Jon Goldstein has a new boat. His purchase demonstrates both creative negotiation skills and really dumb negotiating mistakes. Details include the revelation that the seller had to move to Florida in two days, the offer of a deep-discount airplane ticket, and ultimate satisfaction all around.

Goldstein, principal in Cranbury-based Goldfort Resources in Cranbury (goldfort@att.net), leads a workshop on "Mastering Negotiating Skills for the Seasoned Professional" on Thursday, November 13, at 8:30 a.m., at the Conference Center at Mercer. Cost: $395. Call 609-586-4800, ext. 3278 for more details.

Goldstein, a Collingswood native and Rutgers graduate (Class of 1965), learned a thing or two about negotiating from his uncle, who owned the original TOPS appliance store in New Brunswick, where he worked while he was in school. After graduation, he taught in Brazil, got a master’s degree in education, and then taught and ran residence halls in a number of colleges around the country.

He began his corporate career in 1975 with Kimberly Clark and then spent 19 years with Hoechst Celanese doing organizational and management development and teaching negotiation skills. His specialty was supporting fast cycle commercial development of technology by creating high performance teams.

Everything he did, he says, "was around change and negotiation." In fact, he points out that negotiation is a part of everyone’s daily life. Negotiation comes into play in deciding who goes first at a four-way stop, in getting pants pressed in less than a day, in getting a car repair shop to spring for a loaner car, in persuading the kids to rake the lawn, in talking the boss into a raise, in adding new elements to an employee’s job description, and in getting a potential customer commit to a price.

Here are some categories of negotiation, and some tips on coming away satisfied:

Negotiate with yourself. The first, and most important, negotiation occurs between you and you. It sounds strange when Goldstein first states this principle, but think about it.

The boss wants you to go to California. Before you can respond, you need to know whether you want to go — and why, or why not. Would the move be good for your career? Would it work for your family? How much would your cost of living go up? How great would be the wrench of leaving your softball team and theater group? When would be the best time for you to go, if you decide to accept? What is your bottom line on salary adjustment and moving reimbursement? What are your options if you decide not to accept?

It is impossible to negotiate well if you have not done substantial research and decided exactly what it is that you want out of the negotiation.

Lay out the deal breakers. In negotiating with yourself, separate wants from needs. If it’s time to buy a new house, decide exactly what you need. Perhaps a price under $300,000, a well-regarded school district, and three bedrooms would fall into this category. For most people, a wine cellar, pool, and exercise room would be wants rather than needs, but maybe not.

A personal trainer working at home might need the exercise room, and a whirlpool spa too, and might be planning on sending her children to private school. The important thing is to be clear on the difference between needs and wants well before touring homes.

Negotiate with your organization. Goldstein’s wife wants to redecorate, and he says that his taste is quite different from hers. He sees internal negotiation taking place well before talks with a contractor can begin.

Likewise, internal negotiation has to occur in the workplace before a salesperson can give final terms to a potential customer, or an HR department head can sign a contract for employee training. Can the accounting department finally get new computers? Is it all right to increase the company’s donation to the local food pantry? Will the partner track become more accessible to mothers? All of these issues need to be batted around inside the company before any action can be taken.

Take your negotiation skills on the road. After completing negotiations with yourself, and with your organization, it is time to take on an outsider.

In doing so, be fair, be patient, and be prepared to give a little, says Goldstein.

See things from both sides. The more you can understand the other party’s point of view, and the more you can appreciate what he needs out of the deal, the better prepared you are to negotiate. If you value fairness, and plan to maintain a relationship with the other party, do not try to put one over on him.

Goldstein recently hired a contractor to paint an enormous swing set in his yard. "We agreed on $600 for the job, but I saw he was struggling," he recounts. The job was taking far longer than the painter had figured it would, and he had brought in his kids to help. "He was going to lose money on the job," Goldstein says. Also, aware that he was losing money, he was not going to take the time to do a top-notch job.

Goldstein went out to talk to the painter, told him he was aware that the job was bigger than the painter had probably reckoned it to be, and asked him to name a fair price for his time. The painter said $900, and Goldstein readily agreed to the amount.

It was the fair thing to do. It guaranteed him a great job. And it won him the name of a painter he knew he could count on in the future. Both parties came away satisfied.

Take plenty of time to listen. Patience pays in negotiating. Every conversation, every meeting provides valuable information about what the other party wants, what he is prepared to forego, and what his constraints are.

"People come to the conflict phase of the negotiation too quickly," Goldstein observes. Doing so is a mistake. Once conflict begins, positions harden, as many a frustrated home buyer has discovered. From then on, all is misery, and chances are that no one is going to be satisfied.

One home buyer took the negotiations out of her real estate agent’s hands as the nastiness level threatened to sink the deal. She approached the seller herself, telling her how very much she liked the house, how it reminded her of homes she had lived in as a child, and how she anticipated spending many happy years enjoying it. The previously balky seller melted, and the negotiations proceeded to a smooth closing.

Be creative. Now, for the boat story. The man who sold Goldstein his boat blurted out that he absolutely had to sell it because he was moving to Florida in just two days.

While it is important to be fair, it is far from wise to reveal everything. "He should have said `I have a window of opportunity. I can give you a good deal, but only for the next 48 hours,’" says Goldstein. Do not reveal details that do not have to see the light of day, and that will affect the sale.

You have to let the buyer know about a big hole in the stern, but you are not bound to tell him that him you are desperate.

Knowing he had the upper hand, Goldstein, with a song in his heart, closed in on his boat. He offered a low-ball price, but, keeping the fairness doctrine in mind, also sweetened the deal.

"The guy had a $1,000, full-fare plane ticket," he says. "I have connections. I was able to get him a ticket for $350." Giving the seller a chance to exchange his pricey, but refundable, ticket cost Goldstein nothing, but saved the seller enough money to make up for the money his loose lips had cost him.

One man flew away after the deal, and one man sailed away, and each was equally satisfied.

#h#A Good Financial Plan Can Include a Second Chance#/h#

Some of financial planner Karen Ostarticki’s clients are floating in to her office on golden parachutes. "There are a lot of lay-offs, a lot of downsizings," she reports. The results are not all bad for everyone caught in the corporate tailspin. Some of those cut loose have "more money than they ever thought they would see," says Ostarticki. Still, many have not put basic safeguards in place, and others are unsure what to do next. Most vulnerable are the women, both those who have lost their jobs and those whose husbands’ careers have been short-circuited.

Ostarticki speaks on why financial planning is especially important for women at a meeting of the Middlesex Chamber on Thursday, November 13, at 12:30 p.m. at the offices of Wilkin & Guttenplan at 1200 Tices Lane in East Brunswick. Cost: $25. Call 732-821-1700 for more information.

Ostarticki grew up in Colonia and graduated from the University of West Virginia in 1982. Her own career path parallels that of many women, and illustrates why financial planning is especially important for women. She started out to be a physical therapist, but decided the work was too reactive. "They see people after they’re injured; I wanted to prevent injuries," she says. So, she switched her major to athletic training, and opened an aerobics studio in Flemington after graduation.

How did she like the work? "I loved it," she enthuses. But she left after only a few years. While she was teaching aerobics, she was also a Merck sales rep, covering the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Her parents pushed her to put all of her energies into her corporate career, and to give up her entrepreneurial venture. She went along, eventually going from Merck to Baxter, and steadily moving up in pay in responsibilities.

"I got promoted further and further from what I liked," she says. In the early 1990s, she was covering the Southeast United States from Florida, when Baxter eliminated her territory. "I didn’t know they could do that! I didn’t know they could do away with a territory!" she says.

Shocked, but not particularly unhappy, Ostarticki says she had become thoroughly tired of teleconferences by then. She yearned to be working directly with clients again, and was sick of corporate posturing, but had little idea of what to do next.

After a stretch of intensive career counseling and self-analysis, she decided that financial planning might satisfy her entrepreneurial leanings and desire to work closely with clients. "I started in Florida, with American Express," she says. "Then I got married, had a baby, and moved back to New Jersey."

She opened a prototype fee-based financial planning office for Prudential in Bedminster. It was just one of a few in the country, and "it went south," she recounts. At the time, she was in the midst of a divorce, and decided that the security of being an employee sounded good. She went to work in the private client group of a large brokerage firm, and "hated it."

Then she took a six-month sabbatical to figure out how to make a go of combining work with being a single mother. She decided that while she had not enjoyed selling investment products, she enjoyed talking to people about the whole of their financial picture.

She accepted a job — but a very entrepreneurial job — as district manager of financial consulting firm Waddell & Reed’s office on Route 1 North, right next to Gold’s Gym.

Here is her take on finance, especially as it applies to women:

Women are different. On average, a woman can expect to live five years longer than a man. This translates into a need for five — at least five — extra years’ worth of retirement income.

At the same time, women are likely to have a far smaller retirement income base. Like Ostarticki, many women move from job to job, subjugate their careers to those of their husbands, take time off to care for children, and lose a spouse through death or divorce. Ostarticki says that she has always made "excellent money" when she was working, but she admits that this is not the case for many women. "There is a wage gap," she says, "a big wage gap."

Many people lack the most basic protection. "I see people with multiple businesses, and children from two marriages, who have no wills," says Ostarticki. And these are the people who are savvy enough to consult a financial planner.

Many of her clients also arrive for an initial planning session without disability insurance, a living will, or adequate life insurance. People choose life insurance policies pretty much at random, she finds. Rather than calculating how much money would be needed to cover a mortgage, education costs, and debt service — and for how long — they pick a round number and assume it will be plenty.

Everyone needs a reserve. Financial planning is "so highly personalized," says Ostarticki, that it is difficult to give general advice, but beyond the necessity for a will, disability insurance, and life insurance, she says that everyone needs a reserve fund as part of a good foundation. She suggests three to six months worth of income as a minimum. This money could save the day in the case of an unexpected home repair, illness, or lay-off, but she points out that a liquid reserve fund can have another use.

"If you’re in business, and an opportunity comes up, you can take advantage of it," she says. Liquid assets may the only way to act quickly enough to seal an exceptional deal.

Each goal needs a plan. Ostarticki says many new clients are way too vague about their financial goals. They may want a new car, a second home, a world tour, or an Ivy education for their children, but they fail to prioritize and to put a definite date on each wish.

Knowing that the car will be a necessity in two years and that the tuition bills will start to arrive in 12 years allows clients to formulate a definite plan for having the money on-hand when it is needed.

Early retirement can be a gift. Ostarticki spent a number of years climbing a corporate ladder she had been put on by her parents. It wasn’t the climb that she would have chosen, and was glad that circumstances — most prominently, a lay-off — gave her a chance to move in a direction more in synch with her personality and lifestyle preferences.

Clients she is now seeing have the same opportunity. Many, she says, are bone-tired of the corporate grind. "They are so disgusted," she finds. But while some can walk straight to the golf course, a good many others need to keep working. This can be especially true for the women, who often have not built up the same pension package as the men, and who are slated to live years longer.

She is busy working with 50-somethings who are figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. "Most likely it’s time for what they want to do," she says. "It’s a second chance."

#h#Quantify Competitive Advantages#/h#

Jaynie Smith, consultant to CEOs, finds that few can name their competitive advantages — and that a fair number don’t have any. Asked to write down what it is that sets their companies apart, they tend to list "great employees!" or "top quality" or "best customer service."

No, no, no, says Smith. Those are not competitive advantages, not any more. "Forget about it," she says. "They’re cliches. They’re givens. If you don’t have great employees, quality, and service, I won’t do business with you."

In her opinion, "95 percent of CEOs don’t have a clue." She attempts to impart a little wisdom in her upcoming talk, "Identify Your Competitive Advantage," on Monday, November 17, at 6:45 p.m. at a meeting of the New Jersey Institute of Management Consultants, at the Sheraton Raritan Center in Edison. Cost: $60. Call 973-625-3375 for more information.

Smith’s business, ICS Marketing, is located in Hollywood, Florida. She was born in the Sunshine State, but grew up on Long Island, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in human relations from the New York Institute of Technology. She followed up her education with work for Fortune 500 companies and then with work for middle-market companies, before founding her own business.

With the age of the one-store town long gone, it is essential that every business differentiate itself, she says. Here’s how:

Be concrete. Every company is prepared to say that it has stellar employees. Big yawn. Snap your customers awake by trumpeting that you have "salespeople with an average of 20 years experience in optical devices." Don’t stop there. Make sure to let customers know that these salespeople, all of whom have Ph.Ds., have each won no fewer than three awards from the leading optical trade group.

Perhaps your salespeople are not of this caliber. What about your customer service? Don’t just say it’s great. Print testimonials from wildly happy repeat customers, cite surveys, let potential clients know that the wait time in your auto repair shop is just four minutes — and that your free loaner cars are Hummers.

Whether it’s quality, expertise, personnel, or customer service that sets you apart, talk about it in explicit terms. "It should quantifiable and not arbitrary," says Smith. "Objective, not subjective."

Be unique. It’s not good enough to have those Ph.D., highly experienced, award-winning salespeople. You have to be able to say that yours is absolutely the only optical device company that can make that claim.

You have to proclaim that no other Toyota dealership in the county offers loaner cars on each and every repair job.

You have to announce that yours is the only electronics store in the city that never, ever charges a restocking fee under any circumstances.

Beware of the disconnect. Smith says most companies have no idea just what it is that their customers value. "There’s a dangerous disparity," she says. "They think what they do is the most important, but there is usually no alignment between what they do and what their customers want."

Don’t guess at what is important to your customers, but rather, "listen to their voices." A big fan of collecting customer feedback, Smith says that as a minimum, every business should be conducting surveys.

Don’t compete on price. In most cases, boasting of low, low prices traps you in a box. "Businesses become just commodities," is how Smith puts it. Play the low price card, and you may find that you are stuck with it.

This is unfortunate because, she says, most surveys find that customers put price only third or fourth on their wish lists. Consider excelling instead in deliverables or in shipping. Customers may not worry about paying a premium if their birthday gift arrives the next day or their machine parts arrive on their factory floor on just hours notice.

"I advise people to stay as far away from price as possible," declares Smith. There are better, less limiting, ways to compete.

Fly on time. Smith talks about a "shadow effect" in customer satisfacton. If a company manages to do the most important thing right, customers tend to view every other part of their experience through rose-colored glasses.

Take airlines. She says that customers whose flights are on time report in surveys that they liked their food and their flight attendants quite a lot. Those who flights are late tend to be dissatisfied with every part of the flying experience.

"Southwest and Jet Blue have done well because they know this," says Smith.

Identify what the customer most wants out of your product or service, and get that part right, and satisfaction will soar.

Do something, anything, really well. Smith coaches businesses on identifying and promoting their competitive advantage — when they have a competitive advantage. Sadly, not all companies, no matter how creatively they craft their copy, can come up with an actual differentiating factor.

In those cases, it is necessary to drop back a bit, forget marketing for the moment, and work with operations on coming up with a genuine competitive advantage. Says Smith, "you need to create a difference."

#h#Investing in Ethics#/h#

Are Enron and Haliburton right? Is fair play strictly for the fearful? Do swashbuckling businessmen prime the pump of success with soft money, soft morals, and false promises? Or is that just so much hype from those unable to see beyond the short term. Perhaps ethical behavior in business leads not only to a better night’s sleep, but also to greater long term profits than can be plucked along the low road.

Those seeking solid strategies for doing well by doing good, may want to attend "How to Actionize Ethical Behavior in Your Company" on Monday, November 17, at 4:15 p.m. at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City as part of Quality New Jersey’s annual conference. Cost for the entire conference is $895, but individual lecture costs can be arranged. Call 908-896-0860 or visit www.QNJ.com

Speaker Roberta Anne Burcz, an attorney based in Bay Head and a professor at Georgian Court College, outlines ethical trouble spots as well as steps for fostering an overall ethical environment.

Burcz’ talk is one part of Quality New Jersey’s 15th Annual Conference. This non-profit group consists of several thousand Garden State member businesses. It holds seminars in the workplace, educational programs in the schools, and workshops for legislators. Its concerns include everything from health care practices to the environment.

Ethical standards are not a vague and ancient code laid down whimsically by long forgotten pundits. "America’s ethics are grounded in beliefs," notes Burcz. "For example, we believe that America is a meritocracy — with an individual getting the job, a company getting the bid, and a firm’s value rising because it is the best."

Explaining exactly how to uphold these underlying principles in daily business decisions has been at the forefront of her legal and academic work. A New Jersey native, Burcz grew up in Morristown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley in l980. She then returned to New Jersey, where she became general counsel for a construction company. Since l984, she has headed her own law firm in Bay Head. She also teaches ethics to MBA students at Georgian Court College in Lakewood.

Honesty and ethics are more than the fear of being caught. Even our federal government, as stated by its U.S. Sentencing Commission, has come to the conclusion that "managers who define ethics as strictly legal compliance may be endorsing ethical mediocrity in their organizations."

Everything legal is not automatically ethical. The World Bank designs its contracts so that Third World borrowers, like Jamaica, must accept a zero/300 percent import/export tariff differential. This disastrous clause triples the price of all the developing nation’s trade, while lining the pockets of wealthy member nations by making Jamaica a dumping ground for their cheap, duty free goods. Legal? Totally. Ethical? Well, you judge.

"Ethical standards lie beyond any code," explains Burcz. "Instead, the businesses owner must strive to create an atmosphere of ethical behavior: something employees intuitively feel. Hershey and Johnson & Johnson are excellent examples." Burcz suggests a two-front scheme in establishing this atmosphere. First, set up an ethical program and monitoring system, and, secondly, keep an eye out for the trouble spots.

Formalizing ethics. Knowing as well as any the tendency of business folk to stretch the limits of ethical standards, Congress in l991 established the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations. This incentive law promotes a seven-step process for corporations to show due diligence in working to eliminate ethical misconduct.

Most of the steps are obvious. They include the creation of an ethical conduct code, regular ethical training sessions, the appointment of a high-ranking official as ethics officer, auditing potential misconduct areas, checking employee histories for misconduct, and establishing an in-house anonymous reporting, sanction, and ethical repair system.

The incentive to the firm following these guidelines comes in the form of decreased liability. If the company faces charges of, for example, price fixing or fraud, the court will consider these efforts before rendering judgment. "Additionally," says Burcz, "the ethics officer, the training sessions — all of it — sends an unmistakable message to every employee of just how you do business."

The voice from the top. Trying to fend off low level embezzlement from within Enron would have proved no easy chore. In business, as in the family, ethical standards are learned from the top. It is not enough for senior management to seem above reproach, it must actively make known the company’s zero tolerance for shady dealings. One of the best ways to do this is through hiring practices. In addition to eliminating candidates who have been convicted of business misconduct, Burcz advises, ethical questions should be made standard, both on application forms and by interviewers.

Embezzling. Burcz quotes national surveys as consistently showing that 10 percent of all employees will always, invariably, stay honest, no matter what the pressure. Another 10 percent can never be persuaded that the shady way is not the best way. These are the ones constantly on the look-out for fraud or embezzlement opportunities. Of the remaining 80 percent, approximately two-thirds want to do, and generally will do, the right thing throughout their business lives. And that remainder? This is what Burcz calls, "the middle-third, who will be situationally swayed by the environment — whatever it is."

For this easily swayed third, a little in-place enforcement may staunch the subtle cash drains of embezzlement. Many banks, for instance, have a long-time policy of requiring all employees take all their vacation weeks consecutively. "Embezzlers are usually robbing Peter to pay Paul," explains Burcz. She recalls one woman who skimmed $75,000 over time from allocated funds, and would pay them back when the bill came due by stealing from some other source. "Finally, when she was forced to take a vacation," says Burcz, "the bills came due, she wasn’t there, and the whole scheme unraveled."

Sales bonuses. The greatest temptation for individual ethical misconduct lies in this area, says Burcz. Too often sales people are given bonuses and prizes merely for the number of items they can push through the doors. Ability to service the products, deliver them on time, or set up a workable payment schedule often gets lost in a selling frenzy that will win the top man three weeks in sunny Aruba. It was exactly this scenario that muddied Xerox’s reputation many years ago.

Obviously a company wants an aggressive sales team. But incentives need to be structured to reflect not only the firm’s best financial interests, but also its best ethical interests. Setting incentive bonuses not for the number of units sold, but for the number of repeat orders, and the number of customer referrals may remove temptations to sell at any cost, and it may also add more black ink to the long term ledger.

Whistleblowing. You certainly do not want to turn your company into a spy state. Yet each office must establish some method for anonymously reporting unethical conduct, from egregious gift giving to outright theft or discrimination. Employees must know that they can report ethical lapses, and they must be secure in the knowledge that management will not kill the messenger. If the star sales person is clinching deals by bribing customers with black market big-screen TVs, the whistleblower must feel that he will not be punished from on high for adversely affecting the bottom line.

So who cares? If the business of business is money, why not slice whatever moral strings it takes and haul in a bundle? The truth is that even if concerns of fair play, humanity, and peace of mind can be dismissed, the money itself should matter. Businesses and customers do not want to deal with the devil, even if he is selling widgets for five cents less.

"If Kathy Lee Gifford had not labored so hard to advocate improvements in the sweatshop conditions of the workers producing for her line of clothes, it would have been the company’s death knell," says Burcz.

And the effect can snowball. After the Enron scandal, and those that followed it, the world community had second thoughts about investing in American companies. So instead of trying to merely stay within the law, and working to cover up every indiscretion, it might prove more profitable in the long run to craft an image of genuine integrity, and to concentrate on earning trust through a stringent corporate code of ethics.

— Bart Jackson

#h#Will Homeowners Cover Work Losses?#/h#

Writers and artists working at home may assume that their computers, software, and desk chairs are covered under their homeowners’ policies. This is often not the case.

On Tuesday, November 18, at 8:30 a.m., Diane Dugan, a property and casualty agent with E.L. Belli Agency in Bound Brook (www.elbelli.com) speaks to the Network of Writers and Artists (NOWA) on guidelines for prudent insurance coverage for self-employed graphic artists, photographers, writers, and multimedia specialists. The meeting takes place at Arbor Glen, 100 Monroe Street, Bridgewater. Cost: $15. Call 908-722-1632.

Dugan is a resident of Skillman and a graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

NOWA (www.nowa.org) is a not-for-profit organization of independent communications professionals based in New Jersey who make themselves available to work on a project basis.

#h#Win the Tech Funding Lottery#/h#

You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. You can’t score the winning run if you don’t go up to bat. And you can’t win a federal grant if you don’t submit an application. So say Gail and Jim Greenwood of the Greenwood Consulting Group. They are among the leading experts on how to write proposals for the Small Business Innovation Research Grant program, the government’s largest R&D grants program targeted to small businesses.

SBIR grants can yield $100,000 for Phase I and $750,000 for Phase II. Typically, entrepreneurs reap a seven percent profit on the first two phases of this grant; for the really good money, the entrepreneur must get to the Phase III stage.

The Greenwoods are coming to New Jersey to teach workshops on the first steps in the SBIR grant process on Wednesday and Thursday, November 19 and 20, as part of the New Jersey Small Business Innovation Program Conference, beginning at 7:30 a.m. each day at Rutgers’ Cook College Campus Center. Cost: $150 for both days, or $90 for one day. Call 800-432-1832 or visit www-NJSBDC-com/SciTech.

"The Greenwoods have presented SBIR/STTR workshops to thousands of persons in approximately 41 states," says Randy Harmon, director of the Technology Commercialization Center, part of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC) of Rutgers Graduate School of Management. "They have been active in SBIR since the program’s inception, making firms aware of the SBIR and teaching them how to write competitive technical and cost proposals for funding. They have critiqued hundreds of SBIR proposals for firms throughout the United States."

The Greenwoods live in Sanibel Island, Florida, but they spend most weekdays on the road, teaching and consulting. The husband-wife team is under contract to the NJSBDC to convert professional business plan writers into a statewide network of 15 to 20 proposal writing consultants.

Under the best circumstances, only the perfectly polished grant applications will be submitted, but the Greenwoods are realists. Sometimes busy entrepreneurs simply can’t put the time in to polish the application to make a deadline. Should they submit the imperfect application, using the rubric, "You can’t win if you don’t play?" Or should they wait? Here are some guidelines:

What’s the downside? If you anticipate submitting on this topic or to the same reviewers again, consider that your marginal impression may leave a negative, possibly permanent, impression.

Could your time be spent better elsewhere? If it is a choice between writing one terrific proposal or two so-so ones, choose the one good effort.

Does it pass the snicker test . Ask an impartial person for an honest opinion on your draft proposal. If they snicker or look puzzled, perhaps your idea is not sufficiently credible to reflect positively on you.

When is your next opportunity ? A topic that the Department of Defense asks for may appear only once, so you might want to submit your "imperfect" proposal. Most agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, will accept proposals only once a year, so you may not be able to afford to wait. In contrast, the National Institutes of Health has three proposal due dates per year.

Is there a market for your innovation? "The world is full of unmet needs," says Jim Greenwood. "Sometimes a need goes unmet because no one can figure out how to make money in return for meeting that need." Consider how many units would be purchased, how many customers you would have, and what the customers would be willing to pay. Also take into account the "barriers to entry to the market.

Do you feel lucky ? Maybe you have received very positive feedback on your ideas from the person who wrote the topic proposal. Or maybe your horoscope says now is a good time. Then go for it.

#h#Musical Angels#/h#

The Witherspoon Street Traveling Medicine Show, a Dixieland band comprised of Princeton area medical professionals, will provide the entertainment for the Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey benefit on Wednesday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Westin in Forrestal Village. Call 609-919-9292 for $200 tickets for the evening, which honors Honeywell, Pete Denton, Barnett Hoffman, and Lynn Doyle.

Six of the band’s seven members are in the medical field, and its seventh member calls himself a "professional patient." (He went to law school instead of medical school.) From the Princeton Eye Group there is Sam Morgenstern on tuba and Dr. Michael Wong on piano. The Princeton Medical Group provides Dr. Steve Kazenoff, the banjo playing dermatologist, and Dr. Len Grossman, the rheumatologist, who plays the trumpet. Dr. Steve Farmer, an otolaryngologist, slides the trombone, while the cardiac pacemaker technician, Hank Kopchinski beats the drum. The odd man out is a lawyer by day, clarinet player by night, Rod Anderson.

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