Party Like It’s Tomorrow

What are your dreams down the road? What planks have you laid to reach your heartfelt vision? On Saturday, July 23, at 7 p.m., more than 100 fantastically dressed souls will gather at Somerset Park’s Palace to dine, party, and answer these very questions. The brainchild of Joanne Dennison, president of Martinsville-based Ordinary Success, this event invites all interested people to come not as they are, but rather as they would like to be five years from now.

There are no rules and no limitations, says Dennison. Just click onto the website, www.partylikeitstomorrow.com, register with $125 for this lavish evening, and let your imagination take hold. Celebrants areinvited to look, talk, and act the part of their future-goal selves. Props are also greatly encouraged.

Christine Schmeider, a real estate broker from Phillipsburg, plans to semi-retire in about five years. She plans to attend in semi-tropical attire, suitable for her home in Hawaii. She is also busy creating a round-the-world photo album with herself and husband superimposed in each picture.

At least two future novelists will arrive with book jackets of their latest triumph. Soon-to-be theater stars have told Dennison they will arrive in character costume. Some new products will make their debut. A few registrants are planning to fly in from the West Coast to display their vision.

And the point of all of this is what exactly? "If you have to ask," says Dennison, "your head is already buried too deep in the sand." The concept originated from Jack Canfield’s "The Success Principles." Dennison read his idea for a party where people come as themselves five years in the future and decided to bring it to life.

"The fun part of it is to surround yourself with people who support your personal craziness," Dennison says. "Yet there is a far more practical side." Most people never even ask the question of where they will be several years in the future. And if they do, answers tend to flow like vague fantasies, without any plans involved. By selecting a specific goal, coming up with an appropriate costume, then living the part for an evening, an individual begins to lay the first planks on the path he would like to follow. If you dream it, you may or may not be able to do it. But if you don’t dream it, guaranteed, you never will.

Dennison thinks that individuals are much more likely to sculpt dreams into solid goals during a get-together with like-minded people than during some corporate cheerleader’s chart flipping pep talk. The costumes and props, she hopes, will act as an instant ice breaker. These former strangers will meet and mingle. "People will chat with, say, some future world traveler, and lead the person over to someone who is already, or may soon be, a travel agent," she says. It will be networking toward the goals to which each participant truly aspires, in a no-anxiety atmosphere of fun.

One of the party favors will be a five year event planner/journal. Dennison invites her guests to keep these current and to set incremental goals along the way. "I don’t want the fervor to end with the evening," she says. "I see this as planting seeds."

Amid the festivities, the hostess will be fulfilling her own five-year goal: to expand her career as what she terms "a guidance counselor for adults." Dennison began her studies at SUNY Brockport where, in l982, she earned a B.A. in American and women’s studies. "I was a raging feminist then," she laughs, "and still am." After four years working for Residential Life Inc., she shifted into education. Returning to SUNY Brockport, Dennison gained a master’s degree in education and became the school’s assistant director for student activities. Then after four years as head of student activities for Raritan Valley Community College, she took the position of assistant dean at Upsala College.

In l992 Dennison started On A Shoestring, an event planning firm that she ran for 12 years. At the request of many other clients, she began to give personal training talks and slowly found herself sought after as a motivational speaker. In January, 2004, she began Ordinary Success (www.joannedennison.com), a Martinsville-based training and event planning company designed to aid individuals in reaching their highest potential.

The upcoming Party Like It’s Tomorrow event is the first, Dennison hopes, in a long chain of festive events. She has already begun firming up plans for two more such parties this fall – one probably in Philadelphia. "I began by inviting those people on my Rolodex, and having them invite others." she says. "But so many complained it was out of their area, so I feel encouraged to expand."

In keeping with the eccentricity of the celebration, Dennison hopes to just break even on this first shindig. Modest profits are part of the five year plan. There are a lot of people across this nation who have a dream and have fun sharing it. This drive encourages Dennison’s goal to become America’s dream hostess. "’But, of course,’" one of thoseplanning to attend reminded her, "’in five years you will have to plan reunions.’"

-Bart Jackson

Money and Sand

Will New Jerseyans ever have access to a public beach again, or will all our beloved sandy coasts fall into private hands? How much control will private owners be granted over the Garden State’s famed oceanside resources? These are the issues the black-robed ladies and gentlemen of New Jersey’s Supreme Court have been hotly debating for the past five months. Their decision may just determine whether this summer’s stroll along the dunes and dip in the cool ocean is your last.

To explain the enormity of this decision and to cover the waterfront of all New Jersey’s beach development and preservation issues, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education offers "Building, Buying, and Selling Coastal and Waterfront Properties." The seminar takes place on Tuesday, July 26, at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. Cost:$169. Visit www.njicle.com.

Moderating this panel of lawyers, state officials, and environmentalists is attorney Stuart Lieberman of Princeton’s Lieberman & Blecher. Speakers include Deputy Attorney Generals William Anderson and Jason Stypinski; Michael Kovacs, vice president of EcoServices in Rockaway; Helen Owens, executive assistant of Land Use Regulation Programs of the DEP; and John Zingis of Air, Land & Sea Environment Management Services in Point Pleasant.

If you are hoping for the public right to beach access, you are rooting for veteran environmental litigator Lieberman and the case that he made before the state Supreme Court early this year. Growing up in New Milford, Lieberman attended Rutgers University, graduating in l979 with a B.A. in human communications. "It’s a nonexistent major now," he quips, "aimed at teaching me how to talk to all members of our species."

After completing his law degree at Capital University, of Columbus,Ohio, Lieberman clerked for the New Jersey attorney general. He then became a deputy attorney general, representing the Department of Environmental Protection. In 2000 he stepped into private practice, specializing in environmental law. His cases have dealt with everything from Teterboro Airport expansions to would-be wetlands-situated Walgreens.

Public beach access. "The pubic shall enjoy the right of the dry sand and complete horizontal access to the property and ocean," ruled the state appellate court in May, 2004. The battle, which is now carried to the state Supreme Court, began in 2002 over a 480 feet beach property owned by the Atlantis Beach Club in Diamond Beach, Cape May County. People who had traditionally used the beach to cross onto other beaches were denied access unless they joined the club and paid a $700-per-season beach fee. Lifetime fees began at $10,000 and soon escalated to $15,000 a year. Most towns charge $20 per season or less for passes.

Lieberman, championing initially the Raleigh Avenue Beach Association and later the Diamond Beach Homeowners Association, sued the AtlantisBeach Club, claiming that the fees were excessive and the club had no right to deny public crossing. Supporting him, the appellate court ruled that the public had the right to a three-foot wide crossing strip, which they could freely traverse to other beaches. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Protection would be put in charge of the Atlantis Beach Club’s tag prices.

Atlantis Beach Club co-owner and president Robert "Chip" Ciampitti complained that the DEP’s beach tag costs were so low that they did not pay his property taxes. "The government is forcing us to run a losing operation," he told Atlantic City Press reporters. Department of Environmental Protection spokespeople continue to argue that fees must be in line with services. If Atlantis wants to have higher fees, it must install showers and hire lifeguards, rather than merely claim ownership of dry sand.

These are the particular elements of the Diamond Beach Homeowners vs. Atlantic Beach Club case that the state Supreme Court now weighs. The case could have far-ranging implications. In l977 26 percent of New Jersey’s 130 miles of Atlantic coastal waterways were in private hands, and that figure is now probably over 50 percent. Local townships own or control virtually all the rest, except for state and local parkland.

If the appellate decision is reversed, towns and private owners could ban all public beach access. Technically, this could even isolate access from certain state parks.

Development hurdles. "I have had strong people, brilliant people come into my office literally in tears when confronting these bureaucracies," says Lieberman. The developers’ nemeses to which Lieberman refers are the state Office of Smart Growth and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA.) Together this entity and this law give the 20-year-old New Jersey Master Plan some teeth. However, many would-be builders feel this enforcement is whimsical and unjustly frustrating.

CAFRA provides an additional set of building regulations for shoreline areas ranging from the mouth of the Raritan River to Cape May. Its coastal influence can, in some areas, extend 24 miles inland. CAFRAregulates the footprint of any building, based on its surrounding property. It typically nixes basements and swimming pools (an ironic "must have" for all beach motels) and prevents many forms of expansion.

While most of these laws make great environmental sense, the review process can often become bogged down in so many delays that the builder simply gives up. "I’ve had many clients complain that endlessly postponed CAFRA reviews have caused them to default on loans, lose buyers, incur immense overruns, and miss opportunities," says Lieberman. "But the thing to remember is that the state really does not want vast construction going on along its coasts, so the process is made indeed difficult."

Whether you stand on the builders’ or environmentalists’ side of the barricade, no one can deny that New Jersey’s beaches are one of her prime resources.

Issues surrounding the sandy strips are far ranging and complex. New Jersey is the most populous state in the nation, with an unprecedented immigrant influx pushing the numbers. While it seems unfair that the public should not be allowed to traverse and enjoy its own coast, it seems equally unfair that a beach club must be forced to operate at a loss. The New Jersey Supreme Court does indeed face a tough decision that will affect millions of state residents. Those interested in keeping up with the results can monitor the situation through www.crabnj.com, the official website of Citizens Right to AccessBeaches.

-Bart Jackson

Mercer Chamber Launches Website

A new more interactive website will be launched this month by the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce, part of a whole new look for the chamber, which includes its recently announced name change from Greater Mercer Chamber of Commerce to Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce. A new logo and a new slogan are also a part of the updated Chamber looks, says Michele Siekerka, executive director of the chamber.

The new site "focuses on enhancing communications and encouraging connections between chamber members, staff, and the community," says Siekerka. It is the result of four years of research on the needs of local businesses and the community, and is also a part of a three-year strategic plan "to identify ways to develop more valuable tools and resources for our members," she says.

The chamber launches its new website at a free "Net"working on Tuesday, July 26, at 5 p.m. at the RWJ University Hospital Health and Wellness Center on Quakerbridge Road. For reservations call 609-393-4143 or log on to www.mercerchamber.org. The chamber’s web address will remain the same after the switch.

"It doesn’t do the site justice to just call it a website," says Siekerka. "It is a complete set of business tools on the Internet." The chamber’s technology committee will be on hand at the event to help members to set up their new user passwords, which will give them access to several exclusive "members-only" features. Other features are available for the general public.

A few of the features of the new site are:

Free member announcements and event bulletin board.

Job postings.

Members-only discounts.

Customizable member-to-member offers.

Advanced E-commerce features.

Full online member directory with enhanced listings.

Business resource database.

Event photo galleries.

Mercer County trivia.

Advertising opportunities.

Set Now Solutions, the developers of the chamber’s current website, also developed the new site. The company specializes in Internet marketing E-commerce, online video and multimedia. Mike Miller is the vice president and creative director of the Ewing company. The new chamber website is a "metamorphosis" of the old site, says Miller. It has developed over a period of several years of "listening to the members’ needs and wants."

The added features of the site bring to reality the chamber’s new slogan, "Get Connected, Get Results." Miller says the site offers "better ways for members to stay connected" to the chamber, to the community, and to other members.

For members the site will provide a variety of new information, including reminders of when their membership expires, the ability to easily make reservations for events, and the ability to easily connect to other chamber members in a variety of ways, including special pages for Chamber interest groups and specific industries. In addition, a new webpage will allow members to easily offer special discounts on products and services to other members.

The ease with which the new site can be accessed is expected to bring added value to members’ employees. Corporations whose employees also receive chamber member benefits can now easily access the site to make reservations or take advantage of discounts. In the past most of those employees hadn’t taken advantage of these options because it was difficult to access them.

But, says Miller, "the Chamber isn’t just made up of business to business companies. A lot of our members are retailers." Their discounts may be especially appealing to employees. The new features will make the site "a virtual entertainment discount book," he says, by making special discounts easier and more worthwhile for businesses and consumers.

Siekerka is very excited about the new site’s tools for business owners. It will become, she says, "one-stop shopping" for information on a variety of business resources and education topics, including connections to other valuable sites and information about grants and loans. A "career center" will also be available, where job postings, for both employers looking for workers and potential employees seeking a position, will be listed.

The new website will also offer the entire community access to valuable information about the community as well as "fun facts and fun stuff about the area," says Miller. "It will give members more access to the community at large."

The website also offers advantages for the chamber’s staff, says Miller. "It was created using standard web technology so that the chamber staff can easily update information. The chamber’s website has been "the number one source for new members" since it was created four years ago. It has also become the main way people register for special events, he says.

Now the new administrative tools can be used to more quickly and easily to register people for events, check on who has registered, and print out attendance lists. "The staff will be able to just take a laptop to an event and with a wireless connection handle everything right there," says Miller. "Not only will it help them to quickly check on reservations and payments, they can even sign up a new member right there at an event."

This is actually the third incarnation for the Mercer Chamber website. Prior to 2001, the website was "actually just a brochure," and did not generate any leads, Miller says. The 2001 website became the Chamber’s primary source for new members and generated over 9,000 unique visitors a month. Miller and Siekerka hope the newest version of the site, with its expanded interactive features, will bring even more visitors to the site. "Our goal," says Siekerka, "is to see traffic triple."

-Karen Hodges Miller

How to Land Big Companies as Clients

A small business that wants to be a supplier for a global provider of telecommunications network software and services like Telcordia Technologies must first get its foot in the door. Telcordia’s director of corporate procurement, Tamra Rudawski, advises potential suppliers to both understand Telcordia’s needs and to be able to express effectively what their own company can offer. "I think extremely highly of individuals who know what Telcordia is and what we’re about, who have been out on the Internet, done their homework, and can speak intelligently about what I’m trying to accomplish," says Rudawski.

Rudawski is one of several speakers at the third annual procurement conference offered by the New Jersey Technology Council and the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey on Wednesday, July 27, at 8 a.m. at the Enterprise Center at Burlington Community College in Mount Laurel. Cost: $125. To register, go to www.njtc.org or call 856-787-9700.

Maxine Ballen, president and founder of NJTC, says that the conference connects council members to "end users who buy their services." The conference opens with a sales seminar, "Get Pumped, Get Motivated, Get New Business," by Glenn Fallavoilitta. Next is a panel discussion on how to do business with a large company and get on its approved vendor list. The program closes with an opportunity for attendees to speak to representatives of companies from the health care, insurance, manufacturing, utilities, and telecommunications industries.

At Telcordia, the process of becoming a supplier is fairly straightforward:

Decide whether your company’s offerings mesh with Telcordia’s needs. Telcordia primarily buys services, rather than manufactured items, and acquires them either on an hourly or a project basis. Services that Telcordia purchases reach across the corporate spectrum and include market research, recruitment, advertising, executive search, translation, relocation, mailroom, training, design/media production, hotels, conference planning, printing, facilities support, transportation, maintenance, telecommunications, hardware, software, and IT support.

Complete a supplier profile. Rudawski refers potential suppliers to the "About us" subsection labeled "Suppliers" at www.telcordia.com. Fill out the appropriate form: one is for certified MWBESDV companies, those that are 51 percent owned, operated, and controlled by an American minority, woman, or service disabled veteran. These companies must be certified by one of the following: the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Association for Service Disabled Veterans, the California Public Utilities Clearinghouse, or, for government opportunities, the Small Business Administration.

The second form is for noncertified MWBESDV companies and large suppliers. Both forms request similar data: contact information; basic company information and security clearances; for certified companies, minority information; and expertise, including key words that highlight or distinguish the products, skills and/or services that the company excels in.

The profile is used as a sourcing tool by potential buyers within Telcordia. When users complete a supplier profile, it goes into a database. The operations manager reviews an entry to ensure that the company offers a service needed by Telcordia. If the company has matching capabilities, its information stays in the database for two years, although this may soon be reduced to one year, because of the database’s increasing size. Suppliers are assigned a login and a password and are expected to update their entries in a timely manner.When a project comes up, the buyer or contract writer will go to the supplier listing and send RFPs to those companies with the required capabilities.

Suppliers are selected in a competitive bid process for everything over a threshold dollar value. "We are looking for the best quality at the most competitive price that can get you the product as quickly as possible," says Rudawski. MWBESDV companies are given an additional weight in terms of the evaluation criteria, but it is smaller than those for price, technical capability, and other items that make up a competitive bid.

Telcordia has created a separate Supplier Diversity Program Office to develop relationships and advocate for MWBESDV companies within Telcordia. If these functions fell under the procurement department, it would impede the competitive bid process. Telcordia tries to include large and small MWBESDV companies in every competitive bid process, and has developed internal audit processes to ensure fairness. The company also maintains a process history of the competitive bid process, which makes it easy for any company to understand why it was not selected.

Attend relevant fairs and seminars. Telcordia goes to fairs like the NJTC procurement conference, says Rudawski, where suppliers who have expertise that Telcordia seeks may be present. The procurement department is always looking for worthwhile additions to the supplier database. "You never know what new service or technology is out there," she says. "We need to get the most effective price we can."

With regard to the NJTC procurement conference, Rudnawski advises that "this is a good opportunity for any supplier to meet with bigger companies and to understand what we’re really looking for." She stresses that a supplier’s face-to-face presentation is critical. "When I’m on the customer side," she says, "it is important that they understand my business. I also want to understand their business and pick suppliers that will help us." She collects business cards, and when she returns to the office checks the websites of potential suppliers.

Once suppliers are selected, they are entered into Telcordia’sfinancial system and they receive a contract. These are either project-based or are master contracts that allow the company to work for Telcordia for three years under set terms and conditions.

Do excellent work. During the work cycle, end users complete supplier report cards. These ask whether the supplier has delivered on time and whether the user was satisfied, asking users to explain any problems. The procurement department is looking for consistency across different comments. "Typically when a supplier is not performing, we will get comments across the board that are identical," says Rudnawski.

Procurement then reviews the feedback with the supplier. If there is a problem, it is discussed, and the supplier goes on formal notice, to be reevaluated after three months. She clarifies that these problems involve customer service, not something major. "We’re are not talking about default to contract," she says. The contract language is clear "and a supplier wouldn’t have a question about whether they were defaulting and what the ramifications would be."

Rudnawski received a degree in accounting from the University of Scranton in 1992. She worked in public accounting in Pennsylvania and then moved to New Jersey to work for the RCN cable company from its Carnegie Center offices. She has been at Telcordia nearly 10 years and in June 2004 received a master’s degree in technology management from the University of Phoenix. She has worked in procurement the whole time she has been at Telcordia, from contracts to operations and up the chain to director. "I’ve worked every piece there is," she says. "I think that is important so that I can understand the people I supervise."

And while it’s important that procurement officers, like Rudnawski, get to know their suppliers, it is equally important that potential suppliers get a good feel for the needs, constraints, and even the personalities, of those to whom they hope to sell their goods and services. Procurement fairs like the one NJTC is about to host offer just that opportunity.

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