He's not the genius cranking out code, the analyst looking for the next big IPO, the hand-shaking CEO, or the wartime general turning a pile of intel into a plan.
He's the guy who can talk to all of those people, understand them, and combine their strengths into a matrix none individually would have imagined.
Many feared the situation was only going from bad to worse. He had earned academic pole position and had every expectation it would continue that way forever -- becoming a professor, building a lab, and sniping out white papers from a tenured ivory tower.
But then his mentor asked him to attend a weekend conference at DARPA.
But first, he had to stop himself from plummeting through that chopper door. Some of the geeks would fuse things like satellite data and on-the-ground surveillance to visualize how traffic flowed (or didn't flow, indicating a nearby Taliban checkpoint or a roadside bomb).
White scrabbled back to his seat, grabbed the straps, and held on as gunners slouched in the open door, watching for ground fire. White's team mission was to target the digital trail of the Taliban and al-Qaida's financing.
But apparent contradiction is White's secret sauce: He's an accomplished Ashtanga yoga practitioner who has been to war, a former government employee on a first-name basis with celebrity Buddhists and legendary hackers, and a practiced martial artist who's dedicated to the solitary sit-down science of staring at computer screens.