The Sweet Sweat of Success - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Sweet Sweat of Success
Persistence is will. It is the ability to view difficulty simply as territory through which you must navigate.

Pharmaceutical Executive

At that time, Buspar was competing with drugs such as Valium and Librium, which, as narcotics, worked immediately. Buspar, which took three weeks to become effective, was not a narcotic and therefore was nonaddictive. But patients didn't want to wait three weeks for the effect to kick in, and sales were flat. Becker designed a public education campaign for patient compliance that outlined the benefit of hanging in there (persisting) for three weeks. Sales of the drug took off like a rocket, and as a result, it became a blockbuster. The campaign set a new trend for the industry category of psychotropic drugs.

Word got out about Becker being an idea agency that follows up with execution, and soon we were on our way. It was a great 15-year run. The capstone came in 2003, when Becker was named Agency of the Year and had seven of the top 10 pharma companies in the world as clients. No other agency—healthcare or consumer—had as many billion-dollar brands as the Becker Group.

We were able to accomplish all that because the culture of persisting through rejection and opposition became a way of life. We did it with our brains and our hearts, but most of all, we did it with sweat. It was a no-excuse culture, in which the leaders were known by their actions—not their titles or reputation. Persistence is that wonderful quality that separates leaders from managers and a mediocre company from one capable of building a legacy.

Sander A. Flaum is managing partner of Flaum Partners. He can be reached at


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