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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the August 21, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Win Friends, Influence People, Stop Worrying, Start Living

What scares humans more than mountain lions, asteroids,

and even death? Public speaking, says Anita Zinsmeister, owner

of the Dale Carnegie franchises in both southern and central New

Jersey.

Jerry Seinfeld famously jokes that this means that "if you’re

at a funeral, you’d rather be the guy in the casket than the guy

delivering

the eulogy."

Dale Carnegie training aims to turn scared-to-death speakers into

confident presenters. That is what the course is known for, but, says

Zinsmeister, teaching ease at public speaking is just one small part

of what the company does. Many of its lessons are based on the work

of Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence

People" and "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living." Born

in Missouri in 1888, Carnegie held his first training class at a YMCA

in New York City in 1912.

A Dale Carnegie course begins on Tuesday, August 27, at 6:30 p.m.

at the Forrestal Village Marriott. There are 12 sessions and the

public

is invited to sample the first or last for free. Cost: $1,700. Call

732-422-0500.

Zinsmeister took a Dale Carnegie course in 1988 and says she felt

"an absolute instant connection." At the time, she was sales

manager for the Princeton Ramada, now a Radisson hotel. Copies of

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" were distributed

to her class and she says she "devoured the book in two days."

A native Princetonian, Zinsmeister graduated from Princeton High

School

in 1975, and went on to Rutgers. In her junior year, she decided to

try something different and enrolled in UCLA, from which she graduated

in 1979 with a degree in communications studies. Fascinated by the

travel industry, she went to work for Pacific Express, an airline

she says was similar to People’s Express. She became the airline’s

manager at Oakland Airport when she was 23, proud to be one of the

few female airline managers at the time.

Then, like People’s Express, her airline went bust, and she learned

at an early age — "way before downsizing" — that

"you

have to rely on yourself. You can’t count on any company to take care

of you."

Armed with this lesson, she came back east, doing PR for Albert

Einstein

Hospital in Philadelphia and then getting back into the travel

industry

as a sales manager for Prime Motor Inns, parent of the Ramada at which

she was working when she took the Dale Carnegie course.

As soon as she graduated from Dale Carnegie, she began to volunteer

at meetings, as a number of enthusiastic graduates do. She then

started

to teach classes part time, eventually leaving her day job to work

full-time for Dale Carnegie, becoming familiar with all facets of

the company, including training, corporate sales, and the details

of running the business.

The daughter of entrepreneurs, Zinsmeister thought about purchasing

a franchise, but not too seriously. For one thing, she didn’t want

to move from her Marlton home and the owners of the central and

southern

Jersey franchises were not yet near traditional retirement age.

Another

brake on any ambition to buy a franchise was the experience of growing

up in a home with parents who owned their own business.

Her father, Bernard Fishbein, a microbiologist, founded Bio

Diagnostic Systems, a company with offices in Research Park for much

of the time he owned it, to develop tests for chemical labs. Her

mother, Lillian Fishbein, left teaching to work with him in

the business, which they sold in 1990. The couple often discussed

the company at the dinner table, giving Zinsmeister a valuable window

into the workings of an entrepreneurial enterprise, but also a look,

she says, "at how a business can take over your life." She

also had a front row seat as set-backs played out and business

alliances

proved disappointing.

On the positive side, she observed her parents’ taking risks, and

saw them pay off. As she was approaching her 40th birthday,

Zinsmeister,

decided to take the plunge when the owner of the southern New Jersey

franchise opted for early retirement in 2000. "I asked myself

if I would regret it if I didn’t take the chance," she says,

"and

the answer was yes."

Then last March the central New Jersey franchise owner also decided

to sell out, and she bought her second franchise. A major source of

her reluctance to take on these franchises, she says, was that she

is "not fond of the administrative side of business." Soon,

however, she had an epiphany. "My parents did everything,"

she says, "but I realized that you can get people who are talented

and committed, and you can work in your areas of expertise." She

leaves financials to her controller and the systems work to her

director

of operations, freeing herself for the team building, instruction,

and sales that she enjoys.

Her husband, Bob Zinsmeister, is her business partner and vice

president. He graduated from Princeton High School a year ahead of

her, but the two did not meet until 10 years later, when both were

out for an evening at the Tap Room in the Nassau Inn. His grandfather

founded Zinsmeister Farms, last located in Cranbury, a business he

managed for a number of years before it was sold to Bulk Nurseries.

Before joining his wife in her new business ventures, Zinsmeister

spent five years as a stay-at-home dad, raising the couple’s twin

sons, Andy and Nick, who will turn 10 on September 3.

Of all the areas in which Dale Carnegie training has

been valuable in her life, Zinsmeister says letting go of worry has

been the most important. "It’s common sense, really," she

says. "You work in `day tight’ compartments, focusing on what

you have at hand." Another principle is to take action. "Say

you’re facing a lay-off," says Zinsmeister. "You can stew

and worry, or you can look at how you can improve the situation."

Steps could include updating a resume, getting involved in a new

networking

situation, or looking into other job opportunities.

"When you take action, you reduce stress and project

confidence,"

says Zinsmeister. Paradoxically, she says, preparing to jump ship

can actually improve chances that you will not be shoved off. As an

example, she talks about a part-time Dale Carnegie instructor who

has survived wave after wave of lay-offs at a New Jersey company most

famous at the moment for its repeated, large-scale downsizings. This

instructor, a senior manager at that company, which she does not want

mentioned by name, has managed to retain her position against all

odds. Zinsmeister is convinced that the confident air Dale Carnegie

training has given her is the reason.

Like nearly all Dale Carnegie students, this instructor was sent to

the training by her employer, who footed the bill. When Dale Carnegie

began giving his classes in the early 1900s, most students sponsored

themselves, but now, Zinsmeister says, 90 to 95 percent of the

students

are sponsored by their employers. In her franchises, 40 to 45 percent

of business comes through open enrollment courses and the rest comes

from on-site classes, often customized to fit an employer’s needs.

Zinsmeister sent along a copy of the curriculum for the "How to

Stop Worrying and Start Living" section of the Dale Carnegie

course,

the material that has had the greatest impact on her. Here are

excerpts:

Fundamental principles for overcoming worry. Face trouble

by asking yourself "what is the worst that can happen?"

Prepare

to accept the worst, and then try to improve on it. All the while,

remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms

of your health.

Basic techniques for analyzing worry. Get all the facts.

Write down and answer these questions: What is the problem? What are

the causes of the problem? What are the possible solutions? Weigh

the answers, and then come to a decision. Once the decision is

reached,

act.

Break the worry habit before it breaks you. Keep busy,

and don’t fuss about trifles. Use the law of averages to outlaw your

worries. Cooperate with the inevitable, and decided just how much

anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more. Finally,

don’t worry about the past.

Cultivate a mental attitude that will bring you peace and

happiness. Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health,

and hope. Expect ingratitude, and never try to get even with your

enemies. Count your blessings, not your troubles. Try to profit from

your losses and create happiness for others.

Don’t worry about criticism. Remember that unjust

criticism

is often a disguised compliment. Do the best you can, and analyze

your own mistakes.

Prevent fatigue and worry and keep your energy and spirits

high. Rest before you get tired. Learn to relax at your work, and

protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home. Apply these

good working habits: Clean your desk of all papers except those

relating

to the immediate problem at hand; do things in the order of their

importance; when you face a problem, solve it then and there if you

have the facts necessary to make a decision; learn to organize,

deputize,

and supervise.

Some of Dale Carnegie’s words appear to echo Ben Franklin’s

brand of no-nonsense industriousness. Many others foreshadow the

modern

burgeoning self-help, business inspiration business. This is common

sense stuff, as Zinsmeister says, but the reminders it provides could

give some peace and direction to any number of people, and certainly

to the legions now faced with job uncertainty and/or stock market

losses.


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