Blog | February 14, 2017

Reader Engagement Helps Us Fulfill Our Mission … And Feel Good, Too

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

Reader Engagement Helps Us Fulfill Our Mission … And Feel Good, Too

A few years ago I met Mark Scharenbroich. Thankfully, the award-winning author of Nice Bike — Making Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life ended up contributing a Leadership Lessons article for Life Science Leader magazine. He even shipped me a few copies of his book, which I read (blogged about here) and shared with some of my mentors (e.g., Jim Robinson, former executive at Merck). And while it has been over four years since I first read Scharenbroich’s book, his message still resonates and is top of mind today. You see, according to Scharenbroich, “Nice Biking” someone (an expression he coined from observing Harley Davidson owners interacting with one another and complement each other on their bike) is basically a process by which you make someone feel good. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but can make someone’s day. If you have ever sincerely complimented someone on their work (e.g., good job), clothing (i.e., nice suit), etc., and they beam in response, then you have effectively executed a “Nice Bike.” But in the business world where we are constantly striving for continuous improvement, sometimes we forget to take the time to do the three simple actions Scharenbroich advises (i.e., acknowledge, honor, and connect) that can make someone feel appreciated. Additionally, when we do this, we also can positively impact productivity.

Recently a few readers have taken the time to Nice Bike me by emailing their comments. And while these readers are under no obligation to engage, by doing so they are not only helping me feel appreciated , but aiding us in fulfilling our mission of connecting, collaborating, and contributing. So without further ado, here are some examples of reader engagement that not only made my day, but resulted in other opportunities.

What You Need To Know About Being Ready To Join A Board

The January 2017 Editor’s Note provided insight on joining a corporate board. A few days after it was published I received the following email.

“Mr. Wright:  I have just finished reading your recent Editor's Note, "What You Need To Know About Being Ready To Join A Board."  I am a recently retired manufacturing executive with over 30 years of experience in the medical device industry. I led a large manufacturing division ($500MM in sales supported, 900 people) for a large division of a Big Pharma corporation. I had previously held seats on nonprofit boards for the last eight years, and I am now very interested in obtaining an advisory role/board seat. I am not deluded in thinking that I would qualify for a seat on a major, public corporation but am looking realistically at a role with a small medical device company or start-up. Compensation is not an issue as I would be very willing to do it on a voluntary basis although in a start-up situation, a small amount of equity could certainly be involved.”

This reader and I ended up exchanging a few emails and eventually scheduled a phone call. After the conversation and having a better feel what he was hoping to do, I conducted a number of electronic introductions to folks who I thought could probably help him with his quest. He recently sent me an email noting that all of the e-intros seemed to be working out well.  

And The Magic 8 Ball Says

In the December Editor’s Note, I wrote about the Magic 8 Ball fortune-telling device. Truth be told, regrettably I did not own one of these as a kid. However, my best friend  did. I remember sometimes asking him a question, and when unsure of how to respond, he might turn to his trusty 8 Ball for an answer. Anyway, here is what one reader had to say about this editor’s note.

Enjoyed another blast from the past in your monthly column. Made me think of the Jetsons, Lost in Space, and other looks into the future. We’re in the process of moving our folks to a retirement community after living in the same home for 56 years. I’m surprised we didn’t uncover a magic eight ball of our own! Have a nice weekend!

I wrote a response suggesting to be careful not to throw anything away of value. Would hate for them to be watching the Antiques Roadshow someday only to see an item they had thrown away be worth a few thousand dollars, to which they replied. 

I wish I had found some treasures. Most of it has been trash, although I was assigned to the basement, where there are 56 years’ worth of junk. My siblings started considering me as the clean out hit man because I’ve taken a radical approach to the surgery rather than a precise one. One of my siblings in particular has a hard time parting with just about anything. I’ve lugged probably 50 trash bags out of the basement and another 10 from the backyard shed, and there’s still plenty more where that came from.

If We Don’t Police Pharma, It Will Be Done For Us

In the April 2016 Editor’s Note, I wrote about some of my experiences as a drug rep, including the implementation of PhRMA’s implementation of the gift-giving guidelines (i.e., To Gift of Not to Gift” No Longer a Question – A Commentary and Recommendation Regarding the New PhRMA Gift-Giving Guidelines, Journal of Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management). Perhaps my musings in this, as well as other publications (e.g., Health Marketing Quarterly, Pharmaceutical Representative Magazine) enhanced my recollection, which certainly seemed to resonate with this reader who had this to share. 

Your trip down memory lane definitely hit home for me — both literally and figuratively. I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed this, but both my parents are family physicians (primary care providers now) in their 80s who are still practicing. (That’s a sore subject that I don’t want to get into via email, but I can tell you about it sometime if we cross paths somewhere.) They’ve had their joint practice in their home since they moved there in 1960. Over the years I heard my dad frequently mention the “detail men” (not women back when I was a kid in the ‘60s) who visited him in his home office to promote their wares. Fast-forward 20 years and my wife joined the family business as their billing administrator, so I got to hear frequent stories about my folks going to dinners where the drug reps would give presentations on their new drugs and pick my folks brains, all in exchange for a sit-down dinner at a high-quality restaurant, typically in center city Philadelphia. Since they both are doctors they could attend these dinners together, which could often occur multiple times a week. It certainly was an interesting time in the pharma industry, and times certainly have changed.”

While neither of these trips down memory lane provided for an additional business opportunity yet, they were certainly two great examples of being “Nice Biked.”

Thanks For Your Willingness To Engage

We certainly appreciate readers being willing to engage, for it is through your feedback that we strive to improve continuously. For example, it was a reader who suggested that we add an area where they could comment on an article or a blog. If you scroll down to the bottom of any article you will see where we added this feature —and yes, we read them all. In fact, one reader made the following comment to Carol Nacy’s August 2016 Ask The Board Commentary

We have not met, but I already share your pain. I left academics after 30 years and started a drug repurposing company with initial products for pancreatic cancer and fibrotic disease. I love the business environment, but you are correct about well- meaning people just not understanding what is involved in getting novel and impactful drugs to market.

Thanks to the commenting feature, we were able to send an email directly to this reader. Not only did we provide them with an electronic introduction to Dr. Nacy, but encouraged them to consider sharing their thoughts, which they did in the January 2017 issue via this CEO Corner — An Insider’s View Of Life Outside The Academic Gilded Cage.

We thank you for helping Life Science Leader connect the people, ideas, and organizations needed to advance the development of pharmaceuticals, biologics, diagnostics, and medical devices that improve the human condition so that they can be brought to market in a safe and cost-effective manner.