Monday, May 30, 2011

Employing America's Heroes: Outstanding Job Opportunity in Boston Area - Sales Lead for Military Veteran


Boston Area

Company: Warwick Mills – New Ipswich, NH and Cambridge, MA

Warwick Mills is a leader in the engineering of technical textiles for protective applications. We develop and integrate complex fiber composites for the most challenging safety applications. Our cooperative development strategy relies on our core technologies in technical textiles, custom adhesives, and performance coatings, from research and development to testing and full-scale manufacturing. This strategy ensures customer confidence for every challenge.

Brand: TurtleSkin Protection

Product Line: Body Armor and Non-Traditional Armor

Position: Sales Lead

Product Line Description:

There are 3 components in the Warwick body armor product line:

The TurtleSkin Body Armor program includes products that are engineered for ballistic and fragmentation threats, and/or knife-spike threats which include both slash and stab protection. We work to exceed Certification Standards developed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), US Military standards, EN/ISO norms and Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB).

The TurtleSkin Military program expands beyond packaged armor offerings and is based on a modular and configurable approach. The TurtleSkin mil system allows teams in the field to configure armor solutions to suit specific operations.

The Warwick Non-Traditional armor program includes products which address many of the performance criteria of above standards, however this equipment does not have a traditional vest configuration. These products offer personal protection that is unobtrusive, and in some cases non-attributable or covert. Performance levels and coverage are adapted to the customer’s specific application needs.

Senior Sales Lead Armor -- Job Responsibilities:

This position is responsible for oversight of entire sales effort for both Body Armor and Non-Traditional Armor, which includes management of relationships within US Military, US Intelligence community, US State Department, Federal and State law enforcement agencies, and international commercial and sovereign sales efforts.

The Senior Sales Lead will be required to manage the effort of the rest of the armor sales staff and direct and proportion this work. This entails setting the sales plan and budgets and managing results to the plan on a monthly basis.

The Sales Lead is a standing member of the product-design working group. In the product development process, the sales lead coordinates with product management to organize the “voice of the customer” input.

Indicators for Success

Demonstrated capacity to work with this customer base is required. Working knowledge of the various SOCOM and PEO procurement and fielding processes is necessary. Background in the armor market is not required.

Ongoing training and skills development history is a key attribute for this position.

This is a leadership position.


· Ex military, technical or engineering back ground is required. 5 years of sales experience is expected.

· Ideal candidate will be knowledgeable about Special Operations.

· Successful candidate must be intellectually curious enough to be able to learn the technologies and to teach them to the customer base.

· Successful candidate will be a team builder, able to coordinate alignment among front office, back office and manufacturing teams.

Qualified candidates only, send MS-Word resume and cover letter to:

Dr. Al Chase -

In the cover letter, highlight the aspects of your career that directly match specific items in the job description, salary history and expectations, and openness to relocation to the Boston area.

Another Way to Honor Veterans, Military and Their Families - TroopSwap

My good friend, Matt Thompson, whom I came to know and respect when he served as a Co-President of the Armed Forces Alumni Association at Harvard Business School, has recently made a career move that will impact many veterans and their families. Matt left his secure job with Goldman Sachs to join his friend and fellow HBS grad, Blake Hall, in launching TroopSwap.

"The Web site launched this month as a daily deal purveyor, much like District-based LivingSocial or Chicago’s Groupon, only the discounts are tailored to military families."

Washington Post Article on TroopSwap

Matt's enthusiasm for his new mission comes through loud and clear in the e-mail he recently sent to me announcing the launch of TroopSwap:

"It feels SO good serving the military community, but you already knew that...."

Here are some additional details about the financing and structure of TroopSwap:

Yahoo! Finance Press Release

"Every day, TroopSwap features a different cool business in your community offering an exclusive deal to veterans, service members and their immediate families. Our local employees are all military spouses and we give 10% of our profits to the Wounded Warrior Project. Our goal is to reward a life of service. Currently, TroopSwap is only available in Hampton Roads, Virginia – the largest military community in the world -- but we will expand to more bases in the near future."

If you are part of the veteran or military community near Hampton Roads, you can begin taking advantage immediately of the deals offered by TroopSwap.

TroopSwap Website

Well done, Matt and Blake!



Remember - Always

Here are four ways to remember those who deserve to be remembered always - not just on this Memorial Day holiday.

The first reminder that I offer is a view through the eyes of 1LT Rajiv Srinivasan, whose moving article, "A Soldier's Reflection for Memorial Day," appeared in Time magazine.

A Soldier's Reflection for Memorial Day

The second reminder is seen through my eyes as I attended the burial of Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Hay at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Resting Place of the Dead

The third reminder, again seen through my eyes, was the moving experience of family and friends sharing memories of 1st LT Rob "Sly" Seidel at the wedding of Socrates and Emily Rosenfeld.

In Memory of Robert "Sly" Seidel

A fourth way is to get behind one of the many excellent organizations that exist to support veterans and their families - by making a donation or donating time. Here are a few that I can personally vouch for:

The Wounded Warrior Project

Wounder Warrior Project Website

Team Red, White & Blue

Team Red, White & Blue Website


MyVetwork Website

I am not sure how you and your loved ones and friends are spending your time on this holiday Monday. If you are reading this Blog, then you have an opportunity to pause and remember and offer prayers for those who gave their all - and for the families and comrades who live with the consequences of those sacrifices.

Remember - always.

God bless.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Red Sox Welcome Their Cousins, The Chicago Cubs, To Boston - What It Was Like the Last Time They Came to Town

In thinking about the Chicago Cubs' return to Fenway Park for the first time in 93 years, I was wondering how things have changed - and how they have stayed the same. In 1918, as is the case for each game today at Fenway Park, veterans who had just returned from war were honored by the baseball teams. Fans facing a time of economic crisis and unaffordable transportation struggled to pay inflated ticket prices. Players fought with owners about how much of a share of the gate receipts was fair. And so it goes.

I discovered a wonderful article written on the brink of the 2004 World Championship by the Boston Red Sox, written by Meredith Goad of the Portland Press Herald. On this weekend when the Cubbies return to the Fens, I find her article very timely and engaging.

In 1918, Different Time, Same Outcome

By Meredith Goad
Portland Press Herald
Thursday, October 28, 2004

The country was at war. People fretted about the flu. There was an election just around the corner.

Sound familiar? Actually, those headlines aren't from today's newspaper but from 1918, the last year the Boston Red Sox won a World Series.

The war was World War I, and it had a major effect on professional baseball that year. Many of the best players enlisted in the armed services, leaving their teams in the lurch. The government instituted a "work or fight" order that said men of draft age had to either join up or be working in a war-related job by Sept. 1.

Some baseball players got around the order by going to work for shipbuilding companies or munitions factories, then playing ball on the side for the companies' teams. The public looked on them as "slackers" who weren't doing their part to serve their country.

That attitude, along with the fact that games were held in the afternoon, began to affect attendance at ballparks. With everyone busy at war-related jobs, no one thought much about America's favorite pastime, and attendance - and ticket prices - plummeted.

"Some games were getting 100 people, 200 people," said Allan Wood, author of "Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox," an account of Boston's last championship. "They just decided to cut their losses and end the season early, and play the World Series in early September."

The first game of the 1918 World Series was called off because of rain, and it began instead at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The top ticket price was just $3, slashed from $5 in 1917. Bleacher seats cost 50 cents.

Even such drastic cost-cutting didn't bring out the crowds, and there was no problem getting a good seat for this face-off between the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. A story in the Sept. 6 edition of Portland's Daily Eastern Argus noted that the crowd of 19,274 was one of the smallest ever for an opening day of the World Series. Out-of-town fans were kept away by high wartime railroad prices.

"The effect of the war was everywhere apparent, especially in the temper of the crowd which, largely local, saw the home team drop the first game without a protest," the newspaper said. "There was no cheering during the contest, nor was there anything like the usual umpire baiting."

The Red Sox won that game 1-0. The atmosphere changed at the second game, which Chicago took 3-1.

"The fighting blood of both teams was up from the beginning," the Daily Eastern Argus reported. "Umpires were growled at; the crowd grew partisan and way down in the depths of the Boston bomb-proof, Knabe, Chicago coach, and Wagner, ditto for Boston, got into a fight. The crowd learned of it when players and umpires dived into the dugout and separated them."

Boston bounced back and took Game 3, also held in Chicago, 2-1.


The shortage of players that season had been good to Babe Ruth. The slugger was eager to play more often and play other positions, Wood said, but had been limited to pitching by Sox management. During the 1918 season, Ruth started playing first base and left field in addition to his pitching duties.

"Pitchers playing the field or fielders pitching wasn't entirely uncommon then, but to do it as much as he did it and as well as he did it was something that had never happened before," Wood said.

Ruth went back to pitching for the World Series, however, and threw a shut-out in the first game. He also pitched Game 4 at Fenway Park and had a big hit to win the game 3-2.

"That titanic triple of Ruth's was the outstanding thrill of the game," the Evening Express & Advertiser reported. "... The stands burst into unrestrained applause, for all the world as they did when the big things happened in before-the-war sports."

In the fourth game, Ruth didn't allow a run until the seventh inning and set a record for consecutive scoreless World Series innings that wasn't broken until 1963.

"Ruth said a few times that that scoreless inning record was the record he was most proud of having," Wood said. "He was a big factor in the series."

Many Maine Red Sox fans made trips to Boston to see Ruth play even though travel was somewhat risky because of the danger of being exposed to the flu. The Spanish flu pandemic, which ultimately killed more than 20 million people worldwide, was raging at the time.

The Portland Sunday Telegram carried the obituary of John O'Meara, a Biddeford man who went to Boston just to see Ruth in the series: "He was accompanied by a number of Biddeford young men with whom he chummed, and they returned home on the Pullman train, and shortly after Mr. O'Meara was taken down sick and was never able to leave his bed."

The Evening Express noted that many Red Sox fans in Portland skipped voting in a state election so they could go to Boston to watch Game 4 at Fenway Park.

With no on-the-spot radio or television coverage available, newspaper stories about the 1918 series consisted mostly of play-by-plays of the games. Fans also followed the action on contraptions that looked like board games at newspapers, arenas and other establishments that had direct wires to the games. The Evening Express promised readers "an inning by inning bulletin service with the big baseball board."

The 1918 series almost ended with Game 5 on Sept. 10, when the game was delayed an hour so the players could decide whether to go on strike.

Typically both teams playing in a World Series were paid a portion of the gate receipts from the first four games. But the low ticket prices and low attendance at the 1918 games were poised to cut into their profits in a big way.

"Without consulting the players, the owners voted to lessen the players' shares and also to contribute 10 percent of the players' shares to charity," Wood said.


On game day, the players refused to come onto the field until the three baseball commissioners dealt with the issue. But the commissioners showed up at Fenway Park drunk, Wood said, and were in no shape to negotiate.

The crowd of nearly 25,000 grew restless, and there were repeated cries of "play ball," according to newspaper accounts. Police reserves were rushed to the ballpark for fear there might be a riot. The atmosphere shifted somewhat when a large detachment of wounded soldiers arrived in the grandstand.

"The entire grandstand and bleachers rose en masse while the band played 'Over There' and gave the heroes three lusty cheers, the loudest and the most heartfelt that have yet been given in the series," according to the Evening Express.

Harry Hooper, right fielder for the Sox, was the first player to emerge on the field.

"We will play," he said, speaking for both teams, "not because we think we are getting a fair deal, because we are not. But we'll play for the sake of the game, for the sake of the public which has always given us its loyal support, and for the sake of the wounded soldiers and sailors who are in the grandstand waiting for us."

When the players finally came out on the field, they were greeted with mingled boos and cheers.

Chicago kept the Sox from the championship that day by winning 3-0.

Rumors of a strike held down attendance at Game 6, but those who stayed away missed an historic moment. It was the Sox in six, with a score of 2-1. Eighty-six years later ...

Original Portland Herald Article

Enjoy the weekend festivities at Fenway. Go Sox!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Mini-Review of Bill Bryson's "In A Sunburned Country"

I recently have been on a reading jag involving inhaling as many of Bill Bryson's books as possible. The latest milestone is his tour de force of Australia entitled "In a Sunburned Country." Any travel writer - and Bryson is far more than a "mere" travel writer - who is able to make me want to book the next flight on Qantas is someone worth reading. As he does in all of his books, Bryson uses his travels through Australia to feed the reader delicious and gritty morsels of history, culture and human interest.

The reviewer for the New York Times said it perfectly: "If there is one book with which to get oriented before departure or en route to Australia, this is it.

Allow me to share a brief excerpt from this work to give you a small taste of Bryson's style as he reacts to the antipodian continent and culture:

Driving in a remote part of the Outback, Bryson found that the only radio station whose signal he could now receive was broadcasting an interminable cricket match. The author's send-up of the commentator's dialogue had me howling with delight.

"'Pritchard begins his long run in from short stump. He bowls and . . .oh, he's out! Yes, he's got him. Longwilley is caught leg-before in middle slops by Grattan. Well, now, what do you make of that, Neville?'

'That's definitely one for the books, Bruce. I don't think I've seen offside medium-slow-fast-pace bowling to match it since Baden-Powell took Rangachangabanga for a maiden ovary at Bangalore in 1948.'

I had stumbled into the surreal and rewarding world of cricket on the radio.

After years of patient study (and with cricket there can be no other kind) I have decided that there is nothing wrong with the game that the introduction of golf carts wouldn't fix in a hurry. It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively, that was merely an unintended side effect. I do not wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as players - more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning." (Pages 105-6)

And so it goes for 300 rollicking pages. If you have not yet been exposed to the mind and pen of Bill Bryson, I invite you to take the plunge. Come on in; the water is fine. If you are already a fan, then add this to your long list of treasured Bryson titles.



Boston Area Client Company Is Hiring Web Software Engineer / Director of Engineering

This is a great opportunity for a Boston area Web Engineer. Please pass the word to those in your network who may be qualified and interested.

Web Software Engineer / Director of Engineering - Boston area Web Search company

Full-time in
Wellesley, company may be moving to Cambridge

Overview: Web guru, linux, php/mySQL

Hiring immediately:

Must have:

1. Linux (A+)

2. PHP ( A+)

OO concepts knowledge (php 5.3)

3. MySQL or Postgre knowledge (A)


5. Javascript/Ajax/JQuery (A)


1. Version control: subversion (svn), git, mercurial, bazaar
2. C, C++, Perl, Python, Ruby
3. NOSQL (mongo, cassandra, ...)
HPC systems
5. distributed computing: Hadoop and alike
6. in-depth Linux knowledge
7. in-depth Linux administration knowledge
8. in-depth ip network knowledge

The ideal candidate will have +/- 10 years’ experience, and will have been part of at least one web venture, as a engineer/contributor, and who now wants to lead software development efforts, with 8 ppl under him/her. (There is currently a senior CTO in-house, but he is transitioning day-to-day responsibilities.)

Qualified candidates only, send MS-Word resume and cover letter to:

Dr. Al Chase -

In the cover letter, highlight the aspects of your career that directly match specific items in the job description, salary history and expectations, and openness to work in the locations indicated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GaggleAmp Update - A Wonderful New Tool to Get Your Message Out

Since I first shared with readers of The White Rhino Report the news of the launch of the Beta version of GaggleAmp, the company has begun to explode in terms of its reach and customer base. The Founder and CEO, Glenn Gaudet, recently shared some very helpful and practical tips on how to use GaggleAmp as a messaging tool and amplification platform:

Here are some messaging tips for you.

How to message with GaggleAMP:

  1. Keep in mind that messages are going to be shared by people that are not you! Using personal pronouns like I or we are not appropriate in most cases and will lower your share rate. (Unless you Reweet)
  2. Messages should be value-add to the reader. Traditional sales copy does not work well with social media. Consider using fun and informative content with links back to specific pages on your site that further explain your key message that you posted.
  3. If you are repeating messages, change up the copy. While repetition is good in general, sending the same message with the same words can turn people off in social media.
  4. Expire your messages often. Remember that when a new Gaggle member joins, they see all messages that have been posted to the Gaggle that are not expired. Don’t overwhelm them. Keep no more than 3-5 messages active in the Gaggle at any one time.
  5. Use our URL shortener with your messages, that way we can track the performance and click-thru rates for your messages.

Come to GaggleAMP by visiting

GaggleAMP is designed by marketing folks for marketing folks. We are grateful that you are giving us a chance. We add new features regularly, so please give us your feedback.



Glenn Gaudet
President & Founder
Office: 617.682.0777

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Joining the Gaggle is totally free and takes just a few moments. GaggleAMP will notify you whenever there are new messages to share.

I encourage you join my White Rhino Herd Gaggle. Click here: GaggleAMP Link

I also encourage to consider creating your own Gaggle. If you have questions, Glenn Gaudet and his team will be happy to help you to decide if GaggleAmp is for you.

Best of all GaggleAMP is FREE, fun and easy to use. I am looking forward to having you on board. Join today!


The White Rhino – Al Chase

To join our Gaggle, click here: White Rhino Gaggle

Bill Bryson's Writing Can Be Dangerous: Review of "A Walk in the Woods"

Boston's venerable transportation system, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), is known as "The T" to denizens of the Commonwealth. Several times each hour, riders on the T's various subway lines are regaled with mindless and inane recorded messages urging us: "If you see something - say something." We are being prompted to keep at least one eye peeled to look for suspicious packages that may erupt at any moment. I am fortunate that these pronouncements are routinely ignored, otherwise some observant passenger on the Red Line may have reported seeing a graying White Rhino laughing explosively as the subway car made its hesitant and arthritic way from Wollaston to Kendall Square. Bill Bryson's writing always causes me to break out in spontaneous and spasmodic chortling, snorting and guffawing. Such was the case last week as I treked through the pages of "A Walk in the Woods," Bryson's account of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I offer this nugget that appears early in this travel book that doubles as a commentary on many aspects of American life. In this excerpt, Bryson shares the rationalizations that led him to embark upon an assault on the AT, the longest hiking trail east of the Mississippi:

"I formed a number of rationalizations. It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth. It would be an interesting and reflective way to reacquaint myself with the scale and the beauty of my native land after nearly twenty years of living abroad. It would be useful (I wasn't quite sure in what way, but I was sure, nonetheless) to learn to fend for myself in the wilderness. When guys in camouflage pants and hunting hats sat around in the Four Acres Diner talking about fearsome things done out-of-doors, I would no longer have to feel like such a cupcake. I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff: 'Yeah, I've shit in the woods.'" (Page 4)

Bryson, and his sometime companion, the Pickwickian "Katz," hiked selected portions of the AT - beginning in Georgia and petering out anticlimactically on the way to Maine's Mt. Katahdin. Along the way, they encountered ups and downs - both topographical and existential. Bryson's singular style of recounting their Quixotic adventures and misadventures reminded me of the peregrinations of Quixote and Sancha Panza as told by the literary pioneer, Don Miguel de Cervantes. A reviewer from the Philadelphia Inquirer captured poignantly the brilliance of Bryson's style: "Bryson is a very funny writer who could wring humor from a clammy sleeping bag." Well said.

In a rare moment of philosophical reflection, Bryson and Katz discussed their mutual decision to abandon their quest far short of the goal of the trail's end point. This quotation stands as an excellent representation of the book as a whole and of the ambivalence that the trail itself evoked in Bryson:

"'So, do you feel bad about leaving the trail?' Katz asked me after a time.

I thought for a moment, unsure. I had come to realize that I didn't have any feelings towards the AT that weren't confused and contradictory. I was weary of the trail, but still strangely in its thrall; found the endless slog tedious but irresistible; grew tired of the endless woods but admired their boundlessness; enjoyed the escape from civilization and ached for its comforts; I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off. 'I don't know,' I said. 'Yes and no, I guess.'" (Page 389)

In my day, I have hiked short spurts of the AT in the White Mountains' Presidential Range. With Bryson's help, I can now envision what the rest of the adventure may be like. Maybe it is time to dust off the hiking boots! It would be a welcome respite from the Red Line!



Monday, May 09, 2011

Thanking Those Who Risked Their Lives to Protect Ours - Behind the Scenes at Abbottabad, Pakistan

This past Friday, President Obama traveled to Fort Campbell in Kentucky to thank many of the troops who executed the daring raid on Osama Bin Laden's lair. While Friday's event was quite public and well reported, it follows on the heels of several more subdued ceremonies to thank others who were responsible for the planning and execution of the top secret operation. Earlier last week, in a quiet ceremony in San Diego, members of the special forces team (reportedly including members of legendary SEAL Team Six) were quietly thanked and recognized. On Thursday, the President welcomed to the Oval Office the mastermind behind the operation

According to the Blog,, the recent incursion into Pakistan to take out Osama Bin Laden was masterminded by Vice Admiral William H. McRaven.

"President Obama has personally thanked the man who hatched the daring raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. So who is Vice Admiral William H McRaven?

When CIA chief Leon Panetta got the presidential go-ahead for the top-secret assault on Bin Laden's compound, he turned to one man.

"My instructions to Admiral McRaven were 'Admiral, go in and get Bin Laden. And if he's not there, get the hell out,'" said Mr Panetta, according to reports.

Operational control was in the hands of Vice Admiral William H McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command, stationed in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, President Obama invited the highly decorated, three-star admiral to the Oval Office to pass on his thanks for masterminding such a successful mission.

Some of the forces who executed Vice Adm McRaven's instructions are due to get their turn with the president at Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Friday.

Among those shaking Mr Obama's hands could be US Navy Seals, the special forces who infiltrated a housing compound where they found Bin Laden on the second floor. After killing him, they raided the house for valuable data, some of which has already shed light on other alleged plots.

Little is known about the personal life of the 55-year-old Vice Adm McRaven, who rarely steps into the spotlight.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, he attended Roosevelt High School. A track scholarship took him to the University of Texas."

My good friend, retired Army LT. COL. Donald "Chip" Allgrove, a West Point graduate, has offered an inside perspective on the quiet leader who was in charge of the troops who carried the raid on Bin Laden's hideout near Abbottabad, Pakistan. They were classmates at the Naval Postgraduate School:

"AP just reported that [Admiral McRaven] was the one speaking directly with the National Security Team at the White House during the raid.
Bill developed our graduate degree curriculum at Naval Postgraduate School (92 Credit Hours, Comprehensive Exams for our "basic courses," PLUS a Masters Thesis). We had everything from International Law, International Economics, Political Science, History, Psychology, Conflict Resolution and Management Theory, International Relations and Regional Studies, and Social Scientific Research Methods. This all in 18 months. Our professors came from either Ivy League Institutions OR Stanford/UC - Berkeley.

This is so funny. Bill went through all of the courses a semester BEFORE we did (he actually went through the program using a full 2 years) so that he could write his Thesis and publish it - Case Studies of Special Operations: The Theory and Practice of Special Operations. So - he was declared the FIRST graduate of the SO/LIC Program. However - I was the Summa Cum Laude graduate of the first class.

He remains - however - number one in my eyes and in my heart!

Bill McRaven, like so many other heroes that I served with and for (Pete Schoomaker, Geoff Lambert, Tom Spellisey, et al), is one of those heroes that our kids needs to revere and emulate.


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The lesson that comes across to me is one of superior preparation. Like US Air pilot "Sully" Sullenberger, whose decades of careful training prepared him for the most trying moments of his life as he guided his crippled aircraft to a stunning landing on the Hudson River, McRaven has spent many years studying, planning and practicing - under the most outstanding of mentors and most challenging of circumstances.

Regardless of how we may feel about the "politics" behind the decision to seek out and kill Osama, we can stand united in thanking the men and women - enlisted and officers - who have invested their lives and careers in preparation for an operation like the one for which we now join the President in thanking them. Our military is not without its flaws and problems, but it is universally regarded as the best prepared, best trained and best equipped in history.


Review of "The Thank You Economy" by Gary Vaynerchuk

In my reading, Gary Vaynerchuk's latest book stands on the shoulders of Seth Godin's classic "Free Prize Inside." Both works emphasize the need to dazzle customers and prospective customers with "shock and awe" of outstanding customer service and unexpected attentiveness. "The Thank You Economy," writing in the age of Tweeter and Foursquare, places great emphasis on the optimal use of social media in a synergistic dance with more traditional media.

Early in the book, the author emphasizes that through the creative us of "high touch" social media, we are returning to traditional values: "I believe that we are living through the early days of a dramatic cultural shift that is bringing us back full circle, and that the world we live and work in now operates in a way that is surprisingly similar to the one our great-grandparents knew. Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationships, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth. In order to succeed now and in the future, it's going to be imperative that we remember that worked in the past." (Page 11)

In light of the recent spotlight focused on the work of Navy SEALs and their success in Pakistan, I found the following quotation to be poignantly timely: "A small company might be able to win the war relying on social media alone, but a larger company should think of social media as the Navy SEAL unit of its armed forces. Small, targeted, and hugely effective when deployed, it doesn't go out to win the war on its own, but without it, the troops are at a huge disadvantage." (Page 80)

There is some wonderful local Boston flavor in Vaynerchuk's discussion of best practices in customer service (pages 95-99). He highlights a wonderful response to a customer complaint on the part of John Pepper, CEO of Boston-based Boloco. The response is personal, sincere and clearly heart-felt. I have experienced the same level of consistent customer service in several of Boloco's Boston and Cambridge location, so that level of caring is clearly part of the culture and DNA of the popular burrito company.

This book is a quick read, and is full of very specific examples of best practices for each of the principles that the author espouses. To Vaynerchuk, I say simply: "Thank you."



Monday, May 02, 2011

Review of "It Happened on the Way to War" by Rye Barcott

I have had the privilege of knowing author, Rye Barcott, for about half of the time that he has been the guiding light behind the remarkable organization, Carolina for Kibera. From the beginning, he struck me as an unusually gifted and passionate young man - combining a warrior's intensity with a level of empathy and passion for making the world a better place that one seldom finds. "It Happened on the Way to War" tells the story of how he developed these sensibilities, chronicling the people and events that have shaped the man and the organization that he continues to lead.

It Happened on the Way to War website

When Barcott was an undergraduate Naval ROTC student at the University of North Carolina, he spent part of a summer in Kenya. That summer forever changed him and forever altered the Kibera slum that reached out and grabbed his heart. Rye joined forces with Nurse Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a hardscrabble community organizer, Salim Mohamed. Together, this unlikely trio built an NGO that would develop a new generation of leaders from within one of Africa's largest and poorest slums.

The author is transparent is sharing some of the early, well-meaning mistakes that he made in figuring out how to respond to the overwhelming picture of poverty and hopeless that presented itself to him in Kibera. During his ten year pilgrimage of co-leading the organization with his African counterparts, Barcott has demonstrated great vision, resourcefulness and great humility. This book is his story - but it is also the story of the resilience of the Kenyans he has come to think of as extensions of his own family.

The history of Westerners trying to reach out to offer a helping hand to those in the developing world is rife with tales of "unintended consequences." What makes Carolina for Kibera and Barcott's book such an inspiring tale is that along the way, he and his team have incorporated lessons learned from small mistakes, so that they have largely avoided recapitulating errors of naivete or inadvertently applying remnants of colonial mentality. It is a given that Barcott sees his Kenyan colleagues as the true heroes of the story. He humbly narrates his passage through his studies at UNC, his times as a United States Marines Corps officers, his years as a graduate student at Harvard, and now his role as an executive with Duke Energy. The constant throughout all of his ten years of peregrinations is his passion for helping the residents of Kibera to learn to stand on the own feet and to help each other to succeed - through the building of a clinic that bears Tabitha's name, micro-finance initiatives, educational programs and sports tournaments.

This book is a "must read" for all who want to devote themselves to making a difference in the world - and doing it the right way.

For more information on Carolina for Kibera, I encourage you to visit the website:

Carolina for Kibera

Buy the book as a gift for those in your circle of influence who will be inspired to go forth and make their own mark in the world - like the mark that continues to be made by Rye Barcott and his team at Carolina for Kibera.