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December 18, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 18, 2009 PAGE 15A By Suzanne Kurtz WASHINGTON (JTA)-- "The CEO of what?" asked my friend Stewart, when I told him I was looking forward to an event in Washington honoring, among others, Laurie Ann Goldman, the chief executive officer of Spanx, Inc. He didn't get my enthu- siasm. Goldman's innovative hosiery and undergarment company needed little in- troduction at the Jewish Women International's 12th annual Women to Watch gala the afternoon of March 7 at the Hilton Washington. She joined fellow honorees Rabbi Sharon Brous, Yanina Fleysher, Laurie Ann Gold- man, Ruth Marcus, Julie Morgenstern, Estee Portnoy, JJ Ramberg, Melissa Arbus Sherry, Ellen Stovall and Jillian Copeland for a girl- power celebration, equal parts light-hearted chatter and insightful rumination. With accomplishments and contributions as wide ranging and diverse as their fashion accessories, the women on stage laughed and nodded in agreement and support. During an "Up Close and Personal" sympo- sium, they shared secrets to their respective successes, as well as the challenges of balancing family and com- munal responsibility with professional drive. "You don't have your life that you live and your life giving back. It's all the same thing," said Ramberg, host of MSNBC's "Your Business" and co-founder of Good- Search.com and GoodShop. com. Portnoy, the longtime spokesperson and business manager for Michael Jordan, mused that while she doesn't regularly light Shabbat candles with the basketball legend, charitable giving has been an integral part of their work together. "In my work with Michael, the most fulfilling things I've done with him have really fallen in the charitable ar- eas," she said. "I'm not always surrounded by Jewish people on the basketball court, but off the court we share those same values." But perhaps the most moving personal share came from Stovall, president and CEO of the National Coali- tion of Cancer Survivorship and herself a three-time cancer survivor. Reflecting on what might be her legacy, she said it is helping other survivors deal with their illness--one per- son at a time--that has given her the most satisfaction. "Having cancer [may have been] my identity," she said, "but it's not my legacy to be the 'cancer lady,' "--it's her family and friends. The honorees focused on family and friends when one audience member asked, "What do you do for fun? How do you sit and giggle with your girlfriends?" "With manis and pedis!" exclaimed Morgenstern, the time-management guru and frequent Oprah Winfrey guest who bikes regularly in Central Park (and recently took up gymnastics at age 47). Yet she also said it was only recently that she learned "fun is avital part of an inspired work life." Following the symposium, the honorees were introduced individually by actress Mayim Bialik, of "Beaches" and "Blos- som" fame, during a luncheon. Each was asked to share "pearls of wisdom" in 300 words. : :i:~i !ii~i:~iiiii:~! ~ !il ii i i if!! ~i ili!iiiiii!iiiii!iiiiiiii!i!!iliiiii!i! !iiiill if! ! !iiii!iiii!!ii!!ii!iiii!!i!!ii!!iiiiiiii!ii!!!!i!!iiii!iii!!ill il .... iiil !i~i!ii!ill ii!i ii '~iii~i~ !ii~i!iiii~i!~!ii~i!iliiiii!i!iii!i~iiiiiii~iii'i'~:i~iiiiii'~i iiii~ Michael Bennett Kress Among the Women to Watch honorees on stage Dec. 7in Washington are, from left: Rabbi Sharon Brous, Estee Portnoy, Ellen Stovall, Ruth Marcus and Jillian Copeland. As her company's chief problem solver, Goldman cheekily confessed to solving big "wardrobe problems for women like 'muffin top,' 'grid butt' and the dreaded BBS-- dreaded bad bra syndrome." But it's accepting responsi- bility and accountability for your own problems that is the key to success, she said. "The solutions are up to you," Goldman said. "Success is not luck," she said. "It's believing you are lucky." Most astonishingly (at least for this reporter) was the assertion by Mar- cus, the Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist, that she did not initially believe she had opinions worth sharing in print every week. "It is not possible to get an A every week," she ac- knowledged. "Some of [my columns] are a B-plus, but it's very important for us as women to get over the notion that we have to deliver per- fection in everything we do. We need to learn to swagger, or at least get comfortable pretending to swagger." After listening to the 10 accomplished honorees get personal and introspective, show emotion and humil- ity, I left the JWI luncheon reflecting on the "pearls of wisdom" that I also wear-- each one given to me by an experience or an encounter that shaped my life. So while I am still learn- ing to perfect my swagger, when I told my girlfriends that I now have a free Spanx gift card from the Women to Watch gala, they totally got it. And that gets me an A, every week. By Salvatore Caputo Jewish News of Greater Phoenix In addition to traditional investment vehicles, Empow- erment Financial Group offers something relatively new: "Terror-Free Investing." "It was somethingwe'd been working on for several years," and have introduced since launching Empowerment in April, said Mark Langerman, CEO and managing director of the Scottsdale, Ariz.,-based company he foundedwith Paul Seidman, president. They are working to trademark the term, Langerman said. Langerman has been in the investment business for nearly 25 years, and Seidman, presi- dent of Empowerment, has seven years experience in the field. They met while working at a large investment firm. Langerman and Seidman developed their product on their own and brought the idea to a portfolio manager, Advanced Equities Asset Man- agement, based in San Diego. "They have a product called 'Large Cap Select' that they have been managing for several years," Langerman wrote in an e-mail. "With our help, they now apply the Terror-Free 'screen' to their existing portfolio" to create a second product, "Terror-Free Large Cap Select." Advanced Equities continues to offer the unscreened product, as well. As a result, Empowerment offers "Terror-Free Large Cap Select," and the portfolio manager works to ensure that the fund avoids investing in firms with active commer- cial, nonhumanitarian ties to Iran, Sudan, Syria and North Korea. Until North Korea was removed from the listlastyear, these four countrieswere all on the U.S. State Department's list of"state sponsors of terror." Langerman said that using the State Department's list was a way to create a uniform definition of terror-free invest- ments. Langerman's idea to of- fer such investments began germinating three years ago. He had just attended his first AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference and learned about AIPAC's platform of divestment from companies that do busi- ness,in Iran's oil and natural gas sector. Like the divestment movement that helped put in- ternational pressure on South Africa to end apartheid, AIPAC has issued memos promoting divestment from Iran as a means to pressure Tehran to drop its nuclear program. One of Langerman's clients was a member of AIPAC's national board. "When we got back to Phoenix, he said, 'Let's put our money where our mouth is. Let's divest.'" The client had a large portfolio and found that every single company in which it was in- vested did business with Iran, so the client divested the entire portfolio. That inspired Langerman and Seidman to think about all the companies doing business with state sponsors of terror and how U.S. investment dol- lars in these countries were aiding the development of these countries and filtering out to terror groups intent on attacking the U.S., Israel and the West in general. "We thought, 'We need to step up to the plate and offer a way to empower our clients to make a difference,'" he said, "to participate in the financial war on terror." Launching their company gave them that opportunity. One of the downsides of the divestment strategy is that as you sell off shares of the company you find objection- able, someone else is buying those shares and infusing the company with capital, he said. However, the fund's strategy mirrors that of the "green investing" movement, Langer- man said, which evolved from a strategy of divestment to an exclusionary investment strategy. By investing only in companies that are "environ- mentally friendly," they deny "environmentally unfriendly" companies access to that pool of capital. Langerman likened it to building an electric fence around the capital. Similarly, the terror-free screen denies capital to companies that do business with Iran, Sudan, Syria and North Korea. "As of Sept. 30, there were 586 public companies glob- ally that do business legally in these four countries," Langerman said, citing re- search by the Conflict Secu- rities Advisory Group, based in Washington, D.C., which is used to provide the fund's terror-free screen. "If access to U.S. capital markets were cut off tomorrow, we believe in the very short term you would see them pulling up stakes in these countries." And that's the vision behind the fund, he said, "to help put pressure on these companies by neutralizing their access to the U.S. capital market." Salvatore Caputo is senior staff writer at Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. For more information, visit empower- mentfg.com.