As you reflect on 2020, do you think global leadership has to hit the reset button? Here’s a practical way to do that.
From Leaders Expedition (LEx)
It is timely, dreadful and inspiring that the 2019 Dictionary.com Word of the Year has been declared to be ‘existential’, that is:
Existential [ eg-zi-sten-shuhl, ek-si-]
of or relating to existence: eg: Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?
of, relating to, or characteristic of philosophical existentialism; concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual's freely made choices.
Something snapped in 2019. Maybe it was the warning of 11,000 climate scientists of “untold suffering” if humanity does not immediately address what is now known as the climate emergency. Or maybe it was the Yellow Vest and pro-democracy protests in France and Hong Kong respectively, the odd and awkward creep of Brexit, the Nazi ‘emergency’ declared in Dresden or the 5,427 ‘false or misleading’ claims made by the US commander-in-chief in the first 282 days of this year alone. Of course, in truth it was all of those and much, much, much more - the deluge of news we each process each day.
More so than has been true for a very long time, thoughtful observers of the human future across many fields and geographies have begun to earnestly wonder – is there a future - or more helpfully, a future for the civil society of liberal democracies? It seems that more and more issues are being recognized as existential in nature, that is clearly ‘of or relating to existence’- making the management of all of them all together mind-numbingly daunting.
Little wonder then that the words that were amongst those most searched on Dictionary.com in 2019 ranged from polar vortex to stochastic terrorism to exonerate – and that word, existential.
It was in this context that Peter Biro and Howard Aster convened 25 subject matter experts from around the world to consider the topic Constitutional Democracy Under Stress: The Need for Heroic Citizenship, over the course of a powerful two-day conference at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto Canada in October of this year.
The somber, very serious tone of the proceedings - and of the paper-givers generally - was well caught by conference Co-Host Peter Biro;
“It is not catastrophizing too much to declare that a dark age is upon us. Notwithstanding the recent optimistic outlook of some observers of the human condition and, indeed, of the state of liberal democracy in the world, I submit that we are witnessing, on a grand scale, an unmistakable retreat from the allegiance to the liberal democratic principles throughout the west.”
Indeed, on subjects ranging from populism, freedom of speech, climate change, youth mobilization, electoral reform, the role of big data, human rights, diversity to art and art education to name just some, the paper givers each described a complex reality that each demanded at minimum a complex and uncertain response. It was not just the immensity of addressing their subject at hand, but more so the increasingly evident challenge of doing so each at the same time simultaneously, and with in fact, shockingly little time to do it.
But there was also too the inspiration of those “concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual's freely made choices”. These were the hundreds of participants – presenters and audience alike – giving so generously of their time and expertise to address these vital, pressing issues. And there was the inspiration of the stories that were told and shared, that showed the power of purposeful individual and in the aggregate collective action – of the capacity of free choice to change the world. Such exemplars were the heroic citizens sought by the conference organizers to ‘redeem’ liberal democracy.
However, it was a fact too that like so many existential conversations every day, every where, the question left hanging at the end of each session was ‘what can I as an individual do to make a difference, and how do I go about doing so?” To contemplate action in the face of so much magnitude and ambiguity is almost overwhelming.
As it happens, at the periphery of the conference – as a sponsor – was a purpose-built potential answer to that question, perhaps even the scaffolding for the apparatus that has the potential to redeem liberal democracy and successfully address the existential issues that need addressing in our lifetime. It is called Leaders Expedition (LEx), and I am its founder and Executive Director.
In the spring of 2016, a diverse group of 25 people came together from across North America to ratify the tenets of an organization that would come to be known as Leaders Expedition. We were also there to consider two defining challenges:
i) what was the greatest inhibitor to humanity being able to address the existential issues that needed addressing, while assuring its full potential in an age of abundance? And,
ii) what was the solution?
Since then, over 650+ members from 35+ countries, have invested over 15,000 hours in designing and prototyping the solution to these two challenges. With respect to the first, we believe that there is an existential leadership insufficiency that is systemic and global, and that a new cohort of existing and aspiring leaders need to be connected, empowered, mobilized and elevated to positions of influence, power and impact, from classrooms to board rooms to legislatures – to thus then author the solutions that will transform the world.
With respect to the second challenge, we believe that the gordian knot-like complexity of the noted systemic and global leadership insufficiency demands nothing less than a Manhattan Project-like response that must be materially underway by 2030 to assure the survival of civil society. Moreover, only a nuanced eco-system of solutions has any prospect at all of being able to impact leadership narratives, cultures and practices in just ten years – that is what we have invested our time designing, prototyping and deploying.
The Context for LEx
We live in an Age of Abundance. Since the Industrial Revolution there have been exponential advances in science and technology that are now accelerating at a pace that is all but incomprehensible.
These gains mean that in the last 10-20 years we have crossed from one historic period to another – from the Age of Scarcity that defined the human experience since the dawn of time, to this new Age of Abundance.
Where it was the case that there was too little food, not enough doctors or teachers, not enough resource or infrastructure, not enough money – that is simply no longer true. Where all of the economic orders – Mercantilism, Communism, Capitalism – existed to ration scarce resources in a world too large – today we can feed everyone, house everyone, educate everyone and provide healthcare to everyone.
In fact, thought leaders such as Steven Pinker tell us that there has never been a better time to be a human – to be alive. By any measure – diet, education, mortality, income – more humans are leading materially better lives than even was the case 20 years ago.
For the first time in human history we have the means to assure that we can all live a full life lived with dignity, and to the extent that we cannot today, we know that within the very, very near future those exponential advances in science and technology will assure that we can.
And this is just the dawn of this new age.
But, there is a but. Those same exponential advances in science and technology are also driving – directly and consequentially – the advent of profound environmental, socio-political, cultural and economic stresses, from the climate emergency, to nuclear proliferation, to healthcare, education, law and social justice issues and income Inequality to name just a few.
Humanity is approaching a pivot point – a convergence of many existential issues – where failure to successfully address any one of them is simply inconceivable. The societal turbulence resulting from these advances are, or will soon be, amplified by profound disruptions to the labour markets caused by AI/robotics and in health care – both in their own way challenging sooner than we can comprehend what it means to be a human. Our own eyes, and the warnings of many organizations – most notably the United Nations tells us that we don’t have much time.
It is increasingly clear that the world we live in today is being defined by a desperate competition between those that believe in the infinite possibilities of our future and the glory of human potential, versus those who instead seek comfort and security in the things they believe to be true from their perceived past. For all of their contempt for each other, the radicalized ISIS recruit and the radicalized white nationalist have a great deal in common – the future as an unknown is to be feared and avoided, whereas the seduction of a highly curated but known past is to be embraced.
Though the latter is the smaller cohort in numbers in almost every democracy (however defined), we are seeing these numbers grow as we collectively perceive that we are just on the knee curve of increasing societal volatility. The post-modernist questioning of the truth that emanated from left-wing intellectuals in the 60’s has been adopted instead by those cynically manipulating social discourse to exacerbate division in a way that is anything but intellectual. At all levels, the technologies that seek to enrich and simplify our lives, paradoxically and bewilderingly make them vastly more complex. The consequence of 280-character mass communication shows this to be so.
While it is tempting to point to iconic individuals in the moment as causal agents of the cancer of populism, we have to (more helpfully) admit that they are in fact ‘just’ metastasized examples of the same disease. And, just as a life-threatening illness can cause depression in an individual, it seems clear that way-of-life societal challenges – real and perceived – are doing the same. As this malaise deepens to a generalized ennui amongst too many, we see the question raised ‘what can I as an individual do?’ not as a question, but rather a declaration that they intend to do nothing at all.
But it is the social credit experiment of the People’s Republic of China that perhaps best illustrates the potential to retard or reverse the development of civil society – to not inconceivably ‘dead-end’ humanity.
First announced in 2014, the objective of the program is to cement the belief that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful”, where ‘good’ behaviour (as defined by the state) is rewarded and ‘bad’ behaviour punished, by a co-opted and corrupted society. In just a few days, that is 2020, the compulsory program will require that each new cell phone purchase will require the mandatory registration of the owners face, and the subsequent gathering and processing of state and non-state data sources on them - from their primary school marks to their real-time social media activity - to establish that individual’s unique social credit score.
This is not some theoretical Orwellian future. This system exists today, rendering the Uighur people as the first digitally imprisoned population in history. It is increasingly the exemplar for many around the world that see it as the foundation for not only autocratic governance, but of ‘illiberal’ democracies as defined by Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Moreover, in the techno-driven disruption of the near future, it is possible to imagine liberal democracies accepting similar controls if stressed by extreme economic distress or civil unrest.
For the first time in human history – in our near future - we can contemplate a state where organized opposition is simply no longer feasible (witness the Uighurs). In such a ‘dead-end’ state it is impossible to imagine that the pressing existential issues of our day can and will be addressed in a manner that secures the best possible future for humanity.
Is the prospect of a dystopian future certain? Certainly not. There is far more evidence in the wonder that is humanity to suggest that we will together find that best possible future. But still, the odds that our newly connected species will take a tragically errant step are uncomfortably high and getting higher. The possibility that that dystopian future might be possible means that all exertions must be made to guarantee that it is not.
We assume that the human species has 10 to 20 years to organize the conduct of its nations, cultures, economies, religions, ideologies and people in such a way so as to be able to shape a positive future - all the while avoiding the daily catastrophes that have always dogged our path.
In a very short period of time we need to connect, empower and mobilize a global community of people who accept the possibility of both futures - and are united in their determination to transform community and sectoral leadership so that we create the one marked by the pursuit of wonder as opposed to one of squalid mediocrity. That is why Leaders Expedition (LEx) was founded with the moonshot objective of “elevating one million members to positions of influence, power and impact by 2030: from the classroom to the boardroom to the legislature”.
In a world that is ever more tribal, we are creating a new tribe, one that is inescapably and unapologetically global – one that is defined by our Tenets. However, unlike other tribes that by definition seek first to insulate and distinguish themselves from those around them, we seek to engage with the people within those tribes who share our commitment to the future. From villages, towns, cities and nations; from cultures, classes, religions and ideologies; to the grand sectors that are impacting us all, we must prevail in our pursuit of a positive future.
This challenge would be audacious enough if we had a century to achieve our objective. But clearly, we don’t. Which begs the question, are we going to trust ONLY the Darwinian marketplace of ideas to assure that enlightened humanity prevails by 2030? That is, that the millions of charities, nonprofit organizations, NGO’s, social enterprises, governments and other good actors all acting in good faith will somehow independently and in concert, avoid the dead-ending of humanity and our consequent ability to appropriately address all of the noted existential issues by 2030?
Or do we bias for success humanity’s efforts by launching a purposeful, systemic global effort by connecting, empowering and mobilizing the community that is powerful enough to transform the world – to change the way leaders lead by 2030. A Manhattan Project scale initiative targeting the root cause of all existential issues – leadership – just as Bill Gates targeted the eradication of malaria and polio, and likewise predicated on the assumption that failure is not an option.
That is Leaders Expedition (LEx).
LEx is a three year old federally registered non-profit corporation based in Toronto Canada, having recruited just over six hundred members from 35 plus countries at the time of writing.
We are today 100% volunteer based, with well over 100 activist members investing 15,000 plus hours of their time in the aggregate to conceive of, prototype and prove a model ready to scale.
The LEx Tenets
The bedrock, the soul of LEx are our Tenets – our Vision, Mission, Charter and Core Values. It describes the world we aspire to, the world we want to make. We studied exemplars from many nations and NGO’s to define a value system that could inspire the broadest cohort – with the greatest diversity of psychographics and demographics possible – rejecting all extremes of the fringe.
They are by implication, very much the tenets of a heroic citizen and are thus worth reprising here in their entirety:
We envision leadership cultures in which personal fulfillment, enterprise success, environmental sustainability and social justice are together guarantors of prosperity for all in a world of abundance.
To catalyze a community of accomplished leader creators who share a sense of destiny and are uniquely positioned to transform leadership cultures everywhere. A group committed to systemic global change by the elevation of our members to positions of influence and power—be it classroom, boardroom or legislature.
We believe we are each held to be responsible for, and accountable to, ourselves and each other. Thus empowered, we are obligated to conduct ourselves so as to better enable a future where in spirit and practice:
All persons are equal.
There is no basis for discrimination, prejudice, or violence against any person.
All persons have access to and enjoy the same voting rights.
All persons are free to express themselves as they wish, without threat, harm, or other negative repercussions.
All persons have the right to, and enjoyment of, personal security and property protection.
All persons have access to and enjoy the same right to privacy.
All persons have access to nutritious and affordable food, clean water and clean air.
All persons have access to such education as is necessary to realize one’s needs and desires.
All persons have access to healthcare that provides for a long and well-lived life.
All persons can pursue a livelihood that provides for a productive, accomplished, and rewarding life lived with dignity.
Those who cannot provide for themselves can access such means as allows for a life that is productive, accomplished and rewarding, and lived with dignity.
The natural world, including species and ecosystems, is precious and worthy of protection.
We live in an age of abundance in which self-interest and societal interest need not be in conflict. While enlightened self-interest lies at the heart of discovery and innovation in this new age, its application is best nurtured and shared within an equitable, vibrant and prosperous society.
We are leader-creators recognized by our peers as curious, courageous, skilled, inspired and inspiring—and accomplished within our own domains.
We honour diversity. We are people of all races and cultures, all professions and pursuits, all ages, genders, and physical abilities. We are bound together not by identity or ideology, but by a shared recognition that to seize the full potential of humanity, the existential challenges that confront us can only be addressed by innovating and collaborating together.
We provide for the future. We acknowledge but cannot adjudicate the past. All peoples are capable of both wonderous achievement—and of evil. We choose to focus on a future informed by our shared history, based on collective innovation, ingenuity, and effort.
We empower ourselves as the foundation of our community. We are committed to practicing personal mastery with self-awareness, open mindedness, and generosity.
We are committed to helping each other to achieve personal and professional success — to be makers and enablers of exceptional communities, enterprises, and societies through peer support and purposeful collaboration.
We are committed to leading by example — connecting, empowering, and mobilizing members to show the transformative power of collective will, strength, and action.
We are focused on finding many solutions, not one answer. We are committed to building the vibrant global community from which new and enduring leadership cultures will be fostered, nurtured, and spread—inspired by moderation and the rejection of extremes.
We are committed to honesty, transparency and respect - a community of sincere, open-minded and authentic individuals, who are clear, gracious and giving in their views and actions.
Ours is a self-sustaining movement — an evolving, self-organizing, diverse, global community of people—that will define our objectives and determine our outcomes from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
We are tenacious and will prevail — ours is a long and challenging road, but we will travel it diligently, willingly, and joyfully.
When asked the question, what does success look like for LEx, it will be to say – ‘when more citizens and leaders than not conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the LEx Tenets.’
Position & Objectives
Members of Leaders Expedition are united by the conviction that to address the issues facing the world today, a new kind of leadership is required – one inspired by the potential of our future rather than defined by the legacies of our collective pasts. LEx members envision a culture of leadership in which personal fulfillment, enterprise success, environmental sustainability, and social justice are the guarantors of prosperity in a world of abundance.
We do not pretend to have ‘the’ answer(s); rather, we believe that a global cohort of accomplished persons, if joined in a community and offered the requisite infrastructure, will devise the nuanced solutions needed to address complex opportunities and challenges for generations to come.
Accordingly, our objective is to Connect, Empower, and Mobilize this global community of leader-creators who embody and embrace the LEx Tenets (see following) to lead by example in their communities, their organizations, and the sectors within which they live and work.
We believe the community we create can only have the perseverance and power needed to succeed if its members first attend to each other’s needs – to balance enlightened self-interest with a joint commitment to global transformation. This is a key differentiator.
Moreover, the LEx community must be equipped for a generational moon-shot challenge – there are no silver bullet solutions to the complexity of issues underlying the root causes of reaction and resistance to modernism.
There is no denying the audacity of this venture. Nor however, is there any escaping the consequence of failure. Not unlike the total-war challenge faced by the Allies in 1940 in their fight against fascism, there is no option but to prevail. That is the reality we face today. And just like the protagonists of that conflict, we must approach the challenge we face with this generations’ Manhattan Project – an unqualified exertion of resource and effort to assure that the values of the LEx Tenets prevail.
If we accept that fundamental change must occur within 10 years, that is by 2030, then we must likewise accept that existing leadership structures, encumbered by their many legacy systems (laws, culture, language etc.) are not capable of adapting to the reality of the exponential impacts we are, and will soon face in enough time.
Only a concerted global effort that connects capital with a purpose-built model and infrastructure to empower and mobilize the diversity of accomplished persons of all generations, can create the leadership incubator/accelerator necessary to defeat reactionism and assure the future of limitless possibilities we believe to be within humanity’s grasp.
Given the daunting complexity of the problem, the solution must be an organic, self-adapting eco-system that allows for limitless experimentation and rapid/iterative development of countless solutions – not one answer – that change the way leaders lead at the community and sectoral levels. By working to inform, educate and influence existing leadership structures to be sure, but more importantly, to insinuate new leaders into these structures over the next 10 years.
This requires not only the connection and mobilization of existing and prospective leaders, but vitally, the connection and mobilization of ultra-high net worth benefactors who believe in our assessment of the crisis of leadership, who accept our Tenets and who believe that our model provides for the prospect of success in a world of alarmingly few options.
Critically and quite obviously, for LEx to be considered a success, this eco-system needs to connect, empower and mobilize a leadership cohort of aspiring and existing leaders that is large enough, diverse enough, expert enough, connected enough and wealthy enough to punch above its weight and compete in the reality of the global power structure that will exist in 2030 – not to win, but to prevail. We are the water that will boil the frog.
Accordingly, our experience and research led us to determine that this eco-system needed to be comprised in turn of three distinct entities that together provided the breadth, scale and scope of infrastructure and resources needed to prevail. The entities are:
the existing non-profit organization Leaders Expedition (LEx),
a planned charitable organization called LEx Learning, itself comprised of LEx Academe and LEx Museum of Leadership and finally
LEx Leaders Accelerators fund – a planned for profit social enterprise.
And very importantly, like a three-legged stool, to remove one entity is to assure failure.
Leaders Expedition (LEx)
The existing non-profit organization Leaders ExpeditionTM is the planned head office and operational nexus of the LEx eco-system, where the bulk of the support elements – and accompanying revenue streams – will reside.
In turn, LEx is comprised of three principle elements. They are:
The LEx HUB is the IT platform that enables the LEx eco-system to be an incubator and accelerator of the LEx community and of the next generation of leader-creators, designed to promote massive, iterative experimentation and most importantly, learning. Only this way can we hope to connect, empower and mobilize the community and resources necessary to seize our moonshot objective.
Utilizing a proven Washington DC based SaaS solution in turn used by hundreds of the largest charities, nonprofits and associations in the world - and their 60 million users - we have customized it to be the heart of our global community. And just like the ‘downtown’ of any city has a marketplace, a school, a hospital and more to assure the well-being and prosperity of its citizens, so does the LEx HUB provide its members the infrastructure and resources necessary to elevate themselves and thus change the way leaders lead – where they live, and where they work.
We hold Tenet-based peer support to be a precondition for building teams strong enough to prevail in our mission and purpose.
Accordingly we have drawn from such proven long-time exemplars as Vistage, YPO, CEO Forum and EO to design, prototype and launch our LEx LocalCircles. LEx LocalCircles and the Projects that they will sponsor, are the frontline impact agents of Leaders Expedition.
The LEx LC is a self-forming and self-governing group of up to 12 individuals who represent the diversity of their community. Its members combine the proven benefits of business peer support networks with LExHub tools to activate personal and enterprise growth and to develop and manage the Projects that will both grow and empower the LEx community AND transform leadership culture where they live. Qualified Projects are intended to be liable for funding support from either or both LEx Learning and/or LEx Leadership Accelerator Funds – a critical differentiator, and success factor for Leaders Expedition.
The model was prototyped and consequently refined for over a year in Toronto, with the first LocalCircle launching in Toronto at the beginning of 2019, and over 20 formed or forming globally by year end, that is the time of writing.
We envision scores of thousands of LEx LocalCircles existing in 5 – 10 years.
In the same way that LEx LocalCircles are more than just venues for professional networking and furthering members’ personal and enterprise success at the community level, LEx GlobalCircles (GCs) and their sponsored Missions create, nurture and support sectoral initiatives that grow the LEx community and advance leadership consistent with the LEx Tenets. LEx GCs will function primarily (but not exclusively) online and the
Missions undertaken will fall into one or more of 15 permanent spheres-of-impact.
Arts & Culture
Business & Social Economy
Entertainment & Sport
Governance & Public Policy
Health & Wellness
Journalism & News Media
Law & Social Justice
Leadership Development & Coaching
Learning & Education
National Security & Public Safety
Philanthropy & Social Responsibility
Science & Technology
Spirituality & Religion
Sustainability & Energy Disruption
Self-organized and volunteer run, each LEx GlobalCircle will recruit and be nominally led by a recognized Thought Leader in Residence. As the GCs mature, they will be the drivers of program development in concert with LEx Academe and the LEx Museum of Leadership that would include: MOOCs, conferences, symposia, retreats, or joint programs with academia and business.
Importantly, we have designed our collaborative space on the LEx HUB to allow us to offer virtually any aligned business, NGO, charity or non-profit their own branded workspace within a relevant GlobalCircle – not only availing themselves of best in class infrastructure at no cost, but more importantly giving them a presence – and a voice – in contributing to the work of that GC. Indeed, one could imagine a Section1 SubCircle at the heart of the GlobalCircle for Governance & Public Policy, contributing to and driving, its important agenda to that global community.
This community of community’s capability is we believe, an important differentiator.
The second entity is a yet-to-be established charitable organization, with an equally powerful mandate: that is the framing, distillation, packaging and dissemination of the knowledge that is secured through the LEx eco-system to as many internal and external stakeholders as possible - as quickly as possible – with the prime focus being on leadership capacity building.
In turn comprised of two highly synergistic operating entities – LEx Academe and LEx Museum of Leadership - LEx Learning will share senior management and infrastructure with Leaders Expedition, routinely engaging with the non-profit on a number of tactical and strategic initiatives.
Because of the very high public profile of LEx Academe and the LEx Museum of Leadership, and the five year pathway we anticipate to truly and powerfully leverage both with a physical presence that would in fact be the home campus for the Leaders Expedition eco-system, the importance of LEx Learning cannot be underestimated.
Importantly, LEx Learning intends to employ and be an exemplar of, the concept of free choice learning – learning that is about deciding what, where, how and when we want to learn over our lifetime. It’s self-motivated learning that takes place all the time, augmenting and outside of, structured classroom learning systems.
LEx Acadame will start as an on-line facility utilizing the LEx HUBs’ best-in-class Elevate Learning Management System, but it is anticipated it will evolve into a mix of on-line, multi-media and physical learning environments.
Morgan Simon’s foundational best-selling book, Real Impact: The New Economics Of Social Change, sets the context/imperative/opportunity we intend to substantively address:
“Capacity Building and Startup Capital is Lacking for the 99 Percent – Capacity-building programs for social entrepreneurs to receive business training and access to funding are plentiful, but similarly limited to few, and typically only those who have already attained a high level of formal education can participate. For others who would like to get involved in social entrepreneurship, particularly to build their own, community-based businesses, the barriers to entry can be substantial.”
“Social Education Is Not Being Taken As Seriously As Financial Education – The Industry treats social knowledge as extra-curricular - something ‘nice to have’ that can be learned and assessed intuitively, rather than a ‘must have’ that requires ongoing education and effort.”
The curriculum developed and refined that leverages the evolving knowledge and experience of the purpose-built LEx eco-system (think of the entire eco-system as a free choice learning system), will be designed to provide both the LEx membership and the public with free, or low cost, and/or subsidized, learning programs that will also be accessible to currently marginalized populations.
LEx Academe provides hand-crafted learning experiences that help individuals understand, embrace, and advance humanity through their leadership.
LEx Academe will:
CONNECT participants with ideas and leaders who are changing the world.
EMPOWER participants to imagine and to create a better world.
MOBILIZE the knowledge and insights of the LEx eco-system into something actionable and impactful.
TRANSFORM individuals with ideas into leaders with vision.
LEx Academe is for:
Individuals who have grand ideas for the world, but don’t have the expertise or skills to move their ideas forward. This is often individuals early in their career.
Individuals in positions of authority who want to do more good with their authority.
This is often mid-career people who “moved up the ladder” but now want to use their position for a greater good.
Individuals who have a strong vision and are in leadership positions but want to learn how to catalyze systemic change on a larger scale.
Individuals who want to explore and grapple with LEx leadership ideas, but aren’t in a position of committing to a unit of study.
We imagine leveraging member content initially, complemented with approved third party content, but as soon as possible we will start developing purposeful, targeted programs in support of our Local and GlobalCircles – eventually offering a diverse curriculum of content from pre-school to post secondary.
Our first beta of LEx Academe will commence in Q1 of 2020.
LEx Museum of Leadership
History provides a limitless database of historical artefacts to be curated as exemplars of the LEx Tenets, by race, geography, age, faith gender and sector. These are the woman and men of all walks and stations of life – from Cleopatra to Martin Luther King - who in an obvious, and compelling way represent the community that we seek to build.
In so doing, we believe that a uniquely powerful tool can be created to illuminate the breadth and depth of the LEx brand and its promise, one that would inspire and inform the vital discussion of what it means to be a LEx (ie. heroic) Leader – driving profound synergies with LEx Academe and the whole of the LEx eco-system.
Accordingly, in late 2018, it was decided to develop an initial curation process to identify and select inductees into a new LEx Museum of Leadership. The process was led by subjectmatter expert (and LEx Member) Judith Koke, Deputy Executive Director of the Portland, Oregon based Institute of Learning Innovation, and (among many other things) former Chief, Public Programs & Learning for the Art Gallery of Ontario. In turn, Ms. Koke and her team established initial criteria for selection, with over 200 historical figures displaying at least one of the following LEx attributes:
Courage & Tenacity
Integrity & Core Values
In March of this year, the first 10 inductees were selected by her team, and were posted on-line at the LEx website (www.leadersx.org/explore/group). In announcing the museum project, Judith wrote:
“ This online museum is the earliest incarnation of what we intend to be a cornerstone of LEx. Here we begin to tell leadership stories, to discuss their relevance to our lives today, and learn from them and each other. But, imagine, just a few years from now, a pop-up museum in your city, and, eventually travelling to a bricks and mortar museum, the LEx Museum of Leadership.
We begin with just 10 inductees from the relatively recent past, working for a diverse sample of individuals from around the world. We have developed a list of over 200 prospective inductees but expect to hear from all of our community – especially the GlobalCircles - about who we need to add, and importantly, how we do that.
We hope these individuals provoke discussion and constructive criticism. Each individual is, as we all are, an imperfect human being, and yet demonstrate some leadership attribute that changed the course of the world.”
As noted, we imagine the number of inductees to number in the hundreds, possibly even the thousands eventually (‘wikifying’ the process to be as inclusive as possible), with the 15 GlobalCircles charged in particular with identifying 10 (for example) nominees each year for an annual induction of 15 historical inductees at the LEx Congress event.
To date, all inductees have been historical (i.e. deceased figures). That is due to copyright and other issues, in addition to the fact that it is much easier and faster to execute than with living figures. But the foundation of historical figures will also lend great weight to the work we do, and as noted the example of the inductees will do much to make plain the nature of our value proposition to all stakeholders – from new members to prospective partners, sponsors, benefactors and target beneficiaries of our work.
It is obvious however, that as soon as possible we will leverage this asset by nominating living figures for induction into the Museum. By that time, to be recognized as one standing with previous inductees should have considerable value.
Because of the power and energy we imagine that we can create, it seems inevitable that as a charitable organization, we would wish to expand the offering as quickly as possible into physical representations – travelling exhibitions and pop-ups initially, but soon looking for a physical home.
It quickly follows that with the diversity of our eco-system and the incredible range of exhibition options, a space of considerable size would be required to curate, store and display exhibits – to audiences ranging from primary school children to LEx members, and community and business leaders. It likewise follows that with the great many synergies and joint initiatives with LEx Academe that this space would need to accommodate classrooms, meeting rooms etc. of many configurations, as it would be the logical ‘home’ for all of LEx Learning. And given the quite incredible power of fundraising gala annual inductions that would logically be held here, this would be the obvious home for the annual LEx Congress. In the end, all logic suggests that with the museum at its center, this would be the head office campus for Leaders Expedition.
Importantly, a google search for ‘museum of leadership’ yields no relevant results until The Patton Museum (result 14). There is NO substantive museum focused on the study of historical and living figures through a coherent, purposeful lens. We believe this represents a singular opportunity.
LEx Leadership Accelerator Funds
No community can function without access to capital. And it certainly won’t be possible to create the community that is powerful enough to change the way leaders in lead in just 10 years without massive capital flow throughs. Almost all of that we imagine flowing through the for profit entity – LEx Leaders Accelerator Funds.
Cambridge Associates reports that social impact investing is one of the fastest growing areas of the investment business, with Forbes reporting that 2018 impact investing assets were double the number from just the year before. Indeed, at SOCAP19 – the largest gathering of social impact investors and their client organizations in the world, it was frequently noted that the available impact investing assets was approaching 1 Trillion dollars. It was also reported that the consistent inhibitor to growth, was the lack of qualified, quality deal flow.
The conversation thus far has been focused on Connecting, Empowering, and Mobilizing the LEx community. However, achieving our objective to Transform global leadership cultures in 10 years will clearly require access to substantial capital resources. Where LEx Learning will, consistent with its purpose of the advancement of education, support the LEx eco-system – principally LocalCircle Projects and GlobalCircle Missions with charitable funding (free programs, subsidies, scholarships etc.), it remains for a for-profit entity to create the funding platform to support qualifying LEx members and the for-profit ventures support by LC Projects and GC Missions. Hence, LEx Leadership Accelerator Funds Inc. (LLAF)
LLAF will be configured to qualify for B Corp status as a social enterprise, its mandate to raise and deploy multiple social impact funds, the funds themselves residing through a subsidiary in a low tax jurisdiction such as Luxembourg (consistent with B Corp accreditation requirements and the LEx Tenets). Moreover, we see this entity as the nucleus of a funding eco-system where we collaborate with partner private equity, family office and venture capital firms that support our Tenets, our moonshot and our investment criteria – in addition to LEx Learning.
There are three very powerful differentiators that we believe would distinguish LEx in the field of social impact investing:
A focus on developing and elevating individuals as next-gen leaders in their community and sector – from Manhattan to rural Kenya, Arts & Culture to Sustainability & Energy Disruption. Our first consideration is in investing in the individual – it is a given that their idea/concept will be feasible and capable of delivering the target ROI.
The LocalCircle sponsored Project and GlobalCircle sponsored Mission structure/process and the purpose-built supporting IT/community platform (LExHUB) provides unprecedented data and exposure to qualified, managed deal flow, covering all geographies, all sectors.
LEx Academe will provide free and subsidized capacity building business training programs for social entrepreneurs that support successful management of deals – from ideation to exit – and very significantly reduce risk.
It would likewise be our intent that our investing strategy would be highly differentiating – these are the investment criteria that we contemplate:
To provide a ROI commensurate with best practice social impact investing
To explore and pursue financing instruments that would democratize profit distribution - e.g. Named funds + equity crowd-funding, anchored by ‘name’ investor, with small crowd funding investors able to participate, and thus spread return.
Must be an active LEx member, with weight assigned to members with higher LEx Contribution Points
LocalCircle or GlobalCircle must support application, providing front-line identification/screening from the real-time formulation of ideas through to the application, with due diligence embedded in process/structure of LEx HUB
Must have completed certificate course offered through LEx Academe
Proposed venture must be consistent with LEx Tenets, with special emphasis on diversity/gender balance, and servant leadership (leading by example)
Overall portfolio needs to be a balance of member owned, project/mission/special initiative, local/global, sectoral and size (micro-finance and seed to Series C)
Target communities need to be the ones to first define impact - LocalCircle/GlobalCircles are bottom-up key differentiator, in that they are the originators/vetters
Target communities need to be chief beneficiaries of social impact investing, with focus on equity financing vs. debt
Investments are oriented to taking the strategic long view – not tactical easy wins
So how are we changing leadership? We don’t and won’t do that by sitting around talking about it. With 40,000 plus books on amazon.com and new ones being added daily, the world is not screaming for another opinion. Instead, we are a community of existing and aspiring leaders whose common DNA is our Tenets, where we focus first on elevating each other as a precondition to leading by example.
We are empowering the community from which future leaders will be drawn.
Our community of community’s strategy will allow us to access and engage the best minds.
And every circle - local, global and sub - will be an incubator, accelerator and amplifier for both members and their ventures – from Lagos to Memphis, from Health & Wellness to Learning & Education. It is this closed loop of facilitating on the ground experience with education and funding that is unique and uniquely powerful.
Finally, the gordian knot challenge we face demands a purposeful design thinking solution. It was not spontaneous popular action that led to the eradication programs targeting malaria and polio – it was Bill gates. Likewise, the targeted effort to eradicate the global, systemic leadership insufficiency by 2030 requires equally committed and focused support.
If you the reader;
Agree that humanity is facing a convergence of existential issues by 2030
Agree that there is a leadership insufficiency that is systemic and global
Agree that addressing this insufficiency is itself the primary existential challenge (all others being dependent)
Agree that it must therefore be addressed systemically and globally with a purposeful approach equal in scale and scope to the Manhattan Project
And, have the capacity to do something about it.
Then I submit that you must join with your fellow heroic citizens at Leaders Expedition to halt and reverse the global retreat from liberal democratic principles – while we still can.