Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the
June 11, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
A Jar of Bubbles On Every Desk
It is impossible to be stressed while licking an ice
cream cone. Is it the concentration required to keep the sticky stuff
from dripping onto shirt and shoes? Is it the associations with
childhood summers? Whatever the reason, this wisdom, care of
Weintraub, principal in Lafayette Hill-based Humor for the Health
of It (www.healthhumor.com), sounds right on target.
Weintraub speaks on "Stress Management: Laughter Really Is the
Best Medicine" on Thursday, June 12, at 6 p.m. at a meeting of
the Mercer chapter of NJAWBO at the Merrill Lynch Conference Center.
Cost: $35. Call 609-924-7975.
Weintraub, a graduate of Temple (Class of 1981), makes a living by
giving humorous talks and by consulting to companies on lightening
the atmosphere in their offices. He has studied both health education
and sociology, which he defines as "the study of what you already
know in words you don’t understand," and after college he worked
as both a stand-up comedian and the director of a wellness center.
His business, in existence for 15 years, combines the two.
Clients tend to call him either because their offices are so stressed
that a crisis appears to be imminent and they are desperate for
— anything — that might help, or because they understand the
value of humor in reducing stress and want to find ways to introduce
it. Among his suggestions:
Weintraub declares. Trying too hard to tease out meaning just makes
you "go crazy." People tend to spend their lives looking for
answers. "It’s like a break-up," he says. "You want
You want to know why, or you want to get back together." Most
people do not get satisfaction either way. "You never get an
It’s much the same in the workplace. Why doesn’t the boss like me?
Why did my client switch to another vendor when everything seemed
to be going so well? Better to leave these questions alone.
"The only normal people," says Weintraub, "are those
you don’t know well enough."
Not as a rule. But he makes a couple of exceptions. A soft ice cream
machine, for example, can, all by itself, turn an office’s atmospheric
tables. So can bubbles. Issue each employee a bottle, suggests
Imagine a new employee’s reaction to finding a bright blue or neon
green bottle of bubbles on his desk along with the pencils and 10-line
phone. Such gestures state that a little 9-to-5 fun is encouraged.
Besides, says Weintraub, the act of blowing bubbles requires deep
intakes and outflows of breath. Such breathing reduces stress.
for birthday cakes, Weintraub suggests a "fun fund." A
could be appointed to use the money to plan a purely fun event once
department within a corporation has a personality. "Sometimes
you work for a company, and everybody’s mean and stressed," says
Weintraub. "That’s the overall theme in the company."
Changing the theme can be as easy as spreading smiles. The boss should
start the chain-reaction. "Smile at yourself in the mirror when
you get up in the morning," suggests Weintraub. Then, upon
for work, engage the first person you see in conversation, and make
sure to smile at him. Do the same for person number two. The
can work up slowly, gradually increasing the number of smiles they
The atmosphere should soon go from sour to sunny, because, Weintraub
explains, no one can resist a smile. Our brains are conditioned to
react to facial expressions. Each smile is an unconscious link to
every happy face we have ever seen, while each scowl is a reminder
of every unpleasant encounter. Brain chemistry is affected by
both by those we assume and by those we see.
against the receipt of non-business E-mails, take a laugh break with
the latest set of Internet jokes. Most people have friends who send
them around, and many induce side-splitting laughter. Indulge. It’s
good for your heart as well as for your stress level.
and working in an environment where stress is kept to a minimum,
should be able to come up with good ideas. Another benefit is that
employees will want to stick around to keep contributing those ideas.
"For years," says Weintraub, "we thought that people
at a job because of money." It turns out that this is not true.
"People stay because they like the job," he says. "They
stay because they look forward to seeing their friends."
And having an ice cream machine in the break room doesn’t hurt.
Yo, IMHO the guy U work for is a jerk. MHOTY for putting
up with him this long. he makes the idiot I works for look smarter
then Einstein. LOL.The good thing is that neither one of them has
a clue about the money we’re skimming from the Browning account.
of millions of E-mails whizzing around and between businesses, for
any number of reasons. A business communications specialist at Mercer
County Community College’s Center for Training and Development, she
spends most of her time doing on-site corporate training, and more
and more she is hearing pleas for help with E-mail etiquette, form,
"E-mail is out of control!" says Castellano, whose husband,
Michael, brings home particularly egregious examples from his New
York office. "It’s killing our language," she says. While
managers may mourn the harm E-mail is doing to the mother tongue,
their more immediate concern is the harm it is doing to their
image, and even in some cases to its business.
On Thursday, June 19, at 9 a.m. Castellano gives a five-hour class
on "Sharpening Your E-Mail Writing" at MCCC. The cost for
the class, which is open to the public, is $95. Call 609-586-9446.
E-mail, Castellano points out, grew up free of English-class rules
for correspondence. While workers have been drilled on how to set
up, write, proof, and send a business letter, there has been no
instruction on E-mail. At the same time, E-mail has become a
favorite. Fast and easy, it is now used for nearly every type of
Castellano, a graduate of Hofstra University who holds an MBA from
St. John’s University, grew up with letters rather than with E-mails,
as is the case for many people now in the workforce. An immigrant,
she also grew up speaking Croation. Having long ago mastered English
so well that no trace of an accent remains, she is now equally fluent
in E-mail. Here is her advice for steering clear of the E-mail style
of the above message:
states Castellano. Everyone knows "FYI" means "for your
information," but many people will be thrown by the likes of
which is E-mail speak for "in my humble opinion." Likewise,
not everyone will know that "MHOTY" is shorthand for "my
hat’s off to you." Even the fairly common "LOL," which
means "laughing out loud," and its less-common cousin,
— "rolling on the floor laughing" — are bound to cause
some head scratching.
The pop shorthand is beloved by everyone intoxicated with the new
communication. But, Castellano points out, it can cause embarrassment
if the receiver is unable to decipher the message and thinks he must
be out of the loop. If he has to send a reply asking for
the point often is lost, and there is discomfort on both sides.
"I don’t even like ASAP," says Castellano. In this case, her
objection is not so much that some people may not know that the
stands for "as soon as possible," but rather that it is too
vague. "To me, ASAP may mean today," she says, "but to
you it might mean Christmas."
business addressed in the above E-mail — is personal. Keep E-mail
personal by always taking the time to start an E-mail with the
name and to end it with your own.
an E-mail is with "Hi" or simply with the recipient’s name.
"Dear" is for letters, she declares, and not for electronic
messages. As for "Hi," an opener that feels a little to
and/or juvenile to businesspeople of a certain age, she says it is
fine in most circumstances. When in doubt, just open with the
name, which may be preceded by a title — Mr., Ms., Honorable,
or the like — in more formal relationships.
enough for one E-mail paragraph. Longer unbroken stretches of text
are hard to read on a screen. Break up long paragraphs into several
short paragraphs, says Castellano. Better yet, use lists, numbering
kept on the desk for easy reference, E-mails are read fast before
being deleted or filed. Including several agenda items often means
that one or two will be ignored in a reply. If you want to ask your
boss for a raise, the go-ahead on a new project, a new desk, and the
month of August off, it is a good idea to send him four separate
often is a disgrace, says Castellano. Recently, a large area employer
called her in to instruct employees on basic grammar and spelling
issues. Common errors, she says, range from mixing up "then"
and "than" to starting sentences with a lower case letter
to ignoring subject/verb agreement. With everyone on staff E-mailing
all over the place like crazy, these lapses are on broad display,
undermining not only the individual’s credibility, but also that of
this is a tough one, but she says it is essential that E-mails be
printed and proofed. "You’ll miss mistakes on the screen,"
she says. Doing so is not a huge problem if the E-mail is going to
a close friend, but it can be if it is going to an important client.
button is pressed, the E-mail takes on a life of its own. It may be
read only by its recipient, but there is always the possibility that
it will be forwarded to others — maybe hundreds of thousands of
others — with the simple tap on a keyboard. It is a good bet that
the sender of the above E-mail didn’t consider that his boss would
see it. Given the eternal shelf life of E-mails, however, such a
is not out of the question.
says Castellano. While the E-mail at the beginning of this article
was sent to give a pal a chuckle, it is a good bet that its sender
would not be LOL, let alone ROTFL, if his boss read it.
If he weren’t a believer in networking groups before,
he is now.
learned to use networking to get through tough times.
"We are networking like crazy," says Zyontz, "and this
opens up doors that would have never been opened before." He
a weekly leads group, BNI, which meets on Wednesdays at 7 a.m. at
the Bog at the Cranbury Golf Club, paying $240 for one year plus $75
for the application. He thought he would give it a year.
Result: "It is working. We are generating business from outside
the chapter — really solid word-of-mouth referrals. It is not
a kaffee klatsch. But it takes a year for momentum to build, and every
week at 7 a.m. is a major commitment."
He also expanded the client basis for sales and marketing collateral
materials and website design. "We specialize in financial services
— marketing, banking, insurance, and investments." Clients
include Prudential Financial, Merrill Lynch, Fleet Insurance Services,
and Citizen’s Bank, but it also has Diamond Tours and Grounds for
Sculpture. "For companies with marketing challenges, we can come
in and help them." Renee Hobbs, vice president, is doing pro bono
work for the June 27th observation of the Battle of Monmouth.
Yet another coping move is to change physical spaces, from the high
rent district at Vaughn Drive to the Dataram center on Route 571.
"After 11 years in one place, it’s always good to change
"As long as you have comfortable affordable office space you can
pass savings to your clients and to your employees through incentives.
Or invest money in equipment to increase your business," he
"If you are in my shoes in an expensive space, swallow your pride
and give up on the image thing. We are very comfortable in our
Computer technology still has the power to dazzle. A
Wall Street Journal columnist, for example, recently wrote about
Apple’s new online music store, with breathless enthusiasm. Tiny
cameras have the power to induce techno-lust too, and what office
worker wouldn’t love to find a super-sized, flat-screen monitor on
But for the most part, computer technology has become one more tool,
and is as well integrated into the lives of creative professionals
as is the telephone. For this reason, the New Jersey Communications
Advertising and Marketing Association (NJ CAMA) has decided to change
the name of one of its most important annual events. Called Technology
Day in recent years, the gathering is now simply the NJ CAMA Annual
The conference takes place on Thursday, June 26, at 8:30 a.m. at
Cost: $95. Visit www.njcama.org for all the details.
that in the past few years "technology was affecting all of our
lives, changing the way we worked, and forcing us to re-think the
way our businesses were organized and conducted." He adds that
"technology is still a key component of the way we work, yet most
of you have accepted it and integrated it into your specialties —
public relations, advertising, marketing, photography, printing, and
Technology will factor into many of the presentations at the
but, says Bedy, the program focuses on many facets of what NJ CAMA
members do, and not just on one aspect of their work.
the keynote, "Taking Your Message into the World’s Hot Spots."
Seminars cover the future of branding, the role of the art director,
the potential of personalization in marketing, and the future of
computing. Speaker include
the Pushpin Group.
The Center for Management Development at
will offer its Mini-MBA: Business Essentials program this summer in
an accelerated, six-week format. Two instructional modules providing
a practical foundation in current business concepts and practices
will be presented each day.
Classes will be held on Rutgers’ Livingston campus in Piscataway from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Friday, July 11, through Friday, August 15.
The shortened certificate program is designed for a range of
including human resources, information technology, and other
in "business partner" roles who need to better understand
the business mission, strategy, and financial management of their
companies. It is also recommended for professionals interested in
previewing an MBA.
The fee for the course is $2,495. For more information, call Claudia
Meer at 732-445-5590.
with New Jersey City University, will offer New Pathways to Teaching
in New Jersey, a new alternate-route teacher education program.
Students can choose to take the program as either a certification
requirement to become a teacher in New Jersey, or can apply the
as 15 credits toward a master’s in teaching degree from New Jersey
In a prepared statement, Peter Contini, executive board member of
the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, writes that "this
will provide interested individuals with the right qualifications
the opportunity to change careers and become public school teachers
in New Jersey."
Classes will meet twice a week for three hours and will include guided
observations in local schools.
Program candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in an
arts and sciences field for elementary education or hold a major in
the appropriate field for subject area license. They must have a
GPA of 2.75 or higher for the last degree earned and have achieved
a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II exam.
The cost of the program is $2,000 for those taking it for
and $4,500 for those taking it for graduate credit. For more
call 201-200-3168 or visit www.njccc.org/teachered.htm.
offer two new degree programs, a master of arts in applied Spanish
and a bachelor of arts in biomedical engineering. The second degree
offers two curricula options, electrical engineering or mechanical
Biomedical engineering combines engineering know-how with medical
needs. Students apply knowledge and skill to define and solve problems
in biology and medicine, such as designing and constructing cardiac
pacemakers and investigating the biomechanics of injury and wound
The program is aimed, in part, to benefit students interested in
associate positions or technical management positions within the
the Middle States Association of Higher Education to offer a Bachelor
of Science in Business Administration in an online format beginning
in the fall.
The online program is offered in four-quarter, 11 or 12-week sessions.
All students enrolling are required to take an introductory course
that will prepare them to work online and help both the student and
the college assess whether online learning is the best option.
For more information, call Susan Mandra at 973-278-5400, ext. 1213.
<d>Raritan Valley Community College has become the
first community college in the country to offer a doctorate degree
on campus through its University Center as a result of a new
Under the agreement, beginning in January, 2004, Seton Hall’s College
of Education and Human Services and SetonWorldWide, the school’s
campus, will partner with RVCC by offering courses at RVCC’s campus
in North Branch leading to an executive doctorate in higher education,
leadership, and policy — with specialties in either higher
administration or college teaching. The program, which is to include
weekend classes, will be delivered in an accelerated format using
blended instruction to accommodate the needs of working professionals.
Approximately 20 percent of the coursework will be Internet-based.
The program will take two years to complete and will feature cohort
learning, block scheduling, support, and mentoring. Students receive
a Seton Hall degree upon completion of the program.
For more information, contact Teresa Keeler, director of the
Center, at 908-526-1200 or at email@example.com.
Raritan Valley also has signed an agreement with FirstEnergy to offer
a new associate of applied science degree with a focus in electric
utility technology starting in the fall. Graduates will be trained
to be electrical workers for FirstEnergy subsidiaries Jersey Central
Power & Light and Met-Ed.
Students enrolled in the program will complete 64 credits over a
period on the RVCC campus in North Branch and at a FirstEnergy
in Phillipsburg. A maximum of 25 students a year will be accepted
into the PSI program. For more information, call 440-604-9803.
Princeton Area Community Foundation Fund for Women and
Girls is granting $25,000 to four organizations, which represents
at 25 percent increase over last year. The fund supports programs
that work with girls to build character and self-esteem, hone special
talent, train for leadership, respect their bodies, stay in school,
and be proud of who they are and what they can do. The fund also
projects that help women be positive role models, advocates for
good mothers, transition from welfare to work, and adopt healthy
Young Teens workshops to help mothers of young teen girls understand
the emotional and physical changes their daughters are undergoing,
to educate moms about teen sexuality; and for the Sexual Assault
program, an eating disorders prevention education program targeted
to girls only, and taught in middle and high school health classes.
go to the new Teens in the Know program of individual case management
for girls ages 12 to 18 who are at high risk of teen pregnancy,
transmitted disease, or poor lifestyle choices.
program Entre Madres e Hijas (Between Mothers and Daughters), a
bilingual summer project to help Latina mothers and daughters (age
8 to 16).
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