The world is full of Baby Boomer couch potatoes, caught in sedentary
jobs behind computer screens, who have thought long and hard about
making some positive changes in their lives. And what better way to
become fit than to serve as a guide and model for others yearning to
slim down, trim up, and brim over with energy.
"It’s a fun job where you can do a lot of good for other people while
doing a lot of good for yourself," says Kaz Aoyagi, a part-time
personal trainer and teacher, a full-time professional at an area
pharmaceutical company, and an all-the-time go-getter. "Being
physically fit has made me 300 percent more active and productive,"
she says. "I am much more fit now at the age of 54 than I was when I
An instructor with the World Instructor Training School (WITS), Aoyagi
teaches "Personal Training Certification," a five-week course
beginning on Sunday, July 9, at 10 a.m. at Mercer County Community
College. It covers such varied topics as exercise physiology, anatomy,
kinesiology, nutrition, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility,
special populations, musculoskeletal injuries, and legal guidelines.
The full-day sessions lead up to a national personal trainers’
certification exam. This is followed by a 20-hour working internship
with a certified trainer. Cost: $600. Call 609-586-4800 for more
Personal trainer is fast becoming one of the hot professions of the
new millennium with a national average pay of over $25 per hour
according to a recent ABC News story. But contrary to popular
assumptions, it is not just a job for the young and beautiful. "It’s
really almost never too late to become certified as a personal
trainer," says Aoyagi, who has been a personal trainer for over a
decade and an instructor for the past four years. "I regularly have
students in my classes who range in age from 20-something through
60-something. They can feel the difference in their lives right away."
Being a good role model is a part of Aoyagi’s job as a personal
trainer. Being physically fit is a way of life that has kept Aoyagi
feeling young and vital beyond her years. "I’ve run in the New York
Marathon," she says. "I’ve taught aerobics. I exercise every day. I
run. I work at a full-time job and exceed my boss’s expectations. I
have the energy to train other clients. I have time to study. When
teaching courses I find that I have tons of energy. So when my clients
try to tell me how busy they are, that they have no time for exercise,
even though they may be half my age, I say, `wait a minute, you have
Born and raised in Tokyo, Aoyagi earned her undergraduate degree in
Japan before moving to the United States in her late 20s. "I was a
nerd until I was about 28 years old because in Japan young women were
not raised to be physically active," she says. "But when I moved here
I became more athletic."
Since earning her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley
in the 1980s, Aoyagi has worked full-time doing research in genetic
molecular biology. She is director for a company that helps
pharmaceutical firms develop new drugs for the health service
industry. In addition she is teaching exercise biochemistry at Rutgers
and is taking courses in nutrition at Rutgers.
"I want to combine nutrition and exercising," she says. "Many people
exercise but still manage to ignore their nutrition. If you exercise
and eat garbage you are going to die quickly."
An American citizen for the past 10 years, Aoyagi, a West Windsor
resident, has a 34-year-old daughter. She says that about 90 percent
of the students who take her course do it in order to become employed
as a personal trainer; working either in health clubs, gyms, or
sometimes going to clients’ homes or businesses. The remaining 10
percent simply want to improve their own workouts.
"It’s interesting to see how much it means to people when they make
the decision to improve their health, " she says. "Having the
opportunity to share that with other people in the work that you do is
intrinsically rewarding in and of itself."
The growing popularity of health clubs and higher end gyms has created
an environment in which a personal trainer must know her (or his)
stuff. This is a somewhat new development in the profession. "The
certification industry has changed over the years," says Aoyagi. "In
the past you could have gotten along with just paying $32 and getting
a certification that way, but the quality doesn’t compare to what it
is today. When you go to Bally’s, Gold’s Gym, or other better gyms,
you expect better trainers and that is what you will get."
Aoyagi earns enough income for her needs from her full-time work in
the pharmaceutical industry. She does her training for other reasons.
"I like the feeling of helping people on a daily basis and making a
difference in their lives," she says. "I do personal training more for
satisfaction. I think that is very true for many in the Baby Boomer
generation. Most of us have the money to enjoy our life after
retirement. We want to live our lives for other reasons than money. We
want to do work that is enriching in other ways. We also want to stay
fit and healthy for as long as we can."
– Jack Florek
Calls and Puts? Options Explained
You can tell that Stephen Litwok is committed to options. Not only by
the excitement in his voice, but by the path that led him to his first
job with a brokerage. The starting point of his journey made sense – a
1975 bachelor’s degree in math from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. But then came the detour. He spent eight years on two
different kibbutzim in Israel, joking that his math degree came in
handy counting rows of crops. At one point he taught computer science
in an Israeli high school. His father, looking to have his son (and
now his grandson and daughter-in-law) a little closer to him,
suggested that Litwok come back to the United States to get a master’s
degree in computer science at Fairleigh Dickinson’s Monmouth County
After he completed the degree in 1989, his father suggested he work
for a while and save some money before going back to Israel. Things
didn’t work out quite the way he had planned. Finding himself in the
middle of a recession, with no computer jobs to be had, he took a path
less traveled by computer scientists: "My sister was in the brokerage
business," he says. "She took me in and got me started," and that was
it for Litwok: "I found a niche in selling covered calls."
Call options and their cohorts, put options, explains Litwok, lend
themselves to both simple and more complex strategies, which can
protect investors and serve as new ways to earn money. Now a
registered options principal for Network One Financial in Red Bank,
where he has been since 1997, Litwok is offering a workshop at Mercer
County Community College to teach investors how to use stock options
to achieve specific goals.
Participants will simulate buying and selling of both puts and calls
using the current day’s data and stocks selected by class members. The
workshop meets on Monday, July 10, through Monday, July 31, at 7 p.m.
If there is sufficient demand Litwok will offer a follow-up class in
August on more complex strategies. Cost: $90. For more information,
call 609-586-9446 or E-mail ComEdmccc.edu.
Although people are relatively comfortable with stocks and bonds, says
Litwok, especially with the opportunities for trading online since the
late 1990s, options are another story. "Options are widely
misunderstood," says Litwok, "The typical person thinks: stay away,
it’s risky, you’ll lose all your money." His course is designed to
dispel those fallacies.
"Options are a tool designed to manage risk," says Litwok. "They allow
investors to either add risk or eliminate it." He describes several
straightforward strategies available to reach different investment
Making more money on stocks you own. One of the simplest strategies is
to use call options – which give you the right to buy shares of a
stock at a set price for a limited period of time – to make extra
income on stocks you already own. A call takes two players: Let’s say
that George owns a stock selling at $22.50 a share and is willing to
sell Martha the right to purchase that stock at a higher price, say
$25. Martha expects the stock’s price to rise beyond $25, so she is
willing to pay George a premium of $1 a share for the right to buy it
at $25. In the meantime, George has earned $1 a share, which he keeps
no matter what happens to the stock price.
If the stock’s price goes down to $20, Martha is out $1 a share, but
she certainly won’t exercise the right to buy the stock for $25. If
the stock’s price goes up to $30 a share, however, then Martha
exercises the right to buy at $25, and the two people are dividing the
profits between them: George gets the $1 per share that Martha paid
for the right to buy as well as $2.50 a share because the stock
appreciated to $25. Martha buys the stock for $25 a share and can sell
it for $30 a share or hold onto it. If Martha sells, then she has
earned $5 a share minus the $1 per share premium she paid for the
right to purchase at $25.
Litwok explains Martha’s objectives using the metaphor of
house-hunting. Suppose Martha comes up to him and says, "I love your
house. I want to live in Marlboro, and it’s perfect for me." Litwok
might respond that he is not ready to sell his house – and that would
be that. Or would it?
Litwok is thinking to himself that in the next six months or year he
may well come up for a transfer. So when Martha pushes him and
suggests she would like an option to buy the house at its current
worth of, say, $450,000, anytime in the next 12 months, Litwok thinks
about it and responds, "O.K., I’ll do it, but only if you pay me a
premium of $10,000." The $10,000 may represent how much he expects his
house to appreciate in the near future, but the size of the premium
would vary, depending on where the two think real estate prices and
interest rates will be moving. Because the agreement is contractual,
Litwok can’t sell his house for the next 12 months.
At the end of 12 months, if housing prices go down and the house is
only worth $425,000, Martha would not exercise the option to buy and
it would expire worthless, because she would be able to buy that house
or something else like it on the market at a cheaper price. But if the
house’s value went up to $475,000 or a gold mine was discovered on the
property, Martha would still have the right to purchase it at
$450,000. But whatever happens to the house’s value, Litwok would
still get the extra $10,000 premium. When Litwok sold her the option
to buy, he had expected the market to go down, and figured the premium
might cover part of his loss. Martha, on the other hand, was
protecting herself from an extreme rise in price.
Protecting the value of your stock. Put options, which allow a person
to sell an asset for a set price for a limited period of time, can
serve as an insurance policy on the stocks you own. Back to the
housing example (remember, by the way, this is a metaphor only – put
options only exist in the world of stocks): Wilma owns a house valued
at $500,000 and is considering moving into adult community in the next
couple of years. But she is worried that her house’s value may go down
by then, so she thinks to herself, "It would be nice if I could
guarantee a selling price of $500,000 for two years."
She could do something just like that with any stocks she owns. The
purchaser of a put option pays a premium to the buyer for the right to
sell at a specific price during a specified time period. "It’s almost
like an insurance policy," says Litwok. "Put options are a way of
buying insurance on your whole portfolio or on large positions you own
in particular stocks."
Generating income. Here’s an example: Say General Motors is selling
today at $26, and Alice wants to buy GM stock, but not for more than
$20 a share. She could sell Ralph a put option, which says she will
take on the obligation to buy GM from him for $20 a share sometime in
the next six months.
Ralph pays Alice a premium of $1.80 per share for taking on that
obligation. Hence, says Litwok, "Alice will make money while she’s
waiting." If Alice does have to buy the stock (if it goes down to $20
a share), her cost is the $20 minus the $1.80 Ralph has already paid
her, a net of $18.20 – an attractive price to Alice. If the stock goes
up, Alice still gets to keep the $1.80. Although this strategy seems
to have double upsides for Alice, it also has a significant downside.
"It is not a right to buy it, but an obligation," explains Litwok. If
it goes down to $20 a share, Alice has to buy it – even if the company
has gone bankrupt in the meantime.
Protecting yourself against downside risk. This time we’ll look at the
GM stock from Ralph’s perspective. It is selling today at $26 a share,
but he wants out if the stock goes below $20. If Ralph buys a put
option from Alice, then she has the obligation to buy his stock at $20
a share, no matter how low it goes. In this case Alice is serving as
Ralph’s "insurance company," picking up the premium of $1.80 a share,
but insuring him against a catastrophic fall in the stock’s price. "He
bought the put," says Litwok, "as a safety net at $20 a share." Alice,
on the other hand, "can open her own insurance company while picking
up stocks at cheaper prices."
Litwok grew up in Teaneck, where his father was in a general
contractor for construction and his mother a homemaker. When Litwok
finished Teaneck High School, they moved to a new development his
father had helped create in Manalapan.
At Network One Financial, Litwok manages the Disciplined Income
Strategy, in which people have to invest at least $100,000. He says he
has had reasonable success in the six months he has been using this
strategy, with 11 out of 13 accounts outperforming the S&P 500. He
also trades options for people, charging a commission. "I listen to
what people are saying," he says, "and convert that into an options
– Michele Alperin
Testing Women’s Entrepreneurialism
Susan Scott has been in business for 13 years. She owns three taverns
and one liquor store, and is currently negotiating to purchase a
fourth business. She also has a new business consulting with bar
owners to help them reduce inventory loss. Anne Mette Pedersen has
been in business one year. A native of Denmark, Pedersen now offers
translation services as well as cross cultural training for people who
are traveling overseas.
Both business owners wanted to learn more about the "business of being
in business," so they recently completed a series of courses at the
Women’s Business Center in Hamilton, and at the end of the series both
competed for, and won, seed grants from the New Jersey Department of
"Are You an Entrepreneur," the first in a series of seminars sponsored
by the Women’s Business Center, takes place Monday, July 10, at 9 a.m.
the Women’s Business Center, 127 Route 206, Suite 28, in Hamilton.
There is no cost, but reservations are required. Call 609-581-2220.
The seminar is held every second Monday throughout the year at the
"The Women’s Business Center focuses on entrepreneurial training for
women," says its director, Penni Nafus. Women who have been in
business for several years, as well as those who are just starting out
in business, can benefit from the many courses offered. The program is
designed for people in any type of business, from retail to services
Scott owns three taverns, Buddy’s Shamrock Tavern in Ewing, Buddy’s
Shamrock Pub in Hamilton, and Mundy’s Tavern in Trenton. She also owns
LaCasa Liquors in Trenton. But it was here newest business idea,
Bevinsure, that sent her to the Women’s Business Center.
Bevinsure is a method Scott has invented for weighing liquor bottles
to protect the tavern owner from losses. "My method can realize a bar
owner as much as $1,000 in recovered sales," she says. Word of her
system has spread in the central New Jersey area and she has started
consulting with other liquor store owners to help them reduce their
Taking the courses at the WBC has been "a really valuable tool for
me," says Scott. "Not only the information from the classes, but even
more important was the mentoring and meeting other successful
businesswomen. It was a very dynamic, positive experience."
Pedersen’s company, MOSAIK Cross-Cultural Training & ThinkLanguage
Translations, is located at 83 Cherry Brook Drive in Princeton. She
offers translation services in a wide variety of languages and coaches
people traveling abroad, either for business or pleasure, in the
cultural nuances of the countries they plan to visit.
"This is such a good part of the country to have this kind of business
because it is so international here," she says. "If I am not familiar
with the country that someone wants to learn about I can easily find
someone from that country who is an expert."
Her services are particularly important for people who are doing
business in another country, she says, because they often need to
understand the "small nuances" of behavior and language. For example,
"there is a big difference between the corporate culture in Denmark
and the corporate culture here. Denmark has a more egalitarian system.
It is less competitive and the people are quieter than Americans.
Europeans on the whole are much more reserved than Americans."
Pedersen was born in Denmark and came to this country in 1988 to study
at Yale University. She met her husband, Paulo Pesenti, here and
although he was a native of Italy, they ended up choosing the United
States as their permanent home. She worked at ETS in Lawrenceville as
a test developer for a number of years before deciding to open her own
business about a year ago.
Pedersen found out about the courses at the WBC through an article in
the newspaper. "I checked out their website and signed up for classes.
After the first class I decided to go ahead and take the entire
program and apply for a grant," she says. She was the third-place
winner in last year’s competition.
To be eligible to compete for grant money participants must complete a
series of five courses at the WBC, says Nafus. The courses total about
30 hours of classroom time and all are free. They are held on a
rotating schedule throughout the year. The courses include:
Are You an Entrepreneur? This three-hour course focuses on a variety
of skills for the new business owner, including an assessment of
skills, business knowledge, education, and experience, and an
evaluation of basic decision-making abilities and financial
requirements. It also addresses goal setting and helps prospective
entrepreneurs answer the question: "Is this the right time for me to
start a business?"
The course is a good place for the new or prospective business owner
to get answers to many basic start-up questions as well as an
opportunity to meet successful business owners and hear about their
experiences, says Nafus.
Start Right! is the second course in the series and includes
discussions on planning and goal setting, legal issues, government
regulations, and insurance, as well as the elements of a business
plan. "The course is ideal for both new businesses and businesses in
the first five years of development," says Nafus. "It is designed to
meet the needs of a wide range of individuals who want to build their
business and prepare a business plan."
Profit Savvy is the third of the required courses. It focuses on
learning the basic financial language and rules of business, strategic
financial decision-making skills, and how to plan and control for
Participants can also choose two of three other courses, Marketing
Magic, Introduction to Quick Books, or Money Smart. Marketing Magic
focuses on developing a marketing plan and positioning the business to
"sell what the customers wants to buy," says Nafus. It also teaches
the participants how to build a comprehensive prospect list, create
marketing materials, and design and deliver successful seminars.
Money Smart focuses on a variety of financial issues, while the Quick
Books course teaches the basics of this accounting software program.
"At the WBC I learned about what do and what not do in business from
other very experienced businesswomen," says Pedersen, "It was the kind
of knowledge that you don’t usually get in books."
– Karen Hodges Miller
Digital Camera Basics
Is that brand new digital camera you got for Christmas still sitting
in a box in your closet? Or have you managed to get it out of the box
and take a few photos, but don’t know how to get them out of the
camera and into some form where they can be seen and enjoyed?
Today’s "basic" camera is light years beyond the basic box camera and
point and shoots we grew up with. No longer do we simply drop a roll
of film at the drugstore, pop in a few hours later and pick up photos.
The camera and its accompanying computer software have given all of us
the ability to be darkroom technicians as well as photographers. But
it isn’t always as easy as it looks.
Help comes from technology specialist Kathleen Perroni, a Hamilton
resident who gives a three-session class on "Digital Camera Basics" on
Mondays and Thursdays, July 10 through July 20 (the class will not
meet on Monday, July 17), at 6:30 p.m., at Mercer Community College.
Cost: $104. Call 609-586-9446 to register or for information. Students
should bring a digital camera to the class.
The class focuses on helping novice digital camera users understand
the basic features and operation of the average digital camera, says
Perroni. "This course is aimed at the complete beginner," she says.
The class has been so popular, she adds, that a second course,
"Digital Camera Basics II," will be offered by MCCC for the first time
The course will give the participants a broad overview of how to use a
digital camera, including basic camera operation, how to download the
photos from the camera to a computer, how to view the photos, and how
to organize, transfer, and archive them using various storage media.
Different methods of printing good quality photos will also be
discussed, as will how to use the digital photos on the Internet, in
E-mail, and in several popular software applications. The students
will also learn some basic digital photography terminology and will
learn about common image file types and pixel resolutions.
What camera to purchase? Perroni says that, as with most technology,
digital cameras continue to improve while, at the same time, their
prices drop. "A few years ago a two megapixel camera was a couple of
hundred dollars. Now you can get six megapixels or even more for about
that range," she says. "Two years ago those were cameras that only
professionals could afford."
A megapixel is a measure of resolution that indicates the ability of a
digital camera to record detail. The more megapixels, the more detail
in the images, and the more they can be enlarged and still remain
sharp. With a six megapixel camera 8×10 photographs should have
excellent resolution, Perroni says.
Taking the photo. Digital cameras have features that mimic the
features of a traditional camera, says Perroni. For example, "white
balance is an attempt to adjust the camera to certain light
conditions. While all of the digital cameras have automatic settings,
she says, "if you don’t like what you are seeing with the automatic
settings, you can adjust the camera manually to change the light."
Traditional cameras use filters to correct for various types of
lighting, incandescent and fluorescent for example. If a filter isn’t
used, most indoor photos came out with an orange cast. Digital cameras
replace filters with the white balance feature that makes corrections
for the color temperature.
A second feature of digital cameras is the ISO number, which indicates
the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the sensitivity, the
less light is needed to take the photo. Digital cameras automatically
set the ISO, but just as with white balance, it can be changed
manually. Auto ISO works best in bright light.
Downloading your photos. One of the biggest differences between
traditional cameras and digital cameras is that, instead of just
taking the photos, the digital camera and its related computer
software handle photo editing and processing as well.
"There are a lot of digital features that help you take better
pictures," says Perroni. You can enhance and improve your photos and
when you are satisfied with the result, you have several options to
display the pictures.
The first step, says Perroni, is to download the memory chip from the
camera to the computer. It is important to make sure that you have
enough memory to take all the photos you want. If you are going on a
vacation, for example, and won’t have a computer available for a week,
you might want to invest in additional memory chips to make sure that
you can store a week’s worth of photos.
Once the photos are downloaded to the computer a number of popular
software programs, such as Photoshop Elements and Paintshop Pro, allow
you to adjust the focus, make the photo brighter or darker, change the
colors, and even crop people and objects out of the photo. In other
words, says Perroni, the software "allows a person to make a good
picture even better."
Sharing your photos. Along with new ways to take photos, the digital
cameras – coupled with the Internet – offer a number of new ways to
share photos. Digital camera owners can print their own photos fairly
easily, but many of their photos never make it into print. Instead
they are shared over the Internet. Understanding how to E-mail photos
is an essential part of digital photography.
Photos can be sent as an E-mail attachment in a number of formats,
including jpeg, tif, and gif. Anyone sending a photo via E-mail should
check to see if recipients can easily download with each type of
Another extremely easy way to share photos is to upload them to a
photo storage and sharing website such as Ofoto or Snapfish. Post the
photos there and then send invitations to everyone with whom you want
to share them. They can view the photos again and again, and have the
option of purchasing prints – often at very low prices. The prints
generally can either be mailed or picked up at a local drug store.
Perroni learned about digital cameras through her work as a technology
specialist at Timberlane Middle School in Hopewell Valley. She holds a
master’s degree in education as well as a certificate in instructional
computing. "I started learning about digital cameras because it was
just part of my job," she says. "It was a new piece of technology that
we wanted to introduce into the curriculum and teach the children how
As so often happens, our children lead the way in learning about
technology. But with Perroni’s class, the rest of us can impress our
children with our knowledge and skill in the latest in digital
– Karen Hodges Miller
Medical Liaisons To Educate Doctors About Drugs
Doctors are busy. It seems as if they can barely sprint through their
whirlwind succession of patient interviews, let alone devote real
study to the medicines they prescribe. Quite naturally we fear that
most of our physician’s pharmaceutical education comes from the drug
company sales people, who are undeniably biased. And that may once
have been so.
But the drug manufacturers are working on boosting their
creditability, and the federal government has stepped in, demanding a
clear firewall between pharmaceutical education and promotion. Toward
this end, major pharmaceutical firms are establishing highly qualified
ranks of trained medical science liaisons (MSLs) to work with local
To help explain the medical liaison’s role and training,
Bernardsville-based Scientific Advantage (www.scientificadvantage.com)
is sponsoring workshops on Tuesday, July 11, and Wednesday, July 12,
at 7 a.m. each day at the Bridgewater Marriott. Call 908-204-0995 or
E-mail to info@ScientificAdvantage to register. Cost: $710 for the
July 11 workshop and $795 for the July 12 workshop.
The July 11 workshop provides detailed information on all legal,
government, and institutional documents that influence how
pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies communicate with
physicians and other healthcare providers. It also examines industry
best practices in compliance and risk management. The July 13
workshop, MSL CORE Competency, teaches the fundamentals required to be
a successful MSL, including effective approaches thought leader
networking, external and internal networking, external and internal
communications, and the integration of science and business.
The new profession is drawing medical doctors, molecular biologists,
chemists, and pharmaceutical researchers, as well as directors and
sales executives of related businesses.
If any person’s career has been pointed toward the scientific
understanding of pharmaceuticals, it is Scientific Advantage’s
vice-president Kathryn L. Gann. Born in Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, she
began her education with a general arts and sciences B.A. from
Pennsylvania State University in l973. She then obtained an M.S. in
microbiology/immunology from the Catholic University of America and
Ph.D. degrees in molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan
University. She performed her postdoctoral fellowship at the John
Hopkins School of Medicine in the biological chemistry department.
Gann served as an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at Brown
University and taught everything from cancer genetics to public health
immunology. She supervised a molecular biology laboratory and
researched autoimmune diseases. She has served as director of the
Rhode Island Association of Facilities and Services for the Aging. She
is an active member in the Drug Information Association and American
Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Prior to training MSLs for
Scientific Advantage, she directed medical therapeutic liaison
programs for the major drug firms Sanofi-Synthelabo and Aventis.
Gann insists that the employment of more medical liaison teams is a
great leap forward in patient healthcare and in
pharmaceutical-physician communication. "An MSL is the a conduit of
information, working both ways," says Gann. "He brings explanations of
products and solutions out into the healthcare community, and carries
back from the physicians new trends, methods of treatment, and changes
It sounds ideal, but doesn’t always work exactly that way. Dr. Jane
Chin, president of the MSL Institute (www.mslinstitute.com) says that
too often MSLs can be pushed into "touring the dinner circuit, acting
mostly or only as technical sales support." So the question becomes:
what are medical liaisons doing out there in healthcare land?
Tellers versus sellers. In l967 Upton John developed the first medical
liaison team to help physicians find the best treatment for a given
disease. Physicians were fed up with an onslaught of drug salesmen who
visited one at a time, each one selling his pharmaceutical solution,
each with only a limited knowledge of his product. In the medical
liaison physicians found a peer – an expert who could discuss the full
range of pharmaceuticals available, and could describe the molecular
difference of each.
This MSL tradition of sharing scientific knowledge has continued.
Today the medical liaison works as the field-based face of the drug
company’s medical affairs and research divisions. He does not make
double-team visits with a sales person to the doctor’s office. Unlike
the rep, he typically comes to the job with an M.D., or a Ph.D. in
chemistry, biology, or pharmacology.
Government firewall. In 2002 the federal government gave MSLs a huge
and unintentional boost. Tired of the pharmaceutical companies’
infomercial style of trade presentation, the Office of the Inspector
General in Health Services published the O.I.G. Guidelines, which
demanded a strict separation of promotional and informational material
in physician continuing education courses taken for credit. This
promo/educational firewall stated that educational materials should be
presented to doctors by an outside third party, such as a medical
The institution of the MSL, already burgeoning since the l990s, took
off as drug firms sought to make honest and balanced presentations.
Companies like Scientific Advantage came into being to help
pharmaceutical and medical device providers establish the MSL teams,
which helped not only with O.I.G. compliance, but also with getting
their message across.
Schooling an MSL. If you are going to chat with physicians and
researchers about molecular differentials in various drugs’ makeups,
you will probably want to bring a substantial background to the table.
Typically, medical liaisons are drawn from the ranks of physicians,
PhDs in biology, chemistry, or pharmacology. "But many less formally
educated people have gained equivalent expertise through their work,"
says Gann. Among these she includes physicians assistants, nurse
practitioners, those with advanced clinical training experience,
medical technicians who run trials, and therapeutic aids, such as
those who run hospital diabetes clinics.
Scientific Advantage offers training for those with the right
background. Those seeking an MSL certificate from Scientific Advantage
take a one-day course. They take a pre-qualifying test, and a final,
day’s end exam. In between, the students learn what Gann calls the
soft skills of the job: what MSLs do, how to communicate, and the
rules of legal compliance.
Upon completion these new MSLs are quickly hired by pharmaceutical
companies, says Gann. Their new employer puts them in its own medical
therapeutic liaison training program. Exactly how long this training
lasts depends on the individual’s experience and the company’s
product. But Gann says that it generally takes a year before MSLs feel
Off-label, on-label. Depakote stops epileptic seizures. It has also
proved successful in handling migraine headaches and attention deficit
disorder. But the label only says that it is good for seizures. These
other treatment potentials are termed off-label uses and for any
salesperson to suggest – or even discuss – such off label uses is
Actually, no drug company employee, be he in sales, an MSL, or the
CEO, can legally promote such off-label uses. The FDA wisely wants to
halt a return to the old medicine show days. They will not allow
promotions wildly claiming that "this drug is great for neuritis,
neuralgia, and whatever else ails you."
"But at the same time," says Gann, "the FDA very sensibly does not
want to restrict the flow of scientific information." Thus if a
physician initiates a question to an MSL about alternative uses, the
discussion may legitimately begin. This way the doctor gets a source
of expertise, and the claims are reined to match actual clinical test
results. "It becomes a tricky part of the compliance," says Gann "but
it is one each MSL must have stamped deep into his brain."
Doctors love MSLs. It’s like having expert, personal tech support to
help them work out their problems – a medical geek squad that makes
house calls. For the pharmaceutical companies that are paying the MSL
salaries, the benefits are not quite so easily determined. MSLs are
paid about $125,000 a year. They do not operate on commission, and
talk science, not products.
It is difficult to actually determine their benefit to a pharma’s
bottom line, but there is evidence to suggest that they build
relationships. A physician, on average, will spend two hours with an
MSL, versus just a few minutes with a drug rep.
– Bart Jackson
Scrap the Paper
Is paperless just a myth? Well, one thing is for sure. Widespread
computer use has not led to an overpopulation of trees. The nation’s
personal computer users alone use more than 115 billion sheets of
paper annually, according to the Resource Conservation Alliance. Each
office worker goes through 9,999 sheets of paper – 27 pounds – a year.
Is this incredible paper thirst, tickled by computers, going to end?
"Probably not," says John Heckman, president of Jersey City-based
Heckman Consulting, "but we can certainly get most of that clutter out
of our lives to make our world better and our offices infinitely more
To help guide legal and general business offices into this new mode of
operation, the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education
presents "Going Paperless," on Tuesday, July 11, at 9 a.m. at the New
Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Cost $139. Visit www.njicle.co
Heckman discusses the hardware, software, and strategies involved in
achieving the nearly paperless office. Also, Carol Johnson, secretary
of the New Jersey Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professional
Ethics, talks about the new paperless law, Opinion 701.
Growing up in New York and Connecticut, Heckman stands out as an
individual who sculpts his career by his own choices. Attending
Cornell University, as he puts it, "far back in another life," Heckman
went all the way, earning his Ph.D. in comparative literature. He
proceeded to teach at Brandeis and at Boston University for several
years. Then he opted for a change. Packing a bag, he headed for
Europe, and became an itinerant for the next five years, supporting
himself teaching English.
Upon returning to America, Heckman assessed his skills. "I figured out
that I was really a good typist, so in l982 I got job in a law firm’s
typing pool," he says. Shortly thereafter computers entered the scene
and Heckman began playing with Wangs. He saw and seized the
opportunity. Joining the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy
in New York, he developed the firm’s computer operations. Later he
teamed up with systems designers Kraft, Kennedy & Lesser
(www.kkl.com), where he created document managing systems for legal
and other offices. In l997 he launched Heckman Consulting to help
firms shift into paperless mode.
Law of the land. On April 10, 2006, the paperless advocates in the
Garden State received a real boost when the State Supreme Court issued
Opinion 701, which in effect allowed lawyers to shred and recycle all
their old hard copies. The opinion stated that legal firms may archive
their case documents in cyberspace, provided that adequate backup is
maintained, and provided that adequate measures are taken to ensure
Many believe that this law will ripple out to other professions,
giving cyberstorage legitimacy and encouraging it wide adoption. "This
is something people in the legal and many other professions have been
crying for years," says Heckman.
The paper culture. For most of us, if the document is longer than
three pages, we will print it out. If it is book, we will take it
lovingly in hand and curl up in our nice lumpy chair and dig in. "Much
of this is generational," Heckman says, "and, of course, until
recently hardware has been unable to compete."
Magnetic screens oscillate, causing eyestrain – a fact of modern
office life. Books have at least 2,400 dpi (dots per square inch),
while many older monitors have only 75 dpi, making resolution a real
squint. "This is like reading bad faxes all day," says Heckman. For
any office that values its workers, it is worth paying the extra $350
for a l9-inch, flat, LCD screen (200 dpi) and another $40 for a
Travel tech. After affording greater organization, probably the
greatest benefit of going paperless is portability. While E-books have
been slow to launch, smart phones, with their two-by-two-inch screen
have swept the nation. Heckman says that this is primarily because of
their organizing capability. "I can cross index all 1,500 names from
my Rolodex and check on my calendar while I am talking. It’s not so
much a reading as a reference tool," says Heckman.
As USB flash memory modules keep climbing in memory capacity and
dropping in price their use becomes more sensible. Three hundred
megabytes now fit into a storage device the size of a key ring.
To keep all your office on the same (paperless) page, why not gift all
employees with a wallet set of USB flash sticks, each of which is
color coded, like your keys? Everyone will remember that finance is on
the appropriately green key, which is accessed and updated company
wide. Use the same color coding for office and offsite archiving.
Pricey disorganization. Close your eyes and imagine all that paper
clutter swept off your desk, but all the information retained right at
hand. This is the real advantage of going paperless. Those who recall
the pre-computer days, when every scrap of data was filed in manila
folders, will readily admit that their computers now shuffle faster
and offer much more organization than any paper filing system. Heckman
wants merely to take this one step further.
The first and fatal flaw of those wanting to go paperless is that they
scan every incoming document. This, insists Heckman, only leads to
greater disorganization. It’s merely tossing all that paper into a
magnetic bin. He also warns against using the software that comes with
most desktop scanners, as it is typically crippled, outdated, and
slow. He prefers Abbyy (www.abbyy.com) or OmniPage (www.nuance.com.)
But before using Abbyy or OmniPage, scan the available document
management programs and find one that suits your business needs. Many
such programs now interface directly with word processing programs,
automatically storing, cross-indexing, and linking each document
written, unless the author indicates otherwise. Most older systems,
such as Outlook, which require a drag and drop, end up filing data
according to the whims of each individual user.
The second criterion Heckman suggests is choosing a system that
gobbles all forms of data and sorts it by case or client. When a
worker searches the "Johnson file," he will have before him every
E-mail, scribbled note, formal letter, contract, calendar of sales
meetings, phone record, and memo from other departments. This not only
prevents endless circulation of paper memos, it saves time and errors.
No time, no money. "The two biggest excuses I get for companies not
going paperless is `I haven’t the money’ and `I haven’t the time,’"
says Heckman. "The truth is you cannot afford not to go paperless."
Most executives spend their days gathering information, using their
expertise to process that information, and then generating documents.
By saving time on the first and third steps, you have made way for the
best use of the executive – his mindpower. The payback in money and
staff time comes in about two to six months.
"It takes four hours of training for each employee on a new paperless
system on which everybody will save at least one hour a week," says
Heckman. "You figure it out." Additional savings can be made by
developing canned documents that automatically link in and are ready
to be custom tailored for each transaction.
Last year the peoples of this globe created a stack of paper which
would reach the moon and back eight times. At least one of those trips
is a giant waste of time, organization, money, and our earth’s
Even if you are not ready to adopt a company-wide paperless culture,
think twice before hitting "print."
– Bart Jackson
Speak Up and Out with Confidence
It’s a given. Few people relish the prospect of public speaking in
general. Add a couple of unfortunate circumstances, and the fear
becomes positively phobic. But there is an antidote – and it begins
with careful preparation.
Effective presentations to an involved audience require more than just
pulling together a sequence of PowerPoint slides with catchy graphics
and charts and clever headings. In fact, an overdependence on the
technology contributes to clumsy interactions between the presenter
and the technology.
On Wednesday, July 12, and Thursday, July 13, Elizabeth Ann Myers
presents a two-day workshop on presentation skills for the Learning
Key, a corporate training company at 1093 General Washington Memorial
Boulevard in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. Cost is $475. For
information or to register, call 215-493-9641.
Myers says that her approach to making presentations goes way back in
her own personal history, to the time when she was a child actor in
Chicago. That training stood her in good stead when she became a high
school teacher of English and communications after receiving a
bachelor’s degree in English education from Purdue University in 1971.
Standing in front of a business audience came later. She was first
exposed to that world when she got a master’s degree at night in
American studies from Northeastern Illinois University while she
taught during the day. She focused on 20th-century business culture.
"It prepared me to understand the ways people communicate in business
and through the media," she says.
With the new degree in hand, her career took another tack at Edelman
Public Relations, still in Chicago, where she coached people for media
interviews. "We taught them how to work with the teleprompter, and how
to express a very succinct message and tell it with anecdotal pizzazz
and verve," she says.
From her varied experience, Myers offers suggestions for effectively
preparing presentations that maintain the interest of audiences all
the way through:
Develop flexible, organized content. One of the challenges in today’s
fast-moving business world is that you can prepare a great half-hour
presentation only to find when you arrive at the meeting that the boss
has to leave in 10 minutes. "What am I supposed to do then," asks
Myers, "talk fast?"
As an alternative, she suggests instead an "accordion method," which
allows speakers to expand or contract a presentation according to the
time available and still communicate effectively. The first step is to
design the core content.
An example she uses is a presentation on making a quick Italian
dinner. The core content would include an interest getter – "Would you
like to learn how to make a healthy meal in 10 minutes with things you
already have in your pantry?" This could be followed by a "bare bones"
presentation of the basic content – what type of pasta, canned
tomatoes, and herbs you will use. From there, swing right into a
These are the basics, and can be presented quickly. Next come the
details you want to share – if you have enough time. In this example
it could be the advantages of different shapes of pasta and whether
you want to use dried or fresh.
With this type of planning, says Myers, "if you run out of time, you
Plan your transitions ahead of time. When speakers are not sure where
they are going next, they tend to get mired in details – after all,
they’re experts, and they usually know a lot about the subject matter.
"The problem," says Myers, "is that people go on and on about details
and start to lose the audience. They don’t know when to stop talking."
To avoid this verbal wandering, which is usually due to increased
anxiety, Myers tells people to plan their transitions ahead of time.
Myers shares an experience with a biologist who was talking about an
experiment he had designed. First he supplied background information,
and all was well. But then he launched into great detail about the
different types of agar that could be used to grow a culture.
Afterward she asked him, "Did you want to go into all that detail
about the agar?" His response: "No. I couldn’t stop. I just kept going
because I knew about this stuff." Myers’ take on the biologist’s
problem: "If you don’t have a constructed presentation, with
transitions built in, you can meander and go down roads that lead
Visualize the presentation. Myers points out that the design stage is
where intellectual activity is involved, and the oral delivery is
primarily physical. The challenge, she says, is how to use gestures to
release energy to the audience. She suggests visualization – for a
batter this may mean imagining how to hit a ball in a certain way, a
technique that research suggests can improve performance.
For the public speaker this involves visualizing an upcoming
presentation, picturing how he will move appropriately to use the
equipment and handle the size of the room, and how the audience will
nod to show their understanding of the concepts.
Move with confidence. Myers teaches what she calls a "triangle of
control" to use when planning how to stand and move during a
PowerPoint presentation. Find three spots where you can stand, one
next to the computer, one two steps to the side so that the audience
can view the screen, and a third two steps toward the screen where it
may be necessary to point out a small detail.
With this technique, says Myers, "you can move with confidence and
purpose." Otherwise presenters often disperse their extra energy
through meaningless or repetitive gestures, like moving their hands up
and down, jangling change in their pockets, or pacing back and forth.
Myers urges preplanning "so that gestures and walking are done with
meaning. This allows the audience to see a dynamic, confident, and
Bring in the human element. "We are finding that people enjoy
listening to a presentation that has some kind of pizzazz or
interest," says Myers. Consequently, she encourages presenters to
bring in a metaphor for the content which comes out of their own life
A pharmaceutical executive who likes to hike, for example, was
addressing a meeting about a new product launch. He talked about
taking a difficult hike with his children, how they set goals, what
special preparations had to be made because the children were
involved, and how they thought on the way that they’d never make it.
He likened this experience to the current product launch, which he
said would be different and would require unique arrangements. "This
helped enliven his presentation and make him appear human," says
Myers. "People expect the PowerPoint and the computer, which is high
tech, but because you are presenting to people, you need to combine
high tech with `high touch’ to become an effective communicator."
Don’t depend too much on PowerPoint. The power should be in the
presenter – not the software. If you have substantive content, Myers
suggests that it is often better to hand out an article, memo, or
position paper so that people will be able to read and understand the
"The speaker can hit the high points and either persuade the audience
or hit them with what they need to take action," she says.
Sometimes the audience prefers to be active along with the speaker,
and not just sit and watch. A mechanical engineer at Princeton
University once told Myers that after spending two years putting his
lectures on PowerPoint, he got feedback from the students that they
preferred to have him write formulas on the chalk board so that they
could write them down at the same time. "We thought that was high tech
way to do it," he told her, "but it’s not human."
Another problem with PowerPoint is that its structure encourages a
hierarchy – a broad point followed by subpoints. But there are many
other formats for expressing complex ideas, says Myers. You may need a
more horizontal, linear approach, or you may have a wide chart that
requires a foldout paper given as a handout. When people talk about
visual aids, that’s exactly what they are meant to be – to aid your
message, not deliver your entire message. Placing content verbatim on
a PowerPoint slide can be distracting to the audience and prevent the
listeners from really learning and taking in the information the way
you had hoped.
Myers moved to Princeton in the late 1970s when her father was ill. He
worked at Firmenich, where his last job was vice president of flavor
sales. Her mother was a volunteer and raised five children, of which
Myers is the eldest.
Myers is a member of the National Speakers Association, the American
Society for Training and Development, and the National Society for
Performance and Instruction. She has served on the executive board of
the Mid-New Jersey ASTD, the board of trustees of the United
Way-Princeton Area Communities, and the Education Committee of the
Chamber of Commerce of the Princeton Area.
Myers founded her own company, the MYERS Method, in 1981, and she
works as a business partner with the Learning Key, a training, design,
and consulting company that focuses on technology-based organizations.
The Learning Key was founded 15 years ago by a nuclear chemist,
Elizabeth Treher, who recognized the need for technical professionals
to develop communication and business skills and to learn about their
People at the workshop will be actively giving presentations, which
will be taped, and receiving feedback. "It’s hands on and a lot of
fun," says Myers. "People come in being nervous and quickly realize
that they’re all in the same boat."