What More Can We Do To Help?

by Susan Nemetz, December 2017

Our last newsletter concluded with the following question: “If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be?” It was a question asked of TEDMED speakers at their November event in Palm Springs, which I attended.

I found the question intriguing and worthy of additional discussion, which is why I decided to include it in last month’s e-conversation and to pose the question to all of you.

Happily, several readers took the time to reply (thank you!). Your responses to the question included the following:

Time… Wisdom… Perspective… Patience… Kindness… Presence

I was further intrigued by these answers from our biopharma community. Not only did the responses avoid asking for more of the things we all pine for every day at work (nobody answered “resources,” “data,” “headcount,” “consultants,” [shocking] or anything like that), they spoke to larger, more important concepts that span both our personal and professional lives.

Good for us, I thought. As busy as we all are in our lives and our work, we can see beyond our year-end targets and bottom line.

Last week, Life Science Cares (LSC) announced donations of more than $300,000 in grants to nineteen social service organizations devoted to the health, education, and development of disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in New England. LSC’s mission: improve lives of our neighbors impacted by poverty by providing human and financial resources to the most efficient and effective service organizations in greater Boston. (I am an advisor for Life Science Cares, so I am always interested in the progress of their work.)

When I read about the LSC grants, it struck me that the people who responded to my question were, relative to the general population, more senior and more established in their lives and careers. Busy, successful leaders, for the most part.

And so, as I admired and appreciated the wisdom that the answers revealed (my response was “perspective,” so I was right there with them), the LSC announcement reminded me that for many people – those with different backgrounds, resources, and degrees of good fortune – the answers would likely be very different: more aligned with an urgent desire to access present and future opportunities (if not day-to-day survival).

So, what can we do?

We are all busy. I get it and hate the fact that so often this is my answer to the “How are you?” question from my friends and colleagues. The twenty-first century in general and our industry, in particular, runs faster and more nonstop than ever before. There’s no reason to believe it will be slowing down anytime soon, either.

That said, my involvement with Life Science Cares and my appreciation for what this organization stands for has prompted me to explore ways in which I can contribute more to those with less:

  • How can I provide more opportunity, insight, guidance and mentoring to tomorrow’s leaders (even those I may not pass on the streets of Kendall Square)?
  • How can I make different decisions, in both my business and my personal life, about where to focus my time and energy? That next 80-slide PPT deck is pretty seductive, but the two hours I spend there could be used differently.
  • What is my responsibility, beyond providing support to my staff, our clients, and the drugs we collectively work to develop, to the communities and people we encounter (or could encounter) each day?

When my children were little, I justifiably rationalized my less-than-stellar level of community involvement with the fact that I was raising a family while working full-time, including legit metaphorical and literal soccer mom duties and unending school volunteer obligations. Today, with my kids almost grown (do they ever really grow up?), I can perform the same rationalization by remembering that I run a company with my name on the door and I just gotta get today’s gym workout done to deal with the aforementioned busy life.

Reasonable excuses, but excuses just the same.

In the coming year, I hope you’ll join me by doing just a little bit more for others who have not been blessed with the same privileges and opportunities. We need this talent in our communities and our industry (the business case).

In today’s conversation, I am willing to publicly commit to trying. I give you permission to hold me accountable. (Accountability is the magic word in our industry, right?!)