However, no matter how much we reduce it’s virtually impossible to avoid all emissions that contribute to our carbon footprint, this is where carbon offsets come in — you can counterbalance or green your unavoidable footprint with CleanSteps®.
As a business developer, I constantly look for new, streamlined ways to improve my methodologies. I recently came across a method that is simplistic in the best way possible (credit to my brother-in-law).
The FORD method is a communication tool that can be used across organizations and industries to improve your relationships and land more clients. FORD is an acronym that stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.
This technique is meant to be incorporated into your conversations so you can ask the right questions to build trust and more meaningful connections—the focus of my methodologies and what I teach to other business developers.
Let’s dive into each piece of this acronym and how you can apply them in future conversations.
Most people have a family and consider them to be an important part of their lives. Even for people who do not have a traditional family structure, they typically have a community of support in its place. Family can even mean close friends and pets.
As a proud family man, I enjoy incorporating family into conversations with strangers and clients alike. And it is easy to weave family into the conversation without being too personal.
I recommend starting with an anecdote to prompt a question. For example, “I am looking forward to my daughter coming to visit this weekend. Do you have any children?” Or, if you are meeting a couple for the first time, you can ask, “How did you two meet?”
The best situation is when the person brings up their family in conversation without being prompted. Now you have the perfect opportunity to ask more questions. If they mention a child, ask how old they are. If they happen to be the same age as your child, you now have a perfect way to connect with them and discuss shared experiences.
If you already know a person and some of their family background, keep track of what they say and be thoughtful in future conversations. I like to ask how their partner/sibling/child is doing the next time I speak with them.
Just remember to stay away from invasive questions. For example, never ask whether someone is going to have children, when someone is going to get married or move in together, or why they are not close with family or a specific family member. Unless they bring it up themselves, it is none of your business.
Occupation is the easiest topic to bring up in a professional setting. If you are new to networking, talking about what someone does for a living is a given. Even for seasoned business developers, we often start a conversation with, “What do you do?”
I will not dwell on this topic since it has been covered ad nauseam. However, I will add that although it is important to know what someone does, do not force the entire conversation to surround work. When building trusting and long-term relationships, their occupation should not be the only topic covered.
For me, I like to know what someone does, who they work for, and how I can help. When talking about occupation, my goal is to see if I can help either by way of introduction or by my firm’s legal services.
Recreation includes everything you like to do outside of work. If you are looking to spice up a conversation, start by asking a simple, “So, what do you like to do outside of work?” or, “What do you like to do on the weekends?”
If the question seems abrupt, weave a personal story into the conversation to lead into the question like, “I like to start my mornings with a swim. Do you play any sports?” or, “I just got back from a trip to Florida to escape the cold weather for a bit. Do you like to travel?”
Even if the person has completely different interests than you, this will make for better conversation. Get curious about their recreational hobbies and ask questions. In the end, they will appreciate your interest in them and will leave the conversation feeling more energized and valued.
Everyone has dreams, whether it is about their career or different aspects of their life. For those of you who are not a fan of small talk, this topic can quickly lead into deeper, more meaningful conversations. Although, I like to reserve this topic for a later conversation with someone, not for our first introductory meeting.
When I incorporate dreams into conversation, I ask a question like, “Where do you see yourself/your business in five years?” This usually leads into the perfect opportunity for me to offer my firm’s legal services or a helpful introduction.
Author: Jim Ries firstname.lastname@example.org
January 13, 2022
Companies that contract with state and local agencies in Pennsylvania can access a lot of information about an agency’s bidding process through strategic Right to Know Law (RTKL) requests.
Under the RTKL, all agency records are presumed to be public and disclosable unless an exemption or privilege applies. There are three key exemptions to be aware of when requesting records relating to the contracting process:
- 708(b)(26) – A proposal pertaining to agency procurement or disposal of supplies, services or construction prior to the award of the contract or prior to the opening and rejection of all bids; financial information of a bidder or offeror requested in an invitation for bid or request for proposals to demonstrate the bidder’s or offeror’s economic capability; or the identity of members, notes and other records of agency proposal evaluation committees established under 62 Pa.C.S. Sec. 513 (relating to competitive sealed proposals).
- 708(b)(10)(i)(A) – records reflecting “the internal, pre-decisional deliberations of an agency, its members, employees or officials or pre-decisional deliberations between agency members, employees or officials and members, employees or officials of another agency, including pre-decisional deliberations relating to a budget recommendation, legislative proposal, legislative amendment, contemplated or proposed policy or course of action or any research, memos or other documents used in the pre-decisional deliberations.”
- 708(b)(11) – a record that constitutes or reveals a trade secret or confidential, proprietary information.
Section 708(b)(26) is specific to the procurement process. You cannot use the RTKL to get a copy of your competitor’s bid during the bidding process. Furthermore, if your company submits financial information to show its economic capability, your competitors cannot access that information via the RTKL.
Section 708(b)(10)(i)(A), the exemption for the agency’s internal pre-decisional deliberations, prevents access to documents reflecting the agency’s deliberative process. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to access the agency’s internal emails or notes discussing the merits of the bids it has received for a project, even after the bid has been awarded.
Finally, Section 708(b)(11) protects a bidder’s trade secrets and confidential, proprietary information. To the extent their bid included confidential, proprietary information (e.g., technical information about their product or service, component pricing, or other sensitive data), that information should be redacted before a copy of their bid is released.
Notwithstanding the above exceptions, government contractors can still access useful information. You can request copies of all proposals for a prior version of a contract you intend to bid on to see what other companies have put forth, who the repeat players are, and what good and bad bids have been put forth. If you’re interested in learning more about a particular competitor, you can request all bids that the company has submitted for any project with the agency (excluding currently open bids).
Government contractors are not restricted to requesting bidding information only. You can request communications between the agency and its contractors, which may help you analyze the nature and strength of that relationship. Contractors should think creatively about the types of documents that would help them strategize and gain a competitive advantage. Consulting with counsel when drafting and submitting your request can also streamline the process and ensure you are requesting the information you are entitled to receive.
An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions, with projections showing that by 2050 that number will reach 12.7 million.
AD tends to progress slowly in three general stages: early or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), moderate and severe. Because AD affects people in different ways, each person may experience symptoms — or progress through the stages — differently. On average, a person with AD lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
An early diagnosis of AD is important because it can help determine if the symptoms a patient is experiencing are genuinely due to AD or some other conditions that can be curable or managed with different interventions. Unfortunately, accurately diagnosing AD in people with MCI is challenging as data suggest that only about 40% of people diagnosed with MCI develop AD over 10 years.
SYNAPS Dx’s DISCERN™ is the world’s first easy-to-administer test that can accurately identify AD at the earliest stages of onset by testing for the presence of three key proprietary biomarkers that are unique to AD.
Why Early Diagnosis Matters
An early AD diagnosis allows patients to start clinical interventions sooner, saving time, money, and the despair of caregivers and patients not knowing what is happening medically. Early diagnosis also gives patients the chance to have a say in their care. Moreover, newer disease modifying treatments for AD are indicated for MCI or early-stage dementia, where the progression to AD is less clear and diagnosis is less accurate. Now that there are more treatment options becoming available, having an accurate diagnosis of AD earlier in the disease is of greater importance.
Primary healthcare professionals play an important role in recognizing individuals at risk, suggesting lifestyle changes that can prevent or slow down the disease and making a timely diagnosis and initiating treatment that can significantly delay its progression. Early intervention is the optimal strategy because it preserves the patient’s level of function for longer.
Until the launch of DISCERN™, only autopsy findings at death provided a definitive diagnosis of AD in people who lived with dementia. What’s more, AD often co-develops with other age-related neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and different types of dementias.
Value of Accurate AD Test
DISCERN™ is designed to accurately assess the loss of synaptic activity in the brain, where memories lie, due to AD. The loss of synaptic activity eventually leads to loss in memory, language, reasoning and social behavior, which are common in those with AD.
Our assays have demonstrated >95% sensitivity and specificity. Giving patients and families the answers they need enables providers to make a conclusive diagnosis and informed treatment decisions and allows payers to establish protocols and prior authorizations for prescribing and reimbursing treatment. It also helps pharmaceutical companies identify appropriate clinical trial participants.
Think of DISCERN™ as a tool to manage appropriate patient access to future approved therapies, in addition to the clinical and economic benefits of improved early, accurate diagnosis.
Knowing the Difference: Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Other Types of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, but there are many other kinds of dementia, including Lewy body dementia, Huntington’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementias. Not a normal part of aging, dementia is caused by damage to brain cells that affects an individual’s ability to communicate, which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings. AD accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases and afflicts an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older.
An early diagnosis of AD can help determine if a patient’s symptoms are truly due to AD or some other conditions that can be curable, such as infections, emotional distress or nutritional deficiencies, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency. What’s more, a definitive AD diagnosis allows patients to start clinical interventions sooner, providing a cost savings for payers, as well as saving time, money and the despair of not knowing for those involved. It has been estimated that early diagnosis of AD could save the health system $7.9 trillion (present value of future costs). Unfortunately, early diagnosis of AD has been costly with poor accuracy.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
AD is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Over time, symptoms tend to increase and start interfering with individuals’ ability to perform everyday activities. In the early stages of AD, memory loss is mild but gradually individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment.
AD is a complex disease with plaques and tau tangles–both abnormal clusters of protein fragments, which many experts believe play a critical role in the clinical symptoms of AD by blocking communication among nerve cells and disrupting processes that cells require. While these are clinical findings associated with AD, there are other factors at work. This is evidenced by a recent paper that demonstrated centenarians with little or no cognitive decline were found to have high levels of plaque and tau at death, while another paper suggested that more than one-third of people studied with mild to moderate AD had minimal levels of plaque accumulation in the cerebral cortex.
Unfortunately, most patients with AD are diagnosed in the late stages of the disease, with very few being diagnosed in the preclinical stages when treatment can be the most effective.
Rather than focusing on clinical findings associated with AD, there is a new approach that assesses neural and synaptic loss to diagnose AD in people diagnosed with dementia. DISCERN™, the first autopsy-validated, highly accurate, minimally invasive test for the definitive diagnosis of AD versus other forms of non-AD dementias and those with AD and other degenerative pathologies, gives patients and families the answers they need, enables providers to make a conclusive diagnosis, and allows payers to establish protocols and prior authorizations for prescribing and reimbursing treatment. It also helps pharmaceutical companies identify appropriate clinical trial participants.
DISCERN™ can be utilized as a tool to manage appropriate patient access to therapies approved in the future, in addition to the clinical and economic benefits of improved early, accurate diagnosis.
In an age when your daily wants and needs can be delivered by Amazon, we are a culture of instant gratification. This culture has bled into all walks of life, including our medicine. In June of 2018, Amazon bought PillPack out of Cambridge, MA, for $753 million to crack into the $500 billion dollar prescription market. With this acquisition, customers can get meds delivered to their door with automatic refills and 24/7 customer support.
This surge for speed and innovation is forcing large pharma companies to look at all their linear, traditional processes for inefficiencies. Most of these large companies are organized around functional excellence but not value and customer experience. Many are taking notice of other large organizations from different industries reorganizing around value to the customer and having wild success.
Discussing Agile in Pharma
Eliassen’s Agile Practice, where we have 10 years of experience implementing Agile across large, global, complex organizations, held a virtual event with leaders from Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb, UCB, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. This was designed to bring together like-minded individuals who are looking to be change agents within their organization. We had our Agile Transformation Coach, Jim Damato, facilitate the meeting where attendees dot voted topics of discussion.
The conversation was centered around two questions:
1. How does big Pharma organize around value?
2. How does leadership align on goals across the organization?
Jim Hlavenka, former Head of Agility Enablement, US Neurology, from UCB, was able to bring leadership together and prioritize their work before selecting Agile as the way to solve their problems. Each company had a different approach. Some went with the traditional grassroots approach, starting with the teams piloting Agile, while others had more formal approaches, such as UCB. One attendee talked about training teams through 2 ways of learning: visual and experiential. He travelled to 16 countries, training 120 people with 4 hour sessions. He let them self-organize, do 3 sprints on their own, and then come back to retro. Once this method of learning began to be successful, interest in adopting Agile spread like wildfire. Leadership didn’t have to push Agile onto the teams – they pulled Agile into the teams themselves.
One consistent roadblock was that leadership wasn’t completely buying into Agile. This is a challenge we see across the industry. Leaders know Agile can help their organization improve quality, customer satisfaction, and speed to market, but often times they haven’t received enough training around how they should go about making the shift. Teams often get the most funding for Agile coaching, but that coaching rarely extends to middle and senior management. Leaders need to learn how to be Agile instead of just doing Agile. They need to decentralize decisions and only focus on the overall goal, major blockers to success, and how to remove the impediments. All the team members closest to the work need to make the decisions about the way the work is accomplished.
→”Leaders need to learn how to be Agile instead of just doing Agile.”
There also has been a lot of hesitation around pharma adopting Agile because of the highly-regulated space that it is. This topic came up during the event, and Jim Hlavenka from UCB explained the importance of building the compliance component into the sprints. “You need to know what the compliance team will say ‘yes’ to, and get them to be a part of the decisions up front.” Jim had compliance, marketing, regulatory, and data scientists all in the initial meeting around change, as he wanted them all to have a say in what value was to them.
Terry Barnhart from Novartis, previously Pfizer, said something I’ve heard from many Agilists: Agile is a risk mitigation tool, so why wouldn’t a group of scientists who make decisions based on data like this approach? Well, it’s not how they have always done things. In large companies that have been around for a long time, it is hard to break old habits and ways things have always been done. There is also something to be said about Agile amidst this pandemic. The government is running a project called “Operation Warp Speed” to generate 100 million COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. The government believes the only way this is possible is to work with Agile Teams and cutting-edge technologies to aggressively develop several parallel solutions to every technology problem. There is a group of passionate scientists that are fully transparent and cooperating to manage the design, delivery, manufacturing, and distribution logistics. With the teamwork and cooperation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and the FDA, the drug development cycle will need to change from 5-10 years to 18-24 months.
Why Pharma Should Consider Agile
Timing is everything, and big pharma is being forced to innovate in a world suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Agile has been around for a long time, but now pharma may need to leverage it to keep up with the market demands and the digital revolution in this industry. The pandemic has forced pharma companies to pivot quickly, resulting in a tremendous amount of interest in Agile in this space. Companies don’t have all the answers yet but are working it out. Eliassen sees pharma companies continue to look for guidance and want to learn how this can help their company improve.
Interested in learning how Elaissen Group continues to explore the connections between Agile and BioPharma? Read Jim Damato’s latest post on “Agile in BioPharma,” and learn more about our Agile Consulting Services.
One of the top questions that employers in the Life Sciences community within the Capital Region are asking is how companies are approaching bringing employees back to the office. That’s why we asked nearly 30 top employers in the area to share their strategies in a recent survey conducted by BioBuzz Media.
What the data you will see shows is that while there’s still a great deal of indecision in the industry, companies are cutting a wide margin for COVID-19. Remote work, shifting processes, and the focus on safety are still top priorities. However, what you’re starting to see are the impacts it’s having on the long-term strategy for everything from facilities planning to talent acquisition practices.
Approximately what percentage of your workforce is now working remote for at least part of their week (2+ days)?
Read More Here
Companies and individuals entrust FON Valuation Advisory with their unique needs throughout the transaction continuum. The experience of our professionals means that we are able to offer our clients bespoke solutions based on proven techniques and deep industry knowledge. FON Valuation Advisory’s ability to work with our clients on all forms of transactions worldwide sets us apart from our peers.
Our client (“Client”) is a publicly listed, multinational company providing critical components for IoT (Internet of Things) intelligence.
Establish an overseas subsidiary in a new key market (“NewCo”) vis-à-vis execution of a global tax strategy that involves multiple countries and the need to manage foreign currency exposure.
During Phase I of the engagement, the FON Valuation Advisory team valued intercompany loans with an aggregate fair market value in excess of $500 million. The valuation process involved the estimation of the appropriate current market rates to apply to each tranche of the intercompany loans. Our views on current market rates were informed by synthetic credit ratings the valuation team developed through rigorous company and financial analysis, which were then benchmarked against yields on publicly-traded debt issuances of companies from comparable industries with similar terms and features. The loans are held by a subsidiary of the Client (originally issued in connection with an acquisition of a NASDAQ-listed entity) and subsequently reassigned to Newco, as in-kind capital contribution.
Phase II of the engagement involved the determination of a foreign exchange hedging strategy to manage NewCo’s exposure to foreign exchange currency fluctuations of future periodic interest payments and principal repayments. In collaboration with the Client and its advisors, our team assisted in the establishment of a foreign exchange hedging strategy that involves four countries on both sides of the Atlantic and features zero cost collars using corresponding foreign exchange option contracts. (A zero cost collar is a form of options strategy designed to protect existing long positions with little or no cost since the premium paid for the protective puts is offset by the premiums received for writing the covered calls.) Our team also assisted in the determination of the arm’s-length settlement payments and required margin levels of the hedge counterparties.
The Client successfully executed the series of transactions to meet its stated objectives. The analyses prepared by the FON Valuation Advisory team were reviewed and accepted by NewCo’s statutory audit firm.
# # #
FON is a financial advisory firm dedicated to investment banking, valuation advisory, management consulting, and principal investing across the aerospace, defense, and government services industries. As current and former members of regulatory and standard-setting organizations, FON Valuation Advisory practice provides services informed by decades of experience. In advising high-net-worth individuals, public and private companies, equity and debt investors, transaction advisors, compliance and regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts, our professionals approach each mandate with an appreciation of its unique requirements and challenges. We have performed valuations of assets and business interests throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia/Pacific.