Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5th international Rare Disease Day -- "Rare but stronger together"

Today, February 29, marks the fifth international Rare Disease Day coordinated by EURORDIS and organized with rare disease national alliances in 25 European countries.

On this day hundreds of patient organizations from more than 40 countries worldwide are organizing awareness-raising activities converging around the slogan “Rare but strong together”

Activities will take place across Europe, all the way to Russia, continuing to China and Japan, in the US and Canada, and as far as Australia and New Zealand!

Watch the compelling video of "Solidarity" at

I've been involved with people active in the field of rare diseases for many years, through my work in healthcare marketing communications.  These people are not alone and need not act alone in order to meet their objectives. Although few and far between, collectively they are many and by acting together will be stronger.

Since patients are rare, expertise is scarce and people living with rare diseases face similar challenges, so acting together makes sense.

Rare disease patients all over the world face the same types of challenges:
  • Access to correct diagnosis
  • Lack of information
  • Overall lack of scientific knowledge
  • Social consequences
  • Lack of appropriate quality health-care
  • High cost of the few existing drugs and care
  • Inequities in availability of treatment and care
  • Isolation
“Rare diseases is an area where collaboration is essential”

The following are areas where it makes sense to join efforts:
  • Access to correct diagnosis (Genetic testing, newborn screening)
  • Increase availability of information (Coding and classification, telemedicine)
  • Improve scientific knowledge (Registries and databases, international research platforms, multi-centered clinical research, development of drugs and diagnostic tests, training of professionals)
  • Mitigate social consequences (Specialized social services that would improve the quality of life of people living with a rare disease and their families, such as Help Lines, Respite Care Services and Therapeutic Recreation Programs)
  • Increase provision of appropriate quality healthcare (International reference networks of centers of expertise, multidisciplinary care)
  • Improve access to the few existing drugs and care (Pricing and reimbursement, healthcare reform)
  • Eliminate isolation (Patients and families support and empowerment, networking and community building)
Given the rarity of both patients and experts, most actions related to rare diseases have to be performed in cooperation between different countries, regions and levels. Progress for the benefit of rare diseases patients can only be achieved through close international cooperation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

6 ways that "Narrative Medicine" stories can strengthen healthcare practitioners

When I saw this ad in THE NEW YORKER for a graduate program in “Narrative Medicine,” I had to dig more.

“Narrative medicine” is one cost-effective and evidence-based method to equip health care professionals with the skills needed to respond to the challenge.

Narrative training enables practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians.  This is because a narrative improves the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness.

Increasing narrative competence can strengthen one’s:
  1. Professionalism
  2. Cultural competence
  3. Bioethical competence
  4. Interpersonal communication skills
  5. Self-reflective practice
  6. Ability to work with health care teams
For sure, the effective care of the sick requires a deep knowledge of the patient and the competent commitment of the physician – plus, a sturdy bond of trust between them both.

Despite the many sociocultural and professional factors that may divide doctors and patients – not to mention the impact of political and economic pressures on health care – an effective medical practice needs to replace hurried and impersonal care with careful listening, empathic attention, and personal fidelity.

I found that next week, March 6, Columbia University will be hosting a talk by Debra Litzelman, MD entitled, “The Use of Stories in Changing an Academic Health Center's Culture: Indiana University School of Medicine as a Case Report.”

This is one of a series of Narrative Medicine Rounds presented by scholars, clinicians, or writers engaged in work at the interface between narrative and health care.

You can download past programs on iTunes

Debra Litzelman serve as Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean for Research in Medical Education at IUSM. She completed her Health Services Research (HSR) Fellowship training at the Regenstrief Institute (RGI) in 1989 and served as the HSR Fellowship Training program director from 2000-02 securing funding from HRSA to maintaining funding for the HSR training program during the 10-15 years of its existence.

She has mentored over 15 post-doctoral fellows in HSR and in Medical Education Research most who have gone on to academic medicine careers.

Dr. Litzelman is currently the Principal Investigator on a second $1.5 million NIH Behavioral and Social Science Integrated Curricular Training grant for IUSM. She served as the co-PI on the Fetzer funded Relationship-centered Care Initiative (RCCI) directed at influencing and studying the impact of organizational change strategies on the professional learning environment of IUSM/IU Health System.  She was an investigator on an internal IU Health Value's Education grant from 2006-08 to adapt the RCCI organizational change intervention to the IU Health System's patient care sites.

Monday, February 27, 2012

1st Oscar for Louisiana-made animated film goes to William Joyce

Score one for Hollywood South – and for Byrd High School alum and friend Bill Joyce.

The Louisiana-made animated film "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" -- conceived, crafted and completed by Shreveport's fledgling Moonbot Studios -- won the Oscar for best animated short at last night’s 84th annual Academy Awards.

The beautifully rendered and emotionally rich film is a 15-minute charmer co-directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg.  It is the first film from Moonbot Studios, which hopes to use its success to springboard into the animated-feature game.

I was in Shreveport this weekend and enjoyed reading the news stories in anticipation of Oscar night.  We also looked through our old yearbooks to see drawings Bill did back at Broadmoor Junior High and Byrd High School.

Although it was going up against a strong field -- including the wonderful "La Luna" from animation heavyweight Pixar -- the win by "Morris Lessmore" shouldn't come as an enormous surprise for Oscar-watchers. In a year in which the Academy has shown a taste for cinematic nostalgia, in the form of best-picture front-runners "Hugo" and the silent film "The Artist," Moonbot's lovely and lyrical story, about the curative power of books, fit the bill.

A silent film with a main character inspired by silent-era comic Buster Keaton, it tells the story of a man whose French Quarter-dwelling life is literally blown away at the movie's outset. As he deals with his grief, he finds a refuge in a fantastical library in which the books have literally come to life.

Former New Orleans resident and "Morris Lessmore" producer Lampton Enochs said those literary underpinnings were no accident.

Taking the stage Sunday arm in arm, Joyce and Oldenburg paid homage to the storytellers who have inspired them ever since they were children -- as well as tipping a cap to their Louisiana roots.

"We're just, like, these swamp rats from Louisiana," said an overjoyed Joyce, wearing a jaunty porkpie hat with his traditional tux. "And this is so grand. We love the movies. We love the movies more than anything else. ... We're just down there in Louisiana, where people just keep on trying and keep going, and thank you to the Academy."

Watch a short video about Bill’s Moonbot Studios here…

Friday, February 24, 2012

3/3: United will extend BusinessFirst -- and improve business class meals

Despite what they say about airplane food, I think UNITED has continually improved its meals in business class.  

During my recent trip to Europe, I took time to read more about the brand improvements they're making: from the demitasse of fresh tomato shellfish soup with bay scallops, to the pan-seared turbot fish and grilled shrimp with lobster Newburg sauce, to the freshly brewed Emilio Caffe Italian espresso.

My flight from Berlin to Newark featured James Canora, a 12-year member of the Congress of Chefs. James is chef and co-owner at Valentino's on the Green in Bayside, NY. He also serves as corporate consulting chef for the world famous New York City Delmonico's and is co-author of Dining at Delmonico's. Through his company, NYC Culinary Events, Canora specializes in catering and menu consulting for private events. Previously at Tribeca Grill, James managed production of The Tribeca Grill Cookbook and The Shared Table, as well as special events and promotions through which he became known as "Chef to the Stars."

Starting next week, United will further extend its BusinessFirst service, offering an elevated business-class service with new amenities. These will include an additional entree option, for a total of four, designed by United’s Congress of Chefs. United is also changing the way it prepares business-class meals to improve the quality and taste. In BusinessFirst, the airline will also offer expanded wine selections chosen by Doug Frost, Sommelier and Master of Wine; and a new ice-cream sundae dessert option, with a choice of six toppings.

Additionally, in its BusinessFirst cabins United will offer improved in-flight entertainment, including noise-reduction headsets; new amenity kits featuring Philosophy-brand skin-care products; and duvet-style blankets and higher-quality pillows and hot towels.

“The re-branded cabins offer premium-cabin customers the highest levels of service, every time they fly,” says Mark Bergsrud, United’s senior vice president of marketing. “We are keeping the products that our customers tell us they value the most as we continue to build the world’s leading airline.”

United will offer premium snacks including all-natural pop chips, Emerald nuts, Clif organic energy bars, Toblerone Swiss milk chocolate and fresh fruit. It will also offer warmed nuts, presented in a small china bowl, on all lunch and dinner services; and ice-cream sundaes offered with a choice of six toppings, available on many transcontinental lunch and dinner services.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

“By definition, to be exceptional, you have to be the exception, not the rule.”

This quote of inspiration for going against the flow is from Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspiration from capsaicin: Fiery Foods Festival at North Market

I really enjoyed firing things up last Saturday at the North Market Fiery Foods Weekend.  There were lots of special vendors, plenty of unique spicy foods cooking, and even contests for chili, guacamole, and salsa creators.

“The enthusiasm for our Fiery Foods Festival has increased exponentially over the years,” said David Wible, Executive Director of the North Market. "We are excited to be able to offer an entire weekend's worth of activities to our capsaicin-consuming devotees!”

Check out my photos of the day with everything from home-brew hot sauce to spicy peanut butter, from hot popcorn to ice cream with a kick.

They also had a terrific trio that blended bluegrass, folk, and acoustic jazz. Click to

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to leave a voicemail: the best follow up to a letter

You may think this is easy.  On the other hand, you may think it's the hardest thing in the world to do.

Either way, I've made it part of my ongoing professional development to learn, practice, study, and improve the art of leaving a voicemail.  

(I've been making business calls since phones looked like the one in the picture.  And I wasn't always good at.)

This is especially important when you're following up on a letter, resume, new business mailing, email meeting invitation, or other correspondence. 

Here are the specific steps I follow.  By using them -- in this exact order -- I've taken the guesswork out of the phone call:
  1. Lead with the person’s first name. 
  2. State your name, your title or level of responsibility, and the organization you represent, if any.
  3. Announce the day and time of your call.
  4. State your relationship to the person who referred you.  (If you have no relationship, then say so.)
  5. Mention your letter, when it was sent, when it should have been received, and the names of anyone else in the organization who was sent a copy.
  6. Explain that you’re calling to confirm that they received and read your letter, and your desire for them to grant the request it outlines.
  7. Quickly and clearly state the key benefits of your offer and/or your key point of difference.
  8. Mention whatever external leverage you can.
  9. Ask for a response, and provide guidelines on how to reach you. If your name is difficult to spell or pronounce, repeat it and spell it. 
  10. Explain that you will follow up again in 2-3 days if you don’t get a response.  If this is your second message to the person and they have not returned the first one, add, “I’ll keep following up until I get your response.”  Watch how fast you get a response!
  11. As a final reminder of the leverage you’ve created, mention that you’ll be following up with the other recipients of you letter, to learn of their responses.
  12. Thank your listener and end the call by repeating your name and phone number.

It also helps relieve some of the natural nervousness you may feel in making such a phone call.  

Try it out, and come back to leave a comment on how it worked for you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

HEALTH MEGA-TREND #10: more about positive nutrition

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the goals of moderated consumption and healthier choices, as referenced in the mega-trends report by Datamonitor.  

It was one of the 10 most important issues shaping global consumers' buying behavior both now and in the future.

Today, I want to give you the flip-side of simply eating less – and that is “positive nutrition,” or consumers who are eating and drinking for proactively for wellbeing.

Here are the key points:

  • Eating for wellbeing: changeable dietary routines mean that consumers are willing to change their dietary habits, even when outside pressures can sometimes make this difficult.

  • Embracing diet diversity: a more balanced and varied diet is something which an increasing number of consumers pay attention to.

  • Purity and freshness: the pursuit of product choices means that consumers will not compromise on freshness, so products that cannot guarantee this face being overlooked.

  • Functional foods and personalized nutrition:  consumers are becoming less skeptical about functional foods, but manufacturers must still win confidence in the key areas of trust, price and taste to widen appeal.

  • Being hydrated: more than simply drinking adequate quantities of water, the need for instant and continuous hydration has grown in consumer importance.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Personal inspiration: wanna get back to "Idaho"


Thanks to NOISETRADE, I got 25 great “love songs” for Valentine’s Day last week.

One of my favorites in the collection is “Idaho” by Brooklyn-based songwriter Peter Bradley Adams and Vermont-native songstress Caitlin Canty.

In a world where the moniker “indie folk pop” seems to vaguely describe every other aspiring musical act in the underground music scene, it can seem nearly hopeless to search for an artist whose genuine acoustic folk stylings resonate with both sincerity and bare aural beauty.

Enter Down Like Silver, the duo’s self-titled debut, a six-song EP that seamlessly marries the pair’s melodically minimalistic stylings, bringing out the best in both performers.

Here’s what a reviewer at THE MASSACHUSETTS DAILY COLLEGIAN wrote about the album:

Every phrasing and refrain is filled to the brim with the raw, naked emotion of two dedicated songwriters pouring their heart into their music. Good folk music tells the story – great folk music brings the listener on the journey. This album paints the musical landscape with broad, sublime strokes.

Perhaps the most ear-pleasing aspect of this album is that it is nearly entirely “co-sung” – that is, as opposed to duets, the songs are mainly sung by both Adams and Canty simultaneously throughout. It is one thing to combine two vocalists with different styles and ranges into a cohesive package – it’s entirely another to meld the two voices together in song as if they’re one doubly emotive instrument. At times, Canty’s and Adams’ voices sound less like two vocalists singing their own vocal lines, and more like a pianist voicing two parts together.

As a result, the vocals on this album are both harmonically rich and incredibly expressive, accenting the wise-beyond-their-years songwriting abilities of both musicians.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Karo Bio halts eprotirome development and abandons spin off

Karo Bio pull the plug on its late-stage cholesterol compound eprotirome and abandons plans to spin off its preclinical operations.

I had written about the creative way Karo had raised $500 million for testing to gain FDA approval. About a year and half ago, the company was enlisting the help of noted cardiologist and FDA advisor, Steven Nissen.  With Nissen's help, Karo recruited a big drugmaker to finance clinical trials, and to convince the FDA of a clinical trial that could cut the usual approval time in half. (

This week, the firm announced it is terminating the Phase III program on eprotirome, a thyroid hormone analogue that could lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in patients already taking statins, after an animal study demonstrated unwanted effects following long-term exposure. Specifically, damage to cartilage was seen in dogs that were given eprotirome for up to 12 months.

Chief executive Per Bengtsson said "eprotirome has been a project with great potential, but also a project with risks. Unfortunately, the risks associated with long term use do not outweigh the benefits [which is] why we are forced to make this difficult decision".

The company said that the total cost of eprotirome's Phase III program, which was scheduled to run until 2014, was around 300 million Swedish kroner and it has already spent 100 million kroner, about $15 million.

The cartilage damage was apparent only after a year's exposure and occurred in all animals treated with high doses but was also seen in the lower dose groups. The control animals displayed no damage.
Karo Bio said, "These unexpected findings mean that it cannot be excluded that also humans may suffer from similar cartilage damage. Chronic treatment with eprotirome must therefore be considered as too risky in relation to the lipid-lowering effect that the current study intends to demonstrate".

Here is the company press release:

Karo Bio AB has decided to discontinue the development program for eprotirome after an animal study has demonstrated unwanted effects following long-term exposure. The planned spin-off of the preclinical part of operations will not proceed.

The animal study is a toxicology study in which damage to cartilage was seen in dogs that were given eprotirome for up to 12 months. The cartilage damage was apparent only after 12 months exposure and occurred in all animals treated with high doses but was also seen in the lower dose groups. The control animals displayed no damage.

These unexpected findings mean that it cannot be excluded that also humans may suffer from similar cartilage damage. Chronic treatment with eprotirome must therefore be considered as too risky in relation to the lipid-lowering effect that the current study intends to demonstrate.

Eprotirome's steering committee decided yesterday to recommend Karo Bio to terminate the ongoing phase III study. The findings also mean that the regulatory prerequisites to continue the study as planned are not in place.

In a six-month toxicology study in dogs these findings were not observed and patients included in the phase III study have been given eprotirome during a considerable shorter period of time.

"Eprotirome has been a project with great potential, but also a project with risks. Unfortunately, the risks associated with long term use do not outweigh the benefits, why we are forced to make this difficult decision," says CEO Per Bengtsson.

The total cost of eprotirome's phase III program that was scheduled to run until 2014, has previously been estimated to approximately SEK 300 million. The cost of the program through 2011 totaled approximately SEK 100 million. Karo Bio will take wind-up charges in the first quarter of 2012 totaling approximately SEK 55 million. This includes costs for terminating the phase III program, and all wind-up costs. It is the company's assessment that financing of the operations is secured for at least 12 months from today.

Karo Bio has previously announced a streamlining of operations with the sale of the preclinical operations, which would result in two companies: one focused on eprotirome and the other organized around Karo Bio's unique knowledge in nuclear receptors. The preclinical part was intended to be sold to new owners and strengthen Karo Bio's financial position. The decision to terminate the eprotirome program changes the motives for such a transaction. The Board will therefore halt preparations to split the company and focus operations on the preclinical projects

In preclinical operations, Karo Bio has several development programs built on its knowledge of drug development based on nuclear receptors. For one of these programs (RORgamma) a collaboration and licensing agreement was signed with Pfizer in December 2011, which during the first two years will provide Karo Bio USD 10-14 million and during long time potential revenue of up to USD 217 million, and furthermore royalty revenue. Karo Bio is also engaged in project development in the areas of the receptors ERbeta and GR. Commercial discussions are ongoing regarding ERbeta.

Friday, February 17, 2012

“Loup Garou” sculpture: inspired by the Louisiana werewolf

Last weekend, we were in New Orleans and drove through the campus of University of New Orleans.  When we saw this sculpture, I really was intrigued and wanted to do more research on it.

Here's what I learned.

In late June 2011, Peter Lundberg’s 207,000-pound, 33-ft.-tall concrete sculpture “Loup Garou” was moved from its fractured base in front of the University of New Orleans art department, to a sturdy new platform in a grove of magnolia and mimosa trees, just yards away, across Harwood Drive. 

Lundberg is a Vermont-based sculptor, who has placed similarly gigantic concrete casings around the U.S., as well as in Germany and China. In 2006 he and sculptor Michael Manjarris founded Sculpture for New Orleans, an altruistic organization that has placed public artworks across the city. 

“Loup Garou,” named for the French Louisiana werewolf myth, is Lundberg’s personal contribution to the effort.  Lundberg values "Loup Garou" at $150,000. It is on loan to UNO.

Crossing the road was the last leg of an eventful and expensive journey for what is probably New Orleans’ most massive artwork.

In late December 2009, Lundberg dug a swimming-pool-sized hole in the yard behind a warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood. He filled the rough shape with tons of tangled reinforcing rods, tires, boulders and other debris, plus a sea of concrete. An industrial crane pried the hardened mass from the earth like an enormous fossil and Lundberg’s behemoth was born. The original title of the sculpture was “Mississippi Gateway,” but Lundberg changed the name when he learned of the Louisiana werewolf.  The new title fit better with his custom of naming his sculpture after mythological creatures. The mammoth cost $30,000 to create Lundberg said, paid for by an anonymous benefactor.

Read more about it -- and even watch a video that includes scenes of the "Loup Garou" under construction and during installation at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Inspiration for a strategist: Centre d’analyse stratégique

While I was in Paris last month, I passed by the Centre d’analyse stratégique.

Of course, as a strategist, the name got my attention.

I set out to learn more about it. The Centre d’analyse stratégique is a research-based advisory institution under the authority of the Prime Minister of France.  Its mission is to advise the government in defining and implementing its strategic policies on economic, social, environmental and technologic matters.

In fact, the week I was in Paris, the Centre released “The areas of new growth: a projection for 2030”.  The most important aspect of this report highlights the potential for reinvention of traditional industries, so that France is able to position itself for the future of specialization and services of tomorrow.  This will create room for growth in productivity and quality.

You can learn more about the Centre, and even download the full report, at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whitney Houston: an inspiring voice of our time

I learned of the untimely passing of Whitney on Saturday night, while waiting in our crew van on the path of the Rouge Orleans ultramarathon.

It was quite shocking – I mean, The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, The Greatest Love of All – these are Whitney, and were a part of our time.

I remember taking my daughter Melanie to a concert at Arie Crown Theater in Chicago.  I had goose bumps.  I couldn't believe I was seeing and hearing her live.  For years since then, Melanie and I have sung along to "I Will Always Love You" at the top of our lungs in the car. (You know you did it, too.) 
Whitney’s talent was truly inspiring to those who respect hard work, creativity and above all, inspiration, which I have often found in music.

I will always love her -- and her voice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspiring initiative of support: "Never Give Up" campaign

The Never Give Up Campaign is an initiative to show youth and adults all over the world that suicide is not the answer and to "never give up" on their hopes and dreams. 

No matter what you are going through in life whether it be bullying, terminal illness, physical or mental abuse, substance abuse, etc. there are people here for you because we want you to succeed and to keep going on with your life in a positive way.

And it's global -- I saw this message written on a bridge in Paris.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Inspired & impressed: my first visit to Columbus Metro Library

I'm often re-fueled creatively by a visit to a large stately library.

In fact, some of my favorites are the Chicago Public library, the Trinity College library in Dublin Ireland, the New York Public Library, and the Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

So, on my first visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library I was not only inspired, I was impressed.

Here are a few photos of its creative environment.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Using your imagination: insights from Wayne Dyer's new book "Wishes Fulfilled"


Dr. Wayne Dyer, one of my inspirational mentors, explores new aspects of your highest self -- and definitively shows us how we can truly change our concept of yourself, embark upon a God-realized way of living, and fulfill the spiritual truth that with God all things are possible—and "all things" means that nothing is left out

His new book, Wishes Fulfilled, is designed to take you on a voyage of discovery, wherein you can begin to tap into the amazing manifesting powers that you possess within you and create a life in which all that you imagine for yourself becomes a present fact. 

Watch the video, then also click here to download an free excerpt of his book.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Inspired to make collaboration a creative habit: Twyla Tharp

One of my goals this year is to improve my creative collaborations.  And I’m finding inspiration from a lot of sources.

In her book, The Collaborative Habit, Twyla Tharp illustrates her many years of collaborative partnerships and the lessons learned in her exciting career as a dance choreographer.

A couple of years ago, my colleague Brandy wrote a review of this book – with lessons for a team from a dancer’s perspective.

Here are Brandy's insights on the book based on her own experiences.

Twyla opens The Collaborative Habit saying, "Many of the stories “I'll be telling involve the world of dance, but you don't have to know anything about dance . . .  Work is work."

As a dancer and choreographer, Twyla Tharp first engaged the literary world with her works Push Comes to Shove and most recent The Creative Habit.  When you see a book written by Twyla Tharp you expect it to be interesting; The Collaborative Habit doesn't let you down.  In fact, you may just feel slightly jealous as she guides you through her stories of not so ordinary collaborations:  Dance greats such as Bob Joffrey, Baryshnikov and Jerome Robbins, and music legends such as Billy Joel and Elvis Costello.

Many of us can relate to the challenges of awkward collaborations and the successes of great collaborations.  Even though Twyla’s collaborations are about dance, they make sense to any industry -- collaboration with an institution (American Ballet Theatre), collaborating remotely (email), collaborating with your polar opposite and even collaborating with a friend, one of the stickiest collaborations.   

Her stories couldn’t be closer to business and teamwork as we know it today and offer great lessons learned for any team.

Monday, February 06, 2012

HEALTH MEGA-TREND #10: disciplined consumerism

Food stress and anxiety is a growing problem among consumers.  But their aims of moderated consumption and healthier choices are confused by contradictory information and the tendency for carefree consumption.

That is today’s topic on one of the mega-trends reported by Datamonitor.  Its recent study outlines the most important issues shaping global consumers' buying behavior both now and in the future. 

Here are the goals of consumers in the area of “moderation” – along with the challenge for marketers that they indicate.

Goal:  formalized dieting, with regimented eating for weight management

Challenge:  consumers experience difficulties in pursuing sustained dietary plans

Goal:  dietary control, means exercising dietary restraint as a key demonstration of moderation

Challenge:  brand marketers must answer consumers’ needs for general healthy eating choices

Goal:  “satiety”, which is an appetite control concept with much potential

Challenge:  consumers’ understanding of satiety lags behind other areas of health and wellness

Goal: vegetarianism and meat reduction have spread among consumers, feeding the market for alternatives

Challenge:  respond to consumers’ meat reduction behavior with meat alternatives and responsible portion control marketing

Goal:  avoid skipping meals, a widespread consequence of modern consumers’ time-pressured lives and unhealthy routines

Challenge:  solving mealtime fragmentation means closing the gap between consumer attitudes towards main meal consumption and actual behavior

Goal: moderating alcohol consumption is a trend gaining some traction, although consumers trade off health for indulgence

Challenge:  create some influence over consumers’ alcoholic drink choices

Goal: abstinence and restraint in tobacco consumption

Challenge:  look at meeting the needs of moderating or ex-smokers with alternative healthy products

I’m sharing these mega-trend insights because I believe that good trend-watching is about taking the bigger-picture approach. Adopting a broader global perspective to trend-tracking facilitates better decision making by overcoming “category myopia.”

Sunday, February 05, 2012

5 most-read Brand Innovator posts last month

I was reviewing some stats on the most read articles on my blog for the last month.

And because they're so popular, I thought I'd recap the top 5:

– about the publisher, media magnate, composer and orchestral conductor who arranged songs for Frank Sinatra and produced three Michael Jackson albums – including Thriller, still the bestselling album ever recorded by an individual artist.   From January 2012.

– with information about developments that will help researchers and marketers identify patient populations most likely to respond to their medications. From October 2010.

– excerpted from one of my favorite features of WIRED magazine, this clearly illustrates that’s it is not what’s inside – but what it does – that really matters. Here is what's really in 2000 Flushes. See for yourself if this is really what makes the brand.  From November 2008.

– with the list from this parable using historical personalities and events.  It may not be especially original (and it's not a book you would read for its literary qualities),  but it does offer powerful lessons from the past to inspire today's reader.  From February 2010.

– highlighted from the editors of Pharmaceutical Executive, who believe that what still makes it hard to assess prospects for biosimilars is the challenge of defining the terms of engagement. “The concept itself is open to interpretation, which leads to definitional problems,” they write. “In addition to biosimilars, which are essentially generic versions of branded off-patent biologics, there are biobetters, which are conceived to differ from the originator in formulation or delivery mode with the overall aim of obtaining an improved pharmacokinetic profile. This leads in turn to a lack of clarity in figuring where the real opportunities are and defining a strategy to exploit them.”  From October 2010.

Just click on any other the bold titles to go back to the original post.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Inspiring Mission: "Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them."

So many mission statements I’ve read contain words like “value” and “service” but often fail to explain what the founders truly care about, much less inspire anyone else to care.

So when I saw the Holstee mission statement, it was an exception. The Brooklyn, New York–based company sells eco-friendly clothing and accessories.  It has risen from obscurity in the past year after its Holstee manifesto went viral.

The document has been viewed online more than 50 million times and translated into 12 languages.

Inc. magazine recently spoke with its founder about the impact a strong mission statement can have on a company.  Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

Lapowsky:  There are a lot of great lines in there. What's your favorite?
Pfortmüller: "Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them." I strongly believe that. Here at Holstee, I have the luck of working with my two best friends. We live together. We work together. We really live that.

Click to read the full interview at