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These articles were prepared for the October 20, 2004 issue of
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Survival Guide: Learn What and How to Delegate
‘Delegation," says Marc Dorio, "is one of the most misunderstood parts
of leadership." While many managers are afraid to delegate tasks and
responsibilities to their co-workers, delegation is an important
leadership tool that allows a manager to have the time and energy to
get more accomplished and to take on more challenging tasks.
Dorio teaches a five-session course, "Getting More Done through
Delegation," beginning Wednesday, October 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Mercer
County Community College. Cost: $270. Call 609-586-9446.
"Getting More Done through Delegation" is one of several electives the
college offers as part of its American Management Association
Certificate in Management. To earn the certificate, students must
satisfactorily complete four core courses in a chosen area of study,
plus four other AMA or elective courses. The class may also be taken
on a non-certificate basis.
"The Continuing Education program at Mercer County Community College
is a great place for adults who are returning to school for more
education and training," says Dorio. "It offers a lot of great classes
for adults in a variety of areas." The delegation class, he says, "is
very practical and hands-on. There are a lot of professionals who take
the course and we have a lot of sharing of experiences among the
Learning to delegate can be one of the most difficult, yet most
crucial, skills to learn. "It is critical that managers learn to
effectively delegate," he says. Otherwise, there is a good chance that
they will be wasting time and will be far less productive than they
could be. "It can effect the growth of an organization," he says. "A
manager should ask himself, ‘should other people be doing this task,
or should I be doing it?’" Dorio suggests his students use a
four-point list to help them learn to delegate. Under each heading,
list the appropriate tasks.
Things that only I should do.
Things that I should do with the help of others.
Things that others should do with my help.
Things that others should do.
The exercise, he says, can help people to prioritize work and decide
exactly which items they should delegate to others. It sounds simple –
terribly obvious – but how many managers actually stop long enough to
ask the questions? It often seems easier just to plow along full speed
– eating up as much work as possible before collapsing. Yet, says
Dorio, delegating work to others has many benefits, not only for the
manager who is doing the delegating, but also for the employees under
him. "It is another method of training the people under you," he
points out. "It is also a time management tool and a core skill that
needs to be developed at every level of management."
But how does a manager learn to delegate effectively? There are
several aspects of effective delegation, Dorio says.
Communicate expectations. "Make sure the person you are delegating to
understands what you want them to do," he says. "If the manager is not
clear in his instructions, he can not expect the work to be carried
out effectively." Take the time to provide clear parameters – and a
precise timetable. Be sure to give every employee ample time to ask
questions and to clarify the assignment.
Training. The next step in delegating is to learn if the person knows
how to do the task that he or she has been asked to do. If not, the
employee needs to be trained properly before the manager can expect
the task to be accomplished. It is far easier to supply the training
upfront than to have to make many corrections along the way.
Coaching. "Give feedback," says Dorio. "It is essential that the
person knows if he has done the job properly or not." This oversight
can ensure that an employee doesn’t waste oceans of his time – and
yours – trying to figure out how to do a task.
Letting go. Knowing how to ask an employee to do an assignment is also
important, says Dorio. The way in which the manager goes about
delegating tasks is also a part of a manager’s leadership style. You
have to let the employee take ownership of the project and empower
him. While oversight is important, hanging over an employee’s shoulder
is not a good idea. The more the employee sees the delegated task as
"his" work, the more eager he will be to get it done – and to do a
Troubleshooting. Sometimes even the best leader will delegate a job,
and the employee will not follow through. What happens if the work you
have delegated does not get accomplished? That, says Dorio, is another
important area of leadership. "If the task isn’t done, or isn’t done
properly, the manager needs to go back and troubleshoot," he says. To
do that, he or she must first find out why the task wasn’t
accomplished. "Did the person know what was needed? Did they know how
to do the task? If they didn’t, were they afraid to ask you for help?"
A second question to ask is: Was the employee able to do the work?
There can be many reasons why he or she could not accomplish it. "It
could simply be a lack of time," says Dorio. "Was there a conflict in
priorities? Did you, or someone else, give that person so much to do
that they just didn’t have the time to accomplish the task?"
A final reason that delegation commonly goes awry, Dorio notes, is
that an employee does not have the aptitude for the task. This
aptitude lag can involve either hard or soft skills. Maybe the
employee did not have the technical skills, or maybe he was not
comfortable with what he has been given. Perhaps he was too much of a
perfectionist, going over and over something without being able to
finish it. Sometimes, Dorio says, the person "really just can’t do
what you have asked them to."
Dorio, a management consultant based in Titusville, has worked to help
managers learn delegation and other leadership skills since 1993. A
New Jersey native, he spent eight years at a seminary in Rochester,
New York, where he earned a master’s in divinity and a master’s in
theology. For seven years he was a priest in Camden. He left the
priesthood, and after getting a master’s degree in industrial
psychology from Stevens Institute.
Dorio is the author of six books, including "The Personnel Managers
Deskbook" (Prentice-Hall) and the "Staffing Problem Solver: For Human
Resource Professionals and Managers" (John Wiley and Sons.) He has
also written both the first and second editions of "The Complete
Idiot’s Guide to Getting the Job You Want" and "The Complete Idiot’s
Guide to the Perfect Interview" (Alpha Books).
A final word on delegation for those who see it as the lazy way out of
work: "Delegation is a part of leadership," says Dorio. "It is not
– Karen Hodges Miller
The Christian church historically has proved itself to be a great
advocate of genetic research. It was, after all, the Augustinian monk
Gregor Mendel who in l853 led science to the concept of heredity by
his tracing of constant biological traits, combined through
fertilization. His eight years of painstaking work with 28,000 plants
demanded, as he liked to joke, his full monkish discipline.
Now as genetic studies step forward onto the new plateau of research,
many of the scientists themselves are turning to theologians – this
time for answers more ethical than factual. And Fintan Steele seems
ideally made for such a challenge.
After earning his B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois in
l979, Steele joined the Benedictine Order at Saint Meinard. While
there, he gained a master’s degree in medical ethics. Leaving the
order after eight years, Steele earned a Ph.D. in genetics, working
with the National Institute of Health and John Hopkins. He has turned
his talents to explaining complex science to the informed laity,
writing for "Nature," "The Journal of Clinical Investigation," and
even producing the controversial documentary, "Salvation Cocktail:
Hope in the Fight Against Aids." Currently, he is global head of
communications for Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research.
Steele speaks at the New Jersey Symposium of Biomaterials Sciences,
hosted by Joachim Kohn of the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, on
Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22, at the Hyatt Regency in New
Brunswick. Steele’s discussion on stem cell research takes place at 6
p.m. on October 21. Conference cost: $250. Visit
www.njbiomaterials.org/symposium 2004 or call 732-445-0488.
"I may only muddy up the stem cell waters," laughs Steele, "but at
least I’ll give folks a direction in which to swim." As the knowledge
of stem cell studies broadens out through the general population, so
have the misunderstandings.
What the cells do. All cells within each human begin as fairly much
the same structure. At this stem stage they are termed
undifferentiated. That is, even though they have a genetic code, which
may later induce them to become kidney, heart, or lung cells, they
have not made the move yet.
Stem, then, refers to a stage, not a locale. And at this point, such
cells can be harvested for research with an eye toward reproducing and
implanting. The hope is that with enormous amounts of study these
cells could soon be pushed along certain paths and directed toward
desired directions. They could replace unhealthy tissue, affording
therapy for a range of illnesses from Alzheimers to certain kinds of
Two sources yield these undifferentiated cells: First, adult tissue,
typically red and white blood cells offer the more malleable material.
Second, an early-stage embryo, at the point when it is nothing more
than a cluster of undifferentiated cells. These early-stage cells are
the ones that are the object of such controversy. (According to
National Institutes of Health, these cells are harvested from embryos
left over in the fertilization process conducted at in vitro
fertilization clinics. They are not obtained from fertilized eggs.)
Research issues. "What’s interesting," notes Steele, "is that even far
apart from the popular moral battles fought in the media, many
individual scientists who are doing this work feel queasy about it,
yet they are not sure why." In using adult cells for research,
problems arise around issues of intellectual property and informed
consent. With harvesting from embryos, the quandary lies in the debate
over when life begins. Additional issues include cost versus benefit.
Then there is a more vague issue: Some people hue to the idea that
certain natural orders must not be messed with – that someone other
than us was meant to direct life’s creation.
The personal quest. "Most of us do not analyze why we do what we do,
or on what rock our beliefs stand," says Steele. We absorb our moral
and ethical codes, for the most part, from exterior sources, and we
spend our lives shifting them until they fit somewhat comfortably.
The church, our schools, parents, peers, media, politicians, and
others constantly layer our ethical lives over with their dicta until
we believe them to be own. This doesn’t make those beliefs wrong or
insidious. We merely must be aware of their source.
Steele suggests that each of us needs to strip ourselves bare of these
external beliefs for a moment and ask a few important questions:What
makes a human? Is it just our genetics? Is moral status involved? In
the l9th century, some scientists claimed that bipedalism alone filled
the bill. Today more people are searching for a spiritual answer, such
as the existence of a self-spirit and its ability to in some unclear
way connect with the divine. Whatever your answers, Steele says that
they must combine into some shared benchmarks before we can approach
such questions as when life begins and what traits are morally
What is humankind’s place in the universe? "This will be a fun one,"
says Steele. "For millennia man has been obsessed with the idea of his
own specialness. It’s an idea we ever cling to." Yet with each new
major scientific breakthrough, humans get knocked another notch off
their pedestal. Copernicus proved that man was no longer the center of
his universe. Darwin disproved the idea of man as the ultimate, unique
animal. With this new stem cell research comes the old fear that man
will again be set even lower in the moil of creation. And the ethics
of fear can invade our decisions in the guise of morality.
Stem solutions. Once the personal understandings and decisions have
been made, Steel explains, we can begin to think through to both
personal and societal choices. So far, most groups have not reached
this stage. He cites the George Bush approach to stem cell research as
well rooted, but not thought out. It is based in the idea that each
life, as it is defined, has ultimate value. But it goes on to state
that experimentation with existent lines of stem cells is fine, while
experimentation with future cells would be murder. "We need to
establish some common benchmarks," says Steele.
Stem cell research can scarcely be thought of as enigmatic. As medical
science continues to move through heretofore unthought of boundaries,
an increasing number of complex decisions will have to be made by our
society. These can only be informed decisions if each of us is willing
to not only learn the facts, but to discover our own internal moral
– Bart Jackson
If you think it is difficult to rearrange department structure to form
a new entity, you are correct. But the researchers that formed PRISM
were highly motivated, as a recent report showed. Princeton
University’s newest program is a combination of what used to be called
POEM (Center of Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials) and PMI
(Princeton Materials Institute.
PRISM presents its inaugural symposium on Thursday and Friday, October
21 and 22, at 8 a.m., at the Friend Center on Olden Avenue. The
speakers include Ching W. Tang of Eastman Kodak, Stephen Harris of
Stanford University, Harold G. Craighead of the nanobiotechnology
center at Cornell, Mildred S. Dresselhaus of MIT, Yasuhiko Arakawa of
the University of Tokyo, and, from Princeton, Stephen Y. Chou, Dudley
A. Saville, Roberto Car, Paul M. Chaikin, Emily A. Carter, Claire F.
Gmachl, and John J. Hopfield. The banquet speaker is architecture
professor Guy Nordenson, known for organizing fellow structural
engineers to work in 24-hour shifts to assess the level of damage in
the buildings surrounding Ground Zero. Registration is required at
(www.prism.princeton.edu) or at 609-258-1575.
Three years ago Amy Gutmann, then the university provost, formed a
committee to determine the future of materials science at the
university. It was cochaired by faculty from the chemistry and
electrical engineering departments, Robert Cava and Stephen Forrest,
respectively. Cava had been a researcher at Bell Labs in its heyday,
when it encouraged long-term basic research as well as product
oriented R&D. Forrest was one of the first academics to found
companies based on his research, notably Universal Display
Laboratories, a public company that is showing success.
The committee was not satisfied that the areas of materials and
photonics attracted 15 percent of all sponsored research at the
Princeton University. PMI and POEM were indeed getting grants of $.5
to $1 million, and the faculty did have an international reputation,
but the $1 million long-term grants were not forthcoming.
Part of the problem is attributed to facilities, according to a
recently issued report, which noted that Princeton has not built new
laboratories for the physical sciences or the physical side of
engineering, as compared to places like Harvard and Cornell, which are
building new facilities. PRISM hopes for a new building of at least
66,000 square feet to compete with Harvard’s 140,000-feet and
Cornell’s 150,000 feet.
Combining the two areas would seem to solve the problem.
In January, 2003, the dean of engineering, Maria Klawe, took the
faculty members on a retreat and elicited an enthusiastic response to
the idea of working at the intersection of "hard materials"
(semiconductors, photonics, nanofabrication, and ceramics, among
others) and "soft" materials (organic materials, soft condensed
material, polymers, biological materials, and genomics).
Where "hard" and "soft" converge includes such areas as organic
optoelectronics, quantum information, microfluidics, nanoimprinting,
and biomedical imaging. "Most of the action in materials science takes
place at the interface between different kinds of materials," says
James Sturm, who believes Princeton will be unusually well-positioned
to carry that work from the earliest stages of theoretical research to
applied inventions suitable for commercial development.
Some of the biomedical topics – orthopedic inserts, design of
biomedical materials, bone replacement materials made from polymers,
bioactive composite gels of proteins and synthetic polymers, and
biomedical titanium alloys – would seem to overlap with the New Jersey
Center of Biomaterials that is located at Rutgers. By an apparent
coincidence, Rutgers is staging its two-day biomaterials conference on
the same days, Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22 (see story
"As expensive as PRISM may be in the short term, the price for not
striving to achieve the vision represented by PRISM in the long term
will be the marginalization of Princeton as a premier institution of
higher learning across a wide section of science and engineering,"
said the report. The challenge will require, among other efforts, "a
focus on working with industrial and government partners, and a focus
on building up the shared research infrastructure of Princeton."
Says Sturm: "I think it is going to be very exciting."
The women come from all walks of life – they are teenagers, adults and
seniors; single, married, divorced, stay-at-home and working mothers;
they are straight, gay and bi-sexual; they’re rich, poor and
everything in between; they’re in transition from divorce or job loss,
recovering from domestic violence, working to create a healthier
lifestyle, or simply boosting their confidence as they move into a new
stage in their life.
To all these women, the little house on Main Street in Metuchen – the
main office of Women Helping Women – is a welcome haven. On Saturday,
October 23, Women Helping Women holds its annual Starry Night Gala
fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick. Keynote speaker is
Naomi Wolf, author of "The Beauty Myth", who will be speaking about
women and leadership. Honorees, all New Jersey residents, include
McCarter Theater artistic director Emily Mann.
"We wanted to honor women who are role models, women who are committed
to excellence. They’re our stars," says Arlene Klemow, development
director of WHW. "Emily Mann is a creative inspiration. With her
writing and directing, she touches so many people."
Other honorees include Nancy Snyderman, author of "Dr. Nancy
Snyderman’s Guide to Health for Women Over 40," vice president of
medical affairs for Johnson and Johnson, and a former ABC news medical
correspondent. Also being honored are Gloria Bachman, associate dean
of women’s health at UMDNJ, a division of Robert Wood Johnson medical
school, and Cynthia Jacob, the first woman president of the New Jersey
Bar Association. Tickets range in price from $60 to $150. Call
Men are invited to the gala too, says Klemow, "It’s not just for
women. We have men on our board of directors; we believe that when
women succeed, the community as a whole succeeds. And the idea behind
the gala is to raise awareness and money so that we can make our
programs available to more and more people."
Women Helping Women (WHW) is a non-profit community based organization
that has been providing support and encouragement to women in central
New Jersey at affordable rates for 29 years. The group also operates
an office in Somerset that is two years old. The main goal of the
organization, prominently displayed on its website (www.whwnj.com), is
to provide financially accessible therapy and support services to
enhance the quality of women’s lives: "We believe in the ability of
each individual to discover and build on her inner strength," says
Klemow. "The Women Helping Women community supports and inspires women
to overcome obstacles, reach their fullest potential, and thus enrich
their lives and the world in which they live and work."
The organization was initially formed by a collaboration between
Rutgers Community Mental Health program and the National Council of
Jewish Women. The two organizations saw a need for community-based
support for women and their vision became Women Helping Women.
"Initially the heart of the program was peer-facilitated support
groups that focused on divorce and health related issues," says
Klemow. "Now we have that, as well as individual, couple, and family
therapy with licensed social workers, and family law clinics,
telephone help lines and a wide assortment of community educational
Klemow grew up in Watchung, and earned her undergraduate degree in
sociology from Boston University, and her graduate degree in
communication from the University of Pennsylvania. She moved back to
New Jersey after receiving her masters degree. "I needed to move away
to really appreciate New Jersey," she says. "It’s a great place to
live." She has worked almost exclusively with non-profit companies in
public relations and fundraising and she has been with Women Helping
Women for 2 1/2 years. A Scotch Plains resident, Klemow is married
with two young boys.
One of the ways WHW hopes to expand is to make its help line, which
operates with trained volunteers and social workers from 10 a.m. to 9
p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Fridays,
available 24 hours a day. "It can be an entrance to our programs for a
lot of people," says Klemow. Someone may not know what the center
offers, or they may be hesitant to come to one of the community
programs, but with an anonymous call to the help line, they’ll find a
"listening ear" and they’ll also learn about programs that might be
available to support them that they weren’t aware of.
All of Women Helping Women’s counseling services are available on a
sliding scale "depending on income," and the organization accepts
Medicare and some health insurances as well. "Some women walk through
the door, not because of the price, but because of the quality of the
service or for a particular workshop," Klemow says. But some come
because they can’t afford anything else. "We receive funding from
United Way of Central Jersey, and we’ve received some grants from the
state," she says, "and we also have members who support what we’re
doing, as well as private corporate donors."
"The place is comfy and warm," Klemow says of the old house. "You walk
in the back door and you’re in the kitchen." The office may be small,
but the impact is big, says Klemow. "From 29 years ago when we
started," as a place for peer support, she says, they’ve grown into
"to a comprehensive center." A stellar history indeed.
– Deb Cooperman
For Valerie Hartzell, the strength and clarity of the message is what
made her fall in love with advertising and marketing communications.
In fact, she enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for marketing so much that
she has helped to develop the marketing communications program at
Mercer County Community College. There she teaches several classes
through the college’s continuing studies program. This fall she
teaches "Planning for Action," a four-session course, on Mondays and
Thursdays, from October 25 to November 4, at 6 p.m. Cost: $168.
Hartzell has been involved in the marketing program at the college
since 2001, when she was asked, with several other professionals, to
help develop the program. "The college felt there was a need for a
program that would include a number of courses, from background
classes to shorter, more specialized sessions in particular topics,"
she says. Some of the special topics offered include Internet
marketing, direct marketing, public relations, and an advertising
course, which Hartzell also teaches.
"Planning for Action" is a background course that Hartzell believes is
an important base, both for people who are in business or for anyone
who just wants to understand more about the tools that marketers use.
During the class, students write their own marketing plans. Doing so
in just four sessions is a challenge.
"I ask them to think in the context of a real product or service,"
says Hartzell. "If they have their own business or product they want
to promote, then they can write the marketing plan for that. If they
are a general interest student or don’t feel ready to work on their
own product, they select another, well-known product or service to
There are several issues a business person should focus on when
creating a marketing plan, she says.
The target audience. Who is the audience for your product or service?
"To be effective, you must be very specific about who exactly your
target audience is," says Hartzell. This is the age of specialization.
There are wilderness tours for committed gay couples, "one last fling"
tours for couples just a few weeks away from becoming parents,
sleepaway camps for dog owners and their pets. It is no longer enough
to sell travel – or deodorant or beer or convertibles. It is vital to
know the niche to which your product will appeal.
Situation analysis. "Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your
company or product. What is your goal? In what ways does your
competition do it better? In what ways are you better?" she asks.
The goal. What are you trying to achieve with your advertising? While
many people think of the obvious goal of selling a particular product,
there can be a number of other goals in a marketing campaign. Do you
want to strengthen loyalties? Raise public awareness? Be seen as a
good corporate citizen? All of these goals can be met by carefully
Differentiation. Before beginning a market campaign, every business
person needs to look at the ways in which his product or service
differs from their competition. Point out what sets you apart and
makes you unique. Many marketing experts caution that a common mistake
is to make price the differentiating factor. Doing so is increasingly
difficult as huge companies are able to squeeze price concessions from
suppliers and to use economies of scale in everything from shipping
to, yes, advertising.
But there are any number of other ways to carve out a niche. Stressing
quality or service can work, as can highlighting a generous guarantee,
quick turnaround time, or free delivery.
Evaluation. One of the most important parts of an advertising campaign
is evaluation. "You should be able to evaluate everything you do in
your marketing campaign," Hartzell emphasizes, "and connect it back to
Tactics. "Advertisers are more creative these days in finding ways to
advertise," says Hartzell. Traditional venues such as print or radio
and television advertising are now augmented with everything from
advertising on the Internet, the back of shopping carts, and popcorn
bags. Special events, direct marketing, pamphlets, and brochures can
also be a part of a marketing campaign. Budgeting, of course, is
another important issue that plays a big part in deciding which
marketing tactics are used, she mentions.
Hartzell received her bachelor’s degree in political science. That may
seem like an unlikely beginning for an advertising executive, says
Hartzell, but for her, it made perfect sense. After graduating from
Rutgers, she began her career working in public relations for a
Trenton public affairs firm. "We were working with an advertising
agency to develop a public service campaign," she says. "I saw the
strength and clarity of the message the ad agency created and it made
me fall in love with communicating with people, with having an effect
The campaign, for the Department of Health and Human Services, focused
on the mortality rate of African American infants. "The campaign
didn’t resolve the problem," she says. "I can’t point and say the
mortality rate was resolved because of this campaign, but we did
accomplish a number of things." Raising public awareness was one of
the goals accomplished. "We didn’t want to make new mothers scared to
death, but we did want to make them aware of the risks and encourage
them to get earlier pre-natal care," she says. A new 800 number for
pregnant women and new mothers to call and receive referrals for
medical care was one of the specific benefits of the campaign.
The campaign also increased funding and awareness for research into
the problem and brought together several non-profit organizations that
were already interested in the topic. "Because of our campaign the
issue has taken on a life its own," she says. Shortly after finishing
the campaign, Hartzell moved to a position at a advertising agency,
Princeton Partners, and from there, moved to the Mega Group, a
Robbinsville marketing firm. She has been a senior account manager
there for the past two and a half years, working in the areas of
marketing planning and consultation.
"Not every method of advertising is appropriate for every product,"
says Hartzell. Television, for example, is excellent for a product
with a broad target audience, but is not good for "specialized
services." New alternatives, such as ads stenciled into mall parking
lots, may be just the thing for a mass appeal consumer product, but
may be totally inappropriate for a business-to-business product. What
the successful ads have in common is what attracted Hartzell to the
business in the first place: "strength and clarity of the message."
– Karen Hodges Miller
E-mails, proposals, reports…oh my! If you are in business – either
for yourself or in a corporation – you probably spend a good chunk of
your day writing. Even if you’re simply sending a brief E-mail, you
are still representing yourself and your company on paper, and a
poorly written note could cost you a project or job. Good writing is
essential in a marketplace where so much communication happens on
paper. But for those who aren’t comfortable with writing, the journey
through the business communications forest can look pretty scary.
Writing effectively for business should not be much of a mystery, says
Ellen A. Benowitz, a professor of business at Mercer County Community
College. All it takes is a little planning and time. And, perhaps, a
bit of a grammar review from time to time. Benowitz provides such a
review and offers techniques for creating clear, concise writing in
her popular six-week non-credit course Effective Business Writing,
which kicks off on Tuesday, October 26, at 6:30 p.m.
Born in New York City, Benowitz’s mother was a homemaker and her
father was a furrier. But "my parents wanted to give us a different
life," she says, and so the family moved to Bordentown. "My
grandfather had opened bars and restaurants and my father and
grandfather became partners. My father operated the restaurant for
eight or nine years," she recounts. He wasn’t particularly fond of the
work, and later went back to the garment industry with a management
job. Her mother eventually joined the workforce too, as an office
Benowitz stayed in New Jersey and attended Trenton State (now The
College of New Jersey), where she received her bachelor’s and master’s
degrees, and went on to receive a doctorate at Nova University in
Florida. She has been teaching at Mercer since 1972, and the place is
"a family institution" to her. Her son attended, and after working for
years in business, he is now a teaching assistant at the college. Her
granddaughter is in her second year there.
The Effective Business Writing course is popular, Benowitz says,
because the ability to write well, "can make the difference in someone
being a winner or just slipping by" in business. Gone are they days
when managers could count on secretaries and assistants to handle
their correspondence. You may be a great manager, but if your writing
is weak, it’s out there for all to see – and judge.
While office roles have changed, so has office communication. For
many, E-mail is the primary communications tool. But many people don’t
take care in preparing their E-mails. Says Benowitz: "They forget that
it’s a business document."
In becoming more effective with your writing, it’s wise to remember,
says Benowitz, that writing is a process. You don’t just sit down and
compose the perfect proposal,
In Mike Pratico’s first business venture the real estate he owned was
"virtual" real estate on the Internet. Today, as a part of the
Richardson Companies, a family business, he helps his clients make
decisions about "brick and mortar" sites. Richardson Companies
consists of three separate groups, Richardson Management, which
manages real estate for property owners; Richardson Commercial, which
sells commercial real estate; and Lexington Appraisal, the real estate
appraisal portion of the company. Pratico is vice president of
operations for the property management company and oversees the
Where a business is located is one of the most important choices the
owner will ever make, says Pratico. There are so many decisions to
make: leasing versus buying, how much space is needed. Then, of
course, there is that tangle of regulations and permits that varies
from township to township. "The problem," says Pratico, "is that while
most business owners are very good at running their own business, they
make most of their real estate decisions based on infomercials."
To help the business owner learn about the complex world of commercial
real estate, Mercer County Community College is offering "Commercial
Real Estate for Business Owners." Pratico, who teaches the two-session
course, says it is "not for someone who wants to make commercial real
estate a career." Instead, it is designed to help business owners make
better decisions when it comes to buying, selling, or leasing their
property. The full-day classes take place on Thursday, October 28, and
Thursday, November 4, at 9 a.m.. The $160 fee includes continental
breakfast and course materials. Call 609-586-9446.
The Richardson Companies have been in the business of commercial real
estate for over 30 years, says Pratico, whose father, Mike Pratico
Sr., has owned the business for much of that time. He purchased the
company from the original owner, Dick Plumeri. Most people expect a
family business to carry the name of the owner, but in the case of the
Richardson, the company was actually named for the street in
Robbinsville where the firm was first located.
While Pratico, who is not yet 30, is one of the youngest members of
the Richardson Company, his expertise in business is already large and
varied. A 1998 graduate of Cornell University, he and two partners
founded Davanita Design LLC, an E-strategy and implementation
consulting firm while they were still in college. Pratico was
responsible for many of the operational needs of the business,
including new business development, human resources, finance, and
legal considerations. He also oversaw a "capital infusion" by another
technology firm and later also oversaw the sale of Davanita to that
same company, Avatar Technology.
Having already founded, run, and sold his first business by age 22,
Pratico says that in his second business experience he "looked for a
mentor that I could trust; one who had common sense and business
experience." He found that mentor "in his own backyard" and went to
work in the family business. His father "was excited when I told him I
wanted to work with him, but never pushed me into it. He always let it
be my choice."
Along with his work at Richardson and teaching at Mercer County
Community College, Pratico is also active with the Cornell
Entrepreneurship Network, an alumni group focused on entrepreneurship
in the greater New York area. He has spoken on a number of panels for
the Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise Program at Cornell and is
also a part of the "distance education initiative for
entrepreneurship," a group of speakers that includes Jeff Hawkins,
creator of the Palm Pilot.
He also serves as an advisor to a handful of companies and sits on the
board of directors for IncQbate, a virtual incubator and consulting
firm based out of Ithaca and New York City, and he is works with a
local volunteer clearing house, Hands on Helpers, assisting the group
in "forging relationship with local municipalities."
Since joining Richardson four years ago Pratico has also learned many
things about the world of commercial real estate:
Think ahead. One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make
when looking for a site, he says, is to think only of current needs.
"When looking at real estate you need to think long term, not just,
‘How much space do I need right now?’ Sure, that 2,000 square feet is
perfect today, but what if the business grows? Will you need to move
in a year?" Moving is expensive, he notes, and in the long term,
choosing something with room to grow can save you money.
Consider leasing. Size is only the first of several key points Pratico
recommends his clients think about when looking for a commercial site.
The question of purchasing a property versus leasing it is another.
"Most people think they should always buy their property, but this is
not always true," says Pratico. There are tax considerations that can
make leasing a property less expensive than buying it outright.
Assemble advisors. A business owner cannot also be an expert on real
estate and property laws, says Pratico, so it is important that he or
she know how to choose the right experts to help.
"Selecting the right attorney and choosing a broker can be the most
important part of whether or not a deal goes through." In fact, he
says, if the students in his class leave with several "key questions"
to ask those experts he feels they will have learned one of the most
important things they need to know before venturing into the
commercial real estate market.
Is the lawyer or broker available? Does he or she have enough time to
take care of your business? "Many deals have fallen through because
the lawyer or broker hasn’t gotten back to the client in time," says
Are they familiar with the township you are buying property in, and do
they understand the laws and permit regulations of that township?
"It’s important that the people you work with know who to deal with in
your township to get the permits, to look at the environmental
issues," he says. "These are regional issues. That friend from North
Jersey may not know about regulations in Central Jersey or South
Grill your broker. "Ask your broker if this is a deal he or she is
attracted to," says Pratico. Brokers specialize. If the deal is a lot
smaller or larger than what the broker usually deals with, they may
not be prepared or they may not give it their full attention."
Finally, says Pratico, "Ask your broker to describe the last 20 deals
he or she has made. Ask about the size of the properties and the type
of properties. Was it office or industrial space, retail or
apartments? You need to get a feel for the type of transactions that
broker is doing."
– Karen Hodges Miller
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