business, academia and civil society, to seek solutions to global challenges. So what happened when these digital opinion leaders found themselves among the world's most powerful and influential figures?

Each of them spoke to Robin Pomeroy on the Radio Davos podcast, and shared their experiences and takeaways from #wef24.

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The Davos experience through a new lens

The inclusion of YouTubers Jacob Beautemps, Adanna Steinacker, and Gohar Khan in the Davos meeting is a recognition of the significant role social media plays in shaping public discourse. Each brought their distinct voice to the Forum, engaging with topics from science and education to women's health.

Jacob Beautemps: The science communicator

Jacob is known for his channel BreakingLab, where he simplifies complex scientific ideas. "My first time in Davos was, like, crazy," he shared, highlighting the surreal nature of walking down a corridor and bumping into OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Jacob's mission in Davos was to meet influential figures and learn from them, starting with conservationist Jane Goodall. He was struck by the openness of the attendees, noting: "There's so many interesting people, and you're just able to talk to them."

Jacob's key takeaway from his interactions, including an emotional conversation with Goodall, was the importance of optimism and hard work in making a difference.

Goodall's advice, "if you really want to do something, you have to work for it", resonated deeply with him, reinforcing his belief in the power of science and technology to improve the world.

Adanna Steinacker: Empowering women through health education

Adanna Steinacker gave up her job as a medical doctor to become a full-time YouTuber. Her channel, House of Adanna, focuses on women's health and well-being. Her presence in Davos was driven by a desire to bridge the gap between global health discussions and the general public.

"More than half of the world's population these days is on social media," she pointed out, emphasizing the potential of platforms like YouTube to democratize access to information.

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One of Adanna's highlights from Davos was the launch of the Global Alliance for Women's Health, a testament to her passion for advancing women's health globally.

Her conversations with influential women, including World Health Organization envoy, Dr Vanessa Kerry, and World Trade Organization head, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, underscored the importance of female representation in global dialogues and inspired her to continue her advocacy through her platform.

“These are just powerful women that are really making a change, making a difference in the world, but also inspiring other generations of women,” said Adanna.

Gohar Khan: Shaping the future of education

Gohar Khan helps his 3.4 million followers navigate their academic and career paths on his channel Gohar’s Guide. His first trip to Davos was "incredibly inspiring", offering him “the chance to interact with pre-eminent thought leaders, government officials, executives”.

“It's a privilege and I'm super humbled to be here,” he said.

He was excited by the Davos focus on skills like analytical thinking and creativity and their growing importance in the age of AI and big data.

An interview with author Adam Grant stood out for Gohar, providing insights into how young people can prepare for the jobs of the future.”A lot of his writing applies to young adults and adults,” said Gohar, “but our conversation was able to apply his advice to younger students as well. It was really interesting to see how he thinks about advice for a younger audience.”

Gohar plans to share stories from Davos that highlight the skills students need to master today for tomorrow's industries. His discussions on AI and education at the Forum will help inform his content, aiming to enhance how students approach their studies and future careers.

Influencing the influencers

The experiences of Jacob, Adanna, and Gohar in Davos illustrate the growing recognition of social media influencers as important contributors to global conversations.

Their takeaways from Davos highlight the potential of digital platforms to foster learning, inspire change and bridge the gap between the general public and leaders from numerous sectors.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the voices of influencers like them are essential in shaping a more informed and engaged global community.

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