Alan Lebedoff learned some pretty tough lessons while running a business in his teenage years.
“I learned hiring friends wasn’t a good idea,” he said.
“That was the first year.”
But his persistence has paid off. Lebedoff, 20, has expanded ALX Exploration Services steadily in the four years since he founded it. Now it has between 30 and 40 mining company clients.
It all started after he heard a radio story about companies having to buy drill sample boxes Outside. He seized the opportunity and landed on a bigger prospect than he imagined.
“It was only supposed to be a hobby.”
Fast-forward to last weekend, and Lebedoff’s quick-thinking business smarts landed him a seat at the G8/G20 youth meetings in Ontario.
Working in a group tasked with writing a communique on terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation, Lebedoff was the only entrepreneur on the team.
“It was good to be able to bring something different to the table,” said Lebedoff on Tuesday, after returning from Ontario at 1 a.m. that morning.
“It was good to have a well-rounded group from different schools and different educations,” he said.
The vast majority of the 120 youth from around the world were either in university or college.
Lebedoff, who was born and raised in Whitehorse, got there on the back of his accomplishments in the business world.
During his two days in Huntsville, he was placed at the security table, where young leaders negotiated over the contents of a communique that would sum up their policy views on matters of importance. The other groups looked at climate change, maternal health and food security.
They had between two and three hours to hash out their differences, putting their people skills to the test.
“We had to reach a consensus in a really short time and there were definitely different views,” said Lebedoff.
To mentor them, guest lecturers had provided some insight on the topic.
In the end, Lebedoff’s crew opted for a tougher stance against Iran and a more multilateral approach to terrorism.
“(Our communique) talked about imposing more sanctions on Iran,” he said. “We looked at economic sanctions which would impact the government, like freezing bank accounts of companies connected to the government.”
“We also looked at joining forces within the G8 and trying to include other countries outside of the G20 and G8 to fight terrorism.”
Each country selected one of their own to deliver the communique to the leader, giving the youth a taste of what it means to be an international power-broker.
The youth summit, called My Summit 2010, is a project run by the non-profit Global Vision and commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office, said Lebedoff.
He responded to a request for participants a couple of months ago. He ended up at a meeting in Yellowknife where youth from both territories were taught on the details of leadership in the summit environment.
After visiting Ottawa as part of the Canadian Youth Ambassador’s Caucus, another government-sponsored leadership program, Lebedoff was ready for the biggest international summit in Canadian history.
His credentials, though, were unique.
When he came home on Tuesday, he didn’t hit the books in a hurried attempt to catch up with homework. He was busy sorting out ALX’s affairs as the company’s president.
By gaining access unparalleled by media and regular Canadians, Lebedoff was able to gauge what summits are really like.
The massive security apparatus
surrounding the summits was astounding, but justified, he said.
“The security was pretty overwhelming. But I can understand why they need it.
“With all the leaders there at once, it’s pretty necessary.”
He didn’t spend much time in Toronto where the larger G20 summit took place, and didn’t catch any of the protests, either violent or non-violent, in the locked-down city.
On the other hand, he was in the room where the leaders gather for the “family photo,” a summit tradition where leaders gather for a final photo op before leaving the host country.
The photo usually features the leaders waving into the distance, and in this case, the only other people than the photographers in the room were the youth leaders.
“Everyone started cheering for their leaders,” he said.
“They all looked pretty stunned, they’re running around in a pretty strict time frame.”
On television, the photo op seems like only a few seconds.
“But they’re standing there waving for five minutes,” he said.
Lebedoff says his inside access – and negotiating work – gave him a glimpse of why the oft-maligned summits matter.
“There’s a big difference between the people who have a good understanding of the summits and those who don’t,” he said.
“Not a lot of people know what the G8/G20 even do.”
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