Supply Chain Now
Episode 720

…And the guy said, ‘Alright, fine. If he yells pineapple, we'll let him in.’ And so we were all on the phone yelling, ‘SAY PINEAPPLE!!’ And so he does, and the next thing you know Nezam is inside the wire with the guards. I just collapsed on the driveway, man. That started taskforce pineapple.

- Scott Mann, Green Beret, Retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, President of Rooftop Leadership

Episode Summary

The Green Berets are known for parachuting in behind enemy lines and then building relationships with people on the ground to mobilize resistance from the ground up. That work has been going on in Afghanistan for the last 20 years, leading to strong bonds between U.S. Special Forces and the Afghan farmers, commandos, and special forces that fought with them in the global battle against terrorism.

When, in light of the tragic events playing out in Afghanistan, Scott Mann, Green Beret and Retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, realized that one of those Afghan commandos was going to be left behind despite holding a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), he knew he needed to act. Scott had worked with and trained this young soldier for years, and so he used his own network – predominantly based in the U.S. – to connect with members of the media, congress, and other Veterans in an unofficial mission that would later be dubbed, ‘Taskforce Pineapple.’ That one rescue became the basis for getting over 700 people through the bottlenecks at the airport in Kabul.

In this unique and exceptional episode of Supply Chain Now, Scott Mann tells the true story one harrowing rescue mission to co-hosts Scott Luton and Mike Griswold, Vice President of Research at Gartner, and shares his own brand of wisdom:

  • Why we can never dismiss anyone we meet as unimportant or irrelevant in an effort that requires relationships and social capital to succeed
  • The power of having real-time situational awareness plus communications and relationships when a mission is both critical and clearly defined
  • The lessons that supply chain professionals in any industry can learn from proven military techniques and maxims

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges, and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey. Hey. Good afternoon. Scott Luton and, special guest host, Mike Griswold with you here on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s livestream, Mike, how are you doing, sir?

Mike Griswold (00:41):

Hey, I’m great. I’ve never been referred to as a guest host, so I’m looking forward to it.

Scott Luton (00:46):

Well, you know, kidding aside, as our folks and family and community knows, Mike Griswold is VP Analysts with Gartner, very highly respected world leader in technology consulting and then some. But he’s also, almost as important, one of our most popular repeat guests here at Supply Chain Now. And we hear it all the time from our audience and community, all the questions and comments, and folks get their popcorn and diet Cokes ready when we have Mike with us. But today’s a little bit different. And, Mike, we uncovered, I want to say a couple episodes ago, one of your appearances ago, that you’ve got a real enthusiasm and passion for the Military andMilitary history. Is that right?

Mike Griswold (01:27):

That’s correct. It started when we first lived in Massachusetts going to air shows. That got me interested in kind of military aviation and it seems to get spurned on by books. So, I read Stephen Ambrose’s book on D-Day, and got really interested in D-Day and learning more about that. I read a book on the Air War in Vietnam, and got really interested in that. But probably the book that had the most impact on me personally was Lone Survivor, and then that got me into reading more and more about Afghanistan. And if you could see my bookshelf, it is populated with all kinds of military history books, primarily in those three areas.

Scott Luton (02:13):

Well, unlike my bookshelf, you actually read the books on your bookshelf. But, Mike, really, as busy as you are and all of the things you’re doing, of course, when leading voices in global supply chain, I really appreciate your time here today as we have a really special episode teed up. So, on that note, we’re going to say hello to all the folks pouring in. I love some of the comments already. So, today, folks, it’s going to be a little bit of departure. So, as you may or may not know, Veteran Voices is one of our podcasts here, where it’s part of our give forward programming. As a fellow veteran since I got out in 2002, we’ve tried to find a variety of ways of giving back, amplifying the issues and the challenges and the journey of our fellow veterans.

Scott Luton (02:55):

And today is going to be a Veteran Voices themed livestream episode at Supply Chain Now. So, stay with us. It’s going to be intriguing. It’s going to be inspirational. You know, in light of the tragic events kind of playing out in Afghanistan here in recent weeks, some retired U.S. Military members have been taking it upon themselves to go in and help folks egress out of Afghanistan. Some Americans, Afghan allies and their families, and you name it. Talk about some treacherous missions, but noble missions. So, today, we’re going to hear firsthand from one of the brave leaders of the noble mission that continues. So, stay tuned, intriguing, inspirational conversation. And Mike and I and the whole team is really honored to hear it firsthand. So, Mike, thanks so much for your partnership there. This came about really short notice, right? We had an opportunity to get Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann and was able to take advantage of it. But, Mike, are you as excited about this as I am?

Mike Griswold (03:56):

Yes, Scott. In fact, when your email came across, I literally read it, like, five times to make sure that I was reading it with the intent of being able to talk around this topic today. I feel incredibly honored to be able to be just a small part of this conversation. The story is incredible. The work is incredible. The people are incredible. And I mean, it’s just a testament to people seeing a challenge and waiving into it and finding ways to fix it. It’s a case where, you know, you think about the line from Apollo 13, “Failure is not an option.” I mean, when you hear these stories, that’s the mindset. And I feel incredibly honored to be able to spend some time with the team today.

Scott Luton (04:48):

Agreed. Agreed. And you know, I’m going to go ahead and pull these comments out. And you said it better than I could, Mike. But Jenny Froome is with us, and, of course, she’s a leader of SAPCIS, based in South Africa. And she says, “Almost 60,000 people moved and counting. Sorry to make it supply chain, but really what a supreme example of supply chain excellence.” And as we all know, as many folks know, the Military kind of invented supply chain. And there’s a supply chain behind every single mission, logistics, behind every single mission. So, with all that said, y’all stick with us. I’m really excited to bring on a Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann in just a moment.

 

Scott Luton (05:22):

But really quick, Mike, since this is a Veteran Voices episode, what I wanted to do is celebrate a couple of things that veterans in our networking community are up to as well. So, as I mentioned, Veteran Voices is our podcast dedicated to the veteran journey. And Monica Fullerton is one of our guest hosts there. More importantly, Monica is a military spouse. She’s founder and CEO of Spouse-ly, which really serves military entrepreneurs, first responder entrepreneurs. It’s like a marketplace for that whole global community. And she just was accepted into the Ad Astra – I probably said that wrong – Ad Astra Ventures get to, even, founder bootcamp. So, big high five to Monica Fullerton, all that you do for the veteran community. And from founder to founder, keep doing what you’re doing. So, we celebrate that with Monica.

 

Scott Luton (06:14):

Also, Mike Griswold, Mary Kate Soliva – and she taught me her last name. She said, “Hey, my dad said just think you’re not going so leave me anywhere.” So, Soliva. Soliva. But she just exited the Army. She is a wonderful dynamic individual. Also a guest host with Veteran Voices. And she just joined the organization, the – let’s see here – PMI, Project Management Institute. So, for our listeners, you may have caught her on one of our last episodes where Saint Leo is the first in the country to do a four year degree program on veteran studies. So, congrats to Mary Kate. And, Mike, I’m sure you’ve heard of and rubbed elbows with folks from PMI here throughout your journey.

Mike Griswold (06:59):

For sure. Great organization.

 

Scott Luton (07:01):

So, congrats, Mary Kate. We’re recording sessions with Monica tomorrow and Mary Kate on Friday. And then, finally, you know, we can’t make things happen without big supporters and advocates of our veteran community, a big tip of the hat to Kelly Barner with Buyers Meeting Point and who leads our Dial P for Procurement series. She sponsored some recent episodes, including this latest one with Raleigh Wilkins, who specializes in helping veterans find sales careers and business development careers, and doesn’t charge veterans a dime to do it. And that’s what I’m talking about. So, check out Raleigh and Dan Reeve with Esker on our most recent episode.

 

Scott Luton (07:41):

And, of course, all of that is done in conjunction with our friends from the nonprofit, Vets 2 Industry. Which, you know, when I exited in 2002, it was tough to find professional resources and connections and just be aware of all the resources that are out there for us. Well, vets2industry.org do a great job of giving veterans that information. So, Mike, information is power these days, huh?

 

Mike Griswold (08:06):

It sure is. It sure is.

 

Scott Luton (08:08):

Okay. So, with all of that said, we’re going to say hello to a few folks, and then we’re going to swoosh in our guest here. You know, Mike, that timer – we’re just talking about Kelly Barner, she says, “This countdown clock makes me nervous even when I’m not hosting.” So, you’re right. Kelly, you’re right. Bill Stankiewicz is going to miss this today, he’s on a plane. The guy’s everywhere. He’s based out of Savannah. Mike, not sure if you’ve ever met Bill. But if you ever spend a minute with him, you’ll love him in a heartbeat. Good people. Charles Walker, former Army Ranger, if I’m not mistaken, but also supply chain dynamo. “Hooah.” Charles is, “Hooah.” Actually, let me say that right there before Scott Mann makes fun of me. But great to have you here, Charles. Keivan is back with us. Keivan, great to see here today. Benjamin Knights, so Benjamin is asking you Mike, where in Massachusetts. He’s in Boston.

Mike Griswold (09:02):

So, I used to live in Taunton when we lived in Massachusetts. So, that’s south. I mean, Benjamin will know where that is. It’s south of Boston. It’s actually closer to Providence, Road Island.

Scott Luton (09:12):

Okay. Well, hey, the more you know. So, Benjamin, thanks for tuning in via LinkedIn. Great to see you here today. Francoise, great to have you via LinkedIn. I’ve enjoyed your livestreams. So, great to see you. Jenny, as always a pleasure, especially you coming off a busy week. Susheel is tuned in via LinkedIn. Peter Bolle, all night and all day, is with us here tuned in from Canada on LinkedIn. Great to see you there, Peter. And welcome everybody. I know we can’t get to everyone, but you are in for a treat and a real story that you won’t forget anytime soon. So, on that note, Mike, are you ready for me to introduce the guest?

 

Mike Griswold (09:46):

Please. Yes.

 

Scott Luton (09:48):

All right. So, let’s do that. So, our special guest here today, again, is Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann, President of Rooftop Leadership and Cofounder of his own nonprofit, 501(c)(3), entitled Heroes Journey. He’s a former Army Green Beret – so don’t mess with him – multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s appeared in a variety of major media and news outlets. As I mentioned earlier, he’s been really busy here lately. Thankfully a lot of folks want to hear his experiences and his team’s story. And then, a really neat project, Scott Mann is bringing his award-winning play, Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret, to life as a major film. It is set for release in the months ahead.

 

Scott Luton (10:32):

So, most recently, what we’re going to talk about here today – Mike and I are going to learn firsthand -he’s been leading these noble missions, again, helping to get Afghan families out of Afghanistan. In my book, I know the word hero is thrown out all over the place these days – hey, with good reason – but this is a real hero and we’re going to learn it firsthand here today. Let’s welcome Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann.

 

Scott Mann (10:57):

Hey everybody.

 

Scott Luton (10:58):

Good afternoon. Great to see you. Thanks so much for spending some time with us.

Scott Mann (11:02):

You too, Scott, Mike. Good to see you. Thanks for having me.

Scott Luton (11:05):

All right. So, before we get started in the serious stuff, really quick, you mentioned in the pre-show that you’re a product of the Arkansas School System. So, did you grow up in Arkansas?

Scott Mann (11:15):

I did. My dad was a forest ranger, so we moved all over these little logging towns in the south. But I spent most of my time in Arkansas. My alma mater is Mount Ida, Arkansas. You know, it didn’t even have a stoplight, but, man, I love that town more than life itself.

Scott Luton (11:33):

I love it. All right. It’s a good deal. So, Mike, let’s get started. We’re going to talk with Scott – and it’s okay to refer to you first – I got some Military in me. And I was enlisted and I feel obligated to throw on the rank on the frontend. So, I appreciate you –

Scott Mann (11:47):

Man, please. Please don’t. Please don’t. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the cartoons, Willie and Joe, you know, the World War II privates that were always getting in trouble. And there’s this one cartoon where Willy is carrying his lieutenant on his back and his lieutenant is wounded. And Willie yells up at him with bullets zipping all around, he says, “Don’t mention it, sir. I’m happy to do it. They might’ve replaced you with one of those saluting devils.”

Scott Luton (12:14):

I love it. All right. Well, good deal. As I mentioned, you’re going to fit right in. And I appreciate what you and your team are doing. So, with that said, beyond Arkansas, let’s get a little better understanding of your background. So, can you share a little bit of what you did in the Military?

Scott Mann (12:32):

Yep. I spent about 23 years in the Army, 18 of that was in Army Special Forces, nicknamed the Green Berets. And I’ve wanted to do that since I was 14 years old, growing up in that little town in Mount Ida. A Green Beret walked into our soda shop one day and as soon as he walked in, he had his uniform on, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I didn’t even know what he did. I just looked at that guy, you know, those moments in your life where something shifts, and that was that moment for me. He sat down with me and his name was Mark. And he explained to me what Green Berets do, how they’re different than the SEALs. The SEALs have way better hair than we do.

Scott Mann (13:08):

Green Berets are known for parachuting in behind enemy lines. There’s only 6,500 of us in the Military. There’s 1.4 million people in the Military. So, we parachute in behind lines. And then, what we do is we work by, with, and through indigenous people to help them stand up on their own. We’re kind of a mixture between John Wick, Lawrence of Arabia, and the Verizon guy or the Sprint guy, whatever the heck he is now, you know. But we’re relationship-based connectors. And there’s a degree of lethality in what we do. But the power in what we do, guys, is relationships. It’s all about social capital. And then, that’s what I do at Rooftop Leadership. Actually, I’ve been retired years as I teach that relationship building skill. I still teach it to Green Berets. I still teach it to Federal Law enforcement. Because I’ve found it, you know, at the ripe young age of 53, that the greatest capital in the world is social capital. That’s how we are as humans, we’re social creatures. And even in this crisis, it’s been relationships that allowed us to save a lot of lives.

Scott Luton (14:12):

Well, you’re preaching to the choir. And thank you for sharing all of that, because that was all in my blind spot in terms of the Green Berets main focus and thrust. But we agree with you, relationships is what drives supply chain. It’s what is driving us through the pandemic and getting the world to that post-pandemic reality as soon as possible. But one more question before I turn it over to Mike, for perspective and kind of also to continue the level setting, can you describe what you did while an active Green Beret in Afghanistan?

Scott Mann (14:42):

Absolutely. Mostly what we did was we build networks. So, we mobilized local people to stand up on their own and fight back from the bottom up. So, we work with partner forces, like the Afghan Commandos, the Afghan Special Forces. We started all those organizations. We train them and then we take them into combat as advisors. We fight right alongside them. But we also work with local farmers to stand up on their own. Think Magnificent Seven, right? And, in fact, Mike, I need to send you my book I wrote back in 2013, it’s called Game Changers: Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremist. I’ll send you guys a copy.

 

Mike Griswold (15:21):

Thank you.

 

Scott Mann (15:22):

But it’s what we did. I mean, we worked locally. We wore indigenous garb. We’d grow our beards out. We speak the language. And that’s really our strength. In any of these rough places where terrorists safe havens are set up, we can go in there and we stay. We don’t go in and out with short strike missions. We can do that. But our real specialty is to get surrounded on purpose and stay in these places, build relationships, and then go in with 12 and come out with 12,000. So, when you think about now, you fast forward to where we are now, where the airport was completely surrounded, if you think about that as a supply chain issue, the problem was the bottleneck at the delivery end of the supply chain. And it actually was not necessarily the Taliban checkpoints. That was some of it. It was actually the perimeter around the airfield controlled by the U.S., and I can get into that if you want. But that’s where we ended up having to solve the problem.

Scott Luton (16:17):

So, I bet you’ve been told before, you’re already setting our community on fire with what you shared already. So, let me share a couple of comments and then Mike’s going to lead us into what you’re getting to now. But I got to share, Jenny completely agrees, “Community is everything.” Barbara Sexton – great see you, Barb via OMNIA partners – she agrees with the definition of a true hero. So, thank you for being here with us, Barb. A.A. in Wichita, Kansas, old Mohib, who is a supply chain professor, says, “‘Social Capital’ words of the day.” I agree with you there. Charles Walker, “Greatest capital is social capital.” He loves that. So, great to see everybody. Keep the comments coming, folks. There’s a lot more to come here with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann. Mike, where are we going next?

Mike Griswold (17:03):

So, Scott, again, it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to spend some time with you today. And I definitely look forward to the book. That would be fantastic. Really kind of two questions that you can kind of take anywhere you want – I think you were leading into it – which is, as you’re watching things unfold, what was kind of the why moment for you in terms of the things that you wanted to do and felt we needed to do? And then, I think where you were starting to go – which from a supply chain perspective, I think is fascinating – and to the degree that you can share, maybe just talk us through the how.

Scott Mann (17:39):

Yeah. Happy to do it. I might even get on the white board and draw it out for you. But what I will start with is, like, let’s just work macro to micro. So, you know, when Afghanistan started to fall – we were on this thing for 20 years. And everybody’s got different opinions about it. What I will tell you as a Green Beret, I look at the problem set through the lens of capacity. So, if the goal is to keep global terrorism at bay – which is about the best you can do in this day and age – global terrorism is fueled by, particularly, islamist – not Islamic – islamist violent extremism. It is extremely persistent. So, the best you can do is keep it at bay – at least that’s been my experience – then unfettered safe haven is the worst thing you can have. We learned that on 9/ 11, if you give a global organization unfettered safe haven, where they can rest, plan, project, that’s a problem.

Scott Mann (18:36):

So, what we wanted to do in Afghanistan was to help them build both a formal and informal civil society that could be an antibody at a local level to violent extremism so that they couldn’t power project. And the problem is, that country has been at war for 50 years. So, every mechanism they have for conflict resolution, security, food security, food provision, all the things we take for granted in our contract transactional society and their status clan society, it’s completely broken. And it’s broken to the point of they rely on external actors to close their supply chain. Well, guess who closes it? The local insurgent, unless you can provide them with new patterns.

Scott Mann (19:22):

It took 20 years. I mean, they didn’t even have an army. They didn’t have a police force. They were in an ethnic civil war that had devastated them. So, we spent 20 years just trying to cobble together, you know, an organization of military and police that could shoot in the same direction. So, at a macro level, when we got to the 20 year mark and everybody was screaming, “Get out. We’re not nation building,” that’s not the point. We were building capacity to be an antibody to extremism. And we bailed on it and we bailed on it fast. It collapsed. And we found ourselves looking at a timeline that was untenable. And that’s what got us to where we are right now.

 

Scott Mann (19:58):

And it was heartbreaking for those of us – my son was three when the Towers fell. And now he’s an infantry lieutenant, probably going to go over there and fight the war I didn’t finish. And that’s a hard thing to stomach as a father.

Scott Luton (20:09):

Wow. Well, Mike, that is a very powerful why. And I really appreciate the context behind or kind of the science behind how the military got involved and the purpose of what we’re over there to do. And I’ll tell you, it also really sticks out. It seems like service is generational and that baton is passed. So, I really appreciate your son fulfilling some of the legacy you’re putting out there, wearing the uniform and serving the country. And for that matter, it’s bigger than that. As we all know, it’s furthering the cause of freedom and it’s empowering others to push back and tearing this wall. So, I can’t tell you enough how grateful we all are here.

 

Scott Luton (20:53):

So, as Mike was asking, beyond your why – because that’s crystal clear at this point – can you talk a little bit more about the noble mission itself, going in here recently –

 

Scott Mann (21:03):

Let’s pull it apart.

 

Scott Luton (21:05):

Yeah, please.

Scott Mann (21:06):

Let’s pull it apart, because I think what you all – my goodness – work in functional supply chains, you’re going to see the universal singular in this in a second, because that’s exactly what we were facing. And so, for Green Berets – first of all, let me clarify – we were not in-country. And now that you’ve heard how we operate, it probably makes sense to you that we didn’t need to be. We had 20 years of preexisting relationships with Afghan Commandos, Afghan Special Forces, Afghan interpreters who fought and bled with us. And I’m sitting here right now because of several of them, of what they did to save my butt. And so, when we looked at them getting rolled up and their visas not being honored when they had been targeted, and we promised we would bring them home, we weren’t good with that.

Scott Mann (21:50):

In particular, there was one commando named Nazam, who I brought him in 2010 – this young kid – and took him all the way through. I went to combat with him. And we maintained friendship throughout the years. And he was in severe duress. His SIV visa was not being approved and Kabul was falling. He was living in his uncle’s apartment with his family. He was not from Kabul. He was Uzbek, which meant his ethnicity is different than the Taliban. So, how’s he going to move through the city to any kind of safety? And so, he kept calling me and he said to me – and I’ll never forget it – he said, “My brothers are gone.” And he was talking about us. And he said, “I’m not afraid to die. I’m just afraid to die alone.” And that hit me, like, right between the running lights. And I got on the phone with a couple of my active duty SF buddies who had fought with him too. And I was like, “We can’t do this. This can’t happen.” And so, I was like, “Who else do we know? Who else knows Nazam? Who else can make stuff happen?”

 

Scott Mann (22:58):

We got two other people. We got ABC Reporter, James Meek, who broke the ABC story. And he’s known Nazam for years. I called him and I said, “You’re going to have to come in off the record and you’re going to have to shake some trees.” And he’s like, “I’m in. Let’s do it.” And then, I called Congressman Mike Waltz, former Green Beret, and I said, “I pulled your butt out of Helmand Province. I’m calling in a favor.” And he said, “Okay., I’m giving you my senior staff, Rakelsey.” And that was our team. And we went to work. And what we had to solve for – I’m going to the white board – was we had Nazam over here. Can you guys see that?

Scott Luton (23:38):

Yes. Nazam.

Scott Mann (23:38):

So, he’s got to move through the City of Kabul and all these complex places over to the airfield over here. This is the airfield. And the problem is, around the airfield, you have all these checkpoints along the way. And then, you’ve got a Taliban perimeter all the way around. And then, inside the Taliban parameter, you have a U.S. NATO parameter with the doors locked. And you don’t know what their schedule is and they don’t have clear criteria for when they open. And you’re starting to get between 20,000 and 30,000 people blocking here. So, think of that from a supply chain perspective, you’ve got a massive bottleneck, right?

 

Scott Mann (24:28):

So, what we did was we thought, “Okay. We have at least three or four strategic log jams here that have to be negotiated. And so, what we did was, a lot of time-sensitive collaboration. All you really have time to do when you’re dealing with something this complex and it’s urgent, you have time to name it, frame it, and tame it. That’s it. And, so to name it, we named it very simply, Save Nazam. And we defined saving Nazam as getting him on an airplane and flying away, wherever away is, it doesn’t matter. That’s it, #savingnazam. So, that’s what we focused on at a singular level. Then, we started pulling apart what were the actual challenges here. We started with the checkpoints.

Scott Luton (25:16):

Scott, can I interrupt just for a second? This is fascinating and we’re getting a ton of comments. I love your approach here. But really quick, Mike, to have a singular, simple mission as in Save Nazam, that is directly transferable to global supply chain and really global business, right?

Mike Griswold (25:34):

It is. I mean, I spend a lot of time with retailers. We tend to overcomplicate the supply chain. It’s really simple, you buy stuff and you sell stuff. You move stuff in the middle. At the end of the day, that’s what a retail supply chain does. And I think, you know, when I talk to supply chain organizations, one of their challenges is getting very singular – to your point, Scott – around why do I have a supply chain? What is it meant to do? And in this case, you know, saving Nazam, it’s what is your equivalent as a supply chain? Why is your supply chain in existence? So, this is getting very crisp around why we have a supply chain and what problem are we trying to solve, I mean, that’s critical.

Scott Luton (26:16):

I’m with you. And you know what? You’ve got folks ready to run through the walls with a lot of what you’re sharing, but to include name it, frame it, and tame it. We’re getting a ton of comments on that. So, now, #savenazam, you’re about to kind of specifically call out some of the challenges you had to overcome, so please continue. I hate to interrupt, but this is good stuff.

Scott Mann (26:39):

Yeah. I want to keep this contextually relevant. So, you stop me whenever you want. And I’ll hit this really fast. The next major problem though were these checkpoints. This was a major, major problem because Nazam doesn’t speak Pashto. He speaks Dari. He’s Uzbek. And he’s not from the city. So, he can’t drive this. So, what we ended up having to do was we tapped into our network. I started calling people from 20 years back and I found somebody – I can talk about it now because we’re out of this phase. But I found a person from a friendship that I had built long ago who drives a taxi who speaks Pashto. Now, I mean, I won’t get into the why’s, but I did. And so, this Pashto speaking taxi driver went to Nazam’s house, loaded him up, drove right to the drop off point without hassle. Nazam didn’t even have to speak.

 

Scott Mann (27:33):

My takeaway from that, build trust when risk is low. Cash it in when it’s high. Pure and simple. Everybody tries to build trust when risk is high. “Hey buddy, what’s up? What’s going on?” You know, I can smell it a mile away. You know, right?

Scott Luton (27:48):

As we’ve learned in this global pandemic era where ta lot of things buckled and came to an end and broke, folks were trying to microwave these trust and relationships, and not just in supply chain, but elsewhere. And to your point, it just doesn’t work like that. Blessed are the taxi drivers that speak all the many languages that we need to get through and to really facilitate effective communication, which clearly was a big part of saving Nazam, right?

Scott Mann (28:18):

Yeah. It cracks me up how many people in the course of their day dismiss the people in their arena as non-relevant and treat them as such. And you never know when you’re going to need to pull that lever, right? And reciprocity is a fickle thing. It only works if it goes both ways. And you build that reciprocity when risk is low.

Scott Luton (28:40):

Yeah. So, and whoever zoomed in, that was a great move there. But, Mike, you were going to say something.

Mike Griswold (28:47):

Yeah. So, when we think about kind of supply chains in general, particularly during the pandemic, lots of discussions around risk management, contingency planning. As you’re pulling this together, what are the one or two things that you’re thinking? Because when I think about all the books I’ve read about special forces, it’s, “We have a plan. It’s probably not going to work the way we’ve completely designed it. We need some contingencies. Here’s what they’re going to be.” So, as you’re laying out this plan to get Nazam from the house to the airport, what were a couple of things that you were really worried about? And then, what was your plan if you had to go down that road?

Scott Mann (29:28):

So, I had the conversation with him that yet you never want to have. It was like having a conversation with my son. And it broke my heart, was, “If you get stopped and they get your phone, you’re dead. The second they see these plus one numbers on your phone.” Plus, they had compromised all biometric data at this point. So, my guidance to him was, “If they get your phone, you’re going to have to shoot your way out of it. Get to safety somehow. Buy a burner phone and come up on the net when you can. Because your safe house is burned. You know, you’re out there.” And that’s what was so nerve wracking for us. We were up for like 36 hours as his lifeline moving him and, mainly, to keep him, because he was starting to panic. And he’s a warrior. But you can imagine the stress levels this kid’s going through. So, we stayed on the phone with him. We called ourselves his shepherd, and just move with him and he knew he wasn’t alone.

Scott Mann (30:30):

But you’re right, normally, I like to have a lot of contingency plans. I think every supply chain function, whether you’re moving unconventional things into Iraq or whether you’re moving things across the world, contingency planning really should have two things. You should have branches and sequels. You have branches for what if. So, if Nazam gets stopped, what if? That’s a branch. Branch off.

Scott Luton (30:56):

Decision trees.

Scott Mann (30:59):

That’s right. And you have sequels for what’s next. So, let’s say, he gets to here, what next? And both of those are necessary in contingency planning. So, once we got him to here, we got him within four feet, and then he navigated the checkpoints on his own. The Taliban perimeter, he actually just kind of worked his way around and got up to one of the gates on the backside because he knew the airfield. And then, now he’s looking at a bunch of ticked off coalition guards, who they don’t have clear guidance. They’re not sure what they’re supposed to do. And he’s trying to get them to open the gate. We’re like, “Hey, give him your phone. Give him your phone.” And he’s yelling at him, “Take my phone. They’ll tell you who I am.” They wouldn’t take it. They pointed their weapons at him.

 

Scott Mann (31:43):

And so, finally, he was getting the 10 percent battery life. And we knew if his phone went, we lost him. We lost our eyes and he lost his eyes. So, we made one last ditch call, James Meek, the reporter, made one last call inside the airport. And he found a guy that worked on the diplomacy side – you can’t make this up – who happen to be a former Green Beret. And he explained what was going on. He explained that in all these throngs of people, there was a commando who had gone to our qualification course at Bragg that was ready to be pulled in. And the guy said, “All right. Fine. If he yells pineapple, we’ll let him in.” And we’re like, “Say pineapple.” And so, he does and the next thing you know is you see Nazam inside the wire with the guards, you know, like this. You know, I just collapsed on the driveway, man. And all the pineapple memes were going on the phone, and that started Taskforce Pineapple.

Scott Luton (32:51):

So, first off, as we all can acknowledge, Scott Mann can tell a story like a few others. And I really appreciate that approach, it resonates. Great storytellers always do. But kind of kidding aside, we’re talking about y’all’s efforts saved a life. Had he got permanently disconnected from his brothers, as you put it, bad things were going to happen. And I’d love to get your perspective here, Scott, I’m trying to process the story that you’re telling us and kind of figure out what questions I’m going. Because this is very unique. This is new stuff. I mean, some of the supply chain themes are one thing, but these human journeys is another thing. But, unfortunately, there are tons and tons of Nazams, can you give us any kind of context there?

Scott Mann (33:43):

So, what happened at that point was, I was getting all kinds of calls from my buddies, Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, agency guys who were like, “Hey, my interpreter is stuck. Hey, my commando is stuck with his family.” And so, our little team – we started calling ourselves Taskforce Pineapple at that point – we were like, “Hey, why don’t we just open the room up, let’s make every one of these men and women a shepherd, like we were. We will give a situational picture in our encrypted room and then we will let the shepherds move themselves to where they need to go. That way we can share information in real time, but the local relationship can exploit the opportunity.” So, that’s what we did.

Scott Mann (34:25):

Plus, we had connections inside the airport, which nobody else had really thought about. So, we now had inside the airport, commanders, sergeants, diplomats who did not like the orders they had been given, who intended to honor the promise, and they agreed to be conductors on our underground railroad. And so, we started probing the perimeter and we found holes in the wall, we found sewage canals. And we started guiding through situational awareness. So, what I’m telling you is, having a common situational picture in real time and the organization being able to talk to itself, but then having the local relationships that you can exploit to move fast and agile. And when we did that, we scaled and we got 700 Afghans through in three days before the bomb went off.

Scott Luton (35:17):

Wow. Okay. So, Mike, I don’t know about you, but my mind is racing. I wish I had six hours and then some with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann. What are some of the things you’re thinking right now, Mike?

Mike Griswold (35:27):

So, when I first read about this, Scott, the whole underground railroad really resonated with me in terms of how you were moving people through. And I don’t know that anyone necessarily thought that we would be able to turn to something like the underground railroad and use it for a cause like this. If I bring us back to the earlier conversation around kind of contingencies, when I think about supply chain capabilities going from one person to 700, it’s about scaling. And you just mentioned it’s about scaling. So, as you’re thinking about, “Okay. We’ve got all these other people, it worked for Nazam.” Because, oftentimes, people could do one thing really well once. It’s how do you scale and repeat that over time? So, as you’re thinking about, “Man, we’ve got people that we want to help,” what were some of the scaling things that you were wrestling with in order to take this from one to 700?

Scott Mann (36:23):

Right. So, the problem, the bottleneck becomes the Taliban perimeter and then right into the coalition perimeter. Those are the two major issues. The Taliban perimeter required a level of trust and relationships that’s almost indescribable. And let me tell you what I mean by that. So, the local shepherd was critical. And remember now, these are all volunteer combat veterans. These aren’t active. These are men and women with businesses like me. They are schoolteachers. They are employees at Amazon. They just wanted to honor the promise when it wasn’t being honored. And so, what happened was, the underground railroad actually was the idea of a retired 10th Group Special Forces guy named Zach, who teaches third grade and his hero is Harriet Tubman. And so, he used this underground railroad metaphor and set it up exactly like that with conductors on the other side, and so we scaled that.

Scott Mann (37:26):

But what I want to point out here is two things. One, getting through the Taliban perimeter required a level of trust because the Afghan partner, the interpreter or the commander was with his family. And as they go through the checkpoint, the Taliban are beating them mercilessly. They’re beating the children. They’re beating the spouses. They sent some spouses into labor. They killed some of the kids. And so, the interpreter would be on the phone, or the commando, ready to fight. And he’s like, “Sir, please, can I fight him?” And he’s like, “No. No. Hold your ground. Endure. Get to freedom.” Now, you think about the level of trust that has to be in place between those individuals for that to occur. And so, the horrorism that those Afghans endured and their shepherd who was on the other line is pretty indescribable. So, that’s one thing.

Scott Mann (38:19):

When we execute in tough situations, we have to have infallible trust in the people that are executing. Like, there has to be trust that is built before it ever gets bad. And then, when it gets bad, we have to really believe in it and really let it drive us through the rough times. But then, when they got to the gate, that is where, in my opinion, storytelling and real time became the biggest issue. We decided at Pineapple that we were going to do a media blitz. I had quit the media years earlier. I hate the 24-hour news cycle. I think it’s the biggest joke in the world. But, you know, that’ll probably get me off the news right now. But I just stopped because it was so partisan and I didn’t like it. But I went back on because I’m like, “We got to tell this story and we got to tell it in real time.”

Scott Mann (39:09):

And James Meek wrote the ABC article in real time. And we were telling stories to the people on the inside in real time. That’s narrative competence when you use purposeful storytelling in real time to meet your goals because the brain thinks in metaphor. And so, we were doing that and it moved fast. For example, at one point in the canal, British soldiers had seen the story on BBC. And so, you have these partners that are holding up cell phones with a pineapple on it and the Brits recognized it from the story, and they pulled them in. We hadn’t even called them. But they had seen it on the news.

Scott Luton (39:47):

Wow. So, as we start to wind things down, we want to protect your time. I know you’re getting calls from every organization, which is, again, a wonderful thing so we can get this narrative – what do you call it? Narrative control out there.

Scott Mann (40:00):

Narrative competence. It’s the ability to tell stories in real time to meet your goals.

Scott Luton (40:04):

Narrative competence. I need you to give me some lessons on narrative competence, Scott Mann. All right. So, you’ve mentioned – going back a little ways. We love our metrics here at supply chain, especially lifesaving metrics, which these are – 700 folks that you are able to get help get out of bad places before, unfortunately, the tragedy that struck a few days ago. Is that right?

Scott Mann (40:27):

Yeah. And, now, we’re pivoting into recovery operations with the government gone. And, already, we got a hundred people out yesterday. operationrecovery.org is in full swing.

Scott Luton (40:37):

Wow. Okay. So, let’s talk about how we can help. Whether you’re tuned into this livestream in Arkansas, or South Carolina, or Ghana, or wherever, how can folks support what your teams are doing?

Scott Mann (40:53):

If anything that you’ve heard today – and I appreciate that Scott and Mike – I’ll say two things to that, if it resonated with you about honoring the promise – I mean, there’s still 250 American citizens we need to bring in. There are thousands of Afghans, high risk, like female judges, young kids, young girls who in the art programs, commandos, and their families – we could use some help at operationrecovery.org. And that’s what we’re using to move people to safety, but ultimately on to freedom. That’s one.

 

Scott Mann (41:30):

Number two, I absolutely love your Vet Voices program. And I just want to tell you, the play you talked about earlier, before any of this happened, I wrote a play about the war called Last Out: Elegy of a Green Baret. And it follows the life of a Green Beret team sergeant. He’s a composite character based on three team sergeants I had who didn’t make it home. And it’s about him and how the war affected his family all the way through the entire war. But it tells the perspective of the family. It tells the perspective of his Afghan surrogate father and elder. And the abandonment. It’s all that’s happening right now was written and played out. We toured 16 cities. It was on [inaudible], Good Morning America. And now we produced it ourselves as a film with all veteran supporters. And on 9/11 , the behind the scenes is coming out of the actual tour. So, you can see how my midlife crisis really unfolded. And then, on Veteran’s Day, the film is going to be out on Amazon Prime, on Google Television, a couple others on Roku. And all the proceeds are going to go to help Afghan resettlement. So, you can see a real personal – and if you served in Afghanistan or you want to know more about Afghanistan, you’ve got to watch this film because it’s all combat veterans performing it.

Scott Mann (42:53):

So, operationrecovery.org, if you want to help right now get people out. lastoutfilm.com, this is the Veteran Voices thing, I can’t think of a better way to tie in with that. And you can sign up to watch the documentary and the film right there. It’s really powerful. And all the proceeds help our Afghan brothers and sisters come home.

Scott Luton (43:13):

You know, I know we’ve said it quite a bit, but on behalf of folks listening, of our team, of veterans out there that have depended on these brave, courageous, highly capable, and professional Afghan allies, we’re immensely grateful for what you and your teams are doing and continue to do. So, folks we’ve dropped those URLs in the comments, both lastoutfilm.com and operationrecovery.org. Please support.

 

Scott Luton (43:44):

And I’ll tell you, Scott, beyond this noble mission that you and others are leading and driving and facilitating and saving lives, I bet you’re going to have a lot of organizations that want you to come in and talk to them. And not only talk leadership tactics and experiences and successes, but inspire folks to do things differently and just get stuff done. There’s tons of noise, there’s tons of challenge and speed bumps and serious problems and nonstop so serious problems, but at the end of the day, those are going to become nothing burgers so you can get a GSD, get stuff done. And that’s exactly what you and your team are doing. So, very grateful.

Scott Mann (44:24):

I appreciate that, Scott. And it’s very striking to me that that’s what this group does. Everybody could have just gotten ticked off. You know, the veterans could have got mad like everybody else did. But instead, they got to work. And I would encourage all of us to step back regardless of our political affiliation, regardless of mask or no mask, shake off that translate state of anger and fear and look at the resolve that’s playing out right now. And let’s get our national narrative back. Let’s get our myth back of who we really are. These veterans are showing us what right looks like. And I hope that we’ll all get in line with it because we need it.

Scott Luton (44:57):

I’m with you. And being able to cut through the noise and cut through the vitriol, and, again, to get stuff done, the world needs that right now based on where we’ve been the last two years. All right. So, Mike, I’ve been blathering away because there’s so much I want to ask about and talk about here. And we’re getting a ton of comments, I can’t get to all of them. But, Mike, I’m going to give you the last question or comment here while we still have Scott Mann just for next minute or two.

Mike Griswold (45:22):

Yeah. Scott, again, thank you for spending time with us. Thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s a great illustration. We at Gartner, you know, we do a lot of work in encouraging the hiring of veterans. And I think Scott, you know, your story is a great example of how to translate what you’ve learned in the Military, the experiences you’ve had, how do you translate them into other scenarios and other situations and how you do that really well. And I think, everyone, if you aren’t doing it now, I think everyone needs to really open their eyes to the value that veterans have when they come back home into our businesses. They can force us to think differently. They can force us to think more clearly. And I think you can never have enough veterans in your organization. So, again, I really appreciate, Scott, the time in sharing your stories, and the supply chain implications of what you guys did.

Scott Mann (46:22):

Thanks, Mike. It’s really well said. And I’ll tell you, our Heroes Journey nonprofit, I couldn’t agree with you more. We do a lot of work with storytelling with veterans and Military family members. I think it’s the most important transition tool Veteran Voices can have is the ability to take their story – I call it the generosity of scars – to take your scars from the Military and repurpose them into the service of others. And that’s what we need. And that’s what these veterans did. And that’s what any veteran can do, even the trauma, you know, take the story and put it to work on how it can serve at home. And people are hungry for it.

Scott Luton (46:56):

Agreed. Agreed. Mike, I love what you just said there. Because organizations, we can’t have enough veterans and all that they bring to the table. So, I really appreciate you sharing that. Scott Mann, I wish we had about ten more hours with you. But I know you get plenty of accolades, I’m sure. I want to share a couple. And then, we’ll let you – because I know you’ve got book to book to book all the interviews you’re doing, which is wonderful. We celebrate that. I love that. There’s a lot of interest.

 

Scott Luton (47:20):

Really quick, Rooftop Leadership is your organization, rooftopleadership.com. Is that right?

 

Scott Mann (47:25):

That’s right. Yes, sir. That’s correct.

 

Scott Luton (47:27):

Okay. Wonderful. Benjamin Knights says, “Scott Mann for president, please.” I love that. Mohib says, “Real time takes on a whole new meaning today.” Excellent point there, Mohib. You’re absolutely right. Jenny, I appreciate your feedback also and your comments. Mark Preston, who’s on the board of directors with the Association for Manufacturing Excellence says, “This was awesome. And I want to share this with many Americans. Thank you.” I’ll take that step further, the globe needs to hear this. Leadership is such a universal solvent. And, Scott, you got that in spades. Charles Walker is echoing that, “President Scott Mann. Vote Dammit. Hooah. Airborne.” Ten more hours. I love that. And there’s lots more.

 

Scott Luton (48:13):

But, hey, Scott, we really appreciate it. We’ve got your URLs. Of course, folks, we’re going to make it really easy. We’re going to put the URLs in the episode page of the podcast replay. If you’re listening to this on replay, you’re one click away from supporting the noble efforts and mission that Scott Mann and his organization, and many like him, are doing. And, Scott, we really admire, and appreciate, and we’re grateful for leaders like you that are about action. It’s not about lip service. And you’re an embodiment of that. So, thanks so much for your time here today.

Scott Mann (48:47):

Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. I appreciate you and Mike. We’ll see you guys around.

 

Mike Griswold (48:47):

Thank you, Scott. Take care.

Scott Luton (48:49):

Wow. Mike, I wasn’t exactly sure how this all would play out today. Because I knew this was going to be a unique conversation. And, of course, we confirmed it yesterday. But I don’t know exactly, am I processing? One of the things that clearly sticks out, clearly sticks, out to me – I’d love to get your take here as we wrap. I got protect your time too – is, for all that Scott Mann is doing, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann, and the lives that he and his teams are saving, it is like he’s sitting down on a corner market, we’re breaking up bowl peanuts, and it’s just what he does. And that down to earth, I mean, that’s how you create an army of followers. Folks that do it, aren’t afraid to do it, and don’t take themselves too seriously even though they’re saving lives – holy cow – Mike, what comes to mind for you?

Mike Griswold (49:43):

Yeah. I think the sentiments by everyone on the show today, I mean, I think just spending 40 minutes with Scott, if he asked you to do anything, you would do it. I mean, his ability to boil the problem down to say, “This is what we’re going to do, and this is how we’re going to do it,” those are traits in leaders. And I think, certainly, going through programs, any of those special forces programs, those leadership skills get enhanced. But you also have to have something to start with. And I think he’s a natural leader. He’s a natural storyteller. Not to bring, you know, faith into this, but I think certain people are at certain places at the right time, and I think he was certainly at the right place at the right time.

Scott Luton (50:37):

Well-said as always. You and Greg, both, always put things much more effectively than I can. But you’re absolutely right, we were talking about Dwight D. Eisenhower pre-show, and goodness gracious some of the decisions he had to make and just embrace what was to happen. So, folks, again, comments, if what Scott Mann and his team are doing resonates, please check out the organizations we’ve got. We’ve already dropped off the links there. Mike, I got to ask you – you know, I appreciate the hour you’ve invested with us here as we’ve uncovered Scott Mann’s story – what is the latest with Gartner? What’s next in Gartner world?

Mike Griswold (51:18):

Sure. So, you know, as with a lot of organizations, we’ve moved our in-person conferences to virtual. So, we have a couple of weeks, our European event is virtual in October. We have our North American event is virtual as well. Same content, same great sessions for people to listen into. And we will be kicking off probably – it’s hard to believe it’s September already, Scott – the end of this month, beginning of next month, we’ll start planning for 2022. And everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that we can be in-person in June for our events. But the events, again, it feels kind of hard talking about that after listening to Scott for 45 minutes. But we’ve got some good content, you know, talking about resiliency and the role of the supply chain plays in resiliency and agility and the environment. So, some really interesting topics we have teed up for our vets.

Scott Luton (52:19):

Always the best. And Mike Griswold, one of a kind. Again, one of our most favored repeat guests that we have the distinguished honor of having each month and sharing your expertise. So, I really appreciate that. We had a double dip today. We went to Baskin-Robbins and got one of every flavor with you and Scott Mann, frankly. Scott Mann, the comments continue to come in. And I’m not sure if our guests can hear us in the green room. I’d love to get a snapshot of the whiteboard that you just walked us through, Scott, in case you got to depart. But, hey, as Kelly says, “How are we supposed to go back to work after that” Amazing.” Clay, who’s part of the production team – big thanks to Clay and Amanda and Jada and Allie – he says, “Livestream Hall of Fame.” I’m with you.

 

Mike Griswold (53:01):

I agree. I second that.

Scott Luton (53:01):

Mohib says, “Whole new level, Mike and Scott.” Now, don’t get me in trouble. But I agree, Mike Griswold always brings it. Azaleah says, “Use your scars.” Use your scars. Charles Heeter, always bring the heat, “You see the importance of leaders and individual contributors clearly at play here.”

 

Scott Luton (53:22):

One last thing before we wrap, folks, one of things that Scott Mann spoke to was the vast importance of a taxi driver that knew how to communicate and speak different languages. And as Scott mentioned how many times, all of us are guilty of walking past people that would take for granted for the role they play, whether it’s global supply chain or society, and bless these folks because when you need them, they’re there and they make it happen. And sometimes they’ll save lives. So, God bless to all the Scott Mann and all the Scott Manns out there that are helping to make things right, helping get folks where they need to be out of bad places. The Supply Chain Now team is honored to host this conversation. Big thanks to Mike Griswold with Gartner for being my special guest host. Mike, how can folks connect with you?

Mike Griswold (54:10):

So, again, LinkedIn. I’m working my way up to kind of average LinkedIn user. And then, mike.griswold@gartner.com. Those are the two easiest ways.

Scott Luton (54:20):

Wonderful. Awesome. Thanks so much. Again, check out scottmann@rooftopleadership.com. And the other URLs, we’ll include that in the show notes. Folks, this is an easy wrap. But, basically, be like Scott Mann. Do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed wherever it is. And I’ll tell you, tackle it. Go out there and get stuff done. With that being said, on behalf of our entire team, we’ll see you next time right here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.

 

Mike Griswold (54:45):

Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (54:48):

Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.

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Featured Guests

Scott Mann is the President of Rooftop Leadership, a leadership consulting and training company in Tampa, Florida and Co-Founder of the Heroes Journey, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping Veterans and Military Families find their voice and tell their story as they transition out of military service. As a former Army Green Beret with multiple combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, Scott takes the lessons from working in low-trust conflict zones to help leaders find ways to build relationships and tell stories that bridge the human trust gaps we all face today. Scott has appeared on numerous TV, Radio, and Podcast media platforms to include CNN, Fox, all the major networks and syndicated radio. Scott is also a playwright and actor currently bringing his award-winning play “Last Out – Elegy of a Green Beret” to life as a major film for limited release on 9/11 and national release on Veterans Day 2021. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.

Mike Griswold serves as Vice President Analyst with Gartner’s Consumer Value Chain team, focusing on the retail supply chain. He is responsible for assisting supply leaders in understanding and implementing demand-driven supply chain principles that improve the performance of their supply chain. Mr. Griswold joined Gartner through the company’s acquisition of AMR. Previous roles include helping line-of-business users align corporate strategy with their supply chain process and technology initiatives. One recent study published by a team of Gartner analysts, including Mike Griswold is Retail Supply Chain Outlook 2019: Elevating the Consumer’s Shopping Experience. Mr. Griswold holds a BS in Business Management from Canisius College and an MBA from the Whittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire. Learn more about Gartner here: www.gartner.com

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or singing second soprano in the Grayson United Methodist Church choir.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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