The Carlyle Group is one of those companies conspiracy theorists love to talk about: It's got ties to the Bushes, Rumsfeld, and a whole coterie of other politically connected power players, not to mention the Saudi royals and, at one time, the bin Laden family. It's also very successful, which makes the private equity firm's possible IPO, coming soon, an exciting one. Still, whatever the firm's bottom line, it doesn't have the most warm, fuzzy public image.
Maybe that's why — conspiracy theory alert! — someone decided to nominate Christopher Ullman, Carlyle's global head of communications, for Dealbook's "Off the Clock" feature. Ullman, you see, is a competitive whistler. His story is warm and fuzzy.
Mr. Ullman, 48, learned the art of lip-based lyricism by listening to his father whistle Gilbert and Sullivan songs around the house, and tried it out while delivering papers on his bicycle in his Long Island neighborhood. He honed his skills during college, where a friend’s band let him improvise whistling parts to their jazz and blues songs.
In 1992, a friend urged him to enter the International Whistling Competition, held every spring in Louisburg, N.C. He decided to sign up, and his rendition of “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller earned him a second-place finish in the pop music division.
That Ullman's whistling hobby might be disarmingly unexpected is not lost on Carlyle, apparently. The firm's founder has been known to ask him to bust out a tune during meetings with visiting executives, as part of his job promoting the brand.
“It kind of shows our humanity,” Mr. Ullman said of the impromptu performances. “Although I feel a little like a trained monkey.”
Do they make him wear the bow-tie for performances?