A New Series Gets Entrepreneurs Going

Without sales and marketing and careful attention to bookkeeping and finances, no business can succeed. That is the theory behind a new series of seminars offered by the Rutgers-Newark Small Business Development Center. The series, "2005 Business Essentials," was developed to teach "key values everyone needs to grow their business," says Tendai Ndoro, the regional director of the Rutgers-Newark SBDC. The first installment in the four-series curriculum takes place on Thursday, January 20, at 9 a.m., at the Rutgers University Newark campus. Cost for one class is $45, while the entire series is available for $150. Call 973-353-5950.

The Rutgers-Newark SBDC is one of 11 small business development centers in New Jersey. Each runs its own series of seminars and programs. Right now, Ndoro says, her center is the only one offering the Business Essentials program.

The new program was developed after several years of work with business owners and prospective entrepreneurs throughout the area. "We conducted surveys with businesspeople to find out which topics would be most essential to help them grow their business," she says. "These are the things that kept coming up when we asked business owners what they needed." The four seminars are:

Building Alliances. This seminar is designed to help participants identify the right business opportunities and contacts and to learn techniques and tactics to maximize them. "The seminar is designed to give the business person the resources to grow and succeed in business as well as to develop lifelong strategic partnerships and business relationships," says Ndoro.

Partnering is one type of business alliance Ndoro strongly recommends to her clients. "Partnering means having a 360 degree peripheral vision. Look for partners with complementary services that will enhance your product," she says. "It will increase your sales and increase your service to your clients."

Marketing Strategies. More than just teaching strategies, says Ndoro, this workshop helps business owners find their own "marketing differentiation style." Participants learn how to position themselves and their business to get the visibility they need.

Sales. "Selling is an art and we all have to learn it," says Ndoro. The sales workshop addresses how to read the body language cues that result in a deal, negotiating for win/win, and sales communication.

QuickBooks. This computer-based workshop is a bridge from manual bookkeeping to computer-based financial management and teaches a basic knowledge of QuickBooks Simple Start. Participants receive a free 30 day QuickBooks demo CD to take home.

"We are not trying to peddle Quickbooks. You don’t have to buy the software," she says, "but our clients must compete in the world we live in and that means using computers." The workshop includes hands-on use of the software in the computer lab.

The workshops are $45 each or $150 if you register for all four in the series. Each workshop is scheduled three times throughout the year. "The great thing about this is that you can register for all four at once at a discounted rate; then decide when you want to attend throughout the year," says Ndoro. "You can only attend each workshop once, but you have the flexibility of choosing when to attend the workshops from the three cycles."

Ndoro was born in Zimbabwe, but has lived in the United States "for about half" of her life. She has been with the Rutgers-Newark SBDC since 2003, and came to the center with several years of experience in small business. She owned her own business, EDC Trainers, where she worked with non-profit and micro enterprises, for several years. She is also a certified business trainer with U.S.AID, the United States Agency for International Development.

One of the many "essentials" Ndoro wants her clients to learn through the seminars is "impression management." Whether the first contact is made through a website, E-mail or letter, a telephone call or conference call, or face-to-face, "first impressions always counts," she says, "and you want to make sure you give the best effect."

"Business is very sophisticated these days," she says. "If a business owner is not operating at that same level, he or she is not a player." Many new business owners tell her "’because I am small and new it is not expected of me.’" Not true, she says. It is also not true, in her opinion, that it costs too much money to create that image or impression – another common argument from those who do not want to put forward the effort.

Creating a great first impression is often not about spending a lot of money. "Make sure when you communicate with a new client or customer that you are clear about what you are selling and that you are confident and believe in your product," she says. Whether speaking with a client or writing a letter or E-mail, "start by being formal," she advises. "Then, as you get to know the person, you can become less formal." Never, however, whether speaking or writing, use colloquial or "street language."

Dress is another way in which a business and its employees make a quick first impression on customers. "The way you and your employees dress show the personality of your business," says Ndoro. One final, and very important note on impressions: "Every business will have a problem at some point," she says. "How it is handled that leaves the impression on the client. Impression is what is left when the image is gone."

The seminars also stress the difference between marketing and sales. "People often confuse the two," says Ndoro, "but marketing is about how a business promotes itself, while sales is actually getting the transaction.

"You can do all of the other things about managing your business, but the bottom line is, if you don’t make sales you won’t make money," she says. Underselling services is a mistake often made by new business owners, she finds. New business owners are often afraid to price their services too high, and so sell their products or services below market price. "This is a penetration price, but then they are left trying to increase their prices when they have already made a name for themselves as a low-cost service," she says. "Sometime they get into a situation where their sales increase but they are running at a loss."

The goal of the Essentials of Business seminars is to help new business owners become successful at both sales and management. But even that is not enough – and should not be a final goal. "You can’t grow your business if you are working in your business," says Ndoro. "You must work for the business, instead."

– Karen Hodges Miller

Achieving Operational Excellence

TQM and BPR. What on earth do they mean? Edward W. Deming and Michael Hammer – who are these guys?

Although thousands of books have been written on how organizations can improve operations to gain a strategic advantage or competitive edge, if you have recently been charged with changing the course your organization is steering, where do you start?

For the record, Deming introduced statistical methods to industrial production and total quality management (TQM) to the Japanese in the 1940s, creating a super power in cost-effective manufacturing. In the 1980s Hammer was the first to preach casting off the tried and true inside an organization to re-engineer business processes (BPR) with as few hand-offs and as little waste as possible, reaping greater efficiencies.

On Friday, January 21, at 1 p.m. Rutgers University’s Center for Continuing Professional Development, in partnership with Orion Development Group, a process management consulting firm, hosts a free open house preview of its upcoming Process Management Certificate Series. Call 732-932-1458 for registration or for more information. The series, a comprehensive set of seminars designed to teach professionals how to help their companies develop competitive strategies and achieve operational excellence, incorporates the wisdom of Deming, Hammer, and other management gurus.

Rutgers designed the certificate series to help professionals obtain process management skills. Leading companies such as Alcoa, IBM, and Intel, among others, employ process management to reshape the way their organizations function to achieve superior quality, speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

Business processes are the natural activities performed to produce value, serve customers, and generate income. Anyone in an organization who touches the customer, from sales to the maintenance department, does so through a series of steps called a process. But managing these processes requires a broad set of skills and competencies that few professionals possess naturally. The combination of technical skills, people skills, political acumen, and strategic creativity needed to meet this challenge is not common. On top of that, changing the way any organization operates is not for the faint of heart. Thus the adage – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

According to Richard J. Novak, associate vice president for continuous education and distance learning at Rutgers, "the open house on January 21 will introduce companies to success stories in process management, and help companies decide whether to send employees to Rutgers’ public seminars this spring or to conduct customized training within their workplace."

Professionals from Orion Development Group teach the series and travel around the country providing customized workshops, facilitation, planning, and consulting to clients in all industries. In addition to Rutgers, Orion instructors offer public seminar training sessions at universities from coast to coast, including Pepperdine University, Michigan State, University of Florida, University of Texas, and Colorado State.

Lead instructor Bob Boehringer, Orion’s vice president of process management services, has more than 15 years of experience helping professionals improve quality and productivity through process improvement methodologies such as TQM and BPR.

Over the last decade Boehringer has trained more than 10,000 people from both private and public sector organizations, including Becton-Dickinson, Bowne, Citibank, EDS, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Pitney Bowes. Prior to becoming a consultant, Boehringer worked for DuPont, Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, and Pepsi-Cola. With a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, he is a member of the American Society for Quality, the Association for Quality and Participation, and the Institute of Industrial Engineers.

According to Boehringer, you either manage your processes or they manage you. Whether it’s financial risk, or the risk of losing a customer due to poor service – whatever your organization is facing, if the process does not deliver the goods and services required to satisfy and sustain the customer, it’s due to either a design failure or a deployment failure

"If your business was not designed to deliver the services needed of the people you serve, then no matter how hard you torture the process, you’re not going to achieve your mission," he says. "On the other hand, if a design is capable of achieving success just once, then it has the capability of being successfully deployed. If you’re not achieving the desired outcome on a consistent basis, it’s a deployment problem, not design failure. Process management is a pure mathematical or scientific way of looking at a problem."

But rather than turning to either math or science when a problem comes up, most companies just throw money at it. "Many different constituencies have demands on a product or service, not just the paying customer," says Boehringer. "We use the acronym: SOCCER, meaning the suppliers, owners, customers, community, employees, and regulatory compliance bodies, all of which have expectations. Once you define expectations, many of which are in conflict, by the way, you have to decide who you’re going to serve and who you’re not. Then you need to ask: in order for this product or service to satisfy all of these requirements, what are the ingredients needed at the front end – as if you were baking a cake. And if you’re deficient in any one of these, then it’s going to diminish the outcome. No matter how you cut it."

Among the most important elements of process management are:

Viewing the organization as a "whole system" rather than a collection of departments or discrete pieces.

Identifying core processes and clarifying the real objectives.

Selecting the right measures to focus all links of the process value chain on cross-functional performance.

Linking strategic objectives and customer needs to process management.

Analyzing process data to recognize systemic flaws requiring process redesign.

Resolving conflict and achieving buy-in from functional managers.

Boehringer says that the New Jersey series is frequently attended by employees of municipal governments, utilities, financial institutions, pharmaceutical, and shipping companies. As an example, pharmaceutical companies send people with responsibility for everything from FDA filings or compliance issues to those on the operations side dealing with capacity constraint or production line consistency issues.

While it’s possible to attain certification in four to six months, a more realistic timeframe for students who work full time and have other commitments, is generally six to nine months. The course work, which consists of four, two-day core classes, and an additional one-day elective, is designed to force the students to experience hands-on applications, not just memorize theory.

"Our intent is to prepare them how to think and do this kind of work so that they’re completely proficient," says Boehringer. " Our job is to plant the seed and then act as a lever to help people identify their issues, bring on their changes, so that they define and then deploy the solution."

– Fran Ianacone

Growing Leaders

Leaders are heroic, strong, and flawless. On the battlefield, we envision Alexander; in the board room, it’s giants like Morgan, Rockefeller, and Gates. The rest of us think we must muddle along as mere managers. But Stephen Payne just doesn’t buy it.

According to Payne, the seeds of leadership lie in us all, and it is the developing of these abilities that leads to business success. In an attempt to help us all meet our New Year’s goals and wishes, the Princeton Chamber of Commerce offers a leadership event, "Make 2005 a Growth Year," on Friday, January 21, at 8 a.m. at Rider University’s Sweigert Hall. Cost: $75 for members, $100 non-members. Call 609-924-1776 or visit www. princetonchamber.org.

This day-long session is less a seminar than a one-on-one chance for individual business owners and executives to work out specific tactics with Payne, founder of Leadership Strategies, which has offices at 140 Hunt Drive in Princeton. "Our aim is to have everyone walk away with a very clear set of goals and a new tool kit for reaching them," says Payne.

Ask any hunter in England. For generations, the Payne family name has marked the finest in hand made sporting guns. It is from this heritage of individual craftsmen working with pride on precision instruments that the Payne developed his ideals of what breeds success in business.

Despite a quarter century in Princeton, Payne still maintains a strong accent and affection for his native England. Born in Birmingham, Payne attended the University of Aston in his home town, earning a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in l974. He then joined P.A. Consulting, a company then based on Princeton-Hightstown Road, becoming CEO. Ten years ago he founded Leadership Strategies (www.leaderX.com), which provides individual coaching and corporate consulting to executives of all size companies. His book "The First Rule of Leadership," expresses his integrated success philosophy for both a business and its individuals.

"Probably the greatest misconception about leadership comes from a system that assures us that we are no good at leading and there is nothing we can do about it," says Payne. A leader is someone, anyone, who can get the right people behind the right project and inspire them to do their best. Most of us have done this sporadically already. Payne merely wants executives to expand it into their major goal.

Hand in glove. "Simply, your business will never grow if you don’t," says Payne. To head a bigger company, you yourself must become a bigger person and a stronger leader. First, you must discover your own strengths and define them sharply. Then, define with equal clarity the precise goals of your business. Every meeting you call must be aimed toward the goal. And your personal strengths must be applied to those areas of optimum effect. In short, you will be constantly thinking, and it will become contagious.

For Payne, it is of prime importance that leadership flow to all levels of the staff, and not be viewed as a top’s only thing. Fond of historic analogy, he cites as team effort the historic British victory against the overwhelming French forces in the 1415 battle of Agincourt. Was the victory won by Prince Henry, who inspired his troops, or by the ranks of English bowmen who had devoted years to the practice of archery? How about the blacksmith who developed the special armor-piercing barb or the privateer sailor who smuggled in yew wood from Spain to make the famed English long bows? Payne’s answer: leadership rises from all levels.

Flawed leaders. Every year thousands of consultants trouser millions of dollars by pointing out some employee’s weaknesses and trying to coach them into strengths. Payne believes that people were not born to be crammed into petrified job descriptions, but rather that descriptions should be flexed to the individual. Each executive should vigorously define his weaknesses, along with his strengths, and then should note exactly what he can do best. The rest should be delegated.

You may be a remarkably inventive entrepreneur who cannot crunch numbers or market to save your fiscal life. You can invest time and funds and raise yourself to almost adequate in either of these fields. Or you can seize the leadership opportunity and set some accounting and marketing experts on the fast track of their own personal strength, teaming them with yours.

The great fertilizer. An aged university professor once remarked sagely: "Out there among us right now are better poets than Homer and better playwrights than Shakespeare. It is our job to find them." Payne sees this as the goal of every business leader as well. In his view, a good leader walks the floor of his plant looking at each employee and saying "what can I do to help you perform, or lead better?" Much of this entails matching each individual to his greatest capabilities; then creating the ideal soil in which workers will grow and achieve.

While Payne believes strongly in leadership meetings and specific training, he takes a dim view of retreats and team building exercises. Climbing a wall or going camping is artificial and can prove distracting. Any group incapable of solving its problems, as he puts it, "at the kitchen table – in the real world," has something sadly lacking, and may not be the right team to begin with.

Growth comes when each individual plies his greatest strength on the same rope in the same direction as his teammates. Setting the group effort in motion requires leaders. They need not be flawless, just ardently willing to rise to the challenge. Oh, and Alexander? Yes indeed, he was a great man. But it doesn’t hurt to have the world’s most efficient and dedicated fighting machine dumped in your lap as a present from daddy on your 18th birthday. The warrior’s greatness came in getting himself and those around him to work a little harder at what they wanted to do anyway.

– Bart Jackson

Greening Up

The idea of preserving the environment and keeping the air, soil, and water clean for future generations is not new, but what is getting noticed is the idea of involving a whole community and making the protection of natural resources the mandate of local government. The greening of a community has become a way of life in Lawrence Township, whose motto is: "Where nature smiles for twenty miles." It is also where the mayor, Pam Mount, has also spent the last 30 years promoting the idea that people should eat healthy foods and live healthy lifestyles. She is an owner of Terhune Orchards, where her family grows some 35 crops on almost 200 acres of land off Cold Soil Road. Says Mount, "on the farm our whole livelihood is dependent on the land and how healthy the soil is. "

That is one of the reasons why Mount has put together the "Greening of Lawrence Township Environmental Forum" on Saturday, January 22, at 8:30 a.m. at the Clark Music Building at the Lawrenceville School. The morning includes a panel discussion as well as more informal group discussions about the future possibilities for preserving the environment. The event is free and registration is not required. Refreshments are furnished by Terhune Orchards, Maidenhead Bagel, and Small World Cafe. Additional information and directions can be viewed at www.lawrenceville.org/index.htm. Call 609-620-7664.

The keynote speaker is Sarah James, town planner and author of the book "The Natural Step," which discusses community-based efforts in Scandinavia to protect the environment.

James adds insight into ways citizens can adapt those techniques to other towns, specifically towns like Lawrence, to make a more pleasant, environmentally responsible way of life for everyone. She talks about directing schools and businesses to use recycled paper, eat local foods, and use solar power instead of fossil fuels. Mount says such issues are especially important in a state as densely populated as New Jersey.

"Here we are in the middle of the state and the middle of the county with a lot of roads that go through us," she says. "We are literally a crossroads and can be in the environmental sense as well." After the introduction and talk by James, attendees break into four workshops focusing on what homeowners can do, what businesses can do, and what schools and the community at large can do to build sustainable communities.

A few years ago Mount started a community foundation in Lawrence with a few friends and every year they host an informal community event. "We’ve generated solutions for needs in the community that hadn’t been met," she says. "Then we said let’s focus this a little instead of keeping it open-ended, and that’s how we hit on doing something about the environment, improving it and protecting it in line with our town motto. The headmaster of the Lawrenceville School, who is a trustee of the foundation, decided the science department would host the community collaboration. The school itself is involved in making the curriculum more appropriate for environment, and it all fit right in with the theme for the school."

It’s also about fitting in with the concept of "sustainability," which includes such ideas as open space preservation, recycling, smart growth initiatives, and climate change initiatives. In Lawrence Township it has meant building bike trails and greenways, getting the community to start a conversation with the weight of its citizens behind it to get the job done. "It’s how to empower people individually and as a group," says Mount. "There’s nothing we can do about the traffic and the trash if we don’t start somewhere. If our town does something and it leads to other towns doing something as well, it will all build to a positive outcome. We’re not inventing new concepts here. It’s a matter of raising people-to-people consciousness."

Panel members include Mikey Azzara of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Anthony Cancro of the EPA, Phil Caton with Clarke, Caton and Hintz, Anne Demerais of the Lawrence Greenway Committee, Pamela Frank of the Sun Farm Network, Josh Hahn of the Lawrenceville School, Leanne Kruger, director of the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphian, Noelle MacKay of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Montclair Township Planner Gary Russel, Elizabeth Sword of the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, Mike Winka with the Lawrence Board of Education, Steve Tieman, a vice president of Estee Lauder, and Jerry Ford of Ford 3 Architects.

There are ways of building that are damaging, but there are also ways that are preserving. "For example, you can take advantage of a building’s orientation and the sun and protect it from the winds," says Ford. "How do you insulate a building, how do you persuade a client to best use a building, these are the kinds of questions we try to answer."

His firm, launched last year, is located at 32 Nassau Street in Princeton. His clients include the Delaware and Raritan Greenways at Johnson Education Center off Rosedale in Princeton. "We’re converting their barn into a headquarters and in doing so, we’re recycling an old building, trying to preserve as much of it as we can," he says. "We’re making it energy efficient with retrofits. The idea is to recycle old buildings and make new uses for them. Lawrence Township has lots of old houses that can be retrofitted in this way and is taking the lead in these environmental issues."

Ford has been in architectural practice since 1965 and over that period has seen concern about the environment swing like a pendulum. "There was a period in the late 1970s when everybody was concerned about solar heat, then it moved to passive solar, and now we’re in a much more sensible swing of the pendulum," says Ford. "The concern is more holistic about how we sustain the environment. Now we’re trying to find materials that don’t deplete natural resources. We try to recycle things in building. There are a lot of flooring materials that are now made of chunks of recycled items. Paints now have fewer chemicals. And the whole movement has led to a certification process to check how thorough buildings have been in their adjustment to environmental issues."

For example, Ford says, now some questions being asked when new development is contemplated include issues such as whether there are bicycle racks so that people are going to be encouraged to ride bikes to work as opposed driving. You can earn points for using certain types of insulation, using a geothermal system, bringing energy out of the ground to heat the building. There is much more of an environmental awareness in the entire building process. And, he says, while the certification process costs money, it’s the right thing to do because it’s environmentally responsible.

"A lot of the issues we’re talking about have been around for a long time," he says, "but now it’s an issue of looking at this as a package and making progress as a community. We have to look what we can do to reverse the unfortunate trend of depleting natural resources."

There are four basic guiding objectives for a sustainable society based on the natural step framework. The idea is to develop policies and practices that ultimately :

Eliminate the community’s contribution to fossil fuel dependence and to wasteful use of scare metals and minerals.

Eliminate the community’s contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances.

Eliminate the community’s contribution to encroachment upon nature, for example, land, water, wildlife, forests, soil and ecosystems.

Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.

As Mount says, none of this is revolutionary. The day-long community meeting, then, is an exercise in finding ways to make common sense prevail – a process that is generally a whole lot more difficult than it sounds.

– Euna Kwon Brossman

Orchestrating Fundraising Success

It has become somewhat of a tradition for a big name keynote speaker to open an event, but when the annual Community Works Conference kicks off at Princeton University later this month, the keynote is the Princeton High School orchestra. The student musicians open the annual meeting by playing a 20 minute program to demonstrate the ideas of successful management principles, including, if you will, "orchestrating" for success.

Non-profit consultant and Community Works Conference founder Marge Smith calls it an innovative way to introduce young people to nonprofits, organizations that are doing important work for which there is very little formal training. "If the orchestra leader tries to play all the instruments you can’t accomplish much," she says. "You end up playing on the wrong page. There’s the importance of delegation of responsibilities."

These ideas are at the core of the Community Works Conference, taking place on Monday, January 24, at 5 p.m. at the Frist Campus Center, Princeton University. Some 150 local nonprofit organizations will be represented at the event, which brings volunteers, board members, and workshop leaders together to brainstorm what nonprofits need to do their work better.

Nineteen different workshops are offered, among them, how to get your event into the papers, how to develop an organized website, how to run an effective meeting, and how to build a winning team. Attendees can pick up pointers on how to speak in public with greater ease, and especially important for a nonprofit, how to manage funds and maintain a budget. Smith, who founded the conference after seven years as the executive director of the YWCA of Princeton, says the conference will help individuals, paid or volunteer, to find out what other organizations are doing and to gain the skills to become involved in a meaningful way. Community Works supports the partnership between volunteers and nonprofit agencies by helping them network and by training people to accomplish their work.

One of the workshops, "How to Fail at Fundraising," run by Ralph Serpe, vice president of the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF), has a tongue-in-cheek title but a very serious mission – to help fundraisers understand the biggest mistakes they can make in raising money so they can avoid them. "While the title is negative, we will encourage people to share their own mistakes so everybody can learn from them," he says. "We guarantee that if you follow these points, you’ll be out of business in no time."

Created in 1991, the PACF manages more than 150 individual, family, and corporate funds as well as nonprofit agency endowments, and is one of over 660 community foundations across the nation and the world. The foundation’s goal is to raise the level of charitable giving in central New Jersey by connecting individuals, corporations, and nonprofits to each other and to the issues and causes that matter to them.

Serpe came to the foundation in 2002 after working with the Community Foundation Silicon Valley in San Jose. "I worked with a lot of Cisco millionaires and discovered there’s a way to excite people and make a connection between them and the organizations that are doing work that means something to them," he says. Once the connection was made, he found that the dot-comers were willing to give their time, energy, and dollars.

Serpe, who has an undergraduate degree in economics from the State University of New York at Fredonia, started working in banking straight out of school, first for Chase Manhattan Bank and then for Wells Fargo Bank. After jumping to non-profit work he discovered he loved it and never looked back. His expertise on fundraising stems from years on the front line of advisor services, working with donors, their attorneys, and accountants. He’s been involved with communications, marketing, and asset development from the inside out, and has developed his workshop with the goal of giving people meaningful information they can use right away.

"What’s unique about Community Works is that we are given a direction to include the people in the community who have a talent that needs to be tapped," he says. "We ask people who they are, where they are from, and what they did in their prior life, and we can all learn something new."

How to fail at fundraising? It’s easy, says Serpe. Here are some of the ways that failures occur:

Going against your passion. Do not raise funds for an issue or cause you have no interest in, Serpe advises. Don’t raise money for arts when you have a keen interest in secondary education. It will be a chore, you will be bored, and you will make yourself miserable.

Feeling shame about asking for money. If you have a hang-up about money, you will fail at fundraising.

Going it alone. If you’re the type of person who feels you have to do it alone, you will fail at the complex job of fundraising. To succeed you need to engage a board and energize volunteers.

Flying blind. Holding out your hat is not nearly enough to start the dollars flowing. If you don’t develop a fundraising plan, you will fail.

Lacking the personal touch. Not finding the connection between your organization and the donor, whether it’s a corporation or an individual, is a recipe for mediocre fundraising results. You need to understand where that connection is so that the donor will become excited about helping out.

Selling yourself short. If you don’t go into a conversation as equals, you will fail. Do not go in with the attitude that you are the donor, a powerful person with lots of money, and I’m not. The attitude should be you have a desire to help eradicate homelessness and I have an organization that can help accomplish that goal. We can act as partners and attack the problem together.

Neglecting to establish relationships. If you want to fail, don’t ask people for help or information, and after they’ve given it to you, don’t thank them. You have to remember that donors are not ATMs and they don’t want to be treated like one-way money machines. Don’t go to them whenever you need money and ignore them the rest of the time. In the course of thanking them, let them know what’s going on with your organization. Keep the communication open.

Shunning proven fundraising strategies. If you want to fail, be sure to let your personal hang-ups about certain fundraising strategies stop you from doing them. If you can’t stand direct mail, for example, don’t do it. If you have the attitude that special events take too much time energy and money, don’t expend the effort. Some people don’t like phone-a-thons. By all means, avoid them – and you will fail.

So, it’s not much of trick to fail as a fundraiser. Succeeding, it appears, takes empathy, confidence, people skills, and planning. Just the topics the Community Works conference is set to tackle.

– Euna Kwon Brossman

Profitable Mentoring

The worst thing about a cube farm is that nobody peaks over his cube. Too many offices are set up like a housing development that no one has made the effort to transform into a neighborhood. People don’t get tapped on the shoulder and taken into the inner sanctum by some member of the old guard.

We tell ourselves that business races at too fast a pace now for the luxury of old-fashioned mentoring. Besides, nobody stays with a company long enough to get brought along, anyway. Of course the reason employees flip in and out like hotcakes might be that their firm has not provided them with any personal incentive to stay.

For executives who cringe at the cost of constant retraining and seek a more desirable workplace, the Tri-State Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Professionals presents "Strategies and Tactics for Mentoring and Coaching" on Tuesday, January 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Cherry Hill. Cost $40. Call 856-216-1177, ext. 3 or visit www.tristatehr.org. The seminar features Judith Lindenberger, training consultant and founder of the Lindenberger Group, based in Titusville, and Pennington-based corporate coach Linda Sepe.

For the last quarter century Lindenberger has sought to personalize today’s tough job culture for the benefit of both employee and owner. Lindenberger grew up in Yardley and in l976 graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in arts and communication. She then earned an MBA in human resource management from Drexel University. Taking her skills to the Federal Aviation Agency, Lindenberger came on board as an employee developer just as that agency was slapped with a massive suit in the new area of sexual harassment.

"I was on the road for a year, giving this harassment workshop I had developed to FAA officials," she recalls. "And believe me, back in the early-1980s, this was not what they wanted to hear."

After working as a human resource trainer for several large companies, Lindenberger opened her own shop three years ago. The Lindenberger Group coaches and sets mentoring programs for such clients as Dow Jones, Horizon Blue Cross, and the New Jersey Department of Education.

"The process of corporate mentoring is more one of sharing than just instructing," insists Lindenberger. When General Electric’s former CEO Jack Welsh began a program of linking new employees in their 20s with senior managers in their 50s, an odd benefit occurred. The new, untrained younger people showed the veterans a whole new youth market. The oldsters discovered what this generation was seeking and developed new product lines to fill the need. The mentoring program at GE indeed was worthwhile, and produced benefits far above and beyond expectations. Here is how any firm can reap similar rewards:

Make the commitment. Almost everyone believes that bringing new employees up to speed is a good idea. Unfortunately, the sole protocol for achieving this in most companies is: "Hey, Jim, show this new guy the ropes, O.K.?" Chances are slim that such an effort will bond Jim and the novice at the hip.

Mentoring should be a program with scheduled time and resources. It demands both formal and informal sessions, and goes beyond the one-on-one. Senior management must send the message that mentoring is an expected function of the work day, not idle schmoozing gobbling up precious company time. Here’s how to get started:

Pairing. The odds of correctly selecting which mentee pairs off with which mentor can seem as daunting as choosing the Belmont trifecta. As companies continually flatten out their traditional hierarchies, the old idea of naming a successor and taking him under your wing may not apply. Jobs are too specialized, and more frequently are custom-tailored to individual abilities than to some set title.

It’s not always older paired with younger or veteran with newcomer. Instead, knowledge is the prime mentoring directive. "Pair your new person with someone who has the information he wants to learn," she says. "His natural ambition and desire for the knowledge will hold the two together." If you work it so that both are giving information, personal chemistry becomes a secondary consideration, and the factors of age, gender, and race are distant thirds.

Nudge of encouragement. Not everyone will gleefully welcome becoming a mentor. Despite the implied flattery, training is, after all, just one more thing that takes time out of the work day. At this point, management can step in and provide helpful enticements.

Interestingly, Lindenberger has found that Baby Boomers typically make excellent and willing mentors. It is this group who are now running companies or are making major decisions. They have, after a few decades experience, learned teamwork, and they do not want to retire.

"This is a generation with a huge career drive," says Lindenberger, "and if offered a coaching consultancy will often jump at it."

The Me Generation – those who burst upon the work scene in the mid-1980s – Lindenberger notes, need a little more motivation. They want to know what is in it for them. Show them that mentoring is linked to career enhancement, and this group may prove more willing to test the waters. She suggests such things as formal congratulations, publicity, and awards, such as "Mentor of the Year," to help create this atmosphere.

Each of us wants to peek over the top of the cubicle, find out how everything fits together and rub elbows with the people who are making it happen. A good mentoring manager can provide a pathway for this natural curiosity, while at the same time vastly increasing cross-cube communication, understanding, and cooperation.

– Bart Jackson

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