Corrections or additions?
These articles by Melinda Sherwood and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 29, 1999. All
Technocrat and Entrepreneur
The entrepreneur’s version of the "don’t count your
chickens before they hatch" adage is: Don’t fall in love with
your discovery before you bring it to market. "One of the common
mistakes is getting enamored with your technology before you’ve faced
the reality of the marketplace," says Ed Zschau, a professor
at Harvard Business School. "You must first determine if your
product can be commercialized and ask, `Can this dog hunt?’ Sometimes
really fascinating technologies turn out not to be a good foundation
for a company or even a product because they don’t translate into
a value proposition for a customer."
Zschau speaks on "Academic Venture Capital" at the New Jersey
Entrepreneurial Network on Wednesday, October 6, at noon at the Doral
Forrestal. Cost: $45. Phone: 609-279-0010 or
A former congressman from California, Zschau taught last year at
University’s engineering school (U.S. 1, July 22, 1998)
Zschau (whose name rhymes with "how" but starts with the
sound) was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, majored in the philosophy of
science at Princeton University, Class of 1961, and earned an MBA
and PhD in business administration at Stanford. He left a teaching
career in 1968 to found System Industries Inc., a computer products
company in Silicon Valley before the area’s designation had even been
Working against an oppressive tax code that placed a prohibitive 50
percent capital-gains tax on investment earnings, he helped draft
the Investment Incentive Act of 1978 which reduced capital-gains to
28 percent, paving the way for billions of venture capital investment
dollars for high-tech firms. It also paved the way for him to go to
Washington in 1982 as a representative from California’s 12th
the heart of Silicon Valley.
He was re-elected two years later but lost a Senate bid in 1986 to
incumbent Alan Cranston. Then he became general partner in the Silicon
Valley office of the Los Angeles-based Brentwood Associates, a venture
capital group, and CEO of Censtor Corporation, a Brentwood
that developed advanced magnetic recording components, before big
business called. He left Censtor in 1993, and became general manager
of IBM’s storage-systems division in San Jose, returning to Harvard
Business School in 1996.
At the NJEN meeting on October 6 Zschau will discuss
engineering," the study of designing and building enterprises.
According to a press release announcing the meeting, "this new
field is attracting increasing interest and activity in engineering
schools throughout the country based on the recognition of its growing
academic significance and its vital role in enabling new technologies
and scientific knowledge to be implemented successfully in products
and services which can have a broad impact on the lives of people
throughout the world.
"Zschau will describe the conceptual foundations of
Engineering and the initiatives already underway at Princeton to build
Princeton’s academic competence and to offer Princeton students
experiences. He will also describe new initiatives, now under
for creating companies based on Princeton-developed technologies which
could serve as laboratories for further academic research while
to regional economic development, new funding of science and
research at Princeton, employment opportunities for students, and
valuable two-way relationships with industrial partners in the
Do companies, like those that sprang up in Silicon Valley, need to
be small and lean in order to prosper? "That used to be true,
but it won’t be in the 21st century," Zschau says. "You need
both speed and scale to thrive in the long run. Small companies have
speed, big companies have scale, and the ones who will successfully
compete will find a way to combine them."
The Greeks gave to western civilization the tradition
of wisdom, to not act on beliefs or even a set of facts, but to find
the middle way, a golden mean," says Charles F. Ottinger.
"I help companies as well as individuals to do that."
Ottinger is an organization development consultant and trainer who
has just opened his own practice, the Ethos Consulting Group
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An alumnus of David Lipscomb
College in Nashville, Class of 1972, he has a masters in
from Ohio State and taught at the College of New Jersey (then Trenton
State) before working for the state and for AT&T (now Lucent
for 16 years. He does team building, upward and all-around feedback,
career development, coaching and mentoring, and any data-based
development effort. Services include meeting design and facilitation,
large group interventions, communication audits, conflict management
and interpersonal mediation, and presentations coaching.
For a team to work together well, it must come to some mutual
on such factors as goals, roles, and procedures.
"They have to work with each other, not like each other,"
says Ottinger. "They need to contract with each other to meet
in the middle. And in spite of not getting along terribly well on
a personal level, they can have a win-win situation."
Ottinger worked with a Lucent team located half in the Netherlands
and half in Chicago. "It broke down because there was no sense
of person-to-person participation." After they met halfway, at
a meeting in Iceland, the team members had a much better sense of
who they were talking to.
Having taken individuals and departments through the changes that
accompanied the AT&T breakup, he has, as one of his specialties,
management. He lists some tactics to use when an organization is going
through the turmoil of change:
he says. "If you don’t trust somebody, you fear them. One locus
of my practice is to figure out who fears what — change,
an organization — and try to address that."
benefits they haven’t thought of. Make it palatable."
fear being changed." They don’t want something to be imposed from
the outside without their say so.
The legacy of Albert Einstein continues this Wednesday,
October 6, as 1997 Nobel Prize Winner in physiology/medicine,
B. Prusiner, gives the annual Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture
at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. The lecture
begins at 4 p.m. in Dodds Auditorium. Call the Princeton Chamber at
Prusiner’s contribution to science was the discovery of a
agent responsible for degenerative brain diseases like "Mad
and in humans, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The suspect pathogen turned
out to be neither virus nor bacteria, and is infectious as well as
Prusiner, who graduated from University of Pennsylvania, cum laude,
Class of 1964, lost a patient to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in 1972
and launched his studies on its causes. One of his leads was a study
suggesting that the agent responsible for the killer disease might
be lacking in RNA or DNA. In "The Prion Diseases," Prusiner
writes: "If the organisms did lack DNA and RNA, the finding would
mean that it was not a virus or any other known type of agent, all
of which contained genetic material. What then was it? Investigators
had many ideas, including, jokingly, linoleum and kryptonite — but
no hard answers. I immediately began trying to solve this
Prusiner, now professor of biochemistry at UC San Francisco, then
introduced the word "prion" to the medical community —
a protein particle capable of transmitting disease, yet surprisingly
bereft of either DNA or RNA. In later studies of animals harboring
prions, he proved that a disease can be both infectious and inherited,
an unprecedented concept in the study of disease.
Corrections or additions?
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