Help Each Other

This year has found all of us adjusting to differences in the way we go about our daily lives. One business industry that I’ve come to realize must be really struggling is the dry cleaning industry.

When was the last time you wore an item of clothing that you typically take to the dry cleaner?  So I had this idea of how we can help them hold on during this time of remote work and virtual conferences. 

For all of us employed and working from home – let’s pick a day to wear an item of clothing that you take to the dry cleaner to wash.  How about Wednesdays?

Shirt for the dry cleaner

#supportyourlocaldrycleaner #FOCM #powerofnetworking #Helpful #helpeachotherb

FOCM Brainstorming Assignment

Help in naming a beach condo is today’s crowd-sourcing brainstorming name creation assignment.

In a condominium complex called The Breakers are 4 buildings with 18 units in each building. The four buildings are A, B, C and D. The unit needing a name is unit C-4. I, because I know that C4 is a name of a plastic explosive, always add the tag line “it’s explosive” when I say C4. So when people ask me which unit is ours, I say “C4, its explosive”. Some people don’t get it and look confused, but I don’t care.

So FOCM Team Mission Impossible Branding/Name Generation: your mission if you choose to accept it is to post in the comments section, name ideas for a beach condo in Carolina Beach, in The Breakers complex, the unit C-4. Rules: any name is a good idea, no judging or responding negatively to other’s suggested names.

BEGIN!

Observations on a Virtual Conference in 2020

2020, the year of the COVID-19/Protests/Riots/Presidential Election and the year the clinical research industry’s annual convention went virtual.

The noteworthiness of this made me think to jot down my observations.

I have been attending DIA since 1997. That year it was held in Montreal. Last year was in San Diego, which is probably the best place to have it in terms of weather.  The conference is always in the 3rd or 4th week of June.  The heat and humidity in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston has often been close to unbearable.

The biggest differences for me were:

  • I didn’t get to co-host the FOCM Networking event with my friends from Zymewire
  • I missed seeing everyone! Not seeing friends in person (this event is very much an industry reunion) and not getting to socialize with them makes it more difficult to maintain relationships
  • Seeing so few friends in the virtual exhibit hall (Thanks Adriana Grado, Cory Winters and Amy Zastawney for taking time to meet with me). Every year I make a point to walk the entire exhibit hall to make sure I see and catch up with as many people as I can and to see what new and innovative products and services are available
  • I didn’t stay out too late (there was no virtual Transperfect party or vendor parties of any kind)
  • I didn’t drink too much.
  • I didn’t have a Fireball shot at the Barrington James exhibit.
  • I didn’t welcome any new FOCM members and hold any card ceremonies (I’ll have to re-write the card ceremony SOPs – the handshake may have to be eliminated)
  • Here it is the last day and I’m not exhausted.

As I have often told people younger and/or with less conference experience than me, at DIA – you will stay out too late and drink too much.  I point out that you HAVE to do this (it might even be in the SOP binder), because if you don’t, it wouldn’t be the tradition that it is.

A couple months ago I held a virtual FOCM Networking event with about 10 industry friends. I asked them if DIA were to be held in person, who would travel to DC for it.  The answer was no one.  Comments made were: it’s too risky, I don’t want to get on a plane, stay in a hotel, take a cab or Uber and go to a conference with 5000+ people. 

We in this industry are proud of the role we’re playing and demonstrating to the world the value, the need and the method for discovering treatments for COVID-19. The need to utilize recent innovations in big data, AI, high throughput screening, lighten cumbersome regulatory hurdles will serve the world well for developing new treatments for all diseases.

Virtual FOCM Networking Events Review

During this Covid-19 Quarantine/Social Distancing, we’ve all seen an increase in the use of virtual meetings, virtual networking via videoconferencing tools.  Zoom, Hopin, GoogleMeet, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Free Conference Call are ones that I’ve been involved with to-date.

It is very interesting to hear how people are using these tools in a variety of clever ways. That’s the impressive nature of human-kind: creativity, innovation when circumstances impact us. 

I know of families having weekly Zoom calls to stay in touch. One includes playing a trivia game on each call, after catching up with everyone. Whoever wins the trivia game controls the questions for the next game. The Hopin (thanks GCPCafe and Nadia Bracken) tool has limits on the number of people who can be on camera at one time, while many more can participate via chat room to interact with the others.  This is good for interactive presentations by a few speakers. It also has a one-on-one video networking that I really enjoyed. You’re put into a “room” and are waiting for someone else to enter the “room” and then you see each other and start talking. It felt like meeting someone new at an industry conference reception without all the background noise and distractions.

I have held four FOCM virtual networking events using both Zoom and GoogleMeet. A friend said, ‘hey you’re the networking guy, you should be doing something during this time of isolation.’ I took it to heart and held events in the evenings on April 16, April 23, April 30 and May 13. Like I do when I would travel (remember that? – airplanes, hotels and rental cars?), I would email everyone I knew in the area to see who could meet up that night for drinks/dinner. So at first I held a FOCM event for the Philadelphia metro area, then for the Raleigh metro area, then the Boston metro area. It was about the April 30 Boston event, that I realized, I was no longer bound by geographic constraints. So the May 13 one was national (I did invite members from Europe, but it would have been 1 a.m. for them).

Attendance was taken, as per FOCM SOP:
April 16: Bryan Clayton, Dave Gibboni, Ryan Gibson, Chris McArthur, Chris McCracken, Pete Nieto, Mike Strand

April 23: Mike Burrows, Renee Brown, Brian Horan, Lauren Sherwood, Kate Mulllis (tried)- meeting minutes already published on www.focmnetworking.com/networking

April 30: Paul Bilden, Israel Bocanegra, Mike Burrows, Clint Craun, Scott Freedman, Brian Langin, Dan Weddle, Amy Zastawney
Observations: Two people had to exit early to attend other web calls, one for a birthday celebration – perhaps a glimpse of our future; night-time schedules of “virtual” meetings to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. I attended a friend’s birthday party on May 2 via Zoom.

May 13: 159 people were sent google calendar invitations, 111 never opened it (do that many people not receive google calendar invitations into their email inboxes?  24 said yes, 10 no and 14 maybe. There were some issues with people being able to talk and/or to see their faces.  We were on for an hour.  To manage it, we opened with a cheers! Then I called on people to share whatever they wanted on how they were coping or what they were learning. Using the chat feature I let the person who was up next know I’d be calling on them.  I know we didn’t get to everyone and I wish we had. It was great to see and hear from so many FOCM members.
Kevin Boos, Mike Burrows, Nadia Bracken, Renee Brown, Greg Cohee, Kevin Collier, Scott Freedman, Dave Gibboni, Heather Hollick, Askold Kozbur, Brian Langin, Jon Matheus, Chris McCracken, Lynne McKerlie, Karen McPoyle, Sarah Meister, Lorraine Mercer, Adrian Pencak, Roxann Pinguelo, Lauren Sherwood, Dan Weddle, Wayne Whittingham, Michael Williams.

Screen Grabs of the event were sent to me and they are shown below. The first one was sent to me with the subject line “ScreenGrab Tonight”. Proof that enjoyment of sarcasm and wit are fundamental to the FOCM code of behavior.

Screen Grab submitted by Dave Gibboni

I would like to hear of other interesting, unique, clever ways people are using these tools in this current time of reduced in-person gatherings. Use the comments box to share things you’re seeing or doing.

Screen Grab provided by Nadia Bracken
Screen Grab provided by Nadia Bracken
Dave Gibboni showing the Pixel by LabCorp self collection kit for Covid-19 testing

Minutes of Virtual FOCM Meeting #2

FOCM Virtual Meeting Minutes

Date April 23, 2020

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Attendees:
Lauren Sherwood
Mike Burrows
Brian Horan
Renee Brown
Kate Mullis (tried)

The meeting was called to order at precisely 7:00 p.m. consistent with FOCM SOPs.  If there’s one thing that FOCM stands for it’s being on time.  No, no, that’s actually not true.  If there’s one thing FOCM stands for its socializing/networking.

The meeting was held via Zoom which I’m not familiar with using, such that when Kate Mullis tried to join, I didn’t notice the “Kate Mullis wants in, do you admit her or not” and she had to give up and put children to bed.  FOCM’s chairman vows to do better in the future.

It appears we’re all bearing up under the COVID-19 distancing and limited opportunities for going out other than walks, exercise, picking up take out, following the arrows at the grocery stores. There’s a definite reduction in new study start ups, but a lot of work and planning for how to handle ongoing clinical trials.  Decisions on new hiring are also delayed considerably.

Will the future of clinical trials be: a return to the way we were doing them with a gradual move toward reducing patient and site burden or will this be the disruption needed to make virtual/hybrid trials the new normal?

Continue washing your hands and staying away from people. I think based on my review of the data, bar graphs, the number of patients in clinical trials and the early reports finding beneficial effects from some of them that by May 8, we’ll be down to under 10,000 daily new cases.

Networking while social distancing

The world certainly has changed in the last few months. A big part of life is our relationships and interactions with others. With quarantining and social distancing, that has blocked this part of our lives. Some might say that introverts are loving this time and some might be. More than likely their lives (work and personal) require some personal interaction and as such they’re also feeling some angst.

What it is doing is teaching us how to do things in new ways. Both at work and in my personal life, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • the use of Zoom, Google Hangouts, Free Conference Call, FaceTime and other virtual meetings wherein we can see each other; families I know of are having these weekly
  • Large conferences are holding their already planned meetings such that they’re all online, using the above tools as well as pre-recording content to air while allowing live interaction during the pre-recorded presentation
  • Interesting to note that this format actually appears to provide more intimate participation in the event – wherein some people wouldn’t ask a question in a room of 200 people, quite easy to type in your question into the message board tool
  • Connectability is still available – if you are watching a talk you like, while on the meeting, you can look at the speaker on LinkedIn, learn more about them and if valuable, send them a LinkedIn request.

I have held two virtual FOCM meetings so far;

  • one with the political wing of FOCM. There are 6-8 of us who have been emailing on political topics for probably 10 years. Two weeks ago we had a GoogleHangout, where some of us got to “see” each other for the first time.
  • the other with the Philadelphia metro FOCM chapter last week. We had about 8 attend.
  • I’m having one this Thursday with the Raleigh-Durham metro chapter.

The minutes of the Philadelphia FOCM meeting are:

Last night, the 16th day of April, 2020, a virtual FOCM Philadlephia area meeting was held via Google Hangout.In attendance: Pete Nieto, Dave Gibboni, Mike Strand, Bryan Clayton, Mark Eberhart, Christian McCracken, Chris McArthur, Ryan Gibson
Topics discussed: too much couple together time could result in strained marriages and possible divorce; alcohol consumption was visible (bts, the meeting was not recorded), predictions of return to the new normal (end of June was voiced), Arena International meetings status – virtual; DIA annual – virtual; BIO annual – virtual; ASCO annual – virtual.

While, in my opinion, we’re very close to moving to a policy of unquarantining everyone and quarantining only the at-risk, the symptomatic and those who test positive (as seen in my video blog below), some of these changes we’re being forced to make will continue and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Ocean-side Networking

The July networking event for the Wilmington Pharma/Bio/CRO Networking Group was held at Dockside in Wilmington. Dockside is located on the west side of the IntraCoastal Waterway. This is the site for this group’s events in the summertime. Wilmington Pharma/Bio/CRO Networking Group can be found on LinkedIn where updates to monthly events are posted.

Fortunately someone snapped a photo at some point so that we have some record of attendance. Not that attendance is ever taken and far too often we forget to take a picture.

L-R: John Cline, Lee King, Andrea Young, Jennifer Hutchison, Jackie Bilobran, Gayle Grandinetti, Chris Smith, Chris Matheus
A view from Dockside
View from Dockside

FOCM at DIA 2019

The annual Drug Information Association (DIA) conference in 2019 was held in San Diego June 23 – 27. It was a busy, busy conference making it memorable and historic. On Sunday night FOCM, Zymewire along with Almac, MC10 and Medable hosted “Clinical Reconnections”, the pre-DIA networking event at Social Tap Eatery. This was the 4th year of this event. Over 320 people attended.

Along with Michele Sacher, we presented on Self-Branding for Social Media. We added Christina Cantrell for the next workshop on the importance of knowing yourself for effective networking.

Several months ago I posted about Jodi Andrews receiving her FOCM card. There were two other card ceremonies, one each for Meghan Alonso and Rhonda Rusinski. I’ve known Rhonda from the early 2000’s having met while we were both working at ICON Clinical Research. Meghan had recently joined Clinipace and she asked her colleagues who would be a good person to connect with, someone known as an industry connector. They directed her to me. It was a pleasure to welcome them both into the organization.

Sunday Professional Development Workshops
Clinical Reconnections
Meghan Alonso FOCM Card Ceremony
Rhonda Rusinski FOCM Card Ceremony

Help – it’s what makes networking successful

Here are some interesting perspectives on networking from a recent interview published in Inc. magazine. It is an interview by Jeff Haden of Inc. with Dan Sillman, CEO of Relevent Sports.

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-art-of-networking-without-networking-and-why-you-should-never-ever-network-again.html?cid=hmside3

According to Sillman, “Networking” is a strange term. If you are a person the world perceives as good at networking… all that means is that you have great relationships.

The only way to do that — to build relationships — is to have a genuine desire to learn about someone: What they do, what drives them… some aspect of their life that interests you.  Getting relatively close to someone means you know a lot about them, they know a lot about you… and you’re much more inclined to help each other. I actually think I’m a terrible “networker.” But I do have good relationships.

A few take aways from the interview

When you go into a meeting or a conference, or approach people with the thought that you’re going to network… it’s transactional. You’re just trying to meet people that can immediately help you. And they want the same thing.

Building relationships is totally different. First you learn about the other person; only then can you start to build a relationship. Which never happens when you’re networking: People can tell in seconds that you only want to meet them for some kind of surface-level transaction.

Building relationships requires patience, just like any other relationship. Think about your friends: You didn’t go into those relationships looking for something. That’s why they’re your friends.

What he says is so true, in both Heather Hollick’s book, “Helpful: A Guide to Life, Careers, and the Art of Networking” and Porter Gale’s book “Your Network is your Net Worth”, both authors are adamant that successful networking is not short-term transactional – ‘who can I meet today that can help me get x.’  Successful networking is first being helpful.  Porter Gale describes networking as a give, give, get.  Do two helpful things to a new contact before asking for one in return.  Heather Hollick shares that it is innate that we want to help others.  By asking people what they’re working on, rather than what do you do – you gain information on what is important to them and thereby, how you could best help.

A good exchange occurred re: making introductions – Sillman said he used to immediately introduce people to each other when asked.   He points out that he failed to take into account the value of other people’s time and realized he had to do some filtering.  He also pointed out that when you make introductions, your credibility is on the line. You shouldn’t vouch for people you don’t really know, don’t have a relationship with, don’t know their interests and goals.

Sillman concludes with: People don’t want to be a transaction. If you aren’t interested in the actual person, if you’re only thinking in terms of a transactional relationship… that relationship will never be fruitful. But when you build a relationship, everything else follows: You won’t have to ask the other person how you can help them. You’ll know.  And you won’t have to ask for something you might need. The other person will know your interests, your goals… and will offer to help. You’ll both offer to help. And you’ll both mean it.