Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back In Cell Phone Communication - Reach Out And Touch!

What a saga!

The good news is that I have a new cell phone and can now be reached on my old cell phone number - (978) 239-2864.

Getting to that point was an adventure. I followed the advice of Cingular, and reported my cell phone stolen and told them to suspend service. I then spent the better part of 24 hours trying to buy a replacement phone from Cingular over the Internet and over the phone. At each turn, after spending oodles of time navigating layers of voice prompts on the phone and dialogue boxes on the Cingular Website, I would eventually reach a point where a computer or live person would tell me: "I cannot process your order, because your service is suspended."

"Well, yes, you told me to suspend it. Now I would like to order a phone to replace the one that was stolen."

"You can't do that as long as your service is suspended. You will have to "unsuspend" your service before I can help you."

So, "unsuspend my service" is what I did. While the service was restored, I decided to call my number to see if I had any VM messages. Wouldn't you know it! The person who stole my phone answered the phone, cursed at me, and hung up. I called again: "Hi! I believe you may have 'found' my phone. I would like to have it back."

"I'll sell it back to you for $200, you (string of expletives deleted)!" followed by uproarious laughter.

I headed to the Cingular store down the street, purchased a refurbished phone, and was up and running. A short while after receiving my new phone, I heard it ring, so I answered:

"Is X still there? He told me to call him on this number."

This was a young woman who sounded as if she practices the oldest profession. She sounded rough and street-wise. She literally asked for "X," with "X" being the name of the person who had absconded with my phone. Perhaps I am now being plagued by the ghost of Malcolm X!

Never a dull moment!

If you have not given me your phone contact information in the past 48 hours, please e-mail it (achase@scwellesley.com) to me or call me with it.



Optimists Live Longer - Really!

On the way to the office this morning, I heard a quick report on the radio about a recent study that had determined that optimists live significantly longer than those for whom the glass is always half-empty. I did not have time to find the actual study to which this morning's news report was alluding, but I did find an article in the MSN Lifestyle archives that reports similar results. You can open the link below to read the entire report. Some of the findings that struck me as particularly significant were the following:

"Most research finds that optimism is associated with longer life, though it certainly does not guarantee it. In a 23-year study done in a small town in Ohio by researchers from Yale and Miami Universities, people over 50 who viewed aging as a positive experience lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those who did not--a big gap. (The researchers controlled for such possible confounding factors as race, gender, state of health, morale, and loneliness.) People got more mileage out of optimism, in fact, than from lowering blood cholesterol levels. And other things being equal, they got more mileage out of their will to live than other psychological factors.

The sunshine factor

Other research has also linked optimism with longevity. Mayo Clinic researchers followed 447 people whose personal traits had been evaluated 30 years earlier. Those classified as optimists had half the risk of early death compared to those classified as pessimistic or "mixed." The optimists had fewer problems as they aged--fewer limitations, less pain, and more energy.

In a study called "Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?" Harvard researcher Dr. Laura Kubzansky found that optimism, as evaluated in the way people explain events in their lives to themselves and others, was protective against heart disease. Other studies have found that optimists tend to recover faster after coronary bypass surgery than pessimists. Dr. Kubzansky and other researchers believe that negative emotions and chronic pessimism should be regarded as risk factors for heart disease."

My life experience tells me that these researchers are right on the money! Related studies have also verified that optimistic people often test out as much "luckier" than those whose negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No one is more optimistic than a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan. "Wait until next year!" was our mantra for 86 years.

I am optimistic that we'll be back in the World Series again this year!


MSN Lifestyle - Mind, Body & Soul - Article

Monday, February 27, 2006

Les Miserables – A Transcendent Experience: The Novel, The Musical, The Whole Enchilada

In the name of full disclosure, I must admit up front that I am as big a fan of Les Miserables as I am of the Boston Red Sox. This may seem to be an odd juxtaposition of passions, but if you think about it, it is more like a redundancy! I was smitten by the musical version Les Miserables when I heard the first few bars of “Look Down.” The technology of CD’s was brand new when Les Miz first appeared in English translation on the stage at the Palace Theater in London under the production mastery of Cameron Mackintosh. I recall visiting the home of a friend in Silver Spring, Maryland and being invited to listen to the new device she called a “CD Player.” I strapped on the headset and was transported to another dimension of listening. I am not sure if it was the clarity of the sound that grabbed me or the brilliance of the music, but my family practically had to drag me out of the house when it was time for us to leave and go home. It was the Original London Cast Album of Les Miserables that ushered me into the realm of CD’s. I knew I had to see the show, and over the intervening years, I have had opportunities to see it on numerous occasions – in Boston, New York, London and LA.

Now, 20 years later, the play is still drawing large crowds in London, and the U.S. National touring company is playing to sold-out houses as it wends its way throughout America. It recently stopped in Boston for a brief visit, and I was among the sold-out crowd last Thursday evening at Boston’s Opera House. I was there with about a dozen of my friends. It was an evening to remember. The role of Jean Valjean was played majestically and powerfully by Randal Keith, who had played the role on Broadway in the final Broadway cast. His performance last Thursday evening was beyond flawless; it was transcendent!

There are a myriad of reasons why I am so taken with the phenomenon of Les Miserables. In the first place, Victor Hugo’s novel, which forms the foundation for this very faithful stage adaptation of the story, is a powerful story told at multiple levels of meaning. It is a love story of many dimensions; it is a story about the hunger for freedom and liberation; and it is a morality tale about the eternal struggle between Good and Evil – and Law and Grace. In my opinion, it is the most explicit presentation of the essence of the Gospel message to be found outside of the pages of Scripture. Many people are surprised when I make this assertion, but the evidence is clearly there in Hugo’s text and in the songs that have been written for the play. Here are a few quotations that constitute only the tip of the Les Miz spiritual iceberg -

In the Prologue, the Bishop sends Jean Valjean on his way with these words:

“And remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!”

* * *

Jean Valjean questioning his new identity in the song “Who Am I”:

“My soul belong to God, I know
I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on.”

* * *
Valjean, in “One Day More”:

“One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending road to Calvary. . .“
. . . Tomorrow we’ll be far away
Tomorrow is the judgment day.
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in heaven has in store
One more dawn! One more day! One day more!

* * *

Valjean’ s elegiac “Bring Him Home” is nothing more or less than a plaintive plea for God to allow him to die in place of Marius in the upcoming battle at the barricade.

* * *

Finally, the deeply moving climax in which the spirits of Fantine and Eponine usher Valjean into eternity:


“On this page I write my last confession. . .
Forgive me all my trespasses
And take me to your glory
Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.”

* * *

Hugo’s novel is available in the original French for those of you who are Francophones, and in several excellent English translations. I have read and enjoyed the translation by Norman MacAfee, now available in a paperback edition that features a picture of Cosette as seen on the posters for the musical. As you read the novel, I suggest that you read it with fresh eyes, looking for the spiritual clues that jump from almost every page. Here are some of the themes to watch for:

Law vs. Grace personified in Javert vs. Valjean

Vengeance vs. Forgiveness

Oppression vs. God’s Gift of Freedom

God’s people standing up for the helpless: the poor, the abandoned, the orphaned, and the widowed

Individual salvation leading to offering love and hope to others (The Bishop to Valjean; Valjean to Fantine, Cosette and Marius)

Good overcoming evil

Individuals transformed into new identities through God’s love

Hope vs. Despair

* * *

The team that assembled to translate Hugo’s masterpiece into a theatrical legend is a remarkable and gifted group. Cameron Mackintosh, Trevor Nunn and John Caird, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer all added their touch of genius to create this extraordinary work of art. In my opinion, the coalescence of music, text, staging, lighting, character development, movement, spiritual depth of the story, emotion, ensemble acting and singing, orchestration and pacing make this opera/play the highest expression of the art form of musical theater produced in my lifetime. This is a strong statement, but I make it having seen close to 150 different professional level productions of plays and musicals in my theater-going career.

While nothing quite replicates the experience of being in the theatre watching, listening and feeling the performers craft a unique version of the story each night, I have relived the experience over and over by listening to both the London and Broadway Cast albums, as well as watching the video/DVD of the 10th anniversary performance. I believe that all of these items can be found on Amazon.com.

Several years ago, in London, I had the rare privilege of meeting at the same time Cameron Mackintosh, Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg at the opening of their musical, Martin Guerre. (Alas, not a very worthy successor to Les Miz and Miss Saigon!) I had a chance to thank them in person for the joy that they had helped to bring to thousands of theatergoers around the world. I repeat those words of thanks, now, publicly.

* * *

The National Tour moves on to the following cities:

Philadelphia, PA (03/01-19/06) Forrest Theatre
Waterbury, CT (03/21-26/06) Palace Theatre
Detroit, MI (03/28-04/16/06) Fisher Theatre
Cleveland, OH (04/18-23/06) Allen Theatre, Playhouse Square Center
Cincinnati, OH (04/25-30/06) Aronoff Center
Denver, CO (05/02-07/06) Buell Theatre, Denver Cen. for the Performing Arts
Tucson, AZ (05/09-14/06) Music Hall
Tempe, AZ (05/16-21/06) Gammage Auditorium
Seattle, WA (05/24-06/04/06) Fifth Avenue Theatre
Los Angeles, CA (06/07-18/06) Pantages Theatre
Dallas, TX (06/21-07/02/06) Music Hall at Fair Park
Memphis, TN( 07/04-09/06) Orpheum Theatre
Indianapolis, IN (07/11-16/06) Murat Theatre
St. Louis, MO (07/18-23/06) Fox Theatre

If you have not yet seen it, do so! If you have already seen it, see it again and bring along some friends and family. And by all means, read the book.

It simply does not get an better!

Thanks for indulging my long rant!


Temporarily Incommunicado - A Cell Phone Crisis

Sorry if this is Spam, but I thought this might be the most efficient way to warn the largest number of people that I will be unreachable by cell phone for the next day or two.

Yesterday at Copley Place in Boston, my cell phone was stolen. As I tried to track down what had happened, I learned that there had been a string of cell phone robberies from kiosks in the Mall. So, I am in the process of contacting Cingular to arrange a suitable replacement.

So, if you need to contact me while I am between cell phones, please use e-mail or my office phone:

(781) 235-7700 x131

Also, I have lost all of my stored phone numbers that were on my cell phone, so if you are someone who receives calls from me on a regular basis (or would like to!), please e-mail me your relevant phone numbers so I can input them into my new instrument when it arrives.

Thanks for your help and understanding.


Friday, February 24, 2006

10 Leaders Share Their Views On Leadership – Part II: “Impeccability” by Drew Clarke

Chapter Two of “Take Command” by Kelly Perdew discusses “Impeccability: If Something Is Worth Doing, Then It Is Worth Doing Right.” Kelly closes the chapter with this quotation:

“Make sure the first – and last – impression you make is your best. Maintain impeccable standards for all your work,, you never know who is going to see it or what it will be used for. What you deliver, and how you deliver it, is who you are. Be the best you can be.” (Page 48)

As I was thinking through the list of individuals I would invite to contribute their thoughts to this series, I went through my mental Rolodex of people I know who have made successful transitions from military leadership to leadership in the business world. Drew Clarke came immediately to mind as I scrolled through the “C’s” in my mental address book. I first met Drew three years ago when he and I served together on a panel at a Career Day event sponsored by the Armed Forces Alumni Association at Harvard Business School. We have had subsequent chances to deepen our relationship in one-on-one meetings, e-mail and phone conversations and at luncheons of the Service Academy Business Network of Boston – a networking group of West Point, Annapolis, Air Force Academy and Coast Guard Academy graduates who live and work in the Greater Boston area. (I have very graciously been “adopted” by this group as a “Permanent Guest Member”!)

Andrew "Drew" Clarke is a 1992 graduate of the United State Military Academy at West Point, where he was a member of the three-time National Championship Orienteering team. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. After a successful career as a marketing executive with Siebel Systems, Drew currently serves as Vice President of Global Marketing Operations at PTC, a $700 million enterprise software company.

I am pleased to share Drew’s thoughts on IMPECCABILITY

* * * * * * * * * *

Kelly has a quote about: “you never know when you have the opportunity to impress somebody.” This statement could be construed as just looking out for when your manager or potential employer could be around and check on your work. I believe it is a lot more than that – it is doing your job right – down to the details – regardless of who may be looking. This is even more important if you are in a leadership position – the most important audience is the people who work for you.

Similar to Bill from last weeks posting, I am not good at official definitions therefore I will share my perspective on “Impeccability” through a couple of situations that I experienced in the Army and the business world.

As a new officer, I had the fortune of being assigned directly to a scout platoon in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. While I have many life lessons from the 2 years as a scout platoon leader, one jumps out at me in this discussion of impeccability.

About 8 months into my assignment, my platoon was getting ready for our gunnery exercises. These exercises are very competitive - with each unit striving to be the top ranked platoon. In gunnery, we test everything from the smallest unit fundamentals (can each scout, crew and team do their job with their weapon systems?) to platoon and troop combat tactics. For the weeks leading up to the gunnery exercises, I focused our time and resources on ensuring that each scout and crew could accomplish each task, practiced those tasks and that our equipment was working at 100%. At the time it seemed almost mundane, and especially when I compared myself to the other scout platoon leaders who paid lip service to those fundamentals and focused on ensuring their equipment looked great.

Suffice to say, during the pre-gunnery inspections, my scout platoon looked a bit shabby. Our Bradley Fighting Vehicles still had the scratches and marks from the first Gulf War, the paint was worn, our combat vehicle helmets were not painted with flashy Cavalry symbols…. When my Squadron Commander commented on the paint jobs (or lack of them) he asked me if I wanted my platoon to look good at the gunnery range. I told him “No, I don’t. I want to finish as the top platoon in the regiment.” He chuckled and moved on to the next platoon that was considerably “prettier”. In the end, not only did my platoon finish as first, we went on to represent the Regiment (a total 36 teams) at a national level competition – finishing second overall.

The above story may seem counter to the definition of impeccability, but I think it is an important distinction and is a lesson that stays with me. I did not go for the “Show” but focused on the right details – skill attainment, practice, and my equipment working 100%. In the end – focusing on the right things and making sure they are done correctly will help you and your organization overachieve your goals.

Flash forward 10 years and I am now in the business world working in Silicon Valley. In 2002, I was asked by my company to help build a field marketing organization. We were an enterprise software company – marketing and selling our solutions to major corporations. At $1.5B in revenues, we were a large software company but hadn’t focused on building a robust demand generation marketing organization. Building this group wasn’t going to be easy as there wasn’t any institutional knowledge to draw upon.

As we built the field marketing organization, I focused on the fundamentals of demand generation – which requires a lot of attention to detail. For example, what is the process for executing a marketing program, how do you hand the new leads to sales, what programs are effective, how do you measure it, where do you spend the precious marketing resources? By breaking the process into pieces and focusing on the details, we built a great organization with strong fundamentals that not only weathered the storm but improved while the resources became more constrained as the tech bubble burst.

In business, when an organization is making money it is often given more resources (money, people) to make even more money. This was the case for our group. Even when the company was downsizing, we were growing – from a team of 15 to over 50 by the end of 2004. The internal recognition was great but I wanted to do more for the team and to show them that they were unique and "best of class," so we applied for some best practice awards from external organizations and we won 2 – one from IDC and one from ITSMA – two research oriented organizations.

In conclusion – it is my opinion that “impeccability” is more than looking good. It is being good at what you do – down to the details that makes you “impeccable”.


* * * * * *

Thank you, Drew, for your commitment to excellence and your willingness to share your story with us.

This series will continue next week with . . . .

10 Leaders Share Their Views On Leadership – Part III: “Passion” by Scott St. Germain

I encourage you to share this series with others you feel would benefit from the insights of these leaders.

If you have not yet taken the time to read Kelly Perdew’s “Take Command,” this would be a good time to log onto Amazon.com to order it. It is the foundation stone upon which this series is built.



Saturday, February 18, 2006

“The House of Medici” by Christopher Hibbert: A Mini Review

On January 16, I reviewed the book “The Medici Effect” by Frans Johansson. In his work on innovation, Frans uses the Medici family of Renaissance Florence as a template for the kind of enabling patronage that draws together talent from a variety of disciplines, arts and sciences – with the ultimate impact of empowering extraordinary levels of creativity and innovation.

As I read Johansson’s book, I was struck by the fact that I knew precious little of the history of the Medici and the story behind their emergence as the greatest patrons of the arts the world has ever known. Despite the fact that I have visited Florence, Italy, I still felt that my knowledge of that world needed to be enhanced. As someone who often alludes to Renaissance Men, I felt that it behooved me to learn more about the time and place that spawned the first generation of prototype Renaissance Men – Leonardo, Michelangelo and their ilk.

A quick Google search led me to Christopher Hibbert’s classic book on the history of the Medici - “The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall.” Hibbert does a nice job of leading the reader through a Grand Tour of several generations of the Medici – bankers to the Papacy who investments a large portion of their largesse in supporting artists and scholars of many stripes. A nice set of endnotes provides a parallel tour through the architectural history of all of the sites mentioned in the body of the text.

While I will not take the time for a full review here, I do want to share some insight that I gleaned early in the book that shed important light on how Florence emerged as the haven for genius that turned it into the magnet that it remains today for people who want to experience the glory of its Golden Age.

In 1438, Cosimo Medici arranged for a Council to be convened in Florence that would attempt to repair the breech between the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church centered in Constantinople. The Council ultimately failed to bridge that theological chasm, but had more salubrious effects on the reputation of Florence as a center for the arts and scholarship.

“Yet for Florence, as Cosimo had foreseen, the Council had happier consequences. As well as profiting the trade of the city, it was an important influence on what was already being spoken of as the Rinascimento [“Renaissance”]. The presence of so many Greek scholars in Florence provided an incalculable stimulus to the quickening interest in classical texts and classical history, in classical art and philosophy, and particularly in the study of Plato, the great hero of the humanists, for so long overshadowed by his pupil, Aristotle.” (Page 68)

This book helped me to fill in some missing pieces in my understanding of how the Renaissance emerged from the Dark Ages that had beclouded and adumbrated Europe for so many centuries. I recommend it as a useful resource for those, who like me, are not serious students of history, but who desire to know more than “the average bear” about the intellectual history of Western Civilization.



The White Rhino’s Favorite Links: “Q” = Quest For The West

I am pleased to add another letter to The White Rhino’s List of Favorite Links. My friend, Dougan Sherwood, runs The Western Institute for Leadership and Discovery


The Institute’s signature program is QUEST FOR THE WEST, a 10-day travel adventure that is a program designed to prepare extraordinary high school juniors and seniors to achieve their full potential in college and beyond.

Dougan has a strong background in outdoor education and youth development. If you are aware of families with teenagers who will enter their junior or senior year of high school in the fall of 2006, and these boys or girls have shown strong leadership potential, I encourage you to make the family aware of this unique leadership development program.


Friday, February 17, 2006

10 Leaders Share Their Views On Leadership – Part I: “Duty” by Bill Reagan

Chapter One of “Take Command” by Kelly Perdew discusses “Duty: Do What You Are Supposed To Do, When You’re Supposed to Do It.” Kelly closes the chapter with this quotation:

“You know what to do 99 percent of the time. When an employee asks me a question, I look him in the eye and ask, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ Almost every time he can make the decision on his own. So stop waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Be active and do the right thing. This applies to both your work and your personal life. ‘Just do it!” (Page 27)

Of all the people I know, no one exemplifies the motto “Just Do It” better than my friend, Bill Reagan. I am honored that Bill has agreed to lead off this ten-part series inspired by Kelly Perdew’s book. Bill is a naval aviator who moved on to an inspiring career in business as an inventor, entrepreneur, corporate leader, mentor, thought leader and networker extraordinaire! Bill invented the technology behind LoJack, the company that he founded and led through its first stages of growth and success. It is fitting than Bill’s current business card lists him as “Consulting Philosopher”! I am pleased to offer Bill’s wise and philosophical thoughts on Duty.

* * * * * * * * * *

DUTY by Bill Reagan

My run of the mill daily dictionaries around the house have several definitions of the word “Duty”. My unabridged dictionary has fifty-seven lines defining “Duty”. I chose to eschew them all.

The first time I contemplated the concept of “duty”, I never defined it as a word or an abstract concept. As a freshman at the University of Notre Dame in 1953 one day I walked through the entrance to the east end of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Above the door are inscribed the words: “God - Country - Notre Dame.” Affixed to the walls on either side of the door are the names of the men from Notre Dame who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War I. The ceiling of the vestibule, inside of the War Memorial entrance contains the coats of arms of American Divisions that fought in the First World War.

The non-defining of the word was certainly not a noetic conclusion of a logical thinking process. It is not the word “duty” which is all-important. Nor is it an implication of the value, the attitude and the actions it requires that gives the meaning and concept of “duty” its value.

While my dear friend, Doctor Al Chase, has asked me to please convey how my military career could help show how my “duty” in the military might be translated to become a transferable asset in the business world, I find it most difficult to dissect and directly link the various passages of my life smoothly together.

Al said: “Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your experience which yields an example of duty”. I know examples are a terrible way to define something. However, I am not bright enough to compete with all the dictionary definitions. Therefore, examples will have to do.

Duty in the military is quickly and boldly comprehensible and clear when those we loved and cared for gave the ultimate sacrifice. My beloved roommate in advanced training at Corpus Christi, John Sullivan, was covering for his squadron CO - who was under the hood in the cockpit practicing simulated instrument flying. John was in his aircraft, acting as the eyes for his skipper over the Mediterranean. At Sully’s funeral service, his boss said: “Bill, he just didn’t respond after I popped the hood. He was in a flat glide heading back to the carrier and slowly descending toward the water. I slid over and kept calling him on the radio. He wasn’t answering and seemed frozen in the cockpit.”

I asked: “Did you give him a tip on his wing sir?” He said: “I did…and a good one too.” Mrs. Sullivan (John’s mother) was standing near us, looked at me and said: “What do you think Bill?” I said, “Mrs. Sullivan, I wasn’t there. The Commander was. I suspect that Sully either had a heart attack or succumbed to vapors in the cockpit. I’m almost sure he never suffered.” The skipper said: “I agree with Bill, Mrs. Sullivan.”

My second example will be enough. By pure chance, I met my best friend in flight training, Tony Caswick, at Blackbush Military Airport outside of London. We spent a couple of days together and were scheduled to take off at the same time on day three. It was early in the morning and we got permission from the Brits to do a formation takeoff. We flew out over the Irish Sea and passed over the British aircraft carrier “HMS Ark Royal”. About ten minutes after we greeted our Brit friends, we received a call that one of their scouting aircraft had spotted the snorkel of a Russian submarine. They requested us to take over. “You or me?” I asked Tony. “Well, it’s southwest and I’m heading back to Florida. Where are you going, Brunswick?” “Nope,” I said. “Newfoundland. Argentia.” Okay. “I’ll take it then. Later Bill.” Tony and his crew perished in pursuit of that Russian submarine.

I spent my last year and a half on the staff of the First Naval District in Boston in charge of recruiting and leadership for the Naval Reserve. I flew out of the Naval Air Station in South Weymouth but truly missed the camaraderie of my squadron.

My transition into civilian life was most fortuitous. I was offered a job as director of marketing for Massa Corporation in Hingham, MA. Massa was a primary manufacturer and developer of underwater transducers and listening devices used in anti-submarine warfare. (The business I had been in for most of my naval career) So, there I was working almost full time in Washington with my alma mater – The United States Navy. But now I was a civilian and very comfortable with my new surroundings.

While at Massa Corporation, I became a member of the National Security Industrial Association. The President of the New England Group was a retired Naval Officer who ran the Marine Division of the Avco Corporation’s Research and Advanced Development Group. His name was Brisco Chipman. He was the first officer in his Naval Academy class to be selected as Admiral. He asked me to leave Massa and replace his #1, Tom Paris who was moving to Washington. Tom was also a Naval Academy grad. I accepted his offer on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was shot.

So my transition from the United States Navy to the civilian life was pretty much seamless. Brisco Chipman died suddenly and I ended up reporting to Doug Kenna, Avco’s Executive Vice President. Doug and I became friends. Doug also had a military background. He went to the University of Mississippi for one year and transferred (with the help of Senator Stennis from Mississippi) to the United States Military Academy. At West Point, Doug was President of his class, Regimental commander, All-American football player, quarterback and halfback on the undefeated 1944 Army football team which won the national championship. He was also an All-American basketball player and captain of the Army tennis team. Doug and I both left Avco at the same time in 1967 and have kept our friendship for all these years.

In essence, I have been particularly blessed in a special way because I had the good fortune of being inspired by great and noble men who never were patronizing, always kind, never arrogant and always caring, honest and fair. While they never said these words, I now give you my definition of DUTY, which I learned from them: DUTY is the overwhelming moral requirement to do what you MUST do.”

Finally, once upon a time, near the end of my career at AVCO, I found myself on a plane seated beside an elderly woman who was living on her deceased husband’s life insurance and pension from AVCO Corporation. After I listened to much of her life history, she asked me for whom I worked. I answered simply “I work for you!”


This series will continue next week with . . . .

10 Leaders Share Their Views On Leadership – Part II: “Impeccability” by Drew Clarke

I encourage you to share this series with others you feel would benefit from the insights of these leaders.


10 Leaders Share Their Views On Leadership – Series Introduction

On February 3, I reviewed Kelly Perdew’s new book, “Take Command.” In my review, I mentioned that reading Kelly’s book had inspired me to follow-up on his "10 Leadership Principles" by running a series of articles in this Blog – asking ten business leaders each to comment on one of the principles from his own perspective. Each of these ten individuals, like Kelly Perdew and those he highlights in his book, have successfully made the transition from military leadership to leadership in the business world. Later today, I will post the first of these articles. They will run on the average of once a week for the next ten weeks.

My purpose in offering this series of commentaries on 10 Leadership Principles is twofold. First, it is my desire that these ten views of leadership in the world of the military and the business world will serve as tools to inspire and educate prospective employers about the special value proposition of business leaders who have honed their skills in the military. I meet many employers who are reluctant to hire former military leaders because of misperceptions and stereotypes that these ex-GI's may be rigid, authoritarian, humorless, and difficult to work with. Nothing could be further from the truth. One does not develop into an effective leader of troops without developing the ability to build consensus, listen carefully to all points of view, make courageous decisions, and respond instantaneously to changing environments and challenges. As the series develops, please keep in mind that these ten individuals represent a microcosm of the thousands of “Force Multipliers” who are available to help bring your company to its next level of effectiveness and profitability. I encourage you to pass these articles along to others who may be in a position to hire gifted leaders like the ones who have agreed to write for this series.

A parallel purpose behind the offering of this series is to hold up the stories of these ten individuals as a source of encouragement to men and women who are in the process of making the transition – or considering the transition – from the military to the business world. This can be a daunting chasm to cross, and taken together, these ten articles - and the individuals who have written them – represent ten different approaches to bridging that gap. It is my hope that their stories will inspire, encourage and empower those who will follow them into the world of business leadership.

(Editorial note – I am well aware that there are no women represented among the ten individuals who have agreed to write for this series. I am disappointed with this fact. Among the individuals whom I invited to participate in this project were several women leaders whom I admire and respect. In each case, these women were forced to beg off from writing for this series because of pressing demands of other projects and responsibilities. I would welcome hearing from women who have made the transition from military leadership to leadership in the business world, and would be delighted to include their stories as addenda to this series.)

In advance, I would like to thank the ten outstanding individuals who have agreed to share with us their perspective on Kelly Perdew’s "10 Leadership Principles."

If you wish to follow comments that others are making about Kelly’s book and the "10 Principles," I refer you to:


In addition, you can access information about what Kelly is doing in the Military.com column, as well as his new show on the Military Channel - GI Factory.



You can access Kelly's personal Website via: http://kellyperdew.com/

Kelly, thank you for inspiring this series!


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pay Attention! (Looking At Attention Surplus Condition- otherwise know as ADD)

My friend, Jason Henrichs, Managing Partner at Rock Maple Ventures here in Boston, just made me aware of a fascinating article about Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Since God chose to bless me and two of my four sons with neurological wiring that falls under the rubric of ADD, I was motivated to pay close attention to this article, written by Pete Quily, a California-based Adult Attention Deficit Coach.

The Link to Quily’s Website is: http://www.addcoach4u.com/

Here is the article that Jason just shared:

Ten Advantages of ADD

Pete Quily has created a top ten list of reasons why ADD can be useful in the ever-changing world of technology.

1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.

Hours of full engagement and concentration in a task, IF you find it interesting. You can get into the zone and be totally immersed in what you’re doing while the outside world disappears. When I went on the net for the first time in 1993 at an Internet cafe I got on the machine at 8 pm and around 4 am decided it was time to go home.

2. Rapid Fire Mind.

Your brain processes information at hyperspeed. You can do things in 30 minutes on a computer that might take other people hours. Downside if you’re stuck with an old machine and not enough RAM you’ll be frustrated cause it can’t keep up with the speed of your brain.

3. Multitasking at Will.

Able to run 14 apps at a time and effortlessly switch between each without breaking a sweat. Able to do several projects at a time with ease.

4. High Energy Level.

You’re able to keep going on a project (if it’s interesting, ADDers are more into creative and entrepreneurial activities than clerical and repetitive ones). 14-hour days? No problem. Adrenaline is my fuel source:)

5. Highly Creative.

Able to think beyond the idea of a box. This comes naturally for ADDers, while others pay thousands of dollars to try and learn this. Since you take in more information than the average person, and you’re easily distractible, you’re more likely to view a problem from many different angles than vanilla people (non ADDers), and therefore come up with more possible solutions to a problem. Need an idea generator? Find an ADDer.

6. Quick Learner.

IF it’s something you’re interested in. ADD is mainly a condition of boredom; you have no trouble paying attention to something if it’s interesting.
Most people find it difficult to do boring or repetitive things but these can often totally shut an ADDer down. Your rapid-fire brain + highly creative mind + the ability to hyperfocus equals fast absorption of new information quickly. Dr Ed Hallowell - who has ADD - said he stopped teaching Psychiatry at Harvard University because the non-ADDers brains were just too slow and they took so long to get it. He got tired of being continually frustrated waiting for them to catch up to the ADD students.

7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.

A perfect match for the wired world, an under stimulated brain and an over stimulated virtual environment. Being an info junkie can be a good thing. Well, not always:)

8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.

Allows you to notice more and find information and resource that others miss. Also allows you to see possible problems before they arise, and opportunities that others may not see because they have tunnel vision vs. multiplex vision. An ADDer invented the electronic ticket.

9. Great in a Crisis.

High-energy intense situation? Lots of chaos and change? Sign me up; I thrive on stimulation, change and chaos. We can create order from chaos effortlessly. We can also create such an environment as well if needed.

10. Risk Taker.

Impulsivity means you’re more willing to take risks and have a bias for action, act now while the opportunity is hot instead of getting into analysis paralysis.
Many entrepreneurs have ADD i.e. Paul Orfalea who founded Kinko’s, JetBlue Founder and CEO David Neeleman who attributes his creativity to ADD. Both are Billionaires. Imagine how successful a high tech CEO would be if they didn’t take many risks.

This is not to say there are no disadvantages or real problems associated with ADDers in a high tech career, there most certainly are, and if you don’t learn to manage them, they can a great deal of trouble and grief to your life (and those around you), but that’s another article.

* * * * *

If found this to be an incredibly insightful and accurate description of how I often operate. It also describes many of my high-functioning friends, candidates and clients in the business world. I welcome your feedback on what Quily has written here.


You Are What You Read

My friend, Tom Glass, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, just forwarded me a piece that was too good not to share with you. I wish I knew to whom I should give credit for originating this piece. It was not me and it was not Tom Glass. Enjoy!

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The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they ought to run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country if they could find the time and don't have to leave Southern California to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and believe they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while drunk.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country. Or that anyone is running it, but if so they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.

The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One More USMC Salute

As you may have surmised, I am in a “Marines Corps state of mind” today. My friend, Nate Boaz, is a second year student at Harvard Business School. He and Nate Fick happen to be friends, as well, and they served together in the USMC. Nate Boaz recently penned an Op-Ed piece that was printed on Sunday in the LA Times.

I commend to you this thoughtful warrior’s words as he reflects - from his vantage point of having served as a Marines Corps Captain in Iraq – on the current level and tone of dissent with regard to our involvement in Iraq.


Thanks, Nate, for making us think.


Two Salutes To The Marines

This morning, I received an e-mail from Nick Olmstead, an Annapolis graduate and a recently retired naval officer. Nick was kind enough to forward me an article that is worthy of sharing with readers of this Blog. The story highlights an extraordinary Marines Corps bomb disposal expert - USMC Gunnery Sergeant Michael Burghardt, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq. In the accompanying picture, the “Gunny” is show offering a “one finger salute,” to insurgents who had failed in their attempt to kill him with an IED. Burghardt’s courage and the picture have become symbols of the resolve of our troops serving in the Gulf.

Here is what Nick had to say in sharing the picture and story with me:

“Al, this may be worthy of discussion....From my Navy Chief connections... made my goosebumps stand up tall.”

Thanks, Nick.

* * * *

On January 10, I offered a review of the book, “One Bullet Away” by Nathaniel Fick.


Towards the end of my review, I made the following observations:

"Mr. Fick strikes me as exactly the kind of individual we need to encourage to find a place in public service - either in an elected or appointed capacity. The combination of brilliance and well-grounded decision-making that characterized Nate's military leadership career is precisely what is needed to steer our nation through the rocky shoals that lie before us. Fick seems to embody all of the best traits of a John McCain. I look forward to seeing him take the additional tools he is now acquiring on the bank of the River Charles and pouring them in a meaningful and substantive way into the stream of our public discourse and policy-making. If I do have an opportunity to develop a relationship with Nate, I hope to be able to influence him in this direction."

Nate’s busy travel schedule recently brought him back to Cambridge, so he and I were able to catch up over a meal in Harvard Square. While much of our conversation was private and shall remain so, I feel comfortable in sharing with the readers of this Blog two things that emerged from my conversation with Nate Fick.

First, I am not the only person that is encouraging him to seek a career in public service. The timetable for such a potential career and the form that it will take are matters that will be revealed over time. Second, when I asked Nate what he found most encouraging as he has toured the country, speaking and signing books, his answer was passionate and unequivocal: “Meeting the veterans who were moved by my book. I remember in particular a man who came to speak to me. He had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1943!”

Every veteran I know who has read “One Bullet Away,” has been moved by Nate’s account of his life as a USMC officer. This book would make a great surprise gift for someone you know who has served our country in uniform.

Thanks, Nate.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Boston’s Ground Hog Day – The Equipment Truck Heads To Florida!

Even as the Boston area digs out from under two feet of snow dropped by The Blizzard of ’06, there is a feeling of Spring in the air! Boston’s “Ground Hog Day” has arrived. As I write this article, a few miles to the East at Fenway Park, the equipment truck is being loaded with uniforms, balls and bats, tape, socks and jocks and all of the other paraphernalia that will be needed in Ft. Meyers to transform an amorphous group of ballplayers into the 2006 edition of the Boston Red Sox. No migration is watched more closely – not even the swallows’ perennial return to Capistrano – than the progress of the equipment truck down I-95 to the Spring Training home of the Sox. Other annual rites of passage and bases to be covered that will be dissected by Red Sox Nation and callers to WEEI between now and Opening Day will be – “Pitchers and Catchers Report,” “Manny Demands To Be Traded,” “Where Is Keith Foulke’s Fastball?” “Will Wakefield’s Knuckler Prove To Be Hittable This Season?”

In this baseball crazy city, it would take a lot more than two feet of snow to bury the excitement about the upcoming season. Theo is back on the job, Roger is being wooed, Wells is being shopped, Manny is being appeased, Paplebon is being groomed, Fenway is being enlarged, and the truck will soon be rumbling down the Interstate. Winter is officially over!

Play ball!


Saturday, February 11, 2006

“Annapolis,” The Movie – Personal Commentary

This brief posting is a series of personal comments and reactions to the movie, rather than a true review. Despite the mixed reviews the movie has been receiving, I felt I should see it, in light of the many Annapolis graduates I number among my friends.

The Department of Defense, after initially indicating a willingness to cooperate with the filmmakers, ultimately withheld permission for them to shoot the film on location at the Naval Academy. Their reasoning, as I understand it, was that the script did not adequately portray an overall depiction of life at the U.S. Naval Academy that was in keeping with the spirit of the place. Having now seen the film, I would have to say that I agree with the decision of the Navy.

“Annapolis” is not a bad film; it is an incomplete and facile film. The filmmakers settled for telling a melodramatic tale when they could have told a more gripping story in any number of ways. If you did well on the “analogies” section of the SAT’s, then perhaps this comparison will make sense to you. The film’s depiction of the life of a midshipman is to the reality of life at Annapolis as an empty taco shell is to a full course Mexican meal complete with Tabasco sauce. There is nothing wrong with putting an empty taco shell on a plate – as long as you understand that you need to continue the process and fill it with some meat, cheese, lettuce and top it off with a zesty sauce. “Annapolis” tries to feed us an empty shell. Some reviews of this movie that I have read have complained that it portrays life at Annapolis as largely one-dimensional. This is an accurate criticism. Based upon the storyline of this film, one would assume that life at the Naval Academy is comprised of 90% boxing and a smattering of studying, running obstacle courses, having conflicts with roommates and upperclassmen and a modicum of wrestling with ethical issues related to the honor code.

The plot could easily have been concocted by taking a pile of loose script pages from “Rudy” and another pile of loose pages from the script of “Rocky” and shuffling them together to produce a melodramatic mélange. The characters are largely drawn from central casting’s supply of cutout two dimensional stereotypes – the raucous and randy New York punk, the driven Asian over-achiever, the porcine kid from the South who carries on his back the hopes of his backwater hometown that sent him off to Annapolis with a parade and the key to the city. We are not even spared Apollo Creed – in the person of an upperclassman who is a former enlisted Marine who gained entrance to the Academy through an alternate admissions procedure for promising enlisted personnel. His mission in life becomes finding a way to haze and intimidate the film’s hero – played reasonably well in a James Dean pout by James Franco - into quitting and returning to his blue-collar roots in the shipyard across the Severn River from the Naval Academy. The plot line is a series of predictable soap opera vignettes that any discerning viewer can see coming over the horizon like an aircraft carrier steaming for its homeport.

If anyone is interested in getting the real feel for life at Annapolis or any of the other service academies, there is a rich storehouse of films and books that do a fine job of lifting the curtain on the kind of life that one can expect to experience in these crucibles of character and command. Pat Conroy’s novel, “Lords of Disciple,” takes an unblinking, unsentimental and moving look at life at The Citadel. The book, a literary masterpiece, was also made into a fine film. Former Secretary of the Navy, James Webb, wrote a controversial novel, “A Sense of Honor,” about his experience as a midshipman in the years before the Viet Nam war. For his troubles of ripping the scab off of some old wounds, he found himself banned for a time from setting foot on campus at Annapolis. The book makes for riveting reading. In “The Nightingale’s Song,” Robert Timberg takes the lives of five Annapolis grads – Ollie North, John Poindexter, John McCain, James Webb and Bud MacFarlane - and follows them through the wild roller coast ride of their careers that took them from the Naval Academy to Viet Nam to the Pentagon and White House and finally to the Iran Contra Scandal. This book is a must read. On the West Point side of the coin, “Absolutely American” is as good as it gets. Rolling Stone’s David Lipsky became the original “embedded reporter,” spending four years at West Point following the fortunes of the Class of 2002. The resulting book is a revelation well worth reading.

I am grateful to the many men and women educated at Annapolis who are now part of my life. Many of them served – and continue to serve – our nation with distinction and with honor. Others have moved on to places of leadership and responsibility in the private sector and in the government. For most of them, The Naval Academy provided a challenging platform from which to launch the rest of their lives. The education they received is one of the best returns on taxpayer’s investment that I am aware of in America today.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oops! Mea Culpa - Please Try The iamplify.com Link again

My apologies. Yesterday, several of my Blog readers made me aware of a typo in the Link to iAmply that made it impossible to open up their Website from the Link. This problem has been fixed, so please try again to link to this fascinating site.

That is what you get when you let a White Rhino near a keyboard! I am proposing a neologism: whenever I do anything technical to this Blog, I will now have to not only be sure to "de-bug" it, but I will also be sure to "de-rhino" it!



Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bono Speaks Prophetically

My son, Ti, from his home in Craiova, Romania recently commented on a message given by Bono, lead singer of the Irish group, U2, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Ti shared the following observations in the new Blog he has recently developed - http://telperionslight.blogspot.com

* * * *

Ti: "Alright, this has nothing to do with our family, but I could not help but post this. Yesterday Bono spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and he challenged his audience, which included the President and First Lady, to increase the aid which America gives to the world's poor by 1% of the National Budget (it is currently below 1%). No matter what your faith or political leaning, his words are worth heading, but to those of us who share his Christian faith they hit particualry hard and cannot be ignored. (And if any of you doubt that Bono has faith, you should listen to his words here, which - backed up by his actions on behalf of the poor - put most high-profile "Christians" to shame.) Here are a few quotes from the speech, with a link to the entire text at the end of this article:

"Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice. And that’s too bad. Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it. But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment."

"A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it… I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea… And this wise man said: stop. He said, stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing—because it’s already blessed. Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what He’s calling us to do."

"And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject. That’s why I say there’s the law of the land… and then there is a higher standard. There’s the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it’s OK to protect our agriculture but it’s not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?. . .God will not accept that. Mine won’t, at least. Will yours?"


Thanks to Ti and his Blog making me aware of Bono's speech, I have taken the time to read the entire transcript. The speech is remarkable, riveting, compelling and not to be missed. I commend the speech to you - and you to the wisdom displayed therein. Bono never sang a truer note than the one he just uttered at the National Prayer Breakfast!

Thanks, Ti.


A Refreshing Perspective - Tony Blair Is Bullish On America

My friend, Tom Glass, forwards interesting material to his friends on a daily basis. Many times, the e-mails contain jokes, amusing stories, quips, cartoons and other fodder to lighten the day. Today's message was of a more serious turn, and one that I found well worth sharing with my readers. My research indicates that this statement was made over a year ago as Blair responded to critics in the House of Commons who questioned his continuing support of American policies. You may already be familiar with his powerful and succinct retort, but I became aware of this quotation just today.

* * * *

During a interview, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain was quoted giving the following answer to one of his parliament members as to why he believes so much in America and its President. And does he think they are on the right track?

Blair's reply -- "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at.....how many want in.......and how many want out."

The White Rhino's List of Favorite Links: "I" = iAmplify

My friend, Sean Cross, recently joined the leadership team at an exciting start-up - iAmplify. Sean is running operations for Co-Founders, Jack and Murray Hidary. As you will see below and when you click on the Link to www.iamplify.com, iAmplify has enlisted a rapidly growing list of authors, speakers, entertainers who provide unique content to a unique community of subscribers.

Check them out.

* * * *

Who We Are

iAmplify provides the means for leading celebrities, experts and media companies to self-publish paid audio and video content over the Internet.
For these content makers, we provide software, hardware and production assistance to create streams, downloads and podcasts of their material.
For online retailers, we offer plug-and-play merchandizing, which can serve their customers targeted downloadable products. Shoppers can purchase downloads a-la-carte or via ongoing subscriptions.
For media publishers, we provide new ways to sell content directly to their existing audiences and distribution to new markets being created by emerging ipod and mobile technologies.iAmplify has exclusive rights to a large and growing catalog of content, mostly in the short-form audio format, in many categories including: fitness, self-improvement, kids, business, parenting, religion, beauty, sports and gaming. This content is available for licensing.

Founded in 2004, by Internet pioneers Jack and Murray Hidary, iAmplify now has offices in New York City and Los Angeles. The Hidary brothers founded Earthweb in 1995 and took it public with a record breaking IPO. Then in 2001, they founded Vista Research, which provided the country's largest investment fund managers with new access to industry expertise. Vista Research was sold to McGraw Hill/Standard & Poors in April of 2005.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Good News For Charles McCarry Fans: A Review Of “Old Boys”

For those of you who are already fans of espionage writer Charles McCarry, I have great news. McCarry has been coaxed out of retirement and has written a riveting novel in “Old Boys.” For those of you who have yet to sample the delights of McCarry’s prose, I have good news for you, as well. You have the opportunity to introduce yourself to the pleasures of reading the offerings of this former undercover CIA agent while he is still producing new works.

In a nice twist of art imitating life and life imitating art, the premise of this story is that a motley assemblage of former intelligence community operatives has been coaxed out of retirement to confront the global threat of a fanatical leader in the Middle East who has acquired weapons of mass destructions. The daunting challenge that faces these superannuated “formers” or “Old Boys” is to find the tactical nuclear weapons that have disappeared from the weapons arsenal of the former Soviet Union and destroy the cache of bombs before they can be used by the madman who has acquired them. At the same time, the “Old Boys” must identify and avoid enemies – internal and external – scattered across the globe, while simultaneously trying to find their former colleague who may or may not have died in a remote Chinese prison camp. In McCarry’s capable hands, this serpentine story slithers along in a most satisfying and sinuous manner.

McCarry is an artist when it comes to painting pictures with words – much in the style of John Le Carre. His language soars like the rare Saker falcon whose predatory peregrinations represent both a part of the narrative of this story and serve as a metaphor for the treachery of terrorists and would-be terrorists. McCarry, exercising “fictive falconry,” grabs the reader in the talons of his talent for telling tales with tortuous trajectories. And, as in the case with falconry in the field, at the end of the day, the combatants in McCarry’s story shed blood and ruffle feathers.

Let me share some brief examples of the word pictures that McCarry evokes.

"I decided to skip the Novotel and went instead to a hotel recommended by my taxi driver. The ride through Manaus was what one might expect in the tropics, a tour of a slum that appeared to have been built as a slum, punctuated by an occasional bank or office building made of the same scabby concrete and painted in the same garish colors as the rest of the city. In the central market sweaty butchers worked in the open air in hot sunlight, cutting up steers and hogs and selling the warm meat while blood spilled sluggishly over the edge of the table in a lacy crimson film." (Page 60)

"Everything Ben said made sense. Making sense was his specialty. Nevertheless, I had never in my life felt more anxiety than I felt now, gazing out the window over the endless jumble of roofs under which Istanbul was hiding itself." (Page 278)

I am eager to continue reading the books the McCarry wrote earlier in his career. And I look forward to his next book. Clearly, the "Old Boy" still has it!



Friday, February 03, 2006

Kelly Perdew In Charge: A Review of “Take Command – 10 Leadership Principles I Learned In The Military And Put To Work For Donald Trump”

The package arrived at my desk at the end of a long and hectic business day. As I fumbled and clawed to try to open the thing – a white box emblazoned with the orange and blue FedEx logo – I wondered what treasure awaited me. In the midst of a grueling workweek, I had forgotten that Kelly Perdew had promised to send me a copy of his new book so that I could read it and decide if it was worthy of being reviewed in my Blog. I finally managed to open the stubborn package and withdrew a book that was hot off the press: “Take Command - 10 Leadership Principles I Learned In The Military And Put To Work For Donald Trump” by Kelly Perdew, winner of the second season of “The Apprentice.” I love gifts – especially books. It felt like Christmas morning!

With his first book, Kelly joins a growing cadre of men and women who have publicly taken a stand to interpret and to share lessons they learned as military leaders and have endeavored to apply to the challenges of leading in the business world. Last year in this space, I shared excerpts from two excellent books by retired Navy Capt. Mike Abrashoff.



Mark Dahl, former TopGun aviator and instructor, has distilled his experiences into 8 Principles of TopGun Communications. (See Blog archive, January 3, 2005)

In the same vein, Kelly Perdew has organized his thoughts about command and leadership into 10 principles. Each tenet of leadership is given its own chapter for exposition and elucidation. Mr. Perdew has done a masterful job of bringing these simple - and often self-evident – principles to life by weaving together his own experiences in business and in the military along with examples of how each principle was demonstrated during the filming of “The Apprentice.” Most of us know Kelly Perdew because of his success in getting Donald Trump to proclaim at the climax of the show’s second season: “You’re hired!” For Perdew not to capitalize on that fame and notoriety would have been remiss. He manages to include that aspect of his life in the fabric of the book without coming across as self-congratulatory or fawning towards Trump.

Kelly exemplifies many of the book’s principles by the way in which he graciously shares credit with mentors and peers for his many successes. He also wisely incorporates the comments and stories of six other successful business leaders whose leadership styles were refined in the military. These six are Roger Staubach, James Kimsey of AOL, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Marsha “Marty” Evans of The American Red Cross, Bill Coleman of BAE Systems, West Point football legend Pete Dawkins, and Ross Perot. The inclusion of the wisdom of these elder statesmen adds an important element of texture and depth to this book.

Perdew’s 10 Leadership Principles:

Selfless Service

In addition to all of the elements I have mentioned above, the book is peppered with apt and helpful quotations from figures as disparate as Woodrow Wilson and Oprah Winfrey. These citations spice up the pages and reinforce the underlying messages. In this review I am not going to share extensive quotes. There are two reasons for this decision. The first is that I want to encourage you to read the book for yourself. I am not aware of anyone in the military or in the business sphere who would not benefit from reading Kelly’s perspective on the intersection of these two complementary worlds.

The second reason is that reading this book has inspired me to create a 10-part series that will run in this Blog over the next several months. I will take each of the Perdew's ten chapters and principles and dedicate an article to that principle. I will excerpt quotes from the relevant chapter of Kelly’s book, and I will share stories of individuals I know who exemplify these principles in the business world.

Let me share my motivation for undertaking the development of this series. It has to do with the way in which many civilians view military people, and, as a consequence, how many military people come to view themselves. Throughout his book, Kelly points out the many misconceptions that employers in the private sector have about military people:

“It’s a misconception that military people are robotic. If you want to see passion, check out the Army/Navy football game, one of the biggest sports rivalries there is. The esprit-de-corps, the feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself, feeds passion. Yes, military training teaches you to control your emotions, but that’s so you won’t act like a fool under pressure. Rudyard Kipling describes the military ethos perfectly when he writes, ‘If you can keep you head when all those about you are losing theirs . . . you’ll be a man my son!’ The Army teaches you to be passionate and to master your passion.” (Page 56)

It will be my desire in offering this series, inpsired by "Take Command," to accomplish two forms of encouragement. I hope to encourage prospective employers in the business world, who may have been hesitant in the past to employ former military leaders, to develop a better-informed and more realistic picture of the strengths that these men and women bring to the task of helping to lead a business. I also want to encourage individuals who are making the transition from the military to the business world to be confident that there are opportunities to make a significant contribution in the private sector without needing to lay aside the important lessons and skills that their military training has provided.

Several years ago, over lunch in Boston, Robert “Benny” Goodman issued me a challenge. I was sharing with Benny, a 1980 graduate of West Point and a successful businessman, what I had been learning about the special value that military leaders bring to the business world. These were Benny’s words, which still ring in my ears today:

“You are the first non-military person I have ever met who understands and can articulate our special value proposition. That gives you both an opportunity and a responsibility. As you build your executive search practice, I want to challenge you to become our missionary to the business world!”

The upcoming series, inspired by Kelly Perdew’s fine book, will be part of that ongoing “missionary effort.”

In addition to writing this book, Kelly is spearheading several fascinating projects, each of which is described in detail on his Website: http://www.kellyperdew.com/

A visit to this site will allow you to order the book through Amazon.com, and will also give you a panoramic tour of Kelly’s many projects and endeavors.

I encourage you to read "Take Command," a fine addition to the growing collection of worthwhile leadership books. It will be valuable to you as a stand-alone resource, and it will also allow you to better appreciate the upcoming series that will appear in this space.

FYI - I have also added Kelly Perdew's Website to The White Rhino List of Favorite Links: "P" = Perdew, Kelly - "The Apprentice"



Thursday, February 02, 2006

The White Rhino's List of Favorite Links: "G" = Good To Great - Jim Collins

Back in June, I reviewed the landmark book, "Good To Great" by Jim Collins. I am pleased to add Jim's fascinating Website as "G" in The White Rhino List of Favorite Links:


Lots of food for thought there, and it is frequently updated.




Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The White Rhino's List of Favorite Links: J = John Theo

My friend, John Theo, is a true Renaissance Man. I am pleased to add his Website to my list of favorite links. As you will see when you look at his site, his many talents and interests include being a published author of children's books, screenwriter, actor and model.

What does not show up on this site is the fact that John regularly beats up on the White Rhino whenever we face off against one another on the tennis court. I consider it a major moral victory when I win a game!

Enjoy getting to know John through his Website.



"The Medici Effect" - A Quick Update

A few weeks ago, I reviewed in this space the remarkable book, "The Medici Effect." That review triggered an e-mail correspondence with the book's author, Frans Johansson. Frans was in town here in Boston yesterday to meet with his publisher at Harvard Business School Press, so we were able to meet for breakfast at Harvard Square. Frans is just as engaging and interesting in person in talking about issues of Intersection and Innovation as he is on the page in writing about them. This is not always the case with best-selling authors!

Frans is in the midst of launching several initiatives that are a logical extension of what he has written about in the book. Stay tuned to this space for more information in the coming weeks. I learned yesterday from Frans that there is a growing demand from companies across the world for him to speak to their leaders - not just about issues of innovation, which is the main thrust of the book, but also about issues of diversity within the work place.

If you know of a company that could benefit from Frans' unique insights into these issues, I will be happy to put you in contact with him.

If you have not yet read "The Medici Effect," it should be high on your list of "books to read." The book has now been translated into 13 languages.


Mini Review: “A Civil War” by John Feinstein

Jim Savard is a regular reader of this Blog, and has contributed many insightful ideas and comments in the past. Jim is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy’s legendary class of 1965 – a class that included Roger Staubach. In posting a comment about my recent review of “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” Jim suggested that I read “A Civil War” by John Feinstein. I was glad that he reminded me of this book. I have, in fact, already read the book and enjoyed it immensely, but I had read it before I began writing this Blog, so I have not heretofore mentioned the book in this space.

Long before the concept of “embedded reporters” became accepted practice, John Feinstein “embedded” himself for the entire 1995 football season with the Army and Navy teams in order to understand and ultimately to write about their storied rivalry. The annual Army-Navy Game has stood for over 100 years as one of the signal events of each sports season – even in those years when the teams have not been nationally ranked.

In this book, Feinstein does an admirable job of projecting the unique dynamics that undergird and envelop this fierce rivalry between “beloved enemies.” If you awaken any West Point graduate – no matter how many years removed from his days as a cadet – one of the first phrases he will utter as he regains consciousness will be: “Go Army – Beat Navy!” Ditto for any superannuated former midshipman: “Go Navy – Beat Army.” The phrases are painted on the roofs and walls of many of buildings on each campus, and are permanently etched into the psyche of everyone who has ever put on the uniform of cadet or midshipman. And yet, over-arching this fiercely competitive spirit is an ultimate grudging respect for one another that transcends sport and scoreboard.

In “A Civil War,” the author takes us behind the scenes and the drama of the annual December game to the long history behind this rivalry. He allows us to observe the hard work that is required to field two teams that ultimately face off against one another in each year’s renewal of this unique contest. Feinstein conveys equal admiration for the players on both teams. By the end of the book, I felt like I had come to know Joel Davis, Andrew Thompson, Jim Canelupe, Garrett Smith and their supporting casts.

Perhaps I felt like I had come to know them because they resembled – in personal history and character – many of the players I have come to know personally who have stood on that field and carried forward that hoary tradition. I was privileged to attend to Army-Navy game in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in December of 2001 as a guest of the Army football team. Throughout that season, I had come to know about a dozen members of that team, most of whom were members of West Point’s Class of 2002. As their guest, I had amazing seats in the midst of the Corps of Cadets – 40-yard line and 11 rows from the field. I was close enough to President Bush to watch him devour a hot dog during a lull in the action on the field!

The memories and images of that special day are still fresh. This was the first renewal of the Army-Navy rivalry since the attacks of Sept. 11, and patriotism was palpable in the air - on the field and in the stands - in a way that I had never before experienced in my lifetime. The “March On” of both the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen was awe-inspiring. The flyover of Army and Navy aircraft was spine-tingling. The halftime speech by General Norman Schwarzkopf held everyone in the crowd in rapt attention. The game itself produced a rare Army victory. The traditional post-game singing of the schools’ Alma Maters was a deeply moving play in two acts.

David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel captured the spirit of the day perfectly in this article:


In the intervening four years, many of the young men who fought one another on the gridiron that day have joined forces to fight common enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq. I remain in contact wiht several of them.

Since 2001, I have not had an opportunity to return to view another Army-Navy game, but it is high on my list of things to do in 2006. Reading “A Civil War” will allow you to experience vicariously this unique American sports tradition. It may even inspire you to join me on December 2, 2006 in Philadelphia.

And, as is the case each year, no matter what the final score of the football game, when these two teams face off against one another, America is the winner!

Thanks, Jim