Friday, November 30, 2007

Mini-Review of “Gone Baby Gone”

Boston can boast of many teams operating at the top of their game these days. The Celtics blew out the Knicks last night at The Garden by 45 points! The Pats remain undefeated. The Bruins have won 6 of their last 8 games. BC is in the thick of the BCS Bowl sweepstakes and the New England Revolution made it to the finals of the MLS Cup. But our sports teams are not the only ones working at a high level of artistry and achievement; the brothers Affleck have recently presented Boston with a winner in their film “Gone Baby Gone.” Older brother, Ben, has directed this film with note-perfect fidelity to the feel of Boston’s neighborhoods. Dorchester, Everett and Chelsea are significant “characters” in this morality tale. Younger brother, Casey, best know for his recurring role in the “Oceans 11, 12 and 13” franchise, emerges as a bona fide star in this breakthrough role.

The storyline of this film includes a nicely nuanced ethical dilemma that Affleck’s character must confront. It is a case that probably is not being studied in the Ethics course at Harvard Business School or covered in the CCD classes at St Leo's parish!

The Afflecks are dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fans, so it is the height of irony that the Red Sox post-season success has hurt box office figures for this fine film. It was released as the Red Sox juggernaut was rolling toward the inevitable final reel of a World Series Championship, so much of this film’s natural audience was otherwise occupied. Most fans were too busy sitting behind the screen at home plate at Fenway or watching their high definition plasma screens filled with images of Sox players romping around the base paths to attend a screening of “Gone Baby Gone.” Now that the trophy is safely in the hands of the hometown baseball team, it is now time to support the hometown team of film makers.

I have the utmost respect for Boston Globe film critic, Ty Burr – a brilliant writer and astute observer of the cinema scene. I cannot improve upon his incisive and insightful review of “Gone Baby Gone,” so I urge you to connect to the link below and read his thoughts on the film. And then I urge you to catch this film while it is still in the theaters or when it is released on DVD. I predict we will hear more from this movie come Oscar nomination time.

Here is a small taste of what Ty Burr has to say:

“Yet it's anchored throughout by an insider's knowledge of this particular street, that specific turn of phrase, this local actor cast in a key bit part. The sag of a three-decker and the sag on the faces of the people who live there.”



Holiday Harmonies at Harvard – Din & Tonics at Sanders Theater, Friday, December 7 at 8:00

Harvard University’s renowned a cappella group, Din & Tonics, will be performing next Friday, December 7 at 8:00 at Sanders Theater, and I plan to be there. I first became familiar with “The Dins” when I heard them sing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game this past baseball season. I am not easily impressed by vocal groups, having pretty high standards. In fact, it is fair to say that I am bit of a musical snob. These guys got my attention, and hit a “homerun” when they stood at home plate at Fenway Park and captivated the pre-game crowd. Ever since that night in Kenmore Square, I have been waiting for an opportunity to go across the river to Harvard Square to hear them perform a full concert program.

Here is how they describe themselves and their style:

“The Harvard Din & Tonics are one of the world's most beloved collegiate a cappella groups. With a repertoire centered on the American jazz standards of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, these 12 Harvard gentlemen - who perform in white tie, tails, and lime green socks - have an enviable reputation for their impeccable musicality, snappy choreography, and hilarious antics. Their music is, unquestionably, a cappella 'with a twist.'

If you are going to be in the Boston/Cambridge area next Friday, I encourage you to join me in drinking in the intoxicating and sensational sounds of the Din & Tonics. For a small taste of their mixings, click on the link below and play their version of “Misty” (or any of the other sample tunes available on their Website).

I look forward to seeing you next Friday. Let me know if you plan to attend so I can look for you.



Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Blue Spaders – Part I of the Series on Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment

My friend, Alex Gallo, is finishing his graduate studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A West Point graduate, Alex was deployed as an Army officer in Iraq with the 1-26 IN (1st Battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment). Alex made me aware of a series that is running on on this unit, one of the most decorated of the Army’s units.

I invite you to read Alex’s introduction and then to click on the link. Of particular interest to me is the story told by Staff Sgt. Ian Newland about his difficulties and frustrations in trying to get adequate and compassionate medical care after being wounded in Iraq. His story strikes me as a microcosm of the systemic failures we have been hearing about in terms of the administration and the VA underestimating the scope of the medical care that veterans would need in returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here is Alex’s introduction and invitation:

Please check out this four part series in the Army Times on my old battalion, 1-26 IN out of Schweinfurt, Germany – they just got back from their recent tour in Iraq.

It’s unbelievable what they have overcome especially when you consider that during our OIF II deployment in Samarra, we had our BC, CSM, and S3 fired all on the same day and had a catastrophic attack on our battalion by al-Zaqawi. However, 1-26’s experience is merely a subset of the numerous acts of heroism being executed daily throughout the force.

This series also talks about SPC Ross McGinnis who is likely to be the next MOH from the GWOT. I served in the same company with him. These are truly incredible Soldiers.

The link is below.



Alex Gallo

Thanks, Alex, for the service that you and your brothers have performed. And thanks for making us aware of this series.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

“Bobby’s Best” – We Do the Work So You Can Shop with Confidence

My friend, Bob Glazer, has created a terrific Website that offers his personal “consumer reports” on a variety of products and services. The special holiday edition has just been published and could make your holiday shopping less daunting.

Here is the way Bob describes the purpose of his on-line service:

“Today, buying even the most standard household and lifestyle products can be overwhelming. Who's got time to research, compare and price match? Don’t you wish you had someone that would just tell you the best product to buy or the best service to use? Bobby's Best is your unbiased source for everyday product research and buying tips. We get to the heart of what's good & bad, we won't bore you with comparing all the minor details of products and services. We also find deals and coupons to save you money on our recommendations.”

Bob tells me that the most popular page, by a wide margin, is this special offer for holiday photo cards



A Portrait of a Fallen Soldier and His Family – Kaziah’s Painting of LT Robert Seidel III

Readers of The White Rhino Report are already very familiar with the story of Rob “Sly” Seidel, the West Point Class of 2004 graduate who died in Iraq in May of 2006.

The Seidel family recently shared with me a video that lovingly tells the story of a painting of Rob that was painted by a woman in Utah. Kaziah Hancock has donated her skills as an artist to paint portraits of American’s fallen heroes – those who have died in combat. Rob’s mother, Sandy, tells of how perfectly Kaziah captured the essence of Rob in getting his eyes just right in the portrait that she sent to the Seidel family as a gift. Rob’s dad, Bob, shares his feeling that the portrait reminds the family they the nation is mourning with them the loss of Bob and Sandy’s son and Stephen’s brother.

It is fair to ask the questions: “Why am I sharing this information with the readers of The White Rhino Report, and what do I expect as a response from those who take the time to watch the video?”

I share this information because of the truth of the Honduran proverb:

“Grief shared is half grief; Joy shared is double joy.”

By sharing in the grieving of the Seidel family – and the thousands of families who have lost loved ones in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan – we take a small portion of their grief upon ourselves, and by celebrating and honoring with them the remarkable character of Rob – and those like him who have died while serving their country – we add to the joy and the pride that they feel in the fine son they raised.

What do I expect? I do not want readers to respond in a maudlin way or a self-absorbed way. The ideal response would be to find a personal way to take a concrete step in helping a wounded warrior or the family of one who has given his/her life. Kaziah was moved to give of her art. I would hope that we would all pause for a moment and ask: “Is there something I can do as an individual that would be helpful and healing to one person or to one family?

Not everyone can paint a portrait, but we each have the capacity to add a “brush stroke” of a letter written, a memorial gift made to a scholarship find, a job interview granted to a veteran or a visit to a hospital or rehabilitation center. Take a moment to reflect, and I am confident that you will know what you can do. And in acting, we each add our own gilded frame around the portrait of Lt. Rob Seidel and his brothers and sisters in arms.

God bless.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Counting My Blessings – A Thanksgiving Greeting

Bing Crosby sang a song (I think he may also have written the song) that has been rattling around inside my head for over 50 years. I often think of that song during this time of year.

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

We have a lot to be thankful for, so as I prepare to drive to Maine to share Thanksgiving with family, let me enumerate some of the blessings I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

  • God’s love and blessings
  • A wonderful family and extended family scattered as near and as far as New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, Florida, California, Romania and Poland.
  • A vast network of friends in virtually every one of our 50 states and dozens of nations.
  • The opportunity to work in a profession that gives me great joy and satisfaction
  • The client companies and candidates that make my work such a delight
  • The men and women who serve in our armed forces – both at home and abroad
  • The privilege of living in a country that gives me the freedom to enjoy all of the above
  • The opportunity to live in Boston – one of the greatest cities in the world!
  • The joy of being a Boston sports fan at a time when the Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions, the New England Patriots are undefeated, the Boston Celtics are setting the standard for excellence in the NBA and even the Bruins are winning more than they are losing!
  • The chance to share with readers of The White Rhino Report my thoughts, opinions and observations.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Don’t forget - before you fall asleep tonight - to count your blessings.

God bless!


A New White Rhino Report Feature: Spotlighting a Veteran in Transition – Michael Aldred

On this day before Thanksgiving, I cannot thank of a better way to say “Thank you” to the men and women who serve in our armed forces than by helping them to find appropriate work when they return from defending our nation as soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines. Therefore, with this posting, I am launching a new feature that will periodically highlight a man or woman who has recently served and who is looking for an opportunity to deploy their skills and experience in a private sector job.

I am delighted to lead off this series with Michael Aldred of Franklin, Massachusetts. Michael has just concluded a 20-year career with the United States Marine Corps, where he most recently served as a Chief Warrant Officer-3. His areas of specialization included Project Management, Personnel Management, Logistics and Transportation. He has earned a B.S. in Management from the University of Maryland, where he consistently appeared on the Dean’s List.

I asked Michael to share with me a story from his days as a leader among Marines. I am pleased to share that story with you.

After checking into my new unit as a new Warrant Officer my boss assigned me as the senior Embarkation Officer for a war game training exercise with our Korean counterparts. After 6 weeks of living in the isolated, rural, barren camp in the Korean city of Pohang, a relatively short distance from North Korea, we anxiously awaited our departure to home cooking and warm showers. A nice soft bed was a scant memory at this point. It had become crystal clear why my bosses were conveniently unable to attend, making me the senior Transportation Officer in country, as a brand new Warrant Officer. It’s funny, but looking back they never missed our Hawaii and Hong Kong exercises!

Two days before our departure our global tracking system showed our departure flights home being cancelled. Something about President Bush’s unscheduled trip diverting Air Force planes away from us. This was not good news…not the type of scenario I had dreamed up for my initial briefing to the Commanding General. The last thing my budding career prospects needed was being the bearer of bad news, so I went to the grizzled, hard-lined, steely-eyed Commanding General’s living quarters and prepared the joyful news of the unexpected delay, especially since the training operation with our Korean counterparts had ended. I went in there with apprehension and left with a clear, concise mission statement, “Get my unit home!”

We immediately went to work and contacted any available flying units in the area; I spoke to a Navy Commander in Guam, an Air Force Major in Japan, and any and all Marine squadrons. We finally reached an Air Force liaison officer who related to the pain of being stuck in Korea. Within 24 hours, at the expense of a tremendous amount of paper work and coordination, we had a commitment from the Air Force to fly four small airplanes round-robin to get all 2,000 people home. Our return home was on tactical noisy cramped airplanes that could only take fifty passengers at a time.

A huge difference from the large comfortable civilian contracted planes we had arrived in. We then prioritized every single passenger and over the next several days we flew everybody home, I become the most popular travel agent on that first flight out of town…Oh yea, that intimating General stopped by my tent with his entourage on the way out and gave me a nod of approval. He said nothing, but did not have to. I felt a huge sense of satisfaction with the work my team had accomplished.

Michael Aldred is clearly someone who knows how to take responsibility and find a way to get the job done. He is currently in the midst of a job search in the Boston area. He is looking for a chance to serve his next employer as loyally and as faithfully as he served the USMC. If you know of a company that could use someone with Michael’s experience, skills, initiative and character, please contact me and I will be happy to put you in touch with him.

Michael, thank you for your service to our nation.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Review: “In the Company of Soldiers – A Chronicle of Combat” by Rick Atkinson

I can tell when an author has reached out and grabbed me by the throat when I become so engrossed in reading a book that I miss my stop on the subway! Last evening, while poring over the last few pages of “In the Company of Soldiers,” I just barely noticed that the doors of the Orange Line car were about to close at Downtown Crossing – my stop to transfer to the Red Line heading to my home in Quincy. Charles Dickens has the ability to pull me into his stories with that kind of rapt attention; so does Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Atkinson.

My friend, Kevin Kalkwarf, a West Point grad and Black Hawk pilot, suggested that I read “In the Company of Soldiers.” Thanks, Kevin, for the recommendation. In 2003, as the U.S. prepared for the invasion of Iraq, Washington Post journalist, Rick Atkinson, was embedded with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Atkinson was personally assigned to shadow the 101st Commanding General, David Petraeus. The resulting book paints for the reader one of the most vivid and insightful pictures yet of the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The writer not only was able to look over the shoulder of Petraeus as the 101st traveled from Ft. Campbell Kentucky to Kuwait and then on to Baghdad, he was also able to peer into the general’s soul. As a result, I found that this book had a dual impact on me. At one level, Atkinson allowed me to grasp some sense of the hardship that our soldiers have endured in fighting in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. In reading some of the passages in this book, I could almost smell the pungent odors of Najaf and Karbala and almost choke on the ubiquitous sand and dust that insinuates itself into every crevice and orifice. At another level, I was glad for the intimate portrait of Petraeus, the man that many of us are counting on to lead us somehow out of the labyrinth that Iraq has become.

Atkinson’s writing is so good that I feel compelled to let him speak in his own words. Here he describes the scene at Camp New Jersey, a way station in Kuwait that the 101st called home while awaiting orders to invade Iraq.

“Yet a desolate, edge-of-the-empire beauty obtained. As Dwyer and I walked, dawn spread over the eastern horizon in a molten brew of orange and indigo, silhouetting the wooden guard towers. Platoons ran wind sprints across the desert or jumped about in calisthenic exuberance. The cuffs of the troops’ desert boots were indelibly inked with their blood types, a legion of Os and As and A-positives. A soldier ambled past with a grenade launcher on his shoulder, singing in a sweet falsetto: ‘Sha-na-na-na, good-bye!’ I fancied that in its remote, martial spirit this encampment was of a piece with the Roman outposts, perhaps ancient Timgad in North Africa, built by the Third Legion in A.D. 100, where a traveler described the scuffing cadence of Trajan’s soldiers helmed in bronze, and ‘barbarians from the outer desert in paint and feathers flitting along the narrow byways.’(Pages 79-80)

One of the aspects of this book that I found most compelling was Atkinson artistry in connecting the Iraq of the 21st century to the Mesopotamia of biblical times and of ancient glories. The following passage is an excellent example of his giftedness in bridging these disparate worlds:

“Chickens scattered into the brush as Warlord 457 [Petraeus’ helicopter] and our two Kiowa bodyguards carefully threaded the telephone wires and touched down on a two-lane blacktop a few hundred yards from where the car bomb had detonated this morning. Objective Jenkins, as the Army called this place, occupied the western bank of the Euphrates, fourteen miles north of Najaf. The road continued another eight hundred yards, the crossed the last bridge spanning the river before a great south-flowing fork in the Euphrates. Beyond the bridge lay the town of Kifl. In this place the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, humorless and God-besotted, had preached to the Jews during their Babylonian captivity in the sixth century B.C., foretelling the restoration of Israel. The 3rd ID [Infantry Division] recently had battled through Jenkins and into Kifl, and I spotted a couple dozen dead Iraqis in body bags stacked under the palms. Here, at least, the corpse traffic still thrived. . . . At 1:35 P.M., a convoy of five Humvees came down the road, trailed by a Bradley. [Lt. General William Scott] Wallace climbed out with Major General Buford C. Blount III, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. For half an hour they stood on the road with Petraeus and studied their maps. Blount was keen to plunge on toward Baghdad, but Wallace insisted that he wait until all three of the 3rd ID infantry brigades were gathered above Najaf; only today was the 82nd Airborne supplanting Blount’s 3rd Brigade at Samawah, where Army intelligence estimated that five hundred entrenched diehards were coercing another fifteen hundred Iraqis to fight through executions and extortion.

I heard the dull crump of a mortar round detonate on our side of the Euphrates. A minute later Army 105mm howitzers barked in reply, dumping fifteen or twenty counterbattery rounds across the river.

Wallace drove off with his entourage. We reboarded the Blackhawk and angled east before swinging south. The lovely green ribbon of the Euphrates scrolled past Kifl, which lay badly smashed on the far bank. Ezekiel’s tomb stood somewhere in that desolation. ’There was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to bone.’ The prophet had written. ‘And the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.’” (Pages 197-199)

Atkinson shares a poignant litany that became an almost predictable exit line whenever Gen. Petraeus would end a conversation with the journalist. The commanding general would wonder out loud: “How does this end?” His thoughtful query becomes even more significant in light of his promotion and the fact that he now holds in his hands the reins for determining how the U.S. military on the ground in Iraq will extricate itself from the quagmire. He is a significant player in determining how it will end.

Atkinson saw the soldiers of the 101st in all kinds of conditions and under the most extreme of circumstances. He eavesdropped on their decision-making, their laughter, their frustrations and their fears. On the day he flew back to Kuwait to return to the U.S., part of him felt as if he were abandoning comrades in arms. His respect for the leadership of Petraeus is heart-felt and well-earned. “His pragmatism and broad peacekeeping experience in Haiti and Bosnia had prepared him for the thankless work of a proconsul in the American imperium.” (Page 294)

The writer’s admiration for all the soldiers he had come to know comes through loud and clear in this valedictory: “The division’s soldiers had done well, demonstrating competence and professionalism. Capably led – the division’s brigade commanders and two assistant division commanders were uncommonly excellent – they took hardship in stride and refused to let bloodlust, cynicism, or other despoilers of good army cheat them of their battle honors. They were better than the cause they served, which would soon be tarnished by revelations that the casus belli – that Iraq posed an immanent, existential danger to America and its allies – was inflated and perhaps fraudulent. If the war’s predicate was phony, it cheapened the sacrifices of the dead and living alike. Yet such strategic nuances were beyond the province of soldiering, and I believed it vital not to conflate the warriors with the war.” (Page 294)

This fine book brings the non-combatant reader as close as possible to the rigors of the modern battlefield, and leaves one with a renewed sense of admiration for those who fight and serve. Atkinson has handled well the trust that was placed in him, and we are all enriched by his thoughtful response to the time he spent in the company of soldiers.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Top 10 Observations about Life at HBS/KSG/Sloan and Beyond for Military Veterans

For the past several years, I have had the privilege of sitting on the panel for the annual Career Fair sponsored by the Armed Forces Alumni Association of Harvard Business School. The group also includes current and former military officers studying at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and MIT’s Sloan School of Business. This year’s Career Fair took place last week. I handed out a document that outlined ten observations I have made about military veterans transitioning to life in business school and beyond to the world of business.

Several of the MBA students who were present expressed their opinion that my observations could be useful to a broader audience, and they encouraged me to share my thoughts with the readers of The White Rhino Report. While several of the ten points are specifically aimed at those studying in Cambridge, much of what I shared last week has universal application to those considering a career transition. So, I offer these thoughts to readers of this Blog.

Top 10 Observations about Life at HBS/KSG/Sloan and Beyond for Military Veterans

  1. Offer of 1-on-1 help in thinking about career choices – my role with AFAA

    1. Who can I help? Probably 10% of those in this room today

i. Renaissance Men and Women

ii. Those wired as entrepreneurs

iii. Those who may choose to follow an alternate career path:

1. When you look over the list of companies that are here today, you find yourself thinking: “These are all great companies, but I am wondering if there might be something else out there for me – starting my own business, working for a start-up, working in government service.”

2. If that describes you, then we should talk.

    1. Form of help:

i. Periodic meetings

ii. Access to my network

iii. Objective feedback

iv. A listening ear

  1. Relax – Part I

    1. Do not stress out inordinately worrying about interviewing for internships and jobs.
    2. Of the hundreds of HBS/KSG/Sloan grads I know personally, not one of them is homeless or even close to indigent.

  1. Relax – Part II

    1. Your first job out of grad school will probably only be a stepping stone in a progression of career moves, so don’t worry about making a wrong move that could cripple the rest of your career.
    2. Your choices are not between “good vs. bad,” but rather between “good vs. best”!
    3. In the past month, I have met with or talked on the phone with at least 7 HBS/KSG grads whom I have mentored over the years and who have contacted me to talk about their next career move. In each case, he or she is in their first or second year of the job they took out of Harvard, and they feel – for a variety of reasons – that it is time to move on. This is not an aberration, but is becoming the norm.

  1. Realize that your search for an internship and a job is a two-way street.

    1. You should be just as selective in choosing a company as the company is in screening candidates.

i. You should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

    1. Make sure that the job, the corporate culture, the hours you will be expected to work, the amount of travel you will be expected to do all fit with the game plan that you and your family have decided is appropriate for this time in your career and this time in your family life.

i. Earlier and earlier in their careers, thoughtful individuals are asking tough questions about life-style and family balance before jumping at a lucrative offer.

    1. Be aware that at the level of responsibility you will be assuming, bad hiring decisions sometimes happen, and when they do happen, they usually result – not from a misaligned of hard skills with the task at hand – but from a misalignment at the level of the intangibles:

i. Corporate culture

ii. Value systems

iii. Communication style

iv. Decision-making style

v. Work-life balance

  1. Know your Value Proposition as a Military Leader

    1. Do not be intimidated by your section mates who come here from the world of I-Banking or Consulting and who are already fluent in the nomenclature of “EBITA, liquidity events, or B Round Founders’ Share Dilution”!
    2. You bring to the table things they can only dream about:

i. Leadership experience that has been battle-tested

ii. A sense of proportionality – what is truly a “life or death” situation and what is something less than that

iii. A knowledge of what it takes to motivate a work force

iv. How to achieve consensus under duress

v. How to accept responsibility for your actions and their results

vi. A solid ethical base that has been tested in the crucible

vii. Reliability

viii. How to function as part of a team

    1. Be aware that many of your civilian section mates - and prospective employers - may not appreciate the full range of your value proposition and distinctives.
    2. It is your job to humbly educate them and disabuse them of some of the stereotypes they may be harboring about the military

  1. Be aware of the power of narrative – and be prepared to use it

    1. In overcoming stereotypes about the military and in making people aware of who you are and what you are capable of doing, master the art of story telling.
    2. Joe Rich quotation: “Every successful businessman/woman needs 10 good stories they can tell
    3. Stories make you memorable and intriguing

i. They simultaneously touch the cognitive and the emotional level of communication and make that communication “sticky.”

  1. Mentoring, mentoring, mentoring

    1. While you are in school, look for mentors among the faculty, in the community, among resource individuals who visit campus

i. Maintain relationships with mentors from earlier stages of your life

    1. In considering joining a company for an internship or permanent role, explore if it is a mentoring environment
    2. Can you identify potential mentors among the senior leadership team?
    3. Ask specific questions as you interview: “Who is your mentor in this organization?” “Who are you mentoring at the moment?”
    4. Even while still in school, find someone to mentor

i. Don’t buy into the lie: “I don’t have time”

ii. You develop habits and priorities and values here that will carry into your career

  1. Be aware of the power of networking – and use that power wisely

    1. I am in a position to observe many networks in operation.
    2. The HBS network is one of the best in terms of its reach and the influence of those within the network
    3. The HBS network is trumped by the Service Academy network – which is, hands-down the most responsive network I have ever encountered.
    4. An important principle of networking is to build and nurture your network before you need it.

i. The Mike Cooper story – USMA ‘2002

  1. Use your time in grad school to process what you have experienced as a military leader

    1. Use tools like Grossman’s books, “On Killing” and “On Combat” to think about what you may have experienced in combat.
    2. If you recognize any symptoms of PTSD in yourself and or who are close to you, address them early so they can be dealt with in a healthy and healing way.

  1. Do not neglect the spiritual part of your life as you are caught up in the whirlwind of grad school and job hunting

    1. If one of your differentiators as a military leader is your strong and reliable ethical base, make sure that your ethical base has a spiritual anchor that keeps it from drifting amidst the pressures of school and of work.
    2. I am prompted to mention this factor because of a conversation I had a few years ago with a former President of AFAA. As he was getting ready to leave HBS to start his new job, he said to me: “You have been such an important part of the process of evaluating where I am heading in my career, I am wondering if I can call on you to help me in a part of my life I have been neglecting. I don’t have a clue how to address the deficiency in the spiritual part of my life. Would you be willing to help me there, as well?”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Human Face – A Veterans’ Day Tribute in Memory of Josh Picard, USMC

My friend, Lee Lanselle, has made me aware of a very moving series of articles that are currently running in the Merced Sun-Star. The 13-part series, entitled “The War Comes to Merced shares stories of how citizens of Merced, California have been impacted by the War on Terror. These stories serve as a microcosm of the thousands of stories that could be told of how families and communities across the fifty states have felt the ripple effect of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Writer Mike Thorpe has done an admirable job of putting one more human face to the numbing statistics of lives lost and warriors wounded in battle.

I commend to you this opening article in the series that will run twice a week though December.

Let us continue to pray for those who serve and reach out in concrete ways to those who are returning – and to the families of those who will never return.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Alert for Film Buffs – “Sharp Dressed Men” Directed by Ti Alan Chase featured at SNOB Film Festival

Please excuse the “Proud Papa” moment of weakness! Two of my sons, Ti and Scott, are independent film makers. Ti’s film, “Sharp Dressed Men,” will be featured in tomorrow’s SNOB (Slightly North of Boston) Film Festival in Concord, NH.

In an article published yesterday in The Wire magazine, you can read about the film and the festival. For those of you not able to attend the screening in Concord on Friday, there will be an additional screening on Thursday, November 15 at 8:00 at The Inn of the Blues in York Beach, Maine.



STAND UP FOR HEROES: Bob and Lee Woodruff Continue to Fight for Wounded Warriors – An On-Line Auction to Support Wounded Veterans

I have written in the past about the work that Bob and Lee Woodruff are doing to help Wounded Warriors – especially those afflicted with Traumatic Brian Disorder (TBI) and PTSD.

To coincide with our upcoming observance of Veterans’ Day, The Woodruffs, through The Bob Woodruff Family Fund, are running an intriguing on-line auction with some of the most exciting products and opportunities I have seen. It was “worth the price of admission” just to browse through the items that are available for bidding. How would you like to spend part of a day with Oprah or lunch at the Pentagon with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? These items are just the tip of the iceberg.

I encourage you to read the e-mail below that I received from Lee Woodruff this week. Please take the time to visit the Website and see what is available for bid. Make a bid, and then forward this article to others who would like to find a tangible way to support those who have served.

From: Lee Woodruff

Stand Up for Heroes

Would you like to help a wounded hero who has served in Iraq but don't know how? The Bob Woodruff Family Fund is sponsoring an online charity auction to raise money for veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Click on the purple hyperlink at the top or bottom of this email and bid in this charity auction for cool items.

Then please pass this email on to anyone you think can help.

More than 1.5 million men and women have served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is estimated that between 150,000 - 300,000 of them will have some kind of brain injury, ranging from traumatic injury from explosions to post traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder.

My own husband, Bob Woodruff, was injured while covering the war for ABC News. Although his recovery has been miraculous, no one who goes through an experience that critically life-altering, is the same person.

These service members who have sacrificed so much deal every day with issues like memory loss, unexplained rage, depression, inability to concentrate, fatigue and confusion. The most severe are confined to their beds unable to walk or talk, struggling their way back to a quality of life.

Here is a way that YOU can help. And in the process you can snag a number of unique items and once-in-lifetime experiences for yourself or your family.

Generous donations for this auction have come in from many celebrities, TV shows, media companies, fashion designers, houseware manufacturers, and more. We have everything from a meet and greet with Oprah Winfrey to a backstage pass after a Bruce Springsteen concert to a chance to be a model for a day and amazing sporting events.

All of the proceeds from the auction will go to the fund which helps brain injured returning vets in three ways:

1) Individual grants for hardship situations;

2) Donations to community based groups helping the wounded with long-term therapy, re-employment, support for the caregiver and the family.

3) Working closely with the Department of Defense, Veteran Administration, and legislators to change antiquated laws governing access to healthcare and disability benefits. Paramount in this is allowing the military access to private care rehabilitation facilities close to home for their long-term care after brain injury.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to service members who willingly put themselves at risk in the service of their country. Through your donations to this auction you can enjoy a fun, rewarding way to repay that debt.

So, please join us and STAND UP FOR A HERO

Click on the hyperlink below to get to the auction web page and then click on the pink "start bidding" button to see all the fabulous auction items.

Stand Up for Heroes


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mini-Review: A Gem of a Play at Northeastern University – “You Can’t Take It with You.”

I attended the opening night performance of “You Can’t Take It with You” last evening for one reason – and one reason only: I know a member of the cast. I believe in supporting local theater, so I was there to lend my support. I walked away having been treated to one of my most enjoyable theater-going experiences in a long time. I see a lot of plays, and I am a pretty tough critic, so for me to be impressed with this production says a great deal about the quality that this team from Northeastern have built into this show. They pulled off this notable accomplishment in part by adding life and panache to an old chestnut of the stage repertoire. I am writing this review to encourage any theater lover in the Boston area to catch one of the remaining performances on the campus of NU. It may be the best investment of your entertainment dollar that you can make this fall in the Boston area.

When Bostonians think about Northeastern University, two things normally come to mind: engineering and the Co-op program that places NU students in real-world work situations in their chosen profession. Very few Boston natives would name the Theater Department as one of the school’s strengths. The truth is, I have now attended quite a few NU student productions, and I have never walked away disappointed.

Under the adept direction of Professor Del Lewis, the flawless ensemble cast treats the audience to three enchanting acts that artfully blend benign mayhem with folk wisdom – all framed in an evocative set that should win an award for verisimilitude. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the set, I felt myself instantaneously transported to a simpler time – an era when the IRS and the concept of income tax was an innovative idea. There was nothing “taxing” about watching this cast create and develop plausible and lovable characters that, in less capable hands, could have devolved into stereotypes and caricatures. This beautifully-written play, that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1936 for Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, is a true ensemble piece, and Lewis’ troupe of actors has no weak links. The zany family and fellow-travelers that stand as the emotional center piece of the play - offspring of the pater familias, Grandpa Martin Vanderhof - raise eccentricity to an art form. As off-center as they may be, this is a motley crew that I would enjoy vacationing with or sharing a meal with.

My final word on how much I loved this production is that I have just re-arranged my schedule to allow me to see another performance of the show next week. I would love to have you join me!



Detail about the play taken from the NU Student Activities website:

The Department of Theatre presents "You Can’t Take It with You" by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Directed by Del Lewis. This Pulitzer Prize winning play introduced the phrase "you can't take it with you" into American culture. A humorous treatment of carpe diem and the notion that making money isn't life's only purpose. It follows the antics of two families: Tony Kirby has fallen in love with Alice Sycamore. Alice's delightful, eccentric family plans a nice dinner for the two families; but the Kirbys come on the wrong night . . . a formula for a comedic romp which has become classic. This play is the original!

Location: Northeastern University, Studio Theater, 1st Floor, Curry Center

Cost: General Tickets: $17; student discount with NU ID

8:00 PM – November 7-10 and November 13-17

E-mail or phone contact: Carol Najarian:, 617-373-2245

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Schilling Reveals the Red Sox Ownership to be a Class Act – A Letter to the Schillings

As of the moment that I am writing this posting, the news from the Red Sox and the Curt Schilling camp is that they are very close to finalizing an agreement that would give Curt Schilling a 1-year contract for the 2008 season, and an opportunity to finish his pitching career here in Boston. Given the way that #38 came up big in the playoffs, this development bodes well for next season. Having a wily veteran like Schilling as a stabilizing force in the rotation and as an addendum to pitching coach, Dave Farrell, in mentoring the young pitchers, makes a lot of sense. The combination of a wise old head and quite a few young arms could prove problematic for the rest of the American League East and all of Major League Baseball.

Schilling’s Blog,, is a fascinating look behind the veil of secrecy that often surrounds professional sports. Shortly after the Red Sox had finished their World Series victory parade, Shilling posted a letter that he had received when the Red Sox were trying to lure him from Arizona to Boston. This letter gives solid evidence of the careful planning, strategic thinking, attention to detail, and class that has characterized this ownership and management team since they took over from John Harrington and the Yawkey Trust. This letter explains a lot of why the Red Sox have become the franchise in MLB that every team is trying to emulate.

The fans of New England are blessed to be able to root for two organizations with ownership as fine and as visionary as the Boston Red Sox under John Henry and his team and the New England Patriots under the Kraft family and their team.

Go Sox! Go Pats!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Fitting Tribute to a Fallen Soldier – Colleen Seidel Honors the Memory of Her Cousin, 1st LT Robert A. Seidel, III

We are fast approaching Veterans’ Day. It is important for those of us enjoying the comforts we often take for granted here in the U.S. to remember those who serve – and those who served to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice. I find that having a human face on which to focus helps me to have a realistic sense of what it is costing us - in terms of lost lives and shattered families - to fight the insurgencies in southwest Asia. Behind each news report of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are personal stories like the one I share with you below.

This past June, I shared with readers of The White Rhino Report a moving story of the wedding of Socrates and Emily Rosenfeld that featured a moving tribute to the memory of Robert “Sly” Seidel.

Rob’s cousin, Colleen, recently wrote her own fitting tribute to “Robby” for her school newspaper, the Pitts News, at the University of Pittsburgh. With the family’s permission, I encourage you to read Colleen’s eloquent tribute to a special young man.

As Veterans’ Day approaches, I urge you to go out of your way to thank a veteran and the family members of veterans who sacrifice so much for the rest of us. Tell him or her how proud you are of who they are and what they have done.


A World Series Story From the Heart – A Tale Both Touching and True

If I had heard the story I am about to share with you from any source other than my trusted friend who called me with the news, I might wonder if it might be an urban legend. But my friend is an unimpeachable source, and I can tell you that as implausible as the tale may seem, it actually happened in the past week as the World Series was wrapping up. In order to preserve confidentiality, some of the details of this story are being left vague.

My friend was born outside of the U.S., came to Boston for college, and began a love affair with the Red Sox that he has passed down to his children. He runs a software company in Yankees territory – a few hundred miles to the south of Boston. My friend has an employee who is a life-long Red Sox fan, having been raised to follow the Red Sox by watching his father’s love for the team. The father is afflicted with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, and for the past four years, he has not even recognized family members. My friend, knowing of the father’s love for the Red Sox, purchased a Red Sox cap and gave it to his employee to pass along to the father. The TV set in his room in the medical facility where he now resides is often set to the baseball games, but he has demonstrated no sign that he comprehended what was happening on the screen.

This past Sunday evening, his wife arrived to visit him, and turned the TV to the World Series game – Game #4 – featuring the Red Sox trying to closeout out the sweep against the Colorado Rockies. She reached into the closest, grabbed the Red Sox cap and placed it gently and lovingly on her husband’s head. She sat holding her husband’s hand watching the opening innings of the game. He turned to her and said: “Honey, do you remember when we went to Game #6 of the 1975 World Series and saw Carlton Fisk hit that homerun that ended the game? Look at these young kids the Red Sox have playing for them now. They are amazing!”

His wife was astounded. This was the first time in four years he had been able to communicate with anyone. She excused herself and called their adult children who lived in the area. Soon they began to arrive to share this remarkable window of lucidity. And for almost 8 hours, they visited together and interacted with each other, until around 3:00 AM, when the father, exhausted by the uncommon expenditure of energy, fell asleep.

I am not sure if there are any medical professionals who could offer a rational explanation for what occurred that night. This is a story that is about so much more than a baseball game. This is about an emotional event – the Red Sox being back in the World Series – that for a fleeting instant, unlocked a mind and a heart that had been held captive by a persistent fog of forgetfulness and senescence. The “young kids” – Pedroia, Ellsbury, Beckett, Del Carmen, Lester – helped an old man and his family to recapture the joys of the past and to forge a brief miracle of connection and love.

Baseball – especially Red Sox baseball – is so much more than a mere game! Share the joy with someone special today!