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The Kindness of People

On December 1st, 2019, FOCM recommended (see “Recommended Businesses” tab) Craig Childs of C & R Photography had his photo equipment gear stolen out of his vehicle while doing an outdoor photo shoot. Through social media and a pick-up by the local news, the kindness and support of strangers during the holiday season was magnificently demonstrated. Craig and his wife Rachel (also on my Recommended Businesses tab for keeping my hair looking good; exceptional hair stylist) gave me permission to share this story.

Craig was photographing families at Fort Fisher, NC and donating all the proceeds to “A Safe Place” which helps victims of human trafficking. While doing so, approximately $4,000 worth of equipment was taken from his Jeep. The thieves also stole his sister-in-law’s purse and keys from the front seat and then broke into her car, parked nearby.

Thankfully, the money (around $600) raised for “A Safe Place” was not stolen and he still had his camera and all his family photos. .

Social media shared the story and a local friend started a GoFundMe drive to help Craig replace his gear. In less than 48 hours, $4,000 was raised allowing Craig to replace his photography gear.

Craig was very stunned and appreciative and wrote this on his C&R Photography Facebook page.

Thank you everyone so much!
The go fund me account that my friend set up for me reached its goal within less than two days! I am so overwhelmed right now. Because of your generosity I’m going to be able to order equipment in place of equipment that I lost. Because of y’all I will be able to continue on with my business/passion that I love. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart to the people that felt compelled to donate, send prayers, everyone that shared my post, everyone that offered to let me borrow their equipment if I needed it, just all of The love and support and friends that called to talk to me to cheer me up, I just really appreciate it all. For people that are wondering if there’s money left over from ordering my gear I plan to donate it to a charity and help my sister-in-law pay for a new key fob for her car!

Additionally, to show his appreciation to the community, Craig gave away two free family photo sessions drawn from people who commented on his thank you post.

Humanity: kindness at work, it is innate – people helping others.

Epic FOCM New Member Inductions

Twas (still thinking of Christmas stories) a fantastic week in May in Valley Forge, PA. Attending the Arena International Outsourcing in Clinical Trials East Coast meeting turned out to be truly historic and the pictures prove it.

A FOCM networking event was held on Monday 20 at J Alexander’s restaurant in the King of Prussia Mall area. As usual, I didn’t take attendance, but I do recall that in attendance were: Dave Gibboni, Christian McCracken, Pete Nieto, Kate Mullis, Vicky Martin, Scott Robertson and probably, possibly, Ted and/or Richard Gastineau. Some of us managed to get a picture taken.

Pete Nieto, Christian McCracken, Chris Matheus, Dave Gibboni

There were three FOCM membership card ceremonies. Two of the recipients are clinical research industry veterans, heavyweights, emerituses (emeritae?), big deals to be sure. And one recipient has a bright future now that he has his card. The joy on these people’s faces is undeniable. And a current member displays the FOCM nametag sticker. Scroll down to see.

Bill Taaffe
Mike Ruane
Kevin Keenan with Sue Ruane photo bombing this somber event
Mike DeBerry

Tips for Networking at Events

Samantha Whitehorne summarized a study from Loughborough University and Imago Ventures which contains tips for improving networking success at events. In the book, “How to Network”, 10 tips are discussed.

You can read more of the details at the link above. Briefly here are several.

  1. Know where to place yourself in the room. 
  2. Put your coffee cup on a table. 
  3. Join the conversation. 
  4. Ways to start a conversation.*
  5. Don’t just say hi and look over their shoulder for the next person, stay involved
  6. Be aware of not talking too long.

*One item I didn’t agree with in this area is they recommend the time-worn greeting: “where are you from?” As Heather Hollick points out in “Helpful: A guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking” a question which will get you more insightful information is “what are you working on”. Then the person shares with you what is of import to them.

The full publication can be found here: https://www.welcometoimago.com/how-to-network/

Samantha adds to this the perspective of the meeting planner and what they can do to facilitate networking.

The Importance of Networking in Managing your Career

“Networking” to some people sounds more complicated than it is and may even generate feelings of discomfort.  “Networking” isn’t meeting strangers with a common interest in a noisy bar and shouting at each other, “what do you do?”  Although I’m sure many of you have experienced such an event.

To understand the role that networking plays in career management, let’s start with the evolving definition of NETWORKING. 

Investopedia describes NETWORKING as: the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.

Dictionary.com describes NETWORKING as: a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.

Cambridge Dictionary describes NETWORKING as:  the process of meeting and talking to a lot of peopleesp. in order to get information that can help you

Historically, definitions of networking stressed the point was to meet people and determine how they could help you.  That self-centered approach has given way to the understanding that the purpose of networking is go create a mutually beneficial relationship.   In her book Helpful: A Guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking, Heather Hollick presents the purpose of networking is to be helpful – leveraging who you know and what you know to help other people be successful, and surround yourself with other people who do the same. 

My Networking Philosophy to networking is: connecting people and companies to companies and people for their mutual benefit.  It is nice to see that Business Dictionary has added: Networking is based on the question – “how can I help?” and not “what can I get?”

Why Network

In the past, even as recent as 15 to 20 years ago, networking outside one’s company (think of a large pharmaceutical company) didn’t seem necessary.  There were still plenty of people who had been at the same company for 15 – 30 years and were doing well with no thought to changing jobs.  Then mergers, acquisitions and restructuring shook the industry.  People who had been at a company for many years and who were well networked within that company suddenly were out of work and realized they had no business network outside of that company.  That is exactly what happened to me and I made sure to learn from that experience.

Lesson Learned #1: Look at your situation with a wider perspective

While in shock, worrying if I’d have to move my family and going on interviews, I learned a lesson from a chance encounter with a former colleague who was in the same boat that as I was in.  We were both flying to New Jersey for interviews and I told him I didn’t have a good feeling about the company I was interviewing with, it had no culture, and the employees didn’t seem friendly.  He suggested I look at it differently – “could you do the job for a year?” is what he asked me.  My reply was, “of course.”  He helped me realize that there was nothing wrong with taking the job, making the most of my severance, and continuing to look for a role that reflected the highest and best use of my skills. And who knows? Maybe the job would be better than I first thought. This bit of advice completely changed my attitude and I interviewed as if this was the perfect job for me.  I got the job.  It turned out to be an okay fit but I kept one job opportunity open and when they offered me the position 5 months later, I took it.

Lesson Learned #2: Use this job to get to your next one.

Your new may not be THE job that carries you through the rest of your career.  Some have called such an experience, a “mulligan” or a “do-over” job.  Through the experience you learn that you are employable and you’re more in the driver’s seat than you think.  Your goal is to find the company and culture that fits you, and where you want to invest your energy and talent.

Lesson Learned #3: Be prepared

I do not consciously recall saying to myself “I’ll never be in that situation again.”  However, a look at my behavior since then indicates that I took that to heart.  At every conference I attended, I introduced myself to the people in the booth on either side and across from me at the conference.  When I wasn’t in the booth, I walked the exhibit hall asking questions, meeting people and learning about their companies and services.  In the past 15 years, when corporate restructuring or a personal decision to be in the market for a new job, I had job offers and was working within a short period of time.

Lesson Learned #4

Networking must be an integral part of managing your career. 

Making and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships will help you get promoted, take on challenging assignments, solve and help others solve work problems and successfully address issues.

Having polled many audiences at DIA networking workshops over the past 10 years, the percentage of people who are in their current job due to networking is around 85%.  Very few people are in their current job in our industry by replying to online job postings.

Networking also helps your career by:

  • Being seen as proactive, active, resourceful, smart, and engaged
  • Bringing new experiences to your life
  • Building loyalty, trust, and dependability
  • Increasing your communication skills, influence, and patience

Now, how do you do this? 

In almost every state there is an organization to foster and support biotech and pharma companies.  NJ Bio, PA Bio, NC Biotech are examples.  Join them and find out when they have events.  LaunchBio (https://launchbio.org/) is an organization that hosts monthly events with speakers on relevant topics to the industry and are located in: Cambridge, MA; Durham, NC; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; San Diego, CA and San Francisco, CA. 

Now, how do you really do this?

  • When attending events, if there’s an opportunity to pre-register, do so.  This usually means you get a printed name tag.  Wear it. 
  • Put the name tag on the right side of your chest.  This makes it visible to who you meet as you shake hands.
  • Dress sharp and professional.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile, be positive and maintain a pleasant demeanor.
  • Be Personable – remember and use people’s names.
  • Be helpful – look for ways to offer information, to a favor, or make an introduction.
  • Be someone others WANT to connect to.
  • Ask “what are you working on?” instead of “what do you do?”
  • Be interested – ask others for their business cards (and have yours ready for them).
  • Follow up – thoughtfully and invite to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Put down your phone.

A section from Heather Hollick’s book carries this noteworthy message: Your network…stays with you from job to job and career to career.  It is entirely your creation and no one can take it away from you… build a network that becomes your tribe – the people to whom you are loyal and who, you trust, are loyal to you.

Get Involved Through Mentoring

Sharing with you a mentorship program I’ve gotten involved with at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to connect UNCW with the field of clinical research.  FuseCR is providing  local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.  One such program is MentorCR which pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership.

My mentee is Keith Reid, https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithtreidjr/ .  Keith is a Junior in the Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Research program.  While going to UNCW, Keith works as an Advanced EMT at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  Like many others in the clinical research industry, Keith feels drawn to this as a career having lost both his grandfather and father to heart disease at the age of 50.

Keith and I will meet monthly or more often as needed.  Given my passion for connecting people, some of you can expect to hear from me requesting some of your time to talk with Keith on career path options and to share your experience and perspective.

The UNCW Clinical Research degree program is impressive in preparing students for entering into the clinical research industry.  Keith has already completed the following certifications:

  • Medidata Classic Rave EDC Essentials for clinical research coordinators | March 2019
  • TransCelerate Essential Documents | February 2019
  • TransCelerate IRB/IEC Responsibilities & Informed Consent | February 2019
  • TransCelerate Facilities & Equipment | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Investigator Oversight Informational Program | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Delegation & Training | October 2018
  • Medidata EDC Inspection Readiness for Clinical Sites | June 2018
  • CITI Biomedical Research Certification | 2018

For more information on UNCW FuseCR and the MentorCR program, read on or go to the links shown.

FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to ignite a new synergy between UNCW and the field of clinical research. By fusing resources and knowledge from academia and industry, FuseCR is energizing the local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/index.html

  • Build Connections between Academia and Industry
  • Enhance Our Existing Workforce
  • Prepare Students for the Workplace
  • Educate the Next Generation of Talent

The general objectives of these programs and services are as follows:

FuseCR was formed by UNCW faculty from the School of Nursing’s Clinical Research Program and the Math and Statistics Department, in partnership with the NC Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office and the NC Coast Clinical Research Initiative.  This project was partially funded by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to strengthen the workforce for the local clinical research industry.

MentorCR for Industry Professionals: FuseCR Mentoring ProgramMentorCR pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership. Engagement opportunities and leadership seminars are offered to further the student’s careers and the industry professional’s mentorship skills, while building professional relationships within the clinical research industry.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/mentor.html

Mentors meet with their students 2-3 times per month and have opportunities to attend leadership seminars to further their careers while building networks within the industry. This program advances UNCW’s goal of workforce development in health-related fields for our regional community and provides crucial applied learning opportunities for our clinical research students.

Mentors have the opportunity to:

  • Support UNCW students by orienting them to the industry and helping them to build networks
  • Help the local economy by preparing better trained students
  • Experience the personal and professional benefits of being a mentor

FOCM Networking Event Meeting Minutes

May 9 found me in Durham, NC for a date with Durham Traffic Court the morning of the 10th. As you know, any excuse for meeting up with friends is kinda my life’s mission.

Notification was sent out to 63 people via Google calendar. 24 people opened the calendar invitation and responded with yes, no or maybe. I believe we had 13 attend. By the time we thought to take a picture, a few had already left. The location was Boxcar Bar & Arcade on Foster Street in Durham.

In attendance were: Don Alexander, Cynthia Edwards, David and Jaclyn Holland, Eric Nier, Gail Fowler, Kris Gustafson, Hillary Whittaker, Lauren Sherwood, Tim Sauls, Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw and representing the PA Chapter, Vicky Martin.

L to R: Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw
Me, Tim Sauls, Vicky Martin

Idiocy Exemplified

So the formerly nice city to visit, San Francisco has decided that new language is needed to describe people who commit crimes. The reason is new words will help change people’s views about those who break the laws of our society.

So now in San Francisco they are getting rid of the words: offender, addict and convicted felon. Those words are replaced with “justice-involved person.” I kid you not! The justice system doesn’t get involved with you until you commit a crime.

But wait, there’s even more stupidity: a convicted felon or an criminal released from custody will be known as a “formerly incarcerated person,” or a “justice-involved” person or just a “returning resident.” So will they change job applications to ask: Have you ever been a returning resident? If yes, from where did you return? Was it a place of some level of confinement? an abode in which detention was practiced and mobility was somewhat constrained?

A juvenile “delinquent” will now be called a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.” Right, the juvenile justice system impacted this young person. The young person broke the law, bringing the impact of the justice system onto himself.

Is it just me or isn’t the easiest and best way to avoid being labeled a criminal is to not commit a crime in the first place?

One of the great things about the American government is we allow cities and states to make some of their own decisions and then the rest of us can watch the experiment – like states legalizing marijuana or cities passing $15 minimum wage laws. To me this seems like a silly waste of time, but lets see if making criminals seem less evil makes a difference.

The Human Race

I was inspired to write this because of my dear friend from college, Arturo Coppola. He described someone as being “racist” because that individual said to an American of Latino descent to “speak English” instead of Spanish. That got me to doing research on “race”.

Wikipedia breaks the human race into three races: African, Oriental and Caucasian and acknowledges that there are multiple ethnicities. A mid 20th century American anthropologist, Carleton S. Coon made the case that there are 5 races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

Yet further research and information reveals that the categorization is rather arbitrary and essentially baseless. They call it a social construct. I had to look that up to see if its what I thought it meant and it does – something made up – social construct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society

From Wikipedia (links to sources of info I used for this blog are at the bottom). A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.

Humans of the same sex are 99.9% genetically identical. Any ethnic group contains 85% of the human genetic diversity of the world. Genetic data shows that no matter how population groups are defined, two people from the same population group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different population groups.

Since the beginning time when humans appeared on Earth, we tend to feel more comfortable with those with whom we grew up, those similar to us. Long ago that meant your family, your group, your neighbors. Each of those groups felt more comfortable with those with who they had the most experience and interaction. Imagine a group/clan/tribe/community of brown hair, brown-eyed, brown skinned people one thousand years ago and in walks a blond-haired, blue-eyed person. Without any prior interactive experience, there would be suspicion, skepticism, and a certain wariness.

I grew up in Yuma, AZ, a very long way from Northeastern USA. I admit to a wariness about those people who exhibit the generalization about New Jersey people: talk loudly and sound angry. That comes across to me as unpredictable, so I am wary around that type of person, I do not need to take a Xanax (that would make me a Jerseyphobe) to be around them, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable.

When I grew up in Yuma (which by the way, produces 95% of America’s winter lettuce, so when you’re enjoying lettuce in the winter, say thanks to Yuma) the population was around 40% Hispanic at that time. Therefore that is what I am used to – I am certainly more comfortable with people of Hispanic origin than I am with loud people from New Jersey. (Note: Mike Burrows, you are not loud, this isn’t about you, Helmut knows who I am referencing.)

Among humans, race has no taxonomic (i honestly don’t know what this word means and don’t want to look it up – I think it might mean something like “categories?”) significance – all living humans belong to the same speciesHomo sapiens. The amount of melanin in our skin determines our skin and hair color. Where we grew up determines the language that we speak and the accent that we have. That is about it. Therefore, we are truly one race – the Human Race. So I suggest we stop using the word “racist” and use “bigot” or maybe “differentists” – those who through ignorance, lack of education, views passed along from their parents and grandparents fear people different from them, is the right word. Differentist doesn’t appear to mean this in online dictionaries, so perhaps “bigot” (suggested by Art Coppola as a better all-inclusive word) or “ethnicist: A person who believes a particular ethnicity is superior to others are more accurate terms. Xenophobia comes from the Greek word for stranger. So I suppose that is a good overall term for people with an overblown fear of strangers. There is not ethnicity, group, tribe, country’s citizens that are better than any other. All this hyper-exaggeration of our differences when boiled down seems like like being in high school with the various baseless cliques. Isn’t it time to grow up, move past the focus on superficial differences and see that we all belong to the same race?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

Entering Possibly Humorous Zone

So I don’t know how or why, probably genetics has a lot to do with it, I take a light-hearted approach to life and look to find the humor in things or just make up the humor. Peter Holthe, the driving force that made FOCM happen, called me irreverent. Having just looked it up, it means: showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously. I don’t intend to show a lack of respect but I like humor more than seriousness. Of course there’s a time and a place for both. But funny observations are always just under the serious stuff for me.

So my twin brother recently must have been surfing the web, maybe Wikipedia and spent time on the origin of the names of a couple of America’s states: Idaho and Texas. Below will be what he wrote and what I replied with.

My brother sent this: The name “Idaho” has no translation at all because it’s entirely made up. In an early form of marketing that would make these modern-day businesses proud, the name was suggested by a local leader in 1860 who claimed the word “Idaho” was a Native American word for “gem of the mountains.” Later that same year, gold was discovered in the Clearwater area, proving his invented name wasn’t far off base.

To which I replied: That’s close to accurate.  It was made up, but it was “Idano” and a typesetting issue on the old printing press mistakenly set the n as an h.  Quite easy to do as they are close to each other. The name “Idano” was because when others heading west asked the people in what is now Idaho, why they stopped there and didn’t go any further, their answer was “idano”.

Then he sent this about Texas: Like the Dakotas, Texas was named with friendship in mind. Texas is a variant of a word (Teysha) used by some Native Americans to refer to friends or allies. It has many different spellings, including “Texias,” “Tejas,” and “Teysas.”

To which I replied: A variant book of name origins reveals this: Like the Carolinas, Texas was named after a particular member of the royal family, albeit, for Texas, it was a lesser known Earl of a small, rural Scottish Isle.  His name was Tex, Earl of the Isle of Mull.  Tex was rather eccentric and thought being Earl meant he was King of his Isle.  When people would see something new or different on the isle, they’d ask “whose is that?” The answer was always “it’s Tex’s”.  Tex did little actual work and spent a lot of time thinking – coincidentally Tex is the reason that to “mull” it over means to think on something.  Tex’s incompetency lead to his eventual over throw and he was sent to the new colonies. He eventually settled in what is now Odessa. He got very active in the public square where his eccentricities and overblown ego eventually resulted in the state being named Texas.

FOCM Network Brainstorming Project

A friend and FOCM member in good standing is starting her consultancy company and is looking to find a good and proper name. As an annual dues paying member, she is entitled to this calling forth the idea generation of the FOCM Network.

The option to name it something like: lastname (use Smith as the example) consulting, of course is an option. I proposed we ask this network to do some thinking and see if we could come up with a name that will communicate what it is she can best contribute.

So here’s the background info:
This individual has over 25 years experience as a Clinical Research Scientist, Director of Clinical Operations, Executive Director and VP of Strategic Programs, Alliances and Governance. The past 12 years have been in the area of managing strategic accounts and partnership governance. This is a particularly strong area of expertise and focus.

Let’s use the normal brainstorming rules – no idea is a bad idea, don’t shoot down any other ideas – just want to generate name ideas. I’ll get it started:

CRO/Bio/Pharm Alliance Management, LLC
Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research Partnership Governance, LLC
Smith Consulting, LLC
Clinical Research Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research and Governance, LLC
Strategic Governance, LLC

Reply in comments with your quick, off the top of your head ideas. Many thanks.