New Habits for the New Workplace

Day for Women’s Role in Public Policy

Make Questions a Powerful Tool

Getting Balance at Work

Grants Awarded

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the November

10,

2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide: Job Hunting Over 40

Remember when looking for a job was almost easy? You were in your

early 20s, fresh out of college and ready to take on the world. You

didn’t have any big financial obligations and the future stretched out

before you with a variety of luscious possibilities and paths.

In your 30s, you had some solid experience under your belt so if you

were out looking for work, you had more command, and a clearer vision

of what you wanted.

In your 40s it’s a whole new ballgame, says business and personal

coach Mike Mulcahy (www.mjmulcahy.com). On Wednesday, November 10,

Mulcahy speaks on "Career Challenges Over 40" at a free meeting of the

Employment Networking Group at St. Gregory the Great church in

Hamilton Square. www.stgregorythgreat.org. His own career challenges

are part of what brought the Verona-based Mulcahy to his current

business. Born in New York to first generation Irish immigrants,

Mulcahy’s father was a laborer and World War II veteran. His mother,

"a career woman before it was usual," was an office manager. In 1953

his parents moved to New Jersey and "I’ve been a Jersey boy ever

since," he says. Mulcahy got his B.A. in sociology and master’s in

communication arts from William Patterson University.

After working for 30 years in the corporate world in office automation

and disaster recovery, where he "explained the business side to the

tech people and visa versa," Mulcahy had his own series of personal

disasters. His wife of 19 years died, leaving Mulcahy with two young

sons. "I was now a single parent and my job required a lot of travel,"

he says. Around the same time, the company he was with was doing some

downsizing, and Mulcahy started to re-think his future.

"I’d been marginalized, so I went out with my options intact and

decided I wanted to do something different," he says. But it took some

soul searching before he moved on to his next phase. "My career wasn’t

designed at that point," he says. "I wasn’t making conscious decisions

about what to do."

After his own searching, he found the perfect synergy of skills and

interest in the world of personal and business coaching. Mulcahy was

trained by the Coaches Training Institute, an internationally

recognized program for training and accreditation of personal and

professional coaches, and he began helping other people manage life’s

transitions.

In his work as a coach, and as a member of the board of directors at

the Center for Third Age Leadership (named for sociologist William

Sadler’s book "The Third Age"), Mulcahy helps individuals make the

most of their "third age" – their lives from age 45 on.

"I think there needs to be a greater recognition of older workers,"

says Mulcahy. Younger workers may bring energy and enthusiasm, he

says, "but we work smarter. There’s a great value in all that

experience and ability." As boomers age, Mulcahy notes, "people will

rebalance how they spend their lives. There’s all the ability and

knowledge and experience." When corporations tap into that experience,

he says, "maybe we’ll change the way we work. Because the benefits can

be extraordinary. It doesn’t have to be ‘either- or’."

Over 40 workers may find themselves batted about by circumstances they

have no control over, including age discrimination, Mulcahy says. It

isn’t blatant, but it’s there. They might tell you that you’re

overqualified for a job or that the salary’s too low. They’re afraid

you’ll "bounce," he says. A person with a rich resume and experience

may find himself in the same boat as a pretty girl sitting in the

corner at a dance. "Nobody wants to dance with the pretty girl,"

Mulcahy says, "everyone’s afraid."

But the clearer you are, the better your chances. "There are people

out there getting jobs," he says. "You may just need to be open

minded. If you have a basic core of expertise – let’s say you’ve been

in pharmaceutical sales; you could work in another industry. Consider

a lateral move. Be willing to take a pay cut if you want to get in the

right corporation. You might also want to open up your commute."

You may have to look outside your comfort zone to find work, he says,

but you CAN find it. "In real estate it’s all about location,

location, location, and in this kind of job search it’s all about

focus, focus, focus."

Create structure One of the biggest problems for people used to

working a full-time job, and suddenly out of work, is the plunge into

a life without structure. "Find structure and discipline," he says.

Track your time. How much are you actually spending on your job hunt?

"Don’t mistake activity for action," he says. "You could just be a

gerbil on a wheel going nowhere. Ask yourself: is this activity

bearing fruit? Focus on the thing that moves the action forward."

Network You’ve probably heard it a million times before, Mulcahy says,

but you hear it because it’s true: if you’re out of work, your job is

to network. "Are you meeting with people who can help you, or are you

just having coffee with friends? It’s all about marketing – self

marketing," he says. "I think people get that, but the longest journey

is the 18 inches from head to heart, and you’ve got to get it there

and commit to it. Believe in yourself and make it happen. It’s mostly

just execution."

If you’re spending time on things that aren’t getting you interviews

and meetings, Mulcahy says, readjust. "If you’re trying things out,

great. But it’s got to lead somewhere. If something isn’t panning out,

let it go."

Direction "You need to be clear about what you want to do," says

Mulcahy. "You should be able to tell me in 60 seconds what you want to

do and what you can bring to an organization. The more specific you

get, the better."

This isn’t always easy to hear, he says. "It’s almost like steering

into a skid…you want to go the other way, but the more specific you

are, the easier it is for people to steer you to things you can do.

And that’s what employers want to know too: can you do the job? Are

you a good fit and will you make a difference?" You need to know that

first.

If you don’t know what you want or where you’re heading now, there are

plenty of resources to help you figure that out. Mulcahy recommends

books such as "90 Days to a New Direction" by Montclair based

best-selling author and coach Laura Berman Fortgang. Jobseekers

support groups like the one at St. Gregory the Great, private

coaching, and career counseling can help also you rethink your next

phase.

Research "I used to tell my kids: you don’t make the rules, the

teacher does," Mulcahy says, and it’s the same with employers. Do your

homework. "Look at it from their point of view and plan to make a good

impression." Get online and find out about the company and be prepared

to talk about it.

Job history There’s no excuse for hemming and hawing about your job

history. Practice with friends if you must, and get their feedback.

How are you doing? Are you over-explaining or are you succinct in your

answers? Don’t go in to a meeting – any meeting – cold. "Someone who

has been out of a job for a while might be a little awkward," he says.

"If you’re prepared you’ll be more relaxed."

Believe "Believe in yourself. There might be three people out there

with a similar background, but you are unique," Mulcahy says. "If

you’re still asking ‘Can I do the job?’ when you go in for your

interview, you’re in trouble,’" he says. "You’ve got to be confident."

(This goes back to being prepared, he notes.) "They want to know if

you believe you can do the job. Don’t be arrogant, but you’ve got to

believe."

Focus The importance of focus can’t be overstated, says Mulcahy. "Be

confident in your accomplishments, keep moving, and adjust your

tactics as feedback comes in." The jobs are there, he says. "Open

yourself up," is his advice. "You might wind up in a smaller company

or a non-profit. And you might be used to a certain salary and perks,

but if you’re open, and you leverage your life experience, you may

find your perfect match."

– Deb Cooperman

Top Of Page
New Habits for the New Workplace

Even if you first dipped your toes into the workaday world only 10

years ago, you are definitely swimming in different waters today.

There is the obvious: increase in necessary travel, global

competition, speed of communication. Time is sliced ever more thinly.

But along with these, business has moved from busy to frenetic,

creating an environmental shift within the corporate corridors. And if

you haven’t caught on to the new currents, you might very well find

yourself drifting farther behind.

Today, in any size company, the fear of termination and the hope for

promotion makes workers search for an advantage. They want to shine,

to rise above their main assigned tasks. But what to do? Helping

people out of timeworn ruts is the goal of Joni Daniels’ talk, "New

Habits for the Evolving Workplace: Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks," on

Thursday, November 11, at 9 a.m. at Burlington County Community

College’s Enterprise Center. Cost: $156. Call 609-894-9331.

Daniels, author of "Power Tools for Women" and founder of

Philadelphia-based Daniels & Associates, has designed her course to

help both the new and veteran employee discern the changing business

climates that affect their success.

Daniels herself grew up in a world of constant transition. Her father,

a traveling salesman, moved his family all over the country,

presenting his daughter with new challenges in each neighborhood.

Finally coming to rest in Rochester, New York, Daniels graduated from

the State College of New York in l977 with a B.A. in English, followed

by a master’s in counseling. For the next decade her organizational

and training abilities carried her into management positions for

Independent Bancorp, CIGNA Corporation, the Sun Company, and Kulicke &

Soffa Industries.

By l989 she found herself in Philadelphia facing, as she puts it, "a

list of jobs I could do in my sleep." So instead of such somnambulant

labor, Daniels teamed up with a friend and stepped gingerly into the

creation of a professional development consulting firm, Daniels &

Associates. It has boomed and today she leads training programs at the

Wharton School and at Temple University.

"People who have sat at the same desk for a decade are finding

themselves shocked now," says Daniels, "because a whole new range of

things are being asked of them." Some of these come as subtle nudges,

some as outright demands, but the messages are very clear.

@lt:Learn to speak Thousands of CEOs are investing millions

annually on communications coaches who tell them how to speak

professionally, concisely, and with a polished tone. They learn to

speak in sound bites, how to blend in stabbing statistics, and how to

how to present a point with the confidence that will keep stock prices

from fluttering.

Yet polished, persuasive speech is not a tool for reserved for senior

executives. The current business atmosphere, with increased

communications networks, is making almost every employee a

representative of his company. Interpersonal skills are required to

clinch sales, provide customer service, keep employees content, and

keep the image of a competent company bright. But not everyone

rejoices in the prospect of enhanced public speaking.

"Talking with these people is not what I was hired for," is a common

complaint. "You mean I now have to be nice to people?" is another

query Daniels hears frequently rising from the hives of cubicle

dwellers. More and more companies are giving clients direct access to

all branches of technical personnel. They must deal face to face with

customers. Further, temporary project teams, which unite and disband,

have become necessary to keep firms flexible. All of these structural

innovations prevent the busy bee from hiding in his work. "Actually,

it’s always been true," says Daniels, "the better you can communicate,

the better your chances of moving ahead."

Fall of professionalism. Probably one of the most powerful

trends in American business in the last half of the 20th century was

the rise of professionalism. Corporations mushroomed and individual

workers were trained to become single cogs, performing a single task.

Now that nanofocus is out the window, and the multi-tasking worker is

in demand.

Early on in Daniel’s own career the value of a Jack-of-all-trades

approach became poignantly apparent. Hired by Kulicke Soffa Industries

strictly as a training and development coach, she found herself

sticking her hand up to volunteer for all kinds of new interesting

projects and committees. She dabbled in marketing, employee relations,

and more.

Then came the axe. Kulicke Soffa went from a payroll of 1,200

employees to 500. "As a trainer and developer, I should have gone in

the first batch," says Daniels, "but they found they needed me for

transition and so many other tasks that I was involved in." The moral

to this tale is obvious: the better networked and involved you are

through your company, the greater is your value.

A caveat for the ladies: Daniels has noticed that women too frequently

need to feel, what she terms, "legitimized by rank." They tend to hold

back from joining a project if their official skills do not seem to

meet some imagined qualifications. Meanwhile, she finds that men tend

to be eager to get in on the action, and will instantly grab the

project folder and get on board. Perhaps each gender needs simply to

ask, would I enjoy this project? And could I bring anything to it?

Then step up.

Mentor tackling. "Jenkins, I’ve been watching your work

for a goodly time now and I like the cut of your jib. I’d personally

like to take you under my wing and help you succeed in this firm."

This line was heard all the time in l940s movies, and was perhaps

uttered in actual offices in the decades that immediately followed.

But definitely not ever today. "No one is going to tap you on the

shoulder now," says Daniels. "Everyone is too busy to nurture new

employees."

In this sink or swim world of work, the new worker must find his own

mentors. They must be the agents who seek out a tutor and create their

own network of alliances. Keep in constant contact with those in and

beyond your department, advises Daniels, and be a provider – not just

recipient – of helpful information.

Retool versus reschool. As swiftly as the face of business

has changed, it shows no signs of catching its breath on a plateau.

Change will continue.

Interestingly, there is an urge in American culture to face all major

changes from downsizing to promotions by returning to school. New

situations require more education, we seem to think. Or maybe it’s

just a chance to hide out from the trauma of change until we figure

things out.

Daniels suggests a more on-the-fly approach to learning. "Change is

continuing, so the need is to keep current," she says. Make yourself

constantly aware of the new trends in your field and select the few

that will prove of value. Remember that business is a fickle mistress

who enthusiastically insists that every employee must learn this skill

this week and another the next. Take a deep breath and a long view.

Plan your career, and then choose education to match.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Day for Women’s Role in Public Policy

"Women business owners need to understand why they should want to

impact public policy and how they can do that," says Robin Berg

Tabakin. Issues affecting women in business on both the state and

federal level run from zoning and regulations for home-based business

to obtaining more government contracts for women and minority

businesses.

To learn more about the basics of state government, how it operates,

and how women can have an affect on it, the New Jersey Association of

Women Business Owners holds a Public Policy Day on Monday, November

15, at 8 a.m. at the State House Annex in Trenton. The event is titled

"Money, Power, Position: Women Changing the Landscape of Public

Policy." Cost: $50. To register, contact the NJAWBO office at

609-581-2121.

The day-long event includes practical advice for women business owners

who are interested in affecting the decisions made by state and

federal governments, says Tabakin, who wears a number of hats. She is

currently the president-elect of the NJAWBO state organization; prior

to that she acted as vice president of public affairs for the group.

She is a member of the board of trustees for Healthsense, a group that

advocates for better healthcare policies in New Jersey. She is also

owner of Technoforce a Randolph-based technical recruiting firm

specializing in E-commerce and technology companies. The company also

works particularly in the area of "recruiting and consulting for

diversity procurement."

Tabakin credits her work with NJAWBO’s public policy arm for the

direction her business has taken. "Because of my work with NJAWBO, I

became interested in consulting and working in the area of

procurement," she says. "I saw how often women are treated unfairly by

system. It is tough for women and minorities to get federal government

contracts. Male-owned businesses don’t face the same problems."

NJAWBO has held a Public Policy Day for several years to keep its

member business owners up-to-date on legislation affecting women in

business. "A few years ago, when the McGreevey administration first

came to power we focused on getting to know the new administration,"

Tabakin says. This year’s event will focus on exactly how women can

have an effect in government.

Keynote speaker Jeannie LaRue, senior vice president of public affairs

for St. Barnabas Health Care System, discusses how she became involved

in working with public policy. "Her story is a great example of how

her interests in government and legislation have shaped her career,"

Tabakin says. LaRue started her career as a teacher and became

involved in the New Jersey Education Association. Her interests in

government and politics eventually brought her to her current position

with St. Barnabas.

Following the keynote address, a panel discussion, "Why Get Involved .

. . Women Making a Difference," features Alison Little McHose, state

assemblywoman from district 24; Kristin Appelget, president of the

Princeton Area Regional Chamber of Commerce and a councilwoman of West

Windsor Township; and Sonia Delgado, senior associate of Princeton

Public Affairs Group.

Melanie Willoughby, senior vice president of legislative affairs with

the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, will end the day

with her talk on how to "Make Your Point Effectively and Get Things

Done."

A new feature for this year’s policy day is an "open mike" session

with state legislators. Over lunch, from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m., state

legislators have been invited to make a seven minute presentation on

"any issue that interests them," says Tabakin. At least five officials

have already asked for time to speak and more are expected sign up

over the next few days. Also during the lunch seed grants will be

awarded to 10 New Jersey women entrepreneurs. Susan Bass Levin of the

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs presents the grants.

There are several public policy issues that are now of great concern

to business owners, says Tabakin.

Healthcare. "Right now many small businesses are unable to

afford healthcare insurance," says Tabakin. "We are advocating for

association health plans. This is a concern at both the federal and

state level."

Estate tax. An issue at the federal level, says Tabakin,

is the "permanent abolishment of estate tax," often called the "death

tax." The tax, which has caused any number of family businesses to be

sold when it comes due, is generally opposed by the business

community.

Women’s Business Center. NJAWBO advocates on behalf of the

center, which sponsors classes and assistance for small business

owners and entrepreneurs. The center is the only one of its kind in

the state of New Jersey. Funding for the center has been cut

drastically, and is a major issue.

Procurement. An issue at both the state and federal

levels, says Tabakin, is government contracts for women and

minority-owned business. "We need to hold the federal government

accountable for meeting its own goals in this area," says Tabakin,

"both through direct contracts and through sub-contracts with larger

corporations."

The issue looms large at the state level also. New Jersey has done

away with set asides for contracts with women and minority businesses.

Tabakin hopes changes in state policy will be made when a new study on

the issue comes out in a few weeks.

Home-based business zoning. Many municipalities still have

local ordinances that prohibit or discriminate against home-based

businesses. NJAWBO advocates a state directive to reduce many of the

"restrictive and discriminatory local zoning practices."

Paid family leave. "New Jersey is positioned to become the

first state in the U.S. to require employers of at least two employees

to offer paid family leave to employees with newborn or newly adopted

children," says Tabakin. Employees would also receive paid leave for

time spent with a sick child, parent or spouse. NJAWBO opposes the

paid leave because of its economic effect on many small businesses.

The largest, and oldest, statewide organization for women business

owners in the United States, NJAWBO has been active for 26 years; it

has almost 1,000 members. The group recently became a coalition member

of Women Impacting Public Policy. A bi-partisan organization with a

half million members, WIPP advocates for women on Capitol Hill. The

affiliation gives New Jersey women business owners more clout,

according to Tabakin, who says that "it is our national public policy

arm." NJAWBO is in the process of hiring a college intern to help

develop policy statements on issues of interest to the group.

Public Policy Day is an extension of NJAWBO’s political advocacy. "It

is a way for people to get involved on a grassroots level, to learn

how to make a difference," says Tabakin. "Because so many of our

legislatures and commissioners and other government officials will be

there it is an opportunity to meet with the people in Trenton who make

things happen."

– Karen Hodges Miller

Top Of Page
Make Questions a Powerful Tool

"The more powerful a person is, the less they talk and the more they

ask," says Dorothy Leeds, author of "The Seven Powers of Questions:

Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and Work."

"I want people to become askers, not tellers," she says. "I want them

to learn to harness that power of asking questions." In fact, says

Leeds, asking the right questions is one of most important tools in

good communications. Her book discusses how to use questions to

improve communication with family and within organizations, but most

important, how questions can help us to learn and grow as an

individual.

Leeds, who calls herself the "Questioning Crusader," speaks on the

topic at the next general membership meeting of the Greater Mercer

County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, November 16, at 11:30 a.m., at

the Nottingham Fire Company in Hamilton Square. Cost: $35. Call 609-

393-4143.

Here is Leeds’ view of the benefits of turning into a questioner:

Questions give control. "Questions," explains Leeds, "give

the control to the asker. That is why politicians prepare longer for

press conferences than for any other type of appearance." Questions

give that control, because people feel they have to answer.

Workers in businesses of all kinds have already learned a lot about

the power of questions if they are also parents – or even aunts or

uncles. "Kids don’t respond to yes or no questions," says Leeds, "or

to questions that they feel put them of the spot." To get answers from

children, parents need to learn to ask questions in a non-threatening

way. "Give them your full attention" when asking questions, Leeds also

advices.

The same is true in the office. If you want the boss to consider your

request to be put on a top-priority project or to work from home on

Tuesdays, don’t back him into a corner.

One of the most often asked questions of children, and the one that is

answered the least is, "How was school today?" The question, says

Leeds, is too general. Instead, if a parent wishes to learn more about

a child’s day, there is a better way to go about it. "Phrase your

questions differently," she advises. "Try saying, ‘I had a lot of

really annoying things happen to me today. What was one stupid thing

that happened to you?’" This type of questions give the child an

opportunity to think about his or her day differently and also shows

them that parents, too, can have bad days.

In the office, don’t just ask your employees how a project is going,

and turn and walk away. Ask about the most challenging parts of the

project. Elicit details. Show that you are empathetic.

When asking a question, body language is just as important as the

words themselves, says Leeds. Body language can often show whether or

not the person asking the questions is really listening, or interested

in the answers. Sit down, take time, and ask follow-up questions.

Questions give information. "We have two ways of learning

about the world – through our eyes, by watching and reading, and

through listening and asking," says Leeds. Often, that information can

help us in any number of ways. Leeds give an example of asking the

right question at the right time that helped to save a client for her.

"One of my first clients called to cancel his appointment about a week

after he made it. I asked myself, ‘What one question can I ask him to

get him to change his mind.’ I said to him, ‘You were so excited about

this a week ago. What was it that made you so excited?’"

If Leeds had asked, "why did you change your mind?," it would have

given him a chance to focus on, and reinforce, all the negative

reasons." Instead, her question allowed her client to focus on what

had excited him in the first place. "Training our brains" to think

about – and ask – the right questions, is a skill that will allow us

to gain the knowledge and information we need.

Questions make us think. We need to stop talking and start

thinking about questions, says Leeds. Ask questions in a way that

won’t antagonize the listener. "Soften your questions. Instead of,

‘Why did you do that?’ try, ‘I’m really interested in your decision.

What was the reasoning that led to your making it?’"

Leeds’ inquiring mind first led her to a number of colleges and

universities, and then to a number of careers. She attended

Northwestern University, spent a summer at the University of

Wisconsin, transferred to the University of Michigan, and finished her

bachelor’s degree at Adelphi in New York City. She also received a

master’s degree from Columbia University in New York.

Her career changes were directly related to the questions she asked

herself. Her first career was as a high school teacher in New York

City. "I didn’t last too long at that," she says. She moved on to

entertainment, appearing in "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off," on

Broadway, as well as acting in commercials and doing voice-overs. "I

did nothing major but I had a lot of fun. After awhile I asked myself,

‘Is this all?’" And a while she moved on from show business, she still

incorporates a lot of what she learned there in her speeches and

workshops.

She became a knitwear manufacturer and at one point, "had 250 women in

Ireland knitting for me." But when the opportunity came to sell her

business, she asked herself, "Do I really want to do this the rest of

my life?" She sold the business and went into advertising. After

several years in advertising she was asked to do a seminar for the

American Management Association and eight years later wrote her first

book. "I love this career," says Leeds, "I get to travel and I get to

write books."

Her books have been published in 10 languages, and along with "Seven

Powers," include "Smart Questions: The Essential Strategy for

Successful Managers." It was written in 1987 and is still in print

today. "When it first came out, there were no other books on the

market on questions," Leeds says. Other books include "PowerSpeak:

Engage, Inspire, and Stimulate Your Audience," and "Marketing

Yourself, the Ultimate Job Seekers Guide."

Leeds’ varied careers have led to "so many job interviews," and that,

in turn, has led her to think about the interview strategy. When she

began to sprinkle her interviews with questions for her prospective

employers, she says, she began to get more job offers. "Asking the

interviewer a question when I first walked in gave me time to get

settled and get over being nervous," she explains.

Other questions help to clarify exactly what the interviewer is

looking for. "One of the questions asked most often in job interviews,

is, ‘Tell me about yourself,’" says Leeds. One way to clarify that

question is to say, "There is so much I can tell you. What would you

like me to focus on?" This type of question lets you target exactly

what the interviewer is looking for and answer in a way that is most

helpful to both of you.

Questions also help us to grow as individuals, says Leeds.

"All thinking is stimulated by questions. Nothing changes unless we

begin to think differently." A salesperson, for instance, must

persuade a customer to change the way he thinks before he can make a

sale, she says.

Good questions, she adds, are always "a win/win situation" for both

the person asking and the person answering. "Why do we hate

telemarketers? Because they ask canned, boring and uncaring questions.

We need to ask interesting, caring questions."

Those interesting and caring questions can stimulate us to grow. Says

Leeds, "Nothing has been invented or created in this world without

someone asking questions."

– Karen Hodges Miller

Top Of Page
Getting Balance at Work

Every employer loves the workaholic. He staggers in early, slaves late

and never seems to have a conflict with his personal life – if indeed

he has one. Silently, the water cooler sages fantasize about his

breaking down, screaming, and running amok through the corridors. They

mumble among themselves, "that man needs some balance in his life."

In fact, some of these belligerently mono-focused creatures do burn

and crash. Others labor serenely on with a devotion and contentment

the rest of us find puzzling. In a land where the average worker puts

in over 2,200 hours annually (more than Japan, Germany, or any other

nation), America’s workers could do with a little perspective.

Providing a look at whether it is possible to blend a little fun into

life, and still be effective on the job, is "The Balanced Leader: Not

an Oxymoron," a talk scheduled for Tuesday, November 16, at 6 p.m. at

the Raddison hotel in Princeton. Cost: $37. Call 908-281-9234 or visit

www.CJWN.com. Sponsored by the Central Jersey Women’s Network, this

event features Janet Neal, founder of the Productivity Resource Group,

a Montclair-based human resource consultant.

The spectre of burnout has traditionally haunted both of Neal’s chosen

careers. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Neal graduated from the

University of Michigan in l976. Her B.A. in education led to an

elementary teaching career. Later she bolstered her instructive skills

with an M.A. in student personnel from the University of Vermont and

taught high school. "Kids are hard," Neal says. "There is a cycle to

teaching that really wears down the enthusiasm."

Looking for a new challenge, Neal went to work for IBM’s high pressure

sales and marketing department. Here also initially energetic

employees all too frequently fell to exhaustion. Seeing the need, Neal

began a work/life balance seminar for the IBM’s New Jersey plants.

After l9 years she brought her motivational skills to Sentrix as vice

president of sales and marketing. Two years ago she founded the

Productivity Resource Group.

"The term ‘balance’ has now become become a cliche – an analogy for

time management," remarks Neal. "Instead, I see balance as a state of

being that blends all the interests of one’s life."

Awareness. Like Plato, Neal believes that the unexamined

life is not worth living. Take a look at our workaholic. He may be

burning the midnight monitor because doing so is supremely satisfying.

He is progressing, succeeding, completing projects, and basking in the

glow of jobs well done. This may be his niche.

On the other hand, our workaholic may be ducking back into his office

because work is, after all, easier than life. If he arrives home to

find his daughter drooling over a multi-pierced boyfriend with a "More

Teen Pregnancies" tattoo, while his son swears he was just holding

those drugs for a friend, the warm flourescent glow of his office can

seem very cozy.

Neal insists that all workers must employ the tool of awareness.

Whether you are Neal insists that all workers must employ the tool of

awareness. Whether you are ducking work at the office, or people on or

off the job, examine why you act; how your needs are not being met.

There is a certain fear inherent in this personal archeology: you may

not always like what you unearth. But a little self-knowledge is

necessary for the leader to establish his own goals.

Passion. A leader’s goals spring from his passions and his

values. What would stimulate you to be passionate about your job?

About life at home? Are you getting that stimulation in both arenas?

Almost definitely you will find yourself passionate about more than

one thing. Humans are complex beings, taking shades of delight in

pieces of this job, that sport, this time with my family.

Yet through all these passions will come a the core of belief – one’s

values. You value your children’s upbringing. It is to their benefit

and yours that much time be spent together. Note that is not a

priority. It is not a comparison of my kids versus my career. It is

merely a statement of belief that will guide you toward balanced

decisions.

Role models. You don’t get a choice. If you are a leader,

or head of the company, you are a role model. Employees infer and

reflect the values you express. "If your staff sees you coming in

early and leaving early so you can attend your child’s school play,

they will feel that is part of your values, and their company’s way of

doing business," says Neal.

However, that striving for personal balance must go beyond your own

shining example. As an executive, you must encourage employees to make

their own choices – analytically and responsibly. This means allowing

workers to handle their workloads in a way that allows them the

freedom to nourish their relationships and outside interests.

Fear & Frenzy. This balancing act sounds delightful, you

say, but when you leave the Shangri-La of balanced living, don’t

forget there lurks a real world out there with corporate expectations

and familial demands. Daily we catch hints, subtle and not so, that we

should choose. "Prioritize your life," is the call. Select which is

more important to you. At this point, the mother/employee finds

herself urged to show her true values by opting for one and ignoring

the other facet of her life.

"Simply, life need not function that way," says Neal. Pressures mount

when we transform a decision into a monument of allegiance. "I will

spend this afternoon with my wife because my family is more

important!" a time-pressured executive might declare. Instead of

comparing, defending, and forever fixing some permanent priority

ranking, try announcing merely that you are going to your wife’s

concert this afternoon. Then, next week tell your family that you are

sorry to be late for supper but this fascinating new project needs to

get launched.

In a very brief time, folks around you will infer your values. They

will probably view you as a person less hemmed-in by obligations than

savoring all of life. You won’t fit a mold. But you may just find

yourself inadvertently providing that role model of balanced

leadership so much needed in our business world today.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Grants Awarded

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded more than $4

million in three biomedical research grants to partnerships involving

institutes and centers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,

and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni noted that "we have made remarkable

progress in medical research in recent decades, and NIH-led research

has changed the landscape of many diseases," Zerhouni said. "However,

very real – and very urgent – needs remain. NIH is now drawing all

fields of science together in a concerted effort to meet these

challenges head-on."

One of the new grants was awarded to a group of 34 Rutgers and UMDNJ

faculty members from the BioMaPS (Biological, Mathematical, and

Physical Sciences interfaces) Institute for Quantitative Biology; the

Cancer Institute of New Jersey; the Northeast Structural Genomics

Consortium (NESG); and the Research Collaboratory for Structural

Bioinformatics/Protein Data Bank (PDB). Two million dollars over five

years will support the training of graduate students and post-doctoral

fellows in the new, interdisciplinary field of proteomics – the study

of the ever-changing complement of proteins that direct the activities

of living cells.

Principal investigator Ronald Levy, co-director of the BioMaPS

Institute, and co-principal investigators Gaetano Montelione, director

of the NESG, and Helen Berman, director of the PDB, along with other

faculty members, will be involved in administering the training grant.

The grant will be based at the BioMaPS Institute.

Wilma Olson, Mary I. Bunting Professor of Chemistry, and BioMaPS

Administrative Director Paul Ehrlich won a $445,000 "NIH Roadmap"

grant for a joint effort of the Institute and the Center for Molecular

Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. The centerpiece of this

initiative is developing short courses to foster interdisciplinary

research. Students in quantitative fields, such as mathematics and

physics, will receive an in-depth introduction to a topic in biology

that should prepare them for collaborating with researchers and ease

their entry into other biological fields. The course also provides

material for the BioMaPS website and the curriculum for a

semester-length course taught by Olson and Ehrlich.

The third grant will be used to address the computational challenges

in the study of large molecular complexes that form the machinery

responsible for most biological processes. The study of these

molecular machines is particularly relevant to understanding many

diseases, such as cancer and metabolic disorders.

ThevirtualComputational Center for Biomolecular Complexes, a

multicenter research initiative, is receiving a $1.85 million NIH

Roadmap in funding to support this work.

The center brings together scientists from a variety of fields and

involves collaborators from Rutgers, Baylor College of Medicine, the

Scripps Research Institute and the University of Texas at Austin. Team

leader Helen Berman will utilize her experience managing the PDB to

develop new computational systems and tools.


Next Story


Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments