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On this Wednesday Edition of @DarshanTalks, host @DarshanKulkarni is joined by guest @BobLibbey to discuss “how to craft a clear message” and all that it entails.

Darshan

Hey everyone, welcome to darsan talks. I'm your host, Darshan Kulkarni. It's my mission to help you trust the products they depend on. As you know, I'm an attorney, I'm a pharmacist, and I advise companies with FDA regulated products. So if you think about drugs, wonder about devices or obsess over pharmacy, this is the podcast for you. I should specify I'm an attorney, but I'm not your attorney. I'm a pharmacist, but I'm not your pharmacist. So this is neither legal advice nor clinical advice. I do these live streams because they're a lot of fun. I find myself learning something new every single time, like our get like from our guest today. But it's always nice to when someone's listening. So if you like what you hear, please like leave a comment, please subscribe. If you actually have questions, please ask the questions. If you want to share it, we'd love we'd appreciate you sharing the document as well. If you want to reach me, you can always find me on Twitter darsan talks, or just go to our website at DarshanTalks.com. Our podcast today our livestream today is going to be about engagement. And I think our guest today with an expert in that space, we'll talk a little bit more about his expertise. He's been a guest with us before, so I'm really excited to have him on today. I have a tight timeline with a respectful of that, so we're gonna be peppering him with questions throughout. So if you care about today's discussion, if you're in the face, um, you probably should be listening in. I should specify that our guest today is the executive director Kali. As of last week, he's the executive director, Callie rapid leadership and Visual Communications at Bally the global biotech company. Pretty sure that even though I asked our guests How do you pronounce it? Ladies and gentlemen, our guest for today, Bob Libby. Hey, Bob.

Bob

virgin? How are you?

Darshan

I'm doing well. How are you doing?

Bob

Great. Great to be with you. Thanks for having me back.

Darshan

Thanks, again for coming back. So let's sort of jump into it real quick. So first of all, you started from the basics. How do you choose? Beijing? Beijing, Beijing. Beijing, Beijing. How do you choose baby? How did you decide that? That is the role that's right for you. If I if I'm someone in transition? How do you How should I or anyone else go? This is the right fit for me. Um, and how do you make those decisions?

Bob

Well, that's a great question Darshan. And I think it might be different, or a little different for everyone in my situation, I was actually consulting with Beijing in the same areas I'm responsible for now. And I did that for some three months before this became a full time role. So I had a really good view of the company, its leadership, colleagues in the department in the Corporate Affairs Department, I knew the VP of the department having worked with her in a previous role bred to respect for her Shreya Gianni, and she's building a great function and, you know, just a terrific opportunity. So I did have that advantage over preview, if you will, of the company, and the function.

Darshan

So you had some things that, that you already have a preview, but you're a consultant before this gig. So when you were consulting, you had several other opportunities, and we aren't going to name names or anything. But what made you go this is the right one, as opposed to something else. You obviously knew what work but what what has been in the past, not just necessarily in the immediate past, but in the past before thinking that you knew we're not a good fit for you. What should someone be looking forward to say? Yeah, we seem to be clashing here. And what should you be thinking about?

Bob

Well, you mean about what might not be a good fit as I write? Right, correct? Well, I you know, I think first of all, there's a whole element of human instinct, you know, if you don't feel a connection, you don't feel like you're getting direct responses to the questions you raise. I mean, this is obvious, but I think you've got to trust your instinct. I think also, you have to assess the opportunity and how it fits with where you're at, in your career. And, and to switch back to the positive side in this case, you know, this is an opportunity to really build a function in a fast growing company. And, you know, a place where leadership values communication You know, I think that alignment of values is important when it comes to your professional skills. I think a larger alignment of values is important as well. And certainly that was there. But if you're not feeling that, if you don't have that sense, then I think you've got to look at the next opportunity.

Darshan

Very cool. So so it's funny, you talk about alignment of values, you talk about the right fit, you, Bob are actually in the role where you actually help define what a company is about. Are you help sort of, I might say, define you, you're putting out those messages. Things like intranet content and planning and strategy. So as you're defining this, as you're going, what are the right words to communicate? What are some initial considerations you have on? How do you make that connection? How do you express to the audience, what you're trying to do? Like, do you think generationally, for example, like I've been having some conversations with, with people going, I just think differently from a millennial and from a generation z? And or do you kind of don't know, people are people are people, and we can talk to them in same way. So love to hear feedback there.

Bob

Yeah, I think you know, it the level of language, you know, I think people are people. And I think, you know, certain basics, like, you know, keeping it simple is simple language, simple construction, keeping it short, which is a little bit of a nod to millennials, and Gen Z years, and some others, but really works for all audiences. Now, the importance of keeping it short has never been unclear to me with the continued rise in activity online, across all platforms, including, you know, run of the mill email, which I think on average totals 120 or so pieces coming in and going out of the average workers inbox per day. So I think those two things are very important, I think, where you might see some differences in his in how people prefer to receive their information, you know, generational differences. And, you know, that cuts in a lot of different directions. And yet, there's a limit to how much you can segment in terms of delivery, because you can only run so many delivery mechanisms. Right. And the other thing I would say is that, you know, for all the importance of good, consistent clear communication, in reaching colleagues, for example, you know, actions are just as important or more important, I mean, that all saying actions speak louder than words. You know, you've got to be in a place and be working, as I'm lucky to, with the leadership team that that that acts on the words that are spoken and delivered. Because that's what you know, people are looking for is any misalignment of that any say do gaps, if you will. So you know, and that's, I think that applies to everyone as well without regard to generation.

Darshan

Which is really interesting, because one of the key pieces of communication, especially now, especially as I start talking to younger people, and I hate not including myself in that anymore, but I don't fit into the younger people anymore. But as I talk to younger people, they almost speak in sound bites, it's short bursts of information. I guess my question for you is, um, and you actually specify you actually emphasize that a few seconds ago, you talked about keeping it simple. You talk about keeping it short. Does that mean long form content is going away? Does that mean that the role of a soliloquy for lack of a better term is is it's a bygone day?

Bob

No, I don't I don't think that's true. I think actually, there's been some comeback of long form. And I think it continues to come back. I think there's a place for it. I think the pendulum swung so hard and so far, too short form in the sort of soundbite approach that you just described, that there was an inevitable rebound. And, you know, there are certain stories that you just can't tell in 100 or 200 words, or you can't capture in a tweet. That's what links are for, of course. But if you're talking about like profiling an individual with an interesting story, you know, 700 800, you know, 1000 words. 1100 words, which I think is about the average length of a feature in the New York Times is entirely appropriate, and will be read, if it's presented in an engaging way. You know, and that includes everything from you know, a great engaging head mind to good art, that which obviously helps stop people, you know, when they're scrolling through whatever channels they're scrolling through, and you're delivering on a great lead that really is focused and gets to the point or somehow, some other way draws people in. You can't go with a steady diet of that. But I think it really adds to the mix. And, you know, I've taught writing in a number of outlets, if you will, you know, at the graduate level, in house, at conferences, and so on. And people often raise this question about, you know, how long should a story be in? The old response was, well, as long as it takes to tell it? You know, that doesn't really give the kind of guidance people are looking for. But, you know, when I say when I'm asked specifically about long form, I, you know, it's certainly fine to go 1011 or even 1200 words, if the story will carry it. I love this comment. Thank you. I don't have time to write you a short. Yeah, I think he might have said I would have written a shorter note, but I didn't have the time. I mean, yeah, yeah, it's hard to write tightly. And that's something writers and editors have to be careful of also is that when they're, you know, writing in long form, that they don't get loose, and that they don't go on and on. You know, as I just said, if that's what it takes to tell the story, then that's what you need to do, you know, is telling them long form, you just got to make sure it carries all the rate all the way through the clothes.

Darshan

So it's interesting, you're talking about telling the right story, you're talking about the content size, you're talking about the things that drive content, you're talking about art headlines, the appropriate lead, and even considering the audience itself. But let me ask you this question. When you're starting to create a profile piece? Do you start off by going? Let me first do an SEO read? What do people want to hear about and then look at that monster? Or do you go? I have an opinion, I want to put that out there? And then I'll figure out the SEO from there. How does a professional writer approach this?

Bob

Well, I think, you know, different professionals might approach it in different ways. I mean, my approach is to try to find the story behind the obvious story. Right? So you know, it's not just why did so and so join this particular company in this particular role? But what might have shaped the decision making framework? What were the influences on that person, at a younger age or in other roles in school, who knows where that really motivated them and set them up in a place to make that ultimate decision that the decision to join the company isn't half as interesting is the motivations behind it? In my view, so I would look at that first. And then obviously, you've got to consider a lot of things like, including SEO. But I would never start with that. I mean, SEO to me is more of a means it's not an end in itself. So I guess my answer is that it's ultimately a hybrid approach. But with the story angle first, you know, finding the story.

Darshan

You're kind of forcing me into this question, Bob. But I'm gonna ask this anyways. So what made Bob Libby become Bob livi, then because apparently, I can't just start by asking what made you join Beijing? I need to start with what happened in the past that then got you to this point. So so it's sounding a question go there, then.

Bob

Yeah, I guess I set myself up for that. Well, I you know, I think part of what set might set me up for this in a very positive way is that in past roles, I've really enjoyed building things, building practices, building functions, capabilities, working together, you know, collaborating with people to put to take something that isn't quite maybe where you want it. In, let's be honest, and communications with technology changing the way it is, it's never really quite where we want it. So I certainly don't mean that critically, but, you know, expanding you know, scaling, refining, extending. That's very exciting to me. And I've had that experience, and done it in conjunction with strong analytic analytic systems that allow you to see the progress that your work is making, you know, and that certainly fell. This opportunity certainly ticked all of those boxes. I mean, there are others too, you know, in terms of what the company is committed to doing in terms of making medicines, more affordable, and more accessible to billions, more people around the world. That's a very appealing thing and you You know, great science and, you know, people who really are committed to helping patients. So I guess all of those things come together, and I could just keep going back and back and peeling the onion. But a, we don't have time and B, I'm not sure that really is engaging content itself. So

Darshan

how do I find you to be quite engaging? But we're gonna, we're gonna sort of jump into what you just mentioned a few seconds ago, which was this idea that your past? Was it building functions? Now, as I see it, there, there are multiple levels of building, right, the first level is you're collecting the bricks and going here are the fundamental building blocks and sort of creating that first initial structure, and then you're sort of building on top. One job is more organization. The other one is more growth. What do you What did you sort of specializing in or did you do both?

Bob

Well, I think by necessity, by necessity, I've done both. And this building pieces really been more recently, in my career. And when I say recently, my career that that means the last, you know, 15 years or so like after I had done enough of this work in these various disciplines, communications plans, to have a clearer sense of where you wanted needed to get to as a function, obviously makes it much easier to decide how to set about building a function. And so, you know, again, I think it's both I think it's, you know, the organizational piece, upfront. And I think it's the growth piece after that, of course, if you don't organize it properly in the beginning, you're not going to have the potential to grow that you would otherwise. So, you know, it is very important to get a right for the beginning, but also give yourself the room to adjust as you go. Because there are a lot of nuances to this work, obviously, that depend on, you know, the industry or in the composition of the colleague body, the goals of the company, and so on. So, again, it's all it's always a mixture, no black and white answers. When it comes to communication. It's almost entirely on the scale of Greg.

Darshan

Well, the good news is that we get to learn from experts like yourself on how that that great transforms each time with for each answer. I know you have a tight deadline. So I'm gonna ask one last question before we start pulling together. My last question to you is, you talked about how the growth is a, we talked about two different types of growth. And you talked about how each has its strengths and weaknesses? Do you think it's important to have continuity? Or do you see them as two different skill sets? And therefore it's difficult to have someone working both those skill sets? Because it's so different? But obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages. So what what have you seen what works best for you?

Bob

I think what works best is, you know, doing this work with people who can do both. And I agree, they are two different skill sets. But you know, I haven't run into a corporate communications department for many years, that had enough resources where you can start parsing our work at that level. It's just that simple. Now, in any given team, you're going to have folks who are more or less better at certain aspects, you know, when you make the most of those, but I think for the person leading a function and leading that kind of effort, they really do have to be able to live and live comfortably in both worlds.

Darshan

Well, very, very cool. As you know, I usually can go for hours and hours, especially with someone like you, Bob. So thank you again, for joining us. I do have more questions, as you know that I'm going to ask you, I'm going to keep it tight, because that five minutes ago. Okay. My first question, please, like we've discussed, what would you like to ask the audience?

Bob

Well, I, you know, sure. I mean, I'm always interested in what is the biggest challenge in reaching employees? And how maybe have you overcome that challenge? So that's one question.

Darshan

Very cool. I kind of answered that. I think my biggest challenge is, at least in a remote workforce right now. focused on what we want to do, and therefore reaching them now, not just during the work hours, but at a time they are they find it convenient to be able to digest the information, I think is, is there. I'm not sure I have an answer to that of how you fix it. But that's, that, to me is a problem, especially with the new remote workforce. So that'd be my take. My second. My second question, um, what is something you've heard? In the last month,

Bob

something I've learned in the last month actually, very recently is the importance of accurate translation. And working with expert translators in the past. This is a function that was usually distributed among the markets, because of the composition of our workforce, and how we work. If a gene, you know, we're doing translation regularly. And you know, I'm certainly a kind of I couldn't be more appreciative of the folks who do this work for us. But I actually was on the receiving end of it recently where someone created something, the original document in a second language, and then they had a translated in sent to us in both languages, including English. And you know, there are elements that needed to be tweaked. Yeah, and I didn't see them all in the first read. I didn't even see them all in the second read isn't like there were so many, but snarkiness It took me a good two or three reads to really appreciate what was there, and what didn't need to be tweaked. And all of a sudden, I had a much greater appreciation for what the translators were dealing with when were sending them things in English. So work, work with professional translators.

Darshan

I just got done on commenting again, information overload reaching employees most successful. I actually saw my getting my comment when got innovative, non digital way. That's an interesting comment is going on digital. Yeah, yeah. It's so So last question for you. What's something that made you happy in the last week? Hmm.

Bob

Something made me happy in the last week because I actually, I had a trip planned. Before I accepted this role before I knew I was going to be offered the role even to go way up into the northern woods of Maine and go fly fishing, incredibly remote. Very dark at night, super quiet, even during the day except for the loons out in the lake. And I'm always keeping an ear out for maybe a moose coming through the woods. You know, and I caught fish and I got to relax and you know, it's a great place kind of a throwback, you know, to before time, maybe even I was born. And just great to be out there and be in nature a little bit.

Darshan

Christine's comment and she loves appreciating the translation as well. So apparently this is a continuing issue. That's more than a few people are faced.

Bob

In Thank you.

Darshan

And, Joanne, thank you as well and, but this was amazing having you on. I have one minute. So thank you again for coming on. And I hope we can hope to have you back again

Bob

soon. That'd be great Darshan. Thank you. Always good to talk to you. Have a great day. Everyone. Have a great day. Bye Bye.

Darshan

Take care.

Bob

This is the DarshanTalks podcast, regulatory guy, irregular podcast with hosts Dr. Shaun Kulkarni. You can find the show on twitter at DarshanTalks or the show's website at DarshanTalks.com

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