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You want the woman who is searching for a cure for cancer to be
passionate about the efficacy of her investigative methods; you want
the computer designer to be convinced that his ideas on incorporating
usability features are sound. "You want technical people to have an
opinion," says training expert and executive coach Dan Treadwell, "and
heaven knows, they have an opinion!"
In his opinion, this trait is "both a blessing and a curse." It gives
pharmaceutical researchers, computer engineers, aerospace scientists,
architects of mathematical models, and their ilk the passion to power
forward – and to change the world.
It can also make them lousy managers. It is generally excellence at
their work that wins technology workers the promotions that put them
in a position to supervise others, points out Treadwell. But that
expertise all too often fails to translate into leadership. He
addresses the issue in "Developing Technical Leaders," a talk he is
giving on Thursday, May 4, at 5:30 p.m. at a meeting of the Mid-NJ
Association of Training and Development at the Princeton Courtyard
Marriott. Cost: $40. Call 609-737-6832.
Treadwell started his work life, in the early-1970s, at the top. At
age 18 he became a bank manager in his native Ohio, simply because "I
was a male," he says. In need of funds to pay for college, he took a
job at the bank and immediately found himself in charge of his
mostly-female co-workers, including the mother of his sister’s
ex-boyfriend. "I had been her paperboy," he says.
So, how did he handle the leadership role?
"Very badly," he says. "All I knew about bosses was what I had seen on
TV. It was all about power. It was ‘Take a letter!’"
The women he supervised set him right, and nicely too. "These women
were wonderful," he recalls, some 30 years later. "They pulled me
aside and said ‘This is how it works.’"
Early lessons in leadership, and a degree from Wooster College (Class
of 1979), under his belt, Treadwell soon headed to New Jersey, where,
in 1980, he became one of the first employees of Dana Communications
in Hopewell. He stayed there for eight years, doing a little of
everything at first, before gravitating to business, and becoming the
agency’s business manager. From there he worked at QLM as controller,
and then at Blessing White, the leadership consulting firm, as CFO.
While he is enthusiastic about Blessing White, he says that he came to
realize that his job there was a poor fit. He had fallen in love with
the work the company did, and especially with executive coaching,
while at the same time becoming convinced that he was not the best CFO
for the growing company.
He wanted to be a consultant too, but lacked the formal education and
the credentials to be one, or so he thought. His wife, Priscilla
Blessing, who works for Bloomberg in Skillman, convinced him to give
it a try anyway. His employer agreed to give him a shot at the work on
a trial basis, asking only that he find and train a replacement CFO
The trial was a success, and after working for the company as a
consultant for nearly a decade, Treadwell went out on his own in 2000,
founding Treadwell Training and Consulting (609-737-9933). He consults
to larger training companies, including Blessing White, and also does
executive coaching, working exclusively with managers in technology
Sometimes he is called in to groom a tech star for management, and
other times his assignment is to salvage the career of a technology
manager whose lack of interpersonal skills is making him a poor
leader. Whenever possible, he observes the floundering executive
working with his team, always stressing that the coaching is a
positive thing, that it means his skills are so highly valued that the
company wants to retain him. Here is the advice that he gives:
Listen openly to other people. No one is really great at this key
skill, says Treadwell, but technology experts may be a little worse
than the general population. "They’re trained as problem solvers, as
linear thinkers," he says. They have had success with their methods,
and often try to push them onto others – with the best possible
intentions. "They really want to help," he says.
This attitude can make it difficult for the technology manager to
listen to others’ ideas, and to respect other ways of doing things.
"Technology people really love the work they are doing," says
Treadwell. Sometimes that zeal can backfire, though. "They may think
their way is the best way," he says, "but there are always a variety
of ways to do things."
The good manager needs to be able to step aside as the expert. "That’s
hard for all of us," says Treadwell, "but to motivate tech people, you
have to let the experts be the experts. It’s key."
Demonstrate the value. No one likes to be told to do something
"because I told you to do it." Everyone want to see the big picture,
and this is especially true with intellectually gifted people in
technology fields. The effective manager takes time to let his people
know why the tasks they are assigned are important, and how they fit
in with a bigger goal.
If a manager has to pull a scientist off a project in which he is
passionately involved to take care of something else, he has to tell
him why it is important. "This is a show me population," says
Treadwell. "You need to be able to answer that ‘why’?
Create breathing room. Micromanaging is a trap that ensnares a number
of technology managers. Step back, is Treadwell’s advice. Set goals
for your team members, and then let them work toward them without
Provide support. The opposite of micromanaging, creating a supportive
atmosphere involves making sure that workers have the tools and the
environment in which they can flourish.
"Be an advocate for your people," says Treadwell. "Find out what they
need. Clear space for them to succeed. Accomplish this, says
Treadwell, "and everyone looks good."
America’s 10.5 million IT workers are not enough to fill the bill. So
said the Information Technology Association of America when it took a
national count in 2003. Two years later virtually every analyst echoes
this call. IT’s product – information – is now recognized at the
blessed sap on which all business survives and thrives. We desperately
depend on the techies who can sort through it, arrange it, and make it
accessible to us all. But can we make these techies happy and keep
them reproducing their ranks?
The morale, retention, and training capability of the IT workforce,
discussed in "The Job Market is Improving:Is Your Staff Happy?" is one
of three major topics on tap at the New Jersey Technology Council’s
CIO Conference on Friday, May 6, at 9:15 a.m. at the Harrison
Conference Center on Scudders Mill Road. Cost $175. Call 856-787-9700
or visit www. NJTC.org.
Bill Beattie, vice president of Oceanport-based CommVault acts as
moderator of the panel, with panelists Jerry Luftman, executive
director, Stevens Institute School of Management; Edward Chapel,
associate vice president for IT, Montclair State University; and Dale
Bolger, CIO of Oki Data Americas of Mount Laurel.
Other topics of discussion for this NJTC CIO Conference are "Vendor
Management Office" and "How to Run IT Like a Business." John Roddy,
CIO of Telcordia Technologies is the keynote speaker.
"We are definitely on the verge an upswing in the IT labor force
cycle, even if it is a little slower than anticipated," says Luftman.
He says that the l990s sellers’ market for IT professionals was based
largely on E-commerce and Y2K and was followed by an economic downturn
that decreased demand. The cycle is turning again, and demand is up.
For the past 35 years, this native New Yorker has witnessed the flow
of the latest technologies and those who manage it. As a student at
New York University, Luftman took on several majors, including
management and computer science. During his 22 years at IBM, he helped
establish the IBM Consulting Group – the world’s largest. He is the
author of "Competing in the Information Age," and has served as
president for the Society of Information Management.
Luftman sees the national craving for information technology personnel
as all part of the same problem.
Techie reproduction. "As we entered the new millennium, the economic
sky was falling and everyone was saying, ‘who needs IT workers?”’
says Luftman. "Their fate, after all, is directly linked to our
prosperity." Economic growth is now increasing and along with the
growth comes demand for IT skills, but it may not be easy to fill,
because training capacity dwindled in tandem with the drought in job
Library schools, responsible for turning out thousands of research
experts each year, are closing nationwide, and computer classes have
been cut back. Universities have begun to focus their IT training on
research aspects. In private industry, many IT tasks have been
The problems of international IT outsourcing are many and increasingly
apparent as valued records flit back and forth between differing
cultures. "America and its companies fear the idea of outsourcing
their IT," says Luftman, "but they are making it a self-fulfilling
prophecy unless they provide the number of info tech courses required.
We already know that IT jobs will beat the supply. The more we have
here, the less we go offshore."
Academic barometer. Chapel sees evidence of a new IT hiring boom in
the fact that fewer applicants are turning up for jobs in academe.
When the IT market is down, he explains, professionals with those
skills naturally fall back to the lower paying university jobs. During
the recent slump, even these became competitive. "Two years ago, we
had a job for an MIS director, and were swamped with over 250
applicants," he says. "The harder times are, the more we in academia
get the pick of the litter."
But Chapel agrees with Luftman that this may not last. Today, he
notices a slight increase in the competitive pricing of private
industry compared with university jobs. It is not the IT boom everyone
anticipates yet, but it is a sign that another boom could be around
As this trickle of hiring grows to a hefty current, salaries will
rise. "Businesses can look forward to keeping their IT staffers happy
by offering competitive salaries," says Chapel. As both an academic
and an entrepreneur, Chapel says that universities can offer indirect
salary benefits and keep competitive in the oncoming expansion. The
university’s offer of free education for both the IT worker and for
his children, he points out, can roll into a remunerative package that
few private firms can match.
Born in Westwood, Chapel holds a B.A. in sociology from Ramapo
College (Class of l977) and a Ph.D. in sociology from New York
University. He has taught at Seton Hall and at other New Jersey
colleges, and has helped launch the venture capital television ratings
firm of R.D. Percy & Co. in Manhattan. "Percy was the best job I ever
held," he says. "For a sociologist, it was an ideal playground."
Today, at Montclair State University, he sees his job as "truly noble
work. You see our product at every graduation."
Interest quotient. For Luftman, the key to retaining IT workers is
simple – make the job increasingly interesting. "Benefits and salary
have shown themselves to be really secondary items – far down the list
– for IT employees," he say. Information technology specialists are
creative people who seek new challenges as much as any artist. The
retention solution, Luftman says, is to outsource the drudgery and
keep the intriguing work local.
While Chapel is less willing to dismiss pay, he agrees that challenge
plays a major role in retention. As for outsourcing, he has one simple
rule: "I never outsource anything I don’t understand." Let the routine
data input go to the cheapest source, but when it comes to new
technology, such as the telephony research going on at Montclair, that
Shoe leather commute. Beyond interesting work, Chapel points to the
ability of individuals to shape their work structure as a key
motivator and retention tool. Another important factor is the freedom
to work from anywhere, and to get to work without a long commute when
a visit to the office cannot be avoided.
Being able to walk, bicycle, or telecommute to work are important
concerns to all employees, but for screen-bound IT professionals it
can be a deal maker. While universities typically have a certain
advantage in providing close-at-hand housing, the more flexible hirer
will be the one voted most likely to retain.
Collaboration. Chapel notes an interesting reverse benefit of the
telecommute. One of the lures that he sees as sure to draw lone wolf
software workers from their basements is share sourcing. Joining a
large project automatically affords the involved individuals a broad
network of shared knowledge sources. This access to the real and cyber
community may entice even the most staunchly individualistic techie.
Most of the solutions for retaining IT professionals run along the
same lines as do retention hooks for all employees: give them an
interesting job, and a sense of purpose; keep them informed and pay
But what about the foosball tables, on-site accommodations for pets,
mini-gyms, and monster bonuses? Will it be necessary to pull out all
the stops, 1990s-style, to lure enough top IT professionals? Only time
– Bart Jackson
Just mention the name Terri Schiavo and strident opinions fly. When
the 41-year-old brain damaged Florida woman, after 15 years in a
vegetative state, finally died this past March 21, she had most
definitely not been allowed to go gently into that dark night. The
eight-year legal guardianship battle between husband Michael and her
parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had swirled into a gigantic
right-to-die controversy that called to arms religious groups,
theologians, the Vatican, senators, governors, and even the president.
The end of Schiavo’s life was a galvanizing issue. Websites such as
www.terrisfight.org supported the Schindlers’ wishes to keep Schiavo
on a feeding tube, because, as the parents put it, "her life and all
life is sacred." Equal numbers joined Michael Schiavo’s wish to remove
the feeding tubes, feeling, as he told reporters: "If one has to
depend on a machine to live, that’s no life at all."
Politicians, seizing the chance to make political hay, eagerly jumped
in. A disillusioned Cleatus Masterson, head of the Holy Roller Rink
and Church of the Red States, told his congregation that "I am
beginning to think that all George W. Bush and his brother Jeb are
interested in is getting Christian votes, without actually doing the
work of God." Yet regardless of motive, a flurry of proposed
legislation swirled around the dying woman’s last days. Watching the
widely reported drama, it was natural for people to wonder how to
ensure the end of life that they would want were they in Schiavo’s
In hopes of sorting out the issue the New Jersey State Bar Foundation
invites the public to "Honoring Your Wishes on Care and Finances Upon
Disability: The Impact of the Terri Schiavo Case on New Jersey
Families." This free panel discussion is held Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m.
at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Visit www.njsbf.com for
directions and more information. Speakers include Lawrence Friedman,
elder care attorney in Bridgewater, and Brenda McElnea, an attorney
with offices in West Orange.
If the only sure things are death and taxes, attorney Friedman has
them both covered. Friedman grew up in Jericho, New York, raised by a
tax lawyer father. After earning his undergraduate degree from the
State University of New York at Binghamton he returned to New York
City to earn a law degree, and then a master’s in taxation law, from
New York University. But even that was not preparation enough, and
Friedman soon saw the need for specialty in senior law. Today, in
addition to his personal practice, he gives senior citizen law
seminars and has served as the chair of the New Jersey State Bar
Association’s Elder Care Section.
"I don’t think you are likely to see the mad scramble in New Jersey
that took place in Florida," says Friedman. "The Karen Ann Quinlan
case made us a little better prepared and protected up here."
The Quinlan precedent. On April 15, l975, 21-year-old Karen Ann
Quinlan, after ingesting sedatives and alcohol, went into
cardiopulmonary arrest and slipped into a vegetative state. Legal
dispute arose between the hospital officials and the family. Seeking
to have their daughter removed from the life support system, the
parents sued for guardianship and right to refuse treatment. After
loosing in Superior Court, Karen’s father, Joseph, won in New Jersey
Supreme Court, and at his request, Karen was taken off the respirator.
In an ironic twist, after being removed from the respirator, Quinlan
continued to breathe and remained alive, though comatose, until June
The results of the Quinlan case were several and groundbreaking.
Hospitals began setting up bioethics committees with defined policies.
Precedent law transferred the definition of life away from working
heart and lungs into the realm of brain function. New Jersey passed a
bill stating that a patient’s privacy entailed the right to refuse
unwanted treatment. And probably most important of all, the state
recognized advance directives, allowing the patient to pre-state his
wishes on limits of care or to name a third party to make such
The importance of written directives. The central issue in the Schiavo
was the nebulous nature of each side’s claim to know the patient’s
wishes. "The real problem was that no one in the Schiavo family or
list of care givers could produce any written proof of what Terri’s
personal preferences were," says Friedman. "This lack of documentation
is just asking for trouble."
If a Schiavo-like situation should present itself and both the
hospital bioethics committee and all family members agree both on the
time and course of action, everything is fine. Support systems can be
removed with no legal problem. But if, as is more likely the case,
some disagreement arises, family members will be sent back to old
letters and tidbits of vague hearsay, each trying desperately to
scrounge up snippets of patient intent that will support their side.
"Obtaining a simple, thorough advanced directive for yourself voids
all new legislation that will come out of the Schiavo case," says
Advance directives. As a legal document, the advance directive
expresses your wishes on all levels of health care treatment. It
should first express your personal wishes on how much health care you
want and under what conditions you prefer to exist. This need not be
surgically precise. Typically, in extended support cases, the hospital
will inform the family that they see the patient as "in the terminal
stages of an irreversible condition."
Secondly, the advance directive should appoint a guardian to make
health care decisions in case of dementia, disability, or even
temporary unconsciousness. "You want this guardian to have the power
to step in, even on routine health matters," says Friedman. He
suggests that the patient also give power of attorney to an appointee
to handle financial and other matters.
"If an attorney tells you he can write you up a full advance directive
for $100, go elsewhere." says Friedman. If it is done right, this
document will cost several hundred dollars. In some cases, if
concurrently writing the individual’s basic will, attorneys may bundle
it into the total cost. "You spend $400 on s Superbowl party," says
Friedman. "Isn’t this worth at least that much?"
Updating. It should be obvious that stapling one’s advance directive
to one’s will is not a smart thing to do. Having the deceased’s wished
for hospice discovered three days after he is in the cold ground is,
to say the least, lamentable. Copies should go to all relevant
families, attorneys, and for anyone with a serious medical condition,
to the local hospital and the primary care giver.
This directive should be reviewed from time to time, advises Friedman.
"For example," he says, "anyone who has an advance directive that was
drawn more than a year ago has not considered the new privacy
legislation and may find himself unable to turn over medical documents
to the very ones he wants to have them,"
None of us knows when and under what conditions we will face our final
days. And the current new wave of right-to-die legislation may rock or
bolster deeply held personal convictions. But in New Jersey, with a
little forethought and some documentation, your wishes can be honored.
– Bart Jackson
Katherine Eban is a woman who grabs opportunities and runs with them.
Trained as a clown and trapeze artist, she was forced to abandon her
dreams for an entertainment career when she injured her back midway
into her freshman year at Brown University. After graduating with
majors in English literature and creative writing, she continued her
academic focus with a Rhodes Scholarship, but through a series of work
experiences gradually transformed herself into a medical investigative
journalist. She eventually landed a reporting job at the New York
Times, but after three years quit to follow a lead that she knew would
turn into the book she had been itching to write.
Through a contact she stepped into a story of mayhem and criminality
in the U.S. drug distribution network. "Even if you fill your
prescription at a large reputable drugstore, the medicine you take
could be mishandled, tampered with, even counterfeit," proclaims the
header of the March, 2003, Self magazine article where she broke the
The tale she traces in her now completed book, "Dangerous Doses: How
Counterfeiters are Contaminating America’s Drug Supply," is one of
middlemen in the drug distribution network who are trying to
"arbitrage drugs by buying low and selling high." They can do this
because of discrepancies in the price at which pharmaceutical
companies sell drugs to different groups – drug stores, hospitals,
Medicaid patients, volume buyers, and Third World countries. Lax state
laws on licensing distributors and light criminal penalties make it
relatively easy and reasonably safe to pursue this exceedingly
On Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m., at the Princeton University Store, Eban
talks about her book, which tells the story of a Florida task force
devoted to cleaning up the drug distribution network. For further
information, call 609-921-8500, ext. 238. The book is excerpted in the
May issue of Vanity Fair magazine.
Once upon a time the drug distribution system probably worked pretty
well, with drugs shipped from pharmaceutical companies to one of the
big national wholesalers, and from there to local pharmacies around
the country. But then more and more middlemen, ranging from legitimate
companies with pristine warehouses to tiny back room operations with
bare light bulbs, started entering the network. When some of these
smaller companies started to offer drugs at cheaper prices than the
pharmaceuticals were charging, even the biggest wholesalers were
willing to buy them.
The reason the drugs could be discounted, says Eban, is that they
"were of unknown origin, substandard in some way, adulterated,
counterfeit… and they came with phony pedigree papers." These drugs,
which the FDA estimates as 1 percent of those that reach patients,
"are not fit for human consumption, because their origins cannot be
determined," she says.
One percent translates to 35 million prescriptions a year, and the
more expensive a drug, the more likely it is to be counterfeited. "If
you were a counterfeiter (of money)," Eban explains, "you would rather
counterfeit $1 than $100. You get a better return for your efforts."
Counterfeiting the more expensive drugs is not only more lucrative,
but is also more of a public health hazard, because generally these
more expensive medicines are for the sickest patients, who will suffer
most from any tampering.
Where, then, do these middlemen find cheaper drugs? Some are stolen
from warehouses or bought from Medicaid patients as they leave
clinics. Others come from people in the sales chain for exported drugs
who are willing to fraudulently sell these drugs at a
lower-than-market price in exchange for a kickback. This practice is
known as "diversion" from the legal supply chain.
Another approach is counterfeiting, where a drug is deliberately
altered or mislabeled and may contain either no active ingredient, a
diluted active ingredient, or the wrong active ingredient. In one
instance, Eban says, someone re-labeled a low dose of an injectable
drug to resemble a high dose, thereby increasing its value enormously.
In another, an injectable AIDS drug was replaced with a fertility
hormone that was similarly packaged. All the counterfeiter had to do
was change the label on the vial. Counterfeiters can even buy
pill-making machines on eBay, she says, and set up in their own
basements and garages.
An ethical question quickly comes to mind: Why hasn’t someone been
asking questions about these deeply discounted drugs? "The discount on
drugs tells a story," says Eban, "and everyone in the industry knows
what that story is – that there is something wrong with the drugs."
One reason it is difficult to finger the criminals involved is that
although the buying and selling is national, the regulation of
wholesalers is the responsibility of individual states. "Some states
have gotten wise, and others are still totally behind the 8-ball,"
observes Eban. Criminals are exquisitely aware of where the best
places are to set up shop and where punishments are lightest. One
state, for example, has only two part-time drug inspectors to cover
the entire state.
Florida, where much of Eban’s book is set, was one of the most
accommodating to drug middlemen until the state passed a law in 2003
that closed many loopholes. Prior to the new law, Florida was giving
licenses to convicted narcotics traffickers with no background checks,
claims Eban. One of Florida’s bigger wholesalers, she adds, had been
an offshore bookie who set up a wholesale company to pay off a debt to
the Gambino crime family.
Eban got involved when, after nine years as a medical investigative
reporter, a government source advised her to have a look at how
counterfeit drugs were entering pharmacies and hospitals. "This was
not about Internet purchases, or going to Mexico," she says. "This was
about counterfeit drugs in the heart of the supply chain." Told that
the most active investigation was going on in Florida, she hopped a
plane and was the first journalist to meet with an investigative task
force dubbed Operation Stone Cold by its creator, 28-year-old
prosecutor Stephanie Feldman. As an insulin-dependent diabetic,
Feldman knew that adulterated drugs could be fatal to people like her,
who would end up literally "stone cold" without correct medications.
Feldman created the task force in response to what seemed then like a
relatively small-time case – one with light penalties. Two
pharmaceutical investigators who eventually became part of the task
force had asked her if she would like to pursue this case. Because of
her own health issues, she was able to see the dangers it represented,
and she was the first person to label these activities not just as
drug diversion and reselling, but as racketeering and conspiracy.
The task force she created to investigate drug distribution in Florida
was comprised of five men – one from the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement, two from the Miami-Dade Police Department, and two drug
inspectors. The members of the group, says Eban, "were incredible
characters. They were over 50, had had somewhat minor careers in law
enforcement, and here they were with a huge case, where they were
really making a difference." She adds that they had incredible team
spirit, calling themselves the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. When they
went out with a search warrant, they all wore black polo shirts with
an image of a Grim Reaper holding a scythe amid a cluster of horses.
"The book is the story of this task force, the guys in the task force
and their fight to clean up not just Florida’s drug supply, but the
Investigating this scene was often pretty scary for Eban. "I uncovered
some fairly powerful executives in large distribution companies who
were gaming the system," she says. "They were buying from narcotics
traffickers and convicted felons and getting kickbacks. What concerned
me was that I was their biggest problem." Once she even brought her
husband along to sit in the hotel lobby while she conducted a
particularly worrisome interview. To no avail, she told her family
about this "protection" in an effort to calm their worries about her
vulnerability. Her sister’s response was immediate: "You took an
architect from Brooklyn with you for protection – what’s that going to
So how did a clown from Brooklyn, who studied English literature and
creative writing, get herself into predicaments like this? The first
link in the long chain of events that transformed her into a medical
investigative journalist was her father’s edict that she had to go to
Brown instead of clown school for college. That road was cemented
when, in the middle of her freshman year, she injured her back falling
out of a window during a stunt. There would be no more clowning. After
spending most of second semester in the hospital, she decided to major
in English literature and creative writing.
She then received a Rhodes Scholarship, and after graduating from
Brown in 1988 moved to Oxford to study for a master’s degree with a
focus on 17th-century English epic civil war poetry. While there, she
got a call about a potential summer job from Brown alumnus Ira
Magaziner, the architect of the Clinton health plan, who was then a
management consultant in Rhode Island, and who had also been a Rhodes
Scholar. He was creating social policy blueprints, says Eban, partly
to position himself in a future Democratic administration, and he
asked her to spend the summer researching how European countries take
care of their elderly citizens. She pleaded no background in medicine,
but got this brusque reply: "Go to three countries in Europe, figure
out how they take care of their elderly, write up a report, and don’t
come back with a $30,000 bill."
She wrote the report, finished her master’s in philosophy at Oxford,
spent a third year in England getting a master’s degree in creative
writing from the University of East Anglia, and then returned to New
York. That was something of a low point. She was working on a novel,
getting "tons of rejections," and was broke, lonely, and living in a
tiny studio in Manhattan with only a hot plate for cooking. She knew
she had to "get a real job," but wasn’t sure where to look with her
"weird liberal arts background."
Somehow she got an interview with Bill Moyers, who, to her surprise,
turned out to be very interested in arcane 17th-century dissenting
sects in England – just up her alley. Needless to say, they hit it
off, and although he didn’t have a job for her, his friend Mark Green,
the New York City’s Public Advocate, did. On the basis of her summer
job studying care of the elderly in Europe, he hired her as a health
care policy analyst in 1994.
Eban spent a year investigating New York City hospitals and writing up
reports that got media attention. Then she got lucky, and one report
landed on the front page of the New York Times. As a result, she ended
up meeting the head of Bellevue Hospital, who invited her to write
about the hospital, promising to "open the place up to you." She was
allowed to sit in on meetings and was even put on the trauma pager in
the ER. Describing herself as "a real naif," she says she pitched the
story to the New York Times magazine and "unbelievably they said yes."
She quit her policy job and spent eight months reporting at Bellevue,
an experience that served her as "journalism graduate school." She had
to rewrite the article four times and was forced to change the main
character when her mentor left the hospital. "They almost killed it a
million times," she says, "and when they told me it was accepted, I
threw up, because I was so stressed out."
That article legitimized her as a healthcare journalist, and she got a
job with the New York Observer, a widely read weekly. There she wrote
stories on the politics of health care and ethical clashes between
money and patient care. "I broke a lot of stories," she says, "and
ended up getting hired by The New York Times." She worked as a
reporter for three years, but left after 9/11 "to do more magazine
work and longer-form writing."
It was fall, 2002, when she went to Florida and met for the first time
with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They "were facing incredible
obstacles and felt what they were doing was a race against time to
protect patients from adulterated medicine," she says. The task force
was encountering incredible opposition, even from its own departments,
where people were fearful of rocking the boat. In addition, lobbyists
from the wholesale industry were making life difficult, and there were
fights with federal investigators over turf.
Eban spent two years with this colorful – and effective – group and
turned her experience into a book that reads like an adventure story.
It took a lot out of her – 16 long trips to Florida, travel around the
country, constant phone conversations, and two years with not much of
a life back in New York. She managed it with an advance from Harcourt
and two grants – from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and from the Fund
for Investigative Journalism. But, as she is about to set out on book
tours, she says, "I’m still totally broke, and Citibank knows where I
Given current developments in investigations of the drug distribution
network, it is likely that her "address," or at least the URLs for her
book and related articles, is known to others as well, because she has
brought into the foreground a serious issue that may be affecting
millions. In early April, for example, New York Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer issued subpoenas to the three largest drug distributors,
McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc. –
apparently in a probe into their buying practices. All in all, not a
bad achievement for a former clown from Brooklyn.
– Michele Alperin
‘My vision is to take the boring out of the board room," says Eileen
Sinett. As a speech and presentation coach she has worked for over 25
years to "give people comfort and authenticity in speaking to groups."
Sinett’s company is Comprehensive Communications Services, at 610
Plainsboro Road. She is the guest speaker at the Mercer County Chapter
of NJAWBO’s meeting on Thursday, May 12, at 6 p.m. at the Harrison
Conference Center on Scudders Mill Road. Cost: $38. To make
reservations, E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Presentation Transcendence: The Mind, Body, Spirit Partnership: The
Thinking, Doing, and Being Elements of Presentation Success," is the
title of Sinett’s talk. "I want the speaker to transcend the
information," she explains. "The speaker should be as memorable, and
Sinett divides the skills for giving great presentations into three
categories: thinking, doing, and being.
Thinking. The thinking, or planning, portion of a presentation can be
subdivided into "The three Ms," says Sinett.
Mindset, or what we say to ourselves about the presentation, plays a
big part in success, she says. "So many times people go into a
presentation saying to themselves, ‘Oh, no, why am I doing this? I
hate being in front of a group.’ They have already set themselves up
for failure before they begin." Sinett attempts to shift the person’s
mindset "at least to neutral, if they can’t be positive."
The message is the next area to think about when planning a speech.
"Begin with the end," Sinett suggests. "Think about what you want to
leave behind. What is the outcome that you want from this speech?
The map, or plan, of the speech is the final step in preparation.
"This is not an outline like we learned in high school," says Sinett.
Instead, she sees the plan of the speech "more as a landscape or a
flow chart. It allows you to use both the right and left sides of your
Sinett suggests a number of formats to help the speaker plan the
presentation. She sometimes uses the outline of a hand to illustrate
her point. The thumb is the opening and the little finger is the
closing of the speech. The three fingers in between are the major
points of the presentation, while the webbing that connects the
fingers are the transitions from one point to the next.
Changing from an outline to a map strategy of speech planning, "gives
you double the benefit with no additional effort," says Sinett. A
second possible format for her presentation map is a quadrant, with
boxes or circles above and below for the opening and closing. "You can
color-code your quadrants and as you them, you see everything you need
at a glance," she explains.
By using color, text, and shape to develop the presentation, "you
improve your retention" of the content of the speech, she says. It
becomes one less thing to be worried about when making your
A speech or presentation should include no more than one to three
concepts, says Sinett. "Most people can retain three to five ideas,
plus or minus two. That’s between one and seven ideas that they will
remember. If your presentation involves more concepts, you risk your
audience not remembering them," she adds.
Doing. The second major piece of the presentation is "what the body is
doing in front of the audience," Sinett says. "Speaking in front of a
large group is not the typical routine for most of us. "There is
adrenaline and excitement," she says. "The body reacts unconsciously
Unconscious mannerisms can often become distracting to listeners.
Small mannerisms, such as picking at nails or straightening a tie,
will distract the listener. The speaker may move too much, or may not
move enough, making themselves "seem dead," she says.
Sinett recommends rehearsing a speech by videotaping it or practicing
it in front of a coach or friend. "Don’t have too many people watch
you or you will get conflicting advice," she cautions. A coach who has
experience in giving presentations is the best critic, she says. "A
friend may mean well, but may not necessarily be trained to see the
Being. "The presence and connection between the spirit and the body is
the essence of the message," says Sinett. "You want to make your
presentation be alive. That is what makes it different from watching
something on a video or reading it in a paper. It should be memorable
There is an "energetic electricity between the speaker and the
audience" when a connection is made, she says. But to make that
connection with the audience the speaker must be comfortable with
himself. "It is an energy of authenticity that comes when a speaker
loves his subject and is not afraid to show his passion to the
audience," she says.
"It is an invisible connection. When you put a power cord to an
outlet, but don’t plug it in all the way, you get no power, no juice.
To plug into the audience you must first plug into yourself in a
positive way. That is the connection between the speaker and the
audience," she says. "It is about not being self-conscious. It is
about being more of who you are to the audience." Some people, she
adds, "don’t feel like they can show their passion. They are not
authentic. They are pretending. They are afraid to reveal who they
are." The audience will pick up on that and respond negatively to it.
Sinett began her career with a focus on speech pathology. She received
degrees from Emerson College and Kean College and is certified by the
American Speech and Hearing Association. She draws upon her speech
pathology training and experience as she trains individuals and groups
in the art of making presentations.
She also has an interest in helping multi-lingual people overcome
problems in speaking, and volunteers at the Plainsboro Library with a
conversational English group. "Most of us view knowing more than one
language as an advantage. But many multi-lingual people see it as a
disadvantage," she says. Either because of an accent, or because their
English is not as good as their native language, "they are often more
unsure of themselves and need more support" in developing their
She also runs "speaking circles" at her studio in Plainsboro. While
many of her clients are concerned about making presentations to large
groups, she also helps people who need to speak with smaller groups,
perhaps during sales calls or department meetings. "People see talking
with small groups as more about building relationships," she says, but
no matter the size of the group, "there is always a balance between
speaking with listening. It’s all about communication."
– Karen Hodges Miller
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