Archive for the ‘Career planning’ Category

I recently had a wonderful conversation with a smart professional in our industry whom I’ve known for years, Kari Gearhart. Kari had a long career in commercial pharma (much of it with Merck), and was heavily involved in many facets of corporate training during that time.

karigBut, as she started to look ahead at new career options – either within the industry, or potentially after retirement – she realized the importance of expanding her network. Not only within the narrower circle of her company or industry, but also in other areas of professional and personal interest.

Kari and I had a number of talks over the years about these transitions, and when she was ready to retire from Merck, she had created a robust network of other people who shared her interest in professional development. This led to a board member position within the Healthcare Business Women’s Association (HBA); strategic alliances (and referral relationships) with like-minded others; and an opportunity to build her own consulting practice. An important part of this transition was to create the space and the time to pursue her passion in women’s leadership development and in particular a program called Fit-to-Lead that she co-developed with a colleague. The program focuses on making the connection between taking on a significant fitness challenge (e.g. Triathlon), and leadership growth.

According to Kari, it was the outside volunteering opportunities (through HBA and other groups) that led to the most fruitful connections as she planned out the next phase of her professional and personal life. Many of us, as we get older, begin to pay more attention to “legacy passions” brewing within us – those things that we want to accomplish which may have little to do with the next step on the corporate ladder. Kari’s desire to impact others compelled her to start exploring these new avenues, even as she continued her work at Merck.

One of the joys of her current status is that Kari now has more room to explore, to be open-minded, and to let opportunities take shape at a more organic pace. Her “master plan” during this phase of her life has lots of flexibility built into it, and many of those avenues of exploration come via her growing network.

Careful financial planning and long-term thinking about how she wanted to evolve into new opportunities kept Kari from being lost in the cold after leaving corporate life, a fate which befalls many who retire or are involuntarily downsized. In fact, within days of catching up with Kari, I sat down with a gentleman whose many years in the industry came to an abrupt end, and he had to ruefully admit that he had not pro-actively built a wide network ahead of time, or explored other potential options before being suddenly set adrift.

Kari and I concluded our talk with several summary points for all of our colleagues to consider:

  • Build a broad network NOW, before you need it (hint: some of your best potential contacts will be on the vendor side; in adjacent roles/companies; and in volunteer roles). Connect to, and cultivate, pro-active networkers.
  • Talk to people who can help you think differently. If need be, do some strengths assessments and hire a professional coach for a season.
  • Get in touch with your legacy passions. What do you want to accomplish in your latter years? How can you plan backwards from that future to make it happen?

I will add this, from my experience – making weak ties with hundreds of people (such as LinkedIn connections) cannot hold a candle to cultivating strong ties with a handful of smart, pay-it-forward people. They are the ones who will go to bat for you and make things happen. Successful networking is not merely a numbers game – it’s primarily about quality and authenticity.

There is no corporate safety net anymore, right? Start building your own opportunity network.

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Development of Field Leadership at Gilead Sciences – “Touchpoints”

Lessons from the Dark Side

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As human beings, we always have a tendency to pop on our rose-colored glasses and talk about the “good old days.”

Remember the good old days, when pharmaceutical manufacturers were almost constantly growing and profitable? When expansion was the norm, not the exception? When a career arc was fairly secure unless you really fouled it up?

Now it’s all about lean. Entire sales forces drastically cut, or eliminated, or re-organized. Career people suddenly without careers. Downsizing sometimes feels more like capsizing.

We’re on a roller coaster these days, and with all the turmoil of the ever-shifting healthcare environment, that’s not changing anytime soon.


So what is a pharmaceutical professional to do?

Do yourself a huge favor. Build your network. Build it now, even long before you end up looking for a new professional direction.

There is no corporate safety net. There is only your opportunity network.

I’ve given small and large workshops on professional network-building to industry audiences, and have also spoken to I don’t know how many dozens of colleagues in the industry who are having to re-assess their direction, usually unwillingly.

One very common regret – not pro-actively building a network ahead of time.

LinkedinUniversally, for our industry, I’ve pointed to LinkedIn as the best place to build your professional network. Don’t worry too much about Twitter and some of the other avenues (unless you’re deep into social media for other reasons). There are ways to be effective using LinkedIn that any intelligent person can employ without a huge investment of time.

This is where your colleagues are. You contacts outside the industry that should be cultivated. And probably, your next job.

If you’re in our industry, feel free to connect with me and let me know what you’re seeking to accomplish. I’ve built the Impactiviti network for you, not just me. We’re a bunch of us helping each other find what we need – not just optimal vendors, but new professional opportunities.

Get IN and let’s get started

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First, a quick explanation for this post – many of you are aware of another site where I am regularly posting (SteveWoodruff.com), and promoting a service I provide called Clarity Therapy.

It’s a practice I have loved offering over the last few years, and it may become important to you or someone you know. Can you give me a minute to tell you the story of how this Clarity Therapy thing has come about??

In my client-vendor “matchmaking” work here at Impactiviti, I noticed that many of my vendor/partners were struggling with putting forward a clear (and differentiating) offering and message. So I began to consult in order to help them “discover their fit” in the marketplace. Quite unintentionally, this began to spread into helping individuals who are in career transition, because the need is the same – figuring out your professional DNA; defining your “sweet spot” role or offering; telling an effective story; having an effective verbal business card to hand out.

Increasingly, I’m serving as an outside voice to help individuals and companies unearth their purpose and define their fit. Turns out that this is a massive need, especially in turbulent times.

So – a coaching practice was born, called Clarity Therapy. And it’s based on this one core reality:

You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in

I’m mentioning all this so that when you see various posts from that site, emphasizing message clarity, professional identity, branding and differentiation, etc. – you’ll know why.

A number of your vendor/partners and some of your colleagues-in-transition have already had very productive in-depth sessions. And, as you might guess, making network connections based on the professional direction uncovered is always a big part of what I do.

If you want to learn more about the service (half-day or full-day; pricing; expectations) – here’s a quick overview. And, I put out a fun little single-topic weekly newsletter called Clarity Blend – feel free to view a sample and subscribe here.

Thanks for listening. Since I am essentially working on two (inter-related but distinct) practices, I thought I’d provide an explanation so there’s no confusion. And, if you need help with professional direction – I’m your guy. :>}

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In one form or another, I’ve heard this question a lot in the past few years. And, in fact, I’ve continually asked it of myself.

Seems heretical to ask it; but in fact, for people in their 30’s and 40’s – even 50’s – it’s a very common thought.

By now, we’ve been in our career for quite some time, and we’re supposed to be on the “right” track heading in the foreordained destination that leads to our personal fulfillment.

Yeah, right. Actually, it is only after some years in the work force that we finally begin to ask fundamental questions about our own strengths, desires, and professional direction. You’d be surprised at how many of those around you put up the brave front (as you do), but are feeling very unclear about who they are and where they are going in their career.

I’ve sat down and talked with countless professionals who are in the midst of re-thinking their career. And I’ve discovered that such consultation is almost exactly parallel to what I do with brands and companies when they are trying to figure out their identity and strategy. We need to get to 20/20 vision, we need to understand our professional DNA, but so much seems cloudy and unclear from where we sit.

I can help. I call this form of consulting Clarity Therapy <==(that’s a new website that describes this business practice). I started doing this with Impactiviti partner companies who were struggling with their identity and message. But now, I’ve decided to go beyond consulting for companies, to include the many individuals who are in the midst of re-thinking their career. I call it my “accidental” business, because it began to just happen organically over time without any design on my part.

Clarity Therapy can occur in person or over videoconference (video Skype, which is free, is a great platform for this!), and the session is 2-3 hours of intensive one-on-one discovery of your professional DNA and future direction. At times, we all need an outside perspective to help us see ourselves more clearly. That’s what I do as a clarity therapist – and what others have done for me also at times.

If you’re interested in Clarity Therapy, for you or someone you know, here are some Testimonials of others who have been through this helpful process.

There’s no shame in asking the question, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” What we really need is a safe and experienced outside voice to help us see through the fog.


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.

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Note: Impactiviti Daily is going to be published somewhat irregularly over the next 4 weeks, as we’re in the heart of “conference” season and I’m attending/speaking at several events over the next month. We’ll do our best to keep you updated!


Pharma sales reps should be paid overtime? This is getting interesting – Novartis sales reps fighting for overtime pay just got a powerful ally. The US Department of Labor filed an amicus brief with a federal appeals court contending that a lower court was wrong to toss their lawsuitmore

AstraZeneca: KY says pony up $14.7M for marketing the spread – The ruling is the latest legal setback for AstraZeneca over the way its pricing. The drug maker was ordered by a jury in Alabama last year to pay $215 million for overcharging that state’s Medicaid program (back story). A judge later reduced that to $160 million, and AstraZeneca is appealing. In 2007, a federal judge in Boston ordered the drug maker to pay $12.9 million for overcharges, and an appeals court last month upheld the decisionmore

BMS cuts 25% of Abilify sales force: any insiders have the actual number? – Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. cut the sales force for its second best-selling drug, the antipsychotic Abilify, six months after extending its contract to market the product with Tokyo-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. About 25 percent of the positions were eliminated, Brian Henry, a spokesman for New York-based Bristol-Myers, said yesterday in a telephone interview. The move happened this week, he said. He declined to give the number of jobs cut…more

Pfizer completes acquisition of Wyeth; cuts/closings coming; also slips updated logo into the mix!


Managed Care/Account Manager training. Impactiviti’s partner network has a broad range of offerings for managed care training, from off-the-shelf to custom workshops, and more. Contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) for brainstorming and recommendations.


Time. Talent. And Magic. Be sure to “set your own table” as you develop your career. From the StickyFigure blog.


Coming up this month:

Oct. 26-27 – Kru Research’s e-Patient Connections conference, Philadelphia, PA. I’ll be speaking and live-blogging. Here’s a discount code to save $500 off your registration: SW500


Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog via e-mail (which will bring you Impactiviti Daily – a brief of the day’s top pharma news)

Sign up for the Impactiviti Connection twice-monthly e-newsletter (see sample)

Connect with Steve Woodruff

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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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If you’re looking to improve the “on-boarding” and “up-skilling” (don’t you love terms like that??) of your new sales trainers, Impactiviti can help! We’ve worked with one of our partners to come up with a multi-phase program – customizable to your needs, but with a lot of already-developed core content.

This Train-the-Trainer program runs from new trainer on-boarding, to advanced trainer training and pre-management.

  • Delivered in phases, in-house
  • Customizable
  • Performance consulting and effectiveness assessment
  • On-line and blended versions

Contact us here at Impactiviti (stevew at impactiviti dot com) to discuss!

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