50 Ways to Gain Power

Don’t just sit there. Be something.

By Susan Anspach, Jonathan Hunley, Abegail Matienzo, Tracey Edgerly Meloni, Maria Scinto, Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski

Whether it’s money, fame, control, influence or freedom, the term “power” conjures different ideas for different people. However you define it, we offer a multitude of ways you can exercise your muscle, take a little control or earn your 15 minutes.


1. Build Your Own Toll Road
“Owning the road” is a sure sign of power, and these days, some folks actually do. Ann Loomis, former chief of staff to Virginia Sen. John Warner, points to the Dulles Greenway as classic proof of the mantra “if you build it, they will come.” One of the first highways built under Virginia’s public-private partnership, Loomis says the Greenway began as the brainchild of “well-heeled individuals with green/smart-growth thinking.” They pooled their funds, obtained venture capital, and the road became reality at no upfront cost to the Commonwealth. Not only does traffic move between X and Y: “Development was driven in the area to be along the greenway (avoiding) sprawl.”—TEM

TIP: Loomis adds that, “As construction dollars shrink, congestion expands. More and more private-sector companies are investing in public-sector transportation projects. You and I could buy shares in these companies.”


2. Wiki Your Immortality
Log on to Wikipedia.org, and write yourself into the annals of history.—VLS


wine3. Become a Wine Expert
Be the point of contact for everyone at your table when the server brings around the wine list. Impress your guests with your knowledge by pairing different wines for each course in your multi-course meal.—AM

Wine Classes and Sommelier Training
Total Wine & More; Chantilly; 703-817-1177
Only the Chantilly location of this chain offers two-and-a-half-hour classes once a month, which focus on a specific region each session, such as Italy or Bordeaux, and give participants the chance to try 20 different wines.

Private Wine Classes
Philip Prifold, Chief Sommelier; 703-573-3599; pprifoldiii@internationalsommelier.com
Restaurants looking to train their floor staff and corporate companies looking to improve their wine-tasting skills can set up private classes. Prifold also offers “Tuesday Tasting Classes” at Vinoteca in Washington, D.C.

Sommelier Courses
International Sommelier’s Guild: Wine Fundamentals 1 & 2; Arlington; 703-358-9550
Successful completion of parts 1 and 2 at the Art Institute of Washington allows students to move on to the SDP (Certified Sommelier) course. The school also offers an associate’s degree in wine and spirits and bachelor’s degree in food and beverage management.

Volunteer Opportunities
Potomac Point Winery; Stafford; 540-446-2266
During the harvest from September to October, volunteers can sort grapes, assist in bottling and help at festivals.


4. Build a Church
Powerful is an understatement when discussing the Tysons-based McLean Bible Church. The megachurch boasts more than 10,000 members who worship at their many locations throughout the area, and senior pastor Lon Solomon, with his trademark 60-second “Not a Sermon, Just a Thought” media spots has solidified a position as a radio personality—even on secular stations. If McLean Bible’s power is limited anywhere, however, it’s in the gay and ecumenical communities. Needless to say, the church is not exactly pro-homosexuality, and Solomon, who grew up in the Jewish faith, allegedly enjoys trying to convert Jews to his brand of evangelical Christianity.—JH


5. Create a 2.0 Network
Consumers looking to buy or sell online over the past few years have used the web 2.0 network Craigslist so much that classified newspaper advertising is suffering. Likewise, McLean’s Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, has done well in the online healthcare information business. His Revolution Health Network merged with Waterfront Media’s Everyday Health Network in October, and is poised to take on WebMD, previously acknowledged as the leader in the field. The idea is to offer information to users for free and then make money off of advertisers.—JH

According to Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Art Swift, the social networking world is rife with lingo. One of the first steps toward 2.0 savvy requires that you understand some of these terms:

Blog: Web log. A blog is a website that is updated frequently with new content by its owner. Most blogs also allow readers to post comments on entries and on others’ comments.

Vlog: Video blog. Set up a webcam and record your thoughts, then post them to the web. Vlogs are difficult to find in a search engine since there are no words to search.

Microblog: Short blog posts, typically under 140 characters, a la Twitter.com. (The 140-character limit is what many cellular phones allow for text messages.)

Social Media Optimization: This is about making sure your social media content reaches the widest possible audience. For example, you could take a blog posting on your company’s website and submit it to Digg, or make it part of an RSS feed (a news and information feed that streams on your website).

News Sharing: Many online articles are tagged with tiny icons that link readers to sites like Digg.com. Digg is a website made to share news and information with anyone on the Internet. If you “dig” a story, it rises to the top of popularity. If you “bury” it, the story tumbles to the bottom.


6. Get on the School Board
Stafford County School Board member Robert Belman knows from politics. Usually, more local tax money is spent on schools than on any other part of a community’s government. That means a school board member has to balance the interests of teachers, parents and taxpayers. It can get tricky, especially when you have to change school boundary lines in places—like Stafford—that have seen tremendous growth in the past few years. There are still some places in Virginia where school board members are not elected, but the only such locality in Northern Virginia is Manassas Park. To get on the ballot everywhere else, potential school board members must file for office and submit a petition with between 50 and 125 signatures, depending on the number of registered voters in their area. School board candidates don’t run with a party label but can be endorsed by a political party.—JH

School Board members uphold …
www.greatschools.net

Respect for diverse points of view

A keen eye toward serving the needs of all students, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds

A desire to work toward a stronger relationship between the district and the public it serves

The ability to work well with a team and support group decisions, along with an understanding that the board sets a climate for the entire school district

Knowledge about district policies, guidelines, needs, challenges and strengths

A professional, poised demeanor and respectful, respectable behavior

Commitment to the time and energy required each week


7. Champion a Charity
When your brother is Warren Buffett and you inherit Berkshire Hathaway stock, founding a charity is easy. Doris Buffett has become the most famous philanthropist in and around Fredericksburg. Her Sunshine Lady Foundation, which helps mentally ill adults, at-risk families and funds many other projects, has given out more than $40 million since its 1996 formation, according to Virginia Business magazine’s tally.—JH

Four steps toward starting your own non-profit (www.fool.com)
Know Your Community Avoid starting an organization that shares a similar mission to another charity. Get acquainted with community leaders, potential large donors and local business owners.

Don’t Go It Alone
Build a volunteer board of directors with professionals including an attorney, a business executive, an accountant and a financial expert.

Have a Mission
Allowing your volunteer staff to have an active part in promoting the organization’s mission will foster commitment from your team.

Turn to the Legal Formalities
Learn what steps are necessary toward acquiring tax-exempt status and accepting tax-deductible donations.


8. Donate to One
The American Heart Association’s Greater Washington Region: Some of the largest donors are sent to Scientific Sessions, the world’s largest gathering of scientists and healthcare professionals devoted to the science of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Others receive recognition at board meetings and at events, and in organizational materials.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C.: Recognition in press releases, and at cocktail receptions, promotional events and board meetings. That is, if the donor wants his or her contribution known. “Some just don’t,” executive director Lisa Smith says.

American Red Cross of the National Capital Area: Women’s leadership group the Tiffany Circle gets invites to special soirees and receives bracelets from Tiffany & Co. adorned with a red cross. The donor receives a special charm for her bracelet for each year she is a member.—JH


9. Sell Used Cars
“Used-car salesman” is a pejorative in many circles. But it hasn’t been a negative term for the Silver Cos., the largest land developer in the Fredericksburg area, thanks to the work of family patriarch Carl Silver. Think of him as a south-of-the-Rappahannock-River version of John “Til” Hazel. Thousands live in homes on tracts developed by the Silver Cos., and the Central Park development off Interstate 95 revolutionized the way Fredericksburgers shopped. And it all started when Carl made a fortune selling used cars after World War II.—JH


10. Learn How to Troubleshoot a Glitch
With a little administrative know-how, you can be the most sought-after person in your office.—AM

MCSE Course
3Soft USA; Vienna; 703-914-1410
Technical certification in Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer can give you the knowledge to work with design, implementation and administration of the newest Windows and Microsoft servers. 3Soft USA offers two-days-per-week classes running from 6 to 10 p.m., or a three-week intensive boot camp, five days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for students with at least one year of IT training.

HTML Fundamentals
ONLC Training Center; locations throughout NoVA
Learn to build your own webpage using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) in this two-day course. Visit the website for class schedules.


11. Get a Groom
Connections are without bound in Northern Virginia’s wedding professionals’ society. According to A Simply Chic Event owner Jamie Sears, about 50 percent of her business is generated by word-of-mouth recommendations, and “the relationships that I have established with vendors and local venues have made a world of difference … Additionally, the connections that I have made with my clients [are] invaluable. I feel fortunate to have developed friendships with clients that last long after the wedding day is over.”—SA

According to Equality Virginia, married couples in Virginia enjoy such rights as: legal protections, health-insurance coverage, tax benefits, hospital visitation, pension and survivor benefits


12. Invest Wisely
Brothers David and Tom Gardner founded The Motley Fool in Alexandria in 1993 with 37 newsletter subscribers. Today, millions of investors trust them, because the Fool puts investors’ interests first.—TEM

What sayeth the Fool in these troubled economic times? Robert Brokamp, retirement expert and lead advisor of Motley Fool’s “Rule Your Retirement” service, offers these tips:

Play financial defense. Build your emergency fund, cut expenses, use a free service such as Mint.com to see where your money’s going.

SAVE! Yours may be worth less than they were a year ago, but don’t stop contributing to 401(k)s and IRAs. You get tax benefits and, if your employer matches contributions to your 401(k), free money!

Choose the Roth. The Roth IRA is a hedge against higher taxes down the road. Plus, contributions can be withdrawn any time, tax- and penalty-free.

Don’t owe. Paying off debt is a guaranteed winner. If you’re paying 15-percent interest on your credit-card balance, eliminating that debt is like earning 15 percent on your savings

Hug your boss. Businesses are making tough decisions about layoffs. Make it hard for your boss to let you go. The same goes for clients, if you happen to be self-employed.


13. Become an Art Collector
Learning by diving. That’s what McLean Project for the Arts exhibitions director Nancy Sausser defines as Step 1 in amassing a collection. An immersion into art society demonstrates that “everybody, no matter how educated about art they are, has opinions and types of art they’re naturally pulled toward.” Attending artists’ and curators’ talks—check MPA and Arlington Arts Center for regular educational components to an exhibition’s program—will “build up your confidence” in terms of understanding your preferences. Even if money is an object, then, you can at least buy knowing you won’t regret purchases—which can be made “all sorts of different ways,” Sausser added (dealing directly with an artist could add a dimension of personalization).—SA


14. Start a Newspaper
If the newspaper business is dying, how did Politico become such a phenomenon—both here and around the country—so fast? George Mason University assistant professor of communication Stephen Farnsworth thinks it’s because not only does the place employ some of Washington’s best journalists, but it encourages ubiquity. Its workers aren’t just reporters and editors, but bloggers and TV talking heads. “If you keep turning up like a bad penny, you’ll get noticed,” the professor says.—JH

With some desktop publishing software, like Adobe InDesign, a laser printer and scanner, anybody can start their own small newspaper. Select the print shop carefully, and you may not even have to shell out much dough in the start-up phase. Online newspaper ventures are even more cost-effective with a domain name and web-hosting service, according to Susan Wade at Network Solutions.

All-American Printing
Alexandria; Broadsheet/Tabloid newspaper; $47.40—100 copies of a two-page paper, black and white ink with photos

Network Solutions
Herndon; Online newspaper; Domain name and web hosting: $9.96 monthly


15. Brew Your Own Beer
Rule of the roost of any party guest list. Self-brewed beers are available through the Shenandoah Brewing Company (652 S. Pickett St., Alexandria; 703-823-9508), where more than 80 modifiable recipes—plus the assistance of company’s professional staff and use of its equipment—stand at the ready for singles, couples, families or groups to tackle. Custom labels are half the fun, and prices range from $1.60 to $2.85 per bottle (keg packaging available).—SA


16. Learn How to Buy and Sell Stock
Enjoy your friends’ clamoring for your input as they clumsily piece together their portfolios.—AM

Online Trading Academy
Vienna; 703-442-8282
Learn a variety of trading styles from professional traders through live, hands-on instruction that is catered to your experience level. The website features free online courses, workshops and quizzes.

American Association of Individual Investors
D.C. chapter; 301-593-4542
Get tips at investor meetings for investing, and find out about trading and investing workshops being held nearby.


17. Be a Fundraiser
Every organization—for-profit or nonprofit—needs money to operate, so fundraising is a natural source of power, and it’s not a bad paying gig. The median salary for fundraisers in the United States and Canada is $63,000, according to a study conducted last year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The top 25 percent of fundraisers earn more than $85,000. But unlike salespeople seeking a commission, non-profit fundraisers are paid for their time; they don’t take a cut of the proceeds. That could create a terrible scenario where donor or organization—or both—feels unnecessary pressure, says Nancy L. Withbroe, manager of consulting services for the CDR Fundraising Group. “It really puts the fundraiser between the donor and the organization,” says Withbroe, president of AFP’s Washington, D.C. Metro Area Chapter.—JH


18. Open a Restaurant
Randy Norton is a CEO, but don’t think his success has come from complicated financing or business school gobbledygook. The man who leads Fairfax’s Great American Restaurants chain has a simple formula: Treat your employees well, and treat your customers well. “That’s the whole thing in our business,” he says, adding that if an eatery does that, it won’t have to spend millions on advertising. His 10 restaurants and more than three decades of experience suggest he’s on to something.–JH


19. Open an Art Gallery
Local artists have always clamored for workspace—and wall space—in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory, supping coffee in the winter and bearing fans in the summer to cope with temperature extremes during renovations in 1974 on the converted Navy torpedo construction facility. Today, the factory is home to nearly 200 working studio artists and some 2,000 students through its Art League School. The secret to success, Sausser of the McLean Project for the Arts says, is putting the community first in a gallery’s infrastructure. “MPA had a lot of foresight: Instead of turning it into a vanity place for [the founding artists] to show, they saw it as a place to bring in work that would educate.”—SA


20. Become a Reality TV Star
They had their 15 minutes of fame—sometimes it even lasted for a few weeks, even though none of our local reality TV show contestants came out on top in their respective shows. How has their time in the limelight affected them? Have they gone Hollywood, or do they still call Virginia home?—MS

Jon Dalton
This Danville native has made a career out of reality TV ever since his first appearance on “Survivor: Pearl Islands.” He has gone on to appear on “Kill Reality,” “Inked,” “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” “Fear Factor,” “Judge Mathis,” “Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge” and “Survivor: Micronesia.” He also wrestles under the name Jonny Fairplay and, in June of 2008, married former America’s Next Top Model contestant Michelle Deighton.

Adam and Stacey Capers
This plus-sized Gainesville couple (who weighed in at a combined 561 pounds before appearing on TV) may have been dropped from the cast of “The Biggest Loser” on the very first week, but they are still working hard to lose weight and get into shape on their own.

Angie Swindell
Angie was booted off “Big Brother 10” this past summer. Since she didn’t win that $500,000 prize, this Virginia Beach native is presumably still working as a pharmaceutical sales representative in Orlando, but she can at least console herself that she now has her own fansite on MySpace.

Maria Boren
The Virginia Beach marketing exec made it through 11 weeks of “The Apprentice 2,” only to be fired for being hard to work with and a bully. No comment from her coworkers at Cornerstone Realty of Richmond, where she returned to her position as marketing VP.

Rudy Boesch
The former Navy Seal and “Survivor: Borneo” contestant went on to host his own reality show called “Combat Missions,” then made a return appearance on “Survivor: All-Stars.” He now resides in Virginia Beach and, at age 81, is, we hope, trying to take it a just a bit easier.

Tom Buchanan
“Big Tom,” who appeared on “Survivor: Africa” and made a reappearance with fellow Virginian Rudy in “Survivor: All-Stars,” is still residing, and raising goats and cattle, in Smyth County out in Western Virginia. He’s a member of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, and we’re sure they’re proud to have him.

Black family (Reggie, Kimberly, Kenneth, Austin)
These Woodridge contestants were the first ones eliminated from “Amazing Race: Family Edition.” Although still in Virginia, Reggie and Kimberly are no longer teaching at Alexandria’s West Potomac High or Douglas MacArthur Elementary (or else they’ve been savvy enough to remove their names from the staff contact lists).

Lauren Brie Harding
This former Monticello High basketball player-turned-Radford University sorority girl and business marketing major was a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 11.” Her dad, Chip Harding, is the sheriff of Albemarle County.

Leslie Sanchez
Yet another Virginian to be fired on national TV. After her stint on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” which ended in week 10, Leslie returned home to Alexandria where she continues to lead communications and market research firm The Impacto Group.

Elliot Yamin
Richmond native and third-place winner on the fifth season of “American Idol,” has been quite a busy guy post-Idol. He has released three top-selling albums and now lives in Los Angeles, but he still makes time to revisit the old hometown—last August he sang the national anthem at a Richmond Braves game.


21. Be a Burger King
Five Guys president Jerry Murrell is completely forthcoming about the fact that his success-hungry progeny—Jim (vice president—new franchisee development), Matt (VP—operations and branding), Chad (VP—training), Ben (VP—new franchisee selection), Tyler (VP—bread and bakery development)—built their nearly coast-to-coast burger empire from the ground up (going so far as to admit that he’s never even run a single store).

According to a Five Guys spokesperson, Jim, Matt and Chad (then, between 16 to 20 years old) opened the original store in Arlington in 1986, began franchising in 2002 and have sold the rights to about 1,200 properties set for development over the next decade.

And while there’s been “lots of interest” in introducing the property to the Middle East and Western Europe, Jerry said an overseas expansion remains in a holding pattern for now. They do, however, fully expect to invade Canada and Puerto Rico in 2009.—Warren Rojas


22. Open a Concert Venue
Dan Brindley of Brindley Brothers fame saw an opportunity for a big-time venue in a small-town location. Jammin’ Java in Vienna is now a household name in the Fairfax County region and beyond. The success of the space has helped boost the brothers’ own musical careers while also giving other musicians a chance for exposure of their own.—VLS


23. Breed Olympians
All America cheered when Karen O’Connor and “Mandiba” represented the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Karen and David O’Conner of The Plains are the stars of Virginia’s horse eventing world. Riders, trainers and coaches, they also promote the sport and give back through mentoring and guidance. Married in 1993, the O’Connors have since won the Olympic team silver in 1996 and team bronze in 2000 together. The two run Northern Virginia’s Stonehall Farm.—TEM


24. Sleep Your Way to the Top
If morality isn’t a concern, why not do things the old-fashioned way?—VLS


25. Apply Early
Seal the deal on one of Northern Virginia’s nationally ranked schools. At the post-secondary level, George Mason University’s early-action deadline falls more than two months prior to its regular application cut-off date. However, seniors who apply early could have their answer as early as Dec. 15, where regular applicants don’t receive notification until April 1. For high schools, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology admits the bulk of its students in a winter round of admissions that begins in October for rising freshmen and weeds out 84 percent of applicants. Sophomore and junior applicants are then not only up against the odds, but faced with a much tighter deadline for completion of the TJHSST Diploma, which demands a heavy load of math, science, technology, English and social studies credits. Just one more way to get a leg up in our competitive region.—SA


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