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

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Up-to-Date Look at Life for Archangel Company on the Front Lines in Afhanistan

LT Sean Snook has once again uploaded some recent images from the portion of Afghanistan where he and his comrades are serving.

Here was Sean's message to me in explaining his rationale for taking the time to assemble these video and photo images of the landscape and faces he and his troops see every day in "the 'stan"

"I have just completed video #2. I work on the videos in my free time and then I send them out to the Family Readiness Group at Fort Bragg. I am trying to paint a snapshot picture for the families of our day to day lives out here so that it is easier for everyone to relate to their fathers, brothers, sons and husbands that are deployed with Archangel Company. If they can see the video and relate to us, provoking discussion with deployed family members, it closes the gap of communication and allows shared experiences for all families. At least, I hope it does!

I hope you enjoy!

Sean Snook"

Please continue to keep Sean and his colleagues and the people of Afghanistan in your prayers.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Discovering the Writing of Diana Gabaldon- Mini-Review of "Outlander"

I love it when I discover a new writer whose grasp of language allows her to tell a compelling story with artistry and panache. Such a writer is Diana Gabaldon. I discovered her writing in a marvelous way. A few weeks ago, in one of the common areas of Cambridge Innovation Center where I maintain office space for White Rhino Partners, I noticed a small pile of book with a sign that said: "Take one for free." The books were a paperback version of Gabaldon's acclaimed novel, "Outlander," and included a few pages of a sneak peek at her about-to-be-published sequel work, "An Echo in the Bone."

The novel, "Outlander," proved to be a page turner in the best sense of that phrase. I could not put the book down and plowed through the 800+ pages in short order. The tag lines on the front cover promised a book about: "history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul . . you know, the usual stuff of literature."

The wonderful thing that I am pleased to report to you is that this tongue-in-cheek preview of the novel understated the breadth of Gabaldon's reach as a story teller. I love the verbal palette with which she paints. Allow me to share a brief excerpt to let you taste just how delicious is her use of visual imagery and her rich vocabulary:

"It was dark in the cottage and there was a bear in the corner of the room. In panic, I recoiled against my escort, wanting nothing more to do with wild breasts. He shoved me strongly forward into the cottage. As I staggered toward the fire, the hulking shape turned toward me, and I realized belatedly that it was merely a large man in a bearskin.

A bearskin cloak, to be exact, fastened at the neck with a silver gilt brooch as large as the palm of my hand. It was made in the shape of two leaping stags, backs arched and heads meeting to form a circle. The locking pin was a short, tapered fan, the head of it shaped like the tail of a fleeing deer.

I noticed the brooch in detail because it was directly in front of my nose. Looking up, I briefly considered the possibility that I had been wrong, perhaps it really
was a bear.

Still, bears presumably did not wear brooches or have eyes like blueberries; small, round, and dark, shiny blue. They were sunk in heavy cheeks whose lower slopes were forested with silver-shot black hair. Similar hair cascaded over think set shoulders to mingle with the hair of the cloak, which, in spite of its new use, was still pungently redolent of its former owner." (Page 731)

I love that kind of vivid writing. I have plans to order the sequel, which has just been published: "An Echo in the Bone."

To the person who left that pile of free books on the 14th floor at CIC, I say: "The you for hooking me on the drug of Gabaldon's writing!"

Seth Godin Tells the Story . . .about Telling the Story: Tom's Shoes

I read Seth Godin's Blog on a daily basis. I always get something valuable from the nuggets that he shares. This recent post about Tom's Shoes and their program for giving away shoes struck me at several levels, so I want to share it with readers of The White Rhino Report.

Seth Blog about Tom's Shoes

I love the idea of starting a company around the vision of giving things away to those in need. Tom's Shoes does that.

I love the idea of using creativity and on-line tools to tell the story of the company.

I love the idea of using parody and humor to enhance the poignancy of the original vision.

Finally, this story of giving away shoes touched an emotional chord with me that reminded me of a trip I made to Romania in the early 1990's - right after the revolution that had toppled Ceausescu. Need was rampant for food and items for basic daily living. The group I traveled with had managed to secure donations of hundreds of pairs of children's shoes that we brought with us. At the border, we were met by dubious customs officials who looked at the huge cardboard cartons we had tied to the roofs of the cars that carried us from Beograd, Serbia to Timisoara, Romania.

Scowling Romanian Customs official: "Who are these shoes for?"

Al Chase: "They are for our friends in Romania."

Romanian Customs official: "What are the names of your friends?"

Al Chase: "They are friends we have not yet met!"

Romanian Customs official, now smiling: "You may pass. Thank you for bringing hope to Romania."


What friends that you are yet to meet can you help today and in the days to come? How about walking a mile in their shoes?

Tom's Shoes website