Maybe the name John Boyd does not ring a bell, but perhaps the OODA Loop will, the mental model created by one of the most gifted military strategists since Sun Tzu. I was so mesmerized by Robert Coram’s biography on John Boyd, I reached out to the author to talk about his book, a project that took him more than three years to write.
Our guest on this installment of the CFO Bookshelf podcast is Robert Coram, the author of Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.
The 7 Pillars of John Boyd
How does a new podcast co-host go about interviewing the author of a book he could not put down that will impact his thinking for years to come?
That was my dilemma after Mr. Coram agreed to an interview on the CFO Bookshelf podcast.
I didn’t want to merely rehash the book for listeners who have not read the book. I also wanted to ask questions for the readers who could learn something new from this discussion.
Accordingly, I built the questions around 7 key pillars that I identified in the biographer’s book on this extraordinary man.
- The Man – who was John Boyd, the person? What drove him and made him tick?
- The Major – some of Boyd’s greatest intellectual discoveries came to him before he was promoted to colonel in the Air Force.
- The Maniac – Boyd was not a delicate nor soft-spoken communicator, not even close.
- The Mission – Boyd was unbending in his drive and his mantra regarding doing the right thing instead of focusing on rank and career.
- The Men – Boyd had six followers called the acolytes and we find out what they had in common with the man they admired.
- The Machine – before reading this book, I had never had a clear or accurate view of what The Pentagon did. Boyd’s job was to design an F-15 that could withstand any enemy. Unfortunately, Boyd’s biggest battle was dealing with bureaucrats at The Pentagon.
- The Menage – this is the only ‘M’ word I could find for family or household. As great as Boyd was, he was not a good husband or father.
More Insights from Mr. Coram
- The author had to be talked into writing the book not once, but multiple times by one of the Boyd acolytes.
- When Robert Coram decided to write the book, he created a 46-page proposal which was quickly approved by his publisher.
- Robert need 3.5 years to complete the book.
- Mr. Coram confirmed that the OODA Loop is complex.
- The aircraft that Boyd designed has never been defeated during combat.
- The Air Force does not recognize Boyd’s contributions, but the Marines do. Visit with any Marine officer, and Boyd’s name will be brought up within 5 minutes.
3 Book Recommendations
We ask our guests which books they like and recommend. Robert was quick to list the following titles:
Born Fighting by Jim Webb (556 ratings – 4.5 rating – published 2005
Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne – 4,099 ratings – 4.7 rating – published 2010
Young Men and Fire – 291 ratings – 4.4 rating – published 1992
Other Books by Robert Coram
- INK: The Years of Journalism Before the Days of Blogger (2019)
- Gully Dirt (2017)
- Double Ace (2016)
- Brute (2011)
- American Patriot (2008)
- Dead South (1999)
- Bass Master Shaw Grigsby (1998)
- Atlanta Heat (1997)
- Nobody’s Child (1994)
- Caribbean Time Bomb (1993)
- Running Dead (1993)
- Narcs America’s Heroes (1990)
- Narcs Drug Warriors (1989)
- Narcs (1988)
5 Questions for Every Financial Leader
- John Boyd’s greatest intellectual discoveries were the result of his learning about thermodynamics – his first degree was in economics. What fields are you studying outside of accounting, financials, and performance management to be developing your skills and capabilities?
- Boyd had 6 followers known as the acolytes. Under your leadership, who are you currently mentoring?
- To be somebody or to do something? What’s your goal, your life’s objective?
- The Pentagon was (and still is) focusing on the wrong mission. How are you helping your company to not be like The Pentagon?
- Can a financial leader be great at the office but be even greater at home?