A surprise? Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company found few, if any, scientific or academic books on the value of ``quiet'' for corporate brass. So the firm surveyed 20 chief executive officers (CEO) of some of the largest corporations and found that quiet periods play ``a more profound and active part'' in their lives than is currently recognized.

One CEO said, ``Quiet focuses the mind with laser-like intensity and distills the essence of an issue.'' Another noted: ``Only with quiet can the insoluble be solved.''

Donald Schuenke, Northwestern's president, commented, ``A better understanding of the value of quiet may well help us improve national productivity.''

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