a r t i c l e e x c e r p t s
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All articles Copyright (c) Joan Iaconetti
- DIVERSION Magazine, travel
- I WAS AN HORS D'OEUVRE AT THE
FORTUNE Magazine, management
TEN WAYS TO SAVE 10% ON YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET
TIME OUT FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
|NEW WOMAN Magazine,
THE SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO AFFIRMATIONS
I WAS AN HORS D'OEUVRE
- First-person adventure
- DIVERSION Magazine
- (c) Joan Iaconetti
AT THE FEEDING FRENZY
Like hang-gliding or bungee-jumping, the exotic
pastime of shark diving is best anticipated from a distance. Let me
in that water! What a rush! (Think how impressed my
friends will be!)
Then reality hits, as you peer down at 18
reef sharks circling under the dive boat...patiently, or impatiently,
waiting for their lunch. I'd managed to avoid thinking about this hard
fact, despite the non-diving Frenchwoman on board who was asking each
of us in turn, "But
you are really going to do zis? Go in ze water wiz many sharks? But it
Well of course it's dahn-gerous, Suzette--that's
the whole point. After hundreds of dives in the Caribbean and
worldwide, all that pretty coral was beginning to look just a little
too familiar. I was counting on a cage-less shark dive put the thrill
back into scuba for me.
No pretty coral on this dive, however--just a flat
bottom, with no distracting rocks or sea fans that a gluttonous shark
mistake for a missed canape. We were all gasping at the story of the
who'd had the bad luck to be in the path of a descending piece of dead
thrown overboard...the shark who snatched it veered just a little too
to his face for comfort.
I took my place in the last quartet of divers
descending together, the strategy being that one diver might look too
much like a wounded seal lion. Four divers, however, are less likely to
be mistaken for anything edible. And then it hit me--what in hell did I
think I was doing? I was about to jump deliberately into shark-infested
Now I've been among herds of elephants and galloping
musk oxen in Africa, but viewed them from the relative safety of a
LandRover. To be surrounded by eating-machine sharks, only a swimsuit
between my body and theirs, felt a thousand times more vulnerable. Yet
looking closely at them, I forgot to be afraid. Sharks are perfectly,
elegantly beautiful; sleek, graceful, and curiously identical, like
highly burnished pewter struck
from a master sculptor's mold. They flew motionless through the
water, barely moving their tiny fins. It was only their eyes that were
frightening--ice-blue, cold and lifeless, utterly devoid of feeling.
with sharks, widemouth bass are cuddly as Muppets.
Then fear crept back in. What the crew didn't tell
the briefing on deck was that once we settled ourselves on the sea
floor, the sharks would be circling behind us, as well as in front of
us. We were certainly eyeballing them; I guess they had the right to do
the same. But the truly chilling moment came after the reef sharks did
their straight-out-of-National-Geographic-videos feeding frenzy. The
bucket of dead fish had been devoured in less than a minute, and when
18 hungry mammals looked around for more food, the first thing they saw
Fortunately, like the 100,000 divers who'd gone
bravely before us, we survived. The divemasters had reassured us, "reef
sharks are scavengers--they eat only garbage and carrion'" (In fact,
scavenger sharks who mistakenly chomp a surfer's leg will actually spit
out the healthy limb rather than eat it. Not that it's much consolation
to the surfer.) The
simple fact is that sharks are essential to marine ecology; without
the ocean would quickly turn into garbage soup. ...
But it's a mistake to relax too much when 640 sharp
white teeth are still darting about between you and your dive boat. I
should have been kneeling with the rest of the divers on the sand, but
hadn't strapped on enough weights; instead, I was floating stomach-down
about a foot above the sandy bottom.
Then I committed the fatal New York mistake of
contact with a potential predator. Its cold eye caught mine for only a
but in that instant I realized this shark had my number. As it circled
behind me, I did the only sensible thing: held my breath, squinched my
eyes shut, and prayed desperately that the whole situation was a dream.
later, I felt an unmistakable bump against my swim fin.
My heart stopped. It can't be, it just can't, it
just can't, I prayed, and prepared to bid farewell to my right leg.
A second later I opened my eyes to see the shark gliding past me, close
enough to touch. No doubt about it: a shark encounter puts the thrill
back into scuba for even the most jaded diver. Would I do it again?
Absolutely--though that might be tempting fate. A fin-bump is as close
as I care to interact with a live shark, thank you. But from now on you
can call me Jacqueline Cousteau. ##
|Business travel, ghosted
(c) Joan Iaconetti
TEN WAYS TO SAVE TEN PERCENT
ON YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET
The bad news: the [early-90s] recession continues
run across the country. The good news: It's created a buyer's market
travel managers, with vendors hungry for your business. The better
Though corporate travelers grumble at first about a newly-tightened
policy, managers report cooperation is surprisingly high.
No matter your budget and policies, notes Eva Winn,
communications manager for Castrol, Inc., in New Jersey, "There's
always a way to save money on travel." Below, some tips from true-life
TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT...TIME TO RE-NEGOTIATE!
1. "Our people used to stay at no fewer than 26 Houston hotels; now
they stay at two," says Norma Rohrback, manager of travel services for
Amerada Hess Corp. "Consolidating meant a savings of about 40% off room
Submitting RFP's to major travel agencies (AmEx, Thomas Cook, etc.) can
suggest numerous ways to consolidate and re-negotiate services; volume
means even better rates.
3. Consider bringing an outside travel agent on-site. Several managers
noted that when employees see and know the people who do their travel
planning, they're more amenable to cost-saving changes.
4. Institute a company credit card, used solely for business expenses,
and put an ATM in the lobby--no more bothering accounting with piles of
illegible receipts and cash advances. (Reimbursement is quicker,
5. Hunting and Tracking in the Corporate Jungle: Credit cards also
mean easier tracking of costs and suggest future consolidations. "If my
NYC trip cost $1000, and yours cost $500, we can probably identify a
happy medium and still save money," notes Helen Scoggins, corporate
travel manager of Comdisco in Rosemont, IL. Credit reports also list
who rented a car but racked up few miles, and who took a non-approved
upgrade "that may have cost only $4--but multiply that by a thousand
travelers," noted another manager. "Tracking costs helps everyone see
the larger picture and control costs."
FLY THE FRIENDLIER SKIES
Asked how he cuts air costs, sales/service manager Peter Zeleny didn't
miss a beat: "We make them walk to the airport now," he deadpanned. But
seriously, folks, the National Starch and Chemical Company, using
several of the methods below, now pays only $400-480 for a domestic
business ticket--compared to the national average of $560.
7. Group Therapy: The 2-for-1 ticket offers on some international
flights work as well with colleagues as with companions. Group fares,
of course, can be negoiated on your most heavily traveled routes. 9.
City-Pairs discounts: These aren't trumpeted by the airlines, but now
you're in the know: firms who guarantee volume corporate travel to
frequently-flown city-pairs (especially less popular cities/routes) can
negotiate discounts on Y-fares.
ASK A SIMPLE QUESTION...
11. For example, "Is this trip really necessary?" Computer programs (or
sharp eyes) can alert travel managers when many travelers fly to the
same city on the same day. Forewarned, unit managers can reduce travel
as much as 50%; some companies now travel internationally only when
"Would you consider staying over Saturday, rather
than making two trips?" "We never require this, but many travelers
agree to; they understand the need to contain costs," says Betty
Atwood, corporate travel mgr. with Denver's Manville Corp.
"Will everyone please cut his travel expenses by
10%?""Our president said he didn't care how we did it, as long as we
did it," says Mike Caravello, corporate travel manager with American
Family Insurance, in Madison WI. He was pleasantly surprised to see how
willingly his colleagues cooperated with new departmental
recommendations. Interestingly, several managers noted that simply
instituting (or formalizing) a travel policy--even if it's lenient and
not closely enforced--resulted in employees automatically tightening
their travel belts a bit.
-- Does anyone really need a rental car when the plane lands after
business hours? Save a day's charge by taking a taxi or courtesy van to
the hotel; pick up the car there next morning.
-- Amerada Hess Corp. issues a newsletter to announce changes in policy
and general "travel smarter" suggestions. Castrol and American Family
Insurance send questionnaires, via letter or E-mail, to ascertain
travelers' priorities and preferences before instituting policy
changes. Result: increased acceptance of recommended vendors.
IS COST-CONTROL REALLY COST-EFFECTIVE?
Finally, keep in mind that a one-stop coach flight at 6 am may save
$140 over a later nonstop route--but beware low traveler morale: It can
turn into costly traveler rebellion. "The whole point of travel," notes
Winn of Castrol, "is to get the employee to the meeting, yes--but
rested and ready to do a good job." # #
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(c) Joan Iaconetti
THE SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO
CAN "POSITIVE THINKING" REALLY
REPROGRAM YOUR MIND?
Sure, you know about affirmations--you've seen
(comedian Al Franken of Saturday Night Live) do his famous bit, "I'm
enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"
Is it possible that using affirmations--positive,
repeated statements about yourself designed to increase your
confidence--can really improve anything? Affirmations have been touted
as a miracle by some ("Change your whole life in ten minutes a day!"),
and scoffed at by others as just more feel-good twaddle ("It's
pseudo-brainwashing. If it worked, we'd all look like supermodels.")
The truth, of course, lies in between.
Simple affirmation techniques--when done with
concentration and persistence--are in fact a powerful psychological
tool for change. But while anecdotal evidence is easy to find, it used
to be impossible to prove. The real news about affirmations today is
this: A growing body of rigorous medical research shows compelling
scientific evidence that they work.
Many of these studies are detailed in
Huddleston's new book Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster (Angel
Press, Cambridge). Huddleston, who holds a Master's degree from Harvard
School, had long been convinced that affirmations were effective in
her patients' healing...but how could she prove it to the skeptical
she sometimes worked with? She reviewed medical studies supporting
and found this:
- A Kentucky psychologist studied 24 patients who
same back operation done by the same surgeon. During surgery, 12 heard
a good idea to relax your pelvic muscles, so you won't have to use a
catheter to urinate while you recover." The others heard only "It's a
Of the latter control group, 5 of the 12 needed a catheter; none of the
group needed catheters, a situation that has a 3 in 1000 chance of
- At a leading London hospital, women undergoing abdominal
hysterectomies who heard healing/reassuring affirmations during surgery
recovered faster, had fewer complications, and left the hospital sooner
than the non-affirmation control group.
- A similar study in Scotland found women used 23% less morphine
post-surgery than the non-affirmation control group.
- At Emory University's School of Medicine in Atlanta, a doctor and his
anesthetist were so skeptical of the above results that they replicated
the study. Result? Exactly the same findings
- Bernie Siegel, MD, author of the bestseller Love, Medicine, and
Miracles (Avon), always talks encouragingly to his cancer
patients while he operates on them. He often asks them to bleed less,
or to "'lower your heartrate to 84, please.' I love to see the look on
the operating team's faces when they see the digital readout drop to
Unbelieveable? Not at all. Decades ago, Milton
Erickson, MD, a respected pioneer in therapeutic hypnosis, theorized
that all lasting change takes place in the unconscious, that part of
our brain that creates dreams. Our parental "programming" and early
childhood memories are permanently stored here, in large part forgotten
by our conscious minds, explains Rokelle Lerner in Living in the
Comfort Zone (Health Communications Inc.). "When frightened
children hear their parents define a screaming fight as 'we were just
having a discussion, and these dishes broke', they learn to distrust
their own senses and discount their fears," says Lerner.
"If they see their parents with a "You can't win for
losing" attitude, they decide This is the way it is, and will always
be. "Unless people uncover and change those buried feelings, (through
therapy, hypnosis, or affirmations), they run our lives."
Every psychotherapist knows a client can talk a
problem to death--but until she's ready to confront and change the
painful, often irrational fears behind it, otherwise intelligent people
continue to smoke or choose the wrong mate, overeat the wrong foods or
take a job with yet another tyrant boss. The conscious mind
obviously knows better--but it's the subconscious that runs us, agrees
Anna Wise, in her new book The High Performance Mind (Macmillan).
"For permament changes to take place within the subconscious, the
subconscious must be accessed. Just thinking about the problem and
talking about it does not cause effective healing."
The same principles apply, whether you're on an
operating table or sitting on your couch. Effective
affirmations--preferably written--require regular repetition. If the
idea of writing "I now desire only healthy
foods, and only when I'm hungry" 20 times a day smacks unpleasantly of
writing "I will not talk in class" on the blackboard, consider this:
help yourself whenever you focus energy on what you hold truly valuable.
... (etc.) ##
(c) Joan Iaconetti
TIME OUT FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
Time is money, time flies, time and tide wait for no
woman. Where do your precious hours go?
Are you worried that you shouldn't be stealing the
time it takes to read this magazine when a hundred other
responsibilities are waiting? Relax, and take this mini-quiz. True or
1. If I really put my mind to it, I could probably
find quite a few ways to save time.
2. The most efficient person is the most effective
the job done.
3. I just don't have enough time.
4. The busiest people get the most done; there's no
substitute for hard work.
5. The most effective people plan their work.
Do you believe all of the above are true? Surprise:
every single one is a myth of time management, says expert R. Alec
Mackenzie. Here's why:
1. No one can "save time in a bottle," as the song
goes--you can only spend it. What you spend it on is the
important thing, which means setting priorities and making a to-do list
2. Efficient isn't effective if you're doing things
that don't move you closer to your top-priority goals. Get in the habit
of asking yourself management expert Alan Lakein's question, "What is
the best use of my time right now"?
3. 'Tis a paradox: we never feel we have enough
everyone has all the time there is! Most "time shortages" are curable
better organization and planning of the 168 hours available to you each
4. Activity does not necessarily equal results. See
#2, above, and learn to "Work smarter, not harder"--especially with
your computer. Helene Barasch of Select Travel in Melville, Long
Island, NY is "always surprised" when she hires new help from other
agencies: "So often they were underutilizing their computers, making
flight reservations with them, but not invoicing or doing itineraries
or booking hotels with them." Yes, training takes time, but the
dividends pay forever. Furthermore, "Almost any computer program will
let you enter your own personal queues," says Mary Ellen McCarl of All
About Travel in Leawood KS.
"When I've sent documents or brochures to clients, I
put the information into my computer tickler file. Once a week, or any
time an operator puts me on hold, I'll review the files and later do
follow-up." Talk about more efficiency and less frustration--"I'm
sitting in front of the computer anyway," says McCarl, "and when I
write it down on paper, it just gets lost on my desk."Delegate tasks to
your assistant, training her to know your habits and needs."
5. The most effective people plan their time, not
their work. Otherwise you fall victim to Parkinson's Law: "The work
expands to fill the time available for its completion." Skeptical? Say
you were offered an all-expense-paid trip to Paris or Tahiti--provided
you got next week's work done this week. Do you think you could manage
it? ... (etc.) # #
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