Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years' Eve Greetings

Many of us will spend the next few hours reflecting on the highs and lows of 2009 and thinking about what surprises 2010 may have in store.

I want to thank my family for the many wonderful hours of visits during the past 12 months. Having children, grandchildren, siblings and extended family scattered from New England to Virgina and Florida to the desert of Arizona to Romania and Poland provides both challenges and opportunities for staying in contact. Skype and Facebook and LinkedIn are all wonderful tools, but nothing beats the chance to visit face-to-face, so I am grateful for the visits we were able to have during 2009.

I am blessed with more special friends than any human being deserves to have, and I am perpetually grateful for that blessing. So, thank you for including me in your extended family of trusted friends and colleagues.

Financially, 2009 was a challenge for many of us. Recruiting is always impacted during an economic downturn, and many of my valued client companies were in hiring freeze mode during the past year, so we have had to scramble. As the new year dawns, please keep me and White Rhino Partners in mind if you are aware of companies that need help in identifying, recruiting and hiring gifted leaders, whether they be senior executives or promising bright young leaders of the future.

Finally, please keep in mind as you celebrate the turning of the page in the calendar the men and women - and their families - who continue to serve our nation in the military. These are challenging times for our soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors who are deployed, preparing for deployment or recovering from deployments. I am in frequent communication with our young leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can tell you that they need our prayers as they carry out what often feel like thankless assignments under that most challenging of conditions. Knowing that those of us back home in the U.S. are remembering them with prayers, letters, packages, e-mails and phone calls makes the sacrifice a little less daunting.

God bless - and Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar - A Beautifully Flawed Film

I went last evening with my son, Scott, and his girlfriend, Lacey, to see the blockbuster film, "Avatar." I absolutely loved the film. So much so, that I was tempted to sit through it a second time - all 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Having told you how much I enjoyed the move, I must quickly add that James Cameron's epic contains some serious flaws. The villains, the head of the military and the local representative from "corporate headquarters," are so one-dimensional that they could easy have stepped out of the silver screen in an episode of the silent film serial, "The Perils of Pauline." In Ty Burr's apt words in his Boston Globe review of the movie, "the corporate suits and military men (represented, respectively, by Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang) both would twirl their mustaches if they had them."

Stripped of Cameron's simplistic eco-political sloganeering and anti-military bashing, the film stunningly creates a visually intoxicating world on the planet Pandora. The peaceful inhabitants, the Na'Vi, as perfectly attuned to the surrounding ecosystem and flora and fauna. They are able to communicate with the spiritual/natural world through connections that are both physical and noetic .

The film's hero, a paraplegic military veteran, an ex-Marine named Jake Sully, goes "native," a la Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves." and struggles to save the Na'Vi from annihilation at the hands of the evil military-industrial complex. The trials that he had to endure to gain the trust of the Na'Vi and to win the heart of the chieftain's nubile daughter, provide some of the most satisfying moments in the story. At this point, the story soars along with the characters, who mount pterodactyl-like airborne beasts of burden.

Despite the flaws in the story telling, and the simplistic - and some have even said racist - anthropology and cosmology and the sketchy character development, Cameron offers a film of titanic beauty. I recommend seeing it in 3-D (IMAX 3-D if it is available in your area.)



Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Inspiring Book to Launch the New Year - Review of "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

A few weeks ago I was in Connecticut visiting with my friends, Craig and Kristen Doescher. I do not see them as often as I did when they lived in Cambridge and we attended the same church each Sunday. So, we had lots of topics to catch up on. During our conversation, Kristen asked me if I were familiar with Donald Miller’s new book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” I told her that I had not heard of it. She reminded me that Miller is best known for his best-seller “Blue Like Jazz.” She handed me her copy of the book and said: “You need to reads this. I know you will love it.”

Kristen, thank you! You were so right. I now number this book among the most impactful that I have read this decade. I am pleased to share with the readers of The White Rhino Report just enough of a taste of Miller’s writing to make you want to brave the blizzard that is raging in much of the Northeast U.S. right now and head for the nearest bookstore or click on While you are at it, buy an extra copy or two to give away to your most discerning family members and friends. This book is transformational.

In a very plain and unprepossessing way, Miller simply reflects about aspects of his life and the people with whom he engages. Among the significant individuals who populate this book are two men who helped him to appreciate the power of story and the power that comes from choosing to write a fresh and new life story. This is the essence of the magic that Miller offers to his readers.

Having heard about the famous "Story Seminars" that Robert McKee of the University of Southern California had pioneered, Miller decided to pay to attend one of the public versions of the seminar. McKee gave Miller and the other participants his view of the building blocks that it takes to construct a credible story, and then he challenged them to go out and tell great stories.

The seminar imparted to Miller a new way of viewing his life as a story that he had control over. One ramification of Miller’s discovery was his decision to join some friends on a trek to Machu Picchu, despite the knowledge that he would not be able to get his body into perfect “trekking shape” in the allotted time. After an arduous few days on the Inca Trail, they arrived.

“We didn’t hike to the Sun Gate the next morning; we ran. We ran on blistered feet and sore legs. We got there, and it was fogged in, so we sat along the rock, on the ruins, and waited for the fog to burn off. We sat and sang songs. And it was like Carlos said, because you can take a bus to Machu Picchu; you can take a train and then a bus, and you can hike a mile to the Sun Gate. But the people who took the bus didn’t experience the city as we experienced the city. The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.

We walked among the ruins in the fog all morning, in the footsteps of the Inca’s. We ran our fingers along the perfectly sculptured rocks used to create the walls of their dwellings, rocks cut square to sit on rocks cut square, all built without mortar.

It wasn’t only the pain of the trail that made you appreciate the city; it was the pain of the landscape, steep in the mountains of the Andes, spiraled towers of natural rock, cliffs dropping for a thousand feet to the river. And the houses, the weight of them and the perfection of their lines, spoke of the many dead Incas who gave their lives to build the city.

The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than if we’d showed up at the ending an easier way. It made me think that the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they’ve endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives.” (Page 143)

For me, the most inspiring part of this book is the saga of Bob Goff and his family and the unique story that they have crafted from what some might perceive as whimsy. Please indulge me as I share a rather protracted excerpt from the book as Miller describes the wonderful idea that the Goff family adopted. The context of this excerpt is that Miller and a few companions were kayaking in a remote section of the Pacific Northwest heading to a place called Chatterbox Falls. They came upon a remote homestead, and were invited by the Goff family to join them for a meal. Bob Goff began to tell the story of how the family had decided to build this retreat home far from civilization.

“Bob looked at the inlet, trying to organize the story in his mind. When his children were young, he told us, he was spending time in Uganda, helping the government work through some legislation, and they asked him if he would be willing to serve as the American consul, essentially Uganda’s official American lawyer. Bob agreed; but while he was a good lawyer, he’s never had to interact with diplomats.

On the flight home, he wondered what he’d say if he had to meet with the president of South Africa or the ambassador from France. When he kids asked how the trip went, he told them he’d been asked to serve as Uganda’s official lawyer, and he was a little nervous to meet the dignitaries. So Bob asked the kids what they would say if they had to meet with the leader of a foreign country. Adam, the youngest, said he’d ask them if they wanted to sleep over. Bob said that was a terrific idea, because when people sleep over you get to know them really well. Lindsey said she’s want to ask them what they put their hope in, and Bob and Maria agreed that was a beautiful and important question. Richard, the oldest, who had recently been given a video camera, said he’d want to record the interviews so he could make a movie. Bob and Maria thought that this was a terrific idea, too. Bob said that if he ever met with a foreign leader, he’d remember their suggestions. But after thinking about it, Bob decided tat the suggestions were too good to risk to chance.

‘Let’s write letters,’ Bob said. The kids wondered what their dad was suggesting. ‘I’m serious,’ Bob said. ‘Let’s write all the leaders in the world and ask if they want to come over for a sleepover, and if we can interview them and ask them what they hope in.’ The kids got very excited. Marie smiled and loved the idea. Bob told the kids that if any of the world leaders said yes to the interview, even if they couldn’t come for a sleepover, he’d fly them to that country and they could video tape Lindsey asking what they hope in.

Bob didn’t expect anybody to write back, so he brought home more than a thousand pieces of stationary and the kids researched world leaders and came up with more than twelve hundred addresses for heads of state and assistants. For a while, they heard nothing, and Bob confessed he was relieved, but then a single letter came in, and a few days after, another. Both of them granting an interview. And then another letter, until in all twenty-nine world leaders contacts the Goffs instructing them on how to make arrangements to interview their countries (sic) leader. Bob shrugged is shoulders when he told us the story.

He put his family on planes, flying them all over the world. The kids’ teachers were furious, saying that he was harming his children by taking them out of school. But Bob convinced them that his children might learn more interviewing the president of Paraguay than by reading a book about him, and the teachers reluctantly agreed.

Bob said the world leaders fell in love with the kids. He said there was no way he could have received as much hospitality on his own. Maria described one meeting in which the kids were waiting in the giant hall of a palace, sitting at a table for fifty, when the president walked into the room, stiff and formal. He leaned over and shook each of the children’s hand without smiling. The children were intimidated by the man and didn’t smile either. The president then asked if they wanted a glass of milk or a cookie. And the kids said they would, thank you. The man clapped his hands, and the doors flew open, and teams of servants flooded into the room, holding trays of cookies and trays of milk, setting them on the table in front of the children and their wide eyes. They president laughed and opened his arms and told them they were welcome in his country. At the end of each interview, Adam presented the world leader with a box that had a key in it, explaining that the key was an actual key to their family home in San Diego. He said they sometimes lock the door when they go to the store, but that he could just let himself in, and that if he ever wanted to have a sleepover, he was welcome in their home.

The relationships the family began that year would sustain. The world leaders wrote the children letters, and the children wrote back. And one world leader even came to San Diego and used his key and stayed over with the Goff family.” (Pages 163-165)

As I read the story, I was reminded of the Old Testament passage in Isaiah prophesying about what has been called the coming of “The Peaceable Kingdom”:

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 NIV)

Another wonderful lesson that Miller learned, shared in the last section of the book, comes from the creative minds of Bob and Maria Goff and their kids.

“Bob and the family were sitting around on New Year’s Day when one of the kids mentioned that she was bored. Bob agreed and said he thought New Year’s Day was probably one of the more boring days of the year. He asked the kids what they could do to make New Year’s Day less boring.

The kids started tossing out ideas, things like buying a pony or building a rocket ship, and then one of the children mentioned that they could have a parade. Getting himself out of buying a pony, perhaps, Bob lit up and said a parade sounded great. . . .

Bob thought about it, though, and realized it’s more fun to be in a parade than to watch one. So he made a rule: nobody would be allowed to watch the parade. But anybody could participate. So he and the kids walked down their small street and knocked on doors, explaining to neighbors that they were having a parade, and anybody who wanted could be in the parade but nobody would be allowed to watch. . . .

Today, ten years later, the parade attracts hundreds of participants. People who have left the neighborhood fly back just to march in the parade. . . The Goff family turned the most boring day of the year into a community favorite that people mark on their calendars and plan their vacations around.” (Pages 233-235)

Miller takes the idea of the parade and turns it into a metaphor for how he and others should take ownership of the creating and the telling of their own stories. He was drawn into the gravitational field of the excitement and vision of the Goff family and began to join them in some of their pursuits and adventures.

“A good story teller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.

When we were in Uganda, I went with Bob to break ground on a new school he was building. The school board was there, along with the local officials. The principal of the school had bought three trees that Bob, the government official, and the principal would plant to commemorate the breaking of the ground. Bob saw me standing off, taking pictures of the event and walked over and asked if I would plant his tree for him.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked.

‘Absolutely,’ he said. ‘It would be great for me to come back to this place and see the tree you planted, and be reminded of you every time I visit.’

I put down my camera and helped dig the hole and set the tree into the ground, covering it to its tiny trunk. And from that moment on, the school was no longer Bob’s school; the better story was no longer Bob’s story. It was my story too. I’d entered into the story with Bob. And it’s a great story about providing an education to children who would otherwise go without. After that I donated funds to Bob’s work in Uganda, and I’m even working to provide a scholarship to a child I met in a prison in Kampala who Bob and his lawyers helped free. I’m telling a better story with Bob.

Nobody gets to watch the parade.” (Pages 236-237)

I think you can tell that Donald Miller, in telling his story and that of Bob Goff and his family, has inspired me to spice up my own story. What a great way to prepare for the New Year by reading this book and then planning a metaphoric – or actual – parade.

And no one is allowed simply to watch.

I look forward to joining your parade!

God bless.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ben Casnocha Blog: Being Individuals in an Increasingly Individualistic Society

One of my friends made me aware of this fascinating article that gives an excellent sociological explanation to the growing phenomenon of individuals following their "passions" in looking for jobs and careers.

I thought that Ben Casnocha's insights were worth sharing with the readers of The White Rhino Report.


Ben Casnocha Blog


The White Rhino Unplugged - Off for a Few Days of Vacation

I just want to give a heads-up to those who may be trying to contact me in the next few days. I am going "unplugged" as I spend a few days away from the office catching up on some reading and writing.

I plan to be back in the office on Wednesday, Dec. 9.


In Memoriam - Dr. Hudson Taylor Armerding, President Emeritus of Wheaton College, Illinois

I have just learned of the passing last evening of Dr. Hudson Taylor Armerding, who served as President of Wheaton College in Illinois from 1965-1982. He was President during my years as a student at Wheaton. Among the family members that he leaves behind are a number of my friends, including his son, Taylor Armerding, and three of his grandsons, Jake, Luke and Jesse.

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."


Monday, November 30, 2009

Go See "The Blind Side"

Last night, Michael Oher, rookie offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, played on "the big stage" in front of a national television audience, as his team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. Simultaneously, in cineplexes across the country, the story of how he got to be an NFL player was being projected onto the big screens for enthusiastic audiences.

This is a moving and, ultimately, inspiring film. It is not without its flaws and excesses, but I loved the story. The film represents perhaps the best work that Sandra Bullock has ever done as an actress. I agree with the sentiments expressed in Boston Globe review written by Wesley Morris.

Boston Globe review

You will enjoy this film. It is a great way to give into a pre-Christmas "spirit of giving" mood.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mini-Review of "A Mad Desire to Dance" by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel has been much on the public consciousness for several decades. His memoir, "Night" thrust him onto the public stage. More recently, his name appeared among a list of those whose life savings Bernie Madoff absconded with. In this densely written novel, Wiesel shows that he is continuing to wrestle with and process the personal and universal aftershocks from the Holocaust.

In this work of fiction, Doriel, the protagonist, using his psychiatrist as the screen upon which he projects his memories and fears, recounts the story of his family. His mother was a Resistance fighter who survived World War II, only to die later in an accident. Doriel was a child during the war, and his knowledge of those troubled times is based largely on newspaper and newsreel accounts. As a man nearing the end of his life, he struggles to make sense of all that his family suffered. His dance of pain with Dr. Goldschmidt takes both of them into dark corners of their souls. The agonizing sharing of Doriel's journey beckons the therapist out of the comfort of professional objectivity and shakes her and her marriage to the core.

This is a deeply moving fictional account of a very real journey that Wiesel and countless others have made in the decades that have passed since an attempt at a "Final Solution" was imposed upon humanity.

This is a work of art from the heart well worth reading.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Last Night in Twisted River" - John Irving's Meta-Novel

"The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long."

Thus begins, in media res, John Irving's latest novel. I am calling it a meta-novel, because it reads like a mobius strip of a narrative - fiction and commentary about the process of writing fiction twisting themselves together like the river in the title or the branches of the wind-swept tree depicted on the book's cover. In a uniquely Irvingesque way, the author returns to themes that will be warmly familiar to those of us who perch on the edge of our seats waiting for the next offering from the mind and pen of John Irving. There are the obligatory appearances of bears, Philips Exeter Academy, the University of New Hampshire, Vermont, Toronto, the wrestling room, the Writers' Workshop in Iowa, sexual dalliances in motor vehicles, awkward couplings and uncouplings, the severing of limbs, and the threat of death as a constant companion to the characters and to the reader.

This may be Irving's most autobiographical novel to date, although he takes great pains to have the protagonist, writer Danny Angel, Daniel Baciagalupo, discuss the topic of autobiographical writing. Angel, channeling Irving, makes the point that while there are always autobiographical elements in any novel, the characters take on a life of their own and the fiction is different from the composite figures that spring from real or imagined events in the life of the writer.

Irving returns, as well, to the theme of younger men held in the thrall of older women. Using settings in cook shacks and restaurants in the logging camps of northern New Hampshire, Boston's North end, Iowa, Vermont and Toronto, Irving serves up a bouillabaisse of characters and action that propel the reader forward through the twisted journeys of three generations of men and those who love them and add spice to their lives. Dominic "Cookie" Baciagalupo, his son, Daniel and grandson, Joe form a tragic triumvirate around which revolve countless characters who appear on the stage of the novel in colorful and unexpected ways. Some fall from the sky, snowshoe into the teeth of a blizzard, break through the ice, slip off of logs and drive from New York's Chinatown halfway across the U.S. to the heartland of Iowa.

You will notice that I am not talking much about the plot. Although the plot is as brilliant as any we have come to expect from John Irving, I found myself even more interested in the process by which Irving chose to present the plot. The book's broad themes and the discursive musings about the art of writing added a layer of intrigue to my enjoyment of this story.

This is a wondrous work that tells the story of a writer who is telling a story about his life and his work as a story teller. It is a tantalizingly twisted tale that should delight and "appall" discerning readers.



Thanksgiving in Afghanistan - A Report from 1LT Rajiv Srinivasan

While most of us were enjoying turkey drumsticks, marathon football, and the company of family and friends, some of our troops in Afghanistan were getting up in the middle of the night to respond to the latest IED attack.

In his inimitable way, 1LT Rajiv Srinivasan tells the tale of how he and his soldiers from Attack Company, operating as the RDF (Rapid Deployment Force), spent the morning after Thanksgiving. Continue reading his account of his "direct line to the White House" conversation with the Commander in Chief. These two articles, in juxtaposition with one another, give a poignant glimpse into how one junior officer in today's Army helps himself and his men to cope with the unpredictable rhythms of terror and boredom.

It is two days since we celebrated Thanksgiving here in America, but it is not to late to offer one more prayer of Thanksgiving for the fine men and women who stand in the gap and do their duty in the face of relentless opposition and waning support and political resolve at home.

God bless you, Rajiv, and all of your colleagues.

Thoughts from Afghanistan


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mini-Review: "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver burst upon the literary scene with her bestselling "The Poisonwood Bible." That novel told a tawdry tale of missionary zeal run amok. "The Lacuna" is her long-awaited first novel in nine years. It is well worth the wait. Using dual narrative voices - a young male protagonist and his female amanuensis - Kingsolver weaves a saga that travels between Mexico and the United States. Harrison William Shepherd is a young man and aspiring writer who is trapped between two worlds - caught in a series of "lacunae" or empty spaces fashioned from his peculiar lineage as the son of an American father and Mexican mother.

A literal lacuna that leads to a cove hidden with a coral reef on the Yucatan shore stands as a metaphor for the many relational lacunae that serve as potholes in the bumpy road that is Sheperd path in life. As he matures and interacts with a fascinating variety of colorful men and women, he wrestles with his identity and destiny. Lev Trotsky in exile in Mexico appears on the scene, and impacts the arc of Shepherd's life. Years later, that encounter with the Russian revolutionary eventually causes the writer to run afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee and McCarthyism at its most virulent.

Kingsolver, in her inimitable style, exposes the excesses of Anti-communism in Joe McCarthy's America in much the same way that she revealed the ugly underbelly of ill-conceived missionary activity in Africa. She offers her expose, not by preaching at the readers, but by leading them through the series of lacunae - the negative spaces - that define Shepherd's journey through life on both sides of the Rio Grande.

I loved this book, and will be recommending it to many friends.



Talent Alert for Former Military - Consulting Role on the Seacoast of New Hampshire

Some readers of The White Rhino Report are already aware that I have been working with one of my client companies in looking for a Senior Consultant who brings prior military leadership experience. The scope of the position has been re-defined, which means that we are now looking for candidates with broader leadership experience.

The company is a for-profit consultancy that has a focus on servicing the needs of clients that are non-profit organizations. The best candidates for this Senior Consultant position will have military leadership experience, preferably a graduate degree and experience in organizational design and organization development. Prior consulting experience and the ability to communicate professionally with a broad spectrum of stake holders are important considerations.

The position will be located on the beautiful Seacoast of New Hampshire and will require travel to client locations.

Time is of the essence on filling this position. Please forward this notice to anyone you feel may be both qualified and available, and have them contact me at:

Thank you.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Intersection 2.0 - Some Preliminary Feedback and Hearty Thanks

In the coming days, I will be sharing more about the recently completed Intersection 2.0. I want to share with you some early feedback from those who participated.

From Daniel:


I've been creating such a fervor about it at the Office (Close to Home) I think I'm going to do my own presentation on what I learned and inspire some of the other employees to join me at 3.0! Whenever it is!"


From Dale:

"Thank you for creating the Intersection programs. I not only enjoyed attending Intersection 2.0, but I also learned some things to put into play as well as about myself. I also had the opportunity to meet some very nice people I would not normally meet.

Thank you and I look forward to Intersection Cubed. (I will need to learn how to superscript the 3!)"


From Susan:

"Les Miserables . . ..That’s the term for all of us forced to leave your marvelous Intersection 2.0. Thank you.

What a terrific experience, Al. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And you are so generous to have included a wonderful plug for MyVetwork. And showing the Rajiv video.

Thank you for all that.

I knew you liked to sing, but had no idea you are a SINGER! So have to add that to the increasingly lengthy list of Al Chase skills, experiences, gifts, you name it, that I’ve been building.

Intersection 2.0 was wonderful. And I want to help you in any way I can as you build on this."


From Dmitry:

"I attend numerous events every month so I have some something to compare to Intersection 2.0

Simply put, it was a terrific event. I could tell the enormous amount of preparation involved. I can't, and hopefully won't ever forget Scott and Tiffany Smiley's story. Plus, what an amazing collection friends from all over the country.

Again, great job leaving a meaningful mark on all of us."


From Eric:

"Sully and I really enjoyed being part of the event on Saturday. Scotty and Tiffany Smiley’s story was very inspiring as I admire Scotty’s drive, his faith in god and the devotion of Tiffany to support him every step of the way.

I shared the story with my wife and showed her the YouTube video, which was very moving for both of us!

Well done my friend as I wish I could have spent more time over the weekend!!


I would like to once again extend a huge "Thank you" to all of the speakers, sponsors and Planning Committee members who worked so hard to make Intersection 2.0 happen. I hope I do not leave anyone out of the following list:


Doug Crandall

Diane Darling

Glenn Gaudet

Scotty and Tiffany Smiley

Andreas Widmer



Clearly Creative Marketing

Microsoft - who generously hosted us in their gorgeous facility.



Jake Armerding

Chelsea Brannon

Maggie Daniec

Nathan Scott Hancock - Musical Director

Celia Hottenstein

Ashley Korolewski

Stephen Markarian

Shoba Narayan

Edward Tolve

Nina Zendejas

Planning Committee:

Ashkan Afkhami
Rick Cerf
Bob Cormier
Diane Darling
Joey Fiore
Glenn Gaudet
Dave Gowel
John Griffith
Lisa Guyon
Nathan Scott Hancock
Daniel Hartzheim
Gen Hendrey
Ravi Kudesia
Eric Melin
Phillip Meneses
Keith Murray
Andy Peix
Andrew Russo
Swaroop Samant
Dougan Sherwood
Gita Srinivasan

Stay tuned for information about:

IntersXtion 3 (Intersection Cubed)

Jake Will Be at Club Passim Tonight - Join Me There

Jake Armerding returns to Harvard Square's Club Passim this evening at 8:00. He will be performing with his friend (and mine), Christopher Williams, a Nashville-based musician who loves the Red Sox!

I look forward to seeing some familiar faces in the audience. I can tell you that Jake is in great form. He entertained and delighted the attendees at last weekend's Intersection 2.0.

Club Passim website



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Digital Veterans' Day - Create a Profile on

I cannot think of a better way on this Veterans' Day to honor those who have served and who are currently serving than to take a moment to join MyVetwork and to create a profile on this interactive social network of veterans and those who are committed to supporting veterans.

Be aware that one need not be a veteran to be part of the MyVetwork community. I am not a veteran, but am an active member of MyVetwork, because of my desire to support and encourage our veterans from all generations.

Link to MyVetwork website


Here is a message from my friend, John R. Campbell, Founder of MyVetwork:

"I founded MyVetwork as the first-ever social network built by those who have served, for those who have served, and, for the people who love them.

We want Veterans to know that by joining now, they can access valuable resources like mentors and job matching, and they can bring their values, interests, talents, passions, and dreams to a vital community built just for them.

Our registration process is easy, free, and doesn’t require the “I’ll be your friend if you’ll be mine” of other social networking sites.

After registration, we invite new members to create a profile. This process is fun, and takes less than five minutes.

Once a member’s profile is completed, MyVetwork's matching algorithms go to work, building a visual "pin-view" of the member’s connections in the community.

pin-view Every member’s pin-view of potential connections, is totally unique, like a fingerprint, and can help members navigate the site in any number of ways. Whether they’re searching for a particular person; giving/receiving career advice; accessing exceptional stories, cartoons, polls, pictures, or video; or just looking to connect with someone who has “walked in their boots.”
At MyVetwork, it’s all here: Caring. Connecting. Community."

A Veterans' Day Salute - Donald Champoux (1926-2009)

My Uncle Don, Donald Arthur Champoux, was another silent member of "The Greatest Generation." While serving in World War II in the Army Air Force, he contracted tuberculosis. He spent a long while in a TB sanitorium in Middleton, Massachusetts, and lived for the rest of his life with the use of only one lung. It never seemed to slow him down. He was tenacious in everything he did. I never got to see him in his heyday as a baseball player, but those in the know say that had not the war and illness derailed him, he could have played professional ball.

Like my father, who also served during that time in the Army Air Force, Uncle Don seldom talked about the war years.

He served as Class President of his Newburyport High School Class of 1944, his sister, Arlene Champous Spearin, served as Class Vice-President, and his wife, Isabelle Cooper Champoux, served as Class Secretary. How's that for a political family juggernaut!

On this Veterans' Day, the day before we will bury him, I salute Uncle Don.

You served well and fought a long fight.

SALISBURY — Donald Arthur Champoux, age 83, longtime Salisbury resident, died unexpectedly Saturday morning, Nov. 7, 2009, at his home in Salisbury.

He was the beloved husband of Isabelle W. (Cooper) Champoux, celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary this past Oct. 20th.

Born in Newburyport, Jan. 29, 1926, he was the son of the late Arthur G. and Ruth (Simmons) Champoux. A graduate of Newburyport High School, Class of 1944, he was Class President and had been an exceptional ball player. He went on to graduate from McIntosh Business College in 1952 and attended Northeastern University.

During World War II, Mr. Champoux served with the United Stated Army Air Force, honorably discharged on Nov. 4, 1945.

Donald had worked as a plant manager at Chase Shawmut; industrial engineer at C.B.S. Hytron and retired as business manager at Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield.

He never lost his love of playing baseball, and he actually was one of the best ball players in Salisbury, playing for the Salisbury Town League; was a Little League Coach for Salisbury and was an avid Red Sox Fan.

Mr. Champoux was an active member of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, where he served as Senior and Junior Warden for many years; ran the children's services and was a former member of the Choir. He also provided services at Brigham Manor Nursing Home for 29 years and made regular ministerial visits at the Anna Jaques Hospital, bringing comfort to those in need.

In addition to is loving wife, he leaves behind two sons, Donald C. Champoux of Newburyport and Arthur J. Champoux and wife Beverly of Dover, N.H.; three grandsons, Chad of Shelburne Falls and Gary and Keith of Dover, N.H.; two great-granddaughters, Brianna and Courtney both of Dover, N.H.; a sister, Arlene Spearin of Camden, Maine; a brother, Bruce Champoux of Danville, N.H.; as well as several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Louise Chase.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Mini-Review of First Novel, "Mercury Falls" by Robert Kroese

Considering that "Mercury Falls" is the first effort at this literary form by novelist Robert Kroese, he has done a fine job of crafting a tale of war between heaven and hell. With my recent articles about "Angels the Musical," I guess it is fair to say that I am in spiritual warfare mode these days when it comes to literary and musical tastes.

"Mercury Falls" is a thoroughly engaging tale of the tortuous efforts on the parts of angels - exalted, fallen and everything in between - and a select group of humans to either advance Armageddon or somehow delay its inevitable culmination. Writing in a style that reminds me a great deal of Christopher Moore, author of "Lamb," Kroese offers a sadonic tour through the byzantine and often amusing corners of angelic and demonic bureacracies. I would love to see these taxonomic nightmares of committes, sub-committes, commissions and agencies try to pass a health care reform bill!

The accidental heroine, Christine Temetri, is an End Times correspondent for a religious news magazine. Her foil is a ne'er-do-well nerdy and schlumpy anti-Christ. Together, they stumble their way through a picaresque series of adventures and misadventures that amuse and offer cautionary warnings to those who may be inclined to take themselves too seriously in the pursuit of truth.

This is a book worth reading.



Angels the Musical is about to Take Flight at Boston Conservatory

I mentioned last week the embryonic musical, Angels. In just a few hours, I will be heading to the Fenway section of Boston - not see see the Red Sox play, but to see Angels soar!

Because of a growing friendship with the team of Producers for Angels the Musical, Marcus Cheong (co-author of the book and lyrics with Ken Lai), Dale Smith and Frank Monteleone, as well with as the composer/lyricist, Ken Lai, I have been able to watch this embryo of a musical grow over the course of the past few weeks. It has been a thrilling process to behold as changes are made in the show and the cast members grow into their roles and begin to make the characters truly live to tell their stories.

I wish I could invite you to accompany me this weekend to see one of the performances at Boston Conservatory, but the weekend performances at the theater are already filled to capacity. The excitement about this show is palpable and is growing exponentially. Each person I know who has seen and heard even a small sample of the music and story has been drawn into its powerful gravitational field and has been dazzled by the brilliance of its light. And this is a workshop production, without benefit of full staging, lighting, costumes or special effects. Those elements will be added when the show arrives on Broadway, but the story that has been crafted by Lai and Cheong stands on its own. And the young and energetic cast of Boston Conservatory students animates the tale and carries it on angels wings directly into the hearts of the audience members.

There will be opportunities in the future for you to see this show in more fully realized iterations. There are plans underway for a national tour, and eventually a full-blown Broadway version. While you are waiting, treat yourself to a sample of gorgeous music as offered on the Angels the Musical page:

Angels the Musical Myspace Page

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

I plan to keep readers of The White Rhino Report aware of continuing developments as the national tour and the eventual Broadway plans mature.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Dr. Scott Snook in the Washington Post - "Greater Love Hath No Man"

My good friend, Dr. Scott Snook of Harvard Business School, had a piece in yesterday's Washington Post that I think is worthy of your attention. Many of the readers of The White Rhino Report will remember Dr. Snook as one of the keynote speakers at The White Rhino Intersection.

Here is the link to his piece.

Great Love Hath No Man

Buried among the comments following the piece are my reactions to what Dr. Snook wrote, reproduced below:


I could not agree more. Everywhere I turn these days, thoughtful writers are connecting selfless service - in the military and in the social sector - with happiness and love. Our mutual friend, Donovan Campbell, in his book, "Joker One," in writing about his Marine Corps unit, makes this statement:

"And I hope and I pray that whoever reads this story will know my men as do I, and that knowing them, they too might come to love them.”

Bill Murphy, Jr., author of the acclaimed “In a Time of War,” an account of West Point’s Golden Class the Class fo 2002 makes a similar point:

“This, for Todd [Bryant], was the essence of West Point. ‘Duty, honor, country’ was the academy’s motto, and everyone talked constantly about honor and commitment, loyalty and patriotism. All that was true and good, but stripped of its pomp and circumstance, the place was really about love. Love of your country, love of your classmates and friends, and love of the future officers you’d someday serve with. Most of all, West Point was about learning to love the soldiers you would someday lead, the privates and sergeants, knuckleheads and heroes alike, who might, just once, in a life-justifying moment, look to you for leadership in some great battle on a distant shore.”

Thank you for shining another light into the shadowy corners of our lives.

Posted by: achase47 | November 3, 2009 10:51 AM


FYI - Dr. Snook will be joining us for Intersection 2.0 on the 14th of November, as will his daughter, Megan, a West Point cadet. His son, LT Sean Snook, will be joining us remotely from his deployment in Afghanistan by way of a video greeting that will help kick off the conference.

If you have not yet registered for Intersection 2.0, follow this link.

Intersection 2.0 Website


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mini-Review of "The Last Day"

James Landis sets an ambitious challenge for himself - telling a "Jesus-meets-returning-Iraq-veteran" tale without being too maudlin or preachy. For the most part, he succeeds in weaving a moving and evocative tale about Warren Harlan Pease. After serving in Iraq, Pease shows up back home on the Seacoast of New Hampshire and encounters Jesus in the form of a Ray, who meets him on the beach. Ray guides Pease through a day of reunions and reconciliation.

The fact that I am intimately familiar with all of the spots along the Seacoast and Great Bay that Landis describes allowed me to buy into this story in a personal way. There are many things about this book that I enjoyed. I have one quibble that I must share regarding an artistic choice that Landis made. Pease, having just served in a war zone, does not talk like a soldier or a warrior. His language seems too pretty, too sterile, as if it has been edited for a Sunday School audience of readers. I would have preferred a little more of the grit I have come to expect from the conversations of soldiers who have seen too much death and felt too much suffering in the war zone.

"The Last Day" certainly shares some elements with the much-discussed "The Shack," Both books invite us to see God in non-traditional ways. For that I am grateful to the author.


Mini-Review of "Chronic City" by Jonathan Lethem

The author of acclaimed novels, "Motherless Brooklyn" and "The Fortress of Solitude," had just released his latest send-up of life in New York City. Jonathan Lethem's brilliant portrayal of the denizens on the Upper East Side is a tour de force that introduces the reader to characters that range from toney to tawdry to tatterdemalion.

The narrator, Chase Insteadman, is "a handsome, inoffensive fixture on Manhattan's social scene, lives off residuals earned as a child star on a much-beloved sitcom called Martyr & Pesty. Chase owes his current social cachet to an ongoing tragedy much covered in the tabloids: His teenage sweetheart and fiancee, Janice Trumbull, is trapped by a layer of low-orbit mines on the International Space Station, from which she sends him rapturous and heartbreaking love letters. Like Janice, Chase is adrift, she in earth's atmosphere, he in a vague routine punctuated by Upper East Side dinner parties."

Part of the genius of "Chronic City" is the parallel between the sad tale of Janet trapped in a decaying orbit, and the eccentric orbits of the satellite personalities that populate Chase Insteadman's world - spanning the horizon from the homeless to the Mayor's office, from acupuncturist to acolyte. Along the way, the author has his characters wrestle with the nature of reality, power, beauty and relationships.

Lethem's writing raises the bar on wry and sardonic. It is a Manhattan tale told with a generous schmear of New york attitude.

I loved this book so much that I will now go back and read his two earlier works. It is easy to see why Lethem has won a MacArthur Fellowship "genius award."



Friday, October 30, 2009

The Good Guys Win in the End - "Angels," the Musical

In the past week, I have been blessed to become acquainted with the creative team behind the development of the musical, "Angels." The show, which is currently being developed in workshop form at Boston Conservatory, will be presented to limited audiences the weekend of November 5-8 at the Conservatory's Zack Theater.

I sat through one of the first run-through rehearsals this week, and was blown away by the show. The music has been composed by Ken Lai and the lyrics and book jointly written by Ken Lai and Marcus Cheong. This team, who hail from Australia, have put together a thoroughly engaging story of the ageless struggle between God's angels and Lucifer and his minions. The action of the story, set amidst Roman-controlled Palestine, tells of the events in and around Bethlehem as seen through the eyes of the angels.

There are a limited number of tickets available for the upcoming workshop performances. Let me know if you are interested and I will do what I can to bring you along with me.

Watch for this show to make its appearance on Broadway in the not-too-distant future. If you are aware of any "angel investors" who would like to become involved in a show of this nature, let me know and I will put them in touch with the producers.


Final Day for Early Discounted Registration for Intersection 2.0

Saturday is the final day for discounted early registration for Intersection 2.0. If you have not yet registered, this would be the ideal to do so. Take a moment to go to the website and follow the Registration Link.

Feel free to invite other like-minded individuals by forwarding this link to them.

We are blessed with a remarkable line-up of speakers. Here are some of the things you can look forward to:

Featured Speakers

Jake Armerding, Musician
Captain Scott Smiley, United States Army
Richard Banfield, CEO
Mrs. Tiffany Smiley, Inspirational Speaker
Doug Crandall, Author and Founder
Andreas Widmer, Author and Founder
Diane Darling, Founder and CEO
Glenn Gaudet, Marketing Guru

Also participating in the event and in the break-out discussions are a growing list of gifted leaders in their own right. Here is a sampling:

John R. Campbell and Susan Bird
- Founders of MyVetwork Veterans' community.

Dr. Scott Snook
- Professor at Harvard Business School

Jack Amberg
- Leader at The McCormick Foundation

USAF Col. (Ret.) Michelle Gardiner-Ince
- Recently retired as one of the USAF's top-ranked female leaders

Several recent graduates of MIT's Sloan Fellow's program,including a genuine rocket scientist!

Current graduate students at MIT Sloan, Harvard Business School, Harvard's Kennedy School, a cancer researcher, students from Northeastern University, Tufts, BU, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Cornell, Columbia, West Point.

An actor who kidnaps George Clooney in the new film, "The Men Who Stare at Goats"!

Looking forward to your adding your voice to the conversations that will happen during the weekend of November 14 and 15 at Intersection 2.0.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Four Days Remain for Discounted Registration for Intersection 2.0

The special discounted early registration rate for Intersection 2.0 will expire at the end of the day on Friday.

I have spoken to many individuals in the past week who have told me that they plan to attend, but have not yet taken the initiative to register.

Please register today - so that you will save money and so that we can plan for the appropriate. amount of food and best use of the available space to accommodate those who will be coming.

I learned today of more people coming from Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, the US Air Force.

We look forward to having you join us.

Intersection 2.0 Website


CIC Blog Profiles White Rhino Partners and Intersection 2.0

Regular readers of The White Rhino Report are aware that I enjoy renting space in one of the greatest spots on earth - Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Kendall Square - "Where the Future Lives"! The CIC Blog regularly spotlights tenant companies. Dougan Sherwood of the CIC staff recently wrote a wonderful article featuring White Rhino Partners, our executive search practice and the upcoming Intersection 2.0.


CIC Blog profile of White Rhino Partners

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boston Area Talent Alert - Marketing and Sales Assistant for Medical Device Company

One of my client companies, for whom I am conducting searches for senior leadership, has also asked for my help in identifying an early career person to serve as Marketing and Sales Assistant supporting the operations in U.S. headquarters in the Boston area.

The ideal person will bring excellent organization skills for event planning, project management, communication, market research, newsletter development, brochure design and administrative support to the sales and marketing team.

The ideal candidate will combine an interest in medicine or oncology with a passion for marketing.

This company is growing and there will be opportunities for advancement and increased responsibility.

For a detailed job description, contact me at:


Columbus Day - Think About Discovering a New World of Leadership Connections: Intersection 2.0 on November 14 and 15.

We are a little more than a month away from Intersection 2.0. On this glorious Columbus Day in Boston, some of us are working , some are leaf-peeping and others are enjoying time off with family and friends. Consider discovering some new worlds of leadership and cross-disciplinary connections by registering for Intersection 2.0 - "The Heart of a Leader" here in Cambridge on the weekend of November 14 and 15.

What is it all about?

It is about “Exploring the Art of Leadership Together”

It is about “Connecting diverse innovators to explore the art of leadership – intertwining the worlds of business, academia, the military and the arts.”

Check out the website to learn more of the background and structure of the weekend.

We are already aware of people who plan to come from Seattle, Houston, Chicago, West Point, New York City, and D.C. It is going to be a great weekend; it will be even better if you can join me.

We are doing to the last few weeks for offering discounted early registration, so go to the website now and register.

As always, contact me with any questions or comments.

Testimonial from someone who attended the first White Rhino Intersection:

“I wasn't sure what to expect, but I certainly never could have guessed how valuable this experience would prove to be for me. The speakers were top-notch and I had the opportunity to learn what it means to be a leader from some of the very best of them. I also found myself networking with some fascinating people and have since formed lasting relationships with a number of diverse individuals. Beyond just feeling inspired, I was deeply moved, and left feeling energized and excited for the future.”

John T. Griffith