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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 12, 2000. All rights
Stretching Your Troops: William Eventoff
Incremental goal-setting might be safe, but ultimately
it’s not going to help your company grow. It’s necessary to set
goals, says William Eventoff
Associates in Toms River. "If operators in a call center are
80 percent of the calls, and you said knock it up to 82 percent,
would figure out that they just take a shorter coffee break,"
he says. "But if you said 95 percent, that would be more of a
challenge. That’s what gets people thinking outside of the box."
A senior examiner for Quality New Jersey, the Governor’s Awards for
quality excellence, Eventoff wants to help businesses, from high-tech
to manufacturing, create an entrepreneurial culture and sort out
problems. "I think one of the things that’s key to surviving and
thriving is for businesses to internalize the capacity to observe,
understand, and have a culture of innovative change," he says.
He speaks on "Surviving and Thriving in the New Economy,"
on Thursday, April 13, at the Technology New Jersey meeting at DeVry
Institute. Call 609-419-4444. Cost: $30.
A chemist by training, Eventoff has a bachelors from Hunter College,
Class of 1968, and a graduate degree in chemistry from University
of Michigan. While doing graduate research work, he was led into
and eventually the study of viruses. At the time, however, computers
were still relatively unsophisticated, making the study of viruses
quite difficult. So Eventoff went into computer science, which led
him to building computer systems for businesses.
All along, the scientific method has proved his most valued
"I think a lot of things are connected by a logical process, and
I’ve internalized the scientific method," he says. "That’s
how we approach a lot of business problems. We’re really looking at
observations, understanding what they mean, putting together a plan,
looking at the results, and building a feedback loop."
Faced with a problem, executives tend to huddle in a conference room
and set goals for the company without the input of employees. That’s
been unproductive, says Eventoff. "Businesses have gone through
many attempts to change during the 1980s and 1990s, and between 50
to 70 percent of companies didn’t achieve the results that they
and the underlying reason is that it’s people who change, not the
organizations," says Eventoff. "You can have a brilliant
who sees an opportunity and has all the brilliant processes, but if
you don’t bring the people along, you don’t get a drastic change.
The techniques we use are mainly trying to involve staff. Otherwise,
they’re not committed to it."
A business that can survive rapid change and grow is one in which
people feel empowered by continuing opportunities to learn and by
the ability to bring ideas forward and act across organizational
Eventoff gives the following managerial advice for businesses facing
any range of problems:
agents of change.
by small evolutionary changes," says Eventoff. Make goals
and build constraints around the solution so that the organization
can live with it.
innovative culture, that’s always looking at what’s going on,"
says Eventoff. "People can fail, but they don’t like to. So they
start to think of innovative ways to reach the goal."
Friday, April 14
After nearly 40 years of economic sanctions, the United
States is slowly resuming trade relations with Cuba, a Caribbean
that will provide a multitude of opportunities for New Jersey
says John Kavulich
Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization located in New York
that provides information on Cuba to American companies (call
"There’s little doubt that, with 11 million people, Cuba is an
attractive market for businesses that export," he says. "The
Cuban government has placed a substantial quantity of resources into
developing a national healthcare system and regardless of what type
of government is in place post-Castro, the Cuban people are going
to want to preserve as much of that national healthcare system as
possible. That will provide opportunities for New Jersey-based
On Friday, April 14, at 8 a.m. Kavulich will educate businesses on
current U.S-Cuba relations, and the market outlook for the future,
at the International Trade Roundtable Meeting at Raritan Valley
College. Call 908-526-1200, ext. 8235.
An expert in international business who has worked in 59 countries,
Kavulich holds a bachelors in business administration from George
University, Class of 1983, and has been a marketing consultant since
1984. He was a consultant to the Select Revenues Subcommittee of the
Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives
and was recognized as being the first United States-based marketing
consultant to be retained by the government of the former Soviet
"More than one news organization including CBS called me the
to the Kremlin, which was a little much," says Kavulich. "My
in the USSR led me to take a look at Cuba, and what I found was that
my interest in obtaining information about Cuba far surpassed the
Cuban government’s ability to provide the information in a timely
and consistent way."
The U.S. placed an embargo on Cuba on January 1, 1959, after Fidel
Castro declared the island a Communist state. Prior to that time,
nearly 85 percent of tourists visiting the country were U.S. citizens.
U.S. relations with Cuba deteriorated during the period leading up
to the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962,
and trade restrictions remained intact until the 1980s. Between 1980
and 1992, however, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies were once
again permitted to export food products and healthcare supplies to
Cuba. Direct exports from the United States were still banned.
In 1992 Congress enacted the Cuban Democracy Act, which eliminated
the unrestricted sale of food and health care products from third
countries but reestablished direct export of healthcare products from
the U.S. to Cuba. "It was looked at as carrots and sticks,"
says Kavulich. "The Cuban Democracy Act was designed so that if
the Cuban government took steps that the U.S. government found
it would expand the relationship. Otherwise, it would reverse
Over the past seven years, the Clinton Administration has expanded
its interpretation of the Cuban Democracy Act, and last year,
the export of food directly to Cuba. Given the changing course of
U.S.-Cuba relations, the Cuban government decided in 1993 that a
council was in fact beneficial to both countries. The Council is the
largest, most credible resource for people interested in information
on Cuba. "Any government official, business executive, journalist,
or academic contacts us," says Kavulich. "Having done that
without ever issuing a media release says something about the
As trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba improved, the Cuban
has rebounded — particularly in tourism. In 1993 Cuba received
only 500,000 tourists annually, the majority from Canada, Mexico,
and Europe. In 1999 Cuba received 1.65 million tourists, and this
year 2 million are expected.
In the next decade, says Kavulich, U.S. companies could be influencing
80 percent of Cuba’s GDP. "The sectors that are going to provide
the greatest short-term opportunities," says Kavulich, "are
those companies exporting healthcare products, tourism products, food
products, and infrastructure in terms of energy and transportation.
Commercial and residential developers are feeling what’s
called the "Wealth Effect," says Paul Nadler
professor at Rutgers University. "They feel wealthy and they’re
going to spend — the person across the street has a beautiful
house, but they’re selling so they can build something the size of
the Taj Mahal," he says. "That’s all stock market money."
Eventually, Nadler predicts, when stocks begin to reflect earnings,
commercial development in New Jersey will slow down, but until then,
the challenge for developers will be spending their money wisely.
"They’ve got to start thinking in terms of where people are going
to live," he says, "where people are going to be willing to
work. You listen to the radio and hear 40 minutes to get through the
Lincoln Tunnel, and more and more we’re going to be seeing people
not wanting to commute."
Nadler discusses "Real Estate Projects in the New Economy,"
on Friday, April 14, at noon at the Industrial/Commercial Real Estate
Women meeting at the Raritan Center Sheraton. Call 973-325-2700.
A graduate of Brown, with a BA in economics, Nadler earned his PhD
at New York University and taught banking to IBM employees for two
With the shortage of land and increasing traffic congestion in New
Jersey, the commercial developments projects that pay off are going
to be creative, says Nadler. "More and more businesses are moving
into the suburbs, like RCN," he says. "But that’s going to
be tough for mass transit." Developers need to start looking at
areas that already have a transportation infrastructure, like Newark
and Trenton, says Nadler, and change the prevailing attitude of the
20th century: "In America, it’s cheaper to make a dish than wash
one — it’s the same thing with cities," he says. "It’s
cheaper to make a city than to wash one."
A piece of New Jersey’s past that citizens and companies
are eager to put behind them is toxic waste, but as the number of
New Jersey’s brownfields indicates, it’s a legacy that’s not so easily
buried. How companies and communities view the risks of toxic waste
and the responsibilities of waste management is a topic of peculiar
interest to John Weingart
Institute, and one of the speakers at "New Jersey’s Landscape
in 2050," a conference at the Woodrow Wilson School’s Dodds
on Friday, April 14, at 9 a.m. Call 609-258-3000.
During his 19 years at the New Jersey Department of Environment
Weingart headed a state agency whose primary purpose was to find a
town to volunteer to become home to a disposal facility for New
radioactive waste. The need for a state facility was prompted in part
by the fact that the governor of South Carolina, the state that had
accepted radioactive waste from New Jersey power plants and research
centers for many years, threatened to close down its facility.
As head of the New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
Siting Board, founded in 1987, Weingart spoke to numerous Rotary
politicians, and citizens on the reasons the state needed a waste
facility and how it would affect the community in which it was built.
"We tried to design something with enough incentives," says
Weingart, "because at first glance it would probably be quite
After three years of campaigning, twelve New Jersey towns stepped
forward as candidates for the new facility. Among them: Roosevelt
in Monmouth County, Elsinboro, Alloway and Carney’s Point in Salem
County, Fairfield in Cumberland County, Bethlehem and Delaware in
Hunterdon County, Hamburg and Hardyston in Sussex County, Springfield
in Burlington County, South Harrison in Gloucester County, and Lower
Township in Cape May County. "Many of the people in those towns
worked for the power plants in the area and were comfortable with
the idea because they knew how radioactive material was handled,"
Outside of those communities, however, Weingart discovered a large
gap between the public’s perception of radioactive waste and what
experts agree on as its major risks. "Much of the public tends
to worry about the wrong things and I think that’s a major issue,"
he says. "When you end up with well-credentialed, knowledgeable
people disagreeing, how do the rest of us who don’t know the subject
decide? Some people would say better safe than sorry, but that’s an
inoperable decision when you have to make a choice — there is
radioactive waste and society has to decide where to put it."
Adding to the public’s resistance to a radioactive dump site in their
hometown was the feeling that government and corporations don’t tell
the whole story. "One thing I ran into was that they felt that
the government has lied to them in the past," Weingart says,
things that were said to be safe turned out not to be, therefore
to contaminated sites."
The New Jersey Siting Board abandoned its project when the waste
in South Carolina reopened in the mid-1990s, but Weingart captures
many of the lessons that he learned from the ordeal in his book,
is a Terrible Thing to Mind: Radiation, Risk, and Distrust of
being published by the Center for Analysis of Public Issues in late
Weingart went to Brandeis University, Class of 1970, for a degree
in sociology, and attended the Woodrow Wilson School. Between 1990
and 1994 he was assistant commissioner of the DEP, but he is probably
most well-known as a radio personality, host of WPRB’s "Music
You Can’t Hear on The Radio" on Sunday evenings.
"I listen to a lot of music that is at least 50 years old,"
says Weingart. "It’s a powerful impression — the way we’re
bringing the past with us as we move into the future. It’s challenging
to find productive ways to talk about public affairs in New Jersey
beyond sort of grumbling and being nostalgic for good old days that
Saturday, April 15
People cling to the past even as they move into the
future — a lesson to be learned by developers and suburban
around the country, but especially in New Jersey. For many
the price of modernization is the loss of traditional community
and when that happens, everyone loses.
"There are market studies that show there’s an immediate higher
value in sales in developing a sense of community and a sense of place
that is largely desired among people who miss it," says
Plater-Zyberk, an architect and founder of the Congress of New
Urbanism, an interdisciplinary organization devoted to stopping
sprawl and urban disinvestment. "In most parts of the country,
the underlying regulatory system promotes suburban pod development
rather than integrated neighborhoods and towns. New Urbanism really
promotes the traditional community — compact, pedestrian-friendly,
mixed-use neighborhoods and towns."
To illustrate the kind of community that is commercially successful
as well as socially functional, Plater-Zyberk points to Princeton.
"Downtown Princeton with the shopfronts on the street, a small
hotel, churches, small houses and then bigger houses not too far away
is a perfect traditional town plan," she says. Plater-Zyberk will
keynote the second annual Sandra Starr Foundation Communiversity
entitled "Building Urban-Suburban Alliances," on Saturday,
April 15, at 1:30 p.m. at McCormick Auditorium on the Princeton
The conference begins at 9:30 with a panel on "Bridging City and
Suburb in Mercer County," with Marty Johnson
of Isles, Connie Mercer
vice president and director of transportation planning at Frederic
Harris Inc., and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman. That is followed
at 11:15 a.m. by a community discussion with Dan Napolean
the Family Resource Center of Trenton, Maria Hernandez
Mercer County Hispanic Association, and Richard K. Rein
1, among others. Call 609-924-6992. Www.sandrastarr.org. Free.
The Congress of New Urbanism (415-495-225), based in San Francisco,
works with both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department
of Housing and Urban Development to develop design standards that
preserve communities and the environment. For HUD, the Congress
standards for HOME and HOPE VI programs that fund affordable housing
nationally. "It’s about building communities rather than
Plater-Zyberk says. "HOPE VI takes old housing projects and
them to be mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods." Locally,
and her Miami architecture firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk, worked with
Trenton officials to develop a plan for the Capitol building and
on State Street.
A Princeton University alumna (Class of 1972), Plater-Zyberk did her
graduate work in architecture at Yale and now teaches at the
of Miami. She is also on the board of trustees at Princeton. Her new
book is titled "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the
of the American Dream."
Suburban sprawl is a problem that faces the country at large, but
New Jersey is a terrific case study of what happens when the forces
of modernity push too hard. "There’s always something falling
apart or growing badly," she says, "and people are regretting
building today instead of welcoming it. I know this is important to
Developers should focus on building complete villages rather than
commercial or residential communities, and look creatively at the
unique assets that many areas already have. "Princeton Junction
is an ideal location for a town center," says Plater-Zyberk.
also opportunities surrounding Forrestal Village. The big picture
involves making some decisions about conservation, places that you
never want to build in, setting up a transportation system that
new building and rebuilding, and then looking at places where there
is already investment, like Trenton and Newark."
Tuesday, April 18
The federal and state versions of the Family & Medical
Leave Acts are just different enough to cause confusion for many
and the challenge for most businesses without human resource
is to decide how to provide employees their rights under both laws.
How the family leave acts should be interpreted depends on the hours
an employee works, the number of employees in a company, and the
of the company.
That will be the subject of "Time Off: State and Federal Laws
on Employee Leave, Vacations, and Holidays in New Jersey," on
Tuesday, April 18, at 9 a.m. at the Princeton Marriott. Buchanan
attorneys Steven Berlin
discussion. Call 715-833-3959. Cost: $189.
The annual "free" ice cream cone day at Ben
& Jerry’s is Tuesday, April 18, noon to 8 p.m., at the Forrestal
food court, and Bebe Neuwirth
and star of stage and screen, is scheduled to scoop beginning at 12:30
p.m. The event will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County.
That Neuwirth is a celebrity scooper is just part of the story.
It seems that the actress’s father contributed to founding a new
that has multiplied across the nation. In 1991 Lee Neuwirth
of Institute for Defense Analyses and Gary Turndorf
Landis Group had assembled a small group of mentors and needed help
with screening, training, and case management. The mentors had been
recruited by Project ’55, established by the Princeton University
Class of 1955.
Big Brothers Big Sisters agreed to provide the orientation for this
group, and the group "adopted" Cadwalader elementary school
that year. At first, the staff of the social service organization
worried that this program would be a watered down version of the
one, where an adult is paired with a young person for home-based
activity. "That opinion soon changed when Big Brothers Big Sisters
of Mercer County received an exemplary award at a national conference
in 1992," says Kim Cody
that 168 agencies around the world have a school-based mentor program
with this one used as the model. For information call 609-656-1000
Wednesday, April 19
Electronic bill payment is a Catch-22: until enough
companies issue bills electronically, consumers aren’t interested,
but until enough consumers are interested, billers will stick to
So while online stock trading and shopping are hitting critical mass,
it could be some time before the idea of paying your bills on the
web catches on, says Donald Licciardello
eCom, the online bill publishing company at 650 College Road. "It
will be slower growth until the value proposition works for the
says Licciardello. "It’s not very convenient to pay two bills
online and the other two by check. But if your bank had 15 bills it
would be another thing. It really has to do with enough bills being
Licciardello speaks on "How E-Business Can Bring Your Organization
in the 21st Century" at the Princeton Chamber meeting on
April 19, at 7:45 a.m. at the Nassau Club. Joining him is David
Hisbrook of Xlibris,
and Toni Tracy
Two years ago, as Princeton TeleCom, Princeton eCom was helping big
banks deal with electronic payments — now the firm uses the same
technology as a leading provider of Internet bill publishing and
services for large businesses and financial institutions like Bell
Atlantic Mobile and Ameritech. Electronic bill publishing is a much
cheaper alternative for billers, says Licciardello. "Typically
it costs $1.50 to get one bill prepared, printed, and mailed,"
he says. "This online process could cost the biller as little
as 30 or 40 cents."
Licciardello, a former Princeton University physics professor and
an alumnus of the University of Scranton, Class of ’68, and the
of Virginia, founded Princeton eCom., A year ago the company filed
a preliminary statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission
for a $46 million initial public offering. It was pulled for various
reasons, says Licciardello, but he hopes to restart the process some
In the world of online bill payment, there are three players —
billers, bill publishers (like Princeton eCom), and aggregators.
uses the book publishing business as an analogy: "If you were
Stephen King you wouldn’t go to Kinkos to copy your book, you’d go
to a publisher like Doubleday," he says. "In the same way,
a biller outsources to a publisher like Princeton eCom, and we handle
distribution to the consumer’s favorite financial website or
That would be the "aggregator." "Your billers can choose
one publisher and another choose another publisher, but the aggregator
can have both publishers," he says. "It’s like you go to
and Noble you don’t see one book from one publisher."
Princeton eCom’s biggest competitor — Atlanta-based Check Free
— serves nearly twice as many billers as Princeton eCom, but the
market is big enough for both companies, Licciardello says. "Check
Free, the largest bill publishing company, announced that they have
60 some billers online," he says. "We’ve announced 30. So
when you think about the number of billers out there, this is a
Put in a different way, Americans receive 1.5 billion bills per month,
Licciardello estimates, or a total of about 18 billion bills per year.
Right now, 180 million of those bills are paid online. By 2003, that
number is supposed to increase dramatically — up to nearly 2
But, as Licciardello points out, "that’s still 2 billion out of
With all indicators pointing to a dramatic growth in online bill pay,
Princeton eCom has grown rapidly over the past two years. It had 56
workers in 1997, 80 employees last year, and now has some 230
The company just raised $35 million from Billing Concepts, the San
Antonio-based company that provides billing solutions to companies,
particularly in the telecommunications industry. The company purchased
$27 million of Princeton eCom’s convertible preferred stock.
For small business owners seeking to bring their companies into the
21st century, the time might not be right to offer online bill payment
services, however. "I think businesses should probably wait until
the aggregators have enough customers coming to pay the big bills,
like telephone and electric, and then it would behoove them to get
their bills there too," says Licciardello.
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