Remember how awesome the Indianapolis Colts were in the 1980s and 1990s? Nope, neither does anybody else. Before they were first, they were worst. And how about the first season of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? The reviews used words like “fumbling” and “dismal.”
Instead of laughing at flops like those, Joe Frontiera ’97 and Daniel Leidl have written a book on how to turn losers into winners. Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams (Jossey-Bass) outlines six stages that leaders—especially those in business and sports—move through on the path to success. Noting elements common to the turnarounds they’ve explored, they offer advice and insight into getting a group to surmount its formerly intractable problems. The questions and steps might be simple but not easy. For example, there’s facing reality (“We’re really not that good”), changing an organization’s behavior (it’s hard enough when you’re trying to change an individual’s), and a shift to constant learning and innovation.
Examples include the Domino’s pizza recipe do-over, a Kendon motorcycle trailers return to quality, the high-achieving Montgomery County Public Schools, and the pitiful Anaheim Angels who turned around and won the 2002 World Series. Comebacks in high tech and basketball are here, too.
Frontiera and Leidl manage Meno Consulting, a firm that focuses on culture turnarounds, team development, and leadership development. They write for the Washington Post “On leadership” series, among other publications. John Deever
Sam and the City
“Every good story is nothing more than a series of mistakes made by the main characters, until they find the right way,” Samuel Clemens tells his time-traveling companions in Bridge of Time (Feiwel & Friends) by Lewis Buzbee ’79. In this young-adult adventure, a middle school field trip in San Francisco turns fantastic when Joan Lee and Lee Jones discover that a brief sojourn in a Fort Point lighthouse mysteriously lands them in the year 1864—and in the company of Sam, who has yet to earn true writerly renown as Mark Twain.
The trio navigates the city’s “old timey” landscape, where Civil War soldiers and Irish butchers have it in for Clemens because of his politics, and for young Joan because she’s Chinese American. The teens long for their own time—the age of pizza and hybrid cars—while Clemens counsels spending days in “butterfly idleness.” Each character eventually encounters a future self who teaches that to move forward through life without trepidation is the only way to return to the present.
Buzbee is the author of fictions that include the Edgar-finalist The Haunting of Charles Dickens. He teaches in the MFA writing program at University of San Francisco. Caitlin Mohan
Conflicting Commitments: The Politics of Enforcing Immigrant Worker Rights in San Jose and Houston (ILR Press), by Shannon Gleeson ’02, studies laws and bureaucracies affecting immigrants in two major—and very different—gateway cities. Drawing on real-life accounts by ordinary workers; federal, state, and local government officials; community organizers; and consular staff, Gleeson argues that local political contexts matter for protecting undocumented workers in particular. She teaches in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz.
Suffering and Salvation in Ciudad Juarez (Fortress Press), by Nancy Pineda-Madrid Ph.D. ’05, draws on firsthand experience of the dehumanizing violence in this border city, with an attempt to understand what feeds the destructive cycle. Pineda-Madrid studied at the Jesuit School of Theology and now teaches at Boston College.
Encountering Christ in the Eucharist: The Paschal Mystery in People, Word, and Sacrament (Paulist Press), byBruce T. Morrill, S.J., M.Div. ’91, draws upon the best of recent biblical, historical, and theological sources to explore how Christ is present in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Just Call Me Dean (iUniverse), by Florence Stewart Poyadue M.A. ’83, tells the story of the author’s son—who is also a husband, college student, employee, and a man living with Down syndrome. Subtitled And Don’t Rain on My Parade, his is a tale to inspire anyone whose life is touched by someone with special needs. His mother has already inspired others: A nurse, teacher, and counselor, she is the founder of Parents Helping Parents and was recognized by President George H. W. Bush with a Point of Light Award.
Cold Crossover (Crabman Publishing) is the first foray into fiction by Tom Kelly ’72. Real estate agent Ernie Creekmore tries to solve the mystery behind an old friend who goes missing on a late-night ferry ride. A second Creekmore mystery, Hovering Above a Homicide, is slated for this spring. Kelly is a veteran writer on real estate and lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Public Pretender (CreateSpace), by Royce Roberts J.D. ’85, covers territory this longtime public defense lawyer knows well. Gavin Young’s clients—in leopard-print pants and gold chains—want to know, since they don’t have to pay him: Is he a real attorney? He wanted to be a corporate law bigshot. Instead, defending them, he learns unexpected lessons about family and success.
Circus Before Dawn (iUniverse), by David Miller J.D. ’86, takes readers on a fast ride with journalist Trevor Banks in the world of Formula One racing as he pursues an intriguing race car driver and a psychopathic saboteur.
Happy Thoughts (Dorrance Publishing) by Paul Tai M.S. '78 shares advice on how to pursue a life of maximum happiness and health.