When speaking to a group of life science leaders at the BioFlorida conference recently, Rhys Williams from New World Angels said, “Patience, politeness, and persistence pays.“ It struck me so profoundly because not only were they wise words for executives in relation to fundraising (which was the theme of the session) but really for all of us working in this fast-paced and rewarding industry.
Be Patient: One of my grandma’s famous sayings was “patience is a virtue.’’ While I’m typically reminding myself of her wise words waiting at an airport or driving in traffic, I realize how imperative it is for life science. For biotech and pharma specifically, it’s less of a virtue and more of a necessity. Biogen’s recent announcement of their Alzheimer’s drug was a bombshell for the entire industry. Only time will truly tell the outcome of the drug, but if it’s approved by the FDA, patience will be rewarded to investors, but more importantly, patients living with little hope for a cure. Companies are working tirelessly to be first out of the gate to develop the next big cure but developing game-changing drugs takes time and consistency, and when paired with patience it is a valuable combination.
Be Polite: The reality of our industry is that everyone is competing for the next “big win.” Competing for the strongest data, first novel therapy or first cure. But investors aren’t looking for companies led by tyrants and dictators, they are looking for strong leaders who can cross the finish line collaboratively with a strong team. This requires manners, more specifically, being polite. Not just being polite to those whose assistance you need but being polite to everyone in your science ecosystem. No cure has been found on the merits of one person’s hard work; it takes a team of dedicated individuals driven by a shared mission.
Be Persistent: The key to a successful life science company is its ability to be persistent, understanding that sometimes you may need to pivot, but never lose sight of the end-goal. A hundred failed attempts mean very little when compared to the one successful attempt that reaches the goal. The true win goes to the executive who is willing to go above and beyond in the name of science and never accepts defeat. When I worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, there was a researcher who had a picture of every child he had ever treated on his office wall. His persistence to find a cure is inspired by a daily reminder of those children. Find your motivation, humanize your motivation, and use that as the primary driver to be persistent in achieving your goal.
And lastly, my personal advice, be passionate. As a public relations professional, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a spectrum of leaders in the life science industry and those who displayed the most passion always outshined their peers. The executives who were motivated by an ill family member, a patient they just couldn’t cure or had a profound confidence in their hypothesis, have not only been the most successful in the industry but are the individuals on track to change the world.