Highlights Of His General Newspaper Articles
ROBERT MOSKOWITZ is a business consultant
His General Newspaper Articles
|CREDIT CARD COMPETENCE
How To Use The Latest And Best Credit Card Offers And Opportunities To Manage Your Balances And Credit-Spending To Your Maximum Advantage
Once upon a time, a credit card was simply a device to defer your outlay of cash for major purchases. You put it on the card, and then you paid back the balance as best you could. For this privilege you paid a small annual fee for the card and an exorbitant interest rate each month on your outstanding balance.
Today, you can get credit cards with a low or no annual fee, or with highly competitive interest rates.
In addition, credit cards can bring you a wide range of special benefits and perks, including: airline frequent flyer mileage, cash rebates on spending, and special discounts on such things as future automobile purchases, future mortgage borrowing, or long-distance calling.
|ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM "HIDDEN STRESS"
Today's Executives Are Under So Much Pressure That Many Don't Even Have Time To Show Symptoms Of Their Stress. Nevertheless, Hidden Stress Can Be Very Debilitating.
Sometimes, all it takes is blowing a few bubbles. But before you can get rid of your stress, you have to recognize that you're experiencing it.
Most executives are alert to the overt signs of stress, such as dizziness, lack of energy, and mental exhaustion. But few are attuned to the more subtle warnings of stress -- often called "hidden stress" -- that can actually prove more dangerous because they can go unsuspected and untreated for weeks or even months at a time.
According to the research literature, the classic signs of hidden stress include:
|GETTING HEALTH INFORMATION WHEN TRAVELING
For anyone not convinced that technology brings both solutions and new problems, consider this: If you become sick or injured while traveling, modern airline travel makes it quick and easy to be whisked from virtually anywhere in the world to the facilities of the best-qualified specialist.
But that same air travel makes it just as quick and easy not only for you to be set down in a strange climate and environment filled with microorganisms against which your body has few if any defenses, but for those microorganisms to find their way to where you wait, unsuspectingly, at home.
|ADVANCED TELEPHONE CAPABILITIES
When Alexander Graham Bell spoke the famous words, "Watson, come here; I want you," his telephone was a simple point-to-point communications device, little more than two cups on an electrified string.
But today, a telephone is a powerful instrument that not only carries your voice, but can provide many of the services once available only from a smart, well-trained secretary.
Most of us know that modern telephones can make and receive two calls on a single line, provide information about who is calling even before you pick up the phone, and—by connecting to specially programmed computers—let you do your shopping or banking or voting from your favorite chair.
But time marches on, and telephones today can be even more powerful than you probably realize. Here's a brief rundown of advanced telephone services now available, some of them so new you may have to actively pursue your local or long-distance telephone company before they will provide you with them:
|RACE DRIVING SCHOOLS
On TV or in person, the incredible high-speed maneuvering through traffic done by Michael Andretti, Kyle Petty, or Nigel Mansell seems pretty remote from everyday freeway and street driving. But as tens of thousands of people can attest, learning to handle an automobile at higher-than-normal speeds will make anyone a better, safer driver at everyday traffic speeds, as well.
In fact, many automotive writers and analysts feel that Ford Motor Company's success in recent years flows at least partly from the company's decision to send executives to race driving schools, specifically so they could learn about the fun and performance that cars can deliver. It's no coincidence that Formula One champion Jackie Stewart is still under contract to Ford as a consultant.
Because race driving schools offer a unique combination of thrills and valuable training, they are now proliferating. Today there are dozens of high-quality schools run by race drivers, car clubs, and even police departments in the U.S., as well as in Great Britain, France, Italy, and Spain.
|HOW TO DEAL WITH A HOME REMODELING CONTRACTOR
More Americans than ever before are remodeling their homes, choosing to add a "great room," a home office, or an exercise area, and quite frequently remodeling the kitchen and tacking on a new bathroom in the process.
The main reasons for remodeling, based on respondents to a survey at the October, 1994, Remodeler's Show in Atlanta, GA: 62% said they remodeled to have more space; 53% remodeled their home to avoid moving; and 44% said they wanted a nicer lifestyle or had to do it for reasons of maintenance and repair.
This makes sense, because America's "housing stock" now averages 28 years old, with more than 80 percent older than 15 years. Not only have lifestyles changed -- demanding more space in which to work and play inside the home -- but houses just plain wear out.
The Baby Boom generation is the most likely to remodel, not only because they're in the midst of their child-rearing and peak income earning years, but because it makes financial sense. A minor kitchen remodel returns on average 105% of its cost when you later sell your home, and a bathroom addition averages a 98% payback -- not including the intangible convenience and comfort you receive while living in the home.
All this helps explain why Americans spent $114 billion on home remodeling in 1994, up from $109 billion in 1993. Estimates for 1995 are now set at $123 billion, and by the year 2000, home remodeling is expected to consume $175 billion -- more than new home construction in that year.
But although we spend so much money on home remodeling, we don't always do it right. Too often, people wind up with ugly, tacky, unpleasant surroundings that need repair and further remodeling just a few years down the road.
To prevent this from happening in your household, follow some simple rules and guidelines:
|GOOD WAYS TO KEEP CHILDREN BUSY THE REST OF THE SUMMER
Nothing is more closely associated with summer than bored children whining at their parents: "There's nothing to do."
It's especially difficult if your children convinced you in June not to send them to summer camp or get them involved in any organized activities. By today, they're quite likely tired of all their toys, games, and friends, and they're desperately looking to you for ideas on what to do next.
But don't despair. There are plenty of fresh ideas out there, along with innovative activities organized by museums, YMCAs, and even camps.
|"VIRTUAL COLLEGES" OFFERING REAL LIFE COURSES
Earn A Degree, Take A Class In Marketing Via Your PC
There's a revolution happening in education. It's called "distance learning," and its prime practitioners are using the techniques and technology of computerized networking to offer a wide range of degree and non-degree courses to students in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas.
|WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE?
One distinct possibility for people running a large business or otherwise leading a successful life is that history may ask them to perform a public service. Or, more precisely, someday members of a political organization may ask YOU to run for office!
Once you get a grip on feelings of being flattered, of being too busy, and of being under-qualified -- all common and quite natural responses to such a heady invitation -- you may want to give the request some serious consideration. The reason: you might very well win! Recent polls show that new term limits plus government funding of campaigns for public office are beginning to give relative newcomers with a successful business background a decided advantage over incumbents who are perceived as political hacks.
Before you decide to throw your hat in the ring, though, consider the dramatic changes that campaigning can bring to your life:
|ADULT DAY CARE CENTERS
It's an old joke that people generally start out and wind up their lives wearing diapers and unable to walk on their own. It's now also true that they may spend the first and last years of their lives in day care. In 1940, the average American's life expectancy was about 63 years. Today, it's more than 75 years, and as a result of continuing advances in medical science experts say it will be close to 80 by the year 2000. That's why the fastest growing segment of our population includes those more than 75 years old -- the very people who are most likely to need adult day care (ADC).
So it should be no surprise that Adult Day Care is presently the fastest growing segment of long term care in the U.S. According to the National Institute of Adult Day Care, (NIADC) in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago there were fewer than 100 such centers. Today, there are more than 3,000.
|WHAT COLLEGES COST
For most of the 1980s, the rising costs of college education looked very much like the trajectory of the space shuttle -- rising higher and higher, faster and faster, until prices threatened to soar out of sight.
But within the last few years, the pace of inflation for college costs is slackening off significantly. This is the best outlook in years for parents with children approaching college age.
One well-respected survey of colleges, for example, found annual tuition increases averaging only $702 at four year private universities, and only $151 at four year public institutions. The average cost of room and board increased only $188 at four year private institutions, and only $149 at four year public universities.
The same survey developed "weighted sample" or average-price budgets for college education, ranging from as little as $5,639 for a student living at home and taking classes at a two-year public college to as much as ....
|FOOLPROOF TIPS FOR COMPUTER SECURITY
"As soon as you connect your computer to another one, you're in a world of trouble."
Generally, there's no way to achieve 100% security, but this is no excuse for leaving your computer systems wide open to intentional and accidental security problems.
Surprisingly, many people do.
|BUILDING A SECOND CAREER
Thousands Find Their Own Business Or A New Direction Better Than The First
Being at or near the top of your profession is exciting for many people. But for others, it becomes old hat. They miss the challenge of tackling new projects, learning new skills, and facing new situations.
That's why more and more people are voluntarily leaving their safe and secure jobs to take a few risks. Some take jobs in new divisions of established companies. Others go with start-ups, while some forego the safety of a paycheck and start their own business.
In Hollywood, screenwriters want to generate maximum interest in a film about sexual harassment, so they put a man in a situation where he suffers from the cruelty and insensitivity of a beautiful woman.
But in reality, only 5% of sexual harassment complaints come from men. What's more, by some estimates as many as 15% of all the women employed by Fortune 500 companies suffer sexual harassment every year, including 1% who are sexually assaulted -- physically attacked and hurt -- each year, more often by managers and professionals than by hourly employees.
|ELDER HOSTELS MIX RECREATION AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
It all started twenty years ago, when Marty Knowlton became so impressed with his experience walking through Europe and staying in youth hostels that he determined to find a way to offer similar experiences to the folks back home.
Teaming with his friend, David Bianco, the pair came up with the concept of housing mature Americans at education institutions for a week at a time while offering them a stimulating piece of college-level course work in art, literature, or science.
Today you'll find as many as 30,000 Elderhostel spaces available each summer in the US and Canada. Last year, the nearly 2,000 Elderhostel host institutions in the U.S. and 50 other nations accepted more than 290,000 enrollments, all told.
|HANG MOVIE HISTORY ON YOUR WALL
Collecting Classic Posters Provides No Pain Gain
You'll probably never see a Wizard of Oz "6-sheet" (81" x 81") poster. When it came out in the 1950s, hardly anyone was collecting -- or even safeguarding -- the beautiful promotional art that every movie theater received. As a result, many of the best ones were lost. That's why if you ever put your hands on this or a dozen other sought-after treasures, you could probably name your own price.
For example, one of the four known "Frankenstein" movie posters promoting the 1930's classic was purchased for about $1,000 twenty years ago. In 1983, another of the four sold for a record $198,000!
"Collectors, dealers, one-poster buyers -- everyone who's involved in this business just loves it," says Gary Goss, whose Funny Face Productions (Northampton, MA) is one of the pre-eminent poster restoration studios in the country. "Movie posters reflect our history, our cultural heritage, which is why the field is so exciting. The market is constantly changing as new collectors come in with different tastes, and they come in regularly because it's one of the least expensive ways to be a player in the art world."
|VACATIONS AN RV MAKES BETTER
Recreational Vehicles are becoming part of our American lifestyle. Millions of people, from John Steinbeck to Henry Ford and Thomas Alva Edison, have loved them and the adventures they make possible.
According to Outdoor Life magazine, today about 9 million people enjoy vacations via recreation vehicles and other forms of campers made by more than 100 manufacturers. Another 100,000 people convert to RV vacationing every year. Comfort and cost can be whatever you make it. RVs are priced as low as $4,000 for a used fold-down trailer to more than $60,000 for a V8-powered mobile domicile with all the trimmings.
But millions of pedestrians and conventional automobile-bound travelers are waiting for a reason, a very good reason, indeed, to climb those two or three steps, buckle up by a kitchen table, and rumble off into the sunset.
They object to the cramped spaces, the monotony of sleeping in the same room every night, the need to cook and clean up after yourself just as you do at home, the myriad inconveniences of a typical RV's shower and bathroom, and even the lumbering ride, terrible gas mileage, and unsafe handling on anything other than a quiet street during a windless day.
Despite all this, the RV carries undeniable advantages, too. For example, you can get to your hotel every single evening without retracing your steps -- or limiting your spontaneity. When you come upon a likely spot, you can stay right there -- with all the creature comforts on board -- until you're good and ready to push on.
Also, RVs bring a strong sense of security. You needn't worry about cold, heat, rain, dark of night, or an untimely close of business. With a little preparation and planning, you're always ready with heaters and blankets, air conditioning, a dry place to sit or sleep, and even a refrigerator stocked with food -- 24 hours a day, at any location you can reach by road.
These advantages come to the fore when you plan a vacation specifically designed to make best use of them, according to Richard Tourangeau, a National Park Service veteran who helped write the breath-taking book, "America's National Parks."
|WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM DATING SERVICES
It's Valentine's Day, again, and you're still not enjoying the relationship you've been dreaming about.
After all the bar scenes, all those "eligible" prospects, you're still embarrassed to be showing up at important business dinners with different partners.
What's more, the income, the toys, the opportunities for great times mean very little without the right person to share them with you. But you're too busy, and too tired of disappointment, to keep looking one-by-one for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Clearly, it's time to re-think dating services.
|SIMPLE EQUIPMENT TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR AGING PARENTS
There's a curious reversal: one day parents are taking care of their children, then all too soon the grown children are taking care of their aging parents. The process is already happening to millions of American families.
With 2 million people or more turning 65 every year, the number of "elderly" Americans is growing at nearly twice the rate of the general population. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that Americans over 85 form the fastest growing population group in this country, and those over 75 form the next fastest growing group.
According to a recent Congressional study, millions of these older Americans, including half of all Americans over age 85 and a quarter of those over 65, suffer from chronic conditions and cannot survive a week without receiving some form of help, generally from family members.
|THE PROSPECTS FOR BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR
Richard Nixon did it all by himself in about 5 or 6 weeks. Lee Iacocca used his position and prominence to have someone do it for him. Ken Blanchard made himself a celebrity by doing it, while Harvey Mackay did it like a businessman, and made himself a fortune.
These days, almost anyone with a solid history of business success and a few ideas about how something was done, or should be done, can get his or her name on a legitimate book. It's not likely you'll become as famous, or sell as many books, as these superstars of self publishing, but there are definite rewards: your satisfaction in sharing what you know with others, the chance to make some money on a moderate investment, and -- not incidentally -- the chance to enter a book-marketing lottery where the long-shot top prizes can include both fame and fortune.
|A CLEAN DESK IS AN EFFICIENT DESK
"National Clean Off Your Desk Day" Offers Pile-aholics A Fresh Start
New Year's Resolutions may -- and frequently do -- go by the board, but it takes a real incorrigible to pass up the chance to celebrate National Clean Off Your Desk Day!
Officially proclaimed by the 500-member National Association of Professional Organizers, Nyack, NY, this executive-oriented holiday is designed to give everyone a fresh start at getting organized, at least once a year. And most of us desperately need it. According to the American Demographic Society, for example, Americans waste over 9 million hours every day looking for lost and misplaced articles!
Look around your desk. If you can see the entire surface, you're a rarity. The average U.S. executive loses six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and equally messy files, says the National Association of Professional Organizers.
|DON'T CONTRIBUTE TO CHARITY OVERHEAD AND WASTE
Do Your Giving Where It Will Do The Most Good
The gift of charity -- whether cash, in-kind donations, or time and energy -- is a precious one, too precious to waste on organizations that don't make maximum use of it. That's why nearly every charity carefully calculates and boasts about the percentage of its income that goes to charitable services.
Unfortunately, the guidelines and procedures that govern how non-profit organizations must account for their income and expenditures are far looser than in the for-profit sector. The result is a growing trend toward obfuscation, accounting gimmicks, and outright fraud. It's no wonder, given how much is at stake:
The non-profit sector of the American economy now enjoys more than $125 billion in donations each year. It owns $1 trillion in assets, generates about 6% of the nation's gross domestic product, and employs 7 million people.
What's more, about 15% of executives at the 250 largest tax-exempt organizations are paid more than $200,000 per year, and several make considerably more. Clearly, you can do very well while doing good. But not everyone deserves it.
|HOW TO PREVENT FIRES IN YOUR HOME
After 30 or 40 years of unrelenting emphasis on the danger, smoking in bed is still one of the major causes of fatal fires.
Although deaths from residential fires are becoming slightly less common, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that each year more than 1.5 million fires occur in homes, and that someone dies in a fire about every 113 minutes. In 1993, 80% of all fire-related deaths occurred in the home, and 60-70% of these fatalities were in homes where the batteries in smoke detectors are either worn out or deliberately removed!
What's more, most victims of fire never smell the smoke. Their senses are numbed and their brains sometimes put to sleep by a fire's toxic gases -- frequently carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, a poison like the one used in capital punishment gas chambers -- before they're even aware of it. Since most home fires occur at night, sleepers are especially vulnerable to fire-induced unconsciousness.
But simple precautions and safety tips can protect your family from most of the dangers. Here are the most important suggestions on how to prevent fires, and fire-related injuries, in your home:
|BEST COLLEGES -- AND HOW TO FIND THEM
Every year, the nation's 2,100 four-year colleges and universities register more than 2 million students. And during the preceding months, their anxious parents grapple for clues as to which of these institutions hold the key to their youngster's brightest possible future.
The choice is critically important because, according to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 14 million students attend all forms of undergraduate and graduate college in this country, up 16.6% from ten years ago, at a total cost of more than $150 billion. With such high prices and so many college graduates competing for careers, wasting time or failing to realize their potential during the college years can easily become the most expensive mistake of your youngster's lifetime.
While your son or daughter's preferences and special interests should certainly be part of the equation in selecting one school over another, it's important you provide guidance and your own values as to which school might be better than another.
Because so many people are willing to buy books and magazines that discuss which colleges are "better" than others, the book stores and magazine stands are full of listings, rankings, analyses, and other evaluations of college and university "quality" and "value. "
So what's a concerned parent to do?
|HOW TO TURN A HOTEL INTO AN OFFICE
Look for Onsite Business Center and Voice Mail Systems
Whether or not you tote a computer on trips, there will be times when you're trying to get some important work accomplished. That's when the difference between a tourist hotel and a business traveler's hotel becomes worth its weight in gold.
And there's plenty of gold out there. These days, American business travelers spend nearly double on hotel stays compared with what they spent ten years ago. Although travel is one of the most easily controlled business expenses, the trend among business travelers is not to stop traveling during hard times, but instead to insist on more value for every travel penny.
|FIVE TOP CAREER SKILLS YOU CAN WORK ON RIGHT NOW
If someone gave you the assignment to develop and market a certain type of exciting, important product, you'd probably approach it with gusto. But when it comes to advancing their own careers, too many managers take a more subdued approach.
It's a mistake, though, because it's too easy to fall behind and get lost. The Department of Labor says that within ten years, 2000, 50% of the jobs in this country will be ones that don't exist today. More to the point, more and more positions are being permanently eliminated.
A key piece of advice: "Apply to your own career the same approach you normally apply to project planning and development in your organization. Do not wait for other people to provide direction or opportunity. Instead, do your own thinking about your career, and take action to make your plans a reality."
Many experts concur. Because of corporate downsizing and cost cutting, elaborate succession-planning and management-development programs have largely disappeared. They're replaced by an emphasis on keeping top managers more narrowly focused.
Assuming you've already mastered the fundamentals of business management, here are the five most important skills and abilities you can beef up to quickly and easily improve your career prospects:
|HOW TO HANDLE YOUR CHILD'S INTEREST IN WATCHING TV
There's something compelling about a TV screen. Turn one on in almost any gathering and all faces swivel toward it, stopping conversation, replacing social interaction with steady absorption of electronic images and sounds.
TV's attraction and impact are undeniably difficult to resist for adults, and even more powerful for children, who are growing up from infancy in a world full of TV programming, and who have fewer personal experiences and resources with which to resist it's pull on their attention.
And stranglehold is probably the right word. The average viewer of prime time TV sees three murders per night. There are 20-25 acts of violence per day -- even in so-called "children's" programs. On TV, violence -- which is relatively easy to write and act -- is the most common way to deal with problems and interpersonal conflicts.
Exposure to such programming unquestionably influences the viewer. But not every family is equally exposed to these TV influences.
|PREVENTING "PENCIL PUSHING" INJURIES IN THE HOME
Twisted or dropped wrists and overcurled fingers are often the culprits. Swollen elbows, finger numbness, wrist pain, forearm ache, tendonitis, or even small cysts known as ganglions can be the result.
We're talking about Repetitive Stress Injuries, or RSI. The government estimates that only one of its manifestations -- carpal tunnel syndrome -- led to some $27 billion worth of productivity loss and associated health expenditures just last year. No one can accurately estimate the total cost of all the injuries resulting from poorly put-together workplaces -- injuries that can occur even to executives and professionals who lift nothing heavier than a pencil.
Sadly, RSI is one of the fastest growing work-related injuries, yet one of the easiest to prevent. Like tennis elbow, it afflicts those with bad form far more often than those who use good technique and take preventive measures.
People working at home or on the road are especially vulnerable.
|BREAKING THROUGH COMPUTER ANXIETY
Alright, maybe you're a little intimidated by today's multi-media, Pentium chip, X86, multi-gigabyte drive, 200 MHz, RISC-based, fax-modem, 600 dpi, cyberspace, doo-dad whatzit computers. But you understand how important they are, and you've got an office assistant who knows how to tickle those keyboards like Itzhak Perlman can play a Stradivarius or Tony Gwynn can play baseball. So what's the problem?
The problem is that delegating all computer work to others is not only out of fashion these days, it can seriously hamper your productivity and your career.
For example, not knowing how to work a word processor and an electronic spreadsheet keeps you relegated to pencil and paper. That means you're simply not able to work as fast or efficiently as your peers and competition.
Faced with a continually increasing need to learn computers, today's computer-illiterate executives are wondering how to get up to speed on today's automated systems without investing a lot of time and trouble, and without embarrassment or losing face.
Here are some ideas on how to do it:
|IMPROVING MALE / FEMALE COMMUNICATIONS
A recent spate of books is helping to illuminate the differences between how men and women communicate. While years ago it was almost acceptable to throw up your hands and exclaim "you just don't understand," today communication problems between men and women are more often seen as a failure to learn some necessary interpersonal skills. If you don't think you need specific skills to get your ideas across the gender barrier, consider that 90% of people who go into forms of "talking" therapy are women. In contrast, 90% of the people in jail are men, perhaps because they tend to express their feelings in actions rather than words.
These and other differences may not be cultural.
Here, then, is a field guide to the archetypal communications differences you're likely to find between men and women, along with tips on how to overcome them:
|MAXIMIZING YOUR PERFORMANCE
"If you haven't made it by age 40," goes the common saying, "you'll never make it."
But there's a lot of evidence that this just isn't true. For example, during his eighth decade Ronald Reagan not only ascended to the presidency, but molded our economic and political futures for years to come!
In fact, a new science of "high performance" is making it possible for you to maximize your results almost at will, just by following a pattern you've already established over the years.
|SWAP YOUR HOME TO HAVE A GREAT VACATION
Unforgettable vacations frequently involve heavy expenses, including hefty bills for hotels and rental cars. But with just a slightly adventurous spirit, it's possible to get the free use of a sumptuous country home or lavish city penthouse apartment for weeks or even months at a time -- often with the full use of a car thrown in!
How to do it? Temporarily swap your home for another family's at your desired destination. Surprisingly, people will often exchange their expensive, spacious places for another family's small apartment, just because the location suits their travel plans.
|HOW TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE WHILE TRAVELING
If you're successful in business, you probably spend time on the road. But no matter how successful you may be, you probably don't make the best use of all of that time.
Time management experts say that, for most business travelers, as many as one or two days of each trip are wasted.
If you're like most people on the go, the time you spend away from the office provides significant opportunities to increase your level of effectiveness. For example, improving your productivity on the road by only five percent would convert hours of downtime to purposeful use on each business journey.
It's not difficult to make a five percent improvement, or even more. You can start by paying closer attention to your use of time while traveling, and trying harder to make the most of it. Here are some tips on how to do more when out of the office:
|WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE JOINING A BOARD
Level of Influence, Commitment Are Two Questions To Ask
"Would you like to be on our Board?"
Every day, countless people are approached by clerics, entrepreneurs, and others who are interested in harnessing their "nose for success" to the interests of a particular organization. If you haven't been asked, you probably will be soon.
The fact is, there are tens of millions of corporate entities out there, and almost every one of them has a never-ending need for new members on its board.
At first, the invitation to join a board appears flattering. But your pride can turn to dismay and even lawsuits if the situation goes sour. Surprisingly, being on the board of your local not-for-profit church, school, or other community organization has the potential to create problems and potential liabilities just as nightmarish as those you might experience on the board of K-Mart.
And if you join a for-profit board, you're likely to encounter a group of people who play hardball -- without even telling you the rules of the game.
That's why it's important to be cautious before lending your name, your time, and your energies to any organization, no matter how benign or low-key.
Here are some not-so-obvious factors to consider before you make a decision to join any board:
|HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR ADULT CHILDREN
When they're teenagers, they frequently drive you up the wall. But sociologists tell us that once they mature into adults, you have the opportunity to get along much better with your children.
Empirically, the relationship bottoms-out during late adolescence, ages 16-19. Studies that end here describe the beginning of the separation process and offer little hope for improvement in the future. But they do improve.
This is good to know because you'll live many more years with your child as an adult than as a youngster.
But the relationship doesn't automatically improve. It takes effort, and a willingness for parents to change their roles and adopt new, more cooperative approaches. Here are some suggestions on how you can get along better with your adult children:
|HOW TO BEHAVE WHEN GIVING TESTIMONY
Whether You're An Expert or A Material Witness, It's A Serious Moment
Despite the so-called "Simpson" laws now being proposed or passed in a dozen or more states to limit "sale of testimony" in court cases, being at witness in a legal matter can be very lucrative.
If you're NOT a party to the case, you can earn serious money as an expert witness. In such fields as architecture, medicine, even data processing and skilled crafts or trades, fees for expert witnesses can run up to $3,000 a day for the time spent preparing and actually giving testimony. In New York State alone, during a recent year the Attorney General's Office handled nearly 1,700 cases against individuals seeking $4.4 billion, and paid out $19.4 million in expert witness fees.
If you ARE a party to the case, your testimony might be worth even more -- if it plays a major role in having the case come out the way you want.
Either way, to succeed as a witness you must from the very first meeting convey both knowledge and credibility to the other side, and perhaps later to a judge and jury.
"The most important characteristics of a good witness are what you say, and how you back it up -- being both believable and authoritative," says Howard Suber, Professor Emeritus at UCLA's Film School, founder of its excellent Producers Program, and Hollywood's leading expert witness on matters of intellectual property rights.
During the past fifteen years, Professor Suber has testified for or against virtually all of the major studios and talents, including such notable cases as Buckwald vs. Paramount, the Beatles vs. Beatlemania, and various lawsuits involving films such as The Exorcist, Star Wars, Days of Thunder, The Sicilian, Jewel of the Nile, and Medicine Man. He turns down three out of four cases offered to him, and has never been on the losing side.
Whether you're an expert witness or a party to the proceeding, here are some tips and techniques to give your testimony its greatest possible impact:
|HOW TO KEEP FROM GETTING SABOTAGED BY OTHERS ON THE JOB
You're already at or near the top, but -- like Julius Caesar -- you may still be vulnerable to a back-stabbing Brutus.
Can you protect yourself, and should you even try? Is it possible to keep the people who work for and with you from writing letters to the board of directors, or worse? Perhaps it's good to allow a certain amount of unrest in the company, to create a little uncertainty. After all, if no one questions your decisions, if people are not vying for promotions, it may be impossible to keep the organization aggressively moving forward.
But while some competitive behavior is probably inevitable, you can and should minimize the negativity of it, particularly when directed against you. Heres how:
|GIVING YOUR CHILD COMPUTER EXPERIENCE
Using a computer today is as basic and important a skill as learning to drive a car or balance a checking account. But don't count on the schools to teach your children for you. If you want it done right, you should probably do it yourself.
According to a recent Gallup Poll sponsored by HomePC magazine, nine of ten families say their children use computers at school, and almost as many say their kids use PCs at home. But more than a third of these parents think schools do only a fair to poor job of familiarizing and making these children comfortable with computers.
The reason: In most instances, schools are under-equipped with computers and teachers fully trained in how to bring youngsters up to speed.
The result: most schoolchildren spend relatively little time doing useful tasks with computers, and grow up lacking the comfort level necessary for them to get maximum benefit from these important tools for the kind of creative expression, academic research, or project presentation that can earn them better marks first in school and later at work.
Fortunately, your children don't have to be deprived. You can easily set up your home PC so your youngsters can safely spend time on it. Or, you can get them a computer of their own. Top-of-the-line PCs for children—capable of all the latest multimedia, graphics-oriented activities, including a capable color printer—should cost no more than a cheap family vacation, perhaps no more than a weekend. And you can spend far less if you want to.
|BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY PRESSURES
Today's Executives Are Learning That Taking More Time From Work For Family Togetherness and Parenting Chores Leads To More, Not Less, Productivity and Satisfaction
No one denies that holding onto a job, or a company, in today's competitive climate requires massive amounts of time and effort. But you're not alone if you feel a steady, nagging sensation that you're missing a lot of the important interactions you should be having at home with your family.
The issue of balancing work and family time is far more prevalent than anyone admits. At least a third of the respondents to recent surveys, for example, say they would change jobs to get a better work/family balance, and that finding a good balance is a high priority in their selection of jobs.
But such feelings are not often talked about openly, particularly by men.
Among the thousands of executives who have successfully redressed the balance between their work and family responsibilities, it's common to hear that they began the change when they noticed their children no longer responded to them, or they were no longer living the life they wanted.
If you're feeling an imbalance between work and family pressures, what can you do about it?
|SEE YOUR HOME THROUGH A BURGLAR'S EYE
Make Your Home More Secure By Spotting And Eliminating The Features That "Invited" Burglars Into Nearly 2 Million Homes Last Year.
The ugly truth is that if a professional burglar wants to get into a home, regardless of how heavily-gated or formidably fortified, there's virtually no way to prevent it. Unless you're with the CIA, however, this is probably not the major threat to your family's security.
In fact, the nearly two million residential burglaries that occur each year among most families, including the wealthiest 1%, are most likely to be perpetrated by an opportunist -- a novice or semi-professional criminal who is mainly interested in making off with the easiest possible pickings, which average about $1215 per break-in.
Fortunately, you can reduce your exposure to the threat of opportunistic criminals as much as 95% just by making a few simple, unobtrusive changes to the way your home presents itself to the outside world.
|WHEN THEY MAKE YOU AN OFFER YOU CAN'T REFUSE
Executives almost always want a better job. The expectation has long been, particularly when the economy is running lean and mean like it is today, that offering a better, more lucrative position -- even one involving a move to a different city -- will produce an immediate reaction of: "What day should I show up?"
But that tradition now appears on the way out!
Much as they might want to grab a new and better opportunity, say these "targets" for glamorous and/or highly-paid jobs, the Offer You Cannot Refuse is heard far less frequently than just a few years ago.
|FINISHING WHAT YOU START IS ONE KEY TO PRODUCTIVITY
It's one thing to juggle five or ten demanding projects at once. It's much harder to deal simultaneously with several dozen.
In the first instance, it's possible to keep track of all the projects without resorting to notes or lists, and when one of the projects gets finished, the daily burden suddenly seems quite a bit lighter -- at least for a while.
But when a "to do" list runs on for several pages, it's common to be interrupted by an apparent crisis many times each hour, and to be so whipsawed by conflicting demands and pressures that you temporarily lose track of some important tasks on your list. What's more, final closure on any of them may be very hard to come by.
That's why under-the-gun executives are so surprised to learn that a few simple methods and techniques can help them overcome the difficulties of having such a lengthy list of things to do, and can work like superchargers to help boost them to their highest level of productivity.
|MAKING FAMILY VACATIONS FUN FOR EVERYONE
Reserve Time For Yourself Between Adventure With Kids
It's the most popular family vacation destination in the U.S,, but you needn't go to Disneyland to have a good time with your kids.
You can take a learning vacation, an adventure vacation, a resort vacation, a cruise ship vacation, or just hop in the car and drive around in some gorgeous local scenery.
With the tide irresistibly turning toward family togetherness on the road, here are some tips for planning an enjoyable vacation with your young ones:
|STAYING SHARP WHEN CROSSING TIME ZONES
It sounds sensible to suggest altering bedtimes for three or four days before jetting away on business. But few executives can afford to disrupt their heavy schedules just because they're leaving town tomorrow or later this week. In fact, one often has to go with even less sleep and sharply busier schedules for several days before a trip in the effort to clear one's desk and get ready to do business abroad.
That's why many physicians' and behavioral scientists' new understanding of the jet lag phenomenon -- sometimes called Chronobiology -- is beginning to pay dividends. It's now possible to plan long trips, or plan activities during long trips, so as to minimize any debilitating impact. In fact, it's even possible to obtain highly specific instructions on how to remain alert and mentally sharp before, during, and after a trip across multiple time zones.
While scientific studies on jet lag control are few and far between, there is plenty of anecdotal and testimonial evidence that many people experience mental fuzziness and lack of energy which can last as long as a week after a long-distance flight. The problem is not due simply to fatigue -- although sleep deprivation is a contributing factor. It results mainly from disruption of the body's rhythms.
Now there is a growing body of convincing evidence to show that this so-called "jet lag" can be eliminated or overcome in less than one day. The secret: adhering to a precise combination of diet control, light exercise, sleep timing and even social interactions. It also helps to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to combat the body's normal dehydration in the dry atmosphere of airliners.
The problem is compounded by inadvertently napping, eating, exercising, or spending time outdoors at inappropriate times in the body's cycle. Giving the body the wrong cue as it's adjusting from one time zone to another can flip a six hour time shift in the normal 24 hour cycle into an eighteen hour time shift that takes many days to clear up.
Heres one approach that many people say is effective:
|THREE STRATEGIES TO CONFRONT THE LOSS OF HAIR
You can change your shirt, buy a better suit, wear custom-made shoes and have your teeth capped. But you're probably not going to feel good about any of this if the top of your head seems short of hair.
Scientists don't know why we have hair, but people with thinning locks are likely to experience a sense of loss, and a longing for more. Roman emperors considered baldness a deformity. The ancient Greeks associated hair with power and virility. Today, we use it mainly for giving social signals.
Some professional athletes or entertainers shave their heads in intricate patterns to create symbols or even slogans. The rest of us are content to adjust our hair length, style, and color, and sometimes add adornments, all according to personal preference and fashion. Our motivation: to convey to others who we are, or who we'd like to be.
As yet, there are no wonderful solutions to hair loss, although some scientists predict a hormone-based treatment may become available early in the next century. Until then, your choices are limited to three types of remedies:
|EXOTIC TRAVEL ADVENTURES
The next time boredom strikes in the middle of a droning budget analysis, or during one of those long crawls through traffic, think back to the beauties of flying 15 miles high where the sky is black and the planet blue, or recall the unmatched exhilaration of pulling 5 Gs in a mock dog-fight over Moscow.
What? You haven't had these adventures. Well you can! And literally hundreds of other exotic travel adventures, as well, each one customized to suit exactly your taste for exertion or ease, discomfort or luxury, danger or distraction, and adrenaline rush or tranquil rest. If you know whom to call, you can stay in five star hotels and travel by limousine, pedal your way across virgin countryside from campsite to roaring rapids, even toast yourself with champagne at the North Pole!
|HOW TO THROW A GREAT PARTY
Whether you're hosting 12,000 people at the opening of Mall of America or throwing a barbecue for a few close friends, the goal of having a party is always the same: to give everyone (including yourself) a good time.
If money jmade for a good party, Americans would be having the times of their lives. But in fact, it's possible to spend thousands on a party and get very little pleasure from it.
Running short of food and drink is, of course, the biggest fear of any party planner. But there are a million other problems that can occur -- usually at the last minute: loss of AC power, loss of cooking capability, delays in deliveries and in setting up, bad weather, too many extra guests, troubles with bathrooms, troubles with children, lack of service workers, even a drunken host. At one time or another, each of these has dampened the festivities of a extremely important party.
Fortunately, it's not difficult to throw a great party, if you know how.
|ONE OF A KIND VACATIONS IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
"Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Memories."
It's consistently voted the "best liked" federal agency, and it receives hundreds of favorable letters for every critical one.
The National Park Service is not only caretaker of the world's first national park -- Yellowstone, 1872 -- but the world's largest and most diverse system of national parks. It manages 51 full-blown National Parks plus another 316 National Monuments, Memorials, Recreational Areas, and other sites everywhere from American Samoa to Denali in Alaska and Acadia and St. Croix near the tip of Maine. It's mission: to preserve and protect the parks' resources for the enjoyment of this generation, and future generations.
In 1993, there were some 273 million visits to all these sites, and the numbers continue to grow. Aside from roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is more than five hundred miles long and attracts visits from motorists en route to other locations, the most popular sites are National Parks that offer unique scenery and opportunities for truly great vacations. Here's a short list from among hundreds of inspiring opportunities:
|A THUMBNAIL SKETCH TO EVALUATING A SCHOOL
Factors In Selecting The 2nd Strongest Influence On Your Child
Like all good parents, you want your children to have the best possible education. But how do you tell a good school from a bad one, particularly when you don't have the time or training to study what's going on in the classrooms and everywhere else?
It's important to make the right choice quickly, too, because according to a recent report from the Government Accounting Office, children who have attended 3 or more different schools since starting first grade do far worse than others in math and reading, and risk having to repeat grades in order to complete them. How many children are facing this risk right now? One sixth of the nation's third graders, according to the GAO, or more than half a million children!
Fortunately, it's not too difficult to select a school providing a quality educational experience. All it really takes is the motivation to spend a few hours of time at the schools, and a sufficient understanding of how schools work to look for the few critical signs of educational success, or failure.
Here are some quick, easy ways to become an expert at evaluating your child's educational opportunities:
|WHAT TO READ INTO YOUR OWN HANDWRITING
How You Write Speaks Volumes About Your Personality
Your handwriting says everything about you.
You see, it's not your hand writing, it's your brain writing, which is why wartime veterans who have lost their primary writing hand generally begin to write the exact same signature with their other hand, their toes, even a writing stick held in their mouth!
Like fingerprints, no two handwritings are alike, and to the trained eye your handwriting is a vivid snapshot of your emotional, intellectual, and physical self. That's why signatures of famous people are worth more than other memorabilia, as much as $250,000 for Abe Lincoln's John Hancock, according to Gary Goss, of Funny Face Productions, in Northampton, MA, a major national dealer in collectibles.
It's also why graphologists command $125 or more for an analysis, and why they are frequently called in to analyze death threats, help the FBI formulate psychological profiles, and even assist executives at United Technologies, Time, Inc., and Ford in various investigations and to determine the suitability of candidates for employment or for particular work assignments.
To see what your handwriting says about you, make a sample. Use a blank, unlined page. Hand write a paragraph or two in ink. Some people pen a letter to themselves. Others simply jot down what they see around them. As long as you're not copying, content doesn't matter. You can't keep your innermost self from pouring out through the pen and ink, so don't even try!
|IT'S TOUGH HELPING YOUR CHILDREN GROW UP
Tolerance Is Required When Guiding Teenagers To Adulthood
For most parents, the joy of parenting is inevitably offset by unrelieved worries about real and imagined troubles that your children may bring home.
There's no limit to the imagined troubles, of course, but the very real ones are plenty bad enough, including drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, membership in gangs or "posses,"flirtations with crime, and some form of teenage rebellion -- perhaps expressed as an earring or body tattoos.
So how is a parent to cope with real and imagined teenage problems? Here are some guidelines to help you:
|HOW TO GET THE LOWEST AIR FARES ON BUSINESS TRAVEL
When you gotta go, you gotta go. And airline companies, realizing there's little or no discretion in business travel, work hard to keep restrictions in place so air fares for business travel stay up.
But your business travel needn't be fogged in by restrictive airline policies, such as those annoying requirements for 14-day advance ticket purchases and Saturday night stopovers. A little forethought can let you continue doing business in distant cities—particularly the so-called "hub" cities from which major airlines do most of their flying -- on whatever schedule you prefer, and do it for a fraction of what you're probably paying now.
Here are some money-saving techniques and strategies to try:
|HOW TO INTERVIEW TO FIND GREAT EMPLOYEES
Your hands sweat. Your heart palpitates. Your mind is a confusing jumble of fragmented advice, admonitions, and expected behavior.
No, it's not your first date. It's your first time interviewing candidates for an important job opening.
Although the ability to hire the right people is critical not only for your organization, but for your own success and advancement, very few managers know how to tell the difference between a top banana and a bad apple. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than forty percent of hiring decisions are made on the basis of appearance factors alone.
What's more, most of the key qualifications that make a good employee—good attitude, personal honesty, underlying work ethic, strong motivation, and so forth -- don't readily show up on job applications. That's why it's vital you understand the interviewing process and use it effectively to identify the best qualified person for a position.
Here are some basic guidelines on how to get the most from the next job interview you conduct:
|WHEN THE IRS CONTACTS YOU
There's always something ominous about a letter bearing an "Internal Revenue Service" return address.
Sure, you've been audited before and, without admitting you were too aggressive in taking deductions, you paid some back taxes and some fines. But today, you have a lot more assets at stake. So when that letter arrives, what do you do?
"Don't panic!" is the advice from the nation's top tax attorneys.
Short of criminal investigations, there are three types of IRS audits. In increasing importance and severity, they are:
|GET YOUR STREET IN SHAPE
Whether it's a flickering street light, a dangerous intersection that needs a Stop sign or traffic light, a pothole, or anything similar, tonight thousands of American streets are sub-standard and far less safe than they could be.
Potholes are not the only problem, but they're a representative one. Nationwide, about one third of all street and roadway miles have been classified as "deteriorated," and roadway repair is estimated to generate at least $30 billion in expenses per year -- not direct costs, but economic losses from associated traffic congestion.
Since you can't hire someone directly to fix these problems, it's nice to know how to lean on local government to get them fixed for you -- before you or your family pay a price for enduring them. Here's a basic game plan for getting local government to pave, install, or repair public facilities that aren't up to snuff:
|PROTECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION
Anyone who has a social security number or a driver's license, or who has used a credit card to make a purchase, has inadvertently joined the parade of Americans open to scams, hacker attacks, and other invasions of their privacy.
In this country, it's almost impossible not to. There are presently about 5 billion computerized records that contain identifying information, account numbers, financial balances, and other private details on U.S. citizens, including some 450 million records maintained just by the big three credit-reporting companies.
Nearly 200 separate federal agencies and departments openly maintain another 2,000 databases, each with tens of millions of records containing private information. In addition, innumerable private files -- everything from magazine subscription lists to video rental records -- are captured, manipulated, and analyzed by specialists trying to boost their company's business.
As a result, your personal information is likely to be moved from one computer to another an average of five times a day. And there's no way of knowing the exact numbers of people whose privacy is invaded through taps, computer checks, or direct surveillance.
But there are few things you can do to protect your privacy:
|WHAT CAN YOU GET FROM TODAY'S ON-LINE COMPUTER SERVICES
The personal computer first achieved mass popularity when business people discovered electronic spreadsheet software, and found it could do fast, simple, and highly accurate business modeling, accounting, profit- and break-even calculations, and a whole lot more.
But what is rapidly becoming apparent is that computers are also windows into a vast world of communications that can almost instantly put you in touch with resources, individuals, and experiences from anywhere on the planet.
|KNOWING WHEN TO MOVE ON
Are you a prime candidate for increased responsibilities and advancement, or a potential target for the vultures?
Even if you're good at your job, careers leading to the advancement are getting harder to find, and forced career changes are increasingly common.
Here's are some signs that it's time for you to start thinking about your next career move:
|HOW TO HIRE A GOOD LAWYER WITHOUT GETTING FLEECED
If you can't trust your lawyer, who can you trust?
That's a question more and more families and business organizations are pondering, as allegations of malpractice, over-billing, and generally shoddy behavior by lawyers proliferate at an alarming rate.
The American Bar Association has revealed that 38% of lawyers in a recent survey admitted charging clients for work not performed, and 17% admitted charging more than one client for the same work. Countless lawyers have been discovered billing their clients for a total of more than 24 hours per day, and more than 7 days per week!
While billing issues are central to your relationship with a lawyer, do not neglect the basic reasons you are hiring a lawyer to represent your interests.
Here are some guidelines for finding, hiring, and working with a lawyer who's right for you:
|CAN A MENTOR FURTHER ADVANCE YOUR CAREER
Reflective Discussions About Work Often Help CEOs, Others
According to mythology, Ulysses' son Telemachus learned his most significant lessons about life and about becoming an effective and much-loved ruler at the feet of an important and wise teacher, the great Mentor.
Since then, Mentor's name has been used to describe thousands of people who have shared their experience, expertise, and wisdom with others.
Hundreds of modern corporations have recognized this process as formal mentoring programs for their executives. In some, newly hired managers are immediately assigned to a mentor, or told to find one on their own within a few months! In others, mentoring is considered the best way for high-level executives to groom and train their own replacements prior to promotion.
What's the difference between mentoring and other forms of teaching, learning, and sharing? It's mostly a matter of intensity and commitment. Generally, a mentor agrees to be an appropriate combination of a coach, a confidant, a sounding board, and a counselor to someone he or she deems worthy of this attention, and to be available at odd hours for intensely personal discussion and problem-solving.
Since mentoring is such a time-honored concept, and so well-proven in practice, it's natural for you to want one. Here's how to find a keep a good mentor:
|WHEN JOHNNY GOES AWAY TO COLLEGE
For most families, college is the first time that a child leaves home for more than a few weeks at a time. It's a time for a natural progression towards maturity that occurs in the late teens and early twenties, and it can throw both parents and their children for a loop if they don't know what to expect.
But living apart is not the real catalyst, according to the experts.
|HOW TO NEGOTIATE AN INCREASE
Sure, your boss or Board of Directors might call you in and offer you a raise. But chances are overwhelming that they won't. So if you want to earn more money next year than last, you'll have to initiate the process yourself, and use all your skills to pry loose a little extra.
Here are some strategic and tactical tips on how to increase your take-home pay in the coming twelve months.
|ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL CRUISE VACATIONS
There's little better remedy for dissatisfaction with life than a sea voyage. But the idea of a sedate cruise on a giant ship no longer has universal appeal. So the search is on for another way to roam the waves and still have a good time.
If you've got an adventurous spirit, you can select from thousands of privately owned small boats (power or sail) and take one -- with or without a professional crew -- into every nook and cranny along some of the most unforgettable coastlands in the world. In effect, you're creating your own cruise with an itinerary and "program of events" that you design yourself. Here's a rundown of selected "cruise it yourself" options available in some of the most attractive parts of the world:
|WHY VOLUNTEERS DONATE THEIR TIME AND ENERGY
Nearly Four In Ten Americans Enjoy Helping Others, Themselves
What do the matron handing out cookies and punch at the high school prom, the blue-haired gift shop attendant at the local hospital, and the old man asking for donations in front of the supermarket have in common? They're all stereotypical volunteers, but they're in the minority as younger, better trained, executive level volunteers replace them.
Volunteering is up—way up, among all demographic categories. In fact, while 51% of all adults volunteer, a whopping 61% of teenagers donate their time to worthy causes. More than three-quarters of all Americans feel that charitable organizations play a major role in making our communities better places to live.
Presently, more than 94 million Americans volunteer an average of 4.2 hours per week. This number includes 25% of those who have never been asked to volunteer. The total volunteer effort amounts to 20.5 billion hours per year, with an estimated value of about $176 billion.
One reason professionals and executives do so much volunteering, of course, is that they hold the most visible positions and are those most often asked to volunteer -- sometimes by the groups that need the volunteers, sometimes by their employer, who feels volunteering reflects well on the individual and the organization. Surveys show that as many as 55% of those who are asked to volunteer agree to do so.
But a more important reason is that....
|EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT AIRLINE CLUBS
If They're Not Tax-Deductible, And They're Not Cheap, What's The Point of Joining?
Back in the 1970's business flyers were airline's golden boys: high paying customers who kept coming back for more. In return, the air carriers showered them with privileges.
Chief among these was free membership in what were then brand new, exclusive and prestigious airline clubs. Today, after lawsuits and a vast increase in the number of airline travelers, airline clubs may be going the way of the Dodo bird.
It's a shame, because these several hundred semi-private waiting rooms -- most business travelers say that's the main attraction of these clubs -- are far quieter, posher, and more comfortable than what's available to the general public.
While many clubs offer a variety of attractive services, don't choose which one(s) to join because of the amenities alone. Its better to join one or two of the clubs that have sites at the airports you visit most often. Other clubs, while perhaps more attractive on paper, are less valuable simply because you rarely get near them.
Here's a brief rundown of what various airline clubs can offer you:
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