JULY 23, 2015, WASHINGTON (NNS) – Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert spoke at a TEDx Talk inside the grounds of a state prison in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Greenert, a native of Butler, Pennsylvania, discussed accountability and second chances with 250 audience members at State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh Riverside Corrections Center.
“Thirty-eight years ago a nuclear submarine almost sank by the pier,” Greenert began. The career of two junior officers hung in the balance of the incident, he said.
When the event was investigated, the submarine’s commanding officer took the brunt of responsibility.
“Because the commanding officer had integrity and accountability, that junior officer had a second chance at a long career,” said Greenert. “That junior officer was me.”
“A great leader ensured the junior officers on duty that day were able to recover from their mistakes, and today I’m the Chief of Naval Operations,” said Greenert.
Greenert is the first service chief to participate in a TED or TEDx Talk. This was the second TEDx event sponsored by the Pennsylvania State of Corrections and filmed exclusively inside a state prison. Regional politicians, corrections officials, jail staff, several inmates as well as business and community leaders were among the audience of Greenert’s talk.
“[The Navy] learned years ago that authority, responsibility, and accountability must go hand in hand to be successful,” said Greenert. “Unconditional trust is key in leading any organization.”
Other speakers at the Pittsburgh TEDx event included: Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, John Fetterman; a family psychologist/anger management coach, an addictions counselor/yoga instructor, a Benedictine nun and drug/alcohol counselor in the prison, a prison ophthalmologist, and the mother of the deceased shooter at the Pennsylvania Amish school shooting.
TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1984 devoted to spreading ideas that matter through the world via the Internet.
A TEDx event is a local, independently organized program, bringing people together to share views, spark deep discussion and lasting connections.
“Our kids watch (TED talks) a lot,” said Greenert. “If I can reach them, whether they want to join the Navy or not, with my message of leadership, I’ve got to jump at that.”