Mike Allen, executive editor and co-founder of the news organization Axios held discussions with prominent CEOs, as well as University administrators, about the future of entrepreneurship, politics and the sharing of information Tuesday afternoon at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
The speakers came from diverse backgrounds and careers, but all expressed the importance of expanding news consumption, searching for accurate information and creating diverse companies.
Allen discussed the launch of Axios in January, a young company intended to present trustworthy information quickly and concisely.
“Axios is designed to make you smarter, faster on the topics that are shaping the world,” he said. “(It’s) a place where you know you can go to get information that will matter and will not waste your time.”
He then sat down with Jim VandeHei, a fellow Axios co-founder and founder of Politico, who expressed concern about the various sources of infromation people use.
“I worry a lot about the information inequality. You own the information that you consume, and you own the information that you’re going to share,” he said. “If you look at how many people got news from Facebook, (fake news) is real. I worry a little bit less about fake news than the fact that 60 percent of our country doesn’t believe real news.”
Scott DeRue, dean of the Ross School of Business, and Michael Barr, dean of the Ford School of Public Policy, expressed similar worries. They also shared thoughts on how students should be immersing themselves in civil discourse at this time.
“We are at a time in our country’s history where having a civil conversation about civil discourse with our students is more critical than ever,” Barr said.
DeRue noted the prevalence of echo chambers on social media sites like Facebook, and how they can lead people to further shy away from challenging their own beliefs.
“As people use things like Facebook, and other forms of media to get their information, we need to train ourselves to seek out disconfirming information because it’s really easy to create these echo chambers where everyone agrees with us,” he said.
Later, TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot discussed the growth of her company and how she believes it will be part of the future transformation of retail. She also mentioned the importance of diversity in the workforce, and how businesses need to be intentionally working towards diversifying their staff.
“I pride myself on diversity,” she said. “More than half of our leadership are women and more than 12 percent are African American which basically reflects the population.”
On a different note, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon talked about his bank’s investments in Detroit, as well as how he believes effective leadership leads to a diverse staff in businesses.
“The most important part: humility, respect. Everything you do, would you want to work with that person? Do they share credit? Do they blame other people? When the going gets tough, do they become the worst people in the room or the best people in the room? I always say that’s the door to diversity too,” Dimon said. “Fifty percent of my directing force are women.”
Business junior Nicket Patel said he attended the event to learn about the converging nature of the finance and technology industries from leaders in the field.
“There was a variety of speakers, first and foremost, there was the financial service industries as well as the technology industry,” Patel said. “The two, as they mentioned, are very much converging. I wanted to hear from the traditional financiers as well as the people who are fronting the sharing economy.”
Another theme of the event was centered around each speaker's role in the contemporary information and business ecosystem, and how they each are optimistic about the future of career growth.
VandeHei directed his optimism about today's job market to the soon to be graduates in the audience
“I think that the world you’re about to enter is so much more appealing than the world that we entered,” VandeHei said. “I think you guys are entering at the opportune time. I would just encourage you not to get swept up by this doom and gloom view. Your capacity to do great things is so much larger.”