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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
of the Dale Carnegie franchises in both southern and central New
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
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
is invited to sample the first or last for free. Cost: $1,700. Call
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
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
have to rely on yourself. You can’t count on any company to take care
Armed with this lesson, she came back east, doing PR for Albert
Hospital in Philadelphia and then getting back into the travel
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
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
Jersey franchises were not yet near traditional retirement age.
brake on any ambition to buy a franchise was the experience of growing
up in a home with parents who owned their own business.
Diagnostic Systems, a company with offices in Research Park for much
of the time he owned it, to develop tests for chemical labs. Her
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
On the positive side, she observed her parents’ taking risks, and
saw them pay off. As she was approaching her 40th birthday,
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,
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
of operations, freeing herself for the team building, instruction,
and sales that she enjoys.
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
situation, or looking into other job opportunities.
"When you take action, you reduce stress and project
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
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
the material that has had the greatest impact on her. Here are
by asking yourself "what is the worst that can happen?"
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.
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
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.
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.
is often a disguised compliment. Do the best you can, and analyze
your own mistakes.
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
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,
brand of no-nonsense industriousness. Many others foreshadow the
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
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