Author, speaker addresses hundreds during Air Threat Week

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Longoria
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center hosted author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek to speak over a live video teleconference (VTC) session during the Center’s annual Air Threat Week, Oct. 14, 2020.  

Sinek, who joined the VTC from Los Angeles AFB, Calif., is the author of titles such as "Start With Why,” "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t," and "The Infinite Game.”

He was invited to participate as a keynote speaker during ATW -- NASIC’s premier annual conference focused on significant air threats. Conference attendees from across the Department of Defense were able to watch and participate from their bases.

The live event started off with opening remarks from NASIC Commander Col. Maurizio Calabrese.

“Welcome everyone. I want to thank you for joining us for another installment of Air Threat Week,” said Calabrese. “For today’s event, we have a special guest, Mr. Simon Sinek. Most of you may not know how supportive Simon has been of the Department of Defense, including the Air Force and now Space Force.”

Sinek has been involved with the DoD for almost 15 years and has traveled to different bases sharing his perspectives on leadership.

“Although we are all participating from socially distanced bases around the globe, we cannot be more grateful to Simon for taking time to shape his insights to keep our force close and connected while we accelerate change in the face of competition,” continued Calabrese.

Emcee Capt. Jeffrey Smith, Engineering Analysis Squadron Director of Operations, took the stage next to facilitate the session.  Smith started with an interview and then walked Sinek through a series of submitted and live questions.

Many of the questions posed referenced Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s paper Accelerate Change or Lose,’ the National Defense Strategy, and changes in today’s competitive environment.

According to Sinek, Gen. Brown’s vision is important because it gives top cover for challenging some of the incumbent systems in order to allow the Air Force’s natural instincts to bubble up again.

“If you want an Airman to innovate, you have to allow for experimentation. Which means you have to allow for things to go wrong, because that’s the nature of experimentation,” said Sinek.

“And the good news is, it’s built into the culture,” he continued. “It is built into the Air Force to think differently, it’s built into the Air Force to be innovative. So I think that’s very, very impressive.”

When asked how the vision laid out in Brown’s paper should be executed, Sinek recommended leaning further into the discussion of culture.

“Leaders from all ranks need to change how they incentivize, promote, recognize and reward,” he said. “Culture equals values plus behavior. Your values are how you operate when you operate at your natural best. Leaders need to recognize they are there to promote behavior and not just to ensure victory, but to reward the behavior and initiative that we want to see.”

The six-week ATW conference will wrap up Nov. 6. To date, more than 700 participants from across the DoD's acquisition, policy and warfighter communities have registered for the virtual conference, which showcases and disseminates the latest information regarding foreign threats to U.S. and allied air superiority.