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The font designer Eric Gill once said, “If you look after truth and goodness, beauty looks after herself.”

You can say something similar when it comes to integrity, intellect, and the success of a company. If you focus on the first two, the third tends to take care of itself.

I hesitate to mention integrity and intellect as simply a means to an end, however. They’re not just tools — these values are inherent in the type of person most people want to work with. …

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Many people have passion for their work.

If you’re someone whose passions are both personally fulfilling and a means to a financial end, you’re lucky.

But it’s also important that you take time to indulge in passions that don’t really have a point.

For example, after my kids were born, I bought a camera to capture family moments. Soon after, I began playing around with Photoshop to edit the photos, which got me interested in the Adobe Suite. I tried InDesign and was hooked. Today, it’s the only software I use for my board presentations. …

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Back when I was in undergrad at MIT, the quality of my professors’ lectures would absolutely stun me sometimes.

The way they could capture and hold our attention throughout the class was nothing short of amazing. Their use of eight simultaneous blackboards lining the walls, filled to the brim with notes, turned each lecture into its own miniature production.

A good lecturer is a master at walking the class through a thorny subject, expressing ideas clearly, and holding attention — all of which also has to be done during complicated business presentations.

To develop that skill, I’ve been reading Joseph Lowman’s book, Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. It is the best book on teaching that I’ve found over the years. I wanted to apply these lecturing and teaching techniques because I believe that style of education is ideal for the data-driven presentations people have to give in the biotech field.

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As a biotech executive, when I see a study regarding the efficacy/safety of a drug, I carefully examine the results and use them to inform my thinking.

Yet when it comes to the world of interpersonal interaction, motivation, and human behavior, most of us tend to do whatever is intuitive. We don’t necessarily feel we need a study to tell us about organizational culture. We live by our own experiences, picking up anecdotes and lessons along the way.

But we shouldn’t dismiss human behavior research so quickly.

We simply need to use the same caveats as we would with any study.

  • Has it been reproduced?
  • How good is the study? Are there any methodological issues? …

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I turned 50 this year, and with the gravitas surrounding that milestone, I began thinking about all the things I wish I’d known at 25.

The thing about good advice is that people rarely take it.

The truth is, I know that 25-year-old me probably wouldn’t be able to understand the advice — or at least, he wouldn’t be ready to receive the message.

A lot of times, you just have to figure things out for yourself.

You have to learn some lessons through experience. But if you’re in the right frame of mind to accept advice, you can internalize it and potentially avoid mistakes.

So, here are the five things I wish I’d known a quarter-century…

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Chances are you have several colleagues and friends who work at medium- to large-sized companies.

If you were to poll them, asking what problems they encounter on a daily basis, you might be shocked by how similar the answers are.

That’s because there appears to be a natural state of existence that companies drift toward as they grow — no matter the industry. I can’t say exactly why that is, but it likely includes an underlying social-technological dynamic.

I’ve seen the problems companies run into first-hand and heard about them over and over again throughout my career.

Between jobs, I decided to write out a list of the 20 most common, yet seemingly avoidable, issues every company faces as it grows.

And when I joined the team at Morphic Therapeutic, we had a unique opportunity since we were starting from scratch. …

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Most people believe they want to hear certain phrases from a boss or coworker.

  • “You did a great job!”
  • “You’re so detail-oriented.”
  • “You’re a really hard worker.”

Those affirmations are certainly positive, but they’ve become so commonplace that they’re thrown around without much thought. In business development meetings, for example, people always say “great meeting” at the end of it — even if the meeting was nothing out of the ordinary. There’s no incentive to say anything but “great meeting.”

Baseline compliments are nice to receive, but oftentimes, they’re just what people say out of habit.

Yet the one phrase you do really want to hear is, “You have too much time on your hands.”

Or similarly, “I don’t know how you find the time.” …

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Our team at Morphic Therapeutic recently announced a drug discovery collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, a multinational pharmaceutical and medical devices company.

A few months ago Mark Erion, Global VP, Cardiovascular & Metabolism at J&J, said to us that he wanted a true collaboration where scientists from both companies would be working side by side.

I immediately replied, “Me too.”

Mark looked a bit startled initially, as if in disbelief.

That’s because when companies usually talk about working together, they aren’t speaking about true collaboration.

They’re not actually interested in a scenario where both sides are contributing in an interactive back and forth manner. …

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Illustration from “Life in the Wonderful World of Biotech”

Here’s How To Manage It

A tension exists between the discovery and development teams in any biotech or pharma company.

During discovery, a team works to find a viable molecule that will be the basis for a new medicine. Their work is a pure form of innovation, so they have the mentalities of inventors. Provocation and outside-the-box thinking are part of the discovery toolbox.

But at some point — essentially the moment discovery has produced a viable molecule — it’s handed off to the development team to be turned into medicine.

The development team has a much different mentality. They’re obsessed with definition and regulations, by necessity. They have to navigate a mass of obstacles and FDA regulations in order to get this potential drug to market. …

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Whenever I walk into a library, something clicks in my brain.

The sight of an unmistakable banker’s desk lamp with a green glass shade primes me to focus and concentrate.

And I’m sure that’s the result of about a decade’s worth of higher education. Thousands of hours in the quiet section of the library have taught my brain to associate that environment with study and concentration.

The interesting thing is, modern technology has a similar effect on us. But instead of priming our brains for focus, we’re being taught to seek instant satisfaction and stay distracted.

Our habits are becoming less aligned with some of the most important goals we want to accomplish. …


Praveen Tipirneni

CEO at Morphic Therapeutic | Battle of the Bugs at Cubist Pharmaceuticals | Climb, Run, Bike, Swim |

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