Remember the ERA? It’s Making a Comeback

Hedging Against Computer Downtime

Effective Speaking for Female Attorneys

How Your Questions Lead to Your Life

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These articles were prepared for the August 25, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

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Remember the ERA? It’s Making a Comeback

‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Sound familiar? It’s the text of the Equal Rights Amendment. While familiar to almost everyone in the 1970s and early1980s, many people assumed it had died in 1982, when only 35 of the required 38 states ratified it within Congress’s specified time limit. In one sense, they were right: it had. But 20 years later, the ERA is being resurrected – and spearheading the campaign is a group of women from the Princeton area.

The ERA Campaign Network, a loosely connected organization of women in 35 states, was founded four years ago in New Jersey to re-energize the ERA movement. The group will hold a fundraising dinner, "Women’s Equality Day: Past Triumphs and Future Dreams" on Thursday, August 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the United Church of Christ in Princeton. Cost: a suggested donation of $50, but the organizers stress that they don’t want a lack of funds to keep any interested person from attending. Call 609-409-1790 for more information.

Patricia Schroeder, a former United States Congresswoman from Colorado, is the keynote speaker. Other invited speakers include Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of Trenton and Assemblywoman Linda R. Greenstein of Monroe Township. Jennifer McLeod, a retired social psychologist, is the national coordinator for the ERA Campaign Network. She and one of the co-founders, Dorie Rothman, have been active in women’s issues since the early 1970s, when they helped to establish a national law penalizing newspapers that discriminated on the basis of sex in help wanted ads.

"Help wanted ads used to be put in the paper by sex: men’s jobs and women’s jobs. And of course the women’s jobs were usually for less pay," says Rothman.

Rothman and McLeod have helped to found the ERA Campaign Network to promote the "Three-State Strategy" for passing the ERA. Rothman has practiced as a psycho-therapist for 45 years, the last 35 with the Institute for Experiential Learning in Lawrenceville. She received her bachelor’s degree from Temple University and her doctorate from Rutgers. Her profession, she says, has influenced her work for the Equal Rights Amendment. "Everything that is political is also personal and everything that is personal is also political," she explains. "I hope to be like Susan B. Anthony. I am past 70 and I am still working for women’s equality. Susan B. Anthony was active until the day she died."

McLeod, who is 74, graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe and received a PhD in social research from Columbia University. She spent "many years" in survey research and worked for Opinion Research Corporation for 13 years. In 1969 she was one of the founders and the first president of the Princeton chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She had a "brief stay" as the first director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University, and then opened her own business as a consultant in women’ advancement, sexual discrimination, and employment.

She spent two and a half years as vice president of human resources for Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia and also wrote a book, a survey of high school civics textbooks, titled "You Won’t Do: What Textbooks on U.S. Government Teach High School Girls." Over the past several years she has gradually retired from her consulting business and she now works full-time with the ERA Campaign Network.

Rothman and McLeod’s new hope for the ERA comes from a new strategy that came into being in the 1990s after the "Madison Amendment," concerning Congressional pay raises, became the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. Originally proposed in 1789 by James Madison, the suggested amendment was ignored for two centuries. After lying dormant for 203 years, it was finally ratified in the 1990s. Significantly, the states that had originally ratified the amendment in the 18th century were not required to re-ratify in the 20th century for the amendment to pass.

This fact gave ERA supporters precedent to say that although Congress had imposed a seven- year deadline (plus a three-year extension) on the ERA, that deadline should not stand. That means that only three states are needed to ratify the amendment and make it a part of the Constitution. The 35 existing state ratifications would stand because, under Article V of the Constitution, any state that has once ratified an amendment does not have the power to rescind that ratification.

Why are McLeod and Rothman, both of retirement age, spending so much of their time on the ERA?

"In this country women are still born as second-class citizens," says McLeod. "I have a teenage granddaughter. When she asks me, ‘What did you do to stop this,’ I want to be able to tell her that I worked to change the law."

Her years as a social psychologist have also affected the way she fights for a cause. "Some people might want to work in a soup kitchen or an abuse shelter," she says, "but to me, that is trying to ameliorate the effects. I want to work at changing the root cause."

Many women don’t believe the ERA is needed anymore, Rothman says, but that is simply not true. "Equal rights are not guaranteed for women because the way the founding fathers wrote our Constitution gives citizens’ rights only to property-owning white males." After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment stated "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

However, the term "person" did not include women, since, later in the amendment the allocation of elected representatives was based on the number of the state’s voting males. In 1870 the 15th Amendment outlawing the denial of the vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude" omitted the word "sex."

The result, says Rothman, is that rights for women must be fought for on a state-by-state and case-by-case basis. And even when gains are won through the courts, they are still reversible by later legislation or court decisions. "Only the ERA can guarantee that we are treated equally," she says. "Many younger women don’t realize this. They think when they start out in a career that they are being treated equally, being paid the same. But after a few years they find that they are not getting the promotions and the pay raises. We still need the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee women’s rights."

New Jersey is one of the 35 states that has ratified the ERA. The 15 states that have not yet ratified are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. The effort to ratify is most active in Illinois, Florida, Georgia, and Missouri. Last year the State House in Illinois passed the amendment. It is currently pending in the Illinois State Senate.

The August 26 date of the dinner is timed to celebrate the day on which the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote, was passed. While it is now called "Women’s Equality Day," Rothman says we cannot forget that women have not yet reached true equality. She quotes Alice Paul, one of the leaders of the Right to Vote movement: "We shall never be free and equal socially, economically, and legally, until we get an Equal Rights Amendment."

– Karen Miller

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Hedging Against Computer Downtime

Out in Wisconsin, a moose saw his own reflection in a plate glass window. It was the rutting season and this male meant business. With horns lowered, in full bellow, he charged the "other moose" and burst into the office building lobby, crashing all the data on the first floor computers.

Like our surprised moose, computers are whimsical beasts. We all know it and hate it. Somewhere inside, it rankles us to surrender so much control to our own magnetic creation. On a more practical level, whether you are Citibank or a one-person law office, hours of computer down time could literally close your doors, or at least plunge you into red ink. So companies of all sizes and all origins- including environs totally without moose sightings – are exploring on and off site backup, a move that can lead to swift recovery from downtime disasters.

The good news is that the owner of moose-assaulted PCs had backed up his data on Double-Take servers and stored it off site. The company was up and running again by the time the glass was cleared away. The costs and options of such safety backups are explained in the seminar "Disaster Recovery," which takes place on Thursday, August 26, at 8:30 a.m. at the offices of Host Remote in Cinnaminson. Cost: $20. Visit www.NJTC.org for more information.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council, this workshop features Paul Boyer, sales and marketing director for the Eastern IT Group in Northfield; Ronald Gavin, partner and development manager for Hoboken-based NSI Software; and Joe Ferri, executive vice-president of Host Remote. Together, these men represent the full process of onsite and offsite backup storage and data recovery.

An unlikely candidate for the cyber arena, NSI Software’s Gavin was raised in Bayonne and earned a B.S. in business at Ogelthorpe College in Georgia in l973. Following school, he returned to the Garden State and sold pipe fittings; later he expanded into valves. Then one day in l983, his brother took him to a computer show in "some rather cramped hotel basement," he recalls. "From then on," he says, "I was hooked. These things were wonderful."

Gavin gave up pipe fittings forever, and has never left the computer field. He quit his job and spent the next five years selling wholesale computer systems. Today, as a partner, he brainstorms and pushes through projects for NSI Software.

"Data failures are not all 9/11 situations," says Gavin, listing some of his client situations. "One of our hotel clients had a shooting in the lobby and the police cordoned off the area, keeping everyone out for days. One law partner left the firm and just took all the data with him." Just recently, 120 law firms in Manhattan took out replication licenses in anticipation of the upcoming Republican Convention. In Florida, every hurricane season brings more offsite back up clients into the fold. And everywhere, out of nowhere come those odd electronic glitches. Data is fragile.

But Eastern IT’s Boyer quickly counters, "the good news is that the whole expense of disaster recovery has dropped to the point where it’s foolish thrift not to take advantage." Confusion over options – combined with sticker shock – has for years left most firms backing up on tape and hoping for the best. Now the options have expanded and the costs have shrunken.

Level of pain. The data recovery pros refer to it as RTO – recovery time objective. Each individual company and department head needs to assess just how long he can endure down time. Some brokerage houses face total confusion and customer ruin if down for a mere minute. Most law firms can withstand a half day of downtime with annoyance, but not disaster. Figure out your needs and purchase accordingly.

Additionally, figure out your RPO or recovery point objective; that is, how far back is data lost before you reach the backup wall. Most firms back up their data at the end of each business day. If a crash comes Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., you have lost all your employees work back until last Friday evening. Can you afford the cost of that waste, not to mention the blow to morale. For those who can’t, a realtime backup server system is required.

Server selection. A server is basically a computer that directs traffic and a unit that stores data, in this case, replicated data. Backup servers used to cost about $7,500, but they can now be had for one-third of that price. NSI Software’s Double-Take, for example, offers real time data replication for $2,500, plus setup cost.

Servers, like filing cabinets, are not storage bins. Just because all your data may currently fit on a single server, you will probably want to divide it according to type. Customer portfolios are not filed with your company operating budget, nor should their duplicates be so stored.

How fast can this server system get me back on line? is the most frequent consideration. But there are other features to ponder. Many systems now duplicate all the data in real time, so crash victims barely lose a sentence. Does this server replicate all your varied applications without skewing their format? Many servers refer to themselves as agnostic – able to accept any data in its original form. But a heresy often lies here: many do not work with Macintosh systems. Boyer claims that his customers have never made a demand for it. But all those publishers, educational systems, and high-end graphics users, which are very often Mac-dependent may have to search a bit harder than other businesses for backup servers.

Finally, on the matter of cost, Home Remote’s executive vice president, Joe Ferri, offers a cost-cutting hint. "Go on E-bay and pick yourself up a nice refurbished server for $500," he advises. For years, computer marketing professionals have made us all suspect any used (now labeled "refurbished") electronic goods. But many businesses are happily employing this thrifty option.

Data deployment. The next step is to figure out where the probable crash danger lies, and then select where you want your data stored. If you fear hurricanes in Florida, best set up a storage site out of state. However, an office across the street may be safe enough for some, and has the additional advantage of being a convenient place in which to site a new temporary headquarters.

You may also have a complex computer system within your own offices and can’t afford to send people rushing off elsewhere when one bank of the system fails. Therefore, you may want to establish a second back-up system onsite where data is automatically shifted to other computers right in your plant.

Storage sites can be "cold," pure storage centers, or "hot," able to act as a new data processing center. For those seeking straight storage, Host Remote offers a single server storage on an open rack for as low as $30 monthly.

Like any insurance, you get the coverage you pay for. Most company owners weigh the odds of disaster and cost of recovery against the premium cost, and then invest. But unlike most other insurances, paybacks are swift, sure, and if you have selected the right server, there is no deductible on the return.

– Bart Jackson

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Effective Speaking for Female Attorneys

She talks in flowing language; he talks in precise "bullet points." She often uses "feeling" words. He prefers words that impart strength.

He thinks that she offers far too many details. She can’t understand his lack of texture and description.

Yup, it’s the old "he said/she said" style of speaking, and while it’s the source of endless jokes, it becomes serious business when the "she" is an attorney dealing with courtroom drama or corporate culture.

"Women need to make sure that the information they give matches the listener’s style, and women lawyers need that skill more than most," says Anita Jacobs, the communications guru who is president of the National Center for Effective Speaking. Jacobs, whose doctorate is in Educational Leadership, is also trained as a speech pathologist and has a history of presenting communications programs to over 300,000 people in 167 U.S. cities and in seven countries.

On Friday, August 27, at 9 a.m. Jacobs gives a day-long seminar for women lawyers at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Cost: $199. Call 732-214-8500 for more information. Her topic: the slightly unwieldy-sounding "Breaking the Gender Barrier: Communication Skills To Enhance Your Credibility and Authority as a Woman Lawyer in the Courtroom and the Boardroom." "Along with the way a woman dresses and acts, she needs to be perceived as powerful without being intimidating," suggests this expert, whose company also coaches executives from around the world on dialect clarity through a subsidiary company she calls "Break the Accent Barrier."

"In general, men speak competitively in a kind of ‘fact vs. fact’ game, while women tend to do less of that," says Jacobs. "Men generally have a reporting style, while women tend to seek a rapport with others that is far more personal." Another difference: women often ask open-ended questions while men get right down to specifics. "Women have a general tendency to go overboard with what they see as helping, and that can actually be damaging in a business or legal setting," says Jacobs, who has also worked with the non-profit world, including with the New Jersey-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

All of these communication issues will be on the table at Jacobs’ seminar. "My goal," she says, "is to have women leave knowing what they need to do to succeed in the arenas in which they move, and to have a strategy and the confidence to pull it all off. It can mean a make-or-break difference for women lawyers in the outcomes they seek."

– Sally Friedman

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How Your Questions Lead to Your Life

Of course you know that questions lead to answers. And you understand that our personal and professional lives often are wrapped around the Q & A’s of life. But have you ever really thought about the HOW of questions: how to pose them to different listeners, how to control inflection, and ultimately, how to pose questions that make the critical difference in how you are perceived, and even how you succeed?

Marilee Adams, a Lambertville-based consultant, not only thought about all of that, her fascination with questions actually led her to write two books about questions, "The Art of the Question: A Guide to Short-Term Question-Centered Therapy" (John Wiley & Sons, 1988) and the most recent one, released this month, "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life" (Berrett-Koehler, 2004, $14.99).

After earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, Adams began a private therapy practice in the Philadelphia area. The work was gratifying, and a constant reminder that questions are the taproot of information. As Adams went on to lecture, she had some "Eureka!" moments during workshop presentations when she saw how successful people thought about, phrased, and presented questions. The insight led her to rethink her own direction, and become an executive coach/corporate consultant and trainer with a focus on the art of the question. "I identified the open-mindedness of ‘learner questions,’ which are optimistic, hopeful, and full of possibilities," says the founder and partner of the aptly-named Institute for Inquiring Leadership in Lambertville (.marilee@inquiringleader.net">www.marilee@inquiringleader.net).

Adams also zeroed in on the other side of the questioning coin, the "judger" questioning style, which is directed to assign blame and is decidedly negative in tone, often leading to a landscape of stress, inflexibility, and severe limitations.

The differences between "learner" and "judger" style questions may seem subtle, but the impact is powerful. Case in point: the question "Do we have the right talent?" by a CEO or manager can come across as loaded and judgmental, partially because of the tone of the asker, partly because it can imply blame. A "learner" question might be "How can we develop the talent we already have?" The latter instantly sets a hopeful, optimistic tone. "It’s as simple as asking yourself ‘What’s right with me?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with me?" says Adams, who also notes that right kinds of questions can deepen emotional intelligence and ultimately develop the power of inquiry in all realms of life and work. "Question Reluctance" – missed or avoided questions – characterizes many corporate cultures and can lead to disaster. Evidence has suggested, for example, that unasked questions may have contributed to the Challenger disaster, a major setback in the space program and an incalculable loss in human terms.

In relationships, the inability to ask open-minded "learner" questions can lead to profound interpersonal malfunctions, suggests Adams in her newly-released book, "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life."

The book’s simple, fable style that has won its author acclaim. "The parable is easy to read, and quite entertaining. The lessons are clear and taught beautifully through the story spun by the author," says Beverly Kaye, Founder of Career Systems International, and co-author of the best-seller "Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em." "Hearing somebody say ‘This book truly saved my marriage’ can be a very special reward," says Adams. "Because two chapters are about the main character’s relationship with his wife, I think it hits home both for business, and for the personal. And both areas surely affect our lives profoundly."

In her book, Adams provides some guidelines for practicing non-judgmental questioning:

‘Think of a personal or professional situation in which you are stuck, frustrated, or want a change. Use the following list of assumption-busting questions to help you take a disciplined approach to unearthing assumptions that might be blocking or limiting your success. For best results, consider each question thoroughly in light of the specific situation and write down what you discover. Often, the very act of writing it out can stimulate deeper reflection and discoveries.

"What assumptions am I making about myself, for example, my capabilities and commitments?

"What assumptions am I making about others, for example, their capabilities and commitments?

"What am I assuming, based on previous experiences, that may not be true now?

"What am I assuming about available resources?

"What limitations am I assuming to be so – and what surprises might I find?

"What am I assuming about external circumstances or ‘reality’?

"What am I assuming about what’s impossible – or what’s possible?"

– Sally Friedman


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