36. Green Hornets on The Moon. The Incredible Story of George M. Low

This episode is the second part of the three episodes series about communication and marketing on NASA and the space programs. I had a fantastic conversation with Richard Jurek about George Low, the man who wrote the report on President Kennedy's desk when the administrator was looking for a big project after the Bay of Pigs to turn things around. 


Richard, a marketing and public relations executive, is an author and space historian. He is the co-author of the critically acclaimed "Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program" (MIT Press, 2014) with David Meerman Scott, and a frequent article contributor to the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine and website. He is a sought-after commentator and speaker on NASA history, especially concerning its historic public affairs efforts and pioneering brand journalism. He has appeared internationally in media outlets such as Forbes, Slate, NBC News, CBS News, Canadian Public Radio, Australian Public Radio, National Public Radio’s Market Place, BackStory with the History Guys, and The Joy Cardin Show. In addition to being a regular guest on the Science Channel’s NASA: Unexplained Files, he is also a consulting producer on the PBS/American Experience mini-series Chasing The Moon (July, 2019) by award-winning filmmaker Robert Stone. Jurek’s latest space history book is The Ultimate Engineer: The Remarkable Life of NASA’s Visionary Leader George M. Low (University of Nebraska Press, 2019).


During this amazing conversation, Richard describes NASA's engineer's fantastic job, responsible for helping the US spaceflight advance and creating a system to ensure safety and excellence during the entire program. He also talked about Low's understanding of branding and how brilliantly he cut through the noise and made his voice being heard in a place where everyone was talking at the same time. 


Some Questions I Ask:

  • Can you tell us a little bit about George and his life as a refugee during World War II? (2:15)
  • How did he come up with writing this document that inspired John F Kennedy to say "We're going to the Moon within 10 years"? (8:23)
  • If you look at the way he engaged the politicians, what have you learned from that? (35:46)
  • From the time he wrote the report to Kennedy, he's been in every central decision point in the NASA program, right?
  • What did George Low mean by saying, "Avoid the smartest person in the room fallacy"? (50:46)


In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • The Silicon Valley people of the '50s (7:41)
  • The best writers listen before they speak and think before they write (16:21)
  • Visiting contractors at night, uninvited, and making them accountable (22:32)
  • The door that couldn't be opened and its lessons. Don't forget the user, don't forget your audience (48:35)
  • Never delegate your decision-making process (53:47)


Resources:

 

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