During the start of COVID in 2020, Sally Susman, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer found herself at the helm of one of the most urgent, high-stakes public dialogues of our times.
She declared “the world was depending on us. But vaccine skepticism, suspicion around Big Pharma’s motives, economic insecurity, political polarization, civil unrest, and just plain fear were challenges we had to recognize and respect. We had to address those challenges in a way that didn’t alienate people but, instead, brought them into the conversation. Was I up to the task? I’d have to be.”
Based on her insight, she and her team found ways to break through the fear and persuade millions to change their assumptions about Big Pharma, make complex science accessible, and build confidence in the lifesaving technology.
On The Small Business Radio this week, Sally discusses her new book “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World”.
Here is what I asked her:
- Why they were the only Big Pharma company not to take money from the federal government to develop a vaccine.
- Which was harder: developing the vaccine out or convincing people to take it?
- Were you surprise by how many people didn’t want to take it?
- What did you learn from the pandemic about business communications?
- What do you mean when you say, “when cancel culture fever rises, no one is safe”?
- Why is being a good communicator a necessity today, especially for leaders?
- Why is having true humility, transparency and honestly so critical for leaders today?
- Why is “isolation a grave danger to leaders”?
- Why is starting anything with intention critical for successful communication?
- Why is humor so important in business (and what the not so great alternative is)?
- Sally also talks about the courage and candor it took to come out to her parents so many years ago.
Listen to my interview with Sally on The Small Business Radio Show.
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