Category Archives: Business

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

Out with the Ums and the Uhs!

Do you hate to listen to a recording of yourself? Because you hear the Ums and the Uhs (and maybe the ‘Likes’?)

Eileen Sinett, of Speaking That Connects, offers a three-part training focused on helping speakers drastically reduce or eliminate the “uhs, ums, duhs,” and other fillers that can punctuate our public speaking. “All listeners are not the same,” says Sinett. “Some will focus on your message despite fillers; others will be distracted and count these hesitations as you speak. If you have been told you ‘uh’ and ‘um’ too much, help is here to reduce or eliminate these vocal fillers.”

Sinett is a corporate trainer as well as a speech pathologist. She first became interested in helping people with physical disabilities after watching a Jerry Lewis telethon in high school. “I’m probably one of the few people who can list Jerry Lewis as a career influence,” she says. A counselor suggested speech pathology, and she enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, receiving a bachelors degree in 1971. She earned a master’s in speech correction from Kean University in 2002.

“Drastically Reduce Ums, Ahs, and Other Fillers” consists of three weekly group sessions and one private coaching session. The group is limited to eight participants and runs Thursdays, February 21, February 28, and March 7 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. at the Speaking that Connects Studio, 610 Plainsboro Road. The cost is $250 for all four sessions. Call 609-799-1400 or visit www.speakingthatconnects.com/programs to register.

This post was taken from an article in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 30, 2019. I am highlighting it because Sinett has been able to improve my speech. 

Rehearse Your Performance Muscles

You get hired for your technical skills, you get promoted because you “present” well.

Any skill — hockey, piano, or acting — requires exercise to get stronger, and so does public speaking.

“Strong presentations create a career advantage, and practice helps them build their communication confidence and performance muscles,” says Eileen Sinett, speech consultant with Speaking That Connects.

She offers a speech practice group called Rehearsals, which runs on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 7 to 8:45 p.m., beginning February 6 at the Speaking that Connects Studio at 610 Plainsboro Road. The cost is $30 for a single session or $50 for both in one month. Call 609-799-1400 or visit www.speakingthatconnects.com/programs to register.

“There are few opportunities to practice before groups,” says Sinett, “be it Toastmasters, Dale Carnegie, adult education, or some other corporate training and development companies.”

Rehearsals, says Sinett, “gives speakers an opportunity to practice a presentation before a group of peers and receive their constructive feedback,” as well as the guidance of Sinett herself.

If you are not currently working on a speech, dust off one you have given before – and practice!

A version of this story was printed in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 30, 2019. I am highlighting this story because Sinett has helped me improve my own speech making efforts. Here is another article about Sinett. 

 

Executive male or black teen?

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Graph of MIT survey courtesy of NZHerald

Princeton engineering professor Alain Kornhauser might seem to dominate discussions of driverless cars; he’s making them and leading the dialogue on their controversies.

Now Princeton prof and Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman has been linked to the ethics of how driverless cars make their decisions about who to hit – cats or people? pregnant women or old man? In this article, Kahneman is cited re his experiment on the psychology of health decisions that extrapolates to the choices that driverless cars will make.

Quoting the Washington Post and NZ Herald (note the British spellings!)

The way questions are framed can often have an impact on the final decision that’s made. The behavioural scientist Daniel Kahneman illustrated this through a thought experiment in which the outbreak of an unusual disease was expected to kill 600 people.

Respondents, in this case, were offered two potential health programmes. In programme A, subjects were told they had a 100 per cent chance of saving 200 lives. Programme B offered a one-third chance of saving 600 lives and two-thirds possibility of saving no lives.

In this scenario, most people went for programme A – the guarantee of saving 200 lives.

However, when Kahneman switched the scenario to lives lost rather than lives saved, the choice respondents made was completely different.

When they were asked to choose between the 100 per cent chance of the death of 400 people or programme B (which remained unchanged), most respondents opted for the latter despite the fact that programme A was unchanged in both scenarios.

What Kahneman illustrated was that moral decisions can be swayed by the way in which the questioning is phrased.

Kahneman doesn’t decide. He illustrates the complexity of the decision. What I am asking? Will driverless cars “see” race? 

The care they need – the care they want

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If any part of health care in New Jersey needs reform, it’s end-of-life healthcare. Patients here are likely to undergo more intensive medical care, in their final days, than in any other state. All this treatment rarely helps the patients; likely it just makes them uncomfortable.

David Barile MD, palliative care specialist, founded NJ GoalsofCare,  a non-profit, to help everyone — lay people and medical people — achieve their goals for this stage of life that is often feared and ignored.  “We’re working to set a new standard by helping healthcare providers, patients, and families make medical decisions that genuinely reflect a person’s wishes,” says Barile. He created educational materials and documents to ensure that patients would receive the care they need and no less, and the care they want and no more.

In our family, we have had examples of too much care, too little care, and just the right amount of care. The “just the right amount,” no coincidence, was supervised by Dr. Barile. 

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Now his small organization has coalesced into The Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey. Its partners are healthcare providers, government agencies, and community organizations.  Founding members are an impressive list:  NJ Hospital Association, the Medical Society of NJ, the NJ Association of Health Plans, the Health Care Association of NJ, HQSI, the Home Care & Hospice Association of NJ, LeadingAge NJ, the NJ Health Care Quality Institute, the NJ Palliative Care APN Consortium, the VNA Health Group, Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, the NJ Association of Health Care Social Workers and the NJ Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies.

From Robert Wood Johnson Foundation it has a one-year grant, $195,000, to address disparities in access to palliative care for minority populations living in New Jersey. It also landed a $75,000 matching grant, and here’s where I — and maybe you — come in. I’m donating, and I invite you to contribute. You can do it through a Facebook fundraising page or directly through GoalsofCareNJ website. 

Talking about the end-of-life does not come easily! That’s why I believe both the medical people and lay people need the GoalsofCare materials.

Bottom line: When it’s time to say goodbye to someone you love, it’s such a comfort to know that the caregivers are following the patient’s wishes.

 

 

 

 

Entertaining Engineer: Prud’homme

 

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Gathered to hear Bob Prud’homme speak at the Princeton Chamber breakfast was a contingent from Princeton United Methodist Church. In this quickie snap, from left: Bruce Henry, Barbara Fox, Prudhomme in back, Jamileh Gerber in front, Dana Dreibelbis in back, Daniel Shungu in front. Also attending from Princeton UMC: Ed Sproles and Doug Fullman.

Scientific “war stories” were on the agenda today, as Bob Prud’homme entertained members of the Princeton Regional Chamber at the Nassau Club. Some of the twists and turns of his 40-year career at Princeton University revealed good news, some not so good.

In the disheartening category was the realization that, since virtually no drugs are manufactured in the United States, the U.S. stands to lose significant intellectual capital re drug development.

Why? A therapy doesn’t leap from lab to assembly line. It undergoes translation from research to retail in a “pilot” manufacturing plant, where veteran managers and supervisors can keep close tabs on quality control. Until recently the major pharmas built those pilot plants in the U.S., supervised by U.S. managers. If all the pilot plants move overseas, technical managers in the other countries will acquire that extremely valuable expertise.

On the heartening side, Prud’homme says he often finds himself working with research scientists in Asia whom he knows – because they were his students and collaborators at Princeton. Surely this answers any chauvinistic assertions that U.S. schools should limit the number of students from abroad.

IMG_4615In the good news category, Prud’homme and his collaborators get money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop drugs for global health. (UFAR founder Daniel Shungu, seen chatting with Prud’homme before the breakfast, is also the recipient of Gates funds.) What can sell in a blister pack at CVS won’t work for a third world country, which needs drugs to be packaged in jars that will last for six months in a hot damp climate. Princeton’s engineering quad leads the industry in meeting the need for these opportunities in drug delivery.

Only inexpensive drugs can be brought to poor countries. In contrast, cancer therapies are so costly that they can’t be used in the Third World. Prud’homme worries that cancer therapies will even be too expensive for OUR country’s insurance capacity, and that our healthcare business plans are in danger. Either our healthcare insurance will topple, or it will be outrageously unequally distributed, or the people will make decisions about what gets covered and who doesn’t.

One fix would be to deny $60,000 immunotherapy if it won’t prolong life by at last a year. Another way is to adopt the single-payer system used in Australia and make the hard decisions. “I worry about the future of our healthcare system,” says Prud’homme, “and that we will have an unjust society. What problems are we willing to live with?”

Prud’homme memorably described the ins and outs of nanotechnology in clear terms. The challenge for using nano in injectable drugs is that the drug might disperse too quickly, before it reaches the target site. The difficulty with using nano molecules in oral therapies is that many molecules are hydrophobic. They do not live comfortably in water.

His lab, successful in conquering both challenges, has been selected as the “academic lab of choice” by the major pharmas. The story behind that reinforces MY conviction that our town is ever so fortunate to have this university and these research labs at our doorstep.

Many complain that because the university has “deep pockets” it should pay more in lieu of taxes. Exactly because Princeton University has those deep pockets, it can afford to offer generous terms to potential partners. Someone asked how scientists can get molecules through the patent process without revealing secrets to competitors. The answer, says Prud’homme, lies in the university’s motto “Princeton in the Nation’s Service.”

Nobody has approved this metaphor, but here’s how I would explain it. You have five pirates at your door for Trick or Treat, almost identically costumed. One has a face mask, Pirate X. When a big pharma (BASF, GSK, Pfizer, Merck – all Princeton collaborators) wants to secretly develop a molecule, Princeton sends all five to the patent office, revealing the identity of four, leaving one unidentified. This gives the big pharma lead time to develop Molecule X. (Somebody please comment if this comparison doesn’t work.)

Princeton University came late to the entrepreneurial market becauase. as Prud’homme acknowledged, research suitable for the commercial market used to be scorned by the academics. Princeton was one of the most hoity-toity of universities in condemning research that results in a salable product.  He credits the philosophy of John Ritter  (in charge of technology licensing) and the success of two researchers – Steve Forrest and Edward C. Taylor – with changing the university’s attitudes about the inviolable sanctity of basic research. Forrest (now at the University of Michigan) channeled his research on organic light -emitting diodes (OLEDs) into a start-up, Universal Display Corporation that leads the market for displays for smart phones and has revenues of more than $300 million. Taylor developed the cancer-fighting drug, Alimta, and the proceeds from that virtually paid for the university’s new chemistry building.

With its generous endowment, the university does not have to nickel-and-dime its collaborators, and its scientists and engineers can be “in the nation’s service.”

Labs inside the Ivory Tower

Robert_Prudhomme-orig-300x300Find out what’s going on at Princeton University’s e-quad. What research projects will spawn the next billion dollar company? What, exactly, can we expect from nano technology? Hear Professor Robert Prud’homme’s entertaining stories on Wednesday, November 14, 8 a.m. at the Nassau Club. Plus, it’s a yummy breakfast! See you there — Click here for details.

Connect with your audience

EileenSinett_colorI was lucky enough to be able to take Eileen Sinett’s 4 Points of Connection  earlier this year. In this workshop I was able to put together a talk about social justice — not an easy task but she skillfully guided me through it. Her next presentation of this workshop is on October 18, details here.

Sinett knows how to connect with her students, whether a student is frightened to just open her mouth, or is an experienced speechmaker seeking to hone her skills. Everybody comes away more confident, more ready to step up to the podium.

 

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

All speaking is not the same! Speaking has many nuances, structures and applications, says Eileen N. Sinett of Speaking that Connects.

“It is the communication vehicle most of us have for conveying ideas, developing relationships, sharing feelings, debating points of view and negotiating terms,” says Sinett. She offers two free webinars to support professional development and speaking success. One is on networking introduction and the next, on storytelling.

“Networking that Connects” is on August 16, and I have a conflict for that date.

But I am looking forward to taking advantage of her free offer to tune in to the webinar on Wednesday, September 6 on the subject of “Facts Tell, Stories Sell.” That’s a subject dear to my heart as a newspaper reporter who must “sell” my story to the reader, to make it worth her/his/their time.

Here’s how to register — the only thing you pay is your time!

And having attended many of Eileen’s workshops and seminars, I can vouch that it will be worth your time.

From worm poop to designer bottles?

TerraCycle_CEO_Tom_SzakyGarbage is certainly the hero at the Terracycle headquarters, says Diccon Hyatt, who tells of Tom Szaky’s latest iteration, a new business model for his throwaway manufacturing business. It’s Diccon Hyatt’s cover story in the issue dated July 4 but being distributed a day early, click here, 

It’s a long way from when the headquarters for Szaky’s four-person start-up was a basement room, with a futon cot, on the corner of Nassau and Chamber Street.  U.S. 1 has charted his progress. His success story – leaving Princeton University to start a business –  is no comfort to hand-wringing parents of students aiming to quit school to follow their dreams.

 

Listen well to get at the truth

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An article from the Harvard Business Review courtesy of Niki (Veronica) Fielding’s  new newsletter Owlthena, validated one of my favorite approaches to reporting: Keep prepared questions to a minimum and just ‘follow the trail’ of where the conversation leads.

It works only when there is no time limit, and when you have the freedom to circle back to the subject again, but it’s pretty exciting to start at square one as if you know almost nothing. When you let one question lead to another, both you and your subject may be surprised at the discoveries.

HBR says: Follow-up questions seem to have special power. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.

It also works for me to say, at the beginning, anything can be off the record:

HBR: People also tend to be more forthcoming when given an escape hatch or “out” in a conversation. For example, if they are told that they can change their answers at any point, they tend to open up more—even though they rarely end up making changes. 

The article came to me in Niki’s new Owlthena newsletter, “What’s Hot Wednesday,” an assembly of business studies that I would not have seen. The one from HBR was by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John. (Feminist thought: is it a coincidence that this intensive study on listening was done by women?)

One caution about this approach: Many busy people don’t want to give you the time to meander down uncharted lanes. Keep the prepared questions in your pocket.