It was late December of 2012 and I had just finished my list of goals for 2013, or so I thought. The week prior to finalizing my list, a mentor had lent me the book How to Deliver A TED Talk.  He had known how much I enjoy watching TED Talks and that I had a desire to deliver one of my own someday.  During the drive to the Maryland Shore to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends, I decided to take advantage of being a passenger and read the book. It didn’t take me long to decide that my list for 2013 was no longer complete.  I needed to add “Deliver a TED-like Talk” to the list. Given how selective TED is, I knew better than to commit to a true TED Talk, so I went with a “TED-like Talk” (goals ought to be both meaningful AND achievable, right?). Earlier in the year, I had lobbied my leadership to allow me and a couple others to create a TEDx Forum for the Navy’s Cryptologic Community (of which I am a proud member), but due to budget constraints I was understandably unable to get my seniors to “Yes”. Undaunted, I knew I would be able to find an opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and deliver a TED-like talk to a willing audience. Sure enough, in February one of my proteges (who like so many others double as mentor) identified an opportunity and brought it to my attention. The National Security Agency (NSA) was hosting a TED-like Forum by the name of “Kinetics”. Committed to walk the walk, there was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass me by.  I pitched the Kinetics Team on my concept and they accepted immediately.

Because I am not one to tell myself “No”, I was pleased that the organizers agreed with me and eagerly said, “Yes”.  In keeping with the spirit of the message I was planning to deliver, I partnered with a valued Sailor and fellow NIOC Pensacola Alum, Petty Officer Second Class Shawn Duncan, who developed the graphics, and my wife who helped with the “uniform of the day”.  This video documents the talk I gave to the NSA and US Cyber Command Workforce on the topic of “Leading at the Intersection.”  Since the talk, I have received a great deal of feedback.  Some General and Flag Officers agreed with much of what I shared, as did my peers and juniors.  And as expected, there were plenty of others who took issue with the message (and the wardrobe).

Sharing this video is as much about the message as it is about encouraging all of us to put ourselves out there. We have a responsibility to get outside of our comfort zones; to share our ideas; and to allow new members of our tribe to identify us.

  • What message are you afraid to share?
  • What action are you afraid to take?
  • What talking are you not fully committed to walking?