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The wonder of Effectively Right

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Benny Goodman, Right vs Effective, wonder

wonder what Right you have to be Effective?

The sun wasn’t up as we rose for the 3 am bus ride. We were up early because the time of the launch was 7 am, and with traffic near the Cape, we didn’t want to be late. I had been invited to come down for the launch of our experiment which, through no small set of wonders, we had Effectively completed on time and within the Right budget. It was now stowed in the back of the Space Shuttle and was about to blast off with STS Mission 41-G, the 17th flight.

I had the chance to take a couple of guests, and I ended up taking my parents. My father actually had a chance to work on Apollo, but turned it down when he realized it was mostly reading listings in a back room. Mom had always steered me to both love science and the people around it equally. We had moved to Boca Raton in 1969 just in time to watch the first Moon Landing on a 9-inch black and white TV in our small apartment. It felt Right and Effective to have this wonderful experience with them.

Being Right may not always be Effective

The reception of American swing was less enthusiastic in Europe. British author J. C. Squire filed a complaint with BBC radio to demand it stop playing Goodman’s music, which he called “an awful series of jungle noises which can hearten no man.” Germany’s Nazi party barred jazz from the radio, claiming it was part of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the culture. Italy’s fascist government banned the broadcast of any music composed or played by Jews which they said threatened “the flower of our race, the youth.”

In November 1935 Goodman accepted an invitation to play in Chicago at the Congress Hotel. His stay there extended to six months, and his popularity was cemented by nationwide radio broadcasts over NBC affiliate stations. While in Chicago, the band recorded If I Could Be with You, Stompin’ at the Savoy, and Goody, Goody. Goodman also played three concerts produced by Chicago socialite and jazz aficionado Helen Oakley. These “Rhythm Club” concerts at the Congress Hotel included sets in which turning the tables, Goodman and Krupa sat in with Fletcher Henderson’s band, perhaps the first racially integrated big band appearing before a paying audience in the United States. Goodman and Krupa played in a trio with Teddy Wilson on piano. Both combinations were well received, and Wilson remained on stage from this point on.

As the King Of Swing, now Benny was invited to participate in Hollywood and the filming of movies that would feature it as the popular soundtrack of the late ’30s. Hollywood Hotel was a Busby Berkley movie that was set around a Swing Band, starring Dick Powell with a score by the great Johnny Mercer. To have shots of a Band, they brought in Benny, and he is featured as you will see on YouTube today… sorta. Following the music, the cameras would pan from each player as they would take a solo… and when they zoomed in on Teddy Wilson or Lionel Hampton, suddenly scenes of the dancing crowd were substituted. Because of the still powerful Jim Crow laws across the South, projecting an integrated band was forbidden… Ironically Benny didn’t really want to do this, but based on its success, his biggest breakthrough is right around the corner (and for tomorrow)

wonder can be Right and Effective only when nurtured…

By this point, I had been working on the Shuttle for nearly 3 years. We would all rush down to the cafeteria on launch day, and each team would cheer as their little piece of software had run successfully and the launch proceeded. There was a particular milestone at T-31 seconds when the IBM On-Board computers would take over from the ground systems (ironically also programmed by another group of IBMers). There was normally a big cheer from all that were there.

And with each successful mission, less people would come down and participate. I wondered what it was that had been lost. NASA’s mission to make space travel more “normal” had Effectively made each mission less interesting. In fact, this one had the first dual woman launch – Sally Ride and Kathy Sullivan – who had the first woman’s EVA into space… and yet, the coverage and interest were definitely fading. For me, it wasn’t Right… and next week there will be some interesting stories about the Teacher in Space program that I had a direct hand in.

What cultivates the Right wonder in you and your team?

Many think that innovation can only be done by “creative” people, or “researchers”. Truthfully it has more to do with courage and grit, and the ability to wonder about what might be missing in everyone’s view of Right. When you look at your team, where in that herd of “followers” is the person that you need to nurture – making their “inner voice” become their “outside voice”. How can you make them, and your team more Effective, by helping them Sing, Sing, Sing!!!

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