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Close of Business: Under Pressure

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz
Think your job is stressful? How about trading stocks, conducting neurosurgery or—gasp!—managing a classroom full of screaming first-graders? We asked five South Jersey professionals in high-stress places of business how they stay calm. Their solutions include exercise, humor, dedicated family time and a whole lot of focus.

Bruce Doner
Occupation: Financial adviser
Place of Business: Innovative Wealth Management Services, West Berlin
What’s stressful about your job? Managing people’s expectations. People watch a lot of television these days, especially financial television, which can make their expectations unreasonable. And, you know, not being able to control market performance can be stressful. People will be wanting to get 10 percent [returns on] their money, when people are only getting 3 percent.
How do you relieve stress at work? I like to go outside every hour and a half or so for 10 minutes—just to look at the sun and the sky and clear my mind. I also like to make lists: that’s a good way for me to clear my mind. I have a stress ball that I squeeze and occasionally throw against the wall. And then there’s music: I love to listen to music. And … I have a great picture of a beach as my screen saver. That relaxes me a lot.
How do you blow off steam after work? Walking and running…. I also love playing golf and socializing—and having a glass of wine doesn’t hurt.

Dr. Steven Yocom
Occupation: Neurosurgeon
Place of business: Cooper University Hospital, Camden
What's so stressful about your job? You constantly don’t know what’s coming next. The unpredictability of it is tough sometimes. And trying to find the time for my family. I’m a single father of two, so I spend a lot of time running around getting them to sports practices and games. You have to find that balance.
How do you stay cool under pressure? I stay calm by taking things one step at a time and focusing on the one job immediately in front of me. I like to finish one job before starting another. Of course, as things come up, you have to prioritize.
How do you unwind? I like to exercise; I go fishing out on my boat. And I like to be on airplanes. I have to travel a lot, and the plane is a nice break from cell phones and e-mails for me. That’s my time to relax.

Barbara Jones
Occupation: Crisis line volunteer
Place of Business: Contact Helplines, Cherry Hill
What is stressful about your job? Well, you don’t know what you’ll be faced with. It could be a lonely person who just wants to talk a little bit, or it could be someone who’s suicidal. So you have to be prepared. And that can be stressful if you feel there is someone who is truly in crisis—truly needing help, [facing] domestic violence or suicide.
How do you remain calm? We have certain protocols for situations with domestic violence or child abuse and we have cheats sheets, so to speak, that we can read down and make sure we’re asking the right questions.

Stephen Wenger
Occupations: Police Detective, Attorney
Places of Business: Burlington Township Police Department, Law Office of Stephen J. Wegner, Burlington
How do you stay calm working as a detective? Staying calm on the job isn’t difficult for me. It’s all about dealing with the situations as they come up. The key is to find healthy outlets for your stress. I like to exercise to work off stress.
How do you keep your two jobs separate? I have to build walls. Especially with both jobs, I have to transition between things and never bring things from one workplace into another.

Marlo Wallace
Occupation: First-grade teacher
Place of Business: E.T. Hamilton Elementary School, Voorhees
What is stressful about your job? Having to wear a lot of hats is stressful. I have to be a teacher, a nurse and a mommy to all my kids. They’re not independent yet, so they rely on me for a lot.
How do you stay calm on the job? I love the kids, I really do, and usually that keeps me pretty calm. Organization helps a lot, too: I plan all my lessons weeks in advance. I have to, so that I don’t lose my mind.
What do you do to relax after work? It helps to laugh with friends and family about the stressful events at work. At the end of the day, you have to laugh.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 7 (July, 2011).
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