Red Helicopter–A Parable for Our Times

Red Helicopter–A Parable for Our Times

By James Rhee


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

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.

“red helicopter is a transformative experience. James Rhee’s story is a must read for anyone, of any age, who wishes to think, act and lead with balance, agility and wisdom.” –Jay Shetty

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.

Is it possible to be successful and kind? To lead with precision and compassion? To honor who we are in all areas of our lives? 

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.

Anyone can combine 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

Are you looking for sustainable balance between life, money and joy? For yourself and others? 

Imagine a clear path forward told as a deeply felt human story. A poignant and uplifting celebration of humanity, red helicopter–a parable for our times is a tale of struggle and triumph, compelling for its honesty and relatability as much as for the instructions we can all use to balance the books of our lives.

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


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