The Kennedy file Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2008

Born: Sea Girt, N.J.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Lehigh University; master’s and Ph.D., Rutgers University

What has been your greatest challenge?

I think probably one of my challenges is I’m not a tremendous communicator. I’m more or less an introvert. I suffer the frailty that I think that if I understand something, I believe that everyone else in the room probably figured it out an hour ago. The challenge with that is if you think you know something, you assume everyone else does and you go on to the next topic, and sometimes you find out there were a number of topics you needed to be more clarifying and vet with your team to get the results. So not being a tremendous communicator and sometimes the proclivity of assuming what you believe or understand is more widely held, and they feed each other as a negative challenge.

I try to surround myself with people who are better communicators or people who will hit me upside the head and remind me when I need to get out in front and communicate more.

What was your first job?

I cut lawns, and, as an employee not working for myself, was a soda fountain soda boy. I made drinks and hamburgers and french fries for people on the beach.

What did you learn from that that still helps you today?

Relatively speaking, it was a pretty good job. I was paid 85 cents an hour, and the people were actually pretty hard to work for, but they valued you if you worked hard. I watched the kids that worked hard for the people that owned this family business versus the people who didn’t work hard. The several that worked hard were well taken care of and given jobs in future years. The ones that didn’t usually weren’t invited back. It was interesting to see the Darwinian aspects of a family-owned business.