I’m in Washington, D.C. today for Fortune’s annual gathering of the Most Powerful Women—a rare business summit that is, effectively, designed to preclude manterrupting, mansplaining, and recidivist hepeating. So, no surprise, the conversations here have been fluid, fruitful, and fascinating. (I’m attending, for the first time, thanks to a kind invitation from the event co-chairs: my colleagues Pattie Sellers, Nina Easton, Leigh Gallagher, and Michal Lev-Ram—but don’t worry, I’m here to listen, not talk.)
Yesterday’s sessions, which began at 2 p.m. and went late into the evening, had so many highlights I can’t list them all here. (Check out our landing page for breaking coverage and read Kristen Bellstrom’s great write-up in The Broadsheet here.)
It began with four breakout sessions on, respectively, digital transformation, innovating in an uncertain world, building hot businesses, and navigating geopolitical hot spots. I was at the last of these, where former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Citigroup Chief Global Political Analyst Tina Fordham, former U.S. Trade Rep and now-professor Susan Schwab, and former State Department official and current UN Special Envoy for Haiti Josette Sheeran painted a landscape that is seemingly plagued with geopolitical tripwires. Some takeaways: China stills see Russia as merely a “land of raw materials”; Russia’s Putin sees himself as a modern Peter the Great and uncannily knows what “boundaries” he can push and get away with it; North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is “not in the war business, but in the shakedown business”; and the U.S. is in danger of “sleepwalking” with these other three into a global conflagration, if we’re not careful. (Spoiler Alert: We’re not being careful.)
Among the day’s later standouts: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, from the great state of Minnesota, gave a rousing talk and had many-a-whisperin’ “2020.” Jewel sang an unbelievable a capella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and then Fortune’s Nina Easton led a conversation with first daughter Ivanka Trump, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson on one of the most challenging domestic issues of the next decade: retraining America’s workforce for the 21st century economy.
Monday was a great example of why Fortune’s annual ‘Most Powerful Women’ list—which gave rise to this gathering nearly two decades ago—is more important than ever. And Tuesday promises to be just as thought-provoking, if not more. Tune in to our livestream here.
This essay appears in today’s edition of the Fortune Brainstorm Health Daily. Get it delivered straight to your inbox.