James Rhee in Conversation with Cliff Hakim

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 9, 2024 - 7:00pm

Belmont Books, in partnership with the GBH Forum Network, is pleased to present James Rhee in conversation with Cliff Hakim discussing his new book, Red Helicopter

(Seats are limited)

Acclaimed CEO, TED Speaker, and Entrepreneurship Professor James Rhee shares the inspirational true story of finding success through kindness (plus a little math). Learn the deceptively simple and positive way to embrace your agency, lead change, and fly free—in the business of life and the life of business.

In kindergarten, James Rhee received a toy red helicopter in gratitude for a simple act of generosity—sharing his lunch. Decades later, the lesson from that small gift led him to develop a human-centered framework for business and personal achievement that helped him overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles and find unprecedented success.

Rhee was a high school teacher turned private equity investor when he unexpectedly took the helm of Ashley Stewart, an iconic company predominantly employing and serving Black women. Inspired by the values his dying Korean immigrant parents instilled in him, he knew that a radically different—yet familiar—approach was required to lead this twice-bankrupt company from certain liquidation to true transcendence. The entire world bet against him and Ashley, but Rhee trusted his instincts to identify, measure, and leverage the intangible goodwill at the company’s core, a decision which ultimately multiplied its fortunes several times over.

By combining the clarity and imagination we had as children with fundamental business metrics, anyone can apply this refreshingly intuitive approach to lead change at work and at home. While eloquently sharing a story of personal and professional success, red helicopter presents a comforting yet bold solution to the dissatisfaction and worry we all feel in a chaotic and sometimes terrifying world. The insights and knowledge that Rhee imparts have been accumulated over decades of investing and leading at the highest levels of business. Drawing on this experience, he encourages us to trust the wisdom deep inside each of us so we can learn how to:

  • Create and measure “goodwill,” the ultimate collective good
  • Discover agency and the truth about kindness it entails
  • Identify the invisible obstacles standing in your way
  • Lead transformational change through small, scalable acts
  • Construct an accurate “balance sheet” of our assets and liabilities
  • Reorient our lives, organizations, and the world to reflect the best in us

A poignant and uplifting celebration of humanity, red helicopter—a parable for our times is a beautiful literary tale of struggle and triumph, as well as a clear, instructional path to create a more sustainable balance between life, money, and joy for both ourselves and others.

red helicopter—a parable for our times features approximately 20 original illustrations by Korean artist Heyon Cho.


James Rhee is an acclaimed impact investor, founder, CEO, goodwill strategist, thought leader, and educator, who empowers people, brands, and organizations by marrying capital with purpose. He bridges the emotional with the mathematical, and gives permission for us to be human. A long-time private equity investor, James also serves as a founding member of JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways, a charter member of Ashoka’s Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Network, and former Chair of the Innovation Committee of the National Retail Federation. In addition to his private sector endeavors, Rhee teaches at Howard University (where he serves as the Johnson Chair of Entrepreneurship), MIT Sloan School of Management, and Duke School of Law. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.


Cliff Hakim has worn many different shoes, as a teacher, writer/author, career counselor, executive search consultant and coach, and artisan-entrepreneur. As the founder of an artisan business called Inspired Stones, he has been commissioned to create memorials benches that tell a loved one’s story, using natural stone and reclaimed iron. In the past few years, he has been experimenting with pen, brush, and ink. Cliff began painting shoes in 2018, and their soulful message inspired him to write and illustrate Walk in My Shoes: The Path to Empathy and Compassion, 2020—how we learn to be kinder by walking in the shoes of others and becoming more aware of how we walk in our own shoes.

Event address: 
79 Leonard St
Belmont, MA 02478
Ticketed Event: 
red helicopter—a parable for our times: lead change with kindness (plus a little math) By James Rhee Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063317147
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - April 9th, 2024

Embrace your agency, lead change, and fly free—in the business of life and the life of business—with kindness (plus a little math)

Age Group(s): 
Adult (19 - Boomer)