I started VALUEx in 2011 with the goal of creating a different kind of investment conference: one which did not cost an arm and a leg, while still delivering lasting value. I wanted to enable the participants (a group of thoughtful friends and investors) to meet in a supportive or “unplugged” environment without the interference and noise that comes with broker run affairs. The objective being shared ideas in pursuit of developing our investing knowledge and wisdom, and above-all, deep, life-long friendships.
To deliver on this goal, I cloned some of the best aspects of the world’s leading networking and knowledge organizations: the TED Conference, YPO, the World Economic Forum, Horasis and Toastmasters International, as follows.
The TED Conference, “Ideas worth spreading”, TEDx events
The name VALUEx derives from a play on the name “TEDx”. In distinction to the main TED conference in Vancouver or TED Global in Edinburgh, TEDx events are independently run – hence the “x”.
Similar to TED’s devotion to “Ideas worth spreading”, we request that each participant come with an “Investment idea worth sharing.”
In following the TED speaker format, we also implemented a strict time limit of 5 minutes or less for our speaker presentations. While this is not enough time to explore a topic in depth, it serves as a conversation starter.
Young Presidents Organization (“YPO”): Confidentiality, Non-Solicitation and Speaking from Experience
Unlike TED which has more than 1,000 attendees, VALUEx is small. Like Chapters in YPO, we limit attendance to 80 people – the size of a small village – whereby everyone can get to know one other.
As in YPO, we look to create an environment where people are willing to share what is really going on. The participants are reminded to treat everything they hear and learn as confidential and only to be shared outside of the room if given explicit permission by the originator.
We also request that participants come from a place of personal sharing. We are not there to give, or receive advice, to tell others what to do, or to receive instructions. By contrast, we are there to share our experiences and stories – which is the best way for us to learn from each other.
Additionally, we have a clear (and strict) non-solicitation policy. Participants are there to learn – not to sell. While it is absolutely fine to enquire as to another participant’s business, it is not okay to come with a sales agenda. In the past, we have not renewed invitations to participants who violated this rule.
Toastmasters: Inclusive participation – Many to Many rather than One to Many
At VALUEx, we make no distinction between speakers, keynote speakers, and audience members. Everyone is a participant who is there to learn and gets the opportunity give a talk. Those participants who do not come with prepared talks are asked to participate in a group discussion that takes the format of a “Table Topics” – which I learned at Toastmasters.
And, as with Toastmasters, the goal is to create a supportive environment which allows for constructive feedback.
OUR ORGANIZING PRINCIPLES
1. Berkshire Hathaway, Wesco, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Ben Graham et al.
A place where like minded individuals can develop their worldly wisdom, learn to be better investors, and become better
people in the process.*
2. Wikipedia / Linux / Firefox and the Open Source revolution.
The endeavor is not for profit. Leadership comes from the group of individuals who are in the best position to contribute
and who can best understand and develop the mission and the goals.
3. Chris Anderson / TED / Ideas worth Sharing.
Content and speakers are selected using the same principle applied at TED, where the most successful talks are delivered
by inspiring speakers in an inspiring way. A strict time format ensures that the speakers deliver their most valuable
ideas promptly. The focus is on “Ideas worth sharing”, rather than pitching products / companies / one’s own services.
* VALUEx has been in large part inspired by the Colbeh dinners – organized for a certain period in New York by Shai Dardashti
at Colbeh restaurant*