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Planning for Achievement


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



Every day most of us go to work. We do so with the expectation that what awaits us is familiar and within our ability to accomplish. The usual preparation notwithstanding, some of us keep a schedule of “continuing education” (CE) to ensure the competency we might otherwise take for granted. Apart from professionals, most of us find our own path to CE, either by personal study, structured programs, or by the hand of a coach. Common among all approaches is that we see opportunity in the exercise. I regularly read books, view CDs, and attend online seminars to achieve the same result.

Recently, I took such an opportunity at an association meeting my wife and I attended. The main purpose of the 2-day session was to prepare a strategic plan of sorts, and for this the association hired a professional management consultant to facilitate the process. I met him the night before the planning session was to begin. The more we spoke the clearer it became (at least in my humble view) that Andy had all of the right principles firmly in place, and that the collaborative results of the ensuing sessions would bear fruit. Andy Hoh was doing it right, and I was encouraged that my wife would be in good hands over the next two days.

A strategic plan is usually not something you can accomplish in just a couple of days. Few of us are capable of pulling together the thoughts that inform a realistic view of the future in the short span of a day or two. The competition, internal and market initiatives, resource development, and technology forecasting, to name a few, can be complex issues to plan. Consensus, which must follow, is not always a given under the circumstances.

I took the opportunity to join the group for a short segment of the sessions, having already reviewed what had gone before it with my wife. It was a good learning experience. Not only was Andy a capable facilitator, he was equipped with the knowledge of best practices, and a style that transferred it easily. Taking the opportunity to “check” the competition proved to be as valuable as I had hoped it would be.

Andy began by asking board members to visualize their future. It’s no surprise to discover the opportunity in our future when we take the time to consider it. You’ll see the same advice from Jack & Suzy Welch in their weekly column: “Start with a clear purpose and vision in mind.” A mission statement resulted. Next, he asked the most fundamental of all questions, “What do we want to accomplish more than anything else?” It’s the right stuff. It’s hard to know how to get somewhere if we don’t know where we’re going. As Andy listened to responses, he wrote them down on a flip chart and organized them on the walls of the room for easy reference. Why? Because “what’s not on paper turns to vapor.”

Andy moved quickly through the process, ever sensitive to the need to do “real work” and in the time allotted. Another honored principle was revealed—to do what you can, with what you’ve got, in the time you have—and gave needed perspective to the process. Right again! When Andy moved the discussion to goals he was careful to encourage specificity, measurability, attainability, realism, and targeted output. Few goals without these guidelines end in the desired results.

Organizational strengths and weaknesses were next; the stuff of opportunity. Without problem identity there can be no solution. We cannot solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Root cause analysis followed in an effort to avoid a cursory view of the opportunities for the association. Symptomatic failure is the number one reason for not achieving one’s goals. When we see blue lips on a friend, it’s fair to conclude that he is oxygen deprived. The same holds true for organizations. Without a careful analysis of the symptom (problem) we often throw good money after bad. Too many organizations are starving for oxygen.

After the strategies were in place it was time to put together an outline of the action plans for each of the strategic initiatives put forth by the team, a critical element of which is team building. This was a loosely constructed group of volunteers, not people with clear ties to an accountability system. It was necessary for Andy to do two things at this point: emphasize ownership of the goals and their outcomes, and encourage a spirit of teamwork that positioned team members’ success above their own. This may be the most significant accomplishment of any group effort because the yoking of determinant minds is like going against the goads.

Responsibility for tasks within each of the strategic initiatives was assigned, and the group concluded with an enthusiasm for the desired outcomes that I thought might not be impossible to achieve under the circumstances. They agreed to keep short accounts of progress in each area of development, and established a review and reporting mechanism to do so. On the way home my wife continued the discussions of the two days, reviewing for me the process and excitement in the opportunity to realize the mission of the association—unity and prosperity for all members.

Andy had done his job well. He had prepared the group to do the thinking and the doing of strategic planning. What an interesting idea—think about the future by looking at how we got to the present, then project a better future. I think we can all take a lesson from this story of planning for achievement.


December 7, 2017 |

7 Ways to Plan for Cold and Flu


To Your Health









(Family Features) Declining temperatures can bring fun, cool-weather activities, but they also mean cold and flu season is lurking. While everyone hopes to stay healthy, it can be difficult to completely avoid viruses and bugs.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a board-certified family physician and Braun spokesperson, offers some simple suggestions to help your family plan for cold and flu season.

Dispose of Expired Medicine

Spend some time checking the medications you already have at home. Review the expiration dates and if any need to be thrown out, research how to properly dispose of them according to local government guidelines.

Stock Up

Before cold and flu season, make sure to stockpile must-haves like ginger ale, ice pops and recommended cough suppressants. Thinking ahead means you won’t have to rush out when you or a family member comes down with something.

Practice Healthy Habits

Encourage the entire family to maintain healthy habits such as regular hand washing, following a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue to help minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses.

Use a Reliable Thermometer

Reading the temperature of a person who feels ill can help provide confidence and peace of mind. Make sure you have a reliable thermometer like the Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear thermometer, which takes professionally accurate temperature readings via the ear canal and, based on a survey, is the number 1 brand recommended by pediatricians who recommend a brand of thermometers.

“It’s important to carefully monitor potential illnesses to make sure children get and stay well, and taking an accurate temperature reading is a necessary part of this process, which is why I trust my Braun thermometer,” Gilboa said. “As a doctor and a mom to four boys, it gives me the confidence to know that I’m accurately taking my child’s temperature before I take any next steps, like administering medication.”

Have Important Information on Hand

To save time when your child is ill, keep a reference of your child’s allergies, prescribed medications, dosage amounts and current weight handy. Health care providers typically need this information to correctly prescribe and dose most medications. Other items to keep on-hand include school sick day policies, operating manuals for medical devices and a reference of temperature readings that classify a fever.

Manage Humidity Levels

Control your home’s humidity levels with a humidifier to help prevent the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.

Keep Contact Information Accessible

Keep a list of important phone numbers and addresses inside your medicine cabinet door or on the fridge so they’re easily accessible to family members, babysitters and caretakers. Include your family doctor or local clinic, schools, pharmacists and anyone else you may need to reach in an emergency.

If cold or flu reach your household this winter, it’s always important to consult a doctor if you have any questions regarding the health of your family members. For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Mother and daughter)

December 6, 2017 |

Excellent Entertaining


In Good Taste








Elegant ideas for a meal worth celebrating

(Family Features) Delighting guests in unexpected ways is the hallmark of exceptional entertaining. With a little creative flair, you can elevate your menu to impress guests with every course.

A savory appetizer is set off beautifully by fresh, sweet grapes in this Grape and Goat Cheese Crostini. Festive, bright and refreshing, grapes are a versatile ingredient that take dishes to the next level, making them ideal for special occasions.

Not only are grapes a smart choice to keep on hand for healthy snacking and everyday eating, the vibrant colors and flavors bring extra life to a basic protein. For a unique twist on a main dish, try dressing up chicken with an elegant addition like fresh grapes, as in these Seared Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Artichokes.

The secret to a winning dessert is presentation, and the vibrant colors of red, green or black grapes lend just the right look to these tasty Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Cream and Grapes. What’s more, the juicy sweetness offsets the tartness of the lemon for an explosion of flavor perfection.

Plan your next special occasion with the host of recipes at

Grape and Goat Cheese Crostini

Serves: 8

2          cups quartered green, black or red California grapes (or a mixture)

2          teaspoons lemon juice

2          teaspoons honey

1          tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4       teaspoon kosher salt

1/4       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

16        baguette slices, thinly cut on diagonal

8          ounces fresh goat cheese


In medium bowl, combine grapes, lemon juice, honey, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Spread each baguette with goat cheese and top with grape mixture.

Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 9 g protein; 23 g carbohydrates; 8 g fat (36 percent calories from fat); 4.5 g saturated fat (20 percent calories from saturated fat); 15 mg cholesterol; 340 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.

Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Cream and Grapes

Serves: 6

4          large egg whites

pinch of salt

1          cup sugar

2          teaspoons cornstarch

1          teaspoon vanilla

2/3       cup heavy whipping cream

1/3       cup lemon curd

1 1/2    cups halved California grapes

chopped smoked or tamari almonds (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. With electric mixer on medium speed, in large bowl, beat egg whites and salt until firm peaks form. On low speed, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until meringue forms stiff peaks. Whisk in cornstarch and vanilla.

Divide meringue into six 4-inch circles on baking sheet. With large spoon, make indentations in middle of each. Place baking sheet in oven and lower temperature to 300 F. Bake 30 minutes then turn off oven and leave baking sheet inside another 30 minutes. To serve, whip cream to soft peaks and stir in lemon curd. Dollop onto meringues and top with grapes. Garnish with almonds, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories; 4 g protein; 58 g carbohydrates; 12 g fat (31 percent calories from fat); 8 g saturated fat (20 percent calories from saturated fat); 55 mg cholesterol; 90 mg sodium.

A Fresh Approach to Décor

Not only do fresh grapes’ lively flavors make for exceptional dishes, their vibrant colors can also enhance your table in other ways. Lend natural beauty to your decor while providing your loved ones with a healthy snack option with these creative ideas:

  • Arrange grapes in bowls, on platters or draped from a cake plate for attractive and edible centerpieces.
  • Dress snacking grapes up for the occasion by dipping clusters in liquid gelatin. Roll them in sugar, spices and finely chopped nuts to make a “frosted” finger food with a hint of crunch.
  • Colorful grapes lend a pretty pop when used as a garnish to decorate serving plates.

Seared Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Artichokes

Serves: 4

2          boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), butterflied lengthwise into 4 cutlets

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

2          tablespoons olive oil, divided

2          cloves garlic, minced

1          leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced

2          tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 1/2    cups quartered artichoke hearts, frozen, canned or jarred

1/2       cup dry white wine

1/2       cup low-sodium chicken stock

1          tablespoon lemon juice

1/2       teaspoon lemon zest

2          teaspoons butter

3/4       cup green California grapes

3/4       cup red California grapes

2          tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. In saute pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken breasts and sear 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil to pan, along with garlic, leek and pinch of salt; cook on medium heat 2-3 minutes to soften leek. Stir in oregano, artichokes, wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter. Simmer 2-3 minutes then add chicken back to pan, basting each breast with sauce. Add grapes and simmer 3-5 minutes, or until grapes are just soft and chicken is cooked through.

Stir in fresh parsley and serve.

Nutritional information per serving: 320 calories; 26 g protein; 23 g carbohydrates; 12 g fat (34 percent calories from fat); 3 g saturated fat (8 percent calories from saturated fat); 70 mg cholesterol; 390 mg sodium; 5 g fiber.


December 6, 2017 |

The Christmas Voyager — Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Holiday Musical

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



We all have certain people on our gift list that are difficult to shop for each year. What do you give someone who has everything and says, “There is nothing I need”? The solution is simple. Go out together for an evening of fantastic entertainment and a delicious lunch or dinner meal at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford. It’s featuring the perfect production this season with The Christmas Voyager, based on the book by Robert Fitzsimmons and Kathy Wheeler. The show opened November 22 and it will run through December 23.

It’s billed as a delightful holiday musical and a true celebration of the season. All the splendor of Christmas is brought to life in a magical journey through yuletides past. Holiday songs we all know and love are wrapped up in a heartwarming celebration of spirit that will delight audiences of all ages.

“The star shone down upon the earth a dazzling silver beam while in a far-off galaxy the star was also seen. And so our voyager began his quest to reach that source of light. Two thousand years to find his way and end his astral flight.” Lost in a future time and desperate to return to his home galaxy, our Starman Noel journeys back through time searching for that magical December 24th evening when three brilliant stars came together and changed the course of history.  Knowing that these same stars will set him on the right course toward home, Noel journeys around the world and touches down in a small town in America, the North Pole, Dickens’ England and many other places on his quest.

The show features dazzling effects and many favorite Christmas songs — We Need a Little Christmas, Holly Jolly Christmas, Silver Bells, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Deck the Halls, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Let There Be Peace on Earth, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Silent Night, and more. Cast members include Zach Trimmer as Noel/the Starman, Katie Brunson, Jayson Elliott, Bonnie Fraser, Lily Lewis, Tony Triano, Allyson Tucker, and Daniel Scott Walton.

The WBT continually offers gorgeous, creative set design that easily transports the audience to the period of the storyline. Enjoy this production as part of your holiday celebrations with family, friends or as a fun place to gather with co-workers for your business’ annual holiday party.

Visit or call (914) 592-2222. (Discounts for groups of 20 or more.)


December 6, 2017 |

“Where am I hiding?” or “Why can’t I parallel park?”


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



“Now, I’m not saying I have trouble doing it, I’m saying I can’t do it. For someone who prides himself in being able to weave big trucks through traffic like a ballet dancer, this is an embarrassing character flaw.

“I’m not kidding! Street mimes have been known to make a killing off the crowds that gather to watch me try. Metro Boston police officers get overtime pay to direct traffic around the site of my attempts. During the holidays, church choirs schedule their sidewalk performances near the point of my targeted empty space, knowing it will draw crowds. Give me a Volkswagen Beetle and two open parking spots and I’ll turn a simple act into an arduous process.

“Oh, but give me a truck and trailer, park two Porsches at the docks with only six-inch clearance on either side and I’ll back that puppy in on the first try, all while sipping coffee and singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at the top of my lungs.

“After years of fighting the obvious, I finally hit upon a great plan: I let my wife park!”

In the vignette above we can see the conflict in us over what we do with our talents and abilities. Every day, managers push workers into roles unfit for them that they simply cannot do. Every day, workers do the same to themselves. In each case, they are setting themselves up for failure.

In the competitive environment that we call “work,” we’ve somehow decided shoving ourselves into the fast track is the only way to achieve success. So, we consign our unused gifts and talents to the wastebasket of our lives in order to keep pace with others’ perceptions of success.

Or worse, we stand on the banks of the river of life and throw our bodies into the waters, allowing life to take us where it will, making the best of what comes along, slipping and sliding ’til a spot to climb out presents itself. Whether we’re new graduates facing the “What should I do with my life?” moment, or workers in limbo wondering what’s next, this leap of faith has nothing to do with God, but rather, ignoring the unique way that we are made.

“Someday—” we say, as we promise ourselves we’ll find time to be who we were made to be, when we’ve achieved security or success.

For far too many, “someday” never comes; it is hidden in our failure to see that the ladder of success is too often a treadmill.

We may even perform our roles competently, but the stress of working outside our unique abilities grates on us, making other parts of our lives difficult, especially for those around us—family, coworkers, and community.

When we’re unhappy or bored in our work, we often blame circumstances, managers, or others for not using us properly. Truth is, most of the time we’ve chosen to be used out of sync because it fits the objectives we’ve set for ourselves, objectives often set without consulting our inner selves. We want to be significant, we want more money, we want more power, we want security, we want more leisure, we want—, WE want—. It creates a turbulence that prevents clarity of purpose.

“I am an accountant because—” “I am a truck driver because—” “I am a CFO because—” “I am a legal secretary because—.” How we answer those questions often teach us how little we consider the way we are made and its unique value to us and to others.

Who’s using you?

This may be the pivotal question in assessing our goal of being used according to the unique way in which we are made. It’s a question we want to ask in preparing our children to meet the world on their own, and on their own terms. This last note is as important as the first, because so many of us are ill placed in the work that we do. For children in pursuit of music, art, or service, parents often try to reorient them for fear they may find it harder to make a living in a world that more easily rewards other areas. When we do, we place them in conflict with their inner selves—something that costs precious moments of contentment in the future.

It is no less at work. Some 85% of workers claim to dislike their work, many forming a deep dislike of it. What is it like to feel compelled to rise each day to labor at something inimical to our natural talents and gifts? Sadly, most of us can answer the question from experience.

If you are fortunate enough to work for an organization that sees people as their most valuable resource, and that “walks the talk,” the opportunity to find yourself again is something to take full advantage of. Good managers must attend to the same detail. That is, identifying and using the unique talents and skills sets of individuals for the more productive contribution they make.

When we meet with our staff to evaluate their performance, have we first evaluated our own? Have we asked of ourselves how well we have gotten to know the individual? Well enough to learn of his unique abilities? Have we worked at applying those unique abilities to tasks and functions that take fuller advantage of them? Have we helped chase them and ourselves from our hiding places?

December 1, 2017 |

Washington’s Headquarters Has “A Cure for Cabin Fever”


Come to Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, in Newburgh, and find “A Cure for Cabin Fever” on December 27th through 30th, 11 AM until 3 PM each day. Visitors will be able to take a guided tour of the historic headquarters, seasonally decorated, and hear how the Washingtons acknowledged their holiday season during the final winter of the Revolutionary War. Explore the Museum featuring the multi award-winning exhibit, Unpacked & Rediscovered: Selections from Washington’s Headquarters’ Collection, with over 1,300 artifacts. Finish your visit creating a take-home craft, free with Museum admission.

For further information, call 845-562-1195.





November 30, 2017 |
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