A Short Conversation on Big Pharma, Reputation and COVID-19; Obstacles to Wisdom; Personal Risk Management; More Protective Compliance; Our Morality and Judgment; Thinking Wisely Through Personal Crisis; Crisis is Opportunity

A weekly newsletter on communication, decision making, behavior, trust, conflict, risk, professional relationships, resilience, reputation and wiser, more successful crisis management. Red Diamonds regularly includes interviews with bright, accomplished minds.

This Week’s Contents

A Short Conversation:
Big Pharma Can Restore its Reputation with its Response to COVID-19
(Interview with John LaMattina, Ph.D., a director at PureTech Health)

What Gets in the Way of Us Gaining Wisdom?

Mastery, Personal Risk Management and Our Future

Compliance Mindsets and Practices for More Protective Outcomes
(Interview with Calvin London, Ph.D, Founder and Principal Consultant at
The Compliance Concierge)

Morality and Judgment: Further Developing It
(Raffaello Antonino, Ph.D., Clinical Director and Counseling Psychologist at Therapy Central and Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University)

Wiser Thinking Through (Personal) Reputation Crisis: Maggie Haney
(A LinkedIn article)

Corporate Crisis is Both a Pass-Fail Exam and an Opportunity to Shine
(A LinkedIn article)


Big Pharma does not always have a respected, trustworthy reputation with the media or public. It has weathered crises and big punches to the industry.

Yet its reputation, collectively, is on the rebound and with the Coronavirus crisis upon us, there is opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to further restore credibility, trust and positive emotion in people’s minds.

This week’s A Short Conversation is with John LaMattina, who wrote a smart piece in STAT, Big Pharma could boost its reputation with a solid response to Covid-19.

LaMattina, Ph.D., is a director at PureTech Health and a former president of global research and development at Pfizer and the author of the boldly titled book:

Devalued and Distrusted: Can the Pharmaceutical Industry Restore its Broken Image?

Now, A Short Conversation:

LaMattina wrote in his STAT article that he realizes Big Pharma’s reputation needs some work yet he is optimistic, confident even that the industry will recognize the responsibility and reputation opportunity before it and will do quality work during the COVID-19 crisis.

I asked him where and how can the industry can best serve and continue to restore and build reputation with the opportunity this crisis presents.

“The industry has done a number of things over the past five years that, theoretically, can help its reputation,” LaMattina says. “For one thing, it become completely transparent with respect to publishing the results of all clinical trials on ClinicalTrials.gov. In fact, Big Pharma’s publication record of trial results is far better that what is being done by universities and research institutions.”

He also has recognized improved transparency and with fine details, steps LaMattina says are steps in the right direction ethically.

“Big Pharma is transparent on fees paid to physicians and independent experts who work on experimental drugs. Each quarter, every company lists on its website any fee paid to a doctor in excess of $ 10,” he says. “Both of these steps have helped to alleviate previous issues about the industry.”

Drug pricing continues to be a burr under the saddle for many patients and their families and regulators will often rail against it as well. LaMattina admits that remains a challenge and not an easy one to solve.

“The big issue challenging Big Pharma’s reputation has been around drug pricing. More education of the public with respect to ‘list price’ versus ‘actual cost’ is needed,” he says. “This will not be easy given the convoluted nature of the U.S. healthcare system and the number of middlemen who are involved in getting a drug from a manufacturer to the patient.”

LaMattina, while owning that pricing is a sensitive and often painful issue, does believe value is being offered.

“But, for the most part, the industry has been able to convince payers that the price being charged for a new drug is worth it based on the savings such drugs bring to the overall healthcare system,” he says.

LaMattina sounds confident yet how much can the pharmaceutical industry capitalize with a compassionate, responsible approach to its business, as well as a reputation building standpoint? He doesn’t hesitate to answer and does so boldly.

“COVID-19 provides an unbelievable opportunity for Big Pharma. When the pandemic broke, ironically the public and governments turned to Big Pharma for help,” he says, “and these companies have responded in a big way. Dozens or hundreds of (research and development) programs are being carried out with alacrity to come up with therapeutics and vaccines to literally save the world. I have no doubt the industry will be successful.”

As to how this can be most likely accomplished, LaMattina goes back to the ever-present public concern and fears over pricing.

“The key, however, will be determining the fair price of these products. A company needs to recoup their costs as well as generating at least some profits,” he asserts. “Otherwise, the needed R-and-D re-investments for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, et cetera, won’t occur,” he warns. Companies will need to convince the world that there will not be price gouging and that drugs and vaccines will be fairly priced.”

In his book, LaMattina addresses “what can be done to solve core health challenges, including cancer, diabetes, and neuro-degenerative diseases.” I asked him about the most precise, concise way he could answer “how?”

“The role of the drug industry is to prove or disprove medical hypotheses. Nowhere else is this done,” LaMattina says. “Cancer is being converted from being a death sentence to a controllable chronic disease thanks to the bounty of drugs produced by this often maligned industry.”

Whether we feel sufficiently wise or aim to be much more so, there are obstacles. What prevents or obstructs that pursuit? Often, it’s our own mind.

We struggle with false beliefs about what we do and don’t know. Let’s briefly look at the observations of three wise people and what they have to say.

For example, do we always believe the following belief or do we insist otherwise, that our scope of wisdom and confidence is greater than what facts might reveal?

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.”

George Santayana

Intellectually humble people realize Santayana is accurate. When we’re bullheaded, we reject the assertion that we have something more to learn. We simply are not receptive to learning from additional information or other people. We believe what we want to believe, not what is true. Ego wins. We lose and often people around us do too.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

John Wooden

We can become complacent, maybe content, in the totality of our knowledge, not realizing we don’t know all we should know, need to know, could still learn and I think that’s a little of what Wooden is saying here, no?

Are we receptive to realizing, when our ego is being stubborn or we might be exhibiting a lazy mind, that we can still learn more that is important to know or is critical to understand?

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

We’re all ignorant. That’s not talking down on ourselves, that’s deep understanding, self awareness and being intellectually humble. Those are strengths, not weaknesses. The question is what will we do next?

Are we willing to learn? I can say that there have been times where I wasn’t willing and that wasn’t just a mistake, it was an “unforced error.” I can say that I regularly observe highly educated, intelligent, successful people (and organizations) do the same, be unwilling to learn in areas where they desperately need to be “willing.”

When we are unwilling, it’s more than a blind spot. It’s intellectual stubbornness and it’s ego being our master. We’re enslaved to it.

Summary: could we be more wise? It’s always possible and hopefully preferable. It becomes much more likely when we insist of ourselves continual improvement, greater poise and a disciplined, habitual kind of humility.

When we program our mind in this way, we realize that not only do we benefit from being willing to always learn more in areas where we either feel sufficiently or fully competent and expert but areas where are not intrinsically motivated to learn. We benefit not only ourselves but others around us.

Let’s look into our futures. Will we look back in all areas of our lives with sincere confidence and peace that we did all we could, made the best decisions we could with the information we had at our use to be living our best lives?

Or could we be missing something, maybe something big?

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

Lao Tzu
Chinese philosopher and writer

Mastering ourselves is indeed power. It’s highly skilled self control. We can be excellent in almost every area of our lives yet there can be challenging tasks where we are less than masterful. Where are they in your life?

Doing some risk management here, where could those places in your life be that are low in self control, of the mind and behavior, that one day might prove highly problematic, or currently are creating preventable pain?

How specifically would you like your future self to thank you, with deep gratitude for building and mastering self control in that area, starting today?

Make some time for your future self this week, a small “I get to learn more about me this week” moment of thought so you will look back one day with deep appreciation for yourself for the peace and satisfaction you will be enjoying instead of significant regret and pain.

Look ahead consistently so looking back will be a relief, if not a great pleasure.

Calvin London, a regular writer at Corporate Compliance Insights and the Founder and Principal Consultant at The Compliance Concierge granted me an interview to discuss what is often missing in compliance and the insightful, practical solutions are that will greatly benefit leaders and organizations.

An excellent communicator and writer, London allows me to pick his brain. Invaluable, educational and interesting content in this interview and article, a Red Diamonds Features exclusive:

Compliance Mindsets and Practices for More Protective Outcomes

You’re welcome to send comments and questions about it to RedDiamondsNews@gmail.com or write London at his website.

What is behind our morality and judgment? Is it something objective or subjective and how can we examine our morality, and if we deem it necessary or desirable, improve on it so our judgment and decision making align with who we want to be, who we believe we are?

Raffaello Antonino, Ph.D. spoke to me about these questions and more. Antonino is the clinical director and a counseling psychologist in London at Therapy Central and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University.

How We Can Best Examine and Develop Our Morality and Judgment is the name of our conversation, in article form and can be found on this link on Thrive Global.

Your comments and questions are welcome and can be sent to RedDiamondsNews@Gmail.com.

When a personal reputation crisis hits it can be overwhelming emotionally yet that is when we have to strive to stay balanced emotionally or regain balance.

When we do that, we can think more wisely and skillfully and respond in that type of manner. That becomes our strength and power, greatly increasing the odds we will mitigate damage and problem solve better.

Here is a story of a person who likely felt they got blindsided and now they have a crisis that threatens to ruin their respected name and thriving business.

There are lessons to be learned. See what you think in this LinkedIn article:

In a Reputation Crisis, Don’t Deny, Blame Shift or Act Defiant.

When under duress, how do we naturally look at crisis? How instead could we view it through a different lens and thus change how we approach and respond to it?

I offer the best takeaways of an article on this topic and then offer up some practical, invaluable, brief analysis and insight. Let’s take a look at four quick points and finish with a summary and see what you think.

Published on LinkedIn:

Corporate Crisis is Both a Pass-Fail Exam and an Opportunity to Shine.

As always, your questions and comments are welcomed at RedDiamondsNews@Gmail.com.

Michael Toebe is the writer of the Red Diamonds Newsletter and also hosts the Red Diamonds Podcast: Michael Toebe (found on numerous podcast platforms). He is a specialist for reputation, professional relationships communication and wiser, more successful crisis management.

Until next week…

”In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein


“There’s a better way to do it — find it.”

Thomas Edison




Newsletter on communication, decision making, behavior, conflict, psychology, professional relationships, resilience, courage, reputation and crisis.

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Red Diamonds Newsletter: Michael Toebe

Red Diamonds Newsletter: Michael Toebe

Newsletter on communication, decision making, behavior, conflict, psychology, professional relationships, resilience, courage, reputation and crisis.

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