Grow Talent, Grow Brands

Month: March, 2013

The First-Ever Elevator Pitch!


What is a pitch?

The purpose of a pitch isn’t not necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both parties.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, or organization or event and its value proposition. The idea is that it should be possible to deliver the pitch in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty-seconds to two minutes.

Daniel H. Pink tells tells us the story behind the world’s first-ever elevator pitch in his best selling book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

Elevators as we know today would not have been possible but for Elisha Otis. Elisha Graves Otis (August 3, 1811 – April 8, 1861) did not invent the elevator. He invented something more important – the elevator safety device that eventually made high-rise buildings practical. In 1852, Otis because of his inventive nature, observed the safety problem involved with the hoists that were used to lift heavy equipment to the upper floor. If one could devise a device that would prevent the elevator from falling if the rope broke, elevators would be safer. He found an answer and designed a tough, steel wagon spring meshing with a ratchet. If the rope gave away, the spring would catch and hold.

In 1854, Otis dramatically demonstrated his safety device on the floor of the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York in front of a large audience by ascending in an elevator cradled in an open-sided shaft. Halfway up, he had the hoisting rope cut with an axe. The platform held fast while the audience gasped. That’s the first and most persuasive elevator pitch ever made. Not only that, the elevator industry was soon on its way since then paving the way for many elevator pitches in the process.

For several decades during the twentieth century, the elevator pitch was a standard operating procedure. In case of pharmaceutical selling today, the elevator pitch is becoming a standard even in clinics without elevators, as access to physicians and their time are becoming more difficult by the day. It is therefore, important to prepare thoroughly with your pitch that clarifies your purpose and strategy. Make sure that your pitch answers three important questions regarding your target audience:

  1. What do you want them to know?
  2. What do you want them to feel?
  3. What do you want them to do?

If you come up with highly persuasive and convincing answers for these questions, you’ve got an effective elevator pitch.

3 Must-To-Do Things!

Jim Valvano (March 10, 1946 - April 28, 1993)

Jim Valvano (March 10, 1946 – April 28, 1993)

Jim Valvano, one of the college basketball’s most beloved coach gave an inspiring speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards in March 1993, two months after which he lost his fight to cancer. It is one of the most indelible speeches in sports history. He was in the final stages of his fight with bone cancer, was 10 years removed from coaching North Carolina State during their memorable NCAA Championship run, but remained one of their most respected sports personalities. He started the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And it’s motto is, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” The essence of the speech or the message Jim Valvano gave offers a valuable lesson for all of us. He said there are three things that we should every day.

“To me, there are three things we all should every day. …Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you are going to have something special.

It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it”

Follow this spirited advice. Do these three things and be happy today and everyday.

Moments of Truth

Jan Carlzon

Jan Carlzon

Jan Carlzon, who took the reins of the ailing Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) in 1981, turned it around dramatically by bringing a change in employee attitudes. He ignited a radical change in the culture of SAS by stating that they would turn in profit for the company by becoming a service oriented airline. He redefined customer service much before the advent of customer relationship management principles and practices as we know today. In fact, he revolutionized the airline industry through an unrelenting focus on customer service quality.

He wrote one of the best books on leadership by a CEO titled, Moments of Truth: New Strategies for Today’s Customer-Driven Economy in 1987 describing his turnaround strategies at SAS. This book is a must-read for leaders at every level of an organization. The American Management Association, in their 75th anniversary issue of their magazine called this one of the most important developments in management of the 20th Century. Here is what he communicated and demonstrated across his company:

The first 15-second encounter between a passenger and the frontline people, from ticket agent to flight attendant, sets the tone of the entire company in the mind of the customer. Carlzon called it the ‘Moment of Truth.’ He believed and practiced that:

Everyone needs to know and feel that he is needed.

Everyone wants to be treated as an individual.

Giving someone the freedom to take responsibility releases resources that would otherwise remain concealed.

An individual without information cannot take responsibility, and individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility.

Carlzon was clear from the time he took charge that SAS is not a collection of material assets but the quality of the contact between an individual customer and the SAS employees, who serve the customer directly (as they are referred to as ‘front line’ at SAS).

In 1981 immediately after he became the CEO, Carlzon thoroughly analyzed the situation and said that during the previous year SAS had 10 million customers and each one of them came into contact with five SAS employees, and each contact lasted 15 seconds at a time. These 50 million ‘Moments of Truth’ are the moments that ultimately determine whether SAS will succeed or fail as a company. They are the moments when we must prove to our customers that SAS is their best alternative.

Furthermore, he convinced all his employees that, “ If we are truly dedicated to orienting our company toward each customer’s individual needs, then we cannot rely on rule books and instructions from distant corporate offices. We have to place responsibility for ideas, decisions, actions with the people, who are SAS during those 15 seconds: ticket agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, and all the other frontline employees. If they have to go up the organizational chain of command for a decision on an individual problem, then those 15 golden seconds will elapse without a response, and we will have lost an opportunity to earn a loyal customer.

Every business has its own Moments of Truth. What are the Moments of Truth in your business or industry? How are you going to orient your team towards exemplary and exceptional quality of customer service in fulfilling the individual needs of your customers? How are you going to flatten the pyramid and empower your frontline employees to take responsibility? How are you going to seize those golden seconds of your Moments of Truth and prove that you are their best alternative?

Twenty -Twenty!


What does Twenty-Twenty mean to you?

Limited over game of Cricket? Perfect vision? A reputed production company for the British television? A pop-punk based in London, Cambridge, and Essex, UK? While Twenty-Twenty may mean different things to different people, it means one thing for many people.

Twenty x Twenty is a presentation methodology that is becoming popular by the day. It is called Pecha Kucha in Japanese, which means chit-chat. It is essentially a presentation format that is brief – six-minutes and forty-seconds to be precise, during which 20 slides or shown for 20 seconds each. The format, therefore, keeps the presentations concise, fast-paced, and succinct! Because the presentations are brief it facilitates and powers multiple-speaker events called Pecha Kucha Nights (PKNs).

Two Tokyo-based architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham partners of the Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa) started Pecha Kucha in February 2003, to attract people to their experimental event space in Roppongi for facilitating a meeting of the minds of young designers and architects where they can show their work and exchange ideas. The event caught on and started expanding to a number of cities around the world where Pecha Kucha Nights are being held frequently. Today, more than six-hundred cities across the world hold these PKNs periodically.

A typical Pecha Kucha Night includes 8 to 14 presentations. The presenters (and much of the audience) are usually from the design, architecture, photography, art, creative fields and even from academia.

If you want to start a Pecha Kucha Night, you can contact the Pecha Kucha organization ( to complete an informal application process and exchange a handshake agreement. There are no limitations to a Pecha Kucha Night. Anyone is invited to partake in a presentation. Presenters need to grant Pecha Kucha Night certain non-exclusive rights and license to reproduce their appearance. Event flyers are posted on the global Pecha Kucha Daily Blog and Videos of presentations are posted on the wall.

Pecha Kucha challenges you to think about your presentation clearly, precisely and perfectly. Think about it. Twenty slides, twenty minutes each. That’s all you have to gain and the sustain the attention of your audience and engage them meaningfully. Can you apply this rigorous and vigorous format for your internal presentations too?

Consider for example using this format for presenting your brand plans, strategies and campaigns at your in-house sessions. Would it help in honing the presentation skills of your team members in terms of clarity, precision, conviction, authenticity and help them perfect their presentation skills?

Best of Medical Advertising: Bold, Emotional Copy, and Powerful Imagery Win!


The primary concern and treatment objective of oncologists understandably is to eliminate cancer. Treating the excruciating pain is important but secondary. Therefore, in their drive to eliminate cancer, oncologists can be relatively less concerned about treating the excruciating breakthrough pain that many late stage cancer patients experience. If you want to market a powerful pain medication how do you gain and sustain the attention of oncologists and persuade them to make it as important?

Here is what the Archimedes Pharma and their advertising agency Area 23 (A Draft FCB Company) did for their Lazanda®, the brand of fentanyl nasal spray professional print campaign.

First, they have acknowledged the important work that oncologists are doing in fighting the cancer to make their pain story break through the wall of pain denial. Furthermore, they gave them a glimpse of something more that is still needed of them through an emotional and powerful, ‘Thank You, but...’ approach.

The black-and-white photographic portraits of patients conveying the harshness of breakthrough pain with distressed facial expressions were palpable and created a strong emotional impact. The photography was evocative and the lines were great communicating that the cancer pain message in a telling manner. Here is the copy of the ads:

You’re saving my life but sometimes I wish I was dead.

Lazanda works on the break through pain while you work on the cancer.

This ad won the Gold Award of Medical Media and Marketing for excellence in print ads category for the launch of a new prescription drug.

Look at what bold, good, emotional copy, executed with powerful imagery, and type could do a print ad. The same thing holds good for a detail piece or drop-off literature, mailer or an electronic version of your product communication.

Can you draw inspiration from this and think of creating unforgettable and moving communications for your products?

The Endearing Ad Is The Most Enduring Too!

A 1952 Print Advertisement

A 1952 Print Advertisement

The diamond, a dazzling fragment of eternity has always shed its divine light through thousands of years, captivating humankind with its otherworldly beauty.

De Beers with their advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son persevered with the idea that diamonds were eternal, forever linked with romance, emotionally valued and necessary luxury. They strengthened the tradition of diamond engagement ring and made it a psychological necessity.

De Beers designed and executed impeccably an integrated, multifaceted marketing strategy that included public relations, direct advertising in print and radio (specific radio programs publicizing diamond trends), and a weekly series called Hollywood Personalities, which published stories in over 125 leading newspapers with descriptions of diamonds worn by major celebrities.

Frances Gerety, a young copy writer with the advertising agency was given a brief to compose a line that captures the physical attributes and legends surrounding the diamond. It is said that she worked very late into the night on the challenging task and when she was about to admit defeat and give up, she scribbled the line that would later be voted as one of the most endearing and enduring advertising slogans of the twentieth century – A Diamond is Forever.

A Diamond is Forever topped the list of ten most loved and remembered advertising slogans of the twentieth cenury. Books and films of cult status (the famous James Bond picture and book of the same title, Diamonds are Forever, for example) have been named after this tag-line. What is more, a song featuring the phrase has been recorded a number of times by some of the world’s most popular artists.

The recent ads by De Beers too carry on the spirit with a touch of humour and sophistication while retaining the endearing quality.


First created in 1947, the famous advertising slogan, A Diamond is Forever remains the official slogan of the company to this day The campaign had successfully influenced the American public to consider a diamond engagement ring a necessity to the engagement ritual. The most endearing slogan has proved to be the most enduring too!

Can you think of  unearthing the hidden gems of benefits in your product and come up with a slogan that is endearing and enduring?

Pharma Pioneer Passes Away

Kallam Anji Reddy (1940 -2013)

Kallam Anji Reddy (1940 -2013)

Yesterday, one of India’s favorite sons, Dr. Kallam Anji Reddy passed away leaving the whole pharmaceutical world mourning.

Kallam Anji Reddy has been a visionary, pioneer, mentor, seeker, and a humanitarian all through his life. Visionary, because he saw the future of Indian pharmaceutical industry before it arrived and before anyone else. Pioneer, because he was the first in most of the progressive steps that have been taken to make the Indian pharmaceutical industry what it is today. Globally competitive. Consider these facts for example:

First, it was Dr. Anji Reddy, who has put India on the bulk drug map of the world and made Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh the bulk drug capital of India and even the world. He did this by mastering the art of science of reverse engineering and producing APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and exporting them to virtually every country in the world. What is more, he has been a major source of inspiration to many alchemists in India who followed his footsteps and contributed to make Indian bulk drug industry a force to reckon with.

Dr. Anji Reddy was also the first to conceive and create a world class research organization on the lines of the company he admired most, Merck Inc. He created Dr. Reddy’s Research Foundation, a state-of-the-art research organization that focused on both process and product research. He was also the first pharma entrepreneur from India to list his company in New York Stock Exchange in 2001.

Furthermore, Dr. Anji Reddy was the first to show the world that drug research need not be prohibitively expensive and it is possible to reduce the costs of research in a collaborative model and proved it by entering into a first-of-its-kind of research alliance for codeveloping a new chemical entity and out licensed it to the international drug major Novo Nordisk and placed Indian pharmaceutical industry on the drug discovery map of the world. Today a number of Indian pharma majors are following this and actively pursuing drug discovery.

He was a seeker who sought to build a Pfizer or at least a company as respectable as Pfizer in 1965, when he first saw a Pfizer plant in Pune. That was nineteen-years before he founded Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in 1984.

Dr. Anji Reddy’s had a clear vision about what kind of a company he wanted to build. His vision: Dr. Reddy’s, since its inception has chosen to walk the path of discovery and innovation in health sciences. Ours has been a quest to sustain and improve the quality of life, and we have had nearly two decades of creating safe pharmaceutical solutions with the ultimate purpose of making the world a healthier place.

Dr. Reddy’s Labs founded Dr. Anji Reddy with a ₹ 25 lakhs in 1984, is perhaps the most respected among Indian pharma companies in the world today and the second most-valued Indian pharma company with a market capitalization of ₹ 30,000-crore.

Dr. Anji Reddy had been a great humanitarian for the many corporate social responsibility activities that he initiated much before others. A few of the more important initiatives are:

  1. Founding the Neonatal Intensive Care and Emergencies called NICE Foundation, the only institute for newborns in Asia.
  2. Setting up of Naandi Foundation for providing safe drinking water in rural areas and providing midday meals to 1.3 million government school-going children
  3. Starting of Livelihood Advancement Business Schools (LABS-S), a self-sufficient and sustainable program based on a social business model for rural youth and farmers

Dr. Kallam Anji Reddy is not with us anymore. The path, the principles and the guiding spirit that have helped the Indian pharmaceutical industry gain its competitive edge are and the ways and means to sharpen it are with us. Let us pledge that we use them to take the Indian pharmaceutical industry to the next level from the current specialty generic leadership to drug discovery and research-based pharma world. That is our real homage for our beloved visionary, pioneer, mentor, seeker and humanitarian!

You Press the Button, We Do the Rest…

You Press the Button, We Do the Rest…. ad first appeared in 1890. This is second in the list of the ‘100 Great Advertisements: Who Wrote Them and What They Did‘, a book written by Julian Lewis Watkins, which was first published in 1949.

The final copy you see in the advertisement was literally cut out of a long copy by the great inventor and the founder of the KODAK company, George Eastman himself.

This ad was among the first to shake loose the shutterbug movement and home-picture-making instinct in the United States to start with and later the rest of the world.

It is amazing how direct and simple the ad and how it highlights the ease-of-use and addresses the aspirational photographer in everyone.

Impossible is Nothing.


Adidas as a brand has kept aloof of the number one crowd pulling game, Basketball in America for over ten years in 2003. The brand consequently lagged behind at fourth position behind Nike, Reebok, and New Balance. What is more, Adidas, which sponsored the 2004 summer Olympic games, had lost the sponsorship rights of the 2008 Olympics to its competitor Nike.

Determined to reenergize its business in the United States, Adidas sought to raise the level of their game in the sports arena. In 2004, it launched a timeless campaign, Impossible is Nothing, a $ 50-million advertising campaign – its largest ever that included television, print and internet ads. The campaign clearly spelt the values that are derived from sports such as authenticity, inspiration, honesty, and commitment  as these are the same values that Adidas followed since entering the market over sixty-five years ago. To reinforce these values, Adidas worked with 22 sports icons and engaged them into sharing their journey to success. The idea was to let audience know what barriers and impediments -social, physical, and mental – these highly successful people encountered and vanquished to become what they are today. Through their stories that unfold in the campaign, Adidas reminds athletes and non-athletes from every walk of life that they can make their own impossibles into possibles!

With Impossible is Nothing campaign, Adidas extended its philosophy of forever sport to a personal level by encouraging everyone to overcome their personal challenges that seem impossible. The advertising agencies – 180 (Amsterdam) and TBWA (San Francisco) brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed the campaign, Impossible is Nothing. The sales of Adidas increased by 20 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year, the highest in the category, among 12-24 year olds, against which the campaign was targeted.

The Ali vs Ali commercial, where Muhammed Ali being pitted against his own daughter Laila Ali was aired for a limited period on the website. On the day the commercial was featured online, there was a 125 per cent increase in the use of the search term, Adidas on the Yahoo home page from men aged 13-17 years.

Adidas acquired Reebok in 2006 for US $ 3.7 billion to extend its geographic reach and a more balanced sales profile to gain a significant competitive advantage. The acquisition pushed Adidas into a strong No 2 Position with a twenty-one per cent share of the US $ 145-billion market for athletic shoes and sportswear worldwide.

Here’s the copy of the print ad, Impossible is Nothing that inspired everyone:

Impossible is just a big word thrown on around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.  

If that can be said for sportswear, what can be said about your brand that is alleviating and even life saving?

Top Nine Wealth Creators From Indian Pharma

(From left to right) Dilip Shanghvi, Cyrus Poonawalla, Pankaj Patel, Desh Bandhu Gupta, Dr. Yusuf Hamied, Habil Korakiwala, Murali Divi, Dr. K. Anji Reddy, Glen Saldanha

(From left to right) Dilip Shanghvi, Cyrus Poonawalla, Pankaj Patel, Desh Bandhu Gupta, Dr. Yusuf Hamied, Habil Korakiwala, Murali Divi,
Dr. K. Anji Reddy, Glen Saldanha

Nine out of the top hundred wealthiest Indians are from India’s rapidly progressing, globally competitive pharmaceutical industry. Six of them have founded their companies while the other three have been the second generation entrepreneurs from the founding families who have steered the companies and made them globally competitive after taking the reins. described these magnificent nine in their article, India’s Pharma Kings Are The Country’s Big Winners, as their combined net worth amounted to US $25.06 billion and what is more important is that their gains at US $6.05 billion over the previous year accounted for two-thirds of the entire increase in wealth for the 100 richest Indians overall.

Here are the super achievers who created wealth and built globally competitive organizations.

1. Dilip Shanghavi has become the wealthiest pharmaceutical entrepreneur in the world and the fifth wealthiest Indian. How did he achieve what he achieved? By building India’s most-valued pharmaceutical company. Therapeutic segment by therapeutic segment. Acquisition by acquisition. Market by Market. He founded Sun Pharma a globally competitive pharmaceutical company that is making rapid strides towards becoming one of the ten fastest growing specialty pharma companies in the world with US $1.69 billion in sales, thirty-years ago in 1983. His net worth is US $9.2 billion.

  2. Cyrus Poonawalla CO-founded Serum Institute of India in 1966 along with his brother Zavary Poonawalla. and built it to make the fifth largest vaccine manufacturing company in the world by volume and about US $250 million in sales. The top four vaccine makers are GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck and Novartis. The company supplies vaccines to about 140 countries in the world other than those in North America. His net worth is US $3.3 billion.

3. Pankaj Patel the current chairman and managing director of Zydus Cadila, who took the mantle from his late father Ramanbhai Patel has set his eyes on internationalizing it ever since he took charge. The company is today not only the fifth-largest pharma company in India but also has a respectable presence in a number of international markets such as US, France, Spain, Japan and other markets in Asia and Africa. The company has crossed the coveted US $ one-billion mark in sales. His net worth is US $2.50 billion.

4.Desh Bandhu Gupta, who borrowed from his wife’s savings to start a tiny pharma company, Lupin in 1968 took it to uncommon heights and made it one of the rapidly growing international specialty pharma companies with US $1.35 billion in sales today. Lupin is among the top five pharma companies in India and the world’s leading manufacturer of anti-tuberculous drugs. The company has its footprints in over seventy countries across the globe. His net worth is US $2.35 billion.

5. Yusuf Hamied took the reins of the company, Cipla in 1972 on his father’s demise. From a mere ₹ 166 lakhs in 1966, he took the company to US $1.57-billion in sales today with its footprints virtually all over the globe. What is significant about Hamied is that in the process of building a huge business for his company, he always gave his humanitarian concerns and values a high priority. He is known throughout the world for selling the anti-Aids drugs to the poor at a fraction of the price that MNCs charge. He is now doing the same for anticancer drugs. His net worth is US $2.0 billion.

6. Habil Korakiwala founded Wockhardt in the 1960s and made it as one of India’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with its foot prints in more than twenty countries across the world including highly regulated markets such as USA, UK, Ireland, France and Germany. It is a leading Indian generic company in the UK. The company is on its way to cross the coveted US $ One-billion in sales with present sales of US $908 million today. His net worth is US $1.80 billion

7. Murali Divi, pharmacist and youngest of 13 siblings started Divis Labs in 1990 with a primary focus of developing new processes for the production of APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and drug-intermediates. The company has grown clocking over US $350 million in sales. What is noteworthy about the company’s performance is that close to 90 per cent of its sales are from exports, with regulatory markets such as US and European Union being its focus. His net worth is 1.49 billion.

8. K. Anji Reddy has been playing a pioneering role in Indian pharmaceutical industry ever since he founded Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in 1984. First, he has been instrumental in placing India in the bulk drug map of the world. Second, he proved to the world that drug research need not be prohibitively expensive by suggesting a collaborative model. Dr. Reddy’s today has become the fastest Indian company to reach the US$2-billion mark in world wide sales. His company is one of the most respected international specialty pharma companies in the world with over three-fourths of its sales coming from international markets. His net worth is US $1.39 billion.

9. Glenn Saldanha, Chairman and managing director of Glenmark propelled his company to be among the rapidly growing specialty pharma companies right from the day he joined as a director in 1998. Today, Glenmark is among the top 100 pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms in the world with total revenues of over US $820 million, three-fourths of which, come from international sales and out-licensing. His net worth is US $1.03

What is common among all these wealth creators? They all have a very clear vision about the future and can see it before it arrives. They are all driven by a powerful ambition of leading their companies into the big league. They are focused and determined to achieve their dreams. A careful study of their game plans reveals these simple and eternal principles of success.

Their uncommon success stories are truly inspirational and bound to inspire a whole generation of pharmaceutical entrepreneurs and executives to take the Indian pharmaceutical industry to the next level, the research-based pharmaceutical markets and drug discovery area in the coming years.