Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Take Time To Be Thankful

Just a few words before I sign off to head for a variety of Thanksgiving celebrations.

I have a great deal to be thankful for.

I thank God for my health, for a loving family that includes children and grandchildren of whom I am enormously proud, and for a colorful cast of special members of a wonderful extended family.

I enjoy coming to work each day to a job I love.

I have been blessed with more special friendships and network connections than I deserve.

I am thankful for readers of this Blog who offer consistently helpful, encouraging and gratifying feedback to the things that I share in these pages.

I am thankful for my many relationships with men and women who serve our country - and who have served in the past - as leaders in each branch of the military.

Please join me in taking a moment to do an inventory of your blessings, and to thank God for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us all.

God bless.


JFK Continued - A Mini-Review of "American Tabloid"

In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s Blog – remembering the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963 – I offer a few words about the novel “American Tabloid.”

I do not fully understand why I am drawn to film noir. I don’t particularly like the fact that I am drawn to this genre, but drawn I am. It feels like a guilty pleasure. One of the best films in recent memory of that genre was “L.A. Confidential.” The screenplay for this film was based on a novel by James Elroy. So, when I saw another novel by Elroy, I grabbed it. “American Tabloid” is a raw tour de force of political intrigue and double-dealing. Throughout the development of the story line, Elroy throws together an interesting stew of characters and scenarios that simmer for over 500 pages until it reaches a boiling point in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

The novel ends just before the pulling of the trigger, but it sets us up to understand how such a horrific event could have been conceived and carried out. Elroy concocts a very plausible backstory to the Kennedy assassination that throws into complex competition and cooperation such disparate forces as Jimmy Hoffa, J. Edgar Hoover, The Kennedy clan, The CIA, Howard Hughes, Fidel Castro, The Chicago and Miami Mob and a zesty potpourri of minor thugs and ne’er-do-wells who perform an intricate dance of deception and death.

Elroy does not strike me as someone most of us would be comfortable bringing home to mother for Thanksgiving dinner, but he is a hell of a storyteller.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This Day In History – It Seems Like Just Yesterday!

November 22, 1963

I was 16 years old – a junior at Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts. I was heading to American History class – how ironic! - when we first heard the news that history had been made in Dallas. The President had been shot. The President was dead. The safe and simple world I had known died that day along with the vibrant young President who had ushered in the “one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.” It was all so sad and frightening and sudden and unexpected. As an adolescent, I was growing and changing and trying to figure out my place in the world. I had assumed that the world would stand still and wait for me to catch up. But beginning with that day in Dallas, the country itself began to change at a breakneck pace and we as a nation began to wrestle with an awkward kind of adolescence.

Tragedies and cataclysmic events piled upon one another like cars in a chain-reaction accident on a fog-shrouded highway.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus

Martin Luther King was shot

Chicago, Newark, Detroit, Watts erupted in flames and anarchy

RFK died on the eve of clinching the Democratic nomination

The Democratic Convention in Chicago turned into an orgy of carnage and chaos

The Viet Nam War escalated out of control

Flower children romped at the intersection of Haight and Asbury

The Beatles became more popular than Jesus

Richard Nixon moved into the Oval Office

Kent State changed from an educational institution into a symbol of America turning on its children and its children returning the favor

November 22, 1963

It seems like yesterday. Those born after that day felt a similar shock and sudden shifting of the tectonic plates of their lives on 9/11/2001. We remember where we were, what we were doing, and recall being riveted to the TV screen for hours on end – hoping that something a commentator might say could restore a sense of hope or sanity or normalcy to a world run amok. That’s what it was like for me back in 1963.

Today, I listened to radio news broadcasts, TV newscasts – and heard no reminder that it was on this day 42 years ago that the world forever changed. We move on – but I still hear the echo of gunfire in Dealey Plaza . . . “and that has made all the difference.”

He was not a great President. We now know of his foibles and failings, but back then he inspired us to dream great dreams, and when he traveled the world as the face of voice of America, we all stood tall and proud as he and Jackie were cheered and not reviled. Those were the days.

"Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot - for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hearing From Those Left Behind – A Review of “A Year of Absence” by Jessica Redmond

Jessica Redmond’s riveting new book opens a panoramic and long-overdue window into the lives of the spouses and children left behind when soldiers are deployed to Iraq. Jessica has worked as a journalist, teacher, Peace Corps volunteer and community organizer. In 2003, Jessica’s husband of less than a year, Jon Redmond, was sent to Iraq as part of the Army’s First Armored Division. One of the ways that Jessica chose to cope with the anticipated year-long absence of her husband was to channel her energies into chronicling the lives of other woman and other families who had been left behind when the First Armored Division was sent to the Persian Gulf. Eventually, Jessica chose to focus on telling the stories of six of these women. She writes authoritatively and with great empathy for the emotional rollercoaster ride that she both observed and experienced. In the rich tradition of Margaret Mead, Jessica took advantage of her unique role as a participant/observer in painting a composite picture of six women - who are given pseudonyms in this book. The resulting collage serves to show the reader a microcosm of the U.S. military in time of war as seen through the eyes of those who stayed behind. The title of the book is an apt description of the scope of the story: “A Year of Absence – Six Women’s Stories of Courage, Hope and Love.”

During the course of the deployment, the women left behind at the U.S. Army base in Baumholder, Germany, struggled with a full range of challenges – emotional, medical, relational, familial, parental, financial, logistical and existential. Jessica walks us gingerly though the minefields of marriages teetering on the rocks, the frustrations of infrequent communication with Iraq, family medical emergencies, and the confusion of befuddled toddlers who could not understand why they no longer had a Dad. The book clearly depicts the monumental challenge these women faced in needing to become – on a temporary basis - fully independent, without permanently altering the family organizational chart in a way that would leave the husband on the outside looking in upon his return from the battlefield. As the lives of these women and their families come into sharp focus through Redmond’s writing, it becomes clear that the men’s deployment to the literal battlefield in Iraq has spawned parallel battlefields back home in the lives of the women they were forced to leave behind. Some of those battles were waged between spouses, while others were fought silently within the confines of the women's hearts and souls.

* * * * *

“Finally, it seemed, the long, terrifying wait was almost over. Almost over, but not quite. Soon after the meeting, still feeling hope about her husband’s return, Beth started her day as she always did by checking the Yahoo! News Web site, praying that no soldiers had been killed in Iraq overnight. This time, like so many times before, her prayers had failed her. The headline read: ‘Five Soldiers Killed in Iraq.’ Please God, she whispered, don’t let it be First Armored Division. Holding her breath, she clicked on the link. The soldiers were from a different division; Doug was still alive, or was to the best of her knowledge. She let out a sigh of relief, thankful that it was no one she knew, but her relief was immediately followed by guilt. The fallen soldiers might not have been her husband or any of her neighbor’s husbands, but they were someone’s husband, father, son, or brother. How terrible to feel relief at their deaths! Yet as much as she detested it, the relief was undeniable, and she felt it every time she read that an attack had taken place not in Baghdad but in Mosel or Fallujah, anywhere outside First Armored Division’s control.” (Pages 141,142.)

* * * * *

One of the questions that played as a continuous tape loop in the minds of each of the six women was: “How will my husband be different when he finally returns home?” They had all heard reports of extreme behavior on the part of returning soldiers – all the way from shutting down emotionally as one extreme to becoming abusive and even homicidal at the other end of the spectrum. Would they even recognize the men who would be returning from the life-altering experience of combat?

* * * * *

“We’ve gone soft, Jena thought, as she considered the sacrifices women had made throughout the ages during times of war. Comforted by the thought of all those generations of women who had gotten through far worse than what she was experiencing now, she felt a renewed sense of determination to endure the remaining weeks of deployment with courage and grace.

That determination was buoyed the following week when Jena visited a fourth grade class at the local elementary school that had “adopted” Adam at the start of the deployment. The children sent Adam letters and drawings and an occasional care package; that much Jena knew. What she didn’t know, prior to her visit, was that Adam had somehow found the time to write to each child in the class individually. Jena was shocked to find photos and letters from her husband posted on every wall of the classroom. Seeing those letters filled Jena with pride. It was just like Adam to do something like that so humbly, not even telling her about it. More importantly, knowing that he had come in from potentially deadly patrols, removed his weapon, and sat down to write letters to school children reassured her that he had not been overly affected by what he had seen and done in Iraq. The deployment might have changed him in some ways, but fundamentally, he was still the same kind, caring person he had always been . . . ‘The soft part of him hasn’t been interrupted,’ she concluded with a smile.”
(Pages 154,155.)

* * * * *

The deployment was scheduled to last a year. Just weeks before the men were to rotate back to Germany, their time in Iraq was extended for an additional 120 days. It was a crushing blow to the men and their families, who had geared the rhythm of the lives to a reunion that now had to be postponed. The men eventually came home – but one of them returned in a coffin. Jessica covers that heartbreaking part of the story with dignity and grace.

This gripping book has been crafted as a multi-purpose tool. It should be required reading for soldiers before they deploy, as well as for spouses who could benefit enormously from the experiences of those who have already trod the same path they will soon be walking. Chaplains and social workers in the military will find this a very welcome addition to their arsenal of resources. I plan to purchase multiple copies to give as gifts this Christmas to the wives of several friends of mine who are currently deployed, as well as a few who face the immanent deployment of a loved one. I recommend this book to any citizen who wants to develop a deeper understanding of the price that our soldiers and their families pay each day as a result of their commitment to serve our nation – at war and in peacetime.

“A Year of Absence” is published by Elva Resa Publishing, and can be ordered on or through this Web site:

The book is also available at Borders Bookstore and Barnes & Noble retail outlets and selected local book stores.

The holidays are coming. Jessica Redmond has already delivered a powerful gift of empathy and understanding. Now, it is our turn to help her to deliver that gift to the widest possible audience.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pride and Prejudice - The Latest Film Version

The film ended, the lights came up, the credits began to rolling and the audience erupted in spontaneous applause. How often does that happen at the movies! The film was "Pride and Prejudice." This latest adaptation of Jane Austen's timeless classic is a delight. Keira Knightley portrays Elizabeth Bennet, and is the magnificent and luminescent center of this compelling tale of caste and clan. Close-ups of Knightley's face alone would be worth the price of admission. Her physiognomy combines all the best elements of Audrey Hepburn and Winona Ryder. The ensemble cast has been brilliantly assembled. I am no great fan of Donald Sutherland, but he is masterfully cast as the impoverished and befuddled pater familias of the Bennet family - replete with five daughters to be married off. He is a Victorian Tevye - with no Yenta in sight to arrange the matches.

Dame Judy Dench is deliciously imperious as Lady Catherine, the harridan who embodies all that was wrong with the class system of that bygone age. Her brief scenes are memorable and captivating. Her character gives new meaning to the phrase: "Big hair"!

This is a film well worth seeing. I could not write a better review than the one that appeared in the Boston Globe last Friday, so I will share with you Wesley Morris's thoughts on this fine film:



The Rest of The Story: More On The Naval Academy - Notre Dame Connection

Shortly after I had posted yesterday's article about the Naval Academy's recent experience at Notre Dame, my phone rang. The disembodied voice on the other end asked: "Do you know why Navy and Notre Dame play football every year?" The caller was Bill Reagan, a Notre Dame graduate and former naval aviator. Bill lives in Wellesley, a mile down the road from my office. To most of the world he is the legendary inventor of LoJack, but to me, Bill Reagan is simply one of the best friends a man could have - brilliant, witty, loyal, encouraging, challenging, and an ever-flowing fount of fascinating stories. When Bill shared with me yesterday one of those stories of the long-standing connection between Notre Dame and the Naval Academy, I asked him to share it with the rest of this Blog's readership. It is appropriate that Bill do so, since the Blog is part of the reason that Bill and I met earlier this year. Here is Bill's "rest of the story":

Dear Al,

The recent announcement that Notre Dame and the Naval academy have extended their commitment to meet in football for the next ten years was warmly received by all. The two AD's, Chet and Kevin, were effusive in their announcements, as were so many of us who have shared a camaraderie which reaches far beyond the gridiron.

I clearly recall the early days of flight training when the Domers and the Academy's new ensigns were thrown together with only one common goal to achieve: Focus on the day when the admiral pins those Navy Wings of Gold on your chest and hope you don't wash out or splash out. When we finally joined the fleet as Naval Aviators, friendships which would last for a lifetime, had been well struck.

Most of us at the time were unaware of the partnership formed (shortly after we were born) between the United States Naval Academy and the University of Notre Dame.

Since around 1860, most Notre Dame students were required to participate in military training. About 1600 students served in the first world war; those who paid the ultimate sacrificed are remembered on the east side of the Cathedral with the University's motto "God, Country, Notre Dame."

In the fall of 1941, the Navy ROTC entered the campus. At the height of the war, there were only about 300 non military students on campus. Approximately 12,000 Naval and Marine Corps Officers were commissioned at Notre Dame between 1942 and 1946. The Navy ROTC at Notre Dame is second only to the United State Naval Academy in the number of Naval and Marine Corps officers it has commissioned in the last fifteen years.

That's my quick thumbnail which you requested this morning, Al.

Perhaps symbiosis is too strong a word to attribute to the UND/USNA current relationship; but it certainly wasn't during the war; and yet..............when I watched the Irish team gather with the midshipmen for the playing of the Navy Hymn last Saturday afternoon.......... I truly wondered.

Benedictions my friend.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Touch of Class - Notre Dame vs. The U.S. Naval Academy

In an era in which the airwaves are saturated with the shenanigans of T.O. and his ilk, it is a breath of fresh air to learn about good old fashioned sportsmanship and class. On two occasions today, I have heard from friends who were present at last Saturday's football game in South Bend between the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Midshipmen of Annapolis. Both individuals were effusive in their praise of Notre Dame's graciousness in victory over Navy. I heard about gestures of honor and respect shown to our men and women in uniform, and I learned about what a moving moment it was after the game had ended when Coach Weiss led his team to the Navy bench to join them as the Navy Alma Mater was sung.

Jim Savard is a regular reader of this Blog. Jim was one of those present last Saturday, and he has graciously consented to allow me to share with you the sentiments he wrote to Coach Weiss. As you well know, Charlie Weiss returned to his Alma Mater, Notre Dame, after a distinguished career as the Offensive Coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, where he served under head coach, Bill Belichek. I have written earlier in this space about the influence that Annapolis had on Belichek, whose father was part of the Annapolis coaching staff. I know that there are many readers of this Blog that are "Domers," many more that are graduates of the Naval Academy, and even more that are big fans of Belichek and Charlie Weiss. We can all be proud that last Saturday, each of these individuals and the institutions they represent clothed themselves in honor.

Enjoy Jim's tribute to Coach Weiss . . .

James F. Savard
10461 Tiger Run
Littleton, CO 80124
Saturday, November 12, 2005

Coach Charlie Weis
Head Football Coach
University of Notre Dame
Athletic Department C113

Joyce Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Coach Weis:

Permit me to thank you for your post-game ethical demeanor and conduct following the recent Navy-Notre Dame football game. Your actions are the indicators of the principles of your soul. Your act of taking your football team to the Navy sideline to honor the playing of my Alma Mater is a true tribute to your team, your fans, you, and the wonderful and honorable institution – Notre Dame.

As a member of the United States Naval Academy’s Class of 1965, I was fortunate to be present at the last Navy victory over Notre Dame. Every year we “leave it out on the field” in our duel with Notre Dame and it is an honor for our team to participate in games against Notre Dame; however, we have been on the losing side of the ledger in the last 42 games. What Notre Dame Students, fans, your team, and you did today was pure class!

Navy will never “Give up the ship;” and by 2016, we will beat Notre Dame. More importantly than a football victory are the principles, class, and elegance that you demonstrated today. Your actions will be inculcated into the psyche of both Notre Dame Students and Naval Academy Midshipmen forever. Respect is not something one talks about, respect is something one shows and does. In Navy vernacular, there is an acronym – BRAVO ZULU (BZ). BRAVO ZULU is hoisted in flags on the super structure when a ship or an individual does an outstanding job.

BRAVO ZULU Charlie Weis -- you are a true professional and a credit to the humanness of God’s creatures!


James F. Savard
USNA, 1965

cc: Father John Jenkins, C.S.C.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Book Review – “Immoral” – A Novel by Brian Freeman

Make note of the name Brian Freeman; you will hear from him in the future. He has just published his first novel, and it is a spectacular literary debut. This weekend I finished reading this page-turner, and my mind is still spinning from the clever plot twists, brilliant insights into human relationships and surprising but plausible character development.

From the story’s primarily setting in Duluth in northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, Freeman mines a mother lode of suspense and creates a cauldron of intrigue that smelts together the lives of a cast of Technicolor characters worthy of Dickens. As the action moves to the arid landscape of Las Vegas, the exposition of the storyline reveals desiccated lives that devolve into deaths in the desert – both literal and metaphorical.

The plot has more than its share of red herrings; apparently minor characters step forward to play a more important role than the reader could have anticipated. Plot developments spring from seeds that were innocuously planted in the opening chapters. This is a fully satisfying mystery about the disappearance of two teenage girls, but the strength of Freeman’s writing does not lie in the development of his plot. The source of his strength is his ability to bring a literary sensibility to bear upon his sympathetic understanding and portrayal of individual and familial dysfunction. In this regard, he stands proudly on the shoulders of Dostoyevsky – and that is a compliment and a judgment I do not bestow lightly. Like the complex characters that inhabit Dostoyevsky’s novels, Freeman’s fictional men, women and children all exhibit the moral ambiguity that gives credence to the truth that the line between good and evil runs through the center of each human heart.

Here is a sample of Freeman’s prose:

Bob rubbed his long beard and pulled at the tangles. He put a finger to his head like a gun and pulled the trigger.

“You’re planning to kill yourself?” Serena asked. “Why?”

Bob turned to Stride and smiled darkly, as if sharing a secret joke. “You know.”

“How would I know?”

“You’re a man. Why does a man do anything?”

“A woman,” Stride said.

Serena leaned closer to Bob. “Are you talking about Christi?”

Bob’s anger subsided, and he looked wistful. His voice cracked as he stared at Serena. “You look a little bit like her. She had green eyes, like you. But hers were cold. She destroyed me. I mean, just look around. Look at my life. But if I could get her back, I’d go through this hell all over again.”

Serena’s eyes narrowed. “You want her that much? She was that good?”

“Not good. She was never good. She was evil.”

“What was it?” Serena asked. “Did she reject you?”

Bob laughed wildly. “If only it were that f**king simple! It’s like having the keys to the palace, okay? And then one day they change the locks. And you look back and you realize you gave up everything, destroyed everyone around you for a fantasy.”
(Page 342)

This book is a work of art that both delights and disturbs – an apt reflection of the world it describes. I can’t wait for Freeman’s next offering.



Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans' Day 2005 - Gratitude to Those Who Have Served

Veterans' Day is one of those National Holidays that often gets lost in the shuffle. Our expressions of gratitude to the men and women who serve and who have served should not be allowed to drift off of the radar screen of our awareness and consciousness.

My father was a memebr of "The Greatest Generation." He served with the Army Air Corps in India and Burma during WWII, and he paid for his service in the steaming jungles of Asia with health issues that plagued him all of his shortened life. He never openly questioned his service to his nation nor did he ever express a word of regret for his sacrifice.

Many of my generation served in Viet Nam and returned to a nation that was sick of the politics of the war - a nation that not only failed to thank them, but scorned them for their service.

A new generation is deployed in Afghanistan and in Iraq in response to their Commander and Chief's call to arms. My recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery and subsequent conversations with the family and comrades of the brave young warrior who was buried on that day have made me keeenly and painfully aware that sacrifices are still being made that deserve our thanks and our honor.

I spent last evening in the company of the men and women of the Armed Forces Alumni Association at Harvard Business School, celebrating with them the 230th birthay of the Marines Corps. It was a moving moment to see and hear young former officers and current business school students - representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines - toast one another in acknowledgement of the joint mission that all branches of the military share in defending the honor of our nation.

Take a moment on this day to say a prayer for those serve, those who have served and the families who stand behind their sacrificial service.


Mini-Review “The Traveler” by John Twelve Hawks

I drank the Cool Aid; I bought the marketing hype. I am a sucker for catchy a nom de plume and an intriguing backstory. So, I read “The Traveler.” It is not great literature, but it was an interesting read. If I had to come up with a category for this book, I would call it a “metaphysical fantasy.” This novel is not easy to describe, so I will summarize it in the words of the publisher:

“Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins – a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few knows as Travelers. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, once of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history. Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always protected themselves by living “off the Grid” – that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.”

There you have it. Imagine a gathering of creative minds – a colloquy in which George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Carlos Castenada, Stephen King, Niccolo Machiavelli, Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking each contributed ideas for a story. Then throw in a dash of the rantings of the Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski. If you took each individual writer’s philosophical bent and mode of expression and pasted it upon a storyboard – in the fashion of a collage - you would have something approaching “The Traveler.” And if someone were to make it into a film, it would have to be shot in the style of Japanese anime or else using the innovative technique - digital animation superimposed over live footage - that Richard Linklater used so effectively in his groundbreaking film "Waking Life."

Amidst the metaphysical posturing by the iconoclastic and pseudonymous author, John Twelve Hawks, I found some occasional worthwhile nuggets in the narrative. Gabriel, one of the brothers seeking to discover if he has inherited his father’s mantle as a Traveler, has just successfully “crossed over” into another realm. His spiritual guide in this process of discovery warns him of the dangers of hubris. It is a classic cautionary tale that any leader in any realm would do well to heed – whether he be a denizen of the West Wing or a recalcitrant receiver named T.O. who used to fly down the field on Eagles’ wings to catch footballs lobbed his way by Donovan McNabb:

“In ancient Rome, when a great general came back from a successful war, they would parade him in triumph through the streets of the city. First would come the armor of the men he had killed and the standards he had taken, and then the captive soldiers and their families. Next came the general’s army and his officers and, finally, the great man himself in a golden chariot. One servant would guide the horses while another stood behind the victor and whispered in his ear: ‘You are mortal. You are a mortal man.’” (page 368)

The final page ends with these words: “Book One of The Fourth Realm.” I am confident that this is a promise of a series of sequels. I am sure the next one will make for good vacation reading next summer.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mini-Review: “Hope Is Not A Strategy” by Rick Page

Invoke Solutions is one of my client companies. Their offices are located next door to ours in Wellesley, MA. Because of some encouraging early successes with their unique marketing research software and solution, Invoke’s Board of Directors recently decided to staff up additional sales territories across North America. Ben Cesare, Invoke’s Senior VP of Sales, retained me to help them to find Sales Executives for some of these new territories. Ben came to Invoke with more than 20 years of experience in leading sales teams, including a stint heading up Channel Sales in North America for Apple Computer. Ben understands the world of complex selling!

In the course of helping me to understand the kind of candidate that will be most successful in telling the Invoke story, Ben mentioned that his favorite book on the subject was written by Rick Page: “Hope Is Not A Strategy – The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale.” It did not take me long to figure out that this book should quickly find its way to the top of my reading list. I have just finished digesting the book. I can see why Ben considers it “the Bible” for the art of complex selling. Over the past several years, I have been trying to learn all that I can about best practices in sales and selling. This thin volume – less than 200 pages – is the best resource I have seen for simplifying the sometimes mystifying and multi-layered process of managing competitive sales.

The book is laid out in four major sections:

Section 1: The Challenge – The Complex Sale

In this introductory section, Page unravels the intricacies of selling in a rapidly evolving business environment. I found the chapter on “Talent and Team Selling” to be of particular value. In this chapter, he lays out the different kinds of skills that are needed for different types of selling – Tellers, Sellers, Hunters, Farmers, Business Developers, Partners and Industry-Networked Consultants.

Section 2: The Solution – R.A.D.A.R.

This sections contains the Six Keys that Page refers to in the subtitle of the book.

Key 1 – Link Solutions to Pain or Gain

Key 2 – Qualify The Prospect

Key 3 – Build Competitive Preference

Key 4 – Determine the Decision-Making Process

Key 5 – Sell to Power

Key 6 – Communicate the Strategic Plan

Section 3: Strategies for Execution

This section is replete with mini-case studies of how specific sales teams or individuals implemented the execution strategies outlined in this part of the book.

Section 4: Winning Before the Battle – Account Management

Page writes: “A friend of mine was an airborne instructor in the Army. I asked him if it was difficult to get people to jump out of an airplane the first time.

‘Actually,’ he said, ‘it was harder to get them to do it the second time.’

That is my definition of a great salesperson. Will they buy from you the second time?

If we oversold or underdelivered, then it wasn’t a sale; it was a lie. Lying is easy; selling is hard.

A great salesperson sells in a way that leads to trust and repeat business.”

I recommend this book for anyone who is "carrying a bag" or leading a sales team.

I also recommend Invoke Solutions’ fascinating new approach to streamlining market research. They are saving their clients time and money while providing more useful and more robust market intelligence. Check out their Website.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

U.S. Marine Corps - "Jarheads" Then And Now

The U.S. Marine Corps has been on my radar screen and very much on my mind for the past week, so I thought I would mention two events that are contemporaneous - the 230th birthday of the USMC and the release of the current feature-length film, "Jarhead," directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes.

The juxtaposition of Thursday's anniversary celebrations that will take place around the world with the release of the film provide a poignant counterpoint. As I understand it, each November 10th, Marines have a tradition of gathering for a Birthday Ball wherever they find themselves stationed around the globe - from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli and on to the mountains of Afghanistan and the battlefields of Iraq. The tradition of formally commemorating the birth of the USMA goes back at least 84 years.

"On 1 November 1921, Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series, 1921. The order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps and directed that it be read to every command on 10 November each subsequent year in honor of the birthday of the Marine Corps. This order has been duly carried out."

(For a more complete description of the history of the USMC birthday tradition, I commend you to this link:

Over the course of the past four years, I have morphed into a role of unofficial advisor, mentor and all-around eminence grise for some of the members of the Armed Forces Alumni Association at Harvard Business School. At any given point at Harvard's "B-School," there may be as many as 80-100 former military officers pursuing their MBA's. I am pleased to count many past and present members of the AFAA among my friends. Last year I was honored to attend the HBS AFAA USMC birthday celebration. It was a moving and impressive occasion as former Marine Corps officers donned their dress uniforms for the carrying out of Gen. Lejeune's order. I look forward to joining them again this year on Thursday evening in the Williams Room in HBS's Spangler Hall.

This past weekend, I saw "Jarhead." The film is based on the best-selling memoir by Anthony Swofford, a former Marine Corps sniper who recounts his experiences in boot camp, being deployed for Operation Desert Shield and eventually Operation Desert Storm. The film neither glorifies nor condemns war, but shows through the eyes of one young man the internal warfare of wanting a chance to see action in battle while at the same time hoping to avoid it. The movie does a fine job of depicting tensions, contrasts and ambiguities - the mind-numbing boredom of waiting for something to happen and the gut-wrenching horror of seeing the results when fighting breaks out.

The film is rated R, and appropriately so. There is plenty of physical violence, raw language, explicit sexual subject matter and emotional violence. I found the film thought-provoking on many levels, and was left with a sense of wonder at the tightrope that our young men and women in arms are required to walk in honing their skills in the arts of warfare while struggling to keep their humanity intact. The film paints an indelible picture of the emotional and relational price that many warriors have to pay when they are called to leave home, and the loved ones they leave behind do not always remain faithful. The pain of that kind of betrayal is depicted with agonizing realism.

How do I blend my reactions to seeing "Jarhead" with my anticipation of celebrating the USMC birthday tomorrow evening? I am reminded of what a large debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women who set aside consideratoins of personal comfort, career advancement, safety and security in order to serve our country as Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard. I plan to thank many of them personally tomorrow evening. And through this posting, I extend my thanks to all of the readers of this Blog who have served and who continue to serve.

I encourage you, on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the founding of the USMC, to write a note, send an e-mail or make a phone call to someone you know who would appreciate a word of thanks for service rendered in honor to our nation.

Semper Fi!


(For a fine review of the film "Jarhead," see this link:

Monday, November 07, 2005


My friend, Tom Glass, is a great source of humorous stories and practical wisdom. He recently sent the following story to those on his mailing list. I paid close attention, because it relates to a subject that is both timely and personal - stroke or cerebral hemorrhage. The story is timely because all of New England has been followig the remarkable story of the return of Tedy Brusschi to the active roster of the NFL Super Bowl Champion Patriots. Tedy played last week - a mere seven months after suffering a stroke. He not only played - he won the League's award for the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Week! The story is personal because there is a family history of stroke in my family of origin; my grandfather was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage while still a relatively young man.

I am pleased to share with you the gist of the story that Tom Glass sent last week:

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours, which is tough.

Susie is recouping at an incredible pace for someone with a massive stroke - all because Sherry saw Susie stumble and then she asked Susie the 3 questions. So simple - this literally saved Susie's life. Some angel had sent it to Suzie's friend and they did just what it said to do. Suzie failed all three questions, so then 9-1-1 was called. Even though she had normal blood pressure readings and did not appear to be a stroke victim, since she could converse to some extent with the paramedics, they took her to the hospital right away. Thank God for the sense to remember the "3" steps.

Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

1. *Ask the individual to SMILE.

2. *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

3. *Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (ie . It is sunny out today)

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions.

They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.



Mini Book Review - Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum"

My friend, Bob Allard, is a consistently reliable source of recommendations for books that I should read. A number of months ago, I jotted down the title "Foucault's Pendulum" in the notebook where I keep a list of books I intend to read. So, when I saw a used copy of the paperback edition, I grabbed it - and then, it grabbed me!

Umberto Eco is a quintessential Renaissance Man. His breadth of knowledge puts me to shame. In this novel, he has crafted a complex and compelling tale of intrigue that takes the reader from the Temple of Solomon to the sewers of Paris by way of Brazil - while plumbing the depths of such arcane topics as the Knights Templar, Freemasonry, The Crusades, Rosicrucianism, Renaissance art and science, Stonehenge, necromancy, publishing and European history. Before picking up Eco's book, I considered myself reasonably well-versed in some of these topics, but each page of this novel sent me running to the dictionary or encyclopedia to better understand his allusions to literary and historic events.

Eco has a brilliant satiric wit that glints from the narrative from time to time in sparkling and sardonic prose: "And then you gave it all up. We, with our penitential pilgrimages to Buchenwald, refused to write advertising copy for Coca-Cola because we were antifascists. We were content to work for peanuts at Garamond, because at least books were for the people. But you, to avenge yourselves on the bourgeosie you hadn't managed to overthrow, sold them videocassettes and fanzines, brainwashed them with Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. You've made us buy, at a discount, your copies of the thought of Chairman Mao, and used the money to purchase fireworks for the celebration of the new creativity. Shamelessly. While we spent our lives being ashamed. You tricked us, you didn't represent purity; it was only adolescent acne." (page 200)

This book is not for the faint of heart or the slow of mind, but it is worth following Eco down the maze-like and dusky corridors of his memory and imagination.



E-Mail Alerts For New Blog Postings

Since I posted the article about Dennis Hay's service at Arlington Cemetery, I have had a number of people ask me how they can be assured of being alerted whenever there is a new posting on this Blog. If you would like to be added to the notification list, simply e-mail me with your request to be added to the Blog Alert mailing list. E-mail me at:


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Study In Contrasts: Bob Kraft = Class; Larry Lucchino = No Class

As the sun rises over Boston this morning, Red Sox Nation is in mourning – and it has nothing to do with relinquishing the World Series crown to a team that wears a “whiter shade of pale” hose. Theo Epstein has resigned, and it never should have come to this.

In this space, in the past I have rhapsodized about the Red Sox ownership and leadership team. They have done some wonderful things - both on and off the field. Over the course of the past three years, I have had the opportunity to have personal conversations with all the players involved in the latest embarrassing events and intrigue emanating from the Kremlin on Yawkey Way. I have spoken with John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Dr. Charles Steinberg and Theo Epstein on more than one occasion. So, I am writing not just as a passionate and life-long Red Sox fan, but also as someone who has had an opportunity to observe some of what goes on behind the Wizard’s curtain. Bottom line: I am disgusted and sorely disenchanted with what appears to be a lack of character and class on the part of Lucchino and Steinberg in spinning their way to a media smear campaign to sway public opinion against Theo Epstein as contract negotiations reached a fever pitch and the 11th hour loomed.

All of the facts have not been revealed – and may never be objectively revealed – but from my vantage point it looks as if the following scenario played itself out:

Theo’s three-year contract (annual pay around $350K per year) expired last night at midnight. To the casual observer, one would have expected that the Red Sox organization, on the heels of their World Series victory a year ago, would have torn up Theo’s contract and rewarded his success with a new long-term deal. That did not happen. Apparently, in the past few weeks, the Red Sox presented Theo will a low-ball offer of around $850K/year for three years – not bad for a 31 year-old, but pathetically low when one considers that this is about the same salary earned by the recently-deposed GM of the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays. By way of contrast, before elevating Theo to the role of GM, the Red Sox had tried to woo Billy Beane away from the Oakland A’s for a reported $2 million per year. The Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, recently signed a multi-year deal at more than $2 million/year.

Early reports yesterday had the Red Sox and Theo agreeing to a new three-year deal at $1.5 million per year. Over the weekend, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote a piece with information clearly leaked by Lucchino and Steinberg. That Shaughnessy column painted Theo in a bad light regarding an aborted trade last summer involving the Colorado Rockies. Apparently, Theo was furious, and cleaned out his desk.

From my vantage point a few miles west of Fenway Park, it appears that Theo decided on principle to walk away from a guaranteed $4.5 million dollar payday because he was no longer willing to work for an organization that would treat a successful employee with such disdain in order to spin public opinion towards the side of the owners. Bravo for Theo! Shame of Lucchino! No class!

In sharp contrast, in a move that has garnered little media attention, New England Patriots’ owner, Bob Kraft, made a moral decision that I applaud. In paving the way for the return of Tedy Bruschi to the Pats’ line-up last Sunday night, Kraft apparently rejected the advice of his own attorneys, who had urged him to require Bruschi to sign a waiver of liability agreement, holding the Patriots’ harmless in case of any injuries that Tedy might incur in the wake of the mild stroke that he suffered eight months ago. I cannot recall Kraft’s exact words, but when asked about the issues he said something very close to the following: “We are a family; we don’t need signed legal agreements to protect us from a scenario like this.” In this litigious age, that is a rare demonstration of good faith and class! Kudos to Kraft!

I will still attend games at Fenway, but some of the magic has faded. Emerald City is still magical, but the “Wizard” behind the curtain working the dials and levers has been exposed as a cantankerous old man with bad breath and a bad habit of kicking Toto! No class!

Theo, we're not in Kansas any more!

There's no place like home!

Go Sox!

Go Pats!

Go Theo!