Friday, May 27, 2005

Revisioning Theology and Film

A little over a month ago I shared a link to Fuller Theological Seminary's magazine, Theology News & Notes. That issue focused on Max De Pree and mentoring. My alma mater, Fuller T.S., has done it again and come up with a riveting issue of its magazine that I am pleased to make you aware of.

This edition features several articles linking theology and cinema. They had me captivated as soon as I saw the cover. The cover photo is instantly recognizable as the protagonist of Cinema Paradiso as a young boy in the projection booth - eyes agape in wonder and awe at the images on celluloid that he is holding in his hands. What a wonderful visual metaphor for the power of imagery and the power of cinema.

If you have never seen Cinema Paradiso, run out and rent the DVD right now. The film is a gift to film lovers and a love letter from a film maker to his cinematic muse. You will note that in my Profile for this Blog, I list this film as one of my all time favorites. The art form of film does not get much better than this gem.

Enjoy the articles. I look forward to reading your comments.


Theology News & Notes Winter 2005

White Rhino Report Reader Profile - Thomas de Jager

Several weeks ago, I promised to offer periodic introductions of Blog readers I have come to know. From time to time I will feature individuals whose business model or area of expertise may be of particular interest to the rest of this Blog's readership. Today, I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, Thomas de Jager, originally from South Africa and now helping to build Aleutian Capital Partners and Aleutian Acquisition Services.

ALC: "Thomas, when you and I met recently in NYC, it became clear to me that in much the same way that I take a different approach to recruiting than do most executive recruiters, you and your colleagues at ACP/AAS have a unique approach to Private Equity. Would you summarize for the readers of this Blog what makes you different from other PE firms?"

TDJ: Aleutian Capital Partners conducts buyouts of small companies ($5MM - $50MM in revenue, or higher with partners) in traditional economy manufacturing, service and distribution businesses. Aleutian’s point of difference is that we also have a buy-side acquisition advisory part of our business called Aleutian Acquisition Services, that helps clients find companies for their own acquisition or investment. We have a strong deal sourcing team in place that assesses over a dozen opportunities per week. We conduct an initial due diligence screen on all target companies to enhance the quality of our deals before presenting them to our advisory clients. We therefore serve a valuable role to clients who are aggravated by the time wasted reviewing deals not suited to their needs. We work for and derive our fees only from the buy-side.

ALC: "Thomas, what is the strategic advantage of utlilizinging this structure and this model - for both clients and for Aleutian?"

TDJ: Once a potential acquisition candidate is identified, we are available to work alongside the buyer during the assessment process and post-acquisition strategic planning. Through the advisory work, we have developed relationships with private equity firms and other investors with specific expertise in certain industries. Our principal investing strategy includes investing alongside those advisory clients (when feasible) and benefitting from their experience in that particular industry. We look to leverage our clients’ valuable industry focused expertise, while at the same bringing our own expertise and capital to the table. We have developed a comprehensive due diligence process to uncover the risks and objectively assess the prospects of each opportunity.

ALC: "I know that among the readers of this Blog, there are CEO's who are looking to invest and put some 'skin in the game' with an acquisition target that they would eventually run. What does your program offer to these potential investors?"

TDJ: One of the most valuable things we can do is to match a strong company with a capable and interested CEO, create a growth and opportunity story for that company in conjunction with that CEO, and package it for investment (either as a principal investment for ourselves or as an investment opportunity for one of our buy-side clients).

Al, let’s continue this dialogue …….



Thursday, May 26, 2005

Seth Godin Is A Dirty, Rotten Liar! (Not Really)

Seth Godin is the kind of character and author that you either love - or love to hate. I find myself happily in the first camp. I find his view of the world and of marketing to be refreshing and insightful. I have always walked away from a personal encounter with Seth having learned something new and having been encouraged to think about familiar things in new and different ways. The same holds true for his books. I have devoured Purple Cow, Free Prize Inside, Permission Marketing, Unleashing the IdeaVirus.

His new book has just been released to bookstores. All Marketers Are Liars (The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World) stands on the shoulders of his previous books and builds the case for storytelling being at the heart of all marketing activities. And for Seth, the medium is often a crucial part of the message. Packaging is part of the story. Ergo, limited editions of Purple Cow came packed inside purple and white half gallon milk cartons. Free Prize Inside was sold inside a cereal box. All Marketers Are Liars features a picture of Seth Godin looking strangely like the love child of Pinocchio and Cyrano de Bergerac!

The deliberately arresting and provocative title of the book makes Seth's point succinctly. In telling us the title of his book - he is telling us a lie. The book is not really about the fact that marketers lie (although some do). It is about the fact that consumers tell themselves lies all the time to justify buying what they want rather than what they truly need. We tell ourselves stories about the products and services we desire. And the successful marketer finds ways to control the storytelling process.

"Stories let us lie to ourselves. And those lies satisfy our desires. It's the story, not the good or the service you actually sell, that pleases the consumer." (p. 84)

The heart of Seth's argument can be found in this pithy statement: "Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner or the iPod."

Every marketer, sales person and business executive should read this book and then engage in some healthy reflection and self-analysis.

Every consumer should read it to gain better understanding about what moves us to want and then to buy the things that we acquire.

I enjoyed this book. No lie!

Back By Popular Demand

I was not abducted by Aliens. I am alive and well. My unexpected hiatus from Blogging is over. I did some traveling to Virginia to join my brother and sister in helping my mother deal with some health issues. And the weeks since my return have been filled with playing catch-up, so Blogging got trumped by the Tyranny of the Urgent.

I knew it was time to get back the the White Rhino Report when one of my friends in Philadelphia asked me: "Do you know what happened on April 22?"

ALC: "Yeah, it was my birthday."

"That's not what I meant. It was the date of your last Blog posting!"

Several others have phoned, written and picketed my office - protesting the lack of timely Blog postings. So, I capitulate and return to the Blogging Wars.

Next up . . . Seth Godin's latest book.