ALUMNI PROFILES • Fall 2002

Negotiating a Job? Just Ask Coach?

Peter J. Goodman, A.B. '92

 

In today's uncertain economy, job seekers—especially those who have suffered corporate layoffs—may be more concerned with actually securing a job offer than with using the interview process to negotiate salary, benefits, and career development.

But, there's no reason not to negotiate says Peter J. Goodman, A.B. '92, president and CEO of MyJobCoach Inc. (www.myjobcoach.com), an online career development firm with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.

"People think negotiations are mysterious and are often intimidated by the process, when, in reality, negotiations begin with the first interview," says Goodman, who is author of Win-Win Career Negotiations: Proven Strategies for Getting What You Want from Your Employer, a previously self-published title picked up by Penguin Putnam, for rollout in September 2002.

In the book, Goodman applies the proven negotiation tactics outlined by Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and co-authors William Ury and Bruce Patton, in the best-selling Getting to YES.

Goodman walks readers step-by-step through the interview process and provides examples for negotiating salaries, benefits, signing and performance bonuses, stock options, and relocation expenses. He suggests that severance packages be discussed up front in the event of a company buyout. He also provides examples of employment agreements. Once someone has accepted a job, he offers techniques for negotiating annual reviews.

One might ask how a Washington University liberal arts graduate, who majored in political science and minored in architecture, could become so savvy about employment. The answer lies in the 31-year-old entrepreneur's business ventures. While still a member of WU's tennis team, Goodman pitched an idea to create a Prince-sponsored tennis camp to the University of Maryland; this became a reality while Goodman was still in college. Then, shortly after graduation, Goodman founded University Scholarship Publications, which produced a high-end coupon book distributed to 35,000 students at Georgetown, George Washington, and American universities. He sold the company a year later, earning "a nice chunk of money for a young kid."

His next business venture originated from his radiologist father's software needs. MSI Software, Inc., a medical scheduling software development company, was designed to significantly reduce the time physicians and medical professionals spend scheduling doctors' and nurses' work-shifts. Starting the company with a partner and $75,000 in debt leveraged against his credit cards, Goodman then went on to raise more than $4 million in financing to develop MSI Software into the leading medical scheduling company with 1,200+ installations worldwide.

"From the start, we created a four-color brochure that made us look like IBM, when it was really just two guys," says Goodman, who soon landed accounts with the University of Virginia, New York University, Harvard, and Cornell University medical centers. (Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis would later become a client.)

MSI Software was sold eight years after the company was founded, and Goodman took some time off to help friends with job negotiations. "I had learned so much about finance and negotiations," he says. "I'd been through a mini-war with my previous business."

The experience led Goodman to start MyJobCoach in May 2000. The company provides interactive career-development software and coaching to members of professional associations and corporations. Goodman expects that it will shortly be a self-sustaining, profitable company that he'd like to develop further and eventually sell.

Crediting the University for developing his entrepreneurial confidence, Goodman says, "Washington University is such a dynamic environment. Students are encouraged to take a wide variety of courses to get a well-rounded education. Professionally, it shaped the way I think. The whole experience gave me a lot of confidence."

—Brenda Murphy-Niederkorn


 


A Woman of Science, Woman of God

Sister Martha Ryder, M.A. '83

 

According to the writer C. W. Ceran, "Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple." Although she might quibble with the designation of genius, Sister Martha Ryder, M.A. '83, has been in the classroom for five decades making the complicated subjects of physics, calculus, and chemistry understandable for her students. Even now, at the age of 75, Ryder continues to find ways to simplify things.

"When I first began teaching the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, I wrote out an explanation that was three typed pages in length. Now, it is down to three little paragraphs," she says. "As you get older, you learn to say things more simply."

Ryder, a Catholic nun in the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the BVMs for short), has had a career worthy of its own theorem—Ryder's Conundrum, perhaps, which asks: "How do science and religion mix?"

She grew up a Presbyterian in south St. Louis. She enjoyed playing golf, tennis, and the harmonica, as well as building things with her father. In high school, she loved chemistry and decided to major in the subject in college, with an eye toward teaching it. Both her mother and grandmother had been teachers.

Ryder attended the University of Illinois-Urbana. In addition to her studies in chemistry, she developed an interest in Catholicism. She and a friend, who was a fellow chemistry major and Catholic, discussed religious ideas one day and something clicked.

"She told me things about the faith that really made sense to me. The summer after my freshman year, I took a couple of courses at Washington University—economics and German. I also spent a lot of time in the old library reading the Catholic Encyclopedia. I learned a lot of religion there," Ryder says.

She received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1948. That same year, she entered the novitiate at the BVMs' motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1951, she made her first vows and began teaching at Chicago's Immaculata High School. After a summer experience with a team-taught science course for elementary school teachers, Ryder was asked if she were interested in teaching physics and physical science at Clarke College in Dubuque. She was interested, and in 1954 she received her master's degree in physics at Saint Louis University.

In 1972, Ryder moved back to St. Louis to care for her ailing parents. She also began studying on and off for a master's degree in physics at Washington University [to keep her knowledge current]. By 1983, her parents had died, and she had completed her degree.

"The courses I took at Washington University were well-taught and have affected my teaching in both mathematics and physics. I am especially grateful for the help of Professor Michael Friedlander," she says.

Ryder then accepted a position at Prince of Peace College Preparatory in Clinton, Iowa. She still teaches physics and advanced placement calculus, among other subjects, for seven periods a day. At an age when most people are enjoying retirement, Ryder can't imagine ever leaving teaching completely.

"Teaching is important to me, so I will help as long as I can," she says. "I feel like I'm slowing down, but I know a lot more than I've ever known before. I have learned easier, simpler ways to do things, and I want to make use of that knowledge."

Perhaps that is the solution to Ryder's Conundrum—simplify and keep on doing it.

—C.B. Adams


Baseball is a recurring subject of Brad Lefton's documentaries. Lefton (right) meets with Ernie Harwell, the legendary voice of the Detroit Tigers, at Commerica Park in Detroit.

Creating Specials for Japanese TV

Brad Lefton, B.S.B.A. '86

It didn't take Brad Lefton long to come up with the perfect moment for his documentary on Ichiro Suzuki last season.

The weekend before Ichiro made his major-league debut with the Seattle Mariners, Lefton arranged a meeting between the 27-year-old Japanese superstar and aging St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Mark McGwire at Safeco Field in Seattle.

"Hey!" a smiling McGwire shouts as he enters the room, greeting Ichiro like a new member of his fraternity. "Nice to meet you!"

"Nice to meet you, too," Ichiro responds.

When Ichiro remarks through a translator that he can't believe he's playing on the same field as McGwire, McGwire says, "Well, I'll pick you up" and playfully lifts the diminutive rookie.

Kissing a bat that Ichiro signs for him, McGwire asks through a translator for some of Ichiro's speed. Ichiro, in turn, asks for McGwire's power, and the big man obliges by rubbing his forearm on Ichiro's back. After McGwire leaves the room, Ichiro smiles and giggles like a schoolboy.

"It was one of the most beautiful moments of the whole documentary," says Lefton, a St. Louis-based freelance television producer. "Here's a guy who hasn't played a major league game yet, who doesn't feel worthy of the moment."

Lefton's Japanese-language documentary, Ichiro: a Major Leaguer for the New Century, aired on the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) in Tokyo, and it was nominated for two awards at the Banff International Television Festival last June.

As Ichiro put together a historic season—batting .350 and winning both the American League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards—Lefton was there documenting it through on-the-field highlights, interviews with Ichiro and other players, and behind-the-scenes shots of the rookie right-fielder.

This wasn't new terrain for Lefton. In the early and mid-'90s, he hosted a television sports feature in Japan called The Travels of Brad. One show focused on Ichiro's 1994 pursuit of a .400 batting average for the Orix Blue Wave (he finished the season hitting .385).

A friendship that Lefton struck up with Bobby Valentine, currently the manager of the New York Mets, paved the way for the documentary. Valentine first asked Lefton to author a book detailing Valentine's experiences managing in Japan during the 1995 season. The book, roughly translated, Beyond 1,000 Ground Balls, was published in Japanese.

Then last year, Valentine—whose longtime agent, Tony Attanasio, had just landed Ichiro—suggested Attanasio contact Lefton for ideas on preserving the visual memories of Ichiro's inaugural season in America. Lefton created the season-long documentary concept and helped find a Japanese network sponsor.

"Brad has a wonderful understanding of Japanese culture and language," says Valentine. "Being bilingual and working in the sports world made him readily acceptable by the baseball community."

Lefton continues to produce programming for Japanese TV. He just finished a 30-minute documentary on So Taguchi, a minor-league outfielder for the Cardinals.

His interest in journalism dates back to his days at Washington University in the 1980s, when he hosted a Sunday night show on campus radio station KWUR. Lefton gave the intramural sports scores and broadcasted 10-minute interviews with professional sports stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Pete Rose, and George Brett—tape he collected while doing an internship for KMOX Radio.

Because WU does not offer a major in journalism, Lefton chose a major in business. Giving the business world a try after graduating, he entered the executive management training program for the now-defunct Venture Stores—but quit a year later to take what was supposed to be a summer trip to Asia.

"I was just mesmerized in Japan," Lefton recalls, "by the culture, the language, the people. I knew a month wouldn't be enough."

—Frederic J. Frommer, A.B. '89