Training Characters

Review: `Home Office Tips’

Devaluing Information<%0>"><%-3>Devaluing Information<%0>

">Job Hunting Support

Rainbow Chamber

Highway Planning

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

State as a Business: Your Dollars at Work

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 18, 1998. All rights reserved.

Top Of Page
Training Characters

From Smith Barney to Bill Clinton, the issue of

character in the workplace seems to be hanging on the tip of the

tongue

of the national consciousness. Can character in the workplace be

taught?

Steven Menzel thinks so, and he is trying to make a sideline

business out of applying a little integrity to the daily grind. "I

think there are tremendous answers to many problems in the business

community right here," he says.

Menzel, a 36-year-old former drill sergeant and father of three, is

the proprietor of Clean Right, a successful Ewing-based janitorial

firm. His recent start-up, Master Qualities, specializes in teaching

managers and employees the virtues of character (609-538-0556). The

basis of his program, called Character First, is the idea that "as

you emphasize character, skills and achievement will improve,"

he says.

This idea of training for character is derived from his experience

schooling his children at home. "My philosophy for schooling our

children is that if they have above-board character qualities and

are able to read and write well and do math they will be able to take

on any kind of job that can come their way."

The Character First concept is the brainchild of the Character

Training

Institute in Oklahoma City (200 miles west of Little Rock, Arkansas).

This training promises to deliver "morale, productivity,

profitability,

trust, cooperation, and improvement of the communication

standard."

At each session, one of 49 different "character qualities"

are stressed. They include truthfulness, humility, punctuality,

discretion,

gratefulness, tolerance, thriftiness, loyalty, and cautiousness. Less

obvious qualities such as meekness, deference, obedience, and love

also get emphasized.

Although he says that this program is non-religious, Menzel exhibits

the fervor and urgency of a missionary. "Truthfulness begins by

being honest with ourselves," he says. "It’s an innate part

of our nature to desire a good reputation. It’s one of the reasons

we’re able to look people in the eye."

What do other trainers think of his program? "I would add one

word to his list: `manipulation,’" says a corporate trainer who

wished to remain anonymous. "I personally know that if people

tried to step in and start teaching me what my values should be I

would be offended. Most people would be resentful. I have tremendous

character and you know what? Nobody taught it to me."

It’s fine to character-train children, but trying to teach adults

good character is akin to teaching old dogs new tricks, suggests

Dennis

Hawver, president of the Hawver Group, the organizational

psychology

firm based at 2 Research Way. "Training adults on character I

would think would be tough," says Hawver. "But what you can

do is get them to realize the limitations and some of the behaviors

associated with negative characters. Most of the evidence suggests

that character is developed well before the adult years. It can be

sensitized and it can be refined, but I don’t know if you can

significantly

change those things we call `character.’ They’re pretty deeply

embedded."

Hawver quotes Woodrow Wilson: "If you will think about what you

ought to do for other people your character will take care of itself.

Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its

cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig."

But for Menzel, training for character is rooted in original sin —

proof that it should be "taught rather than caught," he

maintains.

"I know that every heart is deceitfully wicked," he adds.

"When you have a child, you will find out that they are born

liars.

They don’t need to be taught to lie."

But he isn’t spiteful towards his detractors. In fact, he welcomes

them. "All good things meet great opposition," he says. "I

am thrilled that this is meeting great opposition — now I know

I’m on the right path."

Menzel emphatically asserts that character does not have to be

instilled

by parents. "That is part of my faith, as a Christian," he

says. "Really the lessons I’m learning in the training of my

children.

As I train my children I see the deficiencies in my own character

that causes me to step back. I have to be sensitive."

And despite all of the questions about its viability, Menzel’s side

project is off to a promising start. He recently got a commitment

from Atlantic Business Products, at 572 Whitehead Road, to start a

character training program there. "I clean their building,"

he says. "Now they’re going to have the man who cleans their

building

come in and teach them character." Maybe Menzel should consider

bringing his mops to Washington.

— Peter J. Mladineo

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Review: `Home Office Tips’

<B>Meredith Gould has written a book that is

theoretically

about running an office in the home but is really about running your

life. She draws on all her own life experiences (copy editor, yoga

teacher, editor, and ad agency maven) and all her past-life contacts

for a nifty 156-page paperback "Tips for Your Home Office,"

(Storey Publishing, 1998, $14.95). Gould signs her book Sunday,

February

22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bookmarks in Montgomery Center, Route

206 (609-497-1655).

An alumna of Queens College with a Ph.D. in sociology from New York

University, she taught at Rutgers for 10 years, was manager of the

business humanities project at the state department of higher

education,

was vice president of account services at a Princeton-based public

relations firm, and taught yoga. In 1989 she opened her own office

in the home for market communications, freelance writing, and

editing.

She is married to Richard S. Ruch, former dean of Rider School of

Business Administration, now dean of academic affairs at DeVry

Institute

in North Brunswick.

U.S. 1 readers who remember Gould’s acerbic treatise on vegetarian

dining alternatives will recognize the breezy style that brightens

an otherwise boring list of nuts-and-bolts tips: "Remember to

get a phone with a mute button so you can tell your dog to shut up

without clients hearing you go ballistic."

Gould also shares self-help wisdom that is useful to anyone in any

size office: "Beware of taking on someone else’s definition of

a time waster. It may be precisely the activity that keeps you

balanced

and sane." Her caustic descriptions of P.I.T.A. (pain in the ass)

clients will resonate with anyone who has ever had a client in a

business

large or small.

Figure out how you learn, she suggests, in order to organize your

work flow.

If you’re primarily kinesthetic: "Budget daily time

to write out a "To Do" list, using writing instruments and

materials

that have tactile appeal. Desktop files or shallow desk trays will

probably work well for you. Print out e-mail and file the hard copy."

If you’re primarily kinesthetic, but also visual:

"Consider

writing out a weekly master list of everything you need to do. Include

a special section in which you list your top three goals. At the end

of each week, highlight what still needs to be done, or simply copy

it onto the next week’s master list. Keeping desktop files or desk

trays within sight will be important for you."

If you’re primarily visual: "Post sticky notes with

information, instructions, or tasks in your sight line and flight

path. Use colors and stickers to code what needs to be done and when.

Month-at-a-glance calendars will work well for you, as will electronic

systems with lots of icons. Electronic filing systems for documents

and correspondence should help."

If you’re primarily visual, but also auditory: "Use

an electronic system that allows you to add sound effects to whatever

is on the screen."

If you’re primarily auditory: "Talk to yourself out

loud and immediately start cultivating visual and kinesthetic

sensitivities!"

Ruch has thought of nearly everything: what questions to ask

yourself before you see the copy machine salesman, whether to buy

an answering machine or use monthly voice mail, and why narrow tower

bookcases work better than regular kind.

Of billable time, she writes: "It’s perfectly okay to charge

clients

for the proportion of administrative time that you spend on their

account. The rest of the time you spend futzing around with your

business

you’ll have to eat. Still, you can account for it when pricing your

professional services."

Remember to include in your rates, says Gould, percentage increases

for rush jobs, client changes (after a certain point), running hither

and thither (especially if thither is far away), and late payments.

"Tailor the style of your price quote to the work culture of your

customer. Corporations won’t wince at per diem rates and may, in fact,

dismiss you as bush league if you trot out an hourly rate. Small

businesses,

however, generally plotz when they hear the words `per diem,’

preferring

to pay by the hour even if the hours total up to — you guessed

it — your day rate."

All the tips are nicely indexed, and the book has line drawings and

boxes (quotes from other home office users and under-the-breath

comments

from Gould) on nearly every page.

Gaps are few, but I found no major lecture of the importance of

offsite

and onsite computer back-ups. I will bet Meredith Gould has never

lost her hard drive.

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Devaluing Information

In an Information Age, what is the value of information?

Michael Lesk isn’t sure. "Part of the trouble is there is

now so much information that much of it goes ignored by default,"

he says.

Another part of the trouble, warns Lesk, is that very few purveyors

of information have found a way to do it profitably online. And, the

few cyberprofits that do exist are not anywhere near the size of those

achieved in other business arenas. "The Wall Street Journal

Interactive

Edition claims to be most successful website selling subscriptions

for information," says Lesk. "They claim to have 150,000

subscribers.

That is obviously very small compared with the print run" more

than 2 million.

Lesk, who recently left Bellcore to be director for information and

intelligent systems at the National Science Foundation in Arlington,

Virginia, gives a keynote address at Rutgers University’s forum on

research in information science on Thursday, February 20, at 1 p.m.

at the SCILS building, 4 Huntington Street in New Brunswick. Call

732-932-7914.

Lesk started working with computers immediately upon getting a Ph.D

in chemistry and physics from Harvard University in 1969. "The

first computer I worked on was bigger than the office I am now

in,"

he says. "It cost $3 million. I was paid $1.25 an hour."

From 1969 until 1983, Lesk worked at Bell Labs in Murray Hill as a

computer science researcher, and joined Bellcore in Morristown when

it was formed in 1984. Just last month he went on leave from Bellcore,

where he is manager of the computer science research group, to join

the NSF. "This is a very important opportunity to organize what

should be the funding of research in the U.S.," he says. "How

do you try to emphasize to the country the value of all the research

that’s being done?"

Lesk now concerns himself with the challenges of finding the right

economic models for information sources. "We’re all looking for

what is the model for a successful publisher on the Web," he says.

"Two years ago everybody said advertising, but advertising doesn’t

seem to be it right now. There is no economic model. What are we

supposed

to do, give away services on the Web?"

But Web publishers’ problems aren’t anywhere near in scope to those

of a library, he reports. The usefulness of libraries is quickly being

eclipsed by the ‘Net because college students are coming to rely on

the Web almost exclusively as an information dispenser. "There

is this an attitude now, `I don’t do libraries, give me a URL,’ says

Lesk. "This is surprisingly common among undergraduates."

College students may be adept at finding online information in bulk,

but, Lesk laments, they are also wont to accept inferior information

sources for the respective cost savings. "A lot of undergraduates

out there using the Web would rather have junky information free than

good information for money," he says. "What happens is

universities

will have to teach students how to evaluate things they see on the

Web. Libraries don’t take every book published. You’ve got to look

at what it is. You’ve got to make a judgment. That’s a skill."

The jury is still out on whether the information dispensed on the

Web is actually worth money, and if so, how much. "Most of the

information that was traditionally sold for money is not what’s found

on the Web," says Lesk. "The problem we have is we don’t have

a useful pricing measure. But some studies indicate there is really

value out there."

The dilemma facing libraries and other potential information vendors

at the moment is finding justification for charging for services that

most people assume should be free. "I don’t know the answer but

every library says we see the demand for online catalogs and CD-ROMs.

We need some economic system of charging some people something that

would balance the accounts. So I would really like the Wall Street

Journal to strike it rich on the Web. However I haven’t yet seen

that."

— Peter J. Mladineo

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Job Hunting Support

For Techies

Open any Help Wanteds section and you’ll see anywhere

from one to two gazillion job openings for information technology

professionals screaming for your attention. Hundreds of ads tell about

astonishingly well-paid jobs for geeks the world over — from

programming

geeks to database geeks to networking geeks.

The problem is those slots aren’t being filled. "There are not

a lot of people who are technical who know how to sell themselves

properly," says Mike Andrus, president of Andrus Associates,

a Langhorne-based IT human resources firm. "Everybody is looking

for high tech staffing specialists."

Andrus gives a presentation on selling yourself to the IT world on

Wednesday, February 25, at Borders Books in Langhorne. Call

215-943-6600.

"Techies" in Andrus’ parlance usually don’t have an inkling

how to sell themselves. "The techies couldn’t get the jobs at

one time because they hibernated and they were working on their

technical

and not their people skills," he says. "The top people in

the field have a different skill set which differentiates themselves,

which is they’re salable. I don’t think the technical professional

can rely on someone else these days. They have to change the way they

market themselves, which is professionally, like a doctor or a lawyer

would."

Andrus Associates, started in 1994, trains, certifies, and counsels

IT professionals about their careers. It has recently moved to 6,000

square feet at Oxford Plaza in Langhorne, and has a staff of 70.

Two of the things "techies" have had trouble with in the past,

are communication and appearance, Andrus reports. "You should

appear professional," he says. For him, "professional"

doesn’t have too complex a connotation: he defines it as "looking

the part."

The best way to improve your communication with potential employers

is to make your resume stand out. To do this, Andrus recommends

including

a summary. Use lots of adjectives about your vision of your career,

list your work ethics, and your career goals there. "They are

differentiators," he says. "When I see a beautiful resume

with a lot of differentiators, I say, `Get this guy in here.’"

Also important to geek job seekers is knowing the hot skills du

jour. Currently, Microsoft NT has pretty much replaced Novell as

the operating system of choice, says Andrus. "And Oracle is real

big. Certifications are where it’s at now."

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Rainbow Chamber

Recently subsumed by the Mercer County Chamber, the

Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber will be honoring black

executives of corporate America on Thursday, February 19, 5 to 8 p.m.

at Maxine’s at 120 South Warren Street. Call 609-393-5933. This list

of honorees includes Larry Daniels of the Hyatt Regency, Ed

Hill of Janssen Pharmaceutica, Dorinda Jenkins-Glover of

Summit Bank, Preston Pinkette III, of PNC Bank, Shirley M.

Ward of PSE&G, and Steve Young of Merrill Lynch.

Seizing on a desire to bring all of the county’s chambers under one

roof, the Mercer Chamber has made the MTAAC one of its divisions.

Other divisions include the Lawrence, Hamilton, West Windsor, Ewing,

and Trenton chambers. County officials are also trying to snatch up

the Korean American Business Association, the Latino Chamber, and

Mercer County Business Association (formerly the Mercer County Black

Business Association).

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Highway Planning

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area will

hold a road issues forum on Thursday, February 26, at 7:30 p.m. in

the Woodrow Wilson School on the university campus. Jack

Claffey,

associate executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning

Commission, will discuss "Best Kept Secrets of Regional

Transportation

Planning."

"It seems that not a week goes by in this area without a

transportation

issue in the news," says Peggy Kilmer, the league’s

transportation

director. "The Millstone Bypass, truck traffic, and S92 are the

major topics, but the league wants the public to learn who the key

players are and how to navigate through the transportation maze."

Established in 1965, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

(DVRPC) provides comprehensive, coordinated planning for the orderly

growth and development of the New Jersey-Pennsylvania bi-state region.

As an interstate, intercounty, and intercity agency, DVRPC advises

on regional policy and capital funding issues concerning

transportation,

economic development, environmental concerns, and land use. DVRPC

aims to foster cooperation among member governments and agencies,

private sector organizations, and the public. It works closely with

state departments of transportation, community affairs, and

environmental

protection; the federal government; and regional transportation

providers.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, multi-issue, political

organization. Membership is open to all citizens of voting age, male

and female. The Princeton Area League has members from Princeton,

Montgomery, West Windsor, Plainsboro, and South Brunswick. For

information

call 609-252-1864 or 609-683-8075.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

<B>Summit Bank staffers are volunteer tutors and

mentors for 20 sixth graders from Trenton’s Hedgepeth Williams Middle

School as part of a Kids Intervention with Kids in Schools program

run by the Children’s Home Society. The bank buses the children to

the Carnegie Center for weekly Monday tutoring sessions, and bank

staffers have raised funds for special trips to the Liberty Science

Center and other field trips.

Tutors working on homework assignments and academic areas and discuss

vocations in banking and finance. "Students are helped to plan

for their future and to develop sophisticated skills to prepare for

high-tech, high-skill employment," says Steve Matthews of

Summit Bank. For information on how to establish a tutoring program

at your work site call Mike Whartenby at 609-987-3558.

In 1992 when William Holman, a regular user of the

business

department of the Trenton Public Library, died, he left $36,000

to the library. "He amassed a sizeable fortune," says

Robert

E. Coumbe , library director, "and we think it may have been

through his judicious use of the library’s business information. The

older members of the staff remember him as a quite frequent browser

through investment information." Others who have profited from

use of a public library, Coumbe suggests, would do well to share their

wealth in a similar fashion. "Any kind of wealth shared with a

public library shares with all citizens."


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