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Archive for May, 2009

Getting Coffee-Bombed

This week, I’ve been getting coffee-bombed. And am I happy about that? You bet!

You see, my favorite coffee of all time is found in Roanoke, VA – Mill Mountain Blend. They roast it right there on the premises in downtown Roanoke, and aroma is out of this world. It’s STRONG coffee, the way I like it!

While at the recent SPBT conference, I mentioned this fact to good friend Jim Dutton, President Emeritus of CMRI (Certified Medical Representatives Institute). I was pining for some Mill Mountain, not having had any for years. He assured me that this problem could be fixed.

Yesterday, a package arrived from my friends at CMRI with a bag of Mill Mountain. Immediately, of course, some of those delightful grounds of goodness went into the coffee maker so that this morning’s jolt would be fresh shot of Roanoke Rejuvenation.

Then, lo and behold, another package arrives this morning with another bag, ostensibly sent by a different member of the CMRI team! It sits right here, in my office, filling the space with delightful aromas redolent of the Star City.

Now I’m beginning to wonder how long this will go on. What will tomorrow bring? How many employees at CMRI are in on this coffee-bombing run? And will I finally be persuaded to call a realtor, flee NJ once and for all, and relocate to central Virginia, trading taxes and traffic for great java and BBQ? Stay tuned…(and to my friends at CMRI – THANKS!)

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After Hours

Awesome view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset.

Awkward family photos. Pretty funny stuff here!

Aerial virtual tour of NYC. Very, very cool.

10 most fascinating natural phenomena (with eye-grabbing photos).

Infinite photograph. Just keep clicking and diving deeper. Wow.

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It can be a little bit intimidating for many folks, getting started with social networking. What’s a blog? How can I use LinkedIn? Should I be on Facebook? Does Twitter matter? How do I start?

Cover_smEvery active networker had to just…start…at some point. Maybe we can make things a little easier.

Here is a free e-book(let) download for those looking to get involved (or more deeply involved) with social networking: Getting Started with Social Networking. A related slide show is also available here on Slideshare.

The e-booklet is only 15 pages, but it’s packed full of helpful links and advice. Briefly, the What and Why of social networking is covered, then in a very practical step-by-step fashion, the How. Plus, there is a bonus Appendix with worksheet to help you define your “personal brand” and refine your message.

There is also a special Appendix with resources for pharmaceutical professionals.

Feel free to distribute – our goal is to help professionals more easily find their way into this exciting world!

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chicago smI got back last evening from the annual Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers conference, held this year in Chicago’s Hyatt Regency (downtown). I think this was my 12th or 13th year at the event.

I’m tired! Happily so, however – I cannot remember ever enjoying a more terrific time of non-stop networking.

Attendance was down this year – not surprising, given the current economic climate, the travel cutbacks, and the recent M&A activity (reducing the number of pharma companies). However, this did have the effect of creating a greater concentration of senior people at the event, so the quality and decision-making power of those in attendance was pretty high on the scale. More signal, less noise.

The general sense of job insecurity was palpable. Lots of discussion around that. The awareness of the need to network more effectively was certainly higher than I’ve seen in the past.

Exhibit booths were smaller, and there was not much unique and exciting being shown by the vendor partners. There was some interesting newer stuff, but nothing earth-shattering or Big Buzz-creating. I have many friends among the vendors, a number of whom are my preferred partners when I make provider recommendations to clients. Talking shop with them is always great, and getting a clearer picture of some less well-known potential providers is always rewarding. The structure of the program adopted by SPBT this year allowed for longer concentrated times in the exhibit area, which has been a point of complaint in years past. That was well done.

Most imaginative and fun booth stunt this year was by EDC Communications, taking pictures of booth visitors and immediately printing out the image on the “cover” of a fake magazine. Cute. Yes, I have one.

The first keynote, by David Allen (the Getting Things Done guy), was pretty useful. He had some helpful suggestions for getting things “off your mind” (where they drain energy) and onto paper, then converted to action. It’s going to take some time to digest his material – I feel somewhat overwhelmed trying to process everything he said to help get us less overwhelmed!

The workshops were the fairly typical mix of good, OK, and meh. The one workshop that had my full attention actually spanned two time slots – it was put on by the folks at Fort Hill Company (Roy Pollock) and Genentech (Brent Kiff), with the less-than-exciting title of How to Increase the Return on the Same Training Investment. It was engaging, strategic, comprehensive, and smart. For me to stay through an entire workshop, it has to be very well designed and delivered. To stay for a double-header – that’s high praise!

I co-presented two workshops and one breakfast roundtable. One workshop, and the roundtable, was on professional networking. I was ably assisted by Jerry Clor (Roche) at both, with Don O’Guin (Pfizer) joining us for the Build your own Opportunity Network workshop. We had a very engaged group that has begun immediately applying the lessons! Follow-up materials for those who want to take steps to get more involved in social networking (including free downloads) are right here.

Bob Holliday (Boehringer-Ingelheim) was my co-presenter for the workshop, “But I Didn’t Sign up to Manage Projects!” This one seemed to be quite helpful to the audience, and follow-up download materials and forms are right here.

My friends at Yukon Learning treated me and some others to a rooftop experience over at Wrigley Field on a lovely Tuesday evening. Hadn’t been to Wrigley before, and that was a blast!

The Hyatt is nice enough as a venue, but it’s a maze – it’s two buildings separated by a street (tunnel on one level, skyway on another), and unfortunately, workshop sessions were in one section and the exhibit hall in the other. Sigh. At least it’s close to the waterfront, which is always wonderful for a day-end stroll. AT&T cell signal strength was anemic – my iPhone was useless in many areas. The SPBT staff, as always, were friendly and helpful, and the Hyatt staff were also exceptionally well-trained in friendly behavior toward guests.

chicagosmile smSo, that’s a brief list of “the facts”. For my business, as a matchmaker/broker (helping pharma training clients find optimal supplier partners, and vice-versa), it was simply a great time. Mine is a networking business, and having the chance to network non-stop with both clients and providers, and to gain insight, input, and (let’s admit it…) a bit of industry gossip is really a blast. I’ve gotten to know many fine folks over the years, some of whom are now friends and collaborators, and so for me, this was almost like a big picnic with great neighbors. So if I have a bit of a silly smile on my face today, you’ll know why…!

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This will probably be the last Top Three post for about a week or so, as I head out to Chicago for the SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference. And there’s a bit of backlog today, so here goes – more than three!

Acorda shares jump after its experimental MS pill gets a priority review notice from FDA. Oral MS treatments are going to be big news over the next year…

Vanda gets approval for its schizophrenia drug. And, as is typical of atypicals, a black box warning.

Roche‘s Avastin cleared for brain cancer.

Solvay receives FDA approval for pancreas drug Creon.

Drug-coated stents – safety verified, and better at keeping arteries open.

Plavix and Purple don’t mix?

An interesting discussion of marketing tactics (pay-for-non-performance) in Europe over osteo drugs, and the upcoming Novartis/Amgen tussle in that area.

Credibility on the commercial side of pharma marketing (Vioxx): Not. Not.

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spbtThe annual Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers conference is almost upon us! It can seem a bit overwhelming – loads of sessions, exhibits, and people! I think this is my 13th time attending the event, and the best part is always getting to know (or getting re-acquainted) with so many fine folks.

Networking is going to have a prominent place this year. It’s a very turbulent time for the industry, and your greatest professional security is not your current company. It’s the network you create. To that end, Jerry Clor (Roche) and I will conduct a Networking roundtable discussion on Wednesday morning – be sure to join us for breakfast and discussion! Also, on Thursday morning, I’ll be leading a panel (including Jerry Clor, and Don O’Guin/Pfizer) on Building your own Opportunity Network.

So, what other sessions to attend? Well, looking over the program, here are some of the sessions that look appealing to me:

Period 1: I’m likely to go the Curriculum Analysis workshop. However, the Selling Specialty Pharmaceuticals session should be very valuable for some, and I’d also be tempted by the Measuring Training Success presentation. Hmmm….very cerebral-ish choices. I think I need to get out more…

Period 2: Driving Pharmaceutical Sales through Simulation looks really strong, as does Improving Coaching Effectiveness. I’m torn. For a group looking to do more with on-line training, So You Want to be a Virtual Trainer could be very valuable.

swpresent1Period 3: Well, I don’t have much choice here. I’m co-leading a workshop (with Bob Holliday/Boehringer-Ingelheim) on the theme, But I Didn’t Sign up to Manage Projects! For anyone involved in defining projects, selecting vendors, and managing projects, this practical workshop will be ideal. If I wasn’t otherwise occupied, however, I’d be drawn to the Virtual Worlds session, ’cause I’m sorta tech-geeky that way.

Period 4: A nice session that interests me because of client requests in this area: Best Practices in Marketing Training. However, continuous learning is another common need (Training between Phase II, Phase IV, and POA), and of course, there’s tech: Exploiting Technology to Rapidly Deploy Clinical-based Training. I think I’ll get a clone or two for this time slot…

Period 5: If you’re involved in a testing program and haven’t had a discussion about the many issues surrounding on-line testing, then you’ll want to attend the 10 Most Common Testing Mistakes session. As for me, I’m likely to take part in the Continuum Approach to Build Sustainable Training Programs. Because the topic is interesting, and John Bye is a good chap. Well, so is Bill Ahern, but I know John better!

Period 6: The Endo Innovate session looks pretty interesting – I’m a systems thinker and so I like these higher-level strategic initiatives. If you’re into Behavioral Styles, however, that workshop looks promising.

Period 7: Well, that’s the Build your own Opportunity Network session that I’m co-facilitating. So I know where I’ll be Thursday morning. Join us for a very vibrant conversation about professional networking!

I am available throughout the entire conference if you wish to talk, catch up, get vendor recommendations from me, or whatever. You can download a digital business card with all contact info (including cell): text swoodruff to 50500. Look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

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Abbott and J&J to duke it out in court over a patent dispute on new rheumatoid arthritis drug.

Amylin eliminating 200 sales positionsDrugmaker Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Monday it will eliminate about 200 jobs, or more than a third of its sales force, as it combines its primary care and specialty drug sales units.Amylin partners with Eli Lilly & Co. to sell the diabetes drug Byetta, and is also developing a once-per-week version through that alliance. Amylin said the reorganization of its sales force will strengthen the partnership.

Gelnique works for OAB - Applying a gel containing the anti-spasmodic agent oxybutynin to the skin is safe and effective for women with overactive bladder, according to a study reported here at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.

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