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Session

Character Crisis: Why Faking it isn't Making it

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Character Crisis: Why Faking it isn't Making it

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While society braces for the growing changes brought on by AI, the last decade has seen Brobdingnagian-scale fraud and reckless behavior at the hands of not bots, but human leaders. Reflecting on these startup disasters, we see the same problematic patterns emerge over and over. Whether Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Adam Neumann (WeWork), Sam Bankmann-Fried (FTX), or Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival) - we bear witness to rolled gold examples of the ways in which investors, influencers, employees, and the average consumer, over-index on charismatic, cunning, and “change the world” hubris.

So why are we so quick to trust a compelling story about the future without doing due diligence on the people selling us this reality? How can we better distinguish between authentic visionaries and ego-centric exploiters? Are we too quick to be impressed by a blue tick and celebrity endorsements? And, what are the psychological, technical, and societal factors enabling this?

The importance of entrepreneurship is not simply disrupting a mediocre status quo, but rather contributing something that improves life for more people. What does it really take to “change the world?” Join Theranos survivor, startup investor, and talent consultant Marissa Senzaki and medical doctor-turned-venture design director, Mei Ling Doery for this no-holds-barred discussion. They describe our era of ‘Character Crisis’ and propose a way forward that sees us holding founders and each other accountable to high integrity whilst aligning values to people, profit, and the planet.

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