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Month: October, 2013

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Unforgettable Speeches: Kennedy’s Ich bin ein Berliner!

jfkspeech

On June 26, 1963, The US President, John F. Kennedy made one of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking speeches in history in Berlin to a 120,000-strong crowd of Berliners offering American solidarity to the citizens of West Germany. The people began gathering in the square of the Schöneberg Rathaus (City Hall) long before Kennedy was due to arrive, and when he finally appeared on the podium they gave him an ovation of several minutes.

Here is a transcript of that historical speech, Ich bin ein Berliner:

“I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor, who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is Ich bin ein Berliner.

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what the greatest issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sic nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a great distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany – real, lasting peace in Europe can never e assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom every where, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, Ich bin ein Berliner!”

The Berlin Wall was finally brought down, piece by piece, in November 1989 as communism collapsed and the Iron Curtain fell from Eastern Europe.

Germany was re-united in October 1990.

Stanley Resor, Advertising’s Educator

Stanley Burnet Resor (1879 - 1962)

Stanley Burnet Resor (1879 – 1962)

Stanley Burnet Resor, who built J. Walter Thompson company into an advertising powerhouse across the world was as little like the stereotyped adman of Madison Avenue as a man could be. James Webb Young the legendary copywriter and adman who worked with him said once that Stanley Resor was never a hail fellow, never appeared at an advertising men’s gathering except to deliver a serious paper, and was never photographed for an advertising journal with a highball in hand.

Stanley Resor approached his profession and his work as an educator. As a consumer educator. He was profoundly influenced by Henry Thomas Buckle’s History of Civilization in England and made it a required reading for every key person who joined J. Walter Thompson staff. In Buckle’s concepts of regularities in the mass behavior of people and the probability of statistically predicting such behavior, Resor thought he saw the basis of science in advertising.

Resor had come to advertising early in the Twentieth Century, when most of it was still mere publicity for a name or trademark. He saw it as education plus persuasion and made many contributions in revolutionizing advertising content. He firmly believed in the importance of advertising as education in a fine society, and in its potential user. His pioneering efforts resulted in a huge success.

It was his advertising that first taught American women to use a vegetable cooking fat; to use a soap for the skin you love to touch; to turn foods previously shown only in packages into appetizing dishes on the table; to wash woolens without shrinkage, and delicate lingerie without damage; to find a fifty-cent jar of face cream the same satisfaction as one in several times more expensive. His advertising taught the American consumers many similar practical means to better living.

How did he achieve what he achieved? He employed the first domestic science woman and set up the first experimental kitchen in any agency. He had on his staff a specially trained reader of medical literature. What is more, under the brilliant leadership of his illustrious wife, Helen Lansdowne Resor he trained able woman writers to talk to women in their own language. Advertising, thus became more informative, helpful and persuasive – and profitable.

Resor had the vision and courage for he foresaw the future of international trade and advertising when America was in its isolationist mood, and made heavy investment in his foreign offices. He had courage to stand up to his principles and integrity. Some products he would not advertise – hard liquors, cures or those for feminine hygiene. He considered his agency the trustee for its clients’ advertising appropriations and thus responsible for their proper expenditure.

Resor began working as a salesman at Proctor & Collin, the in-house advertising agency for Proctor&Gamble company in 1901 with an undergraduate degree in classics from Yale University. He joined J. Walter Thompson Co. along with his brother to open a Cincinnati branch of the agency in 1908.

In 1916, Resor led a group of associates who bought J Walter Thompson Co and became its president, a position he retained for 39 years, after which he became the Chairman of the agency. Under his leadership, JWT became the largest advertising agency in the world, a position the company retained for nearly fifty years. Resor’s influence extended far beyond the boundaries of his own advertising agency to the profession as a whole. His legacy is best captured in his achievements. Consider some of his more important achievements for example:

  1. Began commissioning research studies as early as 1912, and by the 1920s his agency was publishing a census of retail trade that reportedly was used by more than 2,300 companies. That census heralded the beginning in the field of market research.
  2. Published extensively on advertising, and his articles reflected his belief that human behavior was governed by laws that advertisers should seek to understand.
  3. CO-founded the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1917.
  4. Drafted Code of Conduct for the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1918.
  5. Revived the form of advertising known as testimonial advertising.
  6. Refused to present speculative creative work when the agency was involved in a new-business presentation as he believed that speculative pitches were highly unethical and would only harm the reputation of the agencies that participate in them.

Resor died in 1962 and was inducted into Advertising Hall of Fame in 1967 posthumously.

Resor’s belief that advertising’s most important role is in consumer education is best captured in anecdote shared by James Webb Young:

When James Webb Young became the chairman of the Advertising Council, early in the development of its program for public sector advertising, Resor told him, “Now you are the head of what is potentially the greatest educational institution in America!”

The Frog Race

Frog Winer

There was once a bunch of tiny frogs, who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.

The race began…

No one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. They shouted, “ Oh, way too difficult! They will never make it to the top” and “Not a chance. The tower is too high.”

The tiny frogs began collapsing, one by one except for those who, in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher…

The crowd continued to yell, “It’s too difficult! No one will make it.”

More tiny frogs tried and gave up.. But one continued higher and higher. This one wouldn’t give up! And he reached the top.

Everyone wanted to know how this frog managed such a great feat.

His secret? The winning frog was deaf!!

It did not share and ignored the pessimism of others.

Pessimism can take  your dreams from you.  Stay positive throughout the game of life.

– Author Unknown

Image: M.S.V.K. Prasad

Advertising The Unmentionable

Kotex Display

How do you advertise an unmentionable product? Sanitary napkins were considered as an unmentionable product in the 1920s.

Ask Albert Lasker, president of the Lord & Thomas advertising agency. He is revered as the Father of American Advertising. Here’s how Lasker persuaded Edward Bok, the reluctant editor of Ladies’ Home Journal, who was also known as the supreme arbiter of the manners and morals of middle-class American womanhood.

Lasker and Bok argued over a proposed advertisement for Kotex sanitary napkins. Bok reportedly told Lasker that his decision not to publish the Kotex ad was final. Lasker was not the type who would take ‘no’ for an answer. He challenged the editor to bring his secretary into the office and read the Kotex advertisement. “If she is embarrassed or repelled it,” Lasker said, “ I’ll accept your judgment. There’ll be no further argument.” Bok called in his white-haired secretary, a woman in her sixties, and handed her the copy. The two men watched in silence as the secretary started reading the ad. She stopped halfway through, looked at the editor and said, “Why Mr. Bok, this is really a wonderful thing. I certainly think we should run this in the Journal. Women deserve to be told about it.”

In the 1920s advertising for sanitary napkins in the media was unthinkable as women were reluctant to buy the new product Kotex because it meant asking a clerk for a box. This was the case although the company invented the word ‘Kotex’ so women would not have to ask for a ‘sanitary napkin.’

Albert Lasker wrote about this Kotex campaign of 1920s, in Advertising Age of December 15, 1952, “ Just a few of us talked to our wives and asked them if they used Kotex, and we found they didn’t, and in almost every case it was because they did not like to ask the druggist for it.” Lasker suggested that they stack the Kotex boxes on the counter rather than making the lady ask for one. He also added the idea of placing a coin box next to the stack of boxes, completely eliminating the need for a woman to ask anyone about Kotex.

Lasker probably borrowed this idea from O.T. Frash, a copywriter, who reported that he saw that an Apothecary shop owned by a German-American druggist found that women would buy many more packages if they were wrapped in plain white paper and tied with blue string, then piled on the counter in a pyramid surmounted by a small neat card reading, Kotex – Take a box – 65 cents.

The rest became history.

The Seed of Honesty

the seed of honesty

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil, and compost and he planted the seed.

Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however…He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.

He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes.

Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him.

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO.”

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front.

Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”

Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.

“How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, He is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

– Author Unknown

Maurice Hilleman, The Man Who Saved Most Lives

Maurice Ralph Hilleman (August 30, 1919 - April 11, 2005)

Maurice Ralph Hilleman (August 30, 1919 – April 11, 2005)

How many people today would know the man behind childhood immunization? Hardly anyone. But with more than 40 vaccines to his credit, he saves millions of lives each year.

Hilleman has produced a mind-blogging number of fundamental breakthroughs. He invented more than 40 vaccines, including those that prevent measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenze type b, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and chickenpox. Of the 14 vaccines routinely recommended in current vaccine schedules, he developed eight. According to one estimate, his vaccines save over 8 million lives a year. What is more, Hilleman is credited with saving more lives than any other medical scientist of the 20th century.

After receiving his doctoral degree in microbiology in 1941, Hilleman joined E.R. Squibb & Sons (now Bristol-Myers Squibb) in 1944, where he developed a vaccine against Japanese B encephalitis, a disease that threatened American troops in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. Later as chief of the Department of Respiratory Diseases at Army Medical Center (now the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research) he developed a vaccine for influenza. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from the American military for his work.

Hilleman joined Merck & Co as head of its new virus and cell biology research department in West Point, Pennsylvania, where he developed most of the forty experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines working both at the laboratory bench as well as providing scientific leadership.

Although Hilleman retired as senior vice president of the Merck Research Labs in 1984, when he was 65, he continued to direct the research efforts in immunology at the newly created Merck Institute of Virology for the next twenty years. He was Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia at the time of his death on April 11, 2005, at the age of 85.

Adel Mahmoud, president of the Merck Vaccine Division, the company which produced seven vaccines in 2005, all of which were invented by Maurice Hilleman had this to say about Hilleman, “ This guy, whatever he touched, he developed a vaccine out of it. We owe him an incredible, incredible debt.”

All of us do.

Unforgettable Speeches: The Perils of Indifference by Elie Wiesel

aa-Elie-Wiesel

Elie Wiesel is Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Boston University and has served as Chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council. He is famous as a writer for his witness to the sufferings endured by Jews in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. With his wife Marion, he founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He gave a speech to an invited audience at the Seventh White House Millennium Evening, Washington.

Introducing Elie Wiesel on the occasion, Hilary Clinton, wife of President Bill Clinton said, “ You have taught us never to forget. You have made sure that we always listen to the victims of indifference, hatred and evil.

Click here for watching Elie Wiesel delivering his famous unforgettable speech, The Perils of Indifference, which is relevant even today.

Here is a transcript of The Perils of Indifference.

“Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, Ambassador Holbrooke, Excellencies, friends:

Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe’s beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again.

Liberated a day earlier by American Soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know – that they, too, would remember, and bear witness.

And now, I stand before you, Mr. President – Commander-in-Chief of the army that freed me, and tens of thousands of others – and I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American People.

Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being. And I am grateful to you, Hillary – or Mrs. Clinton – for what you said, and for what you are doing for children in the world, for the homeless, for the victims of injustice, the victims of destiny and society. And I thank all of you for being here.

We are on the threshold of a new century, a new millennium. What legacy of this vanishing century be? How will it be remembered in the new millennium? Surely it will be judged, and judged severely, in both moral and metaphysical terms. These failures have cast a dark shadow over humanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain of assassinations – Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin – bloodbaths in Cambodia, and Nigeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland and Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in the gulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course, Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence, so much indifference.

What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means “no difference.” A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.

What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue?  Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one’s sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?

Of course, indifference can be tempting – more than that seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person’s pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.

Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic of all prisoners were the “Muselmanner,” as they were called. Wrapped in their torn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, unaware of who or where they were, strangers to their surroundings. They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead and did not know it.

Rooted in our tradition, some of us felt that to be abandoned by humanity then was not the ultimate. We felt that to be abandoned by God was worse than to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one. For us to be ignored by God was a harsher punishment than to be a victim of His anger. Man can live far from God – not outside God. God is wherever we are. Even in suffering? Even in suffering.

In away, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, have done something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.

Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees – not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And denying their humanity we betray our own.

Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century’s wide-ranging experiments in good and evil.

In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simple categories: the killers, the victims, and the bystanders. During the darkest of times, inside the ghettoes and death camps – and I’m glad that Mrs. Clinton mentioned that we are now commemorating that event, that period, that we are now in the Days of Remembrance – but then, we felt abandoned, forgotten. All of us did.

And our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitz and Treblinka were closely guarded secrets; that the leaders of the free world did not know what was going on behind those black gates and barbed wire; that they had no knowledge of the war against the Jews that Hitler’s armies and their accomplices waged as part of the war against the Allies.

If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.

And now we know, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, the State Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White House the, who was a great leader – and I say it with some anguish and pain, because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death – Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945, so he is very much present to me and to us.

No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American people and the world, going into the battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiant and brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship, to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And nevertheless, his image in Jewish history – I must say it – his image in Jewish history is flawed.

The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo – may be 1,000 Jews – was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States was sent back.

I don’t understand. Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who needed help. Why didn’t he allow these refugees disembark? A thousand people in America – a great country the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don’t understand. Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?

But them, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy. Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we called the “Righteous Gentiles,” whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why were they so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war?

Why did some of America’s largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler’s Germany until 1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that the Wehrmacht could not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained from American sources. How is one to explain their indifference?

And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumatic century: the defeat of Naziism, the collapse of communism, the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel’s peace treat with Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember this meeting, filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President, convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it.

And then, of course, the joint decision of the United States and NATO to intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those who were uprooted by a man whom I believe that because of his crimes, should be charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time we do respond. This time we intervene.

Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed.  Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far? Is today’s justified intervention in Kosovo, led by you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will the deportation, the terrorization of children and their parents be allowed anywhere in the world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands do the same?

What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read about them in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is always the most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage a war, children perish. We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them – so many of them could be saved.

And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, Carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.”

Leo Sternbach, The Man Who Calmed the World

Leo Henryk Sternbach (May 7, 1908 - September 28, 2005)

Leo Henryk Sternbach (May 7, 1908 – September 28, 2005)

If there were to be a title of The Man Who Calmed the World to be conferred on any man or woman on the planet, Leo Sternbach would be that person. Because it was Leo Sternbach who invented Benzodiazepines, the most widely used calming drugs (anxiolytics).  When ordered to find a a compound just as good as or better than Miltown (Meprobamate) of Wallace Laboratories, which was a popular drug for calming the agitated patients, Sternbach thought that it would be a dull job to tinker an existing product and find just enough differences to get round Wallace’s patent.

Leo H. Sternbach was born in Abbazia, Austria on May 7, 1908. He spent his childhood in Austria and Poland. He joined Hoffman-La Roche in 1940 at Basel, Switzerland. Fearful of Nazi invasion, Hoffman-La Roche shipped its Jewish scientists, including Leo Sternbach, from Switzerland to United States. He retired from Roche in 1973 as Director of Medicinal Chemistry and was retained as a consultant for almost his entire life. Among the many distinctions he had achieved the more prominent ones are:

  1. Induction into New Jersey Inventor’s Hall of Fame
  2. Induction into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame
  3. Induction into the Medicinal Chemistry’s Hall of Fame

Sternbach loved chemistry with a passion and wanted to find out something that is significantly better. He tested many compounds and came out with Librium (Chlordiazepoxide), which was approved in 1960. Three years later he developed a simpler version, several times stronger and called it Valium (Diazepam). Valium, which was approved in 1963 by the US FDA became astonishingly popular. It was the most prescribed drug in America between 1969 and 1982. In its peak year, 1978, over 2.3 billion Valium tablets went down American throats. Rolling Stones, the famous rock band sang about Valium as Mother’s Little Helper.

There was more to Sternbach’s research than tranquilizers. He also discovered Klonopin (Clonazepam) for epilepsy. He was a prolific inventor with 241 patents to his credit. His discoveries helped to turn Hoffman-La Roche into a giant of the pharmaceutical industry. At one point his inventions accounted for over 40 per cent of the total sales of Roche. For all the great research he had done, he got himself a dollar for each discovery (paid for reassigning the patent rights). He also won a prize of $10,000 for a profit-making invention three times, after which the company stopped that reward. He had no great attraction for money for all his ambitions were only concerned with chemistry. He went to the office until he was 95, just to keep up with what was going on.

Sternbach died in 2005 when he was 97 years, but his influence on medicinal chemistry and his inventions live on.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Noah’s Ark

Noah's Ark

Everything I need to Know I learned from Noah’s Ark.

  1. Don’t miss the boat.
  2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
  4. Stay fit. When you’re old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
  5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  6. Two heads are better than one.
  7. Build your future on high ground.
  8. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
  9. Stay below the deck during the storm
  10. Remember that the woodpeckers inside are often a bigger threat than the storm outside.
  11. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were aboard with the cheetahs.
  12. When you’re stressed, float a while.
  13. Remember the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
  14. No matter how bleak it looks, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

– Author Unknown

– Illustration: C. S. Phanindra