Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Published by The OCCofC Business Viewpoint 

“Hi. I’m Doug.” It was my first meeting, not of a twelve-step recovery program, like Alcoholics Anonymous, but rather it was the Orange County (NY) Chamber of Commerce Business Networking Blast, a continental breakfast meeting with almost a score of other small business people. Not pygmies, understand, these are normal-size people who are active in businesses that have relatively few employees. Actually, I started with, “Hi. I’m Doug Cooper.” There was no desire to be anonymous, just the opposite.

I had joined the Chamber a few weeks before, and Cheryl Cohen, my Chamber den mother --- not her real title, for which she is too young --- encouraged me to sign up for this 7:30 AM get-together: fun group, interesting people, I would get some good ideas. OK, Mom. [She has “adopted” my wife and me and our book, Ting and I.] What do I have to lose, except perhaps some sleep?

I’m not vain, but I did need to figure out what to wear. My August standard attire of sneakers, shorts, and short-sleeve shirt might not meet their minimum sartorial standards. I could disinter a dark suit or gray slacks and a navy blazer, but did a freelance writer really need to dress way up for a breakfast meeting? I settled on boat shoes plus socks, khaki chinos, a white button-down short-sleeve shirt and a smile. The other author at the meeting, former golf pro Gil Anderson [Going Fore It], had made roughly the same decision, it turned out. Other attendees were somewhat better dressed, but we writers claim literary license, akin to poetic license.

“Chamber Muses”? Before the Internet and Google, some artists drew their inspiration from their “Muses,” originally Greek goddesses of art and literature. We moderns must look elsewhere. Looking to my left, I found Gerson Levitas of 911 Medical ID Emergency Card, developer of a digital medical record memory card with a USB port that can store gigabytes of your medical records, for rapid recording or recovery when visiting one medical installation or another or in the event of a medical emergency. This was clearly several levels beyond the Medical Alert I.D. bracelet I wear to tell emergency personnel that I have a brain-to-belly shunt because of “water on the brain,” hydrocephalus. Great idea and costs only $40.

To my right was Dr. Richard Murphy of Chiropractic Health Care. When his three minutes of presentation time came, he explained how chiropractic has gone beyond pain relief by physical manipulation to more general health maintenance. When we chatted afterward, I realized he could write his own material, without my guidance. His brother-in-law, however, has a story that could well use my help to become a book: a Green Beret, he became paraplegic three decades ago due to an automobile accident that nearly killed him. He has lived a “more than normal” life since then, motivated to achieve beyond the apparent boundaries of his disability. Having just written my own book, a memoir about my quadriplegic wife and me, I offered to help this hero write one, too. We’ll see.

Author Gil Anderson spoke convincingly about the power of strongly envisioned goals, “the law of attraction,” that can be applied to any sphere of life. He had made a phenomenal come-back from life-saving surgery in his forties and at 64 has dedicated his “next thirty years,” to helping other people achieve their aspirations. I had met him earlier this year at a book signing and have not forgotten that he wrote Going Fore It by hand from 3 AM to 6 AM each morning until it was done. Already being translated into many languages, the book has opened up many new opportunities for him, including life coaching. Fine man, excellent messages.

Some of the other speakers had services to offer I was less likely to use. I initially thought that about Ken Butler of Met Life Insurance, too, as I am 68 and not in the market. Then he mentioned long-term care Insurance. My wife and I had gotten a long-term care package from John Hancock through IBM when I worked at the IBM research center in Yorktown Heights, NY. To get the IBM business, Hancock had an “open-enrollment” period, where pre-existing conditions were not disqualifying. At that time Tina’s multiple sclerosis (MS) was of minimal hindrance, but her medical future was cloudy. We signed up for a mid-level policy, and ten years later we started collecting on it weekly to fund a home health aide, as Tina was no longer able to walk. We receive fourteen years of partial coverage. While I could not help Ken Butler with an endorsement of his company’s policy, I could and would write an endorsement for long-term care insurance policies in general. I’ll see if he is interested.

Niki Jones, of the agency that bears her name, described a range of business information products and services her eight-person firm supplies. I asked her if she would take a look at our web site, tingandi.com, and give me a quick critique, which she generously agreed to do.

I don’t want this piece to be longer than the meeting itself. In sum: I have been glad I joined the Chamber, and this “blast” was yet another benefit, the source of some good ideas and contacts, not quite Chamber Muses, perhaps, but close.

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