Computer Adaptations

The Best Ads Make You Laugh, Or Cry

Art for the Rails

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

April 4, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Working a Room? Try These Icebreakers

The hospitality suite is full of laughter. Groups of

well-dressed men and women, sporting name tags on their lapels, lean

close to hear one another’s jokes and industry gossip. Waiters

circulate

with trays of bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and liquor flows at an

open bar. However inviting the scene might look to a passerby,

actually

walking in scares the pinstripes off a good many otherwise confident

executives.

"A huge part of working a room is getting your fear under

control,"

says Lisa Westerfield, executive vice president of SRE Inc.,

an environmental consulting firm based in Nutley.

Westerfield makes a good 70 solo entrances into crowded rooms each

year. Finding the experience unnerving, she spent four months

researching

the dynamics at play, and how to use them to overcome fear. She now

helps others cope with a situation many find as intimidating as public

speaking. Westerfield speaks on "Building Bridges with Broken

Ice: how to work any room" on Thursday, April 5, at 6 p.m. at

the Central Jersey Women’s Network. Cost: $35. Call 908-281-9234.

Westerfield, who earned a bachelor’s in biology in 1980 from Monmouth

University, started her career as a lab technician at Union Carbide,

but "knew early on I was not meant to be in a lab." After

earning an MBA at Monmouth, she moved into sales because her mentors

at Union Carbide told her that was the best route into management

in the chemical industry. It turned out that she enjoyed sales, and

as she moved up the corporate ranks spent a fair amount of time

seeking

contacts in rooms packed with strangers.

Not always comfortable with plunging into a situation where everyone

else seems to be surrounded by lifelong buddies, Westerfield sometimes

pretends that she is an eagle — strong, independent, and free

— as she sizes up the room and prepares to plunge into

conversation

with strangers. Visualizations like this are just one of several

tricks

she has found effective in working a room:

Give yourself time. Upon entering a room, whether for

a business function or a social occasion, it is okay to wait a while

before striking up a conversation. "We get so focused on ourselves

that we are our own worst enemy," Westerfield says. "What

people are most afraid of is sticking out like a sore thumb."

Be easy on yourself, she suggests. "Learn to be alone for a while,

and be comfortable. Let the dynamic of the room take place."

Those who have trouble standing alone comfortably might try another

of Westerfield’s visualization techniques. "Pretend you’re

invisible,"

she says. Enjoy the art on the walls, the buzz of conversation, a

glass of wine, and take away the pressure by imaging that no one can

see you.

Move in gradually. Get a drink, fill a plate with food,

and then perhaps drift over to a congenial-looking group. Listen to

what they are saying. If it is personal, move on. If the topic is

general, wait for an opportunity to add a comment. "Small groups

are tough," Westerfield says, suggesting a large group as a better

initial target, because "If there are 10 people, everyone will

assume you know one of them."

Become good at small talk. You warm up before you work

out, Westerfield says. Use the same philosophy in working a room.

The warm-up for networking is small talk. "When you mention

weather,

people take your temperature," she says. Chatter about an

impending

blizzard, or the Oscars, or Bush’s latest gaffe gives people a chance

to decide whether you’re funny, smart, pleasant. It gives them a

chance

to begin to know you. People who barge right into a sales pitch

without

engaging in some light banter are unlikely to do well at working a

room.

Chum the waters. Striking up a conversation with a

stranger

you might want to do business with is like fishing, Westerfield says.

"You could say `This is my first time here. I’ve heard this is

a great place to meet small business people. I just started a small

business.’" The idea is to "give people several pieces of

bait." With luck, she says, "They’ll pick up on one."

If not, you can ask your conversation-challenged companion if anyone

else at the event is in your situation.

Prepare to move on. Finding someone — anyone —

to talk to is the goal of most crowd-phobic people. But that is just

the first step in working a room. Cling to the first person who says

hello, Westerfield says, and you will be perceived as needy. Besides,

the goal of attending a gathering generally is to make a number of

business or social contacts, and that is hard to do while rooted to

one spot. "You want to mingle in, and mingle out," Westerfield

says.

Set goals for the event in advance, Westerfield says, and let them

help you to move around. Perhaps you want to meet three editors of

large circulation outdoor magazines. Memorize their names, and then

you can ask your initial contact if he knows any of them. If so, he

may take you over and introduce you. If not, asking him to keep an

eye out for them and let you know if one arrives will give him

something

to do. "People appreciate this," Westerfield says. It’s fair

to assume that many, if not most, of your fellow event attendees are

at least somewhat uncomfortable. Giving one of them a job to do will

help him circulate, too.

Play host. A good way to work a room is to seek out people

who are standing alone. You can introduce yourself, find out why they

are attending the event, and then offer to introduce them to someone

they might want to meet. "If you walk in to a room and you’re

only there to take, people will pick up on that," Westerfield

says. "If you’re a person who gives, it’s easy for others to give

to you." Helping someone else ease into a room may win you a

friend,

and, besides, "introducing him may help you meet people with whom

you don’t have an obvious connection."

Despite all the preparation and visualization in the world,

some rooms just can’t be easily worked, Westerfield says. Her husband

ran into that situation when he accompanied her to a homecoming.

"He

said no one wanted to talk to him," she recounts. "He was

right." Everyone was there to reminisce with old pals. The best

advice she could give her husband was "don’t take it

personally."

Even in less challenging gatherings, working a room can be far from

business contact nirvana. It is most often a first step in a

relationship.

"Sometimes," Westerfield says, "the best thing you can

do is take a business card, and call later."

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

Top Of Page
Computer Adaptations

Writer’s block can come as frequently as a common cold

for adults in the workplace, but for those with a learning disability,

that ailment can be as virulent as the flu. Nevertheless, somehow,

everyone must write the necessary reports and memos in order to

fulfill

their work responsibilities. The latest computer gadgets can help.

The Newgrange Educational Outreach Center and Adaptive Technology

Center for New Jersey co-sponsor a conference on technology for the

learning disabled on Friday, April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

at the College of New Jersey’s student center. It will focus on how

computers change the writing process for people with learning

disabilities.

Cost: $97. Call 609-419-1999.

The Newgrange School is a Trenton-based independent full curriculum

day school for ages 8 to 18, suitable for bright learning disabled

students, dyslexics, and those not reaching potential

(www.thenewgrange.org).

The Newgrange Educational Outreach Center has its offices on College

Road, and it has programs and resources for those concerned about

learning disabilities found in individuals of any age.

"Any adult with a learning disability that affects reading or

writing can come to this seminar to get an overview of the latest

assistive technologies to help them reach their full potential,"

says Deardra Rosenberg, director of outreach at Newgrange

Educational

Outreach Center. Writing, organization, reference skills, use of

online

services, reading of electronic books, and text to speech synthesis

are among the skills that can be enhanced by technology, says

Rosenberg.

"We are encouraging teachers to use computers and other assistive

technology to help students feel self confident and express themselves

at a high level. Many have difficulty with spelling and handwriting,

but these tools give them access to more efficient writing," says

Rosenberg. A graduate of Towson University, she has a master’s degree

from Montclair and taught high school for 15 years in Mendham.

Richard Wanderman of LD Resources keynotes the day. In his early

years Wanderman struggled with dyslexia; only in college did he learn

to express himself without words through art, particularly working

with clay. He was able to improve his self esteem by learning to

repair

engines and do rock climbing, but his first experience with a computer

was what dramatically improved his writing ability. Even just the

use of a spellchecker was innovative then.

As one of eight workshops, Brian Friedlander, psychologist and

author of "Engaging the Resistant Child Through Computers,"

will lead a workshop on how the use of Alpha-Smart (an expensive and

versatile keyboard that students may use for writing and taking notes

in the classroom) can help elementary students.

An art teacher at the Newgrange School, Mike Gerrish, will tell

how to use art and computer technology to deliver information in a

new way, to stimulate nontraditional thinking and combat low

self-esteem.

Three teachers from College of New Jersey, Amy Dell, Anne Disdier,

and Ellen Specht lead a hand-on lab working with technology

tools for adults (www.tcnj.edu/~technj).

Karen Pike, coordinator of the Lower School Learning Resource

Center at Princeton Day School, will lead hands-on sessions for

software

— Kidspiration, for the younger elementary school child, and

Inspiration

for the grade school and high school student.

Though the conference is primarily geared for educators, parents,

and human resources personnel, it is also an opportunity for adults

with learning disabilities to survey the smorgasbord of the latest

high-tech helps. Some of the learning aids discussed in workshops

for the high school and college level will prove useful for anyone.

Particularly intriguing is the Inspiration software, which sells for

$29 in the introductory version and $60 for a single user

(800-433-6326

or www.inspiration.com).

"The Inspiration software, for instance, can help all writers,

even those without disabilities, to unlock and organize their

thoughts,

to create outlines and `mind maps’ so they can write more effective

essays and reports," say Rosenberg. Users select a symbol to represent

a thought on the mind map. "A mind map," she explains,

"might

have symbols of main ideas that branch into subtopics and smaller

details."

And, if someone has too many ideas, this software helps show what

is really pertinent before the writing begins. Sounds like a sure

cure for writer’s block.

Top Of Page
The Best Ads Make You Laugh, Or Cry

<B>Richard Cook, who retired in January as head of

Johnson & Johnson’s Advertising College, recalls his biggest impulse

purchase. "My wife needed a new car," he says. So the couple

walked into the BMW showroom on Route 1. While his wife was speaking

with a salesman, "I wandered off," says Cook. "And there

was the M3, just looking at me. It was silver. I was 59, or whatever.

It was an entirely emotional purchase."

Cook says that advertisements for cars are notorious for tapping into

emotions. Envy, self-esteem, joy. You name it, and car advertisers

use it. But the emotional element is present in many purchases, and

the smart advertiser, whether it be a conglomerate or a corner

retailer,

will find it. Cook speaks on "The emotional component in

communications

— advertising examples from around the world that use emotions

to promote and persuade" at a CAMA meeting on Tuesday, April 10,

at 11:30 a.m. at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $35.

After leaving school in England at 16, Cook served in the Army for

three years, and then began a 42-year-long career with Johnson &

Johnson

as assistant to the advertising manager. He traveled around the world

for Johnson & Johnson, to more than 100 countries. Among other

positions,

he was vice president of marketing in Canada, Japan, and South Africa,

before founding and heading up the Advertising College.

The Advertising College brings employees together for a week or so

at a time "to encourage them how to think, to follow a process,

to work effectively with their ad agencies." It is an opportunity

for employees from disparate countries to get together. "At a

meeting in Singapore, you might have people from Korea, India,

Japan,"

he says. "It’s always a kick for me, all this shared experience

across borders."

Now some three months into his retirement, Cook continues to rack

up experiences. He has joined the faculty of the Advertising College

on a part-time basis. "I’m just back from Malaysia," he says.

He is also embarking on a career as a voice over artist. His wife

encouraged him to take a course at the Learning Studio in North

Brunswick,

and he has taken some training in New York. He is now sending out

a demo disk to radio stations.

Cook lives in Lawrenceville with his wife, Mary, the personnel

director of the PrinVest Corporation. His two sons, age 15 and 18,

are students at the Lawrenceville School.

In his Advertising College sessions there are representatives of

divisions

with wildly different budgets. "It might be Tylenol in the U.S.

with a multi-million budget or Saudi Arabia with $500 to spend,"

he says. "It’s not the size of the budget, but how you think."

The same is true for mining emotions through advertising.

"I always believe in the emotional element," Cook says.

"It’s

a very important piece of a lot of successful advertisements.

Advertising

is there to address needs. People have wish lists, rational and

emotional.

Some of the bigger decisions are made on emotional grounds."

Advertisers

who want to use insight into emotions to sell should consider these

approaches:

Look at emotions we all experience. The emotions are not

always obvious, Cook says, but they are almost always present.

"How

do they fit into advertisements?" is the key question. Volkswagen,

he says, is masterful at finding and using those emotions. Through

the years, the company "rarely went under the hood. Rarely spoke

of the tires, the springs, and all the rest of it."

In one of Cook’s favorite advertisements, Volkswagen plays to

customers’

feelings of self-esteem. "A stylish lady, who looks like Princess

Di, comes swinging out of a London mews," Cook recounts. Dressed

to the nines, she sheds external tokens of wealth, tossing aside her

fur coat and stowing away her rings. She looks at her car keys,

considering,

then walks over to her Volkswagen. "She takes the keys, taps the

wheel, and drives off," Cook says. "It’s a marvelous

moment."

The autonomous woman, driving her destiny, appeals to customers’

self-esteem

and pride, he says, adding "Who wouldn’t associate?" This

mini-drama taps into inner feelings, he says, as do all the best

advertisements.

Be careful with negative emotions. Joy can be fairly easy

to convey. "Love and bonding, mothers and babies, everyone loves

that," Cook says. Emotions like fear and insecurity are just as

important, he says, but require sensitivity. "Don’t ignore the

emotion," he advises, "but present it in a way that is

positive."

He thinks Johnson & Johnson has done a good job of this in products

like Tylenol, Clean and Clear acne medicine, and even Procrit, a

prescription

drug that treats the fatigue that may accompany chemotherapy. He

points

to tag lines for the products, "Clean and clear and in

control"

for the acne medicine and "Take comfort from our strength,"

for the pain killer, as examples of accentuating the positive.

It has long been accepted that "Emotion is fine for fast moving

consumer products," Cook says, "but it can be used for things

you wouldn’t think of." Prescription drugs fall into this

category,

he says, talking about how emotion is used in ads for Procrit. The

ads acknowledge how chemotherapy can cause people to lose energy and

drive, and go on to show how the drug can help. "In one,"

Cook says, "a veteran had walked in Veterans Day parades for many

years." Fatigue associated with chemotherapy caused him to miss

a parade one year, but as the commercial continues, he is seen back

marching after taking the medicine. "It’s so beautifully

staged,"

Cook says. "You get a lump in your throat."

Avoid cliches. While the proud veteran, returned to normal

living, stirs Cook’s emotions, he has no patience for over-used

advertising

images meant to tug on heart strings. "I get awfully sick of

seeing

old people dancing ’til dawn on ships," he says. Ditto for elderly

couples in swings or "biking furiously across hills." Not

only are these images pulled out far too often, but, he says of the

hyper-energetic seniors, "that is the last thing they would be

doing."

Don’t let emotion stand alone. The emotional element in

an advertisement must fit into the overall message. It must be a part

of the two key questions that form the basis of all advertisement:

What is the opportunity to be grasped? What is the problem that has

to be solved? "It has to be allied to the benefit," Cook says.

"It must relate to the need. The emotional element is not just

there to make you weep."

Top Of Page
Art for the Rails

The program for New Jersey’s upcoming Council on Special

Transportation TransAction convention is full of fascinating entries.

There will be workshops on terrorism. Sad, but not surprising. But

there also will be seminars on transit villages, biking, alternative

uses for abandoned railroad tracks, public/private collaborations

on transportation districts, and historic roadways. Art is among the

many subjects not automatically associated with mass transit that

is on the agenda.

Sue Wehmann, originator and manager of NJ Transit’s Transit

Arts program, speaks as part of a panel on "Transit Villages,

Transit Friendly Communities, and Transit Arts," at the 25th

Annual

New Jersey Council on Special Transportation conference and expo,

running from April 10-12 at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City.

Cost $255. Call 980-903-1077.

A 1978 graduate of Rutgers University, Wehmann began her career as

a sports writer. She also worked as a technical writer and as a

promotional

writer on Wall Street before joining NJ Transit, where her first

assignment

included outreach to residents of communities to be served by the

Hudson-Bergen light rail project. Early on, the idea of incorporating

art into the new rail system took hold. That was in the mid-1990s,

and since then, art in and near rail stations has spread throughout

the state. The installations add esthetic appeal, and, says Wehmann

"give communities more of a sense of ownership."

Federal funds of up to five percent of the construction cost of rail

projects are available for art. For the Hudson-Bergen project, $2.5

million has been spent, and $5 million is budgeted for the second

phase. Other art projects have been incorporated in or are being

planned

for a number of stations, including Camden, Edison, Plainfield,

Newark,

New York City, Trenton, and, of course, Hamilton, where NJ Transit

works in partnership with the Grounds for Sculpture.

Wehmann explains that NJ Transit does not just go out and buy art.

The agency assembles a panel to choose art for each project.

Typically,

there is input from artists, local arts organizations and historical

societies, the New Jersey Council on the Arts, urban design

consultants,

and engineers. In addition to suggesting sites for freestanding

sculpture,

the advisors look at structural elements of the stations as

opportunities

to incorporate art. Wehmann says seating, wind screens, canopies,

pillars, and fencing all are possible candidates.

Commissioning art is the next step after sites for installations have

been chosen. The goal, says Wehmann, is to "celebrate the cultural

heritage of the community." Artists from around the country are

invited to submit requests for qualification. No preference is given

to New Jersey artists, Wehmann says, although a large number of New

Jerseyans are represented among the 40 artists who have been

commissioned

to create 60 works. "We’re really looking for the highest

quality,"

Wehmann says.

Art in train stations not only makes a more pleasant environment for

commuters, but can also be a positive element in attracting

development

and pedestrian traffic. Wehmann points with pride to the Martin Luther

King Drive area of Jersey City as a spot where an attractive station

helped to encourage positive development. "The area was in such

disrepair," she says. "There were mattresses, old tires, just

a real mess." That was some seven years ago. Now a new station

sits surrounded by a new post office and attractive stores. Says

Wehmann,

"It’s a completely different community."

While NJ Transit has commissioned art in a number of forms, including

mobiles, aluminum sculptures, and bronze maps, don’t look for the

sort of dung-decorated pieces that cause such as stir at the Brooklyn

Museum of Art. "No controversy," is a NJ Transit rule, Wehmann

says. And, so far, there has been none. Neither, she is happy to note,

has there been any graffiti or vandalism.


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