Archive for the ‘SPBT’ Category

Some outsourcing mistakes can be very costly:


(click to biggify)

If you’ve been in the pharmaceutical training/communications/marketing/sales industry for any length of time, you’ve witnessed some expensive mistakes working with outside agencies and vendors.

But it doesn’t have to happen to your department. A one-day training course on Vendor and Project Management is just what’s needed to make sure your staff is vendor-ready.

Most client-vendor failures occur because of: 1) lack of process; 2) bad communications; 3) poorly-managed expectations. These are all fix-able issues (with the right approach). We teach that right approach.

Coming up in December is the next edition of the acclaimed 1-day Successful Vendor Management workshop, co-sponsored by SPBT and Impactiviti. Just sign your trainers up via the SPBT site, and make sure they’re equipped for a vital part of their job (and future career).

Most people learn about vendor and project management the hard way – through costly mistakes. Far better to equip your department with the tools and procedures that will ensure success!

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Last week, I enjoyed several days of learning and networking at the annual SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference.

It was held at the impressive Peabody Hotel (Orlando), where ducks rule. Which is cute; though I’m sure no-one is going to launch a boutique hotel chain any time soon with, say, angler fish or centipedes as the designated mascot.

I’m liking the visual of a lobby fountain full of angler fish. But anyway…

One of the things I liked most about the hotel setup: the general session room, the exhibit hall, and the breakout rooms were all in a compact and easily-navigable area. Which sounds like it should be a no-brainer, right? Trust me, I’ve seen some less than brainy conference layouts over the years (“oh, yes, that session is in Bldg C, 4th floor, East Wing, Lower Level, in the Obscurantist section. Would you like a GPS?”)

The pool was nice, too. Oops, we’re back into extracurriculars. OK – to business.

SPBT’s leadership has been in a steady changeover mode for the past few years, and I say this with appreciation – the new leaders are forward-looking, invested in seeing the organization grow and adapt, and willing to try new approaches. And that leads to my main observation summing up the entire conference this year.

The SPBT was upbeat and energetic.

Yes, we’re still facing challenges with membership numbers and exhibitor commitments. Yes, the industry keeps changing rapidly under our feet. But something else was missing at the conference this year, and I didn’t miss it at all.


There was energy in the exhibit hall (and I heard very little of the complaining I’ve heard in past years). There was energy around the new formats for learning and networking opportunities provided. There was energy around the idea that the organization is pro-actively looking to the future, including a name change to more accurately reflect its evolving membership.

SPBT diseaseOn the other hand, there was rampant disease-spreading, thanks to the fine folks at A.D.A.M. I ended up with MRSA, E. coli, chickenpox, and mad cow disease. —-> You?

As for the keynotes, Peter Diamandis was top-shelf (do understand that I have a real fondness for futurists). His stories and perspectives were mind-stretching. Sally Hogshead was entertaining and thought-provoking with her ideas on what makes people fascinating. Linda Cohn (ESPN anchor) did a fine job trying to interview Misty May-Treanor, but this talented Olympic champion, awesome at beach volleyball, was not made for the stage. I’m trying to be diplomatic here. Hey, if I tried to do competitive beach volleyball….let’s not go there.

Since any one person can only attend a handful of workshops, it’s impossible to give a broad overview of the many sessions that took place. My favorite this year was on Getting Your Message Heard, by Patricia Scott (Uhmms) and Susan Velani (Genentech). This very practical session on effective communications led me to immediately go back to my room and make some changes to my upcoming presentation the next day. Since Uhmms is an Impactiviti partner company, if you need great communication skills workshops for your company, just let me know and I’ll connect you up.

I also enjoyed  hearing how Eisai handled the seemingly impossible task of a six-month iPad-centric training implementation. Mary Myers (Eisai) and Susan Caldwell/Jennifer Hughes (Metrix Group) led the workshop. Technology + insurmountable odds? Of course I’m into it.

We are now beginning to leave the first-generation of iPad deployment and companies are starting to think about bigger systems. The most interesting tablet days are ahead of us, as we begin to work on the enterprise “plumbing” of mobile communications. I have an entire workshop on The Digital Future in Healthcare. Favorite topic!

For SPBT 2013, I got to lead a workshop Thursday on Vendor Management, and it was a fun group of folks with diverse perspectives. Everyone has a horror story (or three – or more) about projects that have gone off the rails. It’s amazing how common the causes are across the board…and how preventable a lot of this truly can be.

Appropriately, SPBT did feature some jugglers. They were throwing around a lot of unusual items, keeping up an entertaining banter throughout. Stuff got dropped occasionally, as more and more items go thrown into the mix. Seems like an apt metaphor for the biopharma training role these days.

Personally, my favorite aspect of the entire conference was that which I enjoy most – long, brainstorming talks with clients and partners. I put on my (learned) outgoing disposition for these events but I will always be a one-on-one, dig-deep kinda guy. In that respect, I wish the conference went much longer – there’s never enough time for relationship-building. But I left happy and upbeat. SPBT is in good hands. I look forward to next year in Dallas!

Need expert recommendations selecting your vendors? Plug Into Impactiviti!

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Impactiviti is happy to announce the finalized version of the very first pharmaceutical Training Vendor Map template (static screen shot below).


This comprehensive spreadsheet will enable any training department to fully map out its landscape of outsource suppliers, by category and sub-category, in order to better classify existing vendors and identify needs for new suppliers.

How many times have people asked, “Who’s a good vendor for _____?” The Vendor Map allows you to bring all this scattered information together!

Used in conjunction with the Vendor Funnel, we now have a comprehensively designed approach to rationalizing the entire vendor selection process – saving a ton of time, trouble, and needlessly duplicated effort.

There are 10 major buckets (spreadsheet tabs) under which your vendors can be arranged:

  • Training Development
  • Strategy
  • Live Training
  • Technology Platforms
  • Sales Skills
  • Management & Leadership
  • Compliance & Human Capital
  • Trainer Skills
  • Specialized Training
  • Specialized Services

…and under each of those buckets there are sub-categories. For instance, under Specialized Training, there are columns for: Managed Markets | Federal Government Accounts | Marketing Training | MSL/Medical Affairs Training | Direct to HCP or Customer Training

BONUS: There is also a template for arranging your content development vendors by therapeutic specialty – making it much easier for members of your department to select potential suppliers based on areas of proven capabilities.

Want a copy? Just e-mail me (stevew at impactiviti.com) and I’ll send it along.

I extend thanks to the many folks – on both the client and vendor side – who contributed valuable input during the development of the Vendor Map tool. It is a version 1, so it’s not perfect; but, since it’s a spreadsheet, you can adapt it to the needs of your department. And, because Impactiviti’s business is to make vendor recommendations, I am happy to assist you in filling out your map, including making recommendations of targeted vendors for any needs you identify.

By the way, if you have colleagues attending the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference, this is a great tool to help intelligently plan, in advance, targeted visits in the vendor exhibition hall. Impactiviti can help you with that process as well.

>> Speaking of Vendor Selection/Management – did you know that SPBT and Impactiviti are sponsoring another public Successful Vendor Management full-day workshop for biopharma training professionals on May 9th? Go here for all the details, and to register your training managers!

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As we launch into 2013, I’m going to ask you to do me a very simple favor.

>>When you need advice on a vendor for training, compliance, or digital marketing needs, let’s talk. That’s it! Easy enough, right?

You have a need. I apply my expertise (and that of my vast network) to find you the optimal vendor/partner. Everyone wins.

The Impactiviti network exists to make targeted vendor recommendations. I do the work of intelligently identifying the best resources for you.

You win. The (most suitable) vendor wins. I win when my client and partner win. No tricks, no hard sell. Just expert advice to make your job easier. At no cost to you (I work on a referral fee basis with vendor/partners – a win for them, replacing the overhead cost of new sales).

And every time we brainstorm together, and identify top resources, the entire network gets better. Avoiding faulty decisions and weeding out lousy suppliers – that’s a win, too.

What’s the catch? Well, in 6+ years, I haven’t been able to find one. Nor have the many clients who’ve benefitted from the Impactiviti referral network. But if you really want to put in more time and effort on your own, and not look at recommended options…maybe calling Impactiviti isn’t your best move. ;>}

So, do us both a favor – let’s talk. Whatever need you’re planning for, Ask Steve (phone: 973-947-7429) – I’m happy to brainstorm with you and save you time (and headaches). If you’re within NJ/NY/CT/Philly area, I can also come in and chat.

Outsource failures are far too common. I’m here to help you win!

. . . . .

What types of training needs can we assist you with? Glad you asked! Download this quick cheat sheet! Impactiviti Vendor Advice

. . . . .

Impactiviti vendor services

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That’s how I feel after every SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference, and this year was no exception. It is the most intense networking week of the year for me.

Now, after a weekend to recover and reflect, it’s time to recap. In no particular order, here is what struck me:

1. The venue, Hyatt Regency New Orleans (next to the Superdome downtown), has been beautifully re-done after Katrina. The layout of the three main floors we used was as confusing as could be (one of the employees called it, “our beautiful labyrinth”), but the exhibit areas and workshop/keynote rooms were all close together. That’s a big plus.

2. All three keynotes this year were excellent, each with a different, challenging focus. Michael Gelb was thought-provoking on how to think like Leonardo DaVinci – emphasizing the need for creativity (and attendees were given the opportunity to receive signed books by the author). Michael Abrashoff has a very impressive story about the role of leadership in turning around an under-performing Navy crew – rich lessons that could be immediately applied (and, signed books given away). Daniel Kraft did a NJ-speaking-speed fast-paced overview of where healthcare technology is heading – this fascinating topic should be covered at least once every year, because we all need to know where the puck is going. I would say that Gelb was the most skilled and entertaining presenter; Kraft was trying to cover too much at his lightning pace; and Abrashoff’s pacing and transitions weren’t quite up to the level of the quality of his story. But each session was high-impact and seemed very well-received by the audience.

3. Whoever thought of bringing on song-a-day-guy Jonathan Mann to compose a fresh song each day, performed before the keynotes, is a genius. His nutty songs (and visuals) about compliance and iPads got the audience rollicking. Great use of humor and creativity. Weird red shoes, but hey, that’s part of his shtick!

4. The SPBT organizers are in the midst of a 2-3 year transition bringing the organization and its events into the new era, and I saw significant progress in that regard this year. I loved the fact that the board members had advance-invite breakfast discussion sessions with various stakeholders. The iPhone/iPad conference app was a cool and well-executed addition. The SPBT booth area was spacious and designed for stand-up or sit-down meetings in a relaxed, New Orleans-themed setting. New growth and services ideas are on the table, and having had many discussions with SPBT leaders of the past years, I am confident that things are heading in some very productive directions, which will be even more evident next year. Kudos to Kevin Kruse and the entire team.

5. Exhibit traffic – sigh. This is a perpetual concern, and having been a vendor in the hall for 10 years (and a free-range consultant for six), I know that there are major ROI concerns when traffic seems light, as it did this year. Most (though not all) of the vendors I talked to were lamenting the downtimes, and the less-than-stellar traffic during the breaks. I wish I had an easy answer to this dilemma. I did provide some “guided tours” for clients who wanted targeted introductions to specific vendors and I’ll probably ramp that up more next year.

6. Food – this was New Orleans, where flavor and calories reign supreme! I don’t think anyone was going hungry. I was actually fearful about getting back on the scale when I got home. One small complaint – coffee and snack availability wasn’t as easy as I’ve experienced in past years.

7. Networking, for me, was exceptional this year. I enjoyed rich discussions with: Ceci Zak and her Sanofi colleagues; Paul Silverman; Bonnie Luizza; Mike Capaldi; Bob Holliday and the B-I crew; a number of folks from Genentech (including the engaging Carrie Schaal); Deborah Reid; a slew of friends from Merck (thanks for allowing me to scatter you during the Networking workshop); the Ferring crew (whose office is maybe 10 minutes from where I live); Vicki Colman; Dawn Brehm and Carol Wells; Debi Limones; John Sjovall and all the fine DSI folks; Chuck DeBruyn and Dawn Sidgwick; Dennis Merlo and Jim Trunick (true industry veterans!); and many more. On the vendor side, it was old-home week again, getting updated with so many friends made over the years, and seeing what new offerings are coming into play. I also got to lead a workshop session on Building Your Own Professional Opportunity Network, and that seemed to go rather well. We could have easily used another hour, I bet – especially with the in-room networking we sought to apply immediately!

8. Technology – well, there were iPads. Oh, and iPads. Plus, a lot of talk about iPads. Here’s the thing: just about every pharma sales force seems to be using or heading toward iPads, and hardly ANY companies really had a cohesive and comprehensive strategy (let alone digital infrastructure) in place before starting to roll them out. So, it’s time to backfill all this neat stuff with clearer vision and strategy. That will be an Impactiviti focus over the coming year.

9. There was a broader variety of workshop sessions this year, although I attended fewer of them than usual (preferring to spend additional time in the exhibit hall and in private meetings). The ones that caught my interest demonstrated the use of iPads for transforming live meeting events – essentially, replacing all paper. Some pretty cool stuff out there. A lot of the iPad apps rolling out are still first-generation level, but looking into the future, it’s quite fascinating.

It’s a tough time for pharmaceutical sales forces, and training & development departments. There have been a lot of cuts, both in personnel and in budgets. But this is a resilient group, and it’s good to see that SPBT is evolving into a more nimble and entrepreneurial organization. We’re going to need that mindset as we move further into this decade of change.

Oh, and here’s my blogevator pitch: if you’re bewildered by the plethora of potential vendors (and technology solutions), call Impactiviti (973-947-7429). You have plenty to do for your day job. My job is to find you the resources you need.


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through trusted referrals.

Learn more about us here.

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Yes, I believe in the power of network-building (the entire Impactiviti business model is based on it!) So I’m happy to announce that I’ll be presenting on that theme at the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference in New Orleans (June 4-7).

The workshop title? Build Your Own Professional Opportunity Network.

Let’s face it – there is no job security anymore. The one security we can build is our network – that is where future opportunities will come from. In this workshop, I’ll give you all the practical steps and advice you need to build your circle of contacts into an opportunity network.

Look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!


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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(Image credit: Jessica Murray on Flickr)

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Last week, I had the privilege of taking part in the annual SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) Conference (Orlando this year – but next year, New Orleans!)

My review will consist of scattered thoughts on topics that stood out to me. So, here we go…

Facility: we were housed at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. The place was humongous, with a great variety of restaurants and bars, and capacity to accommodate multiple events easily. It is more of a corporate destination than a family resort, but if you do like golf and poolside lounging – well, you’ve got that big time at the Creek. Plus, my reserved room wasn’t ready upon check-in so I got upgraded to an executive suite. No, I did NOT argue – especially since my bride of 30 years came down for a few days afterward and we got to remain in the suite (thanks, front desk folks)!

Did you know that Orlando’s Shingle Creek is the headwaters for the Everglades? Neither did I.

Organization: I will make a prediction right now: next year’s SPBT event – and all that leads up to it – will be very different from what we’ve seen in the past! We’ve had some transition during 2010/2011 and I think that new directions being set by Managing Director Kevin Kruse, President Mike Capaldi, and others will be very exciting. This year’s show seemed quite well-organized, and it was good to see Scott Sauve, Christine Gaudet, and Miki St. Clair (among others) actively making things run smoothly. There’s a lot of fresh thinking going on behind the scenes. Stay tuned!

Exhibit Hall: This year, the facility layout allowed the exhibit area to be right next to the main ballrooms, plus all the workshop rooms were in easy walking distance. We’ve had some difficulties with layout in past years but this event was optimal for creating booth traffic. Booths continue to be more modest in size compared to some of the go-go growth years. And, as expected, there were lots of iPads about, with various proto-apps being shown. I maintain that iPad development will be one of the few bright spots in training development over the next two years.

It was great to see my pals from Advantage Performance Group exhibiting for the first time at SPBT!

Keynotes: Dan Pink, author of the book Drive (among others), was fabulous. And while it was good to hear directly from Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13 fame – a wonderful milestone in our space program), his talk was little more than a re-telling of the tale you saw in the movie by Tom Hanks. Yes, it’s an inspirational story, but to be perfectly honest, there was nothing in the keynote that was particularly new, instructive, or actionable. It may seem heretical to say it, but I was kind of disappointed.

Workshops: As always, a mix of really good and maybe-not-so-great. Of course, I was only able to attend a handful among the dozens offered. Some of the workshop rooms were too small (upstairs), while some of the downstairs rooms had 35-foot ceilings that swallowed up the speakers and acoustics. For people in the sales training business (both client and vendor side), I’m still perplexed by how many don’t create immediate audience engagement through skillful storytelling; and there is still far too much Powerpoint-as-data-delivery-device going on. Sigh. (note: Brian Lange’s session on Rock Star Openings was a great example of audience engagement and actionable info – I actually made changes to my next-day workshop on Advancing your Career Through Social Media based on Brian’s content!)

Social Media: There is slow uptake of social networking among pharma professionals, and still plenty of hesitation as evidenced by the attendee input during my workshop. The Social Media Shack in the exhibit hall did have some visitors, however, and some folks got started on Twitter during the conference. The good news is that much of the new leadership “gets” social media and is helping to raise the profile of digital networking. I put up a link with some networking resources, including an updated e-book on getting started with social networking, as a follow-up. SPBT on Twitter, by the way, is @spbt_tweets.

Networking: The great value of SPBT for me is the networking, with colleagues new and old. It was absolutely non-stop this year, including two very enjoyable dinners out (thanks to my friends at Verilogue, and Yukon Group). After about 15 years of rubbing shoulders with him at SPBT gatherings, I got to have an in-depth talk with Jim Trunick (Allergan) during one of those evenings and was delighted to see how the passion to excel still burns bright in him.

Our industry is in transition, and SPBT is in transition as well. I’m looking forward to seeing where some new ideas and approaches take the organization in the coming years. Can’t wait for New Orleans in 2012 (though Orlando sunsets are hard to beat)!


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We’re on the threshold of the annual SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference. We’re back in Orlando, and it looks like the event is loaded up with lots of good stuff once again this year.

For my part, I’ll be focusing on the importance of social networks – not only delivering a Wednesday afternoon workshop on the topic, but also helping out in the “Social Media Shack” for one-on-one coaching on advancing your career with social networks.

Each year, I look over the agenda and pull out the sessions that are of particular interest to me. Here’s what is catching my eye this year:


Loud, Small, and Disconnected: Adapting and Converting Content for Mobile – Jay Goldman. Mobile is a huge deal, and it will only become bigger. I especially think that tablets (like the iPad) will be game-changers. I’ll be drinking in everything I can learn about iPad apps this year.

Can We Really do Product Training through a Computer? – Braydon Johnson-McCormick and Jeff Taylor. I know both of these gentlemen, and I know what they’ve worked on. It’s very cool.

Customer Insights for Training Success – Manny Gaspar. Fascinating topic. We like data points.

Maximizing Sales Force Effectiveness With a (Simulation-based) Mastery Training Methodology – Kevin Glover. If it says “Simulation,” I’m in. Plus Kevin is a great guy.

Proof That Managed Markets Training Gets Sales Results-A Case Study With ROI! – Kathy West, Dennis Falci, Chris Ayers. Case Study? ROI? Want to see it.

Business Acumen in Life Science Sales: A Discussion Panel – Fred Marshall et. al. Very hot topic. And I’ve had a sneak preview. Powerful stuff.

Product Launch Excellence – Ready, Set, Train! – Philip McCrea et. al. Strong panel and a great topic. “it is critical that companies have the right framework in place while ensuring the organization is product-launch ready.”


Using Experiential Learning to Create Powerful Business Results – Annika McCrea, Alan Gentry, Jeff Tucker, Kelvin Yao. Same time as my workshop on sociai networking, which REALLY bums me out! May have to bring a clone. Plus, Mike Capaldi’s session on Social Learning is also at the same time. Scheduling FAIL! ;>}

Alternative Reality Challenge: An Interactive Blended Compliance Training Experience – Cinda Serianni, Caroline Bennett. OK, I’m a sucker for interactive stuff. You knew that.

Strategic Business Acumen: Training Your Sales Team on the Reimbursement Pathway – Pam Marinko. Business Acumen. Specialty Sales. Enough said.

Enhancing Clinical Understanding through Virtual Preceptorships – Ian Kelly, Ron Schanze. Hey, it’s tech.


Lessons Learned in Global Learning – Brian White, Dawn Epstein, Eric Jacobs. Always have to stay on top of this topic.

Creating Lasting Engagement: A Role for Sales Training and Field Coaching – Ed McCarthy, Phil Horne. I like Ed’s angle on this subject.

Of course, there are loads of other workshop topics, and your interests will vary. I’m also glad to see that my friend John Talanca will be giving a talk during one of the general sessions.

During the conference, I will be a “free-ranging” resource for you – happy to talk over your training challenges, make introductions to targeted vendors, give pointers on social networking, etc.

Here’s how to reach me before/during/after the SPBT conference: download my digital business card with all contact info to your mobile, by simply texting swoodruff to 50500. During the conference, the easiest way to make contact is to just send a text.

Hope to see you in Orlando!


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About this time of year, folks in pharma/biotech/med device sales training departments are deciding whether or not they should attend the annual SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference.

The answer is Yes! How’s that for making it simple?

I’ve attended for about 15 years, through all the recent industry ups and downs, and I believe that this conference provides unique value. Here’s why:

  • We all need cross-pollination. Believe it or not, your company is not (and cannot be) on the leading-edge of everything, including training best practices, technology, and new approaches. At SPBT, you get an eyeful of what else is being done in the industry.
  • We all need broader networks. The people you meet at the SPBT conference may very well play a major role in your next job, or your next hire. There is no better concentration of colleagues than at SPBT.
  • We all need to step away. One of the most valuable aspects of conferences for me is the chance to put aside the day-to-day, and think about things from a more creative and strategic perspective. I’ll bet you have the same experience.
  • We all need to see what’s new in the marketplace. The vendor/partners are there to show you what is possible, and if there’s one word I think you should have front-and-center in your mind this year, it’s this: iPad.
  • Face time. That’s pretty much woven throughout all of the points above. Since my role is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agent, that’s the huge deal – meeting with people, introducing people to each other, bringing vendors and clients together – there’s no other place like it.

So, GO. Here’s the link to register. And, there’s a new bonus this year – the last day of the conference has special full-day deep-dive sessions on concentrated topics (I’m leading one of the workshops, on Vendor/Project Success). Don’t miss signing up for one of these, and especially think about them for your mid-level or junior-level staffers.


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I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers (SPBT) Conference in Orlando.

For those not involved in SPBT, this is a society made up of (sales) training professionals across the spectrum of pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. While the conference structure has slightly morphed over time, it generally follows a pattern of featured keynotes in the morning, with various topical workshops during the rest of the day. The event runs from a Monday evening through Thursday morning, with peak attendance on Tuesday through mid-afternoon Wednesday. There is an exhibit hall of industry partners (vendors), of course, and evening events planned by the society and by various vendors.

I’ve been attending for about 14 years, and have seen the high points and the low points in the industry during that time. With all the recent mergers and the economic turmoil, this one had the potential to be a bit sparse, but a late boost in registrations pushed attendance over 500, which was encouraging for everyone involved.

Mike Capaldi of Sanofi-Aventis, currently serving as President of SPBT, did a fine job orchestrating the event (both beforehand and during), ably assisted by the staff who help plan and run the event each year. Circulating in the exhibit hall, I found a mixed-bag of reactions – some vendors were reporting excellent traffic, others were talking about molasses. That’s almost always the case, each year. I think it’s true that overall, the afternoon/evening social events in the exhibit area seem not to generate the kind of activity that used to be present 5-8 years ago. The seismic shifts in pharma, sales, and training continue.

I enjoyed the Tuesday morning keynote by Jim Craig, who was goalie of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won gold in Lake Placid against overwhelming odds. And I confess freely – since this was my favorite sports moment of all time, you could probably have put the puck on the podium and just replayed this documentary and I would have enjoyed it (also, I met my wife the summer beforehand in Lake Placid, so I really do have a soft spot for that whole complex of events!) To be honest, I thought Jim’s motivational speech was a bit canned, but it was effectively delivered, and he spent the rest of the day mingling with people, taking pictures, and signing autographs in the exhibit hall. That was cool.

The Thursday keynote was also notable, in that it was the first-ever effective use of social networking technology during a general SPBT session. Orchestrated by Karie Willyerd, who was once responsible for employee/customer/partner learning at Sun Microsystems, the session addressed the role of informal learning in the organization. The content was quite good, but best of all was the use of a technology called PollEverywhere, which allowed interactive audience polling via text message, Twitter, or web. I’m a big fan of interactive systems during a presentation, but find non-stop tweetstreams to be distracting, and proprietary systems to be a barrier to entry. Using what everyone has – a phone – was a great “intro” into social learning, especially for a session on…social learning!

The Wednesday keynote on Managing Energy (not time) by Jim Loehr was quite interesting and I’m digging further into the subject with a book his group (Human Performance Institute) has published on the subject. At first blush, I think they’re definitely onto something, and this presentation put into words a few themes that have swirled around in my head for some time but which never quite came into clear focus before.

There’s no good way to give a summary to the variety of workshops that was offered, because I was only able to attend one per time slot, and two of them I led or co-led. I did enjoy the interaction in my session on Five Ways Social Media will Shape Your Future in Pharma, and a smaller group of us had a lively discussion in the Strategic Sourcing workshop (team-led with some colleagues from Proficient Learning and Clearpoint Learning). Downloadable post-session resources (for anyone!) can be found here: http://bit.ly/socialrx, including a free e-book on Getting Started with Social Networking.

Having been on the vendor side for many years, I’m always very conscious of the facility – namely, the ease of navigating between general session rooms/breakout rooms/exhibit halls, overall “feel” (claustrophobic? open?), and general access to social diversions. In this respect, the Gaylord Palms was outstanding. The layout was straightforward, all the dimensions were “big” and roomy, and there was a nice variety of restaurants and shops. It would be a nice place to bring a family while attending a conference – highly recommended.

For me, though, this conference always boils down to the people – including valued clients with whom there is never enough face time. Breakfast with Bob Holliday. The annual smiles and greetings with Jim Trunick. Finally meeting Howard Hessel. Socializing with Dan Scott. Flying out on the same plane with John Sjovall. Seeing Norbert Stone in the break area between sessions. Renewing friendship with Dennis Martenz. Enjoying a breakfast roundtable on social networking with folks from Genentech. Rubbing shoulders and exchanging ideas with Tim Kern, Paige Billings, Bonnie Luizza, Mike Zdrojewski, John Constantine, Sue Iannone, Mike Meehan, John Dellaratta, Phil Sigler, Vicki Colman, DeWayne Mason, Neena Desai, John Riggle, Harry Murtaugh, Lynn DiBonaventura, Matt Hobbs, Dang Nam..and so many others.

Time in the exhibit hall, with many valued industry partners and friends, is always a delight. Getting up to date with colleagues from NxLevel Solutions (where my doppelganger resides), Pedagogue (need on-line testing? They’re your solution!), Proficient Learning (with much laughter over dinner), Campbell Alliance (the first ever indoor boat social event at SPBT!), CMR Institute (my secret source for Mill Mountain Coffee!), Clearpoint Learning (great red ties this year), IC Axon, Illuminate, Eagle Productivity, Yukon Group, Informa (always so gracious – even if I failed twice at the basketball contest), Taimma (so glad you brought on Bill Ahern!), Locus, Peloton (best little backpacks ever!), Noggin Labs, Strategic Outcomes, Velocity, TBA Global, and others.

Scott Sauve, Steve Sitek, Bob Rodman, Brian Fagan, and the rest of the SPBT team are to be congratulated for pulling off a fine event.

Many others will say that they have the best clients and partners. They’re lying. I do. Just saying…

(Here’s an idea for a format change I’d like to suggest, to make it easier for vendors to introduce themselves to the broadest possible audience. That would be a pay-to-play Pecha Kucha session between 2 main sessions, where, let’s say, 10 vendors get to present their work/value to the entire audience in the “20 images in 20 seconds format” (accompanied by highly distilled verbal description) – and let the audience vote on the best one. It would be a fun and engaging way to weave the vendors into the staged sessions, while providing a creative way to give a “taste” of solutions).


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