Friday, June 30, 2006

Blue Ribbon BBQ - A Taste of Heaven in West Newton

The upcoming 4th of July holiday has me thinking about holiday eating! No surprise there!

People’s tastes in ribs and BBQ are a very subjective thing. I have known otherwise rational individuals to get quite animated and emotional in defending their own choice of the best place to find good ribs. Having spent time in the South with friends who worship the fine art of the “Pig Pickin’, I understand that the Boston area is not exactly a Mecca for BBQ. Still, it is possible within the boundaries of Red Sox Nation, to have one’s taste buds tickled by some passable hickory-smoked, Memphis dry-rubbed ribs. I have found several places to which I return when I have a hankering for some good ribs, but I was not really sure which one I considered the absolute best until I found myself on two separate occasions in the past few months venturing out in stormy weather to make a special trip to West Newton. I realized that I was voting with my mouth, and with the foot I use on the gas pedal, for the best BBQ in Boston. My destination on those occasions of craving BBQ was the Blue Ribbon BBQ on Washington Street in West Newton. They also have another location on Massachusetts Avenue, but I have not yet visited that location.

The service is surprising quick, since they always keep an impressive supply of ribs warm and ready to go. They are presented to you dry so that each customer can add his/her personal choice of BBQ sauce in just the right amount. My observation is that half the customers who arrived while I was there took the ribs home to eat, which other dined “in the rough” at the counters that surround the front of the store. I dined there and soaked in the laidback atmosphere with funky music playing in the background, savoring each delectable bite and watching the world pass by on Washington Street.

Blue Ribbon BBQ has earned a spot among The White Rhino’s Favorite Links From A-Z:

Other locations worthy of mention for Boston area BBQ include:

Pit Stop BBQ
888 Morton Street
(Near the Mattapan/Dorchester line)

Redbones Barbecue in David Square, Somerville

Uncle Pete’s Hickory Ribs in Revere

Bob’ Southern Bistro (formerly “Bob the Chef’s”)
604 Columbus Avenue
Boston (South End)



Fireworks At Fenway – An Instant Classic

Forget objectivity. Forget the fact that we have not even reached the All-Star break yet. Forget moderation. I am in the thrall of Pennant Fever over the Red Sox recent string of 12 consecutive victories and 16 consecutive errorless games – a major league record! And last night’s gladiatorial gem of a contest between Curt Schilling and Tom Glavine was one for the ages. It was a joy to be there, and I feel the need to share the joy with those who read The White Rhino Report.

I think most of us had anticipated a classic pitching duel that night before when Pedro returned to the Fenway mound. The 10-2 blowout by the Red Sox seemed almost anticlimactic. But the subsequent match-up of two career 200 game winners – the first such match-up at Fenway since Luis Tiant faced Jim Palmer in September of 1978 – lived up to, and exceeded, expectations. Both pitchers were dominant – matching scoreless innings through the first five frames. Glavine, a native of Billerica, Massachusetts, had a loyal group of family and friends cheering him on. Around the third inning, I realized I was sitting directly behind the Glavine clan – Tom’s parents, wife, children and countless other family members and friends. During a break in the action, I leaned forward and whispered to Tom’s mother: “It looks like you brought half the town of Billerica with you tonight!” She slowly turned her head, nodded in affirmation and offered a wry and knowing smile.

The Mets dented Schilling’s armor for two runs in the 6th, but the Red Sox came storming back with two of their own in the bottom of that inning. The score remained tied until Coco Crisp started the winning rally with a bunt single, stole second, advanced to third on a beautiful bunt by Alex Gonzalez, and scored on Kevin Youkalis’ sacrifice fly. The heavy hitting Red Sox can choose to play “little ball” when the situation calls for it.

Joining me for the game were my friend, John Anthony Simmons, an attorney from North Hampton, New Hampshire, and his five year-old son, Johnny, the most precocious and knowledgeable young baseball fan I have met. When Crisp reached base after his picture perfect bunt, I yelled: “That was a great a great infield hit!” Johnny whispered in my ear: “You can also call it a ‘bunt single.’”

The game included more than a dozen notable plays – each one worthy of “Web Gem” status. A spectacular diving stop by Youkalis at first base, snaring what looked to be a sure double. Varitek throwing out the speedy Reyes trying to steal second. Schilling deftly picking Franco off second to squelch a potential Mets rally. Loretta spearing a line drive. Kapler making a fine running catch in right. But all of these fine plays were mere prelude to the play of the game – nay, the play of the season, decade, century, millennium – you choose!

In the 8th inning, with the score 3-2 in favor of Boston, the game on the line and a Mets runner on second base, Mets star David Wright launched a Mike Timlin pitch into the steamy night air towards the centerfield wall. It looked like a certain game-tying double. Coco Crisp sprinted to his right, and at the optimal moment, made a balletic leap into the air, catching the ball across his body, and slightly behind him. Players on both teams who were interviewed after the game called it the greatest catch they had ever seen. I would have to agree. I have watched a lot of baseball over the years, and can count on the fingers of one hand the plays that took my breath away. This play did just that. I was stunned, and felt a frisson of chills at the immensity of what Crisp accomplished in that split second. The crowd rose as one and screamed their approbation and delight as the hero of the moment jogged towards the dugout and walked into a new niche of respect and a place of legend in the hearts of Red Sox Nation - instantly eradicating any residual hold that his predecessor in center field may have had on Sox fans. Johnny who?!

If you have not yet had a chance to see “The Catch,” go to or to replay the video of Crisp’s historic leap of faith. The stories in today’s Globe, Herald, New York Post and New York Daily News are worth reading.

Oh, yes. Papi capped a 3 for 4 night at the plate when he rocketed another gargantuan homerun into the bleachers in center field to add an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th inning. Yawn! I have run out of superlatives when it comes to trying to describe the exploits and heroics of Senor Ortiz.

One more thing. Wunderkind closer Jonathan Papelbon put his oar in the water to bring this Love Boat cruise into home port by dispatching the Mets on 8 pitches in the 9th inning, notching his 24th save - a Red Sox rookie record shared with the late and legendary "Monster," Dick Radatz.

The Red Sox can’t keep up this string of perfection forever, but it is fun while it lasts.

Bring on the Marlins!


Receiving Alerts When New Postings Are Published

As recently as yesterday, I was asked by a reader of The White Rhino Report how he could become aware of new postings. There are two ways to do it.

First, I have added a link below in "The White Rhino's Favorite Links" called "RSS Feed Sign-up." Clicking on this link will allow you to choose an RSS reader and add the link to "The White Rhino Report." Your RSS reader will then automatically alert you whenever new content is published to this Blog.

If RSS Readers are not your thing, you can use a more traditional method of staying up to date. If you would like to be added to the list of those who receive an e-mail from me whenever there is new material published, simply send me an e-mail, and say: "Please add me to the e-mail alert subscription list." You can specify, if you wish, that you wish to be alerted only when a military-related article appears, or only when a Red Sox-related article appears.

Thank you for your continued interest in The White Rhino Report, and for passing along postings of interest to your family, friends and business colleagues.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Warrior Reflects – Words From Kevin Stacy

It is difficult for most of us Americans to have any inkling or idea about the gamut of emotions and experiences our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are required to deal with on a daily basis. It is virtually impossible for those of us who have never experienced combat to understood the lifelong price that must be paid by those who have seen enemy combatants, innocent civilians and comrades fall around them. Nonetheless, it behooves us to try to place ourselves in situations that enable us begin to walk a mile or two in the moccasins of those who have been our nation’s “boots on the ground.”

It is a rare gift when one of those warriors is willing to share his internal musings about the experience of being in combat and then returning to “the world.” Such a thoughtful warrior, poet and philosopher is my friend Kevin Stacy. Kevin wrote me yesterday in response to the Blog posting I had done a few days before about remembering those who have fallen.

As I read Kevin’s words, they helped to shine a light of understanding on some of the memories he lives with, challenges he faces and demons he wrestles with as the legacy of his two deployments as an Army aviator and leader in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Not wanting to hide that light “under a bushel,” I asked for Kevin’s permission to share his powerful words with the readers of The White Rhino Report. He was gracious in granting that permission.

* * * * *


Thanks for the note. I sat on your blog for about a week now--thinking about what I wanted to say in response. I can only tell you that the choices I have made in combat have not made things any easier. You hope to leave combat with an undeniable level of pride and confidence. I can tell you that my departure only called on my guilt and need to stay until the entire operation was complete (impossible to expect from someone). There is not a single day that goes by that I do not re-live those days and those moments - the decisions I made and the ultimate consequences we felt for how we fought. Despite the pain, the unrelenting moments re-lived...we would not face a fight any differently.

The "normal" day to day never seems to come around. Too often I am humbled by my location, by my inability to operate how I did, and by the limited access to reality. I am stuck surfing internet sites for something tangible, staring into the news hoping to see something I recognize, or reading the intelligence reports to gain familiarity or consistency.

We have spoken about Dennis--the person he was, and the memories I hold close. I had the opportunity to interview for a memorial and oral history on OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom]. We spoke often of Dennis, of how we fought, and the values we affirmed in every mission. For those who are quick to judge OIF, often to remark in haste, and eager to criticize, I find no words that will capture what now has become my soul's endurance...the mission in Iraq. The glimmers of hope and the differences made every day unrecognized for its greatness in hope--these are special moments for those who took part. I wish these moments were meant to be documented more closely--but how many times do we hear about good deeds going unnoticed?

We are a fast food nation, driven to excess and demanding in our snap-of-the-fingers expectations. Seldom, if ever, do our lights go out, water stops flowing, or neighborhoods seized by gangs or terrorists. Rarely have we endured times of civil unrest, military weakness, or government chaos. Never has it been all at once. Yet we are ready to run and easy to clear our conscious of making right a wrong set of conditions. This is the standard in Iraq. I am continually impressed by the manner in which Common America boasts itself as on top, but fails to assess and identify the critical basic components necessary for progress (safety/ security/ infrastructure) or willing to stick in acknowledging the error in our earlier ways.

In our times of trial, our response should not be political, but tactically aggressive andoperationally firm--we will not lose. We have no choice. There is no time to lament--we must find it in ourselves to never allow those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to fall forgotten, or allow the insurgency to find victory in our pain. I wonder if this captures what I intended. Those who live it every day cannot forget. Those who seem to never understand it, never will. Somewhere--the average is stuck in the middle, not knowing what they don't know.

Your GDA brothers are doing great things, because in the end, we do what we know is right, and we do it for those who cannot help themselves. To know there are people out there who look beyond their concerns or interests and seek betterment--this is the hope we witness in our operations. I always wondered if there were people who took to a cause without previously suffering a direct impact in their life--now I can see that there are. Amazing. True charity.

Al--extend my thoughts to GDA. Let them we know we are thankful. Let them know my words will never capture how I feel.

I appreciate you.

* * * * *

Recently returned from Iraq, Kevin Stacy continues to serve with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Carson, Colorado. I am grateful for the kind of soldier that he is – for his courage, his determination, his resolve. But I am even more impressed with the kind of human being he is, and I am proud to call him my friend.

Kevin and his comrades deserve our support. Let someone know today – by spoken word, written word or listening ear – that you appreciate his/her sacrifice in being willing to forego a lifetime of “normal days” so that the rest of us can have the luxury to take our freedom, our way of life and our intact infrastructure for granted.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Commiserating With “The Commissioner” – Prayers for Peter Gammons' Swift Recovery

I was shocked when I learned a short while ago that legendary baseball writer and ESPN analyst, Peter Gammons, had undergone emergency surgery to repair a brain aneurysm. He was airlifted yesterday from his home in Cape Cod and is now in ICU in a Boston Hospital.

Please join me in praying for Peter and his family. Gammons is without peer in the baseball community. I see him frequently at Fenway Park, and I am always amazed by the unlimited access he is granted. He has managed over the years to create a reputation for himself and a bond of trust that allows him unparalleled access to the inner thoughts of players, managers, executives and others in and around the world of Major League Baseball. He is affectionately known by many as “The Commissioner.”

I have had numerous one-on-one conversations over the years with Peter, and he has served on several occasions in the past as the source of some behind the scenes Red Sox information that I have shared in The White Rhino Report.

I pray for his swift and full recovery and for a speedy return to the field of play. Gammons is a National Treasure!


The Hidden Costs of Hiring The Wrong Person - A Conversation With Lori Dernavich

My friend, Bob Allard, is CEO of a company called Extension Engine ( Bob is a serial entrepreneur, a world-class networker, and one of the most insightful and intuitive individuals I know in terms of sensing which of his friends and acquaintances should meet each other. Bob has been responsible for introducing me to some of my favorite people. He did it again last week when he told me I should meet Lori Dernavich, an executive coach and consultant specializing in staffing issues.

I was fascinated with Lori’s knowledge about the hidden costs of hiring the wrong person, and as our conversation progressed, I asked her if she would be willing to allow me to share with readers of The White Rhino Report some of her insights. If you are in a position to influence the way that hiring is done in your company, reading Lori’s words could save your firm a significant amount of money.

Here are some excerpts from our recent conversation:


Lori, when we met earlier this week, I was astonished and impressed by the hidden costs to a company of hiring the wrong person, or delaying hiring the right person. If my memory serves me correctly, you mentioned a figure of $600,000 that some of your clients had figured it cost them by not having a proper strategy and processes for hiring top-level leaders. Can you give me (and the readers of The White Rhino Report) a sense of how your clients arrived at such an astronomical figure?


Most managers will admit that they've made poor hiring decisions. It's not uncommon. But, how many managers or companies actually track the cost of a bad hire? I often take my clients and audiences through this exercise. I invite your readers to try it with me now. Think of a job title within your organization that makes about $100,000 salary. This is pretty common nowadays.

Let's start by calculating the hard costs associated with hiring the wrong person:

1. Recruiting: typically, a fee of 25-30% of the employee’s annual salary if using an outside recruiter.
2. Travel and Relocation Expenses
3. Advertising:, for example, charges $395 per job posted, or $1000 to search resumes. Factor in newspaper ads as well.
4. Training: off-site training for new hires can be anywhere from $2,000 – $20,000.
5. Separation pay: If you honor the severance package of the bad hire, it will cost the company 3 to18 months of salary with benefits.
6. Lawyer fees: this may include reviewing the job offer, creating and reviewing the severance package, and litigation if the situation gets messy
7. Contract and temporary help, to fill the void left when you terminate the bad hire
8. Missed deadlines
9. Client loss

We’re not done yet. Now try to calculate the soft costs associated with hiring the wrong person:

1. The time current employees use to recruit, train, and mentor new hires
2. Lower or lost productivity
3. Lower employee morale
4. Damage done to client relationships
5. Loss of Intellectual Property – what it costs your company when the bad hire leaves with all of your best practices and trade secrets.

And don’t forget that when you are calculating the cost of a bad hire, you must double most of the costs listed above because you often go through the process twice: once when you make the bad hire, and a second time when you hire the bad hire’s replacement!

All told, I would be surprised if you came out with a cost of less than $400,000. A CFO who attended one of my seminars made the following comment: “I would never dream of spending $600,000 of my company’s money without having numerous meetings with stakeholders to outline the reason for the expenditure, the process of how the money will be spent, and the metrics associated with measuring the outcome. But with recruiting, we don’t give it any thought. We just say we have a job opening – go fill it. I won’t do this ever again.”


You also mentioned that you help your client companies to think strategically about issues of hiring the right people for the right jobs. What are the most common errors that you have seen companies make when it comes to looking at hiring senior level people (Director Level up to C-Level)?


I see several common mistakes:

1. Lack of commitment from the top. Hiring managers often push the recruiting responsibilities down to HR because they “don’t have enough time to deal with it.” If you went through the previous exercise, you’ll see that hiring is a capital investment. As a senior manager, you should be involved in the process from beginning to end. You shouldn’t assume that HR will thoroughly understand the job. And if they don’t understand the job, why should you assume that they will recruit the best candidates for the job? This can result in a big waste of time and money.

2. Not having a hiring process. I’ve heard plenty of examples of this and perhaps some of your readers have encountered it as well, as a job candidate. Have you ever gone through several rounds of interviews when, suddenly, the job requisition gets pulled or the company decides to “go in another direction?” This is often a clear indication that the company doesn’t have a process. They don’t even have a real job description. A company must have a clear and consistent hiring process.

3. Trusting your gut. Intuition isn’t inherently bad, but it shouldn’t be the main factor in choosing a candidate. Keep in mind that a job candidate is acting on his or her best behavior in that interview. A common mistake many interviewers make is in telling the candidate up front all about the job, the company, the culture, etc. What will an astute job candidate do? They will tell you everything you want to hear! So…beware. Who are you really interviewing? Don’t trust your gut. Dig deeper.

4. Rushing. Does this sound familiar? You’ve interviewed a great candidate and he says that he has another offer on the table so you’ll have to make your decision soon. He comes highly recommended, is a friend of your COO, and you like him, so you cut corners and only check one reference. Once you hire him, you find out that this “great guy” has a questionable past. This can turn into a big headache fast.


Conversely, what are some of the best practices you recommend that ensure hiring the right people to produce satisfying results for the company and the candidate?


The best practice is to have a solid hiring process in place that has been communicated to the whole organization. This includes determining who participates in the process, creating the job profile and interviewing questions, conducting phone screens, using screening assessments, and checking references.

The most critical thing you can do, though, is to create a job profile with your team. This job profile is the foundation of the entire hiring process, but it seldom gets the attention it needs. When I ask a company president to explain a job to me, and then ask the team (the people who would work with the new employee) to explain the same job to me, the job descriptions hardly ever match up! Therefore, when you hire the new employee, someone is inevitably going to be disappointed.

I always advise executives to take 30 to 60 minutes to sit the manager and team down to create a Job Profile – a description of the requirements needed for an individual to be “successful” in the role. This should consist of more than just skills and experience. Be sure to consider talents, those things that you cannot teach someone: Are they visionary? Persuasive? Customer service oriented? Also important is cultural fit: Do they want flexible hours? Do they like working alone, or do they thrive in a busy, crisis-oriented environment? These intangible factors, after all, are often the reason that a new hire with a perfect resume will under-perform in your company.


Is there a typical profile of companies that use your services?


If you will be hiring people in the future, then you may find that training your existing workforce on how to interview will be beneficial. One shouldn’t assume that someone who grew up in finance or engineering will be great at interviewing. However, it’s something that can, and should, be learned.


How do you work in partnership with a company's HR team, senior leadership and external executive search consultants?


My clients see me as a true partner to their organizations. I am primarily an executive coach. I work with executives who are struggling with issues around job performance, communication skills, behavioral issues or time management problems, among others. I have a background in the recruiting field, but I don’t recruit anymore. I developed the interviewing training because I continued to observe that my clients hired people who didn’t fit well into their organizations. This resulted in them building ineffective teams. The interviewing training helps my clients to hire the right people the first time around and this ultimately saves them time, money, and headaches.


Is there a final word of advice you would life to pass on to the readers of The White Rhino Report?


I like Jim Collins’ (author of the book, Good to Great) mantra, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off of the bus, and the right people into the right seats.” A great hiring process will help you to do this.

* * * * *

If you feel that your company could benefit from Lori’s wisdom and knowledge, please let me know and I will be happy to put you in contact with her and her Boston-based consulting and coaching practice.

If your company needs help in recruiting top-quality leaders, I know a pretty good executive recruiter who is also based in Boston!


Monday, June 26, 2006

There Is Nothing Like A Dame – Joan Plowright Dazzles In “Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont”

Ty Burr is a gifted movie reviewer who writes for the Boston Globe. I not only respect his opinion about movies, I also admire his artistic sensibilities as a writer. He is fun to read, because he is an artist using words on the page to illuminate art that others have created for the screen. His review of the film, “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont,” convinced me that this was a film worth seeing. As he usually is in such matters, he was on target in his review.

The link below will bring you to a collection of Burr’s reviews in the Boston Globe. Since his review of “Mrs. Palfrey” is letter perfect, I won’t gild the lily and attempt to retell what he has already laid out so beautifully. I recommend that you read Ty’s review and then return to continue with my account of seeing this film.

At the outset of my talking about the delight I felt in watching this unassuming little film, I must admit to having a strong inclination and predisposition to love any movie that stars one of several British actresses who have attained the status of “Dame”! Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, and now, Dame Joan Plowright represent for me the finest of the tradition of British stage and screen acting. (I draw the line at “Dame” Edna!!!) I will go out of my way to see any film in which these fine actors appear. This criterion for deciding to see a film stood me in good stead last evening as I traveled to West Newton to see a screening of “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.”

How can I best describe this film to you? Imagine a small, delicate and lovely antique engagement ring. The band is simple in design, fashioned of a brushed white gold metal that gives off a warmly lustrous reflection. The setting that holds the diamond is uncomplicated and utilitarian – hardly noticeable at all. The gem is of a modest size and represents a traditional cut – not a gaudy marquis or a fancy emerald cut, but a classic “round brilliant” presentation. The gem is perfect is its color and clarity - its flawless facets fashioned beautifully to capture and disperse in prismatic splendor the smallest ray of light. The ring has been lovingly handed down from generation to generation and whispers of fires of love long ago ignited, now blazing, now banked, now smoldering, and finally fading into gently glowing embers cooled by the breath of mortality. The ring is an endless circle that ties memory of past loves to the reality of present day solitude and the hope for a meaningful connection that touches the heart.

This is the image I have of this gem of a film. I watched with wonder, joy, nostalgia, and finally a deep sense of loss as fate brought together for a brief season the irrepressible Mrs. Palfrey and her unlikely young friend, Ludovic, a.k.a. “grandson” Desmond – only to separate them in a denouement that seemed inevitable from the first frame of the film.

There is a scene that remains planted firmly and vividly in my memory. Mrs. Palfrey has fallen on the sidewalk and lies in a heap. Ludovic, the young man who inhabits a seedy basement flat, sees her fall and runs to her aid – inviting her to come and sit to catch her breath. He sees that she has scraped her knee and is bleeding. Ignoring her gentle protestations that she is fine, he rubs disinfectant into the wound. It is clear that this proudly self-sufficient widow has not felt the touch of a gentle human hand since the death of her husband - her beloved Arthur. And the touch of this young man re-ignites in her a hope for a real connection to another human being and a chance for an escape from the prison of solitude that the Claremont Hotel had become for her. In my reading of this scene, the application of the disinfectant stands as a metaphor for the balm for the soul that the friendship between them becomes – bringing healing and solace both to the old lady and to the young man.

I do not know how I would have responded to such a film twenty years ago, but at this stage in life, the story moved me deeply and left me feeling as if I had just experienced a near perfect telling of a story that is both simple and profound – the story of an ephemeral connection that was able to bridge a chasm several generations in breadth. The acting by Joan Plowright and Rupert Friend is understated and superb!

In the Boston area, the film is currently showing in West Newton, the Kendall Cinema in Cambridge and the Dedham Community Theater. It is worth making a special trip – either to the theater now or to rent the DVD when it is released in that format in a few weeks.



Another Black Eye For Major League Baseball!

The Red Sox have won eight games in a row, and Red Sox Nation is on a high and beginning to show some early symptoms of Pennant Fever. But a dark cloud hangs over Fenway and over the world of Major League Baseball today that has nothing to do with the storm system that forced a postponement of yesterday’s scheduled contest between the Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies. The lowering nimbus emanates from the storm of controversy that now swirls around Phillies pitcher, Brett Myers and, by extension, over the Phillies management and the Commissioner’s office.

The facts that seem incontrovertible at this point are that Brett Myers was arrested in the wee hours of Friday morning on the street near the team’s hotel in Boston. The arrest came after several witnesses called 911 to report that they had just observed Myers beating his wife with his fist and dragging her down the street by her hair. According to The Boston Globe, “She was yelling, `I'm not going to let you do this to me anymore.'”

Globe columnist, Dan Shaughnessy, lays out the facts and adds his comments in this morning’s column:

Not only do I agree with Shaughnessy’s assertion that the Phillies should have prevented Myers from making his scheduled start, I would like to take his argument even further. I believe that in the absence of swift and responsible action on the part of the Phillies, the Commissioner’s office should have intervened and forced Myers to be suspended pending an investigation of the charges. I understand the “innocent until proven guilty” argument, but an administrative action on the part of the Commissioner does not need the same level of “beyond the shadow of a doubt” proof required by a court of law before taking action to force a member of its community to seek help.

In egregious contradistinction to his inaction in this case, just last week Bud Selig reacted swiftly by requiring Chicago White Sox Manager, Ozzie Guillen, to attend sensitivity training classes in the aftermath of some ill-chosen remarks that Guillen had made about Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Jay Mariotti. Guillen was also fined and suspended for a separate incident in which a White Sox pitcher, David Riske, threw at an opposing batter. If Guillen did, indeed, utter the kind of homophobic insult that he is reported to have hurled at Mariotti, then he deserves to be reprimanded and called to account.

How much more, then, should Major League Baseball call to account and intervene when not just hurtful words have been thrown, but punches! Brett Myer’s wife was described as having a swollen face after the incident in Boston last week. But her literal “black eye” only highlights the symbolical “black eye” of the spectacle of baseball continuing to countenance a culture in which incidents of players, coaches and mangers committing acts of domestic violence are dismissed as, “Boys being boys.” It is outrageous!

On May 23, in my review of the Broadway show, The Color Purple, I wrote about the show-stopping tune, “Hell, No!” – an anthem to stopping domestic violence.

In looking at the question of whether Brett Myers should have been allowed to take the mound on Saturday at Fenway Park, I echo the words of Sophia, in singing about whether she would ever allow her husband to hit her again:

“Hell, No!”

I can only hope and pray that beleaguered Kim Myers will have the same courage and resolve.

And I hope and pray that the “leaders” of baseball will find the courage and manhood to stop turning a blind eye and stop enabling those within their ranks who cannot keep their aggression and desire to win at any cost under control and confined to the space between the white lines of the playing field.

Have we seen any sign that Bud Selig or the Phillies team leaders understand what they are dealing with here?

“Hell, No”!

For shame!


Friday, June 23, 2006

We Will Never Forget - Arlington National Cemetery

I received an e-mail this morning from my friend, Michael Pace. He was passing along a piece, the origin of which is unclear to me, highlighting facts about The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. I found an on-line version of the piece on a Website authored by Wink Martindale. You can access the link below:

Re-reading these moving and inspiring facts about Arlington National Cemetery brought me back to my experience of traveling to Virginia last fall to bid farewell to Dennis Hay, who was being laid to rest there. I was prompted to read once again the words that I wrote in October reflecting on my experience of joining with Dennis’ family and friends in saying good-bye to this vibrant young man who gave his life in Iraq. It occurred to me that there may be a significant number of current readers of The White Rhino Report that did not see that original posting about Dennis, so I offer below the link to that article:

During this recent Memorial Day weekend, services of remembrance were held at Ft. Carson, Colorado for those from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment who died during Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. Dennis Hay was among those remembered during those ceremonies.

In the course of thinking about Dennis today, I came across an article that ran in the Washington Post the day after Dennis was buried at Arlington. The article includes interviews with friends of Dennis who commented about his strong faith and his reasons for choosing to return to Iraq.

Over the course of the past few months, a dedicated group of students at my alma mater, Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, raised money by selling T-shirts. They wanted to use the money to support in some way our soldiers and their families. I encouraged them to consider a gift to the family of a fallen soldier, and a check was recently mailed that will help to make life a little brighter for the two small children that were left fatherless when Dennis Hay died in combat.

I was particularly moved by the students’ gesture because it comes at a time when it is typical for a grieving family to begin to experience a falling off in support. In my lifetime, I have been involved with many situations of bereavement. Oftentimes, in the first few days and weeks after a death, extended family, friends and the community rally around the loved ones – providing emotional support, food, financial support, visits, cards. As the weeks turn into months, one by one, many of the supporters return to “normal” life and tend to forget the ongoing needs for support. The gift by the GDA students to the Hay family is a timely reminder that for those of us who know families who have lost a loved one – in combat or through less publicized tragedy – we need to be as vigilant and tireless as the honor guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns in lending our encouragement and support.

Who do you know that could use from you today a visit, phone call, e-mail, or gift as a concrete expression of ongoing love and support?


Thursday, June 22, 2006

WSJ Weighs In For Avi, ALS and Prize4Life

Here is a quick update on the progress that Avi Kremer and Nate Boaz are making in launching Prize4Life, the innovative approach to raising research funds to fight ALS. Today's WSJ includes a fine article by David Wessel. - Capital

I have made a contribution to Prize4Life, and encourage you to consider doing so, as well.

Time is running out!


Ex-military CEO Firms Outperform Market - An Executive Recruiter's Perspective

Some readers of the White Rhino Report are aware that one of my areas of specialization as an executive recruiter is placing senior executives who bring prior military leadership experience to their roles as business leaders. What most of you do not know is how that specialization has evolved over the past few years. It is a long story, but I will attempt to share an abbreviated version of the story in this morning’s posting.

I do not have a military background, so it is a bit ironic that I have become a specialist in placing military veterans and Service Academy graduates. My brother, Dave, had a distinguished career in the Navy as a Cryptologic Technician (CT), retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer, and my father served in India in WWII in the Army Air Corps as part of the Signal Corps, but I never served in the military. So, how I did I end up as a recruiter specializing in placing men and women who have served as leaders in the Army, Navy, Air Force Marines and Coast Guard?

The process began a few years ago when I was conducting a search for the CEO of a start-up software company. I found an unusually large pool of qualified candidates, and had to go through several rounds of cutting the slate of candidates down to a reasonable number. Each time I would add levels of assessments and additional screening criteria, emerging at the top of the heap were an inordinately large percentage of candidates who were former military officers, many of whom were West Point and Annapolis graduates. I wondered if this phenomenon was peculiar to this particular search, because of the technical requirements of the position, or was I discovering a universal principle that in the process of preparing military leaders, our armed forces and service academies were also serving as incubators for future business leaders.

Several of the finalists for this CEO role had listed as a reference retired Admiral Bill Owens, the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So, as I conducted in-depth reference checks, I had ready access to Admiral Owens. I shared with him my observations about leadership incubation, and he was kind enough to share with me his perspective, and also to recommend reading for me to do, and others for me to speak with about these topics. With Admiral Owens’ help, I learned quickly and developed a strong respect for the value proposition of business leaders who had cut their teeth as officers in the military.

One day over lunch, I was sharing my thoughts with a friend, a graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School. As Benny listened to me articulate what I had been learning, he looked me squarely in the eye and said: “You are the first non-military person I have ever met who really gets it. You understand our value business leadership roles. And that means that you have a responsibility, as you grow your executive search practice, to become our ‘missionary to the business world.’”

I took Benny’s words to heart. I was reminded of those words yesterday when I received an e-mail from my friend, Dr. Scott Snook, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School. Scott retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army. His last assignment before retiring from the military was to run the Leadership Development Center at West Point. Dr. Snook has spent a lifetime studying issues of leadership – in the military and in the business world. Scott has been very supportive of me, as I have worked to build an executive search practice that allows me to provide client companies with world-class leaders – many of whom are former military officers. Dr. Snook was writing to me yesterday to make sure that I was aware of a recent study that highlights the fact that companies that are run by CEO’s with military backgrounds significantly outperform the rest of the marketplace. The article, linked below, first appeared last week in CNN’s

Ex-military CEO firms outperform market - Jun. 16, 2006

This study provides empirical confirmation of what I have been observing experientially and anecdotally over the past several years. The winning combination of a solid ethical foundation, battle-tested decision-making capabilities, team-building skills, unimpeachable work ethic, commitment to a mission and a refusal to accept failure as an option make military veterans an excellent choice for many challenging business leadership roles. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege to build solid relationships of trust with hundreds of men and women whose backgrounds and skill sets include the list of traits I just listed.

Many companies have already discovered the wisdom of actively recruiting from among this pool of candidates; others have yet to make that discovery. If you are aware of a company that needs to hire the next generation of leaders, I would welcome an introduction and an opportunity to explore with the leaders of that firm how I can help them to gain access to the kind of outstanding leaders described in this CNN article - former military officers who have asked me to help guide them making their next career move and in finding the best company and best role where they can make the maximum contribution.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Socrates in the City - "The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living"

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a book by Eric Metaxas: “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask)”

Since I posted that review, I have had an opportunity to discuss Eric’s book with a number of readers of The White Rhino Report. An old friend asked if I would send him a copy of the book as a birthday gift, and I was thrilled to do so. I was able to recommend the book to another friend who “out of the blue” called me to say that he was going through a time of spiritual searching and wondered what resources I could recommend.

Another aspect of Eric Metaxas’ outreach in New York City, beyond his numerous writing projects, is his hosting of a series of lectures in a format that he calls “Socrates In The City.” Yesterday, the New York Daily News ran a story about this unique lecture series.

If you live in the New York area, or have friends who do, I encourage you to get on the Socrates in the City mailing list so that you can be made aware of future lectures. I look forward to my travel schedule allowing me to attend some of the upcoming events.

I also encourage you to consider adding “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask)” to your list of summer reading, or to have a copy on hand to give as a gift to friends who are searching.

Enjoy this beautiful first day of summer!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Solstice Potpourri – Random Rhino Thoughts

I have several books that I am partway through reading, and they will be reviewed in the next week, but today I have no book reviews to share. I did read some light and fluffy novels last week that are not worthy of taking the time to share with you, and not worthy of recommending – not even for “beach reading.” So, this morning, I share a few random thoughts and observations that are not connected in any way except that they reflect my life over the past few days.

Hot weather has finally found its way to Boston, and it feels glorious! Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and it finally feels like the weather has decided to behave seasonally. It was a gorgeous evening at Fenway Park last night as the Red Sox entertained for the first time the Washington Nationals in inter-league play. Former Washington Senator and Red Sox legend, Mickey Vernon, threw out the first pitch. It was a nice way of connecting the baseball histories of Boston and our nation’s capital.

Sitting in Section 20 last night, I was at the nexus of several fascinating groups of fans. Here are some random happenings that I observed during the course of the Red Sox 6-3 victory over the Nationals:

There was a group of enthusiastic baseball fans sitting behind me that had traveled from Columbus, Ohio to experience Fenway Park for the first time. They were making the rounds of several East Coast ballparks, including Yankee Stadium and Fenway. They were knowledgeable fans who often attend games in Cincinnati. They commented on the enthusiasm of the Fenway crowd, and the decibels produced by 36,000 people singing Neil Diamond’s cheesy “Sweet Caroline" – a Fenway 8th inning tradition! Here is a memorable quotation from the vociferous leader of the group: “Even in a 7th game of the World Series, Reds fans would not make this much noise. This is a great environment!”

Also sitting behind me was a young woman – a B.C. grad who works as a realtor in Boston’s Back Bay. Her knowledge of baseball and the Red Sox was encyclopedic. She was sitting with a group of people who were also making their first pilgrimage to Fenway, and her ability to explain the intricacies of the game to them was wonderful to hear. I was impressed.

Among the fans in my section was a teenager who was wearing “Red Sox braces”! I don’t know the technical orthodontic terminology to describe the appliance, but the portion of the braces that applies pressure to the front of the incisors spelled out “R-E-D-S-O-X”! Really!

It was the best of Manny; it was the worst of Manny. The Red Sox storied left fielder, Manny Ramirez, is renowned for having frequent mental lapses in the field, and also for being one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history. We have learned to take the bad with the good. Last night’s game was a fitting Manny microcosm. In the 8th inning, he launched a moon shot over the Green Monster – the 453rd homerun of his major league career, moving him past Yaz on the all-time list. But, earlier in the game, the absent-minded slugger (“Manny being Manny”!) was on deck, and he failed to tell second baseman Mark Loretta to slide has he barreled towards home plate with the throw coming in from centerfield. In a bang-bang play, Loretta was tagged out – and a sorely needed insurance run did not score – because Manny did not have his head in the game and failed to execute baseball fundamentals.

Gabe Kapler returned to Fenway Park for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon last season. The injury is often a career-ending one, so there was no guarantee that Kapler would ever play again. The two standing ovations that Kapler received were heart-warming and rare for a utility player. This morning’s Boston Globe quote’s Kapler on the reception that Sox fans gave him last night:

"'We have the best, and, to be more specific, the classiest fans in all of sports,' said Kapler, who took Trot Nixon's spot in right field and batted eighth against the Nationals last night. 'And the reason I say that is because they recognize and care about hard work as well as people, human beings. Contributions [from players] other than superstars. They recognize every player on the roster.

They recognize contributions from guys like Alex Cora, and, in the past, from a pitcher who would get one out. They always seem to recognize effort. I'm just blown away by their consistency and their knowledge of the game.'"

I have had the opportunity on several occasions to have conversations with Kapler, and I find him to be one of the most intelligent, thoughtful and articulate professional athletes I have known. It was thrilling to see his triumphant return last night, as he went 2 for 4, scored a run and knocked in a run.

* * * *

I am notorious among my friends and family for knowing more people “than the average bear,” and also for having unusual encounters with strangers and long-lost friends in distant places. For example, last January, I ended up in line at the airport in Budapest in front of a friend from New Hampshire I had not seen in almost 10 years: “Al, is that you?” A few years earlier, as I was hustling down a street in London, a bus stopped for a traffic light, one of the windows flew open, and the familiar face of an old college friend emerged and yelled: “Al Chase, what are you doing here?” Even by my standards, the encounter I will relay below was unusual, and I file it under “miracle.”

I was riding on the subway in NYC last Thursday afternoon. I was in Manhattan for some meetings, and had left a luncheon meeting with a bunch of friends and business colleagues. We were all heading from the Village to Midtown, and decided to head to the subway to catch the Uptown #1 train. Everyone else in the group lives in NYC and had a monthly pass, so they zipped through the turnstiles. I had to use the machine to buy a pass, and while I was buying my pass, a train arrived. I told my friends to go ahead without me - that I would catch the next train. So, when the next train arrived, I found an empty seat near the door and started reading the book I was carrying. When we stopped at the next station, I kept reading, but noticed that someone had sat down two seats away from me and was staring directly at me. I looked up and smiled, and returned to reading my book. I could see in my peripheral vision that the person was continuing to stare, and was leaning towards me. I looked up again and smiled and he looked long and hard into my eyes and said: "Don't you know who I am?"

My response was to gasp: "Oh, my God! I can't believe it."

It was my friend, M. S., a former protégé whom I had last seen about eight years ago in New Hampshire. I had mentored him while he was in college, and saw him through some academic ups and downs, as well as some pretty volatile relationships with girlfriends. He eventually got his act together and married a really sweet gal from Atlanta. I flew to Atlanta to officiate at the ceremony.

When I left New Hampshire to move to Boston, I lost track of M. S., and learned that he had moved away, and no one knew how to find him. I often thought of him, and just a week ago had wondered to myself: "Will I ever see M. S. again? I wonder where he is and how he is doing."

In our quick subway ride and subsequent conversation at Lincoln Center, I learned that since we last saw each other, he has gone through a divorce, and that life has had its share of difficult challenges, but he has things back on track and is the CEO of a software company in Manhattan.

It is clear to me that God worked things out for S.M. and me to be in the same section of the same car on the same subway train at the same time - against astronomical odds - so that we could reconnect and renew our friendship. What an amazing early Fathers' Day gift that turned out to be.

In a subsequent e-mail, S.M. alluded to the classic Humphrey Bogart line from Casablanca when he wrote: "Of all the subway cars in the world..."!

Indeed! God’s fingerprints were all over that encounter!

Keep your eyes open today for evidence of His fingerprints on the events of your life today.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Fathers’ Day Reverie

I made an unusual early Sunday morning foray into my office in Wellesley to be able to share some thoughts on this Fathers’ Day morning with readers of The White Rhino Report.

Let me begin by saying that on Fathers’ Day, my thoughts always turn to remembering my own father and two grandfathers. So, here is a tip of the cap in memory of and in honor of:

Lewis F. Chase, my father

J. Walter Chase, his father

Arthur Champoux, my mother’s father

The three men were quite different from one another, but all three shared the trait of being laconic and parsimonious with their words. I, obviously, did not inherit that gene, being of a decidedly more loquacious bent and of a more voluble generation.

This Father’s Day weekend has several more hours to go before the sun sets on family celebrations, but I already count myself blessed. My son, Scott, knew he would not be around today for us to be able to celebrate together, so on Friday evening, we met in Newburyport and had an early Fathers’ Day dinner at one of my favorite local seafood restaurants, the Starboard Galley. We shared a table on the patio overlooking the mouth of the Merrimac River, and enjoyed reminiscing over fresh seafood and the restaurant’s famous Jalapeno Poppers! Scott also gave me the gift of a book I had been eying – Tim Russert’s, Wisdom of Our Fathers – Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons. I literally could not put the book down and finished reading in less than 24 hours this moving compilation of remembrances of a disparate and representative sampling of American fathers.

Tim Russert was inspired to write this book based on the avalanche of e-mails and letters he received in response to his book about his own father, “Big Russ & Me.” From among the 60,000 reminiscences he received from men and women chronicling their relationships with their fathers, Russert selected a few hundred that resonated with him most profoundly.

Here are a few samplings that I found particularly poignant:

“While the biological act of fathering entails no real commitment, the ongoing process of daddying requires a lifelong commitment to your children. But it’s never too late to begin the process of becoming the father you want to be, the one you always wished you had.” Allan Shedlin, Jr., son of Allan Shedlin (Page 106)

What an encouraging perspective! I am sure I share with most fathers some regrets over parenting mistakes and transgressions. I know I have hurt my sons over the years with sins of commission and omission, and Mr. Shedlin’s words of hope are challenging as well as heartening.

“One by one, my siblings shared their own memories of Dad praying at his chair . . . For some reason, each of us thought we were the only one who ever saw Dad doing this. For each is us, the sight of this man humbling himself before God, and very likely praying on our behalf, was a cherished memory." Julie Miller, daughter of Jeremiah Gerald Foley (Pages 120-121)

In a few hours, I will head up I-93 and then will wend my way via some winding back roads to tiny Barrington, New Hampshire, where I will end my Fathers’ Day surrounded by my eldest son, Ti, his wife, Ralu, and their two adorable children. In a few weeks, the whole clan will descend on my brother’s home in Lynchburg, Virginia for a family reunion of four generations of Chases. In addition to the contingent from New England, my son, Chris, will come from Arizona and my son, Tim, will arrive from Poland. In a recent e-mail, Tim was making arrangements to be picked up at the airport in Boston. Among Tim’s closing remarks were the following words that went straight to this father’s heart:

“So what are the chances of catching a Sox game? This is obviously very high up on my list of priorities.”

Over the years, all four of my sons have been gracious in accommodating my passion for the Red Sox, often accompanying me to games, and indulging me as I would watch the games on TV and listen on the car radio. But Tim is the only one of the four who truly caught the “bug” and is equally infected with Red Sox fever, a chronic and often debilitating condition for which there is no known cure! So, it was timely and apt when I read last night this quotation and my final excerpt from the Russert’s book:

“A baseball stadium through a child’s eyes is about as good as it gets, with the green, green grass that goes on forever. What a day – with Max and a good friend watching a great pastime. Sitting with your son inside a ballpark is almost a religious experience.” (Page 130)


And so the wheel cycles all the way around and returns to the starting point. In the opening of my sharing these thoughts on Fathers’ Day, I mentioned my father and grandfathers. One of my most vivid memories of my Grandfather Champoux - “Bampy,” as he was affectionately known to me and to my brother and sister – takes me back to the summer when I was seven years old. I was already a rabid Sox fan – having arrived at that state through both “nature and nurture”! But I had not yet made the long trip down Route 1 to Fenway Park. We did not have a lot of money to spend on such frivolities on those days. But my grandfather worked as a supervisor in a shoe factory in Haverhill, and occasionally one of the vendors would give him a couple of tickets. So, one summer evening in 1954, with the mediocre Red Sox firmly ensconced in fourth place in the American League, I rode with Bampy to Boston to attend my first game at Fenway Park. I recall as vividly as if it were an hour ago the overwhelming sensations as he grasped my hand in his hand – rough and calloused from years of cutting leather on the factory floor – and led me up the ramp to the Emerald City-like splendor of Fenway’s interior. Updike’s “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” reached out and enfolded the little boy from Newburyport in its verdant embrace – and has never since let go.

Sitting there again next week with Tim in Section 20 will re-ignite those memories and emotions. And it will be another – somewhat belated, but not at all diminished – Fathers’ Day gift.

I am blessed.

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Boston Dirt Dogs – The Blog That Citizens of Red Sox Nation Swear By!

There are dozens of Blogs and Websites devoted to following the fortunes and vicissitudes of the Boston Red Sox. Nothing quite compares to the Boston Dirt Dogs site. In today’s edition, there is a reprint of a current Sport Illustrated article on David Ortiz that is a must-read for everyone who is a Red Sox fan or simply a baseball fan.

The cover story was written by Tom Verducci, one of the true baseball cognoscenti. The cover features a great picture of Big Papi in front of a red brick wall – a fitting metaphor for what he has become as the clutch-hitting DH for the Red Sox these past few seasons and post-seasons.

Verducci does a nice job of tying together several threads that have led to David’s growing motivation to perform at a superior level for the Red Sox. Among the factors that Verducci touches upon are Ortiz’s loving home growing up in the Dominican Republic, the sudden and tragic death of his mother in a collision with a dump truck on New Year’s day 2002, his subsequent unceremonious release by the Minnesota Twins, his emergence as the greatest hitter in Red Sox history, his new contract extension and his status as one of the acknowledged leaders on the team.

Ortiz is famous for his walk-off homeruns – 13 of them to date for the Red Sox, the most recent being Sunday’s blast that turned a certain defeat at the hands of the pesky Texas Rangers into a 5-4 Red Sox victory. He has a signature routine that he follows whenever he hits a big homerun. He jumps in the air, lands on home plate, and points his finger to the heavens. Verducci did not discuss these Ortizian histrionics, but I can shed some light on their meaning. One day last year, I was invited to join Ortiz and several of his Dominican friends at a special event followed by a luncheon. I think I was the only person sitting around the table who was not a native Spanish speaker. At one point as I was having a conversation with David, I asked him to tell me about why he points to the sky:

“That’s for my Mom, man; that’s for my Mom. She’s up there now, and I never forget what she did for me.”

It is refreshing to see a superstar keep things in perspective. As Verducci points out so beautifully in his article, Ortiz is not only an exciting baseball player to watch; he is a delightful human being to be around.

Go Papi! Go Sox!


Planning A Trip To Fenway Park – What You Should Know

I have been a life-long Red Sox fan. Chase family legend insists that as a two year-old, I could recite the entire Red Sox line-up, which in those days included the likes of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio. So, it is no wonder that people often ask me about the logistics of getting Red Sox tickets and getting to Fenway Park. I do not have any special access to Red Sox tickets, but as a volunteer at Autograph Alley at Fenway Park, I do see a lot of games, and have made a number of observations about the best ways to navigate getting to Fenway and enjoying the game. What follows is a digest of my answers to frequently asked questions about seeing a ball game at Fenway Park.

How do I get tickets to a Red Sox game?

Bear in mind that Fenway Park is the smallest venue in Major League Baseball, and the Red Sox boast the second longest string of sold-out games in major league history. So, getting tickets is a challenge.

There are several options during the season using the Red Sox Website –

Click on the “Tickets” section of the home page, and you will see “Red Sox Replay.” This service allows season ticket holders to resell tickets to games they cannot attend. In addition, members of Red Sox Nation are occasionally given exclusive opportunities to make last-minute ticket purchases. Within the “Tickets” section, click on “Nations’ Nest Auction.”

At the ballpark, the Red Sox reserve a limited number of tickets to be sold the day of the game. These include obstructed view, single seats, standing room and tickets that the club has reserved for VIP’s and family and friends of players. Some of these are often returned to the Box Office minutes before game time. So, there are two tactics you may want to use to try to gain access to these day-of-game tickets. First, be in line when the ticket window opens at 9:00 AM. For popular games, like games against the Yankees, people have been known to sleep on the sidewalk outside the ticket office to be first in line. As a last resort, check at the ticket window 30-90 minutes before game time for last-minute returns.

Those with military ID’s can gain access to the park as standing room guests by paying $7.00. The line forms along Van Ness Street, near Gate B – which is outside of Right Field. Tickets are limited and the line usually stretches to several hundred people in length., eBay, and are all expensive on-line options for obtaining tickets.

And then there are the scalpers who scamper like cockroaches through the Fenway neighborhood beginning about two hours before the game. These vermin used to be confined to the Kenmore Square area, but they seem to have metastasized beyond the primary site to a larger area stretching from Massachusetts Avenue to the BU campus, and to the Fenway T stop on the Riverside Branch of the Green Line (D Line). You won’t have trouble recognizing them. They all look like rejects from the Witness Protection Program, and in true James Cagney fashion, they will accost you with their winsome and articulate pitch: “Buying? Selling? Got extras? Need tickets?” Starting point for negotiations if you are buying is at least 2-3x face value of the tickets – and more if the Yankees are in town. Beware. There is no guarantee that these are not counterfeit tickets.

Driving to Fenway vs. Public Transportation

I always take the T. Parking prices at the ballpark range from $30-$90! If you must drive into the city, there is a parking garage on Clarendon Street in Back Bay – right next to the Back Bay train station, that charges $9.00 for Fenway event parking! From there, on a nice day, it is a 15-minute walk to the park. Or, you can take the Orange Line two stops from Back Bay Station to Ruggles and then take the free shuttle bus to Fenway. See details in the link below.

If you are more familiar and more comfotable with the Green Line and Kenmore Square, walk two blocks to Boylston Street, and take the Green Line outbound (B, C or D trains) two stops to Kenmore.

If you are driving to Boston from the northeast, down Rte. I-95 or Rte. 1, drive to Wonderland in Revere and take the Blue Line into the city, changing at Government Center for the Green Line trains to Kenmore.

Coming down I-93, park at Sullivan Square in Somerville and take the Orange Line directly to Ruggles for the free shuttle bus.

From the West, park at Riverside in Newton Lower Falls and take the Green Line to Fenway and walk to the ballpark. Returning after the game, the Green Line outbound from Fenway Station is free!


Your backpacks will be searched at the gate of Fenway, and no outside drinks are allowed. You can bring in some food. The peanuts sold outside Gate A on Yawkey Way are much fresher than those sold inside the ballpark. The white bags are unsalted; the brown bags are salted. $4.00 per bag – but you can negotiate a discount on purchases of multiple bags!

Inside the ballpark, you can purchase Legal Seafood clam chowder at several stands, including one just behind the first base side of home plate.

I am not really much of a beer drinker, so I never buy beer at Fenway, but my friends tell me it is watered down and over-priced.


Getting the autographs of current players is very difficult. If you want a good chance at catching a ball during batting practice, arrive when the gates open – usually 90 minutes before game time, and make a beeline for the left field corner – Sections 31 and 32 – where the Left Field stands abut the Green Monster. Foul balls land here with regularity, and the players on the field also often throw balls to kids in the stands in this area.

At a recent game, my friend, John Simmons and his son, Johnny, caught a ball, and then made their way down to the area behind the Tampa Bay dugout. They were lucky enough to get the ball signed by Devil Rays young ace, Scott Kazmir.

There are always former players around and willing to sign autographs. Autograph Alley is located just inside the ballpark behind Luis Tiant’s Cuban Sandwich Shop on Yawkey Way. Luis is often at his shop signing autographs for those that buy his sandwiches. There is always a former player at Autograph Alley from 90 minutes before game time until about 15 minutes before the first pitch. The Red Sox give out free pictures of the player in his uniform during his playing days. Recent visitors to Autograph Alley have included Jim Lonborg, Johnny Pesky, Frank Malzone, Oil Can Boyd, Bill Lee, Rick Miller, Bill Monbouquette and Bob Montgomery.

Getting tickets and then getting yourself to “America’s Most Beloved Ball Park” is not easy, but it is worth the effort.

Go Sox!



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Digging Deeper – Avi Kremer, HBS, ALS and Prize4Life

If you read yesterday’s Blog posting early in the day, you may have missed the comment posted by HBS graduate, Heather March. So, here are Heather’s remarks:


Thank you so much for sharing these brave stories. I just wanted to add that Avi Kremer, my section mate with ALS, has also managed to raise, I believe, over $11M for ALS. His latest work, with Nate and other friends, is called Prize4Life and is a prize contest to find an effective treatment for ALS. I hope your readers can take the opportunity to read more about Avi's fight at the contest's web page:

I must also say thank you to you, Al, for battling the rain right along side of us at graduation. You have been such a wonderful supporter and friend for so many of us at HBS, and we were proud to have you at the ceremony.

God Bless,


* * * *

After reading Heather’s words, I clicked on the Link above to learn more about Prize4Life. What I read is a story I feel compelled to share. Here is part of what you will encounter when you take the time to visit this Website.

Website, Contest Launched to Accelerate Treatment for ALS

June 9, 2006Today marks the launch of Prize4Life, a nonprofit website and global contest with the aim of raising over $10 million to provide powerful incentives for researchers to discover an effective treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Prize4Life is being launched by Avichai "Avi" Kremer, a native of Israel, and a member of the MBA Class of 2006 at Harvard Business School, who was diagnosed in 2004 with the fatal neurodegenerative illness ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to his doctors, he has less than three to five years left to live.

Kremer aims to raise funds to accelerate research and the development of treatments for ALS, a rare disease that tends to be neglected by both the public and pharmaceutical companies. He plans Prize4Life to be a catalyst to increase global awareness and research investment.

Kremer wants to help solve what he believes are the largest obstacles to finding a cure: a lack of novel treatment ideas and a scarcity of venture funding to turn the best ideas from basic science into proven treatments.
Prize4Life will target researchers who are not currently focused on ALS research and will provide them with the incentives to do so. The objective is to increase the number of ALS treatment ideas in the research pipeline, thus increasing the probability of an effective result.

* * * *

The story below originally appeared last week in the Harvard Crimson, and tells more of Avi’s inspiring and touching story:

The Harvard Crimson

Student Fights Illness for MBA
By Madeline Lissner

Still battling terminal illness, Kremer is set to graduate—

In Hebrew, “chai” means life, and for the Harvard Business School classmates and professors of Avichai “Avi” Kremer (HBS 2006/I), it is no coincidence that he has been a symbol of life since he was diagnosed last fall with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Since Kremer was first diagnosed, this second-year Business School student has raised over two million dollars, facilitated discussions between competing pharmaceutical companies, and founded two companies dedicated to discovering a treatment for ALS—commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kremer will graduate this week from the Business School and receive the prestigious Dean’s Award for his devotion to increasing ALS research and awareness.

“I always said I will walk and shake the hand of the dean at the end of the graduation ceremony,” said Kremer. “It is a small victory for me.”


Kremer, a native of Israel, began his fight against ALS at the place to which he said he owes everything—Harvard Business School.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative illness that causes patients to lose control over their voluntary muscles. There are over 30,000 Americans living with ALS, and most individuals diagnosed with the illness have a lifespan of three to five years.

Kremer chose not to leave Harvard and refused to accept his fate passively after his diagnosis.

“Avi instead made the extremely difficult and courageous choice of fighting back.” said Nathan M. Boaz, a close friend and classmate of Kremer.
Along with 90 of his classmates and Janice H. Hammond, the Philips professor and senior associate dean, Kremer led a candy fundraiser for Valentine’s Day and hosted an online auction for ALS research last spring.
Kremer and Boaz aimed to raise $100,000 from these endeavors—an unprecedented amount for section fundraisers. They exceeded even their own expectations, raising $150,000.

“I think that Avi and [his classmates] show what a fairly small group of human beings can do when they really get focused on a problem, when people are working together rather than at odds together,” Hammond said.
Kremer spent the following summer in Israel where he worked with 12 research projects at eight different universities to raise $2 million in ALS funding.
But now Kremer and Boaz have their eyes set on five times that amount.
After Kremer and Boaz heard of the Ansari X Prize—a $10 million competition to launch a piloted spacecraft into space twice within two weeks in 2004—Kremer said they decided to create a company based on the same business model.

“One of the big problems with ALS is that there are not a lot of novel treatment ideas coming from new places,” said Boaz.
With the help of Daniel J. Isenberg, a senior lecturer who taught Kremer in his entrepreneurial course, Boaz and Kremer founded Prize4life, a nonprofit organization that will provide $10 million worth of rewards to ALS researchers.

Boaz and Kremer will officially launch the website and the contest on Friday.

To better understand the pharmaceutical market, Kremer had first organized a symposium of major pharmaceutical competitors to discuss what is slowing the discovery of new treatments for ALS.

For Prize4Life, Kremer has teamed up with Robert H. Brown Jr., a leading ALS researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “One hopes that there will be a treatment, an intervention that will slow the disease,” Brown said. “Obviously the real hope is a cure. Whether that is possible, I don’t know.”

This summer, Kremer will be working on the launch of Avi Therapeutics, a for-profit biotech company that will try to commercialize academic research in the ALS field, according to Kremer.

With these two companies, Kremer said he will continue to fight. “I want to save every ALS patient who lives today,” he said.


Kremer has devoted the past two years of his life to promoting ALS research, efforts which the larger community has recognized. Kremer is one of five recipients of the Dean’s Award for graduating MBA students who have made a positive impact on the Business School community and the well-being of society.

“He is very soft-spoken, very easy-going, and, at the same time, very, very intelligent with a great sense of humor,” said Isenberg.

But Kremer said his friends are the ones who should truly be awarded.
“These people are my engine, my north star, my support and family,” said Kremer. “I owe everything that I have achieved to them.

* * * *

I have had friends die of ALS, so I know something of the courage that Avi and his cadre of devoted friends are bringing to bear in fighting to find a cure. I plan to make a contribution. I invite you to visit the Website and consider making a contribution, as well.

My friend, Nate Boaz, one of the founders of Prize4Life, just weighed in with some more relevant information that is well worth sharing:

US military veterans are significantly more likely to contract ALS than non-veterans (see below article). Avi served in the Israeli Defense Force, attended artillery school for 6 months at Ft. Sill, OK., and achieved the rank of Captain as an MLRS commander.



* * * *

I have added Prize4Life to The White Rhino's Favorite Links From A-Z (See right hand margin of Blog home page)

God bless.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Some Additional Nuggets From The HBS Graduation – Inspiring Moments

I ran out of time on Friday before needing to leave my office, so I was not able to add two additional nuggets from my observations of the Harvard Business School graduation ceremonies last week.

Dean Jay O. Light highlighted several inspiring stories of graduates who had had to overcome significant physical challenges to finish their degrees. One student was diagnosed with ALS shortly after beginning his MBA studies. The other students in his Section - and throughout the rest of the student body – rallied around him. The afflicted student decided to turn adversity into opportunity, and used his new and personal knowledge of the challenges of ALS to raise awareness of the disease among the HBS community. This student teamed with his Section President, Nate Boaz (a member of the Armed Forces Alumni Association, and a likely future U.S. Senator from the State of Georgia!), to organize students, faculty and staff to raise a large amount of money for ALS research. There could not have been many people who were not deeply moved last Thursday when this determined student, now clearly impaired by the progress of the disease, slowly made his way across the stage to receive his diploma accompanied by the cheers and applause of the HBS community.

Another student whose graduation was especially poignant was a man who had been seriously injured in an automobile accident, and had to withdraw from school. His injuries were severe, and required many months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. He eventually was able to return to school, now confined to a motorized wheelchair. Although his original class had already graduated, he was welcomed warmly into the Class of 2006. None of us who were there will soon forget the sight of this courageous man steering his wheelchair up the ramp and across the platform to have his long-awaited diploma awarded to him.

It is clear that not all of the leaders that make their way through Harvard Business School follow the same path. Some hone their leadership skills in combat, others through diligence and hard work in the classroom and library, still others through facing and overcoming unexpected obstacles.

It was an inspiring day all around. I think you can understand why a little rain did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm and the spirit of celebration that was in the air that day at HBS.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Backstage At The Harvard Business School Commencement – Some Random Thoughts

I stood in the rain yesterday for two and a half hours to watch a number of my friends receive their MBA diplomas from Harvard Business School. It was a small price to pay for a rich experience of celebrating a special time with a special group of gifted leaders. These men and women are individuals I have come to know and respect through my involvement with the Armed Forces Alumni Association at HBS. Each of them, prior to arriving at Harvard, served with distinction as an officer in the U.S. military. A little rain did not dampen their enthusiasm for celebrating a special and significant achievement.

While waiting for the ceremonies to begin, I wandered in Spangler Hall among the pictures and essays that are part of a special portraiture exhibit of graduates of earlier classes. The graduates had been asked, as they prepared to leave HBS, to talk about their goals and what they hoped to accomplish. Then, they were asked a few weeks ago to write another brief essay with an update about their lives today. I was stopped in my tracks as I read the essays of one particular member of the Class of 2002.

Phil Black’s essays caught my eye for a myriad of reasons. He had an initial set of goals – those he felt would be his priorities as he started his studies at HBS - that looked pretty “normal” for an HBS graduate entering the business world: Start a company that would issue an IPO, earn $X million by age Y, etc. Those goals had lines drawn through them, and they were replaced by the new priorities that had developed during his two years at Harvard. I am paraphrasing his words, but I think I caught the spirit of what he was trying to convey:

“Have a job that will enable me to be home at least four night a week so that I will be able to kneel by my children’s beds and pray with them as I tuck them in at night.”

Those words in print in the lobby of Harvard’s Spangler Hall took my breath away. What a contrast to the lives that many young professionals choose to lead – 80-90 hour weeks as road warriors, investment bankers, advertising executives, junior associates in a law firm or hedge fund. It is not my purpose to point fingers at Wall Street or Madison Avenue or Park Avenue or Silicon Valley. I am thankful for the strong economic engines that fuel our economy and create historic and unprecedented levels of productivity in today’s global economy. But I see too many young men and women grow old and jaded before their time and miss important family events and milestones by allowing their lives to become one-dimensional and driven only by considerations of career. Thank God for the growing cadre of men and women like Phil Black who have learned the wisdom to weave into their life scripts a healthy dose of “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”!

* * * *

I stood behind a special VIP section reserved for a delegation of dignitaries from an African nation that remains unknown to me today. It was clear from the ceremonial robes they wore under the plastic ponchos that Harvard had provided for all the hardy guests that they were from Africa. They applauded wildly and photographed enthusiastically several graduates who were also obviously from an African nation. The delegation was surrounded by what appeared to be a contingent of Secret Service men and women – the kind of detail that is normally only supplied to a head of state. There was no mention during the preliminary words of greeting by the Dean of HBS of any special dignitaries in the audience. I was impressed by the fact that that these important personages must have chosen to remain anonymous and let be the day be – as it should be – all about the graduates and their achievements.

* * * *

I had placed myself in a position to have the optimal opportunity to greet as many of my friends as possible as they walked to the platform to receive their diplomas. Seated in the last row of the graduates was a soldier recently returned from Iraq. I was able to observe him as he greeted several of his classmates who had also served in combat. The comment I heard repeated most often was something along the lines of: “Today’s celebration is that much sweeter because of the news we just received from Iraq that we finally got Al-zarqawi!” So, beneath the radar of most of the audience a quiet drama was playing out that helped these men and women – many of whom have served in Iraq – bring a degree of closure to that part of their lives as they walked into the commencement of new vistas, new challenges and new chapters.

Congratulations to the HBS Class of 2006 – and especially to those from the Armed Forces Alumni Association. May you use your new credentials to continue to lead well and with honor!


Mini-Review: “Promise Me” by Harlan Coben

Welcome to Part II of Harlan Coben week at the White Rhino Report. His writing for me has becoming an acquired taste; I keep returning to the all-you-can eat buffet steam table for another taste of his suspenseful tales. His latest work, “Promise Me,” did not disappoint. It includes a clever “false ending,” a shocking plot twist in the last chapter and a clever denouement. This “tough guy” author, inside the cocoon of a murder mystery, manages to address a number of sensitive issues and concerns:

· Domestic violence;
· The inordinate pressure on high school kids and their parents to get into the best colleges;
· hat happens to the star athlete who can no longer compete after a career-ending injury;
· Teenage pregnancy;
· Teenage smoking and drinking;
· The question of who is truly “innocent”
· The question of who is “worthy” of being helped

Perhaps I did not notice this dynamic at work in reading his earlier novels, but it is clear that in this book, not only is the author speaking from his deep well of experience in understanding crime and the criminal mind, but he now is also dipping from the reservoir of his heart as the father of four children. In my opinion, his writing is more fully textured and enjoyable for being more fully human.

This is one worth reading.



Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Somethng To Make You Smile On A Rainy Day - The Bullpen Report

While I am sitting here waiting for the latest flood waters to rise here in muddy Massachusetts, I thought I would make you aware of a resource that might bring a smile to your face on a gloomy weather day in the Northeast.

The timing of this posting is appropriate, since tomorrow is the day for the commencement exercises at Harvard Business School. I have several friends graduating, so I will be there to share in the festivities. Several HBS graduates from previous classes publish an anonymous and satirical newsletter on a quarterly basis that pokes fun at Wall Street, investment banking, consulting, law firms, business schools and corporate America.

If you read and enjoy The Onion, then the humor in The Bullpen Report might be right up your alley.

The current issue includes the following articles:

Associate Says $1200 Bottle of Wine Really Does Taste 120 Times Better than $10 Bottle

Client Confidentiality Prevents Consultant From Telling You the Name of Her Redmond-based Software Client with an Operating System Monopoly

HBS Unsure If It’s More Embarrassed that Allie Got Fired on The Apprentice or That Allie Was on the Apprentice to Begin With

Editorial: If the BlackBerry Service Was Shut Down, I’d Probably Be Paying Attention in this Meeting

Ex-Associate’s Death While Volunteering Serves as Lesson to Us All, Say Attorneys

If you work in any of the industries listed above, you will howl at how close to the mark these send-ups hit.



Update on “Oxymoronica” and Dr. Mardy Grothe

I make it a practice, whenever I review a book in The White Rhino Report, to send a copy of the review to the author. In most cases, I hear from the author almost immediately, and some interesting relationships have developed from such humble beginnings. So, I was pleased when I heard from Dr. Mardy Grothe, author of “Oxymoronica,” which I reviewed last week. He informed me of his most recent book, "Viva la Repartee," which I plan to read and will review in an upcoming posting.

He also made me aware of a free electronic newsletter that he publishes, to which I now subscribe. I just read the most recent edition, and it contains some memorable quotations from writers who either were born in the month of June or died in the month of June.

I am pleased to share with you some of the ones that meant the most to me.

* * * *

[Charles Dickens] wrote many great analogical and metaphorical lines, including:

"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."

"Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort."

"There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated."

A few of his lines have a special place in my [Dr. Grothe’s] "Words To Live By" file:

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."

"Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule."

"There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth."

On June 10, 1909, Edward Everett Hale died at age 87 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Best remembered as the author of "The Man Without a Country," an 1863 story written to inspire support for the Civil War.

The author of more than 150 books and pamphlets, he was an eloquent orator who preached a Social Gospel that advocated good works, social action, and personal responsibility. He once offered an interesting analogy:

"Sometimes your medicine bottle has on it, 'Shake well before using.' That is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are ever usable."

Several Hale quotes appear in my "Words To Live By" file, including:

"If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough."

On June 11, 1572, Ben Jonson was born in London. After working as a bricklayer and soldier, he became an actor and playwright. At age 26, he wrote his first play, "Every Man in His Humour" (the cast included a young actor named William Shakespeare). After some so-so early plays, he went on to become the most important English dramatist after Shakespeare. Like the Bard, he contributed many lines to posterity, including "Drink to me only with thine eyes" and the famous tribute to Shakespeare, "He was not of an age but for all time."

In another wonderful analogy--this one about a leader with inadequate learning--he penned an observation in the 17th century that has clear relevance to modern times:

"A prince without letters is a pilot without eyes. All his government is groping."

* * * *
If you are interested in subscribing to this free newsletter, see below:

To subscribe, send a blank message to



Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mini-Review: “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask)” by Eric Metaxas

I met Eric Metaxas a few weeks ago when he was speaking at a gathering at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan. Imagine what it must have been like for a Yale graduate to stoop to having to speak at the Harvard Club!

How can I best describe Eric Metaxas to the readers of the White Rhino Report? Two things come to mind that I can share that may encapsulate the man and the myth that is Eric Metaxas. Picture George Stephanopoulos with a sense of humor, and you are on your way toward being able to envision Eric. Picture a speaker at the epicenter of a flurry of good-natured heckling remarks from the audience – remarks dealing humorously with epistemology (not usually a knee-slapping topic!)– and you will begin to understand Eric.

Eric is a communicator who wields humor deftly – like a surgeon with a scalpel – to cut to the heart of serious matters. He has written for The New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly and the children’s video series, Veggie Tales. He has authored more than thirty children’s books, and hosts the acclaimed speakers’ series, “Socrates in the City.”

In his new book, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask),” he does an excellent job of making complex spiritual issues both comprehensible and accessible. Using humor and a fast-moving Q&A format, he tackles in fresh ways many of the age-old questions about God, Jesus, religion, heaven and hell, angels and demons and a plethora of other pithy topics.

Eric and his editors wisely chose to format the book without using direct biblical quotations, but he provides the biblical references in the footnotes and appendix. He also leads readers who desire to dig more deeply into a question or a topic to other classic works of Christian apologetics (the art and science of defending one’s faith) and inspiration - by authors such as C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Josh McDowell, Os Guinness and Chuck Colson.

This book makes a very good starting point for anyone asking deep questions about faith and spirituality, and is a nice addition to the library of anyone who takes seriously the challenge to share their faith with those who are seeking.

I encourage you to visit Eric’s website:



Monday, June 05, 2006

Mini-Review: “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to choosing what books I will read. I don’t pay much attention to what is on the “Best Seller” lists. I am usually not interested in reading what everyone is reading on the beach this summer!

Generally, I choose what to read by following two main criteria. First, I will read a book by an author whose work I have already read, enjoyed and who I respect. Second, I will read a book recommended to me by someone whose tastes in literature I respect. As a result, I don't often read what is currently popular. So, I was a little taken aback last week when on several occasions – while riding on the “T” in Boston and while dining in restaurants – people noticed the book I was reading and stopped to say: “He is one of my favorite authors; that is a great book.” The book I was reading was “The Innocent,” and the author is Harlan Coben, “modern master of the hook-and-twist,” according to author Dan Brown.

I do not want to give away any of the delicious plot twists of this page-turner, so I will limit my comments to a few hors-d’oeuvres. Here is the scenario:

A nun turns up dead in a convent in Newark, New Jersey, and suspicions are aroused when it turns out that she had breast implants! Just who was Sister Mary Rose? A man who has served time in prison for involuntary manslaughter finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit. His wife appears to be having an affair and her “lover” seems to be flaunting it in front of the husband. An orphaned girl tries to find her birth mother, a Las Vegas stripper who was murdered years ago – or was she? Let the games begin!

From these “base” and basic ingredients, Coben concocts a zesty ragout that guarantees surprises in every bite.

Ultimately, believe it or not, this suspense novel evolves into a very moving story about unconditional love, redemption and second chances.

I have read the book twice. What does that tell you?