Friday, August 26, 2005

Blue Streak by Barbara S. Peterson - The jetBlue Story

A Review of Blue Streak – Inside JetBlue, the Upstart That Rocked an Industry by Barbara S. Peterson

I knew early on that JetBlue was something special from the feedback I was hearing from friends and family members who had flown them, and from the positive press they were receiving. I began to understand how the upstart airline had achieved that success when I had a chance to meet the Founder, David Neeleman, last year when he spoke at Harvard Business School. As I heard him speak, and then later when I had a chance to engage with him one-on-one, I sensed beneath the smooth and polished executive exterior a personal warmth and passion that embodies the vision of JetBlue – to build a low cost airline that delivers superior service and treats its customers and employees alike as persons of worth.

Neeleman loves to tell the story of an encounter with a Delta flight attendant who accosted him and accused him of: “stealing all the nice passengers.” His retort: “No, they are the smart passengers; they know we’ll treat them fair and give them a fair deal.”

Barbara Peterson tells the story of the gestation and birth of JetBlue from the inside out. An experienced travel writer, she involved herself in the lives of the JetBlue leaders and immersed herself in the JetBlue experience to try to explain to herself and her readers why so many individuals have “drunk the blue Kool-aid”!

One of the most gripping stories that encapsulates much of what makes JetBlue unique in the airline industry is the story of how JetBlue employees at New York’s Kennedy Airport responded to the unfolding events on 9/11/2001.

“Doreen Lawrence, head of in-flight, was driving west on the Grand Central Parkway when the news came over the radio. She was heading toward Connecticut with Brian Manubay, an in-flight manager. . . They were halfway across the Whitestone Bridge to the Bronx when they realized they had to get to JFK fast. . . They got to the airport ten minutes later, just before all access to the airfield was closed off. They found Terminal Six packed with passengers, many of whom were not holding tickets on JetBlue flights but, rather, had been expelled from other terminals. Most airlines had shut the doors to their terminals soon after the attacks on the advice of the Port Authority, which was acting prudently – who knew if other attackers were still at large? Several strandees told Manubay that a rumor had circulated at the airport that “if you go to JetBlue, they’ll help you.”

. . . An hour later, the Port Authority told JetBlue it, too, had to evacuate its terminal. Lawrence and Manubay made an announcement: All present, no matter whose customer they were, could go with them to a nearby airport motel, where they could stay until they had someplace else to go. For the next three days, the JetBlue pair slept on cots in the ballroom of a nearby Best Western, with hundreds of displaced fliers; no one, it seemed, could get out.

Lawrence had not needed to check with her superiors to approve this act of charity; early in the day Neeleman and Barger [Dave Barger, JetBlue President] had told anyone from the field who called in that they should just follow their conscience and no questions would ever be raised about the expense.

There were lighter moments as well. Al Spain [JetBlue’s Chief Pilot], who was in Toronto at a meeting of airline safety directors the morning of the eleventh, had gotten back to New York by renting a car and driving nonstop for twenty hours. When he arrived in Queens, he’d gone to the airport to lend a hand. There were so many diverse passengers under JetBlue’s wing at that point, he recalled, that they finally secured space in a motel some miles away for a tour group that was due to fly back to Europe on Delta as soon as service was restored. Their luggage was back at the airport, and so that they could have a change of clothes, Lawrence handed out JetBlue T-shirts to everyone. “So imagine how Delta feels when they see this huge group show up in JetBlue T-shirts because we – not they – took care of their passengers,” Spain recalled
(pages 143,144)

That is the kind of customer service that earns lifelong loyalty. I cannot wait to fasten my seat belt and taste the JetBlue experience.


TALENT ALERT - Solutions Sales Account Executives - Multiple Locations

Talent Alert

A Boston based Marketing Solutions firm has engaged us to help them to find Account Executives for multiple territories in North America.

The ideal candidates will have prior experience selling software, solutions, media, advertising, research, or professional services. In each territory, the AE will work on her own to build the business in that region. We are looking for passionate, self-motivated individuals with a flair for selling innovative services and solutions – strong personal presence and the soul of an evangelist – someone who can sell with flair and pizzazz! Target customers will be Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Research Officers, et al. of firms that are $500 Million and above.

For details of compensation, specific territories, application process, etc., have interested and qualified candidates send me an MS-Word version of their resume to:



Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Review of "The Virtual Handshake" by David Teten and Scott Allen

Last week I shared in this space a story of one of my searches that appears in Chapter 21 of the new book, The Virtual Handshake. I have now finished poring over each of the book's 30 chapters, and am ready to offer my thoughts and enthusiastic recommendation.

The Virtual Handshake - Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online is a treasure trove of practical advice on how best to use the rapidly proliferating assortment of social networking tools. I consider myself a reasonably informed networker and yet I found helpful information in each section of the book. Let me share just one story of how the book has had an immediate impact on me.

Like many of us, I find e-mail to be a two-edged sword. I love the way that it enables me to stay in continuous contact with family, friends and business colleagues around the world. On the other hand, even with new Spam filters, the volume of incoming e-mail has long been daunting and overwhelming. Even after deleting Spam and obvious junk, I still have often found myself awash in a sea of e-mails that need to be answered in some fashion. Chapter 14 - Manage The E-mail Deluge - offered me the first workable system for handling the avalanche of e-mails in my In Box. For the first time in years, I now have an empty In Box and a sensible plan for handling the backlog of correspondence that needs to be attended to. This nugget alone makes the book worth the purchase price.

Teten and Allen share their wisdom in the following major categories:

Building Relationships Face-to Face and Virtually

Social Software

You Are the Virtual You

The Seven Keys to a World-Class Network

Turning Theory into Action: Online Networks in Your Job, Career, and Life

At the end of the day, the greatest value of this book for me is that it provides both a theoretical grid for understanding the tools of social networking, and practical wisdom for mastering those tools rather than running the danger of being mastered and overwhelmed by them. I will keep this volume handy on the shelf above my desk - as a reference handbook for solving the problems and challenges that arise in the world of online networking.

This book comes with my strong endorsement and gratitude for rescuing me from the flood of unanswered e-mails!

You can purchase this book at or through the Virtual Handshake Website:



Annapolis Grad In Space - Report From The International Space Station

NASA recent series of complications with the Space Shuttle Program has caused me to think about the human side of space exploration. So, a recent article in USNA-At-Large grabbed my attention. The article first appeared in the Virginia Pilot last week. I think itis worth sharing with you.


* * * *

Author delivers signed work to a Space Station fan


The Virginian-Pilot

August 12 2005

MELFA, Va. -- What do you do when the glamorous guests have gone home, you've put up the groceries and hauled out the trash? Well, if you're International Space Station astronaut John L. Phillips, you kick back and dive into a truly rare treat, an autographed book from a favorite author delivered by space shuttle to your orbiting home. The book, "Down to a Sunless Sea," was a morale booster slipped into a package sent by his wife, Laura, via the Shuttle Discovery.

On Thursday, Phillips got another thrill, a video conversation from space with the author, David Poyer. The private session took place at the Eastern Shore Community College using an Internet link and a new video conferencing unit. Poyer and Phillips chatted for about 20 minutes about a wide range of things, the novelist said later. "It started out with, 'Where on earth is the Eastern Shore?"' Poyer said. Since Phillips had once been stationed in Norfolk as a Navy pilot, Poyer said, he was quickly oriented. Then it moved onto the Naval Academy, where the two Annapolis graduates discovered they shared some common friends in the early 1970s. Poyer said the call was mainly an effort to "buck up" Phillips for his final two months in space, now that the shuttle Discovery and its crew had gone home.

Discovery spent 8 days docked at the station delivering tons of supplies and taking back refuse. The seven shuttle astronauts left Aug. 6 and returned to Earth safely on Tuesday . When Phillips was training for his six-month stay on the International Space Station, NASA asked him what celebrities he'd like to contact from space, Laura Phillips said in an e-mail from her Houston home. Her husband listed Poyer, an author of some 26 books who moved a few years ago from Norfolk to the Eastern Shore. Laura Phillips found Poyer's address on the Internet and cooked up her surprise. She knew that she was allowed to send a few care package items on the planned shuttle resupply flight.

She asked Poyer for a book and note to be packed with DVDs, letters, photos, a Hawaiian shirt and snacks. Poyer was thrilled to help and to discover he had a fan on the space station. "He said he had read all of my books and had a complete collection at home," Poyer said after the seamless link between the college and low Earth orbit. There was a 2-second delay as the voice and pictures made their long journey. But the two strangers soon worked around the awkwardness, Poyer said. Poyer had a copy of his newest book with him, "That Anvil of our Souls," the third in a series of Civil War Naval history novels, and offered to e-mail the text so it could be sent up to Phillips. Phillips, the station's flight engineer, said he wouldn't have time to read both books. "He said he only has two months left and a lot of experiments to do, so he'll have to read it when he gets back," Poyer said.

Because of supply uncertainties caused by the Shuttle program problems, there are only two people on the station doing the maintenance work normally done by three. In addition, Phillips must exercise several hours a day to minimize bone loss caused by weightlessness, his wife said. The rest of the time is involved in science projects. Phillips is enjoying "Down To A Sunless Sea," which was originally published in 1996, and is the latest in a diving adventure series featuring Tiller Galloway, a former Navy SEAL. The mystery focuses on underwater cave diving and has been praised for the way it accurately conveys the claustrophobia and danger of venturing into dark, tight spaces, with a limited supply of air and no one to help if you get into trouble. You'd think that would hardly be an escape for someone living with one other soul on a tiny space station dependent on their ingenuity and imported oxygen. "It's probably light reading for him," Poyer joked, noting that his characters just had to make their way a few hundred feet out of a cave to find safety.

Laura Phillips has been married to John for more than 25 years. They have two teenage children, and the family keeps in touch with daily phone calls and e-mails and weekly video conferences. She said he is "living his dream of human exploration in space." "All through the ages there have been explorers, those people who are willing to venture forth and see what lies beyond the next horizon," she wrote. "Perhaps that is what Mr. Poyer describes in his novels, the human spirit of exploration that we all carry within us, whether or not we are able to blast off into space."

The Virginian-Pilot is published in Norfolk.

"Until I Find You" - A Review of John Irving's Latest Novel

I have always appreciated John Irving’s writing. There are manifold reasons why his work strikes a responsive chord with me. The sport of wrestling forms a continuing motif that somehow weaves itself into each of his works. He patterns himself after some of the same authors I most admire – Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Conrad. Like Dickens, Irving has a way of creating a world of memorable characters into which I find myself instantly transported as soon as I open the book.

About a year and a half ago, I had an opportunity to begin what has become a fascinating correspondence with Irving. It began with my writing to thank him for signing several of his books I had given as gifts. As an addendum to the thank you note, I mentioned how Irving’s wrestling career at Philips Exeter Academy had almost overlapped with mine at Governor Dummer Academy. Irving captained the Exeter team five years before I served as the Captain of the GDA team. I also shared the fact that Irvin Foster, PEA’s Captain, was the only wrestler to defeat me my senior year. I was shocked and delighted when Irving replied with a three page hand written letter revealing that he had been the Assistant Wrestling Coach at PEA that year, and had taught Irv Foster the takedown that he had used to defeat me!

Along the way, Irving started to talk about his writing in our exchange of letters. Exactly one year ago this week, he revealed that he had finished writing the manuscript for what would be called Until I Find You, but having finished the novel, he decided to rewrite it – changing the voice of the narration from first person to third. He does all of his writing by hand in pencil, so he had set for himself a formidable task. In September of last year, he shared with me that the work of rewriting the novel had bogged down because of injuries to his hand and forearm. By February, he was still struggling to finish the rewrite. Needless to say, I have been waiting with bated breath for the new novel to be published. It finally hit the bookstores and a few weeks ago.

Irving retraces familiar ground in his latest fictional offering – a tome of over 300,000 words. He returns to familiar places – Exeter, Amsterdam – and he revisits familiar themes – the search for a meaningful relationship with a missing or neglectful parent. As is the case in most of his works, Irving employs sexual themes – not gratuitously – but as a diaphanous scrim upon which to project the development of his character’s sense of self and their place in the world. The world of tattoos – the cadre of artists who create them and the menagerie of individuals who use their bodies as blank canvases for the tattooists’ needles – serves as a leitmotif for the indelible impression that persons have on one another. In the novel, some of the minor characters are sketched lightly – like tattoos that are only outlined and not filled in, while the core characters are limned in full color – like tattoos that have been lavishly shaded.

Irving traces the picaresque adventures of the protagonist, the actor Jack Burns, from his view of the world as a four year-old child “sleeping in the needles” with his tattoo artist mother, Alice, to the denouement of the adult Jack’s reunion with his father, William, a gifted church organist addicted to having himself tattooed. The story is part freak show, part soap opera, part film noir, part grand opera, and part sweet odyssey. And it is all Irving at his best. This book was worth the wait and worth the physical pain that Irving endured in getting the voice of the narration tuned just right – like a delicate church organ whose complex array of ranks of pipes need to be calibrated just so to complement one another with overwhelming power and haunting beauty. The characters in this novel got under my skin – tattooed there by the needle of Irving sharp imagination and his indelible way of depicting the human condition and our struggle to be known and loved.

If you already appreciate Irving’s work, you will not be disappointed in Until I Find You. If you are new to Irving’s writings, his latest book is a good place to begin to acquire a taste for his unique way of viewing and describing the world.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Monday, August 08, 2005

"The Virtual Handshake" by David Teten and Scott Allen - Chapter 21

This is developing into a week of Blogging about authors with whom I have had some connection. Over the weekend, I posted the classic John Updike essay on Ted Williams. Within the next few days, I will review John Irving's new novel, Until I Find You. Today, I want to share with you an excerpt from The Virtual Handshake by David Teten and Scott Allen.

David Teten is the Founder of Nitron Advisors and Teten Recruiting in NYC. He writes widely - in print and in cyberspace - about networking and tools that enable social networking. I frequently quote from his Blog, Brain Food -

Several months ago, David and I entered into a continuing conversation that was part e-mail and part phone calls about the use of LinkedIn and other social software tools. In the course of our multi-part conversation, I told David a story about a search that I was retained to perform that came about in part because of LinkedIn. David told me that he and Scott Allen were writing a book, and that my story would make a nice case study to buttress some of the points they would be making. He asked my permisison to include the story in the book.

David was kind enought to mail me a pre-publicatoin copy of The Virtual Handshake - scheduled for official publication on August 30. I am pleased to share with you the opening paragraphs of Chapter 21 - pages 178-179:

Chapter 21

Increase the Quality and Quantity of Information

Now that we have all this useful information, it would be nice to do something with it. (Actually, it can be emotionally fulfilling just to get the information. This is usually only true, however, if you have the social life of a kumquat.)

Executive recruiter Al Chase tells how he leveraged software and personal Information from the client’s virtual presence to land a major contract:

“I have been using LinkedIn as a virtual personal Web page for the past six months, as well as for business development for my executive search practice. I currently have 313 connections and 20 endorsements from clients and candidates.

“Early in June [2004], a prospective client contacted me who had found my profile on LinkedIn. The client was motivated to call me because of:

*The number and quality of my connections;

*The number and consistency of my endorsers and their comments about my unusual approach to recruiting;

*The fact that the client and I were two degrees away from one another within LinkedIn, separated by an attorney in Boston with whom we have both worked.

“After calling our common connection to learn more about me, the client contacted me to explore the possibility of engaging me to do a search for the General Manager of an entertainment complex to be built in the Northeast.

“We quickly determined that I had no prior experience in executing a high level search within this particular industry, and that I was competing with some of the large retained executive search firms in Boston for the right to conduct this search.

“My reading of the client’s LinkedIn Profile led me to his Web page, where I learned that he had a background in choreography and dance. I used my knowledge of the world of dance to offer an analogy that prompted the client to consider engaging me for this search, despite my lack of prior industry experience. The client asked me to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and asked to meet me face-to-face.

“During the face-to-face meeting, I was able to present my approach to placing senior executives who are “Renaissance Souls” in companies where such a broad and classical approach to leadership is valued. At the end of the meeting, the client informed me that they would like to retain me for this search.

“Using a combination of LinkedIn and other personal networks, I was able to quickly engage with top leaders in the theme park industry, and learned that most of the Best Practices leaders in the industry would be speaking at a trade association convention in Singapore in mid-July. I proposed to the client that I attend to accelerate the search. I returned from Singapore with dozens of contacts within the industry, and several well-qualified candidates.

“One of those candidates whom I met in Singapore was engaged by my client to fill an operational role on the project, and another industry leader has been hired as general manager for the project.”

* * * *

I am grateful to David for sharing this story in his book. I am in the midst of reading the book, and am finding it to be practical, relevant and very helpful in thinking about specific tactics and strategies for building and maintaining an effective professional network. I will offer a full review of the book in this space by the end of the week.

The book is available for order now on The Virtual Handshake Website:

Bone Marrow Donor Alert - Blood Type A - (A Negative) Donor Needed

One of my colleagues here at Sales Consultants of Wellesley just made me aware of an urgent need for a woman here in the Boston area. Here are the details

Framingham, MA - My colleague's neighbor is a single mother of a four year old & is dying of leukemia. She is looking for bone marrow donor who is A- (A Negative).

If you are A - or know of someone who is that blood type, contact me for more details about how to determine if you are a match as a potential donor.



Saturday, August 06, 2005

John Updike's Essay About Ted Williams And Fenway Park: A life remembered

This past week at Fenway Park, I ended up sitting next to someone who has only recently become a Red Sox fan. I asked him what he thought about the "lyric little bandbox" that is Fenway. He told me he loves the Park, but that he had never heard that term to describe it. It struck me that there are now several generations of Sox fans and citizens of Red Sox Nation who may never have read John Updike's classic essay about Ted Williams' last game. In this essay, Updike waxes poetic about Williams and about Fenway. In addition to the oft quoted line about Fenway being a "lyric little bandbox," the essay also introduced the phrase: "Gods don't answer letters."

The Boston Globe reprinted Updike's essay on the occasion of Ted William's death, and it is this reprinted version I have attached below. The original version appeared in the New Yorker in 1960.

I have always been fascinated with Updike's writing. As a student at Governor Dummer Academy, I was invited to join the Newburyport Choral Society. Updike's first wife, Mary, was also a member, so I had a few occasions to interact with Updike. He is at the height of his proasaic powers in this essay.

Enjoy it - or enjoy it again if you are old enough to have been around when The Splendid Splnter hit a homerun in his last at bat of his career. / Sports / Ted Williams: A life remembered

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mini Talent Alerts

Here are a few of the searches I am working on for client companies. If you know of appropriate candidates, please have them contact me for more details.

Non-Executive Director – Greater-Boston based fuel cell company

Retired flag officer with knowledge of business development opportunities with the U.S. military and major military prime contractors. Strong relationships to U.S. Congress and staff a requirement.

Senior Product Manager + Program Manager – Boston lighting systems company (total of 3 positions)

Lighting, electronics, or semi-conductor industry experience desired

Marketing assistant – NYC-based e-commerce start-up

Great opportunity for someone a few years out of college. Looking for someone who knows about working with affiliates, Internet savvy, energetic, detail-oriented.

The White Rhino's Haitian Connection

I have had a soft spot in my heart for Haiti and its wonderful people. There is a good reason why the title of one of the volumes on my book shelf - a history of Haiti - is "Written In Blood." This troubled island nation has had a hard time establishing itself with a reliable government or infrastructure. Fear, corruption, backbiting and backstabbing, gratuitous violence, famine, disease and palace intrigue have been the hallmarks of this Western half of the Island of Hispaniola - almost since Columbus first alighted there in December of 1492.

Many of the readers of this Blog may not be aware that I spent a year living in the mountains of Haiti - 1974-1975 - working at the Baptist Mission at Fermathe, an hour's drive from Port-au-Prince. I served as Administrator of the Mission's hospital. During that time, with the help of many Haitian friends, I attained fluency in Haitian Creole - a fluency which I have managed to maintain to this day. Boston now is home to the third largest Haitian population in the U.S., so I have occaison almost every day to speak in Creole.

I have maintained a strong interest in Haiti overe the years - returning to visit and staying in touch through friends. When my friend, Dave Gebben, currently serving as a misisonary in Haiti, made me aware of this article, I thought it worth sharing with the readers of this Blog.

Haiti remains for many of us in the U.S. a "terra incognita." This article may shed some light on what conditions are like there currently.

KRT Wire 07/31/2005 Missionary pilot spreads the gospel in Haiti

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Most Fun I Have Ever Had Learning A New Language – The Rosetta Stone Connection

I am reluctant to post anything on this site that would make it feel as if I were turning it into a vehicle for shamelessly hawking goods or services. For that reason, I often err on the side of withholding information that may be of use to some of my readers. In the past few weeks, at least a half dozen of my colleagues and friends have had conversations with me that included some version of the following lines: “I wish you had told me that you have an affiliation with Rosetta Stone; I need to learn . . . [Chinese, Arabic, Spanish] and I hear that Rosetta Stone is the best program out there.” So, to ensure that everyone who needs to know about the connection between Rosetta Stone and me, here is the saga.

A few months ago I was wrestling with a desire to learn several more languages, and also with frustration that my work and travel schedule had made it impossible to sign up for any of the classes that are offered in the Greater Boston area. One day as I was passing through the Prudential Mall in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, I happened upon the Rosetta Stone kiosk. Once I saw the demonstration of Rosetta Stone’s translation-free approach to language learning – an approach that recreates the way we learned our first language as babies – I knew that I wanted to use this tool.

I was motivated to improve the little bit of Russian that I have picked up in my travels to Russia and Ukraine over the past few years. I wanted to master Brazilian Portuguese because I have many Brazilian friends now living in the Boston area. And, I wanted to introduce myself to Bahasa Indonesia to facilitate my being able to communicate effectively when I travel to Indonesia – when time and budget allow.

One thing led to another and the District Manager of Rosetta Stone asked me if I could give them a few hours on the weekend to demonstrate the software. The thinking was that having a businessman who travels internationally and who has used Rosetta Stone successfully would add weight and credibility to the demonstration of the product. So, for several months I have been doing just that. I have picked up enough new knowledge in just demonstrating the software that I have been able to test myself on the first few lessons of 17 different languages! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

I have been pleased that I have been in a position to offer to family and friends this incredible tool - and at a price below retail costs. So, having been prompted to do so by some of the satisfied customers, I am making the readers of this Blog aware of this remarkable language-learning tool.

Check out the Rosetta Stone website to acquaint yourself with the software. You may have seen the advertisement in in-flight magazines. There is also a national radio ad campaign running; locally I have heard the spots on WBX – AM 1030. Rosetta Stone is now the language learning system of choice of the Peace Corps, U.S. State Department, NASA and about 10,000 schools. Berlitz now offers Rosetta Stone software as part of its corporate training suite of programs.

If you are interested in ordering the software for yourself or as a gift, let me know and I will be happy to extend the offer of a 10% discount off of the prices quoted on the Website, plus free shipping.

Let me know if you have any questions about Rosetta Stone.

Merci bien!

Molto grazie!

Muito obrigado!

Muchas gracias!


A Different Perspective On Our Presence In Iraq - American soldier becomes Iraqi sheik

This article from the Washington Post caught my eye this morning. It is encouraging to read about the kind of cultural sensitivity, initiative, character and creativity displayed by Sgt. Horn. The article confirms what I have observed about the generation of military leaders who are graduating from our service academies and ROTC programs these days. In addition to the traditional tools of combat arms, this generation understands that it also needs to bring to the battlefield the art of nation-building, diplomacy and cross-cultural communication.

Hats off to Sgt. Horn and his ilk!


American soldier becomes Iraqi sheik�-�World�-�