Category Archives: Business

Princeton Regional Chamber Events, useful tips from U.S. 1 Newspaper

Funding the Innovation Makers

Techies play in a high stakes intramural tournament every February at one of the state’s best – free — networking opportunities. On February 15. at Princeton Innovation Forum  (PrincetonIF) the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, they gave away $30,000 in one afternoon. All the teams were from Princeton University with Princeton profs as advisors or main participants. Sponsored by the Keller Center,  PrincetonIF focuses on commercializing technology developed at Princeton University.

Diccon Hyatt made it the cover story in this week’s issue of U.S. 1.  It reads best in hard copy, so grab one today from a newsbox before it gets replaced tomorrow. Or read it here.

With angels, venture capitalists, lawyers, and supporters watching, each team made a three-minute pitch. Then that power crowd emptied out into the crowded lobby, mobbed the wine bar, and the noise level rose as those-in-the-know and those-with-money interviewed the presenters and each other.

My favorite moment was introducing Chris Owens of Oppenheimer Nexus to Lou Wagman and Joe Montemarano (photo top right). More on that in another post.  Also (apparently I can’t control random order) are photos of second prize winner  Niraj Jha, professor of electrical engineering, who is working on Internet security; first prize winner Robert Pagels presenting his technology for manufacturing microparticles for delivering biologic drugs; Pagels and his team get their pictures taken, and U.S. 1’s Diccon Hyatt interviews Joe Montemarano.

Read the story here to learn about exciting technology and get on the Keller Center’s mailing list here. Always something exciting going on at the Equad.

 

Jay Regan: the story behind the story

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Jay Regan

A few nuggets from Richard K. Rein’s fascinating story on Jay Regan, in the new issue of the Princeton Echo:

“A young man on Wall Street became interested in the work of a mathematician who had developed  a system for beating blackjack and was using that system to pick stocks that would outperform the market average. . . . Princeton Newport Partners became the first quantitative hedge fund.”

“Google his name (James S. ‘Jay’ Regan) and the first two words that might come up are ‘racketeering charges.’

At the office on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring Street, “armed marshalls presented a search warrant to the startled receptionist. Regan first thought it was some college buddies playing a joke.”

“Even in the darkest days Regan maintained his sense of humor, even if it had a certain gallows cast to it.”

“the sentence was later overturned…. prosecutorial over-reach. The prosecutor, incidentally, was Rudolph Giuliani, even then political ambitious.”

“For all that he and his family went through, Regan remains a bright and cheerful soul, and as enthusiastic about his work as he must have been when he first got involved on Wall Street.”

My personal note to parents of liberal arts majors: Regan was a philosophy major.  

The Echo comes to the mailboxes of Princeton residents once a month and is available in newsboxes throughout town. On the cover: a story on card shark/mathematician Bradley Snider.

Photo of Jay Regan by Suzette Lucas. 

 

 

 

Just tell it so they get it: gerrymandering

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As Sam Wang talked this morning on how to countermand the evils of gerrymandering —  legislative districts structured to favor one party — I kept thinking “he’s the perfect person for this.” Wang spoke this morning at the Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast. 

The battle to redistrict Congress will be fought in the courts, probably leading to the Supreme Court, which has turned down several cases for lack of a manageable standard.  As Wang said, lawyers don’t go to law school because they like math. (Nodded agreement from the 80+ attendees, with more than the usual number of lawyers.) Lawyers might be good in math but it’s probably not their forte.

So if you want to use algorithms to uproot gerrymandering, you’d better figure out how to make that math accessible to the lawyers’ brains, especially the SCOTUS brains.

If any one can do that, Wang can. He is an eminent neuroscientist with an unusual facility to state complicated concepts in simple ways, as in his first book “Welcome to Your Brain.”

Though Wang is still doing neuroscience he is also consulting on political statistics via the Princeton Election Consortium. During the question page he talked about testifying in various court cases and presented various “manageable standards.”

His webpage even has an option to do the math yourself – pick a data set and work out whether those districts are configured fairly.

On that page, Wang says he wants to do more than use math and polls to explain politics. He wants to stimulate people to act. Not just Democrats, but “all Americans who want to save institutions – whether they are liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican.” He recommends that we all

  • joining our U.S. Representative’s party (even though that may be hard to do)
  • work to keep the media ‘on task’

Are you looking for ways to make change? Read his  action items for democracy’s survival here.

Says Wang: “Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way round.”

 

Sam Wang talks – consumes no crickets

wang-bugSam Wang speaks to the Princeton Regional Chamber TOMORROW (if you get this on Tuesday), i.e. Wednesday, February 15.

He spoke to the chamber back in 2009 on  the title of his book “Welcome to Your Brain.

He made some election predictions last September at the Princeton Public Library.

He famously ate crow (or, rather, crickets) in a post-election mea culpa. :

He was included in the U.S. 1 cover story “Living in a Trump World” in January.

On Wednesday, February 15 for a Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast at the Nassau Club his title is The Long Collapse: A Data-Based Look at U.S. Politics from 1994 to 2017.  

Sorry for the late notice but if you see this before Wednesday at 7 a.m. it’s not too late to attend.

Richard K. Rein: Princeton newspapers

drive-papers-2-534x462Here’s Rein’s indepth account, admittedly from his point of view, of the history of newspapers in Princeton, including his own. It’s published in his monthly paper for Princeton, the Echo, and on the website of Mercerspace. Confused? Read the post.

I tagged it “Memoir” because I lived through it too.

Accelerating Team Effectiveness: McGrath

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Reduce friction to accelerate the progress of your team, says Rita McGrath, known for her savvy in connecting research to business problems.Her Valize team presents a morning workshop on Tuesday, January 31, in Lawrence.

Says McGrath: Most team effectiveness assessments focus on the level of satisfaction of team members. However, research has shown that there is not a strong correlation between satisfaction and team performance. During this 2-hour workshop, we will focus on five important elements that have great impact on the effectiveness of team performance. 

 Bring your team, she says, and you’ll leave with ‘actionable results.’

Find out the five elements and more about this workshop. 

Princeton’s Got Innovation

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Thirty thousand grand will be on the line on Wednesday, February 15, at the Innovation Forum organized by Princeton University’s Keller Center. Participants present their research in a three-minute “elevator pitch” to the audience and a panel of judges. Simon Cowell’s got nothing on this show!

Register to come and watch the excitement.  You get to see inside the Andlinger Center and there’s networking and refreshments afterward.

 

Protect our media watchdogs

If you don’t subscribe to the Times of Trenton or the Star Ledger or the Bergen Record or any other newspaper that still has a reporter covering the statehouse, do it now. If you aren’t a member of WHYY, with its newsroom at Newsworks, join now. Support Politico’s New Jersey desk. If you can find an independent online investigative reporter in your community, like Planet Princeton, contribute or advertise. 

You can march, you can write letters to the editor, you can call your legislators, but you can also help protect our democracy by bolstering the budgets of the investigative reporters trying to combat fraud and lies. 

I knew this before but this Wednesday New York Times column italicized my impulse.  David W. Chen, who wrote “In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs are Left,” used to be bureau chief for the statehouse desk for the New York Times.

The New York Times no longer has a staff reporter covering New Jersey. The number of reporters at the state house has dwindled from 30 to 7.

John Oliver reminds us that social media and TV news mostly just repackage newspaper stories.

McCarter Theatre has it right. McCarter is running ads on Politico’s media page  

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.NYT photo by Charles Mostoller

Poignant detail #1: The print version of Chen’s article showed two lonely news boxes in downtown Trenton. One was for the Star Ledger, which has coopted the Trenton Times state coverage. The other was for U.S. 1 Newspaper. What?? U.S. 1 covers state politics once in a while, as in this investigative piece,. We cover important issues and the boss sometimes opines in his column, but statehouse reporting — that’s not our mission.

Poignant detail #2: Chen’s ender was a salute to the 87-year-old columnist who uses a typewriter.  A colleague converts with the typed page to a PDF, using her cell phone, and emails it in.

 

 

Post-election Rx for the Workplace

Tom Sullivan, in a Princeton Partnersullivans column, had some good ideas for how to deal with post-election stress in the workplace. “Use your company as an agent for change,” he says. Here is a five-step strategy, and for details  on the first three, click through to the post/ 

  1. Find a favorite issue:
  2. Identify a common cause:
  3. Share ideas:
  4. Take the first step: This can be scary, because inertia is hard to overcome. You can overcome that inertia if you have a strong team willing to take that first step together.
  5. Be humble: Be gracious and helpful when you engage with others who are already engaged in the cause you seek to assist. Ask questions, offer assistance and recognize that you will be more effective if your primary strategy is to build trusting relationships.

 

Top Two Buttons? Rein and Hilfiger

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Rich Rein and Tommy Hilfiger (photo by DiGiovanni Photography)

I have my own story about meeting a celebrity at the Princeton Chamber event at the Hyatt but Rich Rein’s is better.

He interviewed Tommy Hilfiger about his book American Dreamer and muses on that experience in his U.S. 1 Newspaper column last Wednesday.  .

For the occasion, Rein had outfitted himself in a T.H. shirt and tie from Macy’s, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

You’ll have to ask me in person about my own embarrassing story, it’s not something I want in print. But I can heap praise on the spectacularly displayed goodies at the VIP reception

food2031and the enthusiastic crowd of 400 that filled the Hyatt ballroom to capacity. Fashion students from Philadelphia, attending on free tickets but buying Hilfiger’s book, were thrilled to be there, along with many many on the Chamber email list, some U.S. 1 readers, and people who heard about it on the radio (I polled those standing in the booksigning line that curled around the room.)philly-students-imgp2045

To my somewhat surprise, since I am not a fashionista, I liked the book, a tale of derring do. I particularly liked the part where one of his buddies recognized that the river would flood the town of Elmira, so they enlisted everybody — family and fellow high school students — to move inventory from the basement to the top floor. After the flood, the Hilfiger stock was the only dry clothing for sale in submerged Elmira. Everybody — grandparents and teens alike — bought and wore his tie-dyed shirts.

Hilfiger’s is a Horatio Alger story of overcoming — not poverty, but dyslexia. It’s just amazing how talent and focus — and maybe a little luck and grace — can conquer disability.

You’ll have to read Rein on the top two buttons. I can’t tell it as well as he did.