A Quick History of LEDx

Please visit our website for a complete list of LEDx2.0 speakers and an archive from LEDx1.0:  www.ledxau.com or check us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LEDxAU

I was first exposed to a TED Conference while at Stanford University in April 2008.  I was lucky to see Thomas P.M. Barnett’s talk on rethinking America’s military strategy and I was hooked. I started pondering what this might look like for the USAF.  Could we do something like this and focus on leadership, strategy, and creativity (innovation)?  If TED was Technology, Entertainment, and Design—could we do something on Leadership Education and Development (LED)? 

TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment, and design. The first TED which he co-founded with Harry Marks, included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.

The Leadership Education and Development concept was originally not met with enthusiasm.  Some felt just the name—LED was past tense/passive and really should be LEAD.  Of course LEAD might miss some of that heavy metal edge we were going for.  Persistence usually seems to pay off, and in talking to the right folks at ACSC we found an opportunity to beta test the LED concept and LEDx1.0 received a green light.  

Ledx T.001 copyFor LEDx1.0 we really needed to see if the concept would even be well received.  For TED, despite a stellar lineup, the event lost money and it was six years before Wurman and Marks tried the TED concept again. Obviously in the Dept of Defense we are not producing LEDx for profit, but we do produce it to make a difference in leadership, strategy, and innovator development. 

LEDx2.0 is a leadership event unlike any other. Building upon the positive reviews of last year’s inaugural event, LEDx2.0 brings together a diverse cohort of civilian and military professionals who share a passion for leadership in all its forms, focused on the topic of “Diversity at the Intersection of Leadership, Strategy, and Innovation”. 

We designed LEDx to differ from other leadership events in that it is designed around the ‘eXperience’ where participants are just as likely to learn from the formal speakers as they are from each other. This year’s speakers and topics were chosen to present participants with various perspectives on leadership from which to challenge their own assumptions and reframe the leadership challenges unique to themselves and their organizations. (for a schedule of our 2019 event click)

LEDx is intentionally unorthodox in terms of its format. Built around a keynote address to begin and end each day, the rest of the schedule is focused on TED-style stage talks matched with smaller group speaker engagements in a “Lab” like setting. Apart from the keynote speakers, participants can build their daily schedules to match their interests. With food trucks, outdoor seating, and live music on site, the planned activities are just one part of the LEDx experience. When not engaged in one of the formal events, participants are encouraged to continue the conversation and share their thoughts on what “Diversity at the Intersection of Leadership, Strategy, and Innovation” means to them. 

In 1990, the world was ready for TED. The TED Conference became an annual event in Monterey, California, attracting a growing and influential audience from many different disciplines united by their curiosity and open-mindedness — and also by their shared discovery of an exciting secret. 

In the fall of 2012, TED Talks celebrated its one billionth video view. As TED Talks continue to be watched around the world, with an average of 17 new page views a second, TED conferences and events continue to inspire, motivate and thrill attendees. In 2014, the annual TED Conference celebrated its 30th anniversary in Vancouver, Canada. The theme of this milestone conference: “The Next Chapter,” both a reflection on developments of the past 30 years as well as a look at what’s ahead.

LEDx is different. Our goal is not to achieve anything close to TED, but imagine if we could impact today’s leaders to bring positive change to the US, the US Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, the civilian sector, and our international partners. Where might LEDx be at LEDx30.0?

Please come join us at LEDx2.0 here at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery AL 3-4 Jan www.ledxau.com :Live streaming of the event is available through the website as well

If not this year—we will see you at LEDx3.0


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