Accelerating Value
Accelerating Value

Episode · 1 year ago

Creating Value For a Living w/ Jim Weiss


Value is subjective and context-specific, but it can’t exist without people. Defining and striving for value hinges on people interacting with each other.

Jim Weiss has spent almost 20 years as the Chairman, CEO & Founder of Real Chemistry, thriving on the view that value is people-centric, no matter which metrics we use to analyze it.

What we talked about:

- Value creation hinges on communication skills

- The importance of listening and managing expectations

- Are ESG scores worth using as value indicators?

- Value through the lenses of learning and risk

- Value from a marketing perspective: balancing fine print with building trust

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

- Jim’s LinkedIn profile

- Real Chemistry’s website

Keep connected with Accelerating Value on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Accelerating Value in your favorite podcast player.

Today, every budget approval is an investment deal. If you're a marketer, sales or business leader, you had to promise to deliver value and impact. Writing the wave to get there is hard enough. Finding your way through the storm is even harder. If you're looking for that path forward so that you don't wipe out, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Hey, everybody, this is marks douice bringing you accelerating value, our weekly podcast about everything related to value creation. As we've talked about before, and some of you have brought this up as well, there's I think we are certainly one of maybe two podcasts out there on the major channels right now that are talking about value in this way. So what is it? How do you think about it? How do you invest in it? And we're not talking about like investors in the traditional sense. We're talking about, Hey, as a business leader, as somebody who works for a business leader, how do you think about value and how do you invest in the how do you create it and ultimately, how do you prove that it happened or didn't happen at the end of the day? So what this means also is that we talked to all kinds of people. So you will see a lot of marketers on here, but we also just spoke with a CFO fortune one hundred cfo we get to talk to CEOS and cheat and chief operating officers and all kinds of folks and the people who work for them, because one of the things that's really true is that the old saying about where you stand depends on where you sit is is true, and so we not that they're always right, but we really want to hear what people think about the value that they're creating. So today we have somebody from the other side. By that I mean agencies, consultancies, people who create value for a living for other people, for other companies. So this is Jim Weiss, who I've known for probably a lot longer than either one of us would care to admit, and he has built something that is is actually going to be the centerpiece of this conversation. It's an agency that he created quite a few years ago that, from the very beginning, was premised on value creation and, as a consequence, as the market place evolved and customers evolved and all that kind of stuff, right, his business changed as well and it was just rebranded it from Debbio, which had been for a long time, to real chemistry. And it's not just a name change. This is actually a structural change that I'm going to ask him to talk about. So, Jim glad adding men, good to see a mark. I always love to talk value or just about anything else with you. That he's out of it also involved, you know, a little bit of Scotch, but maybe if I do well I'll learn its thanks for bringing you know that Nice introduction. And Yeah, I made me remember that my first timeline was, you know, when we were called Wi scom partners. Obviously I wasn't a creative person in terms of naming or branding myself. was was creating value through cunic through communications, and what I'll often say is that you know leaders, you know industry leaders. Value... often hinges on how well or not well you communicate, and you and I have talked about that a lot, since we're both trained in that space. You know, I often have been told by teachers along the way, and then the university went to was a was our communication school, so they really believed in this, but they were basically saying, you know, if you could write and communicate well, you could probably do just about anything, and I think that was a big informational driver in how I've taken the firm forward since at a big point of the value of the firm. So let's start with this question. How do you think about value creation today from where you sit, and what do you think? Or is something that most people forget about value creation? Well, I think you know. It's what you said at the beginning and you know, you sort of you know stand where you said, and value is in the eyes of the beholder and in our case, at least for me, it's always been in the eyes of the customer. I feel like the customer defiance a lot of what they believe. The value is that you know a provider is going to bring, and so you have to spend most of your time listening to them, and I think if there's anything that people forget in value creation, it's about listening and if you listen well, you can model what you're doing to create the value that people expect. So it's this concept. We used to talk about it and investor relations, which is the background. I had it at Genetak. You know, that's where I came from, and what was really important is that we listen to what the investors wanted to hear. Now, you didn't always pay, you couldn't always tell them what they wanted to hear, but it was important to know what they wanted to hear so you could put it in a proper context and set appropriate expectations. Ever, recorder. I mean there's nothing like disappointing right. That what really can crash value. That that's the biggest one. If you've set appropriate expectations and you accept them, not too low, not too high, but you exceed them, obviously you get bigger reward in terms of value. And if you've somehow misled or you know, taking the Bait, if you will, of the of the audience and they are wishful thinking, Hey, we want a positive result but you're not giving them reality, then you're going to get a much harder crash. So at least that's been my experience, as I've done this year over year for a lot of clients. You know, the sort of value balancing act that you do all the time. What it will come what it ultimately comes down to is it's it's in the eyes of the customer in the end, use or as to what the value of what you bring is all about. Does value always mean that something has to monetize? Well, I think you know, for a lot of us in business, yes, it always comes through a return on investment. So that's measured in dollars. But I don't think anymore we're looking at that. You know, we're looking at in the ESG practices that are, you know, jetting up. You know, companies are getting measured in the value they bring into the world in terms of sustainability and environmental impact. You know, human impact in terms of diversity and inclusion and, you know, maybe even making now there's even discussion about corporation serving almost a...

...role in the political process, which, you know, I have my own views that that's inevitably. You can't avoid that, given the the folks that are employed by most companies. You know, they're active, they're younger and their socially active, so you almost can't avoid that. So again, the definition of value, I think, has evolved, but the way it plays out is inevitably. You know, what's The stock price, WHAT'S THE PURCHASE PRICE? What's the valuation? Is it always online with true value? I don't know, but at the end of the day you got to live and die by, you know the way that measures work now. Absolutely, I mean so, let's take esg for a second. Right, it's probably one of the most reliable, from a modeling point of view, precursors of sustainable value creation. It's one of the reasons why the big investment firms are really getting super hot on ESG. Yes, so it is. It certainly signals monetizable value coming right. I don't know. I don't think there's necessarily a whole lot of evidence at this time that it directly powers a business right, in other words, makes people want to buy your stuff more faster or whatever. Having highest GESG scurse, but it is a but it certainly is a harvenger right. It's a reflex of the things that are commonly associated with a booming business right, or sustainable business well, or even just you know, hincups and value, or even, you know, threats to value are impacted by the way a company conducts itself or by its perceived policies and procedures. And you know, we just saw, I think, that the energy industry, you know, one of the big companies. We get there as an activist investor challenging. You know, one of the company is approaches to fossil fuel and you know natural ass and sort of how they're going to operate in the fringe or around this topic. You know, I think there's no avoiding it and the action and activity there will be significant. You know how much it ultimately impacts long term value? Well, you know, the end of the day you're serving a customer. You know, one of the things I wanted to emphasize when you talked about it was, you know, it's very important when you're beginning a business and starting a business a lot of people design it for valuation based on investors models. What you got to do is design a company for greatness. And if you design a company for greatness and you do the right thing to put the right things in place and a good infrastructure and you have a good three to five your vision that's constantly updated, that evolves with the environment, in your building a company for the long term, to be here for the long term, usually value follows. You know, if there's a solid mission vision, there's values. But I can't tell you how many companies you come to and they don't have that, they don't have those solid foundational elements that really, you know, are what we consider ultimately esg you know what your mission what is your vision? What did the values? Where the behaviors? What your culture? How do people behave with one another and interact? What do you expect them to do in the real world and how they show up? I mean for us, of course, our mission is to make the world a healthier place for all. So the expectation, as you're out there modeling, that you know, helping the world understand the importance of taking vaccines and their safety and their efficacy, and you know... this guy to help us get out of the pandemic and you kind of live that. It's not a you know, it's not a just a business principle, it's a living principle. So it's you see it more and more. But if people build for that long haul and you hire and grow your culture with that in mind, I think that's where long term values created. And I celebrating twenty years next month in the business and I often say the more things change and where they stay the same. And what I have found that we've grown in the pandemic because there were such strong relationships and trust and we were revisiting our values even you know, we always do every few years. We come back to the table. Are they still relevant? Are we still, you know, acting in them? And Integrity? That word integrity came up and comes up all the time. and Are we living them in authenticity? All that is really important when it comes to value creation. No, he you, and I've actually never I've never asked this question even conversationally before, but based on what I just heard you say, it would appear that you probably your views on all this have changed quite a bit since you were doing ir a genetic it. Would that be true? Yes, and I mean I think views change as you get old. I was twenty six when I joined Janent AC. I was doing I R and communications that the company itself went through a lot of, you know, lessons, let's just put it that way, and must you know you better terms, you know, very aggressive, the marketing and sales practices that you know. There are a lot of good things about it, but then there were things that needed probably be kept in check and you know, I had to manage that in the public domain. You know. I think those things helped informed a future review. But you learn every day from people. I mean I'm sitting with people right next to me who are teaching me about, you know, gender, you know, and race and culture, parody and all the things that are kind of becoming, I guess, really societal norms, but, you know, are happening quickly around us and those are not things we were taught coming up. You know, there was a way that we ran a businesses and and in the last few years it's a very different mindset and I love it. I mean, I think this mindset and the headsets terrific. I just introduced the company to all of our interns. It was their first stage and first start. Intern class came in and we have a couple hundred and it is clearly the most diverse class we've ever had. It's tremendous and I'm very excited about the quality and time that the team took and care they took to recruit this, this team of interns. And we had seven thousand applicants for you know, what was, I don't know, a complement that not even a couple hundreds, like a hundred slots the summer, which is a big difference in the last summer and we were writing the depth of the pandemic but I can't imagine the value creation that will come out of that, the diversity of thought and you know, I can't even imagine. Again, you know now that as again we're crossing the line from, you know what, a thousand people before the pandemic started to now over twozero people as we re emerge out of it at my firm. And so you really have to think about it differently. You can't think about it the same way every day. You can't because it's different every day. So to one way of thinking about...

...value creation is is through the lens of learning. Right. Would you say that you are mostly an incremental, long term learner, or do you have epiphanies? I would say a little bit of both. I mean you know you you sort of incremental long term learning leads to epiphanies. You know your ability to have them. I mean big epiphanies only happen and you know, obviously every few years where that a high really changes the direction. I've, like you said, we were branded into rereal chemistry and people like was that another name change? No, it's a structural change to allow, for you know, a new and expanded scaled culture to emerge. And what does it take the scale? Well, it takes risk, fear. You know will overcoming fear to some degree. It takes the this embracing of growth. We talked about growth as a major value, but it's not growth for Growth Sake, it's growth of the individual. That curiosity, that endless curiosity, that's required. And you know again, you don't create value anywhere unless you're listening and you're curious. I mean you just just don't you don't come in and, as my mom used to say, the many think you've arrived. It's time to leave. And I think this mindset I have to wake up every day is that out of this company, thinking I have something to prove, otherwise I should go. And that is how I do wake up, I think. You know, I'm a little scared, I'm a little nervous, I'm a little worried about what didn't I do today. What has to happen? What impact do I have to create? I'm not waking up complace and thinking I have all the answers and I know what to do next, because today is the first day ever run a company a twenty two hundred people in tomorrow it will be the first day every other company is two thousand two hundred and five. So let's talk about real chemistry. Let's talk about risk. Let's start this conversation about risk. So you just touched on it. How do you govern it for yourself and fear organization, I mean how do you how do you think about the calibration of risk agency level? You've poor your clients, the way you cansel your clients get pretty even the fact that there is hard to create value without some risk. I think risk taking is really important, but it has to be, you know, grounded in information and knowledge and a sense of things. So I don't think you take it's like anything when you gets a hold adge of when you're crossing the street, you know looking both ways. You know just running out industry is risk unnecessary. You know that that's not you know that's taking a chance you don't need to take. So I like risk for verification. You know, you really sort of move ahead and you know you keep taking ground. You know. I don't think you don't have to take giant leaps. That's not required. I don't think you know it's iteration versus innovation. I'm a big believer and fast following. If something is good out there. You know, iterating on it works for me. I'm not looking to blow things up. I'm not a I don't criticize other models badly because I came from those things and I grew up in those things. So it's really about, let's get the best practices from those things that have been successful and leave the things that we know don't work so well outside the door if you can. You know. So it's...

...really moderated risk all the time and but you've got to take it and I've been doing it again. I self funded the company till you know, it was about a hundred million of revenue, but at some point I had to take the risk of letting other leaders and owners into the system in order to scale. And you know, you have to have other thought you have to have other ideas, you have to have other points of view or it's not gonna go. So you know that and you have to let that in and you have to let them run with that and they have to hit the wall themselves and they have to fall themselves. You can you can helicopter parent that, you have to helicopter CEO that. You have to let some things happen. So you know value creation. Again, you have to show them what that looks like. You know the people that you're working with and then you know they all have different probably viewpoints of it and you want to align that as much as you can and then let them execute on their different versions of it. So you know. So you guys specialize almost totally in the healthcare business. One of the things that is so emblematic of that industry that it you know, it's it's a popular it's part of the popular meme in some cases. Is the fine print right or at the end of a TV commercial about a drug you'll get a very rapid voice explaining all the health all the risks right sociated with it. Do you feel like that there is a fine rent, a version of that fine print from marketing for marketings value creation? Is that a conversation? How do you have that conversation actually with your clients? Well, when I talk to them about return on marketing, communications all the rest, you know that. Well, first of all, if you know when we were at Genentech, what aren't Levins in our then Cmo, chief medical officer and scientific officer then became the chief, the chief executive officer. What he said is you can't do the TV ads and you know, we're going to let the science speak for it self. The problem with that, of course, as if nobody understands what the science means, really, how does that really deliver you value? So you know, we you know we're able to convince them. There are ways to take the science and make it accessible to the folks in the real world. So you can as a set on the pandemic and you know the resistance. Anthony Fach, she is most government's, most news stations didn't know what an epidemiologist was, let alone how to pronounce it, and now it's sort of rank and file that we were in covid right and people understand what RNA is versus, you know, other types of vaccines. Again, it sort of brought us, it ushered in an era that we have never seen in the world ever for our business. And you know, having launched and the fires are vaccine, you know, and at least in terms of communications with with the fiser team, that was an honor and a privilege. But we also saw a lot of resistance and hesitancy and ultimately we had to work on confidence around that vaccine and normally mark we spend years in marketing and communications and scientific communications to get a new entity, a new drug, a new device, a new medical intervention,...

...and it takes really about a decade for that to take hold, you know, in true fashion. So yeah, even though you spent, you know, decade getting it approved through the FDA and getting all this evidence, you then have to go because you're not allowed to pre promote it right like you might other things. We're not allowed to get that pre you know, there's a little bit of work it could do, but not much, and so then you have to come to the market with all these, you know, risks, things that of course, make people scared, and so we then have to find all these other interesting, creative ways to get people to understand it in full context. So, you know, I think it all ultimately balances out and works out, but in this life or death situation that we were in, the covid it just up the Auntie. And now we're talking about warp speed development and warp speed marketing and you know from Amazon and you know all what we call its trigger marketing, performance marketing, all these things. You know, it's all driven by data, measured by data. What proof does you know it measures the ultimate mix, which is a treat as. It's going to go far our chalic disclose on an advisor, but I believe in it because you have to show, you have to show the impact of the mix of things you're putting together makes sense for the marketer. There's nothing wrong with that. But when I'm describing to the market or why, they have to communicate to me. It's a fundamental point. The leaders communicate. The leaders set the tone. You know, whether you're the leader of the fast follower. The leaders are taking responsibility and healthcare environment to take responsibility for the return on the patient experience. So they're not just throwing something out into the marketplace. Where else would you see this? They're going to throw this thing out on the marketplace and then, okay, the patient takes it, but they may or may not get the outcome and, by the way, I may kill them because it's also going to cause worse harm than good. I mean, where would we ever pay for that and normally and not complain through the roof? If we went to get a hotel room and that was our experience, we would never okay to that right. But I'm telling marketers now is look you have to do. You have a responsibility and launching the product that you get the right patient at the right time, you know, at the right price, with the right experience. That is all still that that's going to probably end up giving you the right impact in the sales of marketing products, if I think about all of that now. So it's not just multi channel marketing, it's, you know, multidimensional distribution and marketing. So, anyway, that's a long winded way of saying. You know, we have to be thinking about it with the consumer in mind, and a lot of what real chemistry is designed to do is put the power of healthcare back in the patient's hands, not you know what my next question actually, which you gave me the perfect segue to, is, is all about customer confidence and trust. Right, and again, in kind of a life and death situation, that has an even greater impact then if you're selling them something with very little risk attached to it, right, trying to get him to go to your restaurant. They might like it or whatever, right, but that's a risk that most people will take immediately. How do you know? What? What is the role of confidence and trust today? Right, I mean this is sort of a little bit of a leading the Horse to water question here, but but I really would love to hear you talk about...

...this because going to the what you were saying earlier about the Guy Janintech wanting the science to speak and then but the importance of putting a wrapper around that that people can understand that this is part of the confidence and trust building exercise. But there are other pieces of it as well that go beyond traditional performance marketing or even traditional research. Right, how do you, how do you kind of counsel your clients today around? Hey, man, you got a great product, you got a great vaccine, you got a great whatever it is, right, but man, your your marketplace is having some trust and confidence issues with you. Well, I tell them. You know what I tell Click customers all the time. As you know, you win trust over time and can lose it in a tweet. So you know on you know, that's why you've got to invest in communications and marketing and thinking through how you're going to be establishing a relationship with your customers. Just like we have to be in relationship, you have to be in relationship with your customers and partners for real. Those are the ones, the last in all the Times I've worked with you know in house. You know, we were a got for that customer set and the relationship was was symbiotics. So they knew if they prescribe the product they would get pretty much the result that was on the box, you know. So even though it had all the warnings, for the most part you were mostly delivering what was on the box. And then in medical device you send people have to do the coaching and the training on the device. They sometimes actually sit with you through the procedure to make sure it goes as promised and planned. That those companies that invest in that full spectrum of experience, I think, do really, really well. The ones that come in and are somewhat fly by night and don't established that relationship don't end up with the long term value creation that you often see, or they have it and then it sort of falls off a cliff and they can't recapture it as readily. So I think you know what the best companies do and I look at like a Gillyad and HIV, you know, is a really great example of a company me that established a relationship with a group of patients and havocates and people that created trust and I've seen it in other you know, mainly an orphan disease. You see it a lot where a company, you know, it's such a small patient population. I had an antact with the cystic fibrosis foundation and the cystic fibrosis community when we launched Palmas on, which was the first thing drug in thirty years for a population that hadn't seen anything in the life expectancy when we launched was twenty nine years of age and now it's over fifty and they're having families. Now. People will see F or now having families. They never could expect to have that. And now VERTEX has come along with drugs. But you can't just launch the drug. You have to help figure out how am I going to get the thing paid for? How am I gonna, you know, talk to other, you know, patients and families about how they cope with the experience. There's a patient experience that occurs when you have either a person or your you have the disease. You know you're the caregiver. You know that is really becoming the responsibility of you know, where the corresponsibility of the marketer with the distributors. That has to be done across the board. That builds a trust. One of the things that real chemistry. I think has a reputation for WTO.

You know, if you think about it in those terms, is they people. And talk about your employees, your team members, right, people stick with you for a very long time. So clearly you are addressing confidence and trust issues with your team's on a reasonably regular basis. How do you what does it look like to you? Like? I think? I think it's pretty obvious what it looks like to them, because they're staying with you, right. But when you think about this yourself, what does that look like? What are you trying to do? What do you what's the intentional aspect? It's in I'll tell you feel people are with us long term because we can treat them the way I want to be treated, and it's very much the gold of gold. It's very simple to me. It comes down to people want to be seen, heard, respected and, I think, ultimately valued. So when you come when it comes to value, and this is a great maybe I don't know if this is our last question, but why? I was going to say this early on in the conversation. There's nothing more important than the people you can have great technic can have great daity, you can have great digital all of that, but people make a run. People are the source and I don't care if you're running a check company. You know it doesn't matter. People are the primary ingredient. Now not people are flawed and people, people have issues and you try to deal with that and empathy. But you know, you set the goals. You said that, the KPIS and the okay ours, and then everybody has to live by those. That's that's the quid pro quel. But if they do, then they've got to treat them well, listen to them and keep advancing them. I think now in this world of diversity and inclusion, valuation, you know, where we're valuing that more than we ever have. Frankly, smartly, whoever has been doing that longer as winning you know, and you know, those of us that are coming along and embracing it, you know it doesn't matter. When you embrace it and get with the program that's important. Now I've always had a lot of women, you know, and women leadership, but now we continue to diversify cross race, gender, ethnicity, all the rest. That is so important, and now into the international markets. Those things will help us. I think there's no greater importance than that diversity of people thought and treating everybody like they have a valuable contribution to make. So it's value, valuable. Valuation all ultimately sits with people. And when you somehow discount that, that and companies do that to their detriment, I feel when they feel like that doesn't matter anymore, I think that's when things start to fall oh yeah, totally agree with you. Right. I mean there's a great lesson out of genetics about this, and that is that heterosis always wins. That that, you know, being being pure blooded, so to speak, right is not a good idea. It's not a recipe for long term success at all. You know, one of the things that I have found personally and on this one, is that, in addition to the moral and ethical imperative around treating all people with dignity and respect and extending opportunities to them, as a leader, wrapping myself with many, many, many diverse opinions is a really awesome safety net against a really bad decision on my part. Right, as long as you don't end up an analysis paralysis, which you've got to avoid. Now you know, we've all made the mistake of...

...quick, rash, rush decisions. When a person calls you and says, can we change that decision based on this or this, and it makes sense and you do. The amount of value you get within the organization, like culture, value is massive if you've listened and it makes sense now, that doesn't it doesn't. I'm sometimes just acknowledging that you've heard a different voice, but you still moved ahead because of these reasons. Also gets a lot of value points, because it just comes down what about? I started this conversation with listening and hearing the customer, which is which are the people that are working for and with you. You know, that's I and I get up again every day with the mindset of these people are my colleagues. They are not my minions and my people like these, these are my colleagues and we're going to go. We're going to go take the hell and I think that is what ultimately, people love about, you know, coming into companies to and when you've got a clear mission and vision. You know, and again healthcare, I think now we have such a terrific remit, whether it's to navigate a pandemic or prevent the next one to help create warp speed development of new products to address bigger, bigger problems like Alzheimer's. You know aging, you know issues of Party of vascular disease or certain cancers that have been recalcitry. You know, there's a lot of things. If we could apply the same warp speed approach we took to the the vaccines for Covid to these diseases, wow, incredible what we would see. So one last question aproposed that right. This is for you personally. Is there a is there a particular malady, to good disease, to good condition, that you are especially passionate about fixing? Well, on the days that I can remember, I guess it's Alzheimer's, but in dimensially, but I feel, like you know, that is probably more of an aging issue. I think the one that I probably am most passionate about is cancer. It still is, it has been. I've been impacted personally. My sister has been impacted. My mom died on lung camps. Are you know, I know, you know you're going to know someone in your life who gets a blood or, you know, some other type of cans. Are I've worked in the space. I'm on the Board of the Cancer Research Institute. You know, involved in many other ways and always have been, and I just feel like it's the one and bouncing all that wolhit everybody of some point and I think that one is definitely addressible. You can see it, whether it's through earlier diagnosis or understanding, you know, better target of treatments. You know you keep seeing the incremental advance I've seen in the last ten years. Maybe a little bit before that, but certainly in the last ten there's quite an advance. So that's probably the one. Thanks, Jim. Great, great to have you on the show. Really appreciate it. Thanks, Mark. It's really fun. Oh It's good to connect on the bigger issues. Guys, thank you so much for your time this week on this podcast. As always. I hope you got a lot out of it and keep those cards and letters coming, or emails the case maybe. Thanks so much. The sooner you can optimize your marketing spend, the quicker you can start delivering clear, measurable value to Your...

Business. That's exactly where business GPS from. Proof analytics can help learn more at proof analytics DOT AI. You've been listening to accelerating value, where raw conversations about the journey to business impact help you weather the storm ahead. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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