Corrections or additions?
These articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were
prepared for the February 4, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All
Sharks in Toyland
Childhood is not dead in America. Even though FAO Schwartz, that most
lavish of toylands, slipped through the veil of bankruptcy as of
January 25th, its toys have gained immortality. Recently a Bainbridge,
Massachusetts man paid $10,000 for one of the legendarily massive
stuffed bears that greeted shoppers and stood as sentries against
serious adulthood throughout FAO Schwartz stores everywhere. The doors
are closed, but the marketing tools live on.
Ever since Theodore Roosevelt first brought trophies back from the
wilds, every child has dreamed of a soft toy Teddy bear to cuddle. And
for just about that long, Gund Bears of Edison, has been supplying the
need. Their towering toy bears, seen in FAO Schwartz and other stores,
were just one of several display ploys that has kept Gund on the top
of the incredibly competitive toy market for 105 years. It might seem
as if they have done everything right. But Gund’s creative director,
Andy Epstein, reports that has not been the case.
Epstein draws upon some of his firm’s instructive errors in "Flaws and
Faux Pas: How to Avoid Design Blind Spots" on Tuesday, February 10, at
11:30 a.m. at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $45. Visit www.NJCAMA.org for
more information. Sponsored by the New Jersey Communications,
Advertising and Marketing Association (NJ CAMA), this meeting covers
not only the many aspects of display marketing, but also the fine art
of bringing clients and vendors on board.
"We do not make mistakes, we just learn great lessons," is a motto
Epstein has followed for his 23 years in product and display design. A
native of Maryland’s eastern shore, Epstein is a graduate of Carnegie
Mellon. After college he headed for the Big Apple, illustrating for
Bantam Books and working freelance for Merck, Sony, and a variety of
firms. After a few years, Epstein found his niche in toys, moved
inhouse with Gund, and has never left.
A Princeton resident, he is also the founder of InSource, an
association of in-house designers. To learn more about what Epstein
calls "a creative design brain trust" visit www.In-Source.org or call
Ever since 1898, when Adolph Gund first immigrated from Germany and
began sewing, generations of young girls have yearned for Snuffles the
Bear. The ursine stuffed animal was soon joined by Musty the dog,
Felix the Cat, and Mickey Mouse, along with Scotties, flamingos,
seals, sharks, and a whole assortment of zoo and farm animals. The
high-end stuffed animals sit enticingly on shelves of toy, department,
and book stores; hospitals and gift shops. Each item, in each venue,
demands its own display technique, and the pitfalls are many.
Dodge the steamroller. Every manufacturer and business owner is
convinced that he knows best how to display his product. For
freelancers and in-house displays designers alike, there is constant
pressure to do it the owner’s way. It is amazing how many firms are
enslaved by traditional packaging. Epstein insists that it becomes the
designer’s job to stick by his guns and launch a pre-planned campaign
to convince management to go with good design.
Brag with branding. In the late ’60s, a shiver went through the entire
stuffed toy industry as several market-flooding Chinese companies sent
thousands of knockoff toys into American stores. Everyone’s products
took the hit. Gund countered by developing the slogan "Gotta Getta
Gund." The company had built a 70-year reputation as one of the top
quality manufacturers of plush toys. Gund leveraged this reputation to
focus people’s attention away from the product in general, and toward
the unique value of its toys. Good move. But then they forgot the
Recently Epstein examined the packaging and displays for several of
Gund’s new huggables. The elements were all there: the cunning
illustration, the name of the stuffed animal, and all of the toy’s
features. After searching, he found the named "Gund" way down in the
lower right corner. "We had about 80 percent product information, with
only 20 percent brand," says Epstein. "We had 105 years of solid
reputation that we were hiding under a bush."
He now has expanded the brand to 30 percent of the display. He notes
that businesses should not only leverage the name, but should also
establish an identifier. There are scores of pet foods out there, but
everybody instantly recognizes the Purina checkerboard.
Remember your audience. The person who is going to buy a $5 bumblebee
at the supermarket checkout is a different person, in a different
frame of mind, from the consumer selecting a $50 bear. "When mom’s got
the kid in the cart, gazing at a low-end item, you don’t give her some
glossy photographic display. Instead, make it fun and cartoony,"
Another display faux pas designers make is forgetting to scream out
the features. Customers want a product that does something specific
and want to know what that is right up front. Recently, Epstein
recalls, Gund had a new toy named "Jelly Bean Guy" that giggled when
you pressed its tummy. Epstein’s staff changed it to "Giggling Jelly
Bean" to make the main feature more dominant.
Individualize venue displays. The Red Bank Chocolate Shop, Lord and
Taylor, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, and the New York Natural History
Museum are very different outlets where a single product may be sold.
Designers have to envision not only the physical locale, but the mood.
The final placement of stuffed animals in the store, Epstein says,
tends to be very cluttered. The toys often end up looking like "a
jumbled hairball." Odds are, all those marvelous features the designer
worked hard to highlight will be lost. The problem is that you can’t
counter this clutter by putting the squeeze toy in a shiny cardboard
box, because it is a touchable item that everyone wants to fondle
before they buy. Gund’s solution is to make a giant version of the toy
and sell it to the store for display purpose. The result is that
children race in and fling themselves at the massive bear and will not
let go until Daddy agrees to buy the regular-size version, which,
unlike the display, will fit into the child’s room.
Execution. It is the tragedy of so much grand art that the vision
somehow gets blurred throughout the execution. Once a product or
display is designed, it remains the designer’s job to keep in constant
communication with his vendors. Printing and graphic capabilities
change so rapidly that even the most current designers cannot know
them all. This leaves key choices to printers, who may not be trained
in design and who definitely don’t know the nuances of your marketing
plan. Such constant checking may be one of the most stressful parts of
the job, but it is the most necessary.
For those who worry that the legacy of FAO Schwartz has vanished from
our landscape forever, fear not. The D.E. Shaw investment group has
purchased the toy business for $41 million and after a six-month
refurbishing period will re-open the New York and Las Vegas stores, as
well as the catalog business. While stockholders may be out of luck,
the D.E. Shaw group assures shoppers that the FAO Schwartz legacy,
complete with the stores’ central clock tower will remain. In all
likelihood, Gund will be stitching up more giant bears for these
stores to delight our hearts and hands.
A client of career counselor Mary Anne Walsh called in triumphantly
after a recent job interview. Shortly after sitting down with the
interviewer he had discovered that the two had attended the same high
school. "’Can you believe it!" he crowed. "’It’s a lock. I’m going to
get that job!’"
The job candidate went on to tell Walsh that he and the interviewer
had had a grand time reminiscing about their mutual alma mater. "And
how much time did you spend telling him about your qualifications?"
"Oh, about the last 10 minutes," said the job candidate.
"You’re never going to hear from him again," said Walsh.
Sometimes, she says, dealing with her clients requires tough love. And
remedial action. In this case, an immediate follow-up, supplying
information that should have been conveyed during the interview, was
imperative. The interviewer’s job is to fill a position, Walsh
explained. He is very unlikely to do so based on a lengthy chat about
school days and sketchy details about a job candidate.
While the nature of follow-up varies, the direction it had to take for
this job seeker was clear. But no matter how well – or badly – an
interview goes, follow-up is always a vital part of a job search, a
golden opportunity to close the deal. It is also something that the
majority of job seekers do badly, in Walsh’s view.
Walsh, who has offices in Manhattan and in Mendham (973-543-8646),
speaks on "Follow-ups: The Most Important Part of a Job Search" on
Tuesday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. at a free meeting of JobSeekers at
Trinity Church in Princeton. Call 609-924-2277 for more information.
Walsh is a New Jersey native who bootstrapped herself into a life that
has taken her around the world, and right back to New Jersey. A native
of Clark, she came from a working class family. To get ahead, she
joined other ambitious youngsters in Junior Achievement classes in
Elizabeth. "Junior Achievement was very big in Elizabeth," she says.
She met her future husband in Junior Achievement. She had been
sponsored by American Cyanamid, and he had been sponsored by
Bristol-Myers Squibb. Each year there was an incentive for the most
successful projects. The winners that year, 1963, would go on a trip
to East and West Berlin. Both she and her future husband won, and
their courtship began on that trip.
Walsh went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Caldwell College (Class
of 1968), before taking a teaching job with the Clark school system.
Clark paid for two-thirds of the cost of graduate school. "I was poor,
how could I not go for it?" she asks. She earned a master’s degree in
counseling from Seton Hall, and then started a career planning office
at Caldwell College. Next was a Ph.D. in higher education from
Teachers College at Columbia University.
"I was teaching at Seton Hall and working at Caldwell," she says, "and
all the while having babies." She had established a private practice
in career counseling, and was about to give birth to her fourth child,
when her husband, Jim, then an investment banker, came home with the
news that he had been offered a transfer to London. "’Do you want to
go?’" he asked.
She had a Caesarean section that Friday, and the movers arrived on
Monday. "My career was portable," she says. "I just loaded up my
books, the kids, two cats, and the dog, and off we went."
After four years in London, the family moved to Tokyo for an 11-year
posting. During a phone conversation on the day after the movie, "Lost
in Translation," won the Golden Globe award for best comedy, Walsh
says, "that was me, lost in translation for 11 years." She says the
movie, depicting the severe cultural dislocation of an actor past his
peak, and in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial, got it just right.
"You know the scene where the girl hurt her foot, and he was trying to
communicate with the people in the hospital?" she asks. "That’s
exactly how it was."
Sensing an opportunity, Walsh added cross-cultural training to her
career counseling. Her clients were ex-pats struggling to catch the
nuances of a very different culture.
Upon returning to the United States, and setting up a practice in New
York City, Walsh continued to offer cross cultural training, mostly to
corporations. After 9/11, however, demand dropped off. "It’s icing on
the cake; it’s the first thing cut," she says. Concentrating on career
counseling, she also opened an office in Mendham.
"I’ve come full circle," she says. "My parents used to take us for
drives, and would stop in Mendham to admire a beautiful white
clapboard church. Now I see the steeple of that church from my
In describing successful job hunting, Walsh refers to the Five O’Clock
Club (www.fiveoclockclub.com) again and again. She read a career book
by founder Kate Wendleton while she was abroad, and quickly moved
affiliation with the group to the top of her list of goals. She now
works both with individual clients and with Five O’ Clock Club groups.
Her advice on follow-up for job hunters comes both from the Five
O’Clock Club philosophy and from her own experience:
Be a consultant, not a candidate. People looking for a job most often
see themselves as supplicants. They want something from the companies
they approach. This is the wrong attitude, says Walsh. The job hunter
is a person who is ready, willing, and able to ferret out an
organization’s problems – and to solve them. He is, in short, a
Replace "interview" with "meeting." Words have power. When job hunters
go to speak with potential employers, they are not on an interview,
insists Walsh. Rather, they are going to a meeting. "Take a pad and
pencil," she commands. Listen, ask good questions, and think of the
ways in which your solutions can move the company forward.
Know that employers don’t know what they’re looking for. When the hunt
for a new worker begins, employers often have only a vague idea of
what they would like to see in that worker, and are rarely clear about
exactly what they need him to do. This leaves substantial room for the
job hunter to demonstrate why his mix of skills and experience are
just what the organization needs.
Find out where you stand. This step is an important part of crafting a
follow-up that will win a job. "Ask the interviewer how you stack up
against the other candidates," says Walsh. Some will demur, but many
others will provide details. "I recently had a client who was told
that she was not assertive enough," says Walsh. She reports that the
woman, after hearing this, asked for an opportunity to make a
presentation. "She showed up in a red suit, and wowed them," says
Walsh. She got the job.- but almost certainly would not have had she
not asked about how she stacked up.
Carefully compose follow-up notes. A follow-up note needs to be sent
to every single person the job hunter meets at a company. And each one
needs to be different. Most people send out cookie cutter letters
thanking interviewers for their time, saying how much they enjoyed
speaking with them, and expressing a hope that they will meet again.
Forget it, says Walsh. These notes are worthless.
Use the notes to turn around perceptions, as the woman in the red suit
did. Don’t be shy. If you perceived that the interviewer reactively
negatively to your age, experience, level of education, home
situation, or anything else, address it head on. After letting him
know that you picked up on this, lay out all the reasons that the
barrier he saw either does not exist, or can actually benefit his
Make the follow-up a lead-in to another meeting. If all went well
during the initial meeting, make the follow-up into a lead-in to a
second meeting. Having learned about some of the issues facing the
department you are seeking to join, suggest another meeting, perhaps
to present a proposal to address one or more of these issues.
Companies appreciate the extra effort, says Walsh. It sets the job
seeker apart. What’s more, it increases the chances that he will be
the last candidate seen. Because hiring managers tend to refine their
job descriptions as the search for a new worker goes on, Walsh
believes that the last candidate seen has the best chance of landing
Always go the extra mile, Walsh insists. She herself is actively doing
so. With several successful careers under her belt, she is going after
a new one.
"I’m going to be the Dr. Ruth of career makeovers," she says. Having
noticed the television reality craze, she is poised to join those who
are doing on-screen makeovers. "You know," she says, "like Queer Eye
for the Straight Guy."
Houses, yards, brides, and daters are all being made over like mad on
the networks as well as on cable. Meanwhile, Walsh points out, a good
50 percent of Americans report varying degrees of unhappiness with
their careers. Wouldn’t a career makeover show be a great idea? She
thinks so, and is in active talks with the Oxygen network to make it
In an amazingly bipartisan and astoundingly swift Christmas rush, a
new anti-spam act became law on January 1. The "Can-Spam Act of 2003"
affects every company that sends electronic mail, and seeks to curb
the most obnoxious misuses of E-mail. The unusual speed with which
this legislation passed was a successful attempt to trump the more
draconian California anti-spam law, slated to take effect just four
days later, on January 4.
Exactly what this hasty law requires of the commercial E-mail sender
is clearly delineated in "The New Federal Anti-Spam Law" seminar on
Tuesday, February 10, at 4 p.m. at the Newark Gateway Hilton. Cost:
$70. Visit www.NJTC.org or call 856-787-9700 for more information.
Sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council, this event features
Judy Harris and Jim Schulz, Washington D.C.-based attorneys from Reed
Smith LLP. The seminar is designed for attorneys, business owners, and
the technology professionals who will be instituting the necessary
"Make no mistake," says Harris, "Can-Spam was a highly political law."
This is scarcely Harris’ first experience with politically-charged
legislation. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she obtained her undergraduate
degree from the University of Michigan and then came East to Yale. "I
took my law degree," she recalls, "and joined a sweet little boutique
law firm of 22 lawyers. Today that firm (Reed Smith) has over 1,000
attorneys." During her stay with Reed Smith, Harris has worked with
the anti-trust division of the Justice Department and acted as
Congressional liaison for the landmark Telecommunications Act of l996.
California’s more onerous anti-spam law proposed that no business
could send an E-mail whose "primary purpose was promotion of a product
or service" to anyone unless it had a previous business relationship
with that individual or had his permission. Since it was unlikely that
advertisers would phone or personally visit households requesting
permission to send an advertising E-mail, the California law could
really squelch the spam marketplace.
While the populists cheered and pro-business folks fretted over this
approach, one thing was certain. This act would regulate electronic
advertising far more stringently than advertising in any other medium.
Magazines and soap operas do not need permission to blend their
editorial matter with ads.
While not as stringent as the West Coast attempt to banish span, the
Can-Spam Act of 2003, in Harris’ view, is basically beneficial, "a
bill bent mainly on stopping abuse and fraud." The primary thing to
note is that the 2003 Can-Spam Act in no way limits the freedom of
anybody sending an initial piece of electronic mail to anybody else.
That slippery slope is avoided; the freedom remains intact.
Co-speaker Schulz agrees that the new law appears not overly
stringent. "It really is aimed at the bad actors among us – those huge
bulk mailers who are swamping the ISP servers and clogging your mail
box," he says. "The vast bulk of businesses will not feel any undue
burden, nor any speech-encroaching legislation." Schulz, a Garden
State native, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State
University and a law degree from Washington D.C.’s Catholic
University. His work includes acting as a liaison from his firm to the
The Can-Spam Act of 2003 puts several requirements on anyone sending
an electronic message "whose primary purpose is the promotion of a
product or service." So even before the act gets off the starting
blocks, Schulz and Harris note a serious ambiguity. What is the legal
definition of "primary purpose"? Realizing that such a broad and
hastily compiled bill will need adjustment, the Federal Trade
Commission has called for nine rule-making sessions to be held this
year in hopes of ironing out legal details. But as it stands now, the
Can-Spam Act requires the following:
An identifier. All commercial E-mails must now include a clear and
conspicuous identifier indicating from whom the message is coming. No
longer can ads for home remortgaging be sent out from "Bill & Wendy."
The full corporate name must be clearly in evidence.
Does that identifier have to be in the subject line? This part seems a
bit vague and should one of the items addressed in the rule making
sessions. Technically, Acme Breast Enhancers can still send you an
E-mail under the subject of "from Reverend Jones" as long as the
company name clearly appears once the E-mail is opened. Yet this may
change during the rule-making sessions. The one subject line
restriction falls on mailers of sexually-explicit material, who must
mark their subjects with "Adult."
Valid Address. In the early 18th century, freight coach companies were
notorious for giving false addresses to clients and then proceeding to
pirate their goods, leaving the client with no redress. Tired of this
lack of fulfillment, the British parliament, in l732, passed a law
requiring each carrier to be bonded with a fixed address. Trade became
secure throughout the empire. Such piracy and unfulfilled orders have
shaken the core of E-commerce. Now a valid mailing address is required
on each ad and invoice of electronic commercial mail. It provides the
cautious electronic client a quick means of checking out with whom he
is dealing before he clicks away his cash.
Opt-out capability. Everyone can send anyone an ad one time. But if
the recipient calls it quits, the company must immediately stop any
further promotions. This means that each commercial advertisement must
provide a clear and conspicuous opportunity for stopping any further
mailings from being sent to this address. It can be as simple as
hitting "Reply" to send the message back to the sender. But it must
entail directions. The more sophisticated ads can give the recipient a
pull down menu allowing him to choose which types of offers he does
and does not want to be informed of in the future. It might even prove
to be a valuable marketing tool.
List selling. Previously, the opt out capability has been used to
catch your name and dump it into a large sales pool, which would be
then sold to other buyers. This made E-mail recipients afraid to use
the opt-out menu, for fear that they would be further plagued by yet
more unwanted ads. No more. The opt-out order must be executed within
30 days and the list of those opting out may not be sold to anyone.
Further, more stringent laws are now in place for anyone who hacks
into a subscriber list and downloads names for sale.
What about websites? Websites, under this law, are not electronic mail
and as such need not meet its requirements. Newsletters, however may
fall under the Can-Spam restrictions if the newsletter’s purpose is
primarily commercial and sent to individuals with whom the company has
not established a business relationship.
Doubtless, there will be many who see this act as a first goose step
on the march of government control over the once wide-open space of
the Internet. Also, there will be many businesses that feel the
suddenness of the passage of this law has unfairly caught them off
guard. But providing the public with an actual name and real address,
along with a chance to stop ads when they are unwanted, seems scarcely
a reason to fret or jump on a soapbox. The government, in this
instance, appears not to be restricting businesses, but just demanding
a little honesty.
Jennifer Worringer understands computerphobia. In 1983 she was working
at Johnson & Johnson in product development when her department got
its first computer, an Apple Lisa. "It was in the cubicle across from
me, and I didn’t want to go near it," she says. Only after everyone
else had learned to boot up did she summon the courage to try. "It was
all such a mystery then," she says. "I asked a girlfriend to help me."
Now Worringer is the computer teacher. On her fourth career, she is in
charge of technology training at the Lawrence branch of the Mercer
County Library. She designs and teaches classes for neophytes in the
same boat she was in 20 years ago and also for experienced users who
need to pick up a new skill. Running either an-hour-and-a-half or two
hours, the free classes each stand alone. Students can pick and choose
among them, designing their own curriculum.
Among the classes being offered this month are Intro to the Internet
at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 9, and PowerPoint, at 2 p.m. on that
date; Excel 1 at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 10; Library Website at 10
a.m. Wednesday, February 11, and Yahoo E-mail at 2 p.m. on that date;
Mouse Basics on Sunday, February 15, at 1 p.m.; and Word II, at 6 p.m.
on Tuesday, February 17. For a complete schedule, which is published
on or about the 15th of each month, visit www.mcl.org. To register,
call 609-989-6923. Worringer, whose calendar carries a note reading
"Take a class on your own time!," has the E-mail address
Worringer grew up in Akron, where her mother was a children’s
librarian and her favorite books starred Nancy Drew. A home sewer with
curiosity about the make-up of fabrics, she earned degrees in textile
engineering at the Philadelphia College of Engineering and Science.
She then worked at southern textile mills before joining J&J, where
her job was to devise new, improved sanitary napkins and bandages.
She met her husband, Steven, at J&J. "He’s a very mechanical guy," she
says. At the time, he was in charge of turning out prototype diapers.
He is now a lab supervisor at a J&J facility in Skillman.
After leaving J&J, Worringer went on to "two failed careers." In the
first, she was a consultant, designing and carrying out research in
the area of diaper absorbability. She recruited mothers to conduct
tests. They were to remove their babies’ soiled diapers, draw pictures
of what the diapers had captured, and then weigh the diapers.
The test worked well at assessing how well the diapers did their job,
but she found that convincing potential clients was a problem. "My
last work," she says, "was when I told companies how to do the test."
Then it was on to market research. "It was very stressful," she says.
Also tediously repetitive, and also exacting. "I had just decided not
to be a perfectionist," she says. "It was not good timing." Vivacious,
garrulous, and funny, she indeed does not seem to be a good fit for
the isolation of tallying up survey results. Also, she hates to sell.
Put it all together, and she had gone through two careers very
quickly. At that point, she thought that perhaps a career as a
librarian would suit her. But, after two failed attempts, she was
hesitant to jump into a new career too quickly. She called Ellen
Brown, director of the Lawrence Library, for advice. Brown promptly
hired her as a part-time librarian, and she enrolled in the Rutgers
master of library science program.
She had found her perfect career, a place where curiosity, technology,
and service come together.
The computer program that occupies so much of her time is "quite an
important program for the library," she says. She admires the
philosophy of Andrew Carnegie, the great patron of public libraries
who wanted everyone to have access to knowledge.
Now knowledge, along with communication, often comes through a mouse
and a monitor. Computerphobes are increasingly at a disadvantage. They
are missing out on service and special deals, and also on information
at every level.
There are many reasons for being unplugged, but a lack of money or
know-how do not need to be among them. The beginners’ instruction that
Worringer leads in a small – eight computer – classroom is paced with
the computerphobe in mind. "We’re friendly and patient," says
Worringer. "That’s the compliment we receive more than any others. The
library is the perfect place to start."
Many of the beginners she teaches are retirees. "They never had a job
where they used a computer," she says, adding, "think about it, that’s
where most of us learned."
She starts by teaching the beginners how to use a mouse. The lack of
this basic computer skill worries her very much. Her library now uses
a catalog system that requires navigation by mouse. After the
mouse-only system was installed, catalog use plummeted. Taken for
granted by three-year-olds, operating a mouse can be intimidating to
their grandparents. But, says Worringer, they all pick up the skill
very quickly. For practice, she sometimes suggests a go at Jigzone
(www.jigzone.com), a free site that lets users put together puzzles of
varying complexity by "mousing" the pieces into place.
Ample practice time allows beginners to hone basic skills, including
mousing, surfing the Internet, using the library’s card catalog, and
creating letters and other documents in Microsoft Word.
New computer users do not need to rush out and buy a computer right
away, says Worringer, and, in fact, they do not need to buy one at
all. She suggests that those who are considering a purchase attend
several classes first. The library does not make computer
recommendations on, say, PC or Mac, or on brand, but it does provide
its computer students with lots of research to help them make a
Those who do not want a computer at home are welcome to use those at
the library, says Worringer. They can even send and receive E-mail.
She recommends the library’s Yahoo E-mail class, next taking place on
Wednesday, February 11, at 2 p.m., for those who would like to do so.
During the class each student is set up with an E-mail account, and is
then free to E-mail to all and sundry during the hours that the
library is open.
While lifting the toll gates to the information superhighway for rank
beginners is part of the library’s mission, it also serves another big
group people in need of instruction. "The other learner is either
working and needs a new skill, or is looking for work," says
Worringer. Where proficiency in all the applications of Microsoft’s
Office Suite used to be a nice thing to have, she says it is now a
necessity. "All the ads call for Microsoft Office Suite," she says.
While most office workers know their way around Word, they are now
expected to be up to speed on the latest versions of Excel and Access
as well, and to be able to put together a PowerPoint presentation.
Worringer is finding that demand for these skills is strong right now.
None of the programs is terribly difficult to learn, and she says that
her students especially enjoy the PowerPoint classes. "They’re visual
and artistic," she says. Students generally can create a presentation
before their first class is over.
Bringing her analytical skills into play, Worringer has quantified the
number of no-shows for her computer classes. They come in – or don’t
come in – at a rate of 40 percent. Pretty much every time. So, while
classes are limited to eight, she is always open to adding a new
alternates to the list. She tells them that if their number is 12 or
under, there is a pretty good chance that they will get a seat.
It has always worked out that way, but anyone finding the class full
might enjoy spending some time browsing one or more of Worringer’s
favorite websites on a library computer. They include Worldwide Radio
Stations, at www.radiolocator.com; Make a Snowman, at
www.clevermedia.-com; the National Zoo’s webcams, at
www.nationalzoo.si.-edu/animals/webcams; and her favorite joke sites,
at www.ahajokes.com and www.newmax/liners.shtml.
It’s a world Andrew Carnegie would not recognize. But chances are that
the popularizer of knowledge access would approve.
Corrections or additions?
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