On Buying a Business

The Art of Remembering

Making Good Meetings

E-Predictions

Grants Guide

Hot Flashes

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 15, 1998. All rights reserved.

Tax Time

If you are reading this article on April 15 and haven’t

yet filed your Federal income tax, don’t fret — there’s still

plenty of time. No forms? No problem: forms can be acquired via TaxFax,

703-368-9694, or from the IRS website, http://www.IRS.ustreas.gov.

(You can file from the website, but you must have special filing software

already installed in your computer.)

No time today? You can do it tonight. The Carnegie Center post office

is open until midnight this Wednesday, April 15, and several other

post offices in the state have IRS representatives on hand to assist

confused taxpayers.

For most people, however, the biggest worry now is not about getting

the forms filed on time, but rather what happens once they arrive

at the infamous Internal Revenue Service processing facility in Holtsville,

New York. This 500,000 square feet facility, with 4,900 employees

at tax time, processes all of the New Jersey’s tax forms. It’s also

where a selected few returns will be plucked out for a dreaded audit.

Priscila Amor, an IRS revenue agent, tells the Institute of

Management Accountants how to prepare for an IRS audit on Thursday,

April 16, at 6 p.m. at McAteer’s in Somerset. Call 609-840-0700 for

more information.

Bottom line — if you’re audited, don’t ignore it, Amor says. It

won’t go away. After receiving the letter, call the revenue agent

to confirm or reschedule the appointment. Amor recommends asking the

examiner what issues are going to be covered at the audit and what

is the basis of that selection. "It helps to know what triggered

the examiner to make that determination and to know if the taxpayer

has correct support documentation to support that examination,"

she says.

Then get a list of items to bring to the audit, and bring as many

of those items as possible. The more prepared the taxpayer comes,

the quicker and more painless the interview will be. If a business

is being audited, the revenue agent will make a visit to the business.

The next step is a general interview, where the examiner tries to

get "an idea of what is surrounding the financial world of this

taxpayer," says Amor. Then examiner then asks more specific questions

and requests to see the specified documents. Sometimes a determination

will be made on the spot.

The taxpayer should never procrastinate giving information or documents

to the examiner. "Credibility is very important and it is established

throughout the audit," says Amor. "If you give a prompt answer

throughout the examination it establishes credibility." If you

are having trouble getting the requested information, call the auditor.

And remember, written testimony carries more weight than oral testimony.

"Nothing is better than a written document that is generated the

year that is being examined by an unrelated party," says Amor.

"Of course it has to be a real document. We’ve encountered fraudulent

documents and that carries criminal penalties." Also it’s up to

the taxpayer to realize when to seek professional advice.

Once a determination is made, the taxpayer has a right to agree or

disagree. If there is a disagreement, the case is sent to appeals,

and if it still unresolved, it ends up in tax court. Just a reminder

— the taxpayer no longer assumes the burden of guilt in tax court.

Also, taxpayers shouldn’t sign a determination if it is not understood

completely. The IRS is not automatically right.

Meanwhile, one group in particular is taking aim against the IRS.

The National Federation of Independent Business is gathering signatures

for a campaign to abolish the tax code. The NFIB is calling on Bill

Clinton on Congress to "sunset the current tax code by December

31, 2000" in favor of a "simpler, fairer tax code that rewards

work and savings," says a press release.

So far, NFIB New Jersey has signed on 136 volunteers to canvass the

state with petitions. For more information about the NFIB or about

this effort, call 888-668-4477, or visit the website, http://www.not4irs.org.

The New Jersey chapter is based at 156 West State Street in Trenton.

Top Of Page
On Buying a Business

For some, buying an existing business may be a better

route to entrepreneurship than starting a business anew, says Ronald

Cook. Existing businesses already have track records and customers.

They already have ongoing relationships and operations. Start-ups

don’t. What start-ups typically have is risk, Cook reports. "This

ties into the overall failure rates of business in the economy and

the riskiest period of time is within the first two years of a business’s

life," he says.

Cook, a management professor at Rider University, is part of a panel

that discusses buying a business at Rider University on Thursday,

April 16, 6:30 p.m. at Sweigart Hall auditorium. Call 609-896-5522.

The other panelists are Rachel Stark, an attorney with Stark

& Stark, and Howard Scribner, a partner at Arthur Andersen.

While bargains abound, many come with well-hidden problems. "The

business might be in trouble," says Cook. "Anybody buying

a business better be doing their due diligence. Why is this business

being sold? I make an analogy to buying a used car."

The need for due diligence can actually work against buying a smaller

business because of the cost of doing due diligence, Cook reports.

Proportionally speaking, there’s not that much difference in investigating

a smaller company or a much larger company. For example, a company

priced at $75,000 might cost $25,000 to investigate, while due diligence

for a company worth $750,000 might only cost $40,000.

Another possible sticking point is that an entrepreneur buying a business

doesn’t get the initiative to build the business from scratch. "You

can’t necessarily customize exactly the way you want it," says

Cook. "There may be some undesirable assets and you may not be

able to move the location."

A healthy economy might seem conducive to buying and selling businesses,

but Cook reports that differences in perception between buyer and

seller could actually create obstacles to coming up with an agreeable

sale price. The buyers, he reports, have the mind set that "buying

this business is riskier than the stock market so I want to get a

better rate of return than I would get on the stock market." Meanwhile,

sellers assume that good economic conditions should yield a higher

price for the business.

Also business owners often add the company’s intangible assets to

its sale price. This could heighten the perception that the price

is inflated. "They’re going to estimate what potential future

earnings are going to be, then you’re paying something for the reputation

that the business has, and the value they attach to that may be more

than you’d be paying if you were starting your own business."

Finally, if the business is changing owners there is likely to be

turnover of employees. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t work in

the new owner’s favor. "The rule of thumb is the most valuable

ones are the most mobile," says Cook. "You potentially could

be left with the less-than-stellar employees and having all the good

ones leave. You keep the good ones and cull off the bad ones but more

importantly you have to decide which ones are which."

Cook, 39, has taught at Rider for five years. Prior to that he was

involved in two business ventures in central New York. One was a mobile

DJ company, that he sold in 1990, and the second was a family-owned

snowmobile business, which is still alive, he reports.

Top Of Page
The Art of Remembering

You’re in the middle of a conversation with somebody

important, you open your mouth to address them personally, but you

can’t seem to recall their name. Technically speaking, you haven’t

forgotten their name, says Michael Epstein, psychology department

chair at Rider University. You never went through the trouble to remember

it in the first place.

Memory, he explains, is an innate capacity that is different for everyone.

The act of not remembering something is not evidence of a "short

memory," he explains, but a failure to perform the act of remembering.

"I often say just because you can’t remember doesn’t mean you

have forgotten," he says. "You can very often have a failure

to access information that is theoretically available."

Epstein lectures about mnemonics at Rider on Wednesday, April 22,

at noon at the Student Center. Call 609-896-5033. "Mnemonics are

all about putting things away in a way that is organized or having

retrieval cues that help you to get the information that you have

stored," he says.

Making associations is the easiest way to offset a temporary bout

with amnesia. "It turns out that you do have a certain capacity

limit in your immediate memory," says Epstein. "You’re conscious

of about five to nine chunks of information. If you use associations

it increases the size of the chunks." Here are some ways to make

associations:

Create acronyms. To remember the five Great Lakes, use

"HOMES" — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.

Use rhymes. To remember the number of watts in a horsepower

(746), Epstein uses this couplet: "Columbus sailed the ocean blue

in 14 hundred and 92/ Divide the son of a bitch in two."

Use imagery. Epstein’s suggestion for getting his name

correct (it’s pronounced ep-stine, although most say ep-steen): "You

don’t drink beer out of a `steen,’ you drink it out of a stein,"

he says. "My ears protrude out from my head. If you pictured my

ears as a beer stein, turned upside down, you suddenly see an `up-stein.’"

If you needed to remember a horse and apple, he instructs, don’t picture

the horse and then the apple, picture the horse eating the apple.

Or, better yet, picture the apple eating the horse. "Make your

image very elaborate," he says. "Bizarre and obscene images

are more fun."

Want to remember the capital of Kentucky? "Think of Ken-turkey,"

says Epstein, "and then think of turkey frankfurter." (The

capital is Frankfort, not Louisville.) The capital of Oregon? Use

the rhyming method: Where is the ore all gone? They put it on sale.

(It’s Salem.)

Epstein, 54, probably wouldn’t have needed any tricks to remember

that one — Oregon is his home state. He got his undergraduate

and graduate degrees from the University of Washington. ("The

capital is Olympia — you can imagine washing your hair with Olympia

beer," he says.) He got both a BA and a BS (Class of 1966), and

then got his Ph.D in psychology in 1970. After teaching for a few

years at the University of Washington, he came to Rider in 1971 and

became chair of the department in 1987.

Perhaps the most overlooked key to developing good recall is to trust

your memory. "The single best thing you can do for recall is pay

attention," Epstein says. "You can’t forget what you never

got."

— Peter J. Mladineo

Top Of Page
Making Good Meetings

For speechmakers, the way a speech is presented, and

the environment in which the speech is presented, is as important

as the content. So believes Karen Lawson, a training consultant

who frequently gives presentations and has written numerous books

about the art. "You have to give people a reason for being there,"

she says. "They just don’t want to listen to ideas and concepts,

they want real world stuff that they can take away and use in their

lives or on the job. Although there has to be a lot of meat and content

I think there has to be a real entertainment factor. People have to

enjoy the process."

Lawson tells the Association for Women in Science how to create popular

meetings on Wednesday, April 22, at 5:45 p.m. at American Cyanamid.

Call 609-716-2829.

Her 12-year-old company, Lawson Consulting Group, is based in Lansdale,

Pennsylvania. Lawson, 50, has degrees from Mount Union College and

the University of Akron, and a Ph.D in adult and organizational development

from Temple University. She has published four books and has a new

title, "Involving Your Audience, Making it Active," due out

shortly from Allyn & Bacon. She spends a lot of time training corporations

on how to facilitate team meetings.

Her advice for organizing meetings: "Tap into what people are

really interested in," she says. "I don’t think a lot of people

really sit down and assess their audience and membership and find

out what people want." Lawson urges speakers to get the audience

involved throughout the entire presentation, which is not an easy

task. "People are very poor listeners in the first place and we

have very short attention spans," she says. "People have been

working all day. I get them involved right from the beginning with

some kind of an activity, whether it’s interacting or networking.

I personally like a lot of roundtable kinds of arrangements because

it facilitates interaction."

She also brings people up on stage and tells a lot of anecdotes, often

about people in the audience. "People like speakers who tell stories

to illustrate their points," she says. "If you can refer to

some of the audience members, people like that too because they can

identify with one of their own."

The trick to this is by attending the pre-meeting reception. "It’s

really important that you get in there and meet and greet them so

they know you as a person before you get up in front of them,"

says Lawson.

For organization leaders and top-notch management, being there should

be a priority. "I’ve been to meetings where the head honchos never

really interacted with the members," she says. "My opinion

is that sends out the wrong message. When people come to a meeting

in our association I look it as those people are a guest of my home."

Other tips from Lawson:

Don’t overuse visual aids. Speakers who are slaves to

their clickers often appear like talking heads giving canned presentations,

she warns. "Your visual aids don’t have to be limited to transparencies

or slides." She suggests using costumes and other props. "When

I talk about motivating employees I come in a with a whip, a carrot

on a stick, and a flowering plant, and I use those to illustrate the

different approaches to motivation."

Lawson also recommends decorating the room with posters or quotations

that relate to the topic. Or music. And don’t forget to offer give-aways.

(The emphasis here is on give, not away.) "It has to be something

that people are not going to throw away," she says.

— Peter J. Mladineo

Top Of Page
E-Predictions

Last year when Eric Berg came to town he touted

network computers and the impending merger between computers and the

Internet (U.S. 1, April 2, 1997). This year, Berg, the director of

technology analysis at Price Waterhouse’s World Technology Center

in Menlo Park, California, is talking about electronic commerce. He

comes back to the New Jersey Technology Council to discuss this Tuesday,

April 21, at 4:30 p.m. at the Marriott. Call 609-452-1010.

Berg’s first call: "Business-to-business electronic commerce is

really quantitatively a lot bigger, as much as 20 times bigger than

business-to-consumer," he says. "It’s a way of reengineering

the procurement process." On the business-to-consumer side, many

of the electronic security hazards have been cleared because most

browsers use secure socket layers. This means that online transactions

should increase, which could require many businesses not online yet

to establish Web presences.

He also sees a trend where the information technology industry will

become increasingly interested in giving the communications industry

"a kick in the pants" to deploy higher bandwidth solutions

like cable modems and digital subscriber lines. "The computer

industry sees that as essential to expansion of the Web and one of

the key drivers of the ongoing success of the computing industry,"

he says.

The telecom industry is now being shaped by packet switching, the

digital alternative to circuit switching. "It provides more effective

use of shared resources," says Berg.

In a circuit switching environment, he explains, if you are silent

it still uses space on the line. "In a packet switching environment

if you’re not saying anything then your call is not generating any

traffic on the network," he says. "We think that in the telecom

world there are already a number of new carriers using this as opposed

to circuit switching." This shift will occur gradually, over the

next 10 years, Berg predicts.

Top Of Page
Grants Guide

Anyone taking Nancy Kieling’s "Community Works"

workshop on Thursday, April 16, will want a copy of the New Jersey

Grants Guide. The workshop is part of a volunteer development "Community

Works" program, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Princeton, on

Thursday, April 16, from 5:15 to 9:15 p.m., at Princeton University’s

Woodrow Wilson School. For late registration call Marge Smith at

609-924-8652.

You’ve heard of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Bonner

Foundation, and maybe even the Curtis W. McGraw Foundation,

but did you know that Princeton is also the home of the William

A. & Joan L. Schreyer Foundation (for the former CEO of Merrill

Lynch), the Mary Owen Borden Memorial Foundation, and the Harold

and Adeline Kramer Family Foundation?

The Center for NonProfit Corporations is marketing New Jersey’s edition

of this fascinating, fat book with information on foundations, corporate

giving programs, state funding programs, religious funders — and

a complete nuts and bolts guide on grant seeking.

"This was a quality project and we wanted to be involved with

it," says Linda Czipo, vice president of the Center for

Non-Profit Corporations, which has just expanded from 13 Roszel Road

to 1501 Livingston Avenue, North Brunswick 08902; 732-227-0800; fax,

732-227-0087. The center is a 600-member nonprofit umbrella providing

advocacy, membership services, technical assistance, research, public

information, and cost-saving benefits to nonprofits in New Jersey.

Information for the grant guide was obtained from the foundations’

annual income reporting return filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

All the foundations were sent this information and asked to confirm

it, she says. The availability of the book is supposed to boost the

quality of proposals sent to the foundations and save time for everyone

concerned.

Written by Richard I. Male, who started doing these guides in

his home state of Colorado, the guide tells that New Jersey charities

received nearly $70 million from 25 foundations, only some of which

were based in New Jersey. Even more surprising is that these top 25

foundations devoted 20 percent of all their grants to New Jersey causes.

If you work for a nonprofit organization, you need details. You need

to know that if your cause is aging related, don’t go to the Schreyers.

Their fund supports educational and human service organizations and

does not accept unsolicited proposals. Sample grants were $402,000

to various Penn State causes and $2,000 to the Institute of Advanced

Study.

Indexes include "fields of interest" section and check for

"aging/senior citizens" and you will find a slew of possibilities,

including the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sovereign Bank. A "type

of support" index will show that Summit Bancorporation has money

to encourage employee volunteers, but Johnson & Johnson Corporate

Giving Program will pay for equipment purchases. Check the county

index for where foundations are located, or where grants are made.

Finally check the list of grantmakers who did not respond to information

requests. You will find that the Harbourton Foundation at 33 Witherspoon

Street, for example, gave away $284,200 in 1994 but provided no additional

information to this book.

The book comes with a grants guide deadline calendar plus a quarterly

newsletter. The guide is $149 ($120 for members of the Center) plus

$6.95 handling, and the calendar is free. The newsletter is $29 if

ordered with the guide. Call 888-247-2689, http://www.grantseeker.com.

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Hot Flashes

Mention the M word, for Menopause, and you get two reactions,

says Joan C. Rose, either enthusiasm or denial. "Menopause

is a political issue, an economic issue, a lifestyles issue, a health

issue, and a psychological issue," says Rose.

She and her firm, the Newtown-based Rose Group, are staging "Menopause:

Challenges & Choices: a breakthrough conference offering solutions

in the workplace" on Saturday, April 25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,

at the JFK Conference Center in Edison. Gloria Steinem is

the keynoter. For $125 registration or information call 215-968-6328

or 732-632-1570.

It’s not just for women of a certain age, says Rose, noting that 44

million women will enter menopause by the year 2000, and 60 percent

of them are in the workforce. The conference is for decision makers

who want to maximize the potential of their employees, for health

professionals and educators, as well as for any woman who needs accurate,

up-to-date information.

Helene B. Leonetti, an gynecologist and obstetrician with a

holistic approach, opens the day by outlining a positive and integrative

approach to menopause. Attendees can choose two workshops from an

array that includes such workplace-based sessions as creating work/life

balance by Karol Rose, a principal of Coopers & Lybrand, and

coping strategies and potential legal implications for menopause in

the workplace by consultant Barbara Adolf and attorney David

E. Beckett of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Water & Blader.

Also available are sessions on the pharmacological aspects of dealing

with menopause (taking progesterone, preventing and treating osteoporosis,

or using plant nutrients — phytoestrogens — as an alternative),

with Leonetti, rheumatologist Bessie M. Sullivan, and Tori

Hudson, founder of a Woman’s Time. Authors Judith Sachs and

Vivian Greenberg talk about sexuality and caregiving, respectively,

and gynecologist Jeffery I. Scharf offers the male perspective.

In some cultures, post-menopausal women are revered for their wisdom

and experience. Even in the United States, Rose says some find they

acquire what anthropologist Margaret Mead terms "menopausal zest."

For others, the apparent loss of sexuality and the real loss of their

ability to choose to bear children causes them to go through a grieving

process.

An alumna of the University of Miami, Class of ’67, she started out

in social work but moved to marketing. She has a master’s degree in

counseling psychology from Loyola and did career management for an

international outplacement firm. With her firm she specializes in

"issues of change."

"We need to ask questions of ourselves and our doctors," says

Rose, "to find the solutions that are best for us, and to make

this a topic we can discuss at work so we can all go through this

process and know we are making the best decisions for ourselves."

Rose relates how she worked with a client to help her present a more

realistic and useful way to deal with menopause in the workplace.

The woman was in the middle of a presentation to a small group when

she got terrible hot flashes and started to perspire. She didn’t say

anything about it, but she took off her jacket and then her vest and

kept on going. Afterwards, someone came to her and asked if she were

having a heart attack.

"How could that have been handled differently? In a small group,

she could have made a joke about it. If someone were aware of it,

she could have said `Let’s open a window" or `Let’s take a five

minute break.’ But it wasn’t out in the open. There was an embarrassment,

an awkwardness on both parts, and no one knew what to say."


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