Don Brockway
18 Sills Ct.
Centerport, NY 11721

Excerpt Two:
New Management Arrival
Don Brockway, speechwriter

"You used to work for the competition.
How do you introduce yourself?"

THEME SLIDE: The slide is empty except for a bold horizontal line that nearly stretches from edge to edge across the middle of the field.

Good morning. Yes, you’re in for another PowerPoint presentation, that’s the bad news… but the good news… is that basically, there’s only one slide I’m going to use… and you’re looking at it.

Like many of you, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with these kinds of presentations… with the “hate” part stemming from some really, really awful slide shows I’ve had to sit through that seemed to last forever.

As someone I used to work with once said, “Power corrupts… and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.”

But as you can see from my opening slide … which I like to call my theme slide… I’m taking a simple approach to this.

I went to a website that promises practical, down-to-earth and up-to-date tips on the best ways to use PowerPoint. I figured I’d check out how the program had changed since the last time I used it.

The most fascinating thing I found on that web page… was a sentence about a new feature in the latest version of PowerPoint.

SLIDE 2 – TEXT: Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently avoid this latest improvement.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently avoid this latest improvement.” And this is dead serious; no one was trying to be funny.

This sentence started me thinking – not about PowerPoint, but about the kinds of things I could say this morning, and how those things might be perceived.

Because I’ve been in the industry for about 22 years… as a sales rep, a DM, an Account Manager, an AD of Regional Account Management… and more recently, an RSD… and AD of Marketing in my previous job.

What that means – among other things – is that I’ve been in the audience for about a million presentations like this one. I’ve seen the “new people” get up and talk about who they are… how happy they are to be with their new company, in their new job… how they see the future… all that kind of thing…

…and it occurs to me that there are many in the audience who take a look, take a listen, let out a long sigh, and think quietly to themselves…

“Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently avoid this latest improvement.”

My achievable objective this morning is to try and not leave you with that feeling.

SLIDE THREE – THEME SLIDE (Horizontal line)

Let me explain my “Theme Slide.”

What you see there is not just a line. It’s a dividing line.

I’m going to use this line in a number of ways… to introduce myself … to tell you why I am, in fact, glad to be here at Newco… and to talk about change.

Not “PowerPoint-style Change” – so-called “improvements” we consider “unfortunate” and would really rather avoid – but positive change that positions us for greater success.

SLIDE FOUR – THEME SLIDE – ADD TEXT: “Newco” (above the “dividing line”) “Oldco” (below the “dividing line”).

I’m new here. I’m experiencing this company for the first time. 22 years at Oldco on one side of the dividing line. About three months at Newco on the other.

I’m not in a good position to speak with great authority about Newco; you know this company far better than I do. But I can suggest a few ways to divide the two companies… by pointing out what sorts of things separate the two, as business environments in which to work.

One of the biggest clichés in our industry – actually, it’s repeated in every industry – is to say “Our people make the difference.” At Pfizer, “People are the cornerstone of Pfizer Success.” Merck “reaches its full potential if Merck people reach their full potential.” And at Novartis, “People are the most important resource.”

I’m not going to argue with any of that… how can you argue with that? But when my new boss called and said, “Ann, you ought to think about working here at Newco,” just for grins, I surfed over to the Newco web site and clicked the link that said “Our culture,” expecting to find the usual chestnuts.

I was not expecting to find this statement:

“Where employees enjoy doing rewarding work.”

I will admit to some skepticism about that claim, and I will tell you that the possibility of “enjoyment” was not what “put me over the top” in my decision to pull up stakes at Oldco after two decades and try something new.

Three months later, though, I am somewhat astonished to report that the statement is true. I can honestly report that I’ve laughed more in the last twelve weeks than I have over the past twelve years.

You do have more fun when you get to do rewarding work.

And you get to do more rewarding work… as well as develop a broader, more comprehensive and valuable experience base… working in a company that’s structured the way Newco is structured. You get to do more here.

And that’s the key. That’s something that divides Newco from Oldco, in my estimation. Here, “rewarding work” is not only a product of a company culture that dares to use the word “enjoy,” right out there on the web site where everyone can see it… but also a product of the size and structure of the organization… which makes “rewarding work” a possibility.

SLIDE FIVE – THEME SLIDE – ADD TEXT: Sales (above the “dividing line”) Marketing (below the “dividing line”).

I’m not going to trash Oldco; it’s a fine company and I had the opportunity to do good work there.

But let me tell you, there are bunkers on either side of the dividing line between sales and marketing at Oldco. There’s sentry towers and razor wire and fences ten feet high. And every so often a brave individual sneaks right up to the dividing line - under cover of darkness – and “lobs” a memo over onto the other side. When it lands – assuming it doesn’t explode right then and there – nobody wants to pick it up because they’re afraid someone on their side of the line will think they’re fraternizing with the enemy.

Well, I exaggerate a bit. But here at Newco, the dividing line between sales and marketing is often no more than the distance between two papers on my desk. Or the physical distance between people in this room. To be actively involved in both areas, as I find myself to be… just that fact alone opens up vast areas of truly rewarding work, and I’m excited about that.

SLIDE SIX – THEME SLIDE – ADD TEXT: “Reality” (above the “dividing line”) “Perception” (below the “dividing line”).

But I don’t want you to think that I’m looking at this organization through rose-colored contacts. I’m not Pollyanna, and I recognize we do have significant challenges here… “significant challenges,” as you all know, being the correct corporate pronunciation of the word “problems.”

SLIDE SEVEN – THEME SLIDE – ADD TEXT: “April 12, 2006” (above the “dividing line”) “April 13, 2006” (below the “dividing line”).

Here’s a dividing line we have to deal with.

April 12th was a pretty ordinary day around here. On April 13th, we reported financial results for the quarter, which acknowledged serious issues we need to address. And “Serious Issues,” as you know, is the correct corporate pronunciation of the words “significant challenges.”

In plain language, we took a big hit. We reported a loss; the stock price fell; the financial analysts jumped all over us.

SLIDE EIGHT – THEME SLIDE – ADD TEXT: “Montclair” [Newco’s location] (above the “dividing line”) “Woodside” [Oldco’s location] (below the “dividing line”).

The next morning, I got in my car… put the key in the ignition… looked in the rear-view mirror and asked myself a question. Given the events of the previous day… all that bad news that seemed to hit at once… if I had a choice… where would I rather be driving? To Montclair… or to Woodside?

This is an example of what behavioral psychologists call “magical thinking.” Spending time considering choices you don’t have.

That morning, though, I looked myself straight in the eye and was happy to experience no conflict whatsoever. One bad quarterly report doesn’t change – or even affect – my deeply-held conviction that Newco is, without question, a great place to be… and will be an even greater place to be in the future…


- - - © 2007 Jeff E. Winner